What To Expect At Your Dog’s Wellness Exam (Part Two)

Prevent disease and illness while improving your dog’s health with physical checkups!

  In part one, we looked into what a wellness exam is, how often a dog exam is needed, and what happens during the exam. In today’s post, we’ll continue the conversation and get more into the details of the wellness exam and how you should prepare as a pet parent.    At The Vet Set, your dog’s wellness is important to us, which is why we recommend a wellness exam at least once a year! Get more information surrounding this topic below! 

A Dog’s Wellness Exam   

  Get into the nitty-gritty of a dog exam below!   What is assessed during the physical examination?   In the physical examination, your vet will check your dog’s body by looking at the physical appearance, listening to their organs with a stethoscope, and palpating certain areas of the body.    The vet may also check the following:  
  • How your dog stands or walks
  • Your dog’s demeanor - alert, sluggish, etc 
  • Coat condition - dry, oily, excessive shedding, hair loss, etc
  • Eyes - Excessive tearing, redness, discharge, cloudiness, bumps, etc
  • Ears - Hair loss, discharge, thickening, etc
  • Face and nose - How they breathe, discharges, etc 
  • Teeth - Looking for periodontal disease, plaque buildup, broken teeth, trauma, staining of the lips, excessive salivation, ulcers, etc
  When your vet listens to your dog with a stethoscope they listen to the heart for skipped or extra beats or heart murmurs and to the lungs for abnormal breathing sounds.    When your dog is palpated the vet will check their pulse, lymph nodes for swelling, the legs, and major organ systems including the kidneys, liver, bladder, intestines, spleen, and stomach.    What else may happen during the exam?   Many vets will take a stool sample and evaluated for parasites, and in puppies, this is typically done a monthly basis because they are more prone to intestinal parasites. Heartworm testing may also occur and the frequency will depend on your geographical location.     Apart from the physical exam, your vet may also want to run wellness screening tests. These tests check four major categories including:  
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Blood
  • Biochemistry profile
  • Urinalysis
  The panels will all vary depending on the age and current health status of your dog. Beyond the screenings, in older dogs, your vet may want to check their chest or abdominal via x-ray to get a better picture of their internal organs. The x-ray can also help identify any skeletal issues or changes in your dog’s bones and joints.   

Why is a wellness dog examination needed?

  Because pets cannot verbally communicate with us they can't tell us how they’re feeling, so a health issue or disease may be present before you even know. And because of their survival instincts, most dogs will hide signs of disease that are only causing minimal symptoms, which means when you detect something, it could be in a highly advanced stage.    This is why dog exams are crucial — your vet can detect issues in the physical exam or investigate with further testing for any other underlying issues. If an issue can be detected before your dog shows signs of illness, steps can be taken to treat and manage the condition before irreparable damage is done.    This not only improves a successful outcome for your dog, but it’s typically less expensive when caught in an early stage.   

Is there any one factor that elicits a dog exam?

  While a wellness exam is recommended for every dog at least once a year, dog exams are especially important for geriatric dogs since they’re rapidly aging and have a greater chance for disease and health issues.   

How To Prepare For Your Wellness Exam Appointment

  Before your dog’s exam, ask your vet how to prepare. This may mean fasting your dog or bringing in fresh urine and fecal samples.    It’s also important to know what kind of food your dog eats and any supplements you’ve been giving them.    From the physical examination of palpations and listening to your dog’s organs, checking the coat, eyes, ears, face, and mouth to running a series of panels, a dog exam is crucial to the optimal health of your pooch!    It not only prevents disease and illness but improves a successful health outcome should your dog be diagnosed.   

For more information on our dog exams, reach out to our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today! 

Training Your Dog For A Muzzle

Does your dog have some poor behaviors you’re working to improve? A muzzle may be the perfect management tool in the interim!

  Muzzles look scary and they often make the dogs who wear them out to be big scary monsters, but really, dog muzzles are commonly used to help improve a dog’s behavior. But, before you start using a dog muzzle for barking, biting, or scavenging, it’s important to take the right steps when introducing them.   At The Vet Set, we want you to get the takeaway of proper muzzle introduction and etiquette because it makes a difference. Follow along in today’s blog as we give you practical ways to train your dog to use and be comfortable wearing a muzzle. 

How To Introduce Your Dog To A Muzzle

  Whether your dog is braking or excessively lunging at other dogs on walks, it’s important to first introduce them and let them get comfortable before going out with the muzzle on. Below are some steps to take with your dog so they can feel confident in a muzzle.  

Step 1: Introduce The Muzzle

  The very first step is to simply show your dog the muzzle to show it that it’s not harmful or dangerous. Just casually bring it out and allow them to explore it — let them sniff and lick it and see that there’s nothing to be afraid of.    

Step 2: Give Them Rewards

  Once your dog is a little bit more familiar with the muzzle begin to touch the muzzle to their nose and with each successful touch, reward them with a treat. This not only brings a positive association with the muzzle, but now they have a vested interest when it comes out.   

Step 3: Begin Placing The Muzzle

  Now that you’ve touched the muzzle to their nose with great success, begin to place the muzzle by place a treat in the muzzle so they can get used to placing their muzzle within it. Keep repeating this step until it’s natural and easy for them to do.   

Step 4: Place The Muzzle Yourself

  By this point, your dog will probably love the muzzle because of the positive rewards they get! Now it’s your turn to put the muzzle on your dog. After you’re able to place the muzzle, be sure to continue giving your dog treats. Repeat this step until they don’t mind it and feel comfortable wearing it. 

Step 5: Fasten And Remove The Muzzle

  Taking it one step further, place the muzzle on your dog, secure it, and then take it off. Build trust with your dog and once the muzzle is removed, give them a treat. Keep repeating this but increase the time the muzzle is left on each time so they can wear it comfortably for longer and begin to feel confident in it. And the best part, they know that eventually it will be removed!    A muzzle is a great tool to keep your dog and others safe and should you choose to use a muzzle with your dog, it is crucial that you take the proper steps and muzzle etiquette to acclimate your dog.   

For more information on dog muzzles or about our Carroll Gardens vet services, connect with us today!

Different Types Of Dog Muzzles

There are many varieties of dog muzzles — which muzzle is best for your dog?

  While many people can be alarmed at the first sign of a dog wearing a muzzle, dog muzzles are great behavior management tools that come in a variety of styles to prevent your dog from biting, scavenging, and barking.   Dog muzzles are sometimes necessary and sometimes implemented because of breed restrictions and they’ve come a long way and do a great job of protecting dogs and people. At The Vet Set, we know how important muzzles can be, so we’ve compiled a list of common dog muzzles and the benefits of each one.  

All About Dog Muzzles 

  When it comes to dog muzzles, do your dog a favor and don’t choose aesthetics over practicality. A great muzzle will allow your dog to pant, drink, and take treats freely. If you ever have any questions about how a muzzle should fit, connect with your local vet.  

Basket Muzzle

  The basket muzzle is what everyone recognizes and is the most classic muzzle. It is typically composed of a hard plastic that cages the muzzle of a dog. It’s one of the best muzzles options, however, dog owners tend to steer clear of it because it is very noticeable.   

Mesh Muzzle

  A mesh muzzle has a lower profile than the traditional basket muzzle, and it’s usually made from a softer material such as mesh or neoprene. For a mesh dog muzzle to be effective it needs to fit tightly, so dogs may be at risk for overheating because they may not be able to pant and breathe properly.    This muzzle is great for short bouts such as a trip to the groomer or vet, but for walks and outdoor activities, a basket muzzle may be better.   

Breed-Designed Muzzle

  While traditional muzzles will work for most dogs there are specific breeds that need a different kind of muzzle, these breeds include brachycephalic dogs such as pugs and French bulldogs and other breeds with long, thin muzzles such as Greyhounds and Whippets.    For brachycephalic dogs, muzzles often fit like a mask that covers their muzzle and areas around their eyes, whereas sighthound muzzles for long muzzles, accommodate the length and slenderness that mesh and basket muzzles can’t.  We know that muzzles are a great behavior management tool to prohibit scavenging, biting, and barking, but are there any instances where muzzles shouldn’t be used?    There a couple of scenarios when using a dog muzzle isn’t always the best practice, and they include:   Punishment - When it comes to using a muzzle with your dog, there are many steps you have to take to get your dog comfortable, so if you were to just put a muzzle on your dog as a form of punishment, this can be extremely traumatizing for them. The dog also won’t necessarily associate the bad behavior with the muzzle, so the behavior will continue.   Destructiveness - It’s not a great idea to leave a muzzle on for prolonged periods, so if you leave it on all day while you’re at work to keep them from chewing, you’re really not addressing the real issue at hand.    Muzzles are a common tool used to assist in preventing specific behaviors and they come in a variety of styles to accommodate the different needs.   

To learn more about the right muzzle for your dog, connect with us today!

 

Your Guide To Dog Muzzles

Dog muzzles may look peculiar but they’re great for curbing undesirable behavior in dogs. 

  When you first see a dog in a muzzle it can be alarming and many questions may flood your head. Is this dog dangerous or will the dog hurt me?, are often questions that pop up. Contrary to what the muzzle may implicate, they are used for a variety of reasons to support the dog and improve behavior.    Having a dog who is well-behaved is important to not only you but the people and things they’re exposed to every day. At The Vet Set, we’re here to support you in your dog’s health and wellness journey, including their behavior! Take a moment today and learn all about dog muzzles. 

Why Do Dogs Need Muzzles?

  There are many reasons a dog might need a muzzle, and it goes beyond aggressive behavior. Let’s explore more of the reasons dogs need muzzles below.  

Aggressive Behavior

  Let’s just get this one out of the way! A muzzle is a great management tool for dogs who are aggressive with other dogs or people. It’s always important to get to the root cause of the aggression and work with an animal behaviorist to eliminate this behavior, but a muzzle is ideal for specific situations where they might be aggressive.  

High Prey Drive

  There are many dog breeds that have a high prey drive, ones such as the Rhodesian Rideback or English Springer Spaniel. Because these dogs innately chase after small animals both on and off-leash, a muzzle could not only prevent an injury to the dog but also fatalities to the prey they’re chasing.   

Alarming Situations

  Most dogs are not aggressive for the sake of just being aggressive, but rather become aggressive when they’re put in a situation where they feel unsafe and think there is no other choice than to bite.    When dogs are uncomfortable in a situation they provide warning signs before they actually snap, so it’s important to recognize these before it’s too late. If you’re entering a situation where your dog may be alarmed or caught off guard and prone to bite, a muzzle is a good tool to use.    When would you use it? People use dog muzzles for the vet or dog groomers or if they’re injured and need to be transported.      

Dogs that love to scavenge. 

  If you have a dog that loves to eat and get into just about anything on walks, you probably have had many frustrating days and sleepless nights dealing with the unsavory after effects. Instead, if you muzzle your dog during a walk, they have no choice but to leave things alone. While it may not prevent everything, it creates a barrier to what your dog can ingest.    Just as it’s important to work with dogs who are aggressive, it’s also important to work with those who scavenge. A dog can't stay muzzled 24/7, so working towards improving their behavior is always highly recommended.   

Breed Restrictions

  Perhaps your dog doesn’t indicate they need a muzzle at all, but some states have breed restrictions that require specific breeds such as pit bulls, boxers, and German shepherds to wear a muzzle. These restrictions are often quite discriminatory to dogs and doesn’t take into account the role of irresponsible dog owners, but to keep your dog safe and avoid it being seized, you must follow the breed-specific legislation.   

Travel

  In many countries, dogs are allowed to board public transport so as long as they wear a muzzle. So, if you’re traveling with your pet outside of the United States, be sure to pack a muzzle to comply with any regulations you may encounter.   

Obsessive Barking

  If you have a dog with obsessive barking, this can greatly disrupt your life and make your neighbors and any passerbyers angry. With that said, if you rent, some leases even grant the right to remove a dog from your home if it barks too much.    If your dog is home alone most of the day and you’re not there to stop the barking, a muzzle might be a good option to keep the peace.    There are many situations in which your dog might need a muzzle beyond aggressive behavior. And remember, a dog muzzle is a good option as a behavior management tool, but shouldn’t replace good ol’ fashioned dog training.    There is often a reason your dog is responding by biting, barking, or scavenging, and it’s your job as a responsible dog owner to support your dog and figure out why they’re behaving a certain way. So instead of relying on a muzzle every time you go out (with the exception of breed restrictions) get curious as to why your dog is behaving a certain way, and perhaps at some point they can live muzzle-free.    It’s amazing what a little training or working with an animal behaviorist can improve!  

We’re here to support your dog! Schedule an appointment at our Carroll Gardens vet center today! 

     

Making The Decision Of Pet Insurance (Part Two)

Are you facing the prospects of pet insurance? Get your need-to-know information here!

  In part one, we reviewed the advantages of pet insurance including your pet being protected, pet insurance being an easy option to navigate, and it being available to most budgets. Now we’ll look at one more advantage and then dive straight into the disadvantages of pet insurance.    Have you been considering pet insurance? At our Carroll Gardens animal clinic, we’re here to help support you in the decisions you have to make for your pet. For more information and guidance on pet insurance, join us in today’s post! 

You may get more care for your pet!

  It’s no surprise that owners who have pet insurance are more likely to seek care for their animals, and truly, who wants to have to decide between the life of their pet or accumulating massive debt?    Many pet owners have experienced an emergency illness or injury, and without pet insurance, cannot afford the vet bills and then have to elect “economic euthanasia,” which is a heartbreaking decision for any pet owner. When you invest in pet insurance, you may be able to give your pet the care they need, without having to make such a heavy decision.   

Disadvantages Of Pet Insurance

  Why invest in pet insurance? While there are many benefits, let’s take a look at the reasons it may not always be the optimal choice.  

Pet insurance premiums can be high. 

  If you don’t have a relatively healthy and young animal, the premiums tend to be more pricey with an older animal or one that has pre-existing conditions. You are subject to monthly premiums at upwards of $50 or more per month.   

Pet insurance has limitations. 

While all pet insurance coverage will be different and despite pet insurance, you still have to be able to pay the bill upfront.   Pet insurance doesn’t function in the same way as we’re used to because there is no co-pay option where you get the services first and then get the insurance bill later. With pet insurance, you have to be able to pay everything upfront, and then after services you can submit a claim with the pet insurance company.    So, does pet insurance save you from covering monumental expenses? Not so much. This is why people tend to not only have pet insurance but also a separate savings account for their pets in case an emergency does occur.    It’s also important to remember that if your pet health insurance plan does get maxed out for the year or the lifetime, then you are still responsible for paying the bill in full. 

If your pet is relatively healthy, you may not need pet insurance.

  Getting pet insurance is always a personal choice and we’re not here to sway your decision in any way. If your pet is relatively healthy and only needs routine vet care, monthly pet insurance may not be worth it to you. Again, pet insurance is always great to have should an emergency occur.    

Is Pet Insurance Right For You? 

  This is a deeply personal choice for pet owners but like other insurance options you have, you won’t necessarily save or make any money off of pet insurance, but on the other hand, should anything catastrophic happen, pet insurance is a wise investment. At the end of the day, pet insurance is really there as peace of mind for pet owners.    Pet insurance is always a gamble because you never know when or if your pet will face an injury or illness, and this can be an even harder decision if your pet is healthy. If pet insurance seems like a good safety net you’re willing to invest in, consider getting it when your pet is young and healthy for the best savings.    If you’re still on the fence, you can still be proactive by creating an emergency vet fund today by adding the money you would spend on pet insurance to the account.     Over the last two posts, we’ve encountered the advantages of pet insurance and the disadvantages, and while this will always be a personal choice, pet insurance is available to all pet owners.   

Keep your pet healthy and schedule an appointment at our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today! 

     

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