Animal Health Week

This year’s Animal Health Week theme is Vaccines Save Lives*!

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is reminding animal owners about these Five Reasons to Vaccinate:


1) Vaccinations are safe and effective – they prevent many animal illnesses.  To learn specifics of what vaccines your pet requires, see our website.  Cats, dogs, and ferrets all require vaccinations.

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2) Vaccinations protect everyone – they prevent diseases that can be passed not only from animal to animal, but also from animal to human.  Not all diseases are zoonotic, but some are.  It’s important to vaccinate for things like Rabies to protect you and your pet.

3) Vaccinations are an important part of annual health exams.  We are always vaccination and your dog(3)working to educate on the importance of annual preventative health exams.  Having your pet seen annually can be especially helpful if your pet gets sick or as your pet ages.

4) Vaccinations are tailored to each animal based on its breed, age, overall health, and disease exposure risk.  You and your pet’s lifestyle are taken into account when our veterinarians work out a vaccination schedule for your pet.  Your pet’s level of exposure to certain elements and environments will help to determine the best protocol for your pet.

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5) Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.  Diseases like Parvovirus (parvo) in dogs and Panleukopenia (feline distemper) in cats are two prime examples of devastating illnesses for your pet, both of which are preventable with appropriate vaccinations.


Have questions about vaccinations and your pet?  Give your veterinarian a call.

*information taken in part from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Health Week information site

Temp Tattoo Images

Some additional information articles from CVMA:

Your Pet’s Nails

by: Jennifer Oldfield and Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe

Trimming your pet’s nails can seem like a challenging task.  Many pets don’t want to be still for the process and if you are already uncomfortable with trimming them, this certainly doesn’t make it easier.

Dogs definitely need their nails trimmed, but cats can also benefit from this practice.  The very first thing to note regarding trimming your pet’s nails is the importance behind doing it;

For Cats

Cat’s nails generally do not grow as quickly as a dog’s nail.  If your cat uses a sisal scratching post or any scratching post or pad with a harsher material, you may not need to trim their front nails at all, as the material naturally wears them away.  However back feet and nails that aren’t being naturally worn down, benefit from trimming the sharp point off.  Removing the sharp tips help to prevent your cat from getting stuck in things (like the carpet or other materials), it also reduces scratches on surfaces, including you!

For Dogs

It is vital that your dog’s nails are trimmed on a regular basis.  How often, really depends on the dog and the surfaces they frequent.  If you can hear that familiar “tick, tick, tick” as they walk across the floor, it is time for a trim.  There are several reasons to keep those nails short.

  • When the nail grows longer than the pad (when you hear the ticking) your dog is losing the benefit their pad provides of gripping slippery surfaces.
  • Leaving the nails long changes the natural alignment of the dog’s leg by causing pressure and eventual twisting to the joints.
  • Plus, if left too long, the nails will eventually curl around into and around the other nails or worse; into the pads of the feet.  The dewclaw (the nail on the lower part of the inner leg) is at a very high risk of curling into the pad in a shorter time frame due to its location.
  • Long nails also often get caught and torn at the base of the nail sometimes leaving a “hang nail”.  This needs to removed by the vet and can have a variable amount of bleeding associated to it.


There are two things you are going to want to do before trimming your pet’s nails.  First get familiar with the nail colour and structure and second, get your pet use to their feet being handled.

Nail Structure

White Nails:

In cats and many dogs, the nails are white.  If you look at the nail from a side view you can easily see the pink quick.

Dark Nails:

In some dogs the toe nails are black.  You cannot see the quick through the nail.

The Quick:

The quick is a nerve that runs from your pet’s toe into the nail itself.   The quick is the area you do not want to cut – if cut, it will bleed.  You can use a commercially available styptic powder or paste (Kwik Stop is a common brand), you can also use cornstarch or bar soap that does not have fragrance or dye in it, to stop the bleeding.  Simply put the nail into one of these items to cover the bleeding quick.  Our goal of course, is to help you keep your pet’s nails nicely trimmed while avoiding the quick.  It is important to realize that everyone will occasionally trim a nail too short.  Leaving the nails too long for fear of this has worse consequences then occasionally nicking the quick.

How to Handle the Feet

While inspecting your pet’s nails, work on getting your pet use to having their feet handled.  If all of a sudden, you grab your pet, force them to hold still while trimming all their nails and it is a struggle for you and them, neither of you are going to be so keen on doing it again and again.

To start sit on the floor with your pet and just touch their feet, touch the nails, give verbal praise when they are NOT trying to pull away.  If your pet doesn’t get crazy excited around treats, you can also give them a treat for letting you handle their feet.  Touch and handle all four feet.  End your session there.

Now get your pet use to having their feet handled to accept the nail trim.  Do so when there is something they want from you (food, attention, walks, play).  Food works best if you have a food motivated dog.  You can start by showing the nail trimmers as a signal that it’s suppertime.  Next hold the front leg above the paw while holding the trimmer, if your dog shows no resistance go ahead and trim the nail or touch the nail with the trimmer.  As soon as he tries to pull away stop what you are doing (without letting go of the leg) and wait for him to relax the leg *relaxing and giving the paw is the behaviour you are rewarding*.  Once he relaxes the paw and stops trying to pull away, release him to eat his supper.  Gradually progress from touching the nail with the trimmer to trimming only 1 or 2 nails, to eventually doing them all in one session.  Push as far as you can get each time.  It may take a week or two but most dogs will quickly make the connection between allowing you to trim the nails and getting fed.  If the dog will absolutely not relax and settle when you have the paw then stop after 5-10 minutes of trying, but remove his supper.  No paw, no food.  Try again when he is due for his next meal.

Cutting the Nail

As mentioned, in white nails you can see the quick, you want to trim all of the white that does not have pink in it.  For both cats and dogs, trimming white nails is fairly easy.  Trim just back from the quick, cutting the long, white only, portion of the nail.  In dark nails, if you view them from the side, they have a “tell-tale” shape that helps you know where you can cut without cutting the quick.  Black nails (much more so than white) form a quick and hool“hook” or narrower area on the nail after the “fat” area where the quick is.  (see the diagram to the right).  The thinner “hook” can all be cut off.  If you look at a black nail from straight on (see image below),  after trimming the “hook”, you will see a black outer area, a circle of white, then a black center area, when there is a spot of white in the middle of the black, this indicates the quick is right behind that, do not cut any further.  As the image to the right shows, you can trim the nail in 2 cuts.  The first cut removes the access length of nail.  The second cut (although not necessary) can help the quick recede further back.  Each time you trim the nail close to the quick, it moves back into the nail to protect itself.  In this way you can work to get your dog’s nails to a nice short length.  In the case where the nails have grown too long, you may need to cut them every 4-5 days to help the quick recede back.  After you have gotten the quick to recede back so the nails are short, how frequently you need to trim the nails will depend on the surfaces your dog moves on.  Harder surfaces (like concrete) will wear the nails down, while softer surfaces (like grass) will not.  Keep an eye on the nails and try to trim them before the tell-tale “tick, tick” across the floor.

where is the quick


There are a few different tools available to use for trimming nails.  For cats the clippers that work best are ones designed specifically for their smaller nails.

cat nail trimmer

Nail trimmers best for cats or very small dog nails (i.e. tiny puppies)

For dogs there are several different looking trimmers, but 2 essential styles: the scissor style or the guillotine.  Use whichever style you are most comfortable with.  You can get scissor style ones with a guard on the back, so you don’t accidentally cut too much nail.  This works fine if the nails don’t need much trimmed.  Most with that option do allow you to move the guard off to the side if you need to cut more nail.

There is also another method to trimming the nails using a Dremel.  This grinds the nail away using a sandpaper bit and the speed of the Dremel.  Some dogs do really well with this method, however there are a few things to keep in mind if you choose to go this route.  The Dremel causes a vibration to the nail, so just like the handling of the feet before, you will need to get your dog accustomed to this, short sessions and lots of praise or treats work well.  You can get Dremels that are pet specific.  These generally have a lower speed of rotation to the bit.  If you use a regular Dremel keep the speed around 5,000 to 7,500 rpm.  Only hold the Dremel on each nail for 3-5 seconds (or the nail can get too hot which will hurt your pet).  Go back and forth between the nails until you have the length you are looking for.  Again, if the nails are really long you will want to do this in a few sessions, allowing the quick to naturally recede back.   There are a few good videos/articles online regarding dremeling the nails.  We have included those links for you below.  As well as additional links regarding nail trimming.

dog nail dremel

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  When using a Dremel, be absolutely certain to keep tails, long leg hair, or any long hair out of the way of the Dremel.  Due to the high speed rotation of the Dremel, if hair gets caught up in it, it can cause a vet emergency.

Unfortunately we have seen more than one animal come in with a degloved* tail tip due to the hair being caught by a rotating Dremel.

Tip: you could use a pantyhose stocking over the paw with the nails pushed through if your dog has excessively long hair on the feet or legs to help reduce the risk of catching it in the Dremel.

Additional Resources:

Dr. Becker on Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Train your Kitten to Love Nail Trims

How I Dremel Dog Nails

Using a Dremel Tool on Your Dog’s Nails – please keep in mind with this video that the setting he is using is very low, normally you would want to dremel each nail for only 3-5 seconds and then move on to the next and back again until all nails are the length you would like.  It is a very good video though to show you visually the process of dremeling the nail.


*Degloved means that the skin has been completely separated from the rest of the area of the body (akin to removing a glove from your hand)


The Scary Scale

by: Jennifer Oldfield

As an adult when I think scary scale, I think of the number that comes up when I get on!  However to our pets, the scary scale is that horrible thing they have to get on when they come in to the vet.  So why is it the process of getting weighed can be such a challenge for some pets?


A person’s view of the weigh-in area.

In many veterinary hospitals the scale is in a spot where it is against a wall on at least one side.  In our clinic the scale has walls on 2 of the sides.  When we look at it from our perspective that doesn’t seem as though it should be an issue for a dog.  It isn’t right against the walls, it is still fairly open feeling.  There is also the small step up to get on to the scale, which again, doesn’t seem like much to us.  However we need to look at things from a different perspective, from a dog’s perspective.

The first part of the dog’s perspective we need to consider is the visit in general – whether it is the first time or the 100th time your dog has come in, there are many factors that affect how they feel about it;

  • There are the smells (many of which we can’t detect)
  • The potential noises
  • Other animals/people in the waiting area
  • Their experiences from previous visits (if this is a return visit)

Then as they come over to the scale they see;


Your pet’s view of the scale.

  • Walls, preventing their ability to escape
  • A raised surface, that looks much higher from their perspective and appears to be floating
  • When they touch the scale they will feel it go down slightly, which can be scary if they are movement sensitive
  • Plus, if you are uncertain of getting them on the scale they will sense that and feel, if you are concerned, they should be too

So, how can you resolve this and make the scale a quick and easy task at the vet?

The first thing is to take your time.  There is normally no need to rush this process.  If your dog likes treats, we have some available to use, by all means, do!  If they have other treats that are their favourites at home, bring them!  If your dog is too stressed to take a treat, then encourage them on the scale and praise them when they get anywhere near it.  Even if they only have one foot on, let them know “yes, good dog”, this is a step in the right direction.  (pun totally intended).  You can definitely touch them while they are on the scale (without applying any downward pressure).  So pet your pup under the chin, give them a few scratches, let them know they are doing a good job.  Have them stay on the scale for a little bit, give praise and/or cookies then let them off.

A couple things to try your very best NOT to do:

  • Don’t worry about getting them on the scale.  Remember, if you are worried, they will be too.  If they are worried about people in their space, our team member will back off to a point where she can read the weight without being close enough to make your dog concerned.  If they are concerned about getting on in general, let us help, and take your time.
  • Do your very best NOT to use their leash and collar to pull, drag, or lift them on to the scale.  All of these actions will likely make it more stressful and far less enjoyable for your pet.  Plus, dragging them over can get their toes caught under the scale, which will definitely not be fun for them and make them hate the process even more.
  • Don’t panic – if there is another pet in the waiting room that is making getting a weight difficult or if your pet is just too excited when they first come in, let us know.  We can get you into an exam room first and then either weigh them after the excitement has settled down, or at the end of your appointment.

We strongly encourage clients to bring their pet in just for the purpose of getting on the scale, getting a cookie or some love and leaving.  Every time you do this, the scale becomes a fun part of the process of visiting the vet.  This definitely works best with young dogs, however at any age you can work to teach your dog that the scale isn’t scary.  It is just another game in the game of life.

Electra practices getting on and off the scale whenever she comes to visit:


Nutrition Advocates

by: Brianna Redlich

You may have read the title of this post and wondered, what is a Nutrition Advocate?  In our clinic we have two Nutrition Advocates.  We are Registered Veterinary Technologists that have taken extra training in the field of Nutrition.

Lucas and Brianna

Lucas & Brianna

What can a Nutrition Advocate (NA) do for you?

Our NAs work in one of two ways;

  1. We work closely with our veterinarians to develop a plan tailored to a pet’s needs.  Either the veterinarian will decide on a diet or they will ask our advice. Once a diet has been selected, based on the pet’s needs we then calculate a feeding guide. Next we explain to the client why the diet was chosen, how to transition, how much to feed and how often. We also do a follow up call 2 to 3 weeks later to see how the pet is doing and to answer any questions the client might have.  We then recommend coming in for weigh-ins following a diet change to monitor the pet’s weight. This helps to ensure the pet is not gaining/losing on a maintenance diet or is losing at a safe rate on a weight loss diet.
  2. The other way we work is when a client comes in seeking information or help in

    Some many choices…which is right for your pet?

    changing to a different diet. When a client comes to us with concerns about their pet’s weight, diet, eating habits, etc we will work with the client to determine the best course of action for the pet. An example is a client is concerned their pet is overweight.  We have a look at the pet and evaluate the body condition score and the overall appearance.  We also ask questions for a nutrition history.  It is very important that the client is honest when answering questions about feeding amounts, number of treats and exercise. We are there to help, not judge.  Once a body condition score and history have been evaluated we will then come up with a few different options.  Some clients decide to try achieving weight loss using the pet’s current diet. We will develop a plan and explain that if they are not seeing results that a prescription diet may be needed.  We do regular weigh-ins to track the pet’s progress and make adjustments as needed. Once the pet is at an ideal weight we will continue to work with the client while switching to a maintenance diet.

Please keep in mind that there are some situations where the Nutrition Advocate will recommend an exam with one of the Veterinarians before proceeding with a diet plan. An example would be a pet that has bad allergies and irritated skin, that may need to be treated both medically and nutritionally.

Not sure if you need to make a diet change? Ask yourself these questions.

  • Is your pet’s coat dull, brittle or do they have flaky skin?
  • Is your pet gassy?
  • Is your pet over or under weight?
  • Is your pet having loose or small hard bowel movements?
  • Is your pet having multiple large bowel movements a day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may want to book a consult with one of our Nutrition Advocates.

Further information:

Nutrition Consultations

FAT CAT vs Skinny Cat

By: Jennifer Oldfield

So you’re thinking, what’s the big deal, right?  I mean many of us carry extra weight, it’s just part of life… isn’t it?  As someone who is by no means a skinny cat, it is a big deal.  There are many side effects to carrying access weight that we don’t tend to think about.  As a human it is hard to shed those access pounds, we have to exert our own self-control, which can be so tough with the onslaught of delicious food choices and a busy, often sedentary life style.

cat-eating-food-in-bowlOur cats on the other hand are at our mercy – we control the food.   We can control how much and when they get to eat.  Unfortunately many of us grew up thinking you just pour food in a bowl, walk away and do it again when the bowl gets low or (God forbid) empty!  If you currently feed your cat this way I want you to do a self-test:

  • Measure how much food you tend to pour in the bowl (is it half a cup, a whole cup, two cups?)
  • Pay attention to how long it takes for the bowl to be empty (half a day, a whole day, several days)
  • Now mark down how many pets eat out of that bowl
  • Calculate who ate how much per day
    • Example: there is 2 cups and it takes a day and a half for the bowl to be empty with one cat eating out of it: approx. 1 and 1/3 cup eaten per day

So how did you fair?  Is there more than one animal eating from the bowl?  Did you realize you have no way of knowing who ate how much?  Often when there is more than one eating from the same dish you tend to have a heavy cat and a slim cat.  It is obvious who is getting more, the question is, is the slim one getting enough?

Did you know on average a cat should eat only 1/2 cup (240-250 calories) PER DAY!  If you have discovered that indeed you either don’t know how much your cat is eating or they are definitely eating too much, don’t fret.  One of our Nutrition Consultants will gladly assist you with transitioning to meal feeding and finding the right amount of food for your particular pet.

Now, let’s look at what the extra food, creating the fat, is doing to the body;Fat Kitty

The red arrows indicate two areas of fat pockets (there is more below the pink arrow, however we aren’t as concerned with that for the purpose of this blog).  Notice the compression on the stomach, intestines and colon (plus the other organs above and beside those are hard to even see).  Also note that the fat pockets will also be pushing into the chest cavity compressing the area available for the heart and lungs.

The pink arrow indicates the colon which has an uphill “S” shape making it so that the body has to work harder to move fecal matter out.  This is part of why overweight cats often have issues with constipation.

Looking at this x-ray it may not seem too bad, but let’s compare to a cat that is at a nice lean weight:

Skinny kitty

Notice how the stomach, intestines and colon are able to spread out in the body cavity.  Plus we can see other organs we couldn’t see on the previous x-ray.   The pink arrow here shows the colon again.  This time you can see that it makes almost a direct straight path out causing no extra work or strain to defecate.

Aside from cats, dogs would also have issues with excess fat causing strain on the organs in the body.  For both species fat pushing on the lungs and heart mean that both have to work harder.  Often pets that are overweight have difficulty breathing.  In dogs you notice they pant more.  Think of it is this way: in the heat we often have issues breathing, we find the air heavy on the lungs.  Now imagine not only breathing that heavy air but that your lungs are unable to expand fully.   Breath is more rapid and shallow – you can’t get that nice deep breath.

The good part is that, because as mentioned at the beginning, we control the food, it is easier to work to get your pet to lose weight than it is to do so for ourselves.  There are some fantastic diets available in-clinic that help to increase metabolism of your pet without needing to decrease the amount of food they eat.  There are also other store brands that are reduced in fat and calorie content to help, if not lose weight, at least prevent the further gain of weight.  Plus there are easy ways to increase the activity of your pet to help burn off that access weight.  Yes, even your cat can increase activity at home to loss weight.  See Amaya’s success video.

When deciding to proceed with a weight loss plan, keep in mind loss should be gradual.  Losing weight too quickly for a pet can be detrimental to their health.  Seek guidance from your veterinarian: contact us to make an appointment or to speak to one of our Nutrition Consultants today.

It’s Not All Puppies & Kittens

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Upset nurse sitting on the floor

*Image taken from the resource link below

Approximately 1 week ago another veterinarian took her own life.  Suicide rates among veterinarians is approximately double that of dentists and doctors and is up to 6 times higher than the general population.  This is a scary statistic.

People often don’t realize the stress involved with being not only a vet, but anyone working within the veterinary profession.  Let’s start right from the front:

Our Client Service Reps are the front line of our clinic.  They field phone call after phone call, are the first greeting for our clients when they come in, they weigh patients, take them to the exam rooms, deal with bill payments, and then they are the final face when our clients leave.  This may not seem too tough – after all, they get to love up all the sweet animals that come in!  Although that is true, they also deal with clients who are stressed because their pet isn’t well, they field calls for the doctors, they help clients determine if the situation they are experiencing is an emergency… they have the tough job of having to turn clients away in the event that we aren’t able to provide them with the emergent care they are needing.   Our CSR’s deal with our clients not only in the most stressful times, but in the most heartbreaking as well – they have to ask what choices you want for the end of your pet’s life, they have to manage a delicate balance to get your consent, go over your options and accept your payment, all while trying to be quick and efficient, so as to not get in the way of your grieving.

For those of us who have been here a long time many of these patients we have known since they were just wee, when they first came into your life, they came into ours.  We all grieve with you, try hard not to show it too much – we need to continue on with the next client, the next patient… but our heart breaks too.

Next are our licensed veterinary technologists -these dedicated people are the right hand to the doctors.  They assist in patient care, they monitor your pet during surgery, they assist in every aspect of your pet’s care where more than the doctor’s hands are needed.  All the while in doing this, they are often working to soothe a pet that is distraught about what is happening, they work to find the best holds to ease the patients stress while also protecting themselves and the doctors, if needed.  They are highly trained to know the subtle signs when a patient isn’t dealing with anesthetic well, aren’t recovering well, require more pain medications.   They draw up medications, dispense them for patients, educate clients, they have a wealth of knowledge to share.   They too field calls, help to educate a client when a doctor isn’t available.   The techs’ love and compassion for animals and their well-being is their driving force.  As with everyone else in the clinic, they hurt and have heartbreak when all doesn’t go well and are frustrated too when a patient isn’t improving.

Finally we have the veterinarians -they have the hardest job of all -their patient’s can’t tell them what is wrong.  The patient can’t tell them what they ate, where it hurts, what they did.  Veterinarians rely on what information the owner can provide, they rely on their education, their experience, the physical exam, the use of diagnostics to determine what is happening.   We are fortunate that in our hospital our doctors work as a team so they can rely on each other to review cases, find a new perspective, do their absolute best for the patient.   Sometimes it is the ruling out of things that helps to determine what is actually going on, which can be frustrating to an owner, but know that they ALWAYS have the best interest of the patient in mind and at heart.  They don’t want to see your pet suffer any more than you do and they have the super tough job of working to get them back to health when they aren’t well.    The doctors also work with the client on top of caring for the patient, trying to help ease the owner’s stress and concern while determing the best course of action to take.  One of the hardest parts can be giving options available without influencing a decision, educating the client without putting their own personal take on what they would do.  Then there are those horrible moments when the harsh reality of an older pet or a really sick pet is that it is time…time to let them go, nothing more can be done.  This is awful news to have to deliver, it breaks our doctor’s hearts as much as it breaks yours.  And, when the final time does come, they are with you, with their patient, right to the end.  Feeling your grief, while trying to not show theirs.

Everyone in the clinic also has the added stress when a client has a sick pet and limited img_3664funds.  It breaks our hearts to know that we will be limited in what we can do for that patient.  As much as we would like to help everyone at no cost, the reality is, we don’t get government funding, if the clinic doesn’t get paid, noone that works here would get paid.  The doctors always do what they can, looking at all the options for what can be done with the funding the client has available.  We offer finance options to help aid the client so they can get the care their pet needs now.  Plus there are those stressful times when a client declines testing or declines treatment.   It pains all of us to know that the outcome likely will not be good, that the patient will suffer because of an untreated condition or the pain they are feeling, but in the end it is the owner’s decision to make, our doctors can only provide their findings and give their recommendations and gently encourage clients.

This profession, this field, can be stressful, it can be harsh, it can feel unrewarding.  When we are having a tough personal day, or have had a tough run in with a difficult cleint, or have a patient where it wasn’t a positive outcome for that appointment, we have to push that aside for the next client, the next patient, we aren’t allowed to have an “off” day.  We need to be our best for everyone and we always strive to make that true.  Your pet is just as important to us as the last patient and as the next patient will be.

On the flip side, there are most definitely very rewarding days, appointments, moments.  They are definitely snuggly puppies and kittens, loveable adult pets, interesting and exotic pets, enduring senior pets.   They are successful emergency surgeries, there is satisfaction in seeing a pet improve and become well again, there are clients who let us know our hard work does not go unnoticed.

There are good days and bad days in this field and remember that we too are people, that we care about your pet just as you do, and everything we all do is with the best interest of each patient in our minds and hearts.


Further informational resource:

Why Is The Suicide Rate for Veterinarians So High?

What is That in My Pet’s Ears?

pets scratching

Otodectes cynotis mites, most commonly known as ear mites are a type of mange and are more common in kittens and young cats, but can be found in dogs as well as other animal species.  Happily for us though, ear mites do not affect humans.  Mites are passed from moms to newborns or from pet to pet especially when sleeping and cuddling together, or grooming occurs; most noteably around the ear area.  The most common symptoms you will notice include:

  • shaking the head
  • scratching the ears
  • a coffee ground like debris inside the ears
  • thick red-brown or black crusts around the top external portion of the ear

if the infestation is really bad you may notice

  • your pet is painful when touched in the ear/ear canal areas (along side the base of the ear)
  • some blood within the ear
  • scratch marks and a loss of fur behind the ears
  • crying when scratching

ear mites ear

What can be done?

It is far more common and highly likely for your kitten to have ear mites than to not have them.  Adult cats if recently acquired from a rescue or humane society or found stray may also have ear mites.   Most often this is taken care of and treated on their first ever visit to the vet.   It is much less common for puppies and dogs, often if their ears are bothering them they likely have another type of infection like yeast or bacteria, although they can definitely get ear mites.

The best, quickest and most guaranteed way to get rid of ear mites is to bring your pet in to see your veterinarian.  Often mites can be diagnosed on physical exam, however your veterinarian will likely take a swab of the debris to check under a microscope and confirm the presence of ear mites and assess that no other infection is present.  The ears are then flushed and thoroughly cleaned to remove all the mites and debris.  Your pet will also be treated with a prescription medication to kill any remaining mites and prevent the infestation from recurring.

Be sure to let the vet know if you have other pets at home that spend a lot of time together or sleep in the same place as the pet that has mites.  All those pets at home should also be treated to prevent mites from continuing to pass from one pet to the other.  If the pet at home has a lot of debris in the ears, it is a good idea to bring them in to get their ears flushed as well.  This is not something that should be done at home as you wouldn’t want to accidentally cause damage to the ear drum or ear canal.

Sir Charlie Mouse after his ear cleaning

Sir Charlie Mouse after his ear cleaning

Can you treat at home?

There is an over-the-counter treatment for ear mites, however if there is any uncertainty (especially in dogs) that the ear infection is mites, it is best not to use this medication.  A downside to home treatment is that unless the ears are cleaned and the product is used exactly as directed, including the repetition of the medication a few weeks later, it may not resolve the problem completely, resulting in the same issue for your pet a few weeks down the road as the mites continue to re-infest the ears.  We have also had clients who used the product exactly as directed and it still did not resolve the problem.

The great thing about mites is that they are fairly easy to get rid of and don’t often recur when done with the aid of your veterinarian.  If you have any questions about ear mites, your pet’s potential ear infection or anything else related to your pet’s health please contact your veterinarian.

ear mite

Ear mite seen under a microscope.

Have you downloaded it yet?

by: Jennifer Oldfield

In our current era mobile devices are everywhere!  Having a smartphone means we have almost everything at our fingertips – 24/7.  We can access our bank accounts, check our email and Facebook, take photos and even play our favourite games.   We find life is busy, always seemingly on the go, making it difficult, even with our smartphones, to have time to do small tasks like call to schedule appointments or call in prescription refills.

New Screen Shot3Here at Albert North we decided approximately 2 years ago that we wanted to be able to make it even easier for our clients to connect with us, and with that in mind we developed our Mobile App.   We wanted the app to be functional with helping clients to contact us, providing some basic medical information for those times when we can’t be reached, and to have special promotions just for our App users.  Today we have almost 1000 users and that number seems to be growing daily.

The question is, what does the App do for you?  What benefit can it provide?  Here are some of the key features:

Home screen
  • A quick link to call us or get directions (handy if you have referred someone to the clinic, recommend they download the App)
  • Location tab that will take you to our hours, directions, a general email link and a link to our website
  • Promotions tab – the promotions are specifically for our App users only and can be an additional savings on an in-clinic promo for all clients or a promotion only available to App users.  (For example in February during Dental Month dental products were on sale in-clinic for 20% off, with the App you receive 30% off)
  • A Coupon Tab – this provides you with a $5 off coupon to use the first time you download the App.  Future coupons/loyalty rewards are in the works
  • Book/Refill – request an appointment or prescription refill whenever you remember, regardless of the time of day
Under the More Tab
  • Email sign-up – receive email notifications about health concerns, happenings in clinic, changes to hours, etc.
  • Events – information on events like Dental Month, Photo Contests, etc.
  • Library – ever been camping and wished you knew what your dog needs for an antihistamine or if that plant or food item your pet just ate is toxic?  Our library provides you with immediate access to this information.  Plus if you say yes to having access to the app when offline, you won’t need to worry about being in an area where you aren’t connected
  • Media access – instant access to our Facebook page, Blog posts, YouTube channel
  • Photo Gallery and Submit Photos Tab – take a picture and send it to us to go in the Photo Gallery plus see other photos we have shared

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We are continually looking at more ways to make the App of benefit to you, so if you have an idea, please feel free to share with us.  You can do this from within the App under the Book/Refill tab – simply click on Contact Us!

Download our App:



3 Hazards During Warm Winter Weather

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Here in Saskatchewan, well Canada really, it isn’t unusual to have drastic changes in temperature.  Going from -40C one week to +3C the next, can be a common occurance.  Although the warm weather may seem great, there are some disadvantages to having temperatures on the plus side at this time of year.


Plus temperatures during the day and colder temperatures at night mean more sheets of thin ice.  Ice as expected, presents a slipping hazard for everyone, including our pets, and just as we can injury ourselves, so too can they.  The “bambi” slip (where back +/- front legs splay out from underneath) can cause strains to tendons and muscles that can take time to heal.  This may mean requiring medication, rest, and even some massage or rehab work to get back to tip top shape.

How can you prevent this?

Avoid exercising your pet during the hours where frost and ice are forming.  Here in Saskatchewan this can be tough as that may mean only a handful of hours in the day when the frost and ice are melted.

If you can’t avoid these times, go slow.  Be cautious of where you are walking.  Don’t throw toys for retrieving in areas that are most prone to icy sections.

Salt/Ice Melt

sand-truckWith the new layers of ice even more salt/sand mixtures are being applied to roadways and ice melt being applied to walkways.  The salt from the roadway can be harmful to a pet’s paws and can make them sick if they groom it off.  Ice melt, if not pet friendly can also be hard on paws and potentially toxic if they lick it off.

How can you prevent this?

If you can’t avoid it (which at this point is near impossible), wash your pet’s paws off as soon as you get home.  Also be sure if you are using any ice melt products on your walkways, that you are using a pet safe version.


You may be thinking how can water be a hazard.  Think of it this way, when you are out melted-snow
building a snowman and your mitts get wet, what happens to your hands?  They get cold.  Leaving them wet and cold could lead to frostbite or even hypothermia if the rest of your body gets chilled or other parts of you are also wet.  The same holds true for your pets.  Wet paws, fur, and possibly bellies can potentially lead to frostbite or hypothermia.

How can you prevent this?

Again avoiding is the best option although somewhat impractical.  Instead, avoid lengthy periods of time outdoors in areas that have water built up, have your dog wear waterproof booties (provided they are tall enough to not allow water inside the boot), dry feet and underbelly when you arrive home.  If you have driven to your exercise location bring a towel and dry bedding.  Dry your pet’s feet and underbelly and ensure they aren’t laying on wet or damp bedding materials for the ride home.

Have fun but be safe!

Taking advantage of the warmer weather is definitely more enjoyable than staying indoors and avoiding the hazards.  Just take care and caution when out and about.  Ensuring you and your pet are safe and warm will mean you both get to enjoy the best part of warmer winter weather – running and playing in the snow!


Photo by Cassandra Lobb




The Importance of Diagnostics Part 3

In Part 1 of our series we discussed the importance of ultrasound; Part 2 was about x-rays; now in our final part of the series,we discuss the importance of lab tests.

by: Dr. Barb Eatock

20161114_125233If your pet is sick, your veterinarian may recommend performing lab tests to help determine the underlying cause of your pet’s symptoms.  These tests can provide a lot of important information to your veterinarian regarding the diagnosis and therefore the appropriate treatment.  Even if all the results come back in the normal range, this helps your veterinarian rule out several potential causes of the symptoms your pet is having and these results can then be used as a baseline to compare to future tests.

The most common laboratory tests for a veterinarian to recommend are bloodwork and a urine sample.  The veterinarian may recommend other tests such as an examination of a stool sample; depending on specific symptoms.  Bloodwork may include a complete bloodcount, chemistry or additional tests.  The complete blood can help determine whether your pet is anemic, has an inflammatory response and whether he or she has enough platelets to aid with blood clotting.  The chemistry shows whether your pet has liver, kidney, or pancreatic disease, checks protein and electrolyte (sodium, potassium, and chloride) levels, and checks blood sugar and calcium levels.  The blood count and chemistry can also be used to determine if patients are a good candidate for an anesthetic procedure.  Urine samples also provide important information such as infection, blood  (which may indicate bladder stones or other problems), sugar in the urine (which may indicate diabetes), and how concentrated the urine is (which can help determine whether the kidneys are functioning properly).


Additional tests which may be recommended depending on species, age and symprotms, include thyroid tests and tests for certain viruses such as parvo, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).  Most tests can be performed in clinic with same day results; tests that need to be sent away will generally have results back within a few days.

img_3664Lab tests are a very important tool for your veterinarian.  They provide essential information to allow for a precise diagnosis, which allows your veterinarian to provide specific treatment, which can help save time, money, and prevent the needless suffering of your pet.