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!

How to Keep Your Dog's Teeth Clean Part 2

In order to keep your dog healthy, it’s important to keep their teeth healthy.

For many dog parents, remembering to take their dog on a walk, feed them high-quality food and give them any medications they’ve been prescribed is easy. What isn’t so easy to remember, though, is taking care of your dog’s dental health. Your dog’s oral health plays a huge role in their overall health, and luckily, there are lots of things dog moms and dads can do to keep their fur baby’s teeth clean and healthy, and in our last blog, we went over a couple of tips to help you do just that. Keep reading for more helpful, doggy dental care tips:

#3. Trade in processed store-bought treats for whole fruits and vegetables.

In the first part of this series, we talked about how feeding your dog the right kind of food is important for their oral health. However, you shouldn’t stop with their food; it’s also important to look at the quality of treats you’re giving your dog. Many of the processed dog treats you find at pet stores contain cereal grains, sugar and fats, which are not exactly healthy ingredients for your dog, and they are prone to sticking to their teeth, causing plaque and eventually tartar. There are plenty of dog-friendly fruits and vegetables that make wonderful dog treat alternatives, like carrots, apples, pumpkins, bananas, blueberries and strawberries, just to name a few. These fresh, all-natural treats are packed with nutrients that are great for your dog, and some of them can even help to clean your dog’s teeth, like apples and carrots.

#4. Give your dog a prescription dental dog food.

The food you feed your dogs can play a big role in their dental health. One great option for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and their tummy happy is prescription food designed with a brushing mechanism that helps to clean the teeth, like options by Hill’s and Royal Canin. If you’re interested in giving your prescription food designed to keep their teeth clean, talk to your veterinarian!

#5. Give your dog plenty of things to chew on.

In nature, no one is there to brush a wolf’s teeth, so they have to keep their teeth clean on their own. There are a number of reasons as to why wolves can keep their teeth clean in the wild but dogs require teeth brushing. As we’ve talked about in both this blog and Part 1 of this series, diet plays a huge role. But, another thing wolves do that dogs typically don’t do is chew on the bones of their prey. This helps to naturally break up plaque. You don’t want your dog taking down a buffalo in your backyard, but making sure your dog has plenty of things to chew on will accomplish similar results. Bully sticks and chew toys are all great options, just make sure that you supervise your dog while they chew, especially if they’re an enthusiastic chewer. To prevent your dog from breaking his teeth ensure the chew isn’t too hard. If you can’t make an indentation with your fingernail, or if you hit it on your knee and it hurts, you run the chance of it breaking your dog’s teeth. Femur bones, antlers, and sterile bones will fracture your dog’s teeth. Ask your veterinarian about prescription dental chews, which help remove plaque when the dog chews.

#6. Trade in your dog’s treats for dental treats.

We’ve already talked about all of the nasty sugar, fat and cereal grains found in your typical dog treats, but fruits and vegetables aren’t the only great treat option when you’re looking to improve your dog’s oral health. Dental treats are designed to help keep your dog’s teeth clean, and some of them can even help to combat bad breath. But, keep in mind that not all doggy dental treats are made equal. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredients on any food product you plan to give your dog.

#7. Take your dog to the vet to get their teeth cleaned.

There are lots of things you can do at home to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy, but brushing your dog’s teeth is probably the most important. However, if every time you attempt to get near them with a toothbrush, your dog has a meltdown, you probably won’t be able to effectively brush their teeth on your own. In these cases, getting your dog’s professionally cleaned is a great option. Small breed dogs typically need their teeth cleaned on an annual basis, and larger dogs need their teeth professionally cleaned every other year. Every dog is different and our veterinarians will guide you through their medical requirements. Regardless of how you choose to take care of your dog’s teeth at home, it’s important to make sure that your veterinarian examines your dog’s teeth at their regular checkups. This will help to ensure that, even if your dog does start to develop periodontal disease or another oral health problems, it will be caught and treated right away. Is your dog due for a dental checkup? Schedule your appointment with our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens today! When you rely on The Vet Set for your dog’s care, you can rest assured that your fur baby is in the very best hands.

How to Keep Your Dog's Teeth Clean

A big part of keeping your dog healthy overall includes keeping your dog’s teeth healthy.

As dog moms and dads, we all want our dogs to be as healthy and as happy as possible. But, unfortunately, many of the best dog parents overlook or forget about their dog’s oral health, and that can be problematic for many reasons. Not only can oral health problems lead to infections inside the mouth, but the infections can spread throughout your dog’s body, leading to a whole host of other health problems. But, for some pet owners, providing their pet with the dental care they need can be easier said than done. That’s why our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens has come up with these tips for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy:

#1. Brush your dog’s teeth!

One of the best things you can do to take care of your dog’s oral health is to brush their teeth. Typically, it’s not necessary to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but the more you do it, the better off they’ll be. At first, your dog may not like it, and it may not feel like the most natural thing in the world, but you and your dog will both get used to it over time. Here’s a little, step-by-step guide to make brushing your dog’s teeth just a bit easier.
  1. Pick the right toothbrush - There are many toothbrush options available, including those long, thin toothbrushes and toothbrushes that fit right over your finger. Finger brushes are preferred by many dog parents, because they are easier to control when you have to balance holding a toothbrush with keeping your dog’s mouth open.
  2. Pick the right toothpaste - Never use toothpaste designed for humans for your dog, as it contains harmful chemicals that can put your dog in danger if swallowed. Toothpastes designed specially for dogs are not only safe, but they are often flavored like salmon, bacon or other treats dogs love, which will make the experience a bit better for your pup. Be sure to let your dog taste a small amount of the toothpaste before putting it in their mouth.
  3. Let your dog get used to you taking care of their teeth - If you’ve never put your fingers in or around your dog’s mouth before, and one day, you suddenly shove a toothbrush in there, they probably won’t be too happy about it. Get your pet used to the idea that you’ll be brushing their teeth by rubbing their teeth with gauze or even just your finger at first. Once they get acclimated, then switch to a toothbrush.
  4. Be gentle when brushing - Don’t brush your dog’s teeth too vigorously. Instead, use gentle, circular motions to clean their teeth, paying special attention to the canines and upper molars, as these teeth tend to have more tartar buildup than other teeth. Your dog probably won’t let you clean the inside of their teeth, but cleaning the cheek-facing surfaces will go a long way.
  5. Reward your dog - One of the best things you can do to get your dog used to regular teeth brushings is to make it a point to reward them every time you brush their teeth. This way, your dog will associate getting their teeth brushed with getting a treat or another reward.

#2. Be mindful about the kind of food you give your dog.

Up until a few years ago, most people’s dogs lived off of kibble their owners bought at the grocery store, and not much thought was given into what kind of ingredients were going into dog food. But, dog owners today are much more conscious about what their dogs are eating. Not only is this important for your dog’s overall health, but believe it or not, the quality of food you’re giving your dog also has an impact on their oral health. Dog foods that contain cereal grains and by-products are more likely to stick to your dog’s teeth, causing plaque and eventually tartar to form. Ideally, your dog should be fed a diet that consists of a variety of whole, natural foods, but barring that, look for foods that don’t contain by-products or cereal grains to keep your dog’s teeth healthy.

When at-home dental care won’t cut it, turn to your neighborhood veterinarian at The Vet Set.

Dental care at home is essential for preventing oral health problems, including gum disease; however, if your dog has already developed a dental issue, at-home dental care won’t cut it anymore. In cases like these, your best bet is to talk to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. And, luckily, our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens provides professional dental care for pets! Schedule your appointment today! In our next blog, we’ll be going over a few more helpful tips for keeping your dog’s teeth clean at home, so be sure to stay tuned!

Toxins All Cat Owners Need to Know About Part 2

As a cat owner, it's important to know about the many things that are toxic to your cat.

Every cat owner wants their feline friend to live a happy, healthy, long life full of joy and love, but unfortunately, there are many things in the average home that are toxic to cats. And, if your cat accidentally gets into something they shouldn't, it can put their health and maybe even their life at risk. Protecting your cat from these toxins means removing them from your home — or at the very least, putting them somewhere your cat can't get to them — but you can't do that if you don't know what they are. That's why, in our latest blog, our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens went over a few of the most common toxins for cats. Here are a couple more:

#4. Household Chemicals

We use so many chemicals in our day-to-day lives for everything from cleaning up stains to keeping pests out of our homes. And, while most people (or rather adults) know not to ingest any of these chemicals, cats know no such thing. What's even worse is that some of these chemicals — antifreeze for example — taste and smell good to cats. It's essential to keep the following household chemicals well away from your cat:
  • Antifreeze
  • Herbicides
  • Flea and tick shampoos and sprays for dogs
  • De-icing salt
  • Bleach
  • Detergents
  • Insecticides
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
When you do need to clean something with bleach or use a detergent, just make sure to keep your cat away, and don't allow them to go near it until it is been completely dried or removed.

#5. Glow sticks and luminous jewelry.

Believe it or not, glow sticks and luminous jewelry are some of the more common reasons why people call poison control for their cats. Glow sticks and luminous jewelry both contain a toxic liquid, called dibutyl phthalate. Although it won't cause overly significant problems, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and/or foaming at the mouth if it's ingested. If you attend an event that has glow sticks or luminous jewelry, don't take them home with you!

What should you do if you think your cat has been poisoned?

Now that you know what some of the most common toxins for cats are, what should you do if you think your cat ingested one? The first and best piece of advice we can give is to act quickly. Every minute is important if your cat has ingested something toxic. Then, follow these steps:
  • Contact your veterinarian and/or poison control - Keeping your veterinarian's number handy is important, and you'll be glad you did if your cat ingests something they shouldn't. If your normal veterinary clinic isn't open, call an emergency animal hospital or poison control. They should be able to inform you about further steps you should take.
  • Collect any applicable samples - When you take your cat to visit the veterinarian, bringing along some samples could be helpful. These samples could include the substance your cat ingested, as well as stool and vomit samples.
  • What out for symptoms - Keep a close eye on your cat for symptoms, which could include breathing difficulties, coughing, weakness, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, upset stomach, excess saliva, depression, shivering, tremors, seizures and skin irritation. In most cases, symptoms will appear right away, but sometimes, they show up little by little.

Don't take a chance when it comes to your cat's health and safety. Learn the ins and outs of what is poisonous for your cat, so that you can keep it safely out of reach. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please contact us!

How to Protect Your Dog in the Winter Part 2

The cold weather can be hard on your furry friend.

There's a lot to love about the winter. The snow is beautiful, the holidays are a blast and it gives you a great excuse to sport the best of winterwear, including scarves, beanies and sweaters. But, the cold weather the winter brings can be rough, and not just on us; it can be hard for our canine companions as well. Not many people — even dog owners — realize it, but the winter brings a wide range of unique challenges for dogs. There is good news, however. There are lots of things you can do to protect your dog in the winter, and in our veterinarian's last blog, we went over a few of them. Here are a few more ways you can protect your dog this winter.

#4. Watch out for signs of pain.

Just like cold weather can make pain from arthritis and other joint issues in people more severe, it can do the same for dogs. If your dog has diabetes, arthritis or any other condition that affects their joints, watch out for signs of increased pain during the winter. For some dogs, it might help to cushion them against the cold by providing them with a pair of boots for added protection and comfort. It's also smart to talk to our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens about possible treatment options.

#5. Never leave your dog in a cold vehicle.

Most people are fully aware of how cruel and inhumane it is to leave a dog outside in a hot car, but not many people give a second thought to a dog left inside of a car on a cold day. However, a vehicle left outside in the cold can cool down a lot faster than you might think, so even if you leave your dog in the car while you're out running errands, they could get cold out there waiting for you. And, while leaving a dog in a cold car isn't quite as risky as leaving them in a hot car, your dog isn't immune to the cold, and they will likely be uncomfortable.

#6. Be aware of hazards inside your home.

In this blog series, we've talked a lot about cold-weather related dangers outside of the home, but there are hazards inside of the home that dog parents need to be aware of. For example, many people use space heaters to get warm, but be careful, as dogs can all too easily knock one over accidentally and start a fire. Dogs have also been known to burn themselves on spaces heaters and heating pads. If you keep antifreeze around, make sure to keep it in a safe place where your dog can't get anywhere near it. And, if you accidentally spill it, make sure to clean it up completely. Dogs like to lick it up because of its sweet taste, but it can be deadly when it's ingested

#7. Play with your dog inside or when the sun is shining.

All dogs need to be able to play and get exercise every day, regardless of what the weather is like outside. But, cold weather can severely limit playtime, at least outdoors. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to get your dog a little exercise and playtime inside:
  • Run with your dog up and down the stairs of your building.
  • Play keep away or fetch.
  • Set up obstacles courses with things you have at home, like hula hoops or seat cushions.
  • Play hide and go seek.
  • Walk your dog on a treadmill.
  • Play tug of war.
These indoor activities aren't exactly equivalent to running with your dog through the park for a half an hour or taking them on a long walk, but they'll help to expend some energy on those days when it's just too cold to play outside. It's also important to take advantage of playing outside on winter days when the sun is shining and the temperature is a little higher. We hope that these tips will help you enjoy a safe, healthy winter with your dog. And, if you have questions or concerns, or you would like to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens, give us a call today! We're happy to help!

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