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Puppy-socialization

Puppy Socialization: A Complete Overview

By Pet Health

Socializing your puppy

SUMMARY:

→   Socialization isn’t an “all or nothing” project. Socializing a puppy a little bit or a whole lot depends on the amount of time you’re prepared to devote. Doing nothing may negatively affect the mental and physical health over your pets’ lifetime.

→  The goal of ALL responsible dog owners: to have a sufficiently socialized dog that you can introduce to other pets and people without fear of anxiety, aggression and reactivity.

→  There is a window at about 4 to 14 weeks of age when it is optimal to introduce a puppy to new things and environments so as to reduce fear of them later in their development. It’s believed that after approximately 12 weeks of age there are diminishing returns on the long-term benefits of socializing your puppy.

→  There are safe ways to familiarize your puppy with other people and animals during COVID-19 while maintaining social distancing protocols.

→  Helpful tips on socializing your puppy.

Imagine this scenario: walking blissfully through streets and trails with your perfectly socialized bestie, stopping to chat with other owners and their equally well-mannered dogs. Then heading off to the local dog park where your dog can join the high-spirited – and friendly – pack to burn off some energy. You gaze affectionately at the results of your socialization efforts, sip a delicious mocha caffe latte and talk about the lovely fall weather with other pet parents.

Reality rarely reflects our expectations or experiences. Socializing a puppy is much less glamorous and a lot more work to get to our dream scenario. Awkward rear-end sniffing and temper tantrums usually happen before this picture can even occur. It takes time and effort to get your dog in the mindset where they’re relaxed around new people, places, and especially other dogs.

Your puppy’s genetics can’t change and training can come later. Socialization, however, has only a small window of opportunity before it is lost.

Why socializing your puppy is important

Puppy socialization means learning to be part of human society and thus, pet parents have one singular mission – to help their dogs learn to happily live within it.

The puppy socialization period should be a top priority for all pet parents. The ultimate goal is to have a dog that you can take places and introduce to other pets and people without worry. The idea behind socialization is that you want to help your puppy to react to all types of sights, sounds, and smells in a positive way.

You also don’t want to be known as “that person”. Generally, people don’t want their dog’s poor behaviour to reflect poorly on them. Oddly, some don’t care.

When done properly, your dog can learn how to interact positively with other dogs, people and animals. Dogs who are relaxed about honking horns, cats, cyclists, veterinary examinations, crowds are easier and safer to live with than dogs who find these conditions intimidating.

Socializing a puppy a little bit or a whole lot depends on the amount of time you’re prepared to devote. Doing nothing may negatively affect the mental and physical health over your pets’ lifetime.

Lack of socialization can cause:

  1. Anxiety: Dogs that skip the socialization process regularly exhibit nervousness and stress when encountering an unfamiliar situation, person or animal.
  2. Aggression: As a member of the ‘pack’, where a dog resides and who they live with are their possessions. They will defend their property should another animal (or human) encroach on their territory. This is baked into their DNA.
  3. Reactivity: This type of behaviour means they will be difficult to control given a specific environment. The environment may include going to the groomer, the vet clinic (we’re Fear Free Certified – dogs love it here!) or any other pet-friendly area. Not to be confused with aggression, a ‘triggered’ dog will overreact to certain stimuli or situations. 

Almost all behavioural issues can be traced back to a combination of insufficient socialization, training, and/or genetics. Unsurprisingly, pets with behaviour problems are more likely to be surrendered to shelters or re-homed before the age of three. As you may imagine, this is super-stressful scenario for adolescent adult dogs. Cats, too!

When should you start socializing your puppy?

New puppy pet parents are keen to get them out into the world as soon as their immune systems allow. In a puppy’s first three months of life, he will experience a socialization period that will forever shape his personality.

The puppy socialization window is limited. They aren’t usually adopted until 8 to 10 weeks old. After about 12 weeks there are diminishing returns on the long-term benefits of puppy socialization. There is a window of about 4 to 14 weeks* of age when it is optimal to initiate the process.

* in our research, there is no exact puppy socialization window. This time frame is an approximation: breeds and environments differ, so it’s safe to assume variations exist within any particular socialization window.

Puppy Socialization during COVID-19

At the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic, we’ve seen a substantial increase in adopted puppies and kittens since the beginning of the pandemic. This is not surprising, as people are working from home and have time to foster a relationship with a new companion.

How does this affect the puppy socialization process?

Most people are doing the right things with respect to protecting each other from COVID-19 when out in public. For pet parents, however, there are legitimate fears for their new pet’s health. One unintended consequence of social distancing measures is that some new puppies may have had limited exposure to another human beings and animals – aside from family members – during a critical time in their development.

Will we see a generation of unruly, reactive and anxious dogs?

It’s anyone’s guess how pets adopted during the pandemic are going to react when pet parents begin a return to their normal routines (?) as the pandemic passes into the history books. There will be lots written about SARS-CoV-2 in the coming years. Only then, will we have a clear picture of the many effects on pets and pet parents.

While it’s important to maintain social distancing from each other, there are ways to safely introduce your dog or puppy to other people and animals in the age of COVID-19:

  • Take your dog or puppy for a walk in an area where other people walk. Keep your distance at least 5m away from others and gradually decrease the distance over time as your puppy becomes more confident within the environment.
  • Pay close attention to your puppy’s body language. Slow the process down if they appear anxious or fearful and increase the distance from the new experience, if necessary. This could mean starting further away from the action. When the comfort level stabilizes, continue as described above.
  • Be overly cautious when meeting new dogs – they may have their own socialization issues. You want your puppy to have consistent and friendly associations with other dogs and people. Have treats at the ready for your puppy when a new person or dog comes into the frame. Don’t forget…verbal praise is greatly encouraged to complement the treats!

At our Fear Free Certified vet clinic, behavioural issues are always given the same level of consideration as a medical concern.

We are very fortunate to have a veterinarian on staff with a special interest in behavioural medicineDr. Amanda Low. She’s an expert at building client-puppy relationships and is highly skilled at identifying and preventing emerging behavioural issues.

In addition to the conversations involving all things puppy-related, such as vaccination schedules, preventive healthcare, heartworm and flea control, nutritional advice and spay/neuter considerations, our veterinary hospital incorporates behavioural medicine as part of our holistic healthcare approach.

We’re thankful to all of our clients with new puppies (and kittens!) that trust our animal hospital to give their new pet the best chance at leading a happy and healthy life.

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

Helping your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

October is Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) Month

By Uncategorized

October is the time to shine a spotlight on Cabbagetown Pet Clinic’s unsung champions.

Our Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVT’s) are some of the most caring and empathetic people you’ll ever meet. It’s not uncommon for them to go the extra mile for their patients, clients and vet clinic team members – frequently at the expense of themselves.

Veterinarians generally get the glory (bumps and bruises, too!), but the credit wouldn’t exist if our RVT’s didn’t make their job easier every day. RVT’s have a multitude of expertise in their tool kits, which takes a lot of pressure off our hard-working veterinarians. They’ll be the first to acknowledge that they get less ‘love’ or appreciation than their veterinarian counterparts and they’re okay with that.

COVID-19 raised the stakes considerably in 2020. With all of its negative fallout, it’s made our cohesive RVT team even tighter. I guess there are some ‘rays of light’ in the midst of a pandemic! Our entire RVT staff not only had to balance delivering veterinary care with an eye towards their own personal safety, but those of their extended families, loved ones, neighbours and local community. It’s been a rough 2020, but their delivery of kindness, dedication and professionalism has been unwavering.

Meet your Cabbagetown Pet Clinic RVT’s

Often unnoticed by our clientele for their contributions, RVT’s are an integral part of our veterinary hospital. We’ve been blessed with some truly great RVT’s, but we feel our current squad is second to none.

This unit has worked together for over three years. This closeness has forged a very strong bond between them, the Cabbagetown staff and our clients. We’re fortunate to employ such highly-trained, dedicated (and fun!) RVT’s.

Sarah, RVT

Upon earning a degree in Biology from Queens University, she pursued her passion for animals by continuing her education in the Veterinary Technician Program at Sheridan College. During her studies, Sarah joined the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team as an enthusiastic co-op student. She graduated from the program in 2017, became an accredited Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and is now a core member of the Cabbagetown vet clinic team.

What is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)?

A Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) is a highly trained professional who acts as the right-hand of a veterinarian. As an integral part of our veterinary medical team, they have a highly diverse job description. Their role in a veterinary clinic is comparable to a Registered Nurse in a regular hospital. As specialized aides, vet technicians have much to offer in the care and management of your pet.

RVT Training

To become an RVT, you must graduate from a Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) or an Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) accredited program, successfully complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination and meet all the requirements identified by their provincial professional association. 

Typically, RVT training begins with two to three years of college education at a CVMA or OAVT-accredited veterinary technician program. Upon graduation, they must become a member of the provincial governing body, complete a professionalism and ethics course, and submit a police background check.

Once these steps are completed, they must write the Veterinary Technician National Exam. Only after successfully passing this exam are they given the designation of Registered Veterinary Technician. Completion of continuing education (CE) credits taken every year are needed to maintain their licensed status.

Although graduates commonly find employment in veterinary practices, employment opportunities exist in zoos, wildlife rehabilitation, and government and research laboratories. 

Rebecca, RVT

While working at one of Canada’s leading hotels, she recognized that her favourite part of her job was accommodating the special requests of hotel guests and their dogs. With a love of animals, Rebecca decided a career change was in order. She went back to school and started volunteering to get exposure to the veterinary world. She graduated from the Veterinary Technician Program at Sheridan College and received her RVT designation in 2016.

What is the role of an RVT ?

An RVT works under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. RVT’s acquire an extensive array of expertise through accreditation and experience. This makes them an “essential service” within the vet clinic environment. They use their assortment of skills and share it with our pet parents to ensure they are making informed choices about their pets’ care.

The responsibility of an Registered Veterinary Technician covers several areas in veterinary medicine. Here’s a short list of the important tasks carried out by our Cabbagetown Pet Clinic RVT’s: 

  • Processing and analysis of x-rays and ultrasound
  • Administration and dispensation of medications and treatments, as prescribed by our veterinarians
  • Triage emergency arrivals
  • Providing optimal restraint and handling of pets
  • Surgical preparation and assistance; anesthetic delivery and monitoring
  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases (ie. Lyme disease, Leptospirosis)
  • Dietary and nutritional consultation and management
  • Animal behaviour evaluation and ….
  • Breeding, reproduction, and neonatal care
  • Professional vet clinic practice administration and animal hospital management
  • Diagnostic laboratory testing (hematology, clinical chemistry, cytology, and urinalysis)
  • Animal hospital sanitation, sterilization and disinfection controls and procedures
  • Knowledge of dental structures, conditions and lesions, castages of diseases
  • Broad understanding of microbiology, immunology, bacteriology, parasitology, zoonoses, and virology
Steve, RVT

His lifelong passion for animals led him to the Animal Health Technology Program at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC where he is a recent graduate – Class of 2016. He received his RVT designation and honed his skills out west before re-locating to Toronto with his wife and lovely dog, Charlie. In the areas of veterinary care, Steve is passionate about surgical procedures and is studying alternative pain management strategies (ie. acupuncture) for animals.

X-Rays Administered in 2020
900
Nails Trimmed in 2020
39.5
mL's of Blood Taken in 2020
1200
Teeth Cleaned in 2020
1620

Our RVT’s go above and beyond every day

Beyond the usual day-to-day tasks that our RVT team assumes, they also find time in their busy schedule for community outreach.

Cabbagetown Festival

Every September, the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic submits a booth in the Cabbagetown Festival. Our RVT team is instrumental in making this initiative happen. As a member of the Cabbagetown BIA, this festival is vital as it celebrates and supports the local business community and culture. It gives our vet clinic an opportunity to meet our fellow “Cabbagetowners” outside the walls of the clinic and engage with other businesses in the community.

Farley Foundation

The Farley Foundation is another initiative heavily supported by our RVT team. The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic has been actively involved with the Farley Foundation charity for years and has raised thousands of dollars through bottle drives, bake sales and raffles.

This success could not have been made without the tireless contribution of our RVT team and amazing support from Cabbagetown residents, veterinary partners and the local business community.

We’re delighted to take this moment and give thanks to our hardworking RVT’s for kindness and dedication they exhibit every day. Their commitment to enriching the lives of every animal they care for is everlasting. If you have any questions about your pet’s health, please reach out to one of our RVTs today!

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

Helping your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

Top 10 COVID-19 Q&A’s

By Pet Health

We’re 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Where are we now ?

It’s been a challenging time over the past few months. We appreciate how this global pandemic has turned all of our lives and routines upside down. We recognize the overwhelming stress felt by the outstanding businesses at the heart of our Cabbagetown community and we must acknowledge the resilience of our frontline staff at Cabbagetown Pet Clinic. Not surprisingly, our animal hospital has made a number of adjustments in how we deliver care to our patients during these times. Be assured that the level of care given to your pets has never wavered and we are proud to maintain our exceptional level of service at our AAHA accredited facility.

We’re extremely thankful that our clients have been so patient and understanding with us during this unprecedented time. Constant adjustments to our protocols were the norm at the beginning of this pandemic and we feel comfortable that our current policies and procedures allow for the utmost safety of our veterinary team, our clients and their pets.

We are also thankful that the crucial veterinary care that we provide was never interrupted and that we were deemed an essential service during the most stressful period of the pandemic when Ontario was shut down. We are relieved that we are in Stage 3 of the government reopening, however we are diligent that we ensure that we do not become complacent.

Scroll through to find answers to some of our most common questions that we are asked. If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us!

THE TOP 10 PET-RELATED COVID-19  Q&A’S IN CABBAGETOWN

1. When will I be allowed back in the vet clinic with my pet?

The short answer is that we don’t know. As with most veterinary hospitals in Ontario, it is very difficult for us to adhere to 2 meter social/physical distant requirements in our facility. We request that you wear face coverings whenever you have less than 2 meter distant contact with any of our staff, such as the transfer of your pet to or from one of our staff members or when picking up pet food, medication or supplies from our front door.

2. Have you resumed your full-service capabilities? Can I get my dog’s teeth cleaned?

Yes, as the initial curve has been flattened, we are now able to move forward with spays, neuters and all elective surgeries, including preventative dental procedures. We also are providing grooming, laboratory testing, imaging, full preventative/wellness care and sick animal appointments. For existing clients, you can book an appointment here.

Book an Appointment

3. Can I get my pet vaccinated?

Yes, but please note that the veterinary clinic is currently booking vaccine appointments 1-2 weeks out due to changes in scheduling and new pet clinic procedures and protocols related to Covid-19.

Do you have a new kitten or puppy? Check out the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic vaccine schedule at:

Vaccine Schedule for your Kitten or Puppy

4. How long will the appointment be?

With current Covid-19 protocols in place, our veterinarians allow 20-30 minutes for an examination depending on the reason for the visit. Once complete, the veterinarian will call you to discuss any issues and recommended treatments if necessary. Depending on the individual situation, your veterinarian will require an additional 10-15 minutes – on average – to ensure your pet is ready to go home. You will be asked to complete a health questionnaire prior to your arrival. Please ensure that you are available by telephone throughout the appointment period.

5. What Covid-19 protocols have you implemented in your clinic?

  1. Increasing our already high standards of routine environmental cleaning.  All common surfaces are cleaned and disinfected frequently. Between appointments, we have allocated time to clean and disinfect doors, chairs, dog scales and floors where required.
  2. Mandatory use of masks or face-coverings. All staff are required to wear a mask or face-covering upon entering and remaining within the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic facility.
  3. Clients are currently NOT permitted in the hospital except under exceptional situations. We have a procedure in place to perform exams without requiring the client to enter the hospital and we ensure that you have the ability to discuss your pets care and receive timely answers to all of your questions with the attending veterinarian prior to discharge of your pet.
  4. Debit terminal payments – we wipe down the terminal between EVERY transaction. We prefer telephone transactions, as this reduces the use of the terminal (and cash) to help with our social-distancing efforts.

6. Can I order my prescription food online?

Yes, our WEBSTORE offers easy and convenient 24/7 access to your pet’s prescription food and treats. It even allows you to automatically re-order, if you happen to forget. Products can be shipped directly to your home, cottage or office. You will receive a follow up email letting you know when your order has been shipped. You can also order online and arrange pick up at our clinic either by through the webstore, email, phone or through your personalized PetPage APP.

Current Covid-19 protocols prevent us from allowing our clients into the clinic however we are happy to provide curbside non-contact delivery. Call us once you’ve arrived and we will place your order outside at the appropriate drop off point. Since your order is prepaid, no contact (debit terminal or cash) with our staff is necessary. Until further notice, this ensures that we comply will the current social distancing guidelines.

7. Are pets from a shelter safe to adopt?

The risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low, based on the limited information available to date. There is currently no supporting data to conclude that any animals – including shelter pets – play a significant role in spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.

8. Can my pet contract COVID-19?

The short answer is ‘yes’, but the probability that pets in the household of a COVID-19 case will be exposed and become infected is believed to be low. Although there’s been limited testing, there has only been a handful of confirmed reports worldwide of pets contracting SARS-CoV-2 from households that have experienced a human Covid-19 case. It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is spread almost exclusively person-to-person, so if you’re not infected it’s unlikely the virus will be transmitted to your pet.

9. Can an infected pet transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans?

Despite the worldwide pandemic, there have no documented cases of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from a household pet to a person.

The possibility of transmission by an infected companion animal to a person is currently considered low, although it may be higher for veterinarians or veterinary technicians who could have close contact with pets from COVID-19 positive households.

The possibility exists that the SARS-CoV-2 virus deposited on a pet’s fur by an infected owner could survive – at minimum – for a few hours. Whether or not these animals could shed a sufficient amount of virus to result in transmission to humans remains doubtful.

To stay safe, the best way to avoid this possible transmission vector is to not cuddle, kiss, sneeze around, or even stroke someone else’s pet.

*IMPORTANT* A pet owner is much more likely to transmit the virus TO their pet than to get it FROM their pet.

10. As a pet parent, what precautions should I take?

At this stage, there are no specific precautions pet owners can take, regardless of images in the news of pets in face masks. Only in the unfortunate event that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet, it is recommended (until more is known) that:

  • Avoid close contact with your pet – do not cuddle or kiss them, do not let them lick your face, sit on your lap or sleep in your bed.
  • Sounds obvious, but avoid coughing and sneezing on your pet. Not a good practice in the best of times…
  • Wash your hands before touching or feeding your pet or other animals.
  • Limit your pet’s contact with other people and animals.

We know that pets are vital to our wellbeing especially in times of uncertainty. We know many stories of pets in our community who provided comfort and security to their human partners during the worst times of the pandemic, but what a time to be a cat or dog! The memes on the internet were spot on with all of the canine complaints about never ending dog walks and feline exasperation with everyone home all day! There definitely were bright spots that shone through all of the worry and unknowns and our furry family members were front and center.

Thank you again for trusting us in the care of your pets. We value your business and we stand together to continue to “flatten the curve” and keep our community safe.

Many thanks to the efforts Dr. Scott Weise and Dr. Maureen Anderson at the Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses. Their contributions to the Worm & Germs blog and guidance to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association have been an invaluable resource since the start of the pandemic to veterinarians both in Ontario and worldwide.

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

Helping your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

Meet the Enemy – Fleas

By Pet Health

Fleas are annoying, little creatures that we’d rather not think about.

These tiny, blood-sucking parasites irritate your pet and can infest your home, often before you realize that they’ve have moved in. If you and your dog are scratching your heads and you’re wondering how to address dog fleas, we’ve got your covered.

MEET THE ENEMY: THE NOT-SO-HUMBLE FLEA.

Fleas aren’t just an annoyance, they can cause serious health issues for you and your pet. Fleas exist to live off the blood of its host. As far as we know, they have few benefits to an ecosystem outside of feeding on the sick and weak in animal populations.

Pet Health Concerns:

  • Skin issues – severe itching can lead to skin infections and hair loss. In some cases, pets can develop an allergic reaction – Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats.
  • Infections and parasites – the transmission of bacteria called Bartonella henselae (Cat-Scratch Fever) can cause health issues in pets and people. Fleas can also carry a type of parasite – a tapeworm called Dipylidium caninum – that can draw nutrients from a pets intestines and cause anal itching.
Common Flea Myth #1

MYTH:  My pet is indoor-only, so it can’t get fleas.
FACT:  Fleas – in all stages of the life-cycle – are easily transported and thrive particularly well in the regulated temperatures in your home. This means that even if your animals never go outside, they are still susceptible to fleas.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF FLEAS

Across the planet, there are more than 2500 different types of fleas. The most common type afflicting dogs and cats in Cabbagetown is called Ctenocephalides felis – the cat flea.

There are four life stages of this unassuming pest. For successful flea control, you need to know how to break this life cycle at any one of these points. The entire flea life cycle can be completed in as little as three weeks and having just one (!) flea get into your house can be enough to start an outbreak. An adult female can give birth to as many as 500 eggs within her short lifetime.

Common Flea Myth #2

MYTH:  My pet can’t have fleas because I haven’t been bitten.
FACT:  Ctenocephalides felis does not prefer human blood and won’t snack on it unless absolutely necessary. Humans tend not to be bitten unless flea populations are excessive.

WHERE DO FLEAS COME FROM?

Most companion animals have had or will pick up fleas at some point in their lives, much to the frustration of careful pet parents.

Why does my dog have fleas ?

Hotspot #1 – Other animals

Being sociable creatures, the most common way your dog will pick up fleas is from the environment following contact with other animals. On a daily walk, or even in your garden, your dog could come into contact with birds, rodents, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and deer, or places they’ve been, all of which might have fleas.

Hotspot #2 – Your home

Unfortunately, uninvited fleas can easily break into your home and make it their house too. Flea eggs in the home environment can hitch a ride on people’s clothing, and fleas can be carried by pets visiting you, and on nesting wild animals, such as mice that might have set up camp under your floorboards.

Hotspot #3 – Pet facilities

Indoor areas where other dogs frequent pose a risk of fleas for your pet. Doggy day care, dog parks, veterinary practices, grooming facilities and boarding kennels are not always guaranteed to be free from fleas. Despite often strict rules requiring dogs to be flea free in these facilities, treatment varies from dog owner to dog owner, so fleas can easily find their way in.

Hotspot #4 – Warm climates

If you’re travelling abroad with your dog, they will be exposed to different bugs and the diseases they carry. But in warmer regions, fleas are a particular risk because they are able to survive for longer periods in the open environment without a host, waiting to jump on your dog.

Common Flea Myth #3

MYTH:  We can’t have fleas because we deep clean our carpets regularly and have hardwood floors.
FACT:  The cracks between boards of hardwood floors are a great place for the life cycle of a flea to flourish, not to mention wall-to-wall carpeting.

7 WAYS TO SPOT THE SIGNS OF FLEAS

Given their tiny size, it can be a challenge to know if your pet has fleas. But there are some telltale signs. Maybe you spotted some tiny specks around the house that you might’ve missed before. Maybe that beautiful hair coat that was so thick and luxurious is looking thinner. Before you know it… fleas.

Excessive scratching.

If you spot your cat or dog scratching, and suspect fleas, use a very fine-toothed comb through your pet’s fur, checking for small brown shapes moving about. Look especially closely for signs of fleas by the ears and tail of your cat or dog.

They can be seen with the naked eye.

They’re reddish-brown, very thin and are about 3mm long. Without a microscope it’s really difficult to see the details what they look like (probably just as well), but they do have large back legs, enabling them to jump almost a 1/2 meter in a single leap.

They leave behind lovely parting gifts.

Keep an eye out for what’s called “flea dirt” – particles that look a like a speck of pepper. This is the fecal matter that fleas deposit on its hosts. As it is primarily composed of ingested blood, it will turn the red on a moistened on a tissue.

You can spot it on your pet’s skin, or be left behind in places like:

  • Pet bedding
  • Your own bedding
  • Carpeting
  • That favourite sofa or chair (if they’re allowed !)

Tiny white ovals – flea eggs – fall off into the environment around it (your bed, the dog bed, the carpet, that favorite chair), only to hatch a few days later into flea larvae. Larvae is visble – they’re tiny, worm-looking objects with brown heads that will feed on all those specks until they wrap themselves up into a cocoon called a pupa. If you see tapeworms – parasites that are white or pinkish white and resemble little pieces of rice – in your pets posterior, that’s a sign it may be having a bout with fleas.

Hair loss.

From all the itching, scratching and biting. Fleas often gather at the neck and shoulder blades of your pets. The base of the tail and along the back of the legs is a favorite hangout, also.

Irritated skin.

If you can get past your pet’s coat and look deeper at the skin, flea bites usually reveal themselves as tiny, raised red dots. This can lead to Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), a hypersensitivity to flea bites. If your pet has this, their skin can become itchy, red, and scaly.

Pale gums. 

Pale gums are often an indication of anemia. With larger infestations, some pets – especially smaller kittens or pups – could be in danger due to a loss of red blood cells. Fleas are thirsty and can take in up to 15 times (!) their body weight in blood.

Common Flea Myth #4

MYTH:  If my pet had fleas, I would see them in their fur.
FACT:  You can’t always expect to see fleas in your pets fur because pets will scratch, lick, groom, and chew after being bitten. The fleas are either ejected or get swallowed.

FLEA AND TICK TREATMENTS

Over-the-Counter vs. Prescription Flea Medications

The flea and tick treatment marketplace features numerous generic drugs that are available over-the-counter. As generic options, these drugs offer generic solutions and are more affordable than prescription medicines.

It’s always best to discuss the benefits of using any specific over-the-counter flea product with our vets before considering a purchase. These medications could behave differently than described given your pet’s current condition and medical history.

If you choose to go the over-the-counter route to treat your pet, you need to decide which medication is the most effective and more importantly, which is the safest. While most over-the-counter products work well, they should be used with caution – overdoses are possible and some products cause unintended side effects.

Bottom line ? Do your research.

Why should I consider prescription flea medication ?

Given any number of medical and environmental factors, your pet’s circumstances are unique. Prescription drugs work effectively to treat specific concerns and address your pet’s unique dosage needs. This is where our veterinarian’s advice is invaluable.

Our veterinarians recommend an examination before using any prescription flea, tick or heartworm medication, in the event of any possible adverse reactions. Changes in body weight, current drug interactions and/or undetected medical conditions can result in the reduced effectiveness of generic treatments and may cause harm to your pet.

We offer the latest in prescription medicines – Simparica Trio™ – that offer complete parasite protection against fleas, ticks, heartworm, hookworm and roundworms all in one yummy, chewable tablet.

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

Helping your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

COVID-19: Our Clinic Protocols Have Changed.

By Pet Health

*New* Cabbagetown Pet Clinic policy’s are now in place.

Well, here we are.

With the onset and continuing spread of Covid-19, we are collectively – personally and professionally – taking ever-extreme measures in an attempt to combat the looming menace that this pandemic brings.

It is NOT business as usual. 

As of this writing, the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic is OPEN (with hours restrictions), but not without new protocols being implemented to try “flatten the curve” and slow the coronavirus spread.

Most veterinary clinics and emergency animal hospitals will attempt to remain open (until they’re not) given their importance to your pets health. These services include emergency surgeries, the purchase of therapeutic pet food and prescriptions that are crucial in keeping our beloved furry family members healthy and safe. 

At the same time, we implicitly understand our social responsibility to our clients and the Cabbagetown community, as well as the need to protect our Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team.

Social Distancing

I’m sure everyone at this point has become aware of Social Distancing #stopthespread. This is the practice of keeping a 2m (6 ft.) distance between one another. This is absolutely THE best method that everyone MUST practice (along with regular handwashing) to limit the spread of Covid-19. We are adapting to this new paradigm by reducing the number of direct and indirect human-human contact points in our clinic.

But…

How can we maintain effective social distancing and still operate our clinic with minimal disruption? We must admit, it’s a huge challenge but one that we’re fully embracing.

What new clinic protocols have you implemented?

  • Increasing our already high standards of routine environmental cleaning*. All common surfaces are disinfected frequently. This includes door handles, countertops, payment terminals (between every transaction), telephones, reception desk and any other area that has seen contact between clients and staff. Between appointments, we have allocated time to clean and disinfect doors, chairs, dog scales and floors in the exam rooms.
  • Clients are NOT permitted in the clinic. We have a procedure in place to take your pet and perform exams without you entering the hospital. 
  • Staff will continue to practice good hand hygiene as per the World Health Organization guidelines.
  • Staff hours (and appointment scheduling) have been reduced to decrease the potential for spread.
  • We have posted a sign on our entrance advising our clients that if they are showing any signs of illness to remain outside and call the clinic. Clients will also be asked about their recent travel history and current health status upon scheduling appointments.
  • Debit terminal payments – we wipe down the terminal between EVERY transaction. We would like to reduce the use of the terminal (and cash) if possible to help with our social-distancing efforts.

Additional procedures may be required, and we continue to explore all options available to keep the doors open. The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic will take ALL precautions necessary to ensure that pets get the treatment they need.

How will my pet’s appointment be affected?

**UPDATE** 08/31/2020 As the initial curve has been flattened, we are now able to move forward with spays, neuters and all elective surgeries, including preventative dental procedures. We also are providing laboratory testing, imaging and full preventative/wellness care plans. 

The latest updates and the Top 10 COVID-19 Q&A’s can be found here.

Any appointments that are currently scheduled will NOT be cancelled unless otherwise contacted.

Appointment times have been staggered to help decrease overlap and congestion in the clinic.

When scheduling appointments, we are obligated to ask our clients about their recent travel history, and if they are showing any signs of illness or symptoms of COVID-19.

Under certain circumstances, we will be asking clients to fill out an enhanced appointment questionnaire prior to their arrival at the clinic, so that our staff can get a jump in diagnosing your pet’s issues. This will reduce your time spent in the clinic and is part of our social distancing protocol.

Handling procedures during your pet’s examination have been adjusted in order to comply with our social distancing procedures whenever possible.

Can I still purchase food and/or medication refills?

Absolutely, we are still open for those wishing to pick up food and medication at the clinic. However, we are requesting that you call ahead of time to process your payment over the phone, in an effort to reduce your time spent here.

To date, our suppliers are still delivering, albeit on a less frequent basis. Should circumstances change, we will communicate with all of our clients to keep them up-to-date on availability.  

Surfaces as a Source of Covid-19?

*With respect to potential spreading from non-human sources – surfaces – a lot is still unknown on the stability of SARS-CoV-2 over time. However, there has been a recent study documented in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study – found here – indicates that it’s plausible.

“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed).”

We don’t know for sure whether non-human to human (surface) contact is an issue, but we should assume that it is until proven otherwise.

How is this related to your pet?

It presupposes that pets could be categorized as an environmental source. We should assume that the SARS-CoV-2 virus deposited on a pet’s fur by an infected owner could survive – at minimum – for a few hours. Perhaps the best way to avoid this possible transmission source is to not cuddle, kiss, sneeze around, or even stroke someone else’s pet.

Social distancing !

Can your pet contract Covid-19 from an infected owner? It’s looking increasingly likely, as another dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for the virus from their infected owner.

We’re extremely thankful that our clients have been very patient and understanding with the new protocols we’ve put in place. Given the situation we’re currently under, these necessary changes will help minimize disruption in our clinic routine, as long as everyone continues to work together.

We are attempting to do as many simple, practical and minimally disruptive measures as we can to reduce transmission risk.

In the event this crisis escalates, we will not hesitate to add more preventative measures to our clinic protocols in an effort to keep our doors open and, more importantly, keep clients, pets and our Cabbagetown team safe. Reasons for further controls include limitations in supplies (already an issue), staff (sickness or self-isolation) or intervention (municipal order) beyond control of the clinic.

In the meantime…

Be kind, check-in on friends, stay safe, keep your social distance and wash you hands!

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COVID-19 is here. Is my pet at risk ?

By Pet Health

Can my pet be infected with COVID-19 ?

The coronavirus known as SARS CoV-2 – and the illness it causes, COVID-19 – is pulling off new tricks and continues to spread worldwide. There is much we still don’t know about this contagion – how it came to be, how to stop it and it’s long-term affects on human and animal populations.

Scary times, to be sure.

The most vulnerable appear to be people with compromised immune systems and the elderly, although anybody – including animals – can carry this virus. In some cases, many would not even know they have it.

Although most countries have protocols in place to help ease the spread, there is presently no vaccine available to halt a potential pandemic in its tracks. We say ‘potential’ pandemic because the World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared one…yet.

That’s the bad news.

The good news – in Canada, at least – is that we’re receiving the latest information on how to combat this virus on a daily basis.

Here’s what we know so far.

What is SARS CoV-2 ?

SARS CoV-2 is a new coronavirus strain that was first identified in Hubei Province, China and has been steadily spreading across the planet since December 2019. Patients who came down with disease all had connections to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan China.

It is believed that it was passed from animals (likely bats) to humans though markets selling live fish, meat and wild animals. These are known in the region as “wet” markets and are common in many parts of Asia.

How does COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms ?

COVID-19 is largely spread through respiratory droplets. To become infected, individuals generally must be in close proximity (within six feet) of someone who is contagious and has come into contact with these droplets, either through sneezing or spitting.

It is also known that someone can contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own face. However, this is not thought to be the principal mechanism causing the spread of the virus.

Signs of COVID-19 can appear within two to 14 days after contact and include fever, cough, runny nose and respiratory problems. It is also possible that some people can carry the virus and not experience any symptoms. Yikes.

Now that we’ve completed a short primer on this coronavirus, how might this affect our pets?

Have any companion animals been infected by Covid-19?

Recent news that a dog tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong has caused concern among pet owners all over the world. 

The dog – reportedly a Pomeranian – was repeatedly tested over a number of days and follow up tests revealed that it had tested “weak positive” after it’s owner had previously tested positive for the virus.

International disease specialists at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) determined the dog has some degree of Covid-19 infection, likely caused by human-to-animal transmission. It was concluded that the pet had contracted the virus from its affected owner.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted from humans to pets?

The short answer is ‘yes’. The finding above makes it pretty clear that the infected dog – albeit at a low level – was a case of human-to-animal transmission.

Experts at the University of Hong Kong and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) support this conclusion.

The good news is…

They don’t suspect the virus can cause severe illness in dogs, or that dogs are spreading the virus back to humans. Also, the dog has remained healthy. What isn’t known is whether this virus can generally cause sickness in dogs, or just not in this particular dog.

People, as with animals, can be infected with SARS CoV-2 without getting ill or showing symptoms. It’s still too soon to imply what this “weak positive” result means in the wider canine picture.

As a pet parent, are there any precautions I should take?

At this stage, there are no specific precautions pet owners can take, regardless of the pictures in the news from China of pets in face masks. Only in the unfortunate event that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet or other animals, it is recommended (until more is known) that:

  • Avoid close contact with your pet – do not cuddle or kiss them, do not let them lick your face, sit on your lap or sleep in your bed.
  • Sounds obvious, but avoid coughing and sneezing on your pet. Not a good practice in the best of times…
  • Wash your hands before touching or feeding your pet or other animals.
  • Limit your pet’s contact with other people and animals.

If you haven’t been diagnosed, snuggle with your pets. Take them for walks. Don’t change their routine. Animals can have a very comforting effect on their owners, especially in times of uncertainty. And remember, when you’re calm, your pet is calm and better off for it.

Also, wash your hands. Often.

Can I get this virus from other pets when travelling to other countries?

It’s certainly possible.

Although the outbreak of COVID-19 is largely spread from person to person, experts agree that the virus likely originated from bats and passed through an intermediary animal source in China before being transmitted to humans.

Because the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in animals, the Government of Canada recommends “travellers, and especially those who travel to an affected country or region, avoid contact with animals and animal products, including wild meat and wet markets.”

Sounds like good advice.

If you are considering travel or already booked a vacation, be sure to check your travel insurance coverage and the latest health notices for the region you plan to visit. It is vital that you receive the most up-to-date advice prior to traveling.

Travel Advisories from the Government of Canada

 

Additional Resources and Latest Updates on COVID-19

For the Veterinary Profession and Pet Lovers: Worms and Germs blog by Drs. Scott Weese and Maureen Anderson

Government of Canada – COVID-19 FAQ

Government Of Ontario – COVID-19 Latest from Public Health

The World Health Organization

 

 

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CBD and Pets. Potential Wonder Drug?

By Pet Health

CBD is big news and like all hyped and yet-unproven medical claims, it appears to be a cure-all for almost everything under the sun. However, hard scientific evidence remains elusive. If new, on-going research can support even some of its claims, it could introduce a whole new treatment paradigm in veterinary care.

At our AAHA Accredited Cabbagetown Pet Clinic, we closely monitor emerging CBD research and are always prepared to address our client’s questions and concerns.

Introduction to CBD for Pets.

CBD is on the minds of many pet owners, and not just for their own personal use. Fueled largely by anecdotal reports, pet parents are turning to this potential wonder drug to help manage pain, arthritis, seizures, and other chronic health problems in their fur-babies.

In the US, a growing crop of CBD products marketed for pets – including extracts, capsules, and chewy treats – have erupted onto the market to meet consumer demand.

In Canada, however, all legal CBD products for pets must be approved by Health Canada. They are taking a more cautious approach, as solid evidence on its efficacy is still unknown. To date, there have been no such approvals for any pet-specific CBD products.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol is a member of the cannabinoid family, a class of organic compounds naturally found in the cannabis or hemp plant. 

Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems of humans, which help the body maintain a normal healthy state, also known as homeostasis. It is generally believed that a similar interaction is replicated in pets, but more research is needed.

Unlike its THC cousin, CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high’, but it is psychoactive. Psychoactive – or psychotropic – is a term that is applied to chemical elements that change one’s mental state by affecting the way the brain and nervous system work. Alcohol and caffeine also fall into this group.

What are the Health Benefits of CBD for my Pet?

The jury – medical community – is still out on CBD’s effectiveness.

While there’s no conclusive scientific data – it’s ongoing – in using CBD to treat our furry friends, there’s growing anecdotal evidence suggesting it can treat pain, reduce anxiety, as well as helping to control seizures.

CBD is also purported to deliver anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation and anti-anxiety impacts, although there’s no conclusive data on these claims.

Risks and Possible Side Effects of CBD in Pets

The safety of CBD products for pets has not yet been adequately researched. Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not approved CBD for use on animals. Consequently, there are no guidelines on what dosages to administer to your pet, based on species, breed, body weight or any other number of multiple variables. You’re not entirely on your own – always seek guidance with one of our Fear Free Certified Cabbagetown veterinary team first to discuss any potential risks associated with its application.

Any medication or supplement has the possibility of a positive or negative response. If a pet owner wants to use CBD on their pet – regardless of its legality – it is prudent to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects.

More importantly, pet owners should be aware that there are no approved, legal CBD products available to consumers in Canada, although plenty of CBD products are being marketed and sold to those who seek it. If a CBD product does not have a drug identification number (DIN) or a notification number (VHP) then its safety and efficacy can’t be demonstrated.

If you DO choose to try the CBD route for your pet, how do you know what dosage to administer?

The short answer is, you don’t. While there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for pets, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans.

  • Dry mouth: There is research to show that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For pets, a noticeable increase in thirst may be apparent.
  • Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a short-term drop in blood pressure. Even if the drop is insignificant, it could create a momentary feeling of light-headedness.
  • Drowsiness: Pet parents – especially dog owners – have been known to use CBD to treat anxiety. The comforting effect of CBD can also cause slight sluggishness.

Again, a discussion with one of our AAHA Accredited Cabbagetown veterinarians can help clarify risks and help mitigate potential side effects.

Is CBD Legal for Use with Pets in Ontario?

From the CVO – College of Veterinarians of Ontario, as of January 2020:

“As veterinarians are included in the definition of practitioner in this Act, veterinarians would be permitted to prescribe either substance if there was a legal pathway to do so. The Office of Controlled Substances at Health Canada has confirmed that there are currently no approved CBD products for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway to obtain these products for animals in Canada.

It is not enough that CBD oil or related products may be offered through a licensed supplier in Canada – the supplier must also be supplying a CBD product that is approved by Health Canada. Manufacturers would need to complete the approval process to get such a product approved for use in animals.

The College is aware that animal owners may ask their veterinarians about using products for their animals that contain active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. It is important that the public is aware that:

  • There is currently no legal pathway for veterinarians in Ontario to prescribe medical marijuana to animals.
  • There are currently no CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway to obtain these products.”

Additional Resources

cvo.org
veterinarycannabis.org 

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dentistry-services-cabbagetown-pet-clinic

The Importance of Dental Health

By Pet Health

The Importance of Dental Health for your Pet

When it comes to keeping our pets healthy, pet parents often overlook the importance of oral hygiene. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, it’s estimated that the majority of pets show symptoms of dental or periodontal disease by three years of age.

One of the best (and easiest) indicators of oral disease is bad breath. Some pet parents believe that bad breath is something pets naturally have and consequently, often goes unnoticed and untreated.

It may not always be fresh, but your pet’s breath also shouldn’t be bad enough to make you gag.

It’s easy for many pet parents to overlook the importance of promoting good oral hygiene.

Why Dental Health is Important.

Every pet parent wants his or her beloved pet to have excellent oral hygiene.

Four reasons how poor dental care can affect your pet’s overall health:

  1. Bad Breath or Halitosis: If the odor of your pet’s breath makes you recoil, it’s time to seek good dental care.
  2. Tooth Loss: If structures supporting your pet’s teeth become infected, the teeth fall out.
  3. Oral Pain: Severe dental disease can be very painful for cats and dogs. Keep an eye out for the tell-tale** signs.
  4. Organ Damage. Bacteria in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart, kidneys and liver. This spread, called bacteremia, can damage organs and make your animal sick.

What is Pet Dental Disease?

Dental or periodontal disease affects the teeth, gums and the support structures that surround your pet’s teeth. It begins with a simple plaque buildup on the tooth enamel which contain bacteria and food particles.

If the plaque is not addressed, it remains on the tooth surface and eventually hardens into tartar. When tartar is above the gum line, our veterinary team can remove it relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.

Tartar that makes its way below the gumline is the real problem.

Tartar below the gumline causes inflammation and not only damages the structures supporting the teeth but also causes infection. If dental disease reaches this stage, pets can experience severe dental problems and pain.

Factors Associated with Dental Disease.

  • Age: Dental Disease is more common in older pets, but evidence can appear as soon as three years of age.
  • Breed: Persians and other flat-faced cats and smaller dog breeds are more likely to have over-crowded or misaligned teeth that are difficult to keep clean, making them more prone to disease.
  • Food/Diet: Some foods can increase your cat’s risk of dental disease, so ask your veterinarian for a nutritional recommendation.

Signs of Dental Disease in Your Pet.

Even if your pet isn’t outwardly showing signs of oral health issues, it’s worth asking our veterinarians during a regular health exam to help prevent potential problems.

Symptoms of oral health problems:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow or brown crust on tooth surface
  • Bleeding gums
  • Change in chewing habits
  • Tooth loss
  • Drooling

If you observe any of these conditions, please make an appointment with us as soon as possible. That way, we can alleviate any further dental deterioration and get your pet on the right path to a healthy mouth.

3 Ways to Promote Better Dental Health for Your Pet.

Protecting the oral health of your pet is super important for many of the reasons we’ve outlined above. Although ‘perfect’ oral hygiene can be elusive, there are ways to be proactive and help stave off the possibility of dental disease.

If there is one best option you can choose to address your pet’s dental health, we suggest visiting our veterinarian for a professional exam. Our veterinarian knows what’s best for your pet’s teeth and will be able to address any issues she finds.

Investing in preventative oral hygiene is one of the best ways to keep your pet healthy.

1. Professional Dental Cleanings

One of the many services the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic offers is dental cleaning. The best way to ensure your pet’s oral health is to have them undergo a professional cleaning by our veterinary team.

These cleanings require general anesthesia to allow our veterinarians to clean above and below the gumline. This ensures that your pet’s entire mouth is scrubbed.

Although more costly,* a professional dental cleaning is the best way to improve and maintain your pet’s oral hygiene.

2. Diet/Prescription Pet Food

It’s always a good idea to discuss nutrition with our veterinarians for many reasons, dental health included.

Generally, we recommend Hills Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care.

Why?

  • Fibre Matrix: the fine structure of in the kibble scrubs the tooth surface to clean teeth and keeps breath fresh.
  • Distinctive Fibre Alignment: helps kibble stay in contact with the tooth surface right to the gumline. This allows the kibble to gently scrub away plaque and tartar.
  • Pets love it.

Although this food is a very popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution for your particular situation. A consultation with our veterinarians will provide recommendations that will get your pet on the right path to a healthy mouth.

3. Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits for Pet Parents

A preventative measure pet owners can take is to brush your pet’s teeth. Yes, this is a thing and is done to prevent plaque from mineralizing into tartar. Getting your pet comfortable to brushing can take time and patience, so make sure your reward your furry family member for their cooperation!

  • Introducing the toothpaste: use a finger toothbrush or an index finger wrapped in gauze and gently rub pet-specific toothpaste over your pet’s teeth and gums. A splash of chicken broth or tuna juice can make it more palatable.
  • Brushing: brush teeth and gums gently, finishing with the bottom front teeth. Focus on the outside surface facing the cheek, as this part is most prone to tartar build up.

Combine all 3 factors and you’ll have no trouble keeping your pet’s oral health in tip-top shape.

*Cabbagetown Care Plans w/ Dental Cleanings

For some, the cost of regular dental cleanings can be prohibitive. To help alleviate this, we offer a preventative health care program – Cabbagetown Care – to spread out the costs of regular veterinary care, including dental cleanings over the year. This helps you budget and ensure your pet receives all the care necessary to keep them happy and healthy.

Contact us today to see how you can save money on your pet’s health care.

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Risks and effects of essential oils with your pet.

How Essential Oils Can Affect Your Pet’s Health

By Uncategorized

Essential Oil Diffusers and Pet Safety.

The use of essential oils has become increasingly widespread over the last few years. While wildly popular, scientific support about the positive health effects is limited and contradictory. This is particularly true when discussing health effects on your pet.

How safe are these essential oils for our pets?

Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin, used in diffusers or licked up in the case of a spill.

Diffusers emitting a lovely, nose-pleasing aroma may seem benign, but can be unsafe since it uses water vapour to diffuse tiny oil droplets into the air. Inhaling diffused oils is known to cause negative respiratory effects on humans and pets, if used in a small space and/or for an extended period of time.

It is important to note that cats and dogs are much more sensitive to scents than their human counterparts. What you may believe to be an insignificant, fragrant scent may be overwhelming and harmful to an animal.

What Are Essential Oils And What Are The Benefits?

Essential oils are made from highly concentrated plant substances and are popular in aromatherapy and alternative medicine, as well as home air fresheners. There are numerous types of essential oils, each with their own unique physical and chemical properties.

People believe the use of these “natural” essential oils helps improve their personal and their pet’s health and happiness. The perceived health benefits of essential oils has convinced some pet parents to try a holistic, “natural” approach to help with a wide variety of medical conditions, from anxiety and skin problems to flea and tick prevention.

However, the perceived positive effects (calming sensations, stress-reduction, boost energy and improved focus, among others) of essential oils for you may result in significant negative effects on your beloved pet.

“Natural” doesn’t always mean safe.

There is some preliminary research – largely funded by companies selling herbal-infused pet products – that suggests essential oils may have some health benefits for pets. This has resulted in some holistic veterinarians to include essential oil treatments into their practices.

Although research is still in the early stages, we don’t incorporate this yet-unproven therapy at our Cabbagetown animal hospital, as the risks outweigh any benefits. Instead, we recommend our Cabbagetown Care Preventative Care Program that will cover all your bases and may complement any holistic approach you choose to pursue.

How Do Essential Oils Put My Cat at Risk?

Established research has shown that essential oils can be toxic to cats, whether taken internally, applied to the skin, or simply inhaled. Exposure can lead to serious liver damage, liver failure, respiratory failure, seizures and even death.

Felines are missing specific enzymes that provide the ability to properly process various compounds (called “gluconuridation”) found in essential oils, specifically phenols. Phenolic compounds occur naturally in plants and are highly concentrated in essential oils, leaving the liver the most vulnerable to organ failure.

Essential oil and aromatherapy diffusers, candles, liquid potpourri products, and room sprays are all sources of airborne essential oils that can be inhaled or licked off their fur. If you can smell the aroma of the oil, that means that there’s oil in the air and can result in respiratory distress.

General guidelines for the use of essential oils in homes with your feline friends:

  • Do not apply or feed essential oils directly to cats, or leave oils in areas where they may come in direct contact. While some oils do have insect repellant capabilities and smell great, the risk of serious or fatal reactions in your cat is high. Your inquisitive pet will thank you. 
  • If your cat has asthma, allergies, or another respiratory conditions, avoid all use of essential oils.
  • Keep cats out of rooms with a high concentration of essential oils. Kittens, elderly cats, or cats who have liver or respiratory problems should be kept out of any room where essential oil diffusers are used.

The following essential oils are poisonous to cats:

  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Oil of Sweet Birch
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine oils
  • Tea Tree oil
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

Is My Dog at Risk if I Use Essential Oils?

A dogs’ sense of smell is much more keen than humans – this is very important to consider if you plan to use or diffuse essential oils in your home. Placing drops of lavender oil on your pet’s bedding may help calm them, or it may just cause further stress. Oils used incorrectly can also lead to changes in behaviour, adverse central nervous system effects, and respiratory problems.

Natural flea and tick treatments that use essential oils can be tricky. With a lack of data supporting the efficacy of these products, pet parents may be putting their dogs at risk for flea and tick-borne diseases.

If you plan to use essential oils with/on your dog, there is an easy way to do it safely: talk to our veterinary team. They will let you know which oils are potentially dangerous and provide you with information about safely using them in your home.

  • Keep all essential oils out of reach of curious dogs – ALWAYS. Fragrant smelling liquids may attract your dog and never leave essential oils unattended.
  • Do not apply pure essential oils topically or orally to your dog without consulting with your veterinarian first. Oils can be dangerous – especially tea tree oil – and there’s scant evidence that they’re effective.
  • If you have an active diffuser, make sure the oil you’re using is safe for your particular animal (more on this below), and air out the room before you let your dog back in.
  • Passive diffusers are generally safer, as long as your pet doesn’t knock them over. Generally speaking, the more dilute the oil, the safer it is…but always check with our vets first!

For our canine friends, toxic essential oils include:

  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Pine oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Sweet Birch oil
  • Ylang Ylang

Pet Exposure to Essential Oils.

What to do.

If you’re worried that your pet has been exposed, monitor them for symptoms. If they start having a negative reaction, bring your pet to the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic or an emergency animal clinic immediately.

Common symptoms of essential oil poisoning:

  • watery nose or eyes
  • redness of the lips, gums or skin
  • vomiting and drooling
  • difficulty breathing or panting; coughing or wheezing
  • lethargy, tremors or wobbliness
  • low heart rate
  • low body temperature

What to do before going to our vet clinic or emergency animal hospital:

  • If the product was inhaled, take them into fresh air immediately.
  • If ingested, Do NOT induce vomiting or give them activated charcoal. This puts your pet at risk because essential oils can stick to the lungs and airway leading to lung inflammation or airway obstruction.
  • Put the product and packaging in a sealed bag and bring to the clinic or emergency hospital.
  • If your pet gets oil on its skin or fur, wash it off as quickly as possible using hand dishwashing soap.
Conclusion

We believe the risks of using essential oils diffusers in your home outweigh the benefits, especially if you have curious pets in close proximity. Although we don’t outright discourage use of these oils, we do suggest you proceed with caution. The form of essential oil, dosage, and route of exposure are all important considerations.

If you have an emergency related to essential oil exposure outside of our clinic hours, we recommend the Animal Health Partners for emergency medical care.

And no matter which essential oil or diffuser you use, talk to our Fear Free Certified veterinarians, always do your research, and exercise caution.

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

Helping your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life.

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Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

Canine Lyme Disease

By Pet Health

Is My Dog at Risk of Canine Lyme Disease?

The short answer is a resounding ‘yes’. If you walk your dog in one of Toronto’s many wonderful series of wooded trail systems, you and your dog are susceptible. Canine Lyme Disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in the Toronto area, initiated by the bite of infected, Ixode scapularis, also known as Deer or Blacklegged ticks. While not all variations of ticks carry Lyme disease, populations of Blacklegged, Deer and American Dog ticks continue to expand in the GTA and other parts of Ontario.

Canine Lyme Disease Risk Assessment:
  1.   Have you seen or heard of ticks on people or pets in your area?
  2.   Is your dog likely to go into areas where ticks are found?
  3.   Do you live in an area with ticks and/or where there are cases of Lyme disease in animals or humans? 
  4.   Are you likely to travel with your dog to areas where Lyme disease is present?
  5.   Have you forgotten to give monthly tick medication on time?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, protection against disease-carrying ticks – a small, chewy and tasty treat – for your dog is recommended.

What is Canine Lyme Disease?

The risk for you and your pet – specifically dogs – of contracting Lyme disease is increasingly on the rise across areas of Ontario.

Incidence of Canine Lyme Disease easily keeps pace with the increased incidence of the disease in humans, and probably more. Although likely true that the incidence of Lyme disease is higher in dogs than humans, there is no national or provincial system for capturing the incidence of Canine Lyme Disease.

Lacking a national or provincial system for tracking, reviewing the human data for Lyme disease is important as an indication of the exposure and potential infection in dogs.

  1. It is estimated that 50% of dogs are infected with borrelia burgdorferi in endemic disease areas.
  2. Nearly 75% of unvaccinated dogs in endemic areas will eventually test positive, and each year some will develop Lyme disease.
  3. Dogs are 50 to 100 times more likely than humans to come in contact with infected ticks.
  4. More dogs are likely infected with borellia burgdorferi than reported, as dogs will often show no signs of disease.
  5. Dogs spend more time roaming in areas infested with ticks – even in their own backyards – thus making threat of Lyme disease undeniably greater in dogs than in humans

* lymeinfo.ca

A Tick’s Life

Ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind. They are sluggish and lumbering and can be as small as a poppy seed. Bites are usually painless, so you or your pet may not know that there’s been a bite.

Three things make them so effective at what they do: Their small size, extreme patience and their amazing capacity to locate their host/prey.

Their purpose in life is to propagate their species and inadvertently pass diseases to those hosts they feed on. Ticks don’t feed often, but when they do, they can acquire disease agents from one host and pass it to another host at a later feeding.

Where are Ticks in Toronto Located?

Blacklegged ticks are found most often in forests and overgrown areas between wooded areas and open spaces. This makes for perfect breeding grounds in many parts of Toronto. Specifically,

  • The Rouge Valley, east of Toronto
  • Don Valley trail system

The Public Health Agency of Canada works with provincial authorities to identify where populations of infected blacklegged ticks have been established or are spreading.

This is the latest Ontario Lyme Disease Map from Public Health Ontario:

More information can be found here:

OAHN-Ticks-Lyme-Updated-Map-2019

In other parts of Ontario, known endemic (common) areas for Lyme disease are:

  • Point Pelee National Park
  • Rondeau and Turkey Point Provincial Parks
  • Long Point Peninsula, including Long Point Provincial Park
  • Wainfleet bog near Welland on the Niagara Peninsula
  • Prince Edward County
  • Thousand Islands National Park

“Expansion” areas of risk in Ontario include:

  • Kingston and surrounding areas along Lake Ontario
  • Along the St. Lawrence Valley to the border with Quebec and northeast towards Ottawa
  • Northwestern Ontario in the Lake of the Woods region
  • Pinery Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron

For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca/LymeDisease

What Should I Do if I Find Ticks on my Dog?

Removing the ticks within 24-36 hours will usually prevent infection. Using tweezers, grasp the head as close to your pets skin as possible and pull straight out. Wash the area with soap and water, disinfectant with alcohol or hand sanitizer.

If possible, save the tick in a Ziploc bag and record the approximate date of the bite. If symptoms develop, contact our team at the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic.

Can I Get Lyme Disease From My Dog?

No. Although pets – particularly dogs – can contract Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they can spread the infection directly to people. However, pets can carry infected ticks into homes and yards increasing your chance of getting bitten.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when venturing into wooded hiking trails with your dog:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants 
  • Pull your socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs
  • Wear light-coloured clothes to identify ticks easier
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET
  • Shower within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks
  • Do daily full-body check for ticks on yourself, your children and your pets

Can You Test My Dog For Lyme Disease?

Absolutely. Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the test we incorporate at our animal hospital for diagnosing Lyme disease is called the 4DX test. It’s a simple blood test that we run at our AAHA Accredited Cabbagetown animal hospital. This helps you get the answers you need in a timely fashion.

As the name implies, 4DX tests for four things: Heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Biological vectors, such as mosquitoes and ticks, transmit all four of these diseases and may carry pathogens that can multiply within their bodies and be delivered to new hosts, usually by biting.

The test measures antibodies, meaning how your dog responds or reacts to an infection. A positive test result only indicates exposure to the bacteria. The infection could have occurred sometime in the past, and the immune system may have eliminated the bacteria without your dog ever showing symptoms.

If a positive test result is confirmed, our veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and/or advise further, more specific testing.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Lyme disease is, unfortunately, a relatively common canine illness. 

The most common symptom is arthritic pain, accompanied by fatigue and fever. If you’re unsure if your pet has been exposed, contact our Cabbagetown Fear Free Certified veterinary team to discuss appropriate measures to protect or treat your pet.

Left untreated, symptoms can last for years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, kidney failure, numbness and paralysis. We are often asked if Lyme disease can be fatal to a dog? Although uncommon, fatalities from Lyme disease have been reported.

Typical symptoms in dogs include:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • reduced energy
  • lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  • generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain
  • swelling of joints

How is Canine Lyme Disease Treated and Prevented?

Because Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics, once an animal has been examined and tested positive. The antibiotic of choice for canines is doxycycline. Treatment lasts for up to 4 weeks.

The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic offers a comprehensive Cabbagetown Care Program, which includes a canine Lyme vaccination. This is the only way to assure dogs in endemic and expansion areas, such as Toronto, are protected.

What is the Best Way to Prevent Canine Lyme Disease?

  • Prevent ticks from transmitting disease with one of our veterinary-approved flea and tick medications.
  • Get your dog vaccinated.
  • Inspect your dog (and yourself!) for ticks after walks through wooded trails. Check your dog under their collar, under their tail, between their toes, under their legs and elbows.
  • Remove ticks immediately. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will be infected. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers and learn the proper method of tick removal.
  • At your next vet visit, ask our Fear Free Certified veterinarian to conduct a tick check during the exam. We’ll be able to find any you may have missed.
  • Keep your grass mowed and refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas.

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