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.
The dog-days of summer are upon us! While this can be an amazing and fun season, it can come along with dangers for your pet(s). This blog reviews the more common summer injuries and conditions in pets, with tips on how to best avoid them, as well as knowing when to call your veterinarian.
Dog bites can happen any time of the year. We tend to see this more frequently in the warmer months as dogs are visiting dog parks, kennels, daycare, etc. Even if a dog bite appears minor, you should contact your veterinarian right away, as prompt care of the wound (cleaning, flushing, antibiotics, etc) is incredibly important; also, some bites can look minor externally but cause significant trauma and damage beneath the skin, sometimes needing surgical intervention.
Dogs cannot sweat through their skin (only a small amount through their paw pads), so heat can be especially dangerous. Heat stroke occurs when an animal’s body overheats. This can manifest as excessive panting, inability or unwillingness to move around, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), mental dullness/loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.
Seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY. If you are able, apply rubbing alcohol to paw pads, dampen dog’s body with cool/cold water, get dog to an area with fans/air conditioning, etc.
- DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR UNATTENDED!
- Walk your pet at cooler times of the day (early morning, late evening).
- Always provide ample amounts of fresh, cool water.
If your pet gets a peeling paw pad burn, or gets a bleeding cut/laceration on the paw pad, please call your veterinarian – these need to be medically addressed, and sometimes surgically repaired.
- Do not walk animals on hot pavement; walk during cooler times of the day.
- Booties can be used for short periods to protect paw pads from burns and sharp objects.
If your animal comes into contact with a porcupine and gets quilled, please call your veterinarian immediately. Animals typically need to be sedated in order to remove quills effectively and safely. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PULL THEM ON YOUR OWN, and DO NOT CUT QUILLS.
Skunks are everywhere in New England so it’s not uncommon for your pet to come in contact with them! Skunk spraying is typically benign (but smelly!). You can use the homemade remedy below to help remove the skunk spray and smell. However, if your pet gets sprayed in the face — especially if he/she begins squinting — please contact your veterinarian, as there is the potential for eye irritation and ulceration.
Homemade Skunk Remedy Recipe:
- 1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
- 2 tsp Dawn Liquid Dish Soap
Soak dog’s fur with mixture for 20 minutes. Use sponge on head/face to avoid eyes. Thoroughly rinse with water.
Also known as Limber Tail Syndrome, this is a condition that occurs when the base of the spine/tail is strained or overly fatigued. It presents as a limber/weak tail, with minimal movement of the tail, and discomfort at the tail base or base of spinal area.
This is common in animals that overuse their tails, who get excited easily, and/or swim frequently.
If this occurs in your pet, please call your veterinarian to schedule an exam – often times, we prescribe pain medication/anti-inflammatories, and will recommend resting as much as possible, and trying to avoid situations where your pet will get overly excited and use its tail.
Ear Infections (Otitis) and Hot Spots (Moist Dermatitis)
Bacterial and yeast infections of the ear canals and/or skin are VERY common in the warmer months, especially in dogs that swim frequently, and/or have seasonal allergies.
ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include head shaking, ear scratching, ear odor, ear discharge/debris/redness, etc. There are no over-the-counter products that will effectively treat an ear infection.
If your dog is an avid swimmer, talk to your veterinarian about ear cleaners that can help keep the ears happy and decrease risk of infection.
ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect a skin infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include excessive scratching, moist areas on the skin or in fur, skin odor, skin redness, etc.
If your dog is an avid swimmer, be sure to rinse with clean water (to rinse off chlorine, salt, algae, etc) and towel dry well after swimming.
Black Fly Bites
These are VERY common in dogs during later spring and earlier summer months, and appear as bullseye-looking red spots, typically on regions of the body without hair (groin, abdomen).
These are not anything to worry about and are not typically uncomfortable for your pet; however, if you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Foreign Bodies, Pancreatitis and Gastritis
Foreign body ingestion and stomach/pancreatic upset is not uncommon during the summer months, as barbecues/family gatherings/etc. are very common. Be careful not to give your pet anything that could potentially upset their systems, and advise your guests to be cautious, as well. Common causes include corn cobs (they can get lodged in the stomach or intestines and need surgical intervention to remove), meats and other foods high in fat (pancreas and stomach upset), spices/herbs, meat bones (especially chicken and pork as these splinter), etc.
Animals do not typically tolerate abrupt switches in diet, or getting foods their system is not used to – diarrhea, vomiting and decreased appetite can be signs of an issue.
Firework/Loud Noise Phobia and Anxiety
Some dogs can be very anxious with loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms, which are quite common during the summer! If you believe your pet has anxiety, please contact us; we can discuss helpful tips for desensitization to noise, environmental modification, and possible medications that can be helpful.
If you have any questions, or are concerned that any of these conditions are occurring in your pet, please do not hesitate to call Hampton Veterinary Hospital at (603) 926-7978 or your closest emergency clinic.
Most of us have an intrinsic understanding of preventive care. We attempt to eat our fruits and vegetables, try to get enough exercise, and allow ourselves to be poked and prodded by our physicians and dentists, all in the name of good health.
Preventive care is just as important for the health and longevity of our pets. Regular physical examinations are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to pet wellness, and one that will have a huge impact on their lifelong health.
At Hampton Veterinary Hospital we recommend biannual wellness examinations for all of our patients, because pets age much faster than we do. They also hide illness and other medical issues from us at home that can be identified by your veterinarian on examination. Continue…