Some dogs will eat just about anything, and most aren’t all that picky when it comes to snagging a snack.
No question about it. If it smells foul enough, a dog will do one of two things: Eat it or roll in it.
A plucky little pug from Maryland named Mickey became accustomed to snacking in his owners’ garden. The toxic mushrooms he found will probably be the most expensive snack he will ever eat. After almost $3,000 in medical treatments, Mickey walked away with no lasting side effects. And fortunately for Mickey’s owners, they had pet medical insurance that covered Mickey’s medical bills.
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $13.4 billion on veterinary care for their pets in 2011. Pet supplies and over-the-counter medications accounted for an additional $11.77 billion.
Providers of pet insurance have grown tenfold in the last decade, but only about one percent of Americans purchase it for pet emergencies said Dr. Jules Benson of Philadelphia, vice president of Petplan Pet Insurance.
“We believe as an insurance company that you should be insured for those unanticipated risks,” he said.
Benson is originally from the United Kingdom where this growing industry has gained momentum faster than in the United States.
“In the United Kingdom, 28 percent of pet owners insure their pets,” he said.
The APPA estimates the average pet owner spent $650 on vet bills in 2011. But it takes only one major illness or accident to spend double or triple that amount to keep an animal healthy.
Benson explained how quickly things can go wrong with an animal when it is least expected.
“In Kalamazoo, Mich., a dog that was walking through the woods with his owner left the trail for just a few minutes when she heard him moaning as if in pain. He stuck himself on a stick that penetrated the dog’s chest cavity and punctured a lung,” said Benson.
That is precisely the unanticipated medical emergency that can quickly eat up thousands of dollars, he said.
Benson suggested that owners who are considering insuring their pets compare plans. Average pet insurance premiums run about $400 a year. You can expect premiums to be higher for animals that traditionally are more prone to some diseases. While many companies won’t insure diseases that are common in some breeds, it should still be available if the animal has not been diagnosed with certain ailments such as cancer in retrievers, hip dysplasia in large breeds or disc problems in dachshunds.
Just as gardening season is getting under way, Benson offered these suggestions to help protect your pet from the poisons in the garden so it doesn’t end up like little Mickey the pug.
Vegetables that can be dangerous if ingested by pets include onions and chives, which can cause red blood cell destruction; rhubarb leaves, which contain kidney-damaging oxalic acid; and members of the nightshade family such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes, which contain deadly alkaloids.
When building your flower beds, avoid cocoa bean mulches. Their chocolaty smell is very enticing to pups, but just like chocolate, cocoa bean mulches contain theobromine, which is toxic for dogs.
Gardening organically is good for the planet and your pets. The herbicides and pesticides used in some popular gardening products can potentially make your dog sick. If you do choose to use these products in your garden, try to prevent your dog from digging-in/eating/licking the treated areas.
If it’s impossible to keep your pets’ paws from prying, consider installing some type of fencing to keep your pet out of harm’s way.
To learn more ways to keep your pets safe visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com. If you feel your pet has ingested something harmful, call the Helpline at 800-213-6680 in Minneapolis where staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The emergency poison control center charges $39 per call, including unlimited follow-up consultations.
Doctors are also warning of heatstroke in pets now that the weather is getting warmer. They urge pet owners to keep pets in cool, shady areas on hot days, making sure they stay hydrated. If a pet owner notices heavy panting, red gums, excessive drooling or lethargy, owners should transport the pet to the emergency clinic immediately while trying to cool the pet down with a fan and some cool, but not icy, water.
Other animals in the news:
• Alley Cat Allies will sponsor a two-week Spay-a-Thon for feral and pet cats from Canton. Spay/neuter, vaccinations and other services will be provided at no charge to eligible residents. The Canton Spay-a-Thon will be open to unowned/outdoor (feral) and pet cats from within the Canton city limits from Wednesday through June 13. Services offered to eligible cats include free spay/neuter, rabies and FVRCP vaccinations, and eartipping (for feral cats only). The services will be provided by appointment only, and residents must call Alley Cat Allies hot line at 855-264-2287 to schedule an appointment.
• The Akron Zoo It’s a Wild World Animal Show will return June 1. The theme is Zoolympics and the show will run at 12:30 and 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The show is $1 and tickets can be purchased at the zoo the day of the show. More than 10 animals will be in the program that includes audience participation.
The zoo is also offering an opportunity for people 12 and older to become part of the show during “Trainer-for-a-Day” program that allows guests to appear in the show, meet some of the show’s animals, take a behind-the-scenes tour and help the education staff prepare for the show. The cost for the program, which is one full day from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is $200, $175 for zoo members.
More information at 330-375-2550, ext. 8973, or www.akronzoo.org.
• The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is sponsoring a pet adoption event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 9. Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo will feature animals from dozens of animal rescue organization in the area with 100 adoptable dogs and cats. All the animals will have received a health check-up and age appropriate vaccinations.
Also at the zoo, dads will get half-price admission on Father’s Day on June 17. The zoo, open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., will charge fathers just $6.25 and will feature special activities for fathers, including a heavy equipment display and chances to meet zoo keepers.
Also on June 17 is a Cans for Conservation aluminum can drive. All proceeds collected will benefit Bat Conservation International.
• The Coalition for Animal Concerns will hold spay/neuter clinics by appointment Wednesday and June 13 for cats at 1210 S. Main St., North Canton. Spay/neuter clinics will be held June 12 for dogs at 405 S. Linden Ave. in Alliance. Animals will be transported to One of a Kind Pet Clinic in Akron for the procedures and are returned the same day. Prices range from $68 to $138 for dogs up to 99 pounds. Prices are higher for larger dogs. Male cats are $48; female cats are $58. Price includes spay/neuter surgery, rabies shot and pain medication. For information or to make an appointment, call Stephanie at 330-526-8166.
• The West Highland White Terrier Club of Northern Ohio is sponsoring a westie picnic at 6:30 p.m. June 8 at the Ottawa Point Shelter in Brecksville Metro Parks on state Route 21 in Brecksville.
The club will furnish hot dogs and attendees are asked to furnish their own table service and drinks and to bring a covered dish to share. All westies and their families are invited to attend.
For more information, contact Chris Schriber at 330-833-5434 or the club Website at www.ohiowestie.com.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to email@example.com.