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!

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!

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!

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