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I have a one year old, gray tabby cat. We have to move and the trip will take 10 hours. How can I transport her safely and without a lot of stress and discomfort to her? [ click here ]

Congratulations on thinking ahead about this issue – Cats are creatures of habit who tend to feel most secure in their own territory and planning for the move will make a huge difference to the amount of stress that the event will cause for your cat. Here are some things you can do before, during and after the move to make it a good experience for all:-

Before the Move:-

  1. Before you start packing up your home you need to create a "safe haven" for your cat that she can retreat to when the noise and commotion get too much for her;
  2. Make her feel at home in her "safe haven" by putting her litter box, toys and scratching post in her room;
  3. Purchase a good quality cat carrier for the trip and leave it open in her "safe haven" room, natural curiosity will ensure that she will spend some time exploring the cat carrier and may even end up sleeping in it. There are a wide variety of carriers to choose from, make sure that you purchase one that is easy to clean and has plenty of ventilation for her;
  4. Take your cat to your veterinarian to make sure that all her vaccinations are up to date and that medical records are completed. Ask your veterinarian whether he would recommend any products to calm your cat down during the trip. If you are moving some distance, ask whether your veterinarian could recommend a clinic close to your new home. If your cat is not microchipped, this would be a good time to have it done – register your cat's microchip at or by calling 1-866-597-2424 using your new address;
  5. Make sure that she is wearing a cat collar and tags, put your new address on the tags;
  6. The day before the move keep your cat in the "safe haven" room – you don’t want to spend precious time on moving day chasing her all over the house.

On the Day of the Move:-

  1. Do not feed your cat for at least 3 hours before leaving on the trip, it may reduce the chances for an upset stomach in a nervous traveler;
  2. Do give your cat water before the trip and during the trip if possible, cats can get dehydrated during long trips;
  3. Put your cat into the cat carrier – make sure that you line it well with absorbent material and have extra bedding plus things to clean up messes with in the car just in case;
  4. Keep the cat in the car with you and make sure that the carrier is well ventilated;
  5. Your cat will probably cry during the trip – do not take it out of the carrier while you are driving as it can be very dangerous to have a cat on the loose in the car, or even worse, loose on the road. It is unlikely that the cat will be distressed but will be unhappy with the disruption of her schedule and will want to tell you about it. Talk to your pet gently to let her know that you are there but you may just have to live with the noise for the duration of the trip;
  6. You can carry a litter box with you on the trip but it is unlikely that the cat will use it, even on a long trip;
  7. Do not leave the cat unattended in the car – particularly if it is hot, heat stroke can be a killer and it does not take long to occur.

Once you Arrive in your New Home:-

  1. When you arrive at your new home designate a room to be your cat's "safe haven";
  2. Put all the things that she knows and recognizes into her room her litter box, toys and scratching post and release her from her cat carrier into the room – give her some food and water and make sure that you shut her in to allow her to calm down after the trip;
  3. Check on your cat regularly to comfort her and give her the confidence that you are nearby;
  4. You may have to keep your cat in her "safe haven" room for a couple of days, but once she starts to demonstrate her own normal pattern of behavior you can introduce her to the rest of her new home;
  5. If your usually allow your cat outside, it is advisable to keep her inside for at least the first two to three weeks after the move;
  6. When you do let the cat outside make sure that it is before a mealtime, leave the door/cat door open so that she come back in quickly if she is afraid.
  7. Make the first trip outside a short one, you can gradually allow her out for longer once she has demonstrated that she knows where home it – some people say that if you put a little bit of butter on her paws before she goes out she will know where to come back for more.

Good luck with the trip we wish you all the best.

My Cocker Spaniel is eaten up with fleas. I have tried everything, including frontline and others, dipping, spraying the house and yard, but nothing helps. I’m at my wits end. Is there anything else I can do? Everyone else in the neighborhood says their dog doesn’t have them, but it is hard for me to believe. [ click here ]

There are many reasons why dogs itch including fleas, allergies and skin infections and it is important to first of all confirm with your veterinarian that your dog’s itching is due to a flea infestation. Having done that it is on to the battlefield!!

Fleas love warmer temperatures and for those of us up north, fleas are usually only a summer time hassle, but living in Florida fleas can be a year round problem. Fleas have a four stage life cycle – egg, larvae, pupae, adult – with the female adult flea laying up to 50 eggs a day and around 2,000 in its lifetime. In order to get rid of your dog’s flea problem you must disrupt the life cycle of the fleas – remembering always that the adult fleas that you can see represent only about 1% of the problem, the rest are in the egg, larvae or pupae stage of their life cycle. These eggs, larvae and pupae can be anywhere in your house or yard and if you do not get rid of them you will unfortunately see the flea problem re-emerge as has obviously been the case thus far.

Attack the problem in stages:-

  • Stage 1 – Double check with your veterinarian that this is a flea problem, in that appointment ask your veterinarian to check for secondary problems that have resulted from the infestation and ask which flea product he/she would recommend that you use on an ongoing basis;
  • Stage 2 - Treat your dog with the product that your veterinarian has recommended;
  • Stage 3 – Treat your home, car and garden to get rid of the immature fleas. Carpets, furniture, dog bedding, human bedding and the garden should all be treated. After treatment, be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag and treat your vacuum cleaner’s nozzle, the eggs are not very sticky so they can easily fall off and restart the cycle.
  • Stage 4 – Ongoing prevention – Since you have had an ongoing problem it is very important to continue to take preventative measures to avoid a re-occurrence! In the period immediately following Stage 2 and 3 vacuum regularly to pick up any immature fleas that may have been missed. If your veterinarian has recommended a flea product that you can use on an ongoing basis – use it! There are also natural remedies that are worth trying once you have got rid of the fleas, Brewer’s yeast is a food additive that naturally repels fleas; most pet stores will carry it in a pet friendly form. You can also get a natural flea repellant with aromatic oils that you rub onto your pet, you should be able to find it in a natural health store – just be careful not to get any on your dog’s face as the smell will be too strong for sensitive noses.

Good luck with the battle!

Can you describe some symptoms of a doggie stroke? My dog is 14 years old and is a large dog. He is favoring his right side and turning around in circles. He just doesn’t seem like himself. Acts like he cannot move some of his limbs. [ click here ]
In general, dogs do not have true “strokes” as known in humans. Strokes refer to lesions or “events” that occur in the brain. This is a rarely diagnosed problem in dogs.
However, the term “stroke” is sometimes used when referring to an illness in dogs called Vestibular Disease. The vestibular system is the part of the spinal cord that controls balance. It receives messages from the eyes, limbs and receptors of the inner ear in order to keep the head and body upright and in alignment.
Vestibular Disease is an illness most commonly seen in dogs older than eight years and most often in the medium to large breeds. The symptoms appear to come on suddenly and the dog appears disoriented, off balance and may be reluctant to stand up. Dogs with Vestibular Disease often have a head tilt (one half of the head seems to be leaning towards the ground). Irregular eye movements, walking in circles and vomiting are other common symptoms.
Many dogs will return to normal over a period of several weeks as their body adjusts. However, other illnesses such as moderate to severe ear infections, hypothyroidism and musculoskeletal problems can cause some of the same symptoms as Vestibular Disease. If you are noticing problems with your dog’s balance, please take him to a veterinarian for a complete examination. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing to investigate and diagnose any and all causes of the symptoms noted.
I have known two others with the same type of dog I have, a Bichon Frise. Both of their dogs have gotten cataracts. I want to be safe and get coverage for mine, do you guys cover cataracts? [ click here ]

Good for you for thinking of signing your pet up for insurance BEFORE there are any symptoms of the illness!

Yes, cataract formation in the eye is a condition that is covered by the comprehensive programs offered by PetCare Insurance. PetCare covers illness conditions that may be considered congenital (conditions that a pet is born with) or heritable (problems passed from generation to generation). The important thing to remember is that insurance coverage is only available for conditions that were not noted, symptomatic or treated before the insurance coverage is in place. You will be able to maximize the benefits of insurance coverage if you sign up your pets when they are young and healthy.
My Wheaten Terrier had two cysts removed. One was sent out for testing. It came back as a Fibrosarcoma, Grade 1. My vet said, “Don’t worry about it, they recently did new gradings, and months ago this type of tumor was a grade 0”. How concerned should I be? Would I still be able to insure him with a PetCare insurance policy? [ click here ]

Fibrosarcomas, like many of the different tumour types, cause problems in the body based on the location and type of tissue (e.g. skin, oral cavity, bone) where you find the lumps. Like any suspicious lump, after it is removed, the site should be monitored closely (daily or weekly) for any changes in size, shape, skin irritation, firmness or regrowth. If any changes are noticed, you must take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination as soon as possible.

PetCare Insurance offers insurance coverage for your Wheaten Terrier even with the previous diagnosis of a Fibrosarcoma tumour. As for all insurance policies, any condition (the Fibrosarcoma in this case) that was noted, symptomatic or treated prior to signing up for the insurance policy will not be covered. So, in this case, if one of the cysts grows back, claims will not be paid for the removal of the cyst. The PetCare Insurance policy will cover your dog for any other new illnesses or accidents that develop after the insurance policy is in place. PetCare insurance agents review the medical records of every pet before a claim is paid.

The different insurance coverage options available for your dog are outlined and explained on this site. Please review them closely to find the program that works best for you. click here to GET AN ONLINE QUOTE

My Golden Retriever has a lump on her side. It was diagnosed as a Mast Cell Tumor. Can you tell me what it is and how you would treat it if at all? [ click here ]

Mast cells are used by the body to protect against parasites. These are organisms that would enter the body through the respiratory tract, intestinal tract or the skin. Mast cells detect the presence of foreign material from parasites and then degranulate (release agents that kill the parasite). The signal of degranulation in one site of the body sometimes stimulates other mast cells in other areas to degranulate too. This degranulation in the skin can cause local irritation with swelling, redness and itchiness, whereas degranulation in the intestinal tract can cause increased stomach acid production. A mast cell can form a tumour which contains many mast cells in a small area. The Mast Cell Tumour (MCT) is one of the most common skin tumours in dogs. Some breeds are commonly diagnosed with MCT, for example, the Boxer, Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and English Bulldog. Mast Cell Tumours should be biopsied and the tissue sent to a pathologist. The masses are categorized in two ways, first they are graded (Grade I- III) based on their aggressiveness and then they are staged (Stage I – IV), determined by the extent to which the cells have spread to other sites. Based on the site, grade and the stage of the tumour, a plan for treatment is made.

Treatments for MCT include surgical removal (best chance for cure if tumour removed completely), radiation therapy and medications (chemotherapy). An oncologist (a specialist in the area of cancer and cancer therapies) may be able to give you a specialized course of therapy. Ask your veterinarian to go over all the findings and/or refer you and your dog to an oncologist for further treatment options. Many dogs have good outcomes when the tumours are diagnosed, removed and treated early.

I have an indoor cat that is 12 months old and for the past week he has been limping on his back leg. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain. When I just touch it he doesn’t move and it doesn’t seem broken. I have called a lot of vets in my area to see if they will help me with billing and everyone wants the money up front. I really need kitty insurance and really quick. I need insurance that will help me mix his booboo. Thank you. [ click here ]
You are obviously concerned for the well-being of your cat. He needs to be examined for his limping. Cats and dogs do not “fake” their injuries. They do not limp to get attention. If there is limping in the back leg, pets usually have pain in that region. Your cat will need treatment for this problem so that he has some relief from his discomfort. Most veterinary hospitals do require payment for their services at the time of the examination. This is especially the case if it is the first time you have visited the hospital. If you feel you cannot afford the payment, consider borrowing the money from family or friends. Talk to your local veterinarian about other options available to you including third party payments (short term loans from a loan company to cover the expenses). Your cat is eligible for PetCare Insurance coverage even with a pre-existing condition (the limping in the back end); however, you cannot receive payment for any condition that was present before the insurance was taken out. Any illness or accident that occurred, was recorded, symptomatic or treated prior to signing up for the insurance policy will not be covered. So in this case, you will not have coverage for your cat’s lameness. For this reason, it is recommended that pet owners obtain pet insurance shortly after bringing the pet home.
My cat Sam was crying when he went to the litterbox. I’ve noticed him jumping in and out of the litterbox more often lately. I took him to the vet and she said he had FLUTD and put him on a special food. What is that? [ click here ]
FLUTD stands for Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. This is a group of problems noted in both the male and female cat. The most common symptoms noted by the owner are straining to urinate, blood in the urine, "housesoiling" which includes peeing in unusual places such as in the bathtub or sink. Cats may have recurring episodes of blood, crystals or small stones in their urine that cause irritation and the symptoms noted above. The most severe symptom in the male cat is being unable to urinate ("Blocked Cat"). Usually the owner will notice that their cat is straining to pee and/or crying when in the litterbox. This is always an emergency and if you suspect that your cat cannot urinate, help for your cat should be sought immediately. The veterinarian may pass a urinary catheter to relieve the obstruction and to empty the bladder. There is no one cause of FLUTD, often the exact cause of the syndrome cannot be determined even after urinalysis (test on the urine), bloodwork, x-rays (to look for bladder stones) and cultures to look for an infectious agent. Treatment for cats that have any of the FLUTD symptoms usually includes a special diet and medications. The vet will need to re-evaluate the urine periodically to monitor progress. It is important to follow all your veterinarian's recommendations in this complicated syndrome to prevent recurrence and keep Sam happy and healthy.
My two year-old dog Max vomits and has diarrhea a lot. I am beginning to think it may be related to the food I am giving him. He seems to vomit at night after getting the dinner scraps. Then he gets diarrhea with a slimy film on it. Sometimes he has accidents in the house. What should I do? [ click here ]
Many dogs and cats cannot eat the same things that we eat. Acute or sudden-onset vomiting in the dog or cat can be caused by numerous things including obstruction (secondary to a foreign body), infection (due to viral or parasititic organisms) and toxins (such as radiator fluid and household plants). Pets that chronically vomit (daily or weekly) require specialized testing as part of a complete evaluation by a veterinarian. These animals may need long term medications and prescribed food to control the vomiting. The most common cause of acute vomiting and diarrhea in the young pet is what is generally referred to as “dietary indiscretion”. Dietary indiscretion is when the pet eats something not usually consumed by the pet. Some examples of things that can cause problems include, table scraps, garbage, dead or decomposing animals, grass, feces, treats and other things that are not part of the pet’s normal diet. Pets with dietary indiscretion often vomit for 12-48 hours, do not eat well and then get diarrhea. The vomit often contains what they should not have eaten, bile and fluid. The diarrhea is watery with mucus (slimy film) and sometimes blood. Your pet can have pain in the abdomen and will become dehydrated if the vomiting and diarrhea are protracted. Other organs can be affected by dietary indiscretion including the pancreas, liver and kidneys. Your pet can become significantly ill from eating things that should be off limits. Take Max to your veterinarian when he has vomiting and diarrhea. There are treatments and medications that can control vomiting and diarrhea to prevent it from worsening. The best treatment for dietary indiscretion is to avoid the problem in the first place. Do not give Max any more food from the table! Feed a quality pet food and limit the treats. Make sure he does not roam loose or have access to garbage or decaying food. Controlling what goes into Max reduces your time spent cleaning up after him later.
When I took my three year-old Golden Retriever, Maxie, to the vet for her annual visit, the vet said she is fat! I don't think there is a problem because Maxie is very active and we go for long walks every day. What is the big deal about being overweight? [ click here ]
Obesity and overweight issues are an 'enormous' problem for our pets! Many pets have trouble exercising enough each day to burn all the calories consumed. It is important to feed only the amount of food recommended with minimal treats on the side. The best rule of thumb for pets is NO HUMAN FOOD treats! An animal that is overweight or obese (15% or more over ideal body weight) is at risk for more health problems including heart disease, thyroid problems and diabetes mellitus. There is more wear-and-tear on the musculoskeletal system too. The spine, hips, knees and elbows have to work harder with each stride your pet makes when it is overweight. This, unfortunately, will cause more problems with arthritis and/or ligament problems. We find more problems in all our overweight pets, but the problems are worse for the medium and large breed dogs. Please follow Maxie's veterinarian's diet and exercise recommendations and try to get Maxie down to her ideal body weight. Maxie and you will notice the benefits over the long term!
My dog Holly is scratching again. It seems that every year in July she is itchy and has bare patches. My vet said the cause could be infection, fleas, allergies or low thyroid. While we are waiting for the blood test results for the thyroid, what should I do? [ click here ]
There are a number of reasons that dogs and cats itch. Often when animals itch, they cause secondary infections (pyoderma) in the skin due to their teeth and claws. The skin can be itchy from the dried saliva after licking and skin infections themselves are itchy. The tricky thing for owners and veterinarians to figure out is why the animal is itching in the first place. Many pets have problems with fleas and ticks. Fleas on the pet and in the house cause itchy skin, infections, allergic reactions and intestinal parasites. Every pet owner should use some form of flea and/or tick prevention on a regular basis as part of their well-pet program. Allergies are common in dogs and cats. Some allergies are due to things in the environment, such as pollens from trees or grasses, contact irritants or from something in the food. Inhaled allergens (like hayfever in people) can cause runny eyes and sneezing, and often pets will break out in an itchy rash. Inhalant allergies (also called atopy) are seasonal and will often recur each year at the same time. Abnormal thyroid levels in pets can make them susceptible to recurring skin infections. The important part of treating an itchy pet and controlling skin infections is to stop the itch so the pet will stop injuring itself! To give your pet some relief while waiting for the blood test results you can (with your veterinarian’s approval) give your pet a bath to wash off the dried saliva and cool the skin. You can get an Elizabethan collar (plastic cone-shaped collar that fits around the head) from your vet which prevents your pet from chewing itself and protects the head from being scratched by the paws. Make sure to give the medications exactly as prescribed. Determining the cause of skin problems in pets can be frustrating as there are often several ongoing causes at once. Your vet may recommend various treatment protocols or a referral to a specialist (Dermatologist). So, if Holly is still itchy and having problems, please take her back to your vet for more testing and treatments.

I signed up for QuickCare Gold on the website for my dog Oscar in the winter. I had received mailings from various pet insurance companies, and when I did my own comparisons PetCare seemed to be the best. By late spring Oscar was starting to walk funny, and I thought it was just a sprain. After a few weeks I took him to the vet, and was told he may need surgery because he had a Patella Luxation (slipped knee). By the end of July it was much worse and my vet operated on him. I was so glad that I had taken out my PetCare insurance policy to cover the cost. Pet insurance does work.

Client: Barbara Giannini, Los Angeles, CA    Pet: Oscar, Yorkshire Terrier   Condition: Patella Luxation
Claim Paid: $1189.50