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Nutraceuticals: what are they and are they worth it?

Nutraceuticals for Pets

You may not have heard the term nutraceutical before, but as pet parent, there is a good chance you have used one or been recommended one. Nutraceutical is a term used to describe compounds that are used to improve health but that are not technically a medication. Some common examples of nutraceuticals are glucosamine, chondroitin, fatty acids, probiotics, milk thistle (silymarin), and many, many more.

So, do they actually work? In many cases, nutraceuticals do have a positive impact in treating or preventing disease. There is a great deal of research, primarily on the human side, about the benefits of nutraceuticals in a variety of diseases. The quality of the evidence however, is quite variable between different studies.

As veterinarians, we operate under the tenet of “Above all, do no harm”. The beauty of many of the nutraceuticals that we use today is that, when used appropriately, they are a safe addition to most treatment plans. How successful nutraceuticals are however, often depends on the extent and severity of the disease we are treating.

It is important to remember that as with conventional medications, nutraceuticals should only be used based on a recommendation from your family veterinarian. It is important to use supplements from trusted sources and to ensure there is not potential interaction with other medications that your pet may be taking.


Pet Insurance: What, Why & Costs

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance helps pay for your pet’s unexpected veterinary care.

Best Friends Pet Insurance with Pet plan

As pet parents, we want to provide our dogs and cats with the best possible care, no matter what. But when accidents and illnesses come up unexpectedly, the costs can quickly run in to the hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars.

Pet medical insurance helps you pay your unexpected veterinary bills, so if your pet has an accident or becomes ill, you’ve got help covering the costs. With Petplan on your side, you can follow your veterinarian’s recommended course of treatment knowing that your pet health insurance will help provide you with financial peace of mind.

Why you need it

Health care can get costly without pet insurance.

Just like everyone else in your family, pets get sick sometimes. In fact, one in three pets will need unexpected veterinary care each year.* And it isn’t just older dogs and cats, either. According to 2010 Petplan claims data, dogs under the age of one are actually 2.5 times more likely than their older brethren to have an unexpected visit to the vet. And while every parent wants to provide their pets with the best care possible, sometimes the high costs can force you to ask your vet for less expensive alternatives.

Every six seconds, a pet parent is faced with a vet bill for more than $3,000.*

These days, there are more lifesaving diagnostics and treatments – like MRI, surgery and chemotherapy – available to our pets than ever. But with advancing veterinary medicine comes rising costs. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the cost of veterinary care has more than doubled over the past 10 years.*

You want to make the best decision for your pet, regardless of cost.

That’s where pet insurance comes in. By insuring your pet’s health, you can have peace of mind that, should your pet get sick or injured, your costs can be covered. After all, when your four-legged family member isn’t well, the last thing you want to do is worry about how you’re going to pay for it all.

What is costs

You can’t put a price on unconditional love.

But you can budget for it.

No matter how much we love and pamper our pets, each year one in three will fall ill or have an accident that requires an unexpected trip to the veterinarian.*

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, pet parents will spend $12.2 billion on veterinary care this year alone, up from $11.0 billion last year and $8.2 billion five years ago. And as veterinary medicine continues to advance, those numbers are expected to rise. Pet insurance can help you budget for these unexpected costs.

For those of you wondering about pet insurance cost, the illustration below shows some of the actual conditions and costs for claims reimbursed by Petplan in the past:

Best Friends Pet Care Pet Insurance

To help you understand how Petplan would reimburse you following a claim, here’s an example based on an actual Petplan pet insurance claim:

Petplan Bronze policy with 90% reimbursement
and $50 deductible
Claim for Blanco, a Bichon Frise from NY, NY with diabetes  $5,000
10% co-pay  - $500
Deductible (per condition)  - $50
Total reimbursement  $4,450


With Petplan, there are no benefit schedules. Just straightforward reimbursement based on your actual veterinary costs.

For enrollment information, please visit

Information written and provided by Pet plan. 

Dog Vaccines 101

As a dog owner, you hear a lot about vaccinations and how your four-legged friend has to have them. But what are vaccinations? And what vaccinations should your dog have?

Simply put, vaccinations are given to protect your pet against disease. During vaccination, a modified bacteria, parasite or virus is administered to your pet by injection or intra-nasally. The vaccination triggers an immune response within your pet’s body to protection against a specific disease.

It is important to remember that not all vaccines are 100% effective; a vaccinated pet may not develop adequate immunity and can become ill. However, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

The most commonly administered core vaccine in dogs is typically given as a single injection which contains vaccine against canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.

According to the 2011 guidelines developed by the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccination Task Force, dog vaccines can be divided into those that are essential (Core vaccines) and nonessential (Noncore vaccines).

Here is a breakdown of what the vaccines are and what they protect against:


Infection with this virus can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in the early stages and progress to neurologic disease. Many dogs who are infected may recover from the illness but may be left with long-term neurologic side effects. This disease is highly contagious between dogs.


Infection with this virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea as well as bone marrow problems. Infection can be deadly if left untreated and is highly contagious between dogs.


Vaccination against adenovirus provides protection against canine infectious hepatitis (liver disease) as well as respiratory illness that can also sometimes be involved in the development of “kennel cough”.


This is a viral infection which affect the respiratory system and may be involved in the development of “kennel cough”.

Rabies is given as a single vaccine and is considered a core vaccine (required by law in many areas). The rabies virus is carried by warm blooded mammals and infection with the virus can cause progressive neurologic disease which can be fatal to all mammals, including humans.

The need for other, noncore vaccines will be determined by where you live and what your dog’s lifestyle and potential risk of exposure is. These include:


This disease is caused by a bacterial infection and is most prevalent in moist climates. It can result in damage to the liver and/or the kidneys and severe infection can lead to organ failure and respiratory disease.


Infection with influenza causes severe upper respiratory signs similar to the flu in people. Dogs that are not treated can go on to develop pneumonia and, in some cases, the infection can lead to death.


This is a bacterial respiratory infection commonly referred to as “kennel cough”. The vaccine and is typically given to lessen the risk of upper respiratory infection in dogs while boarding or those who are frequently exposed to other dogs (e.g., dog shows, dog parks).

Lyme disease

Caused by a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets who live in or travel to areas where there is a high incidence of the disease.

The recommended vaccines for your dog as well as how often they are needed will vary. As always, feel free to discuss any questions or concerns that you have regarding your pets vaccines with your family veterinarian.


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