Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease (HWD) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs and cats that is spread by over 30 species of mosquitoes. Adult heartworms live in the heart and lung blood vessels of infected animals; one pet can have up to 300 worms! Heartworms live for up to 5-7 years and produce millions of offspring that live in the bloodstream until they develop.

Heartworm disease occurs all over the world, but has been increasing in prevalence in the United States, and spreading further and further across the country. New England has been seeing a significant increase in heartworm disease in the past 3-5 years. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, there were 674 reported cases in New Hampshire alone in 2018.

Signs

The signs of HWD depend on a number of variables, but are typically due to heartworms clogging the heart and major blood vessels. Signs can include:

  • A soft, dry cough.
  • Shortness of breath, exercise intolerance.
  • Weakness, listlessness, loss of stamina, collapse.
  • RARELY – swelling of the legs and belly, weight loss, and some animals may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of HWD is done by a blood test that can be run in the veterinary hospital. Following diagnosis, further testing is recommended (such as bloodwork and x-rays) to determine if the dog can tolerate the appropriate treatment.

Treatment

In dogs, treatment of HWD is complex, expensive, and can be painful – it involves antibiotics (Doxycycline), an injectable arsenic-based compound to kill adult worms, and steroids to help decrease the inflammatory response when the worms begin to die. Strict rest for several months is incredibly important, as exercise and excitement can lead to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening clots. As long as the disease is not significantly advanced, this disease is treatable. However, in more advanced cases, prognosis can be poor due to substantial damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys and liver. Unfortunately, there is no current treatment for cats.

Prevention

Prevention is so important when it comes to heartworm disease, for both dogs and cats. Preventing the disease prevents damage to the heart and lungs, and avoids a painful and expensive treatment process, as well as strict activity restriction. By preventing this disease, you and your pet can enjoy a life of play and adventure without restriction!

Here are a couple of excellent options for preventing heartworm disease that we recommend here at Hampton Veterinary Hospital:

  1. Interceptor PLUS for dogs – a chewable tablet given monthly, year-round.
  2. Proheart Injection for dogs – an injection given here at Hampton Vet, and lasts 6 months.
  3. Revolution PLUS for cats – a monthly topical, applied year-round.

To learn more about heartworm disease, please visit The American Heartworm Society website.

Always remember, we are here to help! If you have any questions or concerns about your pet and heartworm disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Common Pet Toxins

Toxins are often not the first thing on your mind when bringing a pet into your home, but there are many more than you may expect!  It is important to know the common pet toxins that can be present so you can take special care to keep them out of your pet’s reach. If you believe your pet has ingested or come into contact with any of these toxins, or if you are unsure, please contact your veterinarian or nearest emergency clinic immediately! Accurate and timely identification of the suspected toxin is very important— TIP: have the container, package, or label in hand; this can save valuable time!

Common CANINE Toxins

  • Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
  • Vitamins and Minerals (e.g. Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen/Advil, naproxen/Aleve, aspirin, etc.)
  • Cardiac Medications (e.g. Amlodipine/calcium-blockers, Atenolol/beta-blockers, Aspirin and other blood thinners, etc.)
  • Cold/Allergy Medications (e.g. Sudafed/pseudoephedrine/decongestants, phenylephrine)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, etc.)
  • Xylitol (e.g. gum, some peanut butters, etc).
  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
  • Anti-freeze

Common FELINE Toxins

  • Topical spot-on insecticides (be cautious not to use canine products on kitties!)
  • Household Cleaners
  • Antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, etc.)
  • Lilies (EXTREMELY TOXIC – can cause acute kidney failure with just a lick!)
  • NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen/Advil, naproxen/Aleve, aspirin, etc.)
  • Cold and Flu Medication (e.g. TYLENOL!)
  • ADD/ADHD Medications (e.g. Adderall, etc).
  • Mouse and Rat Poison (rodenticides)
  • Anti-freeze
  • String, yarn, sewing needles, (gift) ribbon, hair ties (foreign bodies)

Common FOOD Toxins (Primarily Dogs)

  • Chocolate, coffee
  • Macadamia nuts, walnuts
  • Grapes & raisins
  • Raw yeast bread dough
  • Brewing hops
  • Products containing xylitol (gum, some peanut butters, etc).
  • Onions, garlic (Dogs and Cats)

Don’t hesitate to ask us for a more complete, detailed list of common pet toxins. And remember, we are always here to help! Here is a list of important numbers you may need if your pet comes into contact with a toxin:

Hampton Veterinary Hospital (603) 926-7978

Port City Veterinary Referral Center (603) 433-0056

ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435

Increased Thirst and Urination in Cats

Increased thirst and urination are symptoms of a number of common diseases, especially in cats over 10 years of age.  The medical terms for these symptoms are polyuria (excessive urine production) and polydipsia (excessive thirst).

When a cat presents at Hampton Veterinary Hospital for increased thirst and urination, as always, one of our doctors will perform a thorough physical examination.   Regardless of the cause, many times our feline patients with increased thirst and urination will also present with any combination of the following non-specific symptoms or findings on examination:

  • Weight loss and muscle atrophy
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Change in energy level
  • Heart murmur

The most common diseases we see inolder cats that cause increased thirst and urination are:

These three diseases, as well as a number of less common causes, can easily be tested for by submitting blood and urine samples for a chemistry profile, complete blood count (CBC), thyroid level(s),and urinalysis.  If lab work rules-out these common medical conditions in older cats, then we typically proceed to taking x-rays and/or performing an ultrasound.

Aging, whether it be with ourselves or our four-legged loved ones, can be scary.  It is not uncommon for many people to avoid the doctor because they do not want to learn about medical issues that might shorten lives.  However, each of these diseases listed above can usually be treated to improve quality and length of life in our feline friends.  This is especially true if we screen for such issues and start treatment sooner rather than later.  So, please contact us should you be concerned about an increase in thirst and urination or any other medical issue your pet may be experiencing. 

My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos – Is This Normal?

Dog owners know their pups produce a variety of odors, many of them less-than-pleasant. If you’ve ever noticed a distinct, corn chip-like aroma wafting up from your dog’s paws, you aren’t crazy. Many pet owners report their dog’s paws smell like Fritos, popcorn, tortillas, or other corn-based products – but why?

Here at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, we never shy away from life’s important questions, and we welcome the opportunity to help our readers figure out why their dog’s paws smell like Fritos!

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There’s More to Holiday Pet Safety Than Hiding the Tinsel

The holidays ignite our senses like no other time of the year. We are compelled to shop, bake, create, decorate, and give to our heart’s content. Guess who watches all of our antics and indulgences? Family pets, of course. From hanging Christmas lights and dangling ornaments on the tree, to lighting candles and popping cookies in our mouths, they see everything.

None of this would be significant or frightening if there weren’t any associated hazards, but unfortunately there are. Don’t worry: a keen focus on holiday pet safety usually does the trick.

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Pet Dental Care: Important and Necessary

Pet dental care is vital to overall pet wellness

We all know that dental care for ourselves and our children is important. We brush at least two times a day, floss, and see our dentist twice a year for x-rays and a cleaning. But what would you say if we told you that pet dental care is just as important?

It’s true! Pets need healthy teeth and gums as much as we do, both for oral health and overall general health. If you never brushed or saw a dentist, you begin to get the picture of what skipping this preventive care can do. Regular preventive pet dental care can allow us to catch small problems before they become big, painful, and expensive issues.

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Spooky and Safe: Halloween Costumes for Pets

Halloween costumes for pets is part of the fun!

Do you start pulling out your fall and Halloween decorations around mid-July? Is your costume planned and ready to go no later than August? Are orange and black your favorite colors?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re a bonafide Halloween fanatic! As a pet owner and animal lover, you probably also relish the idea of Halloween costumes for pets. After all, what could be cuter than dressing up your dog, cat, guinea pig, snake, or bearded dragon lizard? Of course, your pet’s safety is our top priority, and the following tips are designed to ensure a fun and successful Halloween for every member of your family, human and animal alike!

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Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Pet insurance can help defray the cost of veterinary careIf your pet were diagnosed with a major illness tomorrow, could you afford the bill?

We all want to do the very best we can to take care of our pets. They’re members of our family, after all! Luckily, we now have access to advanced veterinary medical care that can diagnose and treat complex illnesses as well as critically injured pets.

But what about the cost of that care? It doesn’t come cheap. According to Canine Journal, the average cost of pet care annually is now topping $1800 per year, per pet.

This is where pet insurance comes in. Just as human health insurance bridges the gap between your medical care and cost, pet insurance can offset the financial burden of unexpected illness or injury to our pets. But, does it make sense for you? It’s an individual decision, but it’s important to look at the costs and benefits of pet insurance to determine if it’s right for you. Continue…

To Go or No? How to Know if its a Pet Emergency

A pet emergency should be tended to by an emergency veterinarian right away. As a pet owner, it’s often hard to know if a problem is serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency clinic. Pets are masters at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, even from their closest people. No matter when a pet emergency occurs, you need to know when it requires a trip to the vet. Knowing whether you should wait until the morning or leave immediately becomes even more important.

At Hampton Veterinary Hospital, we believe that pet owners should be able to recognize common signs of pet emergencies. Your quick action could save your pet’s life as long as you know what to look for and what to do. We’ve put together some tips to help you recognize the signs of a pet emergency and how to be prepared in case the situation ever happens. Continue…

An Apple a Day: The Principles of Pet Wellness

Pet wellness, supported by veterinary care, can keep your pet safe for a lifetime.Most of us have an intrinsic understanding of preventive care. We attempt to eat our fruits and vegetables, try to get enough exercise, and allow ourselves to be poked and prodded by our physicians and dentists, all in the name of good health.

Preventive care is just as important for the health and longevity of our pets. Regular physical examinations are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to pet wellness, and one that will have a huge impact on their lifelong health.

At Hampton Veterinary Hospital we recommend biannual wellness examinations for all of our patients, because pets age much faster than we do. They also hide illness and other medical issues from us at home that can be identified by your veterinarian on examination. Continue…