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So you want to get a pet, but are wondering how to integrate kids and pets. Or, you’re not sure what kind of pet to get, where to get one, or what it will cost. We’re tackling those questions and so many more with the help of two pet experts: Dr. Katy Nelson of The Pet Show, and Dana Humphrey, The Pet Lady!
Would you rather have a transcript of the episode? There’s one at the bottom of the post!
Kids and pets
Whether you’re looking to add a pet to kids you already have or a kid to pets you already have, there are a lot of factors to consider. The benefits of having a dog for kids can be huge, but so is the responsibility, time, and financial commitment! We invited a couple of pet experts onto the Parenting Bytes podcast to help us sort out what to do and how to do it.
Dr. Katy Nelson
We started with Dr. Katy Nelson, who is a veterinarian and also the host of The Pet Show. She tackled some great pet questions, like
- Should you get a rescue dog?
- How much does a dog cost over it’s entire life?
- Should you get pet health insurance?
- How much of a commitment are smaller pets, like rabbits or birds?
- Do you need to pet-proof your house or apartment?
- Should you crate train your dog?
- Should you hire a trainer?
- Is grain-free dog food better?
From Dr. Katy’s bio:
Dr Katy Nelson is the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s WJLA, as well as an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Center in Alexandria, VA. She serves as an expert on animal health on Washington DC’s All News Radio Station, WTOP News, as well as on Washington DC’s ABC affiliate WJLA ABC 7. She has been featured on the TODAY Show, Fox & Friends, Sirius XM, NPR, CNBC, The Meredith Vieira Show, HuffPost Live, and is the expert for the second season of the popular show “Unlikely Animal Friends” on NatGeo Wild.
Dr. Katy is the Medical Director of Pet Health for Stop Aging Now, and has her own line of all-natural pet health supplements called Charlie’s Choice. She is a frequent contributor to Family Circle Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Cheddar TV, HuffPost Pets, BarkPost, and is featured in over 200 pet health videos on PetMD.
Dana Humphrey, “The Pet Lady”
Next we talked with Dana Humphrey, who goes by “The Pet Lady,” about how to find the breed you want, teaching children to be gentle with pets, pets and newborn babies, and what you need to have at home for your new dog. From Dana’s bio:
Meet “The Pet Lady,” Dana Humphrey. She happily wears many collars in the pet industry, including operating the very successful Whitegate PR firm, staging pet fashion events, and educating all of us pet lovers about the must-have pet products and pet trends. And, though her home base is in New York City, this is a gal who travels coast-to-coast and beyond to ensure pets everywhere lead enriching lives.
This Week’s Links
Interview with Dr. Katy Nelson (00:01:25)
Interview with The Pet Lady (00:30:13)
Bytes of the Week (00:41:12)
The Case of the Stolen Ruby Slippers, by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson – The Washington Post Magazine
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Rebecca: [00:00:10] Hi welcome to Parenting Bytes. This is Rebecca Levey of KidzVuz. I’m here today with Amy Oztan of Amy Ever After.
Amy: [00:00:17] Hi.
Rebecca: [00:00:17] Hello! And of course Andrea Smith Technology Guru Extraordinaire.
Andrea: [00:00:23] Hi guys.
Rebecca: [00:00:25] Today on the show we are talking all things family pet in honor of me getting a dog, a puppy. And you guys already being cat-filled and Amy guinea pig-filled. We thought this is a show we’ve never done before but it is such a common question on how, when, if you add a pet to your family. So we thought we’d have some experts on and really dive deep into what you need to know, what you need to consider before deciding to get a pet. Today on the show we are going to be joined by two different experts. The first is a vet. Her name is Dr. Katy Nelson. And then we will have Dana Humphrey, also known as The Pet Lady. And together they will address everything you need to know about adding a pet or if you have a pet, because I’m trying to wrangle my puppy right now who’s trying to eat my headset dog. And we’ll be right back with Dr. Katy Nelson first to address the more serious questions of adding a pet to your family. We’ll be right back.
Interview with veterinarian and TV host Dr. Katy Nelson
Rebecca: [00:01:28] So we are so excited today to have Dr. Katy Nelson. She’s an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Center in Alexandria Virginia. And the host and executive producer of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy on Washington DC’s News Channel 8, and Dr. Katy we are so excited to have you on the show because I recently added a puppy to my home which everyone sort of was aghast because my daughters are 17, they’re like now? Now you’re doing that? But you know confession time that’s why we’re doing it, because my daughters will leave you for college and we’re like, we can’t have an empty nest!
Dr. Katy: [00:02:08] It would be far too quiet.
Rebecca: [00:02:10] Oh my God. I know my husband wanted two, I was like no no, I already did two babies at once. Like, I’m not doing that again.
Dr. Katy: [00:02:14] No, ten puppies is not necessary.
Rebecca: [00:02:18] No exactly. And then you have to feel for the mom right, who had seven at once so I was like oh, that’s a whole other thing. But we are so excited to have you because adding a pet to a family I think is is a big decision for a lot of families whether it be a dog or cat or something else and so we’d love to just talk to you about you know how parents can make that decision, when why what kind, you know the important things to know before you do take that plunge to adding a pet to your family.
How much does a dog or cat cost?
Dr. Katy: [00:02:49] Yeah, well first off I mean congratulations, that’s awesome that you’ve got a new a new addition to the household, it’s almost like having a baby I mean it’s just a shorter, it’s just a shorter time period where where you’re up half the night and taking them out to the bathroom every 30 minutes. But you know that’s one thing that I always encourage people to think of is that this is a major time commitment especially on the front end. If you’re gonna do a puppy or a kitten then be prepared that your sleep is going to be interrupted it’s just going to happen. And I’m a huge proponent for rescue. I really feel like, especially for families, rescuing is really a great way of going about it in a lot of people think that that’s counterintuitive, they think that oh we should get a puppy from a breeder because then we have a fresh start. But the great thing about going through a rescue especially for an older pet is that the adoption counselors through these rescues know the personalities of these animals very very very well and their personalities you’re already fully developed. And so if you go in and you say you know hey I am, we’re a five person family, we’re very very active, we love to be out and about on the weekends, we want to pet that’s going to travel with us. We want you know one that’s going to be able to be a part of everything, or the opposite of that. You know, we’re a very quiet family of four. We love to spend our evenings reading and having quiet time, whatever. They’re going to be able to match you personality wise, lifestyle wise with the perfect pet for you. And I really think that there’s a huge advantage to going through rescue for situations like that, and you know obviously if you want a puppy or a kitten that can happen as well. So, but like I said that’s just that’s sort of like where I tell everybody to start. And then the other thing is you do have to realize the financial commitment that comes with adopting, or with with bringing a pet into the family not only for food and for the purchase price or adoption fee but definitely for veterinary care in the future. You know there are some estimates that over the lifetime of a dog it can be 30 to 40 thousand dollars and for cats it can be up to 20 thousand dollars for the lifetime care of a pet. So it’s a big financial commitment, and you need to make sure that you’re ready to make that commitment and to do things the right way.
Rebecca: [00:05:21] That’s such an interesting thought I think because people they know the food costs, like they’ll start to think about that in their head, but those vet costs, you hear those stories about people all of a sudden had a five thousand dollar vet bill because their dog either had a disease or ate, you know, a whole bottle, I mean-
Amy: [00:05:42] My cat swallowed a penny once.
Should you get pet insurance?
Rebecca: [00:05:44] Right. Exactly. So is that, I know for us when we were looking pet insurance became a big thing and I had people with different opinions, I had friends who never had pet insurance, and they just sort of have a little savings account in case something happens. And then friends who said Oh my God you have to have pet insurance, it’s just- you just- it’s a no brainer.
Dr. Katy: [00:06:05] Well I worked as an emergency veterinarian for almost 10 years and I can tell you that people who have pet insurance oftentimes are able to do more for their pets in those emergent situations. So I’m a huge fan of pet insurance personally because again I’ve seen people come in and be able to make those on-the-spot decisions to do something lifesaving for their pet. Whereas you know it may- they may not have had a different outcome had they not had that cushion of pet insurance. Pet insurance is super simple. You pay a premium every month whatever, you can choose whatever you choose whether you want full coverage for you know to cover costs of vaccines and spay neuters and yearly visits or if you just want to have the emergency-fund type pet insurance. That’s an option as well. And what typically happens is you know you will submit the invoice to pet insurance and most of the time it’s 80 to 90 percent covered as long as it’s something that is covered under the insurance plan. So it’s simple for us as veterinarians it’s simple for pet owners and it’s a- I think it’s a wise financial decision.
Andrea: [00:07:16] That’s really interesting. I mean years ago obviously there wasn’t pet insurance and I’ve had cats all my life and now you know now that it’s become more prevalent, I mean one of my cats has an autoimmune thing and I never knew that there was a veterinary dermatological specialist who by the way is more expensive than a human dermatological specialist. I’m only here to get an appointment.
Dr. Katy: [00:07:42] Yeah I’m going to disagree with you on the expense part because it’s just that you don’t see the expense of the human dermatologist. You see upfront the expense of the Veterinary dermatologists because your insurance is going to cover a lot of the humans stuff, so…
Andrea: [00:07:55] Exactly. Exactly. Right. And because I just see what I pay so it certainly gives me pause. Pardon the pun. And tells me you know, yeah maybe this is something I should look into. God I hope there’s no pre-existing condition clause.
Dr. Katy: [00:08:11] Well there is on some of them but you know again it might not be that this kitty at this point in her life it makes sense for you to do pet insurance but certainly for the new puppy in the household or for a young healthy pet in the household having you know full insurance is great. For the older ones it might make more sense just to look at one of the emergency type plans where you know if something does happen where you know God forbid chemotherapy or something like that is is warranted then you can have some coverage in that situation. So again it’s just best to kind of do your research on the different types of pet insurance out there. There’s multiple companies out there and you know I think the majority of them do a good job but definitely go to Better Business Bureau. Do some do some, uh, research on them and figure out which plan might work best for you, but there it definitely does help in the long run. And as far as the specialists go I mean we basically we have almost all the same specialties as human medicine, just additional schooling just like for the doctors.
Rebecca: [00:09:24] It’s so it’s, yeah, it really is adding a family member right? Like when you think about things all of a sudden like insurance, I think people just think you’re going to throw a pet into your family and the main concern is who’s going to feed it.
Dr. Katy: [00:09:36] Right, ’cause there there’s a lot more to it than that.
Are your kids ready for a pet?
Rebecca: [00:09:40] So let’s say your your children have been begging for a pet, and usually that means a puppy or kitten if they’re begging. You know, once in a while you get the kid who really wants a guinea pig or a hamster. But in my experience and Amy I don’t know if you can speak to this because you do have the guinea pigs that tends to be the pet, the starter pet.
Amy: [00:10:01] The gateway pet?
Rebecca: [00:10:02] Yeah. Or the consolation prize you think’s going to make your child happy and that you are wrong.
Amy: [00:10:08] Yeah. Well in my case I think she knew that there was no chance at a dog because I’m the only one in the family home all day. So that- and so when the one person who’s home all day doesn’t want the dog it’s not going to happen. So yeah, she, she pressed hard for guinea pigs and it didn’t work out well…They’re mine now, they’re not hers anymore.
Rebecca: [00:10:27] They didn’t die. They just aren’t being cared for by-
Amy: [00:10:31] They’re fine, they’re right behind me in my office but they’re my guinea pigs now.
Rebecca: [00:10:34] Yeah.
Dr. Katy: [00:10:34] Well those, I mean the small mammals are definitely often seen as the starter pets and they can be good practice but you do have to realize that a lot of them do live for, you know guinea pigs can go with six to eight years and rabbits can live 10 to 12 years you know depending on the breed of the rabbit, the larger breeds might be a little bit a little bit less than that. So it’s not like you’re you know getting something for 6 months you know it really is a commitment as well, even to the starter pets because they require good healthy food, they require veterinary visits as well. They have issues. They have diseases, so you know while I understand that they’re smaller and maybe they live in a cage it’s not always the, the easy thing that people think that they’re gonna be. I mean you have to clean out the cages and you have to feed them fresh food and and all of that you know. So it is it’s a time commitment as well. It’s just my it’s just a different type of time commitment as compared to a dog or a cat. So if you’re thinking about getting a pet, you know, think about your lifestyle. That’s the biggest thing that I always encourage people to think of is your lifestyle. Understand what you’re going to be able to give to a pet and realize that you know there needs to be a reality check in there. If you do have someone that’s home a lot of times and or you’ve got you know the type of lifestyle that allows then you know obviously, I’m a dog person. I am absolutely a dog person through and through and cannot imagine my life or my house without a dog in it. I just can’t. But I also have the time to put into training and walking and caring for and I also understand that we travel a lot and we either make the decision to travel with our pets or we pay through the nose to have someone come stay at our house and take care of them while we’re gone. So you know we we get that, an our- and our lifestyle fits that. If you are gone you know the majority of the day and no one’s at home and maybe a kitty might be better you know because they do have their independence and they don’t need you to go in and out all the time and the same thing for some of the small mammals they definitely can fit into that lifestyle as well. And just a big warning for people out there who are thinking well maybe we’ll get a bird you know maybe that would be a good starter pet. Well keep in mind that birds live a long time as well. And some of the larger birds, parrots, cockatoos, macaws, birds like that, they can live 60 some odd years. So-.
Amy: [00:13:26] Wow.
Dr. Katy: [00:13:27] Yeah. You’re getting a lifetime of a pet if you look into getting a bird. Some of the smaller birds don’t live that long but it’s you know you need to do your research and really make sure that you are prepared for that commitment. Turtles, you know some people think oh well we’ll get a little a little you know red-eared slider or whatever, you know, and well those guys can live 20 something years as well. So you got to know these things before you add them into your home. And again you can always if you do make the decision that, hey, a bird is right for us or a turtle is right for us or a small mammal is right for us, they are available at shelters around the country. You do not have to go and buy one from a pet store. You can go to a local shelter or a local rescue and find exactly what you’re looking for if you’re going for a small mammal or a reptile or a bird or or anything like that. They’re available for rescue all around the country.
Rebecca: [00:14:27] Wow I never knew that, I never thought of those kinds of pets as rescue pets.
Dr. Katy: [00:14:31] Oh yeah absolutely. I mean the unfortunate thing is that shelters are filled to the brim with those types of animals because a lot of people don’t think of rescuing them. So especially after Easter the shelters will be filling with rabbits shortly. So this is why we always encourage people to buy a chocolate Easter bunny rather than a real Easter bunny because they can live for eight to 10 years and you have to be able to make that commitment if you’re going to have a bunny, they’re not just around for Easter Sunday.
Rebecca: [00:15:02] Right. I had a rabbit growing up actually that was like a literal rescue. I was with my friends in Prospect Park and a man came and dumped it out of a box.
Dr. Katy: [00:15:14] Oh goodness.
Rebecca: [00:15:15] It was a little white, I mean it was like a fancy rabbit, a little white albino rabbit. Yeah, but he did. He lived I think 10 years. Yeah, they’re very sweet.
Dr. Katy: [00:15:27] They’re wonderful. And you know rabbits are actually really great house pets. I mean they they can be trained to use a litter box. They’re very soft. They’re very cuddly. You just have to be careful with households with small children because rabbits are fragile and you need to make sure that your children are old enough to be able to be trained how to how to properly hold a rabbit and handle a rabbit. Little small children are definitely much more huggy and squeezy and pick them up and the rabbits can actually hurt themselves whenever they get fearful so that might not be the perfect pet for a house with small children but you know six, eight, 10 or above where you can at least have you know like a real rational conversation about this is how you hold them and this is how you pick them up and you should always have an adult present blah blah blah then that’s- the rabbits are actually really great pets.
Amy: [00:16:17] And if you’re like my mom and you’re going to let them just have the run of the house, know that they chew on everything.
Dr. Katy: [00:16:22] Ev-er-y thing. Absolutely. And that’s because their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and they’re always trying to wear those teeth down so they will put anything and everything in their mouth and so you definitely have to bunny-proof your house if you’re going to have one.
Do you need to pet-proof your home?
Rebecca: [00:16:39] Well let’s talk a little bit about that, about that idea of sort of pet-proofing your house because you know one of the things when we were getting ready to get a puppy that I started reading online that of course didn’t occur to me because my children are now 17, I was like been there done that with the baby proofing, was puppy proofing where someone said get on the floor and now look at your house again from a puppy point of view. It’s like Oh my God. Really?
Dr. Katy: [00:17:02] Oh yeah.
Rebecca: [00:17:03] So let’s talk a little bit about that because I think that’s a preparation people really don’t think about.
Dr. Katy: [00:17:10] Yeah definitely. I mean you do need to get down and see it from their perspective because you’re going to find all sorts of things that, oh I could put that in my mouth and I could chew on this and that looks interesting. And you know getting down and doing that whether it’s not necessarily the same things that you would do for baby proofing but it’s going to depend on the puppy themselves, we adopted a puppy about four months ago and thankfully he’s been pretty easy but I’ve had dogs before that literally would open every cabinet, turn over every trash can. I had a Jack Russell that knew how to open doors so that was a challenge.
Amy: [00:17:50] My friends’ cats can turn on the stove so they use the baby proofing stove cover things.
Dr. Katy: [00:17:56] Yes absolutely. So it really is-
Andrea: [00:17:57] I had to change my laundry room door because my cat can open the door to the laundry room and then he gets into the garage and the two of them go out there like bandits like, oh, we know we’re not supposed to…
Dr. Katy: [00:18:10] Yeah. So I mean it really, it’s so individual that you know there are some some great articles and stuff out there about puppy proofing and kitten proofing and you know pet proofing your house. And I would say that those are good starters. So you know just making sure you’ve got the small things that can be put into a mouth off the floor and you know trying to hide your wires as well as you can, things like that but then just getting to know your pet after the first couple of weeks you’re gonna be able to realize you know oh I either do need this or I really need to go overboard and do everything that I didn’t think I needed to do. So it’s going to depend on the pet. And then I also think that you know for the majority of dogs starting out at least with crate training is great. You may learn after a few months that you know hey he’s really not going to touch anything. He’s gonna be fine if I leave him out of the crate but at least starting with a crate and starting crate training when you initially get them is a great way to not only keep them safe when you’re not there to watch them but to keep your house safe as well.
Rebecca: [00:19:16] Yeah. I don’t know how people do it without crate training. I don’t know how you would leave a new puppy in a house especially like in an apartment because unless you had a gate setup where you know that’s how you were penning them in so they didn’t get into all sorts of trouble, but they’re also not housebroken.
Dr. Katy: [00:19:34] Right. A lot of people will do a bathroom or a laundry room or something like that where they’re able to to close them into a into a certain area. But yeah I I’ve always found that crate training is just much easier and especially if you treat it like, hey this is your bedroom you know and you make it a positive experience for them make it comfy for them then it doesn’t- they don’t view it as a as a punishment. They view it as, OK I’m going to go into my room for a little while while my mom is gone and it works out best for everybody because it definitely decreases your stress level as well.
How to prepare your pet for a baby
Rebecca: [00:20:11] How do you…Let’s say you have the pet first. So you’re you’re single or you’re a couple and you know there are a lot of couples who use a pet as a starter baby. Right? Which is haha on them because it’s not not quite the same. But you know so let’s say you already have the pet and all of a sudden you’re pregnant, you’re introducing a child or you’re adopting a child into your home. How do you prepare your pet for that.
Dr. Katy: [00:20:35] So if you’ve already got a pet that is well-behaved and well-trained then there’s- it’s a much easier transition to bring baby home because you don’t have to worry about a big dog jumping on you as you walk in the door with a newborn in your hands or that your cat is going to shred everything in the baby’s room with his claws marking his territory. So if you do have a pet that’s already pretty well behaved the transition is a lot more simple, if you do have a pet that’s got some behavioral issues and you’ve just always said always a little neurotic or you know that’s just this thing, now- now’s the time to address that and call a professional trainer to come in and try to help you get the situation under control before you add an entirely new level of of stress and sleeplessness and anxiety to your life that you’ve never experienced before. So doing now, just a little step, you know a little little bit of preparation before the baby comes home is really good and even if you’ve got a good dog or a good cat even having a trainer come in just to help you with any sort of little issues is a great idea and it’s a great investment of your time and of your money before the baby comes. And then if you’ve got one that’s an anxious pet then looking on Amazon they’ve got some little C.D. of, there are like baby noises, babies crying, things like that, it might be a good idea to you know play a few of those and get them used to the new noises that’ll be happening in the house, if you’ve got people who are willing to let you experiment on their children [laughter], you know have your friends with kids bring over their their kids and you know in a calm controlled situation and just let your animals get accustomed to having you know a little people in the house that’s always a smart idea as well. And then while you’re actually in the hospital before you bring baby home definitely have someone bring home a blanket or a hat or something that smells like the baby so that they start getting accustomed to that new scent being in their home.
Rebecca: [00:22:30] Oh that’s such a good idea. I know when I was born my mom had a dog that she had rescued and he was just a terrible dog. To be honest, with, because- except to her, like he was so attached to her. But he had obviously been so traumatized. So he- and he was very adorable, he looked like a sheep dog so everyone would come up to him and be like “Oh!” And he’d be like “Grrr.” So I think her thing, back then I don’t think anyone ever hired a trainer for the dogs so their whole thing was just they just never let me alone with him.
Dr. Katy: [00:22:57] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:22:58] Because that- and I think that’s probably good advice in general. Just-.
Dr. Katy: [00:23:00] It is.
Rebecca: [00:23:01] You know. Right? Dogs are dogs, like you know things happen.
Dr. Katy: [00:23:06] Absolutely and you really a lot of times it’s just, I always tell my kids with our dogs, we’ve got to really easy really mellow dogs. And honestly you could probably do anything to either one of them and they would never show any aggression. But I always tell my children don’t set them up for failure. You know they’re they’re great dogs but don’t do things that are going to you know maybe provoke them and set them up for failure because you just need to be able to teach your kids that. And also you know when we’re leaving the room to go out and answer the phone or you go do something, you think oh well I’ll leave the dog here with the baby or whatever, well what if the baby reaches over and pulls the hair on the tail or or scrapes the dog in the eye or something along those lines. And then the dog does what dogs do and he he nips because ouch, that hurt. You’re setting your dog up for failure and you’re endangering your child so it’s always best to never leave them alone, never leave them in a situation where something could potentially happen that’s out of your control because then it’s the dog in the end or the cat in the end that is the one that you know pays the consequences because obviously we’re not going to kick the baby out of the house for the dog.
Rebecca: [00:24:20] You know so what was also interesting when we start doing our research is I fell down two rabbit holes. One is I didn’t realize there were like anti-vaxxers in the pet world also. So I was like whoa, this is a rabbit hole I didn’t know existed and didn’t want to know existed.
Dr. Katy: [00:24:36] Oh yeah.
Should you feed your dog grain-free food?
Rebecca: [00:24:38] And then also the food rabbit hole of all the sudden you start reading, just like with your kids. Right? Like this is terrible, that’s terrible. Grain free- and I know there was like a recall, but I mean I ended up getting so, you know, spinning around like oh my God am I going to be horrible from the get-go, am I supposed to be grain-free? Am I supposed to be you know homemade dog food? Like what am I supposed to do. So can you talk a little about that, like how do you choose food and what is what is going on in the pet world around all of these these things.
Dr. Katy: [00:25:09] Well I can tell you that the pet food world is a little bit in an upheaval at the moment. There’s- if for your listeners out there if you haven’t heard about the FDA statement recently on grain-free foods and I would encourage you to go to the FDA website and search for grain-free because there has been a link between certain grain-free diets and DCM, which is dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease and there- it’s very much in the early stages of trying to figure out what foods, what’s the link, what’s the cause. And so- and they’re not releasing the names of the foods just yet that are, that are linked to it. All they really said is that some of the more boutique brands have been linked to this, these dogs forming cardiac disease. So right now it’s just sort of best unless your pet has a, an allergy to grains, a proven allergy to grains, it’s best to probably just stick with the foods that do have some grains in them because we’re not finding them with a cardiac disease unless it’s a genetic component then you know we’re not seeing that in the regular foods. Grain-free was one of those buzz words. There’s always buzz words that, you know, happen in all sorts of industries but grain-free was a buzzword that was started up a few years ago. A trainer at some point said that he thought that corn made dogs hyper and it just went all out of control from there. And there’s really not a whole lot of research to back any of that. Dogs are omnivores. They eat everything as we know. I mean yes from soft-
Rebecca: [00:26:51] Shoes and socks.
Dr. Katy: [00:26:51] [laughing] I mean they literally eat everything. But but I mean really what we know is that dogs are best fed as I kind of say the Whole 30 type diet right? So they’re best fed with good solid healthy carbohydrates healthy fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Those are- that’s how dogs are best fed. And feeding them something without a whole bunch of preservatives lower on the carb range higher on the protein range. That’s always the best way of going about it. And if you have any specific questions talk with your veterinarian about it. I mean talk with them about which are the foods that they see the best results with and also they know your pet. They know the disease conditions or the challenges that your pets face and they’ll be able to address that better. I’m a big fan of the fresh diets of the fresh foods that’s that’s typically what I go for especially in situations where 60 percent of American dogs are overweight or obese and a lot of that has to do with you know high carb foods, the dry foods that we’re feeding in my belief system. So I tend to go for the fresh foods you know with, again, just no preservatives low carb high protein fresh pet foods. And that’s what I tend to use for most of my patients and I also find that it just helps a lot with some of their allergies as well because it just takes a whole bunch of the fillers and stuff off the table. But again that’s not going to be perfect for every single pet especially for pet owners that you know it is a more expensive way of going about it. So talking with your veterinarian and being realistic about your budget about what you’re going to be able to do time wise for your pets and they should be able to lead you to the perfect food.
Rebecca: [00:28:39] No that’s really helpful. I mean it’s just I mean it’s also just insane how many choices there are out there. Right? Back in the day it was like there was Purina.
Dr. Katy: [00:28:49] Oh no I mean back in the day there was A pet food aisle. Now you walk in and there’s 14 pet food aisles and you’re like holy cow. I don’t even know where to start. So that’s why I always tell people. Start with your veterinarian you know start there. Have the conversation and again be realistic because as veterinarians we’re not there to judge you on how much you can spend on a pet food a month. That’s not my job. My job is to help you do the very best thing that you possibly can for your pet. And if it’s a food that’s just completely ridiculously expensive and out of your price range then then I have no business recommending that, we need to work together as a team to best choose what works for your pets.
Rebecca: [00:29:35] Great. Well that’s all super super helpful. Thank you so much. This was great. You know I think this is really helpful for people who are trying to figure out this big question of whether or not to add a pet to their their family. It’s very I think it’s universal that children ask for usually a puppy but sometimes-.
Dr. Katy: [00:29:52] A pony.
Rebecca: [00:29:53] Or yeah pony’s a whole other conversation.
Dr. Katy: [00:29:58] Oh yeah.
Rebecca: [00:29:58] But it is I it really does add- your family is adding a new family member and it’s such a big decision. So I think this is really helpful. And thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Katy: [00:30:07] Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me, I appreciate it.
Rebecca: [00:30:10] And we will be right back with Dana Humphrey, also known as The Pet Lady.
Interview with Dana Humphrey, “The Pet Lady”
Rebecca: [00:30:17] We are really happy today to have on the show Dana Humphrey who is also known as The Pet Lady.
Dana: [00:30:23] Hello.
Rebecca: [00:30:24] Hello! So I’d love to jump in. I’d love to first learn how you became The Pet Lady.
Dana: [00:30:31] [Laughter] Well I’ve been I’ve been doing this for a long time and one one time I was on a TV segment in Fresno California and they introduced me to the show as The Pet Lady and I thought, oh that’s good. I’m keeping that. So now I have the website The Pet Lady dot net and some social media as well. But you know really the way our society is is changing. It used to be that people would get married have kids and get the family pet. And really now you know as our society continues to shift people are doing things differently. And a lot of millennials especially are you know moving in together getting a pet then thinking about marriage and kids after, later on. So you know it’s kind of a switch in how we think about the family- family pet. And now a lot of singles have pets and there’s all these different you know dating apps for people with pets. And you know I think there’s also some some good ideas on how you know kids can be, choose to be more responsible. You know as they beg for their first dog or cat.
Rebecca: [00:31:44] Yeah it’s interesting you say that because my daughters who are now 17 have wanted a dog since they could talk. Yeah like 18 months old. Yeah. Dog dog dog and the other day, because we just adopted her like two weeks ago, they said, one of them said to me “I’m actually glad we weighed the song even though I’m sad because I’m gonna go to college in year” but she’s like “I feel like I am so much more capable of caring for her.” And it was so true because I mean on day two I left them alone with the dog. I was like I got to do things, you’re home, go at it you know. But it is really interesting to me what a responsibility a pet is and what a shock that is to a kid or I guess people who have never had children too.
How to decide on a dog breed
Dana: [00:32:27] Yeah and especially a puppy. Right? You know they’re just little babies and they need constant care and attention and you don’t really want to leave them home alone. Right? You want to make sure someone’s there with them and then all the training. How did you decide what breed to get?
Rebecca: [00:32:46] Well we have a lot of allergies in our family, not necessarily are like our family in our house. But my sister, people who would be here a lot.
Dana: [00:32:53] Visitors.
Rebecca: [00:32:53] So yeah visitors. So hypoallergenic was pretty important, as hypoallergenic as they could be obviously. And we live in a small New York City apartment. We live near two parks, but still we’re in an apartment. So that was part of it in terms of energy level and size. So we kind of whittled it down to knowing that we wanted a Woodle, a Wheaton and a poodle mix.
Amy: [00:33:20] [Laughter] I still laugh at that name.
Rebecca: [00:33:20] I know because there is, there is a Wheaton terrier in our building who’s just the sweetest dog ever. Like such a wonderful disposition. So we kind of loved him and then we’re like oh there’s a Woodle! So it’s super hypoallergenic. And we found…one of my friends actually works for the ASPCA and helped me find a really reputable breeder and what to look for and she’d sort of sent me this checklist to make sure we weren’t looking at puppy mills and things like that. So it was it was a long, it was a long bit of research and then we found a breeder we loved and we just got lucky that the timing was right for when she when her Gotcha Day was.
Dana: [00:33:56] That’s awesome.
Rebecca: [00:33:58] Yeah it was, it was it was not easy because we had first choice female and it didn’t occur to us that we’d get there and there’d be so many adorable right there!
Dana: [00:34:06] Right. Exactly. But you know those are all really good things just to take into consideration, you know, your your apartment size your energy level the fur versus hair you know. And now these these designer mutts are becoming really popular. There’s a website that I love called Ad pet. It’s a d o p t s dot org. And you know you can really find, in addition to breeders you can you can really find whatever breed you’re looking for, right? If you’ve decided your family wants a smush-face dog or you wanted a running companion and you want a bigger dog like a Labrador that can run with you. Once you kind of hone in on the characteristics that you want there is really every type of breed in in shelters, so that’s always a great place to start. And of course you know working with a reputable breeder is also a good idea and kind of checking in on you know their references. And then once you once you decide on that Gotcha Day whether you’re going to the shelter, you’re meeting with a foster family or you’re meeting with your with your breeder, youu definitely want to start slowly. Right. You don’t have a big party, welcome in the whole neighborhood over to meet the dog. They have a lot of new things happening in their world, right? They might have been living on a farm out in the country where there’s not a lot going on and all of a sudden you’re bringing them into the logistics of Manhattan where there’s a lot more people and energy and other dogs and cars and you know you want to try to start slow and quiet for them and just limit their experience as much as possible.
Andrea: [00:35:52] I was just going to say when we got our cat I mean we very much took the cat right in the box from the shelter and brought it right up to my son’s room because that was gonna be like the safe space and we really left the cat in the room for a couple of days before we let him out to explore the whole house because that can be really overwhelming too, coming from a shelter and then having all this space just like a dog.
Amy: [00:36:16] We didn’t let our out of the bathroom until they both learned how to use the litter box. Like they lived in the bathroom for the first two days, with me in there with them a lot of the time.
Dana: [00:36:24] Yeah I mean I think you guys are nailing it, with cats it’s even more important because they you know they notice everything and they’re very- they can get very stimulated and so yeah if you have a multi-bedroom home you know it usually is recommended to put the cat or the kitten just in one room to start with so they can kind of get the lay of the land, they want to explore everything all the heights all the different corners and get the lay of the land and then you can introduce them to the rest of the house.
How to get kids ready for a new dog
Rebecca: [00:36:54] Well so I have a question because you did bring up in the beginning that a lot of people now have the pet first and you know just like bringing home a new baby to an older sibling there is there is definitely, right, an adjustment and probably even more so for a pet because they really really don’t know what’s going on. How do you kind of adjust your pet for a new a new little person and coming into the home.
Dana: [00:37:20] Well yeah depending on how old your your child is if they’re you know at an age where they can listen and pay attention you know teaching them to pet the dog nicely or the cat nicely is always a great first first challenge because you know if they’re if if they’re animal lovers they get excited they they want to see the dog they want to see the cat but they often have this kind of flat palm-ou you know smack reaction. So if you can really teach your your child to pet the dog nicely, to approach them nicely. Some kids kind of just get it a little bit better than others but also letting them be part of the process you know whether it’s their certain treats that they’re allowed to give them or maybe there’s some part of that getting ready to go outside process that they can help out with maybe it’s putting on their jacket or putting their collar and leash on even if maybe they’re not the one walking the dog outside, letting them have some part of the process where they can feel you know the day they get to connect with that with that pet. But you do have to be careful with them being rough at first and you know some cats just you know get kind of carefully get out of the way. But dogs don’t have as much spatial luxury.
Rebecca: [00:38:48] Yeah dogs have like want to jump right on you, and they can be nippy when they’re puppies. So that can be hard with a kid because they don’t really understand that it’s not biting necessarily.
Dana: [00:38:58] Yeah. If you have a puppy and and a young a young child that can be complicated because the puppy wants to play and the little kid wants to play and they’re both not really sure of their boundaries yet.
Andrea: [00:39:11] So I’m curious Dana like what are the kinds of questions that people ask you. What are people interested in before they get a pet or once they get a pet?
What to buy before you bring your new dog home
Dana: [00:39:21] Well yeah I think the main things to think about is you know if you’re going down to the shelter you’re going to wherever you’re going to be getting your pet from to think about what are you going to need when you get home right. You’re going to need especially if you’re getting a dog you know you’re going to need a place for the dog to sleep. These days about 80 percent of people do allow their pets to sleep in their bed with them. But you know you want to have some kind of a bed for them. You want to have some kind of food for them, you want to know what they’ve been eating and what you can transition them into. The food is really important because if you just change their food right away there can be some problems, you know some soft stools and you want to switch slowly to a new food to help them adjust. Maybe you mix in whatever they’ve been eating with a little bit of the food you’d like them to eat Something else is to work with a trainer or go to a puppy class. Sometimes people think just because they have a small dog you know they’re not going to need to get training, no matter what type of pet you have you want to invest in some training, whether it’s a six week puppy class or a private trainer to come by just to learn some basic commands, you know sit, stay, come, things like that and get the whole family on board. It’s really all about consistency.
Rebecca: [00:40:45] Well this has been so helpful Dana. Thank you so much for joining us today. I think it’s like a ton of great pet information for people who are thinking about adding a pet or maybe did add a pet and it’s not even it’s not going well or it is I don’t know but thank you so much for joining us today was so great. And we’ll put links up to your site and other social sites so people have more questions for you they can always reach out and see all the information you have.
Dana: [00:41:08] Awesome.
Rebecca: [00:41:09] Great. Thanks so much. We will be right back with our Bytes of the Week.
Bytes of the Week
Rebecca: [00:41:15] We are back with our Bytes of the Week. Amy what do you have?
What happened to the stolen ruby slippers?
Amy: [00:41:18] OK. So my byte is this crazy long article that was in The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago and it’s about a stolen pair of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. And there are- there’s like half a dozen pairs out there. They’re actually not sure how many authentic pairs of ruby slippers there are but you know there’s one in the Smithsonian, there’s- this one private collector had one, and he had sent his pair to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids Minnesota which is where she was from. And so it was, the pair was on display there which was a big deal because they’re worth millions of dollars and they were stolen. This was back in I think 2004, 2005. And then last year they were recovered, like 15 years later, 14 years later, whenever. And the story about them being stolen and being recovered, it’s crazy! It involves like all this, you know, small town intrigue and the mob and a stolen Norman Rockwell painting. And the FBI…
Rebecca: [00:42:31] Wow!
Amy: [00:42:32] Yeah it’s it’s a crazy story. And I’m going to tell you right now you’re not going to get a good conclusion. It does not have a satisfying conclusion because even though the slippers are back they’re still trying to figure out where they came from. They still don’t know who did it, or maybe they do and they just haven’t announced it yet. But like just the details of how they authenticate these shoes and you know the hundreds of hours that go into making fakes and it’s- I just found it absolutely fascinating. So it’s called The Case of the Stolen Ruby Slippers in The Washington Post Magazine and I’ll put up a link.
Andrea: [00:43:09] Interesting.
Rebecca: [00:43:09] Huh. Cool.
Andrea: [00:43:10] Interesting. There’s no place like home.
Rebecca: [00:43:14] All right Andrea, what do you have?
Weighted blankets and more
Andrea: [00:43:17] So I have a follow up and a byte. So last week I talked about the weighted blanket, the relaxation weighted blanket that everyone I know now is is trying these, and you know sometimes we talk about things like the August View and I’ve said I haven’t tried it personally and sometimes you know they don’t turn out to be exactly like they were in the demo, like that particular product, which they’re working on. But the weighted blanket, I just wanted to follow up because I have now been using it for a week, not every day but like sometimes when I curl up on the couch or watch TV, and I’m loving it and I’ve done a little bit of research into it and there’s all different kinds, I’m trying the Sleep Number one, you basically choose a different weight 15, 20, or 25 pounds and you’re supposed to choose based on 10 percent of your body weight. So I just want to happily report that my 15 pound blanket is absolutely wonderful to curl up under, it feels like a huge hug. Yeah, it’s a nice hug. And then the other thing that I saw I have not tried this but I did have a demo on it and tried it, you know I haven’t tried it for a long period of time. It’s something called the Cool Cuff and it’s it’s a like a bracelet. It’s a cuff that goes around your wrist and you press a button and it’s supposed to cool down your body temperature. And this is a wonderful idea for women who are experiencing hot flashes, people starting menopause when you’re when your temperature just spikes and you’re the only one in the room kind of going “Is it hot in here?” But I really liked it. Not just for that but a lot of times you know women get nervous about talking in public. Men do too but a lot of women get nervous about standing up and talking in public and they get sweaty or clammy and they lose their confidence because they feel like people can see it. So this I like because you can just push a button to turn this on. It gets covered under the cuff of your blouse or your jacket. And it really will cool your temperature down and take that kind of sweaty heart palpitation feeling away. So it’s called a Cool Cuff and you can check it out, we’ll have a link to it.
Rebecca: [00:45:41] Wow that would have been a good Mother’s Day gift.
Andrea: [00:45:43] It totally would have been a good Mother’s Day gift.
Amy: [00:45:47] And the entire northeast is desperately waiting for the day when we’re too hot.
Rebecca: [00:45:52] I think there’s for a lot of women, their- too hot is not about the external temperature.
Amy: [00:45:57] Well this weather is making me pray for peri-menopause because I’m freezing.
Rebecca: [00:46:04] I’m going to remind you you said that when the day comes. [laughter]
Andrea: [00:46:05] I have to say last week there were, Amy I think I mentioned it even at that event we were at, there were at least four devices that were one of those, this is so great for women in menopause or women who experience hot flashes. So I don’t know maybe it’s time for a roundup of those but more and more companies are paying attention. This is a huge demographic.
Rebecca: [00:46:29] Well they’re stupid not to.
Amy: [00:46:31] Well I needed those when I was pregnant. When I was pregnant, I was a furnace.
Andrea: [00:46:35] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:46:36] Yeah, it’s um…I don’t know. I just think that like it’s a giant segment of a market and these are, a lot of women will spend money on these kinds of things, like to ignore women, you- middle age women, ignore at your own peril.
Andrea: [00:46:52] And these are women who make their own buying decisions. So we saw – I think Amy saw me just collapse on it. There was a Temper-Pedic cooling mattress. And I’m hoping to have it as a Byte of the Week once I try it. But they had a Temper-Pedic mattress that completely cools your body temperature down, or, a pillow. So you just lay your head back on this cool cool pillow and I just thought, Oh my God this would have been so wonderful. So clearly this is a market that cannot and will not be ignored.
Rebecca: [00:47:25] Wow. All right. Well my byte this week is a new website by the New York Times called NYT Parenting. It is, the New York Times has realized I think that many of their most popular and most shared articles have to do with parenting.
Andrea: [00:47:43] I saw that.
Rebecca: [00:47:45] And it’s so funny because the top article in the parenting site right now is Can’t Sleep While Pregnant. [laughing] It is, right now it’s very focused on pregnancy and it might be more focused also on under five, kids under five. That’s what it looks like to me. I think that’s too bad but it must be where they think that’s the most interest. It is fantastic. It is a giant group of topics under parenting. They have Stages, Health and Wellness, Relationships, Work and Money, so they’re not separating parenting out as like just about kids. It’s also about you and really your relationships and money which I think is so important and work and I don’t know it just looks great. It’s in beta right now but it’s open to everyone. I have a feeling it’s going to end up behind some sort of paywall. So I think hopefully it’ll be open for people who already subscribe to New York Times who have a subscription but there is like a log in. I don’t know I’m sort of finessing that and seeing what’s going on there. But it’s really cool, they are great writers. So if you are a new parent or know a new parent or someone is about to be a new parent or even not new just you know having another one, it’s it’s a great site. Graphics are beautiful. It’s really well done.
Andrea: [00:49:14] I thought it was so interesting because they did a lot of parenting articles anyway and I am a paid New York Times subscriber so I have access to all of them. And it’s kind of like of course they’re tagged parenting or you could just search them and you know the recommendation engine works really well so I thought it was so interesting that they decided to pull it out and create a separate website for it like a separate landing site.
Rebecca: [00:49:37] I think it’s brilliant because I think that some people don’t read The New York Times but this would be you know there are people out there who feel like the New York Times is biased you know on the left or they just don’t like to read those kinds of articles. I don’t know what it is but this is something very different. There there really, um, unless people see articles about LGBTQ parents as political, which then like I don’t know what to tell you but it’s really not political at all. There’s no op-edness about it. There are wonderful first person essays but it’s it’s like a giant resource all put in one place rather than you having to you know look under parenting and find those articles. And my guess, I mean the only thing I can guess is that those articles are hugely popular. And when you see the most shared that they tend to be relationship articles and parenting articles. It’s so interesting. Or they’ll be like a crazy diet and health article. Those are always like shared too.
Andrea: [00:50:36] Well good. Maybe we use it and talk to some of their authors about stuff.
Amy: [00:50:39] And I think that if they are trying to segment that off and maybe put it behind a paywall for a broader audience that isn’t interested in the New York Times itself I think that’s a great idea. I mean especially as a freelance writer I’m very much in favor of anything that helps writers get paid but you know if you’re not interested in the rest of the paper their parenting stuff really is fantastic. So that’s great.
Rebecca: [00:51:03] Yeah I think it’s a shame though that it stops at preschoolers. Not really sure why. I mean it’s almost you know it’s like a weird thing to call it parenting as if your parenting stops and your kid goes to kindergarten, like you know, you wish. [laughing] Like it’s about to get worse, actually.
Amy: [00:51:18] Well let’s suggest an expansion to them, maybe this is just the start.
Rebecca: [00:51:21] Yeah I’m sure it’s just the start. But anyway that’s my Byte of the Week, it’s really fabulous. And I, I look through it, I’m not ever having a baby again but I was like oh that’s interesting! Ooh that’s cool! Why not. So that is our show for today, you can find links to everything we talked about on Parenting Bytes dot com, Facebook dot com slash Parenting Bytes, wherever you listen to us, wherever you get your podcasts from please rate, review, subscribe, and share. It’s how we find more great listeners. And we’d also, you know, we’d love to hear from you too. So if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss or if you have some crazy pet story you’d like to share, or advice let us know. Until next week. Happy parenting.
Amy: [00:52:02] Bye.
Andrea: [00:52:02] Have a good week
Rebecca: [00:52:03] Bye.