Thursday, October 30, 2014

Health Insurance for Your Pet


Last week my 10 and 1/2 year old kitty, Abbey, started breathing abnormally and I knew something was very wrong, it was late at night, my vet's office was closed, so I grabbed my phone and started video taping her so that I could show my vet the next morning what was going on. Once we got to the vet's office he told me that it looked like she had pleural effusion- a build up of fluid in her chest cavity which could be a sign of heart disease. We did some imaging of her at his office, did some blood work, and the next day I took her to a specialist to do an Echocardiogram ( a test that uses sound waves to create images of the heart,) and in less than 24 hours I had spent $1,000 simply trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Don't get me wrong, she's worth every penny and I will continue to work on treating her but this brought up the thought I just recently had about Pet Insurance. I have lots of pets and do not have any form of pet insurance but have often been curious about it to see if it would benefit me or my customers in any way. Since I have had pets all my life I, unfortunately, have also lost them over time and have spent quite a large amount of money giving them the best care possible before it's time to say goodbye. For those of you who have only a few pets I think pet insurance is something you may want to consider. In doing my research I have discovered that there are tons of companies out there and very specific things that you should look for before purchasing a plan to be sure it is the right one for you. Here are a few things that I have discovered, hopefully they will help you when shopping for a plan:
There are two types of pet insurance plans available out there- Lifetime and Non-lifetime. A lifetime plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan to cover your pet over the course of its life. A non-lifetime plan is on an annual basis that needs to be renewed, the catch with them is that if your pet has had a health issue in the previous year they may not cover it in the future when you renew your plan, think of it as a pre-existing condition, it can be excluded from any future payouts.

When shopping for a plan always be sure that they cover your breed, and if they do, see if they charge extra for one particular breed over the other. Some plans also have age limits, they may not allow a puppy to be covered until it is 8 weeks old and then they may also terminate coverage after a certain age to avoid the costs of elder care.

If you have multiple pets ask if they offer a multiple pet discount, it doesn't hurt to ask. Also see if they have a free trial period or a money back trail period if you are unhappy with what you get.

Most, if not all, plans will have some sort of deductible. Make sure you are clear about whether it is a straight forward deductible or if it is a per incident deductible. I noticed that one plan I was looking at had a $100 per incident deductible so if your pet has multiple different things wrong at the same time they may count those as individual incidents and you may have to pay $100 for each one to be taken care of.

See if the plan you are looking at has a cap on the amount of coverage. Some plans will only pay out so much and then you have to pick up the rest while other plans do not have limitation on spending. Also see if the plan excludes coverage for genetic or hereditary issues. If you own a breed that is known for something like hip dysplasia and the plan doesn't cover that then it may not be the right one for you. Plans also do not cover pre-existing conditions so if my kitty Abbey is diagnosed with heart disease I can't call up and insure her tomorrow and expect them to cover the cost of her care for that.

Check to see if the plan you are considering is one that just covers accidents or illnesses or if it also covers routine care like vet exams, vaccines, dental care, etc. Some plans that only cover accidents or illnesses also offer routine care coverage but it's an extra expense.

Finally see how you submit a claim and how the company handles payment. Some companies I looked at require you to pay the vet out of pocket and then you have to file a claim and wait for them to reimburse you. I would check to see if some allow the vet to directly bill them, and if they don't and you have to pay up front, see what the average wait time is until you get a check back from them.

There are a lot of companies out there with a wide variety of options to choose from. One website that I really liked is: www.petinsurancereviews.com
It gives real reviews and ratings from actual customers on a ton of different plans. It also has links to pet insurance websites so you can take a look at what everyone has to offer. I also found a website called: www.topconsumerreviews.com/pet-insurance
which also gives reviews of the top rated pet insurance companies. Do your research to see what options are out there and also read the customer reviews to see how they feel about the plans.

Here are links to what seemed to be the most popular pet insurance providers:
24 Pet Watch- www.24petwatch.com
AKC- www.akcpetinsurance.com
ASPCA- www.aspcapetinsurance.com
Embrace- www.embracepetinsurance.com
Healthy Paws- www.healthypawspetinsurance.com
Pet First- www.petfirst.com
Pet Plan- www.gopetplan.com
Pet Premium- www.petpremium.com
Pets Best- www.petsbest.com
Trupanion- www.trupanion.com
VPI- www.petinsurance.com


If you love your pets like I do then they are family and having an insurance plan can really help out in a time of need.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are My Cockapoo Puppies AKC Registered?!

When a person or family decides they want to adopt a Cockapoo Puppy the first thing they usually do, once they see a puppy they like, is to call or email the breeder for more information. This is a great idea and I always appreciate it when someone contacts me wanting to be sure that we are all on the same page about my puppies and they type of breeder that I am. People may not realize it but when they call to interview me I am also interviewing them to be sure I feel comfortable with them and that they will give my puppies a good home. Just because you are interested in one of my puppies does not mean that I will let you adopt one, I have to be sure that, I too, am comfortable with everything before I will let you adopt one. I often get asked a lot of the same questions over and over so I did type up a "FAQ" page on my website to help everyone out but not everyone reads it before calling me and it may not cover everything they want to know anyways so conversations are always good.
Since I've been doing this for awhile I can almost instantly tell if someone is experienced with looking for a dog or if this is totally new for them. I've had phone calls and emails where people ask questions that don't make sense or don't apply to the breed so after I do a little digging with them they tell me that they are new to buying a puppy and were told to ask questions by their friends or neighbors and they honestly don't know if they are relevant or not. One such question, that I just got asked again the other day, was "are your Cockapoos AKC registered?" this question tells me that the person asking it is not familiar with what AKC is or what they stand for and that they might not truly understand what a Cockapoo is. AKC- The American Kennel Club is a canine registration that was founded in 1884 to register Purebred dogs, this is their mission statement that can be found on their website:
(www.akc.org)
AKC Mission Statement
The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership.

AKC’s Objective:

  • Advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs.

AKC's Core Values:

  • We love purebred dogs
  • We are committed to advancing the sport of the purebred dog
  • We are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of our Registry
  • We protect the health and well-being of all dogs
  • We cherish dogs as companions
  • We are committed to the interests of dog owners
  • We uphold high standards for the administration and operation of the AKC
  • We recognize the critical importance of our clubs and volunteers
Did you notice the parts that I highlighted in yellow? AKC is a registration for purebred dogs and Cockapoos are hybrids, not purebreds, so they are not currently recognized by AKC, or any other purebred registry, as a true breed meaning that they cannot be AKC registered and are also not accepted by other purebred registries. I think AKC has realized that they are losing a lot of potential income these days by not accepting mixed breeds in the past so they have recently started what they call the "AKC Canine Partners" program which allows you to submit information about your mixed breed dog, they send you a certificate, and then you are allowed to participate in AKC programs, here is what is listed on their website (www.akc.org):
                                                                  AKC Canine Partners
AKC Canine Partners offers ALL dogs to join the AKC family. Joining Canine Partners allows mixed breed dogs and non-eligible AKC registered dogs to participate and earn titles in dog sports such as Agility, Obedience, Rally, Tracking and Coursing Ability. Canine Partners provides for an enhanced relationship between people and their dogs and allows them to connect with other dog owners.


 Registration papers can be important to people adopting purebreds because they want to be sure they are actually getting what they are buying and they are also important to breeders so that they know for sure that they are breeding purebred dogs. Registration papers also help people like me obtain a pedigree so that I can see what colors are in my dog's background and possibly know what to expect when I have a litter of babies born. For a family just looking for a household pet registration papers can be a form of proof of ownership but there are also other ways of doing that with things like microchips which I highly suggest.
There are new registrations that have been formed that recognize mixed breeds including the Cockapoo and I think as time goes on organizations like AKC may also change their minds and start to recognize mixed breeds in more ways, time will tell. So to summarize, my Cockapoo puppies are not AKC registered because they cannot be, but I do register them with an organization that recognizes them as a breed. Anyone who adopts a puppy from me will get a registration application with their puppy and they can choose to register them if they feel the need. My parent dogs are purebred Cocker Spaniels and Mini Poodles and they are all registered, including with AKC and other purebred registries.
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dogs and Ebola

There has been a lot of scary talk in the news these days about the Ebola virus and when I heard about a dog being euthanized because he was owned by a recent victim of the virus I decided to ask my vet if he thought that dogs were at risk for getting and/or sharing the disease, his answer was 'no, he didn't think so,' and that he had just gotten an article emailed to him that he would print off for me to read and share to my customers. My plan was to simply scan and copy the article for everyone to read but I just got a new computer and printer and they just don't like to cooperate with me so I am going to re-type it below:

Ebola Virus &Dogs: Where Do We Stand
J. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM
Editor in Chief, Clinician's Brief

The recent euthanasia of a dog owned by a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola virus has raised much concern about the canine role in Ebola virus transmission and the risks dogs may pose to humans. As is common with emerging diseases, there are many gaps in our knowledge- and these gaps create fear.
The following key points should be understood:
- There is limited concern about dogs playing a role in natural transmission of Ebola virus in areas where the virus is endemic.
- The likelihood of a dog being exposed to Ebola virus outside of endemic regions in Africa is very unlikely; this would require contact with bodily secretions of a human with symptoms of Ebola virus infection.
- There is evidence that dogs can become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.*
      -This information comes from a study of dogs in a community where an Ebola virus was underway; 27% of healthy dogs had serum antibodies against the virus, but non had detectable virus in circulation. Evidence of exposure was not surprising, as some dogs scavenged the bodies of animals that had potentially died of Ebola virus infection and had direct contact with humans active with the disease.
     - This situation is profoundly different that that of a household pet with transient exposure to a human that has been exposed or has early infection.
- Irrespective of whether dogs can be exposed to the virus, there is currently no evidence that infected dogs shed the virus.
-In the unlikely event of a pet dog outside of West Africa is exposed to a human with Ebola virus infection, veterinary and public health personnel can investigate the type of contacts between the dog and human (eg, when contact occurred with respect to the presence of symptoms, types and duration of contact,) and determine whether exposure to the virus may have occurred.
-Coordinated efforts are underway to develop guidance for management of dogs exposed to individuals with Ebola virus infection.

The lack of information about Ebola virus in dogs makes development of evidence-based practices difficult. Yet, given the available information about Ebola virus in dogs and the broader understanding of Ebola virus and containment practices, reasonable recommendations can be developed for the very unlikely event that more pet dogs become exposed.
Concerns about dogs and Ebola virus cannot be dismissed, and consideration of the role of pets in transmission of this virus is consistent with efforts to promote One Health. At the same time, the risks must be kept in perspective-and reason must outweigh paranoia-to optimize human and animal health and welfare.

*Ebola virus antibody prevalence in dogs and human risk. Allela L. Bourry O, Pouillot R, et at. Emerg Infect Dis.
11: 385-390, 2005.

About J Scott Weese (author)

J. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, is a veterinary internist and microbiologist, chief of infection control at University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Center, and Canada Research Chair in Zoonotic diseases. As editor in chief of Clinician's Brief, Dr. Weese provides quintessential expertise on infectious and zoonotic diseases (particularly of companion animals,) infection control, and antimicrobial therapy.