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Other Useful Canine Information

Parasites & Your Dog

Our clinic’s mission statement is “Excellence in Care for Pets and Their Families”. One of the ways we strive to provide excellence in care is through client education.

We attended a conference in January of 2020 discussing the increasing presence of ticks in Canada, and thought we should share this information with you.

There are a number of parasitic diseases that are of concern in Southern Ontario. These are internal parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, heartworm and giardia, and external parasites such as ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. The most potentially impactful of these parasites over the last several years is ticks, more specifically the Black Legged or Deer tick that can carry Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. In dogs, Lyme disease is the most common, and can cause problems with the joints and kidneys, but if caught early, can often be helped with treatment.

What To Do If You Find a Tick on Your Dog

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick by its mouthparts closest to the skin and pull gently away from, and out of the dog.

  2. Do not use your hands to remove tick since this may squish the body of the tick and encourage it to regurgitate its digestive contents into the animal, which would then increase the chance of disease transmission. Also many of the diseases transmitted from ticks can be passed to humans, so using a tweezer and plastic disposable gloves will minimize this risk.

  3. Do not stun the tick with alcohol first since this may encourage the tick to regurgitate into the animal and increases the potential risk of transmission of disease.

  4. Once the tick is out, please dispose of it in a small jar of rubbing alcohol to kill it and the diseases it may contain. Squishing it to kill it can cause dispersal of diseases, so this is discouraged. You can also use regular alcohol like rum or scotch in a pinch.

  5. Ideally a 4DX blood test should be performed on your dog 1 month after a tick bite, and again 4 months after a tick bite. This will check for any transmission of disease. However, testing will depend on if your dog has been on a preventative tick medication and if your dog has been vaccinated against Lyme disease, so will be discussed with you to determine the best approach for your dog.

The Gold Standard for Parasite Control in Ontario Dogs

  • Current physical exam- must have been seen within the year to dispense prescription products

  • Remove/avoid tall grass and leaf piles to minimize tick environment

  • Fecal Analysis yearly

  • 4DX blood test yearly along with wellness testing to screen for organ disease

  • Simparica Trio chew (orally every month year-round) unless your dog eats rodents in which case we recommend regular Simparica and Interceptor Plus monthly.

  • Lyme vaccine

  • Praziquantel treatment monthly for dogs who hunt and/or would eat mice or other small rodents.

Lyme disease incidence has significantly increased in southern Ontario over the last several years. Dogs can be carrying Lyme disease and not be showing clinical signs, therefore testing is very important. Anaplasmosis is much less common, but can cause fever, muscle pain, and serious changes in the blood. Fortunately, it is a treatable disease if caught early.

The tick population in southern Ontario is rapidly increasing. The best approach to tick borne disease’s is to treat for ticks before they can transmit the disease. Ticks start to look for a blood meal when it is above the freezing mark (0 degrees Celcius). Therefore during our increasingly mild winters, each month can have a period of time where ticks could be active. The white-tailed deer is an important part of the Black Legged tick’s life cycle. Areas where there is an established deer population would have more concerns for Lyme disease. However, other intermediate hosts for the Black Legged or Deer Tick can include mice, rabbits, raccoons, and coyotes. These animals can come into our suburban areas and can therefore bring ticks carrying Lyme and other diseases into our backyards. Even birds flying overhead can drop ticks into our back yards, meaning that even dogs that do not go out for a lot of walks in wilder areas are still potentially at risk.

Many of the parasite increases that we are seeing in Ontario can be attributed to climate change. There is truly a benefit to the cold Canadian winters we used to have, since many parasites cannot survive severe cold. It has been noted that by 2050 with our current rate of climate change, our climate here in Southern Ontario is predicted to resemble that of Tennessee. Apparently southern Ontario also has a “mosaic” countryside (lots of fields with woods interspersed in between), which is exactly the environment that ticks enjoy. When combining this with decreased pesticide use in Ontario, warmer winters, and a thriving white tail deer population, it is understandable how the tick population and risk of Lyme disease is increasing dramatically.

For a number of years, we have been recommending parasite treatment year-round as our gold standard for dogs and outdoor cats. This recommendation is now stronger than ever, because ticks and their associated disease risks, continue to increase in southern Ontario.

We are recommending Simparica Trio this year, a tasty once-a-month tablet given 12 months of the year. Simparica Trio provides extremely effective control of the higher risk parasites in Ontario including, fleas, ticks, roundworm, hookworm, lungworm and heartworm.

If your dog is indoors virtually all of the time, and only goes out to urinate and defecate, then you could potentially use Sentinel without Simparica as your year-round parasite control program, since your dog will be at lower risk for ticks. However, it is rare to have a dog at no risk for acquiring ticks, simply due to the fact that almost all dogs go outside to eliminate, and birds can fly into your yard and drop tick onto the grass.

And please don’t forget the human risk of Lyme disease. In general, more mature ticks will attach more readily onto dogs, and the younger, smaller nymph form will attach onto humans. If a tick latches on to us for a blood meal, then we are also potentially at risk for Lyme disease and other diseases as well. Please be sure to contact your physician if you find a tick attached to you, and of course let us know if you find a tick on your dog.

And finally ticks can also occur on cats. Luckily cats are relatively resistant to tick borne diseases (unlike humans and dogs). But if you do not like having your outdoor cat getting tick bites and potentially bringing ticks into the house please call to discuss tick prevention options for cats, since we have some excellent ones.

There has also been an increase in the population of the Texas Lone Star tick in southern Ontario, although luckily these are far less common than the ticks that carry Lyme disease. The Texas Lone Star Tick carries Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is a potentially fatal disease in dogs if untreated, and can affect humans as well. It can also carry Ehrlichia, which can cause some dangerous changes in the blood, and although treatable, it is never completely eliminated from the body. Simparica Trio is recognized as the most effective tick control for the Texas Lone Star Tick out of all currently available tick products.

With respect to other parasites, studies have shown dogs can be carriers of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris), a parasite which can be dangerous and even life threatening to humans, especially children. Simparica Trio and Sentinel are highly effective against this roundworm. Other internal parasites such as Giardia or Coccidia must be diagnosed through analyzing the stool (feces) of the dog at least once per year. A tapeworm, Echinococcus Multilocularis is present in a high percentage of coyotes, foxes and wolves in Ontario and is starting to show up in our domestic dogs. It is a serious risk to humans. If your dog is an eater of rodents (the intermediate host of Echinococcus) then we recommend using regular Simparica and Interceptor Plus combo monthly to help prevent this infection, along with ticks, fleas, roundworm, hookworm, lungworm and heartworm.

We must not forget that heartworm disease is still present in Canada, with southern Ontario having the highest density of cases. Rescue dogs that were brought to Canada after hurricane Katrina, and that continue to be brought in from warmer climates, unfortunately can contribute to our heartworm problem, since many are not properly treated prior to arrival. The wild dog population (i.e. coyotes) can also harbor heartworms and can spread the disease. As you may know, heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes. With our mild winters, we are seeing mosquitoes much earlier than before, with a resulting longer season where heartworm is transmissible. This is another reason to administer year-round Simparica Trio or Sentinel.

We are fortunate to have a vaccine against Lyme disease, if you wish to be very certain your dog is protected. Humans are not so lucky yet, although there are potential vaccines on the horizon for us. There is currently no vaccine for Ehrlichia or Anaplasmosis, but if caught early these diseases can be helped with treatment.

We recommend a yearly blood test for every dog called the 4DX test. This test screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis, it is recommended as our gold standard once yearly even if your dog is not showing any signs of problems, since all of these diseases can hide for periods of time before causing clinical signs.

Understanding Diabetes

The cells of the body require a sugar known as glucose for food and they depend on the bloodstream to bring glucose to them. Cells cannot absorb and utilize glucose without a hormone known as insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas.

In a diabetic animal the cells cannot receive the glucose from the blood because there is no insulin to help it into the cell. Becasue the glucose cannot get into the cell, the animal ends up with increased glucose in the blood stream (or high blood sugar).

So why is this important? If the hungry cells can't use glucose, the body will start to break down fat, stored staraches and protein to use instead. Fat requires different processing that can lead to the production of ketones rather than glucose. Ketones are another type of fuel that the body can use in a pinch but the detection of ketones indicates that something is wrong. When ketone bodies are burned for fuel, pH and electrolyte imbalances occur and the patient's life is at risk. This is a condition called ketoacidosis and is one of the most extreme complications of diabetes that can be experienced, requiring immediate hospitalization and supportive care.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

In humans, diabetes is broken down into two forms: Type 1 referred to as juvenile onset (or insulin dependent) diabetes and type 2 adult onset (or non-insulin dependent) diabetes respectively.

Type 1 is the type where the pancreas produces no insulin at all; canine diabetes is more like Type 1.

In Type 2, the pancreas produces some insulin but not enough; feline diabetes is more like Type 2. This might suggest that cats can get away without insulin injections but that is not the case at all. Instead, for cats, there is potential for the diabetes to actually resolve if the pancreas improves its insulin-secreting ability. Insulin injections are needed to treat most diabetic cats. Good glucose control and proper diet can resolve the diabetes in some lucky cats, but virtually never in diabetic dogs.

Signs of diabetes mellitus:

  • Weight Loss

  • Excessive eating

  • Excessive drinking

  • Excessive urination

Normally the kidneys prevent glucose loss into the urine; in a diabetic, there is so much glucose in the blood that the kidney is overwhelmed and glucose spills into the urine. Glucose also draws water along with it into the urine. Tis is what leads to excess urine production and thirst to keep up with the fluid loss.

Allt he sugar in the urine also makes the bladder an excellent incubator for bacteria, so another common symptom is urinary tract infections. For this reason, a urinalysis and urine culture may be performed upon diagnosing diabetes.

Cataracts

What do cataracts have to do with diabetes?

Many diabetic dogs can develop cataracts and go blind. A cataract is an opacity in the lens of the eye. The entire lens may be involved or just a part of it. The patient will not be able to see through the opacity. The lens absorbs glucose from the eye fluids, using most of this for its own energy needs. Some of the excess is converted to another sugar called sorbitol.When there is excses sugar in eye fluids, excess sorbitol is produced. Sorbitol pulls water into the lens, which in turn disrupts lens clarity and causes the cataract. Generally the cataract will mature and the dog can become blind in a matter of weeks if the diabetes is not controlled. Cataract surgery is available, however your dog's diabetes must be well regulated before surgery is considered and could require referral to an opthalmologist.

How do we diagnose diabetes?

It is usually fairly clear form the history and tests showing dramatic glucose elevation in the blood and urine. We also do a blood test called a fructosamine level. This test reflects an average blood glucose level over the past several weeks so if this is also elevated, a one-time elevated glucose (that can be stress related) can be distinguished from the persistent elevations of true diabetes mellitus. This test is also used in monitoring, so getting a baseline value is important in order to track the pet's improvement.

How do we treat diabetes?

You will need to learn how to give your pet injections of insulin, likely twice daily following a meal. Some situations require that your pet be hospitalized for a few days for the inital regulation. It often takes several dose selections and several series of blood tests before the right dose is determined. Some animals can be stabilized quickly, and some can be quite difficult to stabilize. Diet choice and weight control are also extremely important in treating diabetes.

Canine Diet: High fiber diets, such as Royal Canin Diabetic and Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Fiber Response, help to blunt the increase in blood sugar levels that occur after eating, delays the emptying of food from the stomach, and slows the digestion of carbohydrates (glucose sources). If overweight, fiber also helps the patient feel full after eating, thus encouraging weight loss.

Feline Diet: The chocice for cats is a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, such as Royal Canin Diabetic. These diets promote weight loss in obese diabetics and are available in both canned and dry formulations.

Avoid semi-moist diets as sugars are used as preservatives.

Avoid breads and sweet treats.

The goal in long term management of diabetes is the alleviation of unpleasant clinical signs (constant thirst, weight loss, etc.) and prevention of dangerous secondary conditions (infections, ketoacidosis, etc.).

How do we monitor our diabetic patients?

Blood tests, blood glucose curves, urinalysis and fructosamine levels are used to monitor control of your pet's diabetic condition.

Never alter the insulin dose recommended by your veterinarian unless you call in first. To determine whether dose adjustments are needed (or if a different type of insulin is more appropriate), your pet will need a glucose curve where blood sugar levels are monitored every 2-4 hours or so for 12-25 hours.

Some pets can be difficult to regulate and require frequent monitoring, especially upon initial diagnosis. There may be an underlying reason for this, such as improper administration of insulin, rapid insulin metabolism, insulin overdose, steroid administration, or other concurrent disease.

Insulin Handling and Administration:

Insulin syringes are marked in insulin units so the insulin syringes must match the insulin concentrations (either U-100 syringes for 100 unit/cc insulins or U-40 syringes for 40 unit/cc insulins).

Do not use insulin past the expiration date.

Do not use insulin that has been frozen, or left out of the fridge for more than 24 hours.

DO not expose insulin to direct light or heat.

How to give injections?

First, feed your cat/dog. The blood sugar of a cat/dog that has not eaten a normal meal but receives insulin may drop to a dangerously low level. It is easiest to adminster the injection towards the end of the pets meal, when you are certain they will happily still finish the meal. The pet is then distracted by the food and giving the injection is easier.

Before drawing up the insulin in a syringe, gently roll the bottle back and forth in your palms so that the white material on the bottom is mixed in to the rest of the solution. Do not shake the bottle as the insulin molecule can be damaged.

When drawing up the insulin, always hold the bottle vertically upside down to avoid unnecessary bubbles in the syringe. Since insulin is being given under the skin, bubbles are not an enormous problem as it would be with an intravenous injectino but we still want to minimzie bubbles. If you get bubbles in the syringe, flick the syringe with your fingers until the bubbles rise to the top and then siply push the air out of the syringe with the plunger.

After you have the insulin dose ready in the syringe, it is time to get your pet. Be sure you can trust your dog or cat to hold reasonably still for the injection. Most dogs do not require a second person to hold them still, but some dogs are rambunctious and a helper is necessary. If you have such a pet but no helper, consider tying a short leash around a piece of furniture. Use a slipknot in case of a choking emergency. Rarely dogs can be uncooperative and may require a muzzle. Most cats will easily allow an injection while they arefinishing their food.

Lift up a fold of skin, ideally along the side of the body. This will create a small space for the needle. Insert the needle into this space pull back to ensure you are not in a blood vessel and inject the insulin. Withdraw the syringe and needle when you are finished.

Symptoms that indicate my diabitec pet needs to return for a recheck:

  • Lethargy

  • Losing weight

  • Ravenous appetite or loss of appetite

  • Drinkingurinating excessively

  • Disoriented/groggy/staring

  • Seizures

What else do I need to do for my diabetic pet?

It is important for diabetic pets to have their teeth cleaned annually. Dental tartar seeds the body with bacteria and when blood sugar levels run high, infections in important organs can take root. The kidneys are particularly vulnerable.

If blood glucose drops:

Sometimes, especially early on in the treatment of your pet's diabetes, there may be too big a drop in your pet's blood glucose. This can be due to too high an insulin dosage, or ab ig bout of exercise. your pet may seem disoriented or shaky and may even seizure. This is an emergency and your pet needs to see a veterinarian immediately. This is also why it is a good idea to carry a syringe of corn syrup around with you if you take your diabetic dog for a walk. If your dog seems to start showing any unusual signs then it is safe to carefully give the contents of the syringe to your dog (or cat if they seem disoriented) and then immediately seek the help of your veterinarian.

Diabetes can be a serious disease, and if left untreated, is life threatening. However we are here to help you and your pet in any way that we can. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Vaccinations for Dogs

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a serious viral disease affecting primarily oung, unvaccinated dogs. Clinical signs may include a yellowish or greenish discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, increased body temperature, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nervous system disorder (twitching of a limb, seizures, etc.), and hardening of the foot pads.

Distemper is a highly contagious disease. All body excretions and secretions (discharge from the eyes or nose, vomitus, diarrhea, urine) may carry the infection. The virus can also be carried by air currents and on inanimate objects such as food bowls.

Prevention of this disease is extremely important, as distemper is often fatal. Even if a dog survives the disease, distemper can permanently damage the dog's nervous system and sense of smell, sight, and sound. Vaccination has been shown to prevent the disease.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a serious sisease affecting primarily young dogs (6 weeks to 6 months of age) although any age can be affeted. The breeds at highest risk include Rottweiller, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd and Pit bull.

Parvovirus is a hardy virus, able to withstand extreme temperature changes and exposure to most disinfectants. Dogs contact parvovirus through exposure to infected dogs or infected stools.

Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing affected dogs to lose their appetite, become lethargic and show evidence of vomiting, diarrhea, or both. The diarrhea is often bloody and has a foul odour (that of digested blood). Some dogs develop fever. Left untreated parvovirus can be fatal.

The disease is very serious and can bevery expensive to treat. Vaccination against this highly contagious viral disease has been proven to be very successful in preventing this diseases (or lessening its severity).

Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of all warm blooded animals, including humans. Rabies is transmitted by saliva, which is usually transferred by a bite form an infected animal. The disease is frequently found in wild animals such as skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats.

Once infected, the disease is fatal. Prior to death, clinical signs may include a change in behaviour (e.g. increased aggressiveness or increased shyness), dialation of the pupils, excess salivation, snapping at the air, a shifting gait and fatal twitching.

As the virus can be transmitted to humans, no stray dog, cat or wild animal should ever be approached. Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Your pet should be kept on its own property or leashed shen off its property. To help prevent raccoon rabies, it is recommended that you cap chimneys, close up any holes in attics or outbuildings and make sure that stored garbage does not act as a food source. Vaccination is important to safeguard your dog from rabies.

Some veterinarians recommend vaccinating every year, while others recommend a three-year vaccine. Talk to your veterinarian about the degree of risk for rabies in your area and about which vaccine will provide your pet with the protection it requires.

Canine Kennel Cough

Clinical signs of kennel cough include dry, hacking cough and, in some dogs, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. Kennel cough is highly contagious and is spread through sneezing, coughing, and contact with infected nasal secretions. Kennel cough is most commonly transmitted when dogs are put in close proximity to one another; for example, dog shows, boarding kennels, groomers, etc. In most cases, kennel cough lasts 7-10 days and dogs recover fully from it. In some cases antibiotics are necessary. If your dog is on the show circuit or spends time in a boarding facility, vaccination may be recommended. Speak to your veterinarian about your dog's risk of exposure and need for this vaccine.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a viral disease that is most common in young, vaccinated dogs (9-12 weeks). Clinical signs may include respiratory tract abnormalities (discharge from nose or eyes, coughing) or evidence of liver and/or kidney disease (jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, change in drinking and urinating behaviour). Occasionally, an affected dog develops a "blue eye" (comeal ederna).

Infectious canine hepatitis is spread by conact with urine from an infected dog. Prevention by vaccination is the key as canine hepatitis is often fatal. It is not contagious to people.

Canine Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease that impairs kidney function and may cause kidney failure. Liver disease is also common. Clinical signs may include loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. There are a number of different types of leptospira that may cause the disease. Wild and domestic animals (cattle, pigs, dogs) may act as reservoirs for infection. The disease is transmitted by contact with the urine of infected animals. Stagnat or slow-moving water may provide a suitable habitat for the organism to thrive. Leptospirosis is not common in most areas of Ontario. As the available vaccines do not protect against all forms of leptospirosis and because the vaccine can cause some significant side effects, talk to your veterinarian about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccinating your dog against this disease.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (Borrelia burgdoferi) and spread by ticks. It is a serious disease in people. Clinical signs in dogs, if they occur, are thought to include lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy. The heart, brain, and kidney may also be affected. Dogs do not generally show the classic red lesion that a human exhibits at teh site ofa tick bite. The diagnosis of Lyme disease is not black and white. If the disease is suspected, your veterinarian may request a blood test to detect antibodies to Borrelia. If this test is positive and your dog has clinical signs suggestive of Lyme disease and a history of travel to a high risk area, antibiotics may be recommended.

Vaccinating for Lyme disease is considered optional by most veterinarians. To assist in the prevention of Lyme disease, use flea and tick sprays and remove any ticks from the animal promptly, if found. This risk of tick exposure can be reduced by keeping your dog on a leash, on trails and out of woodlands and fields. Brushing the pet's coat as soon as the walk is complete is important.

Canine Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus infects on of the layers of the intestinal tract and may lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Infected dogs can spread the virus to other dogs. The overall prevalance of coronavirus is thought to be low and most infections are self-limiting. Vaccination against this virus is available, but not all veterinarians recommend it. Speak to your veterinarian about your dog's risk for developing this viral disease.

Chocolate Dangers

Theobromine, a naturally occurring alkaloid fond in the cocoa bean, can be harmful even in small amounts. Theobromine can cause vomiting and restlessness in pets. Larger doses can be fatal.

The lethal dose of theobromine depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate. Ounce for ounce, baking chocolate has 6 to 9 times as much theobromine as milk chocolate.

Estimates of the smallest amounts that can be fatal are:

4 to 10 ounces of milk chocolate or ½ to 1 ounce of baking chocolate for small dogs, including chihuahuas or toy poodles.

1 to 1 ½ pounds of milk chocolate or 2 to 3 ounces of baking chocolate for medium sized dogs, including cocker spaniels and bulldogs

2 to 4 ½ pounds of milk chocolate or 4 to 8 ounces of baking chocolate for large dogs, including collies and labrador retrievers.

Some of these signs noticed in your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately:

  • Restlessness

  • Hyper excitability

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Seizures

  • Muscle spasms

Cats have much different eating habits and seldom are poisoned by chocolate. Cat owners, nonetheless, should keep chocolate well out of reach.

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

What are Heartworms?

Heartworm is a blood parasite that poses a serious health threat to dogs in Canada and the United States.

Heartworms are large roundworms that live in the right side of the heart and the blood vessels that supply the lungs, surviving on nutrients which they steal from the dog's bloodstream. They can grow to a length of 15-30 centimeters and in severe cases a dog may be infested with hundreds of worms.

Damage to the heart, lungs and liver as well as obstruction of blood flow is the result of this infestation. Eventually fluid may build up in the lungs and restrict the dog's breathing. When damage to the internal organs is severe enough, death may be the result.

Transmission

Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it will ingest the immature worms (microfilariae) produced by the adults in the heart along with the blood from the dog. The immature worms develop in the mosquito over the next few weeks until they reach an infective stage. When the mosquito bites an uninfected dog it will inject the immature worms into the tissues with its saliva. From here the immature worms develop further and migrate to the heart where they will mature into adults and begin reproducing. This cycle continues unchecked unless treatment is given. From this it is easy to see how one infected dog can infect a whole neighborhood.

The signs of heartworm disease are usually detectable only after the disease has progressed and much damage has already been done to the internal organs. This damage may be irreversible. An advanced case may develop such signs as general listlessness, a chronic soft cough, labored breathing, weight loss, tire easily during exercise and collapse due to heart failure.

Treatment vs. Prevention

Treatment for heartworm disease is available, however, the methods are costly and are not without danger themselves. Treatment involves a series of injections to kill the adult worms. During this time period the dog must be kept very quiet as even minimal exercise may result in serious problems from the dead and dying worms. After the adult worms are destroyed, a treatment to kill the immature worms in the bloodstream must be given.

Heartworm may be easily identified in southern Ontario by having your veterinarian examine a sample of your dog's blood for the presence of the immature worms once yearly. If your dog is not infected then a preventative program should be started. The preventative program involves giving the dog a Sentinel pill once monthly. This medication destroys the immature heartworms transmitted by the mosquitoes and stops the cycle of the disease.

We will never be able to completely eliminate heartworm as it is now being found in the wild dog (coyote) and stray dog population which we cannot control. This will, unfortunately, act as a source of infection for the pet population.

Prevention programs should not be started before your dog is tested for the presence of heartworm disease by your veterinarian. The test should be undergone each spring with the Sentinel medication that is given year round to prevent parasites, also covering for the treatment of heartworm. For those of you who vacation in the United States with your dog, consult your veterinarian regarding the best way to provide continual protection against this disease.

Antifreeze Poisoning

Ethylene glycol is used as an automotive antifreeze. If it is left uncovered or drained on the floor, dogs and cats may drink it because of the sweet taste. Severe and often fatal poisoning results.

Prompt treatment is essential because ethylene glycol may cause permanent kidney damage. If you think your pet may have ingested antifreeze please contact us IMMEDIATELY.

Hospitalization and intensive treatment are required to treat most antifreeze poisonings. Severe kidney damage can occur rapidly. Periodic blood tests over the course of treatment not only reflect your pet's response to medical aid but also help direct the type and intensity of treatment.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

  • Your pet seems weak, or trembles or convluses

  • Your pet loses its appetite

  • Your pet vomits or has diarrhea

  • Your pet seems depressed

  • Your pet seems to urinate much less frequently

  • Your pet's urine contains blood

How to Tell if Your Dog Is in Pain

Dogs feel pain in the same way and for many of the same reasons as humans; infections, dental problems, arthritis, bone disease and cancer. They also feel discomfort following surgical procedures. Unfortunately, unlike humans, they are unable to speak to us about when and where they hurt.

You are in the best position to look for the subtle changes in behavior that may indicate your dog is suffering. It is important to stay alert to these signs, because the sooner your dog's pain is diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can heal and resume a normal, happy life.

If your dog shows one or more of the following behaviors and you suspect it may be due to pain, please notify us immediately.

VOCALIZING

  • Whining

  • Howling

  • Whimpering

  • Yelping

  • Groaning

  • Grunting

ACTIVITY LEVEL

  • Restless

  • Reluctant to move

  • Difficulty getting up from a laying position

  • Repetitively gets up and lies down

  • Trembling, circling, or lying very still

  • Seeks more affection than usual

SELF-PROTECTION

  • Protects a body part

  • Doesn't put weight on a limb

  • Limps

  • Doesn't want to be held or picked up

  • Hides

DAILY HABITS

  • Decreased appetite

  • Withdraws from social interaction

  • Changes in sleeping or drinking

  • Lapses in housetraining

  • Sleeps more

SELF MUTILATION

  • Licking

  • Biting

  • Scratching a particular part of its body

GROOMING

  • Coat lacks normal shine

  • Hair stands up in places

FACIAL EXPRESSION

  • Grimaces, vacant stare

  • Glazed, wide-eyed or looks sleepy

  • Enlarged Pupils

  • Flattened ears

  • Pants excessively when at rest

AGGRESSIVE (especially a previously friendly dog)

  • Acts out of character

  • Growls, hisses, bites

  • Pins ears back

  • A normally aggressive dog may act quiet, docile

POSTURE

  • Hunched, with hindquarters raised and front end down on the ground

  • Lays in a different position than usual

Dental Care Guidelines

Contrary to popular belief, “doggy breath” is not normal. If your pet’s bad breath keeps the two of you from snuggling or you wish you could give your pet a mint, it could be the first sign that he has dental disease, a painful condition caused by bacteria infecting his gums and teeth. What’s even worse, it can lead to serious health issues as infection spreads throughout the body.

Since maintaining oral hygiene is crucial to keeping cats and dogs healthy and happy, AAHA created dental care guidelines to help your veterinarian provide top-notch care. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about these guidelines:

  1. Dental disease begins early in life. Small dogs can begin to develop dental disease as early as nine months old. By the time they’ve reached their third birthday, most dogs begin showing signs of dental disease, such as bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on the teeth, and red, swollen gums. Left untreated, throbbing pain and inflammation can cause pets to drop food, drool excessively, paw at their mouths, or become reactive to petting. But, because most dogs and cats are experts at hiding pain, many suffer in silence.

  2. Early detection is key. As a part of your pet’s annual veterinary checkup, we recommend dental evaluations at least once a year when your small breed dog reaches one year old, or when your large breed dog turns two.

  3. “X-ray vision” is essential for diagnosing dental disease. After examining dental radiographs (X-ray images) of cats and dogs with teeth that appeared normal to the naked eye, veterinarians found 27.8% of dogs and 41.7% of cats had diseased teeth. In pets with abnormal-looking teeth, veterinarians found additional diseased teeth in 50% of dogs and 53% of cats.

  4. Anesthesia makes dental evaluation and treatment safer and less stressful for your pet. Animals don’t like to hold still while their teeth are cleaned. Anesthetized dental cleanings allow veterinarians to make a more accurate diagnosis and decrease the chance of complications, like inhaling water or bacteria produced during the cleaning.

  5. Anesthesia is much safer than you think. Our protocols include steps to increase the safety of anesthesia, even in older pets. For example, one trained professional is dedicated to continuously monitoring, recording vital signs, and communicating the findings to the veterinarian. Before anesthesia, your pet will also be carefully screened with bloodwork and other tests to ensure he is free from underlying disease.

  6. Removing plaque from teeth beneath the gums is vital. In fact, it’s even more important than scaling the portion of the teeth we can see. Bacteria thrive under the gumline, causing infections deep in the tooth root and jaw that can spread throughout the body and affect other organs, such as the heart or kidneys.

  7. There are many similarities between human and veterinary dentistry. Licensed veterinarians and credentialed technicians use sharp, sterilized instruments, just like those you see in your dentist’s office. Board-certified veterinary dentists go through extensive residency training to perform advanced procedures like root canals, tooth extractions, and crowns. You might even feel the same sense of guilt when your veterinarian asks, “How often do you brush his teeth?” as when you’re asked, “How often do you floss?”.

  8. We will create a personalized pain protocol to keep your pet comfortable. Although your dog or cat will be anesthetized during a tooth extraction, numbing medications will decrease the amount of general anesthetic needed and can last up to eight hours after the procedure, allowing your pet to rest in comfort. Your veterinarian can tailor your pet’s prescription pain medication to match the procedure so he’ll recover peacefully at home.

  9. Don’t forget to brush! Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth every day will promote good oral health and prevent potentially expensive surgeries down the line. It’s easier than you think: There are even special pet toothpastes flavored like beef, chicken, fish, and peanut butter. (Note: Never use human toothpaste, which can contain ingredients like xylitol that are toxic to animals.)

  10. Consider using other dental products if brushing isn’t an option. Oral rinses, gels, sprays, water additives, and chews can help with your pet’s dental hygiene. Be sure to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval on all pet dental products, and be wary of any dental chew that doesn’t bend or break easily as these can fracture teeth.

Choosing the Best Nutrition for Your Pet

Superior nutrition is as critical for pets as it is for people. It is important that your pet receives the benefit of a scientifically bases diet for optimal health. With so many different options available, choosing the right food fo ryou dog or cat can be a challenge.

A nutritional expert was recently quoted as saying, "there are three things that can influence how long your pet will live: heredity, environment, and nutrition. The one that owners can influence most is what they choose to feed their pet." Your veterinary team is the best source for accurate information about nutrition for your pet. We have your pet's medical history and can work with you in choosing the appropriate diet, the amounts to feed, and can monitor your pet's response to their new diet.

Our veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians, and support staff are continously updating their knowledge of diets and nutrition. The diets we recommend are produced in processing facilities that have advanced safety standards and have had feeding trials performed. Feeding trials are the gold standard to determine how a pet will perform when fed a specific food.

Do not be misled by marketing tools that have no science or testing behind them. Recently there has been an influx of "natural", "organic", or "holistic" doc and cat foods to choose from. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the lack of science behind these claims.

For example:

Organic - There is a myth that the terms natural and organic are interchangeable. This is not true. True organic foods must comply with Agri-Food Canada's very strict regulations. This is an expensive process and there are few if any truly organic pet foods available.

Natural -The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates pet food in the USA, but unfortunately in Canada this is only used as a guideline, and is not a requirement.

Holistic - There is no legal definition of this term in pet foods. Any manufacturer can make claims of "holistic" in their literature (including web sites) regardless of diet content. Unfortunately it means nothing.

Human Grade - Claims that a product contains ingredients that are human-grade quality. It can be a misleading term since there is no policing of pet food content to ensure this is in fact so.

Things to consider when choosing a new diet:

Ingredients - Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Generally meats are listed first as they contain a lot of water and therefore weight more. The ingredient list is not nearly as important as the quality and nutritional value of each individual ingredient.

Guaranteed Analysis - This is the list of ingredients on the side of the bag of food provided as a guide to consumers. It is virtually impossible to compare foods by using the guaranteed analysis. It is the nutritional value of each ingredient blended together that delivers a product specific for a pet's age or condition. You could do a guaranteed analysis on an old leather boot that would compare to the guaranteed analysis of some pet foods. Obviously an old leather boot is not a digestible item, but unfortunately digestibility is not listed on the label.

"All" Life Stage Diets - Although they sound convenient, most of these diets are formulated for puppies since they have the highest nutritional requirements. However a diet like this should not be used for mature or senior dogs, as they can be dangerously high in protein if an older dog is starting to have kidney trouble, and are also not properly balanced in calories and minerals.

By Products - Foods that list by-products are not necessarily inferior products. By-products are commonly used in both human and pet foods and can include nutrient rich organ meats, ground bones, skin, and som emeat. It does not include beaks, feet, and feathers as some people are led to believe. By-products are simply ingredients produced in the making of something else (i.e. when Vitamin E is extracted from soybeans the soybean meal that is left over is a highly nutritious by-product.)

Formulated vs. Feeding Trials - If a pet food label states that the food is "formulated" for a specific life stage it indicates that it is unlikely to have had a feeding trial done. Feeding trials are the Gold Standard for determining nutritional adequacy; therefore we sell only foods that have had feeding trials done i.e. veterinary diets made by Royal Canin and Hills.

The Corn Myth and Grain Free Diets - Recently foods with corn as a carbohydrate ingredient have been getting negative reviews. It is important to know that corn, as it is provided in high quality foods such as the veterinary Royal Canin diet is one of the best sources of grain protein, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Corn causes no more allergies in pets than other grains. Grains can be an excellent source of nutrition for omnivores like dogs. Grain free diets that are marketed frequently use potatoes as their source of carbohydrate, since carbohydrates are a necessary component of a well-balanced canine diet.

Safety - The veterinary diets that we recommend, Royal Canin and HIlls, have a very rigorous screening requirement to assure the safety and quality of their ingredients. Royal Canin diets use a high tech spectrophotometer to test each ingredient before they are allowed to enter the plant. A recent study indicated that little has been done to improve the safety of many other pet foods on the Canadian market.

Raw Diets - There has been an abundance of unsubstantiaed information regarding alternative foods available for pets on the internet and other sources. However, pet owners should be aware of the facts if they are considering an alternative food for their pets:

A - there is no scientific data to support beliefs commonly held by raw food supporters (bones and raw food); that feeding raw is "better" for your pet.

B - some raw food recipes contain excessive or insufficient levels of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

C - raw foods pose a potential hazard for food poisoning and bacterial (salmonella) contamination for both humans and animals. Pets eating raw food can become carriers of these deadly bacteria and can accidentally transmit them to children, the elderly, or any person with a poor immune system, sometimes with very seriosu consequences.

D - in one study 90% of homemade diets were found to be nutritionally unbalanced.

E - bones can cause intestinal blockage and fractured teeth

Cost - A lot of people believe that veterinary diets are more expensive than pet store foods. This is often not the case. Ask us about cost per day and feeding amounts. Many of our diets are comporable to and in some cases cheaper than pet store diets.

Prescription Diets - We may recommend a specific veterinary diet for your pet depending on their medical diagnosis (i.e. pancreatitis, lower urinary tract disease.) In these cases please strictly follow your veterinarian's diet recommendations. Do not be tempted by pet store or grocery store brands that claim to do what a veterinary prescription diet can do. Since there is no policing of pet store foods in Canada, often these diets have not had any feeding trials done to prove that they do what they claim.

Why are Royal Canin Veterinary diets our number one recommendation?

We have made Royal Canin Veterinary diets our number one recommendation for a number of reasons.

  • All Royal Canin Veterinary diets have undergone feeding trials

  • Ingredients are of excellent quality

  • Safety standards are unsurpassed

  • All of their diets are manufactured at their plant in Guelph, Ontario and 60% of their ingredients are purchased from Canadian farms

  • Several of our staff have visited the Royal Canin plant to assure ourselves that Royal Canin Veterinary dits are produced with pristine quality control measures and with outstanding science based nutritional content.

We were very happy with the dedication the Royal Canin Veterinary diet team demonstrated in fulfilling our requirements and since this visit have used Royal Canin as our trusted primary veterinary diet provider.

We believe that proper nutrition for your pet from their baby to their senior years is of vital importance. We know you want to provide superior nutrition for your pet, and encourage you to ask an of our team members if you have questions regarding diet.

Please let us help you keep your pet healthy and happy!

"Let food be your first medicine" - Hippocrates

Barking Issues

Barking has many different causes, and because of this, can be an extremely difficult behaviour to control. Excessive barking is usually caused by some combination of the following:

Inherited drive - Any inherited behavior is extremely difficult to change.

Learning - Most dogs have learned to bark to get something, and it usually works. For example, each time your dog barks at the mailman, the mailman goes away, or if the dog spends the afternoon in the yard barking, someone will eventually yell at the dog to be quiet - and, some attention, bad or good, is better than no attention. Dogs that are taught to speak for food can sometimes develop a barking problem.

Territorial defense - Dogs bark when their territory is threatened. This is another inherited component of barking, and therefore is difficult to eliminate. It is seen when the dog barks at strangers (or squirrels) that approach the house or yard.

Play - Increase excitement levels associated with play can lead to increased barking.

Stereotypic barking - This occurs when the dog has developed barking as a way of dealing with conflict or stress. The dog then barks whenever they are in conflict, much as a person might bite their fingernails. This type of barking tends to be measured, almost a monotone and repetitive.

Separation Anxiety - The dog barks only when the owner goes out, as a way of relieving the tension and anxiety they feel when left alone.

Treatment of Problem Barking

Train the dog not to bark by eliminating any reward the dog might get for barking. You must totally ignore the barking - do not look at, speak to or touch the dog while they are barking. If you give in after the dog has barked for 15 minutes and shout at the dog, the barking has been reinforced and will be even more difficult to eliminate. When you start to ignore any behaviour that the dog has learned will get him a response, the behavior will increase in frequency and intensity before stopping completely (this is called an extinction burst). You should reward the dog intermittently with touch and food when they are not barking.

Train the dog to come, sit and stay. Then look for situations where you know your dog will start to bark. Issue a command just before the dog starts to bark. Reward the dog, within ½ second of the command, for responding to it. If you do this consistently, before the dog has a chance to bark, the barking will eventually stop. Punishment does not work. Shouting at the dog often encourages more barking.

Perhaps the easiest way to stop barking is to change the environment, if possible, to reduce or eliminate the dog's exposure to the stimulus which causes barking. If the dog barks outside, keep him in. If people walking by cause him to bark, put him in an area where he can't see them.

Debark surgery is not popular in Canada and many veterinarians refuse to do the procedure. You should be aware that after the vocal cords are cut, the dog is still able to make a whispery sound. Over time, the vocal cords will scar over and the dog's bark will get louder. For this reason, it is not a permanent solution.

There are a variety of anti- barking collars available. The most humane of these is a citronella spray attachment that spritzes the dog with an unpleasant, but non- harmful, citrus spray when barking occurs. This can be very effective in some dogs. Human activated shock collars are cruel and must not be used, due to the inconsistency of the shock application. The only humane shock collar to use is one with varied settings so you can adjust to the lowest level that is effective, a vibration sensor and a buzzer which goes off before the dog is shocked, but this must only be used as an absolute last resort if all of the above techniques have failed and you are unable to keep your dog unless they stop barking. Please Be sure to schedule a behavioral consultation with us first if you are considering this option.

Barking is an extremely difficult problem to deal with, but with work you can reduce or eliminate your dog's barking. Remember, it took the dog some time to reach the stage he is at, and it will take time to train him not to bark. We are here to help you in whatever way we can, so please call if you have any problems or questions.

Xylitol Poisoning

Xylitol is a common human safe sweetener found in sugar-free gums and mouth washes and not thought of as a potential toxin for our dogs and can potentially even be fatal.

Toxic effects of Xylitol:

  • HYPOGLYCEMIA - In a dogs body the pancreas will confuse xylitol with real sugar and then begins to release insulin to store what it believes to be sugar. Unfortunately the insulin then only serves to remove the real sugar from the blood stream. This removal will cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and can cause symptoms such as weakness, disorientation, tremors and even potentially seizures. Intravenous fluids with a dextrose solution are often required to reverse the effect of the gum and increase the dogs blood sugar again to normal levels.

  • HEPATIC NECROSIS - Xylitol can also be very destructive to the tissue of the liver and actually cause breakdown of the liver tissue. When there is damage caused to the liver this can create internal hemorrhage and clotting issues. This side effect does not generally show up as quickly, typically around 8 - 12 hours after the consumption of the gum. Ingestion of higher doses of xylitol are generally required in order to have this effect on the liver. Also not all dogs that experience liver issues after ingestion will experience hypoglycemia first. Intravenous fluids may be required along with monitoring of liver enzyme values and clotting tests, other blood tests may be warranted depending on the dogs condition. Medications that are liver support/protectants may also be prescribed to help the liver to recover.

Xylitol poisoning is a very serious threat to any dog; gum or mouth wash should always be kept in a safe doggy-proof area. If you believe your dog has ingested either of these substances please call your veterinarian immediately. If you know the substance has been ingested within the last 30 minutes your vet can induce vomiting to try and bring up the gum.

FACT: A 10 lb dog can exhibit signs of xylitol poisoning with as little as a stick and a half of gum.

Tooth Brushing Demo

See how to brush your dog's teeth with this educational video.