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.

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

My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos – Is This Normal?

Dog owners know their pups produce a variety of odors, many of them less-than-pleasant. If you’ve ever noticed a distinct, corn chip-like aroma wafting up from your dog’s paws, you aren’t crazy. Many pet owners report their dog’s paws smell like Fritos, popcorn, tortillas, or other corn-based products – but why?

Here at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, we never shy away from life’s important questions, and we welcome the opportunity to help our readers figure out why their dog’s paws smell like Fritos!

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