Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Check" it out- The top pet health needs of 2015!

A loving home goes a long way toward the health but its not the be all and end all. Check out our list of your pets top health care needs in 2015!

A physical exam. This is the most important part of an annual wellness visit.
We wish we could speak with pets so that they may tell us how they are feeling.That isn't the case.We may be able to alter the course of a disease if we catch it early enough. During a physical exam, a veterinarian will do a head-to-toe examination of the pet.
It may be hard to notice while chatting in the exam room with your vet but they start at the pet’s head and work all the way back to the tail.
During the exam, they are looking in  the pet’s mouth for broken teeth or gingivitis, the eyes for cataracts or glaucoma, the ears for infection or parasites, and the neck for the pet’s lymph nodes and thyroid gland.
Listening to the pet’s chest for a heart murmur or irregular beat, which are signs of heart disease and listening to the lungs, feeling the abdomen for irregularities, checking the joints, skin for abormal growths is also a very vital part of the exam. Finally watching your pet move around the room for signs of pain or neurological issues.

Vaccinations. Veterinarians will recommend vaccines based on factors, such as whether a cat stays indoors, if a dog goes swimming, the local climate, and diseases present in your area. Optional vaccines include feline leukemia (recommended for outdoor cats) and canine bordetella, or kennel cough -recommended for dogs who visit a groomer, boarding or if you bring your pet out with you to local parks, Petsmart, or friends who have pets. Did you know that you can even carry in viruses on your shoes and clothes from outside your home?

Dental exam.Dental disease can be very painful, even though your pet may show you they are a real trooper and continue eating. They may focus on eating on one side of their mouth only and you may not even notice it!

Parasite testing. Fleas and heartworm can affect pets, and parasites, such as roundworm and ringworm, can affect people as well. AVH recommends bringing in  a fecal sample to check for parasites in the intestine. Preventive medicine is the key to protect against parasites.

Lab work. Based on a pet’s breed and age, a veterinarian might recommend additional diagnostic testing.
Routine blood work, for example, will check things a veterinarian can’t detect on a physical exam, such as signs of diabetes, an underlying infection, or poor kidney health. Detecting and treating disease at its earliest stage is best for the pet and less costly to the pet owner in the long run.

AVH has also designed "Wellness Plans" of varying stages for your pet. You can call our office to find out more information about them and how they can benefit you and your pet both from a financial point of view to a preventative point of view. The information about our wellness packages is  also located on our Facebook page.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hack, hack, cough, cough

It's that time of year again, and we have been seeing in inordinate amount of kennel cough cases. 
You might think your dog has something stuck in his throat. The cough associated with acute infectious tracheobronchitis,  or kennel cough, is a high-pitched, honk-like cough, sometimes followed by retching.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchial tree caused by a contagious virus (adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, canine distemper virus) or bacterium (Bordetella bronchiseptica). The disease is associated most often with dogs housed in a high-density population or boarding kennel. The infectious agents can be transmitted through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces. Puppies and younger dogs are at greatest risk, but even old dogs can acquire kennel cough.

The incubation period from the time the dog first contracts the infection to the time that symptoms develop is typically between 3 to 10 days, and the symptoms can last for days to weeks. A mild to moderate cough without other symptoms is usually self-limiting; however, occasional cases become lingering and cause chronic bronchitis.

What to Watch For

Kennel cough causes a variety of symptoms that can vary in severity.

  • Signs of upper respiratory problems such as conjunctivitis (irritated eyes), rhinitis (runny nose) or sneezing may be observed.
  • Cough. The classic symptoms are bouts of a loud, honking cough that worsen with activity or excitement and can persist for minutes. The dog will often act as if something is stuck in the throat and retch or vomit up fluid after coughing. If secondary bacterial pneumonia develops, the dog often shows signs of illness such as loss of appetite, depression, or fever.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Difficult breathing

    Any of these signs should prompt a visit to see your veterinarian in order to be certain pneumonia has not set in.
  • Thursday, September 18, 2014

    AVH is now a Cat Friendly Practice!

    What does it Mean to be a Cat Friendly Hospital? 


    Recently Allandale Veterinary Hospital gained a new certification of being a "Cat Friendly Hospital" It entails a detailed application that took quite some time to complete. Once approved AVH may have random checks by personnel involved with the Cat Friendly association. Every two years AVH must be re-certified. 

    The AAFP has created the Cat Friendly Practice Program that allows veterinary practices to systematically and effectively address the needs of the feline patient in order to provide the highest quality care. The program aims to help increase feline visits by providing practitioners with the guidelines and resources to become a Cat Friendly Practice.
    The program was first introduced in February 2012. Participating practices that have become cat friendly have noticed a considerable difference.

    Participating practices will complete a self-assessment checklist that guides the practice to incorporate the essential criteria by using the educational resources provided. Many of the techniques contained in the checklist are readily achievable because they focus on approach and organization. The program does not require remodeling your practice but provides creative solutions for you to help decrease the stress during the visit. The most important step is to recognize that there is a need to make these adaptations in order to provide a higher quality of care to cats.
    When a practice takes the steps to become a Cat Friendly Practice, it creates a practice environment that values the feline patient’s needs. At the heart of the Cat Friendly Practice is the potential for building productive relationships with cat owners, which will result in improved care of the feline patient.

    As applicants go through the assessment process, they will have the opportunity to:
    • Evaluate attitudes and care provided to feline patients.
    • Examine the practice environment and equipment by considering the specific needs of cats.
    • Assess and implement practice skills, training and education.
    •  If you are interested in learning more feel free to come by our Open House on Sunday Oct 19th between 2-5 and tour the facilities, and learn more about how we treat our feline patients.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014


                Why DO dogs snore, and what can be done about it?

     In the most basic terms, the snoring sound itself occurs when there is some type of blockage in the upper respiratory tract. This blockage can be anywhere along the respiratory path from the nose to the trachea (the tube that takes air to the lungs). As air is forced through these passages, it moves unevenly past the blockage and creates the groaning, creaking noise we recognize as snoring.
    There are several factors that can make your dog snore including abnormal confirmation and structure of the face, obesity, nasal congestion, infections, polyps, allergies, medications and sometimes even the sleeping position.

    Take a look at these common causes for snoring and see if any sounds like something your dog might experience:

    Flat Faces – Dog breeds with flat faces (brachycephalic breeds) or pushed-in noses often have several structural abnormalities that affect their noses and airways. Their cute squished up faces typically mean that the same number of body structures must fit into a much smaller space. The nasal cavity, already quite small in dogs, is even smaller in these dogs but must hold similar tissue and structures. Redundant skin folds (like the wrinkles in a Pug's face) often result in blocked passages and snoring. Breeds which are commonly affected include Boxers, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs. Some of these breeds require surgery to remove excess tissue and relieve the blockage.       

  • Soft Palate Disorders - Soft palate disorders are usually congenital defects of the fleshy tissue at the back of the throat (soft palate and epiglottis) these normally separates the oral and nasal cavities. The most common disorders are a defect or "cleft" in the palate or an elongation of the palate. This overlapping causes an obstruction of the airway during breathing. The sound the pet makes (stridor) worsens during exercise. Treatment of an elongated soft palate is surgical. This condition is seen also in the brachycephalic breeds group.
  • Obesity – A chubby dog isn't always a happy dog. A few extra pounds can cause a lot of extra pressure on a dog's respiratory system and chest cavity. Excess weight can even result in brief interruptions in breathing during sleep, a condition commonly known as sleep apnea in humans. Thankfully, weight loss typically eliminates snoring in these cases.
  • Nasal Congestion – Just like humans, dogs are more likely to snore when their noses are clogged. Nasal congestion can result from allergies, nasal infections or even nasal tumors. Allergies can be caused by dust, house dust mites, mildew, mold, and smoke.
  • Medications – Some medications such as muscle relaxants or those used to treat pain can lower respiratory rate or even constrict air passages.
  • Weather – Dry air can cause nasal tissues to stick together, resulting in snoring from dogs who are typically silent sleepers. In some individuals, changes in altitude due to travel or even varying air pressure can increase snoring.
  • Sleep Positions – Some people tend to snore more when they sleep on their backs and less when they sleep on their sides. Dogs also can snore more or less based on their sleep positions. Dogs who sleep on their back and stomach typically place more pressure on their respiratory tracts, while those who sleep on their sides usually experience less.

    For the most part, snoring in dogs is not a problem as long as they are getting plenty of good sleep and they continue to breathe normally while awake. Snoring becomes a problem if it interrupts or prevents normal sleep patterns or causes difficulty breathing during exercise.

    If you are worried about your dog's snoring or see a behavior change, nasal discharge, sneezing or a bloody nose, please see your veterinarian for an examination.

  • Thursday, May 29, 2014

    ahhh summer....

    So the warmer weather has finally arrived. With that being said there are many seasonal hazards for us to consider for our pets.

    Firstly heat. Make sure pets that are outdoors have plenty of shade and cool water to stay hydrated. Tough winter coats that haven't been able to shed can be a nuissance. Consider having your dog's coat bathed and low dried using our super power blower. It can blow dead hair out in a matter of seconds. Secondly grooming. Long coats can be shortened in the summer months. Consider a trip to the grooming salon to ease with heat.

    BBQ time. Foreign bodies are not fun. That's the term we call it in the veterinary world. A foreign body = something that should not be in the body. Corn cobs are notorious for getting obstructed in the gastrointestinal tract. These can be potentially dangerous no matter how small the size is. Please keep corn cobs away from pets.

    Fireworks. Loud and noisy, pets really are not a fan of loud fireworks. If you know that your pet is nervous of thunderstorms or fireworks please ensure they are in a safe area where they cannot hurt themselves. playing music or the television  louder to drown out the thunder or fireworks can also sometimes help. If you pet is severely anxious please contact us and speak to your veterinarian.

    Many pets chew on plants in the yard and garden. Fortunately for dogs, who seem to enjoy eating grass and then vomiting, most grasses are non-toxic.
    Most garden and food producing plants are non-toxic to pets, and only result in mild gastrointestinal upset when ingested. That said, here are a few common summer plants that can cause concerns when eaten by pets:

    Rhubard leaves contain oxalic acid, calcium oxalate and potassium oxalate and can result in oral and gastrointestinal irritation causing vomiting and diarrhea.4 Treatment includes symptomatic and supportive care.
     Left untreated most cats die of kidney failure. Lily of the valley, Oleander, Kalanchoe, and Azaleas are spring and summer plants that can be deadly to pets if ingested in large enough quantities. Dogs should be watched carefully when these plants are being cared for.

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Flea Mythbusting!

    With spring hopefully around the corner ( if this winter ever ends) the warmth brings out all those goody little creatures like worms and fleas and when there is mosquitos there is a chance of heartworm. It is a good idea if you are concerned to have a stool sample checked on your pets especially in the spring. Good preventative medicine goes a long way! Here  at AVH we require a fresh (within 24 hours) stool sample that is sent out to an outside lab where an actual parasitologist will read the sample and report back to us within 1 day. We are also starting to heartworm test as of April 1st. Be sure to read our latest newsletter or call our office to see if your dog needs a blood test done prior to the medication.

    Before we get to busting some flea myths lets talk flea facts first. Did you know....

    There are more than 2000 species of fleas, 95% of the flea population live in the environment and only 5% live on animals.

    Dog parks and other open spaces are not likely sources of fleas, since these pets do not spend much time resting there. Also open spaces are not conducive to the fleas life stages. However infected pets that do travel to parks and defecate will expose other dogs to intestinal parasites. Keep that in mind.

    Inside the home flea populations will be concentrated where the animal spend most of its time sleeping or resting.

    Squirrels and other rodents so not carry the same species of fleas that infest cats and dogs. Wild animals such as opossums and raccoons can introduce fleas into the yard if they are nesting in areas your pet has access to.

    Now onto busting some flea myths...

    Putting an ultrasonic collar on my pet will inhibit flea and tick infestations.
    Good Lord, Busted! These type of collars have NO effect on fleas and ticks. In some areas these type of collars have been deemed fraudulent.

    Cut an orange in half and rub it on your pets back and stomach.
    Seriously? Busted! The peel of citrus fruits contains a chemical called linalool. It has been used as insect repellent over the years, but in order for it to be effective on fleas it would need to be extracted and concentrated. It is not practical to use the juice from the orange.

    Spray the yard with Ivory soap and water.
    Huh? Busted! This is not an effective treatment, since the adult flea is only on the pet and does not live out in the yard.

    Keep cats indoors.
    Busted. Any pet that lives in doors theoretically will have a lower exposure to parasites, however fleas thrive on indoor environments and it only takes one male and one female to be introduced.

    Feed pets raw garlic, garlic powder or garlic pills.
    Please do not do this! Busted. There is no clinical evidence that this works plus it is potentially hazardous to pets especially cats! Garlic is in the allium family which includes onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. In some animals it can cause severe anemia, some can have lesser reactions such as vomiting and diarrhea.

    Feed 1 mg of brewers yeast for every 5 pounds of weight, by mixing it in with food.
    Busted! Brewers yeast is not toxic, but lacks effectiveness against fleas. This is a folklore, through research studies have proven that it is not effective against parasites.

    The best way to prevent or control fleas is speak with your veterinary team . There are many products that are purchased over the counter from pet stores that are not 100% effective or can be potentially fatal for cats. Frequent vacuuming, washing bedding will help with controlling the environment. Once a flea finds its host it will not leave unless it is killed, washed off, or displaced by scratching, chewing, or grooming. Hope you have a flea free 2014!

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    a report sent from the team...

    Today is our forth day of spaying/neutering and vaccinating the pets here in Todos Santos.  They have been long days starting at 6am and ending at 5pm.  Although I am happy to report our showers have all been HOT!  With propane showers this year in our hotel rooms, life in Todos Santos has been more comfortable. We have already exceeded the numbers of surgeries and rabies from last year.   The numbers are astonishing, and it is nice to see the local people understanding the need for rabies control and dog population.  It is great to see familar faces and dogs as we walk. The locals are so thankful for the work we do.  I have 3 children that visit me every day after school.  They only speak Spanish and love to repeat every word I say in English.   I have started to teach them our Canadian anthem.  The joy these kids get from us visiting is contagious.  I love seeing them smile. -Melissa

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

    Where do you begin?

    A word from another team member - Jenn 

    Wow, were do I begin? This trip to Todos Santos, Guatemala has been a lot of firsts for me! My first time out of North America and my first ever plane ride!  Being here has been one amazing experience; my position here is in recovery, monitoring patients coming out of surgery. With 15 - 20 surgeries a day it makes for a very busy time but its great.  We have the chance to interact with the people of Todos Santos! From the moment they come out of surgery we need to get their temperature, surround them with heating bottles, check the heart rates and respiratory rates, connect them back onto IV fluids and monitor for a safe recovery. We have up to 7-9 patients at once in recovery so it can get a bit crowded. Courtney and I hand out some snacks to the parents and kiddies! Just like back home in Canada we all share the same love and compassion for our furry little friends. The owners will stay by their side talking to them trying to wake them up. It’s very sweet to see those giving kisses and hugs to their pets after surgery.
    I’ve had the chance to monitor patients during surgery with some of the Guatemalan Veterinarians as well as Dr. Lechten and Dr. Poon. The surgical area is not what you would expect to see, but with what we have to use, it works great giving the conditions. It really makes me feel great every night when going to bed, that being a part of this mission makes a difference here in Todos Santos.
    The Vets without Borders team is an amazing group of people and I would love to be a part of this mission again.  I am truly blessed to be here and very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this team, something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl.

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Dr. Poons English-Spanish vocabulary, numbers 1-10, "hello", "goodbye"... and more.....

    My first visit to Todos Santos and Guatemala has been an amazing experience so far. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with a select few of my Allandale colleagues and work alongside some remarkable individuals with Veterinarians Without Borders to help make a difference.

    After 2 flights and a ~8 hour bus ride up through the mountains, our team and 8 totes of medical supplies arrive at our destination. We were introduced to the other members of the Guatemala spay/neuter initiative, which include several veterinarians, a veterinary technician and other helpers to provide English-Spanish translation - the latter being especially important considering my Spanish vocabulary consisted of the numbers 1-10, "hello", "goodbye", "bathroom", "chicken" and "cold beer"...

    Although this is not my first time in Central America, the cultural differences between here and back home still astonish me. It is humbling to see the people make so much of what they have and it brings me such joy to see the people's faces light up with simple, albeit foreign, pleasures like glow sticks, Life Savers and coloured paper. This was definitely highlighted during the Community Day in the central marketplace, being able to interact with the locals to educate them about proper pet care and Rabies awareness.

    On the other hand, it is heartbreaking to see the large number of stray dogs that roam the town. They are often seen as pests rather than pets and are usually not offered the same love and care as dogs get back home. The plump, happy dogs that I am used to seeing on a daily basis in Barrie are a vast difference to the under-nourished, shy dogs in Todos Santos that will fight over any scraps of food on the ground. It is common to see dogs riddled with fleas or limping from old fractures that have not healed properly or enduring through debilitating diseases. Which really brings us to why I was given the opportunity to travel here. 

    After a few days of organization and preparation, Monday kicked off the weeklong  campaign of spays, neuters and vaccinations. It was remarkable working alongside Canadian veterinarians as well as local Guatemalan veterinarians as well. I spent most of the surgery time assisting the Guatemalan veterinarians with surgery and teaching them the different tricks and skills that I have learned through my (short) career in private practice. Their skills improved with each stitch and it felt incredible being a part of something that will one day become a self-sustaining cause in this country. I am sure the following days will be just as positive.

    - Dr. Alan Poon

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    another write up, this time from Melissa

    I am very happy to be having the opportunity to return to Todos Santos, Guatemala again this year. I am one of six staff from Allandale Vet Hospital that has made the long journey which started Thursday Feb 6, 2014. Our flight schedule started with us leaving Person airport and heading to Miami. As usual we stuck out like sore thumbs at the airport. All of us had our personal bag, carry on and 8 totes filled with medical supplies to last the week. U.S. customs must of thought the same as they called a few of us over and wanted to peek in our totes to see what we were bringing. With no problems we carried on, and arrived in Miami. With only an hour and a half to spare before boarding our plane to Guatemala, we grab a quick bite to eat and off we went. 

    We arrived in Guatemala City at around 9pm and grab our belongs and supplies. I am always nervous when it comes to customs in Guatemala, as none of us speak Spanish (fluently) and they do not have to let us bring our supplies in, so if they decide to take anything it can ruin our purpose of being here. They looked through a couple of totes questioning the de-wormer products, but once confident that we were not bringing anything bad into their country, we were on our way. Now the hotel we were staying in in Guatemala City was sending a car to pick us up, which was waiting for us when we exited the airport and to our surprise so was Heidi. Now if you don't remember Heidi was a vet in Guatemala that we met here last year. You may also remember her from the hospital as she came to Canada and stayed for about 6 months and worked at Allandale. Now the car the hotel sent was a compact car and could only fit half our supplies and 2 people the first trip. Luckily the hotel was 1 min away so the second group did not wait long, and the rest of us squeezed in Heidi's vehicle. We headed to our hotel, which was very quaint and clean. With a quick visit with Heidi she was on her way and our heads hit the pillow, as our ride was picking us up at 8am. Our drive to Todos Santos is a long one and we were hoping to make it there before dark. Our driver did not speak much English, but he was able to thank us for coming to his country and for providing him with work. Another man was with him, which spoke amazing English and he is employed as a tourist guide, his name was Norman. We were so lucky to have him, as he's enthusiasm to tell us all about Guatemala was amazing. About an hour or so along our journey there is a old Mayan city, so we were able to stop and Norman explained all the history, which was amazing.

     Our trip was educational with all the history, but exhausting. We finally arrived in Todos Santos a 6:30pm. With dinner at 7, we quickly dropped our gear and ate dinner. Our hotel this year seems like the Hilton compared to last year, however there is only 2 twin beds in my room with a desk. But the floor is tiled and the walls have stucko, which is a big upgrade compared to cement floors and walls last year. Now the bathroom has no door on it and the shower has no shower curtain which would not be a big deal, however I am sharing a room with Natalie (Dr Lechten's exam room technician). So what we may not of know about each other I am sure we may find out. 

    We were all quick to bed as the journey here was exhausting. Today is community day, which is were we educate the people and children about responsibilities of owning a dog. There were crafts, games, coloring and painting. I worked at a table that the kids were able to color on the paper and then I would cut it out and tape it in a cube shape. The kids loved them.

     I am not sure when the last time any of the kids did crafts, however I am sure it is not a routine thing. It is amazing to see how little these kids have, as I watch I young boy play with a old rubber bike tire, and see a 9 year old girl carry a child on her back and another child on her front. The responsibilities the children have is sad, as I watch one boy who would like to partake in the crafts but can't because he needs to shine shoes, my heart breaks.

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    our first update from Natalie and the crew.....

    Wow, what a day! We all met at the clinic mid morning to await the taxi that would take us to the airport. This year we had some awesome donations so we actually had 2 extra totes to bring with us. Lisa added up all the weight and it was around 350 lbs of medical supplies to take with us. Most of this will be staying in Guatemala to help with the medical needs of the animals there. Thank goodness for baggage carts as it took 4 to carry all the stuff from the taxi to check in. Last year we brought an autoclave (to sterilize the instruments) and it was quite the ordeal to get it there. This year even with the extra baggage we flew through check in and customs, thanks American Airlines! The flights aren't to long (about 3 hours each) and we had a layover for an hour in Miami, Florida. It was good as we all needed dinner and it was just enough time to grab a bite to eat. We boarded and headed off to Guatemala. We arrived in Guatemala City about 9 pm and claimed our totes and baggage quickly. Guatemalan customs was fairly easy to get through and we had a driver waiting for us outside the airport. Is was a great surprise to have Heidi waiting for us also. We had so much stuff it took the driver two trips and Heidi to get everything to our hotel. We had a nice visit with Heidi and met with Stacy a tech from last year who would be joining us on our journey to Todos Santos. We were in bed by 11:30 pm as the van coming to get us in the morning was arriving at 7:30 am. Up at 6:00 am for a quick shower (it might be our last warm one for a week) and a wonderful ethnic breakfast, we awaited the van. It was very prompt and we were loaded and on our way by 8:00 am. It is an eight hour drive but with lunch and bathroom breaks it takes about 10 hours. The roads very curvy and we were thankful our driver and guide tied our luggage and totes tightly to the top of the van. We were very lucky to have time to stop and do some sightseeing this year as last year we made the 2 day trek in one day. Our guide took us to a Myan ruin historical sight and we got to spend about 40 minutes walking around and learning Myan history. Back in the van and onward. One more stop in San Francisco ( not in the USA) for lunch and then again in Wawa for ice cream at Mc Donald's. Fortunately the scenery is very beautiful and the company was good so the drive didn't seem to long. We arrived in
    Todos Santos just as it was getting dark (around 6:30 pm). We met the rest of our team at the the Municipal Salon and they helped us unload everything quickly. We headed off to dinner and to hear the itinerary for the week. Saturday is a community kids day so we needed to get settled and get to bed. We are all staying in the same hotel this year so that will definitely be more convenient this year as it is right across from the Salon. We settled fairly quickly into our rooms and were asleep by about 10 pm as we had an early start the next day.