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New Year, Better Pet Care

Resolutions For Four-Legged Friends

“My dog ate something and is choking.”

“My cat’s breathing really strange.”

“Can you tell me why my dog has been limping for the past four months and now his leg has a really strange, painful swelling that is getting bigger, but I don’t want to pay for a doctor to see him?”

These are the starts of just a few phone calls that we get regularly.

The first patient had been coughing for four plus days, while the cat’s breathing (along with a swollen belly) had been abnormal for at least two weeks. These bits of information had to be teased out from the owners to identify if a true acute emergency versus something of longer duration. For the second dog, the owners were finally convinced to bring it in for evaluation. The pet had not seen a veterinarian for several years.

The outcomes were variable – dog No. 1 had an upper respiratory infection – or Kennel Cough. It was easily managed, and the patient improved. The cat was diagnosed with cancer and had a belly full of fluid. With drainage of the fluid and supportive treatment it lived comfortably for another five months.

The last patient had a much sadder outcome. We diagnosed a painful bone tumor and the long-term prognosis was very poor. Had the patient come in sooner, we would have been able to offer more comfort and time with good pain management to make this pet’s last days better, rather than the preceding weeks of pain.

Why am I starting off with such depressing stories? Because for 2018, I want all pet owners to make a resolution to ensure that their pets are getting regular examinations with their veterinarians. Preventive care cannot always prevent disease. But, regular pet check-ups means that we can often identify things sooner. And it helps to manage for a longer, better quality of life than if an undiagnosed illness is allowed to progress unchecked.

And, when your pet is presenting with symptoms of illness, be in touch with your veterinarian sooner rather than later. Remember, because our patients cannot speak, we veterinarians need to see them, put our hands on them and potentially perform some diagnostic detective work to know what is going on and how best to treat.

Dr. Google is great for research, but even better for misinformation, so use your veterinarian’s expertise to help you help your pet.

Here are a few pet resolutions to make right now:

1. When my pet is off in any way for longer than 24 hours or symptoms appear to be progressing, I will call my veterinarian.

2. Changes in breathing, painful swellings, swollen bellies, etc. are not wait-and-sees. I will bring my pet to the vet as soon as possible, or go to the emergency veterinary hospital.

3. When I get my reminder email or mail reminders for preventive care, I will schedule our appointment today so that my pet or pets are getting regular veterinary evaluations for their health, and my peace of mind.

Here’s to a healthy 2018.

Dr. Margot can be reached at

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