Category

Health

Pocket Pet General Health information

By | Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Saftey | No Comments

Some of us may have had pocket pets while we were growing up, but many have not had these experiences. While this is not all encompassing information, here is some basic information about some of these species. There is a separate blog on Guinea Pigs: https://southwindsoranimalhospital.ca/2018/11/19/guinea-pigs/ , and a rabbit blog is in the works!

Hamsters

Hamsters are crepuscular animals, this means they are awake at twilight and dawn. Usually we don’t recommend keeping a hamster in a bedroom, unless you are a heavy sleeper, since those wheels go off when we are sleeping.  There are different types of food available for hamsters, but a pelleted diet is preferable to a seed mix.  Hamsters tend to select their favourite parts of the seed mix, so seed mixes predispose to obesity.

Ensuring they have lots of things to do and explore such as different items to chew in the cage, species specific toys that get rotated out to keep them excited. They’ll live most of their lives in their cage, we have to make their cage fun! There are plastic balls that hamsters can ride in, but ensure to keep them away from stairs, and make sure the lids are closed tight before they take off on their ride. No hamster is born an athlete, so slowly increase the time in the ball over a few weeks, and put them back in their cage when they are tired.

Hamsters are more solitary animals, and don’t usually prefer to have other hamsters in the same cage. This does mean that the humans need to spend a good amount of time socializing with them.

 

Gerbils

Gerbils are extremely active and definitely need to be kept busy! They are also prolific chewers, with paper towel rolls and Kleenex boxes being a great addition to the cage. Being a desert species, gerbils need dust baths, much like a Chinchilla. You can buy chinchilla dust at the pet store that they will use to keep their coat clean and dry, it also prevents their scent gland from getting clogged or infected.  Same rules of feeding apply to gerbils as hamsters- seed mixes can predispose them to obesity. Check out Oxbow for some great feeding information for both of these species. Gerbils are more social than hamsters, with their same gender, of course! They can jump, and are good at escaping- so keep those cages shut tight. 

 

Rats

Rats make great pets, they can be quite affectionate toward their owners. Many rats even like being tickled. Rats eat lots of different types of food, though a pelleted diet is also a great idea for keeping them healthy and less likely to become obese. They’ll need a lot of exercise and socialization, it is often a good idea to have more than one rat at once.  Their teeth, much like a hamster or gerbil’s teeth, will grow throughout life. Keeping those incisors at a normal length with items to chew such as chew blocks can help to reduce overgrowth.

 

For all of these species, avoid aspen wood chip bedding, since many species can develop respiratory issues with this type of bedding. Better yet, using recycled newspaper bedding is preferable to wood chip.  Cleaning the cage often is paramount, especially with rats- since they do make a large amount of feces, they may need their cages cleaned daily.

These animals also need regular healthcare, like any other pet. If you think your pet is at all abnormal give your clinic a call!

 

Minimizing Cat Predation of Birds and Small Mammals

By | Health, Veterinarian | No Comments

March, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Dr. Kim Quinn

                It is estimated that cats kill approximately 1.3-4 billion birds and 6.3-22 billion mammals, annually (Loss, Will, & Marra, 2012).  In Canada, this amounts to about 269 million birds and destroy 2 million bird nests in Canada every year (Stewardship Center for BC, 2013).  Cats are the single greatest cause of mortality for these species.  While, it may not seem as important for the loss of mice and rats, it is extremely important to help reduce the loss of species such as songbirds, whose numbers are already threatened by flying into windows and being hit by cars.  Cats have caused multiple species on several islands to become extinct.  We typically don’t know the extent of the numbers cats kills since they bring animals home less than 25% of the time (Stewardship Center for BC, 2013)!

So, what can we do?

The best means of prevention is keeping our cats indoors.

Or, bring them outside when they are on a leash, or in a fenced in area. Keeping them indoors also leads to a longer lifespan, and reduces the risk of cat fight injuries and diseases such as fleas, intestinal parasites, and Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

If you have an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, having something on the cat to scare the birds can help.

Birdsbesafe® cat collar is a Nylon quick-release collar with bright colours and patterns.  Cats wearing the collars killed 19 times fewer birds than uncollared cats in the spring (Willson, Okunlola, & Novak, 2015)!

Cat Bibs can reduce predation by making a cat more visible to prey, and interfering with their ability to pounce on the prey.

– Wearing a collar with a bell or whistle can be helpful, but since many cats wait quietly for prey that venture too close, it may not prevent as many predation events.

 

Birdfeeders

– If you feed birds in your yard, keep feeders on high poles, away from trees or other areas where cats can hide and stalk.

– Don’t allow bird seed to stay on the ground.

– If in doubt, don’t use a bird feeder at all.

 

Spay and Neuter your pets, and advocate for wild animals to be spayed or neutered as well, to reduce the overpopulation.  If you have issues with number of feral cats in your area, notify the Humane Society for solutions such as trapping cats for spay/neuter programs, or adoption if the cats are not feral.

Conservation of species is everyone’s responsibility, keeping our native species safe also will help to keep our pets safe!

 

Loss, S., Will, T., & Marra, P. (2012). The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications (4), 1-7. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2380

Stewardship Center for British Columbia (2013). Species at Risk Voluntary Stewardship Practices for: Reducing Domestic and Feral Cat Predation.

Willson, S., Okunlola, I., & Novak, J. (2015). Birds be safe: Can a novel cat collar reduce avian mortality by domestic cats (Felis catus). Global Ecology and Conservation (3), 359-366.

 

Dog and Cat Toxic Foods

By | Health, Nutrition, Saftey | No Comments

Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jan 2018

Each year the ASPCA posts the top toxins which they received calls for, with human prescription medications topping the list and over-the-counter medications at a close second! Check out the list from 2016 for more information. Many of these ingestions can require lengthy hospital stays and treatments, with some having much better outcomes than others.   With this blog, I will focus on potentially toxic foods to dogs and cats.  

  1. Xylitol

This is an artificial sweetener ingredient which is used in many types of foods, such as: candies, chewing gum, breath mints, tooth whiteners, and is also sold by the bag for use in baking.  In the USA, there is a type of peanut butter which uses xylitol as its sweetener! 

The body sees xylitol as being a sugar molecule, and releases insulin to allow for sugar to be used by the body.  Unfortunately, xylitol cannot be used by the body as a sugar.  Insulin reduces the glucose available, and the body doesn’t have enough sugar around to be able to perform normal activities- these animals become ‘hypoglycemic’ (have low levels of blood sugar).  The hypoglycemia can cause many issues such as lethargy, vomiting, inappetence, and even liver destruction.

                           

  1. Grapes/Raisins

Grapes and Raisins can cause kidney damage to failure, though the exact mechanism is unknown, the level of damage depends on the amount eaten, and the individual’s susceptibility to this toxin.

 

  1. Chocolate

There are a few ingredients which can cause issues with dog.  The fats in chocolate can predispose to pancreatic inflammation.  Theobromine can lead to increased heartrate, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, hyperactivity, coma and death- depending on the dose and type of chocolate. The higher the concentration of theobromine, the higher the risk, with bakers chocolate ingestion having the highest concern of toxicity.

  1. Onions/Garlic/Chives

Onions and garlic cause gas production in the GI tract, which leads to vomiting, bloating, inappetence, lethargy and diarrhea.  Even a small amount can make a dog feel quite ill!

Picture from: https://fruitguys.com/almanac/2012/05/09/the-wonderful-world-of-alliums

  1. Bones

Bones- cooked or raw- can cause many different issues.  The most common health concern is broken upper premolar teeth, leading to the tooth needing to be removed.  Other issues such as bones becoming stuck along the GI tract (and potentially penetrating through the intestines) are concerning possibilities.

  1. Fatty Foods

High fat component in foods can lead to pancreatic inflammation, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Some of these animals can get such terrible pancreatic inflammation that it can lead to pancreatitis- where the pancreas releases digestive enzymes onto itself.  Pancreatitis is a painful condition, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and often requiring hospitalization.

  1. Avocado

The chemical called persin in the avocado plant (leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark) can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea with pets such as dogs and cats.  But also cardiac and respiratory illnesses with birds and rodents! 

  1. Nuts (Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts)

Macadamia nuts are used in many baked goods, but can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and a fever if ingested!  Walnuts and other nuts, especially raw off the tree, can grow fungi which can be toxic to animals and is best if avoided.

Picture from: https://www.priesters.com/category/Cashews-Macadamias-Pistachios-Walnuts-Peanuts

  1. Raw food

Raw food can pose an infection concern, since raw meat can carry bacteria such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.  This can cause diarrhea, vomiting, inappetance, and can increase the risk of infection in other areas of the body.

  1. Milk and other Dairy Products

Dogs and cats have very small amounts of the enzyme lactase, which would break down milk and milk products.  This leads to these products being able to cause diarrhea, bloating and vomiting in our patients.

  1. Uncooked Bread dough

Ingestion of uncooked bread dough can cause major digestive upset such as swelling in the stomach/intestinal tract and severe illness! 

 

If you think your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, please give us and/or Animal Poison Control a call!  Sometimes we will recommend you call the Animal Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.  There is a fee for this service, but it allows for toxicology and internal medicine specialists to evaluate your pet’s case, helps direct the best treatment course. 

Senior Pets: How Can We Help?

By | Dental Disease, Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                                  December 2017

In general, we consider our dog and cats to be ‘senior’ pets when they are over 7 years of age.  This rule may differ with large breed dogs, since these breeds age faster than smaller breed pets.  Depending on the species, we can see different changes over time.  Some of these changes may be preventable, and some we can slow the development over time.  So, how do I know what to do and when?

Here are some of the more common diseases found in senior pets.

    1. Lenticular Sclerosis of the lenses of the eyes- This is seen with almost all geriatric pets, when the lens of the eye becomes gray and opaque over time. This is different from a true cataract, since dogs don’t become blind from the issue, but vision will decrease over time, especially in low light conditions. There is no treatment to reduce the progression, but dogs tend to do well with this issue over time.  Cataracts can also form in dogs and cats, though the majority of time they are due to other health conditions, such as diabetes.  If your vet is concerned there is a cataract present, they may recommend blood and urine testing to rule out diabetes as a possible underlying cause.
    2. Arthritis and Stiffness– Over time, joint wear and tear leads to inflammation, cartilage damage and pain. Most of these pets are stiff when they first get up, but as they start moving their joints produce synovial fluid to increase lubrication which facilitates easier moving as the day progresses.  Some other signs you may see with arthritis include: hesitation to jump or go up/down the stairs, limping, reduction in energy level, and specifically for cats- urinating/defecating outside the litterbox.  There are many different treatments available for arthritis such as: joint supplementation (i.e., glucosamine/chondroitin), pain medication, low impact exercises, and physiotherapy.   Walking and exercise are very important for our senior animals, since we want to keep their muscles intact as long as possible.  Continue bringing them for their daily walks, monitoring how well they are tolerating them.  More frequent number of shorter walks is the best recipe for the seniors.  Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, as well as hiding food in toys such as kongs- to keep their muscles and brain active!
    3. Urinary or Fecal Incontinence- Urinary incontinence is relatively common in spayed female dogs as they age due to estrogen level reduction in the body causing relaxation of the urinary tract sphincter muscle. Urinary incontinence can be seen by drips of urine in the place where the pet was laying.  There are times when urinary incontinence can be confused with a urinary tract infection, or when the open urinary tract sphincter can predispose to a urinary tract infection.  A urinalysis is performed first to help determine underlying causes, and which treatment (antibiotics, an estrogen supplement, or both), may be needed.  Fecal incontinence can be more difficult to diagnose and treat.  This can be caused by nerve issues, an issue with the anal sphincter, or gastrointestinal disease.  Depending on the cause, treatments may be completely different.
    4. Dental Disease- Plaque and tartar are made up of bacteria and food. Initially, they adhere to the teeth, but keep accumulating until they cause gingivitis, recession of the gumline, and finally root disease and decay.  Our senior patients are most at risk because of years of tartar accumulation.  Tooth root abscesses can cause infection, pain and severe disease necessitating emergency treatment. Daily tooth brushing helps to decrease accumulation of plaque and tartar over time.  Dental cleanings can aid in reducing the further progression of dental disease, and helps identify diseased teeth which may need removal prior to causing abscesses.
    5. Lumps and Bumps


 – It is common for humans and animals to have growths as we age. Most lumps will be benign (non-cancerous), but since they could be cancerous we would like to examine them to ensure this isn’t the case.  If there is any question, we may recommend either a needle biopsy, or to have the entire lump removed and sent away for analysis.  This will help us to plan if we need any further stages of treatment, or if the lump has been removed in its entirety.

6. Major organ abnormalities, i.e., Kidneys, Thyroid- These organs commonly have issues with function as time goes on. In cats, an overactive thyroid gland, as well as kidney disease are two different disease which require medical treatment.  An overactive thyroid gland can cause weight loss, hyperactivity, ravenous appetite, and heart disease.  In dogs, an underactive thyroid gland is a common issue, leading to decreased metabolism, weight gain, poor hair coat, and lethargy.  In either pet, kidney disease is a wearing out process over time, causing increased drinking and urination, weight loss, and loss of muscle mass.   With any of these issues, we would recommend blood and urine testing in order to diagnose, then determine types of treatment and prognosis

7. Senility– As we age, our cognitive function will decline, the same happens with our pets. This is often seen as disorientation or confusion, and especially disruption of normal sleep-wake cycles.  In cats, this may mean meowing at odd times of the day, often in the middle of the night.  They may ask for more food when the bowl is full, and otherwise have changes in behaviour over time.  In dogs, asking to go outside more often without needing to go to the bathroom, the development of anxiety disorders, and there is change in the amount they would like to interact with their owners.  With senility, there are a few different treatment types we may adopt such as: Selegiline, a supplement used to aid in cognitive dysfunction syndrome, brain health diets (i.e., Purina Neurocare), or antianxiety medications

8. Proper Diet- Ensuring the correct nutritional balance is important, older animals may need more fiber, less calories, and lower levels of protein, but this is all based on the individual. Calories are especially important for us to monitor over time, since so many senior pets are overweight!  We can calculate the approximate number of calories needed for your pet anytime.

 

This is just a quick overview of some of the common issues we deal with concerning our senior pets.  If you have questions or concerns about your pet, please give us a call!

Oh, no! My pet ate something it shouldn’t have!

By | Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Saftey, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

Do you need to keep your garbage and laundry hamper locked tight, lest your pet get into something?  Unfortunately, this is such a common issue in the animal world.  While some ingestions may be fairly benign, causing mild GI upset, others can be much more severe requiring medical intervention or even surgery.

Each year the ASPCA posts the top toxins which they received calls for, with human prescription medications topping the list and over-the-counter medications at a close second! Check out the list from 2016 for more information. Many of these ingestions can require lengthy hospital stays and treatments, with some having much better outcomes than others.

What about an animal who eats an object?  We have had to perform surgery on many animals to remove foreign objects- usually these will show up on X-Rays, sometimes barium is given to outline the object.  A few of the more memorable objects include: clothing (underwear and socks are the dog’s clothing of choice), string (more common in cats, of course, string can actually saw through intestines- very dangerous!), pieces of foam puzzle mat flooring, rocks, an electrical resistor, branches, condoms, bones, etc., etc.  Check out some of the oddest X-Ray winners from 2016!

What should I do if I suspect my pet ingested something inappropriate?
Call your vet immediately!  If it is something that requires the pet to vomit, they’ll need to see your pet as soon as possible, before the object is absorbed into the body, or passes from the stomach into the intestines.

If it is a potential toxin, your vet will recommend calling the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.  There is a cost to the service, but the benefits of expert toxicology and emergency medicine advice to further direct treatment is worth its weight in gold.  There are some toxins where getting the animal to vomit can be dangerous, so if you are able to get specific information such as the:

– Name of the item

– Strength of the medication/item (i.e., the mg amount of a tablet, or mg/ml concentration of a liquid)

– Possible amount ingested (number of items, volume)

– Approximate time of ingestion

Knowing this information will drastically help improve your pet’s care and treatment.  They will also want to know information about how your pet was feeling prior to ingesting this item, if they are on any medications, or have any pre-existing conditions they should know about.

What if my Vet Recommends Surgery?

If your animal ingests something solid which cannot pass through the GI tract and cannot be vomited up as seen on x-rays or Ultrasound, surgery may be the only option.  When we open up the abdomen under anesthesia, the entire GI tract is felt between the fingers to find all of the possible locations where the foreign material could be.  Many times we have to make multiple cuts into the intestines to rid of foreign materials.  Once the material is removed, the areas of the intestines which were cut open are then sutured back together. A ‘Leak test’ is performed, injecting sterile saline into this area of the intestines to ensure the sutures have formed a strong seal from any leaks.

Of course, pain medication is given to keep your pet comfortable, and antibiotics are sent home with all pets to try to reduce infection risk from opening the intestinal tract. An Elizabethan collar (cone collar) is sent home with your pet to ensure they don’t bite or lick at the incision.

This is a very in depth surgery, and most animals aren’t at their healthiest prior, so these are animals who need to be monitored very thoroughly before, during, and especially after the procedure.  With feeding, they need small frequent meals for a few weeks to avoid overloading the intestines and potentially stretching the sections of the intestines with the sutures.

Prognosis depends on many factors, your vet will be able to discuss this in more depth with you while looking at each individual case.

Surgery

 

 

 

Meeting Your Indoor Cat’s Needs

By | Health, Uncategorized, Veterinarian | No Comments

When thinking of what your pet cat’s daily needs, it is normal to assume just food, water and shelter. Unfortunately, this common misconception often leads to stress, particularly when it comes to indoor cats. The problem is that generally, stress in cats can lead to severe stress-related disease as well as behaviour problems. Cat environmental needs are just as important as food and water in their overall well-being. It is essential to provide them with opportunities to express normal behaviour to reduce stress in their lives (in addition to reducing vet visits for you!). All cats require the same environmental enrichment, regardless of if they are showing signs of stress or behaviour problems as unnoticed stress will, in all likelihood, progress to problems requiring veterinary involvement (over grooming, feline lower urinary tract disease, upper respiratory infections etc.). Here are some ways to implement environmental enrichment for your feline companion in your own home.

Puzzle Feeders

Puzzle feeders are a great way to mimic the natural hunting behaviour of working for a meal. This stimulates your cat to use their senses and wet or dry food can be used. There are many kinds of puzzle feeders available as well as tutorials online to make your own out of household supplies. Another benefit is that feeding with a puzzle feeder will take more time out of the cat’s day to eat. This reduces the amount of food consumed as well as reduces the amount of time to become bored and develop behaviour problems such as over grooming. Each cat should have their own feeding space plus an extra in case.

Recommended:

Cat It Food Tree & Cat It Senses Digger (links to amazon.ca) – “Cat It” carries many other good environmental enrichment products for cats.

Trixie Flip Board Level 2 & Trixie Move 2 Win Level 3 (links to amazon.ca) – Trixie has varied puzzles good for cats and dogs! Different levels to suit different abilities.

Cat Puzzle DIY (links to youtube.com)

DIY Interactive Cat Box (links to youtube.com)

 

Space

Cats need their own space. They tend to be territorial especially when easily accessible resources are lacking. This includes space for feeding, water, litterboxes and scratching as well as vertical space and places to hide.

Water bowls should always be kept away from food as contamination of the water with food particles tends to discourage cats from drinking. Water can also be used as enrichment by adding pet water fountains to drink from as well.

Recommended: Petmate Fresh Flow Fountain (links to amazon.ca)

 

In multi-cat households, each cat should be fed separately to reduce the occurrence of bullying. Cats should also have access to multiple water bowls spaced apart for this same reason.

A general rule for litterboxes is to have a litterbox for each cat, plus an extra. These litterboxes should be spaced out, cleaned consistently and allow for the cat to exit from two directions. This can help to reduce the occurrence of cats not using the litterbox as there will be less conflict in accessing the boxes.

Scratching posts are also an important part of a cat’s wellbeing. Normally, cats scratch to stretch (relieving tension, think of it as yoga for cats.), scent mark and sharpen/wear down claws.  If cats are scratching furniture, it indicates insufficient opportunity to display this necessary behaviour. Supply sturdy posts and mats with different materials to find out what your cat(s) prefer. Additionally, ensure your cat’s nails are regularly kept clipped to reduce the urge to scratch as often.

Vertical space is a great way to add space to your cat’s territory. Indoor cats need this space especially as it is not comparable to that of a natural outdoor cat’s territory. In multi-cat/animal households, it also gives space to avoid conflict and get away. This is necessary to enable your cat to calm down after a stressful encounter. Also, cats often enjoy watching the room/out the window from a high place where they can feel secure – another way to alleviate boredom.

 

Places to hide are essential to increase an anxious cat’s sense of security. Boxes with a hole cut out are a cheap, effective way to incorporate hiding places into your household. Tunnels and cat hideaways are also available from pet stores. Cat towers add places to scratch, vertical space and can have cubbies to hide in. These are highly recommended to enrich your cat’s environment. No matter how confident your cat may seem, places to hide are important. Not having sufficient places to hide can cause a lack of a sense of security thereby likely leading to reduced confidence, stress and eventually, possible stress-induced disease.

 

cat treeCat Trees/towers are great for providing places to hide, vertical space as well as a scratching post.

Although it may seem logical to get more cats to give your cat more stimulation, it is often detrimental to the cats’ wellbeing unless raised together from a young age. All cats are capable of living alone, some cats will accept social contact with another of their species but most will avoid it. If your cat is not bonded, it is far better not to have more than one cat. If you have more than one cat, even if bonded, ensure that the resources mentioned above are adequate. See “further information” section for signs of bonded cats.

 

Interaction

Interaction is important to reduce boredom and its associated problematic behaviours. Cats that are bored, have excess energy and not enough stimulation tend to use their energy and focus on unwanted behaviours (over grooming, destruction of furniture, etc.). They often become stressed.

Cats naturally enjoy pouncing, it releases endorphins similarly to humans when exercising. This in turn makes them happier. It is recommended to engage in play with your cat with toys on sticks and toy mice for them to chase and pounce on. This mimics natural behaviour.

Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. This is an ideal way to interact with your cat as well as stimulating them to think. Most cats are food driven so training should be done with treats. With calorie restricted cats, instead of feeding with a puzzle feeder, the cat can be fed their food as treats daily.

Another way to enrich their lives is to play cat DVDs (sold online and in pet stores). These DVDs include sounds and sights that fascinate the cat for hours. However, this doesn’t entice all cats but it worth trying out with your own. Outdoor bird feeders by accessible windows are similar in effect and often work with all cats.

RecommendedMovies For Cats – The Audio-Visual Cat Toy (links to amazon.ca)

 

Further Information:

Indoor Cat Initiative – Ohio State University

The Body Language of Feline Anxiety (Poster) – Dr Sophia Yin

5 Signs of Bonded Cats

Feuding Felines – Dr Sophia Yin

Covered or Uncovered Litterboxes? – Dr Sophia Yin

Tips for Dealing With Urine Spraying – Dr Sophia Yin

Intestinal Parasites- Worms and more!

By | Health, Patients, Saftey | No Comments

Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                   March 2017

Ever wondered the types of intestinal parasites your pets pick up?  Or why we recommend yearly fecal testing to look for parasites? It is because your pet can pick up parasites fairly easily, and some of them cause severe illness, and/or can be transmitted to people!

Let’s explore!

Roundworms

The most common intestinal parasite in puppies and kittens, it is often passed from the mother animal to its offspring while they are in the uteris, via milk ingestion, or through exposure to an infected animal’s feces.  Also, our pets can pick up this parasite if ingesting wild rodents, such as mice or rats, or from eating their intestines.   This parasite has a round, long body, with a small curl at the end of its tail. We often relate it to cooked spaghetti, with the similar size and shape.  It lives its life in the intestinal tract, releasing roundworm eggs with the animal’s stool to continue the life cycle.

In small numbers, these parasites do not tend to cause any signs or symptoms in our pets. Infested dogs with roundworms are easily found on routine fecal exams.  In large numbers of worms, these worms clog up intestines- much like clumps of hair clog up a drainpipe.  Animals can develop signs and symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, intestinal pain and bloating, inappetance, and lethargy.

Oddly, this parasite can cause major issues with people as well, if animal feces is ingested inadvertently. (Yet another reason to wash your hands after handling pets, and definitely before eating or drinking).  This worm can travel to the skin and/or eye of humans and cause damage.  This parasite is the major reason why we deworm all puppies and kittens multiple times, and also adult animals monthly.

 

Tapeworms

Our next most common intestinal parasite, mainly because animals most commonly obtain the parasite from eating fleas, or eating wild rodents.  When a pet is itchy, they chew at the spot of itch.  It is very common for animals with fleas to eat the flea during the itching process!  Interesting that fleas can contain tapeworm eggs in their intestinal tract.
Many people have heard about people eating tapeworms in the Victorian era as a method of weight loss.  Sounds crazy?  Well, tapeworms eat our food in the intestinal tract, instead of our bodies using the nutrients.  Much like pets with roundworms in small numbers, we may not see any symptoms with the pet.  In larger numbers, we may see issues such as intestinal blockages, lethargy, inappetance, and anemia.  Unfortunately, with this parasite, it is more difficult to find on fecal examination.  It all has to do with the anatomy of the tapeworm.  The body of the tapeworm has segments which break off into the feces of animals.  Each segment can contain thousands of eggs, but only when the segment is opened will the eggs be seen.  So, if there is no segment present in the feces, or the segment isn’t opened- we many not see tapeworm eggs on the test.

If fleas are present, deworming is a good option for these pets, as a precaution.  Good news, tapeworms usually don’t cause any issues with humans, with one rare exception.  Echinococcus is a tapeworm which can cause a cyst disease in the abdomen of humans.  There was only one case of an animal in Ontario with this disease last year, none for a few years prior.  We hope it continues to stay rare.

 

Whipworms

So called because they have narrowed tails, making them appear like a whip, these are less common intestinal parasites. They bury themselves in the large intestine of dogs, cats, and other animals, causing watery, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss. These parasites shed eggs in the stool, which become infective after sitting for 10-60 days.  Remember to pick up any poop from your backyard often!  This can slow to stop the life cycle and infective nature of these parasites to other animals.

With this parasite, since it sheds eggs on and off, there are times when it may not be found in the stool sample, even if the pet has the parasite.  Good news, many of our heartworm preventions and broad spectrum deworming medications will also treat this parasite.  Also good news, it isn’t spread to people.

 

Cryptosporidium

This one-celled parasite is spread from one animal to another via feces.  In many animals, they won’t cause any symptoms, but animals who have other health issues or high burdens, they can cause a severe watery diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting.  It can be found on a fecal exam, but because if its size, can only been seen with a microscope.

Yes, this parasite can be spread to people via feces- wash your hands after handling your pet, and pick up their poop often to prevent spread.

 

Giardia (a.k.a. “Traveller’s Diarrhea”  or “Beaver Fever”)

Another one-celled protozoan parasite, giardia is picked up from drinking from fecal contaminated water sources such as puddles, or from exposure to another dog or cat’s feces.  This parasite is easily spread to humans via ingesting contaminated water, or feces.  It causes a watery diarrhea in animals and humans, and severe dehydration.  Wash your hands after handling your pet to reduce your risk!

This parasite is often found on routine parasitic testing, though it is also shed into the feces on and off during an infection.  Another parasite which necessitates picking up their feces as soon as it has been excreted, multiple baths to prevent re-infection through self-grooming, and multiple treatments.

 

Those are the most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats.  Now remember, wash your hands after handling your pet, and definitely before eating or drinking; pick up their feces regularly (daily is best); fecal test yearly; and don’t forget to deworm your pet!

Appropriate Treats for Pets

By | Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Saftey | No Comments

February 2017                                                                                          Dr. Kim Quinn

The world is our oyster for foods and treats!  There is also a plethora of information regarding toxic foods for us humans, so we are less likely to ingest odd things.  It isn’t the same way for dogs and cats as for us humans, we have to be a bit more careful with them.  So many different toxins exist for our pets, which are not an issue for us.  Everyone knows about chocolate, grapes and raisins, but some of the lesser known toxins such as macadamia nuts and walnuts, caffeine, fatty foods being predisposed to cause pancreatitis, xylitol (in gums, candies, etc.,), onions or garlic.  This is just to name a few!

Do pets even need treats?
Nutritionally, treats aren’t really necessary for us to give our pets.  Many dogs love their kibble and will be just as happy with a piece of kibble as any other treat, and it is safer for their GI tract (less vomiting or diarrhea!).

Does your pet have allergies or food reactions (sensitive GI tract)? 

We have dogs in the clinic almost daily with vomiting or diarrhea issues with having a new treat.  If you have a pet with allergies, or has had issues such as these in the past- don’t get creative with new treats since they are at high risk of an issue.

Amounts of treats

Calorie content of treats should be less than 10% of the total amount of calories needed in a day.  Just like us, we can’t eat only treats or our nutrition will not be properly balanced.  If you would like to know the amount of calories your pet should ingest in a day, give us a call and we can calculate that for you! Everything in moderation.

So what types of treats should we offer our dogs?

We need to balance ‘tasty’ and ‘healthy’ for our pets.  Small amounts of vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers or apples can be great treats for our pets.

Since raw and freeze dried foods and treats carry the risk of bacteria which can make pets ill (and us!), we recommend using cooked food and treats (See: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/files/2008/04/M2-Raw-Meat-Owner1.pdf for more information).

With puppies, we can use bland items such as small amounts of plain cheerio cereal as training treats.  If they love their kibble, use that as training treats instead- just reduce the amount they would eat at their meals!

Cold Weather Safety

By | Disease, Health, Saftey, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

January 2017                                                            Dr. Kim Quinn

It’s cold out there!  Just as in the heat of summer, we do need to take care of our pets in the cold of winter- protect them from the elements.  Each animal’s weather tolerance is different, depending on fat stores, fur coat, and other issues such as arthritis which can worsen with cold weather.  Animals with poor circulation due to other underlying issues such as kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc., can also reduce a pet’s cold tolerance.

Walking Safety

If it is too cold outside for you, it’s too cold outside for them.  Have your dog will wear a sweater or jacket when outside to help shield them from the wind.  If you’re going out for a walk and it is below zero, there are some great booties dogs can wear to help protect their feet from the cold.  My dog will limp if she is outside in the cold because it hurts her feet.  While she doesn’t like having the booties put on, she is much more comfortable on the walk and doesn’t limp during or afterwards.

If your pet isn’t wearing booties, check between their toes and remove any snow or ice balls which may have accumulated.  This will make your pet feel much more comfortable.  Wipe their feet down after coming in from outside, to remove any salt or de-icer still on their paws.  Road salt poses a unique hazard for our pets.  Ingestion of these salts can cause major GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, or even neurological issues.  To reduce the risk of ingestion with your dog, use a dog friendly variety such as PetSafe Icemelter.  This is a safer product since it does not contain salt, but instead amides which can cause some GI upset if in high dosages.  Of course, try to avoid your dog getting into any of these products for their own safety.

Avoid ice, which could cause you and/or your pet to slip and fall.  This is another situation where booties can be helpful in increasing traction.

Car Safety

Don’t leave your pet alone in the car or outside for longer than 5 minutes in the cold.  They become subject to hypothermia from the lower temperatures much quicker than we do, they have a much higher surface area to lose the heat from!

When going outside to start up your car, bang on your hood a few times.  Animals can hide amongst the warm car engines during the wintertime, to seek out any heat.  This may save a life!

If you’re refilling any fluids for your car, keep your pets inside!  Clean up any messes left behind as soon as possible.  Antifreeze is very toxic to pets, causing fatal kidney failure if left untreated.

House Safety

Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors around the house, especially near the furnace or other gas powered appliances. It could save many lives!

Stay safe out there!Dog Toe Impressions in Snow

Canine Vaccines

By | Health, Saftey, Vaccines, Veterinarian | No Comments

Dogs have a range of different vaccines which we administer, based on their likelihood of exposure due to their lifestyle. What are these vaccines and why do we recommend protection?  Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to form antibodies, essentially soldiers whose job is to seek out viruses/bacteria and destroy them before they produce ill effects or to reduce disease severity and duration.

 

 

LocalAnesthesia

 

Distemper Combination Vaccine (DA2PP) This vaccine has a combination of four different viruses:

  1. Distemper

Distemper is virus which attacks many different areas of the body- often the respiratory tract is first, but vomiting/diarrhea, callouses on the nose and footpads, seizures, muscle rigidity, abnormal tooth enamel formation, death, etc. Thank goodness this vaccine is available. With such a severe disease, vaccination has drastically reduced the number of distemper cases present.

  1. Adenovirus
  2. Parainfluenza

Since both Adenovirus and Parainfluenza cause the same types of symptoms, I am going to lump them together for this discussion.  Both these viruses cause upper respiratory infections initially, but can also lead to bronchitis if left untreated.

  1. Parvovirus

Most people have heard of this virus, it is highly contagious via feces from dog to dog and can be fatal if left untreated.  It can cause a bloody diarrhea, with the most susceptible patients being puppies, especially if they are not fully vaccinated when they are exposed. The vaccine drastically reduces the disease severity, each booster vaccine strengthens the immune system.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is an easily transmitted virus mainly through bites since it is transmitted via saliva, but also can be obtained from drinking from a contaminated puddle (somewhat rare).  With Rabies being a fatal virus which attacks the nervous system, this is a public health issue and thus is the only Provincially Mandated Vaccination.  All dogs and cats should be kept up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations to keep them, and the people they contact, safe.

Leptospirosis Vaccine

Treating a dog with leptospirosis can be heartbreaking, they become ill so quickly after drinking from a contaminated puddle, or licking their paws after walking through a contaminated water source.  Animals such as rats, squirrels and racoons can harbor the bacteria which is urinated into puddles.  The bacteria makes the trip to the liver and/or kidneys, causing the organs to be unable to function.  Dogs develop vomiting, dehydration, inappetance, lethargy, and will die without proper treatment.  Often times, these dogs are hospitalized for a full week on IV fluids, antibiotics, and medication for their nausea to keep them eating.  Even worse, this bacteria can be spread to people via contaminated urine.

Lyme Vaccine

Ticks are a major issue in this area, especially during spring and fall.  Not all ticks transmit Lyme disease, but the Ixodes ticks which can spread the disease are increasing in the area. Lyme disease causes issues such as joint stiffness and pain, kidney damage, lethargy, etc.  The lyme vaccine helps to protect our dogs who have been bitten by a lyme infected tick by giving the dog antibodies to fight the lyme bacteria once it is in the body.  This is an important vaccine for dogs going in lyme endemic areas such as the Provincial Parks, Ojibway, camping or travelling dogs, since these ticks are found near wildlife such as deer and mice, but also migrating birds!

‘Kennel Cough’ Vaccine (Bordetella, Parainfluenza, Adenovirus)

The CIRDC complex- or ‘Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex’ – is a group of bacteria and viruses which cause similar signs of sneezing, coughing, and if the infection spreads to the lungs, a pneumonia.  These are diseases easily acquired from breathing in bacteria or viruses which have been sneezed or coughed out by another dog. The locations our dogs are most likely to infect themselves include: a grooming salon, dog park, another dog on the other side of the fence, the vet clinic, etc., any other location where there will be an infect dog nearby.  The great news about the vaccine is, while our dogs can still pick up the bacteria or virus, they are going to be better protected from actually becoming ill from these infectious agents.  It may mean a few days of coughing in a vaccinated patient, versus a fatal pneumonia in an unvaccinated patient.   Now, after learning all this information, think about your dog.  What are they exposed to (other dogs, wildlife, ticks, puddles), and what should your dog be protected against?

– Dr. Kim Quinn DOG