Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Human Food for Pets

Is it Safe?

First, we wish to acknowledge that many people feed their pets human-grade food.  This post is not intended to be a conversation between feeding "raw" and feeding table-treats.  It's a light-hearted observation of human foods that can be harmful to your pet's life.

We all have had those moments where our pet wants to share in meal time. There is nothing wrong with giving our animal a treat as long as certain rules are followed. Similar to humans, there are foods that are healthy and unhealthy. Animals must be fed human food sparingly and certain foods are hazardous. See below for more info.

HAZARDOUS Foods for Pets
-         Chocolate
-         Alcohol
-         Avocado
-         Macadamia Nuts
-         Grapes/Raisins
-         Yeast Dough
-         Undercooked Meat
-         Onions/Garlic/Chives
-         Xylitol (Sweetener found in candy, gum, and toothpaste)
-         Milk
-         Salt

Many of these foods result in seizures and vomiting in pets. The risk of eating these items includes death. Pets have immune systems different than humans and are not able to properly digest these foods.

Foods Pets Can Eat
-         Peanut Butter (all natural, no salt)
-         Pears
-         Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries
-         Bananas
-         Tuna
-         Plain Pasta (No Sauce)
-         Cheese
-         Eggs
-         Baby Carrots
-         Yogurt (No artificial sweetener)


Occasional Treats- Do not over feed your pet human food. These items should be treats and given very sparingly. The more human food a pet is fed, the higher a risk for serious complications including obesity.

Prepare Food Appropriately - Remove all seeds, wrappers, and other hazardous pieces before giving food to a pet. Also, properly cook all meat and items requiring proper heating (we acknowledge that many feed their pets Raw Diets...  when overseen by a professional, raw diet can be *very* effective.  Raw Diet is not to be confused with "table scraps").

Natural- Only give your pet food without salt, butter, or other seasonings. Plain items reduce the risk for allergic reactions or other health issues.

Your pet can participate in meal time with you on special occasions. However, it is crucial to remember that your pet is not capable of realizing the damage unhealthy food can cause. We are responsible for protecting their well being. While your furry-friend may tempt you into giving treats often, remember that you are protecting them by saying no. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Protect Your Pet: Pet Insurance

by Ariel Morrison, Volunteer

What is it?
Pet insurance is very similar to human health insurance, except it is tailored to fit your pet’s needs. There are numerous plans available and coverage options that can be customized dependent upon the animal and prior health conditions. Below the three most common pet insurance plans are described:

Pet's Best Pet Insurance
Pet's Best Insurance offers four different types of pet insurance plans, plus a routine care option.  All levels of insurance cover accidents, illness and hereditary/congenital ailments.  The differentiators with Pet's Best Insurance are that you choose your annual deductible level ($0-$1000) as well as your reimbursement level, from 70-100%, and Holistic Care coverage exists with all plans. 

Pet's Best also offers three focused plans as defined below:

Feline Illness Plan:
-         Includes diagnosis and treatment of common feline chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney failure
-         Excludes undiagnosed conditions, accidents, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $4,000 annual limit/$10,000 lifetime limit

Accident Only:
-         Includes treatment of accidents including X-rays, surgeries, hospitalization and medications related
-         Excludes illnesses, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $10,000 annual limit/$20,000 lifetime limit  

Cancer Only:
-         Includes diagnosis and treatment of cancer including bloodwork, surgeries, medication and chemotherapy
-         Excludes other illnesses, accidents, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $8,000 annual limit/$30,000 lifetime limit  

Pet's Best offers a $0 deductible option and has no age limit for new or existing coverage.  Your pet will *not* be dropped as he/she ages.  Find more information at or contact Bill Smock Insurance, where a portion of your policy premium is donated to Brown Dog Foundation! 

VPI- Nationwide Pet Insurance
Injury Plan (Emergency)
Covers Accidents Only
-Pays for injuries such as broken bones
-Covers accidents such as poisonings
- Maximum benefit of $14,000/year

Medical Plan Economical
Covers Accidents and Illnesses
-         Covers everything in the injury plan + illnesses
-         Covers chronic illnesses
-         Maximum benefit of $7000/year

Major Medical Plan Comprehensive
Covers accidents, illnesses, and hereditary conditions
-         Covers everything in the medical plan economical
-         Includes benefits for limited hereditary coverage after the first year
-         Maximum benefit of $14000/year

-         Can be added to any of the above plans
-         Includes additional benefits related to pet welfare including (exams, vaccinations, heartworm preventative, and dental cleaning)
-         Ranges in price from $12-$22/month

** Please note that existing conditions are not covered if condition started prior to animal having insurance. Also, ligament injuries are only covered after having insurance for 1 year.

All of the above insurance policies agree to not drop any pet regardless of age or number of claims filed a year. There are flexible deductibles for each plan. Owners have the freedom to choose which vet or animal emergency services location for service. Benefits renew each year in full.

How Do I Apply
An online application can be completed at Select “get a quote” from the homepage. The process is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The quote will be based off of your area, dog breed, dog age, and deductible option.

Trupanion Pet Insurance
Trupanion only offers one all inclusive insurance plan. However, there are multiple add-on options that make this company unique from other pet insurance providers. Please see the below:

Additional Care Package:
-         Includes hydrotherapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture services
-         Includes several non-traditional services for dogs
-         Ranges from $9.95-$35/ month

Pet Owner Assistance Package:
-         Covers boarding fees
-         Pays for rewards and advertising costs up to $500 if pet is lost/stolen
-         Pays for damages up to $25000 due to property damage from your pet

Trupanion also offers a $0 deductible option. Find more information at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Care Credit: Just in Case

What is it?
Care Credit is a healthcare spending account that can be used both for humans and pets. Whether it is for a basic doctor’s visit or an emergency situation, Care Credit can be used to help your beloved animal friend.

Care Credit offers special financing options for purchases over $200. These options include no interest for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months depending upon the amount of purchase. There is no catch to this special. It is included in the terms when signing up and as long as minimum monthly payments are on time and the account is paid in full by the end of the promotional period, there is $0 in interest.

How Do I Apply
An online application can be completed at The process is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. If you don’t wish to apply at this time, Care Credit applications can also be processed at most animal clinic and hospital locations.  Phone applications can also be completed by calling (800) 677-0718.

-         Routine check-ups
-         Supplies purchased at veterinarian office
-         Unexpected doctor’s visit
-         Emergency procedure/ assistance
Care Credit Success Story
Feisty, a 4 month old English bulldog was attacked by another dog while playing outside. Immediately, she collapsed in a puddle of blood. Feisty’s owner rushed the small bulldog to a local animal hospital to receive assistance. They quickly took the dog to the back to analyze the damage. The owner was called to the front desk and advised that treatment would be over $800 a day. Desperate to save the dog’s life, the owner pleaded with the secretaries. Care credit was suggested as a way to finance the hospital stay. The owner filled out an application and was approved instantly (even at 11pm). The bulldog was able to get the necessary help and left the hospital 3 days later.

Without Care Credit, the owner would not have been able to finance the bulldog’s hospital admittance. In an emergency situation, there is not always time to get a loan or financial assistance. Care Credit makes it possible for pet owners to get the financial help they need now.       

This is a photo of Jake and his siblings.  Jake's life was in immediate danger, and while the family qualified for Care Credit, they fell short on the total cost of care.  Thanks to the generosity of Brown Dog Foundation donors, we were able to "bridge the gap" and save Jake's life and keep him alive and his family together!  Read Jake's story here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be In Tune With Your Pet -- It Could Save Their Life!

The bond you share with your beloved animal is unlike any other you will experience in your lifetime. When it comes to your pet's well-being, you are literally their lifeline. You are their voice. Being in tune with your pet can mean life or death for them in certain situations.

You may initially feel frustrated with your pet if they have an "accident" inside the house or if he or she simply hasn't been listening to you like usual. Instead of getting frustrated, ask yourself if perhaps your pet may not be feeling well.

- Is she moving slower?
- Have her eating habits changed?
- Does she act as though she wants to be left alone more often?

Be careful not to dismiss certain behaviors as "no big deal." If your pet has started to lose his balance, for example, it may be time for a visit to your veterinarian. Niko, a Pekingese who Brown Dog Foundation assisted, started falling over and losing his balance shortly after a car accident. Unfortunately, he lost his life due to the injury being left untreated for too long. Because the family was short on cash, Niko lived with his injuries for 4 months. Time can play a crucial role in saving your pet's life.

When it comes to finding a veterinarian for your pet, it is essential to do your research first. In the age of the internet, research and reviews are right at your fingertips. Old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals will always stand the test of time. Your pet absolutely depends on you to communicate precisely to the veterinarian what issues they are experiencing. Because pets cannot tell us what hurts, it is essential to be observant of any changes in their behavior and habits. If you feel that your veterinarian is dismissing some of the problems your pet is having or that something is left unresolved, you may need to push for other tests to be conducted or even locate a new veterinarian. But, realize, if you push for testing... you will need to pay for it or find assistance to do so.

It is important to keep in mind that doctors are still human and with that being said, they are not perfect. They can make mistakes just like the rest of us. Doctors simply cannot diagnose and treat an animal without proper testing being conducted. With this in mind, it is mandatory that you be prepared for emergencies your pet may face. Have a savings account set aside or invest in pet insurance. Veterinary care is relatively affordable but can feel astronomical when you are unprepared. In times of crises, the costs can certainly add up. Although veterinarians truly love animals, most are not in the position to write-off the expense of diagnostic tests and surgeries that may be necessary for your pet. This would put their business and their own livelihood in jeopardy.

Brown Dog Foundation personnel are committed to having a hand in saving the lives of animals in need, but note that they are not veterinarians. You must communicate with your veterinarian. Your pet's livelihood depends on YOU. Communication with your veterinarian is essential and plays a key role in ensuring your pet's well-being. Be sure not to leave out any details. If you feel that something is amiss, don't ignore your instincts. Most importantly, be in tune with your pet at home. Your quick response to their change in behavior could save their life!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Selecting the best addition to your family (Part 1)

Brown Dog Foundation volunteer and blogger, Pamela, has made the commitment to help out with writing blog posts for us! How awesome is that? Here's an excellent series to help you select the "right" pet for your family.

So you have decided to welcome a new member of the family into your home in the form of a four legged family member. It’s exciting and can bring a world full of new experiences and possibilities. Animals have the uncanny ability to spark laughter, joy and days filled with endless smiles.

But, not so fast!

Before bringing an animal into your home, it’s important that you do your research when it comes to lifestyle and compatibility. Just like people, animals have their own unique personalities and lifestyle needs. The quality of life of the animal you adopt will depend on you once you decide to bring him or her into your life.

Unfortunately, we live in a nation where too many people think of animals as being disposable creatures that they can get rid of for any reason if having the animal becomes inconvenient to them. Be a responsible and ethical pet owner by doing your research and taking the time to examine whether you can provide what the animal needs in order to give him a high quality of life. You owe it to yourself and the animal.

7 Things to Consider
#1: How active are you? Do you get up every morning and take a jog or walk to start your day? Or, do you come home from work in the afternoon and immediately relax on the couch to catch up on television for a few hours? Regardless of your activity level, there is a dog breed for you! But, it is important to realize that dogs of all sizes and breeds will need some amount of exercise during the day... even if it’s not a five mile run.

You will have to make compromises in your life, especially when it comes to adopting a dog. Large breed, working and sporting dogs typically need more exercise than smaller and toy breed dogs. It would be irresponsible to adopt, for example, a Golden Retriever, and never take him on long walks or play with him and encourage him to run.

Next up... considerations #2, #3 and #4.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bragging rights...

It's rare that I feel Brown Dog Foundation does something beyond amazing... not that I don't believe that we make a difference every day, but it takes a lot to rock my world. And, in January - we did just that!

Eight families - yes, EIGHT families received assistance to save their pet's lives! Zeus (Nashville TN), Cooper (Cedar Rapids IA), Olive (Cookeville TN), Poncho (Kingsport TN), Tommy (Medford OR), Jake (Spring Hill TN), Juno (Eugene OR) and Muddy (Lenoir City TN) all enjoyed at least one more day with the family who loves them because Brown Dog Foundation was able to help!

Sadly, Juno didn't make it. We needed to raise several thousand dollars overnight to cover the cost of back surgery. We didn't make it, but his family was deeply moved by the efforts and generosity of Brown Dog's supporters!

For the rest of these families - Brown Dog Foundation is full of Heroes! We agree!!!! Thank you for all you give, so selflessly, to help others! And, please, don't stop now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Loss: It's harder during the holidays...

Grief is a tough bird. She comes in waves at times you never expect. If you've learned how to deal with grief, you know that the best thing you can do is give into her when she approaches.

"Live through the Grief". That was the advice I received when my grandfather died. I was reminded of that advice when two friends died tragically during my junior year in high school. And, again when my other grandfather passed away.

Then, I lost my best buddy... Chocolate Chip. Grief doesn't visit for the people I've lost anymore. But for some reason, she still comes a knockin' every holiday reminding me that Chip and Goldie are gone. Why is this grief so much harder to let go of?

It's simple - I had a deeper connection and relationship with Chip and Goldie than I had with the people I lost. They were my confidantes when no one else could listen. They were waiting for me every time I came home for several years. They depended upon me to live. They were the equivalent of children.

If you've ever lost a pet, likely you will think of him or her this holiday season. Remember the good. Know that you were probably the single most important thing to that pet. Be thankful you knew them.

Just live through the grief. Happy Holidays.