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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Warmest wishes to all from your friends at Scott Veterinary Clinic!

Two thousand and nineteen has been another busy year here at Scott Veterinary Clinic. We have all been very busy working to make your visits a better experience for you and your pets. Your comfort and happiness are our priority, and we strive to exceed your expectations at every visit.

Many of you have noticed our new signs and commented on how much you like them. Thank you. We like them too, and can’t wait to get them lit up!

We have also made significant improvements to our surgical monitoring equipment and diagnostic equipment. This will make your pets procedures safer and more comfortable. Construction is about to begin in the Dog Ward. We are having new indoor dog runs installed. Our outdoor runs are great for the summer months but this will give our boarders extra space for the cooler winter months.

We have added some new faces to our staff recently. Have you met our newest receptionist Kali? Kali recently graduated from the Veterinary Assistant program at Seneca College. She is very helpful and friendly, a lovely addition to our team. We are so happy to have Kali!

You may also have seen our student Beatrice joining in on appointments and helping out around the clinic. Beatrice is a McMaster student currently and hopes to attend the Ontario Veterinary College in September of 2020. Beatrice is here getting some clinical experience, we think she is going to make a great doctor!

We also welcomed back Dr. Forbes this year. She has returned to work after recovering from surgery to repair her fractured ankle. We missed Dr. Forbes and are happy she has returned.

Our wonderful receptionist Laura and her husband Ryan have welcomed their new son Conor to their family. Conor was born on August 31, the day after Laura left for her maternity leave. Conor is a very sweet little boy. Congratulations Laura and Ryan!

We are very sad to announce that one face is missing from our clinic family. Our Spookie has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Spookie had been battling inflammatory bowel disease for several years. We could no longer support her enough to keep her happy and comfortable. Spookie will be sadly missed.

Zeta misses Spookie too but she is still up to her usual monkey business of breaking and entering other kennels to steal food, smashing the treat jar on the floor, hoping it will open and just being a general nuisance. What would we do without her?

 

A very special dog named Scarlet came into our lives in 2019 as well. Scarlet lived with a young family that loved her. Scarlet had contracted heartworm disease and was also struck by a vehicle. Her family chose to surrender her to the SPCA so that she could be attended to properly. Dr. Lee chose to donate all of Scarlet’s treatments, surgeries, medications and care. She has spent the past 6 months with us in recovery and rehabilitation. Scarlet has just recently found her new forever home. We wish her and her new family the best of luck!

It has also been a busy year working with our friend Chantal at Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge. We are so happy to help with all of her special cases. To name a few, this year we helped a fox kit with a broken jaw. She made a full recovery and was successfully released. There were many birds with multiple wing and other injuries. We saw owls, swans, loons, eagles, hawks, sea gulls, and geese. Through surgical repair, splints and bandages, a great number of them were rehabilitated and released. We also helped some snakes, opossums, turtles, coyotes, and fawns along the way and were glad to do so. Every little life matters and is important to us.

A t this time we want to take a moment to let you know that we cherish each and every one of you and we are so glad that you have chosen us to be such an important part of your pet’s life.

We hope that this Christmas season brings with it everything you are wishing for. We wish you time with your family and friends, a nice dinner, (maybe two), some pretty lights or a lovely tree, whatever your wish may be. Last but not least; love and celebrate your pets every day. The human animal bond is a powerful force that you are so fortunate to have found.


H
appy Holidays from everyone at Scott Veterinary Clinic!

Winter Hazards

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Autumn certainly disappeared in a hurry! We no sooner finished raking leaves and the cold weather was here. Winter can be a beautiful time of year, with fresh snowfalls, outdoor activities with our families and our pets.

We have a few recommendations for you to help keep your pets safe during this season:

1. Salt: Coarse salt is usually used for de-icing sidewalks and streets and can be dangerous for your dogs feet. Walking through it should be avoided. Prolonged contact can cause burns, and your dog can ingest it by licking his paws. If your dog will tolerate wearing boots that would be the safest way to keep his feet clean and dry. If not be sure to wipe the paws as soon as you come indoors. This will also give you an opportunity to check for cuts and scrapes from ice. Pet friendly de-icing products can be purchased for use instead of regular salt.

2. Extreme cold: If it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet. Some breeds of dogs have been adapted to live in cold climates so some exceptions can be made. For dogs that do live outdoors proper housing is extremely important. Usually it’s best for dogs to stay inside and go outside for short periods of time to relieve themselves. Coats and boots help them to cope with the low temperatures. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite so it’s best to keep them indoors when it’s very cold out.

5/ Snowstorms: Did you know a dog can lose his scent trail and sense of direction in a snowstorm? This is a good reason to keep them on a leash if you are walking in a blizzard.

6/ Antifreeze: Antifreeze is one of the most dangerous hazards that face animals in the winter. It is extremely toxic and has a sweet taste so they are attracted to drinking it. It takes approximately 3 ounces of ethylene glycol (the active ingredient in antifreeze) to be lethal to a large dog. Please be cautious with its use and never let pets drink from puddles, they may contain antifreeze.

 

 

Halloween Hazards

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It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement at Halloween but we need to remember to be extra vigilant with our pets during this busy time. Whether it’s Trick or Treating, or parties at home it’s very important to avoid the following dangers:

1. Ingesting chocolate: Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine (a vasodilator and diuretic) which can cause life threatening seizures and/or increased heart rate. If your pet ingests chocolate call your veterinarian immediately. The type of chocolate (milk, dark) and the amount are important information that your vet will need. Depending on what was ingested, no treatment may be needed, or emergency treatment may be needed.

2. Ingesting Xylitol: Xylitol is a natural product derived from sugar and is used to sweeten things such as chewing gum. It is safe for humans but not for our pets. Even small amounts can be dangerous for dogs. It causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin than usual causing a dangerously low blood sugar which can be fatal. Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet ingests anything with xylitol in it.

2. Noise: Your pet may become very anxious or stressed with the sounds of children coming to your door, whether they knock, ring the door bell or yell “trick or treat”. Be prepared. Putting your pet in a quiet room may help, a Thunder shirt, or maybe spending some time at a friend’s house that will be quieter. In some cases some anti-anxiety medication may help.

3. Escape: When the door is constantly being opened for Trick or Treaters there is a chance that your pet may slip out unnoticed. Be vigilant. Put your pet in a room or in a crate to keep them safe.

4. Decorations: These can become a hazard if your pets eat them. They can become lodged in the intestines and cause a life threatening emergency. Keep your pet away from all decorations or small toys. Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet ingests something, or begins to show signs of being unwell.

 

♫ Summer Time, Summer Time, Sum-Sum-Summertime ♫♪♫

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Finally the weather is warming up. After what seemed like an eternity of rain we have sunshine and blue skies.

This is the time of year to remember that we need to take special care of our four-legged friends when it’s hot outside.

Leaving your pet in a hot car, even for a few minutes, can be life threatening. Researchers have studied how long it takes for a car to heat up on a hot day. The findings were alarming: in less than an hour the inside temperature of a car parked in the sun on a day that reached 35 degrees C or hotter, hit an average of 47 degrees C!

Cars parked in the shade on a hot day had lower – but still scorching – temperatures. After 1 hour, the interior temperature of these cars reached an average of 38 degrees C.

The dashboards of these cars averaged 48 degrees C, the steering wheel averaged 42 degrees C, and the seats averaged 41 degrees C. It is never safe to leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down.

If you see a pet left in a car you can call 310-SPCA (7722), your local SPCA or Humane Society, or your local police.

 

Another thing that we need to be careful of is the temperature of asphalt. Unless you’re walking around barefoot it’s easy to forget just how hot the pavement can be. Use the “5 second rule” to determine if it’s cool enough for your pet’s feet. Place the back of your hand on the pavement where you want to walk your dog. If it’s too hot to leave it there for 5 seconds it’s too hot for the pads of your dog’s feet. Serious burns can occur.

Stay safe and have a great summer! 

magnified Mosquito

Heartworm testing

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4DX Plus. This test shows a blue dot for a positive control only. The test is negative for heartworm and tick-borne diseases.

Each year starting April 15th we begin drawing blood samples from dogs 6 months of age or older. With the antigen test that we use we are actually looking for the presence of adult heartworms that your dog may have picked up the previous year. Heartworms need to be at least 6 months old for our test to detect them. The test also screens for exposure to 4 different tick-borne diseases., the most well known being Lyme disease. We use Idexx’s Snap 4DX Plus test and each dog is tested individually, usually while you wait. All we need is 3 drops of blood and 10 minutes.

Heartworm is an insidious disease that is spread by mosquitoes that carry the heartworm larvae. It can take upwards of 3-5 years for your dog to show any symptoms of the disease.

Immature heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) seen under microscope in our own lab using Difil method and stain.

We’ve had a few dogs this year that have tested positive for tick-borne diseases, and one dog that has tested positive for heartworm disease. Heartworm is very serious in our area, with pockets of it all along the Grand River all the way to Lake Erie. Heartworm disease can be easily prevented, but treatment for a positive dog can be very expensive and just as dangerous to the health of the dog as the disease itself. Untreated dogs will eventually succumb to the disease, as it will progress to pulmonary and cardiac failure.

If you have any questions about heartworm, or tick borne diseases such as Lyme, please let us know.

Snap reader shows results and saves them in patient file.

How Do I Bring My Cat to the Vet?

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Is bringing your kitty to the clinic a nightmare? Do you end up scratched and bleeding and still not have him in his carrier? This is an all too common problem for cat owners and the result is far too many kitties not receiving the veterinary care that they need.

We can make it easier for you and your kitty with a few simple steps:

  • Make your cat love his carrier.

Leave the carrier out and open so your cat can go in and out whenever he likes. Put blankets in the carrier. Use pheromone wipes or sprays such as Feliway in the carrier and on the blanket. Put food and treats in the carrier and after he starts going in on his own close the door for brief periods of time. Then start taking your kitty for short rides in the car. Remember to never leave him unattended in the car.

  • Choose the right type of carrier.

The carrier should be large enough for your cat to turn around in. It should have a door that locks and the top should be removable. You should not have to dump your kitty out of the carrier or stuff him into the carrier. Always use one carrier per cat.

  • On arrival at the veterinary clinic do not place your carrier on the floor. Cats do not like to be on the floor and do not like other animals peeking at them through the carrier door. Place your carrier on a table or on the chair beside you if you are not put into an exam room right away.
  • Let your cat explore the exam room if he likes. Offer him toys and treats and praise to help him relax.
  • Your veterinarian likely has a cat specific exam room and will offer your kitty a blanket to sit on rather than just the cold table. They will also have treats and toys and will have a pheromone diffuser in the room. Pheromones emit “friendly scents” that only your cat can smell. They tell them to relax, everything is good here, and have no fear. Some clinics will have cat videos, such as birds or fish playing, that will interest your cat as well.
  • If you are still having trouble, there are other products available such as Thundershirts for cats. These can sometimes make your cat feel more comfortable and secure. As a last resort you can ask your veterinarian for a prescription medication that you can administer at home previous to travel to help alleviate fear and anxiety.
  • For more information please give us a call or visit wwwcathealthy.ca. This is a great resource for cats and their “staff” for all things feline related.

Why Should I Bring My Cat to the Vet? He Never Goes Outside.

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Regular visits to the vet for our feline fur-babies are very important, even if they live indoors.

  • Indoor cats need to be vaccinated and dewormed. They should also be on a flea preventative and have a yearly physical exam.
  • A cat in Hamilton, Ontario that lived in a 5th floor apartment contracted rabies from a bat.
  • It is the law that you must vaccinate your cat for rabies.
  • Rabies can be transmitted to humans.
  • Every 9 minutes somewhere in the world someone dies from rabies. Vaccination is the main reason this is not a common occurrence in Canada.
  • You can come into contact with other preventable feline diseases such as distemper, carry them on your clothing or footwear, and transmit them to your indoor cat.
  • You can also carry parasites such as fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites home to your kitty this way.
  • Potting soil has been proven to carry parasite eggs which your cat can ingest.
  • Fleas are vectors for tapeworm.
  • A cat ages approximately 6 years for every one human year, therefore changes in their physical condition can progress very quickly but can be noted on an annual physical exam.
  • Other changes in behaviour, socialization, weight and activity should be addressed by your veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid possible distress, pain or disease for your kitty.

To find out more reasons to bring your kitty to the veterinarian please visit wwwcathealthy.ca.  This is a great resource for cat owners to enrich the life of their kitty cat.

Continuing Education

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Our technicians, Sue and Crystal, recently attended a conference in Niagara Falls hosted by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians. This particular conference is unique, as it is a series of lectures and labs for veterinary technicians, and the event is put on by veterinary technicians. There are guest speakers from all over North America talking about the latest in anesthesia, nursing, internal medication, radiographs and nutrition, among others. Technology is constantly changing as well, so this is also a great way for us to see what’s new and gives us a “hands-on” chance to see how things work at the conference’s trade show.

The doctors attended a few major conferences this past year, too. Dr. Lee went to the NAVC (North American Veterinary Conference) in January which gives lectures in small and large animal medicine. She also went to ExoticsCon in September which was all about birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Dr. Mantle and Dr. Lee both attended the OVMA (Ontario Veterinary Medical Association) conference in January that took place in Toronto.

Lifelong learning is crucial to keep us up to date with ever-evolving medicine. There is constantly new and emerging science-based knowledge and information in medicine and surgery that can help to improve your pet’s health, life span, and of course, quality of life.

February is Pet Dental Health Month

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Although Pet Dental Health Month is recognized in February, your pet’s oral health is very important to us year round. February is the month where most veterinarians across Canada focus on promoting dental care and educating clients about how they can manage their pet’s dental health at home.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you didn’t brush your teeth for months? No flossing, no mouthwash? Unfortunately for our 4 legged friends they can’t do that, so we have a number of ways to manage their oral health at home. The best way is to brush your pet’s teeth daily. There are toothbrushes and toothpastes that are specially designed for animals that are easy to use. If daily brushing isn’t for you, or your pet won’t let you do it, there are dental diets that can be fed that work just like a toothbrush, oral rinse, and flossing, all in one. All you have to do is feed your pet! A daily brushing regime, or dental diet (or both) along with periodic cleaning by your veterinarian can keep your pet’s teeth tartar free.

Brushing and dental diets greatly reduce the amount of tartar that will accumulate on your pet’s teeth. Bacteria that remains in the mouth for more than 24 hours will turn into plaque which will attach to the teeth and build up on the teeth over time, turning into tartar. You can easily see tartar on your pet’s teeth; it’s the brown accumulation that’s usually near the gum line. Often it can cause bad breath, and if allowed to continue accumulating can eventually cause dental disease, such as gum recession, bone loss, loose teeth, and infections.

For years we called a dental cleaning a “prophy”, short for prophylactic which means disease prevention. Nowadays it is known as a “COHAT” (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment). In order to do this safely and effectively the procedure is done with your pet under general anesthesia. It is NEVER acceptable to scrape tartar off an animal’s teeth when it is awake. It is dangerous as it can cause injury by accidental cutting or stabbing with the instrument if the animal were to suddenly move. Also, the inside of the mouth cannot be cleaned properly this way and a thorough examination of the mouth is impossible.  While it does add cost to cleaning the teeth, a general anesthetic is actually the safest way to thoroughly examine, clean, and x-ray your pet’s teeth.

Before we start cleaning the teeth, we take full-mouth radiographs to determine the health status of each tooth. Many teeth may look perfectly healthy to the naked eye, while an Xray will show bone loss around the roots, root resorption and other root abnormalities, which would indicate that the tooth needs to be extracted. After extractions we always take another radiograph to determine that the entire root has been removed.

After the X-rays are done, the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, very much like what your dentist uses, to remove tartar.  Each tooth is then carefully polished.  The teeth and gums are carefully examined and a chart is created to record gum recession, missing teeth and any other abnormalities. We also take before and after photographs!

 

A dental exam will give us an idea of how much time will be needed for your pet’s cleaning. COHAT’s are graded from 1 to 3, with 1 being the least amount of tartar, some or no gingivitis and no expected extractions. Cleaning the teeth when they’re like this helps to keep them healthier longer, and shortens the length of time under general anesthesia.

If you are interested in bringing your pet in for an oral exam and quote for dentistry please call us at 519-752-3431 anytime. We care about the health of your pet.

Common Illnesses of Ferrets

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Do you own or are thinking of owning a pet ferret? It’s always an excellent idea to familiarize yourself with the most common health issues associated with your pet ferret so that you are prepared and ready to know when they may require veterinary attention.

Adrenal Disease

Adrenocortical disease is arguably the most recognized disease in pet ferrets today. “Adrenal disease” is the umbrella term for when a condition causes the adrenal gland(s) in the ferret to overproduce estrogen and/or progesterone steroid hormones. The most common characteristic sign of this disease is loss of hair (alopecia). This hair loss is commonly first observed on the ferret’s tail, causing a rat-tail appearance, and moves upwards along the ferret’s body. The hair loss is typically most obvious in the early springtime. Other clinical signs can include enlargement of the female external genitalia, overall total body itchiness, and sometimes difficulty urinating/urinary issues in male ferrets.

Adrenal disease is most common in older ferrets over 3 years of age. Adrenal disease varies in severity and presence of concurrent medical conditions, so diagnosis and treatment is decided on an individual basis. If you notice your ferret appears to be losing hair or appears itchy, your veterinarian will need to examine your ferret to rule out other possible causes including normal seasonal hair loss or an ovarian remnant (when female ferret that has not been spayed, or was spayed improperly).

The cause of such high rates of adrenal disease in pet ferrets is currently under debate. Suggested causes under research at this time include early neutering, too much artificial light, a genetic predisposition, as well as inappropriate diet. Speak with your veterinarian for further information about risk factors for your ferret developing adrenal disease.

Gastrointestinal Disease and/or Foreign Bodies

Ferrets make excellent pets due to their goofy unique personalities, their playfulness, and their relatively straightforward husbandry. Unfortunately along with their unique personalities comes a tendency towards naughtiness, and sometimes ferrets will get into things and may consume things that they shouldn’t be eating. It is important to “ferret-proof” your home to help prevent your ferret from gaining access to small items that they may ingest, leading to gastrointestinal blockages that often will require surgery to resolve, and can sometimes be fatal.

Ferrets are also prone to developing stomach and intestinal issues due to infection, inflammation, ingestion of toxins, or even cancer. Clinical signs of gastrointestinal disease or obstruction typically include lethargy, weakness, reluctance to move, and ferrets will commonly refuse to eat or eat less than usual, may lose weight, and may develop diarrhea. If you detect any one or more of these signs bring your ferret to a veterinarian immediately.

Insulinoma

In North America, insulinoma has been recognized as the most common type of tumor in pet ferrets. Insulinoma is a tumor of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, leading to an overproduction of insulin released into the blood. This overproduction of insulin into the bloodstream causes the ferret’s blood sugar to drop, a condition called hypoglycemia. Common clinical signs include lethargy and weakness, drooling, collapsing, walking abnormally, as well as seizures. Any one of the above clinical signs should prompt an immediate visit to your veterinarian, as hypoglycemia can become severe and fatal. A ferret with a diagnosis of insulinoma may require surgery, usually followed by long-term medical care.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph tissues, is the most common malignant form of cancer in pet ferrets. Lymphoma can occur at any age in ferrets and the clinical signs associated with it will vary depending on the organ(s) affected by the tumors. Surprisingly, lymphoma is sometimes an incidental finding in a ferret coming to the vet clinic for another seemingly unrelated health reason, such as adrenal disease or dental disease, or even at an annual wellness vet visit. Treatment is often not curative, but is more commonly aimed at reducing the amount of cancer in the ferret’s body and maintaining the ferret’s quality of life. Treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and different medication to keep the ferret comfortable and feeling well.

Dental Disease

Domestic ferrets in North America appear to be prone to developing disease in their teeth and gums. It is speculated that this high occurrence of dental disease may be due to consuming dry kibble as the mainstay of their source of nutrition, causing abrasion and wear-related damage to the ferret’s teeth. Ferrets are also known for chewing on toys and the bars of their cage, which can lead to damage to their teeth as well. Ferrets will sometimes break the tip of their canine teeth off due to inappropriate chewing of hard objects. Dental disease is commonly overlooked in pet ferrets due to generally lacking obvious clinical signs. Your veterinarian will check your ferret’s teeth during their annual wellness physical examination.

It has been suggested that moistening down the dry ferret kibble may reduce weathering of the ferret’s teeth. For more information on diet and nutrition in ferrets, please see previous blog post on ferret husbandry and care.

Heart Disease

Similarly to humans, middle aged and older ferrets are at risk of developing heart disease. Ferrets with heart disease most commonly show lethargy, difficulty breathing, may lose weight, may stop eating, and may cough. For unknown reasons, ferrets with heart disease may show weakness in their hind-legs. If you see any of these signs in your ferret, your veterinarian needs to examine your ferret, listen to their heart with their stethoscope, and they may recommend taking an x-ray of your ferret’s chest to examine the size of your ferret’s heart and the condition of your ferret’s lungs. Your veterinarian may also recommend an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) for a more detailed look at the valves in your ferret’s heart. Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian will prescribe medications to help support your ferret’s heart.

Though uncommon in this location, ferrets can become infected with heartworm. It is prudent to discuss risk of heartworm in your area and the potential need for heartworm prevention in your pet ferret with your veterinarian.

Thank you for taking the time to read about these common ailments to keep in mind when caring for your pet ferret. Of course this list of ailments does not cover everything that can affect your ferret’s health, so it is important to have your ferret checked annually by a veterinarian!