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Update on ticks in Hamilton

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A recent article in the Hamilton spectator says ticks are here to stay.  Over the past several years we have seen a rise in the number of pets brought to the clinic with attached ticks.  We have also seen a rise in the number of deer ticks, the type of tick that can carry Lyme disease.  As of yet, we have not seen an increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease itself, as is also mentioned in the article.  Over the next several years tick numbers are expected to rise.  We can help protect our pets from ticks and tick borne disease by using tick preventative products, given orally or applied topically, usually monthly or for some products every 3 months to kill ticks when they land on our pets or attach and feed.  Ticks prefer long grassy or wooded areas but are also being found in backyards, which means you don’t necessarily need to be hiking on trails to get a tick.  Ticks are also active when it’s 4 degrees Celsius and above.  Small, immature deer ticks prefer the cooler weather and in some cases are no bigger than a poppy seed so they can be quite difficult to find especially when pets have a thick hair coat!  Tick preventative products in this area probably need to be used for 9-12 months out of the year.  

You can read the full article in the Hamilton Spectator here:

Lyme Disease carrying ticks have made a home in Hamilton

Canine Influenza cases confirmed in Canada

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The first two cases of canine influenza virus were confirmed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit this past week.  The canine flu is a highly infectious viral infection that causes lethargy, fever, coughing, sneezing and runny nose.  It is transmitted easily between dogs when they are in close contact especially places like kennels and dog parks.  The virus has been present for a long time in Asia and has been in the United States for a number of years but these are the first known cases in Canada.  The affected dogs were brought to Canada from  South Korea.  

Dogs with canine Influenza virus can actually shed the virus for a few days before symptoms arise and for up to 3 weeks once they are infected.  In most cases, the disease runs it’s course and dogs do not become seriously ill.  Symptoms are similar to other infectious respiratory diseases in dogs, like kennel cough.  Dogs at higher risk of becoming more seriously ill and developing complications of the disease, such are pneumonia, are very young, old or immune compromised animals.

You can read articles in the Hamilton Spectator and from the CBC news here by clicking on the links below.  

Vet warns of infectious dog flu outbreak – Hamilton Spectator

First 2 cases of Canine Influenza confirmed in Canada – CBC news

Antifreeze poisoning

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With the cooler weather, please remember that antifreeze is toxic for our pets.  It causes potentially fatal kidney damage.  It has a not unpleasant taste which makes it even more dangerous as some cats and dogs enjoy the taste.  It is very quickly absorbed from the stomach and intestines so treatment involving 24 hour hospital care on IV fluids needs to be started as quickly as possible.  In addition to automotive antifreeze, the toxic compound ethylene glycol can also be found in a number of other places (information obtained from the ASPCA Poison Control website):

  • Hydraulic brake fluid
  • Home solar units
  • Portable basketball goal post bases
  • Printer’s and stamp pad inks
  • Some snow globes
  • Some eye masks

If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze or any other toxin, please seek veterinary care immediately.  Have a safe and happy holiday!

New Rabies cases

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Four new rabies cases have been identified in the Halton region – three raccoons and one skunk in Burlington.  The Ministry of Natural resources and Forestry have already placed 250,500 baits this month and plan to drop another 500,000 by helicopter this August.  The total number of infected animals to date is 18.  You can read more from the Hamilton Spectator here:

Please remember to keep your pet up to date on his/her Rabies vaccination!

Hamilton meets the criteria for a Lyme risk area

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According to a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton meets the criteria for a Lyme disease risk area.  Of the blacklegged ticks that were collected in the area, 41% were carrying the Lyme disease bacterium.  Protect yourself by staying on trails, wearing protective clothing and checking for ticks after a walk.  You can protect your pet using a tick preventive product.  Both topical and chewable products are available.  Please call us for more information!  You can read the full article in the Hamilton Spectator here:

Spaying and neutering – why it’s important and how we minimize anesthetic risk

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Spaying (female) or neutering (male) your puppy or kitten is a sign of responsible pet ownership and provides numerous health and behavioral benefits. In Ontario alone, thousands of healthy unwanted pets are euthanized every year. Spaying and neutering helps reduce the stray pet population, thereby creating more space in shelters for unwanted, neglected or abused animals. The benefits of neutering include decreased marking behavior, decreased risk of prostatic disease and perianal tumours, and elimination of the risk of testicular cancer. Benefits of spaying include prevention of heat behavior and bleeding, pyometra (serious uterine infection) and a decreased risk of mammary tumors. In dogs, the risk of developing mammary tumours decreases to less than 0.5% if spayed before the first oestrus (heat). This risk jumps to 26% in dogs spayed after their second oestrus. Similarly, cats spayed before 6 months of age have a 91% reduction in the risk of developing mammary tumours.¹

As with any surgical procedure, spaying and neutering carries a degree of risk. Surgical complications associated with routine spays and neuters are generally minimal with appropriate technque. The greatest risk stems from the use of anesthetic drugs to provide appropriate conditions for surgery and the patient monitoring which occurs during this time. Currently, there are very few regulations regarding monitoring for veterinary anesthesia and many clinics are still using outdated techniques. Listed below are the various components which conistitute a safe protocol for spaying, neutering and other elective procedures.  Make sure to ask your veterinarian about the following precautions the next time your pet is scheduled for an anesthetic:

Surgical Services and Safety Precautions
Mountain Animal Hospital Surgery Low Cost Surgery
Blood work
  • Liver and kidney values, protein, blood sugar as well as CBC done at outside lab (More accurate).
  •  Performed about one week prior to surgery in case of abnormalities
  • Even in young animals, abnormalities are occasionally detected that can affect anaethesia (eg. liver shunt)
None or very little blood work possibly on day of surgery with in house lab (less accurate)
Physical Exam at Surgery Performed by veterinarian with owner present at drop off appointment Often admitted by technician.  Exam may be done by veterinarian or technician without owner present
IV Fluid Therapy
  • Done for every surgery and kept in all day
  • Helps maintain blood pressure and offers an excellent means of delivering pain medication and emergency drugs
Considered optional for time of surgery only
Body Temperature
  • Maintaining a normal body temperature allows your pet to metabolize drugs more efficiently and aids in recovery. We use:
    • Circulating hot water pad
    • IV line warmer
    • Oat Bags
    • Bair Hugger if needed
Often no body heating devices
Anesthetic Induction Always performed by a veterinarian (monitoring the heart during induction) Often performed by technician (administering anesthetic)
  • Blood pressure  (Doppler and Oscillometric)
  • ECG (heart waves and rate)
  • Inspired and expired CO2
  • Oxygen Saturation
  • Breathing
  • Body Temperature
May only monitor breathing (required by law)
Pain Management
  • Multimodal (more than one type of medication used)
  • Multiple injections of pain medicine starting before surgery and continued throughout the day
  • Anti-inflammatory pain medication given during surgery and sent home for 3 days post operatively
  • Local freezing to surgery site
Often one injection of anti-inflammatory medication only
Discharge Appointment Always performed by veterinarian Often performed by technician or receptionist
Follow Up Always called day after surgery Often never called


The following link to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s (OVMA) website provides further practical information on the importance of spaying and neutering your pets:


¹Argyle, David J, Malcolm J. Brearley and Michelle M. Turek, eds. Decision Making In Small Animal Oncology. Maiden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

Rabies Warning in Hamilton

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A second cat tested positive for rabies in Hamilton this past Monday February 6th. These two cats are the first domestic animals shown to have the raccoon strain of rabies in 10 years. 278 animals have tested positive for rabies since December 2015, of these 224 were found in Hamilton. Broken down there have been 140 raccoons, 81 skunks, 1 fox and 2 cats.

People should be cautious and avoid stray, wild or unknown animals including cats and dogs. Pets can be protected by not leaving them outside unattended and ensuring their vaccinations are up to date. It is important to remember that an animal can appear normal and still be able to transmit the virus just prior to showing symptoms.

Currently the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry does not expect to eliminate the virus in less than 5 years. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year the ministry’s rabies control program cost $4-4.3 million. Similar expenses are estimated in 2017-2018. Cost could climb to $8-12 million per year if rabies is not controlled. These expenses include vaccine baiting programs, testing, treatments and dealing with infected animals.

Click the links below to view 2 related articles on the current rabies outbreak by The Hamilton Spectator

Does your dog have a musical preference??

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A recent study conducted by the University of Glasgow with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals examined dog’s responses to different varieties of music. Overall dogs were generally less stressed when they listened to music. This response was measured by examining the dog’s heart rates, cortisol levels and certain behaviors like barking or laying down.  Overall dogs appeared to enjoy reggae and soft rock the most with Motown having the greatest preference.

This research makes a strong case for the use of music as a calming technique for animals. The Scottish SPCA will be looking into installing sound systems into their kennels. This may help reduce stress in shelter animals and provide a more hospitable environment.

Click here to view the related article by the Hamilton Spectator

Cold-weather tips for your pet!

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Some cold weather tips to consider for your pet:

1)      Do not leave your dog outside unattended. The cold can affect our pets the same way it does us, potentially causing frostbite or hypothermia. Even short periods of exposure to the cold can cause a rapid decrease in our pet’s body temperature and affect their health and mobility.

2)      Check your dog’s feet after walks for pieces of salt or ice. Salt and ice can irritate, crack or cut your dog’s paws. Rising and drying their paws can be beneficial.

3)      Keep your pets away from cold drafts. Tiled and uncarpeted floors can also become very cold in the winter and give your pet a chill.

4)      Provide your dog with a coat or blanket, especially if they are small or less active.

5)      Do not leave your dog alone in the car. The same rule for summer applies to winter.

6)      Watch out for spilled antifreeze. The sweet smell and taste of antifreeze can tempt your dog but is deadly if consumed.

To view a related article from the Hamilton Spectator click here

Wellness Screening for Senior Pets

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Believe it or not, cats and dogs over the age of 7 are considered to be senior. Pets are fantastic at masking illness and may be suffering from disease or pain even if they do not appear to be sick. Even a subtle change in behavior, whether it is a change in drinking, urinating, energy level, etc, can mean a lot! It is important to detect disease as early on if possible in order to prevent and/or manage it effectively.

Wellness testing is particularly important in our older pets as they are at greater risk of developing health issues or suffering from a chronic condition. Regular wellness testing should be practiced and can be easily combined with their annual examination and vaccines.

What is involved in wellness testing?

Blood work:

Biochemistry profile – This blood panel examines the organs and tissues of the body. In addition to examining the kidney, liver and pancreas it also includes measurements of electrolytes, protein and glucose. If abnormalities are revealed further diagnostics may be recommended, including an expanded biochemistry profile.

Complete blood count – This blood test gives information on the different cell types in the blood, including red blood cells, white blood cell and platelets. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body to tissues. White blood cells respond to inflammation and infection. Platelets are responsible for healing and blood clotting.

Thyroid hormone level – The thyroid acts like a thermostat of the body and regulates metabolism throughout your pet’s entire system. The most common thyroid disorder in dogs is hypothyroidism in contrast to cats who suffer from hyperthyroidism more commonly. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can be responsible for issue like weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, recurring skin/ear infections, increased urination/drinking, etc.

Urinalysis: Examining your pet’s urine can provide useful information on their kidneys and urinary system. It is helpful in assessing kidney function, identifying urinary tract infection or inflammation, diabetes or cancer within the urinary system.

In some cases further testing or diagnostics may be recommended.

Speak with our healthcare team today about wellness testing in your pet!