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Going to the cottage this weekend? Make it a safe one for your pet!

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Spending the weekend with your canine companion in the sun and water is a great way to have fun and stay active whether on the beach, dock or boat.  However, it is important to be safe while doing so. Here are a few ways to stay protected:

#1 – Wear a life jacket. That’s right; they make life jackets for dogs too! The essential vests keep your pet buoyant making it easier for them to swim around and prevent drowning.  Wearing a life jacket that is bright in colour also makes your dog more visible to oncoming boaters. When purchasing a life jacket ensure it fits your dog properly, bringing them to the store with you to try it on is a great idea.

#2- Provide fresh water. Bringing a supply of clean fresh water is important to keep your pet well hydrated and cool. If fresh water is unavailable, your dog may be more likely to drink from a lake or pond, which may be contaminated with parasites, toxins or garbage.  You should also keep a close eye on your dog and avoid letting them eat any dead fish, garbage or feces that may be around the water.

#3- Supervision.  Just like people, not all dogs are excellent swimmers.  Do not leave them unattended or allow them to swim too far from you while in the water. Keeping them close to shore or the boat, especially when new to swimming, is important in the event of an emergency. If your dog is new to the water or riding in a boat introduce them gradually, keeping trips short and positive.

#4 – Sunscreen. Dogs, especially light coloured dogs, are susceptible to sunburn as well.  Spray sunscreens made for babies or children that are waterproof are a great choice for our pets. Make sure to avoid contact with your pet’s eyes and do not use zinc oxide cream. Providing shade or putting a t-shirt on your dog is also a good way to protect their skin from the sun.

Rabies Baiting Update

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A recent article in the Hamilton Spectator reveals the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s plan to test the efficacy of the rabies vaccine. More than 800,000 baits containing the rabies vaccine have been dropped in and around Hamilton since the rabies outbreak in December 2015. In early May the rabies count in Hamilton reached 100 (62 raccoons, 38 skunks). 8 other cases were reported in surrounding areas making the overall count in Ontario 108. The tally has increased since then to a total of 121 cases in Ontario since December 2015, 5 of which have been since June 1st.

Last Sunday the Ministry began trapping raccoons and skunks in Hamilton and surrounding areas. 400 animals are to be trapped for blood collection and then released back to same location they were captured from. Blood samples will be tested for rabies antibodies which will indicate to officials whether the animal was exposed to the vaccine or not. Results will dictate if adjustments to the baiting program are warranted. Baiting will continue until the end of June and resume again in August and September to target animals born in the spring. Traps and baits will contain information notices for people who come across them.

Below are a couple recent articles from the Hamilton Spectator:

Ministry to test rabies vaccine effectiveness

Hamilton rabies count reaches 100


A Local Update on Lyme Disease

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There have been a few articles recently in the Hamilton Spectator discussing Lyme disease in the area.  One of the articles discusses a small but interesting study done that collected ticks from the Dundas area over the last 2 years.  The sample size was small – only 29 ticks were collected – but interestingly 12 of them (or 41%) were carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

The risk in our area may be higher than we think and it seems more recent surveillance data is necessary.  Precautions to prevent ourselves from becoming exposed include covering exposed skin, using insect repellents, doing full body checks for ticks, showering within 2 hours of being outdoors and removing ticks within 24-36 hours (it takes ticks 48-72 hours to transmit Lyme disease).  For our pets, using tick preventative products such as Advantix, Nexgard or Bravecto are a recommended for dogs who frequent wooded areas or areas with long grass.  Symptoms of Lyme disease in people include fever, headache, body pain, fatigue and sometimes a rash at the site of the tick bite.

Here are a few recent articles from the Hamilton Spectator:

We need to know the real risk of Lyme disease

Ticks that spread Lyme disease are in Hamilton warns study

Lyme Disease cases rising in Canada

Rabies vaccine baiting resumes

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Given skunks and raccoons are more active now that the weather is warmer, the Ministry of Natural Resources will resume the vaccine baiting.  Baits will be distributed by helicopter and by hand at different points this month.  The baits will immunize most skunks, foxes and raccoons over the age of sixteen weeks.  The Ministry will therefore do another round of baiting later in the summer to vaccinate raccoons born in the early summer.  Baits are small and khaki green in colour with a toll free government number printed on them.  The Ministry asks that people do not disturb the baits.

You can read the latest articles from the Hamilton Spectator here:

Vaccine campain aims to prevent spread of rabies

Six more rabies cases as province begins new vaccine bait assault

Big jump in positive rabies cases in Hamilton

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Since December there have been 44 new rabies cases found around the Hamilton area.  19 of these have been skunks, while the rest have been raccoons.  Please make sure you keep your pets and family safe by avoiding all wild animals and keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

To learn more please click here to read the latest Spectator article  

You can also click here to read more on the Ontario Animal Health Network website.  There is also a good link to a very informative podcast about the current rabies outbreak in Hamilton.

Rabies found in Skunks

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Hamilton’s raccoon rabies outbreak has now expanded to include skunks.  In February, sixteen skunks tested positive for Rabies with the same strain of the virus that was found in the infected raccoons.  The skunks were found in more urban areas of Hamilton, 10 on the Mountain and 2 in the lower east end.  Of concern to pet owner, skunks tend to interact more with pet dogs than raccoons do.  So make sure your pet is up to date on his/her Rabies vaccination!

The Ministry of Natural Resources will begin baiting with vaccines again in the Spring.  A Rabies outbreak can last 3-5 years so ongoing baiting and surveillance will likely be necessary.

To read the full article from the Hamilton Spectator click HERE

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Yes it’s time to start tick prevention already!

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Over the last few years we have seen a steady increase in the number of ticks found on pets in Hamilton. At this point it is now no longer uncommon to find deer ticks in our own backyards within the city.  Furthermore, given the mild winter it is expected that the tick population will increase even more this spring.  Ticks will emerge and start to feed as soon as the temperature rises above 4 degrees.  For this reason we are recommending that tick prevention should be started for dogs as early as March this year. Ticks will continue to be active until the temperature drops below 4 degrees and there is snow cover.   Currently we cannot predict when this will be, but it could extend in to December.  There is actually a rise in the adult tick population in late fall/early winter.

Ticks are known for spreading Lyme disease, but they also have the potential to transmit Ehrilichia Anaplasma and Babesia.  Recently the Lone Star Tick has also been found in Ontario which transmits a disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  All of these have the potential to cause disease in pets and people.  It is our goal to be as proactive as possible to prevent these diseases.   Currently we can vaccinate dogs for Lyme disease but not for any of the others.  This is why appropriate vaccination as well as tick prevention medication are both important aspects of a prevention strategy.

Reducing exposure will also help to reduce tick bites, especially in people.   Some ways to implement this around your house would be to remove leaf litter frequently, keep grass short, and discourage wild animals from entering the yard (secure household garbage, avoid ponds, block areas where animals may hide/live, such as under decks and sheds).    For people it is best cover up when possible, especially by tucking pants into socks so ticks can be seen and brushed off.  Daily tick checks are also important for people and pets.  Ticks need to be attached for 24-48 hours to transmit Lyme disease but some of the other diseases can be transmitted in as little as 4-6 hours.  If your find a tick on yourself or your dog it should be removed as soon as possible.  Ticks from people can be brought to the public health department for identification.

If you would like to learn more this website provides reliable and accurate information:


Three more cases of Raccoon Rabies

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The three new cases of raccoons that tested positive for Rabies were found outside the city of Hamilton, two in Caledonia and one south of Hagersville.

Also of interest to pet owners, 90% of the raccoons who were picked up for abnormal behaviour tested positive for distemper virus.  Dispemper virus can be passed to dogs if they come into contact with raccoons and causes fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, and neurological signs (often incoordination and seizures).  Vaccinations for dispemper are very effective and are included in our “core” vaccination protocol (ie they are given to every dog).  Dispemper cannot be transmitted to people.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has finished the raccoon vaccination baiting program for the season however it will continue to monitor and test suspicious animals for rabies throughout the winter.

To read the full article from the Hamilton Spectator click HERE.

Two more cases of Raccoon Rabies

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From the Hamilton Spectator:

Two more raccoons have tested positive for Rabies in Hamilton, bringing the total number to 12.  The raccoons were found up on the Hamilton Mountain.  Fortunately, no human cases of Rabies have been reported.  The Ministry of Natural Resources has finished its raccoon rabies vaccine program, after having distributed 220,000 baits.  More baits will also be dropped in the Spring.  Fortunately, with the cooler weather, raccoons are expected to remain in thier dens and not roam around.  The risk to humans is still considered low, but vigilance and avoiding contact with wild animals is recommended.

Hamilton’s health department recommends:

  • Avoiding contact with raccoons and other wild animals including bats
  • Keeping rabies vaccinations up-to-date for dogs and cats
  • Seeking medical attention if in direct contact with a wild animal or potentially rabid animal
  • Contacting a veterinarian or the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) if a pet is in contact with a wild animal.

To read the full article in the Hamilton Spectator click HERE.


New Tapeworm in Ontario

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Since 2012 there have been 3 dogs in Southern Ontario diagnosed with Echinococcus multilocularis.  This is a very small tapeworm which has the potential to cause disease not only in pets but also in people.  This parasite has never before been found in Ontario but is suspected to be carried in the wild dog population.  The parasites natural lifecycle starts in the gut of coyotes or foxes (definitive hosts),  they then shed eggs in their feces that are ingested by small rodents like voles and mice (intermediate hosts).  In this animal the parasite travels to the liver and causes a tumour-like growth in the liver.  When the rodent is ingested by the fox or coyote the parasite makes it’s way back to the gut and starts producing eggs again. The dogs that have been diagnosed in Ontario had infections consistent with being an intermediate host (so likely got infected from ingesting feces of coyotes or foxes).  They also have the potential of being definitive hosts if they ingest a rodent that has been infected.  In these cases they have the ability to spread parasite eggs just like a coyote or fox.  Obviously, this is concerning for our pets but also for us.  The incubation period (time between when we get infected and when we become ill) is 5-15 years in people.  This means that it is possible we could see humans with this disease in the future even though none have been diagnosed yet.  All people in contact with the diagnosed dogs in Ontario have been tested and luckily were found not to be infected.

If your dog spends lots of time off leash in wooded areas or eats rodents you may want to consider having a fecal sample tested and or having them dewormed for tapeworms on a regular basis.  Tapeworm segments are visible to the naked eye and appear like grains of rice on feces or around the rectum.  There is no way to tell this tapeworm apart from the more common and less concerning dipylidium caninum on fecal examination but the same medication is used to treat both.

if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to call or book an appointment to speak to one our vets (905)385-5354

To read more about this parasite please click here