Dog guru Kate Bendix launches her latest paperback book on Thursday.
Common sense advice, covering the top ten reasons a dog will ever visit the vet, is offered in My Itchy Dog, which links with Kate’s business of the same name.
Animal lover Kate, who lives in Findon Valley, set up My Itchy Dog, an online business for dogs with skin conditions, in 2009, from a desk in her house.
She has since published two books, The Dog Diet and Top Dog, and had them serialised in various national outlets, including articles in the Daily Mail.
The new book includes skin, allergies, joints, dodgy ears and gunky eyes. It discusses how these conditions occur, what dog owners can do about them at home and how to save money and time on visits to the vet.
Kate said: “The average cost of owning a dog is £16,000 over the course of a lifetime not including healthcare. Not only that but most of the routine stuff, dental, flea and worm treatments, and routine check ups, are not covered by insurance, so the cost is actually far higher.
“If your dog has a dicky tummy there are things you can do for your dog - a bland diet and a few days of adding Tree Barks Powder to their food should sort it. Far, far cheaper than visiting the vet.
“It’s all about following common sense advice, not resorting to prescription medication until you have to, and trying to give dog owners a little bit of confidence.”
Kate, who grew up in Yorkshire, worked for the BBC from 1997 to 2006, starting in the TV licensing unit working on research and policy, then moving on to managing the news press office.
She landed her dream job as a BBC journalist and programme maker in 2000 and went on to work in documentaries, factual consumer programmes and science documentaries.
Kate turned freelance in 2006 and carried on making factual programmes for Channel 4 and Five while running her first online business. When that ‘went belly up’, she started again with My Itchy Dog.
She said: “For a few years at the BBC, I made food and science based programmes, among other things, and I’ve always been interested in what goes into our human food and the interaction between conventional and alternative medicines and therapies.
“So why should it be any different with our pets? As far as I’m concerned, vets, healthy food, and natural treatments for dogs and cats that work can rub along together quite nicely, thanks.
“Equally, there’s no room for quackery, just good old-fashioned research and a common sense approach to animal health and welfare. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that people and animals should be free to use whatever works for them.”
Kate said she started the business in 2007 when she had an ever-growing cat who kept begging for food and had scurfy, itchy skin.
“When I realised what was in her food, poor quality meat and lots of sugar, it was hardly surprising she wasn’t in good nick,” she said.
“Then the family Bedlington, Ronnie, developed flea allergic dermatitis which no one seemed to be able to treat, except with steroids, which suppressed the symptoms for a short while without actually treating the allergy.
“We wanted high-quality pet supplements and great food but it was a real problem finding natural products for skin conditions all in one place even back then, and that’s when My Itchy Dog came into the world in 2009, and we’ve been growing ever since.
“I started in the crevice next to the chimney breast in my dining room, the stock was in the shed at the bottom of the garden. Now it’s packed by a fulfilment company in Lancing and I have another member of staff. It’s been a hard ride but I love it.”
Kate uses her knowledge and humour style to advise dog owners about basic health issues and give them the confidence to trust their instincts rather than rushing to the vet for the tiniest complaint.
The book My Itchy Dog is priced £7.99.
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