May is Lyme Disease Prevention Month

Did you know that tick prevention for your pet is just as important for you as it is for them?

Lyme disease is an illness spread by ticks that affects both animals and humans. It is important to keep your pets on tick prevention, not only for their own wellbeing, but also to prevent ticks from hitchhiking into your home and onto your family.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. Typical symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, lameness, joint swelling, and decreased activity. 

To prevent Lyme disease:

  • Be aware of your environment, and be mindful of where ticks like to hang out (wooded areas, mulch, tall grasses).
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention for your pet
  • Check your self & your pet when returning from outdoor adventures

For more information on Lyme Disease click HERE. You can also view an interactive map of Canine Tick-borne Disease by the Companion Animal Parasite Council HERE. As always, we are always available to discuss your concerns about your pet. Give us a call at (401) 398-7807 or email at info@hillandharbourvets.com.

Prepare your pets for flea and tick season!

Learn how to protect you and your pets from these pesky parasites 🐜
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No one wants to worry about fleas or ticks being brought into their home from their furry best friend. Not only are they unwanted, but they pose health risks for you and your animals.

Did you know that they do more than just try to get under your skin and suck blood? They also can transmit zoonotic diseases that include the plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more. Lucky for you, there are many options for flea and tick preventatives that we can recommend for your furry friend depending on if you want a topical application or to give it orally (by mouth). Below, is a list of questions you may want to consider reviewing with us before making your decision:

  • How often do I need to use/apply the product? 
  • What parasites does the medication protect against? 
  • How long will it take before the product begins working?
  • Are there any reactions?
  • Will this interfere with my pet’s other current medications?
  • How old does my pet need to be before using the medication?
  • Are there any other pets in the household?
  • Is there a product available for cats?

It is important to remember that ticks and fleas are present in the Northeast year-round, making it vital that you give your pet preventative medication twelve months a year (not just in the warmer months). At Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center, we want to keep your pets safe and protected. Give us a call at (401) 398-7807 to discuss your pet’s needs, or have a refill of your current medication sent straight to your door every month by visiting our online pharmacy and never forget a dose again!

Did you know about these FREE resources in our app? 💡

The Pet Health Library and Poison Control are right at your fingertips!


Staying informed about your pet’s health is crucial to helping them live a long and happy life. As your pet care partner, we want to provide you with as many trusted resources as possible. In our app, you are able to access the following resources 24/7:

  • Pet Health Library – This site provides a wealth of knowledge and information about animal diseases and conditions, care and husbandry, toxicities, and behavior. If your pet recently received a new diagnosis, this is a great place to research more about your pet’s condition.
  • Poison Control – Did your pet just eat something they weren’t supposed to? Quickly access the Pet Poison Hotline from the app, and see the emergency instructions–including what to do, and what NOT to do. There is also a complete preventative safety guide for you to read.

To access these resources, go to the Menu button in the top left of your app home screen, then click Resources 📖. You will see Pet Health Library and Poison Control listed. We hope these are helpful tools to provide you with peace of mind–anytime!

Don’t have our app? Download it for free here!

Easter Safety Tips 🐣🐰

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If you are planning to celebrate Easter, don’t forget some of these important safety tips from ASPCA for your furry friends.

1. Chocolate – This yummy treat for humans can cause gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, stimulation to the nervous system (hyperactivity, tremors and seizures) and elevation in heart rate for animals. Not all chocolate is created equal and the darker the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for pets. 

2. Plastic Easter Grass – Pets cannot absorb plastic Easter grass into their bodies, which means that it can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract causing serious damage. Signs for concern include vomiting, diarrhea, decrease in appetite, lethargy and stomach pain.

3. Plants- Several plants can be dangerous for pets, but especially during Easter time the ASPCA sees an increase in calls regarding Lilies and specific bulbs that bloom in the Spring. Lilies (Lilium sp and Hemerocallis sp) can cause serious concerns for our feline friends. Exposure to any parts of the plant can result in kidney damage and gastrointestinal upset. For a reference of all poisonous plants to avoid, click here.

4. Fertilizers and Herbicides – Is it finally beginning to warm up? Many people begin gardening and yardwork on Easter weekend and include the use of fertilizers. Make sure these items are stored where pets cannot chew or puncture them and keep your pets indoors while applying the products. Always follow the label instructions and wait to let your pet out again until the product has been watered in or the ground is dry.

If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call us at (401) 398-7807 or contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435.

A Pharmacy at Your Fingertips—Order Your Pet’s Medications Through Our Hospital App

“Oh no,” you groan, as you realize you forgot—again—to stop by our hospital on your way home from work to pick up your pet’s heartworm preventive. You quickly set a reminder on your phone for tomorrow, since it’s after hours, and flop into bed, feeling guilty that your pet’s heartworm prevention is falling further behind schedule. Wait—was that a mosquito buzzing by?

Stocking up on your pet’s medications doesn’t have to be difficult—you can order medications directly through our hospital app to be delivered to your door, or for pickup from our hospital. Ordering online means no more guilt-ridden nights, and you can cross one more thing off your to-do list!

Having your pet’s pharmacy at your fingertips has many benefits. These are our favorites:

#1: You do not need to make a phone call

Why make a phone call, when you can order your pet’s medication refill with a few screen taps? Although we try our best not to keep our clients waiting, during peak times, when incoming calls pile on top of one another, you may have to wait to speak with one of our team members. When you order your pet’s medications through the app, there is no wait time. Simply enter the refill information, and submit your request. Done! Or, if you plan to pick up the medication, simply send a picture of the current bottle. Can it get any easier? And, with the time you save, you can reward yourself with some snuggle time with your furry friend.

#2: You can order your pet’s medications any time, anywhere

If you’re like us, you remember things you need to do at the most inopportune moments, such as in line at the grocery store, or waiting at the dentist’s office. With our hospital’s app, you can conveniently order your pet’s medications any time, anywhere. Awake in the middle of the night, you suddenly remember your pet has only a few pills rattling around in the bottom of their medication bottle? No problem—hop on to our app, order a refill, and then sleep soundly, knowing you’ve taken care of your companion.  

#3: You can choose from a fully stocked online pharmacy

As much as we would like to stock every type of medication, food, and parasite preventive in our hospital, an online pharmacy can provide a much larger variety. In addition to your pet’s medications, our online pharmacy contains a large variety of prescription and non-prescription pet food, and preventives to keep your pet safe from fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease. Peruse the virtual shelves of products you can have delivered to your front door—you may never drive to the pet store again!

#4: You get uninterrupted care and protection for your best friend

Being able to order your pet’s medications from our online pharmacy means they won’t miss another dose. We know how it is—remembering to call in the refill, and stopping to pick it up, sometimes falls through the cracks in the midst of your daily grind. Quickly ordering your pet’s refill online will better fit into your busy schedule, so your pet receives their medication on time, every time. 

Have you tried our online pharmacy yet? It’s bound to make your life easier! Download our hospital app by searching your app store for Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center (HHVC), and start by selecting “Order Food & Prescriptions” from the pull down menu, or the prescription bag icon on the home screen.

Announcing: The Top 10 Pet Toxins!

Photo Credit: ASPCA

Each year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) works to provide important and sometimes lifesaving information along with handy safety guides to pet parents nationwide. Last year alone, APCC helped over 232,000 animals! March is Pet Poison Prevention Month, and to help raise awareness of common hazards and toxins to pets, APCC has put together a list of the top 10 most commonly reported pet toxins!

  1. Over the counter (OTC) medications were once again the most common group of toxicants pets ingested this year, making up 19.7% of APCC calls. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, joint rubs and herbal supplements all fall within this category. These items are commonly found in homes and are often stored in purses and backpacks.
  2. Human prescription medications remained number two this year with accounting for 17.2% of cases. CardiacADHD, thyroid, and antidepressant medications make up a significant amount of these cases. Always make sure your prescription medications are safely locked away, out of paws’ reach.
  3. Food is number three, making up 12.1% of cases. Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and protein bars make up most of these cases.
  4. Chocolate remains at number four with 10.7% of APCC cases concerning this sweet treat. That works out to over 67 cases a day! Dogs especially love chocolate and can eat enough to get themselves into trouble.
  5. Veterinary products remained at 9.3% of cases. Chewable medications are tasty, and dogs will eat the entire container. Make sure to treat these products like prescription medications and keep them away from your pets.
  6. Household items also remain at number six, making up 7.7% of APCC cases. Home improvement projects can expose pets to many potential toxins such as paint, adhesives or spackle.
  7. Rodenticide exposure cases increased in number in recent years, to 6.8% of APCC caseload. Depending on the type, mouse and rat baits can cause bleeding, kidney failure, seizures or even death. 
  8. Plants moved up to eighth place, making up 6.1% cases. Most of our severe cases involved cats and lily exposures.
  9. Insecticide exposure cases have dropped, only accounting for 5.1% of cases. Safer product alternatives and better handling of these types of products will help keep pets safe around these types of toxins.
  10. Garden products make up 2.4% of cases. Many pets find fertilizers (especially organic products) irresistible. Make sure your pets aren’t ‘helping’ when you are out working on the lawn or in the garden with herbicides and soil enhancements.

With any potential dangers and toxins, it is important to keep these things out of paws’ reach. While accidents can always happen, the less accessible any of the items are, the less likely your pet is to get into them.

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call us at (401) 397-7807 or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Cold Weather Pet Care

You’re probably already aware of the dangers that pets face during the hot summer months, but did you know there are just as many dangers during the cold winter months? Pets are susceptible to frost bite and hypothermia just like we are and can be injured from chemicals that are used to combat the freezing temperatures. But as always, a little bit of research and planning can help prevent injuries from occurring.

These 5 tips will help keep your pet safe and healthy during the winter months.

  1. Know the limits: Know what your pet’s limits are for cold weather and adjust accordingly. Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
  2. Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of ice ball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes. During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up de-icers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe de-icers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.
  3. Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
  4. Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather. If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
  5. Be prepared: Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.

We hope these tips have been helpful, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at (401) 398-7807 or info@hillandharbourvets.com.

You Got a New Pet for the Holidays, Now What?

There is so much planning that goes into adding a new pet to the family. What type of pet, the breed, where to get the pet from, housing or bedding needs, food and more. After all this careful planning you may find yourself asking, what do I do once I get the pet?

There can be so many differing opinions out there on the internet that can lead to confusion. We always recommend referring to reputable sources and websites, and of course your pet’s veterinarian. To help you set your new pet up for success, the doctors at Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center have put together a list of their top tips of what to do now that you have added a new member to the family.

New Cats

Dr. Packard, our resident cat whisperer and the proponent for our certification as a Feline Friendly Practice (which we hope to have in early 2021), shared her top tips for ensuring your new kitty is off to the very best start.

1.  Like puppies, kittens need socialization too!  The socialization stage for kittens begins very early at about three weeks of age and ends between 12 and 16 weeks of age.  Kittens should be gently handled for at least 5 minutes each day throughout the socialization period to bond with humans and develop into friendly, calm, and well-adjusted cats.  Every effort should be made to avoid adverse experiences
during this time which can lead to a chronic fearful response.

2.  Teach your kitten early to love her carrier.  This will save a lot of frustration when she needs to be transported as well as reducing her anxiety when traveling to veterinary visits.  Please visit our website here for instructions on helping your cat become comfortable with her carrier and tips for picking the best carrier.  

3.  Environmental enrichment is important to prevent kittens and cats from becoming bored, which can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as overeating and litter box issues.  Places to climb such as cat trees, toys that satisfy their natural desire to hunt, and acceptable substrates for scratching are all important to keep cats happy. Visit Ohio State University’s Indoor Cat Initiative for information about creating an enriched environment for your kitten.

4.  It’s natural for cats to scratch! But you can live harmoniously with your cat and still maintain nice furniture by enriching your home with items that your cat can scratch.  Visit the American Association of Feline Practitioners for information about preventing or stopping inappropriate scratching.

5. Cats are territorial, so care must be taken when introducing a new kitten or cat to other household cats.  Click here for step-by-step instructions on making these introductions go smoothly.

New Exotic Pets

Dr. Snow is our resident small mammal and exotic veterinarian (yes, he sees cats and dogs too). He offers a huge wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to these pets. Now that Dr. Snow is a member of our practice, we are able to offer appointments for a variety of pocket pets and birds.

1) Pocket pets are a large category of small, household mammals including (but not limited to) guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, mice/rats, chinchillas, hedgehogs and gerbils. Although we group them together like this, each of these animals has very specific requirements and needs. These animals make wonderful pets and companions and are typically low-maintenance.
 
2) Small pets require unique housing and diets and have very different requirements between species.  For example, guinea pigs are similar to humans and primates, and require vitamin C in their diet on a daily basis.  Improper caging and diets (referred to as husbandry) can often lead to disease over a period of time.  Researching what your pet needs before purchasing it, is important to make sure the proper care is provided.  Your veterinarian can also help you make sure the husbandry you are providing is
appropriate for your new pet.
    
3) Just like our dogs and cats, pocket pets also require routine veterinary care.  Annual visits and exams are an essential part of preventative medicine for these animals.  Many of these species are experts at hiding pain and disease, making regular checkups an important part of their care. For more information and resources about small pet care, visit this website.

New Dogs

Dr. Schoen rounds out our list with his top tips for new puppies. Whether you are a new dog owner, or you haven’t had a puppy in a while, these 5 tips are sure to help make your puppy’s transition into your family a smooth one.

1) You should have your new puppy seen by us within the first 14 days of adoption so that we can answer any of your questions that you may have, to ensure that they are healthy, and to vaccinate them in a timely fashion.

2) Prepare yourself to find a trainer ASAP.  ALL new dogs (and owners) can use professional advice on how to ensure that their pet remains happy, well trained, and anxiety free.  The sooner you start the training process the better the outcome.
 
3) Keep your new pet isolated from other pets in the household until we have seen your newest addition and have ensured that your pet is healthy and free of infections and parasites.

4) Ensure that your puppy is eating an AAFCO accredited (should be seen right on the food bag’s label), nutritionally complete, puppy diet that is formulated for the correctly sized (small, medium, large breed) dog.  Also ensure that you are using a proper measuring cup and following the feeding guidelines outlined on the back of the bag of food.

5) Did you know that you can watch Hill and Harbour’s NBC 10’s PetPro segments right from our website where you can see Dr. Schoen answer some of your most common veterinary questions?  Check out the various topics that he has chatted about and have all your queries answered!

Congratulations on the latest addition to your family!

Thank you for entrusting your new family member to us. We look forward to meeting your new pet and to helping you keep them healthy and happy. Wishing you and your family the very best in 2021.

5 Pet Myths: Debunked!

Is a dog’s mouth cleaner than a human’s mouth? Do cats always land on their feet? There are plenty of adages and myths surrounding our furry friends. Sometimes these
misconceptions can impact their health and lives. Let’s take a look at some common
myths about pets.

Myth 1: Dogs eat grass only when they are sick

Truth: Eating grass doesn’t always mean your dog is sick, although sometimes it does. Some dogs eat grass because they like the taste or are trying to fulfill a nutritional need. It could also mean that they are bored or they are using it to help with digestion.

Myth 2: Cats always land on their feet

Truth: Cats do possess a “righting reflex” that helps them correct their bodies when they fall, however the height of the fall will affect how they land. A low height could result in a cat landing on their side and a higher height can cause serious injury.

Myth 3: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth

Truth: A dog’s mouth contains almost as much bacteria as a human’s mouth. Aside from bacteria, there are parasites that can live in a dog’s saliva. We would not recommend allowing your dog to lick you on the face, give mouth kisses, or share food. Always wash your hands after your dog has licked them.

Myth 4: Dogs are colorblind

Truth: Dogs can perceive color, but not every color, and as a result, they do not see color as vibrantly as we do. Dogs can only see shades of blue, yellow, and green and their vision is blurrier in brighter light. However, they make up for their sight disadvantages with their incredibly strong sense of smell.

Myth 5: It’s ok to skip flea and tick preventatives during the winter

Truth: Fleas can survive in temperatures as low as 33 degrees and ticks can survive in temperatures as low as 40 degrees. With our unpredictable New England weather, temperatures can fluctuate, which bring these critters out of hibernation. It’s not worth the risk of disease transmission or flea infestation when you skip doses.

We hope we were able to clarify some of these common myths regarding your pets. If you ever have a question about your pet’s health or behavior, please contact Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center at (401) 398-7807 or at info@hillandharbourvets.com.

Fall Dangers and Your Pet

There is a chill in the air, the kids are back to school (virtual or in-person), we’ve put our white pants away and started unpacking our sweaters and sweatshirts.  Pumpkin spice is everywhere you turn and before long the leaves are going to change color and start falling.  Autumn is a favorite season for many people, but it can come with some common pet emergencies.

Mushrooms

Certain types of mushrooms can be toxic for our pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, seizures, liver and kidney disease.  It can be difficult to identify which mushrooms are toxic or safe, so we recommend removing any mushrooms that may be growing in your yard.  If you walk your pet, be hypervigilant for any mushrooms you could encounter.

Acorns

Acorns contain gallotannins, which if ingested in large quantities, can cause significant GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy and abdominal pain.  Because of their size there is a risk of causing an obstruction in the GI tract.  Another thing to consider is if your pet steps on an acorn in the yard it can injure their paw or get stuck between their paw pads.  Raking the acorns from your yard will eliminate this risk.

Antifreeze

A common fall chore is to monitor and refill antifreeze levels in your vehicle’s radiator.  Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze that may be left in puddles on the ground.  The lethal dose is low and toxic potential is high when ingested.  Because the ethylene glycol is absorbed so quickly through the GI tract, that decontamination and treatment must be initiated within 3 hours of ingestion for cats and within 8 hours of ingestion for dogs, for a good prognosis. Signs of early ingestion include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy.

Be sure to quickly clean up any spills.  You can use cat litter, sand or a professional grade absorbent.  Once the coolant has been absorbed, put on rubber gloves and wipe up the absorbent material with paper towels.  Place the paper towels into a trash bag and immediately place it in a garbage can.

Compost Piles

Composting has become very popular recently, however poorly contained or maintained compost piles can be dangerous for your pet.  With some exceptions such as raisins, grapes or xylitol containing product, most food put into compost bins aren’t directly poisonous to pets. Other compost risks include foreign body obstruction from food items such as fruit pits, watermelon rinds and corn cobs.

The process of decomposition, however, may result in the development of toxic material. Mold that grows on or in food products such as cheese, dog food and bread in compost piles may contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are harmful to animals. Signs of agitation, hypersalivation, elevated body temperature, panting, vomiting and ataxia are seen anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours of ingestion. These signs can progress to severe hyperthermia, tremors and seizures that require immediate veterinary care for the animal to survive.

Mothballs

Mothballs can be toxic when ingested.  Mothballs come in three different formulations: naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene and camphor. Of these, naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene are the most common, with naphthalene generally considered to be the most toxic. Clinical signs include vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain and seizures.  Mothballs do not show up on x-rays which can make them difficult to diagnose.  If you use mothballs, make sure to keep them out of reach of your pets.  

Hopefully this information will make you more aware of possible fall hazards.  Our goal is to always keep our patients healthy and happy. So with this newfound knowledge, go and enjoy the fall season with safety and caution.

If you ever have any questions regarding your pet, please do not hesitate to reach out to Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center at (401) 398-7807 or info@hillandharbourvets.com.