Pet First Animal Hospital

2212 53 Avenue East
Bradenton, FL 34203


Welcome to our blog!  Here you can view helpful veterinary care, tips, and veterinary information.  Updated monthly!

Heartworm Prevention:  Is Your Dog Protected (every month, for life)? - 08/31/2017

Heartworm, (Dirofilaria immitis), is a parasitic roundworm that is spread to dogs through mosquito bites. Heartworms cause heart disease and if neglected, will most likely cause infected dogs to die.

Here is the basic life cycle of heartworms: they start in an infected mosquito which bites a healthy dog, then the heartworms mature and cause detrimental heart diseases for the dog they’ve infected. The infected mosquito will repeat this process over and over, resulting in many infected dogs.

There are several warning signs and symptoms that your dog might display to indicate that he may have been infected by heartworm such as coughing, lethargy, becoming skinny, labored or trouble breathing, and in some cases your dog may collapse.  These symptoms are all extremely necessary reasons to take your dog to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.  Doing so will ensure that your dog gets the necessary testing and bloodwork done to rule out or diagnose heartworm.  

Heartworm is extremely difficult to treat and many times leads to death regardless of treatment.  However, it’s not a complete death sentence.  It’s always best to prevent it rather than hope for the best.  Prevention is also easy and much more cost efficient than treatment.   At Pet First Animal Hospital, we sell several heartworm prevention medicines such as Heartgard™ and Trifexis™.  Both of these medicines are given to your dog orally once per month for the life of your pet, starting at around six to eight weeks old.  Your veterinarian will let you know when the appropriate time to start prevention for your puppy.  If you have an older dog who has never taken a heartworm prevention medication, it’s the best recommended standard of veterinary care to test the dog for heartworm prior to starting medication.  Please give us a call at (941) 753-2995 to schedule an appointment with John E. Taylor, DVM to figure out the best plan of care for your dog and his prevention of heartworm.

There are numerous heartworm prevention medications on the market such as These medications are in tablet form and are given to the dog orally. A tablet must be given once a month for an indefinite amount of time. If you have a new puppy then heartworm medication is given around 6 weeks for Heartgard™ or 8 weeks for Trifexis™. Older dogs should be tested for heartworm before starting medication. To top it all off, both Heartgard™ and Trifexis™ can be picked up here at Pet First Animal Hospital!  Please call us (941) 753-2995 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Taylor to figure out the best plan of action to ensure that you have a heart healthy dog.


How to Catch a Urine Sample From Your Dog - 08/05/2017

How to Catch a Urine Sample From Your Dog

Hurricane Preparedness for Dogs and Cats - 07/31/2017

Hurricane season has arrived!  As most of us Floridians know, the season begins in June and lasts through November, and it never hurts to have a plan to prepare yourself for when disaster strikes.  Most people think of themselves and their families, but remember, your pets are family too, and whatever your plan is, make sure it includes your pets.   If your “plan” is just to throw everyone in the car and heading away from the storm, we hate to break it to you but you’re going to need to do a little more planning.  You need to have a solid plan that you’ll stick to because your pets’ lives could potentially be in danger and if you have to flee your home, you’ll definitely want to have everything you need for them.

First and foremost, devise a plan that you intend on sticking to.  If your plan includes evacuating at the first warning, do so.  You will need to make sure that you are able to begin implementing your plan at the drop of a hat, otherwise it is no longer a plan…and in a frantic state, you could end up panicking and get completely off track and end up not having a plan anymore.  

Make sure that you have a kit for your cats and dogs that includes the necessities, and have enough in your kit to last your pets about 3 to 5 days.  Your kit should include a carrier large enough for your pet to spend the majority of their time in for 3 to 5 days, leashes for all of your pets, collars with ID tags (luggage tags will be ok if that’s all you have), canned pet food, a can opener, water and food bowls, litter, litter box, plastic bags, puppy pads, blankets, medications, vaccination history, and a picture of you with your pet.  It is advised to put the medications, vaccination history and the picture in a waterproof case.

John E. Taylor, DVM at Pet First Animal Hospital highly recommends that you microchip your pets.  This is extremely beneficial when hurricanes strike because so many pets become displaced during these severe storms and sometimes a microchip is the only way to become reunited with your pet if you become separated.  If you need to schedule an appointment to have your dog or cat get microchipped, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (941) 753-2995.  

You should also be aware of, and have a list of all of the shelters and hotels around town that are pet friendly.  Call ahead to see if there will be space available, and have a backup plan if there is no room.  Pet First Animal Hospital does offer boarding during hurricanes; however, we do fill up very quickly so it is best to call ahead and make a reservation as soon as possible if you know a hurricane is approaching.  Our staff will tend to your pet on a regular basis as long as weather conditions are safe enough to drive to and from Pet First.  Our kennels are inside with air conditioning and are very secure.  

Before the storm hits, round up all of your pets and put them in their carriers so that if a mandatory evacuation order is issued, you will be prepared to leave quickly.  The last thing you want to do is be forced to search all over your house for your scared cats when you’re trying to leave.  Remain calm during all of this.  Your pets can sense your emotions, so if you become frantic they will probably start feeling the same and it will only make things more difficult.  

If you have any questions, please give us a call and we will be happy to address any of your concerns.  

The 411 on Fleas - 06/29/2017

Fleas are tiny non-flying parasites that do not physically enter the body.  Fleas survive by living off of the blood of their mammal and bird hosts.  Fleas tend to be more prominent during the summer because they like warm temperatures and high humidity.  It’s easy to spot a flea by their brown, tiny bodies, and they can jump surprisingly far due to their tiny, yet powerful back legs.  

The thing is, once you find one flea either on your pet or in your home, you probably already have an infestation.  As if that’s not bad enough, your pet is already suffering because they get so itchy from their bites.  If your pet is allergic or exceedingly hypersensitive to their bites, the itchiness can be very harsh and can result in medical problems such as alopecia, irritation and tenderness, and secondary skin conditions.  In acute cases, your four legged friend could also be immune sensitive to the flea saliva and have itchiness all over the body from just one tiny bite.

There are also flea baths available as an alternative, but they aren’t right for every pet.  If you are thinking about a flea bath, consider how they are done first.  Your pet will need to be able to endure being soaking wet, soapy and sudsy for ten minutes, because that is how long it takes for the shampoo to do its job of killing the fleas.  After a bath, you’ll need a flea comb to actually remove the dead fleas after killing them.

Killing the fleas on your pet is only half the battle.  And remember, if you have multiple pets, it’s very likely they are all infested since fleas do have those powerful hind legs to help them jump long distances from pet to pet.  You will also need to treat your home, inside and out!

To treat the inside of your home, you’ll need to wash all bedding in hot soapy water, all carpet should be vacuumed (and if your vacuum has a vacuum bag, make sure to throw it away!).  Next you’ll need to steam clean your carpets.  All of this sounds fun and inexpensive, right?!

After steam cleaning, you should probably fog the inside to make sure to kill all of the potential remaining fleas.  After all, you don’t want to risk a new infestation.  Since your dog and some cats go outside, you will also need to spray chemicals specifically targeted for fleas in your yard as well.

When you come in for an appointment to see Dr. Taylor for your pet’s flea problems, he will give you some guidance on the best ways to tackle the problem and you’ll be able to leave with some flea treatments to get started on eliminating the fleas right away.

Fleas are annoying and persistent.  There is no instantaneous way to get rid of them either.  The good news is, there are pills and topical chemical treatments that are available that work fast and are sold right here at Pet First Animal Hospital.  John Taylor, DVM highly recommends these to kill fleas on your pets.  To find out which pill or topical treatment is best for your pet, schedule an appointment right away with Dr. Taylor to start getting rid of those pesky fleas immediately.

The moral of the story here is, if you just give your pet a flea treatment either orally or topically once per month, on time, you won’t have to worry about infestations.  It’s better to prevent an infestation than to try and get rid of one. To find out more information and to schedule an appointment with John Taylor, DVM at Pet First Animal Hospital, please contact us at (941) 753-2995 or by email at

Tips on Introducing a New Cat to a Home with a Current Cat - 05/30/2017

So you’ve made the decision to adopt or foster another cat.  First off, how exciting and congratulations!  Before you actually bring the new cat home, there are some useful tips that you should consider trying to make the process as smooth as possible for your new cat and your current cat.  Cats are naturally territorial animals, so more than likely they will not particularly like each other’s company at first. This is to be expected, but don’t let it discourage you from adopting another cat. All you need is persistence, patience, and supervision.  With that being said, here are some tips to help you get through the process of introducing a new cat to a home with a current cat:

·         On the first day, you should already have a small room such as a bathroom or office set up for your new cat.  Your new cat will spend about a week or so in the bathroom and excluded from the rest of the house and your current cat.  This is so that your new cat can become comfortable with his or her new house, and also so that both cats can become familiar with each other’s smells.  In the small room that you have set up for your new cat, you’ll need the essentials (a litter box, food, and water), along with a bed or soft blanket, perhaps a scratching post, and several toys.  Spend as much time as you can with your new cat…but don’t forget about your current cat. Make sure you spend time with your current cat so that he or she knows you still care!

·         After several days to a week have passed, you can put each cat’s food bowls near (but not up against) the door where the new cat is temporarily housed.  This way, the cats can both do something they enjoy (eating!) with each other’s smell close by.  Try this for a few days, and gradually move the food bowls very close to either side of the door.

·         Another great method to try would be to tie a toy to both ends of a string and allow the cats to play with the toy on either side of the door.  This is another pleasurable experience that they can do together, even if there is a door separating them.

·         After this seems to be going well, go ahead and let your new cat roam the main parts of the house (living room, kitchen, dining room) while your current cat stays in the small room you had separated for your new cat.  Again, this will help with each cat being able to become better acclimated to each other’s scent.  You can do this a couple of times per day for a few days.  

·         Once this seems to be going well, go ahead and introduce the cats in the same room.  It is advised to do this introduction in a larger room of the house, and at opposite ends of the room.  You should expect some hissing.  If either cat shows any signs of aggression such as flat ears, spitting, or attacking, do something to “break up the fight”, but…and this is VERY important…you do not want to personally break up any cat fight or interact with a cat that is showing signs of aggression because you will more than likely get bit or scratched! If the cats do end up showing signs of aggression, go ahead and throw a soft pillow next to them or clap your hands loudly to startle them off and separate themselves from each other.   Just keep trying this technique of introducing them to each other in the large room until things are going smoothly.

·         Make sure that each cat has their own litter box, and if you have room for an additional litter box, that would be ideal. Also make sure that each cat has their own food bowl.  

Your cats may never fully like each other, but they can learn to tolerate each other’s presence and accept the fact that they have to live together.  However, many cats do end up liking each other and you’ll be pleasantly surprised one day to find them curled up next to each other on the couch!  If you have any questions or concerns and feel as if the cats really aren’t acclimating to each other as well as they should, you should bring your cats in to see Dr. Taylor at Pet First Animal Hospital to rule out any medical conditions and discuss any alternative ways to help this process go smoother for you and your cats.  

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