Pet Health

Traveling with Dogs: The Complete Guide to Safe and Comfortable Trips

By Pet Health, Pet Parenting

Planning to travel with your furry friend? Read our ultimate guide on traveling with dogs to ensure a safe and stress-free trip.Planning to travel with your furry friend? Read our ultimate guide on traveling with dogs to ensure a safe and stress-free trip.


I.  Introduction
II.  Traveling with Dogs in Cars

  • Tips for Selecting and Using a Dog Car Seat, Harness, or Crate
  • How to Prepare a Dog for a Long Car Ride
  • Common Concerns, such as Motion Sickness and Anxiety

III.  Traveling with Dogs on Planes

  • Requirements for International Flying
  • Airline-Approved Dog Carriers
  • Preparing Your Dog for a Flight
  • Health Risks and Safety Concerns of Flying with Your Doggo.

V.   Conclusion

I. Introduction to Traveling with Your Doggo

Attention dog owners and travel enthusiasts! Are you planning to take your furry friend on a road trip or a flight?

Many dog owners like to bring their furry friends with them wherever they can, whether they’re embarking on a cross-country adventure or a just quick getaway at a local park. Regardless of the duration and destination of the journey, it’s imperative to keep your dog safe just as you would any other passenger. Traveling with your dogs can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion.

But before you hit the road or take to the skies, consider the unique needs of your dog and prepare accordingly. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about traveling with dogs in cars and on planes, so you can enjoy a stress-free trip with your beloved pet.

II. Traveling with Dogs in Cars

As pet parents, we all love spending time with our dog, including taking them on car rides. However, it’s crucial that you ensure the safety of your dog while traveling. Not only is it important to prevent driver distraction, but it also helps prevent injuries to both the dog and passengers in the event of an accident.


According to the American Automobile Association (AAA):

  • an unrestrained 4.5 kg (small) dog in a crash at 50 km/h exerts approximately 135 kilograms of force;
  • an unrestrained 36 kg (large) dog in a crash at only 50 km/h will exceed 1000 kgs of force.

These numbers are shockingly high, emphasizing the importance of securing your precious pup in a car for safety reasons. Not only is this a hazard for all vehicle occupants, an unsecured dog can cause distractions for the driver, making it more difficult to focus on the job at hand – keeping their eyes on the road.


Keeping your dog secured while in the car will keep them, you, your passengers and even other drivers safe. There are many products on the market to help keep your dog safe while in the car. Finding the right one will depend on your type of car and type of dog.

There are three main methods of securing your dog(s) while your car in motion:

 1. Dog Carriers or Crates

This is a common option for big and small dogs. However, if your dog likes to roam – or likes to extend their nose out a cracked window – there is little to no mobility. In the event of a severe crash, the crate can give them an extra level of protection from the rigidity of the frame and also prevents your pup from getting loose if someone other than you lets them out. The biggest downside is that some dogs may experience anxiety when locked inside a crate or carrier.

2. Dog Harnesses for Cars

This is a great option, as it lets your pet wander around in the backseat AND keep them secure in the event of a crash. They’re lightweight and work seamlessly with your existing backseat hardware. They work just as well as a dog car seat.

Before you purchase a dog harness, measure your dogs’ chest circumference, height, and weight to ensure it fits properly. This is key. If it’s too big, your pup could slide out of it in the event of a crash. Too tight, and your pup will be uncomfortable – and anxious – for the duration of the car ride.

3.  Car Seats for Designed for Dogs

These are primarily for very small to medium-sized dogs, as they tend to require extra padding and comfort while on the road. Some of these special booster car seats for dogs may come with a built-in harness.

If your pup is prone to motion sickness when the car is moving, some reports suggest that this option can help reduce it. Seems logical as it help reduces excess movement. It’s a good idea to make sure the sides of the seat are high enough to prevent them from falling out, in the event of a sudden stop.

When selecting a dog car seat, harness, or crate, it is essential to consider the size and weight of your dog.

  • smaller dogs (less than 12 kgs.), a car seat or a harness is recommended;
  • larger dogs (+12 kgs.), a crate or a harness is ideal.

The car seat or crate should be securely fastened and situated in a way that it can’t be dislodged while the car is in motion. The harness should be securely attached to the car’s seat belt, ensuring that the dog is safely restrained.

When you’re ready to shop, be sure to look at the reviews and locate the options that come from pet parents with a dog similar to your own.


Preparing your pup for an extended car ride is essential to ensure their comfort and safety.

To help with the process, we recommended the following:

  1. Condition your dog as early as possible (puppy stage) with any car safety devices. Using a little Pavlovian psychology, also known as classical conditioning (treats!), may help older dogs during shorter trips to get acclimated to car travel.
  2. Take your dog on short car rides to adapt them to being in a car. This helps to prevent motion sickness and anxiety during longer trips. Bring a favourite blanket, toy, or dog bed to keep your dog comfortable (or distracted!) during the journey.
  3. Regular washroom breaks and hydration are critical for your dog’s welfare during longer car rides. This reduces stress and anxiety.
  4. Choosing the right car seat, harness, or crate based on your pup’s chest circumference, height, and weight.

Based on these recommendations, plan your route accordingly and seek out dog-friendly rest stops where you and your dog can take a break and stretch your legs. By addressing these concerns upfront, you can create a stable, stress-free and enjoyable car ride for both you and your canine companion.

III. Traveling with dogs on planes

Traveling by air can be a frustrating, daunting and time-consuming task for most humans. Now add your favourite pup into the mix…flying with your favourite canine doesn’t sound appealing at all! Not only is air travel a stressful experience for dogs – and pet parents alike – but there are also rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure their safety and comfort.

In this section, we will discuss three key considerations when flying with your dog, from airline policies to selecting a suitable airline, and preparing your dog for the long, stressful journey ahead.

1. Requirements for International Flying

Requirements for international flying with your dog can vary from airline to airline. Thus, researching the particular policies of the airline you plan to fly with is of the upmost importance.

Generally, airlines require that dogs are at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned before their allowed on any airline. Additionally, your pup must be up-to-date on their vaccinations and have a health certificate issued by a veterinarian. Some airlines may have breed or size restrictions, so make sure to check these beforehand.

Security screenings points can be a stressful part for both dogs and their owners. Prior to screening, remove any collars or harnesses. To avoid this step, consider purchasing a non-metallic collar or harness to avoid setting off metal detectors.

This is THE most important part: always inform security personnel that you are traveling with your dog, as they may need to inspect the carrier separately.

2. Airline-Approved Dog Carriers

When selecting an appropriate airline-approved dog carrier, there are two main factors to consider.

  • The carrier should be large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. Airlines may have specific carrier requirements, such as the type of material or size restrictions, so be sure to check these before buying a carrier.
  • Make sure that the carrier is well-ventilated and secure, with a leak-proof bottom in the event of happy accident.

3. Preparing Your Dog for a Flight

Preparation for a flight is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience for dogs and pet parents. The preparations are generally the same as preparing for a long car ride, but, if necessary, you may want to consider a medical intervention into the mix, such as a vet-approved sedative or OTC medication (see FAQ).


Air travel with dogs can pose potential health risks and safety concerns that dog owners should be aware of when booking.

Some of the most common issues:

  1. Anxiety and Stress: Dogs can experience significant stress and anxiety during air travel, which could lead to a variety of health problems. This includes an increased heart rate, dehydration, and/or panic attacks.
  2. Illness or Disease: As you might expect, airports and airplanes can be breeding grounds for germs and diseases. This can also increase your dog’s risk of illness or infection.
  3. Sedation Snags: Many pet parents elect to sedate their dogs for air travel to help them relax. This makes all kinds of sense, but can be dangerous if not done properly. Sedation affects your dog’s breathing and circulation, especially at high altitudes, so consult with our vets for sedation options and guidance.
  4. Temperature and Ventilation: This generally isn’t a concern with modern airlines. However, the cargo hold* of an airplane could experience extreme temperatures, which can be unsafe for dogs. Additionally, if the ventilation is poor (not likely under normal conditions), this can lead to respiratory issues.
  5. Injury (or worse): Despite airlines’ best efforts, there is always a risk of injury or loss during air travel, especially during extreme turbulence or decompression occurrences.

Traveling with dogs on planes requires careful preparation and planning. Following airline policies, selecting an appropriate carrier, and preparing your dog for the journey, can help ensure any pre-departure hassles are negated and a safe, comfortable flight transpires.

* If not permitted in the main cabin, pets are placed in a climate-controlled, pressurized compartment below the aircraft cabin and kept separate from luggage and other cargo.


Do I need to bring any documentation when traveling across the US border with my dog?

Yes, dogs must be accompanied by a current, valid rabies vaccination certificate that includes the following information:

  • Name and address of owner
  • Breed, sex, age, color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
  • Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information
  • Date the vaccination expires
  • Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination

Puppies must not be vaccinated against rabies before 3 months of age, so the youngest that a puppy can be imported into the United States is 4 months of age. These requirements apply to all dogs, including service animals such as guide dogs for the blind.

Can I bring my dog with me to any country?

The short answer is yes, but it depends on the country and their specific rules and regulations. Some countries have stricter requirements for bringing in pets, including quarantine periods and specific vaccines or health certifications. For Canadians, this is the most up-to-date information from the Government of Canada can be found here.

Can I bring my dog with me in the cabin of an airplane?

Yes, but it depends on the airline and the size of your dog. Most airlines allow small dogs in carriers to travel in the cabin with their pet parent, while others require larger dogs to travel in the cargo hold.

How can I prevent my dog from getting motion sickness while traveling by car or air?

With the guidance of your veterinarian, you can give your dog prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications specifically designed to prevent motion sickness or anxiety, not unlike choices available humans. You can also make sure your dog has plenty of fresh air and try to limit their food and water intake before and during travel.

Here are additional tips to make your dog’s travel more enjoyable and reduce motion sickness:

  • If it is not too stressful, withhold food for up to 8 hours before travel. An empty stomach will help reduce nausea and the need for frequent potty breaks that are often unwelcome, especially during long car rides or airplane or train travel.
  • Keep the car cool and quiet. Play soft classical music and keep the temperature cool.
  • Include the smell of home. Add a t-shirt or blanket with your scent to your dog’s carrier. In addition to smelling like home, nothing is cozier than mom or dad’s shirt.
  • Offer special trip toys. Giving your dog new toys that he only gets to play with when he travels can help him associate travel with fun.

How often should I give my dog potty breaks during a long car ride?

It’s generally recommended to give your dog a potty break every 2-3 hours during a car ride, depending on their age and size.

V. Conclusion

In the post, we discussed the importance of safe and comfortable travel with dogs, whether it’s in a car or on a plane. We emphasized the need to secure dogs in a car with a car seat, harness, or crate to prevent injuries in case of an accident. We provided tips on selecting the right travel gear, such as a suitable airline-approved carrier for flying with a dog, and how to prepare dogs for long trips, including potty breaks, hydration, and exercise. We also addressed common concerns such as motion sickness and anxiety.

Dogs have unique needs and preferences when it comes to traveling, so owners should take the time to plan accordingly and make sure their dogs are comfortable and safe throughout the journey. With proper planning and preparation, pet parents can ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for themselves and their beloved canine companions.

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Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats: Balancing Safety and Freedom for Your Feline Friend

By Pet Behaviour, Pet Health, Pet Parenting


Our feline friends are captivating creatures that can bring joy and companionship into our lives. Whether you’re a experienced cat parent or considering to adopt for the first time, it’s important to think about the kind of cat environment that you feel will be best for your cat’s health and welfare. One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to keep your cat indoors-only or allow them to roam outside. As you’ll see, there are pros and cons to each approach, and finding the right balance can ensure that your cat is healthy, happy, and safe. In this discussion, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of having an indoors-only cat versus an indoor-outdoor cat, as well as share tips on how to make sure your feline friend thrives in their environment.

I.  The Indoor-Only vs. Indoor-Outdoor Cat Debate

The topic of whether to have an indoor-only or an indoor-outdoor cat can be divisive among cat owners because it’s a decision that is influenced by personal values, lifestyle, and cultural factors. Some cat owners believe that cats should be allowed to roam freely outside because it allows them to express natural behaviors such as hunting and exploring, while others believe that cats should be kept indoors to protect them from dangers such as traffic accidents and predators. Although personal values and lifestyle heavily determine this divide, there are some very real differences across cultures.

  • In the US and Canada*, about 81% of domestic cats are kept solely indoors.
  • In Denmark*, only 17% of cats are strictly indoor pets.
  • In Britain*, 74 percent of cat parents let their felines roam outside.
  • In Turkiye, it’s common for feral cats to walk freely in and out of cafes, restaurants and markets – so much so that they produced a documentary on the subject (see video below).
  • Poland has recently called outdoor cats an “invasive alien species.”

* National Library of Medicine (NIH): Indoors or Outdoors? An International Exploration of Owner Demographics and Decision Making Associated with Lifestyle of Pet Cats

It’s clear that cultural norms for this phenomenon varies widely across cultures. Outdoor cat culture began to change in the 1980s and ’90s as more North Americans began keeping their cats indoors for a number of reasons:

  • Conservationists warned of declining bird populations.
  • Veterinarians cautioned that an outdoor cat were more disposed to diseases, parasites and infections.
  • Speeding automobiles.

All VERY valid reasons to keep your cat indoors. These rationales all make sense if you want to maximize your cat’s lifespan, especially within the confines of a city. Exposure to high levels of automobile traffic is THE most common reason to keep your kitty inside. Traffic concerns appeared so strong that an absence of traffic may be enough for some owners to change their attitude towards an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. If the decision is made to keep your cat indoors-only, is there an argument to be made that we’re depriving them of the benefits of outdoor activity?

II.  Pros and Cons of Having an Indoors-Only Cat


  • Safety: Indoor cats are protected from dangers such as traffic accidents, predators, people and exposure to diseases.
  • Lifespan: Indoor cats typically live longer than outdoor cats due to the lower risk of accidents and illnesses.
  • Lower Maintenance: Indoor cats don’t require regular flea and tick treatments, and there’s no need to clean up after them if they go outside to use the bathroom.
  • Better for the Environment: Indoor cats don’t hunt wildlife, which can help preserve local ecosystems.
  • Bonding: Indoor cats tend to form closer bonds with their owners as they spend more time together.


  • Lack of Exercise: Indoor cats may not get enough exercise, which can lead to weight management issues and other health problems.
  • Boredom: Indoor cats may become bored and develop destructive behaviours if they don’t have enough mental stimulation.
  • Litter Box Odour: Indoor cats need to use a litter box, which can produce unpleasant odours if not cleaned regularly.
  • Lack of Fresh Air and Sunlight: Indoor cats may not get enough fresh air and sunlight, which can impact their overall health and well-being.
  • Indoor Environment Challenges: Indoor cats may develop behaviour issues due to being confined to a limited or confined spaces.

III.  Pros and Cons of Indoor-Outdoor Cats


  • Exercise: Outdoor cats tend to be more active and get more exercise, which can promote better health.
  • Mental Stimulation: Outdoor cats have access to a wider variety of stimuli, such as new smells and sights, which can provide increased mental stimulation.
  • Natural Behaviour: Outdoor cats can engage in natural behaviors such as climbing trees and hunting, which improves their physical and mental health.
  • Independence: Outdoor cats have more independence and may require less attention from their owners.
  • Fresh Air and Sunlight: Outdoor cats have access to fresh air and sunlight, which can help promote good health.


  • Safety: Outdoor cats are exposed to various dangers such as traffic accidents, attacks from predators, and exposure to diseases. High automobile traffic areas is THE most cited reason to keep your kitty inside.
  • Cat-Haters: Ailurophobia (fear of cats) or just plain dislike can lead to undesirable outcomes.
  • Reduced Lifespan: Outdoor cats tend to have shorter lifespans than indoor cats due to the higher risk of accidents and illnesses.
  • Environmental Impact: Outdoor cats may have a negative impact on local ecosystems by hunting wildlife. (ie. bird populations)
  • Maintenance: Outdoor cats may require more maintenance, such as regular flea and tick treatments. Also, cleaning up after them if they toilet outside.
  • Behavioral Issues: Outdoor cats could develop behavioural issues such as aggression and territory marking.

It’s important to weigh these pros and cons when deciding if an indoor-outdoor cat is the best fit for you and your lifestyle. If you do decide to have an outdoor cat, it’s important to ensure that they are safe and healthy in that environment. This may involve taking measures such as providing regular veterinary care, making sure they are properly vaccinated and spayed or neutered, and providing a safe and stimulating outdoor environment.

IV.  Safe and Sound: 6 Tips for Keeping Your Outdoor Cat Healthy and Happy

  • Provide a safe outdoor environment: Make sure your outdoor space is secure and free from potential hazards such as toxic plants or sharp objects.
  • Provide regular veterinary care: Take your cat to the vet regularly for check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative care such as flea and tick treatments.
  • Spay or neuter your cat: This can help prevent certain health issues and reduce the risk of your cat wandering off in search of a mate.
  • Provide a stimulating indoor environment: Give your cat plenty of toys, scratching posts, and cozy spots to relax in when they’re indoors.
  • Offer a balanced diet: Feed your cat a nutritious diet that meets their specific needs, and make sure they have access to fresh water at all times.
  • Keep up with litter box maintenance: Even if your cat goes outside to use the bathroom, provide a clean litter box for them to use indoors.


Is it safe to let my cat go outside? What steps can I take to make this transition easier?

This is dependent on various factors as mentioned earlier, including the environment you inhabit, your individual cat’s personality and behavior. If you do choose to let your cat outside, here are 6 steps you can take to help keep them safe:

  • Ensure that your cat is up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Provide protection against fleas, ticks and heartworm.
  • Spay / neuter to keep the pet population in check.
  • Provide a safe and secure outdoor environment.
  • Use a collar with ID tags.
  • Have your cat microchipped in case they get lost.

How can I ensure my indoor cat gets enough exercise and mental stimulation?

Ensuring that your indoor cat gets enough exercise and mental stimulation is VERY important for their physical and mental well-being. 7 Tips to Keep Your Indoor Cat Active and Engaged:

  • Plenty of Toys: Interactive toys such as feather wands, puzzle feeders, and balls can provide mental stimulation and encourage exercise.
  • Vertical Spaces: Providing them with vertical spaces such as cat trees or shelves can help them exercise and feel more comfortable in their environment.
  • Toys Rotation: To prevent your cat from becoming bored with their toys, rotate them regularly and introduce new toys periodically.
  • Engage in Play: Regular playtime with your cat can help them get exercise and engage in natural behaviors such as stalking and pouncing.
  • Use a Scratching Post: Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and providing them with a designated scratching post can help keep them active and mentally stimulated.
  • Window Access: Cats love to watch birds and other wildlife outside, so providing them with access to a window or a perch near a window can provide mental stimulation.
  • A Second Companion: Cats are social animals and may benefit from having another feline – or even canine – companion to play and interact with.

How can I keep my outdoor cat safe from predators and traffic accidents?

7 Tips to Help Reduce Outdoor Risks:

  • Keep your cat indoors during peak predator hours – many predators such as coyotes and foxes are most active at dawn and dusk, so keeping your cat indoors during these times can help reduce the risk of attacks.
  • Provide a secure outdoor environment – if you have a yard, consider creating a secure outdoor space for your cat using fencing or netting. This can help keep them safe from predators and reduce the risk of them wandering into traffic.
  • Use reflective collars or tags – adding reflective collars or tags to your cat can help make them more visible to drivers, especially at night.
  • Spay or neuter your cat – intact cats are more likely to wander and be involved in traffic accidents or encounter predators.
  • Supervise your cat outside – supervising your cat while they are outside can help you monitor their behavior and intervene if necessary to keep them safe.
  • Provide a safe retreat – if your cat spends time outside, provide a safe retreat for them to escape to if they encounter a predator or feel threatened.
  • Consider microchipping – microchipping can help you locate them if they become lost or injured

Should I provide a litter box for my indoor-outdoor cat, even if they go outside to use the bathroom?

Providing a litter box for your indoor-outdoor cat is a good idea, even if they go outside to use the bathroom. Here are 5 reasons why:

  • Inclement Weather: Your cat may not want to go outside in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or extreme heat, and having a litter box available provides a convenient option for them.
  • Health Issues: If your cat has a health issue or is recovering from surgery, they may need to stay inside for an extended period of time, and having a litter box available will be necessary.
  • Indoor Access: Providing a litter box for your indoor-outdoor cat can ensure that they have access to a litter box even when they are inside.
  • Behavioral Issues: Some cats may develop behavioral issues such as anxiety or aggression that make it difficult for them to go outside to use the bathroom. In these cases, having a litter box available can be beneficial.
  • Multiple Cats: If you have multiple cats, having multiple litter boxes is recommended, even if some of them are indoor-outdoor cats. This will help prevent territorial issues and ensure that each cat has access to a litter box when they need it.

How do I transition my indoor cat to an outdoor cat, or vice versa?

Transitioning your cat from an indoor cat to an outdoor cat – and vice versa – should be done gradually and with careful consideration for your cat’s safety and well-being. Here are some tips for making the transition: Indoors-Only to Indoor-Outdoor:

  • Supervised Outdoor Time: Start with supervised outdoor time only. This can help your cat get used to the outdoors in a controlled environment.
  • Safe Outdoor Environment: Ensure that your outdoor space is secure and free from hazards such as predators, busy roads, or toxic plants.
  • Use a Leash or Harness: Consider using a leash or harness to keep them safe and under your control.

Indoor-Outdoor to Indoors-Only:

  • Provide Mental Stimulation: Provide plenty of mental stimulation through play, toys, and scratching posts.
  • Use Litter Boxes: Ensure that you provide litter boxes for them to use.
  • Monitor Behaviour: Monitor their behavior closely to ensure that they are adapting well to the change. If you notice any problems, adjust your approach accordingly.

Every cat is unique, and some cats may not be suited for an indoor or outdoor lifestyle. Always prioritize your cat’s safety and well-being when making any changes to their living environment.

VI.  Conclusion

Deciding whether to have an indoors-only or an indoor-outdoor cat is a personal decision that depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and the needs of your furry friend. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s essential to provide your cat with a safe, stimulating, and healthy environment that promotes their well-being. With the right care and attention, your feline companion can lead a happy and fulfilling life by your side.

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The Complete Dog Health Care Guide For Every Life Stage

By Pet Behaviour, Pet Health, Pet Parenting


News flash! Dogs are more than just pets; they are cherished members of our families that bring warmth, companionship and unconditional love. What more could one ask than that? And in return, it’s our steadfast responsibility as pet parents to ensure that they receive the best possible care throughout their lives.

Just like humans and our feline friends, dogs have different healthcare needs at every life stage. Providing them with appropriate health care routines can help ensure happy and healthy companions well into their senior years.

With respect to canines, not all life stages are created equal. It may sound arbitrary, but when dogs pass through different life stages depends entirely on their size and breed. Because of this, the America Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) does not apply specific hard and fast rules when defining canine life stages.

However, we’re going to explore four key stages of a dog’s life: puppy, adult, senior, and end-of-life care. Each stage comes with its own unique healthcare needs that pet owners should be aware of.


This is the phase that sets the stage for the future of your dogs’ emotional and physical wellbeing. Without these five pieces in place, your puppy’s lifelong prospects may be in jeopardy.

1.  Socialization and Training: this a vital facet of a puppy’s development, helping them grow into well-adjusted and well-behaved dogs. Puppies that receive appropriate socialization and training are less likely to develop behavioural problems, such as aggression, anxiety, and fear. Puppy socialization involves exposing them to a wide variety of people, places, sounds, and experiences to give them the confidence and comfort in different situations. Training involves teaching puppies basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” as well as house training and leash walking.

2.  Healthcare Exams: Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure your puppy’s health and to detect any health concerns early. Your puppy should receive a wellness exam every 3 to 4 weeks until they are around 16 weeks old. During these exams, our veterinarians and RVT’s will check the puppy’s weight, heart, lungs, and other vital signs, as well as assess their overall health status.

3.  Vaccinations: Puppies are extremely vulnerable to parasites and other diseases – they need to be shielded from diseases like rabies, parvovirus, and distemper. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at around 6-8 weeks of age and continuing until they are around 16 weeks old. It’s important to keep puppies away from other dogs until they have completed their vaccination series to prevent the spread of disease.

4.  Nutrition: This is vital for puppies as they are growing rapidly and require a balanced diet to support their physical development. Puppies should be fed a high-quality puppy food that provides the essential nutrients needed for growth and development. Please remember that it’s necessary to follow the feeding guidelines supplied by manufacturer and not overfeed, as extra weight can lead to long term health issues.

5.  Spaying and Neutering: According to the AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines, it’s recommended that small-breed dogs be neutered at 6 months or spayed prior to the first heat – 5 to 6 months of age. Large-breed dogs should be neutered after growth stops – usually between 9 and 15 months. The timing of spaying a large-breed female dog is based on many factors – our veterinarians can help define an optimal time within the AAHA-recommended window of 5 to15 months, based on your dog’s disease risk and lifestyle.


As canines enter the prime of their life, exercise and nutrition needs change. Their healthcare needs shift to include dental care, weight management, and prevention of heartworms and parasites. Regular check-ups and a balanced diet are also important elements in maintaining their health and preventing illnesses.

1.  Exercise: Keeping your dog physically fit and mentally stimulated should be at, or near the top, of every pet parent’s to-do list. The amount of exercise a dog needs depends on their breed, size, and overall health, but in general, your dog should get at least 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day. This can include activities like walking, jogging, playing fetch, or swimming.

2.  Nutrition: Proper nutrition for adult dogs is very important as it provides the necessary nutrients to maintain their health and prevent obesity. Feeding a high-quality dog food that is suitable for their breed, size, and activity level is essential. Follow the manufacturers guidelines on the food label (don’t overfeed!), as excess weight can lead to chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems.

3.  Dental Care: Regular teeth brushing, dental chews, and dental cleanings by our veterinarians can help prevent dental disease. This is a common health issue in adult dogs that can lead to other chronic health issues. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, tooth decay, and swollen gums.

4.  Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention: These are all possibly life-threatening, especially heartworm. Dogs should be on a regular flea, tick and heartworm parasite prevention program, which typically involves the administration of an all-in-one, chewable tablet on a monthly basis.

A comprehensive breakdown of each can be found at these links:

Meet the Enemy: Fleas
Ticks and Canine Lyme Disease
The Pet Parent Guide to Heartworm Disease

5.  Weight Management: Monitoring a dog’s weight and overall health is important for detecting health problems early. Pet obesity is a serious health concern and needs to be addressed before they become serious health problems. Annual exams with our vets can help ensure that your adult dog is on the right track to old age.

Unsure of the severity of symptoms? Try our PET HEALTH CHECKER



As dogs move into their senior years, their healthcare needs dramatically change – providing them with specialized senior care is required to maintain their health and quality of life. Regular veterinary exams are more critical than ever for senior dogs, as they are more susceptible to age-related health problems. Senior dogs should see our veterinarian at least twice a year for a wellness exam, which normally include blood work, urinalysis, and other diagnostic tests. This can help catch health problems early and provide prompt treatment.

1.  Diet: Older dogs require specialized senior diets that are tailored to their age, breed, and health status. These diets may include reduced calories to prevent obesity, increased protein for muscle maintenance, and supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. Feeding senior dogs a high-quality diet that meets their specific nutritional needs will help them age gracefully.

2.  Mobility and Joint Health: Arthritis, joint pain, and reduced mobility are common problems in senior dogs, but there are ways to help prevent or manage these conditions. Providing comfortable bedding, keeping dogs at a healthy weight, and using joint supplements or medications can help improve mobility and joint health.

3.  Dental Care: It becomes more important as your dog ages, as dental disease can be the precursor to other health problems. Regular teeth brushing, dental chews, and dental cleanings by our veterinarians can help prevent dental disease and keep senior dogs healthy.

4.  Other Age-Related Health Concerns: Senior dogs may incur vision and hearing loss, cognitive decline, and organ dysfunction. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify and manage these health problems.


What is end-of-life care for dogs and what can I do to make this transition easier?

End-of-life care in dogs refers to the support and care provided to dogs during the final stages of their life. This period can be emotionally challenging for pet parents, but it’s important to provide comfort and care to make the transition easier for your cherished canine companion.

7 Ways to Make the End-of-Life Transition Easier for Your Doggo:

  1. Provide Comfort: Make sure your dog is comfortable and has access to their favorite possessions, such as their bed, toys, and blankets.
  2. Manage Pain: If your dog has chronic pain, speak with our veterinarians about pain management options, such as medications or alternative therapies like acupuncture or physical therapy.
  3. Keep Them Clean: Bathing your dog and keeping them clean can help keep them comfortable and prevent skin problems.
  4. Adjustments in the Home: If your dog is having mobility issues, make changes to their environment to make it easier for them to from A to B. This may include providing ramps, non-slip flooring, and other mobility aids.
  5. Spending Time: Devote quality time with your dog, engage in activities that they enjoy, and let them know how much you love them.
  6. Consider Hospice Care: If your dog has a terminal illness, hospice care can provide support and comfort for both you and your dog during the end-of-life process.
  7. Consider Euthanasia: Nobody wants to think about this possibility, but if your dog’s quality of life is deteriorating – and they are in pain – euthanasia may the most humane option. Speak with our vets about the best time for this and options available for aftercare, such as cremation or burial.

The end-of-life process can be challenging, but providing comfort, managing pain, and spending quality time with your dog can make the transition easier for both you and your beloved furry family member.


Canine health care is essential at every life stage, from puppy to end-of-life care. As a responsible pet parent, it’s important to be aware of the unique healthcare needs of your dog at each stage of their life and to provide them with regular check-ups, vaccinations, and a balanced diet.

By taking a proactive approach to your dog’s health care, you can help prevent health problems, detect issues early, and provide prompt treatment if necessary. By giving your dog health care attention they require, you can help them achieve a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life as a beloved member of your family.

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The Complete Cat Health Care Guide for Every Life Stage

By Pet Behaviour, Pet Health, Pet Parenting


As cat lovers, we all know that they have their own distinctive personalities and quirks. But did you know that health needs change as your cat ages?

Cats are beloved furry feline family members, and as a pet parent, it’s important to understand their unique health needs at every stage of life. From kittenhood to senior years, felines face a range of health concerns that can impact their quality of life.


I.   Kittenhood (up to 1 year)
II.  Adolescence (1-2 years)
III. Adulthood (3-7 years)
IV.  Senior Years (7+ years)
V.   Conclusion

Whether you’re a new pet parent or just looking to level up your feline health care knowledge, we’ve got you covered! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be diving into vaccinations, parasite control, diet and nutrition, behavioral concerns, and more. We’ll also offer tips on how to keep your furry feline friend happy and healthy. So, let’s start our deep dive into feline care health at every life stage.


These stages generally reflect an accepted guideline of life stages from the veterinary profession. Keep in mind that age groupings tend to be subjective limits along a continuum.

According the AAHA the life stages are as follows:

Stage 1: Kitten (birth – 1 year)
Stage 2: Adolescent or Young Adult (1 – 6 years)
Stage 3: Mature Adult (7 – 10 years)
Stage 4: Senior (10+ years)

I.  Kittenhood: The Adorable, Can-Do-No-Wrong Stage

The key to promoting proper health care in kittens starts with vaccinations and parasite control, spaying/neutering at the appropriate time, and delivering a balanced and healthy diet. We recommend that you work with our veterinarians to create a health care plan that meets the unique needs of your kitten. This will build the best possible foundation for a happy, healthy life.


Due to their developing immune systems, kittens are particularly vulnerable to disease and parasites in the early stages of life. It’s critical to keep up with their vaccinations and parasite control. At about 8 weeks, kittens should receive their first core vaccination – the FVRCP vaccine – which includes protection against feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, and feline viral rhinotracheitis. Subsequent visits in the following 4 to 8 weeks will see FVRCP boosters and protection against rabies (by law) and leukemia.

Depending on the kitten’s lifestyle and exposure risk, additional non-core vaccinations may be recommended. In addition to vaccinations, parasite control is of vital importance. This includes regular treatment for fleas, ticks, and other external parasites, as well as preventative measures for internal parasites such as worms. Kittens are often infected (and re-infected) by intestinal parasites which can occur during nursing and through their immediate environment. De-worming treatments occur at 8, 12 and 16 weeks.


Spaying or neutering is an important aspect of cat health care, especially for kittens. Not only does spaying or neutering help reduce the population of unwanted cats, but it can also help prevent certain health problems later in life. Spaying a female cat before her first heat cycle (about 5 weeks) can reduce the risk of mammary cancer and eliminate the risk of uterine infections. Neutering a male cat at 5 weeks can prevent testicular cancer and reduce the risk of behavioral problems such as spraying and roaming.

The appropriate age for spaying or neutering can depend on the kitten’s size, breed, and overall health but is generally recommended at the five-week mark.


Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, and their diets should be specifically formulated to meet those needs. Proper nutrition is critical to the health and development of kittens, regardless of breed, and it directly influences their developing immune system and body composition. Growth rates for kittens vary by breed and involve a multifaceted process of interactions between nutrition, genetics and the environment.

Kitten diets – in general – should be high in protein, fat, and essential nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus to support growth and development. The nutrient density of food and the amount of food fed can mean the difference between optimal growth and maximal growth.

Our practice carries three premium brands that meet all the requirements to get your kitten off to the right start.

Hill’s Science Diet
Royal Canin

II.  Feline Adolescence: The Cheeky, Young Adult Stage

At this stage, it’s time to consider dental care and regular dental checkups for your cat, as it is an important component of cat wellness. During this adolescent stage, you may have to address behavioral concerns – such as spraying and scratching – and provide appropriate exercise and play.


Just like humans, cats require regular dental care to help maintain their overall health and preventative measures to fend off any future problems. Dental disease is a common in cats, and if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems such as tooth decay and loss, infections, and other systemic illnesses.

During a dental cleaning, our veterinarians will clean your cat’s teeth and gums, check for signs of dental disease, and perform any necessary extractions or other treatments. Regular dental checkups are also an opportunity to discuss your cat’s overall health and any concerns you may have.


This is an important time of growth and change for teenage felines, and with it behavioral challenges. Common developmental concerns during this stage include spraying, scratching, and destructive behaviour. These behaviors are often related to stress or changes in a cat’s environment. They can usually be addressed with appropriate behavior modification techniques and environmental changes. Sure sounds like their human counterparts!

Our veterinarians can help you identify the root cause of these adverse behaviors and develop an action plan to address them. In some cases, medications may be required to help manage behavior problems during this stage.


Cats are innately curious and playful animals and need regular exercise and play to maintain their physical and mental health. From an internal medicine perspective, exercise can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of certain health problems, such as feline urinary tract disease.

Play also helps satisfy your cat’s natural hunting instincts and provides mental stimulation – important where destructive behaviours are concerned. Interactive toys, cat trees, and even simple things such as chasing a laser pointer can satisfy these innate desires. Quite simply, find an activity(s) that your cat enjoys and ensure they get regular exposure.

III.  Adulthood in Cats: The Living Large Stage

Now is the time for routine wellness exams and lab work – at least once a year. These two essential pieces will ensure that your adult cat is living their best life in the prime of their life. Yearly exams can help detect potential health problems early, while lab work can provide important information about your cat’s overall health. Common health concerns in mature cats include dental issues, obesity, and arthritis. If not preventable, these issues can be managed with a balanced diet and regular exercise.


We highly recommend that your beloved feline receive a yearly wellness exams and standard lab work. During a routine exam, our veterinarians will perform a physical examination, check your cat’s weight and overall body condition, and discuss any changes in behavior or health that you may have noticed.

Regular exams and lab work can also help your veterinarian establish a baseline for your cat’s health, making it easier to identify changes over time. Lab work may also be performed to check your cat’s organ function, blood cell count, and other important health indicators. Examinations and lab work provide important information about your cat’s health and aids early detection of potential health issues when they are most treatable.


  • Dental Issues

Dental problems are common in adult cats, and they can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated. Regular dental cleanings and checkups can help prevent these problems and maintain your cat’s dental health.

  • Obesity

Obesity is a constant risk in adult cats, which can lead to a range of health problems, including joint issues, heart disease, and diabetes. To prevent obesity, pet parents need to monitor their cat’s weight and provide a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Add in some regular play time and exercise and you are well on your way to helping your cat maintain a healthy weight.

  • Arthritis

Arthritis is a common health concern in mature cats. Anyone with arthritic joints will tell you that it can cause constant pain and discomfort. It’s the same for your cherished feline friend. Symptoms of arthritis in cats include difficulty jumping, stiffness, and reduced activity levels.

If you think your cat may be experiencing these arthritic symptoms, our veterinarians can perform a physical examination and recommend appropriate treatment options.


To sustain optimal health, adult cats need a balanced diet that provides the nutrients they need to thrive. If you’re unsure about the proper balance for your cat’s specific situation, our veterinarians can help you determine the right diet based on their age, health status, and any other underlying conditions.

It bears repeating that regular exercise and play is very important for your adult cat’s health care. Playtime, scratching posts and interactive toys can help satisfy your cat’s natural instincts and fend off any impending physical or mental decline.

IV.  Senior Felines: The Golden Years

We realize we’re starting to sound like a broken record, but…regular checkups and lab work are critical components for extending the life of your senior cat. Common health problems for senior cats include kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer. These can be prevented or managed with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

When you work with our veterinarians, we’ll help you develop a senior cat health care plan that meets the unique needs of your aging cat and recommend any adjustments to accommodate their changing needs.


Early detection is the main takeaway here. As cats get older, it’s clear that they become more susceptible to a broader range of health problems. Annual – or more frequent – checkups and lab work are indispensable pieces of senior cat health care and should not be dismissed.

During an annual exam, our veterinarians will perform a physical exam, note your cat’s weight and overall body condition, and discuss any changes in behavior or health that you may have observed. We highly recommend blood screening and urine testing at this stage – it helps detect a variety of other potential health concerns.


  • Kidney Disease: Renal failure is a genuine – and common – concern for senior cats. Kidneys help manage blood pressure, produce hormones, stimulate the production of more red blood cells, and remove waste from the blood. Symptoms of kidney disease in cats include increased thirst, decreased appetite, and weight loss. With a carefully managed diet. plenty of clean fresh water, a calm environment, you can help your cat live their best life in their remaining days.
  • Diabetes: Often tied to obesity, diabetes is a growing problem in senior cats leading to a range of health problems, including vision loss and nerve damage. Symptoms of diabetes in cats include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, and weight loss.
  • The Big “C”: Cancer in senior cats can take many forms, including skin cancer, liver cancer, and lymphoma. Symptoms of cancer vary depending on the type of cancer and its location, but they may include loss of appetite, weight loss, and changes in behavior.

If any of these symptoms emerge, book an appointment with us immediately. With early detection and treatment, dealing with these three common health concerns can help reduce their severity and extend the life of you beloved feline.

If treatments prove to significantly impede or lessen your cat’s quality of life, then there’s a very difficult decision to be made. We can help with an end-of-life plan for your senior cat to make their remaining days as comfortable as possible.


  • Diet

To maintain optimal health, senior cats need a balanced diet that provides the nutrients they need to thrive. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right diet for your senior cat based on their current health status and any other underlying conditions.

  • Exercise

As with all previous three life stages, regular exercise is so important for senior cat wellness, as it helps maintain mobility and flexibility. This is especially important if you have an indoor-only or solo cat who doesn’t get any natural/outdoor stimulation.

Exercise helps your cat maintain a healthy weight by motivating them to pounce, jump, and claw at something they perceive as prey, while also providing hours of stimulation. As such, cat toys are designed with a feline’s primal instincts in mind. Anything that can help satisfy your cat’s natural instincts and offer exercise – such as toys, scratching posts and lasers – will help extend -and enrich – your cat’s life.

  • Environmental Adjustments

As cats age, they will experience changes in their agility, vision, and hearing. To accommodate these changes, you may need to make modifications in your home. Providing accessible places for your senior cat to rest and sleep (no stairs!) tend to be the easiest adjustments to improve your cat’s quality of life.

V.  Conclusion

Attending to your cat’s health at every life stage is essential for ensuring a long and contented life for your furry feline friend. From kittenhood to senior status, there are many preventative care options that support your cat’s health and wellness, including the upkeep of required vaccinations, parasite control, spaying/neutering, dental care, and annual wellness exams. Wellness exams that also include blood and urine analysis can help detect potential health issues early on, while a balanced diet and proper exercise can help maintain optimal health throughout your cat’s lifespan.

Unsure of the severity of symptoms? Try our PET HEALTH CHECKER


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Hot Spots in Dogs: What Every Pet Parent Needs To Know

By Pet Behaviour, Pet Health, Pet Parenting

I. Introduction

HOT SPOTS – also known as acute moist dermatitis – are a common skin problem in dogs that can affect all breeds and at every life stage. These raw and unpleasant sores can appear unexpectedly and spread rapidly, if left untreated. As a pet parent, it’s important to understand what hot spots are, what causes them, and how to prevent and treat them.

In this post, we’ll provide a complete overview of hot spots in dogs, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available. We’ll also offer advice on how to prevent hot spots from occurring in the first place. By the end of this post, we hope that you will have a stronger grasp of how to care for your furry family member and help keep them happy and healthy over their lifetime.

II. What Causes Hot Spots in Dogs?

Acute moist dermatitis or hot spots are a common skin disorder in dogs. Hot spots can appear suddenly and become large red, irritated lesions in a short period of time.

Hot spots are self-inflicted often triggered by chewing, scratching, and/or licking the affected area. The resulting distress to the skin causes irritation, swelling and secondary bacterial infections. Constant licking (or over-grooming) keeps the area moist, making it an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish. A dog’s coat can also become matted over the skin, trapping in moisture and further promoting infection.

This compounds the self-harm by making the skin even itchier, which causes the cycle to continue unabated. Any circumstance that causes your dog to feel inflamed has the potential to result in a hot spot.

The most common underlying health issues that lead to hot spots include:

  • Allergies (flea allergy, food allergy, or seasonal allergies)
  • External Parasites: Reactions to insect bites from small pests such as mites, bees, mosquitos or fleas – especially fleas!
  • Behavioural Issues: Stress, anxiety, fear or OCD can cause excessive licking and scratching.
  • Ear Infections. Disruption in the ear can be debilitating enough that your dog scratches at that location, creating hot spots behind the ear, on the neck or even on the ear flap.
  • Dogs develop bad habits just like their human counterparts. You might chew your fingernails, but your dog may lick easily reachable areas out of sheer boredom.
  • Canine Atopic Dermatitis.
  • Anal Sac Disease/Gland Inflammation: Unsurprisingly, infected (aka. impacted) anal glands are truly irritating – and painful. Dogs will lick the area around their rectum (if reachable!) causing hot spots, either below or on top of the tail.
  • Poor Grooming: Unkempt coats can cause dogs to chew at matted hair, creating open lesions. Also, matted fur prevents air from reaching the skin. If a dog with matted hair retains water after swimming or after a bath, the skin may maintain moisture – this is almost always bad, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to proliferate and a hot spot to emerge.
  • Orthopedic Concerns: Dogs – usually mature – with arthritis or back problems tend to lie down much of the time, creating irritations over pressure points – we know them as bed sores in the human world. Dogs instinctively lick or scratch these points, causing a hot spot.
  • Injuries: Damage to skin, joints, bone, or soft tissue can cause dogs to engage in itching or scratching behaviours.

Other Causes

Due to their thicker coats, some breeds – Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers come to mind – are susceptible to developing hot spots. Dogs that are often wet either from swimming, bathing, or rainy weather are more vulnerable to emerging hot spots due to the additional moisture held against the skin by their thicker coats.

Seasonality also contributes to hot spots. They are much more likely to occur during warm weather and periods of high humidity.

III. Symptoms of Hot Spots

Hot spots can occur anywhere – and anytime – but are most commonly seen on the head, legs, and hips.

The affected area is generally moist and may discharge fluid (pus…ew!) due to a bacterial or fungal infection, which can lead to matting of the neighbouring hair. Hot spots will grow in size as scratching continues to injure the area.

6 Common Symptoms of Hot Spots include:

  • Red, swollen, and inflamed skin
  • Hair loss surrounding the affected area
  • Excessive licking or biting
  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Hot to the touch
  • Oozing or crusting of infected fluids

Because different types of skin conditions can have similar symptoms, it is important discuss the condition with one of our veterinarians to determine the underlying cause.

Unsure of the severity of symptoms? Try our PET HEALTH CHECKER


IV. Prevention and Treatment of Hot Spots

Although it is difficult to completely prevent hot spots, the following tips can help significantly reduce the risk of recurrent skin problems in dogs.

3 Pro Tips to Help Prevent Hot Spots in Dogs:

  1. Keeping your dog’s skin healthy is the first step towards keeping hot spots at bay. Make sure flea and tick treatments are kept current and continue to manage any allergies they may have. Excellent parasite prevention, treatment of skin infections, and management of allergies are crucial to stop scratching and preventing trauma to the skin.
  2. Good hygiene and routine grooming play an important prevention function when it comes to dog hot spots. For dogs that swim or bathe frequently, it is also important to ensure their coats are thoroughly dried after these events. Trimming long coats – especially in hot and humid weather – will stop moisture from getting trapped close to the skin and discourage bacteria from breeding.
  3. If your dog has developed a bad itching habit because of boredom or anxiety, there are a few simple things pet parents can do to combat this issue. Increasing daily exercise, providing more toys and engaging in active play time can help alleviate this problem. Of course, there may be more serious underlying issues, but this is a great starting point.

Although it’s nearly impossible to eliminate the possibility of canine hot spots, some easy upfront planning can reduce the risk.

How are hot spots treated?

Once you’ve identified a hot spot on your dog’s skin, we recommend that you book an appointment with one of our veterinarians. By getting veterinary care as soon as possible, you can prevent further infection and any permanent damage.

Depending on the severity, our veterinarians may use the following treatments:

  • Flea and tick preventives.
  • Topical ointments – sprays or creams to relieve itching and cleanse the affected area.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. (oral or injected)
  • Oral Antipruritic or abirritants. (anti-itch medications)
  • An Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent further damage to the affected area.

Upon arrival for your appointment, our veterinary team will conduct the following:

  • Hair from the affected area is shaved with clippers to allow easier access to the wound.
  • The area is cleansed with sterile saline and a mild antiseptic; the wound is patted dry and left uncovered to air dry.
  • Prescribed medications, such as topical sprays may be applied to help the hot spot mend. Our vets might recommend antibiotics to help fight the infection or steroids for combating inflammation, depending on the severity.
  • An E-collar (“the cone of shame”) is standard protocol to prevent the dog from further harming the site while in recovery.
  • Provide a home care regimen and arrange a follow-up appointment, if necessary.

The majority of hot spots will start to heal within a week after the beginning the treatment. We highly recommend that you follow our veterinarian’s advice regarding care at home and follow-up.

And, most importantly, contact us if the wound is not healing or your dog continues to shows signs of infection.

V. Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog suddenly getting hot spots?

There are many possible explanations. However, the simplest ones tend to be due to allergic reactions (food, seasonal or flea) and skin infections.

When should I take my dog to the vet for a hot spot?

It’s best to contact our vet clinic immediately if you notice a hot spot on your dog. Without treatment, they can get much worse leading to a more progressive and damaging infection. While there are OTC medications for these types of lesions, they generally can’t address any secondary bacterial infections that are common with hot spots.

Are hot spots likely to reappear?

The short answer is yes. Dogs susceptible to hot spots are likely to experience recurrences. If your dog suffers from chronic hot spots, they should receive testing for hypothyroidism, skin and food allergies, joint problems, or behavioral issues. In general, flea and tick control, as well as proper bathing and grooming are your best defense against future hot spots.

Can you use home remedies to treat dog hot spots?

If you aren’t able to get to the vet right away, there are a few things you can do at home to help heal hot spots. Assuming the spot isn’t already infected, you can administer the following pre-appointment care at home:

  1. Trim the area around the hot spot with clippers, not scissors. This allows the affected area to get some air and prevent excess moisture from slowing down the healing process.
  2. Gently wash the area with water and apply a cool compress to help reduce inflammation down*.
  3. If you have access to an e-collar, put it on to prevent your dog from licking or biting the hot spots.
  4. Monitor the area for improvement, such as decreased redness and reduction in lesion size.

* OTC medications such as hydrocortisone, Vaseline and Neosporin, are NOT recommended. These topicals tend to cause dogs to lick the area even more causing additional injury.

VI. Conclusion

Acute moist dermatitis – also known as a hot spot – is a common and very treatable dog skin problem that affects canines of all ages and breeds. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, pet parents can easily take the proper precautions to prevent and manage any emerging hot spots. Also, with any persistent dog skin issue we encourage you to speak with one of our veterinarians to rule out any underlying health issues.

Good hygiene and regular grooming can help prevent hot spots, and early detection and treatment can help prevent them from escalating into a more serious medical condition. With the information contained in this guide, you can ensure that your canine furry family member stays happy, healthy – and feel comfortable – in their own skin.

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Feline Redheads: What Makes Ginger Cats So Unique?

By Pet Behaviour, Pet Health, Pet Parenting

Introduction: Gimme Some Ginger Cat Love!

Ginger cats are hard to miss. Also called red, orange, orange tabby, marmalade, tiger-cat and cinnamon, this distinctive feline can certainly strike a charismatic pose.

From 9Lives Morris to Garfield to Puss in Boots, ginger cats are some of the most celebrated felines in television and film. However, there’s more to them that meets the eye. Gingers possess personalities that are as strong-willed and sincere as their stunning coat coloring.

As pop culture phenoms, we’ve taken this opportunity to discover as much as possible about them, leading us to two important – and, dare we say – provocative questions.

What makes ginger cats so special? Are ginger cats the best cats?

What Breed of Feline are Ginger Cats?

Ginger cats are not a specific breed, but rather refers to the colour of their fur. In fact, all ginger cats are tabbies. But not all tabbies are gingers. Tabbies are also not a specific breed, but a coat type. Confused yet?

Just like tabbies, ginger cats can be found in various distinct breeds, from Bengals, Savannahs, Maine Coon and Persians, all the way to your standard Domestic Shorthair (aka. mutts of the cat world).

All ginger cats – and tabbies – have the ‘agouti’ gene, meaning that this gene determines the coloration, length, pattern and texture of a cat’s fur, typically resulting in stripes, swirls or tiger-like markings. Another distinguishing feature in tabby/ginger cats is a unique ‘M’ pattern on their forehead.

What Makes Ginger Cats So Unique? | 6 Fun Facts


Do ginger cats have a ‘fiery’ disposition? Many believe that because of their red/orange coats, they tend to have a spirited, feisty nature. Fortunately, this stereotype isn’t true – vibrant coat colours tell us little, if anything, about a cat’s temperament. As mentioned earlier, Felines are more likely to take their behavioural traits from their breed, parents and/or life experiences, rather than the colour of their fur.

“Velcro” cats?

Gingers are generally known for their super-chill and loving purr-sonalities – yep, you read that right – and are often described as ‘velcro’ cats. You know, because they like to closely attach themselves to humans…the Bengal and Siamese breeds are good examples. This could be a good thing, but if they’re being too clingy, there could be an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Gingers can be quite demonstrative, nudging their body against their favourite human and making their belly available for a solid scratch session.


From pet parent surveys to veterinarians, the results are in: ginger cats – by a large margin – are the most prolific communicators in the domestic feline world. Although we don’t always know what they want, anyone who has spent any significant time with gingers describe them as very chatty.

While other cats may express themselves only when they need to be fed, are annoyed or want to go outside, ginger cats appear to use their voice for their own pleasure! This makes for a great companion. Their expressive – and frequent – vocal stylings include an assortment of sounds like chirping, meowing, trilling and purring.


Cats develop freckles, just like their human counterparts but for a different reason. In ginger cats, black freckles are a feature, not a bug. Around two years of age, orange cats develop their trademark freckles on their noses and mouths.

Freckles are usually caused by lentigo, a generally non-threatening genetic condition that increases the number of pigment-producing cells containing melanin in a cat’s body. This increase in melanin produces the darker shade of the freckles. Since lentigo is associated with the gene that makes hair red, freckles are most commonly seen in ginger cats, calicos, and tortoiseshells with orange colour patterns.


If you look closely enough, you’ll see that ginger cats display a very distinguishing feature – a large ‘M’ on their forehead.

How that ‘M’ came to be has become the of stuff of myth and legend, with assertions that its origin was attributed to the Virgin Mary in early Christianity, the ancient Egyptian tradition of “Mau” and to the creator of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad.

However, there is a much simpler, scientific reason that ginger cats express this feature: it’s part of their DNA. The ‘M’ marking is embedded in the same ‘agouti’ gene that gives them their tabby pattern. All ginger cats show the tabby pattern, and the tabby pattern itself is the result of three types of genes that can be found in all felines, including domestic cats, tigers and leopards.

The goal? To help camouflage them from prey when hunting.

As for their coat colour, a ‘ginger’ gene is responsible for producing a red pigment, called pheomelanin. This is the same pigment that also causes red hair in humans.

There are 5 different variations of tabby cat markings in ginger cats:

  • Classic: Covered in a swirling pattern of varying shades of red/orange/brown, the classic tabby is one of the most recognizable ginger cats. These gingers have a pattern that looks like a bullseye on the sides of their bodies, much like a marble cake.
  • Mackerel: this is the most common coat pattern – it produces stripes, not unlike you would find in their larger tiger brethren. These stripes branch out from a band of red color that runs along the cats back, giving it the appearance of a fish skeleton – hence the name ‘mackerel’.
  • Spotted: While most ginger colourations are comprised of stripes, the spotted tabby is covered in spots of varying size, colour and shape on their coat. Bengal cat breeds typically exhibit this coat pattern.
  • Ticked: From a distance, these cats can appear to have a single, uniform colour – ginger. Ticked orange tabbies are unique in that they don’t normally show discernible stripes or spots on their bodies, with the exception of faint markings on the tail and legs. Instead, their underlying fur is comprised of agouti hairs which can exhibit bands of pigmentation.
  • Patched: The patched tabby is also known as the bi-color tabby. These colour ‘patches’ can be dark or grayish brown with variations of red or orange within the tabby pattern. They are often referred to as Tortoiseshell tabbies because the brown and orange spots mimic those seen on the shell of a tortoise.


Are certain physical characteristics of cats – such as coat colour – associated with specific behaviors? A 2016 study came up with some interesting findings.

Although they determined that most behaviours seemed to follow breed standards rather than coat types, they did see some associations separate from breeds. Their results suggested that cats with the ‘agouti’ gene display increased aggression and interest in prey.

What does this mean? Your orange feline friend may feel the urge to stalk and hunt more than other breeds. Good news for those who need to keep the mice at bay!


Nearly 80% of ginger cats are male.

That’s a big difference. Why?

We won’t get too deep into the intricacies of feline genetics, however the ‘ginger’ gene which produces the red/orange colouring is on the X chromosome. A female cat has two X chromosomes and needs to inherit two copies of this gene from each parent to become a ginger. Since females inherit two X chromosomes, it is possible for them to inherit more than one dominant color gene, forming the coat patterns known as calico and tortoiseshell. Interestingly, more than 99% of tortoiseshell cats are female.

A male feline only requires a single copy of the X chromosome from the mother. This is why there are approximately three to four times more male ginger cats than female gingers.

Famous Ginger Cats Portrayed in TV, Movies and Comic Strips

There have been many high-profile and iconic ginger cat characters portrayed in television, film and print over the years. This has probably helped shape the deep attachment and love many have towards ginger cats, complementing their super chill nature.


1. Garfield: First appearing in 1978, Garfield is a lasagna-loving, comic strip character created by Jim Davis. This famous ginger – belonging to fictional pet parent Jon Arbuckle – spends his days terrorizing the family dog, Odie. This cartoon is the most widely syndicated comic strip in history and spawned two movies, with a 3rd in the works.

2.  Jones (aka. Jonesy): This ginger tomcat was a resident aboard the interstellar cruiser USCSS Nostromo in the classic 1979 sci-fi/horror film, “Alien”. SPOILER ALERT: Jonesy was the only survivor with Ripley in the original Alien movie.

3. Puss in Boots: Seen first in the movie “Shrek 2”, Puss in Boots quickly became a central character in the Shrek franchise, even spawning his own movie.

Weird Trivia: When Puss in Boots first meets Shrek (1:00), he gets into Shrek’s clothes and bursts through his shirt, perhaps referencing the iconic, chest-bursting scene in the sci-fi/horror film Alien.

4. Crookshanks from ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”: Hermione adopted this ginger Himalayan from the Magical Menagerie. Half-Kneazle and highly independent, Crookshanks had the mystical ability to identify untrustworthy people.

5. Orangey Minerva (‘Cat’) from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: Film-goers and Audrey Hepburn fans were none too pleased when Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly failed to give her ginger cat – “poor slob without a name” – a proper title, as well as deserting him in an alley (1:47) ! Don’t worry, it has a heart-warming ending. (5:03)

Tissue Alert!

6. Bob the Cat: The film – A Street Cat Named Bob – is a biographical true story of a ginger cat (0:41) who helped former heroin addict James Bowen survive on the streets as he attempts to attain a better life. It was named the Best British film of 2017.

Another tissue, please…sniff

7. Morris: The spokes-cat for the 9 Lives cat food brand went from being a shelter cat to a cultural icon in the 70s and 80s. “I’d walk the plank for 9 Lives”!


Are ginger cats the best cats? Those who agree are passionate about their orange tabbies and, if necessary, will fight you. They offer many desirable traits that can even turn non-cat people into cat lovers.

We won’t wander into this debate. Suffice it to say, all cat breeds hold a special place in our hearts and your current kitty companion will always be your favourite.

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Why is My Cat Sneezing?

By Pet Health, Pet Parenting

Why Cats Sneeze: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Cute? Definitely. It’s not hard to find cat sneezes entertaining, even adorable. However, when is it a cause for concern?

Yes, our feline friends can catch a cold and experience the same upper respiratory (URI’s) and sinus infections that humans can. However, there are other conditions that can also lead to those cute little sneezes.

Should I worry about my cat sneezing?

The act of sneezing is an involuntary, bodily reflex in response to irritants in the upper nasal passage. It helps to clear out irritants from the respiratory tract by blowing out air from the lungs through the nose and mouth. This function is prevalent throughout the animal kingdom, including your family dog, pet chickens and even elephants.

Cabbagetown Pet Clinic PSA: if you’re within 6 feet (2m) of an elephant about to sneeze, vacate the area immediately.

What Causes a Cat To Sneeze?

Our feline friends sneeze for the same reasons humans do: usually an itch in the nose, prompted by suspended particles in the air such as dust, smoke or even their own cat fur.

Sneezing is a normal, biological function when it occurs infrequently. It’s even normal for a cat to throw an occasional sneezing fit. However, it’s uncommon for a cat to sneeze several times a day for many days in a row. If sneezing persists – or if other symptoms develop along with sneezing – you may need to check with our veterinarians to see if treatment is required.

However, there can be more serious reasons why your cat is sneezing.


     1.  External Irritation

When we think of external irritants, it’s noxious smells (such as chemicals) and exposure to toxins (rat poison) that come readily to mind. However, supposedly non-threatening household products can also trigger sneezing.

For example:

  • cooking spices – pepper and cinnamon are two common sources – may irritate a cat’s sensitive nose, especially if she’s curious about what’s happening in the kitchen.
  • household cleaning products, including those with bleach, vinegar or other chemicals.
  • Essential oils: while they may enhance your mood and living experience, it could cause distress with your feline friend – your cat’s acute sense of smell may induce a sneezing fit.

     2. Foreign Material

Curious cats get all sorts of foreign material lodged in their noses.

  • Objects like lint, grass or a hair.
  • Airborne bodies such as pollen, or other allergens.
  • Dust and other airborne particles such as smoke.

As in humans, when these particles are inhaled by a cat, the animal’s reaction is to sneeze to expel the foreign debris. If sneezing doesn’t expel the lodged material, make arrangements for an appointment at our veterinary clinic immediately.

     3. Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)

If your cat is sneezing more than normal, it’s more than likely that your feline friend has an upper respiratory infection or URI. The most widespread respiratory infection is Feline Herpesvirus or FHV. It’s estimated that as many as 80-90% of all cats are infected with FHV.

Most cats have been exposed to upper respiratory viruses as kittens, and are chronic carriers of the virus. When cats get stressed or immunosuppressed, the dormant virus has the ability to re-emerge. In sneezing cats, viral URIs are usually – as a general rule – the underlying issue.

Although there is emerging research to suggest that existing medications could improve results for cats infected with herpesvirus, there is currently no cure, and infections are lifelong.

Other viral infections that can contribute to sneezing cats include Calicivirus (which the FVRCP combo vaccine provides protection against) and influenza.

Common symptoms of upper respiratory infection (URI) in cats include:

  • Repeated sneezing over several hours or days
  • An appearance of irregular discharge (yellow, green or bloody) from the nose or eyes
  • Recurrent coughing or swallowing
  • Lethargy and/or fever
  • Dehydration and/or decreased appetite; weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

     4. Dental Disease

As the Pet Health Network notes, “dental disease can cause sneezing particularly involving root infections. Infections of the feline tooth can allow bacteria to establish in the nasal sinus with resulting inflammation and sneezing.”

Many pet parents are surprised to discover that dental disease can contribute to cat sneezing. Like most cases, sneezing is a symptom of a larger issue. The root canals of the teeth on the upper jaw are located right next to the nasal passages. When a tooth (or teeth) become infected, or when severe inflammation occurs, the wall between the tooth hole and the nasal passage can be breached. If left untreated, bacteria can travel to other parts of the body.

This condition is generally painful and serious. If you suspect that your cat has dental issues, a veterinary visit is strongly recommended.

     5.  Bacterial Infections

When you observe a yellow or green discharge originating from your cat’s nose or eyes – accompanied by excessive sneezing – it’s a sure sign of a bacterial infection.

In cats, bacterial infections rarely act alone; they almost always play a secondary role after a respiratory virus or other medical condition causes damage to the nasal passages. Always opportunists, bacteria use the occasion to take advantage of the weakened barriers that usually protect cats from such attacks.

     6. Neoplasia

As with most sneezing symptoms, neoplasia (tumors) is always on the list of possible reasons, in older cats especially. Aberrant (cancer) cells can grow inside the nasal passage, creating irritation and inflammation that causes the cat to sneeze. These tumors are typically detected visually via rhinoscopy or a nasal biopsy. When present, the diagnosis, regrettably, usually results in very poor outcomes.

     7.  Fungal Infections

Although relatively rare compared to viral or bacterial infections, fungal infections are a known cause of sneezing in cats. A fungus – known as Cryptococcus – is the most common offender.

By itself, a physical exam will not be adequate to distinguish a fungal infection from other causes of cat sneezing – rhinoscopy or a biopsy is typically needed to reach a definitive diagnosis.

My cat is sneezing more than usual. What should I do?

STEP 1:  Study your cat’s environment and consider potential causes. Looking for patterns can help determine if your cat is sneezing due to an irritant, such as dust or perfume, or if it’s caused by an infection or other underlying condition.

  • Does sneezing occur around the same time each day?
  • Does it only happen in a specific room or during household activities?
  • Have you introduced new cat litter? Dusty and/or scented litter may cause your cats to sneeze.
  • Are you using new products in your home? Cats can be sensitive to the smell of cleaners, candles, scented oils and perfumes.
  • Does your home need thorough cleaning? Dust or pollen are usually suspects.

STEP 2:  If you do suspect your cat has an upper respiratory infection, here are some immediate steps you can take to provide some relief before you confirm a vet appointment.

  • Remove any discharge from your cat’s nose and face with warm, moistened cotton or clean cloth.
  • Attempt to get your cat to eat: warming up canned/wet food for easier digestion.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water.
  • Keep a humidifier humming to help keep your cat’s nasal passages moist.

STEP 3:  If you have taken all the steps to rule out environmental causes and your cat’s sneezing still persists, it’s time to schedule a veterinary appointment.

When is it Time to See My Veterinarian?

If your cat sneezes once in a while, and has no other symptoms (or has only mild symptoms) you may want to simply monitor them for a few days. There’s probably nothing to be concerned about at this point. As a precaution, keep your cat indoors and watch for changes.

However, these signs – accompanied with excessive sneezing – are more serious and require an immediate vet visit:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nasal discharge
  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Persistence of symptoms beyond a few days

Unsure of the severity of symptoms? Try our PET HEALTH CHECKER


Treatment of Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

Treatment for an excessively sneezing feline is typically targeted towards an underlying cause – the culprit that usually emerges is an upper respiratory infection.

While a wide variety of treatments are available, owners should be aware that the goal in most cases – especially chronic ones – is to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, not to cure them.

The severity of the upper respiratory infection will determine the treatment response. In cases with mild symptoms, URIs may resolve on their own after a couple of weeks or be aided by simpler treatment solutions.

Treatments for mild cases:

  • Humidifiers or vaporizers
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • NSAIDs
  • Antinausea medications
  • Eye and/or nose drops

For more progressive cases, treatments options may include:

  • Antiviral medications or antibiotics: Although bacterial infections are rarely the primary issue, antibiotics are often used to make your kitty feel better faster.
  • Nasal Lavage: Flushing the nasal passages is done under general anesthesia can temporarily ease symptoms, regardless of the cause. It can also dislodge hidden foreign material.
  • Steroids
  • Subcutaneous fluids (to alleviate dehydration)
  • Surgery (in extreme cases)

Advanced cases may require hospitalization to administer more intensive treatments, such as IV fluids and nutritional support. Upper respiratory infections – if left untreated – can lead to other serious complications such as pneumonia ands chronic breathing issues.


When your cat sneezes, it’s usually because of some simple, benign cause: a floating particle (ie. dust, pollen) that gets inhaled through the nose. This irritates the nasal passage causing in an involuntary bodily function present in all mammals – a sneeze.

However, if your beloved kitty companion is persistently sneezing and has nasal discharges, it’s time to see one of our fearless and compassionate veterinarians. We’re here to help.

Felines with upper respiratory infections are not uncommon in most vet practices. Fortunately, the majority of infections respond well to treatment and your cat will continue to lead a fulfilling life of sleeping, insisting to be fed and ignoring you.

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Discover the CPC WebStore

By Pet Health, Pet Parenting

The CPC WebStore: Save Time and Money.

Life gets busy.

Imagine running out of prescription pet food for your beloved pet. It’s the Friday before a long weekend and stocking up on food and treats has completely passed your mind. Or you’re unable to pick up food at the clinic in person. Or you finally remember at the last minute, only to find out your clinic is temporarily sold out. You may think this is rare, but when it does occur it can cause quite a lot of undue stress.

The solution?

Ordering your pet’s needs through our WebStore. It saves you time AND money.

Cabbagetown Pet Clinic gives you the option to order therapeutic food, treats, toys and prescription refills online, 24/7. Our WebStore provides our clients the simplicity of online shopping for therapeutic pet foods requiring a veterinary prescription. And a convenient automatic re-fill option ensures pet owners don’t run out of the prescription food or medications their pets need, resulting in better pet health and welfare.

What are the advantages of our WebStore?

Our WebStore offers you the convenience of shopping for your pet’s products whenever you have the time. It can sometimes be inconvenient to come to our clinic to buy food, treats or your pet’s favourite toys – the WebStore provides you with 24/7 service.

  • Access to exclusive sales, promotions and rebates.
  • Order anytime at your convenience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Delivery to your doorstep. Products can be shipped directly to the address of your choosing: your home, cottage, neighbour or office with the exception of PO boxes.
  • AutoOrder: Automatic Home Delivery. Have your pet products automatically delivered to your address. Select shipping frequency, delay your shipment or cancel at any time. Never run out of food again!
  • Free Clinic Pick-up. When you order online, you can also choose to pick-up your order at our clinic, it’s always FREE!
  • Huge Selection. Shop a full catalogue of products for your pet such as prescription food, toys, treats and shampoo…all at competitive prices.
  • Free Shipping on orders over $150.00.
  • Prescription Refills available upon veterinarian approval.

The Best Feature on WebStore? AutoOrder

Beyond the convenience of ordering online, the most powerful feature of our WebStore is the ability for our clients to sign up for AutoOrder. It’s essentially a subscription service that will automatically send product automatically – typically prescription food – at an interval of your choosing. It could be one week, two weeks or more, depending on your pets eating habits and product size.

Once enrolled, you’ll automatically be shipped a bag (or case) of your pet’s prescription food before the current bag is empty. This ensures that you’ll never be out of pet food on a long weekend or when the veterinary hospital is closed.

In addition to being a huge time saver, signing up for AutoOrder will also save you money! Familiar prescription diets like Hills, Royal Canin and Purina offer various discounts and incentives on their food, if placed by AutoOrder.

How do I Register?

Registration is easy! There are 2 ways to register:

  1. Sign up on the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic website.
  2. Have our staff members register you. Gives us a call – this can be done over the phone in minutes.

Once registered, you’ll receive an email automatically, giving you a secure password – this can be changed anytime through the WebStore under My Account. Important* Information about you or your pet will never be sold or accessible to any third parties. WebStore Privacy Policy.

Will you send me reminders when I need to re-order?

Yes. If you opt out of AutoOrder, the WebStore will automatically send you an email reminder to reorder your pet’s therapeutic diet so you don’t run dry.

Why not order from other online stores?

Ordering through our WebStore is faster (and safer!) for your pet. The WebStore is just an extension of our office. All of your pet’s diets are monitored by our veterinarians through our WebStore. When ordering from some non-affiliated online pet store, they are required by law to validate your order through your veterinarian. This introduces time delays and potential errors.

How long to receive my order?

Most orders should arrive at your door within 8-10 business days. Shipments are delivered through courier. For in-clinic pick-up, the order should be available within 2-3 business days. Orders placed on Friday, Saturday or Sunday will be processed on Monday. When placing an order, you have the option to have the order either shipped to a specific address or picked up at our clinic when it is ready. To check the status of an order at any time, go to the “Past Orders” tab of the WebStore. If you have any problems with your order at all, please give us a call. Our phone number is listed at the top of the page. We will be more than happy to help you out.

How do I set up AutoOrder?

Easily. Once you have logged onto your profile and your current diet prescription has been approved, you can create an AutoOrder in just a few clicks. Most diets are considered prescription, therefore will be approved by the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic prior to your first order. Once the diet is approved you will find all current diets listed under the “For My Pet” icon, shown highlighted below. During the check-out process you choose your time frame for your AutoOrder delivery, once you have filled out your shipping address and credit card information. Check the box “Yes, create my AutoOrder.” Then place order. At the final check out page you will be able to pick the frequency of your order. IMPORTANT!* You are not locked in to any particular AutoOrder frequency or make a long-term commitment – it can always be changed to suit your unique circumstances. A reminder email is delivered 7 days prior to shipping, so you have time cancel or adjust the order as needed.

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.


Pet Surrender: What Goes Up, Must Come Down?

By Pet Health, Pet Parenting

Was it inevitable?

During the pandemic, people went shopping in record numbers – for pets.

Many of these purchases were by new owners adopting a pet for the first time, presumably to soothe their boredom and loneliness as government measures to help stop the spread and work-from-home took hold.

According to a June 2021 survey commissioned by Purina, nearly 3.7 million Canadians adopted, purchased or fostered a cat or a dog during the pandemic.

Now the pendulum has swung and surrenders to animal shelters are on the rise.

The last two years have seen huge societal shifts. Now that we’re adapting to the “new” normal, you may find yourself returning to the office and not being home to properly care for your pet. You’re definitely experiencing high inflation, making it more difficult to keep up with rising costs. You may be facing a potential job loss. All these factors are putting a strain on pet parents, veterinarians and animal shelters. Animal shelters are now in crisis-mode because of staffing shortages, higher operating costs and access to veterinary care.

According to Toronto Animal Services, in the first half of 2022, 709 pets were given to city shelters, compared to 404 during the same time period last year. That is up 75% compared to the first half of 2021.

Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise.

In this post, we will offer 5 ways to help keep your pet out of the shelter system.

Why are pet parents surrendering their cherished pets?

1. Pet Ownership Costs

Most new pet owners are now past the start-up costs associated with their pandemic pet purchase. According to, initial costs for Canadian pet parents during the pandemic ranged from $700 to $1,800 for cats and $1,300 to $3,300 for dogs.

This includes all pet parent start up obligations such as bowls, leashes, crates, microchipping, nail trimmers, poop bags or litter boxes, flea and tick prevention, food, bedding, adoption fees, vaccinations and spaying or neutering.

However, it’s the ongoing costs that pet parents new to the ownership game may struggle to reconcile, especially for financially strapped pet owners amidst surging inflation.  Some costs are up 30% or more from January 2021. This includes food, grooming, vaccines, toys and flea and tick prevention, among others.

2. Spay and Neuter Deferrals

Another reason for the increase in unwanted pets – the postponement of spay and neuter early in the pandemic. Some clinics – Cabbagetown Pet Clinic excluded – were forced to pause spay and neuter surgery for a short period of time because of PPE availability concerns. We’re now approaching the fourth generation of unwanted litters that arose from that period.

3. Staffing: Veterinary Care Access

Yes, it’s affecting every business, not just veterinary care. However, veterinarians and veterinary technicians – at the best of times – tend to have higher rates of depression, burnout and suicidal thoughts. The study linked above was completed in February 2020, right at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic pet syndrome has only exacerbated these results since then, leading many to leave the industry completely.

Where have they gone?

Some veterinarians have sold their practices and retired, while others have just left the industry entirely to pursue other interests. Unfortunately, veterinary schools in Canada and the United States are not even close to replacing them, creating a giant hole in veterinary access for pet parents when they need it most. There are open positions in almost every animal hospital and filling them is an ongoing struggle that appears will not end soon.

4. Veterinary Operations Costs

We could go into all the reasons why veterinary costs are what they are, but for some clients that would never be satisfactory. We get it – pet ownership comes with significant financial commitments that new pet parents may not have carefully thought through when they stepped into the pandemic pet ownership arena.

Although the standard exams fees have barely budged, clinic supply chains are creating limitations for the basics – particularly vaccines and medications – and prices have increased accordingly with the world-wide rise of runaway inflation. Couple that with higher wages and incentives for recruiting employees and the cost of veterinary care has risen appreciably.

In basic Economics 101 language, demand is high and supply is low.

Surrender and adoption feel-good story. Tear trigger alert!

5 ways to save money and keep your pet out of the shelter system.

I’m committed to keeping my pet out of the shelter system. How can I save money and keep my pet?

If your financial position has become precarious for whatever reason (job loss, moving into pet-free apartment, medical condition) and you think that you can’t swing the ongoing expense of pet parenting, we can offer 5 ways to help address your unique situation – and avoid surrendering your pet to an animal shelter.

1. Known knowns – be completely transparent about all the costs associated with your pet.

This is an easy first step. Take a few minutes with a pad and paper and list every expense for your pet. It would include annual vaccines, food, pet supplies, etc. If you’re unsure about future expenses, review your transactions from the previous month, or even year.

Put the cost beside each item and arrive at a total. If the total is worrying, take a deep breath. This is an important first step – seeing where you currently stand allows you to chart a path forward.

2. Identify all the ways to save on day-to-day expenses – implement them today.

There are lots of ways to save on pet expenses.

  • Bulk-buy food and supplies (Costco)
  • Use digital coupons for pet food (ie. Hill’s Diet, Purina)
  • Make diet adjustments of to reduce food costs (consult with your veterinarian first!)
  • Cashback / Loyalty credit cards for pet products
  • Homemade treats
  • Food banks with pet food reserves
  • Score pet supply bargains at Winners or Marshalls

If you are currently (over)spending in some areas (restaurants, vacations), can you reduce some of those discretionary costs in your lifestyle? And is it worth to you? We’re not here to preach, but if the answer is ‘no’, then it’s likely that you’re not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to keep your pet happy and healthy.

3. Delay the non-necessities; save up instead.

This does NOT mean delaying medical treatment for your pet. However, there are many things that can be put on the back burner.

  • Hold off on adopting playmates for your pet
  • Need a new crate? Check the second-hand market for gently-used pet products (ie. Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji)
  • Specialty pet shampoos and grooming items
  • Wash an old dog collar, don’t replace it.
  • Skip expensive training classes; DIY
  • Reserve funds: If you have flexibility in your budget, start a reserve fund for yourself and your pet. Having emergency reserve funds can help pay for unplanned vet bills or even cover the basics – like food – if your circumstances change.

4. Raise money and/or look for financial pet support.

Most people would rather “keep up appearances” or poke themselves with a sharp object in the eye than ask for financial assistance. It’s a blow to our ego, but this shouldn’t deter you in the face of losing your cherished companion.

  • Can you upgrade your job and salary in the midst of the Great Resignation? Keeping your beloved pet is always extra motivation to make a move.
  • Is there additional work available, such as a second job or extra shifts? Weigh the financial benefits of extra work against how much time you have available – your pet still needs you!
  • Sell your unwanted items on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace – ie. clothing, guitars, bicycles – then use this money to cover pet expenses.
  • It’s completely acceptable to ask friends and family for help with practical pet essentials, provided they care about you and your pet.
  • Assistance Programs: The Farley Foundation assists those who are struggling financially to pay for veterinary care. You can find program details here. The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic is a dedicated partner of the Farley Foundation – the diverse Cabbagetown community is the beneficiary.

5. Consider Pet Insurance

It’s folly to say, “it would never happen to my pet”. It is almost a certainty that every pet during its lifetime will have a major veterinary bill.

Pet insurance means that you have to imagine the possibility of an unforeseen medical, worst-case scenario involving your beloved pet’s well-being. You shouldn’t have to worry about how to pay for the best veterinary medicine available when the unexpected arrives at your doorstep.

Some pet owners incorporate pet insurance in their monthly budget. The prices for coverage vary widely, so shop around. If you choose not purchase pet insurance, then be prepared allocate the same amount of money (premium) into an emergency reserve fund – this could range anywhere from $50-$70 per month.

Trupanion Canada is our preferred pet insurance partner and just happens to be one of the largest providers in Canada. They keep pet insurance simple by offering a single (and excellent) pet insurance plan that will cover the needs of most pet parents.

Ask us how to receive 30 days of FREE coverage at your next appointment.

*costs reflect procedures in major metropolitan areas based on Trupanion’s research and experience in 2019.


In addition to shelter surrenders, who knows how many pets are being abandoned by the side of the road in remote, rural parts of Canada? We can’t even imagine what goes through a pet’s mind when their owner drives away leaving them to fend for themselves. Heartbreaking…

That said, the ‘perfect storm’ for animal shelters is ongoing. With supply chain issues and staffing, shelters in most municipalities lack the necessary resources to accommodate this current surge, resulting in them being understaffed and turning away pets. It’s incumbent upon pet parents to look for any means possible – without causing their pet undo harm – before giving up the responsibility of pet ownership.

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.

How To Keep Your Canine Cool in the Summer Heat

By Pet Health, Pet Parenting

Canine Hyperthermia: How to keep your dog cool in hot weather

After a long, cold Canadian winter, we’re all more than ready to head outside with our furry family members for some fun in the sun.

However, summer in Toronto usually means one thing – hot, humid weather. Nobody likes to be soaked in perspiration and feeling drained, including dogs. They’re suffering just as much as us – if not more – under that shiny, fur coat.

When the temperatures rise and the sun shines, we dutifully take precautions, such as wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated. The same goes for dogs – it’s up to responsible pet parents to keep them safe and comfortable on excessively hot and humid days.

Take steps to protect your dog in the summer heat.

Whether taking your dog for a walk, a ride in the car or just playing in the backyard, heat and humidity can pose a significant threat. Heatstroke or exhaustion can easily cut your outdoor escapades short and result in harmful outcomes.


Heat stroke (aka. heat exhaustion, heat prostration or hyperthermia) is a term used to describe an elevated body temperature above the generally accepted norm. Although normal temperatures for dogs will vary, it is acknowledged that body temperatures above 39° C (103° F) are excessive.

When a dog’s body temperature climbs above the normal range, they begin to lose their ability to regulate their internal temperature. Up to this point, dogs can normalize their body temperature through respiratory means (panting) or through sweat glands in the nose and paws.


It’s relatively easy to spot the earliest sign of an overheated pup – excessive panting. This is the first indication to get your dog into a cooler environment. Other early signs are more indirect, but may be as simple as your dog being less reactive to regular commands or drinking more water than usual.

If you happen to miss these early indicators and exposure to oppressive heat persists, a severely overheated dog may collapse, experience convulsions and/or exhibit vomiting. Therefore, you must identify the problem before it gets to that point. If there is any uncertainty at all, GET YOUR DOG OUT OF THE HEAT. Yes, we’re yelling…

Visible symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include:

  • difficulty breathing; excessive drooling or panting
  • severe thirst
  • weakness and/or fatigue
  • unsteady, uncoordinated movements
  • vomiting
  • agitation and disorientation
  • dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • elevated and/or irregular heart rate
  • dark, bloody stools
  • muscle tremors/seizures

Severe heat stroke in dogs can cause internal medical issues, such as kidney failure, brain swelling and intestinal bleeding. This is bad. If you observe any of the above tell-tale symptoms, immediate veterinary care at our clinic or an after-hours emergency facility is highly recommended.


All dogs are at risk for overheating under the right conditions. However, dogs with heavy coats/long hair, very young or very old dogs and brachycephalic breeds tend to be more susceptible. Overweight dogs and those that suffer from underlying medical conditions – causing breathing or heart problems – are especially vulnerable.

9 Factors that Raise the Risk of Heat Stroke in Dogs:

  • dehydration due to inadequate water intake or lack of water access
  • age – the very young and very old
  • obesity, resulting in poor heart and/or lung conditioning
  • underlying history of heart or lung related disease
  • increased levels of thyroid hormone
  • flat-faced, short-nosed, breeds such as boxers, shih tzus, bulldogs and pugs
  • heavy, long and/or dark coats
  • extremely active dogs and working/hunting breeds such as shepherds, spaniels and retrievers
  • environmental factors such as overheated automobiles or lack of shade


At the first sign of overheating, immediate action is required to cool down your dog.

5 Ways to Treat an Overheated Dog:

  • move your dog immediately to a cooler area, either indoors where there is air conditioning or into the nearest shade.
  • it’s a bit of a stretch, but if you have a rectal thermometer, check your dog’s temperature. Heat stroke or exhaustion normally occurs when a dog’s temperature exceeds 39° C or 103° F. If your dog enters this ‘danger zone’, call our veterinary clinic immediately.
  • if you’re near a body of fresh water (lake or pool), encourage your dog take a dip. In the absence of a body of water, use a cooled towel to help reduce core body temperature. Place the towel around the neck, armpits and between the hind legs.
  • if your dog is conscious, give him cool, fresh water. Forcing your dog to drink is ill-advised, as it may end up in the lungs creating more issues. If your pup can’t – or won’t -drink, liberally wet their tongue with water. Feeding ice cubes sounds like a good idea, however, it may cause their temperature to drop too quickly, leading to shock.
  • get your dog to our animal hospital. Call ahead so we can administer prompt treatment as soon as you arrive. If it’s an after-hours emergency, take your dog to the nearest 24/7 emergency animal hospital.


     1. Always Stay Hydrated.

While outside, make sure your dog has access to fresh water, shade and shelter away from direct sunlight. At home, keep fresh drinking water in their dish. Toss ice cubes into the bowl for an extra cool-down measure.

     2. Be Exercise Wise.

If you plan on walking your dog in the summer heat, limit walks and playtime to short sessions at cooler times of the day – the early morning or late evening. Bring along a water bottle or collapsible water dish with lots of cold water and take frequent water breaks. If possible, stay on the shady side of the street and remember that your dog’s paws are very sensitive to hot pavement.

     3. Go for a Dip.

One of the best ways for your dog to stay cool is to find water, whether it’s a lake, river, neighbour’s pool, kiddie pool, local dog pool or simply at the business end of a garden hose.

     4. Create A Breeze.

A no-brainer – a breeze can make summer heat more bearable. For cooling by evaporation, a strategically placed fan can create enough moving air to provide your dog some solid, cool-down relief.

     5. Frozen Treats and Toys.

Chilled or frozen dog treats are an excellent summer treat for your dog. They not only help keep your dog cool, but also aid in relieving boredom when it’s too hot to be outside.

     6. Stay Inside.

The easiest strategy, especially if you have a brachycephalic breed, an elderly and/or obese dog –  keep them inside your air-conditioned home except for quick outdoor bathroom breaks. If you’re without air conditioning, keep your windows and curtains shut during the day to keep the heat out. Run fans to help keep you dog cool and open the windows at night to let the cooler air in.

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