Idaho For Pets Sake Expo

Ridge McNabb, 11, holds his toy poodle “Gus” while Community Animal Hospital technician Colleen Abbott tries to give him a treat during the Idaho For Pet’s Sake Expo at the Portneuf Wellness Complex in Pocatello on Saturday. Ridge’s brother Trey, 7, is at center.

Dogs of all sizes and breeds roamed around the Portneuf Wellness Complex on Saturday during the third annual Idaho for Pet’s Sake Expo.

While the dogs had a chance to interact with each other and enjoy some treats, their owners had the chance to visit different booths, including one run by the Community Animal Hospital in Pocatello.

Multiple technicians and administrative assistants were available at the Community Animal Hospital booth to speak with people about their pets — and their pets’ health.

“We like to do a lot of community education when we do events,” said Colleen Abbott, a technician.

Brandie Jacobia, the practice manager, added that sometimes the events lead to further education and discussion with pet owners down the line.

“At these events, I don’t know that we’re able to do the education we’d like to do,” she said. “It’s more about getting them to give us a call so we can get them in the door.”

And according to Jacobia, many pet owners may not know just how frequently they should be walking through that door.

Most healthy dogs should be visiting the vet one to two times a year, she said. And dogs over 7 years old should be having check-ups every six months.

And healthcare frequency is just one of the many areas that some pet owners may have misconceptions about. Another is weight.

According to Abbott, about 70 percent of pets are overweight or obese, and particularly for dogs, many owners may not know that their animal is actually not at its ideal weight.

“People have this idea that an appropriate sized dog is shaped like a sausage, and if you can see their waist, they’re underfed,” she said. “But the truth is that you should be able to feel their ribs a little. It should be like you’re feeling it through a T-shirt instead of a sweatshirt.”

Additionally, Abbott said about 80 percent of dogs have some form of dental disease by the age of three, though much of that can be attributed to genetics and breed.

“Just like with humans, a lot of it is genetic,” she said. “And smaller dogs tend to be worse because they have the same amount of teeth but a much smaller space for them.”

Abbott said owners should be brushing their dogs teeth and providing them with dental chews regularly to prevent disease.

And both Abbott and Jacobia said one of the keys to happy, healthy pets is frequent engagement and socialization, which can include attending events like the pet expo.

However, she warns that it is important that dogs are properly socialized.

“You want to make sure that they’re getting the type of socialization that’s not going to scare them,” she said. “If you give them a scary situation right off the bat, they’re going to pull back, and it’s going to ruin their socialization experiences. Make sure you’re putting them with dogs the equivalent size and age to start with, and then introduce new things slowly.”