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Registered Veterinary Technicians

Senior Pets: How Can We Help?

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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!

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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.

Surgery

 

 

 

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: 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!

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.  

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!

KittenWellness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help! My Pet is Overweight

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Diet and Weight Loss

Diet and Weight Loss

Did you know:

A 1 ounce cube of cheese to a 20lb dog is the equivalent of a person eating 2 ½ hamburgers or 1 ½ chocolate bars!

The most common disease in pets is not cancer or diabetes, it is obesity.  I recently went out of town for a few weeks, leaving my dog with my parents.  Upon our return, my mother whispered to me, “Your father gave Pepper a few extra treats here and there. He told me it is a grandparent’s prerogative”.  We love our animals through food, it’s a large part of how we bond with our pets and my dog will shower you with affection when you feed her!  Now, I should tell you that my dog’s previous owners, as well as my husband and I, have worked diligently to reduce her weight.  She was a chunky girl (4lbs overweight at her heaviest), and we had gotten her down to a perfect weight over about a one year battle.  At the end of our vacation, the scale measured Pepper at gaining two pounds (half of the weight she had lost!), and her treat bags were almost empty (instead of being half full!).

How do I know if my pet is Overweight?

The first step is realizing when your dog or cat is overweight.  An animal with an ideal Body Condition Score (BCS) should have an hourglass figure when observed from above, and a slight tuck upward in the waist towards the hips. With your fingers, your pet’s ribs should be readily felt under the fingertips.  When pressure is needed to feel the ribs, this means the layer of fat between the skin and ribs is too thick, and your pet is overweight.

The Hills website had a great section with questions and diagrams to help you determine your pet’s Body Condition Score.

http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/pet-weight-score.html

 

Why does it matter?
When a pet gains weight, it does not just accumulate in one location, it is evenly distributed around the body.  That means increased amounts of fat surrounding the major organs such as the heart, kidneys, bladder, etc.  The excess weight, can also put pressure on these organs and cause issues with breathing, or their organ function such as joint mobility.  Overweight to obese animals are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and respiratory disease, and have reduced lifespans compared to a dog at an appropriate weight.  Extra weight means less energy, and they tend to have a decreased quality of life compared to another pet at a good weight.

 

So, what can I do?

  1. Feeding Plan for Weight Loss

Give us a call to recommend an appropriate weight loss diet for your pet based on their medical history.  Our technicians will calculate the amount of calories for your pet’s daily needs, allowing for weight loss.  Then, we can take into account the food and treats to find a feeding plan appropriate for your pet.  There is not one weight loss diet or plan which works for every pet.

Also, multiple small meals are better than one large meal of the day for weight loss. This ensures your pet won’t be extremely hungry at one point, prompting their body to store more fat to compensate for these periods of hunger.

  1. Exercise

Just as important with people, exercise combined with a healthy diet is the best way to ensure weight loss, and continuing to maintain weight after weight loss.  There are lots of activities you can do with your pet to increase their daily exercise.  For example, take longer walks more often. If your pet likes to swim, increase the amount of times they are in the pool.  Take up agility training with your pet or fly ball, etc.

Need more ideas?  Check out these different exercises:

http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/pet-exercise.html

  1. Feed them in a toy, not a bowl

There is no rule book which says we need to feed our pet in a food bowl.  So why do we do it?  Mainly because of its ease!  But our pets burn no calories with the food bowl method.

Instead, put their daily calories into a Kong, Busy Buddy or a Puzzle ball to stimulate their mind while burning calories.  All of my dog’s food goes in a Kong toy, she has a great time being rewarded for batting the toy around!

There are many other items on the market which can slow down the feeding process, such as games, or stationary objects with holes in the side for cats to use their paws to remove the kibble.

  1. Limit treats

Treats, whether they be people food, or dog treats, all add up to excess calories.  Remember, if your pet gets a treat, you must decrease their caloric intake of their regular meal that day to compensate.  Please, avoid feeding your pet people food, not only is it high in calories, it can cause major health issues such as pancreatitis, vomiting or diarrhea.

Remember:

For a 20lb dog, eating just 1 hot dog is the same as a person consuming 3 entire hamburgers or 2 whole chocolate bars.

Our dogs and cats deserve the best, and being a healthy weight is our gift to them for a long, healthy life.

References:

Hills/AVMA Alliance for Healthier Pets. Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program.

Heartworm Disease- What is it? Why is it so Important?

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Heartworm DiagramThe warm weather is coming soon, its almost starting to feel like spring!  With warm weather comes mosquitoes which can transmit heartworm disease to our dogs (and cats extremely rarely).  Heartworm disease can be a fatal disease, but an easy disease to prevent with the appropriate medication.  Heartworm disease occurs most commonly in areas with prevalent mosquitoes, such as along the Great Lakes and other waterways and coastlines.  Windsor, Ontario is one of the most prominent locations for heartworm disease in Canada due to our warm weather and the surrounding Great Lakes.

How do dogs get Heartworm disease?

When a mosquito takes a blood meal from a dog infected with heartworm it ingests microscopic heartworm larva in the infected dog’s bloodstream.  These larva mature further within the mosquito before making their way back to the mouth parts of the mosquito.  When the mosquito bites another animal, these microscopic sized heartworm larva (microfilaria) can be injected into the bloodstream of a dog or cat and then make their way into the heart and blood vessels to the lungs. Over the period of 6 months, the worm grows to be an adult, ranging in size between 6-14” long and 1/8” wide!  At the largest size, that is over a foot long, and thicker than a piece of cooked spaghetti!  Adult heartworms can live up to five years, and during this time, the female can produce millions of microfilaria to circulate through the dog’s bloodstream.  The worms mainly live in the vessels of the lungs and the heart (hence the name, heartworm disease).  As you can imagine, having worms living in the bloodstream can cause difficulty with normal functioning of the heart and lungs.  With an increasing number of worms, more damage is done to these important organs. Animals can appear short of breath, have a cough, faint, be lethargic, or if only a small number of worms, may not show any signs or symptoms at all.  By the time clinical signs are seen, the disease is typically very well advanced.

At our clinic, we recommend yearly testing of all dogs for heartworm disease.  This is a simple blood test to detect adult worms in the bloodstream.  If our dogs have not acquired heartworm disease, they are kept on a monthly medication to kill any microfilaria from mosquitos they may have picked up from the last 30 days.  The most important months of the year for heartworm prevention is May through November, but with our weather varying from year to year combined with our proximity to the Great Lakes, we highly recommend yearly heartworm prevention.
What happens if my dog acquires Heartworm Disease?

If a dog tests positive for heartworm disease, there are multiple diagnostic tests which are done to help determine the severity of the infestation.  First tests include: repeating the heartworm test to ensure it is not a false positive, regular bloodwork to ensure the other organs are functioning normally, radiographs of the chest to evaluate the health of the heart and lungs, and may proceed to tests such as a cardiac ultrasound. Once a dog is deemed to be healthy enough, we would proceed according to the American Heartworm Society’s Guidelines for treatment based on the severity of the disease.  The treatment can be intensive, expensive, and does not come without risks.  For these reasons, it is much safer for your dog, and less costly, to be on a monthly preventative medication than to need to go through treatment.

For more information, give us a call about heartworm disease, prevention, and testing so we can tailor a plan appropriate for your dog!

References:

  1. Dr. Ruotsalo. 2009. Lifelearn: Heartworm Disease in Dogs – Testing. (https://www.lifelearn-cliented.com/page.php?id=19&rid=773)

Why Do I Need A Physical Exam?

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WHY DOES MY PET NEED A PHYSICAL EXAMINATION PRIOR TO VACCINATIONS?

We often think of bringing our pets to the veterinarian for their vaccines, or even “just their rabies vaccine”. Rabies vaccination is of utmost importance for pet and human health as well as legal compliance, of course there are other vaccines which are strongly recommended for dogs and cats to prevent serious illnesses.

Thankfully, the number of rabies cases in Ontario is low.  This is partly due to the wonderful job that veterinarians and pet owners have done, vaccinating their pets, and also due to previous wildlife vaccinations through baiting in forested areas.  Unfortunately, the number of other life threatening diseases are not as low in prevalence. Parvovirus, a disease of young and improperly vaccinated dogs, is highly contagious and seen throughout Windsor every year.  Parvovirus can cause a syndrome of vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to death if not properly treated. Another serious disease we see is Leptospirosis.  This is a bacteria found in standing water (like puddles) that is contaminated by wildlife urine (from such animals as squirrels, racoons, skunks, and rodents such as rats and mice).  This bacteria causes liver and kidney failure and is actually transmissible from dogs to people.

Before we vaccinate your pet, we perform a full physical examination of all of the body systems from the tip of the nose to the tail.  The initial part of the visit includes a thorough history and discussion with one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs).  One of the most important parts of your pet’s visit is the physical examination which allows us to prevent certain issues before they become major problems.   Cats and dogs often do not show any signs of illness, pain or distress (dental pain, arthritis, bowel issues etc.,) and appear normal at home. For pet owners, it is difficult to recognize early warning changes when we see them every day.  We may not notice if our pets have gained or lost weight, or other subtle changes, like eating or walking slower, that can be an indication of a health concern. The physical exam, coupled with the detailed history are extremely important to the veterinarian in recognizing and diagnosing health issues early.  Our main focus is your pets health and quality of life!

There is a wide variety of information we collect and evaluate when assessing your pet’s health.  Here is a list of some of the components of your pets physical examination:

DENTAL HEALTH: Assessing their current dental condition during their appointment, discussing any changes at home including odour, how to recognize and identify signs of pain, changes in eating habits.
NUTRITION: What type of food, quality, how much, how often, whether supplements are given, do they get treats and table scraps, water consumption.
WEIGHT: Assessing their body condition and body fat percentage and discussing potential health complications (More than 70% of patients are overweight to some degree!)
EXERCISE: How much does your cat or dog receive, changes in their exercise habits and optimal types of exercise for your pet
EARS & EYES: Any changes noted at home (for example, bumping into items) and examining for any signs of infection, sores, ulcers.
ABDOMEN: Stomach and intestines- listening and feeling for changes to bowel movement, gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea
PAWS & LEGS: Limping, weakness, knees, broken nails, arthritic or allergy symptoms
COAT & SKIN: Any hair loss, lumps, itchiness, redness, mats, shedding, anal gland issues, odour, fleas, parasites
URINARY & GENITAL: Type of discharges, reproductive cycles, changes to mammary glands, urination habits such as frequency, difficulty, leaking or changes, spayed or neutered, testicle shape & form
BEHAVIOUR: Changes in their behaviour at home, peeing or pooping inappropriately, aggression, fear, anxiety, changes in temperament or behaviour towards family or strangers
BLOODWORK: Especially for geriatric patients, those with medical conditions or those receiving medication

During the physical exam, the veterinarian will discuss any concerns or findings and what they may mean for your pet. The veterinarian or RVT will discuss points such as diet, dental health, training tips and how to have the best relationship and ownership experience with your pet.  So while vaccinations are very important, an annual ongoing relationship between your pet and the veterinarian is very important for your pet’s health and future happiness.

MY CAT IS STRICTLY AN INDOOR CAT, DO I STILL NEED TO HAVE THEM VACCINATED?
The short answer is Yes.
As listed above, while vaccinations are extremely important to prevent illness, the physical examination is our main focus. For example, cats often will not show they are in distress and continue living their life as normal as possible.  An annual physical examination is important to help identify concerns or potential health complications before they become severe.  We vaccinate our cats for Rabies each year as required by law.  We vaccinate cats for FVRCP (upper respiratory viruses) for a variety of reasons; although your cat is indoors we frequently hear of patients going on unauthorized, unsupervised outdoor excursions and therefore want to keep them protected. We also have a wide variety of healthy and ill patients at our hospital on a regular basis and it is very important that your cat be protected if they need to come in for a procedure, grooming, boarding or are ill themselves.  Leukemia is a vaccine that we use for our ‘at risk’ patients.  Since feline leukemia is spread by sharing water sources outside, any of our patients who roam outdoors, even infrequently, or have ‘sibling’ cats that roam outdoors, should receive it to protect them in their travels.  Most of our kitten patients will have at least two sets of the leukemia vaccine to keep them protected if they do decide to make their way outdoors.

As you can see, a yearly physical examination is a very important factor in your pet’s health care.  Please contact the clinic for more information or to schedule an appointment.   519-969-7390

My North American Veterinary Conference & Disney Experience

By | Health, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff, Uncategorized | No Comments

Back to work! In January I returned back to work after a wonderful week long vacation in Orlando, Florida, where I not only got to take my family to Disney World but I also was able to attend the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) for the first time. The North American Veterinary Conference is the largest Veterinary Conference in North America.

Belonging to the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT), I have had the pleasure to attend our own OAVT conferences in both London and Toronto- but the NAVC conference is HUGE in comparison!!!  This year there was just over 15 000 attendees! The sheer size of the conference hotels (yes, there was more than 1) was intimidating and jaw dropping!8

These conferences provide the veterinary community with Continuing Education lectures from specialists along with introduction of new, innovative products and further information regarding current products.
As an RVT (registered veterinary technician) we are required to log a certain number of continuing education hours to be current and provide up to date veterinary medicine to our patients. (the veterinarians also require continuing education- so don’t worry, they keep up to date too!)

The NAVC conference lasted 5 days, with hundreds of lectures on topics ranging from customer service, small and large animal medicine, exotics, pharmacology and everything in between! I thoroughly enjoy attending these lectures, as I love learning about the ever changing field of Veterinary Medicine.

Aside from all the lectures, there is also a Trade Show area to demonstrate up and coming products, current products and be introduced to hundreds of various veterinary related companies (and some non-veterinary related companies such Life Planning companies to better enrich the lives of the members of the veterinary field.)

Every company is different and many offered fun games and trivia to help remember their products (and here is the really fun part- win and receive cool free stuff!)
I came home with a number of great new ideas, samples and more information that I think you, our clients and we, the clinic, will benefit from.

I also was able to attend a motivational lecture evening with Jillian Michaels [For those of you who aren’t familiar with her name, she is the original trainer on the Biggest Loser and WOW it was amazing]. She is a wonderful speaker and motivator, it was extremely exciting to be sitting 20 feet away from her and listen to her speak. She is also quite the comedian!

The most enlightening moment of Jillian Michael’s speech was her own experience with her own overweight pet, who has since passed away. She fully admitted that even though she is conscious about all aspects of being healthy, eating right, exercising, having a healthy mind and soul, she was not aware that overweight animals can suffer from ALL the same health complications that overweight humans can. Since learning of this aspect, she has become a faithful advocate for animal health and wellbeing.
This was eye opening for me, being so deeply associated with animal health; she helped me recognize the views of those unrelated to the animal world. They may not realize that these animals can suffer from all the same debilitating and life threatening conditions as humans. One of the most important aspects of our jobs is being a source of knowledge and information. Every single day we discuss your pets health and well-being and how we can prevent disease. The better we are at our jobs, the better you can be as an owner.

The other part of my trip including bringing my family to Disney World. It truly is a magical place! I won’t bore you with all the details of our trip; however I did take a few photos while in Animal Kingdom of the medical side of the park. We were able to see the examination area, the surgical suite and even xrays! We missed the physical examination of a few of the members of the park (which was such a bummer for me!) but the whole tour was still amazing. I don’t know why I had originally thought that it might be vastly different from our own surgical suite.  They just have to have a greater diversity in the size of their equipment, from lemurs to monkeys to elephants-oh my!

I hope you enjoy!!
The Golf Course in front of one of the conference hotels!Florida in January!
Golf Course in front of the Conference Hotel (Florida in January!)

Inside

 

 

Surgical Suite in Animal Kingdom- so cool!

Surgical Suite in Animal Kingdom- so cool!

Xray of a Gorilla Hand

Xray of a Gorilla Hand

 

 

 

 

Being a Registered Veterinary Technician is the life for me!

By | Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff | 3 Comments

For as long as my parents and I can remember, I had said I wanted to work in the animal field.  I can certainly remember being 4 years old and telling people I was going to work with animals. Sure I had times where I said I also wanted to be a teacher but for the most part it was the animal field.  When I got into the Veterinary Technician program at St Clair College it was one of my happiest moments (for those of you who do not know, there could be over 500 applicants for only 40-50 spots!)
From the moment I stepped into the clinical setting at the school, I was hooked on veterinary medicine.  I couldn’t learn enough.  The thought that I could combine two of my interests, medicine and animals was amazing.

At St Clair College, the veterinary technician program has its own building on campus. If you’ve ever been there during the school year, you’ve probably seen technician students walking the dogs.  The animals we have are comprised of cats and dogs that have been residing at the local shelters. Their personalities are assessed prior to bringing them into the program.  I can assure you that NO animal testing is performed on these wonderful creatures! What is given to them is the love and care that many are so desperate to have. They are walked three times per day and loved and cared for. The students learn and, along with the guidance and support of Registered Veterinary Technician teachers and Veterinarians, administer vaccinations, draw blood for health checks, perform fecal evaluations, take x-rays  and administer general anesthesia for spaying & neutering (to name a few).

But I digress. When I finished the program, I had the confidence and skills to work out in the field. Luckily for me, I had been working at South Windsor Animal Hospital for two years as a Veterinary Assistant so I easily stepped into the role of Registered Veterinary Technician.  For me, not only do I get to see routine examinations and vaccination appointments, but I also get to witness medical anomalies and miracles. No two days are ever the same. And in the ever changing medical field, I get to learn new things all the time. Not only through working but attending seminars and workshops.  I see patients come into the clinic with their families who are heartbroken to see their pet not feeling well and I know we are the ones who get to help them. We get to diagnose, perform procedures and administer medications that will change their lives. It is amazing seeing a patient recover. What is also amazing is watching their families recover as well.   Of course, we do have days where sadness occurs, but in reality we have still helped those patients through the next transition of their life. And the good days and good experiences far outweigh the negative.

Remember when I said I had also wanted to be a teacher? Well lucky me, I also get to do that! I get to teach people every day on responsible pet ownership, what to do for their pet, how to treat their pet when it is injured and how to continue through an issue. We also bring in Veterinary Technician students from the college for co-op placements and externships and I get to teach them too! Wow how awesome!

I remember walking into South Windsor Animal Hospital and watching their receptionist at the time; she knew who each person was walking in the door, remembered their pet and spoke about something specific regarding their pet. I thought “wow, there is no way I will remember all these clients and their pets!”  And here I am, 10 years later and I can’t believe how many patients I remember!  What is a little crazy for me, is to see some of my earliest patients, whom I can remember walking in as puppies or kittens, whom I watched transition into adulthood and who are now in their senior years. I am literally living their lives with them.  I think and care about them as if I was going to be bringing them back home with me, I treat my patients like they are my own.  I have made so many wonderful friendships, laughed and cried with wonderful clients and hugged and fallen in love with so many amazing patients.

They say that most RVT’s only stay in the field for about 7 years. It can be a very stressful, high energy and demanding job (physically and emotionally) and I can understand that it can be difficult to stay in it. But I am lucky. If you ask our staff members how long they have worked here,  you will hear  5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15 years. That says something. I found a clinic with not only amazing staff but amazing clients. This is the reason I continue in this profession.  So I thank all of my clients, past, present (and future!) for helping make my career decision the best one I could!

Clarissa, RVT