Q: My dog is smart and sneaky. When his “mother” gives him an allergy pill inside crumbled meat or sausage, he appears to eat it. But he’s fooled us. We realized this when we found three pills under the bed. Can dogs plan in advance to hide their pills? Also, our dog was once attacked by a big, black dog, and now he’s aggressive toward all big, black dogs. Has he become a racist? – J.O., Cyberspace
A: I doubt your dog plans in advance to hide his pills. Instead, he’s managed to detect the pills by their scent – even hidden inside a lump of meat. Many dogs detect pills in the same way, but the meat is so appealing that they inhale everything in seconds. For your dog, the pill is too much of a turn off.
Some might argue that your dog isn’t intentionally attempting to fool you; he simply doesn’t want the pill and deposits it out of the way. Others might argue that he is being “sneaky.”
To solve the problem, simply medicate your dog without attempting to hide the pills in his food. If you don’t know how to do this, consult a veterinary professional. One way is to offer a yummy treat, then the (apparently bitter) pill, followed by a second treat.
As for black dogs, your pet is merely responding to them based on experience. I know of a dog who was once hit by a branch falling from a tree. For the rest of his life, he avoided walking under trees. You or I might be tempted to behave the same way, though we do have a different thought process compared to dogs.
Once bitten, dogs don’t forget, but how they respond may vary from dog to dog. For example, if a Dachshund is responsible for biting another dog, the pooch that was bitten may become wary of all Dachshunds, all small dogs, or even all dogs. Other dogs who’ve been bitten may not be affected at all.
Q: I’m sold on pet insurance and am looking around for a company. Comparing policies is confusing, though. Any hints? – R.S., Ann Arbor, Mich.
A: Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan Pet Insurance, has some general advice.
“What are you seeking?” he asks. “No question, everyone with pet insurance should want coverage for catastrophic illness or accidents. But are you also interested in coverage for preventative care? That’s a matter of personal preference.”
Benson continues, “Some companies may only cover conditions at the start. So, if a pet develops allergies, say, within the first year, the condition is covered. However, when the policy comes up for renewal, the problem is now considered a pre-existing condition. This is something to watch out for.”
Reimbursement is all over the map. Some companies reimburse half or less of the original cost of care. Petplan, for example, provides reimbursement ranging from 80 percent to 100 percent. Pay attention to how that reimbursement works, Benson notes. With some companies, there may be a limit of a dollar amount per claim – say $500 or $1,000. At Petplan, the limit is not per claim, but up to $22,000 per pet annually.
Benson is the first to concede that choosing a pet insurance company is complicated, since you’re not always comparing “apples to apples.” One great resource features comments from pet owners: www.petinsurancereview.com. To learn more about pet insurance, also check out www.petinsuranceuniversity.com. Both are independent websites.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can’t answer all of them individually, he’ll answer those of general interest in his column. Send email to email@example.com. Include your name, city and state.