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Common Pet Problems Solved

Preventing obesity, knowing your breed, and avoiding fleas.
The Martha Stewart Show, November 2011

As a veterinarian who has taken care of hundreds of pets -- including Martha's own – for many years, Dr. Jean Quaintance has seen it all. And she's noticed many of the same challenges coming up again and again for petkeepers. Here, she shares her solutions.

Pet Obesity

You may equate pet treats and table scraps with affection, but obesity is a serious, potentially life-threatening problem. Help your pet shed the pounds with these tips.

  • Substitute carrots and rice cakes for treats.
  • Ban table handouts for your pet.
  • Gradually increase exercise and decrease food intake.
  • Try serving your dog meals in a treat ball, which gives him a fun way to work for his meal.

Breed Knowledge

When it comes to choosing pets, many people don't inform themselves about different breeds and their unique needs. To illustrate the care differences you should anticipate for different types of dogs, Dr. Quaintance highlights key health distinctions between a few popular breeds.

  • Bulldogs: Bulldogs are cute and playful, but prospective owners need to be aware of their unique medical issues. With an anatomy that makes them prone to respiratory difficulty, overheating in warm weather, and severe skin problems, they are more high maintenance and expensive than other breeds.

  • Border Collies: As former working dogs, border collies need lots of stimulation and challenge in their lives. This can be an added value if you love to play and exercise with your dog. But if you can't provide it with the stimulation it needs, you may have a very unhappy dog on your hands.

  • Great Danes: Beautiful as they are, Great Danes can be costly to own. Plan to spend three times as much on medicine as you'd spend on other breeds.

Outdoor Concerns

Allergies, fleas, and mites can impact all pets, particularly those who spend much of their time outdoors. Here's how to keep your nature-loving pet healthy.

  • Watch for excessive scratching, licking paws, and shaking ears -- all of these can be signs of allergies. Benadryl works great for mild allergies in pets.
  • Keep your pet on a monthly preventative flea treatment, even if your pet primarily spends time indoors.
  • If a mangy fox or coyote comes through your yard overnight and your dog rolls in that area, it can contract mites that cause severe itching, hair loss, and redness. If you see any of the signs, contact your vet.