For the past several years, the newest trend in pet ownership has been pet insurance. Do your pets need to have pet insurance?

What Is Pet Insurance?
Health insurance is important so that people can get the medical services that they need. What about your pets?
Pet insurance is a medical plan to cut down on the cost of caring for your pet. Some services at the veterinarian can cost thousands. Think of your cat accidently swallowing tinsel from the Christmas tree or your dog getting cataracts. How much will you have to pay to heal or even save your pet?

What You Should Know about Pet Insurance
Before you make your decision, here are a few facts about the concept of pet insurance.

All policies are not the same so read the fine print. Certain companies and depending your pet’s age and even breed, don’t cover as much as you’d think. You could have pet insurance but still end up paying for services you need because they are not covered by the policy.

Compute the cost- Over the lifetime of your pet, you could spend thousands of dollars just for the policy. This may be proactive if you have a breed of pet that is prone to serious illness.

Check with your vet-Before buying a pet insurance policy, find out if your vet accepts that particular insurance. If they don’t, you might have to find a new policy or a new vet.
Is your pet insurable? – Some companies might not cover certain pets. Check to be sure that your pet can even be insured in the first place.

Other Alternatives
If you’re not in the market for buying insurance, there are other steps you can take to keep your pet from needing expensive care.

Save for it-Put aside money in a fund to take care of unforeseen pet expenses. Put aside a little each month and only use it for pet needs.

Keep your pet healthy-Take measures to protect your pet. Buy nutritious food without preservatives. Consider opting for an indoor pet to avoid contact with fleas, mites, potentially dangerous wild animals and other diseases. Also, get regular check-ups at the vet. Regular exercise also keeps pets from getting fat and unhealthy.

Buy discount meds-Instead of purchasing at a vet office, try discount pet med sites for all your pet needs.

Are you heading to your local shelter this weekend and wondering should I adopt a puppy or would an older dog be the perfect match?

Yes, a puppy is precious, but also very needy. You’ll spend far more time with that puppy in the early months than you would with an older dog. The shelters are crowded with dogs – many just a few months out of their puppy phase.

A puppy is going to adjust to your home better than an older dog, but that doesn’t mean the older dog won’t love your home, too. Puppies and older dogs each have their own specific requirements.

A puppy has to be trained from square one. An older dog might already be trained, but could have more vet bills if it’s not a completely healthy older dog. Or, it might be an old dog who for example doesn’t enjoy being around children anymore.

If you’re an older pet parent, would a puppy’s energy be too taxing on your own? Sometimes there’s nothing better than an older dog who’s calmer and already knows how to walk on a leash so you’re not dragged down the road.

Also, look at other pets you might already have in the home. Sometimes it’s easier for a puppy to fit into the family but some dogs and cats might find the high energy and play antics a bit too much especially if they’re a senior pet.

Most people can remember their first pet from childhood. Kids who get pets during their childhood learn to socialize with others at an early age while others wait until they’re adults before they venture into pet parenthood. Either way, there are certain pets that are better suited to your age and maturity level.

First Pets for Kids

When buying pets for children, consider that some children might like the idea of a pet but not the pet itself – especially if it is big. It could seem threatening to them. For any child, choose a baby pet if you can. Then, the pet can grow up with the child.

Fish – Even small kids can learn to feed, clean and care for their pet. Fish don’t need much attention beyond feeding. Choose fish for kids who are at least school age who have learned not to grab at things like fish swimming in an aquarium.

Gerbils – They are more amenable than guinea pigs. Kids can watch them play and learn to feed them. Again, they are best for children who are at least school age who can learn to handle them with care and also feed them properly.

Puppies – Introducing kids to new pets when the pet is a baby is helpful to them both. Kids learn to touch them with gentle hands, walk them and learn how they interact.

Frogs – Little kids often like these a lot. They can watch them hop around and listen to them croak. Frogs often eat live bugs so kids can spend time catching some and watching their slimy pet eat.

First Pets for Adults

With adults, pet choice can be a little more flexible because of the maturity level. One thing to consider though: How much time do you have to devote to a pet?

Cats – Cats make great pets for homes where the owners have to be out for at least part of the day. Some like to cuddle and others can do without it. Either way, cats are generally self-sufficient and don’t mind being left alone for longer periods of time as long as they have food and water.

Dogs – The type of dog you choose will depend on your activity level. If you don’t have time to housebreak them, choose an older dog. For busy people, a dog that doesn’t need much exercise is ideal. If you are active, choose a dog that can keep up with you.

Choosing a pet takes research and planning, especially for your first pet. Consider age, time commitment and activity level of the soon-to-be owner.

Moving is a stressful time for everyone in the family including pets so here are some tips to help you get your pet ready for moving day.

Lessen the Stress
Pets can be stressed over moving just like people. How can you tell? Your pet may refuse to eat or be more nippy than usual to you and others. Recognize these signs and try to keep your pet calm. Take breaks and play with them. Leave their belongings until last in your packing so they can have something familiar around them.

Change identification – You’ll have a new address and your pet’s collar (if applicable) needs to reflect that. If they get away at a rest stop or run loose as you haul boxes in at your new place, you want those who find him to be able to find you. Be sure to include your cell phone number.

Pet Carriers
Buy a pet carrier – It’s not safe for a pet to roam free in a moving car. A pet carrier keeps them safe. Plastic ones allow the pet to see out of the door without the possibility of getting tangled in the wire sided cages. Introduce your pet to the new carrier by placing it in their area several weeks before the move.

Visit the vet – Some pets get motion sick. If your pet has never left home you might not be sure, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Get medication for it just in case. The vet can also suggest ways to calm your pet on long rides.

Pit Stops
Make frequent stops on the trip – Pets can get just as restless as children. Make regular stops at rest areas to stretch your legs and to give your pet a bathroom break. They can work off some nervous energy from being pent up in the car.

Get Cozy
Keep them comfortable – Put a familiar blanket and toy in the pet carrier so your pet will feel at home.

Pet Friendly
Plan your sleeping arrangements on the trip because not all hotels are “pet friendly.” Find areas where you can keep your pet with you in the room. This way you don’t have to drive all night.

Play It Safe
Keep pet safe as you move – Tie your pet up in the yard or on the porch while you move in. Afterward, let them walk around the house and get comfortable with their new surroundings.

One of life’s great mistakes is taking your children to look at dogs and cats if you aren’t serious about bringing home a pet. You can be sure that in a matter of minutes, your children will connect with the cutest little puppy or kitten.

You say no, then they hand the puppy to you and you’re face to face with pleading brown puppy eyes and crying children. So between the children’s begging and memories of the family dog from your youth, you’re paying for a shopping cart full of dog stuff – plus the puppy or kitten.

There’s no greater buyer’s remorse than that felt after buying a pet on impulse. As the days go by, you discover that the pet’s personality doesn’t mix well with your family. For example, you begin to resent taking the dog for walks or rushing home between appointments for feedings.

Those little pet accidents and chewed or clawed furniture become more and more irritating. That’s the point where some insensitive pet owners punish the dog or cat to the point of abuse or neglect.

Sadly, many of the animals in shelters are there because they were the impulse buy of a family or an adult who failed to consider what pet ownership involves. The owner chooses based on adorable puppy features without learning about the dog’s full-grown size or its breed characteristics.

In a matter of months, the conflict begins. Many pet in shelters are actually good dogs and cats with great potential as pets if they go home with the right family. The animal’s only “crime” was being chosen by people who were not prepared to include them into their family.

With regards to dogs, some breeds of dogs are more demanding than others. They need several hours of daily interaction or fun. If you don’t provide it, they find it on their own – and it usually involves chewing or barking.

Other dog breeds need daily room to run and play. These dogs may be great companions for children. Even dogs that play well with older children may not have the patience for young children or toddlers. You simply need to know what breed of dog is the best match for your home, family and available time.

Slow down as you visit animal shelters and spend time visiting the dogs and cats. Yes, it’s hard to leave a cute pet behind, but you want to make certain that when your dog or cat comes home, this really becomes home for the pet, and not just another place to pass through. You may want to leave the children home when you go back to visit the shelter and get more information about the pet’s history, behaviors and needs.

When your dog learns to follow a potty break routine, you have to avoid doing anything that makes the lessons harder. One way you can help this process is in managing the dog’s food intake.

Monitor and log the crate time and potty-breaks and make a note of any pattern in your dog’s elimination. Make sure that the food you provide and the timing of feedings don’t compromise training.

Feed your dog at the same time each day. If you feed him in the morning before leaving for work, put out the food as soon as you wake up. The dog can eat and begin to digest the food while you’re getting dressed and having your breakfast. Then the dog will be ready to potty before you leave. Never leave the dog food out all day. If your dog (especially a puppy) eats gradually all day long without a potty break, you’re asking for an accident to happen.

For crate training a puppy, make sure there’s a supply of water in a container that won’t tip. Also leave a few small dog biscuits or treats in case he gets hungry during the day – but don’t leave a full meal.

When you get home, take the dog out and then feed him. Don’t wait until late evening to feed dinner to the puppy or you’ll be cleaning up feces in the crate or on the rug. Allow a reasonable time for the digestion to occur.

No matter how much the dog begs, don’t give table scraps or snack foods. These are not well tolerated by most dogs and some snack foods can be harmful to the dog.

Just because a dog will eat what you give him in food scraps doesn’t mean it’s suitable for him. Feeding him the wrong kind of foods is likely to result in doggie diarrhea. If you don’t give your dog the non-nutrient snacks and junk that you eat, he won’t develop a taste for it – which is definitely better for everyone in the long run.

High quality dog food is made with added nutrients and designed for the age and weight of your dog. If you’re on a budget, find a place to skimp besides your dog food budget. Cheap dog foods can contain ingredients that cause stomach upset and have minimal nutritional value, so your dog may get fat but doesn’t grow and thrive.

If your dog gets diarrhea (even from high quality foods), check with your vet. There may be an ingredient in the food that doesn’t interact well with your dog’s digestive system. Ask the vet for a recommendation. If the next high quality food gets the same results, then your dog may have an internal illness or food allergy that the vet can diagnose.

It shouldn’t surprise you when your children ask for a pet because kids like cute things. It could be a request for a cat, dog, rabbit, horse, iguana, lizard, turtle or other animal. Your first reaction might be to say no, but instead, consider how it may impact your child if they had the experience of owning a pet. Having a pet in the home can be one way of teaching your kids responsibility.

However, there are a few things to consider.

First, choose a pet that is age appropriate. Small children are not mature enough to learn to take care of a puppy.. Instead, find a pet that can keep their interest while they learn all about it.

Second, know the benefits of kids and pets. Kids can learn to care for something other than themselves. Pets teach selflessness and empathy. Kids learn to put the needs of something else over their own.

Pets also teach social behavior. For many children, pets are their first friends. Also, a pet can help them make more friends by interacting with others who own pets. It’s a win-win situation for kids and parents as long as you can take on the responsibility of teaching your kid to care for their pet. It takes patience but it will be worth it in the long run.

Here are a few ways to help your kids get started.

* Take a class – Local animal shelters may hold classes to help others learn how to care for pets. This is useful before you buy the pet to gauge your child’s interest in certain pets.

* Visit animal shelters – Let kids see the animals and hold them. Some kids like the idea of pets but not the thought of handling them. For those kids, starting with a pet that they can’t touch like fish might be a better choice.

* Show them what to do – Before kids can learn to care for their pets, they need to see what it involved. If you have fish, show them how to feed the fish, clean the aquarium and change the water. It may take several times (if you have small kids), but they will catch on.

* Discuss the consequences of not caring for them – When they forget to feed or clean the cages, discuss what will happen: odor, germs and more of a mess than you originally would have had.

* Be backup – Watch your child care for their pets, but know that you are backup in case they forget to do anything.

Children can learn to care for pets at any age. Start with animals that don’t need much care and graduate up as your kid demonstrates maturity and interest.

Welcome Laura Benko to LLAPets. Laura’s a Feng Shui consultant who’s written a book called The Holistic Dog…

Live, Love, Adopt Pets (LLAP)-Could you tell us about yourself and what you do?
Laura Benko (LB)-I’m a modern Feng Shui consultant and after I wrote The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space, photographer Susan Fischer and I decided to do a book about a dog in their Space. She shot them in their favorite Space and I interviewed the dogs family and delved into the canines Mind (their behavior, quirks, personality) and their Body (breed, nutrition, health, wellness, physical attributes) and their Spirit (karmic connection of how the dog came into their owners life, lessons they were taught by their dogs presence, and the deep, unspoken bond between humans and their dogs.

LLAP-Are you a pet owner, and if so, could you tell us about them?
LB-My little love is Yogi. He’s a 9 year old Irish Terrier and he’s loyal, psychic, tenacious, playful, curious and constantly trying to tune into me – looking at my facial expressions, discerning my tones, picking up cues. He’s my loving companion – besides my husband!
Yogi was the inspiration for the book, as well as line of holistic dog products that my company makes.

LLAP-Tell us more about the book and how it can help us get a better understanding of our canine friends?
LB-The first half of the book has beautiful dog portraits and their stories. Each dog story ranges from a paragraph to a page or two. And each story kind of has a theme. Whether it is perseverance, unconditional love, life lessons, getting more exercise, becoming more social, learning patience or the responsibility of caregiving – every dog story has an overriding dog-to-human lesson or two that inadvertently unfolded in the interview process.
The second half of the book are interviews with canine practitioners in mind, body, and spirit. The canine mind experts cover behaviorists, scientists, trainers and a dog toy inventor. The canine body experts cover a canine nutritionist, holistic vets, canine chiropractor, and more. The experts in the spirit section cover dog psychics, canine reiki practitioners and a canine bereavement specialist.

I found that by delving into the canine mind, body and spirit it enriches the relationship between human and dog.

LLAP-You’re a Feng Shui consultant, so do you feel pets are essential to a home?
LB-Of course! (The only exception to this would be a completely unruly dog that is destroying the home and violent and aggressive to the occupants!) Dogs are sentient beings that raise the chi by adding their unconditional love and presence to a space. Their energy can set the tone for the atmosphere in your home. They are pure love.

LLAP-Finally, if you could offer readers one tip about making our homes more pet friendly what would it be?
LB-Creating both active and passive spaces for your dog are important. If you create an area just for them that is situated by a window, that is ideal. It makes them happy to see the world around them, see whose coming and going and feel like they are “protecting their land”. Also, having one or two quiet spaces for them – preferably putting their bed in one of them- is crucial for a dogs wellbeing.

About Laura-
Laura has been featured in Real Simple, Vogue, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan, Brides, More Magazine, METRO News, Montage, Newsday, Entrepreneur, New Jersey Life, Elements, Decorating Solutions, AM New York, New York Magazine, Thrive Market, Elle Decor,, Martha Stewart Whole Living Sirius Radio, The Nate Berkus Show and as a television segment host for Live It Up! (WLNY).

Laura teaches AIA credited seminars for architects about Feng Shui and Architecture as well as a seminar based on her book, The Holistic Home at Pratt in New York City. She currently consults for several developers, was named The City’s Best Feng Shui Expert by New York Magazine, was chosen as the new Feng Shui Expert for (see videos here), has written the bestselling book, The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind Body Spirit Space which (May 2018) won the Gold for the Independent Publishers Book Awards. She recently wrote her second book, The Holistic Dog: Inside The Canine Mind, Body, Spirit, Space (both Helios/Skyhorse). She is the founder and owner of the luxury goods enterprise, and will be launching her own school, The Holistic Home School of Feng Shui July 2019.

You can purchase an autographed copy of the Holistic Dog by using the following link-

Laura’s Dog Yogi

Training a dog is a practice which makes big demands on an owner. There is a lot of effort involved in ensuring that a dog behaves well, and each person will have their own views on which methods are the most effective and efficient. What is certain is that each dog will react in its own way to different stimuli. One of the most effective tools in keeping a dog on its best behavior is the human voice – make sure your dog gets used to the sound of yours, because this is how you will get the best out of it.

As humans, we are used to recognising the tone of each other’s voices. We have become so good at this that we almost don’t need to hear a person’s words in order to know what they are saying. A warning tone, a praising tone, a cheerful tone… each is recognisably different to us, and it will be recognisable to your dog too. In this respect, you can teach your dog well by allowing it to recognise what you are saying, without having to teach it a command.

Speaking in the correct tone need not even take practice. Usually, your emotions take control of your tone of voice, and skilled liars have to work to keep their tone even – so allowing your genuine tone to come through should be simple. The dog will come to recognise the cadence of what you say as much as the actual command – and it will be this that they come to associate with good and bad behaviors and their consequences.

Dogs in general have a tendency to follow their instincts and their influences. Canine behavior is something that has given countless experts reason to write countless books, and as far and wide as you go you are unlikely to find an expert who advocates an aggressive manner of dog training. The reason for this is that dogs absorb what they are taught very quickly, and behaving aggressively towards a dog will influence it to behave in an equally aggressive manner. Deep down in every dog, there is the instinct of a wolf – because that is what they have descended from.

Now, if you find a wolf in the wild and take an aggressive posture towards it, the wolf will not back down. It is likely to go for your throat and not stop until either you or it are incapacitated. Although domestic dogs have lost something of that instinct and ferocity, there is buried deep down a tendency to react with aggression when it is backed into a corner by an owner – if you strike a dog, it may back down. If you repeatedly strike it, it will react as any animal under threat – and it will hurt you.

Give a dog fun, exercise and affection and it will reciprocate in the most wonderful way. Its instinct is to form a bond with its owner and do anything it can to please them. Use this instinct to your advantage, and watch your dog blossom into someone you can be proud of, rather than a wolf with slightly blunted teeth and instincts.