Heartworm, Fleas, and Ticks – OH MY!

There are two parts to your pets’ annual visit.

First off, there are all the things we take care of in the exam room – physical exam, vaccinations, stool test, heartworm test, and sometimes annual blood work. Then you have to consider all of the monthly preventatives you are advised to go home with.

If your pet needs grooming, special food, or has a chronic condition you surely have a cell dedicated to them on your monthly budgeting spreadsheet. It is not cheap to maintain the health and wellbeing of a pet, no matter what age, breed, or size.

With that said, the monthly preventatives recommended at their annual visit are often overlooked, as this expense can seem excessive after an often hectic trip to the vet. However as the days get warmer, there are three major cringe-worthy threats that make the preventatives worth reconsidering.


Let’s start with the least conspicuous and potentially most fatal– Heartworm.

Heartworm can be transmitted to your pet by mosquitos. Your pet is especially at risk for getting heartworm when they’re exposed to the ideal environment for mosquitoes – wet, warm, swampy areas. However this does NOT mean that your pet is safe in the winter. The biological function of heartworm prevention along with the fact that mosquitoes can still survive in your house during the winter means that veterinarians recommend year-round prevention without pause.Heartworm

Heartworm, to put it bluntly is, is a disgusting parasite. It takes up residence in your pets’ heart and can grow remarkably if left without treatment. If pet has heartworm and they are given the preventative, parts of this worm can break apart and create a clot elsewhere in your pets’ circulatory system – certainly a scenario that has the potential to be fatal. This fact alone is why heartworm tests are required annually and after lapses in monthly doses.

Fortunately for everyone involved, it is entirely preventable!


Ready to talk about something else? Ok, ok on to fleas.

These little critters can be found anywhere outside. They feast on your pet and can make them incredibly itchy. In some cases, they can even cause your pet to have an allergic reaction, leaving their skin very irritateflead or even infected.

There’s some more bad news about fleas – brace yourself.

So if you were to count all of the fleas on your pet’s body, that is only approximately one tenth of the total fleas in your pets’ immediate environment. So, nine tenths of the infestation isn’t even on your pet – it is hiding in your linens, couch, carpet, and dare I say even your bed! It takes an extensive amount of laundering, vacuuming, and patience to take care of an infested household.


I have one thing to mention as an aside – if you’re thinking to yourself “PHEW good thing my dog is the size of a peanut and only goes outside once in a blue moon”. Yes, your pet definitely has decreased exposure. However, fleas can enter your house on your shoes, through screens, or via any other critters that might come into your household or apartment building.

On to the good news. Fleas are also preventable! We used to recommend Frontline across the board, however today it seems that the fleas are somewhat resistant. The newest, latest, most effective product is called Nexgard. It’s chewable, just like Heartgard, and will kill fleas that try to bite your furry friends. It is worth noting though, that if you already have an infestation you will have to treat your house in addition to your pet!

One other bit of good news – when the winter is coming, all fleas must die. No really, if you live in a place where the temperature drops below freezing then you are in luck. You can get away with just treating your pet seasonally. Definitely don’t forget to restart your monthly preventative in the spring!


Last, but certainly not least. Ticks.

You and your best furry friend are cuddled up after a long day in the wilderness, and as you’re giving him a good pet you realize there is a blood-sucking tick burrowed in his skin. Ticks can transmit a number of different diseases to your pet, including Lyme, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia.

tick-imageThere are many different kinds of ticks found in a variety of places, but your best bet is to ensure your pet is on a monthly tick preventative in the warmer months. If you notice a tick on your pet, you should call up your veterinarian to remove it to ensure that it is done so properly.

Nexgard also has a component that acts as a tick preventative – but you should always check with your local veterinarian to ensure that your pet is  protected against all the most popular ticks in your area!

Thanks for tuning in and feel free to submit any lingering questions you have about these creepy crawlers and their preventatives.

Welcome to the BVC Blog!

Hello all and welcome to Bensonhurst Veterinary Care’s very first blog post.

Here you’ll find posts on all sorts of topics ranging from news and updates about our practice to informational pieces that may be helpful for you and your pet. I hope that this can be used as a resource as well as a place for pet parents to submit any general questions they may have.

If this is the first time you are hearing about us, we became part of the Bensonhurst community in October of 2012. This neighborhood has been very kind to us and we are so thankful to be a part of it. There are three doctors at our practice – Dr. Stephen Zawie is the practice owner and Dr. Joanne Ruggiero and Dr. Renée Porfido are his associates – who take care of both cats and dogs.

We also have marvelous technicians, assistants, and front desk staff who have contributed a great deal to the excellent care offered at BVC.

On that same note, I’d like to use our first blog post to shout out to and commend each and every staff member. Over the past couple of years I have seen so much compassion and hard work, it makes me swell to think that I’m fortunate enough to work alongside these folks. Not every day is all puppies and kittens – some days are nothing short of heart-wrenching. Despite the emotional demands (and often physical, with some of those big dogs!) of working in a veterinary practice, our staff continues to treat each day and each patient with a renewed sense of passion for what they do. You guys are extraordinary!

Another important quality of our staff is their ability to deliver as much pertinent information to our clients as time will allow. Because our patients can’t talk to us, communication between veterinary staff and our clients is a high priority.

Sometimes there are topics that can’t possibly be squeezed into a single appointment, so I hope to expand on some of them here. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about some seasonal topics – Heartworm, Fleas & Ticks, and traveling with your cats and pups. If there are any topics that you would like more information on, please feel free to send us a note and we’ll get some expert opinions on the subject.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read about us, and please stay tuned!


— Post made by Kirsten Weisbeck on 06/12/2015


Here’s what you need to know about Trupanion. It works in the way described on our Pet Health Insurance page, but there are a few more important details worth knowing before signing up.


Is Trupanion right for you?

 -If your pet is young and healthy with few or no pre-existing conditions, the answer is easy – YES.

 -If your pet has pre-existing conditions and isn’t exactly a spring chicken, consult your Dr. They will be able to help you weigh out the pros and cons to make the best choice for you your pet.

Choosing A Deductible

If you choose a high deductible, your monthly payments will be on the low side and conversely if you choose a low deductible, your monthly payments will be higher.

We recommend the ZERO deductible option. You have to meet your deductible PER CONDITION in order to be reimbursed for any services or medications. If your deductible is zero, the math is easy – you’re reimbursed 90% of all expenses excluding pre-existing conditions and the office visit.

If your #1 priority is just being covered for the “big stuff”, you could choose a higher deductible and pay a lower monthly fee. This works out better for some folks, just keep in mind that you have to meet your deductible for each individual issue your pet has before being reimbursed.

Oh yeah, and there is NO PAYOUT LIMIT! This is something that sets Trupanion apart from other pet health insurance companies – if your pet is having a rough time and racking up veterinary bills, you won’t be cut off when you need coverage the most.

Trupanion Express


Once your pet is enrolled in Trupanion, you will be able to utilize Trupanion Express. Bensonhurst Veterinary Care is the ONLY hospital in Brooklyn to have Trupanion Express. This means that you will only have to pay the amount due at the time of your appointment (like a co-pay) and Trupanion will cover the rest – no waiting for them to reimburse you with a check!


Find out what your monthly payment would be:


 1. Click the following link:

Trupanion medical insurance for your pet

2. Enter in your information where it says “PET HEALTH INSURANCE QUOTE”


3. Use the sliding deductible tool to see what your monthly payment would be

4. If the number that pops up seems reasonable, come in for a visit and get a free month! After having a check-up with Dr. Zawie or Dr. Ruggiero, we can get your pet signed up for a free month of pet health insurance.



Please do not hesitate to contact us or Trupanion if you have any further questions.

Office Telephone – (718) 676-7001

Trupanion – (888) 615-8318

Pet Health Insurance

Advances in Veterinary Medicine are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the technology we use to treat each animal gets better every day. Better drugs are created, advanced diagnostics are more widely accessible, and veterinary medical research improves the way veterinarians treat their patients. However, with each of these advances that will most definitely prolong the life of your furry friends there is an equally “advanced” cost.

Every diligent pet owner wants to be able to go to any length to care for their pet. Nobody wants to be put in a position where they have to weigh out financial concerns versus possibly life-saving treatment. Unfortunately, that is exactly the position that most pet owners find themselves in when their companion animal gets sick or is involved in an accident.

When first considering pet health insurance it may seem ridiculous – humans have a hard enough time acquiring adequate and affordable health insurance, so why even go there with our pets? Pet health insurance typically won’t cover annual visits, vaccines, and routine procedures.. so what is the point?

Well, here is the breakdown:

Ultimately, the most valuable, cost-effective insurance plans are the “catastrophic” plans. These plans do NOT cover your annual visit, vaccines, blood work, etc. They will NOT cover your spays, neuters, nor routine dental procedures. Now most people will stop reading after they see that the routine stuff isn’t covered but hear us out –  you can still benefit a great deal from pet health insurance even when they are not covering your yearly visit.


Pet insurance kind of works like car insurance. You figure your car insurance doesn’t pay for gas, oil changes, new tires, and so on because those are things that you can budget for. But when you’re in an accident that you couldn’t possibly be prepared for – insurance helps you out. That is exactly how pet health insurance works – they depend on you to budget for your routine visits but they pick up the tab when you’re blind-sided by an ailment or accident. And in this day and age, being blind-sided can be financially crippling and ultimately leave pet owners in heart-wrenching predicaments. Pet health insurance is a surefire way to avoid being put in this position.


With that – pet insurance is not for everyone. If your pet is older with pre-existing conditions, now may not be the time to sign up. If you have a pet that is young with minor or no pre-existing conditions, it is DEFINITELY in both yours and your pet’s best interest to at least crunch the numbers and see if the monthly payment is within your budget. Veterinary expenses are only getting more expensive, and the younger your pet is when you enroll them, the better!


At the end of the day, we have found that it is a win-win situation. Doctors are able to run as many tests as they need to in order to practice the best medicine possible and nobody has to tap into savings to pay for veterinary bills.


For more information on the pet health insurance we most eagerly recommend, click here.


For any further insurance-related inquiries, feel free to send in a contact submission form!

Holiday Safety

Along with enjoying all of the festivities going on this time of year, don’t forget to ensure that your house is a safe place for your animal. Make sure that they don’t have access to any holiday hazards such as wishbones, poinsettias, tinsel, or other small enticing holiday flare! For a complete list, please check out the 101 Things guide from the ASPCA.