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. 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.
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.
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!!! 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!
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
- Poor grooming habits
- Dull, dry, unkempt haircoat
- 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.
In the world of veterinary medicine, our wonderful veterinary technicians play such a crucial role in how we care for our patients and clients. They are multi-tasking, knowledgeable, proficient, talented and compassionate rock stars in our field! It is an understatement to say that our field would certainly not be the same (or even sustainable) without them!
The Many Roles of a Technician
Here at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, our technicians take on many roles throughout the day, including (but certainly not limited to!) the following:
The technician takes the patient’s history, obtains their vital signs and restrains them for the exam.
Not only do technicians draw blood samples for analysis, they also are able to give intravenous injections and place intravenous catheters.
Our techs perform microscope evaluation of ear debris, skin, blood urine and feces.
You guessed it! It’s our multi-talented technicians who take x-rays of the patient and submit them for review.
Our techs are trained to use and maintain a multitude of medical equipment. They are also responsible for the sterilization of surgical and non-surgical equipment, as well as sanitizing the exam rooms in between each appointment.
Technicians are the ones who perform dental cleanings, chart each tooth and take dental x-rays for each dental procedure.
The technician performs surgical preparation of the patient and surgical suite. They also assist the doctor during surgery when needed.
It’s the technicians who administer and monitor anesthesia for all patients undergoing surgical procedures.
Technicians are the ones who provide nursing care for the patients in the hospital including administering medications, injections and fluid therapy.
Expert at Restraint
Our techs are trained to safely restrain animals for examination and procedures, all while attempting to reduce any stress or anxiety the patient may have.
Technicians perform nail trims and work to maintain overall hygiene of our patients.
Animal Husbandry Expert
Our technicians are trained to recognize and anticipate our patients’ needs and provide LOTS of TLC!
Wound Care Expert
Our technicians can clean wounds, remove sutures and place bandages.
Technicians provide empathy and support to our clients during difficult situations.
Technicians follow up with pet owners about their pet’s progress, questions, concerns; as well as communicate with laboratories and equipment companies to trouble-shoot, etc.
One of the most important responsibilities of a technician is educating pet owners on topics such as diseases, preventative care, the importance of routine care, treatments, medications, etc.
Technicians play such a vital role in the lives of the pets and pet owners we interact with each day, as well as the lives of their colleagues. They are the rocks of our day – they keep veterinarians grounded and focused, help keep them moving through the day as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and also provide comfort when a difficult case may bring the team/doctor down emotionally. They do ALL of this for the love of this profession. In a field with such high demand and expectation, schooling and continuing education, and constant risk of injury, these wonderful humans are in it for their passion and aspiration to better the lives of the animals in their care. They risk bites, scratches, getting covered in bodily fluids– and these things do happen! – and they persevere through this, in the most efficient, graceful, and compassionate way.
Join us in thanking our wonderful technicians for all of the selfless, compassionate, experienced care that they provide our pets every day! We appreciate our techs, and the veterinary field would not be the same without them!
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 provides anti-inflammatory, pain relief, faster healing, improved blood flow, decreased scar formation, and improved nerve function.
Just as in people, acupuncture can bean effective modality to control pain.
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.
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:
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.
(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 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.
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.
Travelling with your pet this summer? Here is a list of things to consider before you go away.
What to Pack
- A copy of your pet’s updated vaccines, including a current rabies certificate. Clients of Hampton Veterinary Hospital can access their pet’s vaccine records electronically by signing up for our Pet Page App.
- A collar or harness with identification tags, including rabies and town licensing tags (dogs). Ideally, your pet should have a microchip. If not, contact Hampton Veterinary Hospital about having one placed. Don’t forget to make sure the microchip company has all of your current contact information.
- At least one leash per dog, as well as one back-up leash.
- Water & food bowls – soft-sided collapsible ones can pack easily into a car and are easily carried in a bag or backpack.
- Food – pack enough for an additional 2-3 days per pet just in case you have to extend your stay.
- Medications – bring them in their original packaging with appropriate labels. Include extra should your time away run longer than expected. Don’t forget to bring heartworm and flea/tick preventatives if your pet is due for their next dose while you are away!
- Pet Crate or Carrier- many pets find these comforting, especially on long car rides and in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Toys, blankets & bedding.
- If in a remote area, you may want to consider putting together a Pet First Aid Kit
Other To-Do’s Before Travelling With Your Pet
- Locate the 24-hour ER veterinary facility that is closest to your destination(s). Visit The American Animal Hospital Association website to help locate accredited hospitals in the area.
- Travelling by plane? Contact the airline to ensure that you have all of the necessary information required. Travelling internationally? Check with the country you are visiting as to what additional requirements they may have.
- Research which hotels, motels, etc allow pets. National chains that allow pets include RedRoof Inns, Motel 6, and La Quinta.
- Concerned that your pet may experience either motion sickness and/or anxiety? Contact your veterinarian well-prior to your trip for suggestions or medication refills.
- Locate the nearest boarding options just in case! Remember, Hampton Veterinary Hospital is an excellent option for boarding in the NH Seacoast area!
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.
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 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.
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 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:
- Interceptor PLUS for dogs – a chewable tablet given monthly, year-round.
- Proheart Injection for dogs – an injection given here at Hampton Vet, and lasts 12 months.
- 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!
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)
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)
- 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 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
- 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.