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!

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.