Have you ever had your dog get away from you while on a walk or escape from your fenced yard? Has your indoor cat ever slipped outside while the door was briefly open? It’s terrible to think about your beloved pet getting lost, so it’s essential to take every possible step to make sure your pet can be reunited with you if it should happen.
The team at Hampton Veterinary Hospital wants to help ensure our clients and their pets stay together. Pet microchipping is a simple, effective way to ensure your furry friend stays safe and secure with you.
Here are the top 3 reasons to microchip your pet:Continue…
Pets are part of our families, and we want the best for them. But with so many pet veterinary clinics available, how can you know what’s best regarding your pet’s medical care?
If you’re considering a new veterinarian for your pet, it’s important to know what AAHA-accredited hospitals have to offer.
What Is the AAHA?Continue…
Do you speak fluent cat? Can you tell when he or she is scolding you for failing to clean the litter box? Or when gracing your arrival home?
From chirping and purring to cat yowling and hissing, the felines have an extensive vocal repertoire. Research shows that cats make eight common sounds, but each cat has a different level of communication. Some barely make a peep while others can’t let you get a word in edgewise.Continue…
Cats are notorious for their independence. Strange cat behaviors are commonplace in any feline-friendly home, so it can be difficult to determine when your cat is acting differently because he or she is in pain. Your friends at Hampton Veterinary Hospital are serious about feline health, and we want to help you determine when your kitty might need a little veterinary help. Keep reading to learn about some of the top warning signs your cat is in pain.Continue…
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:
- Chewing, licking, biting at skin
- Rubbing on floor
- Hair loss
- Body or ear odor
- 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 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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Antibiotic or antifungal medications (oral and/or topical) are often needed to treat secondary infections that occur from self-trauma and itching.
- 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:
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… 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.