Pet insurance – is it really needed?

This is a tough question to answer, so let us explore the advantages and disadvantages of pet insurance.

Advantages

We are a nation of animal lovers, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our animals are cared for and that means in sickness and in health.  Veterinary treatment is not cheap and with advances in technology, costs continue to escalate.

Vets strongly recommend pet insurance and Medivet stressed that lifetime cover was the best since even though when your pet reaches a certain age, policies can rise dramatically. The average claim for pet insurance in 2021 was £848. Insurance policies will usually cost less than this, and you would be able to quickly access the needed cover in comparison to having to save up over a long period of time.

Having pet insurance will ensure that you never have to choose between health care and your bank account, and you will never be in the position of being unable to provide care for an ailing pet.  Owners who do not have insurance may have to make the agonising decision to give their pets up for adoption or in the worst-case scenario, euthanise their pets if treatment cannot be afforded.

Disadvantages

You have to remember that not all health issues are covered, for example, policies may not cover any pre-existing problems such as those pets who are currently receiving treatments before insurance was undertaken.

Annual boosters and neutering are not covered, neither are certain genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, which is common in larger dogs such as Labradors and German Shepherds. Thankfully, some insurers such as British Pet Insurance do cover hip dysplasia.

Other benefits

When comparing insurance, you will find a huge spectrum of what is and isn’t covered and you may be surprised to know that some policies help with advertising and reward costs should your pet get lost or stolen.

It is also worth noting that you may find that some policies cover complementary therapy such as hydrotherapy, homoeopathy, and behavioural issues.

Savings on treatment

Having pet insurance will be beneficial if your pet has an unexpected illness or accident. However, there may be an excess you need to pay, and the cost of this can increase as your pet gets older. Do not be tempted to skip over the terms and conditions of the policy as this can be a costly mistake, make sure you are clear on what is covered and whether you are taking out lifetime cover or whether there is a time limit to when you can claim e.g. 12 months.

There are usually different levels of cover starting from as little as £6.88 per month, right through to advanced cover, which in some cases will include alternative treatment such as hydrotherapy and animal behaviour.

The cost of treating exotic pets such as Bearded Dragons, or an African grey parrot, can run into the hundreds or thousands of pounds, hence you really should carefully consider the type of care required and the potential cost.

Pet business insurance

Having worked in the pet industry for over twenty-three years, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of pet business insurance.  Whether you run a boarding facility, pet taxi service, hydrotherapy unit, dog walking or pet sitting business, you should have insurance in place.

One of the biggest mistakes with startups is failing to research your industry since the responsibility of caring for people’s pets is enormous and presents risks, so choosing the correct insurance is vital.  For example, your local authority may require boarders, be it in-house, or a cattery/kennel to have comprehensive insurance and if you employ people, it is a legal requirement to have liability insurance.

In cases where pet owners are unhappy with the standard of care provided, or if their pet suffers an injury whilst in the care of a trainer, border etc. the possibility of court action could damage or disrupt a business.

Types of Professional Insurance

Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance covers your business’s legal liability to a third party as a result of negligence. For example, if you were dog walking and a dog slips its lead, runs into the road and causes a road traffic accident and injures a third party.

Employers’ Liability

For a company that employs staff, you should have this in place. Employers’ liability insurance protects you and your business against the cost of any legal action and compensation claims that an employee may make if they have an injury or illness while at work. For example, you could claim if a work experience student gets bitten whilst trying to secure a dog on the grooming table whilst under the supervision of a suitably qualified person.

Professional Indemnity

This type of insurance covers your business against claims for loss or damage due to negligent advice, services or breach of professional duty.

Care, custody, and control of animals

This covers injury, illness or loss of an animal whilst in the care of your business as a result of non-negligence or negligence on the part of the business.

Loss or theft of Keys

With this type of cover, you will be able to claim for the loss or theft of keys and the costs associated with replacing locks.

Summary

On balance and especially as the cost of living continues to spiral, I would say that pet insurance is a must.  British Pet Insurance offer a wide range of quality and affordable cover to suit everyone’s budget and having pet insurance in place, offers peace of mind knowing that should Fido or Kitty fall ill, you have the reassurance that the majority of vet fees will be met and with the right premium. You can sleep safely knowing that you can provide your pet with the very best possible care.

 

Can your dog give blood?

 

When I was approached by Pet Blood Bank UK, to enquire if we may be interested in including a blog article on pet blood donation, I was eager to help spread the word.

Just like us, dogs often require blood transfusions if they are sick or injured, which is why in 2007 Pet Blood Bank UK was formed and they are the first and only animal blood bank charity in the UK.

Can your dog give blood?

 

How many dog owners consider offering their dogs as blood donors? In all my years of dog ownership, it really is nothing that I had considered before.

Emergencies that require blood transfusions

  • Surgery
  • Ruptured spleen
  • Rat poisoning
  • Anemia
  • Sepsis
  • Hemorrhage
  • Bleeding in the stomach
  • Low platelet count
  • Gastric torsion

Criteria for blood donors

  1. Your dog should ideally be aged between one and eight years old
  2. Be fit and healthy.
  3. Not be taking any medication.
  4. Be up to date on both flea/ worm treatments and vaccinations
  5. Have not previously received a blood transfusion
  6. Weigh more than 25kg
  7. Have a good temperament
  8. Easy to handle
  9. Never travelled abroad.

 

How long does the procedure take?

Once your dog has received a full veterinary check, a small amount of fur will be clipped away from the needle site on the neck. The area is cleaned and some local anesthetic cream will be applied to minimise the needle sensation. During the process, your dog will be comforted and stroked and if at any time, they seem under duress, the procedure will be stopped.  It takes 5 – 10 minutes for a dog to donate 450ml of blood.

Different blood types

Different blood types

Like us, dogs have different blood types and in the UK we test for DEA 1 positive and negative.  With only 30% of dogs having a negative blood type, keeping up with demand can be challenging.  Research by Pet Blood Bank shows that certain breeds of dogs are more likely to be negative blood type and it is these dogs that the charity particularly needs to come forward.

The breeds are:

  • Airedales
  • American Bulldogs
  • Border Collies
  • Boxers
  • Dobermans
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Bull Terriers
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Greyhounds
  • Lurchers
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Pointers
  • Weimaraners

Following the procedure

Once the dog has given blood, they will be given a snack, water and time to relax. The blood is then taken to the charity’s center, where it is processed and stored until it is required.

Your dog is then presented with a red bandana to show that they have donated. A lovely touch, which when worn, could help to encourage other owners to put their pooches forward.

If you would like further details, please contact Pet Blood UK on the link provided at the beginning of this article.

Keeping your pets cool in hot weather

Exercise

There is a simple trick to help determine if it is too hot to exercise your dog and that is to remove your shoes and walk on the pavement barefoot.  If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog.

Dogs can suffer heatstroke within minutes and the signs include excessive panting and collapse.  It is important to remember that once a dog shows signs like these, the damage can be already done, which is why we must prevent it.

Keeping a dog cool

  • Keep a cold damp towel under your dog if possible and keep replenishing it as it dries.
  • Ensure that he has access to cold water throughout the day, keeping it topped up at all times.
  • Only walk your dog first thing in the morning and last thing at night
  • Remember that flat-faced breeds really suffer in the heat, so be vigilant and ensure that there breathing is not affected.
  • Try making cooling treats by putting their favorite food in ice-cubes.
  • NEVER leave your dog in a car during hot days.  Open windows will not prevent them from overheating.
  • A paddling pool will help your dog cool down and what dog doesn’t enjoy a good splash
  • Provide a cooling mat, but ensure that it is purchased from a reputable store and follow instructions for use.

Hutches

It isn’t just your dog that can suffer heatstroke.  Outdoor hutches should be moved inside if possible, to a cool part of the house.  Free running on cold tiles will help them to keep cool and if this isn’t possible, move them to a shaded part of the garden and use a cold damp towel to drape over their hutch/cage.

Also, be sure to keep replenishing their bottles with cold water and check on them regularly throughout the day.

Horses and livestock

It is important that your horses and livestock have access to shade and freshwater, which can evaporate during hot weather.

Fans can be provided to cool livestock, ensuring that they receive adequate ventilation.  Sprinklers will also as a coolant during extreme temperatures.

Wildlife

Wildlife can also struggle during severe heat, so leaving water in your garden will help to quench their thirst and keep them cool.

Birdbaths are a welcome attraction for birds and will help them to clean their feathers, before finding a sunny space to dry.

Finding regular food can be a struggle for wildlife during hot periods and some wildlife trusts recommend leaving food for the hedgehogs, such as tinned cat or dog food (not fish).  Specialised food can be purchased from wildlife food suppliers, but NEVER feed them milk, since this can cause severe tummy upset.

Cats

As with dogs, cats should have access to fresh cool water.  While they love the warmth,  intense heat can see them can suffer so keep them out of conservatories.

White cats are particularly susceptible to sunburn, so apply suncream to their ears and faces and when the sun is at its strongest, keep them indoors.  They can also benefit from a cooling mat and if they do show signs of heatstroke :

  • excessive panting
  • increased heartbeat
  • lethargy
  • panting

If you are worried about any animal, please seek veterinary treatment immediately.

 

Does your dog belt up!

Keeping within the law!

Did you know that rule  57 of the Highway Code, stipulates that your dog must be restrained when travelling in a vehicle?  In fact not only could you be fined £2,500, but you can also receive penalty points on your licence and in some cases,  a ban and even a compulsory re-test!

Insurance companies may not even approve a claim, if you are found to have an unrestrained dog in your car and are involved in an accident.

Tips for securing your dog

In order to keep your dog safe while travelling in your car, consider the following:

  • Fit a dog harness to your seatbelt
  • Attach a zipline harness
  • Fit a dog guard in the boot
  • Provide a dog crate

Making the journey comfortable

It is not just good old Fido, who may be using your car.  Even small furries and cats may require securing, for example, if you are moving and need to transport them to a new location, or more commonly, when visiting the vets.

  • Start young: Animals are far more inclined to tolerate and even enjoy car trips, if your start from a young age.  Have them sit in your vehicle while it is stationary and then start the engine.  Later once they are acclimatised to the running engine, try taking them on short trips.
  • Regular breaks:  If you are making long journeys, ensure that you take regular breaks in order that they may enjoy a short walk, where they can have a toilet break and a drink.
  • Remember to keep them cool in hot days.  If you do not have air conditioning, invest in a cooling mat and keep a good stock of cold water.

Dont!

  • Allow your dog to sit on your lap.  IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND CAN BE DANGEROUS.
  • Allow your dog to lean out of an open window.  This is distracting for other drivers and a dog could easily bang their head, or in worse case scenarios, fall out and suffer serious injury or even death.

Keeping dogs safe

You would not allow your baby or young child to travel unsecured, so please be mindful of your pets.  They, like your children, can suffer injury and can also affect any passenger travelling with them, if they are not safely restrained.

5 Ways To Spend Valentines Day With Your Dog

1. Enjoy a break together

Dogs love interaction with their owners, so a weekend away would be a fun treat for both. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll on the beach, or an amble through leafy forests, dogs are a wonderful ice-breaker and taking a cute dog on a weekend break, could also land you the perfect mate!

2. Donate to your local rescue centre

Valentine’s Day is all about caring for those you love, so why not donate to your local rescue centre and spread some love to those animals who need it most.

3. Bake your dog a home made treat

 

 

Dogs adore food and what better way to say ‘I love you’, than a homemade treat.

4. Play their favorite game

What dog doesn’t enjoy playing a good game of ‘fetch’ and exercise is also great for reducing your waistline!

Playing and interacting with your dog is a wonderful way to keep them stimulated and you physically fit and they thrive when they are able to engage in these types of activities.

5. Watch a film together

Dogs simply love affection and snuggling with their owner is a delight shared by both. Put some popcorn in the microwave, open a bottle of Prosecco and snuggle down with your dog with Marley and Me, but don’t forget the hankies!

Caring for your senior dog

Caring for your senior dog

Caring for your senior dog

Just as with humans, our senior dogs suffer from age related problems and senility.  The problem is however, is that they cannot always show us what is wrong.

Common health problems in senior dogs

  • Deteriorating eyesight and hearing
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Senility/Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Dental problems

How do I know if my dog is in pain

There are certain breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, who are extremely stoic and will often hide their pain, so it is important to look for signs of discomfort and agitation. Senior dogs with arthritis, can be sensitive to touch and resent normal handling.

Sudden snappiness or aggressive behaviour is a sure sign that your dog is feeling out of sorts, or hiding away instead of coming to greet you.  Changes in their eating pattern, excessive drinking and sleeping throughout the day are all indications that your dog is unwell.

Our eleven year old German Shepherd is now heavily panting, even though is had no exercise and is noticeably stiff when he awakes from a nap.

When to get treatment

Senior dogs do not have the reserves of a younger dog, hence time is crucial. It is far better to err on the side of caution and get your dog checked out as soon as you can.

You may also want to take more frequent trips to the vet, based on your dogs symptoms and be careful to administer the correct dosage of medication when prescribed.

Adjust their living conditions

For senior dogs with joint problems such as hip dysplasia or joint issues, you may want to consider giving your dog a ramp, to enable them easier access to the stairs or your car. Keep their foot and water bowls within easy reach and provide non slip mats on wooden floorboards or slippery floors.  Heat pads can relieve a senior dogs achy joints, but check them regularly, to ensure that they are not too hot and follow the instructions carefully.

It is extremely difficult to see your once playful puppy turn into a senior dog with health problems and know that their time with you may be limited. They may have their ailments but they still feel as much love and loyalty as they did in their younger years.

The final goodbye

Sudden death is a rarity and it is more likely that they will give clues that they are nearing the end of their lives. There is a strong possibility that you may be faced with a heart wrenching decision about when to say your final goodbye.

Dogs that have been ill for sometime may fall peacefully to sleep, but it is more likely that their quality of life will diminish rapidly, forcing you to make a painful decision.  It is important to remember that the rapid advances in veterinary technology may prolong your dogs life, but it is not always in their best interest to do so.

Your last loving act may be that of euthanasia, setting your dog free from their pain and suffering.  Only you know what decision to take.  When you see the suffering in your dogs eyes and their inability to cope with the smallest things, like eating and drinking and when their quality of life has completely diminished.

The final breath

Having your dog put to sleep is the most difficult decision you will make for your dog and I would implore you to stay with him until his very last breath. Try to stay calm, remain strong and if possible, hold them until they quietly slip away.

Take time to grieve

Just like losing a human family member, you must take the time to grieve.  The loss of your pet can have a severe impact on your health so consider counselling or a support group.  Dogs are with us through tears and our happiness and often are there when our family are not and their passing can leave a huge void in our lives.  Acknowledge your grief, since it is an essential part of your healing.  Take as long as you need and cry when you feel the need.

 

 

 

Is it time to ban cats?

Killer cats

Should cats be banned?

The view of cats being murdering menaces, is shared by people who continually call for cat owners to keep their animals inside, or at least ensure that they are fitted with bell – collars to help prevent them from hunting and killing wildlife.

Dr Peter Marra, a world bird expert was recently interviewed on on radio 4’s Today programme and stated that cats were killing billions of birds each day.  For this reason, he stated that cats should be banned from going outside.  He also stated that all free roaming/stray cats, should be euthanised if homes could not be found!

Cat population

There are thought to be approximately 8 million cats in the United Kingdom and it is thought that they kill around 55m birds a year, but they mainly predate on the sick, the weak and the young.

As a cat owner, I cannot dispute that of all three of my rescue cats, the eldest, will take any opportunity to desimate our local wildlife.  Predation is an inherant trait but it is their purrs and snuggles, which is a side that makes cats the perfect companian.

Noisy cats

So aside from keeping our cats indoors, what other  measures can we take to give our wildlife a fighting chance.  Well, you could fit a bell to a quick release collar. Theoretically, the sound of an approaching cat will alert their pray and help them to ellude capture, however, in practise it makes little difference.  Cats are too clever!

In short I see little evidence that our cats are responsible for driving our wildlife to extinction.  The RSPCA also state that they see little evidence to suggest that cats are responsible for our declining bird population.

How can you help

Many of our cat clients are turning to cat proofing their gardens.  The solves the dilemma of keeping cats in a safe environment and allowing them to enjoy the outdoors.  Outdoor cats are also at risk from traffic dangers and sadistic people who relish the opportunity to injure and kill domestic pets. It will also prevent other cats from entering your garden, which can be a source of stress for many cats.

Cat proofing your garden will limit your cats access and you will need to work harder to enrich their surroundings and keep them entertained.

Plant dangers

A bored cat will be tempted to nibble your plants, so you will need to ensure that there are no toxic plants in that area.  Slug bait and poisons used to control pests are extremely hazardous and should never be used near your cats.  Planting some cat nip and erecting a few platforms, will ensure that your cats remain happy and content while outdoors.

Helping a Dog Lose Weight – Weight management

Health implications for overweight dogs

There is an old saying with regard to overfeeding your dog and that is quite simply, ‘killing your pet with kindness’, or what you perceive to be kindness.

Of course dogs relish the opportunity of a cooked sausage or two and look at those eyes when they see you reach for their treat jar.  Sadly the reality of too many sausages and treats, can be an overweight dog causing lasting damage to your pets organs, bones and joints, leading to heart disease and high blood pressure.

Less calories – weight management

You can start by consulting your vet, who will advise the best diet for your dog and work with you to ensure that weight reducing and management, will be controlled and done in the correct manner.

They will also take into account your dogs exercise regime and calorie intake. It could be that just cutting treats altogether is all that your dog needs to shed those extra pounds.  If this is the case and once your dog reaches their ideal weight, a slightly longer exercise regime, is all that is required to maintain a healthy weight.

Don’t give in

It is so important that you hold firm when Fido offers those pleading eyes. Remember it is for their own good and if you are serving the correct portions, giving more food/treats will only add to more weight issues.

Begging is a trick that they will quickly learn to exploit, so put them away while you are eating.

Exercise

Increasing their exercise alone, is not enough to reduce a dogs weight, although it is very helpful.  You will need to start gradually, little and often, being mindful of older pets, especially in hot weather.

If your dog enjoys playing, outdoor activities such as hiding a favourite toy, will also stimulate their mind, as well as reducing their waistline.

Treats

Treats do not have to be like those found in a local supermarket packet.  Pieces of carrot, small slices of cooked liver, or chicken can be ideal, but remember to adjust their main meal accordingly.

Neither are treats essential and should always be given in small quantities such as the size of a fingernail.

Patient

Be patient with any weight loss/weight management program.  It may take a few months before your dog reaches his/her target weight and be sure to seek veterinary advice and guidance before a diet is agreed.

Having more than one dog

The best solution for someone who has more than one dog, is to feed them separately.

Do not leave food out when you are away from the home, since you cannot control who eats what when you are not around.

Weight loss success

For the majority of overweight dogs the key to weight loss success is commitment from their owners.

Dogs do not understand the implications of being overweight and rely on us for their well-being and safety.  By overfeeding our canine companions we are inadvertently contributing to a premature death or developing a debilitating disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer safety tips for your pets – Must read guide

 

Summer is a wonderful time to be out and about for your pets and here’s some summer safety tips for your pets, when the temperature rises.

Symptoms of overheating in pets

These can include excessive panting and difficulty breathing.  Pets with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are extremely susceptible to overheating as they struggle to pant effectively, so these types of dogs and the elderly should be kept cool whenever possible.

Always ensure that water bowls are topped up with fresh clean water and hutches are either brought in out of the hot sun or moved to the shade.

Swimming Pools & Salt Water

Do not leave pets unsupervised around a swimming pool – contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are good swimmers and do not forget to remove the chlorine/salt from their fur, so rinse well after a swim.

Sunscreen

Just like us, dogs and cats require protection too and sunscreen is especially important for dogs/cats with white/thin fur.

Pet owners should remember to avoid any sunscreen that contains para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), since this can be toxic if ingested.  Quite simply, never use sunscreen with zinc oxide on your pet.

If you are unsure what products to use, please contact your vets who will be only too happy to advise.

Cars

Have you ever sat inside your vehicle on a summer day in the searing heat, with the windows and doors closed?  Try it!  I doubt you will last for five minutes with feeling unwell, so PLEASE do not leave your dogs to swelter.

Walking

Dogs should never be walked in hot temperatures, so avoid the hottest times of the day.

Make sure your walks are done in shaded areas and take plenty of water with you.

Snakes

Don’t forget that even the UK has snakes, most of which are harmless. However, Adders are poisonous and should be avoided where possible.

Adders are primarily found in heathland, dune grasslands and other naturally grassy areas, so do not allow your dog off leash in these areas.

Try to keep to designated trails and if your dog does get bitten, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Summer insects

Ticks are a common problem during the warm summer months, so check your dog regularly, especially when walking through wooded areas.

A good groom following walks, checking for any lumps and bumps. If one is found, they can be a bit tricky to remove, so twisting them off with a tick remover should do the trick, making sure that its head does not get stuck to your dog.  If you are unsure, contact your vet for advice.

Paws

When the sun is at its hottest, surfaces such as sand and paving get extremely hot.  Not can it only burn your pet’s paws, it can also increase body temperature.  If it is too hot for bare feet, it is also too hot for your pet’s paws.

Hopefully, these tips will help both you and your pets to stay safe and enjoyable summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do dogs eat grass?

Dog sitting on grass

There are many theories as to why cats and dogs eat grass, the most common being that it is medicinal to help them vomit. However, statistics show that less than 25% of cats and dogs that eat grass are actually sick!

Most cat and dog owners have regularly witnessed them eating grass, especially in the summertime, although it is much more common in dogs than cats, here are a few theories as to why are canine and feline friends chomp on the green stuff:

Digestion

There does not appear to be any nutritional value.

Cats can regurgitate when they eat grass since they lack the enzymes which break down vegetation. This could be a way of eliminating indigestible matter from their stomachs.

Natural laxative

It is thought that grass could act as a laxative, helping your cat with regular bowel movements.

Toxic

Cat in long grass

While researchers find that grass eating is relatively common in cats and dogs, it is rarely associated to illness. However, it is extremely important that dog and cat owners are particularly careful about using pesticides or fertilisers on or near your garden plants since they can be extremely toxic.

Diet deficiency

To conclude, research has found that grass eating is extremely common that usually occurs in healthy animals and is not necessarily associated with illness or dietary deficiency.

So, these are just a few reasons why our feline and canine friends may eat grass, but there is another.  Perhaps they both just enjoy the taste!