Dog Poop: What Your Dog’s Poop Is Telling You

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Dog is smiling while taking a poop in the weeds.
“After I empty myself, you know I’ll want more food!!”

*Warning: Dog Poop Pictures are Ahead. At least there’s no stink!!

Dog owners have to have a high tolerance for being grossed out. We’re expected to clean up after our pups, and not many of them are trained to use a human toilet.

But picking up your dog’s poop isn’t just a courtesy or a matter of public health, it’s a chance for you to find out what’s going on inside your pup. Dog feces can tell you a lot about a dog’s health and what may be wrong with their diet.

If you see anything unusual about your dog’s poop, then it’s time for a call to your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment!

Here are a few things your dog’s stool can indicate.

Normal Dog Poop

Normal, healthy dog poop tends to be firm and a little moist.

You should be familiar with your dog’s normal stool so that you can monitor any changes. The volume, color, and odor are important to note, too.

Dogs who get too much fiber tend to produce high volume with a strong odor. This happens with certain dry food diets, as your dog can’t process all the nutrients and pushes them out. Raw food diets can result in smaller stool with a weaker smell.

Any of these can be normal depending on your dog’s diet, so pay attention to what your pup’s poop usually looks and smells like.

White, Chalky Dog Poop

Dogs who eat a raw food diet that’s high in calcium or bone might pass stool that is chalky and white. This can be a sign that your dog is at risk for obstipation, which is an inability to evacuate their bowels without outside help.

This chronic constipation can lead to lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. It requires help from a veterinarian, so save these stool samples and bring them in.

White Or Tan Specks in Dog Poop

If you see white or tan specks in your dog’s stool, you should save a sample and bring it to your vet right away.

These specks can indicate a parasite infestation, like roundworm or tapeworm.

Your vet should be able to detect these things before you see evidence in your dog’s stool, which is why you should always go in for regular check-ups.


Black, Tarry, Green, Yellow, Or Red Dog Poop

Poop that is black, tarry, green, yellow, or red usually indicates bleeding and can be a sign that there are problems in the intestinal or anal area.

It can mean anything from an injury to the GI tract to cancer.

This will require a trip to the vet to determine exactly what the problem is, so again, save your dog’s stool sample so it can be tested.

Soft, Loose Stool

If your dog’s poop seems soft and loose, it may just be an indication of a change in diet, or it may mean your dog has been eating things they shouldn’t be eating.

If you’ve changed your dog’s diet recently, monitor changes in poop. You may have to alter the diet if it doesn’t improve.

A soft, loose stool can also indicate giardia or another intestinal parasite. Make a trip to the vet if the poop consistency doesn’t return to normal.

Greasy, Gray Stool

Poop that looks gray and greasy can indicate that there’s too much fat in your dog’s diet.

It may be time for a dietary change because too much fat can lead to inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis. These conditions can be mild or life-threatening, so take your dog’s diet seriously.

Watery Diarrhea In High Volume

“I can’t stop pooping!!”

If your dog is having three to five bowel movements a day and producing a high volume of diarrhea every time, it’s likely a problem in the small intestine.

There can be any number of causes from injury, to a viral infection, to bacteria, to food allergies.

Your vet will need to determine the cause, so bring in a sample of the stool for testing.

Watery Diarrhea In Low Volume

If your dog is having more than five bowel movements a day and producing a low volume of diarrhea each time, the problem is probably in the large intestine.

Again, there can be a range of causes, including worms, polyps, ulcers, or cancer.

Your vet can determine the cause, so you should provide a sample of the stool for testing.

Soft Stool With Mucous

A soft stool with a coating of unusual mucous can be a sign that parvovirus or parasites are present. If you notice worms or eggs in soft or watery stool, this is also an indication of parasites.

If you see this type of stool, then–this shouldn’t be a surprise at this point–get to your vet and provide them with your dog’s stool sample.

Your vet should be able to catch many of these infestations before you see visible signs in your dog’s stool, so make sure to keep up with regular check-ups.

My Personal Dog Poo Stories

I’ve had my fair share of looking at dog poop from Frankie and Chloe to working with other people’s dogs.

With Frankie, he would always be eating something he shouldn’t like leaves and seeds that fall from trees. It would always make him have diarrhea. When he got older, we started noticing mucus and blood in his stools. We took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Thanks to us paying attention to his poo, he got medication right away.

Chloe usually has normal poops. I’m always looking closely to make sure nothing is weird about her stools. Once in a while when she gets new treats, she might get some diarrhea, but we keep her very regular with her food.

When working with other people’s dogs, I always let them know what types of stools mean. Being a vet assistant, I am always happy when clients bring in stool samples of their dogs. It’s a very important item to dissect to understand what is going on inside the dog.

Stinky Dog Farts: Causes And Prevention Tips

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Eww, Who Farted?

Stinky dog farts are sometimes a thing of legend. You know your dog has a gassy problem when cuddling on the couch turns into a test of how long you can hold your breath. Your four-legged family member can let them rip with more stench than any person you know. While all dogs fart on occasion, some have the unnerving ability to pass gas that can only be described as deadly.

Song of the Skunk Cabbage

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,

By the shining Falling-Water,

Sat a sated son of nature,

Breaking wind with sacred pleasure.

Farting is completely natural and sometimes even good for your dog’s health, but poots that make you gasp for fresh air are a sign something isn’t right with your dog’s digestion. Smelly dog farts can’t actually hurt the person who’s forced to smell them, but the underlying issue could be affecting more than your home’s air quality. Before I get into ways to stop the smell, consider possible reasons your dog’s fart are especially bad.

Why Dogs Fart

According to the AKC, dogs develop gas for the same reasons their owners do.

“A change in diet, a food that doesn’t agree with them, and gastrointestinal illness can all lead to imbalances in the microflora in your dog’s stomach and small intestines. These organisms are responsible for the excess gas and subsequent farts that are making you and your dog miserable.”

“Well how dare you do that near me!”

Eating too much fiber and ingesting foreign objects can both be reasons why a dog is farting more than normal. Certain dogs also tend to swallow a lot of air when they eat and drink, especially short-nosed brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Boston terriers. This additional swallowed air has to come out some way!

“Do you guys smell that?”

A sudden change in their diet can also upset a dog’s stomach, and excessive farting may be a symptom of food allergies. Before you can successfully put an end to the stink, you’ll need to determine whether the issue is related to a medical problem or nutritional lapse. If your dog isn’t interested in trying the new food you decide on, use this special trick.

  • Pick up the food bowl that has the new food that your dog doesn’t seem interested in.
  • Go to the fridge and open it, shuffling things around in the fridge.
  • Act like you are putting something in the dog bowl and shuffle the food around.
  • Set the bowl back down for the dog to eat.

Most dogs will think, “Hey, they just put some good yummy human food in my bowl!” and start to eat the new food.

How to Help Stinky Dog Farts Less

Your strategy for helping relieve your dog’s stinky dog farts will largely depend on the underlying cause. It might not be necessary to try all these suggestions, but if your dog seems otherwise healthy and you haven’t been able to pinpoint anything specific that’s causing the smell, it won’t hurt to initiate a full-on plan of attack. Here are a few things you can do.

1. Switch Dog Foods For Less Farts

Before you stress over the possibility of your dog being sick, realize the food they eat is directly related to the gas they produce. VetWest Animal Hospital writes,

“Most cases of chronic flatulence are caused by a diet that is poorly digested by the dog. These poorly digestible diets cause excessive fermentation in the colon and subsequent gas formation.”

Commercial dog foods aren’t always formulated with a dog’s healthy digestive system in mind. It’s up to you to read the list of ingredients and determine if it’s helping or hurting your dog’s health. The extra food your dog earns through begging could also be an issue. Dogs aren’t built to properly digest most human food, and regularly eating table scraps could be the simple reason why your dog farts. High-fat diets are known for causing excess gas, and foods like beans, dairy, and peas aren’t good either.

Try switching to a better quality dog food to test if it affects your dog’s gas. When you make the switch, do it gradually. Your dog’s stomach and intestines need time to adjust to the dietary change.

2. Make Them Eat Slower, Less Air for Stinky Dog Farts

Along with what your dog eats, how they eat could also be contributing to their farting problem. Dogs that scarf down their food in seconds also swallow a lot of air. The extra air passes through the digestive system and puffs out the other end in the form of flatulence. You need to slow your dog’s roll, and the best way to do that is with a slow feed dog bowl. These bowls have maze-like ridges on the bottom that force chowhounds to slow down.

PetMD also reports respiratory diseases can cause dogs to take in extra air, and AKC lists brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs and pugs as being more likely to swallow air while eating. Dogs might also take in excess air because they’re eating near a competing dog and feel the need to hurry up and eat before their food is stolen. Moving them to a private area during dinner will help them relax and eat without swallowing too much air.

3. Get Moving, Leave Farts Outside

Overweight dogs that rarely exercise are more at risk of developing chronic gas than the average active pup. Regular exercise helps stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. When digested food moves through the system smoothly, noxious gas is less of a problem. Going on walks also encourages dogs to poop, and going to the bathroom gives them the chance to expel those nasty odors somewhere other than your living room.

4. Feed Multiple Meals Per Day

Feeding a dog one or two large meals a day is okay, but it isn’t what’s best for their intestinal tract. With small meals, there’s less food sitting in the stomach that can ferment and turn into gas. This prevents there from being a build-up of gas that eventually turns into an expulsion of toxic fumes (aka stinky dog farts). Eating smaller amounts of food is also easier on digestion for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It won’t change the amount of food your dog eats, it only spreads out calorie consumption to be more manageable.

5. Avoid Handing Out Table Scraps

“If I just could have some of that please.”

There’s a reason dog food comes separately from our own. Foods high in fat and sugar that we humans enjoy (probably too often) can upset a dog’s tummy. Most dogs are lactose intolerant as well, so don’t go tossing them cheese or cakes. You should also avoid letting them have steamed vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. (If it makes you have major gas, it’s going to be worse for your poor dog.)

6. Try Dietary Supplements for Farts

A study (admittedly of humans) found that charcoal and zinc acetate reduced the fart smell. Another study found that Yucca schidigera reduced hydrogen sulfide concentrations that make dog poop extra smelly. All of these are available as dietary supplements, but consult your vet before you start giving them to your dog. They might also recommend probiotic powders or antacids.

7. Visit the Vet If Farts Are Not Resolving

If nothing seems to be working, it’s time to consider the possibility your dog has a medical condition. Excessive gas could be a symptom of any of the following issues:

  • Canine colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis

But don’t freak out just yet. The only way to confirm the theory is to visit the vet. Don’t hold back when describing the severity of your dog’s smell and the frequency of their farts. Whether your dog has a GI illness, allergies, pancreas function failure, or parasites, a vet will be able to give you a diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment.

“Hurry up and give me one of those gas pills. I’m feeling bloated!”

Frankie’s and Chloe’s Stinky Dog Farts Story

“Fart war begins after we eat.”
“There goes that sound again!”

Frankie was a pug, so I knew there would be farting. It was always cute at first when he would fart because he would toot and be startled by it. You’d hear a little “pffft” and he would quickly turn and sniff asking “Did that just come out of me?”. Later in his life he developed pancreatitis, which made his farts the worst I’ve ever smelled. It would make you gag! Then we’d have the family fanning the awful fart smell around the room!

“I think I just farted.”

Chloe has a little smoosh in her nose and has a elongated palate, so a lot of air gets trap when she eats and gets treats out of her toy. I’ve never heard a dog fart so loud! Some of the time I think it’s my husband. Chloe doesn’t care when she farts. She just lets them flow right out without noticing what she’s doing. When she’s sleeping is when the worst of the farts come out. All you hear is a “hhoooo” and all of a sudden it reeks!

Winter Time! Taking Care of Your Dog in the Cold

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“I need more clothes than just a scarf!”

Yay! It’s snowing!

Dogs can have a blast in the winter, exploring and frolicking in freshly fallen snow. But dogs (well, most dogs anyway) particularly love a snowy terrain. They like to bound and dig in their giant, new, snowy playground and never seem to want to go inside no matter how ready their humans are to leave the cold and wet outdoors behind.

However, frozen precipitation and colder temperatures can also be dangerous for dogs if their owners don’t take proper precautions. If you’re a new pet parent, or simply unsure of the best way to care for your pet during the winter months, it’s important to get acquainted with the do’s and don’ts of keeping your pet safe and healthy out there.

Keep Them Bundled Up

“I know I look dapper in this sweater!”

Even if the temperature is above freezing, pets’ extremities, just like our own, are extremely susceptible to wind chill. They can get hypothermia and frostbite on their exposed paws, noses and ears. While dogs don’t typically wear hats for long, you can help protect them from the cold by putting them in insulated sweaters and jackets, and covering their feet with waterproof paw booties. Those booties will also help keep their paw pads from cracking from the de-icing salt on roads and walkways.

Wipe Them Down as Soon as They Come Inside

“After you dry me with the towel, can I go back outside?”

As a form of precipitation, snow can leave pets cold and very wet at the end of a snowy play session, and if they remain like that for a while, they could get a cold or hypothermia (your furniture will also take a beating). In order to avoid all that, make sure to towel them off as soon as they come inside. You can keep a designated pet towel by the door so you never forget this important step.

NEVER Leave Pets Outside Overnight or For an Extended Period of Time

“Are they ever going to let me in? I’m starting to get balls of snow stuck to my fur.”

According to the Humane Society, you should never leave pets outside for long periods of time when it gets cold. In fact, leaving a pet outside alone in temperatures below freezing for more than 30 minutes is considered neglect, which is a punishable crime. Even if you have a typically outdoor cat, they should be able to get inside somewhere warm whenever they need to.

If your pet has to spend a significant amount time outdoors, they should have access to a dry, insulated shelter that’s large enough for them to move around in and maintains their body heat.

Eating and Drinking Guidelines

“Is this melted snow?”

Dogs especially expend more energy when they’re running outside in the cold. You can help them make up for that by feeding them a bit more food so they can replace the energy/calories they lost playing. You may also want to consider exchanging your metal food and water bowls for plastic ones if you keep them outside as a warm dog tongue could easily get stuck to them.

Keep Pets From Eating Rock Salt

DO NOT LET DOGS EAT SALT ROCKS

Pets suffering from salt poisoning, unfortunately, becomes much more common in the winter months. Rock salt is regularly used to de-ice the roadways and walkways they walk on. If they ingest it, either while on a walk or by licking it off their paws, it can be fatal. The best way to prevent salt poisoning is to keep an eye on your pet and if you notice they’ve eaten salt, wash their mouth out and call the pet poison hotline. If you’re not sure whether or not your pet has ingested salt, here are some warning signs of salt poisoning to watch out for:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • not eating
  • excessive thirst
  • and/or urination
  • incoordination
  • tremors
  • seizures

There are safe alternative products to use on your slippery walk and driveway that are pet safe.

Take Them for Their Annual Vet Visit

“You said this was just a check-up. If I feel any shots, I’m pooping in your car!”

Right before winter hits is the perfect time to take your pets in to see the vet, because you’ll learn if they have any new conditions that might make winter a bit tougher on them. For example, chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease can lower a pet’s cold-temperature tolerance. And, of course, new or worsening arthritis can make for stiffer joints during cold snaps.

Shorten Walking Times

“I wish I had some fancy boots to keep my paws warm.”

It may be tempting to let your pet play in the snow for hours on end, but like us, they have cold weather limits, they just aren’t as aware of them. So if it’s below freezing, you should limit playtime to under 30 minutes, especially if you have an older pet or one that’s compromised in any way.

Cold Temperature Guidelines for Dogs

“I don’t whether I want to look silly or be cold.”

In general, cold temperatures should not become a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45° F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. When temperatures fall below 32° F, owners of small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, and/or very young, old or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being. Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in a Cold Car

“Ummm, I think you forgot to roll up the window.”

Just like how a car left in the hot sun can heat up fast and basically become an oven for any living thing inside it, cars left out in the winter become like refrigerators. So the general rule of thumb is don’t take your pets on errands if you know you’re going to be leaving them in a car for longer than five minutes, especially if it’s balmy or freezing outside.

Pet-Proof the Inside of Your House

“I could sleep here all day with that warm fire.”

Since your pets should be spending more time indoors in the winter, it’s a good idea to secure all of your heating devices that could be susceptible to a bounding and/or large creature. For example, if you’ve set up a portable heater in your living room, make sure you have a barrier around it so that your pet doesn’t knock into it or knock it over and potentially start a fire. And if you have radiators that can get hot, you might want to put a barrier around them as well so that pets don’t burn themselves.

Frankie Hated the Snow, Chloe Loves the Snow!

“I don’t want to go into that crappy snow! I’ll just poop inside!”

In his younger age, Frankie would tolerate being in the snow to potty, but he never played a whole lot. He just went out to do his business and wanted to come right back inside the house. As he got older and developed diabetes, his litter paws couldn’t take the cold any longer. He would walk out alright, but then he would hop around until someone would pick him up to go back inside.

“Throw me another one of those snowballs!”

Chloe on the other hand could play in the snow forever! She loves running through the snow and being goofy. She especially loves when I make snowballs for her and throw them. It’s funny when she instantly freaks out because she can’t find it in the snow! Then I let her lick a snowball so she knows its a real ball!!

Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels? National Squirrel Day!

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Why Dogs Chase Squirrels

“I’m going to get you little squirrel!”

A walk in the park or a stroll down a country lane can turn into a frenzied hunt for squirrels for some dogs and their owners! A flighty little dash of fur and suddenly your pup is off on the chase. Their prey drive kicks in and there is very little you can do when this happens.

Hunting, chasing and rushing off after small animals are a worry if you are out walking and trying to enjoy some exercise. Everyone wants to feel safe to walk in a park or open country environment with their dog.

Chasing squirrels is particularly common for breeds of dogs with instinctive desires to hunt. They get the scent of a little critter like a squirrel and Mother Nature takes over. Small breeds of dogs, like Terriers, are natural born hunters. In many situations, uncontrolled chasing can have unhappy consequences. Overcoming instinctive reactions is challenging but not impossible. Armed with patience and some helpful guidelines, you will be able to make a difference and curb this behavior.

The Root of the Behavior

Hunting

“I’m going to get you this time! That’s the last time you poke fun at me.”

Hunting is a natural behavior of animals like dogs that have descended from wolves. Nature has equipped dogs with a strong sense of smell and a desire to chase smaller creatures. Their brains are wired to respond to an animal running away with a chase reaction. Add to that some breeds are bred to track and flush out game. They are driven by the scent of the animal they are chasing and an innate prey drive response. When your dog gets into this instinctive mode, it is difficult to change their mind without some prior intervention and coping skills.

Sense of Smell

“I know I can smell a trail of squirrels around here somewhere. Can you smell them?”

A dog’s keen sense of smell is the key issue. Dogs have a sense of smell that is between 1000 to 10,000 times more powerful than ours. Some dogs, like Beagles, are incredibly scent driven. Dogs also have a large olfactory center in their brain where they can store all the information about smells they know. The scent of squirrel is probably high up there on the list of scents to remember. In some cases, long after the squirrel has disappeared, your dog will carry on the chase just because they still smell the scent of the squirrel.

Squirrel: “Maybe if I just act like a dog, he won’t notice me.”

The hound group of dogs is especially scent driven. It is a good idea to find out about a breed and it’s instinctive behavior before you contemplate having them join your family.

Positive Reinforcement Obedience Training

A good place to start correcting the behavior is with some basic obedience training. If you are aware that the breed you have is a member of the scent hound division, then keeping their focus on you is going to be very important.

Your dog should focus on you while on walks when you notice something that may trigger your dog to misbehave.

Attending obedience classes and learning the basic commands of sit and stay will give you more control. Reward your dog for listening and being focused on you. Little treats that they really love will give the message that you have a better reward to offer than the squirrel in the tree. Correcting instinctive behavior is challenging. While you are trying to correct the behavior walk on a leash or even use a Head Collar to have control over lunging and pulling.

Avoid areas with lots of squirrels while you are training. Start your obedience activities a fair distance away from the squirrel zone and move closer as you see your dog being more focused on you and less on the squirrels.

Prey driven behavior may need the help of an animal behaviorist if you are not able to deal with this yourself.

Encouraging the Behavior

Squirrel chasing is always going to distract your dog on a walk as it buys into their prey drive instinct. The natural sequence of predatory action is:

  • search
  • stalk
  • chase
  • grab

It is important to watch out for the initial stages of this sequence and intercept before the chase begins. Try to watch your dog and anticipate the beginning of the sequence and intercept with a distraction. A noise distraction is often successful as this will draw attention away from the squirrel even if it is just for a moment. A tin full of coins to shake or loud whistle could be the noise distraction.

Join a Group For Tracking Dogs

The prey driven dog or scent hound may actually bring you a lot of joy if you recognize their natural ability and join groups of other dogs and their owners participating in tracking events. Training with other dogs and rewarding your dog for the behavior they were bred to do could be great fun for both of you.

Find dog tracking groups at: https://www.akc.org/sports/tracking/getting-started/

Scent Game at Home

Learn how to play scent games at home or in your backyard.

Start with a few bits of kibble or a treat and let your dog search for the treats. Say ‘find it’ or ‘go fetch’ as a command and then build on the experience by hiding treats in more difficult places. You will be rewarding your dog for using their natural instinct and challenging their mental and physical abilities. Although chasing squirrels is not to be encouraged, participating in scent trail groups and organized activities is a great idea.

Search and rescue activities and agility are all the kinds of dog outlets that will go a long way towards enjoying the instinctive nature of your dog as a true blue hound.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Your dog’s safety is always of paramount importance and therefore encouraging random chasing in public places poses dangers to the dog and other citizens. Starting obedience training early on in your dog’s life will help enormously to give you the upper hand.

Trying to break the pattern of a prey drive instinct will require patience and determination. You will always have to manage your walk with care as you look out for the instinctive signs of a chase mode. Getting your dog to focus on you is the important behavior you are looking for.

Remember the chase is enjoyable for your dog. They are having fun while you struggle to get them under control. Some breeds are more driven to chase than others, so take that into consideration and find activities to allow for this instinctive desire to chase. Your prey driven dog will thank you!

Patience Will Pay Off

“I know I’m not suppose to chase after that squirrel, but he’s been mocking me!”

Preventing squirrel chasing could be almost impossible with some breeds of dogs but you may be pleasantly surprised when some of your patience and time spent training pays off. Imagine how you and your dog will feel after a round of ‘find it’ in the park when you have a moment of success.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Fido.

Fido who?

Fidon’t catch that squirrel, I am going to go nuts!

Chloe LOVES Looking For Squirrels

“What kind of creature are you?”

Chloe loves squirrels. Whether it’s sitting inside looking out the window for squirrels or walking and catching a glimpse of one before I redirect her attention. She’ll try sneaking on them if she’s in the backyard, but she’s not very good at sneaking!

She’s only caught one squirrel that had an injured leg (squirrel was too slow!). Chloe only had it gently in her mouth, then dropped it when I yelled at her to drop it! The squirrel wasn’t injured by Chloe and ran away.

On walks when she sees one, she’ll start whining and do her little jumpy dance. I just have to redirect her with a little “Ah, ah” and she will stop with a little huff. (She gets mad that she can’t play with the squirrels!)

How To Stop A Dog From Digging

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Why Do Dogs Like to Dig Holes?

“There has to be some treasure here somewhere!”

Do you need to know how to stop a dog from digging up their yard? Just why do dogs dig holes? And how can we keep dogs from digging under fences and in flower beds?

If your puppy has been digging holes in the flower bed every time your back is turned, or every time you try and plant something in the flower bed, you are probably wondering how to stop them.

To stop a dog from digging effectively, it’s important to understand why they are digging holes. Dogs dig holes for lots of different reasons. Once you know why your dog digs holes in the yard, you’ll have a better chance of stopping them effectively, without conflict.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog might be digging. And what you can do to prevent him from digging.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging?

There are two possible ways to stop a dog from digging. One is to prevent access to the area they like to dig. The other is to work out why they are digging, and then tackle the root cause.

Erecting a fence to separate your dog from any area that they could potentially dig is something that you could consider. If your puppy is still small, then you could use a puppy pen to prevent them from getting access to their desired area.

However, most people do not want to fence their backyard. They would rather enjoy spending time in it with their dog – but without fear for their rose bushes!

So let’s look at alternatives to fencing your dog out of their favorite digging zones.

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

To understand how to stop a dog from digging, your first step should be to establish why they are doing it.

There are a lot of possible reasons that your dog could be digging. These include enjoyment, prey drive, accidental reinforcement from the owner, excess energy and even escape efforts!

Let’s look at each of the potential reasons in turn, and what you can do to help stop your puppy digging in each scenario.

“Where did I put that bone?”
  • Temporary Changes: Stress-Related Digging
  • Digging For Fun
  • Digging to Hide Food
  • Dogs That Have Learned to Dig
  • Dogs Digging to Solve A Problem
  • Energetic Dogs That Dig
  • Dogs Digging Under Fences to Escape

Temporary Changes to Your Dog’s Situation

Pregnant bitches can dig when they wouldn’t ordinarily, due to instincts to create a place for their pups.

Likewise some dogs dig when they are anxious. This stress can be caused by a new environment or change in lifestyle. For example if you have gone on holiday and someone else is caring for them.

Provided things go back to the status quo soon, then this digging behaviour should reduce once normality returns.

If your pregnant bitch starts digging in a way which is out of character for her, then it’s worth waiting to see whether this behavior stops once she has had her litter of puppies.

However, if your puppy or dog is a keen digger and the behavior has increased gradually over time, then you will need to take action to stop your dog digging. What you should do to prevent dogs from digging holes will depend upon the reasons why they are digging them in the first place.

Dogs Enjoy Digging!

“Is this hole big enough for your flowers?”

Some dogs dig just for the fun of it. This is more likely to be the case with Labrador puppies than adults. Some dogs will lose interest in digging as they grow.

Sometimes a dog that digs for fun will continue doing it into adulthood however. This is something which certain breeds of dog, such as Terriers, are more inclined to do because of their ancestors’ roles.

For those dogs who continue to enjoy digging, there are ways to channel this enthusiasm more productively. One which a lot of people find success with is in making them a dedicated digging ground. This will usually consist of a structure much like a children’s sandpit. You can encourage them into it if they are reluctant to go by offering treats and standing in it yourself. However, most dogs upon realising that there is an easy to dig surface will happily redirect their efforts to it.

Rather than trying to prevent dogs from digging, in this scenario we just give them their own dedicated digging zone! The dog is still happy, and so are your rose bushes!

Dogs Digging to Hide Extra Food

“I have to hide this in a hole where I can remember for later.”

Dogs will also sometimes hide surplus food, so if they are given a large chew toy or bone to gnaw on for example, they will dig a hole to put it in when they have temporarily had enough.

If this is the only circumstance in which your dog is digging, there are a few ways in which you can stop them.

One is by only giving bite size treats which they won’t be inclined to store. Another is by supervising them when they have a large bone or chew toy. Either taking it away as soon as they are bored with chewing or eating it, or only letting them have it indoors where they haven’t got the option of digging.

If your dog is young, you can try giving them access to these things outdoors again in a few months when the habit has worn off.

Dogs Who Have Learned to Dig

The answer to the question ‘why do dogs dig holes?’ is sometimes “because someone accidentally taught them to”!

They have have been accidentally taught to dig by their owners, or rewarded by the things that they have found.

‘Just doing what needs to be done!”

If you are a keen gardener then your dog might have observed you shoveling soil on several occasions. You may even have laughed or encouraged them at some point when they tried to get involved.

They could also have found something tasty in the soil once, and effectively reinforced their own behavior and been encouraged to keep trying.

If this is the case you can break this habit.

First prevent access to the area of the garden that their efforts are focused on. Although this can be tricky, putting up temporary fencing or only exercising them on a long line for a while in the yard can break the habit effectively.

You may find if you do this that after a few weeks you are able to give them access to this area again without the behavior restarting. Although I would advise leaving them indoors when you do your weeding in the future!

Is Your Dog Digging to Solve a Problem?

“I love the feeling of smushed mud on my belly!”

Occasionally a dog will dig because it helps to solve a problem that they are having. The most common example is probably a lack of somewhere soft or cool to lay down. If the weather is hot and your dog digs a hole and lays down in it, they are probably trying to cool off. You can stop them from doing this by providing a shaded area or paddling pool for them to play in.

Likewise, if the weather doesn’t seem to be a factor but they are still resting in their newly turned out hole then it could simply be that the undug ground is too hard to lie down on.

Providing them with an alternative place to rest will mean that they don’t need to dig to achieve it. Perhaps an outdoors waterproof bed or a pile of straw, depending upon the set up in your garden.

Energetic Dogs Dig More

“Gotta dig. Gotta dig. Gotta dig!”

A lively dog might decide to start digging to burn off some of their energy. If they don’t have space to run, or have missed out on routine daily exercise, then they will find other ways to stretch their legs.

In addition, dogs with more prey drive may transfer this very specific energy to digging! Labradors, for example, were bred as gundogs. They have a certain level of inherent prey drive.

This may be transferred to digging if they have seen or smelled rabbits or other animals popping in to visit your back lawn. They are digging to try and get at the rabbits. Or other creatures that they can smell have been around the yard earlier.

If your dog is digging because they are bored or looking for prey, then keeping them busy when they are in the garden will help.

There are a couple of ways to keep your dog busy in the yard. You can try some games or do some fun bits of training. Make sure it is a positive experience for them. The excitement you offer is greater than that which they got from burrowing into the ground.

Try keeping their favorite toy just for yard time. Get some new special treats that you give for high reward training outdoors.

Dogs Digging to Escape

“I need to get to those pesky squirrels!”

If your dog is digging under fence lines because they want to get out of the back yard, this can be tricky to deal with. Especially if they have self-rewarded by managing to escape in the past.

Dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior that results in “things improving” for them. If your dog is digging in order to leave your yard, or just to be able to see out past the fence line, the solution is to make sure they get no ‘reward’ from doing this.

How to Keep Dogs From Digging Under Fence Boundaries

The best thing you can do is to enforce the fencing under the ground so that it is impossible for them to achieve anything.

Make sure that it is not just wire, as being able to see the outside world may be reward enough for them to keep doing it. A dig proof fence should be a visual barrier as well as a physical one.

If you can entirely block your dog’s visual access to the world beyond your back yard, they will over time give up on their endeavors.

But it is vital that you make sure they don’t gain anything from doing it. So make sure they don’t get out, or get to see more of the world by digging.

If they do, they will keep on trying to dig under the fence in the hope of another reward!

How to Stop a Dog From Digging

“I love helping out!”

Hopefully I’ve shown you that knowing how to stop a dog digging will depend partially upon why they started doing it.

You may find that solving this problem is simple once you have established why your dog is doing it. Or you might have to implement several of the options above to resolve the problem. For example, restricting access to certain areas of the garden and putting a digging zone into another.

Whichever method you use to prevent your dog digging in your backyard, make sure that you don’t fall out with them. They are not doing it to annoy you.

And although it might be frustrating or time consuming temporarily, it is totally within your power to stop them kindly but effectively.

I Am Dog, Hear My Growl

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“Something is going to happen!”

I am dog, hear my growl.

Something’s happening in my bowels.

I hope you have some paper towels.

When Your Dog Has a Stomach Starting to Growl

There’s no worse problems then when your pup has the poops. Especially when they have the accident inside the house! I’ve dealt with lots of accidents from my own dogs and dogs that I have pet sat for.

Pet Sitting Mess

The worst experience I had was when I was pet sitting for two boxers. They were litter mates and still very young (1 year old). They were very active and loved running around the house after each other. (The pet parents were strict of not letting them run in the backyard because they didn’t want mud tracked in.) I would give them walks and play in a certain room they were allowed to run around in.

Well, one of them decided to run downstairs and the other boxer followed. I was guessing they had to potty so we went to the back door. I was only allowed to have 1 at a time in the backyard so one had to wait.

So I let one of them out. All of a sudden all I could smell was poop. I went searching for the other boxer still in the house. Well, he had to REALLY go potty and just let it out on the carpet. He made about a foot around mess of diarrhea. It took most of the roll of paper towels to clean up!

Make sure if you ever pet sit, make sure the owners show you where the cleaning agents are!

Frankie Made A LOT of Messes!

“I’m getting a weird feeling in my belly.”

My poor Frankie had a hard time holding his bowl movements when he got older. He would give you a warning and if you weren’t right there to take him out, he would find a spot near by. With his diabetes, pancreatitis, and some crohns syndrome, it was very hard on his poor tummy.

My mom would stock up on paper towels when they went on sale. It really matters what kind of paper towels to use on messes. Skip the cheap, thin towels.

When it comes to the products that you use to help clean up the mess, make sure it will not damage the area you are cleaning. With carpets and rugs, there a lot of different products, but the ones I choose are:

Try to pick the mess first by scooping up what you can without pressing more into the carpet/rug. Then try dabbing any wetness. Now you can go by what the directions on the bottle say to do. Make sure to get ALL the mess up or your pup will smell that spot and might think it’s alright to go there again!


Also Check Out My Post About: What Your Dog’s Poop is Telling You

Dog Clothes: Should Dogs Wear Clothes? National Dress-up Your Dog Day

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“What shall I wear today?”

What Does Your Dog Like to Wear for Clothes?

Does your dog like to dress up in clothes? Most dogs will tolerate you putting clothes and funny outfits on them. But do dogs really need clothes? They already have a coat of fur! Well, some dogs get cold even when they are in a warm house.

Take Chloe for instance, she likes to have blankets on her when she is chilling on the couch. When I walk her in colder weather, I put a sweater or coat on her to keep the breeze off her.

“I’m ready to go walking!”

Let Your Dog Be Stylish With Purpose

Some “warm-weather” dogs just aren’t suited to colder climates, and for many of these breeds, outerwear dog clothes are essential when the bitter chill of fall and winter sets in and your buddy starts to dread their evening walk. A sweater can keep them warm, but it’s important to make sure it fits properly so they can enjoy the outside wonderland in both comfort and style.

Measurements for Clothes

Save some time and take a few measurements before you take your pup shopping. Using a measuring tape, have them stand straight and measure from the base of their neck (where the shoulder blades start) to the base of their tail. Once you have their body length measurement, measure around the widest part of their chest for the girth measurement. Lastly, loosely measure around the largest part of their neck. Jot down their length, chest and neck measurements and take them with you when you shop.

Proper Fitting for Dog Clothes

“Howdy, how do you like my cowboy hat?”

The absolute best way to ensure proper fit is to bring your dog with you to try on sweaters. Many pet stores allow them to try before you buy. Use their measurements and the size chart on the packaging as a guide. While you slip them in, take note to make sure the sweater fits easily over their head and neck. Check that the leg openings don’t constrict them in any way. You want your pup’s sweater to be snug but not tight, and leave their lower belly free to allow for easy urination for males (you can cover the bellies of females). Finally, watch them walk around in their new sweater to make sure it doesn’t hang, drag or otherwise impede their movements.

Styles of Clothes

“My chest is nice and cozy!”
“I belong in a magazine!”

Some sweaters are cape style with open bellies, while others fully encompass your buddy’s torso. While all breeds can benefit from warm tummies, smaller breeds that are lower to the ground, such as yorkies and dachshunds, especially need full sweaters that cover and protect their bellies from rubbing on the frozen ground. Consider turtleneck styles for greyhounds and borzois, lest their elongated necks get left out in the cold.

Material

Material is important in terms of comfort, fit and care. Wool is toasty but can be itchy and uncomfortable. A washable wool blend, cotton and acrylic are some of the best bets for canine sweaters. Keep in mind most material will stretch over time, so it’s important to find a sweater in a washable material.

And remember if it’s 100% cotton, it might shrink a little!

“If this shrinks anymore, I won’t be able to move my legs!”

Alterations

Some breeds, despite all your careful measuring and try on sessions, just have a difficult time fitting into universal sizes (just like some of us humans!). Alterations may be necessary to ensure a comfortable fit. The bulldog, for example, has a wider neck that makes sizing tough. If you’re crafty, consider fitting the sweater to the rest of his body and making a simple snip cut to the front to allow for a better fit. A V-neck sweater is a dapper addition to any bulldog’s winter wardrobe.


Find some fun clothes for your dog at Amazon.com

Frankie’s Wardrobe

Dogs and Cats Can Get Along With Proper Introductions

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The Easiest Ways to Introduce Dogs and Cats

Yes, dogs and cats can get along with each other if they are introduced properly. They may not become best friends, but they will understand how to live with each other.

If you already own a dog but are interested in getting a cat, you may be thinking about the process of introducing them to each other. But the steps to introduce dogs and cats is a bit trickier than just sticking them in a room together. (Doing this will cause harm to both and may lead to death.)

To make sure the introduction goes smoothly, plan ahead. You might need plenty of time for your dog and cat to get acquainted. 

Here are the easiest ways to prepare.

Choosing The Right Cat

Before you get a cat, you’ll want to consider the various cat breeds. Each breed has a different personality, so do some research before you make your decision. Interact with the cat you plan on getting for a while before you bring them home.

Try and imagine how its personality will mesh with your dog’s. For example, if your dog is the type to chase things, your best bet is to get a cat that is calm and confident. A shy cat may end up being afraid of your dog.

If you think your cat’s nervousness may be temporary, you can ease the transition with cat treats CBD or calming pheromones to help your feline stay calm.

Separate Dogs and Cats Temporarily

Before you introduce them, you should give them time to get used to each other’s scent. This means confining one animal and letting the other one roam. Rotate which pet is confined and which is roaming for a few days.

This is a great way for both pets to see each other without either one getting hurt.

When it comes time for them to meet, they won’t be as surprised by each other. This would also be the time to assess how the meeting might go.

If your dog digs at the barrier that is keeping them from the cat, the interaction might not work out. At this point, you may want to consider pursuing training.

Choose The Right Location

If you’ve decided to adopt, Do Not try and bring your dog to the shelter where you are adopting your cat from. This could make him feel scared. Also, it’s a health concern. The first interaction should take place at home.

Have somewhere the cat can escape if they want to get away like a cat tree.

Make sure the space you choose to introduce them is large, but not so large that they could end up freaking out and running away. If you don’t have control of both pets, you may find them chasing each other.

Use Leashed Introductions

“Ha ha! You’re all tied up while I have the run of the house!”

Before you let them interact on their own, you should let them meet each other while leashed. You can continue doing this for several days until your dog isn’t bothered by your cat.

If either animal displays aggression or fear, you may want to backtrack and continue keeping them separated for a longer period of time.

If there is no one home, make sure one of or both of the animals are confined so they cannot interact with each other unsupervised.

Unsupervised Interactions

Once both animals feel relaxed, it may be time to let them interact on their own. Only allow this when you are sure that neither animal will hurt the other. It can take about a month to reach this point.

Poor kitty is too scared of the pup. You should back track with a barrier in between until they feel comfortable around each other.

If it takes longer than this, don’t feel discouraged. Every animal is different, and it’s impossible to tell how the two personalities will interact. The important thing is that you don’t force it. Eventually, they won’t feel so shocked or threatened by each other.

Training Advice

If your dog remains focused on the door blocking them from your new pet cat, distract your dog with treats or by guiding them away on a leash.

Lure your dog away with treats from where the cat is.

Once your dog is no longer near the cat, offer them a treat. Repeat this process several times until your dog loses interest. Over time, this will teach them that they shouldn’t stay fixated on what’s on the other side of the door.

Chloe and Twinkie Meeting Each Other

Couple of months after adopting Twinkie.

Deciding to Adopt a Cat

After two years of having Chloe, my husband and I decided to adopt a cat. I was volunteering at a shelter at the time and saw the perfect cat. She just arrived at the shelter after being on the streets. I asked if I could foster her while there was still a hold to find if she had any owners. Well, that turned into us keeping her! When we first brought her home, she was kept in the bathroom to calm down and Chloe couldn’t get to her.

Twinkie getting used to our house.

Chloe was very interested in what was on the other side of that door! We kept Chloe away from the door with treats and toys.

Getting the Smell of Each Other

After a couple days, I switched blankets so Twinkie could smell Chloe and vice versa. Chloe of coarse sniffed the blankets so deeply. Twinkie could care less!

Meeting Each Other

When a week went by and Chloe was more familiarized with Twinkie’s smell, we introduced them to each other by having Chloe in her cage and having Twinkie roam around. This gave Twinkie time to get used to the house and could see Chloe.

Chloe, being so nosey, really wanted to meet Twinkie. So after Chloe calmed down, we switched pets in the cage. That way Chloe could sniff her up close without getting hurt and scaring Twinkie. Twinkie sniffed back and was very calm.

Leashed Chloe As Twinkie Ran Around

Next, we put Chloe on a leash and let Twinkie roam around freely. We wanted to let her know that she can run away from Chloe if she got tired of being around Chloe. She came around slowly at first because Chloe would whine and want to play with her!

Supervised Meeting

About two weeks after either having Chloe on a leash or Twinkie in a safe area where Chloe couldn’t get to her, we did a supervised unleashed greeting. Chloe sniffed at Twinkie as Twinkie was trying to rub on Chloe. It was a great match!!

Introducing dogs and cats takes time and patience.

Pet Insurance: What to Pick For Your Pet

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The Best Pet Insurance Companies

Money’s List of Pet Insurances

We love our pets. More and more Americans welcome dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and fish into our families. Even as the cost of owning a pet increases. Consider getting pet insurance.

Studies have shown that owning a dog can cost $42,000 over 10 years. Cat owners can spend up to $30,000 per decade.

A big chunk of this money pays for veterinary care. This is everything from check-ups and vaccines to treatment for an illness or after an accident.

Pet insurance could help shield your wallet from unexpected pet health care costs.

“Things like ultrasounds, blood tests, or procedures such as MRIs or CAT scans — they’re now available [for pets]”

“What we do in human medicine, we can do in veterinary medicine as well. There’s definitely been an exponential increase in the number of owners who ask about health insurance for their pets.”

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club

The 10 Best Pet Insurance Companies

Here are Money’s top 10 picks for the best pet insurance:

  1. Healthy Paws: Best Value with reimbursements fulfilled in as little as two days.
  2. Embrace: High coverage for dental illnesses.
  3. Petplan: Coverage for pets begins early at six weeks old.
  4. Trupanion: One straightforward policy that covers hereditary conditions.
  5. Nationwide: The best company that insures exotic animals.
  6. ASPCA: Good option for multiple pets.
  7. PetFirst: For pet owners who want preventive care coverage.
  8. TrustedPals: Best for flexible deductibles and co-pays
  9. Pets Best: Can cover older animals
  10. FIGO: Could pay 100 percent of covered expenses.

Why did we choose these 10 pet insurance plans? We’ll discuss the highlights of these plans in the following reviews:

Healthy Paws: Best for Value

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance offers dog insurance and cat insurance This company stands out because it does not cap reimbursements. Once you pay your deductible, there is no limit on the amount your policy can reimburse you either monthly, annually, or per incident.

You can submit claims via email, fax, online, or using the Healthy Paws’ mobile app. Policyholders can receive reimbursements of up to 90 percent via mailed check or direct deposit. The company claims that 99 percent of its reimbursements are processed within two days.

Plans start at $15 per month for cats and $20 for dogs. With no limit to how many claims you can make. Like all pet insurance companies, Healthy Paws does not cover preexisting conditions.

These plans do cover accidents, illnesses, surgeries, prescription medications, hospital stays, and emergency care, among other expenses.

Healthy Paws gives pet owners more control over their policies. By allowing them to set their single annual deductible as well as their reimbursement percentage. As a Healthy Paws policyholder, you can go to any licensed veterinarian and be covered.


Embrace: Best for Pet Dental Care

Embrace provides high coverage for dental illnesses: $1,000 per policy year in most states. The company covers extractions, root canals, crowns, gingivitis, and broken, chipped, or fractured teeth.

And while routine care like cleaning and annual checkups are not included in the policy. As is the case with most insurers. They can be reimbursed by adding on a wellness plan at extra cost.

Another benefit of Embrace is its shrinking deductibles. They can be set between $100 and $1,000. Every year you don’t file a claim, you’ll receive a $50 reduction. If your pet is healthy, your deductible can be reduced down to zero.

Reimbursements can reach 90%. Annual benefits are capped at $15,000, and monthly premiums start at $13 for dogs and $9 for cats. All claims can be submitted online, via email, fax, or mobile app.

If you are a GEICO customer, you could bundle in Embrace pet coverage since GEICO sells Embrace Pet Insurance.


Petplan: Best for Early Coverage

A lot of conditions can be easily deemed as pre-existing, rendering them uninsurable by most pet insurance companies. You can avoid this by buying a pet insurance plan as early as possible.

Petplan insures pets beginning at six weeks old for puppies and kittens. When you buy a policy this early, you won’t have to worry much at all about preexisting condition exclusions.

“You need to make sure you don’t have limitations in your coverage. Because puppies get sick and what if it’s not covered because the insurance hasn’t been in effect for long enough?”

Dr. Boaz Man, medical director at Boca Raton Midtowne Animal Hospital in Florida

Monthly premiums start at $19 for both dog insurance and cat insurance. Annual benefit caps can be set anywhere between $2,500 to unlimited, while deductibles can range from $100 to $1,000.

Reimbursements can reach 90 percent and any claims may be submitted online, via fax, snail mail, email, or mobile app.

Petplan also covers some hereditary and congenital conditions as long as symptoms weren’t present before you bought coverage.


Trupanion: One Simple Policy

Trupanion stands out from the field by offering just one policy. Both dogs and cats, regardless of the animal’s breed, age, or gender.

There are no set limits for any benefits. Whether per-incident, monthly, or lifetime, and you could even set your deductible at $0. Monthly premiums start at $59 for dogs and $32 for cats.

Another big selling point for Trupanion. This company can cover hip dysplasia and other hereditary conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, and upper respiratory infections after the determined waiting periods are up.

Trupanion encourages pet owners to enroll their animals while they are young and healthy to make sure any future conditions are covered by the policy. Other coverages such as physical therapy and acupuncture can be added to your policy at an extra cost.

If your veterinarian uses Trupanion’s direct payment software, you won’t have to file a claim for your reimbursement. The company will pay the vet. Your only out of pocket expense will be a deductible if it applies to you.


Nationwide: Coverage for Exotic Animals

study published in 2018 by the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 14 percent of American homes have at least one specialty or exotic pet. Nationwide is the only pet insurance company of its size that offers coverage for exotic animals.

Nationwide can cover most birds as well as mice, lizards, goats, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, ferrets, and many more.

The company offers two types of reimbursement models. The first is based on a percentage of the invoice (up to 90 percent) and has no limits. The second has a benefit schedule and reimbursements are capped at a set amount depending on the condition.

Annual deductibles can be either $100 or $250, while all claims can be filed via snail mail, fax, or email.

Some species of exotic animals are not eligible to be insured by Nationwide. Those that fall under venomous or endangered categories, and any animal not listed on their website.

Nationwide’s monthly premiums for more traditional pets start at $34 for dogs and $18 for cats.


ASPCA: Good option for Multiple Pets

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a pet insurance policy underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company.

This policy stands out because of its 10 percent discount for multiple pets. One policy can cover all your pets. There’s no network — you could visit any vet in the U.S. or Canada.

ASPCA’s Complete plan covers accidents and illnesses and even behavioral health issues. It does not cover routine wellness visits. You could add a wellness plan for an extra fee if you wanted.

The 10 percent discount for multiple pets applies to each additional pet you add to the policy. The most expensive pet to insure will not receive the discount but all your other pets can.

You could get up to 90 percent reimbursement for covered costs deposited directly or paid via check. You can file claims online or by mail.


PetFirst: For Pet Owners Who Want Preventative Care Coverage 

A lot of pet insurance plans cover accidents and illnesses but skip preventative care reimbursements. This is OK for many pet parents. After all, you can plan in advance for the wellness care bill.

But some households do want help paying for preventive medicine for their pets. Partly because a wellness plan helps them remember to schedule these easy-to-put-off visits.

PetFirst Pet Insurance excels with routine care coverage because it defines preventive care so broadly. You could buy a plan to cover your pet’s vaccines, dental care, parasite prevention, spaying and neutering, and even behavioral training.

PetFirst is owned by MetLife, a leading dental, health, and auto insurer. PetFirst offers three plans, each with a $250 deductible and 80 percent rate of reimbursement for covered expenses. Each plan sets a different annual cap on expenses per year.

Compared to many companies, PetFirst offers a simple approach to coverage.


TrustedPals: Best for Flexible Deductibles and Co-pays 

A relative newcomer to the pet insurance market, TrustedPals provides the standard coverage for dogs and cats. Plus a little something extra, all at a reasonable cost and with flexible payment options. Coverage begins for pets aged 8 weeks and older, with no maximum age limit.

TrustedPals will cover expenses for vet visits, surgeries, hospital stays, and lab work as well as prescription medications. There are no restrictions on chronic or hereditary illnesses. Your policy covers alternative treatments such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy, as long as it is prescribed by your vet.

Most pet insurance companies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. The same is true of TrustedPals if your pet is still suffering from the illness. However, if your pet is fully cured at the time you take out your policy, TrustedPals will cover that condition if it recurs.

You’ll get the same coverage regardless of the premium paid, as the cost of insurance isn’t tied to benefits. Instead, your premiums will be determined by what type of pet you have (cat or dog), the age of your pet, your location, and how you customize your plan. 

Once you apply for a quote, TrustedPals will present you with 4 different premium options to choose from. These include annual benefit limits ranging between $4,000 to $15,000, as well as an unlimited benefit option. You can then customize your policy by selecting your deductible (from $0 to $750 per year) and the amount of your reimbursement percentage (from 70% to 100%).

TrustedPals also offers a wellness plan as an add-on that will cover yearly vet exams, vaccination, prescribed nutritional supplements and pet food, preventive dental cleaning, and spaying or neutering.


Pets Best: Coverage Options for Older Animals

Most pet insurance plans won’t write a new policy for an older pet. Age 12 is a common cut-off age for dogs and cats.

Pets Best does not have a maximum age limit so you could still get coverage on your aging pet. But, like all insurers, Pets Best won’t cover preexisting conditions.

So, if you have a healthy pet who’s getting on up there but has been healthy so far, Pets Best could be an option. Most plans cover accidents and illnesses only, but you could add-on wellness coverage.

You could buy a plan with up to 90 percent reimbursement. If you’re on a budget and want more marginal protection, consider Pets Best’s 70-percent reimbursement rate which could cost only $9 a month.


FIGO: Has a 100% Reimbursement Option

FIGO has been around less than 10 years but has been growing in market share for two reasons: easy online access and robust coverage.

We’ll start with the coverage which could reach 100 percent reimbursement of covered procedures. Naturally, this level of coverage would require a higher premium.

But all policyholders can use FIGO’s nice app and 24/7 customer service. You can chat online with a customer service representative and set your app to remind you about your pet’s veterinary appointments.

FIGO also makes shopping simple. All its plans cover the same expenses — hospitalizations, emergency care, diagnostic testing, hereditary and congenital conditions, cancer treatments, and chronic conditions.

FIGO’s three plans vary only with the maximum payment allowed per year. The most expensive plan does not cap expenses.


Important Facts About Pet Insurance Plans

As you shop for pet insurance, consider these basic facts about pet insurance plans.

Reimbursements:

Unlike medical insurance for humans which pays your medical provider on your behalf, pet insurance does not pay your vet directly. Instead, you’d pay for all vet visits and charges and then file for a reimbursement. The best plans normally reimburse 90 percent of a covered expense. You could consider the remaining unpaid percentage your copay.

Preexisting Conditions:

Also unlike human health care plans, pet insurance companies will not reimburse you for conditions your dog, cat, or other pet already had before you bought the pet insurance policy.

Payout Caps:

Most plans stop reimbursing after you’ve reached your policy’s maximum coverage amount. Most policies have an annual expense cap but some have caps per incident (illness or injury) or even for the animal’s lifetime. Expect to pay higher premiums for higher caps.

Deductibles:

With many plans you set the deductible, which is the money you must pay before your insurance policy kicks in. Watch out for per-incident deductibles. Per-year deductibles provide a better value.

Waiting Periods:

Your insurance coverage won’t pay until you’ve completed a waiting period. Most companies require at least 14 days before reimbursing you for a vet visit your pet needs for an illness. The waiting period for an accident could be much shorter — 48 hours for example. The waiting period for an orthopedic problem or other chronic condition could be as high as six months.

Exclusions:

Pet insurance policies usually exclude specific conditions in the policy’s language. Be sure to read your policy before buying it so you’ll know how your pet insurance works.

Networks:

Not all pet insurers reimburse for services provided by all vets. Some pay only if you stay within a network of providers. The best pet insurance policies let you choose your own provider.

Preventative Care:

You’ll get the best value from an accident or illness coverage plan but you could add-on coverage for preventative care. Policies that cover routine care and accident or illness care are called comprehensive coverage.

Pet Age: 

After your dog or cat reaches age 12, your choices for new coverage will diminish significantly. To have the most choices, buy a policy before your pet reaches an advanced age.

Avoid the Toughest Choice with the Best Pet Insurance

Pet insurance helps pay for your pet’s medical care with many policies covering up to 90 percent of your vet bill. That’s assuming your pet’s procedure wasn’t excluded from coverage or didn’t surpass your annual expense cap.

Most importantly, pet insurance could prevent you from having to make a terrible choice. Deciding between spending thousands of dollars you can’t afford for an operation or having to euthanize your pet because you can’t afford the procedure.

“There’s nothing worse. That’s not what we went to school for. We went to school to save animals, not to be the local euthanasia shop.”

Dr. Wayne North, a veterinarian who’s been practicing for nearly 50 years

Pet insurance can help even when your situation is less dramatic. Some diagnostic tests can be very expensive but are necessary to diagnose and treat a pet. Getting reimbursed could make these tests possible for your budget.

“You cannot provide appropriate care by guessing what is needed. How can a doctor practice medicine without knowing what’s going on? If a pet does not have health insurance, then it makes it much more difficult to treat them appropriately because it’s like a doctor with handcuffs.”

Dr. Man

Most leading pet insurance companies give pet owners comprehensive coverage at an affordable monthly premium. The differences lie in the details and fine print.

Shop around, do the research, and then make a well-informed decision about the insurance that is best suited to care for your pet and your pocket.

How We Found The Best Pet Insurance Companies

In order to properly assess pet health insurance companies, we researched policy aspects that make these providers stand out. We spoke to veterinary doctors who have spent time in the field to get a better understanding of how insurance affects the well-being of pets and owners alike.

The following are factors used to pick our top companies:

Pricing

Since everyone’s cost will depend entirely on their particular circumstances, we looked at average rates, flexibility with premiums and deductibles, and any potential limits on payments to policyholders.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the average monthly price of pet insurance is $47 for dogs and $29.50 for cats. The pricing of your pet insurance premium will depend on many factors, including the animal’s breed, age, gender, and where you reside.

Since pet insurance follows a reimbursement model, initial costs come out of your pocket.

“In veterinary medicine, veterinarians didn’t get on board with being paid by the insurance company. So basically, the client is still obligated to pay the practice and then any reimbursement they’ll get from the insurance company.”

Policyholders who can’t afford to pay out of pocket sometimes use a credit card or financing provided by the vet. Then, when the reimbursement comes through, they use the check (or direct deposit) to pay off most of the debt.

Coverage Options

For the most part, pet insurance can be broken down into two types: comprehensive coverage and accident-only coverage. While wellness and routine care are not covered by pet insurance, some companies offer these as add-ons. These include neutering and spaying, vaccines, flea and tick treatment, teeth and ear cleaning, heartworm medication, and anal gland expression.

And if they do not pre-date your insurance policy, most pet insurance policies also cover hereditary, chronic, and congenital conditions.

While most companies don’t restrict the veterinary facilities their policyholders could visit and still be covered, some companies limit their coverage to a specific network. We’d recommend the former over the latter, just to make sure you are covered anywhere in the United States where a licensed veterinarian practices.

Additional Benefits

A lot of pet insurance companies offer similar policies with very few variations. When assessing the quality of some of these companies, it was the little extras they offer that stood out and prompted us to review them.

We looked closely at the claims processes for the companies we featured, making sure they provide a prompt service in order to have your money reimbursed as soon as possible.

When paying out of pocket for something like heartworm treatment for your dog, potentially you would have to fork over upwards of $1,000. For some pet owners, that amount can put a considerable dent in their finances. Getting part of that money reimbursed quickly is a plus.

Furthermore, most of the plans we picked provide coverage just for cats and dogs. With that in mind, we also looked at companies that insure exotic animals, so as to not exclude pet owners whose animals may fall into the non-traditional column.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Should you spend $40 or $50 a month on pet insurance? Or should you just pay all your pets wellness exam fees and unplanned charges out of pocket?

The answer will depend on your needs and your pet’s health care needs. Before buying a plan consider its costs vs. its potential benefits.

And remember any kind of insurance can provide a service that’s not measured as a dollar amount. Your pet insurance plan should give you peace of mind you wouldn’t be facing expensive vet bills all on your own.

Veterinary Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During these challenging times, it’s normal to not only worry about your health but that of your pet as well. This might include the customary visit to the vet. Even though many jurisdictions have stay-at-home orders in place, veterinary practices are usually considered as essential services and are allowed to operate under safety protocols. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, all types of pet services have been in high demand, including veterinary services. With more and more people working from home and spending more time with their pets, they tend to focus on things they might have missed before. 

But when should you take your pet to the vet? Before running out to visit your pet care provider, consider the following:

Urgent Care vs. Routine Check-Ups

It is generally recommended that elective procedures be postponed as long as possible so that veterinary offices can avoid a higher number of patients coming in and allowing them to focus on more pressing cases. That’s not to say that vets are only treating emergencies. Many health providers present alternatives for non-urgent yet important procedures, such as booster shots, vaccinations, physical therapy, and other maintenance care.

Urgent matters such as accidents, respiratory problems, and poisonings require immediate medical attention. As such, an emergency visit to a veterinary hospital could be necessary. Depending on the hospital, it might be operating as in-person or with curbside service, making it important to be prepared for either scenario. If a trip to the hospital is warranted, make sure to adhere to CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing. 

Curbside Service

As a way of minimizing contact between humans many veterinary care providers, including hospitals, have instituted curbside service. The specifics will depend on the provider, but it usually means waiting in the car until a staff member comes and retrieves your pet. The animal will be examined by the veterinarian and, when the examination is over, staff will bring the pet out to you. 

Telemedicine

Other vets might opt for the telemedicine alternative. This consists of using a video chat to observe the patient and provide medical advice without having direct physical contact. This option can serve various purposes such as postoperative follow-ups or providing visual confirmation to determine if a case is urgent or non-urgent.

The decision to take a pet to the veterinarian’s office or an animal hospital is ultimately up to the caretakers, as they’re the ones with direct knowledge of a pet’s needs. But taking into account the above-mentioned factors should be enough to ensure you and your pet are safe if the situation arises.

Can My Pet Have Coronavirus?

Another issue that might worry pet owners is whether or not their animal companions can be infected with and transmit the coronavirus. Although there have been animal cases and deaths related to COVID-19, the CDC states there is no evidence that pets can significantly spread the virus and animal-to-human transmission is highly unlikely. 

Nonetheless, extra precautions should be taken if you have either received a positive test or suspect being infected. The general rule is to treat your pet as you would a person, maintaining distance whenever possible, and wearing a face covering to avoid transmission. If possible, have another person take care of the pet while you’re infected,. Although the chances of spreading the virus are extremely low, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Caring for Your Pet in the Social Distancing Era

Aside from the aforementioned veterinary care, there are other measures you can take as a pet owner to keep them healthy and happy.

  • Make sure to have enough prescriptions such as heartworm, parasite, flea and tick medicine, as well as any maintenance drugs your pet takes. This avoids having to take multiple trips to your vet or running out of medication when vets might not be available.
  • Stock up on food as well. To avoid unnecessary visits to the pet store or supermarket, consider online services that deliver the food directly to your door. Places like Chewy.com, Petco, and PetSmart have delivery and pick-up options.
  • Work on your own mental and physical health. Pets pick up on the feelings their owners have, which means that your anxiety can also affect them, especially now that people are spending more time at home. By taking care of yourself and other members of the household, pets can feel more at ease with the unusual amount of human contact.
  • If they’re the type, exercise your pet as much as you can. Although stay-at-home ordinances and self-isolation protocols can limit the time you spend with your pet outside, there are other ways to keep them active, such as playing fetch, basic training techniques, and food puzzle activities. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors, take them for a walk following safety precautions.

By following these steps, active pets and engaged owners can have a mutually beneficial relationship even during these trying times.

Frankie’s and Chloe’s Health

Take my word for it that I wish I had gotten insurance for both pups. With Frankie, his insulin and check-ups would have been covered. That would have saved hundreds of dollars from buying insulin. Since Chloe had ruptured both her back knees, I wish I would have planned with an insurance company before it happened. Thankfully I was working at the veterinary clinic and received a huge discount. Instead of paying $5,000 for each knee, it was $3,000 to have both done at the same time!

I definitely recommend getting insurance as soon as possible for your pup!

Fitness Trackers For Dogs to Start the New Year

Featured

Canine Fitness Trackers You’ll Want to Try

There are a variety of canine activity and fitness trackers now available. But figuring out the perfect match for your pup can be a bit more of a challenge. Let’s track the abilities of these canine activity trackers.

“I wonder how long I’ve been running?”

More of us wear activity trackers from Fitbits to Apple watches to keep track of our daily fitness routines. It’s no surprise that we want to get the same kind of data about our dogs to help them live longer, happier and healthier lives. Activity trackers monitor our pup’s activity day and night via an app on a smartphone. The good news: There are a variety of canine activity trackers now available. But figuring out the perfect match for your pup can be a bit more of a challenge.

Let’s Track the Abilities of These Canine Fitness Trackers

While you aren’t home

One of the most useful features of activity trackers is that they allow you to gather more information. They can tell about what your dog is actually doing at different times of the day and night. Even if you are not home or awake to supervise them. If you’re a sound sleeper, you might be surprised to learn that your dog is up and playing with toys at 2 a.m.! Similarly, while at work you can see how much of the day your dog is spending sleeping. Are they ready to play when you walk in the door because they haven’t moved around a lot all day?

Each activity tracker brand is different, so find the one that is right for you and your dog. Most activity trackers focus on tracking a dog’s movement. But others use artificial intelligence for voice recognition technology to analyze your dog’s emotional state. CEO and Founder Vincent Kim explains that Petpuls breaks its analysis of a dog’s emotional state into five categories:

  • happy
  • anxious
  • angry
  • sad
  • relaxed

How Active is Your Dog?

Activity trackers are most useful to us in tracking our dogs’ activity patterns over time. They give you an objective way of measuring if there are changes in your dog’s energy levels and activity. Just like our human tools, there are specific collars that can show how much activity they have been having.

Monitoring Dog’s Health

Some trackers even directly communicate with your dog’s veterinarian by monitoring chronic health conditions.

Deena Betcher, head of communications for health, fitness and location tracker Whistle explains, “Whistle monitors important indicators like scratching and licking to stay ahead of potential health issues. These results are easily compiled into a 30-day report that can be sent directly to a vet for analysis through the app.”

Activity trackers monitor other things your dog is doing through the day. Neil Lunn, activity and behavior monitor Animo’s product marketing manager notes, “Animo monitors a range of behaviors. It monitors barking, scratching and shaking, which when viewed together with activity, rest and sleep patterns, can give a more comprehensive overview of a dog’s health and well-being than activity alone.”

Tracking Skin Issues

Surprisingly, activity trackers can even help you recognize issues coming up that you and your vet want to know about. If you notice that your dog is scratching more, you should take a closer look at your dog’s skin and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. But if your dog is scratching when you are asleep or not home, you’d have no way of knowing until hot spots or other sores developed. With activity trackers that monitor scratching, you can track increased activity and seek care for your dog before skin conditions develop.

How they work

Depending on the brand, activity trackers either attach to your dog’s collar or come attached with a collar. If you have a very small dog, find a tracker that won’t be cumbersome for them.

Thankfully, as the industry has grown, there is an activity tracker that will work for almost every dog. Even from the smallest of breeds to giant dogs and every pup in between. They all rely on the same technology that is used in activity trackers for people.

“The Fi Collar holds the same accelerometer technology as a FitBit or an Apple Watch,” explains Fi smart dog collar CEO and co-founder, Jonathan Bensamoun.

Dogs of Different Sizes Detection

How can the same device know when my Newfoundland is running and also be able to tell that my friend’s Border Collie is playing? The developers of these activity trackers have studied a lot of dogs!

Sara Rossi, co-founder and chief barketing officer for health, activity and GPS tracker FitBark, explains. “The company leverages its experience working with hundreds of breeds and mixed breeds. With over 100 universities and research institutions in clinical settings and research studies.”

As the activity trackers become more popular, they continue to evolve and become more precise. That said, some people have noticed with the dog’s activity tracker that certain types of activity are more likely to cue as “playing” than “activity.” For example, running and chasing toys will show as play, but games like tug may register as activity, not play.

When setting up your dog’s activity tracker, you will be prompted to fill out information about their breed or mix of breeds. You’ll also be asked information about your dog’s size, weight, age, etc. All this information is compiled into the app linked to your dog’s activity tracker.

With most activity trackers, this allows you to not only review your dog’s activity for a given day and over time, but also to compare your dog to dog friends you have linked profiles with and to anonymized data of other dogs of similar size, age and/or breed as your dog. Obviously don’t take this in place of veterinary advice about your dog’s physical activity level. But looking at your dog’s activity reports can help you gauge how your dog’s activity compares to other dogs and if you want to think about gently increasing your dog’s level of exercise.

Find Your Dog With GPS Fitness Trackers

Not all activity trackers offer devices equipped with GPS tracking. The GPS functionality works in collaboration with a cellular network partner and your home Wi-Fi. For full functionality of the GPS device you will have a nominal (generally around $10) monthly subscription fee that gives you access to the cellular network to track your dog’s collar tracker. The GPS tracker connects into your home Wi-Fi or other Wi-Fi areas that you have programmed into the trackers’ associated app. For example, if your dog regularly accompanies you to a relative’s home or goes to doggie daycare, you can mark those locations as “safe.”

When your dog leaves your home, an alert is sent from the app to your phone and/or smartwatch. If your dog is with someone who has the app on her phone, like another guardian or a dog walker, the app will tell you who your dog is with. In the event your dog has left home on his own (scary!) the benefit of GPS tracking is that from your smartphone you’ll be able to pull up a map and pinpoint the location of your dog (assuming that there is cell signal) and hopefully be able to quickly find them.

Better to Have Than Be Sorry

As an engaged and attentive dog parent, having more information is always better. Fitness trackers give ongoing information to use when developing training and exercise routines. Not to mention, the GPS locator. Even though hopefully you’ll never need it, knowing you have it gives you a bit of extra peace of mind!

“Crap, I forgot how to get back home. I hope my people can find me!”