My Dog Is Constantly Licking His Nose

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick his nose? There are numerous reasons why dogs may lick their noses and some can have serious health consequences. Below we will review causes for dogs to constantly lick their nose.

Causes of Dog Constantly Licking Nose

Below are some possible causes for dogs licking their noses:

Behavioral Causes of a Dog Constantly Licking His Nose

  • Normal behavior
    • Dogs rely on their amazing sense of smell and will lick their nose to keep it moist. The increased moisture can allow dogs to better pick up scents.
    • Some dogs will lick their noses when there is something on their nose. For example, a dog presented because pinesap was on his nose and it felt funny/sticky so he was constantly licking his nose.
  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick their lips or noses when they are confused or anxious. For example, some dogs with storm phobias may lick their noses when they are nervous.
    • Some dogs will lick their noses due to a behavioral problem such as a compulsive disorder. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive sequences of behavior that are fairly consistent in their presentation. They do not appear to serve any obvious purpose, although some argue that they function to reduce a dog’s stress level. Some compulsive behaviors appear to be triggered by anxiety or stress. Compulsive behaviors may be time consuming, may result in physical injury to the dog, may significantly impair the dog’s ability to function normally, and may impair the dog’s relationship with his owner. Learn more about Compulsive Behavior in Dogs.

Medical Causes of a Dog Constantly Licking His Nose

Health problems can lead to a dog constantly licking their noses and may vary from minor issues to very serious problems. Nose licking is most concerning when the nose licking is new, excessive, or when it is associated with nasal discharge or blood.

Possible causes of nose licking include:

  • Trauma. Any trauma that results in a cut, puncture, abrasion, or injury to the nose area can feel funny and can cause a dog to scratch, rub or lick his nose. Skin trauma such as cuts and punctures can become infected, which can itch and cause a dog to lick their nose and rub their face. It is also possible to notice a scab, puncture, abrasion, discharge and/or a foul odor from an infected wound.
  • Bites or stings. Any type of bite to the face or around the nose can cause dog nose licking. Bites may include insect bites from spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp sting. Snakebites can also occur around the face and mouth and cause pain, swelling, discharge, and/or nose licking.
  • Foreign body. Dogs with something caught in their nose will often lick their noses, rub their noses, sneeze, and/or have nasal discharge that may include blood. For example, a plant awn or grass blade can get inside the nose and cause these symptoms.
    Dental disease. Signs of dental disease in dogs may include not eating, a foul odor to the mouth (halitosis), inflamed red gums, tartar, and sometimes drooling, lip licking and/or nose licking. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar and bacteria can create gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) and tooth loss. As dental disease progresses, in very severe cases, teeth can abscess up through the skin into the cheek and sometimes can extend into the nasal cavity.
  • Nasal infections. Dogs can develop bacterial or fungal infections of the nose that can lead to nasal discharge. A natural response to dealing with a runny nose for dogs is to lick their noses. Some dogs will also sneeze and will sound congested when they breathe. Sinus infections can also cause nasal discharge and nose licking.
  • Nasal tumors. Cancer can occur anywhere in a dog’s body including the nose. Signs of a nasal tumor most often is sneezing and/or nasal discharge. Sometimes the discharge is bloody as the tumor progresses.
  • Seizures. Canine seizures can result in different types of behaviors or movements. Some dogs that have seizures will lie on their sides paddling their legs as with full grand-mal seizures. Other dogs with partial seizures can result in more subtle signs of a seizure such as lip licking or nose licking.
  • Nasal discharge. Dogs can have a nasal discharge from in infection but it can also be due to a bloody nose. The medical term for a bloody nose is epistaxis. This can be caused by ingestion of rat poison, foreign bodies, nasal tumors, and infections. Learn more about sneezing and nasal discharge in dogs.
  • Nausea. A very common sign of nausea in dogs is lip licking and some dogs will also lick their noses. Dogs with nausea will often hypersalivate, drool, lick their lips and these behaviors are sometimes followed by swallowing. This commonly occurs just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may also eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.

What to Do if You See Dog Constantly Licking Nose

The first thing to do if your dog is constantly licking his or her nose is to look at the nose and around the nose. It is important to determine if the dog nose licking is due to a medical problem. Is there a nosebleed? Is there sneezing? Is there nasal discharge? Is there anything caught in the hair around the nose? Is there an injury such as a puncture?

My Dog Keeps Licking The Air — What Does That Mean?

Have you ever wondered why your dog keeps licking air? There are numerous reasons why dogs may lick the air and some can have serious health consequences. This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog keeps licking air.

Some dogs are bigger lickers than others. Some dogs will lick their owner’s hands, lick faces, floors, their lips, and lap up every last morsel in their dishes while other dogs don’t lick as much. Some dogs will also lick the air.

Causes of Dog Keeps Licking Air

Below are some possible causes for dogs licking the air:

Behavioral Causes of a Dog Who Keeps Licking Air

  • Normal behavior
    • Dogs may lick the air when you scratch them in a place they generally can’t reach. This may mimic the sensation they get when licking or scratching themselves.
    • Flehmen response. This response can appear like a dog that is licking air. The typical flehmen response consists of the dog pushing up and curling back the upper lip and wrinkling their nose to expose the vomeronasal organ (also known as the Jacobson’s organ). This allows them to take in the full smell. Dogs most often do this response when they smell different odors such as urine, blood or feces.
    • Some dogs lick just because they like to. Some dogs will lick floors, faces, hands, legs and even the air. The sensation of licking may give some dogs comfort in some way.
  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick the air when they are confused or anxious. For example, some dogs with storm phobias may lick the air when they are nervous.
    • Some dogs will lick the air due to a behavioral problem such as a compulsive disorder. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive sequences of behavior that are fairly consistent in their presentation. They do not appear to serve any obvious purpose, although some argue that they function to reduce a dog’s stress level. Learn more about Compulsive Behavior in Dogs.

Medical Causes of a Dog Who Keeps Licking Air

Various health problems can cause a dog to constantly lick the air and can vary from minor issues to very serious issues. Air licking is most concerning when the air licking is new, excessive, persistent, or is associated with other symptoms such as seizures.

  • Seizures. Canine seizures can result in different types of behaviors or movements from the seizure. Some dogs that have seizures will lie on their sides paddling their legs as with full grand-mal seizures. Other dogs with partial seizures can result in more subtle signs that appear as lip licking, nose licking or air licking. Some dogs will actually look like they are trying to catch a bug. This can be caused by a partial seizure.
  • Nausea. Dogs with nausea may drool, lick their lips, or they may lick the air. This may occur just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may also eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.
  • Pain. Some dogs may lick the air when they experience pain. Pain can originate from the gastrointestinal tract such as the stomach or intestines. Possible problems causing gastrointestinal pain include a gastrointestinal foreign body, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers of the stomach or intestine, or other causes of pain. Other signs of gastrointestinal problems are decreased appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Trauma. Any cut, puncture, abrasion or other trauma to the nose, face or mouth area can feel funny to your dog and can cause a dog to scratch, rub or lick his nose or lick at the air. Some dogs will also rub at their faces. It is also possible to notice a scab, puncture, abrasion or discharge and a foul odor if a wound becomes infected.
  • Foreign body. Some dogs with something stuck in their mouths may lick at the air or paw at the mouth. Common foreign bodies that occur in the mouth are bones and sticks.
  • Dental disease. A sign of dental disease in dogs can be not eating, a foul odor to the mouth (halitosis), and sometimes drooling, and licking the air, lips or their noses. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar and bacteria can create gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) and tooth loss. As dental disease progresses, in very severe cases, teeth can abscess causing pain and the desire to lick. Signs of dental disease in dogs may include red inflamed gum, severe tartar, and pain.
  • Bites and stings. Any type of bite to the face or around the nose can cause a dog to lick the air as they try to comfort themselves. Bites may include those from insects such as spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp sting.
  • Skin problems. Skin problems that cause a dog to itch can cause them to lick the air when they are scratching themselves or when you scratch your dog. Dogs with allergies may also have ear infections or lick their paws. Most dogs with skin infections will have red inflamed skin.

What to Do if You See Dog Licking the Air

The best approach to a dog that is licking the air is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. Because this behavior may not be constant, if possible, obtain a video of your dog’s behavior. Log how often it happens and for how long.

My Dog Keeps Licking and Swallowing

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick and swallow? There are numerous reasons and some can have serious health consequences. This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog keeps licking and swallowing.

Some dogs tend to lick their lips more than others and most pet owners worry when the licking becomes excessive or is a new behavior. Dog licking and swallowing can be a symptom of a medical problem, behavioral problem, or a normal behavioral communication tool.

Causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

Below are some possible causes for lip licking and swallowing in dogs:

Behavioral Causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick their lips when they are confused or maybe even a little frustrated. As a behavior, some behaviorists refer to dog lip licking as an “appeasement gesture”. Dogs will use their body to communicate they are the stressed or frightened. An appeasement gesture is a behavior that acts as a calming signal. Other appeasement gestures are yawning. An example of when a dog may lick his lips would be when a dog approaches another dog. The approached dog may avoid direct eye contact and lick his lips. This communicates to the other dog as to say, “Hi – I don’t want to fight”.
    • Dogs can lick lips if they are frustrated. For example, if a dog is being trained that doesn’t understand what is expected of them, they may lick their lips.
  • Normal behavior
    • Some dogs will lick their lips when their lips feel dry, a bug hits their lip or face, or something is stuck near their lip such as a piece of food or a blade of grass. The lip licking can be followed by swallowing.
    • Another normal cause for lip licking is when a dog is about ready to eat or anticipates eating. A normal physiologic response in anticipation of food is for the salivary glands to flow. This commonly causes lip licking followed by swallowing.

Medical causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

The causes of dog licking and swallowing can be caused by various problems that vary from minor to serious. The most common problems involve issues related to nausea or oral pain.

  • Foreign body. A common cause of lip licking followed by swallowing is a foreign body. Some dogs can get something caught in their mouth, also known as a “foreign body”, that causes pain and discomfort, which commonly causes lip licking followed by swallowing. Dogs with a foreign body may also shake their heads and paw at their mouths. Common items that can be caught in the mouth can be a bone, rawhide, toy, or stick. Another cause can be a plant awn getting caught in the mouth such as a foxtail.
  • Dental disease. A sign of dental disease in dogs can be lip licking and swallowing. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar. The build-up of tartar both above and below the gum line can gradually produce an environment for bacteria to grow that is destructive to the periodontal tissues (also known as periodontal disease). As dental disease progresses, dog owners may notice a foul odor from their dog’s mouth, significant accumulations of tartar, red inflamed gums, and in advanced cases they can see food and hair wrapped around infected teeth.
  • Nausea. One of the most common signs of lip licking followed by swallowing is nausea. Dogs with nausea will often hypersalivate which results in lip licking naturally followed by swallowing the saliva. Nausea commonly occurs just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may drool and eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.
  • Oral ulcers. Oral ulcerations can cause pain, lip licking, drooling and/or excessive swallowing. Ulcers can develop from oral infections, dental disease, systemic infections such as kidney disease or from ingestion of caustic substances. Caustic products that may cause oral ulcers include ingestion or oral exposure to laundry or dishwasher detergent pod toxicity or liquid potpourri.
  • Unpleasant tastes. Dogs that lick something different or unpleasant can develop a funny taste in their mouth and lick their lips. Common causes can be from licking or eating a different food, cleaning chemicals such as Windex® or Dawn®, or by licking poisonous toads such as the Marine or Cane toad and Sonoran Desert toad. Signs of toad venom toxicity include drooling, lip licking, and foaming at the mouth. Signs can progress quickly. Learn more about Toad venom toxicity.
  • Bites. Any type of bite to the face or around the lips can cause dog lip licking followed by swallowing. Bites can be from insects such as spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp stings. Snakebites can also occur around the face and mouth and cause pain, swelling, discharge, and/or lip licking.

What to Do if You See Dog Licking and Swallowing

The first thing to do if your dog is licking his or her lips and swallowing is to look at this relative to the behavior and determine if there is an underlying medical problem. Two important points include:

  • Evaluate your dog’s behavior. Is your dog nervous? Anxious? Fearful? Try to determine if the lip licking and swallowing is a message of anxiety. If your dog is cornered, in a situation that you believe may make him or her or uncomfortable, then give your dog some space. If a child or other person is making your dog nervous, remove them from close proximity to the dog. You can displace this behavior by offering your dog a toy, playing a game or going for a walk as an option. However, it is recommend that you avoid giving a dog with this behavior special attention if this is a behavioral message so as not to reinforce his anxiety or fear.
  • It is important to determine if the dog lip licking and swallowing is due to a medical problem. The best approach is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. They will likely want to examine the skin around the face, lips, gums, teeth, and do a complete oral examination. They will look for any foreign body in the mouth, dental disease, and an oral ulceration. They will also want a detailed history of your dog’s eating patterns, food change, exposure to trash or toxins, overall appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss.

SPECIAL NOTE: If your dog is trying to vomit unsuccessfully – this could be a medical emergency called “bloat.” Please see your veterinarian immediately.

My Dog Keeps Licking His Lips — What’s Happening?

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick his lips and then keep licking his lips? This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog is constantly licking their lips to the point it may seem to be excessive.

In general, some dogs tend to be bigger “lickers” than others. Some dogs lick their lips as well as their owner’s faces, hands, floors, doors and more. Some dogs will lick their bowls for seconds even after they are empty while other dogs walk away and don’t lick at all. There are dogs that also will even lick the air. On the other hand, some dogs rarely lick.

Licking and lip licking can be normal in some circumstances. Dogs will do it when they are bored, nervous, anxious, have something on their face or lips, or even when they have a dental problem or oral pain. The problem is when the lip licking becomes excessive or is caused by a medical problem.

What is Licking and Why Do Dogs Lick?

Let’s look at licking in general. Why do dogs lick?

  • Licking is a natural part of life starting with puppies being licked by their mothers when they are born. The licking stimulates breathing immediately after birth, removes fluids and blood, and creates a bond.
  • Licking is a normal part of grooming. The tongues of dogs are rough and licking helps to remove dirt and germs from their skin, fur and feet. It also helps dogs clean themselves after urinating and defecating in some cases. Minimizing odors is a natural protective instinct.
  • Licking can be a natural way to comfort oneself. For example, if we hurt our wrist, we may rub it. Dogs may lick at a wound or a sore area in an attempt to comfort that area. Physiologically, it may also increase circulation and aid wound healing if the licking is not excessive.
  • Licking can also be a way of getting attention. If a dog is licking your face for example, pet owners will often react. Depending on your response, you may be giving your dog positive reinforcement that encourages continued licking.
  • Other dogs lick…just because they like to. Some dogs enjoy the sensation of licking and find comfort in the sensation.

When is Licking a Problem?

Dogs that just like to lick and are not hurting anything may not be a problem. Some pet owners don’t mind. However, licking is a problem when it is excessive and causes harm or appears to be uncontrollable such as from a seizure disorder.

Below are some problems that can develop from or be from excessive licking.

Wound Problems

Wounds can cause dogs to lick. A wound can be infected and itch or a dog may instinctively want to keep the wound clean. A little is okay, but excessive licking can prevent wounds from healing. If a wound is treated with sutures, some dogs will lick out the sutures. Wounds around the face and mouth can cause excessive lip licking.

Lick Granuloma From Excessive Licking

Some dogs can create a wound by licking the same spot over and over. They can often create a lesion referred to as a lick granuloma or “acral lick dermatitis”. This compulsive repetitive behavior might be done out of boredom or anxiety. For some dogs, licking can comfort them in a similar way that sucking one’s thumb can comfort a child. The most common area for a lick granuloma to occur is on the front legs. Some dogs will lay and lick the same spot on their legs for hours.

Uncontrollable Lip Licking

Some dogs can suffer from a seizure disorder that appears as chomping at the mouth, biting at the air or even excessive and uncontrollable lip licking. This is most often a “focal seizure”. Learn more about Seizures in Dogs.

Oral Problems

Dogs that are nauseated or dehydrated can excessively lick their lips. Medical problems of dental disease, oral infections, suffering from trauma in or around the mouth, or having something stuck in their mouth (such as a stick or bone) can also have excessive lip licking. Dogs that lick the floor that has cleaning chemicals or soap can have a funny taste that can cause dogs to lick their lips.

How to Stop Your Dog From Lip Licking

The most important thing to do if your dog is excessively licking and it is a new behavior is to determine the underlying cause.

If your dog is licking excessively at a paw or wound, you can help to stop your dog from licking by using an e-collar. It is also important to understand why a pet is licking at the paw. Is there a wound? Is it infected? Does it hurt? Or is it a compulsive behavioral issue? But when a dog is licking its lips, an e-collar won’t work.

Is Your Dog Licking His Lips? This Could Be Why

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick his lips? There are numerous reasons for dog licking lips and some may have serious health consequences. This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dogs may be licking their lips.

Causes of Dog Licking Lips

Some pet owners believe their dogs may lick their lips because they may be dry or sunburned because those are reasons people may lick their lips. This may be true however, there are different and more common reasons for dogs to lick their lips.

In general, some dogs tend to lick their lips more than others. The biggest concern is when the lip licking becomes excessive or is a new behavior. Lip licking in dogs can be a symptom of a health problem or a communication tool. Below are some possible causes for lip licking in dogs:

Behavioral Causes of Dog Licking Lips

  • Normal behavior. Some dogs will licks their lips when their lips feel dry, a bug hits their lip or face, or something is stuck near their lip such as a piece of food or a blade of grass. Another normal cause for lip licking is when a dog is about ready to eat or anticipates eating. A normal physiologic response is for their salivary glands to get flowing and they often lick their lips as they anticipate their snack.
  • Anxiety. Some dogs will lick their lips when they are confused or maybe even a little frustrated. For example, if a dog is being trained, he or she may lick their lips when they are baffled about their training and unsure about what is expected of them. Some behaviorists refer to dog lip licking as an “appeasement gesture”. An appeasement gesture is a behavior that acts as a calming signal. Dogs will use their body to communicate that they are the stressed or frightened. Other appeasement gestures are yawning. A classic use of lip licking will be when a dog is approached by another dog. A dog may then avoid direct eye contact and lick his lips. This communicates to the other dog to say, “Hi – I don’t want to fight”.

Medical Causes of Dog Licking Lips

Various health problems can cause lip licking. Some problems can be minor issues and others are more serious. Causes may include:

  • Unpleasant tastes. Dogs that lick something different or unpleasant can develop a funny taste in their mouth and lick their lips. Common causes can be from licking or eating a different food or from licking a cleaning chemical such as Windex®, various soaps, or other cleaners. Some cleaners can not only be unpleasant but can also be caustic resulting in oral ulcerations. Poisonous toads such as the Marine or Cane toad and Sonoran Desert toad can be toxic. Symptoms of toad venom toxicity include drooling, lip licking, and foaming at the mouth. Signs can progress quickly. Learn more about canine toad toxicity.
  • Dehydration. Some dogs that are sick and not eating or drinking or are suffering from fluid losses from vomiting and/or diarrhea can become dehydrated. This can cause a dog to lick their lips.
  • Trauma. Any cut, puncture, abrasion or other trauma to the lip area can feel funny and can cause lip licking. Some wounds can become infected which itch, causing dogs to rub or scratch their faces and/or lick their lips. It is also possible to notice a discharge or a foul odor from infected wounds.
  • Bites. Any type of bite to the face or around the lips can cause dog lip licking. This includes insect bites from spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp sting. Snakebites can also occur around the face and mouth and cause pain, swelling, discharge, and/or lip licking.
  • Foreign body. Dogs with something caught in their mouth, also known as a “foreign body”, can have excessive lip licking. Items commonly caught in the mouth are bones, rawhides, toys, and sticks. Plants, such as foxtails, can also become lodged in the mouth and cause lip licking.
  • Dental disease. A sign of dental disease in dogs can be lip licking. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar and bacteria can create gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) and tooth loss. As dental disease progresses, most dog owners notice a foul odor from their dog’s mouth and can see red inflamed gums.
  • Nausea. A very common sign of nausea in dogs is lip licking. Dogs with nausea will often hypersalivate which results in lip licking. This commonly occurs just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may also eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.
  • Oral ulcers. Oral ulcerations can develop from oral infections, dental disease, systemic infections such as kidney disease, and from ingestion of caustic substances. Examples of caustic products include laundry or dishwasher detergent pods or liquid potpourri. These both can seem appealing to pets based on texture or smell, and oral exposure can cause severe mouth and esophageal burns.
  • Seizures. Canine seizures can result in different types of behaviors or movements. Some dogs will lie on their sides with full grand-mal seizures while other dogs with partial seizures can result in more subtle signs of a seizure such as lip licking.

What to Do if You See Dog Licking Lips

The first thing to if your dog is licking his or her lips is to look at this relative to the behavior and determine if there is an underlying medical problem.

  1. The most important thing is to try to determine if the dog licking lip behavior is a message of anxiety. Some dogs can lick their lips when they are nervous, which can escalate to aggression. It is important to be safe and ensure those around you are safe. If your dog is cornered, in a situation that you believe may make him or her or uncomfortable, then give your dog some space. Back off. If a child or other person is making your dog nervous, remove them from close proximity to the dog. Some behaviorists recommend that you redirect the dog lip licking behavior by offering a toy. It is recommended that you avoid giving a dog with this behavior special attention so as not to reinforce his anxiety or fear.
  2. If your dog is lip licking during training, it is possible he is worried or confused by what you are training. Consider offering your dog a task that he clearly understands and when successful offer a reward. Consider other ways to communicate your training or stop for the day and begin again another day when your dog is refreshed.
  3. It is important to determine if the dog lip licking is due to a medical problem. The best approach is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. They will likely want to examine the skin around the face, lips, gums, teeth and a complete oral examination. They will also want a detailed history of your dog eating patterns, overall appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

Are Pet Wellness Plans More Affordable Than Insurance?

 

Many pet insurance companies and some corporate pet hospitals offer pet “wellness plans”. Below we will look at what is a pet wellness plan, how does it work, how does it compare to a pet insurance policy, what it covers, and if pet wellness plans are affordable.

What is a Pet Wellness Plan?

Wellness Plans, also referred to as Routine Care Plans, are somewhat similar to an insurance policy but can be more accurately compared to a discount membership. Pet Wellness Plans are offered by many pet insurance companies as a policy in itself, more commonly as an add-on to your pet insurance policy, and are also offered by some large corporate veterinary hospitals.

Details of the plans may vary but the principles are the same. They cover things that help optimize pet health such as vaccines, dental cleanings, fecal checks, heartworm tests, heartworm prevention, flea control medications, and more. Wellness plans do NOT cover accidents, illness, and emergency health problems.

How Does a Wellness Plan Compare to an Insurance Policy?

In the table below, we will look at some of the important differences between wellness plans and insurance policies.

 

Wellness Plan* 

Insurance Plan* 

Coverage
Wellness plans may differ from company to company but generally cover very specific wellness care options. They may include any or all of the following: vaccinations or vaccine titers, spaying, and neutering, heartworm prevention, flea control medications, fecal exams, deworming, dental cleaning, nail trimming, anal gland expression, food, and more. Wellness policies do NOT cover if your pet gets sick. Pet insurance covers accidents and illnesses. This includes the appointment, diagnostic tests, treatments including surgery and medications. Basic pet insurance policies do NOT cover vaccinations, nail trims, heartworm prevention, flea control, etc. UNLESS you have an additional Wellness Plan added on to your insurance policy.
Deductible
Wellness plans generally do not require a deductible. Insurance policies have a deductible and begin payout once the deductible is met.
Maximum Coverage
Most wellness plans have a maximum coverage per item or per year depending on your specific plan. Some pet insurance policies have no limits in coverage and others do. For example, Pets Best does not have a max coverage per year with some plans.
Care Providers
Wellness plans that are available through pet insurance companies allow you to seek care at any veterinary clinic that provides the covered wellness services. Wellness plans available through specific veterinary hospitals generally require all wellness care be obtained only through their hospital or their network of hospitals. Pet insurance companies allow you to obtain your veterinary care at any veterinary hospital, emergency clinic, or specialty.

*Please see your provider for details on all products before purchasing any policy or plan.

What Do Pet Wellness Plans Cover?

Pet wellness plans vary with what they cover and don’t cover. Here are items that many wellness plans cover:

  • Annual exams
  • Dental/teeth cleaning
  • Fecal & urinalysis tests
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
  • Heartworm testing or feline leukemia testing
  • Microchipping
  • Routine blood testing
  • Spaying & neutering
  • Vaccinations or vaccine titers

Pet Wellness Plans are generally affordable and worth the money if you take advantage of the offerings. You need to understand what is covered, maximum payout per item or per year, and consider how you would take advantage to optimize the plan.

Here is an example of the cost and payout for one policy. The premium for Pets Best Essential Wellness Plan that I researched was $16/month which would be cost $192/year. The value of what you get for that money with this particular plan is $305 IF you take advantage of everything that is offered.

Pets Best “Best Wellness” Plan is $26/month and provides an annual benefit of $535. Your cost for this annual plan is $312. If you take advantage of the annual benefit – you have over $223 in savings.

It is important that you take advantage of these savings to optimize your benefit. For example, if they cover dental cleaning up to $150 and you don’t get your pet’s teeth cleaned, then that may not be a good benefit for you.

Most wellness plans cover vaccinations. Some Wellness Plans have limits for the coverage of vaccines up to a certain dollar amount per year or per vaccine. For example, a plan could cover up to $15 for a rabies vaccine. If your clinic charges $20, you will have $5 that will not be covered.

How to Pick a Pet Wellness Plan?

The easiest thing to do is if you have a pet insurance company that offers a wellness plan, look at that first. Consider what you normally spend on “wellness” over the course of a year and then look at the cost of the wellness plan and what it covers. Review the plan options to see what works for you.

Are Pet Wellness Coverage Cheaper than Pet Insurance?

Wellness coverage can cost less or more than pet insurance depending on the company and the coverage. The more coverage, the more expensive the plan.

Does Medicaid Pay for Pets?

Some pet owners ask if Medicaid pays for pets and the associated costs for having a pet. First, let’s review what is Medicaid, what Medicaid covers, and provide some tips on how to pay for your pet bills while on Medicaid.

Medicaid is a Federal-State funded health insurance program for low-income individuals.

What Medicaid Covers

Medicaid provides health coverage for doctor visits, hospital expenses, nursing home care, and home health care for the individual covered.

The question is…does Medicaid pay for pets? The answer is that they do not pay for pet care costs. However, there are special programs to help service dogs. Learn more about these programs.

If Medicaid doesn’t pay for your pet and pet care costs, what are options to help provide the best pet care and cover pet-related costs?

First, before you get a pet – it is important to understand what it costs to own a pet. Here are two good articles – What It Costs to Own a Cat and The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership. It can be expensive to have a pet and pet ownership may not be possible in some situations. Here is another good article to help you understand the dog vet costs – How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?

If you already have a pet, what are options for paying for care? Below we will provide some tips on how to save and how to pay for vet bills while on Medicaid.

How Can You Pay For Pet Bills When You’re On Medicaid?

The costs of pet care can add up. Although Medicaid does not pay for your pet’s care, there are options to save money on your pet care. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Look for Low-Cost Routine Care. Your local shelter, rescue group or animal welfare association may offer low-cost sterilization procedures such as spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and other routine care. If your local shelter does not offer routine care, they may know who does. As you look for low-cost care, there are considerations and differences between low-cost care vs. care from your local vet. Learn more in this article – What You Should Know about Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.
  • Vet Schools. Some veterinary schools may be less expensive for some procedures. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a list of accredited veterinary schools. This list can help you find out if there is a school near you.
  • Shop Around for Care. Prices for veterinary care can vary depending on your part of the country and even within the same city. I compared the cost of a Rabies vaccine in 5 different clinics in different parts of the country to find a big range from $14 to $42 for this common vaccine. This shows there are big differences in different parts of the country but there can also be big differences within the same city. Within one small geographic area of Columbus, Ohio there was a range from $15 to $26 for the rabies vaccine.
    Discuss Options with Your Vet. If your pet needs an expensive medical treatment or you’re struggling to cover the cost of care, discuss the situation with your veterinarian. Some vets may offer payment plans or discounts to their steady clients. This is more common in small local clinics. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Pet Charity. There are pet charities around that can help in some situations. Your local veterinary hospital or Humane Society may have a list of organizations available in your area.
  • Save on Pet Meds. You can save money buy asking for a written prescription to take to your local pharmacy. Some antibiotics used for dogs and cats are available at human pharmacies such as Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Target, and your local pharmacy. Some medications are $4.00 at some pharmacies. You can also buy your pet meds online but special care is needed, as not all online pharmacies are trustworthy. You can also ask your vet to price match medications.
  • Look for Special Deals. Some veterinary hospitals offer specials throughout the year that can save you money. For example, February is Pet Dental Month and several veterinary hospitals run specials such as 20% off dental cleanings during the month. Many times you can plan your pet’s care around known offers. Subscribe to your veterinarian’s email list to receive offer notifications.
  • Feed Quality Food & Find a Loyalty Club. Good nutrition is important for health. Pick your pet’s food with care. It is tempting to save money by buying the cheapest or on-sale grocery store brand but that isn’t the best thing for your pet. To help save some money, consider finding a good quality food from your local pet store that has a loyalty club. For example, some stores offer “buy 8 or 10 bags, get one free”.
  • Protect & Practice Pet Safety. One way to save money on pet care costs is to protect your pet from common dangers which can turn into expensive problems. Here are some great ways to protect your pet:
    Spay or neuter. Do this routine surgery when your pet is young and healthy and the surgery is less expensive. Pyometra is a common and life-threatening infection of the uterus that requires surgery that can very expensive to treat when your dog is sick. Pyometra can be prevented with spaying.
  • Vaccinate your pet. Ensure your pet is protected from common infectious diseases that can be expensive to treat.
  • Don’t let your pet roam. Trauma from dog or cat fights or being hit by a car is common and can be very expensive problems to treat. This can be prevented by keeping cats inside or dogs on a leash or in a fenced-in yard.
  • Pet-proof. Keep your home free from toxins and problems such as rat poison and toxic plants such as Easter Lilies.
  • Stick with Pet Food. Stay away from feeding human foods for your pet. There are human foods that can be dangerous and even deadly to pets. Learn more with Dangerous Human Foods. Table scraps can make some pets sick causing vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases pancreatitis. Stick with feeding a high quality pet food – it can save on emergency vet bills.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily. Consistent dental care can prevent dental disease and expensive dental procedures.

Learn more about common things pet owners do wrong that can negatively affect their pet’s health and cause problems that require expensive emergency care. Go to: 52 Mistakes Pet Owners Make.

  • Save on Toys. There are some neat things you can do to provide your pets with toys while on a budget. For example, milk top rings and aluminum foil balls are favorites for cats. Learn how to make some of your own toys while on a budget. Go to Favorite Household Toys for the Frugal Cat Lover or Favorite Household Toys for the Frugal Cat Lover.
  • Payment Options. If you have an unexpected expense with your pet, there are options such a Care Credit which can help you pay over time.
  • Pet Insurance. One excellent way to budget your pet care costs while on Medicaid is to consider pet insurance. Pet insurance can help you pay for your veterinary bill and provide the best care while on a budget. Pets Best offers some low monthly premiums with good coverage. See if pet insurance works for you.

Types Of Insurance You Could Look Into

You can look into pet insurance for illness and injuries and/or insurance to cover wellness care. Some pet insurance companies offer both such as Pets Best. Take a minute to see what the coverage would cost. If you are not familiar with pet insurance – learn more with this good article – How Does Pet Insurance Work?

How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?

Over the decade from 2006 to 2016, the amount of money pet owners in the United States spent on pets nearly doubled from $38.5 billion to $66.8 billion dollars. Not million, but billion. These pet care costs include one time costs, annual costs and unexpected costs. We will review dog vet costs in different parts of the country, give you an idea of costs for some common procedures, and provide ideas on how to save money on dog vet costs.

Dog Care Costs

Most costs relating to having a dog can be broken down into one of the following three categories:

One-time costs:

  • Adoption or purchase costs. These are costs associated with obtaining your pet. This can be the cost of purchasing your dog from a breeder or adoption fees at your local humane society.
  • Core supplies. These are things you can buy and use forever that include leashes, crates, carriers, feeding bowls and dishes, pet beds, cages, collars, ID tags, grooming supplies such as brushes, combs, toothbrushes, fencing, and/or gates.
  • Initial care. Puppies require a series of vaccines and deworming medications that require more costs the first year. In addition, microchipping, spaying and neutering are additional costs incurred in the first year and are one-time costs.
  • Training. Some dogs benefit from training.

Annual costs:

  • Wellness care. Wellness, also known as preventative care, are things that are recommended to keep your dog healthy. They include vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm prevention, parasite control, annual examinations, dental cleanings, fecal exams, microchips, licenses.
  • Boarding. Costs for boarding and/or house sitting, doggie daycare, pet walkers.
  • Food and treats.
  • Supplies. There are supplies needed on a regular basis such as poop bags and toothpaste.
    Optional supplies. This includes toys, pet clothes, catnip, training classes.

Unexpected costs:

  • Medical care. Medical care costs may include treatments for problems relating to trauma, illnesses, toxin exposures, dental disease problems, ear infections, and other medical problems. This can also include ongoing costs for chronic problems such as veterinary rechecks, repeat blood testing, medications, and other care as needed.

Pet owners can spend hundreds of dollars on core supplies. Annual costs can be somewhat fixed for wellness care but can vary greatly depending on the size of your dog, quality of food you feed, and your boarding or training needs. High-quality food and boarding costs can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Some pet owners spend hundreds of dollars alone every year on toys and dog clothes.

There are different estimators on costs for wellness care, staples such as food and treats and even medical care. Here is one article on what it costs to own a dog and her is one on what it costs to own a cat.

The annual costs for most dogs generally ranges from $500/year to $800/year. Some pet owners wonder if Medicaid will cover pet care costs. Learn more about this – Does Medicaid Pays for Your Pet’s Costs?

Dog Vet Costs

There are two common categories for dog vet costs. They include costs associated with wellness care and the other is medical care for illnesses or emergencies.

  • Wellness care includes annual examinations, vaccinations, heartworm prevention, flea control, tick control medications, fecal checks, heartworm testing, microchipping, spaying and neutering, and dental cleaning.
  • Medical care includes the exam fees, diagnostic tests, and treatments for troubles such as vomiting, diarrhea, lacerations, trauma, ear infections, evaluation of skin problems, treatment for fleas, bite wounds and/or other medical problems.

The costs for wellness, medical care, and chronic illness costs are where the dollars can add up. And often these dollars are often unexpected costs.

The typical wellness dog vet visit consists of the annual examination (appointment), distemper vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, rabies vaccine, heartworm testing, fecal exam, plus prescriptions for heartworm prevention as well as flea and tick control. Other vaccines may be discussed including the canine flu (CIV) and/or Lyme vaccination depending or your vet’s recommendations and assessment of risk for your dog.

Dog vet costs vary substantially by your location and even within clinics in a geographic area. I researched costs from 5 different clinics in different parts of the country to provide the cost ranges listed below. The areas included Granville, OH; Kansas City, KS; Seffner, FL; South Orange, NJ; and Odessa, TX.

Cost ranges associated with procedures from a typical vet visit include:

  • Annual examination – $30 – $94. The average price for a veterinary visit is right around $52.
  • Distemper vaccine – $19 – $38
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine – $20 – $45
  • Rabies vaccine – $14 – $42
  • Fecal testing – $17 – $38
  • Heartworm testing – $25 – $74
  • Medium-sized dog spay – $295 – $487

Costs for hospitalization and treatments such as fluid therapy, or surgery to fix a fracture can range greatly. For example, the cost to surgically fix a fractured hip by a veterinary surgeon can range from $2,500 to $8,000 depending on the extent of the injuries, size of your dog and your location in the country.

What’s the Best Pet Insurance in Regards to Cost?

There are over 13 pet insurance companies on the market in North America and it can be very confusing to understand how to choose the best pet insurance for your dog or cat based on cost and different factors that affect costs. In addition, you want a company you can trust and one that will cover your claims if your pet were to become ill or have a problem. We will cover tips on how to choose the best pet insurance in this article. As you look at costs as related to pet care costs, there are five common categories. They include:

  1. Daily needs. This includes ongoing needs that are required daily including food, litter, poop bags
  2. Core supplies. This includes leashes, collars, litter boxes, crates, pet carriers, fencing, gates, grooming supplies such as brushes, combs, dishes and bowls, toothbrushes/paste
  3. Optional supplies and needs. This includes treats, catnip, toys, climbing trees, and scratching posts, boarding, pet sitters, training and training supplies
  4. Wellness care. Also known as preventative care, this includes vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm prevention, tick prevention, heartworm testing, parasite control, annual examinations, spaying, neutering, dental cleanings, microchips, fecal evaluations, supplements
  5. Medical care. Care for problems including acute problems such as illness or problems relating to trauma as well as chronic medical care costs for ongoing care for chronic problems, medications, veterinary rechecks

The costs with food and core supplies can be reasonable but when you get into wellness care and medical care this is where the dollars can really add up. And often these dollars are unexpected costs. With the advancement in veterinary medicine, the quality of care can be very sophisticated. For example, it is not uncommon in some pets to consult with an oncology team and undergo surgery with radiation therapy for treatment of cancer.

Pet insurance can help with wellness, emergency medical care and chronic medical care costs depending on which policy you choose. To better understand what is the best pet insurance in regards to cost, it is important to first understand how pet insurance works.

What is Pet Insurance?

Let’s look at – what is insurance? Wikipedia defines insurance as “a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss.”

More specifically, what is pet insurance? Pet insurance is a tool to help pet parents avoid a financial predicament in the case of unexpected medical expenses for their pet. In some capacity, pet insurance will help pay for medical care costs. How they do this, how much they cover, what they cover, and how much the insurance costs are all factors that differ from company to company and specifically depend on the policy that you choose.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

To better understand pet insurance and how to get the best pet insurance for your dog or cat, it is important to understand more about policies.

There are 7 variables to consider as you look at a pet insurance policy. These are factors that you will need to contemplate as you select the best pet insurance policy that works for you.

  1. Premium: This is the amount you pay to the insurance company to insure your pet. You can often choose monthly or annual premiums.
  2. Deductible: This is the amount of the vet bill you must pay before insurance benefits start or “kick in”. It is important to understand that some companies have per-incident deductibles while others have an annual deductible.
  3. Maximum coverage limit: This is how much money an insurance company will pay out per health issue, per year, or lifetime. Some may have a limit of $5,000 and others may have unlimited coverage.
  4. Reimbursement: This is the amount of a bill, after deductible, an insurance company will pay you.
  5. Waiting Period: Period of time you wait for your policy to kick in.
  6. Exclusions: It is also important to understand what the pet insurance company won’t cover. For example, pet insurance companies won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
  7. Coverage type: Most policies cover accidents and illnesses. Many companies offer add-on policies that also cover wellness such as vaccines, flea prevention and more.

Here is a very good article that gives you specific details – on How Does Pet Insurance Work?

So… What is the BEST Pet Insurance?

The best pet insurance will provide you with the above variables that work with your budget and with your needs. It needs to be a premium that you can afford as well as a deductible, coverage limits and reimbursement that provides you with the care that works best for your pet.

Fatty Cysts in Dogs

Pet parents common ask questions about fatty cysts in dogs. Fatty Tumors, also known as lipomas or fatty cysts, are amongst the most common tumors that occur in dogs. Most fatty tumors are under the skin, in a space referred to as the subcutaneous space, which lies between the skin and muscle. The skin over the mass is generally normal in appearance.

Fatty tumors are generally soft although can be firm if they develop under deeper tissue layers. They can be movable or attached and are generally round in shape. Fatty tumors can vary in size but can grow to become very large. Some can be the size of an egg and others as big as a basketball. Some fatty tumors can be over 14 pounds in weight when surgically removed. Fatty tumors generally grow slowly. Dogs that tend to get one fatty tumor will tend to get more as they age.

Figure legend: Fatty cyst from a dog. This fatty cyst, also known as a fatty tumor or lipoma, was surgically removed from the body wall of an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever. This fatty cyst weighed 8 ½ pounds.

Fatty tumors are most common in middle-aged to older dogs. Fatty tumors can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the chest and abdominal walls, legs, and armpits (axillae). They are more common in overweight dogs and occur about twice as often in female as compared to male dogs.  They can occur in any breed but are most common in Labrador Retrievers, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Weimaraners, miniature schnauzers and Doberman pinschers. Lipomas can also occur in cats but are much less frequent.

How to Determine if the Mass on Your Dog is a Fatty Cyst

If your dog has a lump or mass, the best way to help determine the underlying cause is a fatty cyst to see your veterinarian. They have the experience to help you identify the type of tumor and provide recommendations for treatment or additional care. Your veterinarian may provide the following:

A complete examination. Your vet will look at your dog’s eyes, ears, listen to the heart and lungs, and feel the abdomen to evaluate the size and shape of the kidneys, spleen, intestines, bladder, and liver.

  • Examine the skin lump. Your vet will evaluate the skin mass noting the size, shape, depth, consistency, location, color, and more. They will also feel for additional lumps, which can be common in some dogs that develop fatty tumors. Most fatty tumors develop around the neck or over the body wall such as the rib cage or abdomen but can occur anywhere on the body.  The skin over the lump is generally completely normal without any sign of infection or pigmentation.
  • Provide recommendations. Based on the location of the tumor, size, ulcerations, and signs of infections, your vet will provide a recommendation as to the best approach to the fatty cyst.  They may recommend to evaluate the mass with a Fine needle aspirate (FNA), Biopsy, or recommend mass removal (often called “lumpectomy”).  Most times a fine needle aspiration can diagnose a fatty cyst on a dog.

Treatment of Fatty Cysts on Your Dog

No treatment is required for most fatty cysts. Fatty tumors are not malignant but can grow so large that they interfere with function or can break open and become infected. For example, they can occur in the armpit causing difficulty in a dogs ability to walk.  Some tumors can occur on the abdomen or chest way making it uncomfortable for a dog to lie down. Other tumors can become ulcerated and infected. In these cases, surgical removal is recommended to optimize comfort.

Figure legend: This fatty cyst was surgically removed and is sitting on the surgery table on the left. As you can see, it looks like a big ball of fat. This fatty cyst was removed from the right inguinal region in this 10-year-old Golden retriever. It was interfering with how this dog was walking and therefore was removed.

Other Types of Cysts

Some pet owners may confuse a fatty tumor with a sebaceous cyst. A sebaceous cyst is a small sac containing an accumulation of secretions produced by the sebaceous glands. They can appear as small bumps that break open and drain a thick white to yellow cheesy substance. Some pet owners may believe this cyst is “fatty” and refer to this as a fatty cyst. Sebaceous cysts are generally small – less than 1 inch in size. For more information – please read sebaceous cysts in dogs.

Other Causes of Large Bumps on Dogs

There are several additional causes of large bumps on dogs besides fatty tumors. Other large bumps in dogs may include:

Small Bumps on Your Dog

Some fatty tumors on dogs are small but many can grow to be very large. Learn more about What Small Bumps on Dogs Can Mean?