Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Weeding out the facts...

Many people have questions regarding the use of Cannabis and Cannabis oil on their pets. With the new Cannabis Act, there raises a concern within the pet health field. This act creates a new environment for Canadians which will increase their pet’s exposure to marijuana.  

Currently, there are no approved cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) prescription drugs for animals, which is the safest pathway for veterinarians to prescribe cannabis to animals. There are veterinary health products (VHP) with hemp that are approved for sale in Canada; these are low risk substances used to maintain or promote the health and welfare of animals and do not make health claims. VHPs can contain ingredients such as hemp seed derivatives containing no more than 10 ppm THC, which will be exempt from the Cannabis Act. These products can be identified by a notification number on the label. Pet owners should be aware of unapproved products being marketed to consumers. If a cannabis product does not have a drug identification number (DIN) or a notification number (VHP) then its safety and efficacy cannot be verified. Anyone can visit Health Canada’s VHP web App and search the notification number or brand name.

Marijuana toxicities can occur when pets ingest the substance or if smoke is blown into their nose or face. Signs can include lethargy, disorientation, wobbliness, vomiting, increased salivation, and urinary incontinence. Marijuana toxicosis can be life threatening so please do not be afraid to let your veterinarian know you pet could have been exposed.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Always learning

On October 19th Melissa and Natalie headed up to Sudbury to attend the first Northern Animal Summit hosted by the OSPCA.  It was a 2 day event with lots of speakers discussing the issues that
Northern Summit Panel
are currently affecting the overpopulation of dogs mainly in the indigenous communities in northern Ontario.
The summit kicked off with a smudging ceremony, which was a first for Melissa and Natalie and they were very excited to join.  The smudging ceremony is a custom of Native American and other indigenous cultures. For centuries many cultures have used smudging as a way to create a cleansing smoke bath that is used to purify the body, aura, energy, ceremonial/ritual space or any other space and personal articles.

The speakers were great!  One speaker talked about the mobile spay/neuter campaigns that are happening in northern Ontario.  To Melissa and Natalie’s surprised this speaker commented on the great work Allandale/GAAP has done and they were humbled to see their photos in the presentation along with some of the other AVH team members. 
It was fantastic to hear what other organizations are doing. One organization strictly transfers dogs from the north to the south to find them new homes.  Another organization ships dog food up to remote communities, their last shipment weighed in at 1500lbs, that’s a lot of dog food!
However there are still many obstacles.  Some of these communities don’t have drinking water.  They are so remote that vet care is not possible, internet is non-existent and costs of dog food is $40 a small bag and a delissio pizza is $15.  There are not many veterinarians that hold a special license to travel and do mobile clinics and if they do, the cost to run a spay/neuter clinic up north can cost between 10, 000 to 20, 000 for a 3 day clinic in one community.
Melissa and Natalie left feeling optimistic and excited.  They had seen some old friends and made some new, and with all the work these charities are accomplishing, hopefully we can see a brighter future for the northern dogs.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hay now...

It’s a good day to talk about hay

One of the most important aspects of being a pet parent to a small herbivore is providing a proper diet that is predominantly hay. But have you ever wondered how and why hay keeps your pet happy and healthy? There are many different functions that hay provides for your pet and it may not be as obvious as it seems. It all starts with a basic understanding of herbivore physiology, starting at the mouth.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas have hypsodont teeth, which means they are open rooted and continuously grow throughout their lifetime. The front incisor teeth are scythe-like and used to cut through vegetation while the back premolars and molars are flat and used to grind hard fibrous foods. Rabbits use those molars to chew up to 120 times a minute! The rapid side-to-side jaw movements, encouraged by a suitable high fibre diet, helps with proper dental health to allow the incisors to be constantly sharpened and the back teeth to wear down and prevent overgrowth. With low fibre diets or overfeeding of pellets, the jaw movements are slower and more up-and-down, which can result in tooth root elongation and malocclusion (misalignment). Inappetance caused by dental malocclusion is one of the most common reasons a small herbivore is brought to the veterinary hospital. 

As the hay moves into the gut, it passes through the stomach and the small intestines, which play only a small part in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Most of the work is performed by the large intestinal tract, known at the hind-gut. The hind-gut is comprised of 2 segments called the cecum and the colon. The cecum is a large pouch within the intestinal tract that is home to over 70 different types of bacteria and microorganisms. The bacteria break down and ferment, or digest, plant materials into different fatty acids and vitamins, which are then absorbed into the animal’s body to be used as energy for daily life. The fibre from the hay that is eaten helps to stimulate the contractions of the hind-gut to mix the intestinal contents around to enable the bacteria to ferment the fibre properly. This fermentation process is also crucial for the production of cecotrophs, soft nutrient-dense fecal pellets that are ingested directly from the rectum (midnight snack!). Diets low in fibre lead to decreased production of fatty acids and destabilization of the bacterial environment. Inappropriate diets, such as ones high in seeds, grains, bread and other carbohydrates, as well as diets with lots of treats, such as fruits and yogurt drops, can cause an overgrowth of bacterial pathogens and toxin production. This can lead to a serious condition known as gastrointestinal stasis – symptoms to watch out for include decreased appetite, bloated abdomen and/or diarrhea. 

Aside from being an important part of the diet, hay is also good for the mental health of small herbivores. Hay encourages natural foraging and grazing behaviours, which help to diminish boredom-based behaviours, increase physical activity and promote mental stimulation. You can also offer a variety of different hays to make mealtimes interesting and provide different tastes and textures – good grass hays to feed include timothy, orchard grass and oat. It’s encouraged to place hay in as many locations as possible throughout the living space or to stuff hay into safe-to-chew containers, such as toilet paper rolls, to maximize enrichment.  For an added incentive, you can bury a few of your pet’s favourite treats into the hay and watch them excitedly hunt for them!
In summary, improper nutrition is often the key contributing factor in reasons why small herbivores are presented to the veterinary hospital. Feeding a proper diet that is mostly hay is good preventative health care and ensures a long and happy life for your pet!