Diet Trials

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The only test to determine if a pet has allergies to food is an 8 week diet trial. No blood test has been shown to be accurate. If you’re curious if your dog or cat may have a food allergy and want more information on how to successfully perform a diet trial, then check out this week’s episode with Dr. Meagan Painter, board certified veterinary dermatologist, as she discusses her tips and tricks for setting pet owners up to get an A+ on this crucial diagnostic test for the treatment of allergic dogs and cats.

Welcome Dr. Painter

[00:01:06] Dr. Lancellotti: Welcome, everyone, to today’s episode of Your Vet Wants You To Know. I am very excited to talk about a really special topic, one that is very popular on the show, and that is elimination diet trials. Our food allergies episode has been one of the most downloaded, and in order to give people a little bit more information on food allergies and how to perform an elimination diet trial, I have brought a very special guest onto the show today. Dr. Meagan Painter, welcome. 

[00:01:38] Dr. Painter: Thank you. I’m very excited to be here.

[00:01:40] Dr. Lancellotti: I’m very excited to have you. I want to give our listeners a little bit of a background. Dr. Painter is a board certified veterinary dermatologist who works in the greater Boston area. Dr. Painter started working with animals at age 15 and was a dedicated volunteer with the MSPCA for her high school days, eventually being recognized at her high school graduation for her commitment to community service and serving others. She attended Tufts University and hoped that she would launch a career in veterinary medicine early on, but the universe had other plans for her. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and continued her career in the shelters until 2010. 12 years ago, on this very day, she signed up for a chemistry class, testing the waters to see what was out there for her with science, and it clicked. Dr. Painter enrolled at Tufts’ veterinary school, graduating with honors in 2014. She went back to her roots at the MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center for one year with a small animal medicine and surgery internship, and then following that, in 2015, she started her three-year residency in veterinary dermatology. That was a hybrid between a clinic in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and a larger dermatology group in California, where she and I were resident mates together. She learned from the best of the best and sucked it all in. Her curiosity is probably one of her strongest traits and her research is definitely a testament to that. She completed a very unique study on (you guessed it) diet trials, the subject of today’s talk. That study looks, specifically, at why people struggle with this change, and helped get some understanding about how we can do diet trials better. Megan lives with her two-and-a-half year-old, Claire, her husband, Andrew, and their cat, Chips. She works full time at MSPCA Angell West in Waltham, Massachusetts. I’m very, very excited to have you on today, Dr. Painter. Thank you so much. 

[00:03:41] Dr. Painter: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here to talk about, probably, my favorite thing to talk about.  

Dr. Meagan Painter

What makes you suspicious of a food allergy?

[00:03:47]Dr. Lancellotti: Absolutely. I know you are always my go-to person. Whenever I have questions about nutrition and about diet trials, you are just chock full of all of these gems, and I can’t wait to share them with the listeners today. So for our listeners, if you’ve listened to the episode on food allergies, you’ll recall Cookie, our energetic black lab, whose recurrent ear infections were caused by her underlying food allergies. Cookie’s owner did an elimination diet trial to help figure out whether or not she had a food allergy, and then after discovering that she did, we went down an individual ingredient challenge and figured out what proteins she was allergic to. Now, when Cookie uses her energy to do agility work with her owner, he knows exactly what treats that he can give her to reward her on a job well done. Today, we’ll be diving deeper into elimination diet trials and providing you with some information on how to work with your family veterinarian to figure out if your pet has a food allergy. So, Dr. Painter, for what types of pets do you recommend doing a diet trial? What are some of the clues that lead you to suspect that there might be a food allergy? 

[00:04:57] Dr. Painter: I thought that this was covered really well in your previous podcast on food allergies, so I definitely encourage people to go back and listen to that first, if you haven’t already. But in general, we have the opportunity to diagnose food allergy in dogs and cats and it should not be missed. So this is something that is, potentially, going to change the course and direction of your pet’s life. The dogs and cats that we consider this for are continuously affected, so they don’t seem to have any clear seasonality or seasonal influence to their symptoms. They’re pretty itchy year-round. Other things that I think are interesting clues are gastrointestinal signs. I talk a lot about poop and it’s one of my favorite things to bring up in my dermatology histories because people are not expecting it. “What is your dog’s poop like? Tell me how many times a day your dog poops.” I miss the days before COVID where we were doing non curbside visits because I could actually show people a poop chart (which I use in the office every day), so that people could point to what their dog’s poop looks like. Often, they think it’s normal, but it truly is not. It’s very soft. So, paying attention to some of the GI symptoms, looking at the GI history- did your dog have Giardia as a puppy?” That’s a potential risk factor for developing food allergy, so we really want to use this as a launching point for the direction that all of our treatments are going to go. So looking at these pets that have symptoms that are continuous, I think is the most important. But really, if you’re just not sure, give it a try.

fecal scoring chart

Fecal scoring system. Photo: Purina Veterinary Diets

What does a diet trial require?

[00:06:42] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, that’s great. Until we actually do an elimination diet trial and figure out whether or not there’s a food component, you’re just not going to know. So, I think it’s a great test for anyone that has an itchy dog or cat, to be able to get some more information. What would you say is required of a pet owner when performing a diet trial? What should the pet owner expect? 

[00:07:02] Dr. Painter: A diet trial is the only diagnostic test for food allergy. This was covered in the previous podcast episode where we talk about the lack of other tests that are available for food allergy. A diet trial is an 8 week test that you are doing in your home, and what you’re going to do is feed your dog or cat a specific food that is often a prescription food, or at least prescribed by your veterinarian, and you’re going to feed that strictly for 8 weeks. That’s all. The only thing that they take in by mouth is this food and water. 

You want an A+ on this food allergy test!

[00:07:37]Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, I will oftentimes tell pet owners, “No treats, no table scraps, no hiding pills in other types of food. If you look in your hand and it’s not that prescription food, it does not go past your pet’s lips.” There are a lot of times where people think, “Oh well, I’m going to give this food, but then I’m also going to use pill pockets to give medications. I’m going to give this food, but then I’m also going to give a greeny as a dental chew.”  

[00:08:04]Dr. Painter: I think that this is not something that we ‘try,’ this is something that we ‘do.’ This is a test that you are performing and on this test, you want to get an A+. There’s really no point in doing this test if you plan on getting a C. You don’t want to spend time with your dog feeding this food and seeing if things change, but also giving chicken on the side. So the most important thing I think you can have is buy-in. You also want to believe that you can do it. You have to think about all the things in your lifestyle that could prevent you from doing it really well. How are you going to give medication? How are you going to deal with your toddler? What happens when Uncle Fred comes over? Is there a dog walker that you need to make sure is lumped into the story here? It just takes a little bit of forethought, so that if you have the right planning, it’s just a lot easier to administer this test. It’s in your hands. I think another thing is that allergy is an over response to something microscopic. So when I’m talking about food allergy, one of the most important things for people to get their head around is that it doesn’t take a lot to cause an allergic flare up. A child doesn’t have to eat a bucket of peanuts in order to have an allergic reaction to peanuts. And the same is true for dogs. They don’t have to eat six rotisserie chickens in order to have an ear infection. The smallest piece of chicken could cause them to have a flare and I’ve seen it. So it is meaningful to be strict, and if you are performing the trial strictly, you will get the most diagnostic information. I want to change the name of the diet trial to a ‘diagnostic’ diet trial instead of an ‘elimination’ diet trial because I think that really helps drive it home- this is a test. The purpose of doing it is to answer, “What percentage of your dog’s problem is from food?” And if we can get an answer to that early on, in the course of managing your dog’s allergies, you’re way ahead of the game.

dog with a baby in the background

A diet trial in invaluable in pets with a possible food allergy

[00:10:12] Dr. Lancellotti: I think that’s so important that the pet owner understand how much value is coming from this test, because it does seem like a big investment of time and effort on the pet owner’s part. Is this test really worth it? Why is it a valuable undertaking for pet owners? 

[00:10:31]Dr. Painter: This is one of the most valuable pieces of time that you’ll spend. It’s just such an opportunity. Whenever I start a diet trial in one of my patients, I always feel an intense amount of optimism for their pet. It’s possible that your pet could be a normal, healthy dog or cat at the end of their diet trial, because you’ve changed the food and because you’ve done a diagnostic diet trial. You’ve done a good job managing their food intake and cutting out what potentially could be causing them to have their symptoms. As a result of doing that, they could, potentially, live a life without medication and without the need to continually be going to the veterinarian (for more advanced testing, ear infections, constant antibiotics all the time, Apoquel, etc). These diet measures can help dogs live normal lives and I see it all the time. So, whenever I’m recommending this for a patient, I get so excited to think, “Oh man, this dog could come back in here in 8 weeks and be normal.” And that’s not only good for the owner, but it’s great for the dog. To see that change is exactly why we do it. Now, not every dog is going to be normal. Some dogs are going to not be food allergic. And that’s okay. But if you know that you’ve done your best job with the diet, then you know the answer. You know what your dog’s allergic to, so the value in that is really harnessing the opportunity you have to understand more about your dog and their diagnosis. I always say, too, that you can’t control pollen. This is easy. You know? If you want your dog to have a problem, you want them to have a food allergy. A lot of times people grumble and say, “Oh God, I don’t want to have to change the diet.” But no, that’s not the case. Think of how easy it is. Dogs don’t go to restaurants. They’re not out there wishing they could get all the different cakes and stuff at the buffet. Right? You control what they eat. It’s so easy. But you can’t control pollen. You can’t control dust mites. This is something that can make a difference in your dog’s life immediately. Being able to do that successfully is such a win, and it’s something that you can do right if you have the right tools and right understanding of what exactly you’re doing.

pug looking at pie

[00:12:59] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see a dog come back in for that recheck and they’re off all anti-itch medication, they’re not on ear drops anymore, they’re just doing great coasting on the food, and we’ve made a big difference in their life. It’s just so rewarding for everybody involved in managing that pet’s care. 

[00:13:21]Dr. Painter: A patient that changed my perspective on diet trials was an older dog. He was about 14 years old  and he had multiple problems and had awful skin and ear disease. He had seen probably ten different dermatologists. I saw this dog through a satellite clinic and this was my third recheck. I said, “Okay, has anyone ever done a diet trial with your dog?” And they said, “No. What’s that?” And I said, “Listen. We’re going to try this. This is the deal.” And I gave them my handout and I said, “You need to be strict. 8 weeks. Think of it like a test. It’s a science experiment that you’re doing in your house. You want to get an A+” -all the things that I usually tell people. And this miserable little animal was just so sad with his ear infections and constant skin itch, and one of those dogs that you just feel so badly for. 8 weeks later, I saw this dog and it skipped into the exam room. This is an animal that, probably for 14 years, had the wrong diagnosis. And I said, “Never again, am I going to let the potential for food allergy be something that we overlook.” It’s worth it. Just do it. It’s 8 weeks of time. You might get your answer early on and then you’re done. And if you don’t that’s okay, but at least you tried. Doing the best job you possibly can upfront will really make it so that your dog’s not a 10 year-old dog who’s been struggling because you’ve never looked at the role that food plays in causing the symptoms.

Tips and Tricks for getting an A+ on the diet trial

The SurePet feeder is a great solution if your pet with a potential food allergy keeps getting into another pet’s food dish. 

cat eating from the sure pet feeder

[00:14:57]Dr. Lancellotti: You talk about getting an A+ on this diet trial. What are some of the most common reasons why a pet owner might struggle? And can you give our listeners some advice on how to overcome some of those pitfalls, so that we can set them up for an A+?

[00:15:15]Dr. Painter: Medication delivery is, by far, one of the hardest things. They’re going to need this, whether it’s for their allergy or some other problem (arthritis, for example), and now we’re changing their food. You really need to think about how you’re going to get those pills into them, and very often, what we’re doing is using canned food that comes with the diet. But not every diet comes with a canned food, so I’ve had people grind down dry food and make it into a paste. People do all sorts of crazy things to manage medication, but the biggest thing is that you can’t avoid it. You have to find a solution. Talking with your veterinarian, talking with other pet owners who have done diet trials before, and just thinking outside the box (within the diet) of ways that you can get medication to your dog (without using something like a pill pocket, cheese, peanut butter, etc). All of these things could, potentially, be what your dog is allergic to, and that would make the diet trial something that’s not diagnostic. So, medication delivery is a huge focus. Get that one out of the way early. And then, it’s really important to communicate with everyone in the home. I have a handout that I give people, but I go through everything with the person on the phone. But that’s one person. There are lots of people in the house, so you need to have a family meeting and just say, “Hey, listen. This is what we’re doing.” And you need to figure out what the motivators are for everyone in the house. A lot of times, there’s a husband who likes to feed treats or there’s an uncle who comes over and always gives the dog hot dogs at the cookout. So, you need to help them replace that behavior- and that’s another easy pro tip. I have people think about when their dog gets snacks, or when their dog gets table scraps, and just replace that with some dry food. Have a bowl of dry food on your counter and throw your dog some kibbles instead of giving them a piece of chicken. It’s easier to replace a behavior than to just sit there and sulk and say, “Oh, the poor dog can’t get anything,” because, in fact, they are getting something. And maybe what they’re not getting is an ear infection. So, it is actually very useful to try to replace the behavior and do it very well. You want to think about other places that your dog goes where food might be given. So places like daycare, dog walks, groomers, etc. You want to have a conversation with them and make sure you provide them with on-limit treats that they can get, whether that’s the dry food or the treat that comes with the food (depends which diet is picked). Make sure that you supply people- set them up for success, so that they have what they need to do a good job. 

hand giving a treat to a dog

[00:17:56]Dr. Lancellotti: Some of the biggest barriers that I see with elimination diet trials or diagnostic diet trials failing would be kids (toddlers/babies) throwing food on the floor. One of the big things that we need to communicate is that when it comes time for meals, when that child is eating, the dog’s in the other room. There’s a gate across the kitchen so that there are no accidents happening. Just take the time to think ahead and to set yourself up for success, and then you don’t have to worry about the dog stealing food off of the toddler’s high chair. And then, I find that older relatives are some of the ones that like to slip treats to the dogs, as well. My father-in-law for sure. He carries around bacon in his pockets for the dogs. 

[00:18:43]Dr. Painter: That’s right. And I think that is a really good point that you bring up about kids. It might not be the right time for you to do a diet trial. Maybe you have seven toddlers and five other dogs. If that’s the case, there’s no value in doing it. If it’s not going to be well done, put it to the side. But know that you put it to the side and know that maybe, someday, when things straighten out again, you might revisit this. It’s still, to me, an open diagnosis if you have not determined what percentage of the problem is from food. So, if you’re still lingering on that, and you haven’t performed a diagnostic diet trial yet, you’re not sure if your dog’s issues are from food or environmental allergy- or a combination of those two. Just put the food to the side until you can do a great job with the diet trial, and then you’ll, at least, get that information. It’s okay. The holidays were a big barrier where people didn’t want to do trials over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I think that makes a lot of sense, you know? So, wait until February. Just set your sights and say, “Okay, when do I have 8 weeks of time that I can really devote to this? Another thing I see (which makes me feel sad) is people doing diet trials that last longer than 8 weeks and it’s just, “Oh, we’ve had them on this food for two and a half years.” It’s an 8 week test and it’s doable. I think it makes it a little easier for you to think of doing something for 8 weeks vs. indefinitely. So, set your eyes on the end. There will be an end. And this is something that, at the end, you’ll get information from.

mom and daughter sitting in front of a fireplace with stockings and a cat in the background

It's not forever, it's just 8 weeks!

[00:20:18] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect segue into my next question. A lot of pet owners may not completely understand what the reason is for feeding this food. I see pet owners come in and say my vet put me on this food and the dog didn’t get better. What is it that the pet owner should expect when they’re doing this test for 8 weeks? Why is it just 8 weeks, and what does that end point look like? 

[00:20:42]Dr. Painter: The brilliant people who came before us they were the ones who looked and said, “How long do these trials have to last?” There is a series of studies that have been done, they collated all of those, and said, “We’re not really getting many more animals if we go past 8 weeks.” So, in terms of improvement, you’re not going to see many more dogs improve if you go for 9 or 10 weeks. So, the general consensus is 8 weeks. It’s not 4 and it’s not 2. It’s 8. And there may be some evidence that you can shorten the length of trials by doing some medication onboarding, but those are, I think, specific cases, and that’s relatively new information to us. So for now, it’s an 8 week trial. And during that time, you’re just feeding the food. You’re living life. Don’t think of it as this big deal because it’s not. It’s just a diet change. You change food all the time. And how many times have they changed the dog’s diet to see if food was the problem- 6 or 7 different foods that they’ve tried on their own. Oftentimes, there is this idea that people have that it’s hard, but it’s not. It’s stuff you do every day. It’s just what you feed your dog. The food is nutritious. It’s balanced. It’s something most dogs really like. In fact, a lot of food-allergic dogs are described as picky, and then they do a diet trial and they’re not picky anymore. They love the food. People come back and say, “Oh my God, my dog loves this food.” So, it’s not like it’s bad food. It’s actually great food. And if they were allergic to their chicken-based diet before, and they’re not allergic to this, they’re going to be thrilled. So again, there’s nothing bad about this. It shouldn’t be thought of as some sort of prison sentence. It’s a good thing. Dogs everywhere can be helped from diet trials.

What happens after 8 weeks?

[00:22:34] Dr. Lancellotti: When we’re talking about 8 weeks- can you tell our listeners a little bit about what the next step is in figuring out whether or not there is a food allergy? How do we confirm what we were suspicious of and why we did this diet trial in the first place? 

[00:22:48]Dr. Painter: Everybody who has a diet trial has a recheck scheduled with me at 8 weeks. I don’t wait longer. I schedule them in the office that day, 8 weeks later. At that time, the question is, “Is your dog better? Yes or no?” Most people with a food allergic dog, say, “There’s no question. My dog is better.” The way that they answer that question tells me all I need to know. And then, of course, they’re going to be people who have no change. Their dog is the same and that’s fine. We move right on from food. They can feed a diet of their choice. However, if the dog is better, I provide people with a series of options and those options really depend on the person and the dog. Option 1 is to do nothing. When you’re talking about food allergy, a lot of focus is placed on this idea of challenging the diet to prove that it’s a food allergy. But I don’t care. I will wait my whole life to figure out if Fluffy has a food allergy if we never ever do a challenge. If he’s doing great, that’s all I care about. And that’s probably all the pet owner cares about too. You just want your dog to feel better, so if they feel better, you don’t have to tempt fate and do a challenge to prove it to yourself. However, there are some people who really need that. They want to know. So, I say, “Feed them their old food and see what happens.” And if they flare up, then we know. This is actually important in New England. We have seasonality here. This is actually when I’m dealing with this- in the winter time, where dogs are better. But people will say, “He’s better, but I’m not sure if it’s because it’s winter.” So, this is a great opportunity to do a challenge and just see. And if they flare up, then we know. We move on with food. If they don’t flare up, then we talk about seasonal influence and managing environmental allergy. And then, the other fun thing I do is how I structure my individual ingredient challenges. So, if you want to know what your dog is allergic to, you can do individual ingredient challenges until the cows come home. They last about 2 weeks. You pick an item, you feed the item on Day 1, and then that’s it. You just monitor your dog for the next 13 days to see if there’s any flare. And flare-ups would be diarrhea, itchiness, ear infection, etc- anything that your dog used to have (that they don’t anymore) because of their new food. And after that challenge, if there was no change, then that food is an “on limits” food. If there was a flare, then we manage that. What I prefer is to have people pick 2 or 3 things that they think are meaningful to their dog. Or you, even. “I really just miss giving him my blueberries from my oatmeal in the morning. Can I do a challenge with blueberries?” Absolutely! So, you get some blueberries, you do a challenge with blueberries, and you see what happens. Then, “Oh, cool. I can still give him blueberries. I’m fine.” And maybe you’re done- no more challenges. Or maybe your kid wants to do cheese sticks, so you do a cheese challenge and, “Oh, no,” Fluffy gets itchy. Those are the kinds of things that you really have to put into your real life perspective, so that you do meaningful challenges, and so that you can now live with this dog forever, and manage food in a way that works for you and for the dog.

[00:26:04]Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, I think that’s great. I would have to say the individual ingredient challenge is probably one of my favorite parts of this whole process because it does give the pet owner the opportunity to introduce those things that have value to them. For example, if it were my father-in-law, one of the first things we would challenge with, that would be bacon. Going back to Cookie, who I talked about in the food allergies episode, her owner really wanted to have high value treats in order to do agility training with her. Doing that individual ingredient challenge allowed him to find what proteins were high value, but also non-reactive with her immune system. We just wanted to give her something that she really loved and worked hard for, but wouldn’t result in these horrible ear infections that she was dealing with before. So, it’s a really fun tool that pet owners can use in order to give them something special that’s not going to send a pet back to see the vet again and again. I highly recommend people going through and doing the individual ingredient challenges for the thing that they find value from. 

What does your pet really want to eat?

[00:27:16] Dr. Painter: I also get super nerdy, if people really want to get nerdy, and I send them to my friend, Terri Bright, who has a PhD in behavior analysis. She focuses on dogs and cats. She is brilliant and she has a video that she made for her PhD thesis project, where she does paired choice assessments for treats, and it is so fun. Basically, you ask the question, “Do you prefer bacon or bananas?” Bacon or bananas? Bacon or bananas?” And then, the dog picks bacon every time. Then you say, “Do you prefer bacon or chicken ? Bacon or chicken?” Basically, you provide this opportunity for the dog to pick what is meaningful for them in a scientific way. It’s super fun. She does it with her dog, Radio, and I think there’s 4,000 views on this YouTube video, all from my patients and clients. It was something that should never have been really seen, but I know Terri because she’s my friend and we’ve been friends forever, and it’s like her in her living room with her dog. And then I’m like, “Go watch this video.” And then people are like, “okay.” But it is, actually, really fun. And if you have three things, and you’re just wondering- we did this with my dog, and it was ridiculous because she ended up picking the Hill Science Diet hydrolyzed treats as her 100% most preferred treat. It was so funny. After hot dogs and cat food, we tried all these things, and she picked that one over and over again, which you never would have expected. Sometimes, we get really caught up in finding a food item that dogs really care about, but really, we don’t ever ask them what they care about, we just assume. So, this is one of those fun ways to actually do that. So we can put the link to her YouTube video in the show notes and get another 5,000 views. She’ll be like, “What is happening?” 

[00:29:18] Dr. Lancellotti: I am definitely intrigued. And I want to go watch that. 

[00:29:21] Dr. Painter: I told her that we’re going to have to remake the video. I was like, “Can we just do this? Because I am sending way too many people to this video and I think we need to redo it,” and she’s like, “Sure. What do you have in mind?” I was like, ” Maybe not in your living room.” But yeah, it’s great. It’s a fun resource, and just one more way to make it fun. This is, again, life, right? Your dog needs to is to eat, and if this food works for them, find a way to make it happen.

You can do this and you are not alone!

[00:29:45] Dr. Lancellotti: That’s great. Most people are going to be doing this paired choice assessment in their living rooms at home, so yeah, it fits perfectly. Well, Dr. Painter, this has been a really great discussion on diet trials and what the pet owner can expect and how to set them up for success. Do you have any other advice or gems that you want to share with pet owners who are considering doing an elimination or a diagnostic diet trial with their pet? 

[00:30:13] Dr. Painter: I think we’ve covered it all. You guys are, I hope, just as jazzed as I am. You’re feeling optimistic. You’re feeling like this is an opportunity, and it’s something that we do, not something that we try. So, it is important, and at the end, you’re going to get an answer of what percentage of your dog’s problem is from food- which I think a lot of us wonder (folks with dogs with food allergy, or just allergies in general), is it the food? You always just wonder, and answering that question is really fun. It’s honestly really easy, so follow your vet’s advice. Get advice from a board certified veterinary dermatologist.  We’re totally here to help you. This is something that we do each day and we love doing it. We’re here for you, and for your dog, so that you can do this right the first time. 

[00:31:02] Dr. Lancellotti: Absolutely. This is what we love. We love talking about this stuff and we have been through it all. If you have questions or concerns, we can certainly help to work with you and figure out what it is we need to do to set you and your pet up for success. A lot of family veterinarians are comfortable managing pets with food allergies too, but the link to the American College of Veterinary Dermatologists, to find a dermatologist near you, is posted on the website if you would like to consult with a specialist. If you have a pet, and were thinking about doing a diet trial, or you have done a diet trial, and you have some wisdom to share with other pet owners, I would encourage you to join the Facebook group, so you can tell other pet owners about your experience, and maybe help some other people and give them a little bit of encouragement that they might need to be able to perform this successfully. 

Scratching the Itch

[00:31:57]Dr. Lancellotti: I like to end each episode with a short segment called Scratching The Itch. The segment highlights something- either a human interest story, a product, or a website that just provides relief or makes you feel good. Hence, scratching the itch. Dr. Painter, I was wondering if you had something that scratched the itch for our listeners today. 

[00:32:18]Dr. Painter: Absolutely. So, I am very proud to work for an amazing charitable organization MSPCA Angell is a 501c3 non-profit and there are a number of programs that are developed within the MSPCA to fill the need and to help. I think, ultimately, the veterinarians, the staff, technicians- everybody who works at this organization- just really want to help and make a difference. My friend, Alyssa Krieger, is one of those people. I wanted to give her a shout out today.  She is the manager of the MSPCA community outreach program that specifically focuses on the Dorchester community. This is a community where they don’t have a lot of access to veterinary service, so this program is, basically, helping to address inequities and access to pet resources. It provides free veterinary care, free spay neuter, free transport, free pet food- basically anything that folks need. Alyssa can be found, on any given day, with this little cart that she pushes around. Literally, she goes door to door, block by block, and she just says, “Hey. How can we help? Do you have a pet? Do you need help?” She is a true hero in our community and someone who is doing such an amazing job. This program is helping to reduce the number of unwanted pets that are in shelters, it’s helping to promote the human-animal bond, and recently, they won an award from the Humane Society of the United States with their Pets For Life program. What I love is that the award is the “Taking Care Of Business” award, which just really sums it all up. Basically, they’re out there hustling to make sure that everybody is getting the help that they need with their pets and that they all feel important and taken care of, and that anything that they need with their particular animal is addressed. I give two thumbs up for this crew and all the work that they’re doing, and it’s what scratches my itch today. 

[00:34:31] Dr. Lancellotti: That’s really wonderful and well done and well deserved for that award. I’ll have a link to the MSPCA’s community outreach program on the show notes and on the website, so if people want to find out more information about that- maybe they want to donate to help support the cause, I think that would be a wonderful thing that we could do. Dr. Painter, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom with us today. I truly appreciate your time. 

[00:34:58]Dr. Painter: It has been a blast. I loved being here and I hope everyone really enjoyed the show. 

[00:35:04] Dr. Lancellotti: Thank you everyone for listening today. And I look forward to your next visit with Your Vet Wants You To Know.


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