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An Interview With Betsy Brevitz


If you walk into any bookstore and head to the pet isle you will find a daunting array of books. Some titles promise to entertain you; others to educate you and help you become a better pet owner. Dr. Betsy Brevitz's new book, Hound Health Handbook, falls into the latter category. I was curious about Betsy's motivation for writing this book, her philosophy, and goals so I spoke with her recently and here's what she had to say.

Every season, a fresh crop of pet manuals arrive on store shelves, and this fall is no different except that one of them - The Hound Health Handbook - is written by my former student, Dr. Betsy Brevitz, a veterinarian in private practice in Brooklyn, New York. Recently, we had a chat about her new book.

DODMAN: Do you a favorite chapter?

BREVITZ: Well, I'm a real pulpit stumper on the topic of children and dogs. Keeping children safe from dogs and keeping dogs safe from children because I have both right now. Also, I am also very interested in the latchkey dog. People sometimes desperately want to have a dog but when spouses both work I encourage them to wait until someone can be at home before getting one.

DODMAN: I saw a section Tennis Ball Mouth and was interested to find out that it was about chewing tennis balls and how it can wear the teeth down. But I was also fascinated to find subjects like holistic medicine, herbal medicine, and acupuncture - topics that are really popular at the moment.

BREVITZ: My focus is conventional medicine but I wanted to lead people to the right books so they can find out more.

DODMAN: Good point -- I am still in a quandary about some of these alternative treatments. There's no doubt that some herbal treatments actually do work. Holistic medicine is widely practiced in Europe - but the logic as to why it might work escapes me.

BREVITZ: Do you think Rescue Remedy [an anxiety treatment for humans and animals] actually works?

DODMAN: In a word, no.

BREVITZ: Me neither.

DODMAN: I know people are desperate for these treatments but there's no proof yet that they're effective. I think your book will be a useful guide for dog owners as it will help them gain insight into their pet's condition before they call the vet and will help understand treatments.

BREVITZ: Yes, people can look up something that's serious and realize they should call the vet immediately. But they can look up a silly something and find they don't need to worry about it.

DODMAN: That's true. An informed client is always the best client.

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