By Phyllis Gitomer
If your pet iguana is under the weather, the East Side Animal Hospital has you covered. The same goes for your ferret, rabbit, guinea pig, rat, mouse, bird, python, and, most usually, dog or cat.
Located in a brownstone on 52nd Street between First and Second avenues, East Side Animal Hospital’s door opens to clean, bright and newly renovated facilities. Originally established in 1948, the practice was taken over by director Dr. Keith Manning in 1993 and now employs twenty: four vets (Doctors Manning, Shelby Freda, Laura Kennedy and Mark Landesman), and a team of experienced vet technicians, kennel and office staff.
Dr. Freda has been with the practice for seven years and has been taking care of my dog Benny for almost two years. She walks to work from her home nearby and sees 15 to 18 pets and their people each day. Dr. Freda not only loves animals, but also finds fascination and inspiration in their unique ways – a dog’s ability to read human emotions or a cat’s capacity for combining independence with affection.
Asked about her general approach to pet health, Dr. Freda emphasizes prevention. She advocates annual physical exams and blood work for early detection of possible problems: parasite prevention via heartworm pills (for dogs) and flea and tick control; and routine vaccination, especially against leptospirosis for city dogs. Because cats are experts at hiding illness, routine checkups are important to help identify and treat potential issues in advance of obvious symptoms or discomfort.
The question of premium pet foods as compared with supermarket brands is a “tricky” one according to the doctor. “Premium” is a marketing term with no required standards, and ingredients are not subject to regulation. Dr. Freda recommends reading the label and avoiding foods with meat meal or meat byproducts, or corn. “I like some brands because the main protein source is whole meat (no byproducts or meal): Halo, Orijen, Blue Buffalo and Taste of the Wild are examples. In general, if your pet has no GI issues or allergic symptoms (licking paws, recurring skin infections) related to a certain brand, then stick with what works,” she says.
Dr. Freda finds it rewarding both to prevent and to heal illnesses. “There is a moment in almost every day when a very distressed person will come in with a visibly suffering pet. I enjoy my work because I have the actual ability to help these animals feel better and become healthier, and even to save their lives. I feel lucky in my relationships, especially with pet owners in Turtle Bay, because they are such good partners. They are observant and willing, and they care so deeply about their pets’ well-being. That’s why I love my job.”
East Side Animal Hospital is open seven days a week, and keeps a few appointment slots open each day to accommodate emergencies. For an appointment, please call or visit the website at eastsideanimalhospital.com.
East Side Animal Hospital
321 East 52nd Street
Dr. Keith Manning, director
Ricardo Pacova, office manager
Hours: M-F, 8-7, Sat 8-2, Sun 9-3