Saturday, October 11, 2014

Common Pet Poisons

Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it can also bring about new household and environmental toxins to consider. The following list contains some of the more common fall toxins that can pose serious problems if ingested by our pets:
  • Mushrooms - Certain types can be very dangerous. One of the most dangerous is the Amanita phalloides, which is found throughout the US. Symptoms of mushroom ingestion can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, seizures, depression and even organ damage. Please try to keep your yard free of mushrooms.
  • Mothballs -  Mothballs typically contain either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene. Symptoms of ingestion can include vomiting, severe abdominal pain, tremors, weakness, organ failure or even problems with red blood cells.
  • Antifreeze -  As little as one teaspoon for a cat or a tablespoon or two for dogs can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk, excessive thirst, and lethargy. While these signs start to resolve in hours, the internal damage to the kidneys is occurring and can be fatal. Immediate treatment is important.
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (Rodenticides) -  Mouse and Rat poisons pose a threat not only if your pet directly ingests the bait, but also if your pet is exposed to a large number of dead mice that have eaten the bait. Newer poisons are largely neurotoxins and are extremely dangerous. There is no effective treatment. The best course of action is to prevent exposure by securing any bait away from your pets and keeping them away from any potentially affected mice and rats.
  • Compost bins or piles - These can have molding food products that contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which cause seizures. 
  • Red maple leaves -  A seemingly innocent leaf, the red maple can result in hemolytic anemia in dogs and cats if eaten, and it is a serious concern for horses as well. 

Two important resources are :
  1. ASPCA Poison Control Center open 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.  (888) 426-4435.
  2. Pet Poison Help Line open 24 hours a day.  (800) 213-6680.  Poison Helpline also now has an iPhone app “Pet Poison Help”.
For only $1.99, Pet Poison Help will provide you with:
  • Life-saving access to poison information with one-touch direct dialing to Pet Poison Helpline.
  • A searchable database of over 250 poisonous plants, foods, medications and household items, all with pictures.
  • Descriptions of how specific poisons affect your pet, their alternate common names, and symptoms to watch for.
  • Instructions on what to do if your dog or cat is exposed to a dangerous substance.
  • Constant access to poison information –  even when you don’t have Internet access

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pet Insurance

Just like everyone else, pets sometimes get sick, and health care for your pet can get very costly very quickly, especially in unexpected emergency situations. According to 2010 PetPlan claims data, one in three pets will need unexpected veterinary care each year, and dogs under the age of one are actually 2.5 times more likely than their older brethren to have an unexpected visit to the vet.  

While every pet parent wants to provide their pet with the very best care, sometimes the high costs can force you to ask your vet for less expensive alternatives. 

While everyone wants to make the best decision for their pet, regardless of cost, treatments can quickly get very expensive. Every six seconds, a pet parent is faced with a vet bill for more than $1000. This means that many pet owners are faced with covering this large bill themselves or asking their vet for a less expensive, and sometimes less effective, alternative treatment option.  

This is where pet insurance can be a huge benefit! By insuring your pet’s health, you can have peace of mind that your unexpected veterinary costs can be covered should your pet get sick or injured. Not all pet insurance plans are created equal, but there are many good options out there. Here are the top five questions to ask before buying pet insurance:
  1. Does the policy cover chronic and hereditary conditions?  
  2. Will my policy offer coverage for the rest of my pet's life?  
  3. Are there per-condition limits?   
  4. How well-established is the company?  
  5. Can you customize your policy?
You also need to know:
  • Is there a physical exam required to get coverage?
  • Is there a waiting period before the coverage goes into effect?
  • What percentage of the bill does the insurance pay — after the deductible?
  • Are payments capped in any way?
  • Are there co-pays?
  • Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions? What is considered a pre-existing condition?
  • Can you use any vet or animal hospital?
  • Are prescription drugs covered?
  • Are you covered if you travel with your pet?
Make sure you consider what you could reasonably afford to spend if an emergency occurred, and weight that against what each plan is really giving you and the monthly or yearly cost of enrollment. Some plans carry wellness plans while others don't. Some cover alternative therapies (i.e. acupuncture) and others don't. Most policies do not cover congenital or hereditary conditions, but there are some exceptions.  

In short, there are many pet insurance options out there, but having your pet insured can make your veterinary treatment decision that much easier by covering most, if not all, of the associated costs. With a little bit of research, you can make sure you are getting the right plan for you and your pet.

**Some information was provided by PetPlan insurance and NBC News comparison.