Pet Advice and Pet News

Customers Say Pet Shop Is More Like Puppy Mill
Team 5 Investigates Laughlin Kennel - The Boston Channel

BOSTON -- Team 5 Investigates exposed horrific conditions inside a Minnesota puppy mill that has supplied thousands of dogs to pet shops all over the country. NewsCenter 5's Sean Kelly reported on Monday that one of those shops, located in Oxford, Mass., did business with that breeder for years.

Four families came to a stark realization. The sick dogs they bought at Laughlin Kennel in Oxford had a horrific start at a New York Mills, Minn., puppy mill run by Kathy Bauck.

"Kathy Bauck does not care she is breeding dogs that are sick, that are deformed and dying," said Beth Christman, of Warren, Mass.

Christman said her dog Gertrude, a St. Bernard, has double hip dysplasia. "Her hips are out of socket all the time. She lives in pain every day."

Ginger was infested with parasites. "I'm just glad I got her out of that environment," said her owner, Susan Bussow of Nashua, N.H.

And Aimee went from bad to worse. "She wasn't eating. She wasn't drinking. She would chew her feet raw, I mean right to the bone," said her owner, Rose Marie Laramee, of Ludlow, Mass..

All of the puppies were sold at Laughlin Kennel, which purchased dogs from Kathy Bauck for more than a decade. Now Bauck stands accused of animal cruelty and torture based on incidents of abuse documented in undercover video shot by an investigator for the Companion Animal Protection Society and turned over to police earlier this year.

"They're condoning the mistreatment of dogs in puppy mills. It's all about making money and taking advantage of unknowing customers," said Deborah Howard, President, C.A.P.S.

The state bureau of animal health inspects Laughlin every year and despite a stack of complaints dating back to 1993, it's still in business. Complaints obtained by Team 5 Investigates claim the kennel is dirty and overcrowded, the animals aren't cared for and are sold with diseases. While the kennel's owners have addressed many of those complaints, the complaints keep coming in.

"They told us they not only used, you know, qualified breeders, that they did not come from puppy mills," said Janine Meunier, of Uxbridge, Mass.

Meunier said she saved two sick dogs. "You go to look at that dog, it's covered in feces, it's covered in urine, it's disgusting. You can't go downstairs where they keep everything. They don't allow you down there."

So Team 5 Investigates went undercover to check out the animals' living conditions. But just like other customers, the sellers brought the puppies to us and refused to let us see where the animals are kept.

Team 5 Investigates tried to get answers from the kennel's owners. But when we paid them a visit, they were nowhere to be found.

But the Finks did send us an e-mail and provided us with a statement that answers to some questions. They don't consider Kathy Bauck's operation a puppy mill because it's licensed by the U.S.D.A. And they said they stopped buying dogs from Bauck back in June because of the animal cruelty charges she faces. They also told Team 5 they won't rule out buying animals from her in the future as long as she's cleared of all charges.

As to the reason why they won't let customers see where the animals are kept, they said they don't want to encourage "impulse" buying.

"It's frustrating for me as an animal control officer not to be able to do anything," said Sheila Donahue, the town of Oxford's animal control officer. Donahue said she's tired of receiving complaints about sick dogs being sold at Laughlin. Earlier this year, she stopped one of Bauck's trucks making a delivery there.

Inside the truck, she found puppies stacked in cages without any mats to prevent their feet from falling through. A problem regulators have cited both Bauck and Laughlin for in the past. "And they had some bottles with yellow water which indicates to me they probably were on antibiotic water," said Donahue.

Donahue was so frustrated she e-mailed town officials last year expressing outrage and embarrassment that the kennel has been allowed to stay in business.

Kelly: "Do you think Laughlin should be able to operate?

Donahue: "If it was my call, I don't think I'd be too quick to renew their license."

But that decision isn't up to the town. It's up to the state department of agriculture and the man in charge, Commissioner Doug Petersen, who told Team 5 Investigates he doesn't see any problems.

"We see them more often than other pet stores simply because of the volume of animals they sell and when you sell that many, a certain percentage of those are going to be sick," said Petersen.

"So just because they sell a lot of dogs means they're allowed to continue selling sick dogs?" asked Kelly. "We look at the trend lines of every single pet store to see if they were selling dogs that are more unhealthy than others, this particular pet shop doesn't show that," answered Petersen.

It was not exactly the response customers said they expected. They said they believe the state could do more to protect the animals. "I do believe they are turning a blind eye to the problem," said Christman.

Laughlin told Team 5 Investigates all of the dogs mentioned in this report were healthy when they were sold. And the kennel did refund Beth Christman after her dog was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. As for Janine Meunier and her two dogs, the kennel said she never tried to get her money back.

But Meunier denies that claim. An attorney for Kathy Bauck said his client runs a clean operation and treats all of her animals with the care and compassion. And he charges that the CAPS investigator created situations to portray bad conditions.

The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

DENVER, Colorado, November 6, 2008. Did you know there are proven health benefits to owning a dog or pet? “Studies show there are significant physical, mental and emotional benefits for both pets and pet parents,” said Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer for Del Monte Foods. “It is as easy a taking your dog for a walk. Researchers say you’ll walk farther with your pet than you would if you were walking alone, an activity that benefits you both.”

The human-animal bond encourages people to get active, reduce stress, and live healthier together. There are proven health benefits to owning a pet. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, and increasing physical activity are all positive benefits of dog and pet ownership. There are hundreds of stories of how pets have changed people’s lives. Owning a dog or pet can make a person fell loved and appreciated. Pets are good role models of how to live each moment to the fullest. Plus, pets are wonderful listeners.

Here are some interesting studies proving the health benefits of owning a dog or pet.

Heart patients with pets are nearly five times more likely to survive a heart attack than those without pets. (Source: Ontario Veterinary Medical Association).

Pets can help us humans combat loneliness, depression, and other emotional problems, even something as common as stress. (Source: Generations, vol. XXV, no. 2, Summer 2001: New York Times, July 24, 2001).

Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lower in pet owners than non-owners. (Source: Delta Society/Anderson, 1990).

If those are not compelling and convincing reasons to own and love a pet here are some more:

Owning a dog or pet can make a person feel loved and appreciated.

Pets are good role models of how to live each moment to the fullest.

Last but not least, pets are wonderful listeners.

Remember you local shelter has lots of loving animals hoping for an owner just like you!

Debbie Holte is a frequent contributor of articles on our dog's health and happiness for whose company's mission is to improve the quality of life for our beloved animals.

To learn more about Buddy Beds, orthopedic dog beds or read about the industry and customer accolades Buddy Beds has received, visit the website at or email

Contact Information:
875 South Colorado Blvd., Suite 701,
Denver, CO 80246

National Dog Show to Air Thanksgiving Day

This year’s show will announce the winner of the Purina “Doing More for Pets” contest.

The National Dog Show Presented by Purina is set to air on Nov. 27 at noon EST, PST, following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC.

Launched in 1876 and run continuously since 1933, the Kennel Club of Philadelphia competition is one of the oldest dog shows in the United States. This is the seventh year the show will appear on NBC.

The event, which reaches an audience of almost 20 million viewers each year, will be hosted by TV personality John O’Hurley and David Frei, dubbed the “voice of Westminster.”

More than 2,000 dogs and 150 different breeds will be featured, with appearances by some familiar faces. Uno the Beagle, Best in Show winner of the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, will make a celebrity appearance. Uno was the first Beagle to win Westminster in 100 years.

Last year’s winner was Swizzle, an Australian Shepherd from the Herding Group.

The show will also announce the winner of the Purina “Doing More for Pets” Rescue Stories Contest. Hundreds of pet rescuers have submitted their stories and now 10 finalists are competing for a chance to win $5,000 worth of pet food for their rescue group. The winner will be determined by popular vote on the website.

This year’s National Dog Show charity beneficiary is The Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Pet Parrot Saves Life of Choking Toddler
Nikki Weingartner - Digital Journal

A Quaker parrot in the Denver, CO area saved the life of a choking toddler when it began screaming and repeated the words "mama baby" over and over. The toddler's caregiver was able to respond to the warning and save the the 2-year-old's life.

A babysitter's worst fear was brought to reality last week when 2-year-old Hannah, the little girl she was watching, began choking on her pop tart. However, the babysitter wasn't the one to notice the choking toddler. It was the family pet, Willie the Quaker parrot.

According to a local Denver news report(see video news report in link):

"While I was in the bathroom, Willie (the parrot) started screaming like I'd never heard him scream before and he started flapping his wings," said Meagan, the sitter who owns the bird. "Then he started saying 'mama baby' over and over and over again until I came out and looked at Hannah and Hannah's face was turning blue because she was choking on her pop tart."

The babysitter, Meagan, was able to perform the Heimlich and save the little girl.

Hannah's mom, Samantha Kuusk, was reportedly very relieved and stated in an interview "I'm very grateful for the both of them because they both saved her." Had it not been for the normally talkative bird's squawking and then yelling "mama baby" repeatedly, Meagan believes she might not have come out of the restroom in time to save Hannah who had already turned blue.

Another amazing pet story.

PetSmart Launches Survey to Have America Cast Its Vote on the Next Presidential Pup launches survey where visitors can cast their vote for the breed that best suits the Obama family. Additionally, offers valuable tips and expert advice for people considering a hypoallergenic pet. What most commonly makes pets allergenic are proteins found in the dander on their skin that can appear as a powdery substance and or as flakey skin.
Each person reacts differently to different breeds and even to different animals of the same breed. I always suggest that the allergic person spend time with one particular animal on at least 3 separate occasions to see if they can tolerate being around that particular pet

Aventura, Fla. (PRWEB) November 11, 2008 --, a leading Internet lifestyle and social network for pet lovers, announced today the launch of a survey at where visitors can cast their vote for the breed of puppy that should move into the White House on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

Simply visit and cast your vote. Results of the survey will be announced on Friday, November 14, 2008.

In addition to the survey, has also made available some valuable tips on what to look for when needing to consider a hypoallergenic breed. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 10% of the US population has animal allergies.

In a letter addressed to the President Elect, Vet Expert, Diane Levitan VDM says, "What most commonly makes pets allergenic are proteins found in the dander on their skin that can appear as a powdery substance and or as flakey skin." "Each person reacts differently to different breeds and even to different animals of the same breed. I always suggest that the allergic person spend time with one particular animal on at least 3 separate occasions to see if they can tolerate being around that particular pet", added Levitan.

To participate in our survey and make your vote count, as well as for more information, expert tips, advice, and the opportunity to Ask the Expert on hypoallergenic breeds, visit

PetStyle is America's first lifestyle and social network fully dedicated to dog and cat owners who want to enhance their relationships with their pets. PetStyle provides original pet-related entertainment, information, education and community from a single trusted source.

PetStyle offers a unique and valuable experience for the dog and cat lover, featuring a broad base of exclusive content channels presented in a variety of formats including video programming, audio and text. To enhance the experience for pet owners and advertisers, the latest technology and sophisticated customer relationship management tools are hard at work behind the scenes delivering the entertainment and information pet owners crave. Visit PetStyle's lifestyle network at

AVMA's Top Ten List on Holiday Pet Health

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Nov 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), says he has a very unhappy holiday tradition -- treating pets that have become sick due to holiday excesses.
"From Thanksgiving through Christmas and into New Years, we'll see it every year at my practice, and, unfortunately, some of them can't be saved," Dr. Cook explains. "People want to involve their pets in the holiday celebrations, but people need to focus on keeping their pets healthy. That's the best gift."
Here are the AVMA's top ten holiday health tips:
-- Keep table scraps out of your pet's diet. "Salty, spicy and greasy" can be deadly for pets, Dr. Cook explains. Fatty foods can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in dogs, and bones can splinter in an animal's stomach. And make sure your dog can't get leftovers from the trash.
-- Chocolate should be out of reach of dogs because it's poisonous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous -- with baker's chocolate being the most deadly.
-- Avoid sweets. A study reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2006 linked xylitol -- a common sweetener in baked goods, candy and chewing gum-with liver failure and death in dogs.
-- Give your pet healthy holiday snacks. Recipes are available on the Internet or visit a pet store/bakery. Ask your veterinarian about healthy treats.
-- Anchor your holiday tree. It's a temptation for pets, and, if it topples, it can cause severe injuries. And keep pets away from the tree water as tree preservatives and sap can cause gastrointestinal problems.
-- Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle or exposed flame, and be wary of exposed extension cords.
-- Don't let pets dine on holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine and mistletoe are poisonous.
-- Be careful about ornaments. Cats sometimes consume tinsel and other small decorations, which can block intestines.
-- Don't go off to a holiday party and leave your pet with access to table scraps or anything that might be dangerous. If your dog gets sick while you're away ... it could be a tragic holiday.
-- Finally, don't give a pet as a holiday gift. Giving up a poorly-selected, new pet in January is heartbreaking.
For information, contact the AVMA at

Things to Consider When Getting Your Child a Pet
Michaela Banville and Jack - MySeattlePets

Responsible pet guardianship begins with becoming informed about the animal you want to add to your home. When children are involved, it is even more important to carefully consider this decision, as you want it to be a positive experience for your child--one that will leave him or her with many years of happy memories with their beloved pet. Here are some things to consider...

General Questions to Ask:
Is my child old enough to understand a pet's needs?

Does my child have any aggressive behavior that might make a pet inappropriate at this time?

Can my child be responsible for the daily care of this pet?

Will the pet's needs require my time and help as well (i.e. cleaning or carrying things that are too heavy or awkward for the child, walking the dog with a child too young to walk it on his own, etc.)?

Is my child home enough to give attention to a pet? (Some children are very involved in sports, school, friends, clubs, and are not home enough to care for a dog, parrot, or horse, for instance.)

Specific Things to Consider:

Preschool children: Children younger than five can love and interact with, under your supervision, the family pet; but should not be given a pet of their own.

Elementary age children: If you are considering a dog, research the breed carefully. Even if you are going to visit a local shelter, you'll want to have in mind the size, gender, and breeds that seem a good fit for your child and look for that breed mix. It has been recommended that young children are not given small Chihuahuas, for instance, as these dogs have rather delicate legs and cannot tolerate rough play. If your child has many friends over to the house, you will want a breed that tends to be friendly to everyone, not just its family members. Read a book that lists the various breeds and their positive and challenging characteristics. Make notes on the breeds that would fit your family best. An active, athletic family might do well with a Golden Retriever, standard poodle, or Labrador. A family whose life centers around being at home and doing quieter activities, or a child with mental or physical disabilities, might consider one of the more sedate breeds or breed-mixes. If you are considering a cat, research the breeds as well; talk to other cat owners and research online. Visit your local cat shelter or rescue facility and explain your family's needs to the staff or volunteers there, so they can help you find the right match. Hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and aquariums make good pets for children in this age group.

Eleven and older: If your child is a pre-teen or teenager, he or she can be involved more actively in the process of choosing a pet. If she wants a horse, for instance, much research, planning and discussion should take place. You will probably consider lessons and leasing options before purchasing a horse, so the process will happen in stages. In fact, break it down into stages for your daughter: lessons first, then leasing, then more research, and then the purchase. By breaking it down into logical steps (whether the pet is a horse, cat, parrot, dog, or whatever) you can teach your child how to reach goals in logical ways, while praising benchmarks along the way.

Consider not only the type of pet best suited to your son or daughter, but their age and the anticipated lifespan of the pet. If your son is sixteen and wants a cat that may live fifteen years, you will be responsible for it for most of its life. Parrots can live ten (parakeet) to fifty or sixty (macaw) years. Children leave home, go to college, get married. A macaw might not be an appropriate choice for a teenager, unless you are interested in sharing pet-keeping responsibilities with your child now and take over completely when your child leaves home. In other words, in the case of pets with a lifespan that exceeds the time a child will be in your home, consider the pet as the family pet and make sure all family members are willing to be a part of its care and remain committed to the pet for its lifetime.

In addition to your child's age and the pet's likely lifespan, consider your child's temperament and natural interests. If your child longs for a horse, has horse pictures all over her room, reads books about horses, and asks for one each year on her birthday, a cockatiel is not going to suffice. If a horse is out of the question for your family, then see if there is a way for your daughter to take lessons, there may be a local organization that offers riding opportunities that fit your budget. If your child is interested in environmental science or has allergies or asthma, consider an aquarium. Work up a budget with your child then visit a store, such as Aquarium Adventure. Planning the type (fresh- or salt-water) of tank and the extras to go in it, along with costs involved, can be a great learning activity. Parakeets and cockatiels make excellent pets for children, and I recommend them over the larger parrots as a first bird. A calm, sensitive child can have hours of entertainment training and holding a pet bird, and will be thrilled if it learns to sing and talk along with her. Because birds are a more unusual pet, their owners always find people interested in hearing about them and if your child is shy, a small bird or a friendly dog, might help her feel more comfortable in reaching out to new human friends as well.

Note: Much of the above text is taken from "Open Your Heart with Pets: Mastering Life through Love of Animals" by Janice Phelps Williams, published by DreamTime Publishing, 2007.

It's a Dog's Life for Pets

NEW YORK - JOB losses and home foreclosures are forcing many American pet owners to make hard choices about their furry friends, and some are turning to animal shelters and charities to relieve them of the burden.
Ms Margaret, a 58-year-old make-up artist who lost her job at a TV station in February and declined to use her last name because she does not want her landlord to know she is in financial difficulties, can no longer afford to buy food for her four large dogs and two cats, all rescued.

Pets and vets feel the pinch
SEOUL - PETS and vets are feeling the pinch as South Korea's economy slows, a report said on Tuesday.

Owners who cannot afford medical bills are failing to collect their animals from veterinary clinics after treatment while others are turning their dogs and cats out onto the street, the Korea Times said.
... more
Sally, a three-legged 15-year-old mutt who has survived cancer, and Hershey, an elderly Dalmatian with urinary tract problems, both require expensive special food.

'I was finding I couldn't handle it all. It was costing me US$350 to US$400 (S$523 to S$598) a month just for their foods', Ms Margaret said, sitting with a dog on her lap in the New York apartment where she grew up and where she nursed her mother for 10 years.

'I can't tell you how many people said 'You're being cruel to them, give them away.' But they're like family. I don't have family anymore, these guys are my family', she said.

Ms Margaret turned to Safety Net, which provides foster care for pets and other help for pet owners who need some time to get back on their feet after losing a home or a job. Safety Net is now giving her pet food.

'We try to keep pets and people together,' said Mr Richard Gentles, spokesman for Animal Care and Control of New York City which runs Safety Net.

'In January of 2008 we had about 115 calls and then in September of 2008 we had over 200 calls. That's directly indicative of the hard times', he said, speaking over the constant barking of dogs at the city's Manhattan shelter.

About 71 million homes in the United States, more than 60 per cent of households, have pets, and their owners spent an estimated US$41 billion on their animals in 2007, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

As Americans cut spending and companies lay off workers in the face of the biggest financial crisis in decades, the looming recession is having an impact on pet-owners, charities, animals and the businesses that cater to them.

Ms Lee Ann Jaffee, who runs a rescue service for Italian greyhounds, is trying to find a home for three dogs whose owners are losing their Philadelphia home to foreclosure.

'Our breed can be very expensive', Ms Jaffee said. 'They're prone to broken legs, if they break a leg, for instance, it's like US$3,000 to get it fixed'.

Ms Holly Derito, who runs New York's Waggy Tail Rescue, says she normally has around a dozen dogs in foster homes awaiting adoption at any one time. Now that is up to around 20.

'I've been doing Waggy Tail for 5-1/2 years and I've never seen this magnitude of dogs in shelter', Ms Derito said. 'A lot of times the dogs are getting sick and people will say they're strays. People are ashamed, so they'll say they're strays'.

Aiming to be no-kill city
New York City has launched a campaign to end euthanasia in city shelters. In 2002, 30,699 animals were put down.

Animal Care and Control has an US$8.5 million city contract to handle around 43,000 stray or abandoned animals a year.

Mr Steve Gruber, director of communications for Mayor's Alliance for New York City's Animals which represents around 100 shelters and rescue groups, said the euthanasia rate had fallen from to 43 per cent last year from 74 per cent in 2002.

Mr Gruber said the weak economy has both increased the number of pets being handed in for adoption, and made people think twice about taking on the financial responsibility of a pet.

'New York is attempting to become a no-kill city, not have to kill any animals. It's making it even more challenging,' Mr Gruber said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises potential adopters that the costs in the first year of owning a pet can be from around US$1,300 to US$1,800 for a dog, depending on the size, and around US$1,000 for a cat.

Ms Wendy Diamond, editorial director of Animal Fair magazine, said the economic downturn forced her to cut ticket prices at a Halloween fundraiser for animal charities which raised just US$25,000 this year compared to US$50,000 last year.

She said small businesses catering to pet owners such as grooming salons and pet accessory stores would suffer too.

'Accessories are the first to go', Ms Diamond said. 'Unlike children and teens, dogs don't care about fashions and trends so they're fine with last year's leash or collar.'

'Grooming salons will absolutely suffer,' she said, adding that big retailers carry many more products than in the past for people to do their own pet-care.

'You can groom your dog at home for $5, whereas at a salon in New York you pay $100'.
Perhaps the only bright spot noted by several pet shelter workers was that more volunteers are coming in.

'One of my really great volunteers just got laid off so she's like 'What else am I going to do?'' said Ms Derito. -- REUTERS

Franklin Pet Memorials
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814-346-7205 ph 814-346-7047 fax

Harry, Owner Offer Tips on Petting Animals

When Reuters reporter Jon Decker's finger was nipped by President Bush's dog Barney outside the White House last week, he became one of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs every year. Fortunately, Decker was not one of the 1,000 dog-bite victims who land in the emergency room every day.

Harry, who has never bitten anybody, wants to bring scary numbers down to size. So, the long-haired dachshund has collaborated with Stephanie Calmenson, on a little guidebook for kids called, “May I Pet Your Dog?” (Clarion Books, $9.95). The book, full of helpful advice for adults as well as children, clearly explains safe ways of meeting and greeting canines; features illustrations by Jan Ormerod and is narrated by none other than Harry himself.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a book about dog bites, why they happen and how to avoid them,” Calmenson said during a phone interview from her home in New York City. “Harry and I hope our book promotes safety and the idea that dogs have feelings, too — feelings that should be respected.”

Calmenson, who has about 100 children's books on a variety of subjects to her credit, is in San Antonio today to speak at the Animal Defense League's fall “friendraiser.” The Oak Hills Country Club luncheon is a sold-out event, and proceeds will go to the ADL, a no-kill shelter that cares for homeless, injured and abused pets.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Calmenson longed for a pet — especially a puppy. But her mother was terrified of dogs. Eventually, the author prevailed and adopted a fuzzy darling named Rosie, who won over Mother. Soon, the dog and her owner were winning even more friends visiting the elderly at nursing homes.

“Rosie had the ideal temperament for a visiting therapy dog,” Calmenson fondly recalls. “I told children all about it in my first dog book.”

When Rosie died, Calmenson was heartbroken and doubted she would ever feel so close to an animal again. Then along came Harry.

“I don't really like to say I found him at a pet shop because I don't believe in getting dogs and cats there as a general rule,” the author says. “But that's where I saw him and learned he had been there in this little cage for months. No one wanted him. So ... I had to take him home.”

Harry was frightened and not social at all at first. Finally, patience and love brought him around. Now, he assists Calmenson in her literary endeavors and specializes in telling kids how to stay dog-bite free.

Harry's helpful hints:

• Before petting any pooch, ask the owner. Some dogs will think it's OK. Others might not like to be touched by strangers. Simply say: “May I pet your dog?” It's also polite.

• If a dog isn't with a person, don't approach or try to pet the animal at all. If you meet a growling canine on the street, avert your eyes. Stand still and wait until he passes.

• If the owner gives you the go-ahead to pet his dog, go slow. Extend your hand, fingers down, and let that inquisitive nose sniff you. Before making friends, a dog wants to check you out.

• Should a dog turn aggressive, don't run. That's an invitation to chase you. Instead, play like a rock or a tree. A non-moving object isn't very interesting and, probably, the animal will move on.

Having an Itchy Dog is a Common Problem with an Easier Solution

By far, the most common presenting complaint at my animal hospital is the itchy dog.

This is not anything new. It has been that way for more than 25 years. In recent years, great strides have been made in flea control; thus helping one of the more common causes.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a person would leave with shampoo, dips, foggers, yard sprays, etc.; all this just for flea control. They would leave with two grocery bags full of products and a wish of good luck.

Just because you do not see a flea does not mean one didn't bite Fido during his potty break and now is causing extreme discomfort. However, with the new products available, those days could be long gone. Veterinary medicine has made great advances to comfort the itchy dog.

The hind leg shaking in unison with your belly rub is not cute; it is a cry for help from your best friend. It must be understood that if a dog itches, it will scratch. The pruritus must be controlled or often leads to self-mutilation.

Chronic scratching will lead to chronic skin infections. This means misery for your dog and sleepless nights for you. When you take off your dog's collar at night because the tags jingling keeps you awake, it's time to make an appointment.

In my experience, the longer you wait to address the problem, the longer it will take to resolve. Your veterinarian will determine what the infections are and why they are there. We will ask questions, do a few simple tests and together try to arrive at a diagnosis.

Your itchy dog can be a medical mystery. The location and duration of pruritus are both clues. Has your dog always been itchy? Is it seasonal? Are the edges of the ears thick or crusty? Does your pet scratch when you rub them? This is often skin mites. Does your dog bite at the base of the tail? This is usually flea allergy. Chewing at the paws is a common sign of an allergic skin disease known as atopy.

Details on skin problems in dogs can be found at

Veterinarians are medical detectives. We accumulate clues and make educated guesses. There is nothing magical or mysterious about it. We do what we do because we love animals and want to make you happy. My best advice would be to find a veterinarian you trust and establish a relationship before a problem begins.

Together, we can make your life and your pets' life a little better. Remember it's a dog's life!

Dr. Jerry Rayburn is a veterinarian at Carter Animal Hospital, Inc. He can be reached at 863-293-1428. The weekly Pet Column will alternate between veterinarians and other pet care professionals.

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