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Spring is in full swing, but before you head outdoors for furry adventure and fresh air, fuel up on these refreshing pet health tips first!

What Makes You Tick - Although May is the peak month for tick activity, you shouldn't wait to protect your pet from Lyme disease. To keep your pet safe, conduct daily tick checks and remove any attached ticks to avoid transmission of the disease. Ask your veterinarian about monthly topical treatments or vaccine options, especially in high-risk areas like the upper Northeast and Midwest.

Get Out of Hair - Hairballs are a normal part of feline life, but if they increase in frequency or become too large, they could pose a serious problem. To help kitty keep clear of hairy health situations, keep your cat (especially those with long coats) groomed with daily brushing. If the problem persists, schedule a trip to the vet.

Foxtail and the Hound - Pets and grass normally go paw-in-paw, but not all grass is created equal. Some wild grasses such as foxtail are hazardous to pets because their small seeds can be inhaled or get stuck in the skin, leading to problems such as swelling, trouble breathing and even organ damage. If you live in an area where foxtail is prevalent, avoid tall grasses, consider investing in a protective jacket for your dog and conduct daily checks after romps outside (just as you would with ticks). Notify your vet of any seeds you’re unable to remove with tweezers.
Vets for Pets
(March blogs to boost your pet prowess!)

Plant a Seed - Sago palm is a popular plant, but it can pack a deadly punch for dogs and cats. Find out why in this Vets for Pets blog post from veterinarian Kim Smyth.

In the Dark - Blindness in pets comes with certain challenges, but these tips from Dr. Smyth can help light a path to success for both you and your best friend.

Feeling Louse-y - Learn why lice are a four-letter word to parents of both children and pets – and what to do if they infest your four-legged family.
Chris and Natasha Ashton Featured in the Financial Times - In a recent feature in the Financial Times, Petplan co-CEOs and co-Founders Chris and Natasha Ashton share their “tail” of getting Petplan onto its paws – while also sharing the spotlight in an accompanying photograph with their four-legged family members, Wellington and Montgomery! The Ashtons also explain the inspiration behind the idea for Petplan – a $5,000 veterinary bill for their cat, Bodey – and how their perseverance and passion for pets paved the way for them to launch America’s top-rated pet insurance provider.

Petplan at AAHA Conference - Petplan pointed our paws west in March to attend the 2013 AAHA Conference in Phoenix, AZ. The yearly AAHA Conference focuses exclusively on companion-animal care and offered the Petplan team a great opportunity to speak to veterinary professionals, industry experts and pet parents alike about the benefits of pet insurance. Missed us at the conference? Add us to your circle and bark hello on Google+.

Barking Up the Fun - At Petplan, we’re passionate about pets and pet health, so it only makes sense that our culture is one dedicated to balancing play and productivity. And when there is an opportunity to celebrate a colleague's successes or a company milestone, it’s all hands, er, paws on deck! Recently, we held an office celebration in honor of our inclusion on the Forbes magazine list of America’s Most Promising Companies. To say thanks, Petplan co-Founders and co-CEOs Chris and Natasha Ashton gave every employee a hand-written thank you note, brought in lunch for everyone in the company, ordered a cake and shared a champagne toast with the two-legged staff. Visit our “Just a Day in the Office” board on Pinterest to see the pictures and share in the fun! First Impressions - Next time you pack for a trip that includes pets, don’t forget to include a pet first aid kit. A portable kit not only makes caring for simple cuts easy, but can save pets’ lives (and parents’ money) when on the road.

Get Your Feet Wet - Help your furry family members stay dry during rainy walks and potty breaks with a portable raincoat that packs away in a pouch for easy travel.

Tag Along - Celebrate National Pet ID Week (April 15-21) by protecting your best friend with the BARKCODE® QR Code Collar or Comic Cat ID tag, which lets anyone pull up your pet’s important information by simply scanning the QR code with a smartphone.

Don’t Strike Out - Swing into spring with a seasonably fun baseball dog bed that’s sure to be a homerun with your best friend.

Fight for Their Rights - April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. As a voice for animals in need, The Humane Society of the United States' End Animal Cruelty and Fighting Campaign works to put an end to animal fighting, abuse, neglect and puppy mills. Learn how to recognize the signs of animal cruelty (a felony in 46 states) and how to take action against it at The HSUS website.

If you’re happy and you know it, tell your friends! For every pet that you refer to Petplan that enrolls, you can earn rewards. Log-in to your account to get started today!

Program not available in all states. See GoPetplan.com/petplan-rewards for more information.

Hide and Seek - According to a focus group study presented at the January 2013 North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), 80 percent of all pets over 8 years of age have at least one disease unrecognized by their owners – just one of the many reasons why yearly (or twice yearly, in older pets) physical exams are critical to your pet’s health!

Diamond Pet Foods Recall - In early March, Diamond Pet Foods recalled limited production codes of five kinds of cat food due to indications that the products may have low levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), an essential vitamin for our feline family members (needed to maintain normal nervous system function). Stay up to date on pet food recalls and all the latest pet health news by friending Petplan on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

A Bumpy Ride - In an effort to make traveling in the car safer for our best friends, Subaru is partnering with the Center for Pet Safety to fund testing of pet vehicle safety restraints. The partnership study will create standards for pet safety restraints and hopefully make traveling safer for best friends everywhere! How do you keep your pet safe while traveling? Send your pet traveling safety stories and pictures to socialmedia@gopetplan.com to let us know!

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by treating your eco-conscious canine to this healthy, hearty recipe from Dr. Ernie Ward:

Earth Biscuits

You'll need:

2 cups garbanzo bean flour (easily made by grinding dried chick peas, an excellent source of protein)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1/2 cup packed spinach
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 - 1/4 cup water

To make this recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the carrots, peas, turmeric, spinach, tomato paste and water in a food processor and purée. Add the flour, baking powder, basil and oregano, and pulse until blended. Coat an 8-by-10-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, and then lightly dust it with flour. Place the dough in the pan, spread it out evenly and score into about 60 square pieces. Bake 30 minutes. Makes five dozen treats (11 calories per treat).

Recipe from “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs are Getting Fatter - A Vet's Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI). Check with your veterinarian before trying a new recipe for your pet, to ensure your efforts – and your furry friends! – are appropriately rewarded. For more inspiring ideas, visit our homemade pet food recipes board on Pinterest.

Win a free ThunderLeash! - Does April’s spring scents have your best friend craving outdoor adventure? Excited pups can sometimes pull on the leash, leaving frustrated pet owners wishing for easier walks. To lend a paw, one lucky pet parent has the chance this month to win a free ThunderLeash, the simplest no-pull solution for dogs! Recommended by professional dog trainers, the ThunderLeash performs like a leash and harness in one to reduce physical distress without the awkwardness and complexity of a traditional harness. For times when pulling is not likely, it simply clips to the collar like any leash. For a chance to win a ThunderLeash, tell us about your favorite adventure with your pets and include a picture of your furry adventurer!

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 (2012).

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