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!

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.

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.