Is Pet Insurance a Good Idea?

Any insurance is a good idea when you need it. The same holds true for pet insurance. In recent years pet insurance has become a topic of discussion amongst pet owners. Pet insurance has been around since 1947 when the first pet was insured in Britain. Sweden has the highest percentage of pet insurance policies and Britain follows closely with 23%. The very first pet to be insured in the US was Lassie in 1982. Lassie had a TV show for 19 years and I grew up watching Lassie save the day. In the US we have a higher pet population but our pets are only insured at 1-2%. An increase in pet policies has been seen, but we still have a long way to go in this pet insurance industry.

There are different types of policies. It is important to research each company and determine what is best for you and your pet. There are policies that cover preventive care, accidental, and illness. Other policies are only accidental and illness. What is right for you? This decision requires some investigation and thought. Many businesses have started offering pet insurance to their employees. The premium dollars can be withheld pretax. It is important to educate yourself and read the reviews on pet insurance companies. Ask friends, family, or your trusted veterinarian about pet insurance.

Deductibles can be handled differently amongst pet insurance providers. Annual deductibles are like car insurance. You pay the deductible every year if you have a claim. A lifetime deductible indicates that once you pay the deductible on a pet’s skin problem you do not have to pay it ever again for that pet’s lifetime. If one year you pay the deductible on the skin condition and the following month the same pet has a urinary issue, you will pay another deductible. There are positive benefits with either scenario. I just want to introduce differences so you can ask the right questions when considering pet insurance.

Over the years of practice, I have seen a large number of families decide on euthanasia because they did not have the necessary funds to treat a sudden illness or injury. Paying a monthly premium allows you to have a plan if something were to happen unexpectedly. It allows you to budget for your pet’s illnesses or injuries. Let’s face it, we never know when something bad may happen. Insurance is there to help us through those situations. I laugh at the Farmer’s insurance commercials as they describe the strangest scenarios that have been covered with their insurance policies. We hear crazy stories all the time of pet’s injuries and illnesses that owners never anticipated. Pets are like family. Pet insurance helps in times of crisis to manage the medical expenses needed to bring our furry friends back home.

Premiums vary amongst company policies. Some companies charge more if a pet is not neutered or spayed. Certain breeds may have higher premiums. The age of your pet and preexisting conditions can affect premiums. If your policy includes preventive care coverage that will affect your premium. The best option is to find a couple of companies to research and then get quotes just like you would do if buying a car. Many companies have price quotes offered on their websites. They have employees willing to answer all of your questions.

Currently most pet insurance policies require the owner to pay the bill at their veterinary office and then submit the claim themselves. The insurance company will investigate the claim and then reimburse the client. A few pet insurance companies are recognizing a need to process a claim immediately to help pet owners avoid large bills at check out. As pet insurance coverage increases per capita we will see more companies offering this feature.

I have never heard a person tell me that pet insurance was a waste of money. I have heard many times, “I wish I would have had pet insurance!” The best time to get a policy is right from the start. The premiums are usually less per month. There are no preexisting conditions. Even puppies and kittens can develop life long health issues or have something traumatic happen to them at an early age. We have all been down that path where the store asked if we wanted the insurance with that appliance or electronic device. We declined. We regretted it. Think about that the next time your veterinarian asks if you have considered pet insurance.

Bring your CAT to the VET

August 22nd is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day. Now you may ask yourself, “Why do we need a day set aside to take a cat to the vet?” Did you know that dogs are five times more likely to see a veterinarian than a cat? More cats are owned per household than dogs but yet the annual average expenses for dogs are $258/dog and $98/cat per year. The AVMA study indicates that more households own dogs (38%) than cats (25%). I think many homes have cats that never see veterinarians and therefore the numbers are skewed. Many homes have multiple cats but have only taken one to see their veterinarian. People seem to think an indoor cat has no reason to see a veterinarian once they have been spayed or neutered. Many cats are extremely upset when traveling and even more upset when they get to the vet office so people hate to see their cats act out. Some people are embarrassed by their cats behaviors away from their home. Many people have cats that just showed up one day and they stayed. They do not claim them as their cat even though they feed them daily. The reasons cats do not see veterinarians come with many explanations. If you are one of those people that rarely or never brings a cat to see a veterinarian then this blog is for you.

Click here to download the following graphic, Ten Travel Tips When Taking Your Cat to the Vet, or find it anytime on our website at Resources.

Cats are not small dogs. This statement has been said often when comparing diets and behaviors. Where I see this most is in how they age and the different diseases that present in cats. A young kitten or cat can have respiratory, urinary, and or skin issues commonly. Vaccinations are recommended from 6 weeks of age and up. We encourage them to be checked for external and internal parasites. Diets are important as a way of preventing some health conditions that are common in younger cats. A visit to your veterinarian can help get you off on the right tract so you can avoid some of the pitfalls of owning a young cat or kitten. The highly recommended visit of spay or neuter to prevent unwanted behaviors of marking or being vocal during the mating season should happen within the first 4-6 months of age.  Statistics show that a kitten can come into season as early as 4 months of age if around other intact cats. Waiting longer can cause unwanted behaviors and increase costs associated with the procedure. Cats age at a slower rate then a large dog. We are seeing the age of cats extended since we have multiple options for treatment for common feline diseases and health conditions associated with aging. It is not rare to have a cat live between 15-20 years now.  The message I want to express is that early intervention in these health issues is key to extending a cat’s life. Without seeing a cat at least once a year, veterinarians cannot share with clients tips on preventive measures and clinical signs to watch for. The age chart below shares a comparison of cat verses human lifespan. Where does your cat line up?

At Winterset Veterinary Center we see three times more dogs than cats. We do more preventive care on dogs than cats. We are more likely to see cats on an emergency basis than for healthy check ups. We often see a young cat for their spay or neuter and then do not see them for years. They show up with a major health crisis and we have no current medical history. All of these factors increase the risk of a less than positive outcome. It is said there are at least 90 million cats in the USA. Only half of the cats see a veterinarian on a regular basis. It is time to change that statistic. If your cat is in the Mature or greater category in age, it would be wise to have them checked by a veterinarian. Many health conditions are not visible from the outside but a physical exam can be a great place to start. Help us raise awareness of the importance of cats seeing veterinarians just like their canine companions do. Schedule an appointment for a healthy check today and start your feline friend on a journey of good care and a long and healthy life.

Every year I get asked to judge the cat show or a pet show at the county level. It is my hope that these young people will grow up appreciating their cats and knowing that their lives deserve as much veterinary care as the dogs in the world. I have spoken in classroom settings attempting to educate the younger generation about the importance of veterinary care and how much it costs to care for the “free kitten” that you brought home. These types of programs are important so this younger generation will understand the value of our furry friends and the need for proper and timely health care. Join the cause by sharing this blog. We can all help raise the standard of care for the cats of the world.

Pet Fire Safety Month

In school they have fire drills. Every home is supposed to have a fire escape plan. There is a plan for where to meet once you get out of the house. What windows or doors should be used to get out of the house. Testing fire alarms and changing batteries at least two times a year but what about fire safety and how it relates to your pets. Do you have a plan on how to get your furry friends out of the house if there is a fire?

Recently our client, Bryce Hatten and his faithful companion, Buck, were honored by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association. In 2019, Buck woke up Bryce as the home was going up in flames. There was enough time to alert the rest of the family and everyone got out safe. The family knows that if it were not for Buck, the outcome may have been very different. Buck was awarded the Hero Award for 2020. He was supposed to be recognized at the ARL Raise Your Paw Event last spring. With the Covid 19 pandemic, the event was cancelled. We are extremely proud of Buck. He did get his medal and plaque that forever reminds the Hatten family that they have a “Hero” among them.

National Pet Fire Safety Day is July 15, 2020. What about a fire safety plan to get your pets out of the home? Do you have a sticker by your entrances to alert the fire department about how many pets you have in the home? These stickers can save your pets lives when Firemen are aware they are indoors. Pet owners can obtain a free fire safety window cling by going online at www.adt.com/pets. Check with your local fire departments as they may have these window clings free of charge as well.

Consider having your pets kenneled close to doors so if there would be a fire they can safely and quickly be removed if you are not home. Keeping puppies kenneled will help reduce the opportunity for a fire as they explore their new home. Puppy proof any areas that your puppy has access to. Over half a million pets are caught in house fires annually. Over 1000 of those fires are accidentally started by the homeowners pets.

Some simple fire prevention tips for families with pets would be to remove kitchen stove knobs. Pets have accidentally turned on the stove when attempting to get something off the appliance. This is the most common event involved in a pet starting a house fire. Do not use a glass bowl of water on a wooden deck for your pet. The sunlight filtered through the glass and water can start the wooden deck on fire. Use stainless steel or ceramic water bowls instead on wooden decks. Consider flameless candles. Watch fireplace flames carefully when you have furry friends in your home. Extinguish all flames before leaving a room when you have pets in your home.

It would be wise to have an escape route planned with your pets in mind. Where are the leashes and harnesses kept? Who is responsible for which pets? What doors or windows can we remove the pets through safely? Shall we wrap our furry friends in a towel or blanket to protect them? Many cats like to hide when they are afraid. Covering their eyes and body may make them more relaxed. If it is winter where shall we seek shelter until the fire department arrives? Speak with your neighbors about potential fires and if the pets would be welcome in their homes. There are families that have severe allergies and may not be able to open up their home to your pets. There are pets that will be aggressive if other pets come into their homes. If you have planned ahead hopefully none of these situations will occur. Have a plan and practice that plan with family members and your pets. It is important to know that you will be able to pass your cat or dog through an open window and not have them fight and run back into the burning home or get lost outdoors.

Preplanning is the way to have the best outcome when it comes to fires. Here’s hoping that all of your fire prevention planning is never put to use. Fires are a devastating experience. Often when listening to a families account of what happened, they always seem to say that we lost everything in the fire but we still have each other and that is all that matters. We think it matters that your pets get out safe as well. Annually 2,620 people die in house fires.  Compare that to over 40,000 pets dying in residential fires each year, most from smoke inhalation. Plan a head and save your furry friends lives too.

Pet Appreciation Week in June

This past week was pet appreciation week. I was wondering what to write about and it occurred to me that the animals in my life have shaped me into the veterinarian I am today. Growing up in northern Iowa on a hog-grain farm was the perfect place to start experiencing animals and their affect on my life. We had dogs, cats, a shetland pony, and hogs very early in my life. Each of them played a different role in my upbringing.

As a hog farmer’s daughter, I got involved in the early care of baby pigs. Once the piglets were born it was my brother and I’s job to help hold the pigs for their early iron shots and teeth trimming to protect the sows. Once we were old enough to do the processing ourselves it became our responsibility. My brother was 2 years younger than myself and we were the main caretakers of the piglets once they were born. We kept accurate records of how many live pigs each sow had and recorded the weight and medical data for the litters. If there were any “runts” in the litters we took them to a separate area and raised them on milk replacer. Any of those runts that survived we got the money for our own bank accounts when they were sold. I paid for a majority of my undergraduate education with those hog funds. I realized that I loved watching a runt grow and thrive because of my Tender Loving Care(TLC). I joined FFA and 4-H.  My brother and I raised hogs to show. We did well in those circles and enjoyed being one another’s competition. I was part of the FFA meat judging team in high school and spent time in packing plants grading carcasses. Still enjoy selecting my meat at Fareway using the knowledge learned 40 years ago. As the County and District Pork Queen (Ambassador as they are now called), I traveled to California and promoted pork in grocery stores.  FFA, 4-H, and being a Pork Ambassador really allowed me to be comfortable speaking in front of people.  I realized that there is no such thing as a stranger…. just a friend you have not met yet.

My first pony was named Lars. My parents named their kids, Linda, Lori, Lonna, and Lee. My parents came up with a Norwegian name for our pony that started with “L” since we are 100% Norwegian. Lars was a stubborn shetland pony but extremely tolerant of us jumping on and off, sliding down his neck, or doing leap frog onto his back. We would stand on him. Lay on him. Dress him up with blankets and put flowers in his mane and tail. As long as he could eat grass he was happy. When I was older and wanted to ride him he attempted to find a low branch on a tree and run right under it. Being little I would just lay down on him and under the branch I would go. Often I would walk him down the lane and ride him back up since he would gallop on the way home. We got a few other horses by the time I was in Junior High. Lars was still with us but had retired to pasture pony.  One day I came out to the pasture and found Lars had punctured his eye. I do not know to this day how he did it, but a call to the vet indicated he was blind in that eye.  He would need to be treated with ointment and pain meds until healed. I took on that responsibility and marveled at the quick healing process. I realized that the pony did not care that he was blind in one eye. In his perspective he could still do everything he had been doing with 2 good eyes. He eventually moved to a home with younger children and lived out his final years there. I raised 2 foals before graduating from high school and realized that early intervention is important in the training of animals. I was able to deworm and vaccinate the horses and learn important facts about nutrition.

Cats and kittens were plenty on the farm. Growing up in the 70’s the profession of Veterinary Medicine was mostly focused on livestock. The spay/neuter programs were nonexistent in rural Iowa. We had kittens at least twice a year and I learned a lot about treating snotty nose and crusty eyed kittens. I was giving penicillin shots and treating eyes in an attempt to save my babies.  I was attached to all of them and they all had names. I had my favorite mommas and they would hide the kittens in our large haymow. I was the only one that could find the kittens. I would go into the loft and meow like a cat and the mommas would come out from their hiding spots. I would then keep it a secret so only I knew where they were. As the kittens grew I would spend hours playing with them and watching them play. I remember a time my mom was frantically looking for me and eventually found me sleeping in the barn with cats and kittens laying all around me and on top of me. It is from these precious souls that I learned about the circle of life. With as many cats as we had, death was always a possibility. With the large farm equipment and trucks driving around the property, accidents were bound to happen. Every time I lost a cat or kitten I would bury them in a “pet cemetery.”  My brother and I would make wooden crosses out of sticks or scraps of wood to place on the grave. We put rocks over the soil to reduce the opportunity of them being dug up by other critters. I loved them and they taught me that in life every soul has a time to live and a time to die. 

We had dogs growing up on the farm. They were usually large dogs. Most were females and you guessed it…we got to experience puppies. We would find homes for most of the puppies rather quickly. The puppies got attention and affection so became great family farm dogs. Some of our dogs were working dogs but most were just happy friendly pets. We knew that if they roamed there was the possibility of them not coming home. Dogs off their own farm were a hazard to livestock and neighbors property. This gave me an education about the large responsibility of having a dog. The importance of training and caring for them. The need to groom them. I grew to love the happy spirit and unconditional love they had for every member of the family. I learned that when they got older and even doing the normal daily routines were difficult for them it was time to say goodbye. Watching them struggle was not in their best interest. I had the intelligence to know when to let them leave this earth and be at peace. Yes, there were tears. Yes, there was a realization that the one thing I could not do was make them young again. Yes, their only fault, they did not live long enough.

I have deeply loved my animals through the years. They have given me great joy and love. I appreciate all that they have taught me. They gave me a career that has served me and my family well for the last 32 years. They have raised my children and taught them to cherish their time with furry friends. These critters deserve our love and devotion because all they ever want is ours. I do so appreciate my pets.

National Pet Week & Service Dog Eye Exams

Here we are another month and we are still social distancing. This month was designed to recognize our furry friends and the contributions they make to our daily lives. With the pandemic we are restricted in what we can do within our communities and that includes where we can go with our pets. Winterset Veterinary Center did post staff members with their pets last week on Facebook. We were thrilled with the comments and likes that were made. It was interesting to note that many of us have gotten our furry friends either from a shelter, rescue, or strays that just wandered in one day. We all love our furry friends but know that they are just ordinary pets that give us great joy and unconditional love each day.

This is Sonny, a Winterset Veterinary Center shelter dog that Dr. Jim and his wife gave a forever home about two years ago. He is the perfect gentleman and loves to be the center of attention. See more photos of our staff and their pets on our Facebook page.

Service dogs are a different class of canine citizen. They are working dogs. They are given privileges to enter places that ordinary dogs do not get to go. They have devoted at least 2 years of their lives to training to do the tasks set before them. It is critical that their hearing and vision stay sharp. During this month of May we encourage you to set an appointment to have the eyes examined by a licensed ophthalmologist. The eyes can have changes to the lens and pressure changes to the globe causing cataracts or glaucoma. Both conditions can be treated but early intervention is critical to avoid long term blindness. Blindness would affect your service dog’s ability to do his/her job. There are ophthalmologists that travel to different cities to do exams. If you have an interest in having your dog’s eyes checked, please contact us during regular business hours to find out how to make an appointment with a specialist.

We still get lots of questions about someone wanting their pet to be a therapy dog or service dog. Therapy dogs are trained to go to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, airports, libraries, etc. to help calm those in the building. There are training facilities that can assist you in determining if your dog could be in those locations and remain calm. A Good Canine Citizen Test is a good place to start. If a dog can pass that exam, they may have potential to be used in a therapy setting. If they struggle with the basic concepts in that Canine Citizen Test, they will probably not pass the tests required to be a certified therapy dog.

We also have many people that want their pet to be a service dog. A service dog is trained from 8 weeks to 2 years of age by professionals to prepare them to assist someone with disabilities. There are many dogs that fail these programs for different reasons and are then trained for other services that fit their skill sets. Attempting to train your pet to be a service dog is a huge mistake. Attempting to pass your pet off as a service dog is a huge error in judgement. Attempting to buy a vest online indicating your dog is a service dog is morally wrong. These pets are interfering with the true service dog’s role. Businesses are questioning even those who have legally trained service dogs because we have people attempting to pass their pets off as service animals. If you would like your pet to be an emotional support pet speak with your personal doctor or therapist. An emotional support pet can offer you personal encouragement within your home but is not allowed into public spaces where dogs are not allowed.  Only service dogs can access those buildings. It is important to recognize the difference between service, therapy, and emotional support dogs.

Pets have become increasingly important during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have given us distractions when boredom has set in with social distancing. They have gotten us off the couch and into the fresh air for walks. Many families have decided it was a good time to get a pet since they have been stuck at home and have more time to potty train. Be cautious though since we are seeing challenges socializing our puppies because we are not allowed to gather at farmers markets, little league games, parks, etc. Those were the perfect places to socialize our pets with other pets and people that we do not have within our homes. I fear that we will have new pets fearful of other dogs and people because of social distancing. When the pandemic restrictions are lifted, we will have young dogs showing separation anxiety when owners go back to work. Please speak with trainers on how to socialize and prepare your dogs and or puppies for future experiences they are missing out on.  Some trainers are offering online courses to assist new pet owners with situations just like this. Take the time to seek professional help to train your new pet. It will prevent issues in the future if you start early.

National Pet week is usually the first full week in May. If you missed it this year put it on your calendar for next year. It would be fun to see people post photos of themselves with their furry friends. Our pets do contribute to our happiness and sanity in many ways. I am hoping that by this time in June we will be getting back to more normal activities as summer will be in full swing. Bring on the warm weather and sunny days of summer. Have a wonderful Memorial Day.

April is Animal Cruelty Awareness Month

In this unprecedented time of social distancing we find ourselves under a lot of stress and uncertainty about how this pandemic is affecting our mental, financial, and physical selves. It has also affected our furry friends but they may see it as a positive. Maybe we need to look at it from their perspective. They are thrilled to have more opportunity to spend time with those they love. They get more cuddles and walks then in months past. They are not left to wander aimlessly around the house and instead get to be involved in daily activities of fun and fellowship with family. Our pets can be a source of calm and distraction at the same time. It is amazing to me the number of new pets being bought during this time of social distancing. People are realizing they now have the time to invest in a furry new friend and are taking that step as a pet owner.

Those that handle abuse situations indicate these trying times can bring about more cases of abuse due to the uncertainty of our daily lives as well. Statistics indicate that homes suspected of child abuse had an 88% history of animal abuse also. We know that abuse happens more often in relationship to mental and financial stress. Our nation is truly in a state of mental and financial distress. If you or someone you love appears to be struggling with the current situation, please reach out to someone for help before any abuse whether animal or human can occur. There are professionals waiting to help during these difficult times. Many have programs to help with the financial barriers encountered when seeking out professional help.

Animal cruelty and abuse can come in many forms. A large percentage of the animal abuse cases involve dogs. Animal hoarding is the #1 animal cruelty crisis. Often a person does not start out hoarding animals but instead has a deep compassion for their struggles. As they take on more mouths to feed, they are no longer able to do basic care such as spay and neutering. The population explodes within their environment as new puppies and kittens arrive. Before they realize it, they are behind in basic health and nutritional needs. They have more waste then they ever thought possible. The almighty dollar does not stretch far enough so buying food for the masses becomes the priority and everything else is left behind. Disease and behavioral issues develop and the hoarding is in full swing.

Other forms of animal cruelty are dog and bull fighting, neglect, puppy mills, animals used in the entertainment industry for financial gain. Some would classify big game hunting or agricultural practices within the realm of animal cruelty also. It is easy for us to point fingers at some group or organization that does not hold the same convictions as ourselves when evaluating animal cruelty. In the last few years, my husband and I attended classes relating to foster and adoptive children. In those classes we were made aware that the standards around raising children can be acceptable at many levels. Just because we may not consider it normal does not make it abuse. I think this needs to be considered in relationship to animals as well. When clients visit Winterset Veterinary Center, it is our job to treat these patients and provide the best standard of care. Now whether that person chooses to agree to that standard is their decision. We do not judge them for their decision. We accept what they are willing and able to do. They may have a different normal in their minds.  We will discuss the different options available at each level of care. Always keeping in mind that this patient shall be comfortable and not suffering. People appreciate our approach to care and our nonjudgemental platform. There is no way we can know what each family is going through as they present this patient. These decisions can be agonizing for the owners and we do not want to add any additional burdens to their situation. Our standard may be different but that does not make it the norm.

As we continue during our time of social distancing please remember to stay safe and look out for one another. Whether that is your neighbor or your furry friend. Keep a close watch on the needs of others. We can get through this. Hopefully, we can be a much kinder and gentler nation of the other side of Covid-19!

March 23, 2020: National Puppy Day!

This year for my blogs, I am following a NAVC calendar highlights for each month. It was exciting to see the March theme National Puppy Day. I want to encourage everyone to post a picture of their puppy online on March 23rd. These canine friends fill our lives with joy and happiness daily. Let’s celebrate them by posting pictures to show the world how special they are.

Have you ever googled the most common names of pets? Have you ever googled the most popular breed of pets? Have you ever googled the average lifespan of pets? The list is endless of the information available on these topics. Do you ever wonder how they get this information. I do. An interesting subject that we hear about often is the Dog Food Advisor. People will inform me that they googled the food they were feeding their dog and the “Dog Food Advisor” said this or that. Did you know the man behind the “Dog Food Advisor” is a Dental Surgeon? I find it interesting that so many people put their faith in a website about Dog Food that originated by a dentist. This link is his disclaimer which is interesting to read because he makes certain to indicate he is not an expert and if anything is inaccurate please contact him and he will correct the information.

Yet he has put himself and his website in front of a HUGE number of people. It is a profitable business for him I am sure.

When we attend continuing education events and nutrition is discussed, they inform us that they cannot even compare foods by looking at the labels on the bags of pet food. They are trained in the field of pet nutrition and will not make claims about foods based on what is available to them. Why would we trust a website not even handled by a veterinary nutritionist?

I believe is it crucial that when searching the web we recognize the limitations these sites contain. We consider the source and remember with everything there can be “fake news”. The web can be a source of interesting information and is great when considering trivia questions. Yet in this day, we need to not rely on it as our soul source of information. Find the true experts and look for solid sources before believing what you are reading or hearing.

Hope everyone has a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and first day of spring, let’s flood our social media with the pets that help make our daily lives great! Looking forward to the posts on March 23rd.  Stay safe!

Drawing by Alice Madsen

February is Dental Health Month

Welcome to winter wonderland. Iowa in February can be unpredictable with our weather patterns, but we can rely on one thing….. Spring will come. Until we see those signs of spring, we will share another blog to give you something to do with your pet during these cold winter months. Teach them to let you brush their teeth. We have all heard the saying, you can’t teach and old dog new tricks. I disagree. I think most trainers would disagree as well. It is never to late to start working with your dog on new concepts. Brushing their teeth can be one of those concepts.

Before jumping right in with dog toothpaste and a toothbrush, have your pets mouth examined by a veterinarian. If a pet has any loose teeth, broken teeth, or gum disease, brushing will be uncomfortable and the opportunity for success decreases significantly. While visiting your veterinarian discuss having the teeth professionally cleaned. Any tarter on the teeth will not be removed by starting a home dental care program. Studies show that tarter begins to accumulate as early as 3 years of age. If no steps are taken to do home care, your pet may need a professional cleaning early in their life.

Professionals indicate that brushing is most effective when doing it daily. It must be done at least three times a week to have any effect at all. This must be a commitment one makes to help their pets mouth stay healthy. Just like brushing your teeth or taking your daily supplements is a routine for you, brushing your pet’s teeth should happen around the same time every day.

How to begin this process can look different for different families. If your pet already lets you look at their teeth and open their mouth your starting point will be different then someone who’s pet bites them when they attempt to look at their teeth or open their mouth.

Step 1. Using something good tasting, this could be the flavored pet toothpaste, place a small amount on the end of your finger at a time of day that you will brush their teeth going forward. Once they lick that off praise them and that is the end of the step until the next day. Continue to do this until the pet shows excitement for that daily step and begins looking forward to it.

Step 2. Now that we have established a routine, we place the toothpaste on our finger and as they approach to lick it, gently smear it on their upper lip. Avoid the lower lip since they are unable to get their tongues to turn downward. As you are smearing it on their upper lip speak quiet and encouraging words. If they back off and resist, then you need to go back to offering the toothpaste on your finger. Do not force any of these steps as that will just make your pet more anxious about the entire process.

Step 3. We now are going to use the toothpaste on our finger to go under the upper lip onto the surface of the incisors and canine teeth right in the front. The hope is that your pet will decide that they still love the flavored toothpaste and are willing to allow you access to their teeth on the upper arcade. Do not attempt to go to the back teeth or lower teeth until this step has been completely mastered.

Step 4. Once you have gained access to their teeth in the front you can begin to slowly work your way around in their mouth. If at any time you notice backing away or fear associated with these steps you are moving too fast.

Step 5. If interested in using a finger toothbrush or a toothbrush instead of your finger this would be the time to introduce those devices. The upper teeth are most affected with tarter related to the salivary glands that secrete above them. Do not attempt to get inside along the tongue when brushing. Just doing the outside surface closer to the lips will be extremely helpful in reducing issues with tarter.

Step 6. Get regular check ups with your veterinarian and have the teeth examined. Changes can occur throughout a pet’s life that if not detected early can lead to loss of teeth or oral health concerns.

Here’s Tony, in the video below. She has been brushing her dogs teeth for years and they continue to look amazing. Her dogs look forward to having it done each day. Many of her dogs were adopted and she was able to work with them so they would look forward to having their teeth brushed as well. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

In today’s world pets can have dental work not only to clean and polish teeth but also to repair broken teeth, fix alignment concerns with braces, and even root canals. These procedures are done with the same precision and tools used in human dentistry. If your pet is diagnosed with any of these major issues talk with your veterinarian about referral opportunities. There are more options now than extraction of the affected teeth. 

Do your pet and yourself a huge favor and stay fully aware of what is going on in the mouths of your furry babes.

January: National Train Your Dog Month

Sometime in the last decade (just had to say that), the Association of Pet Dog Trainers started a movement to make January a month to celebrate our furry friends and the fun that can be had when spending time training them.

Dogs and owners that take the time to go seek assistance with everything from basic puppy behaviors to general obedience commands are much more content with their pets on the average. Training pets has shown to bond the owners and pets at a deeper level and assures a longer life within their homes. The number of pets in shelters that are trained is low. Those pets with manners are more likely to live out their natural life with owners that invest in training.

Happy Acres, north of town, is just beginning its new schedule for 2020. They have a number of options to offer to new pet owners and existing pet owners. There are classes for general obedience. There are classes for nose work or tricks. There are classes to help start your new puppy off right. As an owner you may learn more than your furry friend attending these classes. Visit www.HappyAcresDog.com to get more information.

Kawa Farms also trains Southwest of Winterset and has a number of opportunities to help your furry friends be more comfortable in their surroundings. They have a website to share all their upcoming opportunities at www.kawafarms.com.

If your schedule or your finances do not permit you to take your furry friends to class, this link has some fun ways to work with your pets at home teaching them tricks. Tricks are fun for everyone and can be a great way to get your furry friends to learn to watch you. Here is a link that you can follow to teach your furry friend some fun tricks. Amaze your friends and family, maybe even yourself!

With the increasing number of people traveling with emotional support pets training is extremely necessary. We see people wanting to have an emotional support pet and their pet is fearful around new people or new situations. You cannot expect a dog or cat to love to fly if they have never been exposed to those environments. Emotional support pets are not allowed the same privileges that are granted to service dogs. This is important to remember.  An emotional support pet needs to have a certificate from a Human Doctor or Therapist. This is not anything that we as veterinarians can authorize.

Therapy dogs and cats are trained to visit nursing homes, schools, airports, trauma locations or disaster areas to ease stresses and fears in people. The training they undergo to be labeled as therapy dogs and cats is extensive.  These pets do not have the same privileges as service dogs either. A good place to start if you are wanting to have a therapy dog is taking a Canine Good Citizen training course and see how both of you do. If you are unable to pass that test, then becoming a therapy dog is probably not in the cards. Therapy pets need to be extremely calm and well mannered. Just loving people is not enough.

Service puppies are started with their specialized training at 8 weeks of age. They undergo daily experiences to help prepare them for their future as a service dog. I wish I could tell you exactly how many puppies fail these service dog programs for one reason or another, but the percentages are high. Adopting or purchasing a puppy or dog from someone to train it yourself to become a service dog is extremely risky. You may end up with a very expensive pet. It is best to apply to receive a service dog from an organization that devotes their time and resources to training dogs to assist humans in their daily lives.

Whatever January temperatures bring to the table, you can be certain that our pets will be excited to spend quality time with us while we wait for signs of spring. Start training today so by the time the warm weather returns we can all get out and enjoy the great outdoors with our trained furry friends. Happy New Year!

Wintersetvet.com

In 2008 when we first launched our website we knew we needed to have a presence on the web. We hired a company that walked us through the process and a very basic site was born. Then in 2015 we started working with Julie Feirer of Winterset Websites, and she continues to help us keep it up to date. Just recently we updated some of the photos and pages on our website and I would like to direct you to it so you know what is available there.

Our home page has a referral coupon that we would love to see printed off and brought in more often. Many of you refer family and friends and this is the highest compliment we can receive. We would love to reward not only the new client but also the person who referred them with $15 credit to their account. We ask that you print off the coupon and have the new client present it at their first appointment. 

We also advertise our online store, Covetrus, on the home page. You can access the store right from our website if interested. They offer coupons and specials at certain times of the year. If we have your email address you will be made aware of those special promotions by email. The store offers medications, diets, supplements, and many other items. Please check it out if you have not visited Covetrus before.

Current Specials can be new products with rebates or information about items that are currently in season. This can change from time to time so be certain to look for any new and upcoming products that will help keep your furry friends healthy.

Care Credit is a financing company that offers payment plans for large hospitalization or treatment bills. Applications can be submitted and funds used the same day if you qualify.

Of course you can access all the blogs that have been posted since 2016 from the website. There is a search box if you are interested in a certain topic.

We have included the standard map and contact information if you are new to the area or Winterset Veterinary Center. 

We recently added a staff biography page to include the current staff at Winterset Veterinary Center. Take a look at these bios to learn more about each of the team members.

Our small animal and large animal pages have photos and a list of the services available for our clients and their animals. We updated some of the photos recently and will continue to look for opportunities to show what we do here on a daily basis.

The grooming/boarding page shows Anabel doing what she does best. She is in high demand for her expertise in grooming. We encourage people to set appointments early since she is booked up months in advance. I believe we are currently booking her grooms for late January early February. 

The last page we have is for resources. We want to make it easy for people to find out information about the diets we sell. We have a trusted site for people looking for more medical information about a condition their pet has. We have a link to a Rabies Resource Manual. With the number of dog bites reported each year this information may be helpful to know what steps must be taken to secure the safety of the person bitten. We have linked our pages to this blog so you can easily access the site if you are interested in visiting our website. I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year. 

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