Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Keeping Cats Calm and Happy

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The term ” ‘fraidy cat” didn’t come into use for no reason. While any pet can become nervous and afraid, cats can especially be a bit skittish. Not all cats are outdoor cats and so they become used to the confines of the home –unlike dogs who usually adapt quickly to the sights and smells of the great outdoors. So what are you supposed to do when you have to take your feline to the vet or for a car ride to your in-laws? The cat probably won’t go into the crate willingly.

With a little bit of gentle coaxing and the help of NaturVet Calming, you can help your little kitty relax. NaturVet is recommended for travel, grooming, thunderstorms, fireworks, or anything else that might send your frisky friend into a tizzy. Pair this with a soothing, gentle voice and some petting. Sometimes just the sound of your voice can be reassuring to your pet and help to calm him.

For those who have anxious cats on car trips, you can make the carrier a more friendly place by placing a towel or a pet bed inside. Take your cat on short trips several times to get him used to being inside. And with a little help from Calming soft chews, your cat can be stress free.

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Paying for the Vet

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Paying for veterinary care

When it comes to paying for veterinary costs, the lifetime health care costs of a pet, assuming you do all of the necessary treatments, is several thousand dollars.  Vaccinations and physical examinations for a healthy pet are around $100 a year.  The cost of heartworm prevention and flea and tick control are often about $60 to $120 for each yearly.  This is the basic cost of pet care for a pet with no health problems after the first year of shots and a spay or neutering. Unfortunately, most animals will get sick several times in their lives and the cost of treating health problems increases the overall cost of keeping your pet healthy.  Many people consider ways to handle the cost of veterinary care.  You should at least investigate and consider what you can and should do considering your situation.

1.      Self insure.  Veterinary care is expensive but not too expensive to afford with planning.  If you start a savings account when you start looking for a pet, it will allow you to pay for a lot of care without being in a bind.  If you have a thousand dollars upfront to put away, this would be great. However, most people do not have that amount of money to seed a savings account for their pet.

I suggest that you start with young animals putting away at least $20 a month during the first year.  That first year, a lot of expenses are present – lots of vaccines and a spay/neuter and sometimes other preventative medications or surgery.  You won’t be able to save much due to these costs, but if you can afford to save about $800 a year, every year  after that this will allow you to pay for all of your veterinary bills for one pet.  To save about $800 dollars, $15 dollars a week is a good start.  For most pets, yearly care is $200 to $300 a year.  Even with your regular care taken out of that money, $500 will be saved to start a nice emergency fund.  With multiple pets, the emergency fund can be used for both pets so it does not double the cost of the fund, unless you decide to do that.  If you save $500 to 800 a year after the first year, this will allow you to be able to pay for a major emergency after a couple of years.  I use this method myself.

2.      Care Credit: the care credit option allows you to charge your veterinary bills if they are over a certain amount and pay it off as you would a monthly credit card bill.  This is a separate crediting service that is managed like a credit card to cover only health care costs over a certain amount.  Many veterinary offices can run an application for care credit and get you an account before or after you receive care for your pet.

3.      Pet insurance.  This option has improved a lot in the last decade and its popularity is increasing over the last several years.  I am still not completely on board that everyone needs pet health insurance, but some people use this option. However, unlike your health insurance, veterinary offices will NOT file this for you.  Most of the time, you must get the paperwork filled out and send it in yourself to get REIMBURSED.  In other words, you still have to be able to charge services or pay the veterinarian with cash to cover the cost upfront.  These policies usually have a deductable, pay a percentage of the costs (typically up to 80%)  and include yearly caps on the cost of treatment with some policies.

Unlike most physicians who have a staff of medical billers to take care of your insurance needs and tract down payment for all costs after your copayment, veterinary offices do not have additional administrative staff to file paperwork.  This keeps the veterinary administrative costs down and allows you see a la carte (individual) costs upfront when you visit the veterinarian, unlike in human doctor’s offices; however, you have to do all of the work related to getting your money back.

There are currently several companies that offer pet insurance.  However, as with most policies, you have to make sure that they cover what you need.  Unlike with most human policies, you can get veterinary care policies that only cover catastrophic events.  Some policies, which cost a lot more, will cover the cost of routine veterinary services in the monthly premium, BUT almost all of the policies will NOT cover genetic, hereditary or pre-exisiting conditions.  This means that if your pet is at risk of a disease that has a high breed predisposition, the expensive treatment or medical care to maintain your pet’s health may be completely excluded from the policy due to a genetic or hereditary reason.

Finally, many of these policies exclude “preventable diseases”.  A preventable disease is usually  considered a disease that can be vaccinated against, such as parvovirus.  Treatments for these diseases are not covered if you did not take preventative measures.  Therefore if your dog contracts parvovirus (if you did not get him vaccinated), the policy will not cover the treatment, which is often many hundreds of dollars.   You may be able to get treatment covered if you did get your dog vaccinated since you did try to prevent the disease.

You should do extensive research on any potential insurance policy and read the fine print.  This will make sure that you will not be spending money on something that will not pay out in the long run.

The following link at MSN money includes information on pet insurance from last year.

It includes a decent amount of information pet insurance in general, as well as a final statement hat individuals who purchase pet insurance appear to spend more money on their pet’s health care than those without pet insurance.


Good luck in determining the best options for your lifestyle and budget.

S. Mason, DVM

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Traveling with your Pets and Emergency Vet Visits

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Emergency visits and traveling

We often go on vacations or trips requiring extra preparations for our pets.  This preparation will help you when unexpected events occur.  Here are a few things that can be done to make sure that you are not caught off guard, or if you are, it is less stressful.

When leaving your pet with someone while you go on a trip, make sure that person or facility has a copy of your vaccination records for each pet.  Also, you should have a signed permission to treat form in case of emergency with an amount that cannot be exceeded without contacting you.  Make sure your relationship is such that your pet sitter or boarding facility knows that they should get emergency care when necessary. Also, use your judgment when selecting someone who would be qualified at determining what is wrong.

When traveling with your pets, you should carry or have copies of veterinary records and a health certificate for your pets when necessary.  Having copies of veterinary records is imperative even if you are traveling within the state.  This because the importance of an up to date rabies shot cannot be emphasized enough.  When traveling in state, if your pet gets sick and you have to make a veterinary visit, if you have the records it will make the visit less stressful and prevents unnecessary vaccinations if your regular veterinary office cannot be reached.  Secondly, when traveling out of state, you are supposed to get a health certificate for all traveling animals.  This is required when flying with a pet, but it is strongly encouraged when driving with that pet.  If you do not get a health certificate, you should carry the veterinary records of most recent vaccinations with you.  This will help if you are stopped by a police officer or other state official or if you have to make a veterinary visit.

Whether you are at home or traveling, emergencies can happen.  You can do a few key things to help the process when an emergency occurs and during the process to decrease the stress.  If you are not going to your regular hospital, take a copy of your most recent veterinary records that show proof of vaccinations, especially rabies.  Some hospitals will not see patients that do not have proof of vaccinations or require rabies and other vaccinations before the visit.  This is imperative in cases of animal-human bites with lack of rabies.  Without vaccinations your pet may be quarantined or euthanized without your permission depending on the state or county policy.  The veterinarian will have a policy or at least obey state laws for this situation.

The best advice if you are worried about your pet is to call your veterinarian or a veterinarian several hours before close of the business day.  If your pet is sick, do not wait until the end of the business day to call about receiving care.  You know how it is at the end of the workday.  Think about whether you would want to stay an extra 2 or 3 hours if a customer just showed up right before close.  This is rude and, often, you knew your pet was sick before 12pm on Saturday or 5 or 6pm on a weeknight.  Therefore, expect that you may be told to go to the emergency clinic if you call or show up right before closing time.  Unfortunately, when you do not have a relationship with that veterinary hospital, you are more likely be told to go to the emergency clinic than if they know you.  Remember, most veterinary clinics or hospitals are small businesses that run on daily revenue.  They are less likely to pay people to stay after hours if they don’t know you and can be assured that you will pay for services or agree to care if they do stay open for an extra hour.

If you have to go to a veterinary emergency clinic, expect to spend at least $350 to $500 dollars.  Emergency clinics often have a minimum office visit fee that is often 2 to 3 times what a regular hospital charges.  They will do more diagnostics than your regular vet and often cannot reach your regular veterinary hospital which makes having copies of all records important for after hours or holiday emergency visits.

Other tips for emergency visits to either an emergency clinic or a new vet hospital

Give a good history and answer all questions as best you can.  Sometimes what seem to be insignificant changes or details are actually the key to figuring out what is wrong.  Remember this veterinarian does not know your pet like your regular veterinarian does so don’t leave out any details and be as honest as possible.

Sometimes questions or subjects may be embarrassing to discuss.  Even if you are embarrassed by your pet eating underwear, dirty diapers or drugs (prescription or recreational), the veterinarian will be less likely to judge you than you think.  Even if he/she does seem shocked, it is irrelevant as you will likely never see him again after your pet is well.  Plus, not being up front may result in delayed treatment and even death for your pet.  I can tell stories of clients denying something and later changing their original answer several days later.  In these situations the best treatment was delayed or not considered for a long period of time.  The major consequences of this is a ravaging on your pocketbook and often worsening of your pets health due to delaying the best treatment.  Furthermore, if you think that a lawsuit will solve the problem, you will find that an expert witness will likely find in the favor of the veterinarian as you were not upfront on the problem and this delayed or prevented appropriate care.

Some other things to consider with the visit are:

1. Always be upfront with the veterinarian about money.

If you can only spend $500, then tell the office that you will only authorize treatment for up to $500.  This will give a good idea of what can be done and the veterinarian can prioritize testing and treatment options.

2. Get the prognosis compared with the cost.

During the initial exam, we can often tell how the patient is and get an idea of what needs to be done.  The veterinarian will often try to give you an idea of whether the disease is treatable or an end of life situation, unless you spend huge amounts of money.

The thing that is most heartbreaking to me is when we can treat, but the owner refuses to spend a little bit of money, and the outcome is death without any treatment.

3. Ask for all of the treatment options.

Often the veterinarian will have a best way to handle treatment, which is usually more expensive. Sometimes there will be other options that can work, but you need to know how effective these are as well as the cost.  The other option for the absolute best care is a referral if the office cannot handle the treatment.

4. Listen to what the veterinarian is saying.

In stressful or emergency situations, we often do not follow discussions as well as when we are relaxed.    If you are having trouble following what the veterinarian is saying, ask for a moment to be alone and collect your thoughts about what is going on.   Get the vet to write the main diagnostic and treatment points down, get an estimate and go over the main points again.  Sometimes a decision to stabilize has to be done immediately.  In this case, you have to make a decision to spend usually around $200 right then.

If the veterinarian tells you that you have to treat soon (ASAP) or death will result, this means that you cannot treat the patient at home.  If you ask several times and you are still told hospitalization, then you need to understand that hospitalization is the only way.  I have told this to clients and explained why.  Some have still refused care and then called back trying to know what to do to treat at home.  We have had to explain again, we told you this already, your pet has to stay in the hospital to treat this.  You have to do this or your pet will not get better.  Often you will be asked to sign a form stating that you decline treatment and that you understand what you are doing.  This is because the office wants you to understand what you have agreed to.  If you are not sure, ask directly about the outcome if you do not treat.

5. If you cannot treat or will not treat, consider euthanasia.

Finally, if you are not able to do what is best for the patient and you are not morally opposed to euthanasia, you should consider it as a final option.  Unlike in human medicine, where patients can be forced to treat conditions or have less say in treatment, veterinary medicine gives you the option on how to proceed.  Consider euthanasia if you are unable to spend the money and it is condition that will result in death.  I point this out, because I would not want to die in a huge amount of pain with no treatment if another option were available to me.


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Make bath time a breeze with Shamwow!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

If you haven’t seen the Shamwow commercials on TV you may be missing the biggest bathing secret known to mankind.

The Shamwow towel is the quickest and easiest way to pre-dry your dog. (I’m assuming that you use a blow dryer or some means of warm moving air to do the finish drying.) A Shamwow will literally suck the water off you dog’s coat cutting your drying time in half.

We also keep a Shamwow towel by the door to wipe off the wet feet.

Unfortunately, we do not sell the Shamwow, but they’re readily available at Walmart, Target, most drugstores, and online.


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Cleaning the pet carseat

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

During a car seat wash today I reflected on just how many times I’ve wash these covers and how new they still look. The current seats we use for the boys are My Buddy Car Seat which are about four years old. The current covers have been washed no less than twelve times, and the replacements four or five. We bought replacement covers so that while traveling cross-country we could change the cover in case of any “accidents” that may occur. None did so the covers are spares and replacements to keep down wear on the originals. Our covers are khaki quilt. I have found the quilt to be the most durable. They wear like iron. We follow manufacturers suggestions for washing.

We do have replacement covers available just in case you want a spare also.

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