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.

The Benefits of Animal Dentistry for Your Pet Part 2

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably don’t give much thought to your pet’s teeth.

Most people who have adopted a furry friend into their family do a great job of taking care of them. They feed them the right foods, make sure they have plenty of exercise and do their best to always keep them safe, but there’s one big area of care pet owners often overlook — dental care. Believe it or not, animal dentistry is beneficial to your pet in many different ways, and in our Part 1 of this series, we touched on just a few of those ways. Keep reading to learn about more of the benefits of animal dentistry for your pet:

#4. It allows you to keep tabs on your pet’s health.

One of the challenges of raising a cat or a dog is that, unlike human kids, they can’t come out and tell you when something is wrong. With most injuries and illnesses, the earlier you can catch the problem, the easier it will be to get it treated, but of course, catching a dental problem in your pet can be tricky when they can’t tell you they are in pain. Without regular dental care from your veterinarian, you might never know that your pet has dental disease until it turns into a serious problem.

#5. It increases the likelihood that your pet will be able to keep their teeth.

Just as people can lose their teeth due to injury or illness, pets can too. And, pets who don’t get dental care on a regular basis have a much higher likelihood of losing their teeth painfully than pets who do get dental care. While humans who lose their teeth always have the option to get dentures or dental implants, those options aren’t available to pets. This makes losing teeth all the more challenging for pets.

#6. Proactive dental care can help you save money.

When people think of animal dentistry, they often see dollar signs flashing before their eyes. But, you should know that pet dental care doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, if you take a proactive approach to your pet’s dental health, you’ll more than likely save money. Treating a severe, existing dental problem can get pricey. Part of the reason for this is because deep cleanings, surgical tooth extractions and other more involved dental procedures often require anesthesia. You can save your pet a lot of pain, as well as a lot of money, by keeping up on your pet’s preventative dental care, because it helps you avoid the need for the more expensive treatments. Taking care of your pet’s dental health is an important step in taking care of their overall health. We hope that this blog series has shed some light on why animal dentistry is so important and beneficial to pets, but if you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Is your pet due for dental care? If so, schedule your appointment at The Vet Set. We’re proud to say that our new animal hospital in Carroll Gardens is equipped with everything we need to provide your pet with the quality dental care they deserve!

The Benefits of Animal Dentistry for Your Pet

Most pet parents don’t give much thought to their pet’s teeth.

Whether you’re a pet parent to a dog or a cat, caring for their teeth probably isn’t the first thing on your mind, but it is something you should make a priority. Throughout this month, all of our blogs have been focused on animal dentistry. First, we went over how to spot the signs that your pet needs professional dental care, and then we went over tips for how to keep your dog’s teeth clean and how to keep your cat’s teeth clean. Today, we’re continuing on this theme by going over a few of the many benefits of animal dentistry for your pet.

#1. It will help to keep your pet’s teeth healthy.

The first and most obvious reason to stay on top of your pet’s dental care needs is that it helps to keep their teeth healthy. The majority of pets in the United States — 85 percent in fact — have some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach the age of three. Although periodontal disease (which is a fancy way of saying gum disease) is incredibly common in pets, it’s also very preventable. At-home dental care, combined with regular examinations and cleanings from your veterinarian, will help to prevent your pet from developing periodontal disease, as well as many other dental problems.

#2. It will help to keep your pet healthier as a whole.

Many people are under the misconception that periodontal only affects the mouth, but in reality, if it’s left untreated, it can lead a host of other concerns affecting your pet’s health as a whole. How does periodontal disease lead to health problems? The same bacteria in the mouth that causes periodontal disease can get into your pet’s bloodstream, where it can travel throughout their body. If your pet’s immune system doesn’t kill the bacteria, it can get into their organs, even their heart. Periodontal disease can cause everything from kidney problems to heart disease, and the best way to prevent it is to keep your pet’s teeth healthy through proper oral care.

#3. It will help to keep your pet’s breath fresh.

Do you feel like you should be wearing a clothespin on your nose every time your pet opens their mouth? If so, there’s a chance your pet has periodontal disease. One of the first signs people commonly notice of periodontal disease in pets is bad breath. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy through regular dental care will help to prevent periodontal disease, and the smelly breath that comes with it. Whether you’re trying to keep your pet healthy or eliminate the need for expensive dental treatments for your pet down the road, regular, preventative dental care is the way to go. In our next blog, we’ll be going over a few more benefits that come with animal dentistry for your pet, so be sure to stay tuned to learn more. In the meantime, if your pet requires dental care, contact us! Our new animal hospital is located in Carroll Gardens, and we’re equipped to provide your pet with the dental care they need. Schedule your appointment today!

Is Your Pet Due for Dental Care?

Believe it or not, proper dental care is just as important for our pets as it is for us!

Just as it’s important to brush your teeth to prevent dental decay and infection in your mouth, it’s also important to do the same for your furry friend. But, unfortunately, your pet can’t exactly tell you when they have a toothache. If your pet is in need of dental care, it’s important not to put it off, but how will you know? There are many tell-tale signs that pet owners should be aware of and watch out for, including:

Sign #1. Your pet has bad breath.

When the only tools you have to groom yourself are your own paws and your tongue, your breath probably won’t smell minty fresh. That being said, it’s not normal for your pet’s breath to be overly stinky. In fact, bad breath is often the first and most common sign of periodontal disease (gum disease) in pets. If you’re unsure of whether your pet’s breath is natural or the result of a dental problem, consult with your veterinarian! Left untreated, periodontal disease is only going to get worse, so it’s in neither your best interest nor your pet’s to take a chance.

Sign #2. Your pet’s teeth are stained.

You brush your teeth every night to get rid of a build-up on your teeth, called plaque. If plaque isn’t removed by brushing or flossing, it will start to harden and form tartar, which gets attached to the teeth, usually, right below the gumline. The same thing happens in our pets, and if you’re not diligent about brushing their teeth or giving them plenty of stuff to chew on, that tartar can lead to yellow or brown stains forming on their teeth. Unfortunately, this staining often goes hand in hand with bacterial infections, but your veterinarian can typically remove it through dental cleanings.

Sign #3. Your pet’s gums are swollen or bleeding.

Have you noticed that your pet leaves behind a little bit of blood when they chew on toys or bones? Or, do your pet’s gums look red or inflamed? These kinds of gum problems are often a sign that your dog has a bacterial infection in their gums, and they can cause your pet to experience significant discomfort. Luckily, though, the pain can be treated or reversed with dental care.

Sign #4. Your pet has difficulties eating.

Has your usually ravenous pet suddenly stopped caring about eating during mealtimes? Any changes in your pet’s behavior are important to watch out for, but changes in eating patterns are particularly concerning, especially in terms of their dental health. Besides not eating, a couple of other changes in their eating patterns you should be aware of include chewing on one particular side of their mouth or eating slower or more carefully than usual. Eating difficulties like these could be a sign that your pet has inflammation or even an infection, which was likely caused by periodontal disease. If you notice any changes in your pet’s eating patterns, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Sign #5. Your pet has been pawing at their gums or drooling excessively.

If your pet has a tooth abscess, it can cause a significant amount of pain. Although your pet can’t come right out and tell you they’re in pain, excessive drooling or a frequent pawing of the mouth are often indicators of oral pain. Abscesses are quite common, and they can be caused by periodontal disease or trauma to the tooth from fighting or chewing a bone or a toy that is too hard. As we mentioned, tooth abscesses are incredibly painful for your pet, and if you suspect that your pet has one, take them to your veterinarian as soon as you can.

Sign #6. Your pet has broken or loose teeth.

If your pet’s teeth are broken or feel loose, it’s a sign that their oral health problems have escalated. If bacteria is left to run rampant in your pet’s mouth, it will start to eat away at the bindings that hold their teeth into place, which can cause the teeth to become loose. Additionally, a tooth that has been broken due to some kind of trauma is highly prone to becoming infected due to the access the break gives bacteria to the tooth’s root. And, bacterial infections aren’t confined to the mouth; they can spread throughout the rest of your pet’s body, leading to more health problems for your pet.

Sign #7. Your pet has tumors or growths on their gums.

Pets, like people, can develop mouth cancer. If you’ve noticed that your pet has growths of tumors on their gums, don’t wait to get them checked out by your veterinarian. The tumors may be benign or malignant, but you won’t know until they get tested by a professional. If mouth cancer is present, the treatment might involve removing some of your pet’s teeth, as well as part of their jawbone. These growths can only be spotted if you are familiar with your pet’s mouth, which is just another reason to make it a point to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis.

A little bit of dental care at home goes a long way.

While pets are just as prone to dental problems as people, the good news is that dental problems in pets are also just as preventative as they are in people. Caring for your pet’s teeth properly at home should be a priority, not only so that you can keep their teeth clean and prevent dental problems, but also so that you can catch dental problems when they’re early and still easy to treat.

Find the pet dental care your pet needs in Carroll Gardens with The Vet Set.

At The Vet Set, we’re proud to say that our new animal hospital is equipped with everything we need to provide next-level care for your pet, including pet dental care. If you think your pet is in need of dental care, please contact us to schedule your appointment today!

Common Myths About Spaying and Neutering Part 2

When it comes to spaying and neutering, it’s important not to let the common myths and misconceptions get in the way of making the right decision for your pet.

Spaying or neutering is the most effective means available today for preventing unwanted cats and dogs from being born, which is important, especially when you consider the fact that 2.7 million pets are euthanized the United States every year for the sole reason that they are homeless. However the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet go beyond the benefits for the community. It’s also important for reducing or even eliminating your pet’s risk of developing a number of health conditions. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 of this series to learn the truth about the myths we’ve already uncovered. Keep reading to learn more.

Myth #6. Neutering or spaying your pet will make them fat and lazy.

A cat or a dog that has been spayed or neutered is less likely to roam and seek a mate, which means that they’ll likely get less exercise than they used to. However, spaying or neutering in itself won’t make your pet become lazy or gain weight, and there are many things you can do as a pet owner to keep your pet healthy. For instance, instead of letting your pet eat out of a full bowl all day long whenever they feel like it, limit their portions to a healthy amount, and only feed them at certain times of the day. Exercise is also important for both dogs and cats, and that is true all year round, not just when it’s nice outside in the spring and summer.

Myth #7. Your pet’s offspring will be miniature versions of them.

We all love our pets, and it’s no wonder why so many people want their pets to have babies, believing that they will be exact replicas of their mom or dad. However, even breeders who understand the way that bloodlines work, and know how to breed responsibly, have trouble breeding animals for certain personality traits. It’s like with children. Yes, your child may share a few personality traits with you, but they are still their own person with their own unique personality. If you want another dog or cat like the one you already have, you’d be better off going to the shelter and adopting a pet with a similar personality than you would be trying to breed miniature versions of your pet.

Myth #8. Your pet should be bred because they are purebred.

Many people who have purebred dogs and cats feel that it is their duty to breed their pet, especially because purebred pets are in demand. According to DoSomething.org, approximately one out of every 10 dog who is born in the United States will end up in a permanent home. And, while, yes, purebred dogs and cats are generally more adoptable and are less likely to end up in shelters than mixed breeds, the risk is just too high that they will end up without a home. Breeding your dog simply because they are purebred is simply not a good enough reason.

Myth #9. Your pet is too young to be spayed or neutered.

In general, most veterinarians will recommend that you get your pet spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity, which for female cats and dogs, is around four months old, and for males cats and dogs, is around six months old. Typically, it’s recommended that you get your pet spayed or neutered when they are between six and nine months old. However, many shelters will spay or neuter animals when they are far younger. This is because shelters don’t have the resources to thoroughly vet every single person who adopts a dog or a cat to ensure they will be responsible pet owners who do not allow their pets to breed or roam. Getting your dog or cat fixed at a younger age will help to give you peace of mind in knowing that your pet won’t be able to reproduce. Plus, though adult dogs can be neutered or spayed, there is a slightly higher risk that they will experience post-op complications.

Myth #10. You’ll be able to find good homes for your pet’s kittens or puppies.

Many people aren’t worried about spaying or neutering their pets because they believe that there will always be a good home for any kittens of puppies they may have. However, as we’ve learned time and time again in this blog series, you’d be lucky if you were able to find good homes for every puppy or kitten your pet has. More often than not, they will end up in shelters and eventually euthanized when no one adopts them. Additionally, preventing your pet from having unwanted puppies or kittens may be the biggest reason to spay or neuter your pet, but it isn’t the only reason. It’s also preventing your pet from developing a number of health conditions — primarily different types of cancer.

When it comes to spaying and neutering pets, the myths and misconceptions are endless.

You shouldn’t let misinformation keep you from doing what’s right for both your pet and your community. If you have questions or concerns about spaying or neutering your pet, please contact our animal clinic in Carroll Gardens. We are happy to sit down with you and provide you with the information you need to make a decision you can feel good about. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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