How Soon Should Pet Owners Take Their Puppies or Kittens to the Vet?

by Lisa Fimberg on November 20, 2020

When one of your customers purchases a new puppy or kitten, they want to make sure that their new pup or kitten is healthy.  Of course, any pet store owner would want the same which is why it is important to encourage new pet owners to schedule a veterinarian appointment right away.

It is generally recommended that new puppy or kitten owners see a vet within the first ten to fourteen days after bringing their furry family member home.  Really, the sooner the better.

This is just one of the many questions your clients might ask upon purchasing a new puppy or kitten.

The first vet visit can not only determine if the puppy or kitten has any initial health concerns, but also can provide general care instructions like the best feeding schedule, as well as the different vaccinations that might be needed.  It is extremely advantageous to the new puppy or kitten owner, and also to you as well to make sure early on that the puppy or kitten is signed off with a clean bill of health.

The Veterinarian Visit

Your clients should call ahead of time to schedule their first vet visit as some vets can be booked for weeks.

In fact, during Covid, it might be harder for your clients to have a traditional meet and greet with their vet.  Most vet clinics currently are only allowing the dropping off and picking up of pets.

It is important that your clients bring any medical records that they have from the store or the breeder to the first vet visit.

What happens at the first vet visit?

When a new puppy or kitten owner brings their pet to the vet, the typical procedures that they can expect are the following:

  • Weighing the puppy or kitten
  • Taking their temperature to establish what is normal for that puppy or kitten
  • Listening to the puppy or kitten’s heartbeat
  • Full body examine including eyes, nose, and feet.
  • Examination of teeth and mouth
  • Examine coat and skin
  • Lymph nodes checked
  • Will usually take a fecal sample for a standard worm test.

During this visit, most vets will provide information that can help new pet owners with feeding schedules as well as future vaccinations.  They will also discuss the timing of spaying and neutering if that is something your client wants to pursue.

If the vet prescribes any medication or form of treatment, it is important that the specific directions are followed.   Future wellness checks and vaccination appointments should be scheduled after the first visit.

If your customers have any more questions about their first vet visit or any other pet care questions, our agents are happy to help!  They can take care of your customer calls or questions so you can focus on all your in-store clients.

Contact our success team to find out more about this service:

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Lisa FimbergHow Soon Should Pet Owners Take Their Puppies or Kittens to the Vet?

How Pet Owners Can Keep Their Pets Safe and Healthy in The Cold Winter Months

by Lisa Fimberg on November 18, 2020

Winter has arrived early, and it can be a big change for every pet owner and even their pets.  While it is easy for pet parents to bundle up and stay healthy, it is equally important that they take extra care with their pets during the cold winter months.

For new pet owners particularly, they might not realize the impact the cold has on their dog or cat.  Some dogs do thrive and love the snow, but they should only be outside for only a short period of time.

Below are some tips for pet owners to help keep their dogs and cats healthy and safe during the winter:

Pets must be kept indoors

Pet parents should never leave dogs and cats outdoors when the temperature drops, especially short haired or older dogs and all cats.  When they do go out, pet parents should watch them closely.  Dogs and cats are safer indoors and should be only allowed out for short walks and potty breaks.

Dogs and cats should wear extra clothing during the winter

Cats may not tolerate the extra clothes, but many dogs enjoy wearing sweaters or hats especially after a few cold days getting acclimated to them.  Hats and boots can help to protect their sensitive ears and feet from the freezing cold.  STORE TIP:  Keep winter clothes and booties in the front of your store for pet parents to peruse as they enter.

 Shorter dog walks are preferable

For dogs on a particular schedule when it comes to walking and exercising, while it might be difficult to alter, pet parents should be mindful of the temperature and the duration of outdoor activity.  Walking dogs later in the afternoon when it is warmer or not taking them out during a snow or rainstorm is better for their overall health.   Shorter walks are always optimal during the cold winter months.

No matter what the temperature is, a wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Dogs and cats are sensitive to severe cold and are susceptible to both frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold temperatures.  Further, their exposed skin or noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Pet parents should not leave dogs or cats in the car during winter

Dogs and cats should never be left alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the dog or cat to freeze to death.  There is so much attention to pets being left in hot cars during the summer, but the cold car during winter can be equally dangerous.

Pets’ paws’ need to be wiped after they have been outside

Pet parents should wipe a dog and cat’s paws with a damp towel after they have been outside.  The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of a dog or cat’s feet.  These chemicals are also toxic, which can be ingested if a dog or cat licks their paws.

Dogs and cats require just as much water during winter

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.  Pet parents should routinely watch the water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.

Plastic or ceramic water bowls rather than metal can be a better option in the cold, so a dog or cat’s tongue doesn’t stick and freeze to the metal.   STORE TIP:   Create a “winter special” or “winterized display” to sell these types of bowls and other winter items.

Pet parents need to watch the antifreeze

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a taste that can attract pets. Pet parents should wipe up all spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach for your pets. There are some types of antifreeze that are less toxic, but it is always best that they are kept away from cats and dogs.

Hoods of cars ought to be checked before driving

When a pet owner is off to work or school in the morning, they should knock on the hood of their car before starting their engine.  Outdoor cats, feral or domesticated (as well as other outdoor critters), tend to seek shelter and warmth from winter’s cold air. Warm car engines and tires on vehicles are common places for felines to take a cat nap.

Winter can be fun for pet owners and their pets – new scents, chasing snowballs and warm snuggles.  Pet store retailers can help pet owners by providing great options for winter clothing and supplies during the cold winter months.

If your customers have any questions about their pets during the winter season, our agents are here to help!  Contact our Success Team ( to learn more about our services.

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Lisa FimbergHow Pet Owners Can Keep Their Pets Safe and Healthy in The Cold Winter Months

What Traits Pet Retailers Should Look for In Hiring New Employees

by Lisa Fimberg on November 16, 2020

Your store employees are typically the first person a customer meets when walking into your store.  With the Covid pandemic still looming, each walk-in customer is an even more important prospect.  These days, customers are no longer “window shopping” but are in store and ready to purchase.

Therefore, hiring the right employees can be especially important to your store, sales, and bottom line.  If your employees do not possess certain fundamental skills, it can be a disservice to your customers and your store.  Having trained and caring employees can win over customers and help increase sales.

Below are some fundamental traits and skills that you should look for in hiring a new employee:

Communication Skills:

Strong communication skills are the foundation to build any new customer relationship.  It is very important for your employees to have the ability to speak properly and professionally.   It is a reflection on both them and the store to not only communicate effectively, but to really listen to develop a rapport with a new or existing customer.

Active Listening:

A good sales employee should have the ability to focus and actively listen.  It is important that any new employee can be focused on the task at hand so they can help with your customer’s needs.  When you are interviewing any new hire, ask them questions and make sure they are answering your direct questions and are truly listening.  While they might be nervous, you can usually assess their attention span, how well they listen or if they seem distracted.


New employees in the pet retail industry may be part time or even looking to secure their first job out of school.  While they might not have a deep employment history, it can be helpful if your potential employee has shown loyalty or longevity in school or even a sport.

Belonging to a team or club shows not only loyalty, but the ability to stay with a sport, hobby, or club.  Loyalty can be a sign of someone who could potentially stay longer and grow with your store which can help reduce turnover.

Enthusiasm and passion:

Look for potential employees who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they do or what they might potentially do at your store.  If they are still in school, are they enthusiastic or passionate about their studies or even hobbies?  An enthusiastic, passionate, po-active employee not only helps with sales and customers but can help to improve the morale of the store.


When any customer walks into your store, they want to be met by an employee who is professional, yet empathetic.  A customer might arrive at your store, for example, to find the puppy they want has been sold and is extremely disappointed.  Where a defensive response (telling the customer that they could have put a deposit down to secure the puppy) could drive the customer elsewhere, an empathetic response (acknowledging the disappointment and trying to provide another option) could create a loyal customer.

Empathy is really listening to the customers questions or complaints, being understanding, and showing the initiative/attempt to make things better for the customer.  Empathy and kindness go a long way in winning over new or even existing customers.

Team player:

Whether you are a hiring a new inventory clerk, a salesperson or even middle management, the ability for the new hire to be a team player is crucial.  Does your potential hire have a track record of working with teams?  Or being part of any team or club?  Finding an employee that knows that their success is not just about them, but the entire team is important to any store or business.

Hiring the right employees can be crucial to any store or business.  Of course, you really do not know how any new employee will turn out until they start working at your store.  However, asking questions upfront to determine if the potential hire shows the fundamentals of the above-mentioned skills is a great start to hiring the best candidates.

If you are having a hard time finding the right employees, our Success Team ( can help.  Our services can help your store get leads and offer support to take the burden off the in-store employees.

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Lisa FimbergWhat Traits Pet Retailers Should Look for In Hiring New Employees

Safe & Healthy Foods To Share With Your Dog This Thanksgiving, Plus Foods To Avoid

by American Kennel Club on November 10, 2020

  • Thanksgiving tends to coincide with an uptick in vet visits, due to dogs being fed unsafe human foods.
  • Turkey meat, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are all safe, healthy foods to share with your dog.
  • Bones, sweets, alcohol, and fatty foods are all things that should be avoided by dogs.

It’s not just humans that overeat at the holidays. Some of us may also be a bit indulgent with our dogs. But it doesn’t have to be the turkey bones or other not-so-great items from the Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. There are healthier choices to share with your dog. From green beans to sweet potatoes, plenty of fall favorites can be tasty (and safe) options for your dog to share in small portions during holiday festivities.

It may be tempting to offer up the turkey bones to include your dog in your family’s celebratory feast. But, because they can potentially cause damage to your pet’s digestive tract, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends keeping them out of reach. However, though turkey bones are off the table, there’s no need for your pet to feel left out.

Safe & Healthy Foods To Feed Your Dogs at Thanksgiving

Below, safe and satisfying foods that you can share with your dog this holiday season are discussed by Gary Richter, MS, DVM author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide: Breakthrough Nutrition and Integrative Care for Dogs and Cats and Veterinary Health Expert with Rover, Sara Ochoa, DVM and small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas, and the American Kennel Club’s Jerry Klein, CVO and emergency and critical care veterinarian who has been a valued member of the Chicago veterinary community for over 35 years.

Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and beta-carotene,” says Dr. Richter. “Sweet potato treats can be as simple as a dehydrated sweet potato chew.” Just remember not to give your pet sweet potatoes containing any added ingredients.

Potatoes. You get to enjoy both kinds of potatoes, and your dog can have that option, too. However, give only boiled or baked potatoes with no butter, sour cream, salt, or pepper, and serve in moderation.

“Apples are full of vitamins A and C and contain lots of great fiber, making them a healthy Thanksgiving treat for your pet,” says Dr. Richter. “However, if you’re sharing an apple with your pooch, be sure to cut around the core, as large amounts of apple seeds can be toxic.”

Turkey meat (no bones, no skin). For those that wonder if dogs can eat turkey at Thanksgiving, the answer is yes. The main dish is okay to offer up “as long as it has not been prepared with any seasoning,” says Dr. Ochoa. In addition to avoiding bones as discussed above, Dr. Klein advises owners to skip out on feeding the skin as well. The outer layer of the poultry is likely to have been prepared with butter, spices, or other fatty ingredients that may cause pancreatitis or other issues for your dog.

Green beans. “With ample amounts of plant fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and K, plain green beans are great for dogs,” says Dr. Richter. The key here, as with turkey, sweet potatoes and other options mentioned in this list, is the bean dish should be plain — without any added ingredients like butter or spices.

Plain peas are a fine choice, but creamed peas should be avoided. Fattier food items like this that may upset your dog’s stomach.

“Pumpkin itself is a very healthy snack,” explains Dr. Richter. “Pumpkin helps with digestive health and it’s great for a dog’s skin and coat. Also, if feeding canned pumpkin, make sure it’s just pumpkin and not the pre-spiced pie mix.”

Dessert is an option, but not just any kind. Go ahead and satisfy your pet’s sweet tooth with something healthy like frozen yogurt, suggests Dr. Richter. Calcium, protein, and live bacteria that can act as probiotics will give your dog a tasty dose of nutrients, and a sweet post-meal treat.

Unsafe & Unhealthy Foods To Avoid at Thanksgiving

You may notice this list is longer than the one above filled with healthy options, and with good reason. Thanksgiving coincides with an uptick in emergency vet visits across the U.S., writes Dr. Klein, because of the extra, often unsafe “human” food that dogs end up consuming at this time of year. That doesn’t have to be the case for your loved one, if you prepare your dog’s menu taking these proper precautions NOT to serve something potentially unhealthy, or worse, toxic.

Below are the items Dr. Richter, Dr. Ochoa, Dr. Klein, and the AVMA caution should NOT be served to dogs at this year’s Thanksgiving feast, due to unsafe or unhealthy ingredients:

  • Turkey bones, skin, and gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Casseroles
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamed peas
  • Chocolate, cookies, pies, and sweets (especially anything containing xylitol)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Onions, scallions, and garlic
  • Ham
  • Yeast dough
  • Fatty foods
  • Foods containing spices

And for good measure, don’t forget to keep the tempting scent of the trash of the special day’s meal out of reach, since we all know our dogs are super smellers.

If your pet gets into something they shouldn’t, seek help right away. In the event of an emergency, contact the Pet Poison Helpline or your local vet that offers weekend and after-hours services.


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American Kennel ClubSafe & Healthy Foods To Share With Your Dog This Thanksgiving, Plus Foods To Avoid

What Are the Essential Pet Supplies for New Pet Owners?

by Lisa Fimberg on November 6, 2020

When a new pet owner brings home a new puppy or kitten, there are some essentials that they will need at the start.  In fact, some of your new puppy or kitten owners might not be aware of exactly what they need to set up their home for their new furry family member.

Most of your customers, especially those who have had a puppy or kitten before, know the basics.  But, in the excitement of buying a new puppy or kitten, they might forget something.

Therefore, it can be a good idea for your store to have a list ready to go of the basics that your new puppy or kitten owner will need from the start.   And, by having these essentials readily available at your store, it can be an immediate sale for you and a convenience for your new customer.

This, of course, is one of many common questions that customers (might ask about their new puppy or kitten.

List of the Essential Supplies for New Pet Owners:

Below is a list of the basic supplies that your customers will need.  Make sure that your store has a supply of the following handy for new puppy and kitten owners:

  • A blanket or bed for the puppy or kitten to sleep.
  • Water and food bowls.
  • Wet and Dry Food that is specialized for puppy and kittens.
  • Training pads for puppies.
  • Litter box for kittens as well a scratch pad.
  • A crate for puppies.
  • A leash and collar for puppies and chew toys for teething.
  • Kitten toys for batting and playing.

Of course, there are many other supplies that a kitten or puppy will need, but the above list is a great place to start for your clients.  A foundation.

If you have any other questions of what your customers might need for their new furry family member, our trained team of agents are happy to help with those calls.  Or any other pet care questions your customers might have!

Make sure to contact our Success Team ( to learn more about our services!

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Lisa FimbergWhat Are the Essential Pet Supplies for New Pet Owners?

Continued Covid Protocols for Pet Retailers

by Lisa Fimberg on November 4, 2020

The Covid Pandemic has been the defining theme of 2020.  It has affected every business, individual and industry different ways. While it has been devastating on many levels, a possible bright side is the now hyper-awareness of hygiene.   Retail stores and consumers are more vigilant about sanitization, hand washing, and regular cleansing of high traffic areas.

No one knows when the pandemic will truly end and when a vaccine will be available.  Regardless, cleanliness guidelines and even social distancing could be a part of our American culture for the foreseeable future.

Continued Covid Protocol Guidelines:

Various guidelines are in place, depending on where your store is located and what your local government dictates.  The CDC continues to update the guidelines for retailers that are just opening back up or have been open the entire pandemic.

There are many protocols that should continue to be followed even as some restrictions are lifted:

  • Conducting daily health checks.
  • Provide masks and continue to implement that employees must wear cloth face coverings (masks) in the workplace.
  • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace.
  • Improving the building ventilation system.
  • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between employees and customers.

Reminders for store owners:

  • Store owners should consider the different levels of transmission of Covid in their communities and revise their business response plans as needed.
  • Continue to have employees wear a cloth face covering at work.
  • Remind employees that the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings even when social distancing guidelines are in place.
  • Supply gloves and continue to clean and sanitize shared equipment including ladders, supply carts, time clocks, any payment portals as well as any other frequently touched item.
  • Clean touchable surfaces between shifts or between users.
  • Create different entrance and exit points for customers.

Reminders for employees:

  • They should stay home if they are sick, get medical care and to learn what to do if they are sick.
  • Inform their supervisor if they have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. Clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (at least 6 feet) from others when possible.

While most of these guidelines might be already implemented at your store, it is always a good idea to continue daily cleaning checks.   Further, by being open with your employees and encouraging them to let you know if they are sick or have been in contact with someone that had Covid can go a long way to protecting both your employees and your store.

If you had to limit your staff during the pandemic and need more help with customer questions and answers, our Success Team ( is always here to help lighten your load.  You can continue to have a safe workplace as well as excellent customer support from our team that is off site.

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Lisa FimbergContinued Covid Protocols for Pet Retailers

Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Owners

by Lisa Fimberg on October 30, 2020

The holiday season is upon us.  It is that festive time of year when most pet parents put up a tree, menorah or just some holiday lights to capture the holiday spirit.

And who enjoys playing with those holiday decorations even more than a child unwrapping their presents?  PETS!

holiday safety tips

While most pet parents are very mindful of their dogs and cats around Christmas trees and decorations, no one can watch their pets all day long. Who knows what mischief might occur?

No pet owner ever wants his or her furry family member to be hurt or have an unforeseen accident during the holiday season, but they do occur.

Consider displaying a pet safety kit among your holiday items, as well as holiday safety tips for pet parents.

Below are some simple tips and reminders to provide pet owners during the holidays:

Christmas Trees: If putting up a Christmas tree, make sure it is securely anchored in its holder, so it does not tip over and fall. Having the tree secured can also prevent the tree water from spilling out which can be toxic to pets. A tree skirt tucked over the stand can help prevent pets from drinking its water.  Pine needles are also very dangerous for both cats and dogs if they nibble or ingest them.

Holiday Mistletoe and Poinsettias:  Mistletoe and poinsettia plants are almost a staple during the holiday season.  And as much as pet owners love them, so do their pets!  Unfortunately, both can be dangerous and potentially toxic to both dogs and cats.  It’s important that the mistletoe and poinsettias are placed somewhere where cats and dogs are unable to reach them.  They can be placed on the front porch, steps, or high mantles where they can be admired but away from wet noses and jumpers.

Ornaments:  Cats love ornaments, particularly the sparkly ones.   They get curious (as cats do!) and will happily bat and smack the ornaments off the tree and around the floor.  Glass or other fragile ornaments are subject to their ultimate doom and destruction, causing a mess and potentially dangerous walking areas.

Dogs may believe ornaments (especially those shaped like a ball) are a fun toy, put on the tree for them to play, chew or bring to you for a game of fetch.  Obviously, a glass or fragile ornament in a dog’s mouth is dangerous.

Be strategic about ornament placement or grab some non-toxic sprays that will dissuade any pooch.  If it worked when your puppy was teething, it can help remind a pup what is not for play!

Wires need to be secured and tucked away:  All wires from the holiday lights or any other decorations should be tucked away securely so neither cats nor dogs get tangled in them.  Cord covers or zip ties can keep the wires safeguarded and against the wall and out of the way of pets and children.

Have a pet safety kit handy:  It is always a good idea for pet owners to have a pet safety kit at home, not only during the holidays, but all year round.  Pets can be mischievous and get into things any day of the week and particularly the holidays.

Watch the treats and desserts: Most pet parents know that chocolate, and anything sweetened with xylitol is dangerous to pets.  But of course, pets love anything within paws reach! Make sure the pets stay away from any meals or plates of food that are being offered to family or guests.

The holidays are a fun and joyous time of year.  By being mindful and keeping their eyes on the pets and guests, pet parents can enjoy the holiday season!

If your customers have any issues or questions with their pets during the holidays or any time of year, our agents team is here to help!  Make sure to contact our Success Team: to learn more.



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Lisa FimbergHoliday Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Top Questions Customers Ask After Purchasing a Puppy or Kitten

by Lisa Fimberg on October 26, 2020

Bringing a puppy or kitten home is such an exciting time.  There are endless decisions to make from naming the furry family member to buying the right food.  While some pet owners might already be knowledgeable about what they need to have upon purchasing their puppy or kitten, there are invariably many questions that come up.

We put together a list of the six most common questions that customers have when purchasing a new puppy or kitten.

But…. the first thing they should do is a quick inventory of their home.

Pet parents should first safeguard their homes

The first thing that your customer should do is to make sure that their home is safeguarded for anything the puppy or kitten might encounter.  All loose wires should be tucked away or anything that might be dangerous to their puppy or kitten should be stored in a cupboard or put away far from reach.

Pet parents should take stock of their home of anything that could harm their puppy or kitten.  Their young pet is just like any infant that wants to explore and touch (or paw!) anything and everything.

Below are just some of the many questions your customer might ask after purchasing their puppy or kitten:

1. What are the essential supplies for new puppy and kitten owners?

The most important items that your customers will need for their new pet are: food that is specified for puppies or kittens, water and food bowls, a place to sleep (blanket or a bed), a crate for puppies, training pads, a leash and some chew toys for teething.    A kitten will need a litter box and a scratch pad or post.

Having these supplies handy are essential to your customer and ultimately may lock that customer in for future business.  One-stop shopping.

2. When should the new puppy or kitten be spayed or neutered?

Spaying a puppy or kitten is important for their pet’s overall long-term health and behavior. Spaying or neutering can also help to prevent kittens and puppies from straying from home as they mature.  And, of course, it helps prevent the increase of the stray population.

While any new puppy or kitten owner should always check with their veterinarian as to when they should spay or neuter their puppy or kitten, the consensus is the following:

  • Puppies should be spayed or neutered around 6 months to one year of age depending on the size of the dog.
  • Kittens should be spayed or neutered no later than 8 to 10 weeks of age.

For puppies, it is important to wait until their bodies are fully formed to perform the surgery.  Kittens, on the other hand, mature more quickly than puppies and can become pregnant at a very young age.

3. How soon should a new puppy or kitten owner take their pet for their first veterinarian visit?

It is very important for new pet parents to schedule a veterinary visit within the first ten to fourteen days after purchasing a puppy or kitten.   The vet visit can help determine if the puppy or kitten is healthy, the different vaccinations that are needed, as well as the best feeding schedules.

If you have a recommendation of a local vet to give to the new pet parents, that could be helpful.

4. Why is microchipping so important?

Microchipping is vital to each pet because it is the safest and most accurate way to return a pet to its owners if the dog or cat gets lost.  In fact, one in three pets become lost at some point in their lives and a pet id tag isn’t enough.

Microchipping is a very small identification transponder that has a specific identification number for each puppy or kitten.  The microchip is tiny and is injected underneath the loose skin between the puppy or kitten’s shoulder blades.  It is not painful for the kittens or puppies and ultimately could save their life, or at the very least reunite them with their family.

If the kitten or puppy is lost and someone finds them, any vet can scan the pet and their microchip will identify the owner’s information. However, it is imperative that pet owners register their pets in the national recovery database particular to your store.  Otherwise, the whole process is meaningless.

5. Should pet owners feed their puppy or kitten wet food or dry?

During their infant years, the most important thing for both kittens and puppies is to eat.  Wet food is always an easy choice because it gives both kittens and puppies the moisture they need if they are not drinking a lot of water yet and need the hydration.

Dry food, on the other hand, is great for chewing, has needed carbohydrates, and can help both kittens and puppies strengthen their teeth.  This can be particularly important in their early years when their teeth are forming.

There are many different wet and dry food choices that are made specifically for kitten and puppyhood.  Your store probably has both healthy dry and wet food options made for this young age.  Their veterinarian can also recommend the best food for their pet.

6. Is Pet Insurance Really Necessary?

Pet insurance is extremely valuable to any new puppy or kitten owner.  It is the assurance that if any unforeseen medical condition or accident occurs, they the have financial support to pay for it..  And if your customer purchases a pure breed which are known to be predisposed to certain genetic or hereditary conditions later in life, pet insurance is pretty much a no-brainer for a new pet owner.

The monthly cost of pet insurance is very low particularly during puppy and kittenhood compared to a costly bill for a medical procedure or an unforeseen accident.

Further, if your customers enroll in AKC pet insurance, they can receive a free 30-day certificate of illness and accident coverage and their pet is immediately covered. Therefore, if any medical issue or accident occurs in their first 30 days of owning their pet, they will be covered.

While there will be more questions that will come up, these questions (and answers) should cover the most common ones.

And always keep in mind that our agents are happy to help answer any questions your customers might have after purchasing their new furry friend.  Contact our Success Team to learn more about our services:

(Click here for infographic)

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Lisa FimbergTop Questions Customers Ask After Purchasing a Puppy or Kitten

Dog DNA Testing: Why Genetic Screenings Can’t Necessarily Tell You if Your Dog Will Get Sick—Yet

by American Kennel Club on October 21, 2020

It’s the day every dog owner dreads: a bad diagnosis that drops out of the blue. These days, an increasing number of pet owners are using dog DNA tests to ward off this sudden heartbreak or help them diagnose existing symptoms. It’s a tempting idea: just take a swab from your dog’s cheek and send it to a lab, the logic goes, and a few weeks later, you’ll know which diseases your dog is genetically at risk of developing, perhaps even before anything goes wrong. 

It’s so tempting, in fact, that dog DNA testing companies are proliferating, selling kits costing up to $200 that test for genes associated with more than 160 conditions. But when it comes to predicting disease in dogs, experts in dog genetics and canine health are sounding the alarm about the limitations of DNA testing at its current stage of development.

Dog Geneticists Warn Dog Owners of the Limitations of DNA Testing

One of those experts is Dr. Elinor Karlsson, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Karlsson has been working in canine genetics for many years and is excited about the work that’s emerging, but until recently, she was unaware that some companies are already taking the field’s research directly to pet owners.

“I hadn’t realized that they were using these tests in clinical medicine in the way that they were, and I was kind of shocked by it,” she says. “You know the research, and the research is good, but there are all these caveats on it, and all of a sudden you realize people are using it in a way where they’re not taking those limitations into account, to make decisions about people’s pets.”

What are those caveats? First and foremost, the research is still in its infancy. Scientists have been gathering information about which genes are associated with which conditions, but this is just the beginning of the process. Crucially, correlation doesn’t mean causation, so a gene that often occurs with a particular disease might not cause it. In order to establish causation, scientists need an awful lot of data—sometimes tens of thousands of test subjects.

That’s difficult to achieve even in human medicine. In canine medicine, there’s less funding and more genetic variability because there are so many breeds and crossbreeds of dog, so the research lags even further. “If you get back a positive test meaning that your dog is carrying a genetic variant that has been in a study correlated or associated with a disease,” Dr. Karlsson says, “The one question that you as a pet owner ask is, What is the chance that my dog is going to get sick? And that’s not a question that we can actually answer yet.”

What’s more, some of the companies selling direct-to-consumer tests don’t publish the methods they use to get their results. As the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation (CHF), Dr. Diane Brown has overseen the funding of much canine genetic research—and she stressed that peer-reviewed, transparent methodologies are key to good science. “When we’ve got our funded researchers, they publish their research so that everyone can look at it,” she says. “Their results are published in peer-reviewed scientific articles, which are accessible by the public and other scientists. This is how we build upon investments in research. So when you’ve got these closely held industry secrets and it’s proprietary methodology, it becomes very hard to evaluate.”


Then there’s the difficulty of interpreting the results. Because so many tests are being sold direct to consumers, there is a need to help dog owners understand the complex information they’re presented with. For example, some conditions are associated with multiple genes, but genetic testing companies might only test for one of those genes. This might result in pet owners falsely believing their canine companions have the “all clear” from a certain condition. What’s more, veterinarians may not have the expertise to interpret and act upon a panel of genetic tests.

All this has very real consequences. There’s already been at least one case of pet owners having their dog put to sleep on the basis of genetic test results that might have been misinterpreted or over-interpreted. And that’s to say nothing of the unquantifiable level of worry, heartbreak, and sometimes false confidence these tests might stir.

The Present and Future of DNA Testing for Dogs

For all these limitations, there’s tremendous value in the emerging science around dog genetics, and a lot to be excited about. In particular, breeders are already using peer-reviewed, high-quality genetic research, with the aim of reducing or even someday eliminating certain conditions from the breeding pool.

For instance, Dr. Diane Brown talked of the solid science that identified the DNA behind exercise-induced collapse (EIC), a genetic condition that causes dogs to lose control of their muscles after intense exercise. A test for this condition now allows breeders to check whether a particular dog has the gene before breeding them. There’s been similar success with a test for copper toxicosis in Bedlington Terriers, a condition in which the liver doesn’t process and expel copper, leading to illness and death.

But the use of genetic testing to decide whether to breed particular dogs is very different to using these tests in clinical medicine. In clinical medicine, the question is not whether a particular dog’s genes should be carried to the next generation, but rather concerns the fate of an existing dog—decisions too serious to be left to science that’s only part of the story.

All the same, geneticists are clear on one thing: we’re on the cusp of a true treasure trove of genetic information about dogs and humans alike. Within ten years, Dr. Karlsson hopes that tests will be able to show which dogs are at high risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers, allowing their owners to establish suitably healthy lifestyles and implement a regime of X-rays or other screening tests early, to optimize the dog’s chances of living a long and happy life.

But it’s important to remember that the science isn’t fully there yet.

How to Approach DNA Testing for Dogs—the Experts Advise

Dr. Brown also urges dog owners to consider genetic testing as just one tool in their toolbox. Anyone thinking about getting a new dog, or working to take the best possible care of their current dog, should educate themselves, she says, by reading the breed information on and by checking the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals’ (OFA’s) CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) Program, which recommends screenings for particular breeds.

“You need to look at the overall health of the dog that you’re thinking about,” she says. “What did the pedigree look like? What did the parents look like? What did the siblings look like? Do that sort of homework. What is required to be tested in that particular breed? I think that making decisions on the health and breeding of a particular dog needs to go far beyond just a single reference point and far beyond a single test. It needs to be looking at the dog as a whole.”

Dr. Karlsson adds that, though canine genetic testing for health must currently be taken with a grain of salt, dog owners themselves can help move the field along, by supplying some of the data scientists need. “We need to know when a dog is carrying a variant that’s been associated with a disease, do they get sick or don’t they get sick? That’s what we need to figure out, and that has to be a collaboration with dog owners.”

Working together with the AKC Canine Health Foundation to participate in peer-reviewed, humane research studies for the health of dogs. and submitting samples to OFA CHIC are ways to help. Another way to help is to sign up for Dr. Karlsson’s citizen-science project, Darwin’s Ark, and submit your dog’s genetic information.

The sooner scientists can access the information they need, the sooner we’ll arrive at the day so many dog owners are waiting for: a day when comprehensive genetic screenings can keep beloved pets healthy for as long as possible.



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American Kennel ClubDog DNA Testing: Why Genetic Screenings Can’t Necessarily Tell You if Your Dog Will Get Sick—Yet