Enhancing Pet Nutrition: Unleashing the Benefits of Pet Food Toppers

Pet Food Topper Tips

As pet parents, we strive to provide the best care for our furry friends, and their nutrition plays a vital role in their overall well-being. While selecting high-quality pet food is crucial, it’s worth exploring additional options to enhance their meals. Enter pet food toppers – a simple yet effective way to elevate your pet’s dining experience and boost their nutritional intake. We will delve into the benefits of pet food toppers and why they are becoming increasingly popular among pet parents!

 

Variety and Palatability:

Pet food toppers come in a wide range of flavors and textures, allowing you to add a delightful twist to your pet’s regular meals. Whether it’s a savory broth, homemade recipe, freeze-dried protein, or even a sprinkle of nutrient-rich greens, these toppers provide an exciting sensory experience that can entice even the pickiest of eaters. The added variety can help prevent mealtime boredom and encourage a better appetite in your furry companion.

Pet Food Topper

Nutritional Boost:

While high-quality pet foods are designed to meet your pet’s nutritional needs, food toppers can offer additional health benefits. Many toppers are formulated to provide specific nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, joint-supporting ingredients, or probiotics for digestive health. By incorporating these toppers into your pet’s diet, you can ensure they receive a well-rounded nutritional profile that caters to their unique requirements.

Pet Food Topper

Dietary Transition and Medication Administration:

Introducing a new diet or medication to your pet’s routine can be challenging. Pet food toppers can come to the rescue by easing the transition. Mixing a topper with the new food can help mask any unfamiliar tastes and textures, making the transition smoother and more enjoyable. 

 

Hydration and Digestive Health:

Some pet food toppers, such as broths, fresh food or gravies, have a high moisture content. This added hydration can be beneficial, especially for cats who may not have a strong natural thirst drive. Proper hydration supports urinary tract health and aids digestion. By adding a flavorful topper to your pet’s food, you encourage them to consume more liquid, ensuring they stay adequately hydrated throughout the day.

 

Pet food toppers are a fantastic way to enhance your pet’s nutrition and elevate their dining experience. From adding variety and palatability to providing specific nutrients, these toppers offer numerous benefits for your furry companion’s overall well-being. Remember to choose toppers that are compatible with your pet’s dietary needs and consult your veterinarian for guidance. Or if you need help, chat with an AskVet Veterinarian or Certified Pet Coach to help you choose what works best for your pet! With the right combination of quality pet food and thoughtfully selected toppers, you can provide your pet with a wholesome and satisfying mealtime experience they’ll love. So go ahead, unleash the power of pet food toppers and watch your furry friend thrive!

Online Vet Chat – Get Answers to Your Pet Questions

AskVet Logo

As pet owners, we all know the importance of taking care of our furry friends’ health and wellbeing. However, finding the right veterinary care or pet trainers can be a daunting and stressful process. Fortunately, AskVet is here to help! Now you can access AskVet from the web with our free AI-powered Chat GPT-based VetBot VERA. AskVet’s online vet chat is making it easier than ever to get expert veterinary advice and behavior training answers when and where you need them.

Meet VERA, AskVet’s free AI VetBot. VERA is powered by AI, ChatGPT and AskVet’s vast database of over 1.5 million digitized conversations between veterinarians and pet parents.

With VERA, pet owners can get instant answers to their pet-related questions and concerns. VERA provides personalized responses based on AskVet’s extensive database of veterinary knowledge. Simply go anywhere on the AskVet website and the free VERA chat icon is on the bottom right.

Online Vet Chat - Get Answers to Your Pet Questions

Pet owners no longer have to wait for appointments or travel to the veterinarian’s office to get the pet support they need. No more searching Google and reading multiple articles to get your pet questions answered.

VERA is always free and can answer any pet question. If you need more information or want to talk with a veterinary expert, trainer, nutritionist or pet coach, you can join AskVet and connect with our live experts 24/7.

AskVet’s deep lake of pet health conversations, makes it for VERA to provide accurate, instant, personalized answers to their specific pet health concerns.

AskVet is a valuable resource for modern pet parents who want to ensure the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. With the introduction of VERA, AskVet is making it easier than ever to get expert veterinary advice and behavior training support. Whether you have a simple question about your pet’s diet or a more complex health concern, or training needs, AskVet is here to help.

What Do Hamsters Eat? A Hamster’s Diet From A to Z

A Hamster’s Diet

There are many types of hamsters that you can find at your local rescue or pet shop — Syrian hamsters and dwarf hamsters are just a few common varieties. While all hamsters may be different, their diets tend to look pretty similar across the board.

If you are considering adopting a hamster, preparing to feed them the right food and treats is vital to keep them healthy and happy. Hamsters aren’t able to go out and forage the way they would out in the wild, so they rely on us for everything they need.

Keep reading to learn more about what your hamster should and should not eat.

A Hamster’s Diet

Hamster food is heavily related to the small animal’s native environment, which is very dry. They enjoy eating from a food bowl filled with seeds and even small bugs like crickets and mealworms for protein.

Many assume that hamster pellets and a few sunflower seeds are sufficient for a hamster’s diet, but they really prefer a wide range of different options, including some human food. Your furry friend’s diet should also include fresh fruits like watermelon and vegetables like sweet potatoes, but in moderation and under a watchful eye.

A hamster is unlikely to overeat, so having plenty of food will allow them to eat whenever needed. Opting for fresh can also improve the quality of a hamster’s diet. Changing their bowl out every day would keep their food as fresh as possible. This will also assist in keeping your hamster’s teeth healthy.

Hamster Feeding 101

A pelleted diet is often best for hamsters, but it can get dull. If the dry food in their dish never changes, your hamster might turn up their nose and refuse to eat.

Veggies like romaine lettuce and fruits like blueberries are great to include, as well as ensuring they get protein, fiber, and fatty acids in their daily diet.

Vegetables and Fruit

While vegetables and fruit are suitable for most hamsters, it’s advised not to give them too much of anything as it might oversaturate their diet. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber, which is essential to a hamster’s diet.

Apples, pears, and carrots are good fruits and veggies to include in a pet hamster’s diet. They will provide plenty of fiber and vitamins to your hamster daily. Your hamster would enjoy carefully-sourced and prepared dandelions, timothy hay, or clovers to munch on as an occasional treat. These small pets really enjoy dark leafy greens.

Hay provides fiber as well, so be sure to pick up a bag of it before taking your hamster home.

Protein

Some people assume hamsters are herbivores when, in fact, they are technically omnivores.

Hamsters need protein so that they can properly grow and repair their tissues and stay healthy for a longer amount of time. Hamsters are known to eat small insects that are relatively easy to catch when in an enclosure. You can also feed your hamster some dry dog food every now and then to give them a boost of protein.

Again, it’s not advised to do this too frequently, but every few days, the additional protein is much appreciated.

Fatty Acids

For your hamster to maintain healthy skin and fur, they need to be eating enough foods with fatty acids. An easy and enjoyable way for your hamster to get enough fatty acids in their diet is to snack on some seeds and nuts.

You can often get everything you need in a premixed bag from the pet store, but be careful — some of these are too high in sugar and lack essential nutrients.

Fresh Water

Hamsters need access to fresh water at all times. Using a drip bottle is the easiest way for your hamster to access water whenever they need it. They generally catch on quickly about how to use it. Make sure you are checking it daily to see if it needs to be refilled, but get into a habit of changing it every morning.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

 

What Can’t Hamsters Eat?

It’s unlikely that you’re going to be trying to share all of your snacks with your hamster, but there are some foods you should steer clear of. Some foods can be particularly toxic to hamsters and similar pets like guinea pigs and chinchillas.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your hamster can have a food item, it’s best to play it safe and not feed it to them at all.

Chocolate

Chocolate and sweets are dangerous. While this is pretty much the case with all pets, you have to consider how small your hamster is compared to a dog or even a cat.

One small piece of chocolate can have a more detrimental effect on your hamster. Hamster pet parents should keep all of their chocolate away from their pets for safety.

Processed Foods

In general, any processed foods you might snack on yourself will not be suitable for your hamster. A lot of these foods are very high in sugar and low in fiber — two things that aren’t ideal for your hamster’s health.

There are snacks and treats that you can purchase for your hamster that are specifically made for them to enjoy. These options will provide you with a safe alternative and will definitely boost your fluffy friend’s mood.

Too Much Fruit

Though fruit and veggies are recommended, too much fruit can overload your hamster with too much sugar. Fruits are packed with “healthy” sugars, but this is still too much for your hamster’s small body. Feeding them a moderate amount of fruit and veggies and keeping an eye on them while they snack will ensure you know how much they are actually consuming.

Quick List of Foods To Avoid

Here is a list of some foods (not all) that are not good for your hamster’s health:

  • Acorns
  • Buttercup
  • Bindweed
  • Citrus fruits
  • Elder
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Unripe or overripe fresh foods
  • Muesli-style mixes
  • Dairy products
  • Jam
  • Rhubarb
  • Grapes

Big Questions About Small Pets

Hamsters might be small, but you have a lot of big questions about them. You might wonder why they are biting or how to make their home as enriching as possible — or a thousand other questions.

We get it. That’s why when you join AskVet, you can sign up for a virtual session with a Certified Pet Lifestyle Coach (CPLC) to ask all the behavioral questions you might have. They can help create a full 360° Lifestyle Plan to attend to every need your hamster might have.

Additionally, with an AskVet account, you can chat on the mobile app with a licensed veterinarian to help put together the optimal diet for your hamster (or any other pet). That’s right — This app is not just for cats and dogs. The AskVet team is knowledgeable about a variety of different animals and is willing to help anyone get to the bottom of an issue.

Sources:

Nutrient Requirements of the Hamster | NCBI

Hamster Diet | Elmbrook Humane Society

Safe & Unsafe Foods | Ontario Hamster Club

Feeding your hamster | PDSA

Selecting a Hamster | Merck Veterinary Manual

The 4 Best Pet Snakes & What They Need To Thrive

The 4 Best Pet Snakes & What They Need To Thrive

Going through the process of adopting a snake is exciting and unique because depending on which snake you end up with, you’ll have to cater to their specific needs. Every snake that you come across is different and requires certain care requirements and commitment. Before you get a snake, you need to cover all of your bases — from your available space, budget, knowledge, and what care they will need.

If you want a snake, it should be because you care deeply about their well-being and want to invite them into your family, regardless of how involved they become. Having a snake can be a cool thing and an amazing experience, but it’s a pretty big commitment.

To learn more about a variety of beautiful snakes and how to help them thrive, for beginners and experienced owners, keep reading.

How To Pick a Snake

Before picking out a snake to adopt, consider all your options. When you research the breeds, prepare yourself for what kind of life they will need, and make educated decisions about their lives, you will find yourself a perfect match.

Not everyone is capable of caring for a snake, and it often comes down to how much time and commitment you have to a particular snake or breed. If you are a brand new snake parent, you don’t want to try and adopt a more complex or unpredictable snake breed. This puts yourself (and your snake) at risk for danger.

How Advanced Is Your Snake Care Knowledge?

You might have seen stories about snakes in the media that seem unreal and that has drawn you in. Maybe you really, really like large snakes because they are fascinating and powerful creatures. We get it; we love snakes too!

However, not everyone (actually very few) is capable of properly caring for some of the more well-known snakes. Even snakes that are considered to be docile considering their impressive size, like the Boa constrictor or Burmese python, require a certain amount of expertise and skill.

If you are new to having pet snakes, your knowledge might be limited to what you’ve read online, and that’s okay. You’ll learn from first-hand experiences and by discussing caring for snakes with others in the reptile community. This just means that starting off with beginner snakes can ensure that both you and the snake get the most out of the experience.

Understanding the Breed

Before you take in a snake, you should do as much research as possible on that snake breed. You want to understand what kind of care they need, what their eating regimen is like, their shedding cycles, their levels of comfortability, and what kind of space they require.

You should probably avoid venomous and constricting snakes since they require a much higher degree of knowledge and hands-on skills to care for safely.

Where Should You Get a Pet Snake?

It’s preferred that you get your snake from a reputable breeder or adoption agency. While it might be fun to come across a wild snake and ponder what it would be like to keep it and take it home, they will never be considered tame. You won’t have an easy time with a wild snake, and they are more prone to parasites and diseases.

Breeders can let you know about any health issues that might or have arisen, but it’s more likely that your snake will be healthy if coming from trustworthy sources.

Things You Should Consider With Pet Snakes

Loving a snake is not the same as carding for one goldfish or one hamster. Snakes are known to be predators, and some are more dangerous than others. A snake will usually know how to protect itself from threats, and at first, they could view you as a threat as well. Unlike with dogs, you don’t get a snake and start cuddling on the very first night.

While you should be able to handle your snake, you might find that it is best if it happens infrequently and only when necessary. And that’s okay! Not all snakes enjoy human contact. Snakes can easily be stressed out (just like us!), and we want them to be able to chill.

Don’t be upset if your snake isn’t the biggest fan of being handled. Just like the old breakup phrase, “It’s not you, it’s them.” Your snake still appreciates you, but they might be better at loving you from afar.

Commitment

To properly care for a snake, you have to be sure you’re ready to commit to their care and wellbeing. Snakes can be a decades-long commitment, depending on what their lifespan is. You might even want to make plans for their continued care in any wills or similar documents.

All breeds are different, so you have to be prepared to learn about whatever breed you’re bringing home. You might need special food, a certain size enclosure, certain kinds of heat lamps, particular humidity levels, and specialized places for your snake to hide or climb.

Snakes kept in enclosures have no way to take care of themselves when it comes to food and cleanliness, so they rely on their owners to help them feel their best.

Overall Costs

House snakes for beginners might not cost too much to purchase at a pet store, but all of the equipment you will need can add up. That, and the live feed that they will likely need. They are relying on you to feed them, so a consistent stream of mice is going to be necessary.

As your snake grows, you might need to upgrade their enclosures, making them more spacious while still including objects and obstacles they enjoy. You will need lightbulbs for your heat lamps to keep your cold-blooded companion warm when needed.

It is a serious financial commitment. So, before you go ahead and adopt a snake, you should make sure you’re fully capable. This just helps to ensure you and your snake are happy and stress-free.

Safety

You will want to be adept at handling your snake, and there is a proper way to prepare for it. First, clean your hands before you handle your snake so that they don’t mistake your fingers for food. Get your snake used to your hands by placing them against the glass for several minutes and letting them flick their tongues at you.

Keep your movements slow and steady, so you don’t surprise them at all. At the same time, you want to take note of their behaviors. If you think your snake is uncomfortable or nervous (like hissing, for example), back away and give your slithery friend some space.

Enclosures

As for their enclosure, your snake is an escape artist in the making. They will try to figure a way out and will likely be successful, so the enclosure you choose should be completely locked up when you aren’t around. Look into what enclosures are known to be safest, and check that it’s closed properly when you leave.

The last thing you want is a snake on the loose.

Every Snake Is Different

No two snakes are the same, so they require different needs. Even snakes that fall into the same family, like the different kinds of pythons and constrictors, have vastly different needs and attitudes. Being a first-time snake parent is certainly a wonderful learning opportunity!

There are unique feeding routines, temperatures, objects, and safety protocols you have to undergo to properly handle them and keep both you and the snake happy. But once you get used to your new friend, you’ll understand just how amazing of an experience it is to have a snake in your home.

Snakes for Beginners

All snakes are cool and fascinating, but not all make the best pets, especially for beginners. If you are new to owning a snake, you should consider some of the following beginner-friendly snakes to start with. Not only are they great pets with their own quirks and needs, but they are rather easy-going creatures.

1. Hognose snake

The Western Hognose snake is best known for their adorable upturned nose. They are native to the Western parts of the United States, as well as Mexico and Canada. They like to be active around dawn and dusk and usually make for easy-going pets. In the wild, they might go for small lizards, bugs, and toads but will also eat mice in captivity.

The Hognose snake is usually around two feet long, but some adults can reach up to four feet. They can live up to 20 years in captivity, so it’s a long commitment.

If a Hognose feels threatened, they will flatten their heads and hiss at you, potentially striking but rarely biting. Even in the scariest situations, the Hognose would rather play dead than bite you. When they gain your trust, they become much easier to handle and take care of.

2. Corn snake

The Corn snake is often best known as the easiest beginner snake, and it’s an excellent pet reptile in general. This is because of their docile nature and the fact that they stay pretty small. They grow up to four feet long and usually require at least a 20-gallon tank. Similar to the Hognose, a Corn snake can live up to 20 years in captivity.

Corn snakes are usually reddish-orange with dark red-black blotches. They like a warm environment to keep them feeling good. These snakes need their tank to be between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and like enough obstacles to keep them busy. They will eat pinky mice happily and live a long and healthy life.

3. Garter snake

If you’ve ever seen a snake in your backyard or in the woods, you may have seen a Garter snake. This is one of the most populous snakes out there, both in the wild and as pets. These snakes are virtually harmless and only grow up to four feet long, making them relatively small.

They eat worms, small fish, and bugs and don’t require much maintenance. This is a great snake to own if you have kids because they are very low risk and a fun way to educate them on this snake species.

They do enjoy basking in the sun, so you should give them a good rock to lay out on, along with a nice heat lamp. Now, that’s a nice life!

4. Ball python

The Ball python is another great first snake option for beginner snake owners, but it should be noted that they are known to be picky eaters. They could go through periods of time where they refuse to eat or will only eat if the mouse is recently killed. This can cause problems for people looking for a more structured care routine. Unfortunately, you might not get that with a Ball python.

On the flip side, you’ll love their calm nature. This snake likes being held, making the ball python a good beginner snake. Once you and your Ball python are comfortable with each other, they become a very interactive pet to have.

These snakes get to about five feet long and need plenty of space and substrate like shredded newspaper in their terrarium or vivarium to hide away and relax.

These non-venomous snakes can live from 20 to even 50 years if properly taken care of, so be sure to keep that in mind.

Other Reptiles and Amphibians To Consider

If you’re looking for other good pets in the reptile and amphibian kingdom, consider the ones listed below:

  • Bearded dragon
  • The Milk Snake
  • Smooth Green Snake
  • Leopard Gecko
  • Children’s Python

Have More Questions?

At AskVet, we wonder why it’s dogs and cats that get all the fun! Our team of Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ are trained in all manners of animal care for all animals. Fish? Naturally. Dogs? Of course. Cats? Lizards? Snakes. Triple yes.

For a 360° Pet Wellness Plan created just for your pet, access to any questions you have (24/7), and everything a pet parent needs, become a member of AskVet.

If you have questions about your snake’s behaviors and feeding habits, or if they are undergoing a shedding cycle and something looks astray, you can reach out to AskVet any time of the day. We love your pet almost as much as you love your pet, so sign-up today for just $9.99/month to start today.

 

Sources:

Hognose Snake | Behavior, Size, & Facts | Britannica

Garter Snake | Habitat, Diet, & Facts | Britannica

Python Regius | University of Michigan 

Your First Pet Snake- the Best Choices | Tampa Veterinary Hospital

Snake Predation Strategies – Part 2: Venom and Constriction | The University of Melbourne

What Fish Can Live With Bettas: A Tank-Mate’s Guide

What Fish Can Live With Bettas: A Tank-Mate’s Guide

Perhaps one of the first things that you associate with the Betta Fish is a fighting fish. Their perceived aggressiveness towards other fish might have you wondering if they are a fish that you can cohabitate with other species. The short answer is: yes.

But there are certain fish that can live better with Betta’s so that everyone can be comfortable and content. The last thing you want to do as a fish lover is for your fish to be unhappy in their environment. You don’t want anyone to fight, and you would much rather watch your little companions live peacefully together as part of an ecosystem. You want every day to be like an underwater pool party for your fishy friends!

If you are wondering if your Betta is lonely, they might be. So, it’s good to know what kinds of fish will do well in your tank alongside them. Not every fish is the same, and they have their own individual needs that need to be considered before adding them to your tank.

Keep reading to find out which underwater friends would live happily with your Betta:

A Little Bit of Background on the Betta

Betta fish are the beautiful, multi-colored, solitary fish you usually see upon entrance into any pet store. They are a beautiful fish that comes in an expansive variety, making each one unique from the next. These fish are known to be aggressive, fighting fish, so many people are unsure of whether or not they would do well in a larger fish tank setting.

What Is the Temperament of Betta Fish?

When it comes to temperament, the sex of your fish can determine how they act with other fish. In organized fish fighting competitions, male Betta fish were pitted against each other. These contests are often protested and are slowly being shut down.

Unfortunately, male Betta fish are known to be aggressive towards each other. Therefore, keeping two male Betta fish in a tank could result in fighting. Otherwise, Betta fish do well with a variety of other fish.

Another factor that might play into their aggressiveness is how big their tank is. The more space they have, the less likely they are to pick a fight with any other fish.

What a Betta Needs from a Tank

Often, Betta’s start off in tiny containers that they aren’t meant to live in forever. If you want to give your Betta fish a good life, you need to give them space to swim around in.

Best Tank Size for Betta Fish

Bettas can be kept in tanks as small as five gallons. Note that the smaller the tank size, the less likely they are to get along with other animals. While a five gallon tank can fit them comfortably, the larger you go, the more fish you can add. A Betta fish will be happier the larger the tank and with more enrichment.

As you expand to larger gallon tanks, like ten gallons, 15 gallons, or even 20 gallons, the variety of fish you can add in with your Betta becomes more complex.

Optimal Water Temperature and pH Levels for Betta Fish

It is important to note that all fish have slightly different water needs, such as pH balance, temperature, hardness, and flow strength. By choosing fish that can accommodate themselves to a similar environment as your Betta, you will have happy and healthy fish.

A typical Betta will require their water temperature to be around 78 degrees, so coldwater fish might not do as well in this setting.

What Fish Can Live With Betta Fish?

If you want to know what fish would do best with your Betta fish because you are looking to expand your fish tank, you’ve come to the right place:

First of all, you don’t want your Betta to become overly territorial, so before adding any fish to your tank, you want to ensure plenty of live plants and coverage. This will allow your Betta to “escape” and take some time to relax without feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes we all need a little space to decompress!

You can never truly know how your Betta will react, but if they have ample space and area to swim in, things should turn out just fine with the following fish.

Nerite Snails

If you are keeping your Betta in a smaller tank, like a five-gallon tank, it’s not advised to put other fish in the tank. A great alternative to fish would be including snails in the tank with your Betta.

Snails are unlikely to get in your Betta’s space and cause any issues. This is also a good test of how your Betta might act if you decide to upgrade to a larger tank and introduce new fish down the line.

Nerite snails are one of the best options to go with if you are looking for a non-invasive snail. They are fantastic at eating up algae and tend to avoid snacking on the live plants in your aquarium. These little snails come in a variety of colors and distinctions; some even sport horns!

They prefer that you keep their water temperature between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with a water pH level between 7.0 – 8.7. They can live up to two years and make a wonderful tank-mate to have.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

The Malaysian Trumpet snail is another snail that would do well in a space with Betta fish. These snails are, as you might have guessed, found in Malaysia and other parts of Asia. They only grow to about one inch in size and keep to themselves — true introverts of the aquatic world.

Malaysian Trumpet snails enjoy their water between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which means they will do well alongside a Betta. Their pH level should rest between 7.0 – 7.5.

You will have to keep an eye on these snails because if they begin to breed, the population can quickly become uncontrollable. They are capable of having many babies and can easily overrun your Betta’s tank.

Ember Tetras

While the Ember Tetra is a petite fish, they need more space than just a five-gallon tank. These fish are fast, making it a lot easier for them to avoid a Betta fish, or at least swim away before any issues can arise. They are a bright red color that makes them appear faster than they are.

One reason why the Ember Tetra needs more space is that they do best in groups. Otherwise, they can become very depressed, which can lower their lifespan. They thrive in temperatures between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kuhli Loach

These fish, which kind of look like eels, grow up to 3.5 inches long and need at least 15 gallons of tank space. These cool guys are ultimately no risk with your Betta because they will stay away, cleaning up after the food that your Betta drops.

They are also nocturnal, so during the day, they will hide away and not bother your Betta. At night, they look for food along the bottom of the tank and help to keep it clean.

They require water temperature between 70 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit but will definitely thrive in a space shared with Bettas.

Platy Fish

The platy fish is a very easy-to-care-for fish, making them ideal for beginner fish keepers. “Platies” are peaceful and tend to get along well with Betta fish because they stay out of their way.

These fish are known as livebearers, which means that if you put a group of them into a tank, they are going to multiply. What comes with this is the need for a larger tank.

We recommend you keep Platies if you have a 15-gallon tank so that when they multiply, you have the space. They thrive in water between 68 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, though they prefer neutral to alkaline water conditions, usually between 7.0 – 8.3.

Corydoras Catfish (20 Gallon)

The Corydoras Catfish is a bottom-dwelling fish that tends to stay out of the way of Betta fish. They like to be in small groups and get along well with other kinds of fish. This makes them relatively easy to take care of, and in return, they keep your tank nice and clean.

These catfish can grow up to 2.5 inches in length and live for ten years, so you have to have plenty of space for them to grow and thrive. This means a 20-gallon tank minimum.

There are many types of Cory Catfish, like the Pygmy Corydoras and Bronze Corydoras, but all of them will do well with a Betta. It’s important that you keep any Corydoras in a pack of at least six so that they don’t become anxious or unhappy. They require a water temperature of 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH level of 5.8 – 8.0.

A Pool of Experts

Having questions about your fish is completely normal, and you should have a space where you can ask your questions. With AskVet, you have the ability to ask a team of Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ questions at any point in the day. If something is going on with your Betta and you are concerned, a CPLC™ is here to help.

We get that having fish is not just an easy thing to do. There is more thought and effort that goes into keeping them healthy and happy than one might think. But we see you, we hear you. We know how much those little guys mean to you! And we want to see them happy just as much as you do.

When you schedule an appointment with a CPLC™ today, you only have to pay $9.99/month, and you get 24/7 access to our trained professionals. Dive in today!

 

Sources:

Evolution, Culture, And Care For Betta Splendens | University Of Florida

Your Betta Needs More Than A Bowl | Veterinary Medicine At Illinois

Xiphophorus Maculatus (Southern Platyfish) | Center For Agriculture And Bioscience International

Betta Fish: The Beautiful, and Very Popular, Siamese Fighting Fish | Live Science

5 Reasons Hamsters Bite & How To Prevent It

Hamsters Bite

While small and unassuming, a hamster can still protect itself if they feel the need to. This usually occurs as a small little nip when they are scared or uncomfortable, and it might not even hurt. Still, no one wants to be bitten by their hamster, and avoiding it altogether is the goal.

Don’t assume that your hamster hates you because they bite you — this isn’t always the case. Your hamster might bite you for various reasons, but there are ways to prevent it and gain your hamster’s trust.

In most cases, hamsters are known as very affectionate and cuddly little pets who like to run in circles on their wheels and snack on apples or sunflower seeds. You might need to put in the work to get your hamster to trust you, but once they do, you’ll have a great furry companion by your side (potentially keeping you up all night).

To learn more about why hamsters bite and how to prevent it, keep reading:

Why Do Hamsters Bite?

Hamsters aren’t known to be aggressive. They don’t randomly bite people to assert dominance, so if your hamster has bitten you, there is likely an underlying cause. Most of the reasons that a hamster would bite can be resolved with time and understanding.

You might not get results overnight, but if you take the time to learn what your hamster likes and dislikes, you can better protect yourself from being bitten and keep your hamster’s anxiety at ease.

They Are Afraid

If your hamster is new to you, they might be a bit fearful at first. Being in a strange new place can be overwhelming, even for these little guys, so fear is not abnormal.

If you dive right into trying to handle your hamster without letting them warm up to you, they might bite you. Hamsters need to get used to their space and familiarize themselves with your scent before they can become comfortable.

To prevent a bite, you need to recognize when your hamster is displaying signs of fear or irritation. This might look like them staring at you and diverting their gaze, searching for an escape route, or hiding in their cage from you. If your hamster is acting fearful or irritated, the best thing you can do is avoid handling them, so you don’t get bit.

Additionally, if your hamster is not comfortable with being held, the act alone might make them panic, and they might react by biting you. Unlike dogs, hamsters can’t bark like dogs as a warning — their fearful clues are more subtle.

They Are Hungry

Maybe your hamster isn’t scared of you but instead is beginning to get hungry, therefore slightly irritated. In people we call that “hangry,” we aren’t alone in that — hamsters feel it too.

This kind of bite might be more like a nibble and is a way of them letting you know it’s time to be fed. If your fingers smell like food, they will be even more likely to try to snack on them.

Due to this, it’s recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly before trying to handle your hamster. This way, they won’t mistake your fingers for carrots. While this might not be aggression, this kind of behavior is not ideal and should be stopped. By keeping to a strict feeding schedule, your hamster should not experience the need to bite.

They Want Some Alone Time

Sometimes your hamster will bite you because they don’t want any attention. If you’re handling them when they don’t want to be handled, they might become irritated and let you know to put them in their cage by biting you. Obviously, this isn’t ideal, but the best thing you can do is give your hamster space.

As you begin to form a closer bond with your hamster, you might begin to pick up on signs of this discomfort. You can avoid unwanted biting altogether by preemptively stopping it. Some hamsters simply aren’t going to want to be affectionate with you. Introverts are introverts, no matter the species.

Not all hamsters are overly friendly, and some like to live more solitary than others. You’ll learn these quirks about your hamster the more time you spend with them.

You Need To Adjust Your Handling Techniques

A bite from your hamster might signal that you need to be more gentle with them, especially if you are handling them. For your hamster, biting serves as a defense mechanism, and it helps them let you know they are feeling irritated by your behavior.

They might associate your handling of them with aggression, and their reaction will be to protect. You should never just grab your hamster without warning. Other people that might want to handle your hamster should take their time and go through all the same steps that you had to gain their trust. This will let your hamster feel more comfortable and less stressed when meeting new people.

They Smell Something Unfamiliar

We tell you to wash your hands before handling your hamster because unfamiliar smells might trigger them to bite. Whether they get spooked or assume your fingers are food, washing your hands can usually help prevent this. If you are a new person trying to interact with a hamster, they might bite simply because you smell different than their humans do.

Hamsters have exceptional senses of smell, so they know when a stranger is approaching them. If this stranger spooks your hamster, they might bite them in the name of self-defense. Until your hamster is comfortable with someone, they shouldn’t be handling them at all. The risk of a bite is much higher when the person is unfamiliar with your hamster.

How To Prevent Hamsters from Biting

Hamsters don’t bite because they are being aggressive towards you. They bite because they are scared or anxious. This means that you can work to prevent hamster bites in the future as long as you put in the effort to create a safe space for your hamster.

Some of the following tips can help you to get used to your hamster and learn their behaviors and needs. This will also allow time for your hamster to warm up to you and begin the process of trusting you.

Build Trust

Don’t rush your hamster into doing things they aren’t ready for. You shouldn’t handle them the first day that you get them more than you need to. Be patient with them, and they will come around to you. Hamsters are loving creatures but will need time to learn more about you and understand you’re a friend.

You can do this by sitting by their enclosure and talking to them, giving them an item of yours (like a sock) so they can get used to your smell, and let them settle into their new space.

If you have to pick them up (like in the case of an emergency) before your bond is strong, it is possible. Scoop them into a soft towel so that they don’t try to bite your hands.

Offer Treats

As pet parents, we’re not above bribes.

You can try to get your hamster to warm up to you by offering them some of their favorite snacks. With a new hamster, you will have to learn what they like to snack on before you shower them with treats (not literally, though, because treats should only be given in moderation). Your hamster’s nutrition is important and can help keep them healthy and confident.

Over time, by handing your hamster treats out of your hand, they should begin to open up and trust you more. Eventually, they might start to approach you on their own (yes, looking for a treat — but don’t complain!) and sniff your hand for longer each time without actually nibbling on it.

Pet Your Hamster With Care

Once your hamster is used to your smell, you can begin to pet them very gently. This might start with one or two fingers gently scratching their back and head rather than covering them with your whole hand.

If your hamster seems to tolerate the petting, then you can move on to the next step of picking them up. If they aren’t comfortable with you petting them yet, don’t move on to this next step, or you could weaken their trust.

Cares and Concerns

All hamsters are different and unique. They will like specific actions and dislike others. They might love getting their head or chin scratched but dislike being picked up. Maybe they want to crawl all over you and play with toys, but they become anxious the second you pet them. You can’t help what your hamster feels, but you can do your best to accommodate them.

Questions can arise, and sometimes you need specific answers based on your unique pet. With AskVet, you can ask your questions and get personalized responses quickly. If you are wondering about a behavior change in your hamster, you can chat with a Certified Pet Lifestyle Coach™ from AskVet to get answers and come up with behavioral plans.

If your hamster loves being pet and picked up but begins acting anxiously out of nowhere, there might be a cause for concern. Join Askvet and personalize your pet’s lifestyle plan today.

 

Sources:

Hamster Care | School of Veterinary Medicine

Chemical Communication In Rodents: From Pheromones To Individual Recognition | Journal Of Mammalogy | Oxford Academic

Nutrient Requirements Of The Hamster | NCBI

Hamster Teeth 101: Keeping a Hamster’s Teeth Healthy & Clean

Hamster Teeth 101: Keeping A Hamster’s Teeth Healthy & Clean

When you think of hamsters, you might picture a tiny furry pet nibbling on a seed with adorably puffy cheeks. Hamsters are a part of the rodent family, which means they have strong incisors that love to gnaw. Pets that love to snack and chew might require their human parents to monitor their furry friend’s dental health.

Luckily, if your hamster has a well-balanced and nutritious diet, they should stay safe from any dental issues arising. There are a few things that you can do as a hamster pet parent to ensure that your hamster’s teeth stay healthy and clean (in addition to proper nutrition).

If you are thinking about adopting a hamster or already have one and want to learn about taking care of their teeth, keep reading!

Hamster Teeth

Hamster’s upper and lower front incisors have open roots, meaning they continuously grow throughout their lifetime. Because of this, it’s essential that your hamster is able to gnaw so they can keep their teeth at a comfortable length. Their teeth are not white but rather an orange-yellow color.

A hamster’s lower teeth are actually longer than their upper teeth, which might be a bit odd to see at first, but it’s nothing to worry about! With access to proper care and nutrition, your hamster will likely have relatively healthy teeth.

Common Dental Problems for Hamsters

Of course, there are always things that you should look out for when it comes to your hamster’s teeth. Fractures, cavities, overgrowth, and crooked teeth might lead to further complications without veterinarian assistance.

  • Overgrowth

When your hamster isn’t able to gnaw on toys, wood chips, or food properly, they risk overgrowth in their teeth. Hamsters need to be able to shorten their teeth constantly, so these teeth don’t poke into the gums and cause bleeding. If both the upper and lower incisors are too long, they could break off, which would be extremely painful.

  • Fractures

When your hamster’s upper and lower incisors are overgrown, they are at a higher risk of fracturing. If the incisors break off, they might not grow back in correctly, or ever at all. Not only is this painful for your hamster, but it could impact their ability to eat food comfortably.

  • Cavities

Just like humans, hamsters can get cavities. Prevention of cavities goes along with proper nutrition. Hamsters should get a healthy variety of different ingredients to get the proper vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain healthy teeth.

A well-rounded menu will work to keep your pet healthy and cavity-free. If you suspect your fluffy friend has a cavity, take them to their veterinarian for an evaluation.

Cheek Pouch Disease

Hamsters have cheek pouches that they use to carry a variety of things. They might use them for storing food, carrying their babies, or bringing straw to build a nest. To get these items out, a hamster will massage their cheeks with their front paws. Cheek pouch disease occurs when items get stuck to the lining of your hamster’s cheek pouch, and they cannot massage it out.

You might notice that your hamster is experiencing cheek pouch disease if they:

  • Have large swollen cheeks
  • Rub their pouches incessantly, but nothing is coming out
  • Bleed after they rub their pouches
  • Have a lack of appetite

How To Care for Hamsters’ Teeth

There are ways to prevent dental issues from arising in your hamster, and they are quite simple.

While having access to dental care is essential, pet parents can help with these steps:

Offer Fresh and Dry Food

Your hamster will need a variety of ingredients and food types in their diet. This helps to prevent cavities and keep their teeth strong. You should give your hamster both dried and fresh fruits and vegetables, oats, spelt, and a variety of seeds, like sunflower, millet, and soy.

You can also purchase dry food like pellets at a pet store. Incorporating dry food into your hamster’s diet can cover any nutritional gaps in the fresh food you provide. Dry food is also one avenue to keeping your hamster’s teeth short.

Keep Their Water Clean

Water will help to keep your teeth clean and rinse out anything that might get stuck between them. This can help limit food buildup that could cause a cavity in the future. By keeping an eye out on their water

Clean water will be the easiest way for you to help their cheek pouches stay clean. Water will keep them hydrated and help rinse the cheek pouches in case something is stuck to the lining.

Provide Chew Toys

Chew toys are an essential part of keeping your hamster’s teeth healthy. Wooden chew toys are some of the best for hamster dental health care, but you should invest in good wooden toys that won’t splinter.

Wooden toys should be free of paint or varnish, which could be potentially toxic. A plain, wooden toy will do the trick. Your vet or local pet store can provide animal-safe enrichment and health-promoting toy options.

Chew toys keep their teeth from growing too long and cutting into other parts of their mouth. You should have plenty to keep your hamster entertained. The more you have, the less likely your hamster will try to gnaw on objects that could cause them damage. There are other toys out there than just plain wood, so you can find fun options for your hamster to enjoy.

Get Answers with AskVet

Questions will arise no matter what kind of pet you have, and as a pet parent, you want answers as soon as possible. Not only does this ease your anxiety, but it also can get you started on a treatment plan for your pet. And we want to help!

When it comes to your hamster’s teeth, you might not be able to get a great view of them on your own. It’s important to stay tuned into your hamster’s habits and take note of any health or behavioral changes.

If something does come up, you can always reach out directly to a veterinarian or behaviorist through AskVet. With 24/7 availability, you can ask whatever question you have, whenever. For just $9.99/month, our team of Certified Petlifestyle Coaches™ is here to answer your questions and come up with a unique pet care lifestyle plan for any furry (or scaly or feather-y) pet you have.

So, whether you have a question about your hamster’s teeth or your fish’s tail, or more, become a member of AskVet today.

Sources:

Cheek Pouch – An Overview | ScienceDirect

Dentistry in Pet Rodents | VetFolio

Hamster Care | Animal Health Topics / School of Veterinary Medicine

What To Feed a Pet Hamster | RSPCA

Building a First Aid Kit for your Pets

puppy first aid

Welcome to the AskVet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 


While we think of packing an emergency kit for ourselves, we often forget about our pets! In the event of a natural disaster, a home evacuation, a camping trip, or even a quick trip to the park, it is always best to be prepared. In this webinar, Dr. Emily Gaugh discusses how to pack an emergency kit for your pets and how to perform basic first aid care for our furry companions. Watch below to learn more about building first aid kits for your pets!

Customized Kits

First aid kits should be individualized and customized to your pets. Ideally, you want one kit for every pet in your home. Include the following:

  • Emergency info sheet with the contact info of your regular veterinarian, your local veterinary emergency hospital, and Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Pet Poison Control hotline phone number. 
  • Include your pet’s normal vitals (heart rate and respiratory rate) and weight.
  • A medication listing any prescription or OTC medications your pet is taking. Also talk with your veterinarian about what OTC medications are safe to use and have on hand in the event of an emergency. Your vet can provide info on OTC antacid or antihistamine dosing for instance.
  • Have recent photos of your pets in case they are lost. 

Basic Assessment

A basic pet health assessment includes temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Having a watch with a second hand or a phone with a timer, will be needed. It is important to know what your pet’s normal vitals are, in order to determine when they are abnormal.

To obtain an accurate temperature, you will need a rectal thermometer, gloves and lubrication. Only take a rectal temperature if you can do so safely. Even the best dogs and cats aren’t always cooperative. Alternatively, an armpit or axillary temperature can be taken. Add 1.5 – 2.0 degrees to the reading for accuracy. Normal temperature ranges from 100-103 F. However, if your pet is stressed or anxious, the temperature can be falsely elevated. If your pet has just woken up or needs to have a bowel movement, the temperature may be falsely low.

Respiratory rates (how many breaths are taken in 60 seconds) should be obtained when the pet is awake. During sleep, they can experience rapid or slow breathing, twitching, snorting, and other normal behaviors that will make it difficult to get an accurate respiratory rate. Make sure your pet is relaxed and not panting. To obtain a heart rate (how many times the heart beats in 60 seconds), place your hand on the chest behind the point of the elbow, or inside the thigh on the femoral artery. 

Kit Contents 

In addition to the contact info, photos, and medications list, you will want to include a cone or ecollar that is already fitted to your pet. Place the cone on to prevent licking or chewing which will reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of infection. Ideally the hard plastic ones are best. Inflatable donuts to wear around the neck are an option as well, but they do not prevent the pet from reaching extremities. Include an old t-shirt to cover a wound or injury and a large towel. The towel can be used to provide pressure if bleeding, and can be rolled and wrapped around the neck to keep your pet from biting in the event that they are in pain. Consider packing a muzzle. Basket muzzles allow your pet to breath, pant, and drink while offering protection.  Roll gauze can be fastened into a temporary makeshift muzzle if needed. Include a slip leash for handling and a carrier for small pets. Your first aid supplies can be stored in the carrier as well. Some miscellaneous items to include are canned pumpkin. This is a fiber source that can help alleviate diarrhea, Pack Karo syrup in the event of low blood sugar, tweezers for tick or thorn extractions, and a 3 days supply of food and water.

Basic First Aid Care

Reverse sneezing, although scary, is often not an emergency, but a reflex due to irritation in the back of the throat. This can be temporarily resolved by getting your pet to swallow. Offer food or water. 


For superficial wounds, mild soap like Dawn dish soap, and water is all you need.Wash gently with clean cloth or rags. If a deeper wound or puncture is present, especially on the chest or abdomen, do not wash or flush as we do not know how deep these wounds go. 

 

If there is an eye problem, you can flush with OTC eye rinse. If the problem is not remedied after flushing, the eye is red, held shut, or hazy, more extensive vet care is needed. 

Some mild ear issues can be alleviated with ear cleansing. Use a canine specific ear cleaner. Ask your vet what product they recommend.  If you see redness, debris, or your pet is painful, they will need more care than just cleansing alone. 

Peroxide, although helpful for use in de-skunking baths, is a skin irritant. Do not apply to wounds. Also, peroxide is a gastric irritant and can cause vomiting when ingested. Never do this unless instructed by a veterinary professional as this could lead to esophageal burns, esophageal obstruction or gastric ulceration. Never use in cats!

 

Epsom salts can be used for mild inflammation especially for paws. You can soak a cloth in epsom salts and wrap around the affected area. 

Ice packs and warm compresses  can be used for pain control and to reduce inflammation. Always place a dry towel in between the skin and compress. Do not force your pet to accept heat or cold therapy as we could be causing more harm. Allow them to move away if they chose.


Rest is best for injury. Do not use OTC pain medication for your pets. They are unsafe and could be toxic. Also do not use aspirin. It is not effective at reducing pain and inflammation, it causes stomach ulceration, and prevents vets from using effective meds. 

In the event of bleeding, use non-stick, non adherent telfa pads. Apply pressure with a towel on top of the pad. Do not bandage as there are often complications if not applied correctly, such as more pain, inflammation, and increases the chance of infection. Include nail trimmers and styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch in the event of a broken nail. 

 

Itching can be alleviated by applying a cool compress and wiping feet with cool damp washcloth after being outside. Include in your kit itch spray and calming shampoo. Your vet may have recommendations on what products to use. 

Heatstroke occurs commonly in spring and summer months. Dogs will become weak, may vomit or collapse. Keep pets in cool shaded areas. Check the temp if you are concerned. Do not delay care in this situation, have them seen right away! If this is not possible, place cool water on the body, but remove right away and repeat.  Spray alcohol on paw pads as well to remove heat from body

If your pet ingests a toxin, try your best to estimate when it happened, how much was ingested, and what the ingredients were. Poison control or your vet will be better able to help you and your pet with the more info you can provide. 

 

 

At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use 360° Wellness Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.

 

Join AskVet Today

 

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

Common Pet Toxins In and Out of the House

Little grey cute cat sits on a branch of blue grapes

Welcome to the Askvet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 

When we think about pet poison and toxins, we envision chemicals and cleaners. While these substances can cause trouble for our furry friends, so can fruits, veggies, and plants!  Did you know that grapes, bread dough, essential oils, dryer sheets, and Sago Palm plants can cause devastating effects to our dogs and cats if ingested?  In this webinar, Dr. Marks speaks about these common household toxins, symptoms your pet may experience if ingested, and what to do in the event of a toxicity. Tune in below to learn more about keeping your pets safe and toxin free!


Canine HouseHold Toxicities

Common toxicities in dogs include Poinsettia plants ingestion, Chocolate, Xylitol, Grapes and Raisins, Over-The-Counter and Prescription Medications, as well as batteries. Some cause more devastating effects than others. For instance, Poinsettias, if ingested, can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea which usually will resolve with time and does not require ER care. Xylitol, however, can be life-threatening if consumed in tiny amounts. Xylitol is a sugar-free substitute found in food products as well as gum, mouthwash, toothpaste, and drink powders. A dog that has eaten a xylitol containing substance, may experience vomiting, stumbling, low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and possible coma. 

Other toxins are dose dependent meaning the amount of substance ingested and the size of the dog will determine the severity of the effect. Chocolate, for example, has varying degrees of potency. Semi-sweet, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder are the most powerful chocolate products. A small chihuahua that eats 2 oz of dark chocolate could have heart abnormalities, seizures, and suffer fatal consequences, whereas a Great Dane that consumes the same amount may have no symptoms at all. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, but the severity of symptoms greatly varies among dogs regardless of dog size. 

OTC and prescription products made up a bulk of calls made to Pet Poison Helpline. 17% of  inquiries were about acetaminophen and ibuprofen while 15% were in regards to topical creams, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and cardiac meds. Make sure to keep your medications in a high, locked cabinet. 

In the event of toxic ingestion, one route of treatment your vet may recommend is to induce vomiting. While this may be safe with some toxic ingestions, the symptoms can worsen with other substances, such as with batteries. The material inside the battery is corrosive and can burn the mouth, esophagus, and internal organs if the pet vomits after eating a battery. 

 

Feline HouseHold Toxicities

Common toxicities in cats include Lily plant ingestion, Antifreeze, Rodenticide, Garlic and Onions, and Household Products and Cleaners. Although Lillies are gorgeous flowers, all parts of the plant are toxic and can cause irreversible kidney damage. Never have a lily in your home if you have a cat. 

 

While some toxins have immediate effects, some toxins have a delayed response, meaning your pet will not be sick until days after exposure like with Antifreeze, rodenticide, and garlic and onions making it so important to prevent exposure in your pet. Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, can cause difficulty walking, increased thirst and urination, along with changes in the nervous system, heart, and kidneys. Check for puddles in your garage and driveway routinely. Rodenticide, mouse and rat killer, are often pink or blue pelleted products that are baited with yummy attractants. This toxin prevents clotting if ingested. Garlic and onions, while a common food staple for people, cause severe anemia, weakness, and pale gums. When cooking or earring garlic and onions, do not leave food unattended. 

 

Other Household Pet Toxicities:

Household items such as essential oils, bleach, jade plants, sago palms, rhododendron, raw eggs, and alcohol should not be accessible to your pet. Additionally, household products and cleaners like paint, spackle, home improvement materials, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, carpet fresheners, and swiffer wet jets should be stored safely and out of your pet’s reach. 

 

Toxic Exposure

In event of toxic exposure

  1. Remove your pet from the area.
  2. Check for breathing. 
  3. Do not give at home anecdotes as this could worsen symptoms and delay care.
  4. Do not induce vomiting unless Pet Poison Helpline, ASPCA Animal Poison Control, or your veterinarian has instructed you to do so. 
  5. Know your local ER location and number.

 

At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use Personalized Pet Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

Find Your Lost Pet with One Pet ID

AskVet One Pet ID

One Pet ID  a FREE  pet finder solution that helps pet parents recover their lost pets easily, quickly and safely.  One in every three pets will go missing during their lifetime.  AskVet developed One Pet ID to help in the event this happens.  One Pet ID advanced technology and secure comprehensive database simplifies the search and rescue process to give pet parents the help they need during a lost pet crisis.

“We wanted to make One Pet ID free because we believe that affordability should not stand in the way of pet parents gaining peace of mind by knowing that their lost pets will be returned without the costs or complexity of other pet finder products,” said Cal Lai, Founder and CEO of AskVet.

What’s included with the One Pet ID Tag?

  • Lost pet’s tag is scannable by any smartphone
  • Triggers “Pet Found” alerts to your phone
  • Removes the hassle for the pet finder of taking a pet to the vet to get a chip scanned
  • Stores your pet’s secure profile
  • One Pet ID service is free for the life of your pet

How One Pet ID works:

Pet parents register their One Pet ID with the easy steps below:

Step 1: Scan the QR code on the back of the tag with a smartphone

Step 2: Complete the secure pet profile on the AskVet app

Step 3: Input critical information about the pet (allergies, medications, behavior issues, etc.) so that anyone who finds your pet can take appropriate action if your pet has a medical condition or special needs.

Step 4: Attach the One Pet ID tag to the pet’s collar

Who is AskVet?

AskVet is the world’s leader in pet wellness and lifestyle management.  AskVet’s 360° Pet Care solution is a comprehensive approach to pet wellness with 1:1 guidance that targets the individual needs of pets and their parents.  Our Certified Pet Lifestyle Experts (CPLEs) provide evaluations and care plans that include advice, product, and lifestyle recommendations in the areas of behavior, nutrition, exercise & play, emotional wellness, environmental factors, and preventative care.

“We believe that lifestyle drives health outcomes. The secret sauce to the AskVet lifestyle management platform are the data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and veterinarian-designed 360° Pet Lifestyle Plans that help pet parents manage numerous daily decisions that make up a pet’s healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Crissy Allstott, AskVet Sr. Vice President of Veterinary Medicine. “Your pet’s health is not static, so AskVet’s 360° Pet Care mobile and web solution provides lifestyle coaching and plans that evolve to meet a dog or cat’s specific needs based on medical conditions, environment, breed, and stage of life.”

Order Your FREE One Pet ID Today

One Pet ID from AskVet is free and is included in every AskVet membership.  To learn more or to request a One Pet ID, go to https://askvet.app/one-pet-id/

Spaying and Neutering Dogs and Cats

spaying and nurturing

Are you wondering when is the right time to spay or neuter your dog or cat? Pet parents always have many questions surrounding spaying and neutering so let’s look at some basics to put your mind at ease!  

What Does it Mean to Spay or Neuter?

Both the spay and neuter procedures involve removing the reproductive organs responsible for creating more puppies and kittens! Spaying a female dog or cat is also known as an “ovariohysterectomy” (OVH) or “ovariectomy” (OVE). In the female dog or cat, these procedures remove the ovaries, with or without removal of the uterus, so she can no longer have heat cycles or become pregnant. Neutering, aka “castration”, involves removing both testicles from a male dog or cat.

Why Spay or Neuter?

Spay and neuter procedures have both obvious and lesser-known benefits. To state the obvious – removing the reproductive organs eliminates accidental breeding and the addition of litters of puppies and kittens to the already overflowing population of pets that need homes. Plus, no need to worry about cleaning up after that messy heat cycle that occurs every 6 months for female dogs!

Regarding the lesser-known benefits – spaying and neutering can provide pets with longer healthier lives! In female dogs and cats, spaying will protect from developing mammary (breast) cancer as well as a very serious and life-threatening hormone-based uterine infection called “pyometra”.

Neutering keeps male dogs safe by decreasing their desire to roam the neighborhood in search of a mate. In-tact (non-neutered) dogs are frequent flyers at veterinary emergency hospitals because they’ve escaped and been hit by a car or engaged in a dog fight causing serious injury. Also, due to the decrease in hormones due to the absence of testicles, neutered male dogs and cats may also be less likely to exhibit other undesirable “male” behaviors like urine marking/spraying, and some aggressive tendencies (however, some of these are learned behaviors and may not be affected). Also, the incidence of testicular cancer is eliminated in neutered male dogs, and diseases of the prostate are also decreased.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

What Age Is Best to Spay or Neuter a Puppy and Kitten?

The appropriate time to spay or neuter your puppy is a great conversation to have with your veterinarian due to the factors involved – the pet and family’s lifestyle, breed, and projected adult size. Most animal shelters and rescue organizations will alter their adoptees before they are placed in new homes, which can be as young as 8 weeks of age. Otherwise, the current AAHA guideline is to spay or neuter small breed dogs prior to their first heat cycle, which corresponds to about 6-8 months of age. For large breed dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepherds, and Rotties, there are some newer recommendations to wait until they are skeletally mature, which occurs around 1-1.5 years old. Why? Since large breed dogs mature later than small breeds, the latest research has shown that allowing a longer timeframe for growth and waiting to spay or neuter may decrease the incidence of certain cancers, orthopedic issues, and urinary incontinence. These issues do not affect small breed dogs like they do their larger friends.

For cats, spaying and neutering before maturity is recommended at approximately 5-6 months of age for both males and females.

Is Anesthesia and Pain Medication Dangerous?

Anesthesia and pain medication ensure that your pet is the most comfortable they can be before, during, and after the procedure. Since there is some inherent risk associated with anesthesia, your veterinarian will do their best to create the safest environment for your pet through a variety of measures like a physical exam, blood testing, checking vital signs throughout, and administering fluids. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are sent home for several days following the procedure to ensure for the most comfortable and swift recovery period. Ultimately, the benefits of spaying and neutering outweigh the risks, and with safety precautions in place your pet’s health and best interests are always a priority.

How About That Recovery Period?

Just like humans, dogs and cats need some time to relax and heal after surgery! On average the full recovery time after a spay and neuter is about 10-14 days. During this time, it is recommended that they rest as much as possible, with no running or jumping. Some dogs and cats are very compliant patients, and others are ready to resume their normal active lives the very next day! Beware that your dog or cat’s movements will tug and pull at the sutures holding the incision together, possibly causing them to tear and open! Also, excess bleeding and swelling can accompany too much activity and complicate healing.

Keeping your dog or cat from licking and chewing that incision is critical too. They can quickly and easily dislodge the layers of sutures and cause serious injury to the area. The Elizabethan collar, aka the “cone of shame” is the most effective device to keep them from licking the area.

If your pet is not handling the recovery period well, communicate with your veterinarian for their recommendations and advice.

Our AskVet Veterinarians are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!

 

Written by:

Alexa Waltz, DVM

Dr. Waltz was raised near the beaches of Southern California but has spent her adult life living all over the beautiful United States while serving in the military and as a military spouse. She left California for the first time to pursue a career as a veterinarian at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She was accepted into the US Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program during vet school and upon graduation spent her military years as a veterinarian in San Diego working for the US Marine Corps and US Navy Military Working Dog programs as well as caring for pets of service members. After her military service, she became a civilian veterinarian and continued as a small animal general practitioner at clinics in California, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Maryland. Dr Waltz loves to see her “in person” patients just as much as communicating with and assisting pet parents virtually on AskVet. Dr Waltz is also a Mom to 3 humans, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 Australian Shepherd and in her spare time she loves traveling, adventures, exercising, and doing just about anything out in nature!

 

What’s Safe to Use in my Medicine Cabinet for Pets

Woman with first aid kit on gray background

Written by: Allison Ward

If you’re like most pet parents, you have probably wondered, “is there any human medicine for dogs or cats that is safe?” After all, there are many drugs and therapies that have been created for humans and which can help dogs and cats, too! However, many medications that are safe for YOU are actually dangerous for your pet. Always remember that cats and dogs are not small humans, and their bodies may process and react to certain human medication very differently.

Here, we’ll discuss the most common items in your own medicine cabinet that you may be tempted to use for your sick or injured pet! 

Pain Medications

You notice your precious pup or sweet kitty starting to limp on one of their paws. Of course, your first instinct is to try to make them feel better—but please DO NOT reach for ANY human pain medication. Unfortunately, there are NO SAFE OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN MEDICATIONS that you can give your cat or dog. In fact, most human pain medications are downright toxic to pets—and, in some cases, can even kill your pet. 

These human pain reliever medications include (but are not limited to) aspirin, Aleve/naproxen, ibuprofen, and Tylenol/acetaminophen. Dogs and cats process drugs differently than people (and differently from each other!), so it’s important to stick with pain medication that is ONLY prescribed by your veterinarian.

But My Pet is in Pain—What Can I Do Instead?

If your pet is limping or seems painful, make sure you chat with an AskVet veterinarian to determine if your pup or kitty needs to be seen on an emergency basis, or if he can wait for a non-emergency scheduled appointment with your family veterinarian. 

If it is safe for your pet to wait to be evaluated in person, keeping your cat or dog confined to a small room (or even a crate or playpen, if they are trained to be confined) is usually the most effective form of pain control you can provide at home. Since we can’t tell our cats and dogs to stay off their feet, being confined is the only way to keep your pet from overdoing it on their injured leg, or from worsening a back or neck injury. 

Confinement also helps prevent your pet from following family members around the house, bounding up and down the stairs, or running to the door if they hear something outside–common ways for injured pets to make themselves more painful!  Dogs should only be taken outside on a leash to prevent them from excitedly chasing animals and people, and walk only long enough to use the bathroom before coming right back inside. Cats should have access to a shallow, easy-to-use litterbox while in their confined space. 

Sometimes, an injured area becomes swollen and it is obvious what part of the body is painful. In these cases, a cold compress can be your pet’s best friend! Place some ice cubes in a baggie, wrap it in a light towel, and hold it gently to the painful area for ten minutes at a time in order to help numb the pain. **Note: ONLY apply a compress if this is well-tolerated by your pet—it is NOT worth putting yourself at risk of getting bitten by a painful pet!** 

In some cases, a warm compress may provide more relief than a cold compress. For a warm compress, simply microwave a damp washcloth until it is comfortably warm–you can test it on the inside of your wrist, just like a baby bottle–place it in a baggie to keep your pet dry, and wrap in a light towel before gently placing it on the sore area.

Give you pet the personalized care. Get the app!

Stomach Medications

If your pet has begun vomiting, having diarrhea, or seems to have difficulty passing a bowel movement, you may be tempted to reach for medications to settle your pet’s stomach. In certain cases, antacids (such as Pepcid AC/famotidine), diarrhea medication (such as Imodium), or laxatives (such as Miralax or Metamucil) MAY be recommended by your veterinarian, once they have thoroughly examined your pet. 

However, the doses for these medications are very different between dogs, cats, and humans—and with certain medical conditions, some of these medications should be avoided altogether. That’s why these medications should NEVER be given unless they are vet approved from your family veterinarian. 

AskVet Tip: If your pet constantly struggles with an upset stomach, ask your family veterinarian for dosage guidelines specific to your pet for anything over-the-counter you can administer for future mild stomach flare-ups. Keep a written list of these in your medicine cabinet, and make sure to put a date on the recommendations in case they change over the years. 

But My Dog/Cat is Vomiting and Having Diarrhea…What Can I Do?

The safest home remedies for a vomiting dog or cat is to feed them very small meals of an easily-digestible bland diet to try to help settle their stomach. Also, knowing what to watch for in case a vet visit becomes necessary is essential pet parent education! 

My Pet is So Itchy!

We’ve all been there: your cat or dog is scratching incessantly, shaking their head, and sometimes even chewing on themselves! It’s so miserable to be itchy, and you desperately want to give your pet some relief! 

Two of the most useful tools in your toolbox with any itchy pet are #1: prescription-strength flea prevention, and #2: a good soothing shampoo. Since the most common cause of itchiness in dogs and cats is flea bites, it is always a good idea to stock up your cabinet with vet-recommended medication in order to get rid of fleas on dogs or cats ASAP.

Since dogs and cats can be sensitive to dust, pollen, household cleaners, and other sources of particulate residues in their home environment, bathing is an effective way to remove anything from the surface of their skin that may be causing any cat or dog allergies. Some shampoos also have soothing ingredients, such as oatmeal, that help to calm down mild skin redness and itchiness. If your pet has a chronic skin condition, ask your veterinarian if they recommend a specific shampoo that you can use at home for your fluffy kiddo on days with breakthrough itching. 

For especially itchy areas, or those that are painful from excessive scratching and chewing, you can use a cold compress (described above) to numb the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time to give additional relief. Also consider pulling out that “cone of shame” that you have kept in your closet since your pet’s last surgery! Applying the cone until your pet can be evaluated by his veterinarian can help prevent him from licking and itching, making the area even more irritated. 

What About Benadryl and Other Antihistamines?

You may be tempted to reach for some Benadryl to help relieve that itching. Although Benadryl is generally safe in dogs (at a very different dose than used for people), it is only effective for itching in less than half of all dogs. In cats, Benadryl can sometimes cause hyperactivity and aggressive behavior–so this usually isn’t a veterinarian’s first choice for itch relief!

There are other over-the-counter antihistamines which are safe in dogs and cats, and may be more effective. Even though they still don’t work as well as prescription medications, sometimes they can help just enough to give your pet comfort until their vet visit. 

If your dog or cat has repeated episodes of itchy skin, ask your family veterinarian for a dosage of an over-the-counter antihistamine that is safe for your pet to have for future flare-ups. Write down the drug name, tablet size, and dosage as well as the date your vet made the recommendation and place it in your medicine cabinet for future reference! 

Knowing how much Benadryl is safe to give your pet in case of a severe allergic reaction (see below) is ALWAYS good information to have—so make sure to ask your vet about Benadryl, too.

AskVet Tip: DO NOT give ANY pet a “non-drowsy” version of your vet approved antihistamine. These formulations have additional medications that are dangerous for your dog or cat! 

Epsom Salt Foot Soaks

One of the most common symptoms of itchy skin is excessive licking of the paws. This affects dogs much more often than cats, and you may notice your pup’s paws are red, swollen, smell musty, and may have rust-colored staining of the fur. If your pet is suffering from itchy and painful paws, soaking the paws in an Epsom salt solution can provide a great deal of relief. 

For this home remedy, just follow the directions on the package of Epsom salts to make a solution with warm water, and soak the affected paw(s) in a shallow container for 10 minutes at a time. For pups with more than one paw affected, the easiest way to do this is to mix an Epsom salt solution in a few inches of water in the bathtub, and then have your dog stand in the water for 10-15 minutes at a time. 

**If your pet is experiencing sudden itchiness along with a swollen face, vomiting, or red bumps all over the body (hives), then these may be symptoms of a sudden and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Seek emergency vet care or chat with an AskVet veterinarian immediately if these symptoms are noted!**

Help! My Pet is Bleeding!

It’s easy to panic when you notice blood coming from your precious pet!

If your pet has suffered an injury such as being attacked by another animal, hit by a car, or falling from a height and is now bleeding, apply direct pressure to a bleeding wound and transport immediately to your family veterinarian (if they are open) or your closest veterinary ER facility. 

Fortunately, the most common bleeding issues we see at home are minor injuries that are oozing small amounts of blood. If your pet is otherwise acting normally and you can identify where the blood is coming from, use sterile gauze (available at most pharmacies) and/or a soft towel and apply direct pressure to the wound. Release the pressure and check the wound for further bleeding after five minutes. 

If the bleeding has stopped, call your family veterinarian or chat to AskVet for further advice. (Pictures of the wound are very helpful in these situations, and can be attached directly to your chat!) We may recommend first aid at home for your pet, or recommend that your furbaby be seen promptly by a veterinarian in person. If the bleeding continues for longer than 15 minutes, then a trip to the vet is warranted!  

If your pet is bleeding on one of her legs, it is tempting to try and bandage the area. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to cause damage by accidentally applying a bandage too tight and cutting off your pet’s circulation. Some pets are also notorious for ripping a bandage off with their teeth and swallowing the bandage material–leading to yet another urgent problem!

For these reasons, we do NOT recommend attempting ANY at-home bandaging techniques.  

AskVet Tip: If your pet has cut a nail and it is bleeding, don’t fret! Take some cornstarch or flour and add a bit of water to make a paste. Then, use your fingers to apply the paste directly over the bleeding nail. You may have to distract your pet with some peanut butter or a chew toy. Once the bleeding stops, inspect the nail for any breakage. 

The Bottom Line

To summarize, here are some items that are essential for every pet owner to keep in your pet medicine cabinet: 

  • Veterinarian-approved over-the-counter antacids and/or laxatives (if your pet  has a chronic condition)
  • Cold compress/warm compress (these can be the “instant” type, or just make 
  • sure to have supplies to make one!)
  • Oatmeal-based or vet-recommended soothing shampoo
  • Epsom salts
  • Benadryl (in case of allergic reactions) and dosage instructions from your vet
  • Veterinarian-approved over-the-counter antihistamine and dosage instructions
  • White rice in case your pet needs a bland diet
  • Flea control as recommended by your veterinarian 
  • Cone collar to prevent licking and chewing itchy areas and wounds
  • Sterile gauze or a clean towel to stop bleeding
  • Cornstarch or flour to stop a bleeding nail

At AskVet, we know how scary and frustrating it can be for your pet to be uncomfortable. Our veterinarians are available 24/7 to advise you on your pet’s symptoms, what constitutes an emergency, and what home care options are available to give your pet relief! Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!

 

Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM

Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

 

COVID-19 and Your Pets

The research and studies regarding COVID-19 are constantly evolving. We recommend everyone please follow the CDC guidelines found here as our understanding of this disease improves. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a novel virus caused by a coronavirus that spread into a global pandemic in 2020. While scientists are still working to understand this illness, it does appear to cause mild symptoms for most humans. Some individuals are at higher risk for severe disease or death. 

Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?

According to the CDC, the risk of contracting COVID-19 from your dogs or cats is low. This includes any potential risk of carrying the illness on their skin or fur.

Precautionary measures are recommended by extending basic hygiene practices to include your pets. This would include washing your hands routinely after handling animals and limiting your pet’s exposure to other persons or pets that have had exposure to the illness. 

The use of face masks in pets is strongly discouraged as it can cause your dog or cat a lot of harm and distress.  

Can my pet get sick from COVID-19?

Domestic animals have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but the research does not indicate that this is a highly likely scenario. 

Most pets that have tested positive for COVID-19 have not been symptomatic and likely contracted the illness by living in close proximity with a COVID-19 positive human. Cats and ferrets are more at risk than dogs for contracting the illness and developing symptoms. Spread from human to animal and animal to animal has been suspected. The bottom line is that, based on our current understanding of the virus, your pets are more at risk of getting covid from you than you are of getting covid from your pets.

I have been exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19, what should I do for my pets?

If you have been exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19 you should treat the animals under your care as you would any other person. Wear a face mask when around your pets, wash your hands frequently, and minimize exposure as much as possible while continuing to care for your pets. Keep your pets at home unless emergency situations arise or if your pet needs immediate healthcare. 

Can my pet go to daycare, boarding or be around other pets?

The CDC recommends we protect our pets as if they are another human person in our family. This means limiting your pet’s exposure to others outside your immediate family as much as possible. If you choose to take your pet to a grooming, boarding, or daycare facility then follow that businesses health and safety protocols to limit risk for all involved. 

You can reduce this risk by limiting items brought from your home and disinfecting returned items with an EPA-registered disinfectant. 

Do not use any chemical disinfectants on your pet including but not limited to hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer or counter-cleaning wipes. 

Face masks should not be put on household pets. 

To learn more about this illness and pets, your ASKVET Care Squad team and licensed veterinarians are standing by to help answer your questions!

Tips For Road Trips With Pets

Traveling with our furry buddies can be fun and memorable! Before you hit the road there is much to consider to prepare for anything unexpected while away from home. Here are some tips for making preparation and travel smooth and pleasant.

Preparation for Your Trip

  • Prior to the trip, check that your pet is current on vaccinations and parasite prevention and has a plentiful supply of any necessary medications. Prepare for the unexpected and bring a copy of the vaccine paperwork, rabies certificate, and medication prescriptions with you too, just in case!
  • Confirm that your pet’s collar or harness fit well so no one wiggles out if they get nervous. Ensure the identification tags and microchip registration are up to date with your cell phone number and address.  
  • Confirm your hotel is pet-friendly and has a copy of any required paperwork.
  • Weeks prior to the trip, start taking your pet for short car rides and consider a refresh on crate training. This helps to decrease anxiety associated with traveling or being confined. Treats and positive reinforcement can make your pup much happier about this process too!
  • If your pet shows signs of anxiety/stress or becomes car sick during rides, be sure to chat with a veterinarian several weeks in advance of your trip so that we can help customize a plan for stress-free travel. Any potential medications prescribed should be tested at home first to see how your pet reacts and minimize surprises on the road.
  • Pack your pet’s favorite bedding, blankets, toys, and supplies for comfort and familiar scents from home.
  • Be sure to pack enough food and treats to last the entire trip (and then some)! Running out and needing to change foods on the road can cause stomach and intestinal upset, especially if your pet is also experiencing any stress and anxiety due to travel. Bring plenty of waste bags as well.

Give you pet the personalized care. Get the app!

Keeping Your Pet Safe and Comfortable on the Road

  • The safest spot for your small dog or cat is in a crate or secured with a leash/harness system to ensure a comfortable ride. A pet loose in the car may be distracting, potentially interfere with the driver, and can escape during stops!
  • Pack portable food and water bowls and plenty of accessible food and treats for the road. Plan to stop every few hours to give your pet some water and a snack. 
  • Take potty breaks every couple of hours so your dog can stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Be sure your waste bags are accessible! For cats, it is not recommended to remove them from their kennel as they are likely nervous and may attempt to flee. Small disposable litter trays can be brought along for cats and kept in a corner of their crate.
  • Using calming sprays and collars like Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) can help your pet feel more comfortable in the car. If supplements and/or medications are used for anxiety, take care to adhere to your veterinarian’s dosing guidelines.
  • Never leave your pet in the car unattended! Inside temperatures can rise to dangerous levels in just a few minutes, even if the windows are cracked and temperatures seem mild. 
  • Upon arrival to new locations take care to leash dogs and closely monitor cats who may be nervous in unfamiliar surroundings and may try to flee. Taking dogs for walks to expend some of that pent-up energy can help them settle in.

Enjoy that trip! Always remember that AskVet is at the ready to answer your questions and help with any issues while you are out on the open road with your favorite furry friends!

 

Written by:

Alexa Waltz, DVM
Dr. Waltz was raised near the beaches of Southern California but has spent her adult life living all over the beautiful United States while serving in the military and as a military spouse. She left California for the first time to pursue a career as a veterinarian at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She was accepted into the US Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program during vet school and upon graduation spent her military years as a veterinarian in San Diego working for the US Marine Corps and US Navy Military Working Dog programs as well as caring for pets of service members. After her military service, she became a civilian veterinarian and continued as a small animal general practitioner at clinics in California, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Maryland. Dr Waltz loves to see her “in person” patients just as much as communicating with and assisting pet parents virtually on AskVet. Dr Waltz is also a Mom to 3 humans, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 Australian Shepherd and in her spare time she loves traveling, adventures, exercising, and doing just about anything out in nature!

Tips on How to Pay for Vet Bills

Worried Woman Looking At Bill In Veterinary Surgery

As a loving pet owner, you want your beloved companion to be with you for as long as possible and be as healthy as they can be. You also know that preventative veterinary care is a valuable investment in your pet’s health.  If you’re wondering “how much does a vet visit cost,” we have you covered. We’ve talked about the costs of wellness care, and also how medical care for illness and injuries can quickly add up into the thousands of dollars. 

Now, let’s talk about how to pay for necessary veterinary medical care for your beloved companion. In a perfect world, we would all have limitless budgets to spend on our pet’s well-being. Sadly, that is often not the case. Here are a few ways you can be prepared for an unexpected veterinary emergency, and how to budget for the cost of routine wellness care. 

Savings Account/Credit Card 

Setting up your own pet savings account, or pet emergency fund can be a great tool for those unforeseen emergencies. How do pet owners create one? When you first bring a new pet into your home, you may choose to start a separate savings account for their medical care. Contributing $50 or more per month will really add up! 

Alternatively, some pet owners prefer to dedicate a specific credit card to their pet care expenses. This way, a line of credit is always available in case your pet needs an urgent veterinary visit and allows you to pay off yearly wellness care services on your own schedule throughout the year. It’s important to keep the card in a safe but accessible place so that you’re not tempted to use it for other purchases! 

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Pet Insurance

What is pet insurance? Instead of placing money into a savings account every month, some pet owners elect to pay a monthly premium for pet insurance. By choosing the size of the deductible that is affordable for you, you can be assured that your beloved pet will receive whatever veterinary care they need throughout their life. This way, if something happens to your animal and they need medical treatment, your pet health insurance will help cover the emergency vet costs. 

Healthcare Credit Cards 

There are several credit card companies that provide lines of credit for health/veterinary care. Much like the more familiar credit card companies like Visa or American Express, approval for a line of credit with one of these companies is usually based on your credit history. You can apply for an account online and receive approval in as little as five minutes. Once approved, you can use the line of credit immediately—which makes them helpful during unexpected emergencies. 

These revolving lines of credit are accepted at many veterinary hospitals as a valid form of payment, and terms will usually include an interest-free period. However, after the interest-free period, the interest rates are usually very high—so make sure that if you use one, keep this in mind as you budget your payments! 

These healthcare credit cards can be literal lifesavers for your pet. If you are unlucky enough to have to seek emergency care for your furry companion, the veterinary staff may give you options that are accepted by their hospital (and even help you apply!). As an added bonus, you can also use some of these cards for your own medical or dental care (see the card’s conditions for more). From helping with emergency veterinary care to assisting with your own medical costs, this is a great option!

Friends/Family

Chances are, your adorable pet has met and stolen the hearts of many friends and family members. In times of need, some of these same people may be happy to help their favorite feline or canine through an illness. 

While none of us feel “good” about asking for a loan from a friend or family member, most people realize that when it comes to a pet, special circumstances can call for desperate measures. If you find yourself in an expensive critical situation with your pet, reach out to your pet’s biggest fans amongst your own inner circle—you may be surprised by how willing they are to chip in, especially if it would otherwise be a life-or-death situation. Collections from crowdsourcing campaigns have financed many pets in need of lifesaving care, so it is worth a try if you feel comfortable.   

What About a Payment Plan? 

When your pet is ill and the costs of testing and treatment start to pile up, it’s natural to ask if the veterinary hospital offers a payment plan. After all, emergencies happen all the time, right? Surely if anyone understands, it’s the veterinary hospital! 

Unfortunately, many veterinary hospitals have had to stop offering payment plans due to the low rate of success in collecting monies after services are performed. In-house payment plans used to be common in many places, but it was not uncommon for animal hospitals to have to write off tens of thousands of dollars a year in unpaid bills. 

Since veterinary hospitals have to pay for the medications, supplies, staff, and facility expenses (such as electricity and water) on a monthly basis, you can imagine that having multiple “open tabs” creates a cash flow crunch. The result? An increase in the price of veterinary care for everyone else, or alternatively, being unable to pay staff and keep the doors open. You can certainly ask, but please understand if your veterinary hospital is not able to establish a payment plan. 

Wellness Plans

For routine veterinary care, enrolling your pet in a wellness plan may make sense. These are available at some hospitals (but not all—ask your favorite local veterinarian if their hospital has a wellness plan available!). 

What, exactly, is a wellness plan? Is it different from pet insurance? The short answer is YES, a wellness plan is very different from insurance! A wellness plan usually consists of a year-long contract with a monthly fee deducted from your bank account, or a lump sum paid upfront. The amount of the fee is determined by the total cost of wellness care that your pet needs over the entire year—sometimes including dental cleanings under anesthesia—discounted, and divided into monthly payments. In essence, wellness plans allow your pet to receive all of your veterinarian’s best recommendations for preventative care at a discount, and in a way that is more budget-friendly than a few large bills during the year. 

How Can AskVet Help Reduce Veterinary Costs?

We are glad you asked! Our vets, coaches and trainers can help you use your pet care dollars more wisely in several ways. 

Our personalized wellness care recommendations for your pet and access to 24/7 support ensures that all of your pet healthcare questions are answered and that your pet’s health is maximized with proven advice. 

Many times, a pet parent is unsure whether their pet’s symptoms justify a trip to the veterinarian, or if they can do something to help their furry friend at home. That’s where our veterinary team comes in! We are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to help in these exact situations. A quick chat with a veterinarian can help determine whether your pup or kitty needs to be taken to the emergency room immediately, whether a same-day appointment with your family veterinarian is needed, or if you can administer some simple home remedies and monitor your pet for other symptoms. 

Although seeking veterinary care for your beloved pet can be stressful—especially if they are sick—these tips can help lower the amount of stress that comes with the financial realities of obtaining needed medical services. Our AskVet veterinary experts are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign in to your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!

 

How Much Is A Vet Visit: Vet Fees & Costs Explained

Vet petting a tabby cat

Whether you are thinking of adopting a new puppy or kitten, or a lifetime pet owner considering pet insurance for your furry companion, you may be wondering, “how much does a vet visit cost?”or “what is pet insurance?”. From routine vet visits for pet preventative care to those emergency vet visits, it is important to budget for your pet’s medical care. Like so many questions, “how much does a vet cost?” doesn’t have any simple answers—but we can help give you guidelines on what to expect regarding the price of veterinary services! 

Average Costs of Tests and Services

It is crucial to understand that a pet owner’s total vet visit cost will vary depending on the type of pet care that is needed.

  • Routine checkups: $50 to $250
  • Vaccines per shot: $15 to $28
  • Physical exams: $45 to $55
  • Dental Cleaning: $500 to $1,000
  • Allergy testing: $200 to $300
  • Spay/neuter: $300 to $800
  • Fecal exam: $25 to $45
  • Geriatric screening: $85 to $110
  • Heartworm test: $45 to $50

Wellness Care & Preventative Medicine

Just like everything else, the cost of veterinary services varies across the country depending on the local cost of living. Additionally, the cost for preventative medications (such as flea/tick and heartworm prevention) is higher for larger pets, since they need a higher dosage based on their body weight. 

In general, though, you can expect to pay about $500-$1,500 a year for wellness care services. The amount you spend will vary based on diseases of concern in your geographic location, which vaccines are needed for your pet’s lifestyle, and whether you have a cat or a dog (cats need fewer vaccines than dogs do!). But for all of that money, what are you actually paying for? 

What if My Pet Needs Emergency Care?

As pet owners, it is important to be aware that accidents happen and your pet may need to be brought in for an emergency vet visit. A veterinary bill, especially if it is for emergency care, can be VERY expensive. The Emergency Vets USA has gathered the average costs of emergency veterinary care services, which has been listed below.
Average costs of emergency vet visits in the U.S:

  • General consultation/exam: $100-$150
  • General blood work: $80-200
  • X-rays: $150-$250
  • Ultrasound: $300-$600
  • 1-2 day hospitalization: $600-$1,700
  • 3-5 day hospitalization: $1,500-$3,500
  • Wound treatment and repair: $800-$1,500
  • Emergency surgery: $800-$2,500
  • Oxygen therapy: $500

The Annual Wellness Exam

Veterinarians recommend that most healthy dogs and cats visit the veterinarian for preventative care at least once a year, and sometimes every six months. Wellness visits include a complete and thorough physical exam to identify any areas of concern for your pet before they develop into a larger medical issue. Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s eyes/vision, ears, teeth/mouth, listen to their heart and lungs, palpate their abdomen for any organ enlargement, and assess your pet’s skin, lymph nodes, and joints. Since our pets can’t talk to us, regular physical exams by your veterinarian are essential for picking up early clues of illness–even if the pet parent does not perceive that anything is amiss.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

Vaccinations and Boosters

Along with the physical exam, your veterinarian will recommend vaccinations to prevent contagious (and often deadly) diseases. These recommendations are tailor-made to your pet’s age, lifestyle, and geographic location. Some infectious diseases are more common in certain parts of the country, while others are not encountered often enough to justify a vaccination in an individual pet unless they travel to another area. 

Routine Lab Testing 

In addition, lab testing is performed to screen your pet for certain infections. For dogs and cats, a fecal exam is recommended at least once a year (and often every six months). This test looks for the microscopic eggs of intestinal parasites, which can infect your dog or cat when they nose around and lick the ground outside, or eat bugs and other undesirable things (including dead animals!)!  

A blood test to screen your dog for heartworm infection is also recommended every six to twelve months. Heartworm disease is a parasitic infection as well—but this worm lives in the heart and lungs, and can cause heart failure and death. It is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquito bites, which we all know are impossible to prevent! Fortunately, there are safe and effective medications to prevent an actual infection from taking place—and your veterinarian will discuss these with you.

Blood and Urine Testing

Bloodwork to evaluate your pet’s internal organ function is also recommended at least once a year, and sometimes every six months if your pet is older or has an underlying condition that needs more frequent monitoring. Wellness blood work evaluates your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, blood sugar, electrolyte levels, kidney enzymes, liver enzymes, and more. A urinalysis will provide further information on your dog’s kidney function, hydration status, and bladder health. If something is not normal and requires further investigation, you will be glad that the condition was caught early enough for your veterinarian to intervene and help your precious pet. 

Annual Dental Cleanings

A dental cleaning under anesthesia is usually recommended once a year as well, depending on the level of tartar and calculus build-up noted at the time of your pet’s physical exam (see our article on “Everything You Need to Know About Dental Health” for more). This expense varies on the type of anesthesia used, the size of the patient, and whether tooth extractions are needed. Typically, price ranges for this procedure alone can range from $500-$1,000—or more, if extractions are necessary.

Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention 

The last piece of the wellness care puzzle is year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. (Note: in some colder northern climates with few mosquitos, your veterinarian may recommend heartworm prevention only part of the year.) These preventatives help keep your pet healthy, happy, and comfortable by preventing the transmission of diseases by ticks, fleas, and mosquitos. 

There are many options available and in various weight ranges for pets of all sizes. As always, medications for larger/heavier dogs are more expensive than for smaller dogs—because the amount of active ingredients is higher. Check with your veterinarian for their recommendations for your local area.  

What About When My Pet is Sick?

While most pet owners can budget for the cost of routine wellness care, many live in fear of unexpected emergency vet bills. Knowing how to pay for vet bills can be a complicated situation. Vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most common reasons why an ill pet needs to see a veterinarian. Testing to identify or rule out causes of these symptoms can include bloodwork, radiographs (x-rays), and more—and add up to another $600-1,000 or so, depending on your local cost of living and the type of equipment your veterinarian has available. 

For more serious medical issues requiring hospitalization at a 24-hour hospital, costs can quickly approach a thousand dollars (or more!) per day. That may sound like a lot, but this lifesaving care is provided by doctors and staff who are extraordinarily well-trained and well-equipped with the latest in lifesaving care at their fingertips to help your pet. Consultations with different specialists, such as a surgeon or cardiologist, can often be coordinated at these facilities if your pet needs them, too. 

Emergency surgeries are often performed to remove objects from a pet’s intestinal tract (such as string, pieces of toys, socks and other items they swallow!), or if a pet has a life-threatening abdominal injury or bleeding tumor. These surgeries can quickly approach $5,000-10,000 in costs, but often are the only way to save your pet’s life in a true emergency situation. 

We all know our pet’s love is priceless—but sometimes, these unexpected costs can be daunting. See our article on “Tips on Paying for Vet Care” for more about how to handle an emergency situation that we all hope NEVER happens to your pet. As always, it is better to be safe than sorry! 

Spaying/Neutering

A special case to discuss in any conversation about pet health care costs is spaying and neutering your pet. Most pet owners in America decide to have their dogs and cats “fixed” to prevent certain diseases later in life, and to prevent unwanted pregnancy (along with some behaviors influenced by the sex hormones, such as urine marking by male dogs). 

The cost of spaying and neutering varies widely depending on both your local cost of living and the quality of anesthetic drugs and anesthesia monitoring involved in your pet’s surgery. In addition, it is often more expensive to spay or neuter a larger/heavier dog than a smaller one—since all of your pet’s anesthetic and pain medications are dosed by their body weight. You are literally “paying by the pound” for medications throughout your pet’s life! 

Spays and Neuters at a Low Cost Facility vs Full Service Vet Clinic

While some non-profit facilities offer discounted spay and neuter services of only a hundred dollars or so, this procedure is more expensive at a full-service clinic. Why is that? Well, there are many reasons for this price discrepancy—even though the end result (a spayed or neutered pet) is the same.

A veterinary hospital usually has more staff assigned to your pet’s well-being before, during, and after anesthesia than a non-profit can afford. Also, many shelters and humane societies forego additional safety measures—like pre-anesthetic bloodwork, and IV fluids during the procedure—for apparently healthy pets, in favor of reducing costs. While the veterinarians at shelters are extremely skilled surgeons and fast at the procedure, sometimes these safety measures are truly necessary—and we don’t always know when they will be needed in an individual pet ahead of time. In case of a rare anesthetic emergency, proper monitoring equipment, plenty of staff, and access to your pet’s veins for life-saving medication can mean the difference between life and death for your pet. 

There are other factors differentiating the level of care your pet receives at a low-cost facility versus a veterinary hospital.  For instance, if there is a problem after surgery, such as an infection or incision issue, low-cost facilities generally do not have the ability to follow up with your pet and instead refer you to a local family veterinarian. Finally, at a full-service veterinary hospital, there are no charitable contributions or government funds subsidizing your pet’s surgery—so the pet owner is responsible for the cost.

For these reasons, you can expect to pay $300-800 or so for your cat or dog’s spay/neuter surgery at a private hospital. It may surprise you to know that, even at these prices, there is often not a significant profit to be made from these surgeries at a veterinary clinic. Spaying and neutering is considered so important to your pet’s health that veterinarians sometimes even lose money by providing these much-needed surgeries! 

Pet Health Insurance

Investing in pet health insurance is a great way to help cover your expenses as veterinary costs, emergency treatment, or even prescribed veterinary medicine can be costly. Picking the appropriate pet health insurance plan with the best coverage will not only benefit your pet, but will also allow you to save money in the bank!

The Bottom Line

While the cost of veterinary care can definitely add up, it’s worth thinking about your personal budget for both your pet’s yearly wellness care needs—to try to prevent a more expensive problem down the road!—and to have a plan in case your pet has a true emergency.  Your AskVet team is here to help you maximize your pet’s health, and determine when a vet visit is truly necessary. 

Our AskVet veterinary [professionals are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!

 

Sources:
https://emergencyvetsusa.com/average-cost-of-emergency-vet-visits/

 

Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM
Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

Pet Emergency Fund: Do You Need One?

It’s every pet owner’s worst nightmare: a true medical emergency. Your dog or cat has ingested something toxic, or been injured in an accident. As you’re driving your beloved pet to the veterinary emergency hospital—or to your trusted family veterinarian—your thoughts are racing. “Is my pet going to be okay?? Is she in pain? What would I do without her??” And the question that none of us want to think about: “Am I going to be able to afford what she needs? How much does a vet visit cost? ” 

When trying to pay for an emergency vet bill as a pet parent, there is nothing like having financial assistance set aside in case your companion animal needs emergency care. A pet emergency fund lets you focus on your pet’s well-being during a true medical emergency, without many of the financial worries that complicate the cascade of emotions when a beloved pet is ill or injured. While nobody enjoys spending money, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your family companion is able to get the life-saving healthcare she needs is truly priceless. 

For some pet owners, that peace of mind comes from having pet insurance with an affordable deductible, and it is important to understand what is pet insurance and what it will actually cover. However, for other pet owners, it makes more sense to have a dedicated pet emergency fund to cover unforeseen accidents, illness, or injury. 

Common Pet Emergencies

You might think that just because you are a loving, attentive pet owner who follows all of your veterinarian’s pet preventative care recommendations, an emergency just can’t happen to your pet. We SO wish that were true! Unfortunately, some things are just out of our control (similar to our own health sometimes!).

The most common symptom that leads pet owners to bring their cats and dogs in for urgent treatment is vomiting and diarrhea. While most pets suffering from these common symptoms just need help controlling their nausea and diarrhea, these signs can also be the tip of the iceberg that indicates a severe illness. Testing such as bloodwork, a fecal exam, radiographs (x-rays), and even an abdominal ultrasound is often recommended to look for some of these more serious conditions—and the costs of testing alone can quickly add up. 

Other common, potentially life-threatening symptoms that lead pet owners to an emergency visit are straining to urinate and the inability to urinate, difficulty breathing, collapse/weakness, loss of appetite, and limping (often a strain or a sprain, but sometimes due to a broken leg or a torn cruciate ligament—known as an “ACL tear” by all you sports buffs!).  

Of course, this list of possible reasons for an emergency visit wouldn’t be complete without all the animals who are hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or who ingest something poisonous.  In these cases, diagnostic tests are even more important to identify your pet’s underlying medical problem and/or injuries and to determine the proper course of treatment to save their life. 

Treatments and interventions, such as emergency surgery and prolonged hospitalization, are often necessary and add to the cost of a pet emergency. 

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Pet Emergency Fund

As you can see, the cost of emergency veterinary care for your beloved companion can quickly add up. Veterinarians always communicate with pet owners the benefits and risks of performing or forgoing certain tests, and of performing certain treatments in each patient. However, not knowing how to pay for vet bills is a tricky situation for both the pet owner and the veterinarian alike. The sad reality is that most of the time, decisions are made according to financial limitations, and not necessarily what is the best medical care for the pet. 

Veterinarians are used to working with pet owners on a budget—we do it all day, every day!—but having an emergency fund can give you the peace of mind that you are able to authorize the best medical care for your pet without having to weigh the pros, cons, and possible outcomes based on finances alone. 

If you decide that pet insurance is not right for your family, it makes sense to set up a bank account or obtain a credit card that is to be used ONLY for pet expenses and emergencies. Some pet owners prefer to deposit a certain monthly amount in a pet savings account, or to fund it all at once when they obtain their pet—and not use the funds for other expenses. See our article on “how much does veterinary care cost?” for more on how much you think you need to budget. 

AskVet Can Help You Determine If You Have A Pet Emergency

Our veterinarians are here to help you identify what qualifies as a pet emergency 24 hours a day, seven days a week! We can help you decide if you need to go immediately to an ER or if you can wait to see your family vet. 

As you can see, AskVet is here for your pet’s daily needs, as well as when you need us the most—in an emergency situation. For most pet owners, it is sadly not a case of “if” but WHEN a pet emergency will happen—and our Care Squad is here to help you during these difficult times. 

We are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!

How Pet Insurance Works & If It’s Right For You

Orange and white tabby cat standing by sign with Pet Insurance? painted on the canvas

Pet owners frequently ask their veterinarians about pet insurance. Some common questions include ‘What is pet insurance?’, ‘What does it cover?,’ ‘Can I use it for this appointment?’, How much does a vet visit cost anyways?’ and ‘Should I get pet insurance or start my own pet emergency fund?

Pet insurance is a policy that you purchase to cover an unexpected illness or accident that your pet may encounter to prevent receiving a high veterinary bill. It’s similar to what you’d expect from renters or homeowners insurance.

Differences Between Human Health Insurance and Pet Insurance

As you probably know, health insurance for human medical care involves paying a monthly fee (called a “premium”), as well as paying a certain amount of your medical expenses out-of-pocket before the insurance coverage takes care of a portion of your medical bills. The amount you pay before your insurance kicks in is called the “deductible,” and then the insurance company pays a higher percentage of your medical costs—no matter how many different doctors you see, or medical conditions you have. Medical facilities negotiate the price of services with different insurance companies.

With pet insurance coverage, however, the situation is very different—and confusion abounds, because options vary so much between companies. From preventive care to illness coverage, or a routine wellness exam, every pet insurance plan is different. One thing that is universal across ALL pet insurance companies is that you pay a monthly premium—but after that, things get more complicated! 

What’s Excluded From Pet Health Insurance

Before investing in pet health insurance, every pet parent should have a clear understanding of what kind of coverage is provided and if there are any exclusions listed in the plan, such as:

  • Preventive care
  • Dental disease
  • Grooming
  • Routine checkups
  • Preexisting or hereditary conditions
  • Behavior issues
  • Hip dysplasia

Of course, every insurance plan is built different so make sure to double check when searching for the best plan for your needs.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

If your pet needs veterinary care and your pet insurance policy covers illness and injuries, then you will usually have to pay the veterinary hospital the entire cost of services upfront, submit a claim to your insurance company, and wait to be reimbursed. Some companies have mobile apps that allow for reimbursement in as little as 24 hours, but with some, you could be waiting weeks for a check. (A few insurance companies do pay some hospitals directly, leaving the pet owner responsible only for the amount of their deductible at the time of care—but this is much less common.) 

Unlike your own medical care providers, veterinary prices do NOT change based on who is being billed for the service—so the costs of your pet’s care cannot be negotiated. However, veterinary hospitals are used to helping pet owners submit the required paperwork for insurance claims and are happy to help in this process!

Deductibles are a bit more complicated when it comes to pet insurance coverage. A deductible is a portion of the veterinary bill that you, as a pet owner, are responsible for. Some companies have a deductible that “resets” every year, similar to your own health insurance policy, regardless of how many different medical conditions require veterinary care throughout the year. Other policies have a deductible per medical condition—so if your pet has a stomach issue and a skin problem, you will be responsible for the amount of your deductible for each separate problem. Make sure you understand how your chosen pet insurance company works and the conditions of your pet’s individual policy.

Finally, let’s talk about pre-existing conditions. Many pet owners whose animals have just been diagnosed with a serious illness think, “Well, I’ll just enroll Fluffy in pet insurance to get this large veterinary bill taken care of.” Unfortunately, this is not an option. Pet insurance companies almost NEVER cover pre-existing conditions, and many have a waiting period (one week, one month, or longer!) before you can use your benefits toward a pet illness. This means that by the time your dog needs emergency surgery to remove a sock from his intestines, it’s too late to enroll him in pet insurance and expect the insurance company to reimburse you for any of the costs incurred. Similarly, if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies and gets ear infections multiple times per year, pet insurance companies likely will not cover ANY of his ear infections—if he had one prior to enrolling him in a policy.

Since there are so many well-known diseases that are common in purebred dogs, pet insurance companies will often exclude these common medical conditions from being covered as well. Examples may include German Shepherd dogs and hip dysplasia, French Bulldogs and spinal issues, or Cocker Spaniels and skin issues. Make sure to read the fine print—and consider adopting a mixed-breed dog to minimize the risk that your policy won’t cover some expensive problems! 

AskVet Tip: If you decide to purchase pet insurance, the BEST time to enroll your pet is while they are young and healthy—BEFORE they develop anything that may be considered a pre-existing condition.

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What About Wellness Care? 

Just to make the conversation about pet insurance plans even MORE confusing, there are many different levels of coverage available today! Some companies offer insurance plans that only cover illness/injury/accidents, while other companies offer these plans PLUS plans that include reimbursement for wellness care. Some will even reimburse you for portions of the cost of flea and heartworm prevention! 

Typically, a healthy adult dog will cost around $500-1,500 per year in routine pet preventative care, such as vaccinations, deworming, physical exams, wellness bloodwork, and flea and heartworm prevention. Being reimbursed for some of these expenses can really help a pet owner’s budget.

It’s also important to know that some pet insurance companies will not cover the cost of treating a problem—like a broken tooth—if you have previously declined the recommended routine medical care that may have prevented the issue—like a routine dental cleaning. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to follow your veterinarian’s personalized recommendations for your pet’s healthcare.

Is Pet Insurance Right for Me? 

When trying to figure out if pet insurance is right for you and your pet, there is no single answer to this question that fits every household! If you can afford the monthly premium costs, and are financially secure enough to wait for reimbursement of an unexpected veterinary bill, then pet insurance may give you tremendous peace of mind. It’s one service that everyone hopes you don’t need to use—because everyone wants your pet to stay healthy! 

On the other hand, if it makes more sense for you to set upyour own pet savings account specifically for veterinary care, then pet insurance may not be right for you.  This can be a great tool to augment your pet’s existing insurance coverage, or if you are wondering how to pay for vet bills!

Whether you choose to enroll your pet in an insurance policy or choose to provide for their healthcare needs from your own bank account, our AskVet veterinary professionals are here to help you make the right decisions for your pet. We are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign in to your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!