Actress and businesswoman Kate Walsh is—and always has been—an animal lover.
“Growing up, I was always surrounded by cats and dogs,” she says.
Being such an advocate for furry friends, Walsh knows how important proper care is to keeping them healthy and strong. So, when she noticed her previous dog, Lucy, a Basenji mix, scratching and licking her fur, she took Lucy into the vet to have her treated for allergies. Years later, Walsh’s current dog, Rosie, a German Shepherd mix, was doing the same thing and the actress knew immediately what to do. She took Rosie straight to the vet and got her on a prescription allergy medication.
Chewy caught up with “The Umbrella Academy” actress, who shared with us her trials and tribulations over her dogs’ allergies and how pets really make a house a home.
How did Rosie come into your life?
I got her when she was a little pup. She and her brother will be 12 in December. And she's a rescue. I was in New York and rescued her, and my brother rescued her brother. She was born in the Bronx under a house, and she's been with me ever since.
At that time, I had an older dog [Lucy] and I thought she might need a little friend, a little puppy to keep her young. I brought her back to LA. And she started to come with me when I travel and when I shoot on location. She's lived at the beach. She’s lived in New York in the city. She’s now back in New York City, which she loves so much. She loves looking for pizza on the street. Street fries are also a delicacy for her. She is my little love and light. And my previous dog Lucy, lived to be 16. She died a couple of years ago.
How did that plan go when you decided that Lucy needed a younger friend? Was she happy about it?
A: It went well, but I’m not going to lie to you—she wasn't thrilled about it at first. I was like, “We’re getting you a dog friend.” And she was like, “OK. Great. I was fine on my own, thank you very much.” She grew up with a couple of cats, though, so that helped. So eventually, she was like, “All right, I’ll accept her.” Lucy was sort of the alpha dog and Rosie was cool with that so that kind of worked out. And then they became great pals.
How has Rosie been an emotional support system for you?
A: I have always grown up with cats and dogs and they're just this source of unconditional love, as we all know. And so I’m always a fan of having a dog in the bed or a cat around. I remember one of my very good friends in California, we were in the kitchen once and she just got down on the floor and laid down on it with my dog. She was like, “I love lying on the kitchen floor with my dog.” That really illustrates what they bring into a home. They bring a calm and a love that comes in. They are so soothing and lovable. They are great creatures.
Do you get Rosie together with her brother to play a lot?
A: Yes. My brother is in Europe working right now so I have Rosie's brother, Amico. And they're very happy to have each other. She really likes having a companion. I was going to get another dog for her and my brother said, “Oh no. Just take Amico for a while because I’m going to be working overseas for a while and I can’t bring him.” But when he takes her back, I might have to get her another friend.
Does that mean another puppy and all the potty training fun?
A: Probably. It depends, because it was going to get an older dog because I just think it's cool to adopt older dogs too. And maybe get someone that was more her age.
I love that Rosie lives this amazing bicoastal life. What does she like about being in LA?
I was thinking I should write a book about a dog that lives in Malibu and New York City (laughs) and splits her time between both. She has her pack in LA…. When I was in Malibu, there was a dog beach where you can let your dogs off-leash and they can kind of roam. And she really loves that. There are so many smells. There are so many things to eat. There are so many things to investigate, so I feel like she would stay out all there night there if she could. But she [also] loves New York. She was born in the Bronx and when we travel there, she knows she's coming home.
In New York, I do the parks with her a lot. I walk her. I have to slow down with Amico a little because his hips are a little tender. He had a much more active younger life; my brother did a lot of outdoors stuff with him in the snow.
I was shooting on location on the beach so I brought them up so they could go in the ocean. And then in the wintertime I have a friend who has a house in the Berkshires and I bring Rosie up so she can go play in the snow. She gets right in the frozen creek and she swims around. She does alright for a dog of a certain age!
It sounds like you've got traveling with your pets pretty dialed in. What are your tips for easy travel with dogs?
I don't know if it's because my dogs and cats are used to traveling, but I just keep it simple. And also growing up in California, just doing road trips, just put a dog bed down and have some water handy. And that that was really all that we needed to do. And for hikes we always had dog treats and we’d bring some kibble if it was in a longer trip. But really just a dog bed or a towel on the seat in the car.
How does Rosie do on the plane?
On the airplane, I have a certificate for emotional support. And so I don't put her in cargo. I take her up front with me. She’s actually been really good. She’ll tuck in and chill out. Usually the flight attendants enjoy coming by to say hello and she’s not going to turn her nose up at a little piece of steak or something. But really she does pretty well. We’ve flown back and forth between New York and LA quite a bit.
You recently teamed up with Zoetis, the creators of canine allergy medication Apoquel, for their A-Game campaign. What inspired that partnership?
A:[Rosie’s] got allergies. And my old dog [Lucy], who is no longer with us, also had allergies back in the day. I took [Lucy] to my vet because she would get these hot spots and lose her hair and have all this redness and irritation. And [the vet] prescribed Apoquel and it worked. Her hair grew back and she wasn’t itching and went back to her happy self.
When I saw Rosie initially doing little scratches of the face with her paws, I was taking pictures of her. I was like, “Ah. Yeah. That’s cute.” But I figured it was probably allergies and fortunately Apoquel worked well for her as well.
I also love that Apoquel is doing a campaign where they are encouraging people to take part in the A-Game campaign. So, you upload a photo of your dog [to social media] with the hashtag #MyDogsAGame. And then for every photo uploaded, Zoetis will donate $10 to the K-9 Courage Fund, which takes care of retired military and police and service dogs. It helps contribute to their medical needs after they are retired, which I just thought was so cool.
What would you recommend pet owners look out for in terms of allergy symptoms in their dogs?
A lot of people don't know what allergies in dogs look like. They think that pets are like humans where they are going to have sneezing fits and runny noses, and that's just not how it works for them. It usually manifests on the skin and leads to chewing and itching and scratching and hot spots and hair loss. So, it’s important not to be prescribing yourself and not giving them something you take for your allergies. At the sign of allergies, you should them into the veterinarian and ask if something like Apoquel might do the trick for them.
I remember being a kid and going to my friend's house and they had a little dog. It was a little terrier and I was like, “Oh she’s got an itch.” And they were like, “Oh don’t worry about it. She just has a hot spot.” And now I know, no, that was actually allergies.
The signs for my dogs: Rosie was scratching her face and behind her ears. And then Lucy was licking and chewing around her back legs. So that's when I brought them in and that's when they were prescribed Apoquel.
Also, it can be seasonal. It doesn't have to be all the time. It can be for a short period. I have friends that have their pets on Apoquel for a longer time. But you have to pay attention to the signs. I have friends who are like, “Oh my dog is just a licker because they constantly lick that spot.” No. That’s an allergy; it’s not necessarily a neurosis. The best thing to do is take them to your vet and have them check them out.
Did your dogs always have the allergies or did they develop them later in life?
A: Lucy developed them a little later in life and with Rosie it was seasonal. We moved around. I moved to LA so the air is drier. I thought, “It’s just dry. She just has dry skin.” And that wasn’t it. And here in New York, it’s very seasonal. This is allergy season for humans and allergies right now for a lot of people, more than spring. So I get her on the medication during that time.
What is your favorite thing to do together?
It’s really basic and simple, but I just love walking her every day. That’s what I look forward to in the mornings, in the evenings. And when I’m working, I have the dog walker come and take her for an hour walk. We have a patio on my apartment here so that she can go in and out. But just the simple pleasures, seeing her lay around in the sun or just walking her and seeing that smile on her face. I walk her in in the park, and then you see other dogs stopping and scratching every two steps and I’m like, “Oh! That dog has allergies.”
I'm just thrilled to have had time with her and be able to take good care of her. And grateful that she responded well to the allergy meds!