That’s what most often leads owners of ailing pets to the veterinarian, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance.
VPI, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, sorted its database of 485,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat medical conditions in 2011.
Ear infections, skin allergies and skin infections were the most common reasons for dogs to visit the vet.
With cats, the top three were bladder infections, chronic kidney disease and over-active thyroids.
“The large number of claims received for these medical conditions attests to their common, often repetitive, and sometimes chronic nature,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.
“While many pet owners fear major accidents and illnesses, which can cost thousands of dollars to treat for a single incident, repetitive and chronic conditions can be just as detrimental to a pet’s quality of life and financially burdensome to the pet owner.”
In 2011, VPI received more than 62,000 canine claims for ear infections. The average claim fee was $98 per office visit. For cats, bladder infections were most common, with an average claim amount of $233 per office visit.
The most expensive canine condition on the list (non-cancerous skin growth) cost an average of $220 per visit, while, for cats, the most expensive condition (lymphosarcoma) cost an average of $426 per visit
Here are the top 10 conditions dogs for which dogs were treated, according to the VPI study:
1. Ear Infection
2. Skin Allergies
3. Skin Infection
4. Non-cancerous Skin Growth
5. Upset Stomach
6. Intestinal Upset/Diarrhea
8. Bladder Infection
9. Bruise or Contusion
10. Underactive Thyroid
Posted by jwoestendiek March 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, animals, arthritis, bladder infections, cats, chronic kidney disease, common, dogs, ear, expense, growth, health, illnesses, infection, insurance, insurance claims, list, most, over active thyroid, pets, reasons, skin allergies, skin infections, stomach, top ten, veterinarians, veterinary, veterinary pet insurance, vets, visits
You don’t need me to tell you that it has gotten more expensive than ever to be the owner, guardian, caretaker, parent — pick your term — of a dog.
Over your dog’s lifespan, you can expect to dish out anywhere from $9,400 to $14,000, according to the latest estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
As we’ve noted before, spending on pets seems to just keeps growing, even when the rest of the economy has a droopy, hang dog look. Despite the recession, spending on pets has gone up 6 percent annually since 2008, to $48 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
And a new survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center says that even during the “darkest days” of the recession in 2009 and 2010, when self-denial became common, only 16 percent of respondents reported spending less on their pets.
Of course, what those kind of statistics don’t take into account are all the dogs that — during those darkest days (which, as far as I can see, we’re still in) — have been surrendered and abandoned by families who have fallen into foreclosure or otherwise been forced to move into cheaper rental housing where pets aren’t allowed.
Even if the pet industry is gliding through the recession, many pet owners — and pets — are not.
Since 2008, pet food, veterinary care, and other services have risen at an annual rate of about 4 percent on average, considerably faster than the rate of overall inflation, according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports.
The magazine interviewed manufacturers, nutritionists and veterinarians, and jumped into the crowded pet product marketplace to sniff out the best bargains — and it reports that it’s possible to save hundreds of dollars a year on pet care without shortchanging your pet.
The package of stories is well worth checking out — and they’re all illustrated with photos taken of shelter pets (still the best bargain, it notes) at the North Shore Animal League. Here’s a partial summary:
A significant part of the national pet-food bill these days — Amerians spend about $20 billion a year on it — goes for so-called premium and super-premium varieties.
But “premium” is a virtually meaningless term, with no real legal definition.
Any food you see on supermarket and pet-store shelves that’s labeled “complete & balanced,” “total nutrition,” or “100 percent nutritious” should meet the minimum standards for nutrition set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. That indicates that it’s adequate for the vast majority of healthy pets.
Pet insurance generally costs more than it pays out, the magazine said. Only in uncommon cases, when a pet requires very expensive care, does the coverage pay for itself.
CR compared the three biggest brands — ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, 24PetWatch QuickCare, and VPI, and a fourth, Trupanion, that is a relative newcomer.
In the case of Roxy, a basically healthy 10-year-old beagle in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. whose lifetime medical expenses were examined, CR reported that none of the nine different policies it compared would have paid out more than the projected premiums.
Instead, the magazine suggests starting your own emergency fund, or “kitty,” to help with unforeseen vet bills.
CR says you’ll probably be better off having your dog’s prescription filled at a chain drugstore, supermarket pharmacy, or big-box retailer than through your veterinarian.
Walgreens, for example, allows customers to enroll their pets as family members in its Prescription Savings Club. Giant/Eagle, Kroger, and Target also have discount programs that are open to pets. At 35 of its pharmacies in Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee, Target is trying out a program called PetRx to fill prescriptions for veterinary medicines.
Several online pet medicine dispensaries offer significantly lower prices as well.
Despite all that, about two-thirds of the pet owners CR surveyed said they buy their pet medicines from the vet who prescribes them.
CHOOSING A VET
The CR survey found that while most people love their vets, they don’t love the prices he or she charges.
“Because veterinary care is an infrequent, sometimes emergency expenditure, it’s difficult for consumers to gauge what constitutes a fair price for any of the hundreds of services their pet might require. The best time to comparison shop is when your pet needs a routine checkup, not when you’re stressed out by a sick or injured animal,” the article says.
CR suggests calling two or three nearby vets to ask what their physical-exam fee is. Nationally, it can range from roughly $35 to $46, according to a 2008 survey of 826 U.S. vets by the American Animal Hospital Association.
FLEA AND TICK TREATMENTS
There are more choices than ever here, some of them even affordable. With the patent expiring on fipronil, one of the active ingredients in Frontline Plus, a leading brand, the market has opened up to competitors.
CR found two that were new to the market, Sentry FiproGuard Plus at Petco and PetArmor Plus at Walmart, offered sizeable savings. A three month supply of PetArmor Plus cost $28, compared with $50 for FiproGuard Plus and $62 for Frontline Plus at Petco.
“We found other brands for as little as $9, but be careful. Some inexpensive products might not be as effective and might require you to spray or treat more often … The more insecticide you find yourself using, the greater the health and safety risks to you and your pet.”
(Photos: Top photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; other photos by Michael Smith, courtesy of Consumer Reports)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bargains, care, caretakers, cat, consumer reports, consumer reports national research center, costs, dog, dog food, economy, expense, flea, frontline, guardians, insurance, market, medicine, north shore animal league, nutrition, pet, pet insurance, pet owners, pet products, pets, premium, prescriptions, prices, raising, recession, retailers, rising costs, saving money, survey, tick, treatments, veterinarians, veterinary, veterinary care, vets
Neighborhood Pit Bull Day — a day to love on and learn more about your pit bull — is coming to Baltimore this Sunday (July 10).
The one-day event provides free resources, products, education and services to pit bull owners. It’s one of many being held around the country by Best Friends Animal Society, aimed at defusing the negative stereotype and helping communities “understand what loyal members of the family pit bulls can be.”
The Baltimore event will take place, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Carroll Park.
It’s free, and it will offer leash and collar trade-ins, microchipping and low-cost vaccinations, spay and neuter vouchers, a photo booth and advice from trainers and vets. Kids and families and pit bulls are welcome.
The events kicked off June 4 in Tampa, and are being scheduled in communities whose shelters see large numbers of pit bulls.
Upcoming events are also scheduled in Carlsbad, Calif., on August 27; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on September 10; Salt Lake City, Utah on October 29 and in New York City and Los Angeles on October 30.
“This is a day of celebrating the community and family pet owners. We would like to see all pit-bull-type dogs and their families have a fun way to gain access to the resources that are out there, that’s what this event is all about,” explained Jamie Healy, manager of Best Friends’ Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls program.
Made possible by a PetSmart Charities® grant, this Best Friends program is dedicated to promoting responsible guardianship of pit-bull-terrier-type dogs, as well as reducing euthanasia and improving the pit bulls public image.
Best Friends currently has five shelter partner programs across the country in Tampa, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C. and San Diego and Rancho Cucamonga, California.
(Photo by John Woestendiek: Mike Reed and his three-legged pit bull Topaz, who I met a couple of years ago during a trip to Los Angeles)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, baltimore, best friends, carlsbad, carroll park, collars, dogs, education, event, image, leash, los angeles, mike reed, neighborhood pit bull day, neuter, new york, perceptions, pets, photos, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, public education, rancho cucamonga, resources, salt lake city, shelters, spay, stereotypes, tampa, topaz, trainers, vaccinations, veterinarians, vets, vouchers
David Sharpe credits a pit bull with saving his life, and, ten years later, he’s trying to give other veterans suffering from war-related post traumatic stress disorder that same helping hand.
Ten years ago, Sharpe was holding a revolver in his mouth and was prepared to pull the trigger when his six-month-old pit bull Cheyenne licked his ear.
“It was just one of those looks dogs give you,” Sharpe told the Washington Post. “It was like, ‘What are you doing? Who’s going to take care of me? Who else is going to let me sleep in this bed?’”
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I owe her my life.”
As the Post article this week pointed out, “this is a different kind of tale of K-9 Corps bravery, distinct from those exploits of grenades sniffed out and warnings barked. Cheyenne’s heroics were in her unconditional devotion.”
Sharpe was a security guard for the Air Force and returned to the U.S. ten years ago with post traumatic stress disorder — though it wouldn’t be diagnosed for several more years.
“I couldn’t talk to anybody — not my father, not the counselors — but I could talk to that dog, and she never judged me,” Sharpe says. “We don’t want to hear, ‘Wow, that must have been horrible.’ We just want to talk.”
In 2002, visiting a shelter with a friend, he had adopted Cheyenne, one of seven pit bulls who’d recently been rescued from a fighting ring. “She was the force that pulled me back into society,” says Sharpe, 32, who is now a program analyst in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Sharpe is trying to give other shelter dogs a chance to save other emotionally wounded warriors, through P2V.org (Pets to Vets), a nonprofit group that links service members with shelter animals and helps them with related expenses and training.
Sharpe got the idea for P2V after seeing a documentary on the role service animals can play in a veteran’s recovery — dogs that cost thousands of dollars to train and generally require a long wait.
Sharpe saw a more direct route — and one that can save dogs and humans.
“Eighteen vets commit suicide every day in this country, and one animal is put to sleep every eight seconds. They can help save each other,” he said.
It costs P2V about $650 for each adoption, including veterinary care, supplies, health insurance and the training consultants the groups make available. So far, P2V has matched 47 animals to vets, many of them former patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
(Source: Washington Post)
(Photo: By Carol Guzy / Washington Post)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air force, animals, david sharpe, dogs, p2v, pets, pets to vets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, rescue, save lives, shelter, therapy dogs, veterans, vets, walter reed, war
With exactly what, I don’t know. But in the past four days, he has taken to yelping when he gets up from a long nap or makes a sudden move.
At the dog park this week, he has plodded along lethargically, showing little interest in other dogs — even when he ran into this little white fellow who shares his name. How’s that for a pair of Aces?
I have poked and prodded every inch of his oversized body, but I’m unable to pinpoint what particular spot might be hurting him.
So today, we’re off to the vet.
My first thought was the hips. That’s based partly on the simple fact that he’s very big. Then, too, some of you might recall, when I took Ace to an animal communicator three months ago, she told me he was having some mild discomfort in that area. Add in the 10 months we’ve been traveling, and all the hopping up into and down from the back of my jeep he’s been doing, and the hips seem as good a guess as any.
I knew the day would come when the jumping in and out of the car would need to cease, and given his size, maybe that practice should never have started. Chances are — at age 6 — that day is here, earlier than I expected, and not without some accompanying guilt on my part.
Then again, it might not be his hips at all. Although he’s hesitating to jump into the car, he’s not yelping when he does so — only when makes a sudden movement, usually after laying still.
I’ve pushed on his paws, rubbed the lengths of his legs, looked into his ears and down his throat, poked his belly and prodded his hips. None of that seemed to bother him. He didn’t yelp. He didn’t do that thing he does where his eyes get big, which signifies, to me, anyway, rising alarm on his part. That would have told me I was getting close.
The only time he yelped was when I lowered his head, making me think maybe the pain is in his neck, or spine-related. A half hour massage followed, which, though it might not have helped at all, he seemed to appreciate.
Twice, I’ve come home to hear him howling — not howls of pain, I don’t think, but howls of loneliness. Twice I’ve left the video camera on, to try and capture their onset, but he didn’t howl those times. And the times he did, he immediately cheered up and ran around when I walked through the door.
I’m pretty sure Ace is less than in love with our new basement quarters, though he likes the upstairs and yard just fine. He has shown a distinct preference for being outside, content to lay at top of stairs, keeping an eye on the kitchen window of the mansion owner, who gives him a daily biscuit.
Something about the basement bothers him. And friends I’ve talked about it with have different theories. Maybe he was mistreated in a basement in his puppyhood. Maybe the old mansion we’re living under is haunted. Maybe, with a firehouse around the corner, the sirens are bothering him, though they never have before — and we lived in Baltimore, where sirens are background music. Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight, or he’s getting arthritic and the cold and dampness of the cellar aggravate it.
He’s moving slowly, lethargically (except when the treats come out), and rather than circling twice before laying down, he’s circling about eight times.
Yesterday, working with my theory that it might be his neck, I took a treat and moved it around in front of him — from side to side, then up and down. There were no yelps. Either it caused no pain, or the thought of getting food superceded it.
So, with fingers crossed, we’re headed to the nearest veterinarian, with hopes that whatever is bothering him is something minor, something that will pass or doesn’t cost too much to fix, something unrelated to all the traveling I’ve put him through — 21,000 miles of it over the past ten months, something that is neither chronic nor old-age related.
Because he’s too young to be old.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, aches, aging, america, animals, back, basement, depression, diagnose, discomfort, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, emotional, health, howling, howls, mansion, neck, north carolina, old, pain, pets, physical, road trip, sick, spine, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary, vets, yelping, yelps
Facing exorbitant increases in his health insurance payments, Zeigler, a self-employed consultant, called up the pet insurance company that covers his dog Charlie — for $37 a month — and asked if he could get a policy for himself.
“They laughed,” Ziegler, 47, of Mission Viejo., told the Orange County Register. “I knew what the answer would be but in reality I wasn’t joking.”
Ziegler noted that his dog, Charlie, has seen his claims paid promptly and without dispute by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) , including those for vaccinations and a trip to the veterinary emergency room.
Ziegler’s dealings with Anthem Blue Cross haven’t been nearly as simple and swift, and the price of his coverage keeps going up — a 34 percent jump this year alone.
And even then, it sounds like he lacks coverage for a major medical event. “One one of our greatest fears is to be in a catastrophic medical emergency,” he said.
Being without health insurance myself I can relate to the problem faced by Ziegler and so many others who have been priced out of the health market. So I’ll share my secret plan, if a major medical problem comes my way: I’m going to go to the vet, get him to give me a bacon-flavored treat, scratch me behind the ears and gently put me down.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afford, blue cross, cats, costs, doctors, dogs, euthanasia, health, health insurance, hospitals, insurance, medical, medicine, news, pets, price, put down, treatment, unaffordable, veterinarians, veterinary, veterinary insurance, vets
Somehow, in three years of dog-blogging, I’ve managed to avoid addressing the issue of anal glands.
The time has come to express myself.
Dog anal glands are two small glands located on either side of your dog’s anus, each of which holds a tiny amount of a foul smelling brown liquid. For a long time, traditional wisdom among groomers was that, every now and then, those glands should be squeezed, or expressed, to clear them.
Fortunately, especially for groomers and do-it-yourself expressers, the wisdom has changed — so much so that some experts, including veterinarian Karen Becker, featured in the video above, now advise that anal glands, as a rule, be left the heck alone.
That’s because your dog knows how to express himself, so to speak.
Whenever a dog urinates or defecates, the act applies pressure to the anal glands, and a tiny bit of the fluid is released. Dogs also have the ability to express at will, by raising their tails, which they often do when meeting a new dog — as in “Allow me to introduce you, new acquaintance, to eau de Ace.” They just emit a tiny amount, not detectable by humans, but enough to lead those meeting for the first time to a long bout of mutual butt sniffing.
Only once has my dog Ace been the victim of a manual anal gland expressing, by a groomer in Alabama who was pretty much insisting it be done, and insisting I watch and learn. She squeezed and squeezed but nothing came out. Finally she gave up, saying maybe they didn’t need expressing after all.
Many dogs never develop any problem with their anal glands, especially those who are eating quality food — not big on fillers — that lead to a firm stool. A firm stool will create the pressure needed to naturally express the glands.
When the anal glands are not sufficiently expressed, bacteria can build up, which can lead to infections, which can lead to an abscess, which can lead to further problems.
If your dog is scooting or dragging his rear across the floor, emitting foul odors from his rear, or licking and chewing the area, those are signs that his anal glands may not be properly expressing. A visit to a groomer, or better yet a vet, can, shall we say, rectify the situation.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: anal, anal glands, animals, anus, bacteria, do-it-yourself, dog, dogs, express, expressed, expressing, expression, glands, groomers, health, infection, karen becker, manual, pets, rectum, veterinarian, veterinary, vets, video
Sen. Al Franken’s first piece of legislation — aimed at increasing the supply of service dogs for veterans – has been passed and is headed to the White House for approval.
Under the legislation, the Veterans Administration would develop partnerships with organizations that provide disabled veterans with service dogs. Franken said the measure will cost about $5 million and is designed not to interfere with non-profit organizations providing service dogs.
“The government is going to pay for essentially every other dog. What I didn’t want to happen was to dry up the funding for the organizations like Hearing and Service Dogs in Minneapolis and all of these non-profits who have been providing dogs to some vets.”
Franken said about 200 veterans will get dogs as a result of the legislation. The legislation was passed yesterday as apart of the Defense Authorization bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Franken introduced the legislation after meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan, a veteran who said his service dog improved his quality of life.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, al franken, approved, authorization, defense, dog, dogs, law, luis carlos montalvan, minnesota, passed, passes, sen., senate, senator, service, soldiers, veterans, vets, white house
Veterinarians and dog owners in New York are on alert for leptospirosis after reports this week that two Brooklyn dogs died of the disease and dozens more have been hospitalized.
The infectious illness rarely strikes the city in high numbers, but vets say it seems to be hitting a little earlier and harder this year, the New York Daily News reported.
“Lepto likes warm, wet weather and we’ve got that to a T,” said Dr. Cathy Langston, a renal specialist with the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, which is treating three dogs for the disease.
The swift-moving illness is spread by a bacteria in the urine of rats, skunks, raccoons and other infected animals, which dogs can come in contact with through contaminated water or moist soil. The disease can damage the kidney and liver and prove fatal if untreated.
The first signs in dogs are weight loss, vomiting, lethargy, depression, muscle pain and sometimes diarrhea or bloody urine.
The Daily News article says Amy Tiscornia, a waitress, returned home from work to her 4-year-old pit bull Bird unable to move. The white dog’s skin and belly were glowing yellow from jaundice and his eyes, she said, “were the color of Mountain Dew.”
The dog fully recovered after three days of treatment in a Long Island animal hospital.
And after a week of round-the-clock IV and treatment at a Long Island animal hospital — amounting to a $7,000 bill — Traci Schiffer’s Boston terrier Fenway also recovered.
Both women live in the East Village and frequently take their dogs to East River Park, where the canines play in the soggy fields and puddles of still water left by the intense rains, the story noted.
A Health Department spokeswoman said it is not considered an outbreak. In 2007, 17 cases were reported in the five boroughs.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bacteria, brooklyn, contaminated, deaths, disease, dog, dogs, illness, kidenys, lepto, leptospirosis, liver, new york, puddles, raccoons, rats, sick, skunks, soil, standing water, symptoms, veterinarian, veterinary, vets
If you’re not noticing Greenies on your store shelves these days, that’s because their maker, Nutro Products, Inc., has restricted those selling them to veterinary hospitals and pet specialty retailers.
In a press release issued last week, Nutro announced the change applies to Greenies canine and feline dental chews, Pill Pockets and Smart Biscuits.
“…We believe that pet medical professionals at veterinary hospitals and well-trained, knowledgeable staff at pet specialty stores are best equipped to answer pet owners’ questions about our products, and to make the right recommendation, said Carolyn Hanigan, Vice President of Marketing, Nutro Products, Inc.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: benefits, chews, choking, dangers, dental, esophagus, greenies, hazards, intestine, lodged, nutro products, professionals, restricts, retailers, sale, specialty, treats, veterinarians, veterinary, vets