Author Archives: Kristi Eaton

Petco Holiday Pet Food Drive

posted November 5th, 2010 by
Petco 2

With the season of giving soon upon us, it’s important that we don’t forget about the four-legged friends who impact our lives daily.

Beginning today, the PETCO Foundation and PETCO are hosting America’s First Annual Pet Food Drive to help insure that all pets receive an adequate amount of food this holiday season. The drive will last through Nov. 14.

In March, the PETCO Foundation and PETCO began a pet food bank program at 250 of its stores – a first-of-its-kind program that has now expanded to the more than 1,000 PETCO stores in the country. Pet food bins are designated at each of the stores for year-round collections.

Each store has partnered with a local food bank or animal welfare group to donate the items to families that are struggling to buy food for their pets. So far, according to PETCO, more than 110 tons of food and litter have gone to families and pets in need.

“We believe that no one should have to give up their pet companions due to financial stress, and our associates and customers agree,” said Paul Jolly, the PETCO Foundation’s executive director and a PETCO vice president. “Our national food bank program makes it easy for people to help keep pets well-nourished and with the families who love them in tough economic times. During this two-week national drive, we’re asking the communities we serve to give a little extra and help us raise awareness for this important year-round program.”

Head to PETCO’s local locations at 4915 E. 41st St., 8802 East 71st St. or 9645 South Riverside Drive to donate.

– Kristi Eaton

Halloween Pet Safety

posted October 28th, 2010 by
iStock_000014461249XSmall 2

Story by Kristi Eaton

Ahead of the spookiest day of the year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is warning pet owners about some common and not-so-common dangers for our beloved four-legged friends. 

1. No tricks or treats for those on four legs. It may seem harmless — how much could one little piece of candy harm Fido? A lot, actually. Most people know that chocolate is very dangerous to dogs and cats, but many people don’t realize that candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If for some reason your pet has ingested something toxic, immediately call you vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Pumpkins and decorative corn can cause stomach ache in pets, so make sure your pet stays clear of them. 

3. The same thing goes for any decorative lights or candles, especially those candles lighting up pumpkins. If chewed, wires from lights can burn your pet. Cats and dogs can become intrigued with a candle in a pumpkin and knock it over, causing a fire that could harm them and the house. 

4. Take careful thought when deciding whether or not to dress your pet up. For some animals, dressing up causes a lot of undue stress and it’s better to let them go costume-less, the SPCA says. And for those who are willing and able to get dressed up, make sure their costumes do not have any loose pieces or material they could choke on. 

5. Keep most animals in a separate room during trick-or-treating. Most animals do not handle the constant stream of strangers well. But if you do allow your pet to answer the door with you, make sure they do not dart outside each time the door is opened.

– Kristi Eaton

Pet Halloween Costumes

posted October 21st, 2010 by
Pirate Dog

Story by Kristi Eaton

There’s less than two weeks until Halloween, which means if you plan to dress your pet up for the fun holiday, now is the time to get the costume.

Head to the local PetSmart so you can dress up Fido as a pumpkin ($7.50), monster ($3.50), pirate ($2.50) or shark ($7.50).

For those looking for costumes that are a bit more detailed for canines, head over to There, you can find a variety of themed costumes, including Princess Leia and Darth Vader (each $15.95), Batman and Superman (each $14.95) or Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse (each $23.95).

Although with a more limited selection, cats also have a few costumes to choose from at For $26.95, your feline friend can be royalty for a night with a king or queen costume. A cat from hell sells for $10.95, devil ears and all.

Target is also a great place to buy costumes. With costumes for both the four-legged and two-legged variety, it’s convenient to buy both yours and your pet’s all at once. Does your dog have a tough bark? Dress him up as a biker for $19.99. Maybe you want to match? You can both get sailor costumes, with his costing $19.99. A Hawaiian-themed outfit, including lei, runs $19.99, although Fido may never forgive you for dressing him up in a Hawaiian print shirt. Keep that in mind.

– Kristi Eaton

Pet Insurance – Is it worth it?

posted October 15th, 2010 by


Just recently, Suzanne Hurst was asked to euthanize a three-year-old dog. The owner, says Hurst, a veterinarian at Kindness Animal Hospital, could just not afford the back surgery that the dog needed. Instead, the animal was put down. It was heartbreaking for all involved, she says, and a tragedy watching the owner make the decision to put the dog down because of money.

“People shouldn’t have to make decisions like that,” she says.

As pets become more and more a part of our families, many owners are considering buying pet insurance. A study conducted by research group Packaged Facts shows that form 2003 to 2007, the number of cats, dogs and exotic animals insured in the United States increased 56 percent. Pet owners insure their dogs over any other pet, according to the report. In 2008, 2 million dogs were covered while approximately 900,000 cats were insured, the American Pet Products Association says.

Although those numbers only account for a tiny percentage of the overall number of dogs and cats in the country, the use of insurance for a pet seems to be growing. And, according to Hurst, there is no reason not to have it. “Ideally everyone should have health insurance for their pets. You never know when an accident or major illness will occur,” Hurst says.

Although vets charge far less for procedures compared to humans, things can quickly add up, she adds. “It is not unusual for a medical bill to be several thousand dollars when we treat, for instance, a dog that has been hit by a car or a cat that has developed diabetes.”

She says the greatest source of stress in her line of work is having her hands tied when she is trying to help a sick animal whose owner cannot afford the necessary procedure.

“When lack of money on the client’s part causes us to have to forgo diagnostics or choose between an x-ray and blood work when really both are needed is extremely frustrating,” the vet says. “When surgery is necessary but we have to opt for euthanasia or a pet who will be left with chronic pain or dysfunction, it is very upsetting.”

Vets try to work with clients as much as possible, but the bottom line, Hurst says, is that a profit has to be made to stay in business. While practicing in Florida, Hurst says about 5 percent of her clients had insurance for their pets and seemed happy with their decision.

“These clients brought their pets in more frequently which resulted in better medical care and a healthier pet,” she says. “They were able to proceed with surgeries or treatments that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.”

Not all owners are sold on the idea of insurance, though. Tulsa resident Caitlin Getchell, who owns Ollie, a Yorkie, says insuring her dog seems pointless. She adds that she already has enough bills to pay each month and wouldn’t want to add one more.

For her part, Hurst reiterates that insurance for your four-legged friend can be affordable. “Maybe the super deluxe ‘Gold’ plan that covers every little thing and has no deductible is too expensive for your budget, but there are plans that are very affordable,” she adds.

What To Look For
There are about a dozen different companies offering health insurance for your pet. They are mostly similar to one another and similar to human heath insurance providers, Hurst says. A positive, she says, is that overall, pet insurance is more comprehensive, less restrictive and far less expensive than human health insurance as you can pick the coverage you want.

Very basic policies, that cover accident only, can be purchased for under $10 a month. Some policies cover illnesses, including cancer and breed-specific conditions. Like with human healthcare insurance plans, the more comprehensive plans cover a wide array of options, but also cost more, Hurst notes. The most comprehensive plans will cover illnesses, injuries, accidents, diagnostics, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medications and hereditary conditions. Some plans even include coverage for boarding and kennel fees and will pay out a set amount for vacation cancellation due to a pet’s illness or for the loss of a pet due to theft, straying or death.

“For an additional fee you can even get coverage for wellness care including vaccines, dentals, spays, neuters and flea and heartworm prevention,” the veterinarian says. “You can choose your annual deductible and your per incident deductible. One company allows you to choose the amount of reimbursement from 80 percent to 100 percent.” A major benefit of pet insurance compared to insurance for humans, is that owners with insured pets can use any veterinarian, emergency clinic or specialist they choose; there are no networks that your pet must use for care.

The drawback to that, however, Hurst says, is that most vets are not currently set up for direct pay from the insurance companies. Instead, she says: “You must pay your bill and then get reimbursed by the insurance company. Reimbursements usually take a week or two. Some veterinarians may even be willing to have you cover your co-pay and then pay the remainder of the bill when you get reimbursed by the insurance company.” Another thing to remember, she says, is that pre-existing conditions are not covered in pet health insurance plans, so it is best to get an insurance policy for your pet when they are young and healthy.

Should you get insurance?
Two websites to compare plans

Learn about the various plans and compare and contrast pricing and options, read reviews from customers who have the provider and get quotes online for your specific pet.

Treatments that are covered by most pet insurance plans:
• Initial and follow-up visits to the veterinarian for illness or injury
• Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures, such as ultrasounds, X-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s, and blood tests
• Non-elective surgery
• Hospitalization
• Anesthesia
• Prescription medication
• Euthanasia for humane reasons

Conditions or treatments that may not be covered under the plan:
• Routine care and well pet visits to the veterinarian
• Vaccinations
• Deworming
• Dental care and dental diseases such as gingivitis
• Pre-existing conditions
• Chronic illnesses lasting more than one year
• Genetic testing and conditions
• Cosmetic procedures such as tail docking and ear cropping
• Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or holistic treatments
• Organ transplants

Plenty of October Pet Events!

posted October 12th, 2010 by
Paws in the Park 09 4 2

Story by Kristi Eaton

October is chock full of events for pets and their owners, including plenty of opportunities to get festive.

This Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., head over to Owasso for Barktoberfest, an event celebrating “adopt a shelter dog” month.

Activities planned include dog vaccination shots (Rabies, Bordatella and worming shots will be $5 while DHPPL4 will cost $10); sessions with Naomi McDonald, an animal communicator; microchipping offered by Small Animal Hospital of Owasso for $15; giveaways; and pet contests.

The contests include: fastest tail wagger, smallest pet/largest pet, costume stroll, pet/owner look-a-like and Best funny or silly pet trick.

Barktoberfest will be held at Tyann Plaza, 9455 North Owasso Expressway.

For more information, visit

The following weekend, Oct. 21-24, head over to River West Festival Park in Tulsa for Oktoberfest, celebrating everything German in Green Country. Pets are allowed on the festival grounds, but not in the tents. There will be food, games, carnival rides and, of course, beer.

The last weekend of October will be your last chance this month to get Fido all dressed up. Head to Brookside for the annual BooHaHa event for more food, costume contests, games and pet contests, in addition to a parade.  Check  for a more detailed list of Halloween festivities for your pet.

– Kristi Eaton

Be Careful with Online Pet Meds

posted October 1st, 2010 by
Veterinarian Prescription

With the economy still in tatters, it’s an option that many pet owners might be considering: turning to the Internet for your pet’s needed medication to save a few bucks and get around needing a prescription.  But according to a recent report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while some online companies are legitimate pharmacies, others are dispensing pills and medication that could greatly harm your pet, says Martine Hartogensis, DVM, deputy director Office of Surveillance and Compliance in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), in a release.   There are several red flags to look out for, Hartogensis says. Some foreign pharmacies will advertise pet medication without a prescription, but, in fact, “there is a risk of the drugs not being FDA-approved,” the vet says.   Also, do not trust sites that say a veterinarian will evaluate an animal based on a form that the owner filled out, Hartogensis says.   “A veterinarian should physically examine an animal prior to making a diagnosis to determine the appropriate therapy,” says Hartogensis.   The FDA is noticing in particular that pet owners are going online to buy nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heartworm preventives.   The FDA gives the following recommendation if you are thinking about buying medication for your pet online: 

– Order from a Web site  that belongs to a Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacy. VIPPS stands for the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. 

– Order from an outsourced prescription management service that your veterinarian uses.

– Kristi Eaton

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