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How to Choose a Vet (in 10 Steps)

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.
License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.
Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.
Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.
Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!
Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.
Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.
Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.
Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.
Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.
The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.
Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.

License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.

Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.

Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.

Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!

Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.

Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.

Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.

Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.

Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.

The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.

Dr. Tonia Shatzel at 30-A Vet in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.

How to Love Your Dog: Tips, Tricks and Must-Knows

There’s really nothing better than a dog. A true friend and companion, a trickster, a playmate, and often the life of the party, what would our lives be without our four-legged friends? The famous humorist Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Dogs live to love us, so here’s a few ways to return that love and show your best friend how much they mean to you.
Hanging Out with Your Buddy – Every day you have your routine, and it undoubtedly includes time spent away from home – at work, running errands or just living your life. But don’t forget that you have a buddy at home whose whole life revolves around you. Of course you can’t be with your dog all day, but it’s important to make time to hang out with your dog every day.
Walks and Runs: Every dog breed needs daily exercise, but do a little research on your pooch and make sure he is getting enough physical fitness every day. You’re not only assuring your dog’s health, but you’re showing him that he’s important enough to show off. And remember that it’s his time to enjoy the outdoors, so be patient when he stops to smell the flowers.
Dog-friendly Outings : Pet-friendly activities are popping up all over, so take a little time to research dog-friendly spots in your neighborhood and town. Many outdoor restaurants and more shops than ever are not only allowing you, but inviting you to bring your dog along for the fun. Call ahead to make sure, or check out Bring Fido, a great online search tool that highlights the best in dog-friendly spots, complete with user reviews and pictures.
At Home: Long day at work or just feeling like keeping it local? Don’t forget that even if you’ve had a busy day, your dog has been busy waiting for you to come home, so don’t forget to give him some attention. Throw a favorite toy (back and forth a few thousand times), play a game of hide and seek, or set up a doggy treat hunt in your home.
Taking Care – You watch what you eat, have good hygiene and have regular checkups with your doctor, so why wouldn’t you want the same for your dog? One of the best ways to love your dog? Making responsible choices when it comes to their everyday health.
Food : Your dog’s diet can determine not only the longevity of his life, but also the quality. Dog’s don’t judge their food in calories or health benefits, so it’s up to you  to make good choices with what to put in his bowl. Read the bag, check the ingredients, do your homework, because don’t you want to have your best friend around as long as you can? You want a food that has real meat, fruits and vegetables, not fillers, and the artificial flavors or colors have to go. Choose a diet suitable for your dog’s breed and stage of life; Wellness Pet Food makes it easy to make the right choice for your dog.
Grooming : Can you imagine what your hair would look like if you didn’t brush it for months and you only got a haircut every couple of years? Or what if you never trimmed your fingernails or brushed your teeth? If you wouldn’t neglect your own hygiene, why would you neglect your dogs? Not only does poor grooming cause your pet discomfort, but some factors, like not regular teeth-brushing, can pose serious risks to his health.
Vet Care – Regular veterinary care for your dog is part of being a responsible owner, and this includes two exams a year at the minimum. Stay up to date on vaccinations (most importantly for distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies) and visit the vet if your buddy is injured or shows lingering signs of sickness.
The Special Treatment – Hopefully you have lots of opportunities to show your dog a special reward; he didn’t chase the mailman at lunch, or you left your brand new shoes out all night and not a chew mark to be seen, or maybe it’s your dog’s birthday. Whatever the reason for celebration, here are some ways to give your buddy the special treatment.
Dog Massage – Sure, that can sound a little strange at first, but dogs, especially dogs with more than a few years under their collars, can reap the benefits of a good massage. Massage can be calming in times of anxiety, relieve joint stiffness in arthritic dogs, or even provide a warm-up for athletic dogs before play. This article in Modern Dog Magazine has some great tips on how to give the right kind of massage for your dog’s health.
Treats – Treats are often the go-to choice for rewarding your dog, but if you truly love your pooch, you will only give treats with the right ingredients and offer these kind of tasty rewards in moderation. Choose the right dog treats, tailored to your buddy’s diet and health needs, and save treats for times of excellent behavior, not to be given as a ‘guilt treat’ for when you have to leave the house.

There’s really nothing better than a dog. A true friend and companion, a trickster, a playmate, and often the life of the party, what would our lives be without our four-legged friends? The famous humorist Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Dogs live to love us, so here’s a few ways to return that love and show your best friend how much they mean to you.

Hanging Out with Your Buddy – Every day you have your routine, and it undoubtedly includes time spent away from home – at work, running errands or just living your life. But don’t forget that you have a buddy at home whose whole life revolves around you. Of course you can’t be with your dog all day, but it’s important to make time to hang out with your dog every day.

  • Walks and Runs: Every dog breed needs daily exercise, but do a little research on your pooch and make sure he is getting enough physical fitness every day. You’re not only assuring your dog’s health, but you’re showing him that he’s important enough to show off. And remember that it’s his time to enjoy the outdoors, so be patient when he stops to smell the flowers.
  • Dog-friendly Outings: Pet-friendly activities are popping up all over, so take a little time to research dog-friendly spots in your neighborhood and town. Many outdoor restaurants and more shops than ever are not only allowing you, but inviting you to bring your dog along for the fun. Call ahead to make sure, or check out Bring Fido, a great online search tool that highlights the best in dog-friendly spots, complete with user reviews and pictures.
  • At Home: Long day at work or just feeling like keeping it local? Don’t forget that even if you’ve had a busy day, your dog has been busy waiting for you to come home, so don’t forget to give him some attention. Throw a favorite toy, play a game of hide and seek, or set up a doggy treat hunt in your home.

Taking Care – You watch what you eat, have good hygiene and have regular checkups with your doctor, so why wouldn’t you want the same for your dog? One of the best ways to love your dog? Making responsible choices when it comes to their everyday health.

  • Food: Your dog’s diet can determine not only the longevity of his life, but also the quality. Dogs don’t judge their food in calories or health benefits, so it’s up to you  to make good choices with what to put in his bowl. Read the bag, check the ingredients, do your homework, because don’t you want to have your best friend around as long as you can? You want a food that has real meat, fruits and vegetables; not fillers, and the artificial flavors or colors have to go. Choose a diet suitable for your dog’s breed and stage of life; Wellness Pet Food makes it easy to make the right choice for your dog.
  • Grooming: Can you imagine what your hair would look like if you didn’t brush it for months and you only got a haircut every couple of years? Or what if you never trimmed your fingernails or brushed your teeth? If you wouldn’t neglect your own hygiene, why would you neglect your dogs? Not only does poor grooming cause your pet discomfort, but some factors, like not regular teeth-brushing, can pose serious risks to his health.
  • Vet Care: Regular veterinary care for your dog is part of being a responsible owner, and this includes two exams a year at the minimum. Stay up to date on vaccinations (most importantly for distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies) and visit the vet if your buddy is injured or shows lingering signs of sickness.

The Special Treatment - Hopefully you have lots of opportunities to show your dog a special reward; he didn’t chase the mailman at lunch, or you left your brand new shoes out all night and not a chew mark to be seen, or maybe it’s your dog’s birthday. Whatever the reason for celebration, here are some ways to give your buddy the special treatment.

  • Dog Massage: Sure, that can sound a little strange at first, but dogs, especially dogs with more than a few years under their collars, can reap the benefits of a good massage. Massage can be calming in times of anxiety, relieve joint stiffness in arthritic dogs, or even provide a warm-up for athletic dogs before play. This article in Modern Dog Magazine has some great tips on how to give the right kind of massage for your dog’s health.
  • Treats: Treats are often the go-to choice for rewarding your dog, but if you truly love your pooch, you will only give treats with the right ingredients and offer these kind of tasty rewards in moderation. Choose the right dog treats, tailored to your buddy’s diet and health needs, and save treats for times of excellent behavior, not to be given as a ‘guilt treat’ for when you have to leave the house.

There’s a saying that goes, “Dogs may not be our whole lives, but they do make our lives whole.” Dogs spend their waking moments vying for our attention and hoping to show us how much we are loved. Take time for your dog today and show him just how lucky you feel to have him in your life. Make your pet be happy, healthy and well.

February is National Pet Dental Month- Dental Care Tips for Pets

Cats and dogs can be particularly prone to dental disease because they often do not have their teeth cleaned as frequently as their humans do. Dental check-ups should be a part of your pet’s regular health screenings. Brushing your pet’s teeth is something you can do at home to maintain their oral health.
Next time you’re at the vet, be sure to discuss the condition of your pet’s mouth. Your vet will explain whether getting a professional dental cleaning is recommended. Regular at-home brushing is recommended for cats and dogs in order to prevent plaque build-up. Plaque can lead to gum disease and, on rare occasions, problems that can spread through the body.
If your pets aren’t used to having their teeth brushed, it may take a while for them to warm up to the idea, but with the right tools and a little patience, you can feel better about your pet’s dental health.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
Pet Toothbrush– Pet toothbrushes have smaller bristles and a smaller head. Some of them fit on your finger too. This can make it easier for you to control the movement. If your pet has a smaller mouth or sensitive teeth, even a cotton ball with pet toothpaste applied to it will do the trick.
Toothpaste – It’s necessary to use special pet toothpaste for your cat or dog. Human toothpaste can be dangerous for pets and make them sick. Plus, pet toothpaste is flavored to appeal to animals, and it’s meant to be swallowed.
Patience— Your pet will need to adjust to the idea of having your fingers and/or toothbrush in his or her mouth. At first, you might spend a few minutes every day with a soft cloth rubbing his or her teeth. This can help remove plaque too.
The Process:
Approach your pet when he’s relaxed. Sit with him in a quiet location and speak in a soothing voice. Next, put the toothbrush to his mouth and gently move it around. It’s ok if you only brush one or two teeth the first few times.
Try again tomorrow. Your pet will eventually get used to it and will be more relaxed.
It’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth for as long as you would your own. Usually a few seconds is enough to apply the toothpaste which will stick to the surface of the teeth, helping to dissolve plaque, and preventing future build-up.
Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way of preventing tooth decay.
What about you? We’d love to hear your stories about brushing your pet’s teeth on our Facebook page!

Cats and dogs can be particularly prone to dental disease because they often do not have their teeth cleaned as frequently as their humans do. Dental check-ups should be a part of your pet’s regular health screenings. Brushing your pet’s teeth is something you can do at home to maintain their oral health.

Next time you’re at the vet, be sure to discuss the condition of your pet’s mouth. Your vet will explain whether getting a professional dental cleaning is recommended. Regular at-home brushing is recommended for cats and dogs in order to prevent plaque build-up. Plaque can lead to gum disease and, on rare occasions, problems that can spread through the body.

If your pets aren’t used to having their teeth brushed, it may take a while for them to warm up to the idea, but with the right tools and a little patience, you can feel better about your pet’s dental health.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

Pet Toothbrush– Pet toothbrushes have smaller bristles and a smaller head. Some of them fit on your finger too. This can make it easier for you to control the movement. If your pet has a smaller mouth or sensitive teeth, even a cotton ball with pet toothpaste applied to it will do the trick.

Toothpaste – It’s necessary to use special pet toothpaste for your cat or dog. Human toothpaste can be dangerous for pets and make them sick. Plus, pet toothpaste is flavored to appeal to animals, and it’s meant to be swallowed.

Patience— Your pet will need to adjust to the idea of having your fingers and/or toothbrush in his or her mouth. At first, you might spend a few minutes every day with a soft cloth rubbing his or her teeth. This can help remove plaque too.

The Process:

Approach your pet when he’s relaxed. Sit with him in a quiet location and speak in a soothing voice. Next, put the toothbrush to his mouth and gently move it around. It’s ok if you only brush one or two teeth the first few times.

Try again tomorrow. Your pet will eventually get used to it and will be more relaxed.

It’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth for as long as you would your own. Usually a few seconds is enough to apply the toothpaste which will stick to the surface of the teeth, helping to dissolve plaque, and preventing future build-up.

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way of preventing tooth decay.

What about you? We’d love to hear your stories about brushing your pet’s teeth on our Facebook page!

5 Must Have Travel Accessories for Dogs and Cats

If you plan a summer or fall road trip with your pets, you know you need to do more to ready your pet than simply toss Max or Fluffy into the backseat. It takes a little preparation.

First, you’ll want to establish that your destination is pet-friendlythere’s nothing like showing up at your hotel 7 hours later with Max in tow to be told there are no more pet friendly rooms.

Cat car travel

Of course, you’ll also need a few other items as well. Here’s a list of travel necessities:

1—Restraint – Just as you use your seat belt when in the car, your pets should be secured. This prevents them from becoming projectiles if you are in an accident.

There are many options available today from harnesses that work similar to seat belts to traditional pet carriers. Which is best for your pet?  It’ll depend on factors like your pet’s temperament and comfort level with riding in the car—and, how much space you have. If your car will be full of kids and luggage, putting Fluffy in a carrier may be your best option.

2—Food/Water/Dishes – Be sure to pack enough food for the trip and bring a water supply for your pet. You’ll need dishes too. If you make a pit stop and realize you don’t have a water bowl, it can make for a little unnecessary complexity. Collapsible travel bowls pack well.

3—Comforting Items – Even if your pets are good travelers, they will feel more content with familiar items such as their favorite toy, or an old towel or shirt that smells like home.

dog-travel-car


4—Cleaning Supplies/Alternate Carrier
– Some pets are nervous travelers and may have an accident in their carrier. If this happens, you can minimize your pet’s discomfort by pulling over and cleaning out the carrier or swapping it for an alternate one.


5—Favorite Treats
–Your pets already appreciate their favorite treats. They’ll be very happy that you remembered to bring them!

Enjoy your travels!

May 2013 Ask Wellness

Q: My sister seems to think that dry dog food is the best for her dog instead of wet canned food. She said dry is better because it helps clean their teeth, is this so?

A: That’s a great question. Many pet parents like to top the dry food with canned food. It can provide additional nutrition, if weight is an issue.

The best way to answer your question is to first put the question in a human perspective. We humans brush our teeth daily and even twice daily, yet we still need to have our teeth cleaned annually or even more frequently.

The point is, that no matter whether we feed all dry for or we feed some softer food, your pet will still need her teeth cleaned at some point. Feeding just dry food may slow the process but not by much.

Q: I have 2 small dogs (a Maltipoo and a terrier mix) both under 20 pounds. I have heard that I should not feed them wet food every day, but I feed them 1/2 can of wet food each day. I leave the dry out for them to eat throughout the day and I also give them some snacks each day. Is this okay? Should I change my feeding schedule at all?

A: There is no problem feeding any dog a combination of canned and dry food as you have described. Be careful to only feed enough each day to maintain a slightly lean body condition (that goes for small dogs and larger dogs as well).

Canned foods are nutritious and a great complement to dry diets. They can add variety to the diet and encourage proper nutrition in dogs that are picky eaters or having trouble maintaining adequate weight. They do contain significant calories and that should be considered when making up the daily diet.


December 2012 Ask the Vet

Q: Is it necessary for my senior dog to have senior dog food?

A: Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does not describe the minimum diet profile for a senior lifestyle as they do for the adult maintenance lifestyle and the condition of growth and reproduction.

A senior type diet is typically described as being less dense in protein and fat with increased carbohydrate and fiber. For an example see Wellness® Complete Health® Super5Mix® Just for Seniors; it has a caloric density of 340 kcal per cup. This may be correct for some senior dogs, while not the first choice for others.  An example would be an old dog of thin body condition.

It is best to choose the diet based on your assessment of optimal body condition and body weight of each individual. Seek the input of your veterinarian concerning senior dog care and routine preventative programs available.

Q: My cat gets UTIs and I can’t figure out why.  Should I switch her food?

A: I would schedule a veterinary appointment to get to the bottom of the problem of chronic urinary tract symptoms; bloody urine, straining to urinate and urinating outside the litter box.  The workup should include a complete urinalysis.  At least one lateral radiograph should be taken as bladder stones are an issue in 20-25% of recurrent cases.  In the meantime feed a grain free, fish based, and moist diet like: canned feline CORE® Grain-Free Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Formula. It contains 192 kcal per 5.5 oz can.

What to Look for When Choosing Pet Insurance

With vet bills on the rise, pet insurance can be a smart investment.  After all, surgeries and broken bones are expensive!

If you’re considering health insurance for your pet, here are a few things to know:

  • If your pet has a pre-existing condition and you want to switch policies, make sure your new policy will cover your pet.  Many policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions, so be sure to ask or read the fine print before you make the switch.
  • Check the age limit. Older pets often won’t be covered past a certain age— usually around 12-14 years old.
  • Consider buying coverage for 3rd party liability. Big dogs in particular can accidentally cause serious damage to property— such as destroying a piece of furniture while visiting someone else.  Having 3rd party protection will give you peace of mind.
  • Some pet insurance providers will cover routine office visits and rabies shots. However, these types of insurance providers that cover routine health costs will likely have higher premiums to cover the cost, and it may end up costing you more than if you paid the veterinarian directly.
  • A good way to decide what insurance is right for you is to compare the cost of the routine care based on your pet’s age against the premiums.  If your pet is young and healthy and the premiums are high with routine visits, you’ll probably save money by simply paying the vet outright and choosing a policy that only covers serious illness or accidents.  It’s worth taking the time to make sure you have the right coverage for your pet.  As with all insurance, you can control the premiums by choosing a higher or lower deductible.
  • If you have a multi-pet household, do some research to find a policy that will accommodate you.  Many times, multiple animals can be added to the same policy— which could end up saving you hundreds of dollars.
  • Find out the payout limit and determine what is best for you.  Some insurance providers cap you at a certain amount. If your bill is $3,000, and your limit is $1,500, that’s only covering half the amount.

What sort of experiences have you had with pet insurance? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

July Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about a cat with food allergies and keeping a dog’s coat shiny.

Q: I have a 5 year old cat with food allergies. She can’t have food with many grains and is allergic to chicken. Does Wellness have a type of food that she would be able to eat?

A: Working with your vet you have identified a sensitivity in your cat to feeding diets that contain chicken as a primary animal protein source and a long list of grains. For long term maintenance you want to identify Wellness feline diets that avoid chicken and turkey protein sources and limit grain ingredients. The Wellness canned diets of choice would be: Wellness CORE® grain free Salmon, Whitefish, and Herring Recipe, and Complete Health Beef and Salmon Recipe canned cat food.

The Beef and Salmon Canned Recipe has salmon and beef as primary protein sources, and contains no grains. Some carbohydrate is contributed by sweet potato, flax, and vegetables. A 3 ounce can contain 107 kilocalories of energy.

CORE Salmon, Whitefish and Herring Canned Recipe is also 100% poultry and grain free. In addition to fish; potato, cranberry, flax, and chicory root extract are included at low levels.

A 5.5 ounce can contain 192 kilocalories of energy.

Q: We love Wellness products! We have a 140 lb Bullmastiff that has suffered from chronic ear infections and skin issues. Wellness CORE is the food that keeps these issues at bay. I was wondering how I could bring more sheen to his coat. Will supplementing the dry CORE with wet food help give him get a shinier coat?

A: CORE is a natural, grain free pet food that is protein focused. Wellness CORE Original Recipe dry dog food is a chicken and turkey based protein source diet with potato as a carbohydrate source; canola oil and salmon oil for fat sources; and some tomato pomace for added dietary fiber. Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe dry dog food is a fish based protein diet with potato as the carbohydrate source; canola oil for a fat source, and a mix of pea fiber and tomato pomace as a source of dietary fiber. Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish, & Herring Recipe is a canned food that is fish protein based, with some sweet potato and flax, fruits and vegetables; and chicken fat and salmon oil added.

Wellness CORE Original is about 421 kilocalories per cup and Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe is about 417 kilocalories per cup; Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Recipe canned dog food is about 220 calories per 6 ounce can.

Assume you are currently feeding about 5 cups per day of Wellness CORE Original (2.5 cups in the morning and 2.5 cup in the evening); about 2100 kcal of energy per day; and you want to bring out more sheen in the coat. Some changes you may try:

Plan #1:

- Morning feeding- 2 cups Wellness CORE Original dry dog food and 1x 6 ounce can of Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Recipe canned dog food.

- Repeat same as above for afternoon feeding.

Plan #2:

- Replace half the volume (cups) of Wellness CORE Original dry dog food you are currently offering daily with an equal volume of Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe dry dog food for dogs at each meal. That is 1.25 cups of each brand of dry food in the morning and 1.25 cups of each dry food in the evening. A total of 5 cups per day.

In both plan #1 and #2; we are manipulating the amounts and/or ratios of the fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 3) in the total daily diet for the dog. Monitor in a diary the results you see in skin condition, body weight, and stool volume and consistency.

Ask the Vet – March

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about what to feed a Golden Retriever during his senior years, and the proper diet for a one-year old German Shepherd.

Q: Our German shepherd puppy is currently on Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Health Recipe dry dog food. When I switch her to adult food, would it be okay to use Wellness CORE Grain-Free Formula or would I have to stick to a large breed formula like Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe?

A: I recommend feeding your large breed dog the Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Health recipe dry dog food until about one year of age. After one year, many pet parents begin transitioning to Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe as the logical follow-up diet of choice in the product family.

Some pet parents prefer to feed a more protein-focused diet to the large breed adult, such as one of the Wellness CORE Grain-Free dry dog food products. The three Wellness CORE Grain-Free Formulas are formulated for adult maintenance feeding and we avoid recommending them in a growth program to limit calcium and phosphorus to minimum growth levels recommended by AAFCO for large breed dogs.

Start your transition to a new feeding regime by obtaining an accurate body weight on a scale and estimating a body condition score. Record this data for future reference.

When choosing a Wellness dry dog food, consider the diet caloric density:

Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe 336 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe 360 kcal/cup

Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Recipe 366 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe 417 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Original Recipe 421 kcal/cup

Your one-year old, active, nearly mature, 60 pound dog is going to need somewhere around 1000-1200 kcal per day. Don’t forget to observe stool quality when you make dietary transitions. When switching to a new food, loose stool is often an indicator that a dog is being overfed. If this happens, try decreasing the amount fed by 10 to 15% and divide the meals into two or three per day instead of one big meal.

Q: I have a five year old Golden Retriever dog that eats Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Formula Dry Dog Food. I am being told by my vet that he is already considered a senior pet. He does have white hair covering 50% of his face and has problems with shoulder and hip arthritis. Do I need to change him to a senior food—if so when? Is there such a thing as Senior Wellness CORE?

A: You can certainly continue to feed Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe dry dog food. Senior dogs have different nutritional needs because lean body mass (muscle), weight, activity levels and digestive efficiency all decrease with age. Determining when to switch to a senior diet should be decided with your veterinarian based on your dog’s size, breed (large breed dogs tend to age more quickly than small breed dogs) and age. The most important consideration in a feeding program during the “aging of the pet” is changing the calories offered based on what your pet needs. Body weight should be monitored frequently and follow the feeding guidelines, adjusting to feed more if your pet is underweight or less if your pet is overweight.

Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors and Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe both offer lower calories to help your dog maintain a healthy weight, which can be helpful in reducing the stress on your dog’s joints.

March – Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about weight loss for a Manx and switching to Senior Dog Food.

Q: My Manx has gained 2 lbs and I want to get her back to a healthy weight. I have been feeding her 1/2 cup of Wellness® Healthy Weight Recipe Cat Food per day. She is 11 years old and has not lost any weight just yet since switching from Wellness CORE. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her lose weight?

A: The first step in any weight control program is to accurately measure body weight and estimate a body condition score.  Get a pediatric or small animal scale that you feel comfortable weighing the cat on at home; or visit your vet.  Also, assign a body condition score to the cat.  To find out how to do a body condition score, visit www.acvn.org and click on Statements and Endorsements– and then on AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines.

You did not mention the body weight of the cat—so let us assume that your cat is 12 pounds and your goal is to get to an optimal weight of 10 pounds. At 10 pounds, the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is about 215 kcal per day; for weight loss you want to offer 70% of this or 150 kcal per day. This translates to about 1/3 cup of Wellness Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe Dry Cat Food per day.  Try to spread it out over at least 2 meals during the day.  This is a small amount of food — only about 42 grams, so expect to see hunger behavior.

Increase the cat’s activity as much as possible and weigh the cat on Tuesdays and Saturdays of each week.  Record the weight in a notebook with daily feeding information.   Remember cats should lose no more than about 1% of their body weight per week.  Modify the amount fed when the desired weight is achieved.


Q: I have an 11 year old Shih-Tzu and I’m thinking that I should begin using the Wellness Super5Mix® Just for Seniors Recipe Dry Dog Food. Would this be correct or should I be looking for physical cues before switching her purely based on age?

A: Just like humans; dogs and cats require special care as they grow older. Mature adult body size is a good indicator of longevity in dogs.  Small breeds of dogs such as the Shih-Tzu, tend to mature quickly (about 9 months of age) and become seniors in their mid to late teens.  On the other hand, large breeds like Great Danes , mature more slowly ( 15 -20 months) and become seniors by about 7 years. For this reason, small breed dogs generally have longer longevity than large breed dogs.

The first step in setting up a geriatric program for your aging dog is to schedule a senior wellness visit at your local veterinary clinic.  Make sure there is no disease or other condition which imposes specific dietary guidelines; and that the veterinarian does not recommend any type of special nutrient restrictions or enhancements.

In your healthy aging Shih-Tzu, I recommend feeding Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe Dry Dog Food for now.  I am in favor of the enhanced level of dietary protein and omega -3 fatty acids for the long silky coat.  Note the omega 3 fatty acid contributing ingredients like salmon meal, salmon oil, menhaden fish meal and flaxseed found in this Wellness recipe.

Continue to monitor the senior dog’s body weight, drinking and urination behaviors, total food intake per day, stool quality, activity and skin and coat condition.  At some point you and your vet may consider feeding a traditional senior dog food like Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors, which has less protein and fat – and increased fiber to support weight maintenance.  Both Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors and Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe dry dog food have added glucosamine HCl and chondroitin sulfate to aid in hip and joint health.