By Maggie Mae…with Ronni Diamondstein
I recently visited the veterinarian when I was feeling fine. My owner said it was a check-up. That got me thinking about staying healthy and I wondered, “What are some ways that dogs can stay well and when should you go to a veterinarian?” So, I thought I’d go back to see my veterinarian, Megan Duffy, DVM at Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center for the answer.
“An annual exam is important to see if a pet is healthy or not,” says Dr. Duffy. She listens to my heart, looks in my ears and at my teeth. Something could be wrong and my owner doesn’t know it. She says when you catch a disease early you are more likely to get well sooner with a successful treatment plan. Young animals, like me only have to go once a year, but as animals get older she says bi-annual exams are important since they may have disease issues. As a puppy I went more often for vaccines to booster my immunity and protect me from diseases. She weighs me too. “We can also monitor body weight and discuss changes in diet if needed,” says Dr. Duffy. She advises us about eating good quality food that is nutritious. Two years ago when I weighed over ten pounds she said I needed to go on a diet. I did and now my owner measures my meals and I get one biscuit a day–in pieces–so I keep my trim nine pound frame. I love taking walks and that is a good thing because Dr. Duffy says that dogs need at least thirty minutes a day of exercise–and that more is even better.
My owner brushes my teeth regularly. Dr. Duffy says brushing once a day is best and to use animal toothpaste since human toothpaste is not properly pH balanced for pets. I am proud of my beautiful coat and even though grooming is not my favorite thing it is important in keeping my skin and coat healthy. Once a month there is a pill mixed in with my food and my owner puts something wet on my back that makes me wiggle. Dr. Duffy says that prevention is the best medicine. She recommends monthly heartworm medication and Frontline to prevent ticks, lice and fleas to keep a dog from getting diseases like Lyme disease and parasites.
There are lots of things outdoors to watch out for that can cause health problems: salt on the ground in the winter and heat and hot pavement in the summer. Owners should check pets for ticks too.
I once got a hold of a salad that had currants in it. My owner had to call the ASPCA poison control hotline and, for a fee, she was told it was poisonous to me. I was rushed to the Emergency Veterinary Center to get it out of my system. (I have had pet medical insurance since I was puppy. It covers wellness visits, medications and emergencies and came in handy for this visit.) There are many foods that can make dogs sick. “Most people know about chocolate as a toxin,” says Dr. Duffy “but they do not know about raisin/grape ingestion and how it can cause kidney failure. Other things to avoid are macadamia nuts and Xylitol which is found in sugar free gum. Easter lilies can cause kidney failure too.”
I wag my tail whenever I hear Dr. Duffy’s name and I like to ride in the car to see her. My owner says it’s important to have a veterinarian you can trust and feel comfortable talking to about your pet and your concerns. Thanks to good care from my owner and my veterinarian, I am on a path to wellness and hope my article helps all dogs and their owners to follow one too!
Maggie Mae lives in Chappaqua with her adoring owner Ronni Diamondstein, who, when she isn’t walking Maggie is a freelance writer, PR consultant, award-winning photographer and a School Library Media Specialist and teacher who has worked in the US and abroad.