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Keeping your pet healthy

For all those who watched "The Price is Right" during the years Bob Barker hosted, you could recite his saying at the end of each show verbatim: "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."

There's a reason Barker repeated that message.

According to numbers released this January from The Humane Society of the United States, more than three million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters.

The advantages of spaying and neutering are multiple. By doing so, you're limiting the population of unwanted pets. Second, it helps the pet being spayed or neutered.

"It's a medical fact that pets which are spayed or neutered live longer," said Dr. Becky Behrendt of Pierce Veterinary Clinic in Ellsworth.


Behrendt and Dr. Heather Fairbairn are the small animal (i.e. cats and dogs) doctors at Pierce Vet.

"We usually see 15 to 20 animals a day," Behrendt said. "And the number one problem issue we see the most is obesity."

She stated that most owners are following the recommendations on the bag and therefore have no idea the pet is obese.

She advises to cut the food's intake by half, along with a fair amount of exercise.

Another concern especially for dogs is allergies.

"Seasonal allergies are definitely common in dogs during the spring and fall," she said. Itchy skin is an indicator, she added.

For pet allergies relating to people, The Humane Society said approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to dogs or cats, while an estimated one-third of Americans who are allergic to cats live with at least one cat in their household anyway.

The report says cats tend to be more allergy-causing than dogs and there are no "non-allergenic" breeds of dogs or cats.

If allergic, but still own a pet, the report says create a spot in the house where the pet isn't allowed, along with bathing your pet on a weekly basis.

Other essentials, according to Jean Spletsotser, Pierce County Sheriff's Department Humane Officer, are getting an ID tag for your animal, providing fresh water during the summer months and getting exercise for your dog that is either chained or kenneled.

Other health issues to watch beside obesity, Behrendt said, are infections for cats and fleas and ticks for dogs.

Not just dogs and cats

The Humane Society stated rabbits can also be spayed or neutered.

"Rabbits reproduce faster than dogs or cats and often end up in shelters, where they must be euthanized," the Society said. It goes on to say that, by spaying or neutering, it can reduce behaviors such as lunging, mounting, spraying and boxing.

After cats and dogs, birds are the third most popular pet in the United States. The keys to have a long-living bird include putting their cage in a spot indoors providing appropriate temperature and light, along with regular interaction between you and the bird. Birds traditionally do a good job of keeping themselves clean, as they love to bathe. The things to watch for, the Humane Society notes, are preening (a bird's way of grooming and caring for his feathers) and periodically trim their nails.

Pets and kids

Traditionally, many pets brought into the household are for kids. The key, the Humane Society says, in creating a true family pet is making sure the animal is treated as a beloved family member and provide the training and care it deserves.

The following steps were provided by the Humane Society to help achieve that goal:

  • The best dogs for kids are those receiving proper socialization, humane training, exercise and attention.
  • Adopting a friendly, calm, adult animal who has a known history of getting along with young children may be the best choice.
  • Wild animals such as reptiles and amphibians fare best in their natural habitats without human's interference and shouldn't be pets.
  • Reinforce to your child pets need space and may not always welcome human attention. They may also become upset by too much petting or stimulation.

For more information, contact Pierce Veterinary Clinic at 273-4632 or visit the Humane Society's Web site at

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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