AAHA-Accredited Animal Hospital: Why Is It Important for Your Pet?

Hampton Veterinary Hospital veterinarian holding dog patient

Pets are part of our families, and we want the best for them. But with so many pet veterinary clinics available, how can you know what’s best regarding your pet’s medical care?

If you’re considering a new veterinarian for your pet, it’s important to know what AAHA-accredited hospitals have to offer.

What Is the AAHA?

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Precautions for Winter Safety for Dogs

Yorkshire terrier in the snow wearing coat and doggie booties.

There’s nothing like a New England winter to make you long for the warm weather. There is also nothing quite as beautiful. Hampton Veterinary Hospital hopes that you are enjoying the season with your pets. Read on for our best tips for winter safety for dogs. 

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The Healthiest Dog Food for Hungry Pups

Mini yorkshire terrier with a bowl of food.

There’s no question that dogs are incredibly motivated by food. They love to eat! But sometimes the food in their bowl can actually go against their greater health. When issues begin to occur, it can seem like an impossible challenge to land on the right food for your pup. With aisles full of options, and possible digestive reactions to common ingredients, the quest for the healthiest dog food is not without guesswork. Have no fear–we’re here to help!

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Good and Bad Cat Vocalizations You Should Know About

Tabby cat sitting a polished wood floor meowing.

Do you speak fluent cat? Can you tell when he or she is scolding you for failing to clean the litter box? Or when gracing your arrival home?

From chirping and purring to cat yowling and hissing, the felines have an extensive vocal repertoire. Research shows that cats make eight common sounds, but each cat has a different level of communication. Some barely make a peep while others can’t let you get a word in edgewise.  

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The Numerous Benefits of Daily Dog Walking

Happy couple walking a dog through autumn leaves trail.

The opportunity to go outside is priority number one for most dogs, but their motivation goes beyond simply meeting their bathroom needs. Similarly, moving their body has advantages that surpass basic exercise. Walking with your dog is arguably one of the best activities, and it’s because of the synergy between all of these elements. Dog walking combines several life-affirming qualities, and dogs aren’t the only ones benefiting from the ritual.

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Dangers of an Overweight Pet

An overweight cat standing near a scale.

Although they might look adorable when they have a little extra floof, obesity in dogs and cats can lead to a lot of health problems. The team at Hampton Veterinary Hospital wants to help you keep your pets as healthy as possible, which is why we think it’s important to understand the dangers of obesity in pets.

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Warning Signs Your Cat Is In Pain

A cat in pain.

Cats are notorious for their independence. Strange cat behaviors are commonplace in any feline-friendly home, so it can be difficult to determine when your cat is acting differently because he or she is in pain. Your friends at Hampton Veterinary Hospital are serious about feline health, and we want to help you determine when your kitty might need a little veterinary help. Keep reading to learn about some of the top warning signs your cat is in pain.

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5 Signs Your Dog Is Happy (And Healthy)

Happy golden retriever licking its owner's face.

One of the things we love the most about our clients is the extreme love they have for their furry family members. As a dog owner, it can be hard to tell if your dog is feeling his best both physically and emotionally without the help of verbal communication. Your friends at Hampton Veterinary Hospital have compiled this list of signs of a healthy dog to help you determine whether or not it’s time for a veterinary visit:

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Itchy Pet Awareness

Itchy dog

August is officially Itchy Pet Awareness Month. How has your pet been feeling this allergy season? Itching (or Pruritus) is an incredibly common symptom in our companion animals. It can be seasonal or non-seasonal, and can manifest in a number of ways:

  • Scratching
  • Chewing, licking, biting at skin
  • Rubbing on floor
  • Hair loss
  • Body or ear odor
  • Irritability
  • Secondary rashes/sores/redness on the skin

My Pet is Itchy… Now What?

If your pet is exhibiting any of these “itchy” behaviors or symptoms, it is important to call to schedule an examination with your veterinarian. The exam can show us many things – secondary infections on the skin, presence of parasites (fleas, etc), localization of itching/lesions (which can direct us towards certain diagnoses), etc. Sometimes, further diagnostics are needed to diagnose infection and/or parasites – such as skin cytology (collecting superficial swabs of the skin to look for bacterial or yeast infections), skin scraping (collecting deeper samples of skin to evaluate for skin mites), etc.

So Why is My Pet Itchy?

Sometimes, itching can be solely related to infection or parasites on the skin, though there is typically an underlying allergy of some kind. The most common allergies in animals include ENVIRONMENTAL or FOOD allergies.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies are the most common that we see in pets. It involves an immune response/allergy to pollens, grasses, weeds, trees, storage or dust mites, fleas, etc. Most pets that have environmental allergies have a combination of allergens that play a role in their itchiness.  

Food Allergies

Food allergy is MUCH LESS common than environmental allergies, but we do still see them in our companion animals. The more common food allergen is CHICKEN; less commonly beef or dairy. ***NOTE: Grains are NOT an allergen in our companion pets, and grain-free diets have actually been recently linked to cardiac disease.***

Skin allergies can get in the way of our pets’ daily activities, happiness, and the bond and relationship they have with their owners and surroundings. It is important to monitor for the symptoms listed above, and report them to your veterinarian; discussion, history, and examination can help to establish a diagnostic plan and obtain a diagnosis, as well as determine the best treatment option(s) for your pet.

How Can I Make My Pet Less Itchy?

Treatment options are tailored to your pet’s specific symptoms and diagnosis, but may include:

  1. A food trial to eliminate all food allergens from your pet’s system. This can be both diagnostic (to evaluate for specific food allergens) and therapeutic (to eliminate those allergens that are triggering an itch response). There are unfortunately no successful blood tests for food allergies at this time.
  2. Environmental allergy testing to create allergy VACCINES, to desensitize the body to allergens. Allergy testing is most effective when intradermal SKIN testing is performed by a Veterinary Dermatologist. Though we do have BLOOD tests that can be helpful, as well.
  3. Antibiotic or antifungal medications (oral and/or topical) are often needed to treat secondary infections that occur from self-trauma and itching.
  4. Anti-allergy/anti-itch medications are often used to give immediate relief for allergic itch. There are two medications that we typically reach for, that effectively target allergy molecules/pathways in the body:
    • Apoquel (oclacitinib) – this is a daily oral tablet that can be used in animals 12 months or older.
    • Cytopoint – this is an injectable medication that lasts for 4-8 weeks and can be used in DOGS of any age.

If you believe your pet suffers from itching, infection(s) and/or allergies – please do not hesitate to reach out so we can start making your furry friend more comfortable!

So You Got a New Pet

A cat rubbing up against a dog


So you got a new pet… CONGRATULATIONS!!  There are very few things in life as exciting as bringing a new pet into your home.  Having a plan as to how you will care for and train your new pet is important.  Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

Every Pet is Different

If you have had a pet (or even many pets) in the past, realize that every pet is different and unique. What may have worked for your previous pet may not work for your new pet.

A Space of Their Own

Before your new pet is brought into your home, make sure you have a plan on where they will be allowed in the home.  Designate the space where they will be kept when you are away from home and where they will sleep.  Crate training is ideal to assist in house-training, to help keep them from being destructive, and reduce the likelihood they may eat something inappropriate. Puppy play-pens also work in certain situations to keep them confined and out of trouble.

Puppy/Kitten-Proof You Home

Make sure to puppy/kitty-proof your home.  All human family members should be aware of the importance of putting away items that your new pet may destroy or eat — all toys, shoes, etc, should be picked up regularly. Specifically for kitties, ensure that no string or ribbon is left out to potentially ingest.  Check the ASPCA website to ensure your home is free of poisonous plants.  Non-poisonous plants should still be placed out of reach, either in a closed room or hung in a planter.

Practice Patience

Practice patience.  This is especially important when house training your new pet.  While some puppies are quick to learn that going outdoors to ‘do their business’ is the desired behavior, others can take more time than we expect.  Also, if your new pet destroys anything in your home, remember to not place blame on them, and instead focus on redirection and rewarding good behaviors.

Litter Box Etiquette 

Cats like their litter boxes clean and tidy.  Make sure to scoop litter at least once daily.  Also, the general recommendation is to have one litter box per kitty, plus one additional. There is nothing worse than your cat deciding that there is a better place to do their business — appropriate litter box management is so important!

Positivity is Key

Keep a positive attitude and tone of voice.  Pets, just like people, key in on these things.  If you keep an upbeat voice and provide positive reinforcement (praise, small treats, or both) when training your new pet, they will adapt and learn more quickly. Young puppies need to go outside to urinate & defecate very frequently, regardless of the weather.  If they have accidents in your house, please realize that they are still learning, and that we may need to adjust our routine and how frequently we are taking them outside.

Outdoor Time

When taking your new dog outdoors, make sure to walk them on a leash. Once they are older and well-trained, you may be able to allow them more freedom in yard with a fence or electric fence.

Training Your New Pet

Although you may have trained pets in the past, it is important to realize that each pet is different, and can teach us something new about pet ownership.  Hampton Veterinary Hospital recommends that dog owners take every new dog they bring into their family for basic obedience training with a professional trainer.  Remember that over 50% of the training is for us to become better pet parents!  The ideal time to start training is around 12 weeks of age, so be sure to call to schedule a training session with a reputable training organization ASAP.  

Veterinary Care

Hampton Veterinary Hospital recommends that new pet parents schedule initial examinations with one of our doctors within the first 10 days of a pet joining your family.  We schedule longer initial visits to fully examine your pet and screen for any medical issues. A fecal sample will be submitted to screen for gastrointestinal parasites (some of which can be transmitted to human family members) and your pet will be started on heartworm and flea & tick preventatives. We will also discuss and begin an appropriate vaccination schedule, review home pet care, and answer any questions you may have about your new, 4-legged family member.

Have Fun!

HAVE FUN!!!  This is the most important, and best part of bringing a new pet into your home!  And remember, we’re here to help with all of your pet care needs so don’t hesitate to contact us!