dog owners

Five Ways Dogs Can Change Your Life

rescue_puppyBeing a dog owner is not easy.  To raise a dog properly, you need to devote time, money and passion to the job.  Moments of frustration are bound to occur, and at regularly intervals.  Successes are often followed by small failures and false starts.  You may even lose your favorite pair of shoes to your puppy’s teeth.

As any dog owner can tell you, however, all of that effort is worth it.  Bringing a dog into your home will change your life.  Your dog’s unconditional love, unsinkable spirit and unabashed smiles can improve your health and well-being in many ways.

To prove our point, Dog Tails has compiled a list of the top 5 ways that dogs can change your life for the better.  Read on, and learn more about how these amazing creatures make our lives better every day.

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Facebook for Fido: The Best Pet Social Media Sites

Last week in DogTails, we had a great time profiling our favorite social media all-star pets.  Continuing with the theme of pet-centric social media, this week we want to share our opinions on a few of the most popular social sites and applications for pet owners.

We love how these tools now allow users to share their pets’ stories, photos and videos, and connect with fellow furry friends around the world.  These sites are entertaining, informative, and a great way to keep your friends near and far up-to-date on your pet’s cutest, funniest, sweetest and craziest moments.  We hope you’ll enjoy our reviews, and try one out for yourself and your pet! Who knows, maybe they’ll be the next social media pet stars!

Dogbook

Facebook is the most popular social media site on the planet, and this fun application allow you to share information with your fellow pet owners without leaving the site.  Created in 2007, Dogbook allows owners to create their own mini-pages for their pets.  Like a regular Facebook profile, a Dogbook profile include pictures, status updates, lists of friends (human, canine or other animal) and even location tracking.

dogbookBut what about your other animals?  Don’t worry, there are apps for them too.  Catbook, Horsebook, Birdbook, Ferretbook, Rodentbook and Fishbook are all there and ready to use.  The apps’ creators have also developed an iPhone app exclusively for Dogbook users.  It allows them to see where their dog’s “friends” are and meet up for a playdate.  (Watch this video for more details.)

Dogbook is easy to use, and is a great way to connect with your pet-owning friends and meet new friends across the globe.  You can join groups based on breed or geography or any other characteristic you choose. There are currently over 2 million users on Dogbook and another 1 million on Catbook.  That’s quite a crowd!

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Cats & Dogs: Enemies or Best Friends?

dog&catIn honor of the new film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which opened this past weekend in theaters across the country, DogTails is tackling the fascinating relationship between America’s most popular pets.  For every story of a dog who loves cats, there are even more stories of dogs who love fighting with cats.

In honor of this love-hate relationship, we have compiled the following tips to help all the brave animal lovers who share their homes with a dog and a cat.  Follow these tips, and you can help keep the peace between your two furry best friends.

The most important rule of introducing a new dog to your cat (and vice versa) is to take it slow.  When it comes to a dog and a cat’s first meeting, do not just open the door and let them chase each other.  Instead, let the two animals slowly move closer to each other, while maintaining control of them at all times.  As a result, it is best to have another person help with the introductions, so that both animals can be quickly pulled away if necessary.

As always, treats are helpful to encourage good behavior in your dog.  Ask the dog to look away from the cat and look at you.  If he complies, give him a treat – he is doing very well!  If he does not comply, continue working with the dog to calm him down and divert his attention away from the animal. Toys and treats and words of praise are all helpful here.

The ultimate goal is to allow the dog and cat to interact without chasing and lunging.  Some dogs will need more guidance and training than others – it depends on the dog’s breed and history.  Also, you will want to muzzle larger or more aggressive dogs when they are first introduced to smaller animals like cats, to ensure that no one gets hurt.

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Pet Insurance: The Other Healthcare Debate

Dog HealthcareIn May, DogTails explored the growing problem of canine cancer, reporting that 1 in 3 dog deaths are a result of the disease.  In a good sign for the future, veterinarians and researchers are making great strides to treat cancer and other illnesses that affect pets.  Yet with these high-tech treatments comes a higher price tag.

In light of the current recession and the rising cost of veterinary care, many pet owners are forced to make incredibly difficult decisions regarding treatment of their beloved pets.  While these treatment decisions will never be stress-free, pet health insurance may help ease the burden in many cases.

In this post, we will help you navigate the world of pet insurance.  We’ll focus on the decision to purchase, and for those owners who want to learn more about the options, we’ll discuss how to evaluate prices and plans.

What Is Pet Insurance, and Does My Dog Need It?

Pet insurance, like our health insurance, helps defray the costs of future medical bills.  Pet owners pay monthly, quarterly or annual payments to the insurance provider, who then covers a certain percentage of medical expenses incurred by the pet.

While many veterinarians recommend purchasing pet insurance, it is far from a requirement.  In fact, only 850,000 out of the 72 million dogs and 82 million cats kept as pets in the US were covered by insurance as of 2007.

With so few insured pets, you may be thinking, “do I really need pet insurance?”  In order to answer this question, you need think about the visit to the vet all pet owners dread.  Your dog is sick, but could survive if the vet performs an expensive medical procedure.  Do you pay for the treatment, no matter the price?

It is in gut-wrenching situations like this that pet insurance may prove important.  If you have insurance, you may be reimbursed for a significant percentage of the cost of the treatment (hundreds or even thousands of dollars).  In other words, you may be able to avoid the heart-breaking decision to put down a beloved pet that could have been saved.

Of course, the situation is not as simple as “buy insurance, save your pet.”  You need to think hard about how much you are able to put aside for pet healthcare.  Insurance is not cheap: it can cost from $300 to over $1,000 a year depending on the plan, not including deductibles owners will have to meet before being reimbursed.  And insurance does not cover all conditions, and never covers preexisting ones.  So, if you are seeking insurance for a pet with a documented medical condition, insurance will not cover any expenses related to that condition.

To decide whether or not pet insurance is right for you, you need to think realistically about what you would spend on a life-saving procedure for your pet.  If your number is very high, or if you can’t come up with a number at all, then pet insurance may be a good investment.  If you are more conservative in your estimate, then insurance may not be cost-effective for you.

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