Dog and Cat Toxic Foods

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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:

  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! 

Image: JamieB
  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:

  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. 

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

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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.





Intestinal Parasites- Worms and more!

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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!


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.



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.



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.



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

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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: 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

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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

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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.





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

Animal Wellness Bloodwork

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Medicine is an adapting science- as it evolves, we similarly evolve to provide better care.  “Fire Engine” medicine was the norm years ago, only seeing the doctor when there was an emergency.  Now, we strive to practice preventative medicine- identifying and treating issues before they cause major health abnormalities. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is of the upmost truth and importance.

It is for this reason that human doctors perform yearly bloodwork, even when we are young and healthy.  At our Veterinary clinic, we are no different.  Before any anaesthetic procedure we perform wellness bloodwork, especially before spay or neuter surgery when our patients are a year of age or less.  Monitoring kidney and liver values at a young age will help identify certain genetic issues causing organ insufficiency, but also gives us a baseline for comparison for when your pet is ill in the future.

What a difference a year makes! Remember, pets age much faster than we do.  One year of their life can be akin to anywhere between 6 to 9 years of our lives.  Yearly bloodwork is always a great idea, but even more so when our pets become seniors.  In most dogs and cats, we consider a get to be a senior when they’ve surpassed seven years of age.

Here are some examples of blood tests we perform to identify abnormalities with our patients:

Kidney Function

– The kidneys are a paired organ which helps excrete toxins into urine, regulates blood concentration and pressure, and red blood cell production. Parameters such as Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine and Urine testing help elucidate function of the kidneys.  A newer parameter to us, SDMA, helps to identify when damage to the kidneys exceeds 25%, instead of waiting for BUN or Creatinine to elevate- which may only occur when over 75% damage has occurred!

Liver Function

– There are a few liver enzymes which are either released when liver cells die, or if they leak out of the cell.  Monitoring these trends over time help us to know overall liver health.  With very small breeds, often we will even perform a liver function test called Bile Acids, to help us identify possible genetic issues which may pose complications with anesthesia.

Gall Bladder/Pancreas/Intestines

– Organs very close to the liver, there are some blood values which give us hints as to whether these organs are functioning well.  If there are any abnormalities with these values, we may recommend other imaging tests such as abdominal ultrasounds to look into the issue further.

Complete Blood Count

– This panel of tests examines numbers and structure of Red and White Blood Cells in the bloodstream, helping to identify if there are infections or inflammatory issues which may be present.

Sodium/Potassium and other Ions

– Vomiting, reduced absorption or increased loss will change concentrations of these ions.  When it proceeds to one extreme or the other, we may need to intervene with treatments.

These are just a few examples of the parameters we evaluate with our wellness blood panels, depending on the blood panel which is chosen for your pet.  Help us find issues before they become major health concerns!








Feline Vaccines

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By: Kimberley Quinn                                                                           October, 2016

Most owned cats are indoor only, reducing their risk of exposure to viruses from other cats which can make them ill.  Even indoor cats can be at risk, thus keeping their vaccines up-to-date is an excellent idea! Indoor cats can try to escape, or can be nose-to-nose with a feral cat through a screened window or door.  Interestingly, many cats are exposed to viruses from their mother cat around the time of birth.  During their lives, exposure may change.  Areas of higher exposure would include: being in a shelter, going outdoors, living in a multi-cat household, etc.

There are three different vaccines which we administer to cats to strengthen their immune system, helping them be prepared for a viral attack.  All vaccine plans are tailored to the specific patient.

  1. Feline Leukemia

The “friendly” cat virus, Feline Leukemia can be obtained from drinking from an infected puddle, through bites, while in mom’s womb, or through grooming.

This virus causes the destruction of T-cells, immune system cells needed to fight infections.  When this population of immune cells are destroyed, the cat is then susceptible to other infections, anemia, and cancers.

With any kitten, we recommend blood testing first for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) to determine whether they have already been exposed to these viruses. Once we know they are negative for these viruses, they are vaccinated for Feline Leukemia twice, one month apart, to give some immunity.

When our cats grow, if they are deemed to not be an escape risk, are not going outside, then the vaccine can be stopped.


  1. Feline Upper Respiratory Complex “FVRCP”

    (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis, Panleukemia (Feline Distemper), Chlamydia)

Upper respiratory viruses (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis and Chlamydophila) are very easily transmitted between cats via grooming, sharing bowls, or when at high density locations (such as animal shelters, outdoor cats).  Persian cats are especially at risk due to their flattened facial anatomy. The most common symptoms would be upper respiratory or eye infections, but they can also cause oral ulcers.  Kittens will have three boosters of FVRCP when kittens, boostered at their annual appointment, then every 3 years (Depending on the vaccine which is used).

Panleukemia is a parvovirus which causes a suppression of the immune system as well as severe, life threatening diarrhea.

Viruses such as feline herpesvirus can stay dormant in the body until a period of stress causes them to re-emerge.  Vaccinating cats for upper respiratory viruses aids in the prevention of illness, or if they have already been exposed, to reduce the length and severity of illness.


  1. Feline Rabies

The incidence of rabies in the wildlife population has decreased exponentially due to excellent prevention and control programs such as wildlife vaccine baiting and domestic pet vaccination.  Hamilton area has had a few incidences recently of rabies in wild animals being transmitted to domestic dogs and cats within the last year, strengthening our resolve to continue protecting our pets. There have only been 4 cases of humans acquiring rabies in Ontario since 1985. In comparison with the rest of the world, the WHO estimates there are 55,000 human deaths from rabies each year in Asia and Africa, with 30-50% of cases occurring in children under 15 years of age. (Public Health Agency of Canada)

We vaccinate for rabies to protect our pets, ourselves, our friends and family.  Rabies virus is easily transferred by scratches or bites to people or other animals.  The virus can be fatal within days.

If a cat does scratch or bite a human, it is reported to the Health Unit and the animal is put under quarantine.  Quarantine is essentially a ‘house-arrest’ for the pet, the Health Unit re-evaluates the pet a certain number of days after the quarantine to ensure the pet is still alive and well.


If your kitten or cat is due for vaccines, or you would like to discuss your cat’s risk further, please give us a call.





Disaster Preparedness

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Tornadoes and other natural disasters remind us that we can never be too prepared for an incident.  During the ice storm a few years ago, I remember my mother filling up jars of water and stocking the basement with canned goods ‘just-in-case’.  After this week’s tornados, getting similarly prepared is an excellent idea.  But, what can we do for our pets?

  1. Make a pet first-aid kit and keep it in a location known to the entire family.

Some items to keep in the kit include: Veterinary records, extra pet medications, photos of your pets, phone number and directions to the clinic, emergency contact information, poison control, bandage equipment, tick pullers, wound disinfectants, benedryl (diphenhydramine), gloves, a leash, styptic powder, a muzzle, and nail trimmers.

  1. Have a pet carrier handy in which your animal can turn around in comfortably.

Don’t wait for an emergency to occur, stores may sell out!  Have enough carriers to evacuate your animals on short notice. Don’t take your animals out of their carriers unless you’re in an enclosed space.  Animals don’t know what is happening, the fear can drive them to run away- regardless of your intentions.

  1. Ensure your pet is microchipped.

Collars and tags can fall off pets easily, a microchip is for life.

  1. Always keep a supply of food and water available for all of the animals for at least one week.
  2. Put a decal sticker on your window which states how many and the types of pets in the house.
  3. If you have to evacuate your house, take your pet with you in a carrier, especially if you are unsure how many days it will be until your return.  

Ticks- What can I do about them?!

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My first experience with a tick was seeing something small and oval, like a small brown pebble, on my dog’s ear.  On further inspection, I noticed the round bodied thing had lots of legs! Relatives of the spider, adult ticks also have eight legs on the underside of their body.  Depending on the lifestage of the tick, and whether it has had a meal, they can vary in size from a few millimeters to up to 1.0cm!


The tick lifecycle depends on which species of tick we are discussing.  The most common tick in this area is the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), with the recently emerging tick in the area being the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis) which is mainly found at the provincial parks, but is also now found at Malden Park as well as other areas in the city.  They feed on many different types of mammals, rodents and birds, allowing them to thrive. Since these ticks can feed on birds, they can drop off practically anywhere.  Which is likely why the first tick I found on my dog was acquired in our fenced-in backyard.

Found usually in grasses, they sit at the tip of grass blades waving their front legs, waiting to grasp onto anything that walks by. Ticks feed by embedding their mouthparts in the body of an animal, preferring dark areas such as the groin, armpits, and around the ears and neck.  They drink blood to feed, and can be attached for up to a few days until they are fully fed.  When fed, they fall off the animal to fully digest their food. Females will lay their eggs on the underside of grass blades or leaves to start the lifecycle once more.

Ticks can transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Moutain Spotted Fever, Tick paralysis, Erlichia, just to name a few, and different species of ticks can contain a different spectrum of diseases.  For example, the American Dog tick does not carry Lyme disease, while the Deer Tick is the most common tick to spread this disease.

So, what can we do about it?  After bringing in your dog from your backyard, and especially after bringing them for walks at the provincial parks or while camping, run your hands over every inch of their body to ensure there are no ticks.  If you do find a tick, it should be removed.  We have a small device called ‘tick pullers’ which can be placed at the base of the tick and used much like the back end of a hammer to detach the tick. If you are unable to get to a vet and do not have ‘tick pullers’, you can also use tweezers.  Grasp near the base of the tick, pull, being careful not to sever the mouthparts with the tweezers.  If a piece of the mouthparts are left in the body of the dog, it acts much like a sliver- it will make its way out over time, but could predispose to infection in that area.  Because it takes up to 24 hours for Borrellia burgdorferi (the parasite that causes Lyme disease) to move from the stomach of the tick to the body of the dog, removing the tick promptly should be the first step to preventing Lyme disease.  Unfortunately, other tick diseases such as Erlichia can take as little as 3 hours to pass from the tick to our dog.

Bring that removed tick into your Veterinarian, it can be sent to a laboratory for testing, to see if it is carrying any diseases which could put your animal at risk.

For dogs at increased risk, those who go camping or walking through the Provincial Parks often, or who are acquiring ticks in the backyard, there is a Lyme vaccine which can aid in the fight against Lyme disease.  Also, preventative medications to help kill or repel ticks are also available at your veterinarian.  Give us a call and we can discuss this in further detail.