Happy New Year! Start 2012 off on the right paw with these pet health tips purrfect
for keeping furry acquaintances - new and old - happy and healthy all year round.

Take a Load Off - According to statistics from The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55% of dogs and 53% of cats in the US are overweight or obese, and sadly, those numbers are headed in the wrong direction for 2012. Furthermore, overweight pets are more at risk for developing health problems such as arthritis or diabetes. With January being Walk Your Pet Month, there's no time like the present to revisit your pet's exercise routine and diet to make sure your best friend is fit for years to come.

Feed a Cold - Keeping warm in cooler temperatures requires more energy, so if your pet spends a lot of time playing outside in the snow with his two-legged friends, make sure you're taking his food and water consumption into consideration. If the temperatures drop but your pet's activity level remains the same, there's a good chance you'll need to increase his protein and water intake to accommodate his added energy needs and avoid dehydration. Talk to your veterinarian before adjusting your pet's caloric intake to ensure you're meeting his nutritional needs - in any season.

Heat of the Moment - According to US Fire Administration reports, there are an estimated 54,000 fires each year related to heating sources, with the peak month for residential building heating fires being January. We are all too aware of the danger of fire to our pets, having lost a Petplan family member, Stetson, to a residential fire that occurred here in Philadelphia not long ago. To help reduce the risk of fire in your home, make sure your heating sources are kept clean, used properly and located away from combustible items. For added peace of mind, you can create a free, customizable Pet Rescue Alert to help firefighters find your pets faster in the event of a fire.

Vets for Pets
(December blogs to boost your pet prowess!)

Tastes Like Trouble - The FDA recently warned pet parents about the dangers associated with feeding dogs chicken jerky treats. In this blog post, Petplan vet Dr. Kim Smyth takes a closer look at the reasons behind the warning.

Puppy Teeth - When it comes to your pet's teeth and gums, a thorough home dental routine can help ward off dangerous (and expensive) disease down the road, especially when started at a young age. Sink your teeth into Dr. Nina Mantione's response to this "Ask an Expert" question - and then ask your own.

The Talk on Tumors - Dr. Smyth recently concluded her month-long educational blog series on common pet cancers with a particularly problematic type - tumors of the spleen. Click here to learn more.

Come on Down! - Attending the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) in Orlando, Florida, on January 14-18? Stop by the Petplan booth (#1018) and say (or bark) hello! Bring the whole family for a few days of fun, education and of course, the opportunity to meet your friends from Petplan!

Survey Says - The results of the 2011 Petplan Holiday Survey are in! We received almost 7,000 responses telling us all about the unique ways you include your four-legged family members in your holiday celebrations. According to the survey results, 62% of respondents said they include their pets in their family's holiday greeting card photo. In addition, 89% of those polled planned on buying their pets a holiday gift, with some of the most interesting gifts being spa days, Swarovski crystal collars and even a kayak!

Holiday Headlines - Petplan made headlines in December, spreading pet health tips from coast to coast! Petplan VP of Veterinary Services Dr. Jules Benson spoke to HubPages.com about how to help relieve pain in arthritic pets and Petplan co-founders and co-CEOs Chris and Natasha Ashton were interviewed by Amy Worden of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, the results of our Holiday Survey were part of a USA Today article about holiday spending and were picked up by more than 200 TV affiliates nationwide!

Off the Record - Finally, a mix tape your whole family can agree on. Rocking design features internal squeaker to sound the fun.

Sweet Relief - Go ahead, save room for dessert. 100% of the net profits from Rescue Chocolate are donated to animal rescue organizations around the country!

The Next Muttisse - Unleash your pet's inner artist with the Pup-Casso or Kitty-Casso Art Kit, which lets Fido and his feline friends paint a pet-safe masterpiece with non-toxic acrylic paint.

 

Do you like to bark with friends online? Head over to the virtual dog park and give us a shout! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and add us to your circles on Google+ for helpful pet health advice, exclusive pet product giveaways and cute photos of our four-legged family members.

Have Pet, Will Travel - January 2 was National Pet Travel Safety Day. Statistics show 91% of pet parents planned to travel with their pets in 2011, and there's no reason not to expect that trend to continue well into the New Year. If you're planning to take your pet along for the ride, check out the helpful resources at PetTravel.com, the worldwide travel resource for pets, before you go. And don't forget your pet health certificate!

Bitter Freeze - A new Maryland law went into effect on January 1 to help decrease the number of pets who suffer from antifreeze poisoning each year. The new law requires a bitter-tasting additive be incorporated to deter pets from ingesting the usually sweet-tasting toxin. There are 17 states that have enacted such laws, including: Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. To learn how antifreeze can affect your pet, read Dr. Kim Smyth's blog on common household toxins, here.

Blood Will Tell - A blood test developed for dogs may one day assist in treating infections in their two-legged counterparts, as well. A veterinarian at the University of Missouri has identified a blood biomarker that is a good indication of the presence of infection. The test can help diagnose pet infections in about a third of the time it usually takes, leading to quicker diagnosis and treatment for our furry friends. And because our body systems are so similar, the test may eventually help everyone in the family!

Treat Smarter in 2012 - One of the easiest ways to help your pets stick to their New Year's resolution to drop the pounds is to treat them smarter. Below are just a few of the natural, healthy snacks you can swap out in place of sugar-filled commercial snacks to help your pet battle the bulge:

Snack Calories
Baby carrots 2-3 calories per carrot
Stringless sugar snap peas 2 calories per pea
Cucumber 1 calorie per ¼" slice
Asparagus 3-5 calories per spear
Celery 6 calories per 7-8" stalk
Blueberries 31 calories per cup

For more healthy snack ideas, recipes and nutrition advice for furry friends, check out Dr. Ernie Ward's "Chow Down" feature in every issue of fetch! magazine.

Recipe from Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs are Getting Fatter - a Vet's Plan to Save Their Lives (2010 HCI).

Rescue Rewind - The HSUS cared for more than 57,000 animals in the first three quarters of 2011 alone, and recently helped rescue more than 100 dogs from a Mississippi hoarder who was keeping them in deplorable conditions. The HSUS was aided by efforts from the Starkville Police Department Animal Control, Waveland Animal Shelter, Rankin County Sheriff's Department, and the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Shelter Medicine Program, who all chipped in to help these best friends. Even PetSmart Charities® donated food and sheltering supplies to the rescue efforts! Learn more about the recent rescue and all of the work done by The HSUS at their website.

The New Year is full of possibility, and also unexpected surprises. Tell us how you plan to keep your pets happy, healthy and wise in 2012 for a chance to win a $25 AMEX gift card!

The information contained in this website is for illustrative purposes only and coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state's approval and coverage may vary by state. Pet insurance policies are issued by AGCS Marine Insurance Company and administered by Fetch Insurance Services, LLC (Fetch Insurance Agency, LLC in Michigan) d/b/a Petplan (Petplan Insurance Agency, LLC in California. AGCS Marine Insurance Company, a member of the Allianz Group, is rated A+ by A.M. Best (2010).

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