Six tips to protect furry friends at home and away

June 9, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

​The pandemic-pet boom aside, pet ownership in the United States has grown dramatically since the 1980s. In Washington, 62.7% of homes include a pet and in Oregon, it's just slightly less at 59.2%. Millennials are the most pet-loving generation, with 73% of households nationwide owning a pet.

GettyImages-1179643732.jpgAnd the one thing all pet parents have in common? A loving desire to keep their furry family members happy and healthy.

Get a PEMCO discount on pet insurance

PEMCO recently partnered with Pets Best Insurance Services to give PEMCO members a 5% discount on pet insurance. You can choose different levels of protection for different pets, including coverage for accidents, illnesses and wellness care.

Plans start at $10 or less per month and can reimburse up to 90% of eligible veterinary care costs, minus your deductible.

Prevention is the best insurance of all

These six tips can help save your pet from an emergency trip to the vet:

1) Safeguard pets from household toxins. 

Like toddlers, pets often explore the world by taste. Dogs can be sickened by chocolate, Xylitol (an artificial sweetener in sugar-free gum and candy), grapes, raisins, onions and garlic. With cats, also watch out for some species of lilies, flea/tick medications formulated for dogs and essential oils. Beware of medicines left out or accidentally dropped on the floor. It takes a split second for eager pets to gulp down a pill that they mistake for a treat.

When solving a rodent problem, avoid using bait. Not only can pets eat the poison bait, but cats, in particular, may eat a rodent that has consumed bait and become sick themselves.

If there's a chance your pet may have eaten something poisonous, act fast! Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. 

2) Choose pet-safe gardening products. 

Because pets lick their paws, it's surprisingly easy for them to ingest chemicals sprayed on the lawn or flower beds. Read manufacturer labels and seek pet-friendly formulas.

3) Keep dangerous "chewables" like children's toys out of reach. 

Small parts can lead to choking hazards and swallowed batteries are toxic. Keep a lid on garbage cans and under-sink waste baskets to ensure your pet doesn't eat something they shouldn't.

4) Consider an indoor-only lifestyle. 

Cats' instinctual hunting not only impacts local wild bird populations, but it exposes the cat to parasites and disease. Cars, predators and territorial fights with other pets also pose significant hazards as does toxic, but unfortunately tasty (to a pet), leaked antifreeze from parked cars. Free-roaming cats live an average of less than three years compared to 15 to 18 years for their indoor-only counterparts, according to For dogs, make sure backyard fences are gap-free and escape-resistant.

Even indoor pets should be microchipped, licensed and wear ID tags in case they manage to slip out an open door.

5) Buckle in your pet's carrier in the backseat. 

Don't just set it on the seat. You also can use a harness (never a collar) that attaches to your car's rear seatbelt. For cats and miniature dog breeds, a booster seat improves the harness's effectiveness. As tough as it is, try to resist those puppy dog eyes begging to ride unrestrained. It can create a dangerous situation for both of you. In a 30-mph crash, a 60-pound dog can slam into the dashboard (or you) with 2,700 pounds of force. See five more tips to make road trips safer for your pet.

6) Beware of holiday decorating dangers. 

Veterinarians cite tinsel as the No. 1 holiday danger to pets, leading to intestinal obstruction if they eat it. Spun-glass angel hair, popular in the 1960s and 70s, is no longer sold in stores, but still may be part of vintage decorations. Even its safer PVC version can seriously harm pets if they eat it. Spray-on snow flocking is a concern with pets that might view your holiday tree as a big stick to chew on. While poinsettias have a reputation for toxicity, holly berries and mistletoe can be much more dangerous to pets (and kids!).

If you're entertaining, give pets a quiet, secure haven during the festivities. Noisy, unfamiliar houseguests and holiday fireworks can lead to dangerous behaviors like destructive chewing, aggression (toward other pets or people) and running away. 

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