Are You Ready for Cat Adoption?

Adopting a cat is a much bigger responsibility than many people realize.

Cats have a reputation for being incredibly independent creatures that don’t need anyone, which makes people think that being a cat parent is no big deal. But the reality is that adopting a cat is a lot more responsibility than you probably think, and before you take this big step, you’ll need to make sure that you are ready. One thing that can give you a hint as to whether you are ready for cat adoption or not is your motivation for adopting a cat in the first place.

What makes you want to adopt a cat?

There are both good reasons and bad reasons to adopt a cat, and if you’re motivated to cat adoption because of a bad reason, it might be good to rethink the adoption.

Good Reasons to Adopt

You’re looking for companionship
While cats may not live in packs like dogs do, they are still very social creatures who make great companions. Whether you’re catching up on the morning news or watching your favorite show, nothing quite compares to cuddling with a cat.
You know that it’s good for you
Not only does sharing your love and life with a cat benefit the cat, but it also benefits you! Caring for a cat can help to lower your blood pressure, relieve stress, gives you a reason to get up in the morning and encourages physical activity. While this is a positive reason to adopt a cat, it shouldn’t be your only reason. If this is your only reason for wanting to adopt a cat, consider pet sitting or volunteering at a shelter instead of adopting yourself.

Not-so-Good Reasons to Adopt

Your child wants one
No matter how much your kids beg and plead, if the only reason you are adopting a cat is to appease a child, it’s time to reconsider. Ultimately, you’ll be the one who is responsible for caring for the cat in the end, and in order to provide the kind of care a cat deserves, you have to want to do it. Even if your child is older and they insist that they’ll care for the cat, you will still be financially responsible for the cat’s care. At the end of the day, if you’re adopting a cat to make someone else happy, don’t do it.
You get the impulse
We get it, when you’re at a shelter or a pet store, and there’s an adorable kitten rubbing its face against your hand and purring, it’s pretty hard not to want to take it home with you right then and there. Cats generally live anywhere from 10 to 18 years, with many cats living into their 20s. Adopting a cat means caring for a cat for years to come, and it’s not a decision that should not be made spur of the moment.
You want a pet, and you think a cat will be easier to care for than a dog
While it’s certainly true that cats aren’t as high maintenance as dogs, they are a lot more work than most people realize. Here are just a few of the common misconceptions about care care:
  • Cats can fend for themselves - Some people think that there’s no need to feed a cat that you’ve adopted because they can fend for themselves by hunting mice. Even cats who live on farms can’t rely completely on their hunting skills; plus, they tend to be better mousers when they have regular meals.
  • Cats are independent and can be left alone - When dog owners go on vacation, they either hire a pet sitter or check their dog into a kennel, but cat owners all too often leave their cats behind on their own. While yes, your cat might not need quite as much attention as a dog might, a cat shouldn’t be left alone for an extended period of time. Cats who are left by themselves for a long time can panic and may end up hurting themselves.
  • Cats don’t need to go to the vet - Cats, just like dogs, need regular veterinary care. They can injure themselves and develop illnesses that can only require professional attention. They also need preventative care for things like parasites.
If you’re motivated to adopt a cat because of a negative reason, like your child wants one or you spotted a cute kitten at the pet store, it might be in your best interest and the cat’s to reconsider. If you’re motivated to adopt a cat because of a positive reason, like health or companionship, make sure that you stay tuned for part two of this series to learn what to do and think about before you adopt a cat. Have questions or concerns? Give us a call at The Vet Set — Carroll Gardens’ premier animal hospital.

Does Your Pet Have Seasonal Allergies?

Pets, just like people, suffer from seasonal allergies.

You know those allergies that leave you with red, itchy eyes and the constant feeling that you have to sneeze? They aren’t unique to humans. Believe it or not, our pets suffer from seasonal allergies just like people do. However, unlike people, pets cannot come out and tell you that they have allergies and need treatment. Like with any issue or ailment your pet may be dealing with, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs so that you can get your pet the treatment they need.

Signs of Allergies in Pets

Sign #1. Biting or scratching

Itchiness is often the first sign of allergies people notice in their pets. And dogs often try to relieve the itchiness by scratching or biting themselves, which leads to red and inflamed skin. While giving your dog a bath using a mild soap can help them find temporary relief, you’ll want to take your dog to your local veterinary clinic to help them find real relief.

Sign #2. Skin Infection and Inflammation

Although allergies often manifest themselves in people in the form of runny noses and watery eyes, in pets, they often manifest themselves in itchy, red skin. Unfortunately, as pets scratch to try to relieve the itch, it often ends up in a skin infection. Although these infections are more common in dogs than cats, when they happen in cats, they are often more intense since cats don’t tend to hold back when scratching themselves.

Sign #3. Paw Licking

It’s common for your pet to lick their paws as a part of their regular grooming routine, but if your pet’s paw licking becomes compulsive, it could be a sign of allergies. When your pet’s body pushes out the histamines, they get pushed out towards your pet’s extremities, including the face, anal region and paws.

Sign #4. Excessive Shedding

In addition to skin infections, another result of biting and scratching is increased shedding and hair loss. It’s not uncommon for the excessive shedding to be accompanied by dandruff, which is caused by the drying effect on the skin that allergies have on pets. If your pet’s allergies have gotten to the point where they start losing hair, you should take them to see the veterinarian sooner than later.

Sign #5. Licking the Anal Region or Scooting

As we mentioned when we were discussing paw licking, histamines get pushed out towards a pet’s extremities, which include the anal region. When you pet feels an itch in that region, they might lick the area compulsively or scoot on the ground; the latter being much more common in dogs. Keep in mind that scooting can also be a sign of an anal gland problem.

Sign #6. Ear Infections

If you have a dog with floppy ears, like a cocker spaniel or a hound breed, then you’re probably all too familiar with ear infections. But if the infections keep happening over and over again, then there’s a good chance that they are related to allergies. Signs of ear infections include head shaking and ears that are waxy and red. Please note that ear infections are very uncomfortable and, in some cases, painful for pets. Don’t put off taking your pet to the veterinarian for treatment if you think your pet may be suffering from an ear infection.

Sign #7. Respiratory Problems

Respiratory issues are a less common sign of allergies than many of the other signs we’ve gone over, and they are more common in cats than they are in dogs. This is because cats are more sensitive to the pollutants in the environment. Poor air quality triggers allergies, which trigger respiratory problems, like coughing, difficulty breathing or wheezing. If you notice respiratory problems in your pet, get them to the veterinarian immediately, as they can are sometimes related to much more serious health problems.

What should you do if you notice signs of allergies in your pet?

If you’ve noticed any of the above signs of allergies in your pet, the first thing you should do is to take your pet to the veterinarian. There are oral medications and other treatment options that may work to manage your pet’s allergies. Keep in mind, though, that having the right expectations is important. Pet allergies will never be cured, but they can be managed.

Can you give your pet Benadryl?

When you start feeling itchy, the first thing you will probably do is grab some Benadryl or another antihistamine, but are these things safe for our pets? It’s important to take note of the fact that, while usually safe, antihistamines are less effective in pets than they are in people, and are only meant to be used as a treatment for mild to moderate allergies. Make sure that you ALWAYS consult your veterinarian before giving your pet Benadryl or any other medication, especially if your pet takes a regular medication for another ailment.

Contact us at The Vet Set today to help your pet find relief.

No pet owners wants to watch their pet suffer, and luckily, when it comes to allergies, relief is in sight. If you have questions or concerns about how to spot the signs of allergies in pets, or you think that your pet might be suffering from allergies, contact us at The Vet Set. Located in Carroll Gardens, we’re a neighborhood veterinary clinic dedicated to taking care of your pet as if they were our own. Schedule your appointment today.

A Pet Owner's Guide to Ticks

Is your pet ready for tick season?

Many pet owners in New York City don’t give much thought to ticks, or the threats ticks can pose to their pets. However, you shouldn’t let living in the city lull you into a false sense of security. Ticks bite pets in the city all the time, and since tick season is in full swing, it’s important be in the know about ticks and the dangers they can pose. That’s why our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens has set out to provide you with the information you need in this guide, including the risks ticks carry for pets, how pets get ticks, how to treat ticks and how to prevent ticks.

What kind of dangers do ticks pose to pets?

Ticks are parasites that firmly attach themselves to their hosts by their mouthparts, which have spines and curved teeth, where they can stay for days if left unnoticed, feeding on the blood of your pet. The location of the tick bite is likely to be irritated and red, and if a tick feeds on enough of your pet’s blood, it could eventually lead to anemia. But, the real threats ticks pose are the diseases they can pass on.
  • Ehrlichiosis - There are many different forms of Ehrlichiosis, and it can be transmitted by a number of species of ticks, including brown dog ticks and lone star ticks. Two of the most common forms are Ehrlichia canis, which is an infection of the white blood cells that can impact the production of blood cells and the function of bone marrow, and Ehrlichia ewingii, which is an infection of the blood cells that can cause joint pain and eventually lameness.
  • Lyme Disease - Lyme disease is carried by the western black-legged tick and the deer tick, and it’s an infection of the tissue. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, reluctance to move and shifting or spontaneous leg lameness that can last for three to four days. Lyme disease can be mild, but in severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure or even death.
  • Babesiosis - Babesiosis is spread by brown ticks and the American dog tick, and though it can be found all over the globe, here in the United States, it’s most prevalent in New England. Symptoms include fever, dark urine, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Anaplasmosis - Anaplasmosis is often referred to as “dog fever,” and it is carried by deer ticks, like Lyme disease. The symptoms of dog fever are quite similar to Lyme disease as well, only it can also cause diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, seizures can also occur.

How do pets get ticks?

For people that live near the woods or in the country, it’s a lot easier to understand how their pets get ticks, but how do pets get ticks here in New York City? Here are the most common ways even city pets get ticks:
  • You! - Have you recently gone on a hike or spent a little time camping in the woods? There’s a possibility for you to transfer a tick into your home and onto your pet without even realizing it.
  • Other Pets and Animals - Whether you take your pet to daycare while you’re gone for the day or you let them romp around in the dog park, being around other pets means your pet could pick up a tick. Additionally, raccoons, squirrels and rodents can all carry ticks as well.
  • The Outdoors - Ticks don’t just exist in the woods. They can thrive in any outdoor area. So whether you’re walking your pet around the blocks or letting them roam the park, they could get ticks.

How can you treat and get rid of ticks?

If your pet has just one tick, the most common way to remove it is by grasping it firmly by the head with a pair of tweezers, and steadily and gently removing it. Once removed, dab the area with a disinfectant, and place the tick in alcohol to kill it. However, if your pet has several ticks, you might try one of these other methods:
  • NexGard® - NexGard is an FDA approved chew that contains an ingredient called afoxolaner. Afoxolaner kills any fleas or ticks fast, and it will keep working for a full month. NexGard is the number one tick preventative recommended by veterinarians.
  • Spot-On Treatments - Spot-on treatments are quick to apply and can provide protection from ticks for an entire month. They can be used both to kill and prevent ticks.
  • Oral Medications - Oral medications help to kill and prevent ticks, and it is given once a month.
  • Tick Collars - Tick collars help to keep ticks away by emitting a pest-repelling gas. However, they also kill any ticks that may be present, making them both a preventative and treatment for ticks.

What can you do to prevent ticks?

Don’t wait until your pet gets ticks before you start taking steps to eliminate the problem. Taking a preventative approach to ticks will help to keep your pet healthier and your bank account happier. Plus, many of the same products that can be used to eliminate ticks can also be used to prevent them, so there is no shortage of options when it comes to tick prevention. Are you worried your pet might have a health problem from being bitten by a tick? Do you have questions or concerns about how to treat or prevent ticks? Contact us at The Vet Set today!

What You Need to Know About Heartworm

Happy Heartworm Awareness Month!

Many people are well aware of the fact that April showers bring May flowers, but did you know that those same showers can also bring mosquitoes that can put your dog or cat at risk for developing heartworm? That’s probably why April has been named Heartworm Awareness month, and to celebrate, your friends at The Vet Set — your premier animal hospital in Carroll Gardens — have set out to provide you with all of the information you need to know about heartworm.

#1. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Many people don’t realize just how often their dogs or cats are exposed to both regional and local mosquitoes. All it takes for your pet to become infected by heartworm is one bite from an infected mosquitos. Additionally, many different species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworm — 22 different species in fact — so it’s important to always be aware and take steps to prevent heartworm.

#2. Heartworm preventatives don’t work how you probably think they work.

Heartworm preventatives sounds pretty straight forward. If you give them to your dog or cat, they will prevent your pet from getting heartworm, right? Instead of preventing your dog from getting heartworm in the first place, they work by killing any larvae inside your pet’s body.

#3. Your dog could get heartworm anywhere in the United States.

There’s a common misconception that dogs and cats can only get heartworm in areas that are muggy or near water, because these are the areas that tend to have the most mosquitoes. However, it’s important to know that pets could get heartworm anywhere there are mosquitoes, which means anywhere in the United States.

#4. Your pet could get heartworm year-round.

Mosquitoes are generally associated with warm weather, so many pet owners stop worrying about giving their dogs or cats their heartworm medication in the fall and winter. However, it’s important to give your pet their heartworm preventative all year round, not just in the spring and summer, because different species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworm at different times of the year.

#5. You’ll save a lot more money preventing heartworm than you will treating it.

If preventing your dog or cat from getting sick is not enough of a reason to give them a heartworm preventative, maybe the cost of treatment will be. Heartworm treatment is cheap and simple; all you have to do is give your pet a monthly medicated treat. Treating it, on the other hand, is a lot more complicated, and believe it or not, it can cost up to 15 times more to treat heartworm than it does to prevent it.

#6. It can be difficult to spot the symptoms.

Like with most diseases, the longer you wait to get your pet treatment, and the more severe the heartworm is, the more difficult it can be to treat. What makes matters even worse is that the symptoms are few, if there are any at all. Symptoms start to appear more frequently as the disease progresses, and they can include a mild, persistent cough, fatigue after moderate activity, reluctance to exercise, weight loss and a decrease in appetite.

#7. All pets should be tested for heartworms annually.

Heartworm is an incredibly serious disease, and it can be fatal if it’s left untreated. For this reason, all dogs and cats need to be tested for heartworm annually. As we mentioned, symptoms aren’t always evident. This makes regular testing absolutely essential.

#8. Indoor pets can get heartworm too!

If you have a dog or a cat who spends most of their time indoors, it certainly helps to improve their chances of getting heartworm, but it doesn’t eliminate the risk altogether. Mosquitoes can and do make their way into our homes, and the only way to be sure that your pet won’t develop heartworm is to get them on a preventative. We hope that this blog will give you some insight into what heartworm disease is and why it’s so important to prevent it. If you have questions or concerns about heartworm, or you would like to learn more about getting your pet started on a heartworm preventative, turn to your go-to neighborhood animal hospital in Carroll Gardens. Contact us at The Vet Set today to schedule your appointment.

A Pet Owner's Guide to Fleas

Is your pet ready for flea season?

Here in New York, flea season starts in around April and doesn’t end until December. Because we live in the city, many pet parents don’t give much thought to fleas, but fleas are something all pet owners need to be in the know about. That’s exactly why your friends at The Vet Set have set out to provide you with the information you need to keep your pet healthy and happy throughout flea season and beyond.

What kind of dangers do fleas pose to pets?

Most pet owners are aware that flea bites are itchy and annoying, but many of them don’t realize that the threat fleas pose can be much more dangerous. Here are a few of the health complications associated with fleas:
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis - When most pets get bitten by a flea, there will be a small bump, some itchiness and some discomfort, but if your pet is allergic to the flea’s saliva, it can leave them with welts, swelling and the urge to scratch constantly.
  • Hot Spots - If your pet can’t help but constantly scratch or chew their flea bites, it can lead to hot spots.
  • Tapeworms - Did you know that fleas can carry the larvae of tapeworms? If your pet swallows a flea — say while they are grooming or scratching — they could eventually develop tapeworms, which are parasites that live in the intestinal tract, stealing key nutrients from your pet.
  • Bartonella Infection - Fleas carry yet another parasite, called Bartonella, which can infect dogs, cats and even people! Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lymph node swelling and seizures.
  • Anemia - Because fleas are parasites that suck blood, biting fleas could leave your pet anemic, which could lead to other health concerns if not caught soon enough, even death. Signs of anemia in pets include lethargy, low body temperature and pale gums.

How do pets get fleas?

It’s easy to see how pets get fleas in wooded areas or forests, but here in New York City, it’s harder to surmise how pets end up with these nasty companions. But, the truth is, your pet can pick up fleas from just about anywhere, including:
  • The Outdoors - Whether you’ve taken your fleas to the park, the dog park, a kennel with a nice play area or even a backyard, your pet could pick up fleas.
  • Your Home - Pets have strong back legs that they use to propel themselves incredibly far. This makes it easy for them to hitch a ride on your shoes or clothing into your home. This is one reason why even indoor pets need flea prevention.
  • Other Pets and Animals - One incredibly common way pets get fleas is when they come into contact with other pets and animals that have them. But, it’s not just cats and dogs that get fleas; foxes, birds, rodents, squirrels, skunks, raccoons and rabbits can all get fleas, so if your pet has had a run-in with a wild animal, they are at risk.

How can you treat and get rid of fleas?

There are many different products you can use to rid your pet of fleas. Spot-on topical treatments, as well as oral chews, are some of the fastest and most effective way to get rid of the fleas. Keep in mind, though, that if you use a spot-on treatment, you’ll need to wait one to two days before you bathe your pet, as these treatments work their way into the subcutaneous layer of your pet’s skin, where it makes the environment inhospitable for fleas. If you don’t wait long enough to bathe your pet, you may accidentally wash off the medication. In order to prevent the fleas from coming back, you’ll also want to make sure that you treat your home. Make sure you wash your pet’s bed and any blankets or toys they have been exposed to. It’s also a good idea to sprinkle some borax on your carpet, let it sit for a night and then vacuum. This will help to suffocate the fleas. Once you’ve vacuumed your whole home — even the hard surfaces — seal and toss the vacuum bag. When treating an active infestation it’s important to vacuum daily for at least a week to collect the existing eggs and coccoons.

What can you do to prevent fleas?

When it comes to fleas, prevention is, by far, your best option. The fact of the matter is that fleas are infinitely easier to prevent than they are to treat once an infestation has occurred. Best of all, prevention is as simple as giving your pet the veterinarian-recommended treatment or medication every month. Keep in mind that one missed dose could leave your pet at risk for fleas, so make sure you are diligent! Whether you suspect that your pet has fleas or you’re interested in learning more about how to prevent your pet from getting fleas, turn to The Vet Set. We’re proud to be your go-to veterinary clinic in Carroll Gardens, and we’ll treat your pet as if they were our own. Contact us today!

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