Pet insurance- the good, the bad, the somewhere in between

I admit I am biased about pet insurance. I like it, mostly. Clients who had it were, in my experience, much more likely to approve necessary treatments. That dog with a case of happy tail who wagged it so hard and so fast he got a nasty deep infection that ended up necessitating a partial tail amputation? Insured. Hit by car? Insured. From my perspective, it allowed owners to focus on the pet’s immediate needs and get them taken care of.

I also liked it because I didn’t have to do anything to get it taken care of, other than fill out a brief form.  The owners paid me upfront, and were reimbursed by their company after the fact. If the owner and the insurer had a disagreement about what should or should not be covered, it wasn’t something I had to get involved in. It was nothing like human medicine. The summer before I started veterinary school, I actually worked the front desk in an internal medicine MD practice and good lord, those staffers spent probably 33% of the day dealing with insurance issues.

Source: Trupanion.com

Source: Trupanion.com

Just a few years ago, I could list three pet insurance companies, tops. Now there’s almost too many to count, with good policies and bad policies and fine print a mile long and exclusions even longer, especially if you have a bulldog in which case you might as well just get a second job.

Some pay a flat percentage of your bill. Others use benefit schedules, and specify exactly what amount they will pay per procedure. Most reimburse you, but I know of at least one that is rolling out a program that will pay veterinarians directly. Some cover preventive care. Some cover accidents. Some cover breed related illnesses, and others don’t. Tooth extractions? May or may not be a pre-existing condition. WHO KNOWS.

It’s gotten so confusing, even for me, that when people ask me what I think all I can say is, “Yes, go for it, but with caution.” Caveat emptor. But even then, even knowing all there is to know and asking all there is to ask, I’m hearing more and more people tell me they just spent five hours on the phone with an insurance rep trying to figure out how a newly diagnosed endocrine condition counts as “pre-existing.”

If this sounds familiar, that’s because that’s what all of us have done with our health insurers at least once, right? It’s confusing, and getting even more so the more players that enter the field. All companies are not created equal. I think most people completely understand the need for exclusions and limits, but for goodness sake let people know when they sign up what, exactly, they are signing up for.

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While lawmakers in California had hoped that pet insurance would fall under the auspice of state insurance regulators, it hasn’t happened, and people with complaints have found they were pretty much out of luck. Fortunately, a new bill that already passed the legislature and is headed for the governor’s desk should give consumers a good deal more protection.

AB 2056 will make California the first state in the nation to specifically pass regulations about the pet insurance industry, separate from its current designation as miscellaneous property and casualty. It specifies the need for clear language about co-pays, exclusions, waiting periods, and caps- all the stuff people run into issues with now.

This is good news for everyone: the excellent insurance companies out there whose reputation is being sullied by the shyster groups, veterinarians who are able to better care for pets, and most of all the clients and pets who stand to benefit from better access to care.

So let’s hear it: what’s been your experience lately? Have you been blindsided or pleased with your insurance coverage?

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Does your car smell like DOG? Purrgo to the rescue

A few weeks ago I got an email from a charming and enterprising young man named Mark Zhang. Since I had a dog blog he wanted to know if I had dog odors in my car or home. After an indignant sniff I realized that when people are subject to the same odor, they lose the ability to smell it. I remember as a child passing through a part of a nearby town that had…
The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Dog Breath

Dog Breath Now on sale: http://dogs.childrens-library.com/Dog_Breath.html Lookup Codes: http://www.zaptab.com/scan/MDQzOTU5ODM5Nw== Your children will love D…

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Phenomenal Cosmic Power

A week ago, I called my husband on a business trip in China for the urgent assistance in locating my DVD of Aladdin.

“Why do you need it this very second?” he asked. “You haven’t watched that in like 15 years.”

aladdin_poster

“I know,” I said, “But our daughter is singing a song from Aladdin in summer camp this week and she really, really needs to see this movie.” She’d seen it once before, years prior; my son hadn’t seen it ever. It was an unforgivable omission, one I felt an almost irresistible need to fix.

So we sat down and watched it, this movie that came out when I was still in high school, and I marvelled. The computer animation looked so dated now, the pop culture references flying over the kids’ head like a magic carpet. But it worked. It still worked, and it was all because of Robin Williams’ genius.

He wasn’t a person who had been in my thoughts much in recent times, though he was a fixture of my childhood from Mork and Mindy through Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam. Watching Aladdin rekindled my interest in his unique body of work and I’ve been on a Robin Williams binge this last week- Aladdin followed by The Birdcage, Good Morning Vietnam, and Mrs. Doubtfire scheduled for later this week. Robin had, in addition to his brilliant improvisation and manic energy, an exquisite ability to layer melancholy and sweet, delving into the deepest pains of humanity in a way that made you hopeful despite its ugliness, a compassion that balanced the sometimes cruel realities of being alive. He inhabited those characters in a way few others could. Williams and Alan Alda, the actors that defined the genre for me.

gmv

That level of perception and intuition about the human condition, often begets a certain creative brilliance. Comedy relies on it. It also, as we all too well know, often drags along behind it a heavy dragline of depression. It is the contrast upon which such artistry must be laid in order to make it pop. It takes an awful lot of mental energy to wield the two simultaneously, I suspect. No one described it better than, well, himself:

Phenomenal cosmic power!

pcp

iity bitty living space.

ibls

Depression is not a fight that can be won, a demon vanquished. It’s simply there, a weight people carry around and manage the best they can. Robin wrought his depression like a kettlebell, swinging up and down and up and down and in the process put out the energy that was-is- his legacy. I can only imagine how exhausting it must have been, but he did it, over and over, though his life. He made it work for him.

He was a dog lover, you know. Of course he was, right? When you live with that kind of pressure and expectation from those around you to be on all the time- why aren’t you saying something funny?- the presence of an unconditionally accepting creature is a comfort and a joy.

Having so recently been drawn back into his life and his work and his bright eyes that never entirely belied the stormy grey beneath, I was so enjoying re-experiencing the creative rush of his work, immersed in how much he gave of himself to make others smile. Today was a shock, in many ways.

rw

And I guess that is why so many of us are so insanely devastated, at least I know I am. He always made his depression work for him, turning the swirling rivulets of thought and extremes in his brain and transforming them into art. I see in the world the same sort of wide eyed despair that followed Kurt Cobain’s death, that sense of hope snuffed out. I think a lot of people looked up to them both. They were proof positive of the transformative power of creative will, but while Kurt succumbed at a young age, Robin managed to persevere, and that made him even more infallible in our eyes.

I thought he had it figured out. With all his success and fortune and mastery of substance abuse, he was a tick mark on the list of success stories with this particular type of chronic disease. I thought he had won the battle. I was wrong.

We are reminded today, yet again, that depression is a fire that never gets put out completely, a smolder you can never turn your back on. Never, ever.

We’ll never know why this time was different, why today was insurmountable when every other day was a day to soldier on, but the world is all the dimmer with the Genie flown back home to the Cave of Wonders, beyond the horizon and beyond our grasp. All we can do now is celebrate the shimmer he left in his wake.

Look out for one another, friends, help one another. It’s a rough world out there, and we need all the joy we can get. We need each other. Tolkien said it best: “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.” We do not.

RIP Robin, kind sir. Thank you.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Eye And Heart Disease in Dogs


Eye disease is very common with Golden Retrievers. Most Golden’s will generally have hereditary cataracts, which is a common eye problem. At an early age, with affected Golden’s, one type of hereditary cataract will appear. Even though it may not cause interference with the vision of the Golden Retriever, some dogs will progress into total and quite possibly severe loss of vision.

Sometimes, Golden Retrievers can get affected by non hereditary cataracts, although an examination by a board certified veterinarian can determine just how bad the cataracts really are. If cataracts are indeed suspected with a Golden Retriever, then breeding won’t be recommended. Breeding a Golden who has this condition can lead to serious problems, such as passing it on to the pups.

Several families of the Golden Retriever breed have been known to carry genes for CPRA (Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy), which affects the retina, and can result in permanent blindness for Golden’s at a young age. There are other types of eye defects as well, such as retinal dysplasia, which prevents a Golden from breeding.

Trouble with both the eyelid and eyelashes are also a possibility with Golden Retrievers, with some being the result of hereditary factors. The eyelids rotating in or out, or the eyelashes rubbing on or in the eye are both common problems with the breed. Even though surgery can help to fix these types of problems, dogs that are experiencing this type of problem shouldn’t be allowed to breed nor compete in shows under any type of AKC rules.

You should always have your Golden Retriever checked annually for eye disease, as it can develop during any age. When you take your Golden to have him examined for eye disease, you should have a veterinary ophthalmologist do the exam. He has all of the necessary equipment, and the proper training needed to make sure that your dog gets the best examination possible.

Heart disease

SAS (Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis) is the most common and widespread form of heart disease within the entire Golden Retriever species. Before you breed your Golden Retriever, you should always have him examined for heart disease by a certified veterinary cardiologist. If the cardiologist detects a heart murmur, he will recommend additional tests for your dog.

In the event that the results prove negative, it doesn’t necessarily rule heart disease out, as some milder forms may still be present, although undetectable. If a Golden Retriever is diagnosed to have any type of heart disease, he should not breed. Breeding Golden Retrievers who have heart disease can lead to serious and sometimes fatal results. To be on the safe side, you should always have your Golden tested for his disease before you plan on breeding.
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Healthy mouth, healthy body

Healthy mouth, healthy body
However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Severe gum disease, called periodontitis, can actually eat away at the bone structure that holds the teeth in place.
Read more on Seacoastonline.com

DENTAL DANGERS: Dentist's malpractice claims span three decades
The various plaintiffs, the vast majority of them women, alleged in cases filed from the early 1980s to as recently as last April that Tupac's dentistry caused them a variety of problems, ranging from bone loss to ongoing pain and emotional distress.
Read more on Bakersfield Californian

Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed in MO Court
The product was approved by the FDA in 2002 for very specific types of spine and dental procedures. The bone graft was designed to replace harvested bone from the patient, eliminating the need for a preliminary surgery to remove the bone for harvest.
Read more on Injury Lawyer News

Expert in Tupac trial testifies dentist's work 'meticulous'
In follow-up questions, Malek tried to establish that it was unfair to compare the two surgeries because Tupac had been drilling into natural bone, whereas the subsequent dentist had been drilling into a less stable surface reconstructed with bone
Read more on Bakersfield Californian

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WINNER, Winner Chicken Dinner!!

 
 Congratulations to Kimberly!!
I would like to say “Thank You!” to A Mommy’s Blog Design for offering up this prize of a premade blog template of the winner’s choice for either Blogger or WordPress.
The sad part is that I had to have Rafflecopter pick five winners before I actually got a TRUE winner. The first four names drawn said that they completed the MANDATORY entry of leaving a blog comment when in fact they did NOT. And you know what the worst part about that is? Three out of those four names are well known names to me because they are bloggers who run regular giveaways. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

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LoveMy2Dogs

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The Grottaglie Dog

This dog was lolling around outside a bar in the Italian village of Grottaglie in Puglia.  It’s a village famous for its ceramics and when I was lucky enough recently to participate in Carla Coulson’s fabulous Caravan Travel Photography Workshop, this is one of the villages we visited. We photographed inside 4 different ceramics factories that day – of course they are all very small – a fascinating day – as were all the days on Carla’s workshop.

This dog is probably old and perhaps not very well. Perhaps a stray who hangs around outside this bar.

RIVIERA DOGS

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Latest Greenies Joint Care News

Nurturing talents from the ground up
Radical greenies, meanwhile, launch fierce campaigns against the cutting down of existing trees. For 68-year-old tree surgeon … "Instead of planting more trees, I place emphasis on creating more people who know how to take care of trees," said
Read more on Bangkok Post

25 years of Landcare
They successfully submitted funding for a joint project to run courses on Property Management Planning (PMP) for a total of 130 farmers. “When the South Australian Department of Agriculture developed a … “Ian fostered interest among a group of about
Read more on The Islander

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Victoria Stilwell Unleashes Arson Dogs Web Series

In the Animal Planet series It’s Me or the Dog Victoria Stilwell deduces the reasons for a rover’s unruly behavior, but in her just unleashed web series Arson Dogs the queen of canine…



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DogTipper

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