Dog Health Tips
Congratulations! You have a new puppy! Thank you for choosing Clarkson Village Animal Hospital to help protect and care for your new addition to your family.
Our puppy wellness program is designed to help get your puppy started on the right path to a long and healthy life. The first few months are a critical period in your puppy’s development, and we can give you the support and tools necessary to help your little friend grow into a well-mannered, healthy dog, including information and advice on nutrition, training, behaviour, and socialization.
Your Puppy’s First Exam
Schedule your puppy for his or her first exam as soon as possible.
Until your puppy has received a series of vaccines, he or she is susceptible to many serious but preventable diseases. We will make sure your new dog is protected against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, among other diseases.
Your puppy will also need to be tested and treated for parasites, which are extremely common in young dogs.
We will ask you to bring in a sample of your pup’s stools as soon as you can. Most puppies have intestinal parasites, often worms that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal signs (although dogs can have parasites without showing any symptoms).
It is important for puppies to be treated for common worms, not only to get rid of the infection, but also to prevent you and the rest of your family from becoming infected! Humans can be infected when the puppy sheds worm eggs into the environment (your house and yard). Worms are “zoonotic parasites”, which means they can be transmitted from pets to people. By ensuring that your puppy is properly treated, you can keep your entire family safe from these and other parasites, such as Giardia, Coccidia, or Alaria.
Socializing is very important to begin right away. Introduce your pup to people, the mail man, other dogs who are current on vaccinations, children – everyone! Go for lots of car rides, go visiting, have fun.
We look forward to meeting your new puppy! We have a great deal of training information available for you.
Adult Dog Wellness
How Old Is My Dog Really?
Dogs are considered to be adults between the ages of 12 to 24 months, depending on the breed. Larger dogs mature at a later age.
During their adult years (1 to 8 years for dogs), we recommend an annual comprehensive physical examination, appropriate vaccination for infectious disease, examination of a stool sample for intestinal parasites, and heartworm testing.
Why Is an Annual Physical Examination Important?
Dogs have a relatively short adult life compared to humans, since every year of their life represents 5 to 6 human years.
Dramatic changes in their health can occur over this time period. It’s important to bring your dog to see us at least annually, to ensure your pet lives the longest and healthiest life possible.
Dogs don’t always show their symptoms, and they can’t tell us when something is wrong. Bringing your dog in for an examination helps us find any hidden illnesses and treat them right away.
What About Protecting My Dog from Heartworm?
In dogs, an annual blood sample will be taken to screen for heartworm disease.
This will enable your dog to safely go on heartworm preventive medication during the summer and fall months.
Does My Dog Need Any Preventive Tests?
Annual blood and urine tests may also be recommended at vaccination or heartworm testing time.
This wellness screen will serve to identify early kidney and liver problems, and evidence of infection or anemia before your pet has shown any outward signs.
If all test values are normal, these results will also serve as a helpful frame of reference for any future testing.
If a surgical procedure, such as a dental cleaning or mass removal, is determined to be necessary during the physical exam, these test values will serve as a pre-anesthetic screen prior to surgery. Anesthetics are metabolized by either the liver or kidneys and therefore it is extremely important that these organs are functioning normally in order to design an individualized anesthetic protocol.
Does My Dog Need Vaccinations?
The appropriate vaccination protocol for your pet will be discussed during your vaccination appointment.
Dogs who spend time outdoors or associate with other animals will be at higher risk for some diseases. Additional vaccines may be recommended for these dogs compared to their indoor counterparts. This would include vaccinating for Leptospirosis and possibly Lyme disease.
Yearly vaccinations provide an ideal opportunity to identify and treat any problems that your adult dog may be experiencing before they become significant health concerns.
Early detection and treatment of a problem may allow your adult pet to enjoy many healthy, happy years as a senior member of your family.
Senior Dog Wellness
How Old Is My Senior Dog Really?
Dogs are considered to become seniors as early as 6 years for giant breeds, and as late as 10 to 12 years for miniature breeds.
Our older dogs age 5 to 6 years in human years for every year of their life. Obviously, dramatic changes in their health can occur over this time period.
During their senior years, we recommend a physical examination at least once yearly, vaccination (if health permits), and examination of a stool sample. Dogs should also receive a heartworm and tick-borne disease test yearly.
Depending on your pet’s health status, semi-annual or annual blood and urine screening may be advised. Senior pets who develop specific problems may need to have blood and urine levels monitored as often as every few weeks or months.
What Conditions Are Common in Older Dogs?
Obviously, as they age, pets are prone to develop age-related conditions similar to humans.
Eyesight and hearing deteriorate and in some cases, deafness or blindness may be very sudden. Sudden onset blindness is very significant and may indicate hypertension, cataracts, glaucoma or retinal deterioration.
Dental disease is also very common in senior animals, due to long-term tartar accumulation, gum inflammation, and recession of gum tissue. An infected mouth in an older dog often acts as a source of infection for other body organs and may cause premature deterioration of the kidneys or heart valves. Dogs with dental disease may have bad breath and exhibit pain while eating or decreased appetite.
Joint pain due to osteoarthritis is another concern with older dogs. Symptoms include: difficulty rising from a resting position, reluctance to exercise or climb stairs, limping, decreased appetite, or increased irritability. Evidence of arthritis can sometimes be found on examination as joints begin to “grind”, pain is observed, and muscles begin to deteriorate. Newer anti-inflammatories and pain control, as well as proven herbal supplements, can provide excellent relief from arthritis pain in dogs.
As pets age, their heart valves may deteriorate, causing possible signs of congestive heart failure such as ca ough, exercise intolerance, and weight loss. Sometimes, an ongoing cough in older animals can be due to chronic bronchitis. A veterinarian can use a stethoscope to examine the chest, and determine if heart or lung disease may be present. X-rays, ultrasound, and appropriate blood tests can then be performed if a heart or lung problem is suspected.
Skin and coat problems are frequently benign, but many skin masses (growths) look alike. Growths require analysis to make sure they are not cancerous and likely to spread elsewhere in the body. You will likely see many skin and coat problems in older pets. Nutrients are not absorbed as well, increased skin oils and dander. Diet changes, shampoo, and fatty acid supplements can dramatically improve the coat quality of older animals.
Abdominal palpation, performed by a veterinarian, can detect changes in older dogs’ organ size. It also detects any abnormal masses or evidence of pain. Any of these signs would indicate the need for X-rays, ultrasound, or blood or urine tests.
Why Are Physical Exams Important for My Senior Dog?
During annual or semi-annual check-ups in older pets, weight gain or losses will be assessed and you will be asked questions regarding your pet’s appetite, lameness, change in drinking, urinating, bathroom habits, general attitude, and energy levels.
Changes in any of these areas may indicate any early problems and by performing diagnostic tests we can improve the quality and length of life for your senior pet.
Is Your Older Dog Confused?
Cognitive dysfunction is very common for dogs, as it is for ourselves. We have foods with supplements to help to slow down the brain aging process, and that can keep dogs more alert, help with their day/night cycle, etc.
Pet Insurance in Ontario
Living in the province of Ontario, we are fortunate to benefit from one of the most advanced healthcare programs, which provides funding for our personal comprehensive healthcare. For every dollar we pay in provincial and federal taxes, $0.35 goes to subsidizing our healthcare costs. Larger businesses even pay a significant percentage of their payroll for healthcare!
Unfortunately, no such benefit exists for our animals. As caregivers, we are responsible for the financial support to provide for their healthcare.
This is an important part of responsible pet ownership – but it can also be overwhelming in emergencies or cases of continued illness. The good news is that health insurance is available for our pets, and helps provide peace of mind to ensure the best medical care for these family members.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Presently in Ontario, there are several companies offering health insurance for dogs and cats.
As with human health coverage, different programs offer different protection plans and levels of coverage. For each plan, there is a range of deductibles and premiums. Plans can offer “emergency” coverage for unexpected needs, comprehensive coverage for complete healthcare assistance, or even specialized plans for “indoor only” cats, shelter animals, or senior pets.
There are even plans available in conjunction with a microchip identification system. This will allow you to protect your pet and provide automatic emergency medical care if your pet is lost and injured and you cannot be immediately contacted.
Are there Any Restrictions?
As with human insurance, sometimes there are restrictions on which conditions, injuries or procedures are covered. It is therefore best to insure pets while they are young and healthy – before any medical attention is required.
Should I Get Insurance for My Pet?
Pet insurance is an invaluable safeguard, which will ensure that your pet will always be able to receive the best in healthcare. Currently, we believe that Trupanion offers the best coverage.
When protected by an insurance plan, affording medical procedures will no longer be an issue. As medical and surgical advances occur, the level of sophistication for diagnostics and treatments also increases. By having insurance, options such as root canals, chemotherapy, orthopedic surgery, CT scans, and MRI’s can be financially possible for your pet.
Coping with Grief after the Loss of a Pet
The loss of a pet is always a tragic event, often being one of the most profoundly painful moments in your life. Our emotions following the loss are real, justifiable, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Your heart must split from your mind. You have to make a decision that will break your heart, knowing that the alternative is so much worse. Every person at the Clarkson Village Animal Hospital understands these feelings, as most of us have faced this moment in our own lives.
However, when your pet is suffering and has a poor quality of life, you know what the right thing to do is. It is the most unselfish act to take away your pet’s suffering, even when it is so hard for you.
We are here to help you at this sad and difficult time. We can provide you with literature that can help you and your children deal with the loss of a family pet. There are also several nearby Pet Loss Support Groups.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us regarding this issue.
The Rainbow Bridge
There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth. It is called the rainbow bridge because of its many colours. Just this side of the rainbow there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. The old and frail animals are young again, they play all day with each other.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on earth. So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up! The nose twitches, the ears are up, the eyes are staring! And this one suddenly runs from the group!
You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.
Then you cross the rainbow bridge together, never again to be separated.