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


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!

Senior Years

As they age, our four-legged loved-ones need additional attention and care to make sure that they are happy and comfortable during their senior years.  Most pets tend to slow down some as they age, however age is not a disease… but diseases occur more commonly with age.

What to be on the look-out for

Symptoms of disease in pets can be subtle and often can go unnoticed.  The following are symptoms that every pet parent should be on the look-out for in their senior pets:

  • Weight loss, especially in the face of a good appetite
  • Increased thirst and urinary frequency
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Poor grooming habits
  • Dull, dry, unkempt haircoat
  • Limping
  • Being slow to rise
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Reduced energy / activity level
  • Confusion / behavior changes

Common medical issues

Common medical issues that occur in our pets as they age include arthritis, thyroid disease, kidney disease, heart disease, decreased hearing, and cognitive dysfunction.  As previously mentioned, symptoms can be subtle and overlooked during busy daily life at home. This is why having wellness examinations at least every 6 months by your veterinarian is exceptionally important for our older pets.

What can you do?

In addition to biannual wellness examinations, regular screening lab work is vital to help diagnose illness early on the disease process. Early intervention is key to stop or slow down disease, as well as to improve your pet’s quality of life and longevity.  We recommend annual blood work screening including chemistry profiles, complete blood counts (CBC), thyroid levels, and urinalysis.  Other diagnostic testing that can be important are x-rays, eye pressure checks, and ultrasound.

If you would like to schedule your senior pet for a wellness examination with one of our veterinarians at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, request an appointment or call the office at (603) 926-7978.

Is This Pain?

Comfort and quality of life are our major goals for our furry loved ones, but because they cannot often communicate with us in a way we understand, we may find ourselves asking – is this pain? Pain in our companion animals is often a result of trauma and disease processes, just as it is in humans. Though, it can be far more difficult to recognize. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the many manifestations and behaviors that can indicate pain in our pets.

Common Indicators of Pain

  • Withdrawal from surroundings or change in normal routine – hiding, seeking solitude, decreased responsiveness, unwillingness to move
  • Guards or protects a certain body part
  • Lameness, limping (can range from weight bearingto non-weight bearing)
  • Atypical aggressive behaviors – trying to bitewhen touched, growling/hissing, etc
  • Vocalizing – whining, whimpering, crying,groaning
  • Unsettled, restless; cannot seem to getcomfortable
  • Quiet, loss of brightness in eyes
  • Abnormal body positioning – lays curled up or sits tucked up (with all limbs underneath the body, back/shoulders hunched, tail curled around body)
  • Droopy ears, worried facial expression (archedeyebrows, darting eyes)
  • Eyes partially or mostly closed while awake
  • Not grooming (unkempt coat); or over grooming ina particular area
  • Decreased appetite, lack of interest in food

So What Can I do to Help?

Fortunately, we have a number of options to help animals that are in pain (both acute and chronic) to live more comfortable, happy lives. Multimodal approaches to managing pain are often most successful. Your veterinarian may recommend the following treatments for your pet, depending on the findings of a thorough physical exam, screening lab work and, possibly, x-rays:

Anti-inflammatory and Pain Medications

These medications are the most commonly used to help treat pain and inflammation in pets.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy provides anti-inflammatory, pain relief, faster healing, improved blood flow, decreased scar formation, and improved nerve function.

Acupuncture

Just as in people, acupuncture can bean effective modality to control pain.

Thermal Modification

Icing in the first few days of incision/injury/trauma will reduce inflammation.  Heating after the first few days will increase blood flow and healing.

Joint Supplementation (for arthritis pain) 

Glucosamine is a building block for cartilage by keeping cells healthy and working properly.  Chondroitin blocks the naturally occurring enzymes that break down cartilage.

Fish Oil (for arthritis pain)

Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation in the joints.

Weight Optimization (for arthritis pain) 

Weight control is often the MOST important factor to reduce pain & inflammation from arthritis.  Fat is PRO-INFLAMMATORY, and also places more weight on sore joints.

Joint or “Mobility” Diets (for arthritis pain)

Prescription joint diets have many benefits: Omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine/chondroitin, carnitine (to help burn fat, maintain lean muscle), anti-oxidants.

Why Should I Vaccinate My Pet?

Have you ever wondered, “Why should I vaccinate my pet?”  Administration of appropriate vaccinations to our canine and feline family members is of vital importance to your pet’s health.  As it is in people, vaccination helps to reduce possibility of infection, reduces symptomatic disease, decreases spread of disease through a community, and increases the likelihood of a longer & healthier life.  Depending on disease prevalence, climate, elevation, and other environmental factors, your veterinarian will recommend certain vaccinations for your pets.  At Hampton Veterinary Hospital in Hampton, NH, we recommend the following vaccinations:

Feline

Rabies

Due to the fact that Rabies is of public health concern for humans, cats, and dogs, Rabies vaccination is required for ALL PETS in the state of New Hampshire (and all other U.S. states).  There is no exception to this, regardless of whether or not your cat goes outdoors.  Bats, rodents, and other mammals with Rabies could enter your home and infect your pet… and then possibly you.  Hampton Veterinary Hospital vaccinates our feline patients yearly against Rabies.  Please contact your veterinarian if you are unsure as to whether or not your cat is up to date on their Rabies vaccination.

FVRCP/ Feline Distemper (Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus and Panleukopenia)

This is a combination vaccine against a number of common viruses that cats can be exposed to.  We recommend FVRCP to be up to date on all cats because many of these viruses are quite hardy in the environment; so we can inadvertently bring one of them into our home on our clothing, shoes, bags, etc.  Once a kitten has had their series of FVRCP vaccinations, as adults we vaccinate cats with this vaccine every 3 years.

FELV/ Feline Leukemia Virus

This is a deadly virus that has no cure.  Once a cat becomes infected with FeLV it will significantly shorten their life span (< 3 years).  We recommend vaccinating all kittens when they are younger, just in case they ‘demand’ to go outdoors despite good intentions of keeping them inside.  However, we do not usually recommend vaccinating adult cats who are indoor-only, as this is not a hardy virus where they can only become infected through direct contact with an infected cat.

Canine

Rabies

(see above) — Puppies are vaccinated once between 12 and 16 weeks of age, per law, and this first vaccine is protective for 1 year.  Their subsequent vaccinations are then given every 3 years (per NH state law).

DHPP/ Canine Distemper (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza)

This is a combination vaccine against a number of common viruses that dogs can be exposed to.  We recommend DHPP to be up to date on all dogs regardless of lifestyle.  Once a puppy has had their series of DHPP vaccinations, as adults we vaccinate dogs every 3 years.  This vaccine is usually required to be admitted to boarding kennels, doggie-daycare facilities, and grooming parlors.

Bordetella/ Kennel Cough

Bordetella is a highly contagious upper respiratory bacterium, and it is the most common cause of “Kennel Cough”.  Since Bordetella is so contagious between dogs it is required to be admitted to boarding kennels, doggie-daycare facilities, and grooming parlors.  We recommend it for all of our canine patients because it can be transmitted during visits to the beach, dog parks, walking on the street, and even when coming to a veterinary office.  There are different ways this vaccine can be administered, but we prefer to use the more common intra-nasal route.

Lyme

Lyme disease is HIGHLY prevalent in New England, as well as most other areas around the United States.  It is a very difficult disease to treat in both humans and dogs, but at least with dogs we have a number of ways to proactively prevent Lyme disease.  Yearly lyme vaccination is critical to help reduce the likelihood that your dog will become infected with and develop clinical Lyme disease.  (Year-round administration of a safe and effective flea and tick preventative, such as every 12 week prescription Bravecto, is also key here.)  The Lyme vaccine includes a series of two vaccinations, followed by yearly vaccination in adult dogs.  For best protection, if this vaccine is not kept up-to-date, you may have to re-start the initial vaccine series if it is overdue by a few months.

Leptospirosis

This is a bacterium that is very prevalent in New England, however it is not as easy to identify as Lyme disease.  Many different types of mammals and birds can harbor and transmit Leptospirosis from their urine to groundwater or the soil.  All of our dogs drink out of various puddles, ponds, rivers, lakes, & streams — so they are all potentially at risk for becoming infected with Leptospirosis.  This is a disease that at minimum causes diarrhea… but it can also cause both liver and/or kidney disease in dogs.  If dogs become infected and do not receive appropriate care, they can die from Leptospirosis.   People can also become infected with Leptospirosis and it is possible that a person can get Leptospirosis from their infected dog.  The CDC reports about 100-150 people on average per year become infected with this disease.  The good news here for our dogs is that we have highly effective vaccinations against Leptospirosis.  The Lepto vaccine series includes a series of two vaccinations, followed by yearly vaccination in adult dogs.   For best protection, if this vaccine is not kept up-to-date, you may have to re-start the initial vaccine series if it is overdue by a few months.

CIV/ Canine Influenza Virus

There are two different strains of CIV that have been identified in the United States in the past 10 years.  Due to the fact that dogs have no natural immunity to either CIV strain, direct exposure to dogs with this upper respiratory virus will cause infection.  Symptoms of CIV infection vary from a simple cough to severe illness & death.  Up to 10% of non-vaccinated dogs that become infected with CIV have died in reported outbreaks.  To date there have been no reported cases of CIV in New Hampshire; however, experts feel that it is only a matter of time until we see CIV here as well.  Hampton Veterinary Hospital strongly recommends vaccination against CIV in dogs who are frequently around a number of different dogs (such as our personal pets who come to work with us every day), show dogs, agility dogs, and dogs who travel often with their families.  If you frequently board your dog at any boarding facility (including ours), take them to doggie-daycare, dog parks, or grooming parlors you may want to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog against CIV.

Just as in people, there are potential risks for vaccine reactions in dogs & cats.  However we see far less than 1% of our veterinary patients develop vaccine reactions.  The high level of protection that vaccinations provide to our four-legged loved ones well out-weighs the low possibility of side effects.  Our goal at Hampton Veterinary Hospital is to keep your pets happy & healthy as long as possible — routine vaccination is a vital way we help to achieve this for you and your family.

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 12 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.