Getting a new pet?  Purebred or mixed-breed? Tips and traps

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Getting a new pet? Purebred or mixed-breed? Tips and traps

Purebred dogs and cats- A 'purebred' means that the genetic history of a domestic animal's ancestors has been tracked, recorded, and registered. This record is called a pedigree.  If a pet is being sold as a purebred but does not have a pedigree from a recognized registry (Canadian Kennel Club, Cat Fanciers Association) then it is technically not a purebred.  It is fradulent under the Canadian Pedigree Act to sell a pet as a "purebred" and not have a pedigree. It may look like a purebred, but without a pedigree you really don't know.

  Purebred dogs and cats have well known physical and behavioral characteristics.  This is an advantage if you desire specific physical or behavioral traits.  On the other hand, purebred pet's may be predisposed to certain genetic diseases.  Reputable breeders should be able to show that the pet's parents have been screened or tested for these defects as much as possible. Reputable breeders are more interested in promoting the health and welfare of the breed than generating income.  

  Mixed-breed pets are usually not just a generation away from purebreds but may be the result of several generations of outbreeding.  They often get described as the result of a 2-purebred cross like a "Shepherd-Collie"  for example,  but may have the genetics of many breeds.  This can reduce the chance of genetic diseases but also makes it more difficult to predict physical and behavioral characteristics.  Mixed-breed cats are much more common than purebreds.  You can help provide a home for shelter and rescue/abandoned pets by adopting a mixed-breed pet.  Be cautious of internet rescue purchases from foreign countries.  Most are legitimate, but some have the main purpose of taking your money. Get some references.

There are reliable internet kits to test the DNA of your mixed-breed dog.  This helps you and your veterinarian understand your dog's health better.

 

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Is Pet Insurance the Right Idea for You?

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Is Pet Insurance the Right Idea for You?

 Have you ever thought about purchasing medical insurance for your pet? If it is something you’ve never considered, it might be worth doing the research, and deciding for yourself if it’s a worthy investment for your four-legged companions.

Every year, 1 in 3 pets end up at the vet due to unexpected accidents or illnesses. Pet insurance is generally designed to cover emergency situations, much like car or house insurance is- but dissimilar to human health insurance. Usually, regular vet visits, routine vaccinations, and the ‘maintenance’ care items such as dental cleanings are not covered. Often, the aim of pet insurance is to provide for the unexpected expenses that come with accidents and the debilitating diseases that can develop with age. However, there are some insurance policies that are starting to cover routine care and maintenance.

Often, when faced with accidental situations or a devastating diagnosis, pet owners have to decide on courses of action and treatments due based on the associated price tags- medical tests, procedures, surgeries and the like can cost several hundreds, even thousands of dollars.  The benefit of having pet insurance in such a situation is that without having to worry about the costs of the necessary treatments, you can make the best medical decisions for your pet. Otherwise, you may be faced with the possibility of high medical bills with no way to pay for them, which can influence and impact the decisions you ultimately make for your pet.

Like car or home insurance, pet insurance is something you hope to never have to need- but if you do, it can potentially save you thousands in medical bills.  For some, it may seem like a waste of money, if you’re paying a monthly premium for something you don’t ever seem to need. Perhaps you’ve always had pets that have been healthy and not incurred many expenses, other than routine checkups and vaccinations. But if you don’t have it, and then are faced with a medical emergency or chronic diagnosis with your pet, you just may wish you had sprung for it. It is impossible to know if you would ever need pet insurance, but hindsight can be 20/20.

If you have the financial means to cover unexpected medical expenses for your pet, you may not need insurance, but if you live on a budget with carefully managed finances, you may not have the flexibility to direct a large sum of money, suddenly and without warning, towards your pet’s health care. Think about how facing a large medical bill would impact your life, finances, and decision making process. For some, knowing that they have insurance for a valuable member of their family provides considerable peace of mind, knowing they will be covered in the event of an emergency or illness.

When deciding whether pet insurance is something you want to invest in, you need to think about your and your pet’s lifestyles, along with their breed, family history, and the conditions that they may be predisposed to. It is generally easier and cheaper to acquire pet insurance when your pet is young and healthy with no health problems. As they age, premiums and deductibles can often increase, and the list of ‘preexisting conditions’ that may not be covered can grow. Cats generally have fewer policy coverage restrictions than purebred dogs. Policies are all different in what they cover, the limits they set for individual conditions or body parts, the deductibles you will have to pay, percentage of coverage, etc.  Serious conditions can also mean referral to specialists, where the veterinarians, the equipment and technology used can have a much higher price tag than your regular vet as well.

Some people find it more worthwhile, instead of paying, say, a $40 premium every month,  to simply direct that money into a separate savings account, to save for a medical emergency or the treatments that may come up as a dog ages. This can be a good idea for some; but, if your pet were to get hit by a car or poisoned by a household toxin only a couple months after starting that savings account, you wouldn’t have much saved yet to pay for those medical expenses. However, if your pet ends up being generally healthy, you could potentially end up with a large lump sum after a number of years, which still could potentially never need to be used.

So, it seems the decision on whether to take out pet insurance can be a double-edged sword, and certainly not a cut and dry decision to make. On one hand, you could be paying premiums for years and never have the need to make a claim, feeling like you’ve wasted what amounts to a large amount of money.  Or something could happen that requires you to make a claim, and either you do not receive the full reimbursement amount and still end up paying out of pocket, or the insurance company comes back and labels your claim as something preexisting and therefore not covered. On the other hand, you could sign up for insurance, and a year later, your pet has an accident that requires many surgeries and hospital stays, and your insurance company covers quite a hefty portion of the medical bills, saving you from forking over large amount of money.

Whether or not pet insurance is a worthy investment is a decision only you and your family can make, based on your own personal circumstances. It seems to be an incredibly individual decision, based on a wide range of factors that influence each pet owner differently.  For most owners, the best way to come to a decision is to do your due diligence, researching the plans and coverage available to you- there are many companies and insurance policies out there for pets, all offering slightly different coverage- and discuss your findings and other influential factors with your family. Make sure you thoroughly research the companies, the policies, and fully understand what each plan covers. Then make a personal decision based on what you learn and how you believe you would act, faced with an emergency or critical illness involving your pet.

Here are some links to explore. We do not endorse any  company or sell insurance.

http://trupanion.com/canada

http://www.petsecure.com/

http://www.gopetplan.ca/

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Lumps and Bumps

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Lumps and Bumps

At least once a week, run your hands all over your pet's body.  You will usually feel a lump, bump, or rash before it is visible, especially in long-haired dogs and cats.  This can be a time to groom your pet and they will enjoy the physical contact.  Check all those hard to see places- armpits, underbelly, and under the tail.

 Any new lumps that you find should be checked by your veterinarian.  It may be a harmless swelling, but if not, treatment is always more successful when started early.

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Positive Rabies case in Parksville

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Positive Rabies case in Parksville

We have been notified by a veterinary practice in the Parksville area that a bat has tested positive for Rabies virus.

Please make sure your dog or cat is vaccinated against Rabies. 

Fortunately, this disease is rare on Vancouver Island, but it is a potentially fatal disease that humans can acquire if bitten by a rabid animal.  Bats are the main vector for the disease in our area, but any animal can become infected and transmit the virus.

Our pets are curious and are attracted to a sick, weakened bat that could bite them. 

 

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Itchy skin!!  Licking and chewing.

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Itchy skin!! Licking and chewing.

Itchy skin in pets is common year round but is worse in the summer. Dogs and cats can be miserable from chronic skin irritation.  People stay awake at night stressed by their pet's restlessness.  Here are some tips to help your pet's skin health:

Grooming- Daily brushing for medium and long coat breeds.  Regular clipping and grooming for continuously growing coats. This includes cats.  It is more difficult for older cats to effectively groom so they benefit from grooming and clipping.

Diet- many pets with itchy skin will benefit from natural supplements in high quality veterinary diets.  Some pets need hypoallergenic diets to help with their itchy skin.  See your veterinarian for adivice on this.

Parasite control-  our temperate climate means that fleas, ticks, lice and mites may be the source of your pet's itch.  We have many safe and effective parasite control products.

Bathing-  This reduces allergen exposure, flushes follicles, and decreases the bacterial and yeast numbers on skin.  Please ask us about our medicated baths.  Make sure to bathe your pet in cool water and towel dry.  Some cats will be happy to be bathed. 

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Beat the Heat!

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Beat the Heat!

The sunshine is great, especially on the west coast, but we have seen an increase in heat-related illnesses in our patients.  If your pet has one of these risk factors, you should take extra caution for him/her on these hot days:

Senior/geriatric pets

Respiratory disease or flat-faced breeds  

Heart Problems

Obesity/large breeds

Thick coat or skin problems

Hormonal diseases- Addisons, Cushings, Thyroid

  Avoid travel or exercise mid-day, never leave your pet in a parked car, have plenty of water (even when travelling), seek shade, use a sponge bath or water spray bottle especially on head/paws/ears, have a wading pool/go swimming, and use fans. 

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Why Microchip your pet?

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Why Microchip your pet?

Microchips are about the size of a rice grain and can be injected under your pet's skin in the shoulder region.  They transmit a digital signal when 'scanned'.  Each pet has a unique number that is registered in a database and can be searched to find your contact information in case your pet goes missing.  Almost all veterinarians, animal shelters, and SPCA's have scanners.

Microchips are more successful than tattoos for returning lost pets to their owners.  They are permanent and cannot be altered.  They can be injected into any breed or size of dogs and cats. Our veterinarians or animal health technologists can inject the chip.  Please call us for any questions you may have.

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