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Q: Why does my pet need an annual exam?
A: Just like you visit your doctor annually, your pet should too. One year is a long time for a pet and a lot can change. Creating a baseline of health with the veterinarian will help detect any issues over the years to be caught early and treated effectively. Your veterinarian will do a "nose to tail" examination, including assessment of your pet's dental health to ensure we are covering all it's needs.

Q: Is chocolate really toxic to my dog?
A: Yes, chocolate can be very toxic your dog. Chocolate is composed of many things, but the ingredient that makes it particularly toxic is the cocoa. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, so the more poisonous it is. So, baker's chocolate and semi-sweet eating chocolate have a lot of cocoa in them and are very toxic. Although milk chocolate has relatively little cocoa, it should still be kept out of reach of pets, as it too can be fatal if enough is consumed. A rule of thumb is if your dog consumes as much as 1 ounce/lb of body weight of milk chocolate that is a true medical emergency. Eating even a tiny amount of bakers chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate is also an emergency. If a dog has ingested chocolate, they may show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in extreme cases, seizures or death.

If you think your pet has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately or the Pet Poison Helpline. Your veterinarian will likely recommend inducing vomiting (either at home or in clinic) and may suggest giving medications to bind any further toxins that have not been expelled from your pet's system. Depending on the quantity consumed, it may also be advisable for your pet to be placed on IV fluids and monitoring before sending him or her home.

Q: Sometimes I have heard my dog make a horrible choking like sound, it is as though he is breathing in and can't control it. What could this be?
A: As you probably know, dogs get allergies just like their owners. Part of how we manifest allergies is with a sneeze (air travelling with force through the nose and mouth to clear allergens).Dogs often do exactly the same thing, but during allergy season some dogs do what is called a "reverse-sneeze." This is a rapid inhaling of air and can sound like an abrupt snort, usually two to six in a row. Because people don't do this, it can be alarming when you first observe this odd sneeze-like intake of air. Some pets are prone to reverse sneezing even when they get excited without allergic stimulation. One might suspect your dog is a little startled by it as well. If it continues, try lifting it's front feet so your pet is in a standing position. If he or she continues or has spasm like repetitive attacks, this may be an allergic reaction and should be seen by a vet.

Q: What are the benefits of spaying and neutering my dog or cat?

A: The benefits of neutering your male pet include: reducing spraying and mounting behaviors, greatly reducing the risk of prostate and testicular cancer, reducing roaming and territorial behaviors, and helping to control the pet population. The benefits of spaying your female pet include: eliminating heat cycles thereby protecting from unwanted attention of roaming males, greatly reducing the risk of mammary, ovarian and uterine cancers (especially if done prior to first heat cycle), eliminating risk of pyometra (severe uterine infection), and helping control the pet population.

Q: How often should I deworm my horse?
A: We recommend deworming horses quarterly and rotating between dewormers with different active ingredients to decrease parasite resistance to deworming products. Call us for our recommended product rotation. We also recommend prompt removal of horse faeces from pasture to reduce the worm burden your horses are being exposed to. Your veterinarian may recommend bringing a sample of faeces to perform an egg count to determine worm load to tailor a deworming protocol for your herd.

Q: My older horse is losing weight, what can I do to help?
A: There are several horse care protocols that can help a senior horse gain or maintain weight such as having their teeth checked and floated and/or starting them on a senior feed. If your horse is having weight issues, we may draw blood to perform a CBC and serum chemistry panel to check the function of their vital organs such as the liver and kidneys. This blood work can be run in house and you can get results the same day. If you have an older horse that is having a difficult time maintaining weight, please schedule an appointment to have your horse examined.

Q: When should I have my horses teeth floated?
A: For young horses under the age of 5, it is recommended they have dental check-ups twice a year. As young horses permanent teeth erupt, it is important that their teeth are examined regularly to ensure there are no issues with bite alignment. From 5-20 years of age, we suggest annual dental exams, with floating as recommended according to your veterinarian's assessment,to maintain correct bite and balance. As horses enter their more senior years, we would evaluate their health and needs, but typically annual dental exams are adequate.

Q: What diseases should I vaccinate my horse against?
A: We generally recommend a minimum vaccination protocol protecting against Eastern and Western Encephalitis Viruses, Tetanus, and West Nile Virus ("3-way + WNV"). For horses that are exposed to a number of horses throughout the year, we recommend giving a vaccine that includes Equine Influenza, Equine Herpes Virus 1 & 4 ("2-way"), and Strangles (Streptococcus equi). The vaccine for Potomac Horse Fever is also available through the Animal Care Centre of Strathmore and recommended if your horses live near prevalent standing water.

Q: What are ear mites?
A: Ear mites are microscopic bugs that can live in your cat's and less commonly your dog's ears. They are easily visualized with a microscope. Proper treatment involves careful and thorough cleaning of the ear canals by a veterinarian or veterinary technologist, and application of eardrops and/or a spot on treatment to kill the mites and their eggs.

Q: What diseases should I vaccinate my dog against?
A: There are two "core vaccines" that are recommended for dogs. The first is a rabies vaccine. Rabies virus can be transmitted to any animal, including humans, so vaccinating your pet not only helps them, but reduces your risk as well. The second vaccine combination that all dogs should receive is called "DA2PP," which stands for Distemper, Adenovirus type 1&2, Parvo and Parainfluenza. This vaccine protects against a host of potentially lethal diseases that are most dangerous for puppies, but can also affect older dogs. Your veterinarian will recommend vaccinating your new puppy with these vaccines 3 times as a young pup (at 6-8 weeks of age; 10-12 weeks of age; and at 14-16 weeks of age) and then again at 1 year old. They are repeated every 3 years thereafter for life.
One final vaccine may be recommended if your pet goes to the dog park, kennel, groomer or has regular "nose-to-nose" contact with other dogs. This one is called "Bordatella" or Canine/Kennel cough. It is boosted annually and when administered reduces the severity of the annoying "goose honking cough" if your dog is exposed.

Q: What diseases should I vaccinate my cat against?
A: There are two "core vaccines" that are recommended for cats. The first is a rabies vaccine. Rabies virus can be transmitted to any animal, including humans, so vaccinating your pet not only helps them, but reduces your risk as well. The second vaccine combination that all cats should receive is called "HCP," which protects against rhinotracheitis, calici and panleukopenia viruses. This vaccine protects against a host of potentially lethal feline diseases. Your veterinarian will recommend vaccinating your new kitten with these vaccines 3 times as a young kitten (at 6-8 weeks of age; 10-12 weeks of age; and at 14-16 weeks of age) and then again at 1 year old. They are repeated every 3 years thereafter for life.
One final vaccine may be recommended if your cat roams outdoors is called "FeLV" or Feline Leukemia Virus ("Kitty AIDS"). It is commonly transmitted by fighting, outdoor male cats and requires a booster every 2 years.

Q: What diseases should I vaccinate my cows against?
A: there are two main groups of pathogens that all cattle should be vaccinated against. The first of which is the Bovine Respiratory Disease complex often called "Shipping Fever." There are several types of infectious agents involved in this complex including Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), Bovine Respiratory Synctial Virus (BRSV), and Parainfluenza Type-3 Virus (PI-3). The other group of pathogens we recommend vaccinating against are the eight Clostridial bacteria including tetanus and black leg. Finally, we recommend that pregnant cows/heifers be vaccinated before calving with a vaccine to reduce scouring in calves.
NOTE: Only pregnant animals that have been previously vaccinated with a modified live vaccine (Bovishield, Express, Starvac, Vista) can have a modified live vaccine while they are pregnant, otherwise the vaccine may cause abortion.

Q: My cow/heifer is calving, when should I call the vet?
A: Labour can be divided into 3 stages. Stage 1 involves delivery of the "water bag" (chorioallantois). A cow should not be restless and stagnant in stage 1 for more than 6 hours. Call your vet if you suspect failure to progress to stage 2 of labour. Stage 2 begins with the rupture of the "water bag" (chorioallantoic membrane) and ends with delivery of the calf (should be no >2hrs between water bag and progressive delivery). The cow should start licking calf right away (to stimulate breathing). If these steps do not occur, or delayed, call you veterinarian. It is essential that the calf nurse from her dam soon after birth to ensure appropriate consumption of colostrum (containing antibodies necessary to the calf's immune system). The calf should consume 2-3L of colostrum in first 4 hours of life, then 2-3 more in next 4 hours. Stage 3 involves the delivery of the placenta, which is considered retained if not delivered 24hrs after the end of stage 2) can lead to infection (septecemia, metritis, delayed uterine involution). Call your vet if you need assistance treating your cow for retained placenta.

Q: My dog/cat is urinating small amounts frequently. What's going on?
A: This is a classic presentation for a pet with a urinary tract infection. Your veterinarian will recommend that you bring your pet in for examination and to collect urine for analysis. This will help your vet rule out other underlying conditions such as urinary crystals, metabolic causes of excessive urination and urinary incontinence. If your pet has a urinary tract infection, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and may send home an anti-inflammatory medication as well. Rechecking urine for ongoing infection is recommended following completion of antibiotics. 

Q: My dog is not putting any weight on his hind leg, but he isn't yelping. Is he actually sore?

A: If a dog is limping or non-weight bearing it indicates discomfort. Just like in people, dogs have different levels of pain tolerance and while some dogs will cry out, others will not when exposed to the same level of painful stimulus. The most common injury that results in acute non-weight bearing lameness in a dog is a cranial cruciate ligament rupture (referred to as ACL in people). Some of these signs may include but will not be limited to; yelping in pain, abnormal gait or posture, reluctance to do normal activities (play / go for walk / jump on furniture), inappetance and withdrawal from interacting with their family.

Often dogs with this kind of injury will carry around the limb, and not put any weight on it. This is because it is an unstable joint, leading to stretching of the joint capsule. This causes extreme discomfort so they will prevent this pain from occurring by not putting any weight on the leg. While rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament is the most commonly diagnosed cause of acute lameness in a hind leg, there are many other causes of soreness in a dog's hind end including arthritis, strains or sprains, fractures and bruising. The best way to know what kind of discomfort that an animal is in, is to have a veterinarian examine them. That way we can take the appropriate steps to correct or treat the underlying condition that is leading to the discomfort in the first place.

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Tips & Hints

When did you brush your teeth last? How about your pet’s teeth? Many pet owners are surprised to hear their veterinarian recommend daily brushing for their pet’s teeth, but it is an essential part of keeping them healthy. Your pet’s teeth should be brushed daily, checked by a veterinarian annually and may require scaling and polishing under general anesthesia.

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