Pocket Pet General Health information

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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: , and a rabbit blog is in the works!


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 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 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!


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.





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!

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!








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.  

Quality of Life- A Discussion about End of Life

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Though a difficult topic to discuss, it is an important point of discussion nonetheless for so many families.  Living with a pet for many years is so fulfilling!  Geriatric pets especially can be a blessing, being calmer than kittens or puppies, and less likely to chew on our shoes!  Napping with a purring cat on your chest is one of the most soothing sounds. Playing fetch with a playful dog will fuel your happiness like a hug from a family member.  Determining when our pets are close to the end of their life is a very difficult thing to evaluate, especially as the pet owner.

How do we decide when it is time for our loving pet members, when quality of life has declined to the point where euthanasia is the recommended option?  It can’t be stated enough, this is the most difficult decision a pet owner ever has to make, since it concerns another animal’s life.

Here are the parameters we can use to help us reach a decision:

  1. Is your pet eating and drinking well?

Eating and drinking are arguably the most important parameters for life.  Nutrition and fluid help organs function properly, lack of these items lead to discomfort, pain, and death. Unless your pet went from having a ravenous appetite to no appetite at all, this sign can be confusing for some owners.  Animals who have been picky eaters through their whole life can be more difficult to evaluate.  If a pet has gone 48 hours without eating or 24 hours without drinking needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Really, any change in your pets normal eating and drinking habits should be further investigated by a veterinarian.

  1. Are they able to go to the bathroom normally?

The way we rid toxins from the body is via urine and feces.  If either of these important functions cease, severe issues will follow as the toxins accumulate.  In households with multiple cats or dogs, these functions can be difficult to monitor.  If one animal is more concerning than another, house them separately.  Keep the dog or cat in one room apart from the others with litterbox (for cats), water and food available.  Keeping a diligent eye will help you to know if an issue is present.  No urination in 24 hours is a major medical issue, bowel movements depend a bit more on their regular habits.  If your animal typically has a bowel movement daily, having none after 48-72 hours would be very concerning.  If they typically have twice daily bowel movements, it would be more concerning to have no bowel movement after 36-48 hours.  We also need to take into account the amount of food they are currently eating: the less food intake, the less bowel movements.

  1. Do they still want to socialize well with family members?  Are they interacting well with other family members, no aggression issues?

Most animals are stoic and will not show us any abnormalities such as pain or discomfort.  An animal who does not wish to socialize with its family is a major concern, possibly hiding a severe underlying issue.  Animals who are in pain may react aggressively towards their family members, out of fear that being touched will cause the issue to worsen.  If there has been a personality change, your animal should be brought into the clinic as soon as possible.  For example, we once had a dog be brought in for severe aggression, only to learn it was in congestive heart failure.  After treatment was started, his demeanor went back to normal.  When his condition worsened, he became aggressive once again.

  1. Are they able to walk well, without assistance?

Ability to walk to the bathroom, food or water is absolutely necessary.  Any change in ability to ambulate should be seen by a veterinarian.  There are different options to help patients move with greater ease: joint supplements, food, medication, or walking aids, for example.  We can help you determine the best options for your pet.

  1. Are they breathing normally? (Not laboured)

Laboured breathing can mean a few different underlying conditions.  Heart and lung conditions can worsen very quickly, or can be slow to change over time.  If while your pet is sleeping, if their respiratory rate is greater than 30 breaths in a minute, it is time to be seen by a veterinarian.

  1. Do they still want to play?

Social interaction is food for the soul. If your pet has always been one to want to throw a ball around, or chase a toy, and they stop this behaviour, there can be something major going on.

  1. Are they showing anxiety or agitation?

Anxiety and agitation can take many forms: aggression, seeking alone time, objecting to a change in routine, reacting over-exuberantly to a situation, etc.  While behavioural changes can be subtle, they can give us hints to look into issues further.  Anxiety and agitation are more common as animal’s age.

With any animal, the decision to euthanize is difficult.  We keep all of these above parameters in mind in order to make a choice which is acceptable for the patient and ourselves.  If you ever have questions about your own pet, remember to give us a call.  We can help you through these situations, trying to let you know if and when the time is right for your pet to cross the rainbow bridge.  Life is about quality- how enjoyable it can be, not quantity- the amount of time we have.  When we get an animal, we need to remember the promise that we have made to them, to love them for life, and give them comfort at the end.24HourEmergency




Puppies and Kittens!

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CaesarianSectionThis time of the year we see many of our adorable, furry, new additions to our pet families.  Getting a puppy or a kitten is such an exciting time for everyone involved, and we love seeing our new friends!

When you get a new member of your family, there is always a lot of preparation: new food and water dishes, toys, leashes, a crate for puppies, litterboxes for kittens, and pet food, just to name a few!


There are so many types, how do I chose a Pet Food?

The first rule for any puppy or kitten is to be on a puppy or kitten specific food.  Read the bag, ensure that it is not an ‘All Life Stages’ type of food, which is used to feed every age category from a pediatric, to an active adult, to a geriatric, to a nursing mother.  It is better to feed an age specific food to ensure they are getting the correct nutrition.

The second rule is, if switching diets, perform a gradual transition over at least a 7 day period.  During this 7 days, slowly increase the proportion of new food in the mixture.  This can help to avoid some vomiting or diarrhea which can arise with a quick diet change.

Our recommendation with any diet is to ensure the company you are working with has performed research diet trials, this helps to ensure the food is going to be safe for your pet.


When does my pet need to come to the vet for Vaccines?

It is of the utmost importance that pets are vaccinated, especially puppies and kittens.  Our typical vaccination schedule for these pets is vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, then yearly thereafter.  At each of these appointments, new vaccines are added, and some vaccines are boosted to provide more lasting immunity.  Some animals may be vaccinated earlier, give us a call if you have questions about a vaccine schedule which is appropriate for your pet.  We will also discuss lifestyle choices for your pet to determine vaccines outside of the core recommendations which might be needed.


What about deworming?

At any pet’s first vet visit as well as their yearly visits, we recommend brining in a fecal sample which is less than 24 hours old (and not frozen) for parasite evaluation.  Many puppies and kittens acquire intestinal parasites from their parents, through the milk, in-utero, or via feces.  Some of these parasites can be transmitted to people via feces, so the sooner we can treat them, the better.

We often prophylactically treat puppies and kittens with broad spectrum deworming treatment for their own and their owner’s safety.  But, there isn’t one dewormer which will treat all intestinal parasites, so the fecal sample is so important.


Fleas, Heartworm and other treatments?

When you come for your first visit, we will discuss these different preventions, and will recommend something specific depending on their risk levels or what is found on their physical examination.


Dog Bathroom Training

In order to train your puppy, bring them outside as soon as they wake up, after they eat and drink, and every half hour when you are home. When they urinate or defecate outside, praise them!  This can be either a pat on the head, or a treat to eat.  If they make a mistake and go inside, don’t punish them or yell.  Punishment is confusing for a young dog, it leads to fear of their owners since they don’t actually link the punishment to the behaviour.
Some owners will hang a bell by the back door, ringing it when bringing the puppy outside.  Over time, the bell sound is linked with their visits outside, so they begin ringing the bell themselves.  This can help to signal you when they need to visit the facilities.


Puppy and Kitten Biting

These cuties are used to playing with their littermates by biting around their head and neck, they translate this behaviour to biting our hands, arms and legs.  If you want to ‘nip’ this behaviour in the bud, it requires patience and dedication from everyone at home.  I could write an entire blog on biting, thus I encourage you to check out our website, sign in for a full list of articles on puppies and kittens, including a great article on how to decrease biting behaviours.


There is only so much space I have to write about these important milestones and so much more to discuss.  Give us a call if you have questions about your new critters!








Pain Identification in Cats

By Health, Patients, Veterinarian No Comments

Pain In Cats


Cats are one of the most difficult species to appreciate pain.  Most species try to hide any evidence of pain- since they could be a target for predators!  Also, pain is extremely subjective, and can be very difficult to measure.

What are some signs we can use to tell if a cat is in pain?

A broken bone is an obviously painful process, but other issues such as arthritis or stiffness can be more difficult to evaluate.  With arthritis specifically, the first signs we usually see is a hesitation to jump onto high heights.  Instead, they may jump onto a chair, before jumping onto a counter.  As for litterbox usage, they may find it difficult to climb in and out of a tall box, leading to urinary accidents outside of the litterbox.

Cats are very fastidious groomers.  The more you watch a young cat, notice how often they will groom their fur.  A painful cat is less likely to groom as often!

They may also not wish to be picked up or handled, spend more time alone from their family, or have a change in personality.

If you think your cat may be in pain, please give your Veterinary clinic a call.  Many human pain medications are toxic or even fatal to cats!