Featured

2-Way Chat Saves the Day: 5 Situations Our Hospital App Will Simplify

Do you ever wish that chatting with our veterinary team was as easy as texting a friend? With our hospital’s app, it can be! 2-Way Chat is one of our app’s most convenient features. We love that communicating with our clients, and keeping up with our patients, is made easier than ever—and you will, too! Check out five common scenarios where 2-Way Chat will be helpful.

#1: Iffy situations

2-Way Chat is perfect for times when you aren’t sure whether your pet’s issue warrants a hospital visit. You know these situations all too well—your sneaky pet gobbled up something on the sly, and you don’t know whether you should be worried. Simply shoot us a chat message through our hospital app and ask whether you should be concerned that your precious pooch ate some banana (nope, no worries there), chocolate (possibly, depending on the type and how much), or sugar-free gum (absolutely). 

#2: Medication questions

You thought you understood how to give the medications for your pet’s ear infection while you were at our hospital, but now that you are home, you can’t remember which liquid goes in your pet’s ear and which is given orally. No problem! With 2-Way Chat, one of our team members can clear up any confusion. If needed, you can quickly send a photo of the medications through the chat, and we can direct you to mark each bottle appropriately. 

#3: Odd pet behaviors

You know how that weird sound your car makes miraculously disappears the moment you arrive at the repair shop? Your pet’s odd behaviors can be similarly difficult to evaluate. Instead of prodding your pet’s neck, trying to trigger that snorting sound they make when they’re excited, capture it on video from the comfort of your home, and send it to our team via 2-Way Chat.

#4: Appointment queries

You made an appointment for your pet who has been urinating more often, but forgot to ask whether you should collect a urine sample, or whether we will do so during the appointment. And, since the team member mentioned on the phone the possibility of blood work, should you withhold your pet’s breakfast? Instead of calling back, start a conversation via 2-Way Chat, and we’ll let you know exactly how to prepare for the appointment.

#5: Post-op concerns

It’s normal to be anxious following your pet’s surgery, and you may have forgotten to ask questions about their eating habits, incision, or activity level. If you’re hesitant to call us with yet another question—which we never mind, by the way—sending a chat message is easy. Plus, you can send a photo of the incision if you notice swelling or seeping, and we can let you know if it looks normal, or requires an appointment.

The next time you have a question for our team, take advantage of 2-Way Chat. Don’t have our hospital app yet? Search HHVC in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, download our free app, and start chatting with us today.

Adopt a Shelter Cat Month

3 Ways to Help Your New Shelter Cat Feel at Home

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, although welcoming a new cat into your home and family is an excellent idea any time of year. However, naturally, your new feline friend may be unsure and anxious in their new surroundings. Try the following suggestions to help them quickly become a comfortable part of your family.

shelter cat

1: Give your shelter cat time to settle in

It can be scary to move somewhere new, especially for a cat. Since they cannot understand you when you tell them they are now in their forever home, be forgiving and patient as they acclimate to their new life. As a general rule of thumb, give your new cat three days to feel nervous and overwhelmed, three weeks to settle in, and three months to build trust and bond with you.

climbing tower

2: Set up a private area for your new shelter cat

Cats can be reclusive and secretive creatures, particularly in a new environment. Give your new cat a private space so they can explore at their leisure without feeling forced to interact. Provide the necessities, including:

  • Two litter boxes with different types of litter
  • Food and water dishes placed in the opposite corner of the litter boxes
  • A cat climbing tower
  • A cat scratching post
  • Cozy beds placed in the open or small spots to give your cat options
  • Cat toys

As you learn more about your new cat, you’ll be able to provide their favorites, but for now, offer
them a variety so they can pick and choose.

pets inside the house

3: Avoid immediate introductions to other pets in your household

While you may wish your new cat and current pets will become best friends at first sight, that is rarely the case. Instead, give your new cat time to settle in, then slowly introduce them through sight and smell. Erect a physical barrier to allow your pets to see each other, and swap bedding so your pets can learn each other’s scent. When your pets seem comfortable seeing and smelling each other, remove the physical barrier and let them meet on neutral ground.

Congratulations on your new cat! Ensure they are in tip-top shape by scheduling a wellness visit with our team.

Hiking and Ticks

How to Tackle Ticks Safely When Hiking with Your Pet

Nothing sends the creepy-crawlies up your spine more than spotting a tick prowling across your pet’s skin. When taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather to go hiking with your pet, help them stay safe from ticks and tick-borne illnesses by following these tips.

hiking and ticks

1: Administer year-round tick prevention to your pet

Nothing is more effective at keeping hungry ticks at bay than tick prevention. Whether you
administer a topical solution to your pet’s skin or give them a flavored chew, you’re creating a
shield against ticks and the diseases they carry.

tall grass

2: Keep your pet out of prime tick habitat when hiking

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees or jump great distances to latch onto you
or your pet. Instead, they “quest” for their prey, meaning they climb up the stalks of tall grasses,
weeds, and shrubs and stick their front legs out, waiting for a warm body to wander by and become a host. So, although your pooch would love to sniff around in the tall brush, keep them
to closely trimmed trails or paved paths.

3: Know how to remove ticks properly from your pet

If a tick latches onto your pet, know how to properly remove it to minimize infection
transmission. Squeezing the tick’s body can cause it to “inject” disease pathogens into your pet, so use a pair of tweezers to gently grasp the tick’s head as close to your pet’s skin as possible,
then pull straight back with steady pressure. Avoid twisting when pulling since this can cause
the head to detach and remain in your pet’s skin. Monitor the area for inflammation and
infection. If you feel you will be unable to completely remove the tick from your pet, you can also bring them in and have your veterinarian remove it.

woman carrying dog while standing in the middle of the forest

4: Protect your pet from Lyme disease with appropriate vaccination

In addition to protecting your pet from ticks with tick prevention, you also can safeguard them with a Lyme disease vaccine. By vaccinating your pet—dogs only—against Lyme disease, you can greatly decrease their chances of contracting this tick-borne illness and reduce the severity of signs if infection occurs.

Before hitting the trail, protect your pet from the threat of Lyme disease with tick prevention and vaccination. Contact our team to schedule an appointment.

Have You Gained a Furry Colleague Working From Home?

3 Reasons Why Furry Colleagues Improve Your Mood While Working From Home

working from home
Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

Working remotely has become the new norm for many people. If you have settled into a new work-from-home routine, your four-legged family members are probably overjoyed. No longer home alone all day, they can snooze by your feet, and enjoy occasional petting—although they may walk across your keyboard, or interrupt your Zoom meetings to get your attention. We think furry colleagues are the best colleagues, and we want to see your new office mates in action. Our hospital app’s selfie feature lets you share pictures of your furry co-workers, so we can appreciate their hard work. Show us why working from home with your pet is great—here are a few of our favorite reasons:

#1: Your pet won’t let you work through lunch

It’s easy to get sucked into a project, and work until 3:00 p.m. without taking a lunch break, which we all know isn’t healthy. Low blood sugar and hunger pangs make focusing difficult, to say the least. When you’re working from your den, your pet will never let you work that long without asking for attention, or begging to go outside. Take a 15-minute walk with your pet—be sure to take plenty of pet selfies along the way—and then grab a healthy lunch, to refocus your energy and get back on track.

#2: Pet snuggles = instant stress relief

If a difficult task or teleworking drama has you feeling anxious, take a quick break with your pet. It’s amazing how watching your dog run after a ball in the backyard, or your cat bat at a feather wand, quickly melts away stress and anxiety. A quick snuggle on the couch will lift your spirits, and you’ll resume your work with a more positive outlook. Snap a cute picture to share with us!

#3: Your pet helps you feel connected while working from home

While working from home may be convenient, social isolation is a trade-off that can leave you feeling lonely. Recent market research shows that 80% of pet owners say their pets make them feel less lonely, while 54% say their pets help them connect with other people. Having a furry colleague by your side provides companionship you may be missing by not being in the office.

Download our hospital app by searching your app store for Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center. After downloading the app, select the “selfies” feature from the  drop-down menu, or access it directly from the app’s home screen. Touch the “+” symbol on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, take a picture, or select one from your album, which is undoubtedly full of pics of your precious co-worker. Tell us why you love working with your furry friend, and we’ll include your pet’s photo in our selfie carousel.

National Chip Your Pet Month

3 Reasons Why Every Pet Owner Should Microchip Their Pet

microchip your pet
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

Is there any greater fear than the thought of losing your four-legged friend? No matter whether you live near a busy road, in the middle of a vast wilderness, or in a quiet suburb, you may worry about your pet slipping out an open door and becoming lost. However, with the aid of a microchip, you can greatly increase your chances of a happy reunion. Here are three reasons why you should schedule an appointment to microchip your pet.

1: Microchipping your pet is a simple process

Veterinarians can microchip your pet while they are under anesthesia for a procedure like a spay or neuter. However, sedation or anesthesia is not always necessary. A microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice and is inserted just beneath the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades. The process is similar to administering a vaccination with a slightly larger needle.

2: A microchip is more reliable than a collar identification tag

Does your pet seem as if they are always losing their collar ID tags? Although it might be a relief not to hear the jingling tags in the middle of the night, lost tags won’t do you any good if your pet goes missing. Worn or illegible tags are also common problems, which means collar ID tags are not the most reliable identification method. In contrast, a microchip is a permanent identification form. With no moving parts and nothing that requires power, a microchip will last the life of your pet. Simply remember to update your contact information as needed, and your pet will be linked to you throughout their lifetime.

3: Microchipping causes minimal discomfort

While a pet may wince or yelp when a microchip is inserted, the process is no different than administering a vaccination. The discomfort is minimal and short-lived, and pets are generally forgiving when presented with a tasty treat and some snuggles after the quick injection. Is your four-legged friend in need of a microchip to help ensure a happy reunion? Give us a call to schedule a microchipping appointment with our team.

Spring Skin Allergies in Pets

April Showers Bring Spring Skin Allergies in Pets

skin allergies

As spring brings warmer weather and new growth, it also brings something more
threatening—pollen. This yellow substance triggers irritating allergies in people and pets alike and can cause a wide variety of signs in suffering pets. Read on to learn what you need to know about spring skin allergies in your furry pal.

Causes of springtime allergies in pets

While pollen in the grass and air is one of the top causes of springtime skin allergies in pets, other substances also may cause a reaction, such as:

  • Dust mites
  • Ragweed
  • Mold
  • Flea bites
  • Dander

Some pets may have year-round allergies, but experience flare-ups in the spring when pollen production kicks into high gear. If your pet is prone to itching all year long, keep a close eye on them to ensure they remain comfortable through this particularly itchy season.

Skin allergy signs in pets

Generally, people with allergies display their hypersensitivity through respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing and red, watery eyes. Pets, on the other hand, are more likely to develop skin issues when exposed to allergens. If your furry pal has allergies, they may show the following signs:

  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itching and scratching
  • Excessive shedding or hair loss
  • Licking at paws
  • Shaking head
  • Scratching at ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hot spots

Pets with allergies can experience a flare-up seemingly overnight, with their skin appearing calm and comfortable one day, and hot spots and an ear infection showing up the next day. If you know your pet has allergies, monitor them closely during their itchiest times of the year to get a jump on flare-ups.

Managing skin allergies in pets

Managing allergies in pets can be challenging. As your pet grows older, their allergies change, requiring constant adjustment of their treatment. Therapies to manage allergies in pets can include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Allergy injections (i.e., immunotherapy)
  • Targeted anti-itch medications such as Apoquel and Cytopoint
  • Medicated shampoos
  • Oral and topical antibiotics for skin infections
  • Ear cleaners and medications

Remember what worked well for your pet one season may not work as well the next, so be open to trying new treatments.

If you suspect your four-legged friend is suffering from springtime skin allergies, contact our team to schedule an appointment for allergy relief.

Is Your Cat Stressed Out?

Three Potential Signs of a Seriously Stressed Out Cat

stressed out cat

Cats are highly sensitive creatures, which means they don’t react well to change. Whether the disruption is minor, such as moving clocks ahead an hour and changing a routine. Or major, such as moving to a new home. These things can all lead to a stressed out cat. Learn to identify stress in your cat so you can help them relax and adjust to changes.

1: Your cat is urinating and defecating outside the litter box

Inappropriate elimination is a common side effect of stress in cats. Anxious cats are more likely to suffer from idiopathic cystitis, a condition that results in bladder inflammation and appears to have triggers rooted in stress. Once a cat associates painful urination with the litter box, they often begin to defecate outside it as well. If your cat has suddenly started avoiding the litter box, they may be experiencing stress or may have an underlying medical condition.

2: Your cat is overgrooming and pulling out hair

During grooming, endorphins are released, making grooming a pleasant activity for your feline friend. When your cat is stressed, it makes sense they would try to relax by grooming. However, this behavior could become compulsive, and your cat may continue it long after the stress has been resolved. Overgrooming and pulling out fur also can be signs of pain, so schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice your pet grooming more than usual.

3: Your cat is more reclusive than usual

Stressed cats tend to hide and may shun interaction with you or other pets in the household. You may find your cat lurking in their favorite hiding spot more often, or they may set up shop in a dark closet. In addition, they may become aggressive if you try to force them to come out and play.

Stress Awareness Month is a great time to shed light on a cat’s sensitive nature and how they react to stress. Keep a close eye on your cat to see if they become stressed by changes in your household, and contact our team if you notice any worrying signs. Or check out the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for information regarding cat behavior.

How To Pack Your Pet’s First Aid Kit

It pays to be prepared. Learn how to pack your pet’s first aid kit.

pet's first aid kit

Your furry pal is surrounded by hazards every day. Sometimes, these hazards can cause a life-threatening or fatal condition if not treated quickly enough, which is where pet first aid comes into play. In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, learn which supplies are essential when packing your pet’s first aid kit so you can prevent a disaster if your four-legged friend finds mischief.

Essential supplies for a pet first aid kit

Many of the supplies you have in your own first aid kit will work for your pet, but you should make a few additions to ensure you have everything you need. When putting together your pet’s first aid kit, stock up on the following essentials:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Unopened 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Ice pack
  • Disposable gloves
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Oral syringe
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Towels
  • Small flashlight
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Styptic powder
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear ointment

Rotate the supplies in your pet’s first aid kit every few months to prevent the items from expiring. For example, if you try to give your pet outdated hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, it likely will be ineffective. On a side note, never make your pet vomit without first contacting your veterinarian or animal poison control.

How to appropriately store your pet’s kit

If you’re the sort to tuck supplies in bathroom closets, under the kitchen sink, and in random spots around your home, creating an actual kit is a necessity. Buy a waterproof tote with locking closures to ensure your pet cannot get into it. Then, place your completed first aid kit in a spot that is easily accessible. This may be with your pet’s other supplies or your own first aid kit. Keep in mind that a first aid kit does you no good if you don’t remember where it’s kept. An important item to include in your pet’s first aid kit is the phone number of your nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

If your pet experiences trouble after normal business hours, you’ll need to head to the emergency hospital. Otherwise, contact our team for help.

Respect Your Cat’s Special Nature

Show your cat that you respect their special nature by following these 3 easy steps.

respect your cat's special nature

On March 28, we celebrate Respect Your Cat Day. While proud felines typically demand our respect and unwavering devotion every day of the year, make it a point to cater to their unique needs on their noteworthy holiday. Try the following ways to show that you respect your cat’s special nature.

1: Give your cat opportunities to hide and perch

Cats are both a predator and a prey species, meaning they have distinctive traits for each side. Offer your cat opportunities to feel comfortable with both parts of their personality by giving them places to hide and to perch up high. A lookout tower that provides climbing surfaces and hiding spots is a great way to fulfill your cat’s needs. Their predatory nature can survey their territory for threats, or “prey,” from up high, while their prey nature can feel safe and secure in a small, dark enclosure.

2: Determine your cat’s prey preference

Most cats prefer to hunt specific creatures, and by identifying their prey preference, you’ll be able to provide your pet with toys they’ll enjoy playing with. In general, cat toy categories include:

  • Birds — Cat toys with feathers and those that chirp or flutter can entice your cat to play when they’re flown through the air.
  • Mice — Plush toys, furry mice, and balls can mimic the movements of mice, encouraging your cat to stalk and pounce.
  • Insects — A cat laser toy, a string with a knot at the end, or a robotic toy that skitters across the floor can resemble bugs, a common favorite prey of cats.

Play with each type of toy for a few minutes to see which your cat ignores and which they show interest in.

3: Change up your cat’s feeding routine

Cats are designed to eat numerous small meals per day rather than one or two large meals. While some cats can control themselves when presented with a full food dish, many cannot, leading to various health issues. To avoid this, feed your cat several small meals each day, ideally in a food puzzle, as a way of mimicking how they would eat if they hunted for their food.

Another great way to show that you respect your cat’s special nature is to ensure they remain happy and healthy through regular preventive care. Take care of your feline friend by calling our team to schedule their next wellness appointment.

Danger Alert! Common Pet Toxins

Are you aware of the most common pet toxins and what to do if your pet ingests one?

dark chocolate is a common pet toxin

Household toxins are a common source of pet poisoning, particularly in the kitchen or bathroom. However, potential hazards can lurk everywhere, including in your garage, garden, and cupboards. Therefore, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of common pet toxin’s for National Poison Prevention Week, which is March 20-26 this year.

What are the most common toxins for pets?

Many items that are safe for people are toxic for pets, so before bringing flowers into your home or sharing a snack with your furry pal, ensure they are not hazardous. According to the ASPCA, the ten most common toxins that pets encounter include:

  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Human prescription medications
  • Food
  • Chocolate
  • Veterinary products
  • Household items
  • Rodenticides
  • Plants
  • Insecticides
  • Garden products

What signs should I watch for if my pet is exposed to a toxin?

While each toxin causes specific signs, some general conditions can develop if your pet has been exposed to a poisonous substance. Your furry pal may have come in contact with a potential common pet toxin if they develop the following issues:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Excessive thirst
  • Abnormal bleeding, bruising, or blood in the stool or urine
  • Hyperactivity
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Ataxia, or impaired coordination
  • Excessive salivation
  • Confusion
  • Changes in heart rate or rhythm
  • Changes in breathing

Keep in mind that toxicity signs may not always develop immediately. In fact some problems, such as clotting disorders from rodenticide toxicity, may not become apparent until days after ingestion.

Who should I contact if my pet comes in contact with a potential toxin?

If your pet ingests or comes in contact with a potential toxin, contact an animal poison control hotline immediately. A veterinary toxicologist will guide you on what steps to take to ensure your pet receives the appropriate treatment. Additionally, they will give you a case number that will allow a veterinarian or our team to contact them to discuss a treatment plan.

When in doubt, if your pet comes in contact with a toxic substance, contact an animal poison control center ASAP, then call our team for help.

Need help identifying other pet emergencies? Check out our Emergency Vet Care page for help.

Three Reasons to Spay Your Pet

February 22nd is World Spay Day, a time to reflect on the importance of spaying your pet.

a dog wearing red eyeglasses

Launched in 1995, World Spay Day is an annual campaign to encourage people to save animal lives by spaying companion pets and feral cats. We celebrate World Spay Day annually on the fourth Tuesday in February, which falls on February 22 this year. In addition to reducing the pet overpopulation problem, spaying your pet provides many health benefits. Here are three reasons why it’s essential to spay your female pet.

1: Spaying your pet greatly reduces their risk of developing mammary cancer

By spaying your pet before their first heat cycle, you can significantly reduce their mammary cancer risk. Cats spayed before six months of age have a seven-times reduced cancer risk. A dog’s risk for developing a cancerous mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat, 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat.
If a pet is spayed later in life, they can still develop mammary cancer after sterilization. In dogs, 50% of these mammary tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant. However, in cats, more than 85% of mammary tumors are malignant, and most are aggressive.

2: Spaying your pet keeps her safe from a potentially complicated pregnancy and delivery

Pregnancy and labor can be hard on a female pet, especially if they experienced an accidental pregnancy with a much larger male. Puppies can grow too large to be safely delivered naturally, and even kittens can become stuck during birth, requiring an emergency Cesarean section to save the lives of the mother and babies. After delivery, a pet can develop complications, such as hypocalcemia or uterine infection, which can be life-threatening conditions.

3: Spaying your pet prevents unwanted behaviors during her heat cycle

If you’ve seen a female cat in heat, you likely understand why cat owners want to spay their pets before their first heat cycle. Excessive yowling and howling, aggressive or irritable behavior, and bloody vaginal discharge can occur during a pet’s heat cycle. These issues can be eliminated through spaying.

If you want to schedule your pet’s spay surgery or have questions about the procedure, contact our team for advice.