It’s important to have an emergency plan so if your cat or dog suddenly needs medical care, you won’t be caught off guard.
- Familiarize yourself with your local emergency veterinary clinics or pet hospitals. The best case scenario is a clinic that is open 24/7, every day, with a veterinarian and Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) on-site at all times. You must make sure that you are not calling an “emergency hospital” with the vet at home on call.
- Consider cost – some emergency hospitals charge an extra emergency fee, call them in advance to confirm if this is the case.
- Consider how long it would take you to travel to the emergency vet clinic – physical distance is not as important as the amount of time it takes. Also, in the case of emergency, ask the veterinary hospital the anticipated waiting time. A hospital farther away with a shorter waiting time may be a better option.
- Write down the emergency clinic’s number and keep it somewhere handy, like on the fridge, in a drawer, or on your phone, so you won’t have to spend time looking it up if an accident happens.
If you have any uncertainty at all about whether or not your pet needs emergency veterinary care – take your pet right in!
Better to be safe than sorry. Ideally, call the emergency animal hospital or go in straight away.
- Rapid breathing
- Weak pulse
- Rapid pulse
- Body temperature change
- Difficulty standing up
- Pale gums
- Paralysis or difficulty moving
- Loss of consciousness
- Excessive bleeding
- Straining for urine or stools
Contact an emergency animal hospital right away. They should be able to walk you through what you’ll need to do in order to safely transport your dog or cat to the hospital.
Severely injured or sick pets can become defensive and even aggressive in some cases. Be careful approaching your pet to avoid getting injured if they lash out.
If there is bleeding, get bandage material or even a sock or T-shirt, and place steady pressure on the site of bleeding until you arrive.
If your pet is seizing, please stay away from their mouth.
If your pet may have had access to a poison or prescription medication, please bring in the container(s).
You will be asked to explain the injury or symptoms your pet is experiencing. The trained staff on the phone should be able to quickly determine whether your pet’s condition needs immediate care or not. They’ll advise you about what you should do next.
If your pet needs emergency care, you will be advised to come to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible.
You can place a dog or cat on a blanket, and use the blanket as a ‘stretcher’. Two people holding two corners can carry a large dog. If you can safely get your pet into a carrier to bring him/her to the hospital, do so gently.
If your pet is too aggressive to get close to, you should ask the staff at the emergency hospital for help and advice.
Costs will vary depending on the treatment your pet’s condition requires.
Maybe. It depends on your specific pet insurance provider, coverage, and your pet’s specific situation.
Different insurance programs offer different protection plans and levels of coverage. For each plan, there are a range of deductibles and premiums. Emergency coverage is usually an option in these plans. Check your pet’s policy or call your insurance company to see if your pet is covered.
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.
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.
Worms & Parasites
When pets are infected with parasites, you may or may not see signs. Hopefully, the infection will have been treated or diagnosed (by regular stool checks) before they become ill.
Otherwise, you may see signs of:
- Enlarged abdomen
- Dry skin and fur
- Vomiting (possibly with worms present)
- Weight loss
- Loss of energy
Since many parasites are too tiny to be seen, diagnosis is made by microscopic analysis of the stool looking for the eggs, and other microscopic stages produced by intestinal parasites.
Testing stool samples for parasite eggs should be done routinely, every couple of months when your pet is young, and at least annually when they are an adult.
However, on some days the worms produce few eggs, or in many cases, the worms are too young to produce eggs. In these situations, we may not find evidence of infection microscopically. Stool samples, therefore, do not demonstrate the presence of parasites 100% of the time.
We do not always depend on a negative stool sample. We include many factors before making a conclusion.
Routine treatments are required because the incidence of parasites is so high, and it poses a health risk both to pets and people.
It is actually good news when the stool sample is negative, because the worms present are young, who are not yet producing eggs. This means less risk for re-infection of your pet, less risk for your family, and less contamination of the environment.
Firstly, stool samples are performed to help assess the success of deworming treatments of confirmed cases.
Stool checks are also required routinely to check for the other parasites that are not treated by the standard deworming treatment (Giardia, Coccidia, Tapeworms, etc.), and to check for more unusual parasites (Physaloptera, Paragonimus, Alaria).
Skin parasites (Sarcoptes, Demodex mites) may show on stool samples after pets chew their itchy skin and swallow the microscopic mites. This is an unexpected but effective means of diagnosing skin mites.
Any deworming treatments done before you got your pet were just the beginning of the deworming program. There is a huge difference between receiving deworm treatment(s) and being free of worms.
Furthermore, medications used by breeders or humane societies are not as effective as the medications we use in the veterinary hospital. Products available over the counter at pet stores are not effective, have very limited treatment ranges, are often outdated, and often have significant toxicity concerns.
There is no room for error when dealing with the health of people and our pets.
Absolutely, yes. Diseases which pass from animals to humans are termed “zoonotic” diseases. Several common pet parasites can pass to people in a variety of stages. The symptoms can range from showing no signs to causing a variety of symptoms including:
- Skin irritation
- Development of internal cysts
Treating your pets’ intestinal parasites is extremely important for your entire family.
We recommend cleaning up stools immediately, washing hands after handling puppies and kittens, and discouraging face licking, especially for children and people with compromised immune systems.
Ensure that you have a fresh stool sample checked microscopically at least annually, provide a sample for the follow-up test if worms were found on a previous sample, and make sure to follow all deworming protocols according to directions.
Make sure to cover sandboxes, which cats may use as a toilet. Be very careful if raccoons are around to wear gloves and wash hands well when working in the garden, and for children to wash before eating, and when coming indoors.
Pregnant (or possibly pregnant) women should not clean or change the cat litter, should wash hands well after gardening, and only eat well-cooked meat or fish.
Pets & Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints and is the most common cause for lameness and chronic pain – found in both pets and people! For our pets, it can start in middle age if the cartilage surface of the joint is injured or from normal aging changes.
Genetics, diet, weight, and previous injuries can also play a role.
Many changes occur when a joint is injured or inflamed. Inflammation causes bone and cartilage damage, decreases joint fluid viscosity, and leads to pain. As the joint fluid degrades, this causes further damage to bone and cartilage, and this vicious cycle perpetuates the degenerative and painful arthritic response.
The signs of arthritis can be very subtle. Often, our pets appear to be “slowing down”. For example, they may have more trouble with stairs, jumping up, or jumping into the car. They may be stiffer in the morning or you may see them licking their paws. Dogs and cats both tend to minimize external signs of pain and do not generally cry, whine, or limp until arthritis is fairly advanced or severe. They don’t show what you would call “typical” signs of pain.
Any pet can develop arthritis, but larger dog breeds and overweight pets place much higher stresses on their joints. Pets that have previous injuries to their bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons may later develop arthritis. Hereditary diseases (e.g. hip dysplasia) can also play a role.
Many treatments exist to help our pets with arthritis. Arthritis treatments are usually more effective when used in combination, so your pet may be prescribed more than one.
Visit our dedicated chronic pain and arthritis page for full details.
Once the pain of arthritis is removed with appropriate treatment, most pets quickly regain their energy and activity levels and often appear to “come back to life”, using far fewer drugs with combination treatment.
- Start your pet on a weight loss program if they are overweight (to minimize the weight the joints must carry).
- Provide well-padded bedding in a warm, dry place.
- Provide non-skid flooring.
- Ensure proper grooming of their nails and feet.
- Elevate food and water bowls to a comfortable height for your pet (especially for large dogs).
For dogs, regular (daily) leash walks with moderate levels of exercise will help maintain flexibility and help to reduce the pain of arthritis. After 6-8 years of age, it is best to avoid running or chasing with tight turns, as this stresses the joints.
You may be surprised, but a lot of dogs and cats do not show it when they are experiencing oral pain or disease.
Check your pet’s mouth for tartar buildup, swollen and red gums, and especially bad breath. The bad breath is from a bacterial infection in the mouth. You can also keep an eye out for behavioural changes, such as differences in their usual eating and chewing.
At your pet’s annual checkup with us, we will evaluate his or her mouth, teeth, and gums for evidence of issues and determine if dental care is needed.
Dental disease can also be a symptom of illness somewhere else in your pet’s body. An examination, often coupled with a laboratory assessment, will help diagnose any additional issues.
When food, tartar, and bacteria are left to fester in your pet’s mouth, they can develop gingivitis and periodontitis, among other problems. For example, oral disease can lead to problems in the organs due to the spread of bacteria through the bloodstream.
Dental care keeps pets healthy. Just ask your own dentist.
Gingivitis: Usually reversible inflammation of the gums.
Periodontitis: Results from untreated gingivitis and infection; painful, irreversible gum infection and destruction of tooth‐supporting bones. Can lead to tooth loss.
Did you know that Red Cross will not accept you as a blood donor within 3 days of having your teeth cleaned? And did you know that a person with a heart murmur will be put on antibiotics before dental work is done? This is because of the bacteria in the mouth which are released into the bloodstream.
Dental disease, with infected gums and teeth, leads to bacterial infections which enter the blood stream and can cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and especially heart valve disease.
We use an electric ultrasound dental scaler and high speed polisher. Don’t be surprised to find that these are exactly the same as you would see in your own dentist’s office.
Neither do we! That is why we recommend and demonstrate preventive measures you can begin at home such as brushing your pet’s teeth – starting as puppies and kittens. Dental diets, chews, and water additives are also helpful. We have these products available at the Clarkson Village Animal Hospital.
We strongly encourage regular dental scaling before your pet’s condition advances to become a more complicated, more painful, and much more expensive procedure. Once a tooth is destroyed, it is far better to remove it rather than to leave a source of pain and infection. Healthy gums are far better than infected painful teeth.
Yes! Brushing your pet’s teeth is an essential part of helping to prevent dental disease.
In the wild, dogs and cats must carry on regardless of pain, because, no matter what, they must eat or they will die. In the wild, dogs and cats would never live to the high teens or early twenties as our pets commonly do.
Your pet’s healthcare is up to you. We can discuss with you what is best for your pet’s health, and you can decide what you wish to do for your pet. Your pet needs you to make the decisions, as they cannot act for themselves.
We will make a professional recommendation to maximize the health and well-being of your pet. This is not just another food sale to us. Our focus is education, so you can make the ideal choices for the health of your pets. Who knows your pet’s preventive and medical nutritional needs better than your pet’s healthcare team?
Nutritional advice is just one of the ways that we can help you to take the best care of your loved ones. Excellent nutrition can help prevent and treat many disease conditions, and improve your pet’s quality of life.
Here are some common dog and cat nutritional questions that our clients ask:
The best pet foods are created by reputable companies, with years of experience in the veterinary field. High quality pet foods should pass rigorous testing, and should undergo ongoing feeding trials to ensure their quality.
A lot of work goes into the formulation and the maintenance of quality of superior pet foods. Superior pet foods get a rating of excellence in all the areas of testing. By feeding one of these diets, you will see the difference in your pet’s coat, energy, and attitude. What you won’t see is the problems that you avoided, come the future.
Starting from puppies and kittens (pediatrics), high quality foods are required to ensure optimal growth and development.
We recommend primarily dry food.
However, we always recommend including canned food for cats, with lots of water added. Every cat should be having a ‘soup’ of canned food and water every day, and the more the better.
The canned food can be given as a daily meal. This keeps options open later in life, in case there is a medical requirement for a specific food that only comes in a canned formulation. It also provides a vehicle for water consumption, which can be vitally important in cats with urinary bladder disease or kidney failure.
Just like for humans, fresh drinking water is good for pets. Water must be provided at all times.
It is often difficult to get cats to drink enough water. What’s the solution? Try keeping the water bowl topped up and providing refrigerated, filtered water (Brita). Water ‘fountains’ are great for most cats.
You can also ask us for a copy of our “Tip Sheet” on how to encourage your pet to drink water.
For dogs, the adolescent period is a time of tapering growth rate, still with higher calcium requirements than needed for adults. Specific puppy and adolescent foods are beneficial at this time.
Veterinary adult maintenance diets are formulated to help prevent common medical conditions, by maximizing some ingredients and minimizing others. Optimal nutrition involves a careful balance of many nutrients.
Geriatric pets have significantly different requirements than young growing puppies or kittens. This includes reducing the amount of protein, but increasing the quality, so there is less work for the kidneys. Reduced sodium (salt) allows for less water retention, which makes less work for the heart.
Pets with diabetes or kidney disease also have extremely specific requirements, and can live far longer and healthier when their nutritional needs are met. Our foods have supplements to help with brain function, to help limit muscle wasting, and to help control arthritis.
You simply would not believe the successes that we see with the correct nutritional decisions.
Some of these potential achievements include:
- Dissolving 4 cm bladder stones in a matter of weeks
- Giving older cats and dogs with kidney disease years of extra healthy, happy lives
- Helping you to return overweight pets to normal weight, with individually designed weight loss programs that are actually fun to do, with spectacular results
- Decreasing signs and often less need for medications with congestive heart failure
- Minimizing recurrence of potentially deadly episodes of pancreatitis
- Helping to eliminate chronic skin, ear, or intestinal conditions with specially designed hypoallergenic diets