Category Archives: dogs

Labor Pains: Petplan Finds Working Dog Breeds Are More Prone to Injury, Cancer

As America recognizes the contributions of its workers on September 5, Petplan pet insurance is marking Labor Day with a celebration of the working dog. From Boxers to St. Bernards, Portuguese Water Dogs to Rottweilers, working breed dogs are larger than life—and so are their vet bills.


Petplan claims data reveals that working dog breeds experience more severe injuries and illnesses than their non-working counterparts. What’s more, the average paid claim for working dog breeds is 35% higher than other breeds.

Of the top ten most claimed for conditions of working breeds, three can be particularly costly: cruciate injuries, cancer and foreign body ingestions. These have the most expensive average treatment costs at $3,480, $2,033 and $1,755 respectively.

The risk of cruciate injuries in working dogs is 60% higher and claims are 65% more expensive compared to other dog breeds. The breeds’ risk of cancer is 40% higher. While it makes sense that working dog breeds would experience these conditions due to their size and physical activity, the data around claims for foreign body ingestion seems surprising.

“We think of working dogs as being very trainable and having self-control—certainly more than your typical family Labrador who eats anything in sight,” says Petplan Veterinary Manager Elyse Donnarumma. “But honestly, it makes sense that they are treated so often for foreign body ingestions. Working breed dogs need a job and they need to stay busy and stimulated. When they aren’t, well, they come up with their own activities.”

Case in point: Petplan-protected Beau, a 9-year-old Samoyed from California who had to have a tennis ball removed endoscopically in April to the tune of $3,209.03.


Bosley, a 7-year-old Great Dane from Pennsylvania, racked up $3,448.32 in vet bills last March after he sniffed out and ingested two stuffed animals (a bear and a bee).

And finally, Petplan paid a $2,312.85 claim for Lily, a 5-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from Maryland who ingested a sock in January.

“Our data certainly shows that working dog breeds may have the heart of a lion, but their bodies aren’t always so brawny,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “With all the trouble they can sniff out looking for their next ‘job,’ it’s absolutely essential that pet parents protect working dogs with insurance. We pay a lot of unusual claims for all kinds of dogs and cats, but working breeds seem to take the cake…and sometimes the fork and the napkin, too.”

For more breed health tips, news and information, point your paws to


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Surf session brings joy to children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

Surf Dog Ricochet breaks barriers by surfing with severely disabled 3 year old girl who has tracheostomy/breathing tube on board.

Surf session brings joy to children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)


Ricochet has been creating unique surfing experiences that empower individuals with disabilities for over 7 years. But this was the first time she surfed with a child who couldn’t breathe on her own. Notice that 3 year old Bailey’s mom is holding her breathing machine with a big smile on her face. Yes Bailey, YOU are surfing!

Bailey has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a disease that robs individuals of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to stand, sit, crawl, walk, swallow food effectively, or breathe. It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants. Bailey has type I SMA which is the most severe and common.

Bailey, along with several other children with SMA broke barriers last weekend at a special surf session with Ricochet and Cure SMA.

Since many of the children aren’t able to hold their heads up, a bath chair was attached to the surfboard to accommodate the challenge and keep the children comfortable.


Thanks to an incredible team of skilled volunteers, the participants with SMA got a thrill of a lifetime. Safety is our number one priority and having children who are profoundly disabled takes the utmost expertise of the water team and Ricochet.


Some of the children like Bailey have a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure to create an opening through the neck into the trachea so they can breathe. Therefore, getting water into the opening could cause aspiration pneumonia. With this in mind, the water team picked the surfboard up each time a wave came into shore.


They stayed in very shallow water, and when a small wave came, they strategically lowered the board, and a volunteer held onto the back, walking it to shore.


Once the board came to a stop, it was again picked up by the team. This protocol keeps water from getting onto the child, while still providing the kids a surf experience with Ricochet.


5 year old Riley is Bailey’s sister and has type II SMA. She is weak and cannot hold her head up on her own. But, she was telling everyone she wanted to be first to surf with Ricochet.


For a child with SMA, going from a stroller full of gear to a surfboard full of cheer gives both the child and the parents the opportunity to do something they never thought possible.


Children who aren’t as severely disabled were able to go further out in the water, but safety is still our number one priority so we had a volunteer on board, and a team on the ready.


5 year old Logan wore a pair of goggles to keep water out of his eyes. But he never stopped saying “again, again, again”.


5 year old Avery has type II SMA. It’s often impossible to perform the basic functions of life, but it doesn’t affect the ability to think, learn, or have hopes and dreams.


23 year old Robyn has type II SMA.


Robyn isn’t able to hold her head up by herself, so her brother supported her head as they rode to shore!


Yawns and smiles = a perfect day!


These individuals definitely have a fighting spirit, and just like Ricochet, they believe anything is possible. Surf’s up!

There are four primary types of SMA: type I, II, III, and IV. Type I is the most severe and most common. Type II individuals can typically sit up without help, but are unable to walk. Type III individuals can initially walk, but have increasingly limited mobility as they grow. Type IV is very rare and usually surfaces in adulthood. It leads to mild motor impairment.


The non-profit, Puppy Prodigies is blessed with volunteer water men and women who are very highly skilled, trained and experienced in surfing, dog handling, and the disabled community. Couple that with an Executive Director who has a degree in service dog training, plus a dog who has extensive training as a service dog, and you have a team that prides themselves on high standards. Their number one priority is safety and we abide by all the rules, regulations and laws governing the unique work we do. Their insurance covers Ricochet, those she surfs with, and our volunteers. It is because of these practices that we are able to provide these surf sessions with the utmost conviction.

Ricochet was honored to help raise awareness of SMA. Please get on board and join her by sharing this inspirational story of children who have a spirit much stronger than the body that houses it. Be sure to watch the video to see all the fun!

To learn more about Ricochet check out these links:

To learn more about SMA visit these links:

Photos by:
Killer Surf Pix
Ionis Pharmaceuticals

Posted in dogs, people helping animals | 1 Comment

Shirts to save animals

Throughout the month of August, Booster is showcasing and supporting t-shirt fundraisers launched by pet lovers to save homeless animals, and to raise awareness and much needed funds for animal-related 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

The B-Cause: Pets campaigns benefit a wide assortment of pet-focused nonprofits based in different locations across the continent, individually focused on a diverse range of animal species, breeds, conditions and organizational objectives. Read all about the causes, and find links to buy the shirts on the Booster Blog.

Here are just some cute critters who’ve been rescued recently:
Animals saved by B-Cause Pets-Collage

Posted in cats, clothing, dogs, gifts for pet lovers, people helping animals | 1 Comment