4 Common Parasites Found In Dogs

Fleas, ticks, and worms oh my!

  When it comes to parasites that barrage and cause discomfort in your canine companion, they’re not all that uncommon though they disrupt your dog’s health. From fleas, ticks, and worms, it’s likely that at some point in your dog’s life they’ll come face-to-face to with these annoying pests which can be both internal and external and sometimes hard to determine.    Not only can parasites be exceptionally irritating, but they can also even cause serious health concerns and disease — don’t be left in the dark when it comes to parasites and your dog!   Parasite prevention is the first step in parasite control and at The Vet Set in Carroll Gardens, we know all too well the menace parasites cause. Join us in today’s post as we review all things parasite related!

Parasites and Dogs

  People often ask, “what are parasites in dogs? And, they’re defined as an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its sustenance at the sacrifice of the host — so, parasites are the same for dogs as for humans, they’re just subject to different types.    There are two types of parasites — internal and external — that can affect the health of your dog. And while both can make your dog ill, they often present in different ways. Let’s examine those below!

How Do Dogs Contract Parasites? 

  There are a variety of ways in which dogs can get parasites. In the case of fleas, they are often contracted through another infected animal but sometimes flea infestations can be brought from the outdoors in and both dogs and humans can experience issues.    Ticks, on the other hand, are contracted outdoors and in wooded areas — when dogs roam through long grasses and bushes in an area that has fleas, it’s vital to keep your dog protected.    Intestinal parasites such as worms, will inhabit your dog internally if they consume the eggs that have been laid in the water, soil, or in food. Unfortunately, puppies can contract parasites from their mothers both in utero and after birth.  

How Are Parasites Diagnosed And Treated In Dogs?

  Many times it can be difficult to know if your dog has a parasite. Sure, they may be acting fine and just seem to have an upset stomach or itchy skin, but if you recognize the symptoms from above, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your local vet to identify the parasite your dog may have — both fecal and blood tests are common in determining present parasites.    In parasite treatment, sadly, there is no one universal medication that can both treat and prevent parasites in your dog. It’s also important to note that if your dog has a severe case of internal or external parasites, not only will the vet have to treat the parasite but they may also have to treat secondary health effects such as dehydration, anemia, and infections.    To better prevent parasites there are a couple of tried and true methods to follow including:   Schedule routine vet appointments - Pet wellness visits are vital in keeping your pet healthy and can be great for early detection of not only parasites but many other dog health concerns.    Keep a consistent parasite prevention schedule - When it comes to fleas, ticks, and worms, it’s important to implement year-round care and parasite prevention treatments that are appropriate for your area.    Help with your dog’s hygiene - It’s always important to clean up feces after your dog promptly to prevent contamination, and, you may also want to keep an eye on what they’re eating while you’re out walking or at the dog park — it’s not uncommon for them to get into other dog’s feces or contaminated water.     Now that we understand what parasites are, how they’re contracted, and how they’re treated, let’s review the most common types of both internal and external parasites in dogs.   

Heartworms

Heartworms cause heartworm disease in dogs which can greatly impact the health of your dog. Heartworm is a roundworm parasite that nestles in the blood vessels in the heart and lung tissue and is transmitted by mosquitoes. And while heartworm is seen in just about every state, it’s most widely seen in Southern states.    Once a dog is diagnosed with heartworm, they will need consistent heartworm treatments over several months to ensure the parasite is killed. At this time, it’s important that your dog takes it easy and gets a lot of rest. If your dog doesn’t take it easy there can be complications due to the medication and dying worms.    The good news for your canine companion is that heartworm is easy to prevent with a variety of preventative medications that need to be given every month.       

Fleas

Fleas are not only annoying to your dog as they create itchy and irritated skin that leaves your dog miserable, but they can be difficult to treat because of their life-cycle — you may think you’ve killed them all, yet there was a tiny larva burrowed deep and now the flea infestation can begin once again!    Not only do fleas feed on your dog’s blood, but they can cause an allergy dermatitis that promotes skin infections and extremely itchy skin.    To make matters worse, if your dog is busy itching their skin and consumes a flea, this also subjects them to tapeworm because fleas tend to carry tapeworm eggs.    

Ticks

Ticks are an insidious pest because they can attach themselves to both dogs and humans and cause health issues in both including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And while humans can protect themselves with sprays and clothing, dogs rely on their owners to help keep them safe.  

Tapeworms

Tapeworms live in the intestines and have a flat-shaped appearance. As we mentioned above, dogs typically contract them through eating fleas (fleas carry their eggs), but dogs can also get them through consuming raw meat.    The dog butt scoot can be a tell-tale sign of tapeworms because tapeworms typically cause anal irritations as worms are shedding. Excessive licking in that area can also indicate tapeworm.    While tapeworms don’t cause serious disease, they can cause an intestinal blockage and starve your dog of vital nutrients affecting how they absorb essential nutrients. 

Giardia

  Giardia causes intestinal issues in dogs from a microscopic protozoan parasite. And while there are several types of giardia, dogs are most commonly susceptible to C and D.  Typical symptoms of giardia in humans are diarrhea and vomiting, however, dogs don’t generally show the same symptoms. Giardia may cause weight loss some bouts of diarrhea, and fatty stool. 

How do dogs get giardia?

Dogs contract giardia through ingesting the parasite in the cyst stage of life, where it will then transform into a trophozoite and begin attaching to the intestinal wall to feed.  The parasite is typically passed in the stool anywhere from 5 to 12 days.   

Keep your dog parasite-free!

  In most cases, canine parasites can be easily prevented and treated with no serious side effects. It is, on the other hand, crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of common parasites such as heartworms, fleas, ticks, and tapeworms.   

To diagnose or get more information on parasites, connect with us at our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!  

             

Heartworm FAQ

Stay ahead of heartworm disease and protect your dog!

Heartworm disease is a preventable canine disease, but the prevention treatment needs to be given on a consistent schedule to remain effective. It’s important to know more about heartworm disease to keep your dog protected and healthy. At The Vet Set, we provide both heartworm preventative treatments and heartworm medication. Learn more about heartworm in today’s post where we address frequently asked questions.

Heartworm FAQ

Heartworms are parasites that dogs contract from mosquitoes that can be potentially fatal if dogs haven’t undergone preventative heartworm measures. Heartworms live in the heart and lungs of dogs and are long worms that weave themselves in and out of blood vessels. Let’s examine heartworms in more detail below.

Can heartworms be transmitted and contracted through other dogs or animals?

Heartworms can’t be transmitted or contracted through other dogs or animals and require a bite from an infected mosquito, so even a feeding puppy will not typically be able to contract heartworm. There is an instance where baby heartworms called microfilaria are able to pass through the nursing mother’s milk and into the bloodstream of the puppies. The good news is, the worms cannot develop into mature heartworms and are typically mitigated when puppies receive their first heartworm treatment.

How do infected mosquitoes spread heartworms?     

The lifecycle of the heartworm begins with an infected mosquito. Heartworms tend to thrive in dead and decaying animals and circulate in their blood. If a mosquito bites an infected animal it contracts the microfilaria and in the mosquito, the baby worms are able to mature into heartworms in 10 to 14 days. Then as the mosquito bites another animal, the infected heartworm is able to be transmitted. Once the mature heartworm is in the new host, it takes about six months for the heartworm to become a full, mature worm that can live up to five to seven years in your dog. Because every year brings a new mosquito season, your dog is extremely susceptible to heartworms.

What are the common risk factors for heartworm?

While heartworms are found in every state, there are areas where dogs are at greater risk, widely seen in Southern states such as Texas and Louisiana. Because heartworm is found nationwide, it’s difficult to predict and pin down specific risk factors beyond region. Heartworm is also far-reaching because as neglected and stray dogs, as well as other animals such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes, become carriers of heartworm and mosquitoes continue to feed on the infected, heartworm continues to spread to more regions that were once uninfected. For example, with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, many of the pets were adopted out to families in different states. Countless animals were infected with heartworm which increased the breadth of the parasite.

Why is heartworm testing important?

Heartworm testing for your dog is imperative — not only can it be a fatal disease but it often goes undetected because there aren’t too many abrupt signs or symptoms. To better prevent heartworm disease in your dog, get them tested for heartworm disease at the vet every year.

At what age should dogs begin to be tested for heartworms?

Dogs should be tested every year for heartworms as a part of their routine care and pet wellness checkup. Puppies 7 months and under - Because it takes at least six months for a dog to test positive for heartworms, they can begin to be tested right around six months. Mature dogs over 7 months - If your dog hasn’t previously been tested and are not on preventative heartworm medication, they too need to be tested at six months (if still a puppy) and then every year following.

Why do dogs need to be tested every year when they’re on heartworm prevention treatments?

To ensure that your dog is healthy, it’s still very important to get them tested for heartworm disease even if they are on a heartworm regimen. Not only does it confirm that the prevention is working, but there are cases in which dogs can still be infected from heartworms even when they’re on the medication. Many times the medication can be skipped over a month or given late, which leaves your dog susceptible.

What happens if my dog tests positive for heartworms?

Although heartworm disease is concerning and serious for your dog’s health, it’s still a very treatable disease. Restrict your dog’s activity - This may be extremely difficult to do if you have an active dog or a pack that never slows down! Because heartworm disease impacts the heart and lungs, increased physical exertion can cause additional damage to these organs. So, the more severe the case is the more rest and limited activity your dog should have. Treat secondary health issues first - If your dog has a severe case of heartworm disease they may present with secondary health concerns such as dehydration or anemia. It’s important to treat these first and then begin the recommended heartworm treatment from your vet. Start the treatment - Once your dog is stable enough, the heartworm treatment can be administered. Your vet will develop a heartworm treatment specific for your dog that is typically a multi-step process. When dogs with mild signs of heartworm are given treatment and have limited activity, the treatment is quite successful. However, the more severe case of heartworm disease, the greater the risk for complications. Follow-up testing - After roughly six months of heartworm treatment, it’s important to re-test your dog and confirm that the heartworms have been eliminated.

Prevent heartworm disease today!

Heartworm disease is a significant health condition for dogs if left untreated, so it’s vital to know, understand, and prevent heartworms in your dog. The American Heartworm Society invites you to Think 12:
  • Ensure your pets are tested every 12 months
  • Administer preventative heartworm medication 12 times a year
To keep your dog healthy, heartworm prevention is the standard, so get them on a monthly regimen.

For more information on heartworm disease or to get your dog tested, reach out to our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!

What Is Kennel Cough?

Protect your dog from kennel cough as they go out and socialize with other dogs!

Being with other dogs is important for the development and socialization of your dog, and there are some health issues to be aware of when they congregate in shared spaces — doggy daycare, dog parks, etc — including kennel cough.  Are you familiar with kennel cough? The Vet Set sure is, and much as we love to see dogs be dogs and play with each other, it’s important to know about kennel cough so you can better keep them healthy. Learn all about kennel cough in today’s post. 

What You Need To Know About Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis and is a highly infectious respiratory condition in dogs. This is no solo health condition that dogs contract, as it thrives in areas where large groups of dogs are — dog boarding, doggy daycare, dog training, dog shows, etc. — and is easily spread. 

How does kennel cough spread?

Kennel cough can spread through direct dog-to-dog contact (touching noses), through the air, and contaminated areas such as water and food bowls and even sharing toys. While it is treatable, it can be an issue for puppies and older dogs, and those dogs with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

Kennel cough has observable symptoms that present in the following ways:
  • A cough with a “honking” sound associated with it.
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
If your dog has any combination of the above symptoms, it’s important to connect with your local vet.  As we’ve mentioned, kennel cough is a very treatable condition, but it’s important to talk about the cough with your vet because the cough could be something more serious such as canine influenza or canine distemper virus, both which start out identical to kennel cough. Other health issues to keep an eye out for are bronchitis, asthma, collapsing trachea, and sometimes even heart disease. 

How do you treat kennel cough?

Mild cases of kennel cough can be treated with rest over a week or two. In some cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection or cough medication to help manage and ease the symptoms. It’s also important to keep your dog quarantined from others to prevent it from spreading.

How long does kennel cough last?

Kennel cough generally lasts for roughly three to four weeks, but if you have a puppy, older dog, or a dog with a compromised immune system, it may take them six weeks or longer to completely recover.  How long kennel cough lasts will always depend on the dog, but a general timeframe is anywhere between three to six weeks. 

Can kennel cough be prevented?

There is a vaccine known as bordetella bacterium that can be given to dogs to help prevent kennel cough for dogs who are exposed to large groups of dogs regularly. This canine vaccine can be given orally, intranasally, or injected typically two to four weeks apart, in addition to a booster every six months to a year.   One important thing to note is that the most common strain of kennel cough is bordetella, however, there are others such as bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus, and mycoplasmas that may not prevent your dog from catching the disease.  It’s also important to disinfect your dog’s area, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. This includes washing and disinfecting dog bowls, kennels, dog toys, tables, and areas where your dog hangs out. Even washing blankets throughout the house that they sleep on is not going too far!  If you have a home air purifier this is a great time to use it! Place it by your dog’s area or in a common place where they tend to be. The bacteria from kennel cough can last quite a long time on particulates, so if you can alleviate that, it can help prevent the spread of kennel cough. 

Pro Tips For Kennel Cough

  • Walk your dog using a harness instead of a collar to better prevent irritation and make the cough worse.
  • Use a humidifier in your dog’s area to help calm their cough.   
  • Keep your dog away from smoke and inside on low-quality air days.
  • Create a calming environment where your dog can relax and recover. 
Kennel cough is common among dogs who congregate in large groups and is most commonly observed in dog boarding facilities, doggy daycare, and dog parks. While it’s treatable, both younger and older dogs may have a harder time recovering and may need additional downtime to completely get over it.  If your dog spends a lot of time with other dogs there is a kennel cough vaccine that is preventative. To further prevent the spread of kennel cough, it’s imperative that the facility your dog goes to is clean and takes steps to wash and disinfect regularly. 

For more information on how our Carroll Gardens vet clinic can help you combat kennel cough, call us today!

 

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! 

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

A dog exam is a great checkup to ensure your dog is happy and healthy!

  As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to meet the needs of your dog, including their health and wellness. The thing with animals is, they’re loyal and they love you, and even when they’re sick or injured they would never let you know. But, you know your dog best and you’ll likely know when something is up.    This is why an annual dog exam at your local vet is vital!   At The Vet Set in Carroll Gardens, we love seeing your pooch, especially when it’s for a preventative physical exam! Learn more about what to expect at your next dog exam!

A Dog’s Physical Examination

  Most dogs don’t like going to the vet — they won’t get out of the car and they’ll cuddle up extra close in the waiting room — they know. This is why wellness exams are important — not only does it teach your dog that not every visit to the vet is scary, but it is also an amazing preventative tool in their health. Let’s dive into what a typical dog exam will look like below.  

What is a wellness exam?

  A wellness dog exam is a routine physical examination of your dog when they’re healthy. This checkup ensures that they’re happy and healthy and helps with the maintenance of their wellness.   

How often is a wellness dog exam needed?

  How often we see your dog is dependent on a couple of factors such as their age and current health status. If you have a puppy on your hands, a checkup is recommended on a monthly basis, and in older dogs, it can range anywhere from once to twice a year or more.    We know that the lifespan of a dog is different than humans and they age faster — a lot can progress in one year of a dog’s life which means they may need more care than just one vet visit a year.    It’s important to connect with your local vet and discuss when and how many wellness exams they recommend for your dog.    And now, let’s get into what happens at a wellness exam.   

What does the vet check in a dog exam?

  During your routine checkup, your vet will ask you a series of questions about your dog including:  
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Thirst
  • Behavior
  • Habits
  • Bowel movements 
  • Breathing
  This is also a great time to bring up any questions or concerns about your dog’s lifestyle or health status.   After they get a good picture of your dog’s health on paper, they will perform a physical exam. Based on both the questions and physical examination of your dog, the vet will make recommendations for specific preventative medicine treatments such as vaccines, parasites, coat care, nutrition, dental care, and weight management. If there are any other major concerns they have, they’ll also discuss this with you at this time.    Your dog’s health is a priority and because our pets can’t communicate with us it’s up to us to keep them happy and healthy, which is why wellness exams should be a part of your dog’s care! Not only will your dog learn that going to the vet isn’t always a bad thing, but it improves early detection of disease and illness to improve your dog’s outcome.     We’re getting a better picture of why a wellness dog exam is needed and what the vet checks for. There are many more things we’d like to cover to help you understand the importance of a wellness checkup, so stay tuned for part two!  

To schedule your wellness dog exam, connect with our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!

     

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