Pet Business Insurance – What Pet Owners Need to Know About It

Are Your Paws in Protected Hands?

Pet care business insurance is something very few of us think about but really should. Whether you are a pet owner or pet care professional – making certain you are covered when something goes wrong is paramount.

Pet Care Insurance

Pet business insurance I had the great fortune to have met the leader and pioneer in the pet business insurance industry. David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA is Vice President and Co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas which is a multi-line commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1992. David has headed up Association Liability & Bonding Programs for the largest Pet Sitting and Dog Training Associations in the US, as well as many other national associations for over 20 years. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Designation and the Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWCA) Designation since 2002.

Among many other sponsorships, Business Insurers of the Carolinas sponsors the Pet Sitter’s InternationalBusiness Insurers of the Carolinas (PSI) Pet Sitter of the Year Program, the industry’s highest award. I met David during my “crowning” as they say back in early 2010 and from that point forward he has always stood out as the go-to man for questions about insurance. What makes David so genuine and unique is you would never know he’s selling insurance. He actually spends most of his time educating pet professionals (trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, day care owners etc.) about what they can do to avoid accidents, protect themselves, the animals in their care and their client’s property.

David works closely with the pet care educational associations to bring the greatest coverage possible to both pet owners and pet care professionals while also providing resources on how to prevent accidents from occurring.

While I was initially inspired to bring insurance to the forefront of pet first aid awareness I wanted to do so from the pet owner’s perspective. While there is still so much for pet care business owners to know about, my friend and pet business consultant Bella Vasta from Jump Consulting has covered some great topics on this type of insurance that cater to the pet care professional. As a pet owner though, what the heck does pet business insurance and bonding matter to me?

As a Pet Owner Why Does Pet Business Insurance and Bonding Matter to Me?

David and I jumped on a Skype call to discuss this very matter. Even having done research on what questions to ask and thinking I knew many of the answers – I did not. As a pet owner or owner of property in general, I learned some incredibly valuable tips to protecting me, my animals and my property. I certainly know the next time I have to call a roofer or when the water guys show up to work on my well system today – I am asking to see their insurance certificate! A good way to make an extra buck in our litigious society is to have an accident and sue, it’s sad sad fact.

Listen to This Valuable Conversation about Insurance

We covered a lot of topics pet owners and consequently – pet care providers should know about. We even covered pet insurance, not for the business but for the actual pet. It’s not anything David sells but he still recommends it as a tool to assist in coverage on certain things like diseases – which are not covered by general liability.

In our conversation David helps us understand concepts like animal bailee coverage, what being bonded is, the importance of worker’s compensation even if if a company only has 1 employee (the owner) and makes understanding insurance coverage easy. David makes talking about the topic fun – not something you would think possible about insurance!

Scroll down for the recording, you’re so close just a few more paragraphs! 

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Education is the best way to prevent having to use insurance – continuing education helps keep people alert, thinking about the what if’s and preventing more accidents which lead to insurance claims. Obviously this is a natural connection to our pet first aid and CPR course but it’s a very valuable set of skills to have as a pet owner or pet care provider. By being proactive and knowing what is safe for your pets and people coming into your home, you will save yourself pain, time and stress on the back end.

Hiring a pet sitter – especially one with liability insurance and bonding obtained through an educational association – will offer you the best and most precise coverage for that pet care provider’s service. 

Bottom line – if we can limit those accidents that are pure accidents we will all save money, insurance rates will go down, bottom lines improve and the pets, the people that care for them and your property stay safer. Its a sigh of relief knowing and understanding that the person caring for your pet(s) is educated and covered by the correct insurance coverage.

For the full conversation between David and I, hit the play button below.

If you experience an issue that you believe should result in filing a claim, first seek medical help for any humans or animals involved, then contact the insurance agency. For any questions for pet owners hiring a pet care professional using Business Insurers of the Carolinas or for pet care professionals looking to make certain they have the correct coverage, contact David at 1-800-962-4611 Ext #214, or via email at DP@Business-Insurers.com. He’s amazingly responsive, unbelievably knowledgable and a fantastic asset to making our pet industry safer.

5 Reasons Your Dog Needs a Chiropractor

by Dr. Alisha Jacobs, Certified Animal Chiropractor

Your dog has a chiropractor? It is not as crazy as it sounds. There are numerous reasons why regular chiropractic care can significantly improve the quality of life for your dog.

Here are the top 5 reasons your dog needs a chiropractor:

1. They have a body.

Bodywork is extremely important for any being whether that is yourself or your dog. Just as you can experience back and neck pain from day to day activities, so can your dog. It is evolutionarily beneficial for them to hide their pain (they wouldn’t want to become a target for predators) so it can be difficult to tell if they are hurting. However, they do have little aches and pains that can go unaddressed for years. If you have ever had a stiff neck, you can relate that although it is not debilitating, it is quite annoying and after an adjustment or massage, you feel significantly better.

2. They are super silly and playful.

If you have ever watched your dog play, you can see how silly and goofy they can be. They tend to run into things at full speed or jump on and off things with extreme exuberance. All that wear and tear will eventually take a toll on their body. It is much easier to address injuries early on than to wait until arthritic changes set in.

3. Save yourself some money!

The old adage is true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” Preventive care is extremely important in saving yourself some money, time, and heartache and saving your pet from extra pain and injuries. When you calculate the cost of preventive care (chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy) versus the cost of surgery, you end up saving yourself a ton of money.

4. Improved quality of life.

Chiropractic care can help your pet to be more comfortable and pain free by improving motion in their spine, shoulders and hips. By improving joint motion, you can improve overall joint health and reduce muscle tightness and nerve tension. Chiropractic care also stimulates circulation which helps improve organ and immune system function. The goal of care is to improve overall body health which allows your pet to be as happy and healthy as possible for as long as possible.

5. More adventures…

There are so many things that you want to do with your dog whether that is camping and hiking or evening strolls and cuddling on the couch. Unfortunately, once injuries take place, these activities can come to an abrupt halt. By making sure your pet is as healthy as possible, you will ensure many more years of fun and adventures together.

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About the Author:

dr-alicia-jacobsDr. Alisha Jacobs received her bachelors degree in zoology at Colorado State University and her Chiropractic Doctorate degree from the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon. She then attended the rigorous and well known animal chiropractic program at Parker University in Dallas, Texas. The curriculum centered around identification of common veterinary conditions, canine and equine anatomy, and chiropractic condition identification and proper treatment. Dr. Alisha is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). The AVCA is the premier national accredited animal chiropractic association, where members are held to the highest standards in knowledge and care. 

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Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine

by Melissa Eisenschenk, DVM, DACVD, Veterinary Dermatologist

It is always a good idea to get a second opinion when it really matters.  Just like for humans, there are medical specialists for dogs and cats too.  Specialists are board-certified veterinarians with years of advanced training in specific areas like Dermatology, Anesthesia, or Neurology that know the best cutting edge treatments for pets with special medical conditions.  Does your dog or cat have a medical condition like recurrent ear infections, itchiness, or epilepsy that you would love a veterinary specialist’s opinion on, but you live too far away or don’t want to drive to the city to visit a specialty clinic?

If you would like the best and safest anesthetic to be used when your older pet desperately needs a dental cleaning, there are specialists that can help!  Your family veterinarian can pay a fee to send blood work, biopsies, photos, or videos of your pet to a specialist and get answers about the best and safest treatments rapidly.   In addition, your primary vet can send updates to the specialist over time so medications can be tweaked based on how the patient is doing.   If you would like a second opinion for your pet, but traveling to a referral veterinary clinic is not an option, ask your veterinarian about Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine.

vet telemedicine photo 2
A Veterinary Dermatologist examines a sample to see what bacteria are causing a recurrent ear infection

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About the Author:

Melissa Eisenschenk Veterinary DermatologistDr. Melissa Eisenschenk is a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.  She completed her Bachelor of Science with minors in Animal Science and Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls and attended veterinary school at the University of Minnesota.  After vet school, she was in private practice for 4 years in Rochester and Minneapolis, and then returned in 2006 to the University of Minnesota for a dermatology residency (3 year program) and Master’s degree. She passed dermatology board exams in 2009.  Dr. Eisenschenk worked out of the Oakdale Animal Emergency and Referral Center as a Veterinary Dermatologist for 3.5 years before starting Pet Dermatology Clinic.  She has a bunch of city chickens, a husband, and 2 daughters, Mae and Bea. 

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Grandma the Chicken: Recollections of a Farm Girl

by Homestead Deb of RentTheChicken.com

When I grew up… lets just say “a few years down the road” I never heard of chicken factory farms or antibiotics given to chickens. All I remember is running to the grainery after school to see if the baby chicks arrived!! They came in cardboard boxes with little round holes and made a lot of cheeping noises! We had a big metal looking
“roof” that had big lights in it and it hung from a rafter in the ceiling down to about 15 inches above the floor and that kept them warm.

I always stood there mesmerized watching them scurry around looking for food and when they were getting too cold they huddled under the lighted roof. Of course being the farm girl that I was, I always had to try to make friends with them. As a matter of fact, I did have one particular dark Brahma that just decided to follow me around the farm. I didn’t even bribe her with food! It didn’t take this girl long to begin carrying her around under my arm and enjoying time together in the summer sun. Everyone would chuckle when they came over and witnessed the little blonde girl with glasses and her hen running around the farm behind her. This hen wasn’t your standard Leghorn which it seems we usually had to raise for eggs and meat. That breed of chicken is so flighty and will run away if you look at them crossways! No, this hen was different! She was gray and had feathers on her legs. My Grandmother informed me that “those feathers were her stockings and she looked like an old Grandma”. That is how my sweet little hen lovingly received her name “Grandma”. Yes it was her “stockings” that had me convinced to name her that but also I loved my Grandma very much so the name was given in her honor as well.

My Grandmother and I would always feed, water and yes… butcher the chickens for our dinner table. We also collected the eggs together until I was old enough to do it on my own. I still have the same metal little oblong pail to this day. I use it to collect my eggs now. My hope is that when I have grandchildren we can carry that same pail to collect the eggs together.

I believe because of that wonderful woman and our special bond for 37 years, is a huge reason why I am partial to a lot of the old fashioned days and ways and especially my love of chickens.

I feel very lucky to have been born in an age where maybe some things were tougher like working outside, but things were also much simpler. I was very adamant about handing down some of the lessons I learned back then to my kids and yes that included chicken keeping. It also included collecting the eggs in the same metal pail.

Now days unfortunately there are less and less farms and kids that are able to learn about and care for farm animals. People are really missing out.

Oh I know that some people think there is a lot to chicken keeping but there really isn’t much at all. Maybe they feel that they can’t keep them over winter or that you need a rooster for eggs and they don’t want to listen to a noisy rooster. To get eggs from a hen you do not need to have a rooster hanging around waking you and the neighbors up at 5:00 in the morning! Those sweet hens don’t need the aggravation of a big loudmouth rooster to lay eggs.

When you think about the pros versus the cons you may think differently about taking up chicken keeping.

I work at a high school and my chickens can not produce enough eggs for all the people that want to buy them at $2.00 a dozen. I was always thinking in my head, “good grief your kids won’t like these once they find out they didn’t come from a store.” Was I ever wrong!! Now the kids are asking their parents who work with me to buy fresh eggs! They absolutely love the taste…and some of these “kids” are teenage girls!! So a very big resounding PRO is the taste! I don’t tell them how good the eggs are for them, but if they knew that there are more Omega fatty acids that are essential to our body to prevent diseases in a farm fresh egg because the chickens eat bugs, worms, grass, corn and the list goes on, maybe they wouldn’t eat them…or maybe they would eat more?

Fresh eggs are also a valuable source of vitamin D. Yes all eggs do have cholesterol. I can not say for sure if fresh eggs have more of the good cholesterol, but I can tell you that they certainly are not injected with any growth hormones which is another huge PRO!

I for one am absolutely sickened when I read how “commercial” chickens are treated. The chickens are in a tiny cage that they can barely turn around in. Their bodies must be in pain being cramped up in there as they are not allowed to do what chickens are put on this earth to do and that is to run around eating grass, bugs, scratching in the dirt and laying eggs.

The public needs to be careful of the “cage free” label as well. Yes these birds are cage free…. living in a huge pole building with hundreds of other birds with them. Picture it….not enough room, little if any natural light, while some are sick and dying and others already dead laying there for who knows how long being walked over and around.

USDA Certified Organic I believe to be legit. I believe the chickens see the light of day and are treated humanely. Chickens need to be chickens to get the correct egg production. My chickens run around outside trying to spot the elusive bug or eating grass and then lounging around in the sun taking a well deserved dust bath….hence the reason I have a few “pot holes” in the chicken yard. That is a small price to pay for healthy happy chickens. Dust baths are also a must for chickens. It keeps mites away which in turn keeps them healthy. In the end all we really need are happy healthy chickens for healthy tasty eggs we can serve to our families.

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Homestead Deb and family are serving the Greater Wausau Area. Deb with her husband Wayne, son Duston, and daughter Nikki help with the chicken business. Currently they have 22 chickens, two Welsh Harlequin ducks, an outside cat that sleeps with the chickens and ducks, and 3 dogs. Deb is an avid flower and vegetable gardener. Deb’s other hobbies include canning, crafts, crocheting, playing a little banjo, and racing in the mud bogs with her family and friends. www.RentTheChicken.com

Additional links:
Rent The Chicken on Petmasters

An introduction to iridology

Iridology is a great supplemental natural modality that can be used with dogs, cats, people, horses, and so on to help analyze various organs and systems in the body to see which are potentially weak and which potentially strong. You can then use this information to lend additional support to those systems that may need a bit of extra help. Because iridology is an analytical tool, it is best when used in conjunction with another natural modalities, such as essential oils, homeopathy, chiropractic, and so on. It is not intended to be a stand-alone tool.

Iridology as we know it today was first developed by Dr. Ignatz von Peczely and Reverend Nils Liljequist in the late 1800s. The two men worked independently, but came up with charts and “iris maps” that were actually quite similar. According to the book Visions of Health, iridology is the “art and science of analyzing the color and structure of the iris of the eye to gain valuable health information.”  Originally, it was developed for people, but more recently Dr. Mercedes Colburn mapped the equine, feline, and canine irises. Her maps allow pet owners and veterinarians alike to glean valuable information from studying a particular animal’s irises.

The iris—the colored portion of the eye—of every single eye is different. No two animals have the same iris, and even in the same animal, the left and right iris can be very different. These differences are all used by iridologists to gain an understanding of the body’s systems and how well they are functioning. For example, if the fibers in the iris are tight, or close together, the body is generally strong and therefore more resistant to disease (in other words, it has a strong terrain). Loose fibers, or ones that aren’t close together, generally indicate a body that is weaker and more susceptible to disease. But iridologists can go deeper than that. Using the iris maps, they can gain insight into which organs and systems may be weaker or out of balance. Describing the entire iris map is beyond the scope of this article, but we will touch on the highlights of what the irises indicate. If you are interested in learning more or seeing what iridology can reveal about your pet, go to Dr. Colburn’s website, www.throughtheeyeinternational.com, or set up an appointment with a qualified animal iridologist.

Psora and drug deposits

Often, iridologists observe colored spots of varying densities in the iris. These spots can be either psora or drug deposits. Psora are heavy, dark patches that typically indicate inherited chemicals. Drug or other chemical deposits show up in the iris as bright yellow, red, or orange spots. Usually, they are smaller than the psora and are scattered around the iris.

Weakened constitutions

The presence of lesions, either lacunae (closed lesions), crypts (small, closed, very dark lesions), or “open” (lesions that are open on one side and closed on the other), indicate inherited or acquired weaknesses in the body. Based on their location, the iridologist can determine which areas of the body are weaker and therefore need to be strengthened.

Toxic, slow-moving bowels

When a bowel is full of toxins and moving sluggishly, the iris shows lines called radii solaris. These long, dark lines branch out (seemingly from the pupil) like bicycle spokes. The darker and denser the “spoke,” the more intense the toxic condition. Generally speaking, the presence of radii solaris indicate a need to detoxify the bowls and body. They may also indicate parasitic infection.

Excessive nerve tension

Nerve rings, which are formed by the iris fibers buckling and appear as concentric circles or partial arcs in the iris, indicate excessive nerve tension. They can indicate that the individual is under stress, which can present as indigestion, muscle tenseness, headache, etc. If the nerve rings are heavy, it suggests that the subject needs to relax and reduce stress.

Skin issues

When there is a darkened rim at the periphery of the iris (called a scurf rim), it indicates that the skin is underactive and isn’t eliminating properly. This further suggests that toxins and waste materials may be accumulating faster than the skin can eliminate them. The scurf rim can vary greatly—it may be thin, thick, dark, or light, but in all cases, it means that toxins are not being eliminated fast enough. In this case, a reduction in the toxins coming in may be of great benefit.

Slow lymph system

A slow, sluggish, and underperforming lymph system appears in the iris as small, cloud-like spots. Generally, the spots are found towards the outside of the iris, but they can move closer to the interior in some instances. These spots, which are called lymphatic rosary, look like a string of pearls or the beads of a rosary, which is where they got their name. The fact that the spots are white indicates inflammation. If the spots are yellow or light brown, it indicates that the condition has existed for a while. When you see this, it may indicate that there is not a proper amount of exercise (remember, the lymph is moved through exercise).

Chemical imbalances

When there is a chemical imbalance in the body, a solid white ring circling the iris at the periphery appears. This is known as a sodium ring, and it is a deposit in the corneal tissues.

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all the other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

Kristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

Easy Wellness Assessment You Can Do Yourself

By Kristin Clark, Founder and President, Canine Health Promotion

As good pet parents, we continually do everything we can to make sure our beloved pets are happy and thriving. However, how do we really know whether our animals are healthy? Sadly, it’s become true that people often think their dogs and cats are in a state of health when really they aren’t. However, because the signs that their bodies are not operating at an optimal level—indicators like skin allergies; a dry or dull coat; bad breath; tooth decay; smelly, soft, and excessive poop; and obesity; to name just a few—are so common, we don’t even blink anymore when our pets experience them. Further, when our pets are young, they may seem to be healthy, but there is a breaking point (which is different for each animal) that they experience where their bodies can no longer handle the toxins that are being flooded into their systems, and they present with disease, illness, and/or chronic pain. In this post, we explore this topic by going over some of the ways you can do a wellness assessment on your dog or cat, to ensure that they are in optimal health. This is a helpful exercise to get in the habit of doing on a regular basis, and to do no matter how you feed your pets or whether you choose to apply traditional preventives (such as flea and tick treatments or heartworm medication) or not. My point is that every single animal should exhibit wellness in all of the following areas, and if they don’t, you need to adjust something to help them rebalance and come back to a state where they can thrive.

Remember, our animals are not machines. Their bodies are continually working to maintain homeostasis, or balance. That balance is affected by every single thing that goes into their bodies—the food they eat, the pesticides on the grass they run through, the preventives that they receive—as well as things like their quality of sleep, the amount of exercise they get, their owner’s mood, and so on. What this means is that you must continually attend to the clues your dog or cat is giving you to determine whether they are thriving or if something needs to be tweaked. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task, either. Once you are in the habit of regularly looking at them, noticing their energy level, and paying attention to what they feel like when you pet them, you will find that you are doing these mini “Wellness assessments” every day. In fact, it will become so second nature that you won’t even notice you’re doing it, but you will notice if something is a bit “off” and you need to help your dog or cat rebalance.

So, what should you start training yourself to look for and notice? Remember that you know your pet better than anyone else, and pay attention to your intuition if something just doesn’t seem right. Beyond that, though, there are some good indicators to be able to tell if your pet is thriving. These are especially useful if you are new to thinking this way, and maybe have a pet that has some of the common issues we frequently see crop up in our companion animals. If that’s the case, you may be so used to these issues that your brain doesn’t notice them anymore, so when you start looking at your pet to really assess their wellness, step back a bit and practice looking at them objectively.

Coat

A dog or cat that is thriving should have a shiny, soft coat. When you pet them, you shouldn’t come away with an excess of oily residue on your hands.

While they will still shed according to the dictates of their species and breed, the shedding is usually reduced. The skin will be supple and in good condition, and it will be free from hot spots, allergies, and excessive itchiness.

Eyes

When a dog or cat is in optimal health, its eyes are clear and bright. No matter what breed your dog or cat is, and whether they are a purebred or a mix of many breeds, their eyes should not be weepy or runny.

Parasites

A dog or cat with a strong, balanced immune system doesn’t suffer from flea and tick infestations, even when you don’t use conventional flea and tick preventives (such as Frontline). While they may pick up a flea or tick every once in a while, particularly in areas where those insects abound, it never gets out of balance.

Body Condition/Weight

A dog or cat that is at the peak of health is lean and muscular. When you look down at them from above, you should be able to see a narrowing in their waist. When you touch them, you should be able to easily feel their ribs. Additionally, they don’t have excess fat on their chest or back.

Oral Health

A healthy, vital dog or cat’s teeth are sparkling white and clean, and they don’t have bad breath. The gums are not excessively red or inflamed, and there isn’t a buildup of plaque or tartar.

Odor

A dog or cat that is balanced and thriving doesn’t have a strong odor—in fact, they don’t have much, if any, smell at all!

Stool and Anal Glands

A thriving dog or cat has small, dense, compact stools, and they move their bowels less frequently than an animal that isn’t thriving. Because they have to strain a bit to defecate, their anal glands are kept clean, clear, and in good working order—without frequent trips to the vet or groomer to have their anal glands cleared.

Behavior

Dogs and cats that are truly healthy are neither lethargic nor hyperactive, but instead have an appropriate amount of energy for their species, breed, age, and individual character.

Mental Ability

Healthy, thriving dogs and cats have incredible mental capabilities. Their brains can function at their optimal level, right along with their bodies and their spirits, which means they are extraordinarily perceptive and able to focus.

Endurance

When dogs and cats are properly supported, they have lots of endurance within the parameters of their individual and breed characteristics. This is especially nice for performance animals, such as dogs that are used for agility, showing, and hunting.

Aging

Dogs and cats that are flourishing do so even when they’re what society terms “senior”—9, 10, 11, or 12 for dogs (and in fact, well beyond those ages), and 14, 15, or 16 (or more!) for cats! They still have energy, are mentally sharp, and exhibit all the other qualities of a thriving animal.

Take some time to really assess your pet each day, until it becomes habit. Remember, you know them best, and there are lots of ways to check to make sure that they are thriving. These are some of the biggest ones, and once your pet is thriving, you will notice big changes in all of these areas, no matter what age, breed, species, or gender they are.

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Kristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

Options to Euthanasia

by Lisa G. Murray, Marketing & Public Relations Director of Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com

Making the decision about whether to put an aging pet down is always difficult, perhaps especially so if the pet is struggling with mobility issues, but is otherwise full of life. It can also be heart wrenching to have a puppy that becomes disabled, whether due to disease or injury, and be faced with whether its quality of life is such that an end-of-life decision ought to be considered.

The good news is that there have been tremendous advances in the kind of mobility assistance devices that are readily available, giving pet lovers real alternatives to euthanasia.

Dog Wheelchairs Have Become Easy Options

Although dog wheelchairs have been around for decades, they were not in the mainstream. The carts were expensive and required dog owners to take many precise measurements. After that, dog caretakers had to wait weeks while custom carts were built. It is easy to understand why pet owners might have decided that their pets’ time had come, instead of giving their dogs a chance to try a set of wheels.

Then in 2008, HandicappedPets.com developed the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, an adjustable cart that required only one measurement, could ship the same day, and was affordable. With the advent of that wheelchair, pet owners had a clear option to euthanasia when a pet got injured, stricken with a disease, or was simply slowing down due to old age.

Rescue Organizations Often Help Those in the Greatest Need

Sometimes dogs with the greatest physical needs wind up in the care of pet rescue organizations. Nine years ago, New Hampshire resident Courtney Dunning adopted a one-year-old disabled dog, Lucy, from a Puerto Rican rescue. The rescue had picked up Lucy after she was hit by a car, resulting in rear limb paralysis.

Lucy adapted extremely well to her dog wheelchair, and Courtney takes popping her in and out of it in stride. “It wound up being no harder than caring for any other dog,” says Courtney. “Lucy doesn’t know she’s different from other dogs. She’s just being a dog and loving life.”

Canine Mobility Challenges

German Shepherds, notorious for developing Degenerative Myelopathy, and Dachshunds, that have an estimated 25% incidence of intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), are among the breeds that are well loved but that suffer from a high rate of mobility challenges. But they are not alone; disease and injuries spare no breed, with resulting mobility impairments afflicting dogs of all ages.

Carole Rowlette cares for 13 Dachshunds in her home in Wyoming. Three or four at a time are usually in dog wheelchairs. She advocates for the use of dog wheelchairs for rehab and strengthening, so leg muscles do not atrophy.

“If the dog is injured and gets laser therapy and acupuncture in time, they can often walk again, because you take the pressure off the legs,” says Carole.

More Widespread Use of Dog Wheelchairs Changing Views Worldwide

Greater accessibility to dog wheelchairs has resulted in a broadening awareness of this option, not only in the United States, but globally. Dog wheelchairs are no longer looked at as an oddity or luxury in many countries, but as a viable solution to help a pet stay mobile.

Hong Kong dog owners Nigel and Sandra Snell summarized this well in an article about their dog, Tessa, in the South China Morning Post:

“She [Tessa] still has this passion to be outdoors, so we decided it was up to us to make her mobile again.”

As dogs are increasingly viewed as family members in many cultures, as they are in the United States, pet owners are happy to discover available resources to extend their lives while preserving a high quality of life.

Types of Dog Wheelchairs

The most common dog wheelchairs are for pets with impairment in their rear legs. Typically, these carts have two wheels in the rear, with a frame that secures to the dog with a front harness.

Quad wheelchairs, also known as 4-wheel carts, help pets with weakness in their front legs, as well as in their rear legs. The assistance of a quad wheelchair enables them to stay mobile and continue to engage their muscles.

Other wheelchairs are made for pets that only have front leg challenges, but these are much less common.

A dog wheelchair has become a practical and easy alternative to watching a pet become increasingly immobile and ultimately needing to make a decision about its quality of life. With mobility assistance, a dog can continue to enjoy running, playing, hiking, walking – essentially all the things it has always enjoyed doing.

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Lisa G. Murray is a freelance writer and the Marketing & Public Relations Director of Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com, an online pet product company serving the needs of aging, disabled, and injured pets and their caretakers.

Additional links:
Walkin’ Pets on Petmasters

Why Learn Pet First Aid and CPR?

By Cara Armour, Product Manager Pro Pet Hero

You can search the Internet for pretty much everything now, heck you can even watch YouTube videos on how to fix a car or in fact perform CPR on your pet. While these options exist, they are not long-term learning platforms where you watch a vet teach you the techniques, practice what is being taught and then get tested on your retention.

While online learning has been proven by the US Department of Education to be a more effective way to learn, it’s only as good as the actual material, mode of presentation and instructor. YouTube videos are fine and dandy but is that information correct?

Learning how to save your pet’s life and knowing how to react when something is wrong is crucial to anyone that spends their life with pets. This includes pet owners and pet care professionals such as dog walkers, pet sitters, trainers, groomers, dog daycare operators and even vet techs. Did you know that vet techs – the nurses of the veterinary field are never taught cat or dog CPR in their training to become a certified veterinary technician? Crazy right?

You Care Enough to Know How to Save Them

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You’re reading this post so you are already intrigued about knowing what to do. It is pretty easy to just dash off to the ER vet, or even your regular vet. I can get an appointment for my dog or cat much faster and easier then I can for myself at my own doctor’s office. That is wonderful but sometimes the added stress and cost of being able to do that isn’t always the best for you or your pet – certainly not your wallet.

The Cost of Veterinary Care

pet-insuranceEven with pet insurance the cost of veterinary care is no joke. Depending on your insurance coverage (if you have it), you may still have to pay a good portion of the bill. Pet insurance does not work the same as human coverage – you pay up front, submit the claim, then wait for reimbursement; with monthly premiums this can all add up.

Please do not get me wrong, you are going to the vet for many issues, this is not to dissuade anyone from going and in fact the course teaches you about knowing when to go and what information to have to help the vet help your pet. Knowing when to go or even more importantly, what you can do before you head to the vet can be crucial for your pet’s survival.

The Big Picture of a Pet First Aid and CPR Certification Course

The title of the course doesn’t even begin to sum up the vast skills and knowledge that you will learn. Beyond the sheer volume of over 40 topics you will also learn what to do, what to look out for, and how to act.

If you are going to take the time to learn how to keep your pet safe or recognize issues before they become more serious – most importantly, get their heart beating again when it stops – then you will want to make certain you are learning the life-saving information from a qualified person.

Who Teaches Me How to Save My Pet in an Emergency?

Credentials are extremely important; I wouldn’t want to take a cooking class from someone that has never cooked, so why take a class about pet CPR from someone that has never used it to save lives? ProPetHero is an online cat and dog first aid and CPR certification course taught by a board certified ER vet, Dr. Bobbi Conner DVM, DACVECC.  She also happens to be a professor of veterinary medicine and critical care; so she’s saved a few hundred lives in her life and she teaches up-and-coming vets how to do the same.

cat-dog-first-aidIt’s important to have the right tools in your toolbox; or in this case first aid kit. I hope you never have to use them but in my 30 + years of sharing my life with pets and working with them, I’ve used the skills and knowledge more than I would have liked.

So for less than a night out and less than most wellness exams you can learn from an ER vet on how to help your pet. There are no animal EMT’s so your pet depends on you. Even if you just learn when to recognize when something is not right because you paid attention to when it was – you are on your way to making your pet’s life better.

A typical vet visit is 20 minutes, don’t you wish you had more time to learn from them, now you do and for a lot less than the time it would take! So set aside a little time, the course is under 2 hrs but you can take it in bite-sized chunks. It always remembers where you left off so you can take it at your own pace and place that is most convenient for you. After you complete the learning you’ll have the confidence to act in an emergency and take the best care of your pet. You have 2 years access to review the videos to keep the information fresh in your mind and have the correct information at your fingertips.

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Author Bio

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Cara Armour

In 2003, Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., a professional pet care business based in the greater Boston, MA area that has expanded to grooming and operating a holistic pet supply store. Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year, the industry’s highest honor awarded by Pet Sitters International and collected many other accolades over the years.

Since 2003, Cara has been trained by the American Red Cross as well as several veterinarians in Pet First Aid and CPR. In 2011 she completed an instructor training course and became a certified pet 1st Aid and CPR instructor. When she found the training online by an ER veterinarian, she decided to join the ProPetHero team, the pet first aid and CPR division of ProTrainings. She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc, a health conscious breeder of Boxers, as well as an active member of several kennel clubs. She has been a mentor to many in the pet industry as well as those in the small business world.

Cara spends her free time traveling to agility, lure coursing and conformation trials. When not at a trial or finding a good home for a Boxer through the rescue, she’s training with her pups or playing in her garden.

Real or Fake — What Difference Does it Make?

By Marianne McKiernan, author of Let the Dogs Speak!
 
We are a nation of pet lovers. According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2015 65% of U.S. households owned a pet, and we spent over $60 billion on pet care. In particular, 54 million households owned upwards of 77 million dogs. Now, most of those dogs are happily hanging out in the yard, snoozing on the sofa, romping at the dog park or keeping a wary eye on the cookie jar. A disturbing trend among some dog owners, however, is to feel that Fluffy is somehow unfulfilled in canine pursuits at home, and must accompany her human on all excursions, including the grocery, the mall, the movie theater, a restaurant, and even an airplane. 
 
“I need Fluffy,” the owner explains. “She’s my (fill in the blank) emotional support dog/service dog/therapy dog. And look, I bought a vest online so they have to let her be with me.”
 
GRRR. My hackles rise, my redheaded temper flares. Allow me to explain why.
 
First, a little background. I am a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (cci.org), the nation’s oldest service dog organization. Along with my husband, I am currently raising Dubarry, my 11th puppy. Puppy raisers receive the pups at 8 weeks and keep them for 15-18 months. During that time we teach the pups around 30 basic commands and socialize them, gradually introducing them to pubic settings. When the puppies are around 18 months old we return them to our regional training center (there are six nationwide) for advanced training with professional trainers for another 6-9 months. If the dog has “the right stuff” it is matched with a person with a disability (other than blindness – guide dogs are a different type of assistance dog). One of the things I admire about CCI is that only the dogs who love to work graduate. Even if a dog is magnificently trained, if it is unhappy as a working dog, the trainers will release it from the program. This is one reason why only 35-40% of the pups in training go on to graduate. A stressed, unhappy dog is not a safe partner, and the safety of the graduate team is always CCI’s top priority.
 
An assistance dog has public access because of the person it is assisting. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is legally defined as a dog (or a miniature horse, but we’re sticking with dogs here) that has been individually trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability, such as guiding, warning of an impending drop in blood sugar, turning on/off lights, retrieving dropped items, opening/closing doors, alerting to sounds, etc. The tasks the dog performs must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Someone who has bought a vest, and so-called “credentials” (under the ADA there is no such thing as credentials or a service dog registry) off the internet for the purpose of taking a pet to public places is presenting himself as disabled. Some states have passed laws making it a crime to misrepresent a pet as a service dog. 
 
Emotional support animals (ESA) may be used to relieve stress or help with depression and anxiety, but they have not been trained to perform tasks to assist persons with disabilities. ESAs are not considered service animals under the ADA and do not have public access rights. However, ESAs are allowed in apartments under the Fair Housing Act, and the landlord may request documentation. Some airlines will allow a passenger to fly with an ESA and may ask for documentation. “Examples of documentation that may be requested by the airline: Current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a licensed mental health professional stating (1) the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV); (2) having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment; (3) the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and (4) the date and type of the mental health professional’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.”  (https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet
 
But why is it such a big deal, you ask. Why can’t Fluffy go to the store or the restaurant or on the airplane? She’s really good and she loves going with me.
 
First of all, Fluffy may not want to go. Poor Fluffy, who would rather be at home on your comfy bed, is possibly terrified out of her mind, shaking and whimpering. What you think is an excited, happy dog may in fact be a highly stressed, anxious dog. It takes puppy raisers over a year of training with our puppies to work up to busy, distracting environments such as grocery stores, restaurants and airports. Our dogs have to learn to be calm, quiet and exceptionally well-mannered, no matter what is going on around them. Something tasty on the floor? Leave it. Another dog in the area? Ignore it. People making kissy noises at the puppy? Sit and wait for permission to be petted. Weird noises, long security lines, TSA agents with gloves handing the puppy? Stay calm, wait for the next command. No barking, no whining, no lunging, no picking fights with other dogs, no sitting on chairs, tables, grocery carts or laps, no chewing, no hoovering, no accidents, no shedding — oh, wait. We can’t teach them not to shed. But we can teach them everything else. A puppy raiser’s favorite compliment is “I didn’t even know you had a dog!” Service dogs are meant to be unobtrusive as they quietly do their jobs. 
 
((And as a side note, let me tell you about flying with a dog. Some airlines kindly allow puppy raisers to fly with their pups in the cabin. This is important because I do not want my dog’s first flight to be with his new partner. Flying is stressful, with all the hullabaloo at the airport, elevators, different surfaces to walk on, trains and shuttles, rolling suitcases, crying babies, security lines, etc. As many times as I’ve flown with well-trained pups over the last 15 years, I’m always a little uneasy. Therefore I want my pups to have at least a couple of flights under their collars before they graduate (if they graduate!) so that their partner has confidence that the dog can handle it. Not only do we have to navigate the airport, but once we board the plane my pup is expected to curl up in the small bulkhead space or under the seat in front of me, and stay there for the duration of the flight. Not every dog is going to be happy about doing that. Every pup I’ve flown with has given me a look that clearly says “You have got to be kidding!” when I give him the command to curl up in the small space under the seat. But they sigh, and they do it. I can’t imagine putting an untrained dog through the stress of flying, much less expecting it to behave perfectly.)) 
 
Second, fake service dogs jeopardize real working dogs and their partners. I’ve heard so many stories from graduates about their dogs being attacked by other “service dogs” or being asked to leave a store because the last “service dog” pooped all over the floor, or having to explain to the restaurant manager that yes, this is a real service dog, and no, he will not bother the other diners, steal food or climb on the table. Every time a fake service dog causes a problem, it complicates and compromises access for real service dog teams. Business owners and the public begin to look at all dogs in public settings as nuisances. Someone with a disability just wants to go about their life; questioning and/or endangering their legitimate service dog’s right to accompany and assist them should not be part of the daily routine. 
 
Real service dogs help their partners live independent lives. Fake service dogs are at best a ridiculous indulgence, and at worst, a crime. Please don’t buy a vest and pretend your pet is a service dog. After all, Fluffy already has an important job: being your adored companion, protector and stealer of cookies. 
 
 
Additional information:
 
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Marianne McKiernan has been a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI since October, 2001. She is the author of Let the Dogs Speak! Puppies in Training Tell the Story of Canine Companions for Independence. She lives in Denver with her husband, two cats, two pet dogs and current CCI puppy, Dubarry.