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September is Senior Pet Health Month

How do I know when my pet is a senior, and how should I care for them?

On average, pets age seven times faster than people. Typically, dogs and cats are considered senior when they’re about seven years old. Of course, size and breed have a lot of bearing on the aging process, and cats generally live longer than dogs.  

Just like us, pets tend to require more TLC as they age, and they are more prone to developing health problems like arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, thyroid conditions, and diabetes. While aging itself is not a disease, according to Vetstreet, there are a few symptoms you should keep an eye on when it comes to caring for your older pet:

  • Changes in weight (especially weight loss)
  • Decreased appetite or lack of appetite
  • Increased water consumption
  • Changes in urine or stool patterns
  • New lumps, bumps or swellings — or changes in existing ones
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing or breathing heavily or rapidly at rest
  • Sudden collapse or weakness
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping
  • Foul mouth odor or drooling
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Disorientation

If you are noticing any of these signs in your senior pet, it might be time for a check up. Request an appointment through our app 📲 or contact us here, so we can perform a nose-to-tail exam and create a plan for their senior care.

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How do you know if your pet is in pain?

Here are 6 signs to look for 🐶🐱

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Animals are very good at hiding pain, and they can’t tell us what’s wrong. It’s important to be aware of the most common signs of pain so we can identify and treat any problems early. Here are some changes to look for in your pet:

#1 Slowdown in activity

  • Not going up or down stairs; difficulty standing after lying down can be signs of osteoarthritis
  • Less play time—not playing as much as usual can signal pain in joints, neck, or back
  • Less jumping/a reluctance to jump onto surfaces. This especially applies to cats who, when feeling well, love to explore high places. If they are not doing this, it is likely because of hip or back pain

#2 Decreased eating and drinking. While loss of interest in food or water can signal a much more serious medical issue, it also can be a sign of mouth or abdominal pain

#3 Changes in grooming behavior—increased grooming or licking of an area on the body may indicate pain in that area or referred pain. Decreased grooming, especially in cats, may indicate it is too painful to twist around

#4 Changes in urine or bowel movements could be related to pain and may indicate an inability to maintain the position to eliminate. Cats also may have trouble climbing in and out of the litter box

#5 Increases in respiration may be caused by pain

#6 Changes in routine; different sleeping patterns and not resting in the usual places also may indicate the animal is in pain

If you’re noticing any of these symptoms in your pet, please send us a chat 💬or request an appointment through our app 📲. Of course, you can also always give us a call (401) 398-7807 or contact us here.

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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.

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Stay Cool During This #HotDogSummer! 🥵

Beware of heat exhaustion in your dog!

Summer is in full force, and it is hot out there! Please remember: while you’re out hiking a trail, schmoozing your neighborhood, or strolling the sands, it’s hot for your dog, too! 

Heat exhaustion in dogs can be an extremely emergent situation. We hear tragic stories about pets being left in poorly ventilated vehicles far too frequently, but your dog can also get overheated being left in a yard too long with inadequate shade or going on too vigorous a walk during the zenith of the day. Stay on the lookout for:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Abnormal gum color or bruising in gums
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

In the event you suspect heat exhaustion in your pet, immediately find a cooler, shady place. Pour cool (not cold) water over your dog’s head and body and contact us ASAP! As always, please reach out if you have any questions!

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Grass awns, weed seeds, foxtails, OH MY!! 🙀

These tiny, spiky seeds can cause BIG problems.

🌾 What is a grass awn?

Grass awns are hairy, bristle-like, appendages that grow from the ear/flower of barley, rye, and other grasses, and typically flower in June and July. They are also known as foxtails due to their long, unbranched, spike-like flowerheads. Some other colloquial names are: weed seeds, june grass, timothy hay, cheatgrass, and downy brome.

⚠️ Why are they dangerous?

Grass awns can burrow their way under your pet’s skin, causing pain and severe inflammation and/or infection.

👀 Prevention

Examine your dog after you’ve returned home from a walk or play time outside. A grooming brush can remove a tangled awn from a dog’s coat, and this is a good time to also inspect the dog’s snout, ear flaps, and between its toes for any foreign materials. Keeping the fur between your dog’s toes trimmed will also help.

🐕 When is it safe to remove a grass awn from my pet?

For best results, remove grass awns from your dog’s coat whenever you see them. If the awn is in your dog’s nose, or has punctured your dog’s body, then a trip to the vet is a MUST‼️ Do not attempt to remove the awn yourself, as this could lead to breakage and further issues like infection and inflammation. In the worst case scenario, grass awns in dogs can migrate throughout the dog’s body, causing damage to vital organs, and deteriorating the health of your furry friend.

💬 Summary

Carefully examining your dog after walks and time spent outside is the best defense against grass awns. Call us ASAP at (401) 398-7807 if you suspect that your dog is suffering from the ill effects of coming in contact with them!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Hill & Harbour Veterinary Center.

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Fireworks are scary for pets!! 🎆🎇

Here’s a plan to help keep your pup safe and stress-free this 4th of July

It’s that time of year again! Summer is in full swing and, while us humans absolutely love those backyard barbecues, late summer nights, and firework displays, these loud noises and increased activity can cause some anxiety in our four-legged friends. Therefore, here are some tips to diminish your pet’s fireworks frenzy…

  1. Get plenty of exercise with your pet during the day to decrease any pent up nerves/energy when the fireworks start.
  2. Provide a safe space for your pet in a familiar and comfortable room inside. Play some calming Anti Anxiety Music for Dogs, white noise, or the TV to help drown out the fireworks. Ensure all doors and windows are closed.
  3. Distract with high value treats and toys ➡️ try a Kong with frozen peanut butter to keep them busy and happy.
  4. Consider an anti-anxiety wrap like the Thundershirt Calming Wrap to provide gentle pressure that helps decrease anxiety and stress for some pets.   
  5. Make sure your pet has proper identification – Check your pet’s identification tag for up to date contact information. Tip: If you don’t have time to order a tag with accurate information, you can always use a luggage tag to add your information and attach it to the collar.
  6. Microchip your pet to help your local officials get your fur-baby back to you in the chance they do fearfully flee… Although microchips are not tracking devices, they do help lost pets be reunited with their parents. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date, and if your pet isn’t microchipped ➡️ Use your app to request a microchip appointment today! Even if it is too late for the upcoming holiday, it is good general practice to have your pet micro-chipped.
  7. Contact us if you’d like to discuss prescription sedatives and other options to help decrease the fireworks trauma for your furry-friend.

Stay safe this summer and happy 4th!

🚨 June is National Pet Preparedness Month ⛑

Use these tips to create a plan for your pets before disaster strikes.

As we’ve all experienced this year, disaster can happen out of nowhere and have an impact on not only our lives, but our pets as well. These situations are almost impossible to predict, but you can prepare for the unexpected by staying informed and creating a plan. Here are some tips to make sure you and your furry family are ready:

  • Include your pets in your emergency plans. Typically what is best for you in an emergency is also what’s best for your pets. Whether you decide to stay or evacuate, plan for your pet’s needs and safety as well.
  • Build a separate emergency kit for your pets. You can view Ready.gov’s checklist for items to pack here.
  • Make sure and keep digital records and/or pictures to identify your pet after a disaster in case you become separated. You can use our hospital app to access your pet’s vaccination records at all times. We also strongly recommend that you microchip your pet and keep their registration information up to date.
  • Create a list of places that accept pets if an emergency happens. Use websites such as https://www.gopetfriendly.com/ to find pet friendly hotels and other facilities.

For more information, visit https://www.ready.gov/pets or contact us today!

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!