Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Got a pet care question?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 21, 2014 2:36 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 24, 2014:

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More than half of American families have a pet.  Cats are the most popular household pet, closely followed by dogs.

The pet is often considered a member of the family and as a result, most people want their pets to be healthy and happy.

So how do we keep them that way?

Veterinarian Dr. Ben Zimmerman of Companion Animal Hospital in Elizabethtown appears on Monday's Smart Talk to answer your questions on pet health and pet care.

As warmer temperatures approach and fleas and ticks latch on to animals, we'll find out how to protect your dog or cat.

Are there any conditions that vets are seeing more often recently? 

How to choose a pet is another topic we'll touch on.

Call 1-800-729-7532, email us at, or leave a comment below if you have a question for Dr. Zimmerman.

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Dr. Ben Zimmerman

Listen to the program:

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  • Amy img 2014-03-24 07:48

    I have a cat that starts meowing early in the morning to be fed (she is a bit overweight, and so we are trying to feed her twice a day to maintain her weight at the suggestion of our veterinarian). She is starting to wake us up earlier and earlier (she begs in the afternoon as well, but we can better wait that out). We put her downstairs with access to a bit of dry food, water and litterbox so that we could sleep, but she is getting louder and louder, and earlier with the sun rising earlier too. Is there anything we can do to deter her from begging, or "train" her to stop waking us up so early?

  • Marguerite img 2014-03-24 07:52

    There are a couple of issues I hope your guest will address.

    One is the importance of obedience training, including socialization. Very few people plan to do competitive obedience, even though it's a lot of fun and is now my favorite hobby. But they don't recognize how nice it is to have a dog that pays attention to what you are saying and does what he or she is asked. Like not pulling you down the sidewalk, or dashing out the door whenever it's opened. Training actually happens whenever you interact with your dog--but WHAT are you training it? To ignore you? To jump on you?

    The second point is a serious safety issue, and I'll put it a little differently: The importance of keeping your dog safe from children. Children who are ignorant of dog body language or are unaware that all dogs carry weapons can get on even the most patient dog's last nerve. When the dog snaps at an annoying child, it's usually the dog that ends up dead. And possibly a worse fate is to be ripped from the only family it has known and dumped at a shelter.

    Those so-called "cute" pictures of babies and dogs are really a bite waiting to happen. Anyone familiar with dog body language can see in the sideways glance and turned-away head that the dog is saying the only way he knows how, "Get that kid away from me!"

    There are many resources on the web that can help you teach a child how to safely interact with a dog. Parents, please use them!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-24 08:41

    Terry emails:

    I have a problem with my relatively new cat (I adopted her a year ago).
    I've had 5 cats previously and this is a new problem. She scratches furniture,
    walls - anything and all the time.

    Is there something I can do to stop it or do I have to have her
    declawed (which I'd hate to do)?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-24 08:43

    Cathy from Millersville emails:

    We own a 9 month old Bernese Mountain Dog. She was a star student in puppy class, and did well through half of the intermediate class we attended. Then, it became increasingly more difficult to get her to obey. She is happy and eager, but no longer responds to commands that were easy for her originally, such as not jumping on people. My husband walks her an hour a day, but she remains a bundle of energy. People tell me she is still a puppy, and we should wait it out. Will it get better with age? When can we expect her to calm down?
    Thank you!

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-24 09:11

    A listener writes...
    We have our cat checked for her microchip at every visit to the vet. Two years ago her microchip moved to her abdomen. He had been implanted five years before that. Do you find this happening very often? Would you also advise pet owners to have the Chip location checked at every visit?

  • Adair img 2014-03-24 09:43

    I am a breeder of Labrador Retrievers and active in an AKC all-breed club, a regional breed club, and the national club. Many of the concerns voiced today could be helped by purchasing a pet from a reputable breeder who extensively health screens/ tests both parents and puppies, provides proper care of mother & pups, and will BE THERE to support the new owner. Also, prospective owners should do a lot of homework to learn about their breed. Breeds vary significantly in needs; since the pet will be a family member for many years, it is prudent to understand breed temperament, activity level, and common health issues. Folks would benefit from contacting a LOCAL AKC club for breeder referrals, obedience training, and performance opportunities like agility. In my area the local AKC club can be found at We are happy to welcome all who are interested in dogs.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-24 10:22

    A listener writes...
    We have our cat checked for her microchip at every visit to the vet. Two years ago her microchip moved to her abdomen. He had been implanted five years before that. Do you find this happening very often? Would you also advise pet owners to have the Chip location checked at every visit?

  • Roger Tyson img 2014-03-24 12:56

    On the lighter side of pet ownership:

    "My Pet Vortex":

    Having a rift in the space-time continuum is one thing...

    ...but keeping it off the bed is REALLY hard!

  • Tam img 2014-03-25 08:29

    My question was not asked or answered yesterday. :(

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Tam
    To: smarttalk
    Sent: Mon, Mar 24, 2014 8:57 am
    Subject: Question for Dr. Zimmerman

    My 13 year old female Maine Coon cat was diagnosed with feline acne three weeks ago. Her chin is pink and swollen, then pimples break out, seem to break open, heal, then more come out.

    The vet gave her a shot of antibiotic and steroid. I've changed her wet and dry cat foods from FISH flavors to chicken, liver, turkey, etc., thinking the oil in the fish cat food may be too much. Changed all the plastic dishes to glass or metal.

    Her chin has not really improved -- it is about the same.

    Any suggestions? Time to go back to the vet?

    Can you recommend a low ash cat food -- dry and wet.

    Thank you!


  • Destiny Brown img 2015-03-20 02:41

    Well, I have a pet and i do take a proper care of it but once i just explored different sites about pet health then i came to know the right knowledge of grooming and caring is how much needed. Am just sharing that video link, you should have a look