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Critical Advice for New Pet Owners, Finding the Best Dog Food, and the Optimal Time to Neuter Your Dog: Joovv AMA with Dr. Evan Antin

Anyone who has ever loved a pet places a high priority on quality pet care.  Yes, I'm putting myself in that bucket.  When we bring our pets to a veterinarian, we need an expert that is passionate about their work.  And without a doubt, Dr. Evan Antin fits that bill, specializing in everything from frogs to porcupines to elephants.  Since graduating from Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2013, he has quickly become famous for his outstanding work (and good looks).  People Magazine featured him twice in their annual Sexiest Man Alive issue, proclaiming him the “Sexiest Beast Charmer”.  How's that for a label!

We were honored when Dr. Antin agreed to participate in a Joovv AMA.  So without further ado, here are his answers to your questions…

I'm getting a new kitten next week and while I'm super excited, I'm also a bit nervous.  What is the number one piece of advice you can offer a first-time pet owner?

My best advice for any new pet owner is this: DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Have a handle on what you're getting into and how to best care for your new "family member."  This includes appropriate diet, enrichment, climate (for exotic animals like reptile or birds), common health issues, space requirements, finding a local vet, etc.

I've researched so many different approaches to feeding my dog and I'm suffering from information overload.  What advice do you have to help me navigate this decision?

Finding the "right" dog food is overwhelming for everyone, including veterinarians.  My best advice is to go with a quality commercial dog food company.  Ideally, you'll want the first few ingredients to be animal-based (not carbs/corn).  All of the major decent dog foods have all the essential macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for a well-balanced diet for your pet.

My neighbor's dog barks at everything that moves and seems aggressive.  Can you recommend 2-3 things I can do to prevent my dog from being a neighborhood nuisance?

Don't leave your dog in the yard 24/7.  Give your dog things to do, keep them busy; nuisance dogs are often dogs that don't have enough enrichment in their life.  Dogs are extremely intelligent and really benefit from toys and puzzles and going to doggy day care or well-maintained dog parks.  There are even sheep herding opportunities for the really busy dog breeds like shepherds and cattle dogs.  Also, spending quality time with your dog at home also helps to reduce this behavior. 

Outside of your day job as a veterinarian, you look like you're a fit guy.  What are the top 3-4 things you do to stay healthy?

I exercise, primarily weight-training, on a regular basis.  My diet is on the cleaner side too.  I'll still eat pizza or a hamburger sometimes, but not daily, and I try to eat those foods on days that I'm training.  I also like to eat several small to moderate meals a day to keep my metabolism running high.  And it doesn't hurt being a vet practitioner – this profession is not a desk job, I'm on my feet and on the move constantly.

I've heard conflicting information on when to neuter my bulldog.  What age do you think is best for neutering or spaying?

Neutering/spaying depends a bit on breed, but these days I recommend closer to 1 year of age.  This is particularly important for large and giant breeds and the reason is because when these maturing dogs have their hormones intact, they develop a stronger frame and more muscle to help support their joints long term.  We believe this can reduce osteoarthritis in the long run as our pets age.  The decision on "when" is not straightforward though.  Benefits to spaying dogs at 6 months of age or before their first heat cycle can nearly eliminate mammary cancer.  Neutering early can prevent dog aggression and dog fights and run-away dogs in those individuals predisposed to that behavior.  Recent research from UC Davis (a great vet school that's almost as good as Colorado State) showed that spaying/neutering early may be linked to increased rates of bone cancer and vascular cancer.  In the end, I say one year is best as long as the pet is behaved leading up to that point.

What person(s) of influence are you closely following right now?

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been a huge influence for me.  Not just because of his success in the fitness world but his rise to success in general.  He sets big goals and achieves them every time.  I really admire that.

Have you ever used red light therapy for yourself or in your practice?

I've never personally used red light therapy.  We offer laser therapy at the hospital though.  And it's a red light.  I'm not entirely sure if they're the same, but I recommend it.  Some may argue its benefits, but I think it might help and it certainly can't hurt.

I've heard of pet insurance.  Is that something I should consider?  Or am I better off proactively investing in ways to keep my cat healthy?

Pet insurance has a long way to go to make it worthwhile for everyone.  It's my understanding that it's most beneficial for pet owners of multiple pets (3+).  And whether or not you have insurance – being proactive about your pet’s health is ALWAYS a good idea.  Regular vet visits, blood work included for older pets, stay on top of dental health, etc.

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Thanks for submitting your questions for Evan!  And thanks again to Dr. Evan Antin for being a part of the Joovv AMA family!  Also, don't forget to check out Evan's Instagram when you get a chance.  You're going to love it.  Trust us. :)

If you missed the chance to submit your question for this AMA, stay tuned for the next one.  We'll let you know in advance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.