The Dog-Days of Summer (Common Pet Hazards)

The  dog-days of summer are upon us!  While this can be an amazing and fun season, it can come along with dangers for your pet(s). This blog reviews the more common summer injuries and conditions in pets, with tips on how to best avoid them, as well as knowing when to call your veterinarian.

Bite Wounds

Dog bites can happen any time of the year.  We tend to see this more frequently  in the warmer months as dogs are visiting dog parks, kennels, daycare, etc. Even if a dog bite appears minor, you should contact your veterinarian right away, as prompt care of the wound (cleaning, flushing, antibiotics, etc) is incredibly important; also, some bites can look minor externally but cause significant trauma and damage beneath the skin, sometimes needing surgical intervention.

Heat Stroke

Dogs cannot sweat through their skin (only a small amount through their paw pads), so heat can be especially dangerous. Heat stroke occurs when an animal’s body overheats.  This can manifest as excessive panting, inability or unwillingness to move around, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), mental dullness/loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.

Seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY. If you are able, apply rubbing alcohol to paw pads, dampen dog’s body with cool/cold water, get dog to an area with fans/air conditioning, etc.

TIPS:

  • DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR UNATTENDED!
  • Walk your pet at cooler times of the day (early morning, late evening).
  • Always provide ample amounts of fresh, cool water.

Paw Burns/Abrasions/Cuts

If your pet gets a peeling paw pad burn, or gets a bleeding cut/laceration on the paw pad, please call your veterinarian – these need to be medically addressed, and sometimes surgically repaired.

TIPS:

  • Do not walk animals on hot pavement; walk during cooler times of the day.
  • Booties can be used for short periods to protect paw pads from burns and sharp objects.

Porcupine Quills

If your animal comes into contact with a porcupine and gets quilled, please call your veterinarian immediately. Animals typically need to be sedated in order to remove quills effectively and safely. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PULL THEM ON YOUR OWN, and DO NOT CUT QUILLS.

Skunk Spraying

Skunks are everywhere in New England so it’s not uncommon for your pet to come in contact with them!  Skunk spraying is typically benign (but smelly!).  You can use the homemade remedy below to help remove the skunk spray and smell. However, if your pet gets sprayed in the face — especially if he/she begins squinting — please contact your veterinarian, as there is the potential for eye irritation and ulceration.

Homemade Skunk Remedy Recipe:

  • 1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Dawn Liquid Dish Soap

Soak dog’s fur with mixture for 20 minutes. Use sponge on head/face to avoid eyes. Thoroughly rinse with water.

Swimmer’s Tail

Also known as Limber Tail Syndrome, this is a condition that occurs when the base of the spine/tail is strained or overly fatigued. It presents as a limber/weak tail, with minimal movement of the tail, and discomfort at the tail base or base of spinal area.

This is common in animals that overuse their tails, who get excited easily, and/or swim frequently.

If this occurs in your pet, please call your veterinarian to schedule an exam – often times, we prescribe pain medication/anti-inflammatories, and will recommend resting as much as possible, and trying to avoid situations where your pet will get overly excited and use its tail.

Ear Infections (Otitis) and Hot Spots (Moist Dermatitis)

Bacterial and yeast infections of the ear canals and/or skin are VERY common in the warmer months, especially in dogs that swim frequently, and/or have seasonal allergies.

ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include head shaking, ear scratching, ear odor, ear discharge/debris/redness, etc.  There are no over-the-counter products that will effectively treat an ear infection.

If your dog is an avid swimmer, talk to your veterinarian about ear cleaners that can help keep the ears happy and decrease risk of infection.

ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect a skin infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include excessive scratching, moist areas on the skin or in fur, skin odor, skin redness, etc.

If your dog is an avid swimmer, be sure to rinse with clean water (to rinse off chlorine, salt, algae, etc) and towel dry well after swimming.

Black Fly Bites

These are VERY common in dogs during later spring and earlier summer months, and appear as bullseye-looking red spots, typically on regions of the body without hair (groin, abdomen).

These are not anything to worry about and are not typically uncomfortable for your pet; however, if you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Foreign Bodies, Pancreatitis and Gastritis

Foreign body ingestion and stomach/pancreatic upset is not uncommon during the summer months, as barbecues/family gatherings/etc. are very common. Be careful not to give your pet anything that could potentially upset their systems, and advise your guests to be cautious, as well. Common causes include corn cobs (they can get lodged in the stomach or intestines and need surgical intervention to remove), meats and other foods high in fat (pancreas and stomach upset), spices/herbs, meat bones (especially chicken and pork as these splinter), etc.

Animals do not typically tolerate abrupt switches in diet, or getting foods their system is not used to – diarrhea, vomiting and decreased appetite can be signs of an issue.

Firework/Loud Noise Phobia and Anxiety

Some dogs can be very anxious with loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms, which are quite common during the summer! If you believe your pet has anxiety, please contact us; we can discuss helpful tips for desensitization to noise, environmental modification, and possible medications that can be helpful.

If you have any questions, or are concerned that any of these conditions are occurring in your pet, please do not hesitate to call Hampton Veterinary Hospital at (603) 926-7978 or your closest emergency clinic.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is one of the most common diseases seen in New England, and has been spreading quickly across the United States over the past 20 years.  According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, all 50 states had cases of confirmed canine Lyme disease in 2018.  In our small state of New Hampshire alone, there were 11,374 Lyme positive dogs reported.  

About Lyme Disease

Lyme disease was first diagnosed in 1983 due to an outbreak of arthritic symptoms in humans in the Lyme Connecticut area.  Lyme disease is a spirochete bacterium that is transmitted to dogs, humans, and many other mammalian species through tick bites.  The deer tick or the black-legged tick, lone star tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick carry and can transmit Lyme disease.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include intermittent lameness, decreased activity level, decreased appetite, and fever.  Dogs do not always show all four of these symptoms, but typically develop a combination of two or more when they become clinically ill.   Also, dogs who are not properly protected and are repeatedly exposed to Lyme-carrying ticks are at risk of developing certain types of kidney disease.  Before proper prevention was available, many dogs infected with Lyme disease died of a syndrome known as Lyme nephropathy.

Transmission

If a live tick is attached to a dog for over 36 hours, it can then begin to transmit Lyme disease.  Unlike people, dogs do not perform tick-checks on themselves; and they do not commonly develop the typical bullseye rash as seen in humans.  Therefore, we typically do not know that our canine loved ones have been infected with Lyme disease until they come up positive on a blood test or develop symptoms and are diagnosed by a veterinarian.  Plus, dogs spend much of their time sniffing around and playing in areas where ticks thrive, such as woods and tall grasses.  The key to reducing the risk of our pets developing Lyme disease is through prevention.

Prevention is Key

Just as it is with us, nightly tick-checks are very important to perform on our dogs to help keep them free of tick-borne diseases.  However, life gets busy and small ticks can be missed on a fur-covered dog.  Two other main keys to preventing our 4-legged loved ones from becoming infected with Lyme disease are through proper year-round preventives and vaccination.

Which Products to Use

Ticks are one of the hardiest creatures on our planet.  Contrary to certain “opinions” on the internet, homeopathic and holistic options are not effective to kill ticks or prevent them from transmitting tick-borne diseases.  Over the years, there have been many different types of (flea &) tick preventatives in a variety of formulations.

In 2014, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)approved new prescription medications called Isoxazolines.  These are typically chewable tablets, which makes it easier to administer to dogs. By avoiding topical products, it also eliminates the possibility of local skin irritation and reduces contact of the product with human and feline family members. These medications have completely revolutionized our ability to protect our dogs from Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.  They are incredibly well-tolerated and work much faster and more reliably than any of the more traditional topical preventatives.  Here, at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, we recommend year-round use of Bravecto for the majority of our canine patients.  

Remember, prevention is the key to keeping our loved ones safe & healthy!

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!

Continue…

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.

Continue…

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…

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…