October is Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) Month

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

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

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

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

Meet your Cabbagetown Pet Clinic RVT’s

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

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

Rebecca, RVT

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

What is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)?

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

RVT Training

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

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

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

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

Steve, RVT

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

What is the role of an RVT ?

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

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

  • Processing and analysis of x-rays and ultrasound
  • Administration and dispensation of medications and treatments, as prescribed by our veterinarians
  • Triage emergency arrivals
  • Providing optimal restraint and handling of pets
  • Surgical preparation and assistance; anesthetic delivery and monitoring
  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases (ie. Lyme disease, Leptospirosis)
  • Dietary and nutritional consultation and management
  • Animal behaviour evaluation and ….
  • Breeding, reproduction, and neonatal care
  • Professional vet clinic practice administration and animal hospital management
  • Diagnostic laboratory testing (hematology, clinical chemistry, cytology, and urinalysis)
  • Animal hospital sanitation, sterilization and disinfection controls and procedures
  • Knowledge of dental structures, conditions and lesions, castages of diseases
  • Broad understanding of microbiology, immunology, bacteriology, parasitology, zoonoses, and virology
X-Rays Administered in 2020
Nails Trimmed in 2020
mL's of Blood Taken in 2020
Teeth Cleaned in 2020

Our RVT’s go above and beyond every day

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

Cabbagetown Festival

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

Farley Foundation

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

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

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

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

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

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.

How Essential Oils Can Affect Your Pet’s Health

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Essential Oil Diffusers and Pet Safety.

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

How safe are these essential oils for our pets?

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

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

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

What Are Essential Oils And What Are The Benefits?

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

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

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

“Natural” doesn’t always mean safe.

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

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

How Do Essential Oils Put My Cat at Risk?

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

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

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

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

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

The following essential oils are poisonous to cats:

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

Is My Dog at Risk if I Use Essential Oils?

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

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

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

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

For our canine friends, toxic essential oils include:

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

Pet Exposure to Essential Oils.

What to do.

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

Common symptoms of essential oil poisoning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Team

Professional, attentive and dedicated to your pet.

Veterinary Services

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

Location and Hours

Modern and efficient in a cozy, friendly environment.