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!

How to Keep Your Cat's Teeth Clean Part 2

Keeping your cat’s teeth clean and healthy is an essential part of their overall health.

Not many people realize that their cat’s teeth need regular attention and care. Part of this stems from the fact that cats are incredibly independent animals who are generally perfectly content to do the vast majority of their own grooming. Another common reason is that cats aren’t super tolerant of being groomed. However, cat dental care is crucial if you want your cat to live a long, healthy life, and the good news is that there are lots of things you can do at home to maintain good oral health in your cat. In our last blog, we went over a couple of tips to help you keep your cat’s teeth clean, including a step-by-step guide on how to brush your cat’s teeth. Keep reading to learn more helpful cat dental care tips:

#3. Exchange fattening, store-bought treats for fresh veggies.

Many of the cat treats that you find at the pet store are full of not-so-great ingredients for your cat’s teeth, or for their health as a whole for that matter. But, luckily, there are a number of fresh vegetables that you can treat your cat with instead that are chock-full of nutrients. Some of them, like celery and carrots, could even help to clean your cat’s teeth as they’re chomping on them. Please keep in mind that, before you decide to give your cat any people food, always check to make sure that it’s safe for cats to eat, and if you ever have questions or concerns about any foods, talk to your veterinarian before giving it to your cat.  

#4. Stimulate your cat’s gums.

If your cat will let you, massaging your cat’s gums on a regular basis is a great way to keep their teeth and mouth healthy. How? Because in the vast majority of cases, tooth decay stems from gums that are inflamed, irritated or infected, and when you massage your cat’s gums, it stimulates healing and builds strength in the gums. Plus, stimulating your cat’s gums regularly will help you to keep an eye on them. Your cat’s gums should look pink, but if they look red or irritated, it could be a sign of a problem, and the sooner you can catch the first sign of trouble, the more treatable the problem will be.

#5. Give your cat a bone to chew.

Most people know that dogs like to chew bones, but did you know that cats do, too? Because cats are predatory animals, in the wild, hard bones is a natural part of their diet. Chewing on bones will help to keep your cat’s teeth clean, and it’s part of the reason why wild cats can get by without having their teeth brushed. But, make sure you give your cat the right kind of bones. Avoid fish, chicken or pork bones, as they are prone to splintering. Additionally, raw bones are generally a better option for cats, as they aren’t as likely to splinter.

#6. Spoil your cat with dental treats.

There are many different kinds of cat treats specifically made to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Some of these treats can even help to improve your cat’s breath. How do cat dental treats help to clean their teeth? Many of them are made with an enzymes that actually help to eat away at the plaque on your cat’s teeth. But, keep in mind that, with any treats, it’s important to read the ingredients and not to overdo it. The last thing that you want is to help your cat have healthy teeth, only to have to deal with obesity and the many other health concerns surrounding it. Did you know that >50% of all dental disease takes place underneath the gumline in cats? The only way to properly diagnose dental disease in cats is with both a full oral exam and dental radiographs taken under anesthesia. Dental lesions in cats can be the silent but painful lurkers in your cat’s mouth.

Turn to The Vet Set for professional pet dental care in Carroll Gardens!

Although there are lots of things you can do at home to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy, regardless of what you’re doing at home, it’s important to have your veterinarian examine your pet’s teeth every time they stop in for their annual wellness visit. Additionally, if your cat won’t allow you to brush their teeth at home, it never hurts to have your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned. And, luckily, at our new veterinary clinic, we have everything we need to provide your cat with high-quality dental care. Schedule your appointment today!

How to Keep Your Cat's Teeth Clean

Believe it or not, dental care is incredibly important for your cat.

Cats are extremely independent animals, especially when compared to other pets. Not only are cats great at entertaining themselves, but they also know how to expertly groom themselves. But, while your cat may be able to keep most of their body reasonably hygenic on their own, their teeth are a whole other matter. Many cat parents don’t realize that it’s even necessary to take care of their cat’s teeth in the first place, which is probably why periodontal disease (a fancy way of saying gum disease) is the most common disease found in cats today. However, there are a number of things you can do to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy, including:

#1. Brush your cat’s teeth.

The best thing you can do to keep your cat’s teeth clean is to make it a point to brush them on a regular basis. However, most cats aren’t huge fans of being poked and prodded, and if you’ve ever tried and failed to brush your cat’s teeth in the past, you’re not alone. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make brushing your cat’s teeth a little easier on both you and your cat.
  1. Get your cat used to the idea - Your cat isn’t likely going to be too thrilled about the idea of you unceremoniously sticking a toothbrush in their mouth. It’s best to let your cat ease into getting their teeth brushed. Dip your finger in wet cat food or tuna, then let them sniff and lick your finger. The dip your finger again, and rub it gently on your cat’s teeth and gums. After you’ve done this a few times, your cat will get more comfortable with the idea of getting their teeth brushed.
  2. Find the right toothbrush - There are many different toothbrush options available to you; you just have to find one that works well for you and your cat. One great option is to simply wrap gauze around your finger and gently rub your cat’s teeth with it. But, there are also sponges, finger toothbrushes and other pet toothbrushes made specifically for cats.
  3. Find the right toothpaste - It’s important to note that you should never use toothpaste designed for humans on your cat. Human toothpastes contain chemicals that are toxic to cats and dangerous when swallowed. Plus, cats actually tend to like the taste of toothpaste made specifically for them, because it’s typically flavored to taste like fish, chicken, bacon or something else they enjoy. No matter which toothpaste you choose, let your cat taste a small amount before you brush their teeth with it.
  4. Be gentle when brushing your cat’s teeth - You could easily irritate your cat’s gums if you brush too vigorously, so always make it a point to be gentle when brushing. Your cat is not going to allow you to brush the inward facing surfaces of their teeth, but brushing the surfaces that face the cheeks will make a huge difference. When brushing, pay special attention to the canines and upper molars, as plaque tends to build up quickly on these teeth.
  5. Reward your cat - Your cat’s first instinct is probably not to sit there and allow you to brush their teeth, so make sure you reward them with a kiss and plenty of love. And, rewarding your cat will hopefully make it easier to brush their teeth next time!

#2. Be choosy about what you feed your cat.

The kind and quality of the food you feed your cat can have a huge impact on their oral health. Cats who are fed mostly sticky, wet food will more than likely have more trouble with oral health problems than cats who eat a mix of wet and dry food, or just dry food. While there are many things you can do at home to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy, sometimes, you need the help of a professional veterinary clinic on your side, and that’s where we come in. We’re The Vet Set, and we’re proud to provide you with the compassionate care your cat needs in Carroll Gardens. Contact us today to schedule your cat’s dental appointment! Want to learn more helpful tips for keeping your cat’s teeth clean and healthy? If so, stay tuned for our next blog.

Your Guide to Apartment Living With a Pet Part 3

Living in an apartment with a pet can be challenging

With neighbors all around you looking for some peace and quiet, a landlord to contend with and the inconvenience of not having a yard to let your pet out into, owning a pet when you live in an apartment can seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But, if you ask almost any pet owner, they’ll you that they wouldn’t trade their fur baby for anything. The truth is that that the love of a pet is worth any struggle or inconvenience raising them may cause, and there are lots of things that you can do as a pet owner to make living in an apartment with a pet easier on you both. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series to learn about the steps we’ve already covered for apartment living with a pet, and keep reading to learn about the last few steps.

Step 6. Devise a plan for smells and waste.

A kitty litter box in a small space can quickly make your entire apartment stink to high heaven, so it’s important to have a plan in place for keeping those odors at bay. One of the most important things you can do to reduce odors is to make it a point to scoop out your cat’s litter box on a daily basis and replace the litter every week. The box itself should replaced on an annual basis — or sooner if it starts to smell. You could also consider investing in an air purifier or plants that help to purify the air (just make sure they aren’t toxic to cats in case your cat tries to chew them). If you are raising a puppy who can’t quite hold it until you get home, section off a small area of your home so that they don’t have accidents all over. Consider investing in absorbent puppy pads to prevent your new puppy from ruining the flooring in your apartment, and change them after every accident. And, when accidents do occur, make sure that you clean them up completely.

Step 7. Develop a routine.

Regardless of where you live, developing a routine for your pet is important, but it’s especially important for people living in apartments. Make sure that you feed your pet, take them outside for bathroom breaks and exercise them at the same time every day. But what makes developing a routine for your pet so important? For starters, both cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and it will be easier and less stressful for your pet to get through the day when they know what to expect. To put it simply, when your pet has a set routine, they will more secure in the world around them, which is important with all of the noises in a typical apartment.

Step 8. Socialize your pet.

Socializing your pet is important no matter where you live, but when you live in an apartment with other people close by, the need to socialize your pet becomes even greater. Chances are, many of your neighbors have pets too, or there are other pets being walked and played with in your neighborhood. Having an anti-social or aggressive pet will make every single trip outside difficult and nerve-wracking for both you and your pet, so socializing your pet is of the utmost importance. Scheduling play dates with friends who have pets, enrolling your pet into daycare with other pets and taking your dog to the dog park are all great ways to encourage your pet to be more social. We hope that this guide will help to quell some of your concerns about living in an apartment with a pet, and make it easier on both you and your pet. If you have any questions or concerns, contact our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens today! We’re always happy to help!

Your Guide to Apartment Living With a Pet Part 2

Are you considering bringing in a pet to live with you in your apartment in Carroll Gardens?

When it comes to owning a pet, people who live in homes with fenced-in yards definitely have it the easiest. When you have a backyard, exercising your pet can be as simple as throwing the ball around, and you don’t have to stand outside in the cold to let them relieve themselves. However, just because you live in an apartment, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the happiness that pet ownership brings to your life. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to make the entire experience easier on both you and your pet. In Part 1 of this step-by-step guide to living in an apartment with a pet, we went over the importance of talking with your landlord, finding the right breed and pet-proofing your apartment. Keep reading to learn about the next couple steps:

Step 4. Make sure that there is plenty of room in your schedule.

When you have a backyard with a doggy door that allows your pet to come and go as they please, it’s less important that you are able to make it home every few hours to let them out, but it’s still essential that you give them plenty of love and attention. However, when you live in an apartment, it’s much more important that there is room in your schedule to come home and take care of your pet at regular intervals during the day, especially if you have a dog. And, while older, properly trained dogs may be able to hold it for long periods of time, that doesn’t mean that they should have to. Just like in people, dogs can develop health issues, including urinary stones and urinary tract infections, when they are made to hold it too long too often. Although cats are known for being independent, solidarity animals, they are more social than you might realize. Your cat’s litter box may eliminate any physical need for you to make special trips home in the middle of the day, but on an emotional level, cats still need plenty of cuddles and affection.

Step 5. Keep your pet properly entertained.

Typically, dogs sleep anywhere from 12 to 14 hours per day; cats sleep anywhere from 12 to 16 hours per day, and for puppies and kittens, it’s more like 20 hours. However, all of that time spent sleeping does not mean that your pet is immune to boredom. And, a bored pet is often a mischievous pet, and it could lead to the development of bad habits, like chewing up your shoes, destroying your furniture, constant barking, whining, getting into the trash can and a whole host of other, not-so-nice behaviors. Preventing your pet from getting lonely and bored is one of the reasons why it’s so important that you make sure there is enough room in your schedule to actually take care of a pet before you get one. In addition, you can also make it a point to provide your pet with plenty of toys to keep them entertained while you are gone. And, a stringent exercise routine every day will help to drain a lot of that excess energy. We just have a couple more steps to go over to help you master apartment living with your new furry friend, and as always, if you have questions or concerns about the information provided, or about how to care for your new pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us. As your neighborhood veterinary clinic in Carroll Gardens, your pet’s health is our number one priority!

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