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Ticks and Their Prevention 

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Spring has arrived (on the calendar) and the snow seems to be leaving. The geese are back, and the ducks, and – the ticks are out too.

Ticks are tiny creatures. They depend on a warm-blooded host to take a blood meal, and unfortunately those can be our pets (or we ourselves, for that matter). They can also transmit some pretty detrimental diseases like Lyme disease. Ticks belong to the family of arachnids, which means they are more closely related to spiders than to insects. Here in Alberta, we have several different species of ticks; most common are the Deer Ticks, Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks and American Dog Ticks. Ticks are generally small – about the size of an apple seed (adults, not engorged from a meal). Typically, they drop from a higher spot like the blade of grass or brush onto their intended host. Then they crawl to a more sheltered spot to attach and feed. On dogs, favourite spots are in the ears, but also in the armpits or groin area, or even under the tail.

It is important to note that not every tick transmits disease. But they do not come with a little flag which says: “I’m infected – Caution!” While the bite of a tick usually does not cause a problem, the transmission of disease can. And there are a few more besides Lyme disease for our pets, like Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And since these parasites are so small, and can be easily overlooked, it is better to be on the safe side and prevent any disease. There are quite a few different products on the market for that, and in forms like chewable tablets or topical applications. Typically, these products are used monthly. They can be used year-round or at times when ticks are active (April to late October). We as veterinary professionals can help you select the best product and treatment schedule, with respect to the individual risk of your pet.

For more information you can also go online: “Ticks in Alberta: what you need to know” is information through the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA). The Public Health Agency of Canada also has some information, and there is also a tick submission program through Alberta Health (there is a new submission process in place; look for “Alberta Submit-a-Tick Program”; currently only photo submissions are accepted). We can help with that as well.

Have a great month of April!

– By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh



Itchy Ears – Are Parasites to Blame?

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Itchy ears are a common occurrence in our pets. It is normal for our pets to shake their head or itch their ears occasionally. However, if the pet is constantly scratching or rubbing their ears (or both), or is continuously shaking their head, we get concerned.

There is a multitude of issues which can cause itchy ears, or otitis as it is called. Otitis just means inflammation of the ear, which is uncomfortable for the pet. The pet will try to alleviate the discomfort by shaking their head or scratching.

In puppies and kittens we often find parasites as the reason for the inflammation, specifically: ear mites. Those creatures live inside the ear canal. Taking up residence inside the ear comes with all the activities you would expect from a tenant: eating and discarding of waste products, as well as reproduction. All inside the ear canal! This will create a significant amount of debris, often visible as dark, crusty discharge.

Fortunately, in this case it is fairly easy to evict the nuisance tenants: your veterinarian will apply an anti-parasite medication after cleaning the ears. This treatment will have to be repeated at least once after 3-4 weeks, to make sure that the critters have left, and that there are no eggs left behind that can hatch and start the cycle all over again. Usually this treatment is curative.

But not all ear inflammation has parasites as the cause. Often the inflammation sets the stage for bacteria and yeasts to move in and cause havoc. Just like parasites, the yeasts and/or bacteria will take up residency in the inflamed tissues. Unlike parasites, most of those organisms already live there, but the inflammation allows them to overgrow and do damage. Once started, the infection will get worse if not treated, and can even lead to rupture of the ear drum and/or an ear infection of the middle ear, which is more difficult to treat.

Once your pet has been presented to your veterinarian, a sample from the ear canal will be taken to better understand which organisms are involved with causing the itch. Then the ear will be cleaned, and often a topical medication will be prescribed to treat the infection. Sounds pretty easy? In most cases it is, if the problem is addressed early on.

In some cases it is not quite as easy, as is with recurrent ear infections. Those are ear infections which occur frequently despite being treated regularly. However, there is a reason for this to happen, and we will gladly help you track down reasons and suggest treatment options, to help make the life of your pet better (and yours as well).

– Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

The Mysteries of Urinary Issues in Cats          

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Cats are beautiful animals and can be wonderful pets. They can be cuddly and soft, or entertaining and playful, and all around pleasant to have.

We are learning more and more about the complicated mental health of cats. You might think: “What? Cats can be stressed? What is there to be stressed about?”

In our mind the cat has everything it needs and possibly wants: Humans as companions, maybe some more feline house mates, or dogs; food, water, places to hang out, lots of toys and playtime, and not a worry in the world.

But the cats think differently. There are a lot of things which can contribute to stress for a cat, and then this stress can turn into urinary issues. Cats can develop idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder for an unknown cause), also called FLUTD (or other names for that matter). What we see is a cat which urinates in inappropriate places, strains to urinate, frequently visits the litter box without producing a normal amount of urine and is vocalizing in pain. Some male cats even develop a urinary blockage, which is an emergency and needs to be addressed right away. In these cases, the blockage is due to narrowing of the urethra, with or without crystals or any material involved.

This issue is often related to several things the cat is unhappy about, and it is not always us humans causing this. Of course, we should make sure that the litter box is clean (which means daily scooping), and easily accessible. We recommend using one litter box per cat in the house plus an extra one, and to have a box available on each level of the house, especially if our furry friends are ageing and mobility is becoming a difficult task. Also, a canned diet might help with water intake, which helps to keep the urinary tract going.

However, some things we do not have an influence on. Often, we see these issues arise in colder weather. The temperature can influence how much water cats consume, regardless of whether they are indoors or out. It can also influence urinating patterns.

Other things which can become stressors for cats are changes within the household, like a person or pet moving in or out, renovations or house improvements, or animals outside the home, like stray cats or wildlife. It does not have to be visible or notable to us, but our cats will know.

Whatever is causing these issues for our cats, sometimes it remains a mystery. However, we do know that urinary issues like that can be quite painful, and therefore this needs to be addressed. We can assess those issues and together with you can find a solution for your cat, be it medical treatment or a change in food or supplements or a combination thereof. Please ask us if you need help!

Have a happy and stress-free February everyone!

– By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

Painful Pets

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Hello, hopefully everyone had a good start to the New Year! Looks like our cold snap is finally subsiding!

A common concern with our pets is the possibility of pain since they do not talk in human words to us. We want to make sure our pets are comfortable and not experiencing any pain, especially older pets or the ones nearing the end of their life. What are we looking for here?

First, we can categorize pain. There is acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain occurs with any trauma, like an impact from a fall or a bite wound. Chronic pain is longer persisting pain; often we see this with arthritis pain, when a pet keeps limping if it does not receive medication. Here pain is categorized by a timeline.

Other categories can be according to the origin of the pain (oral pain with tooth problems, joint pain, or abdominal pain for example). This is often more specific and can be addressed with trying to resolve the underlying issue. The difficulty here is to pinpoint the origin.

Unfortunately, we cannot ask our pet how they perceive any pain (like a sharp pain or a dull pain or using the pain scale). Sometimes we can judge and record pain levels in the veterinarian’s office by doing an exam. Often other findings are classified indirectly by pain level: toe touching lame or non-weight-bearing lame for example, which translates into pain levels.

However, we all agree that we want to provide our pets with a level of care where they are not painful, or where we can manage pain with medication to provide a better quality of life. There is a certain complexity to finding the right treatment. Often (but not always) it means that we must use diagnostic tools to first find the origin of pain and then create a treatment plan addressing it. This could mean diagnostic imaging, like x-rays, or bloodwork and/or urinalysis to better judge the disease process causing potential pain. Also, often there is a mix-up between pain and comfort. We have to be able to read the behaviour of the pet, as if it is talking to us. A hiding pet often means it is in pain, but sometimes also means it is stressed (without physical pain).

If you feel that your pet is distressed, or in pain, please come and talk to us. We can help finding solutions to the problems you and your pet are experiencing.

– By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh


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It is December already, and we are getting ready for the Christmas season, and still COVID is influencing every step we take. Hopefully we all stay safe! Also, to keep our pets safe, please remember to safeguard our food and treats to not endanger our best friends! To them, a lot of our consumable goods are toxic! For information on poisonous substances, you can review the information on Pet Poison Helpline.

It is getting colder, and our ageing pets also might have mobility issues, just like us. Osteoarthritis in pets is a common occurrence, and not only in large dogs. Small dogs and cats are also affected by it.

So, what can we do when we suspect that our pets have osteoarthritis? First, signs can be very subtle and easy to miss. Our pet is taking its time to get out of bed and get moving. It is not jumping up and down furniture like it used to. It appears stiff initially but then “walks himself in” so that he appears normal after some time. It gets obvious when we have a pet playing hard (with some friends or playing fetch or frisbee) but the next day she appears stiff and sore.

It is a good thing to bring this up at the annual health exam with your veterinarian or consult with him/her specifically when issues arise. However, even here prevention goes a long way, and we can adjust our routines to the needs our pet has.

First, keeping our pets in good body condition helps mobility. Maintaining muscle mass helps normal function of the joints. Exercise is an essential part of good health care, to the best of the individual ability. As our pets age, they might not be too keen on a long, 2–3-hour hike. We need to adjust exercise to the capability of the animal, which means shorter but more frequent walks are better for our pets with mobility issues.

Food is important. An older pet might benefit from a good quality senior diet to keep weight down. Some foods directly address joint problems. However, food additives are often not in amounts that are sufficient for direct supplementation. It might be better to add a daily nutritional supplement. There are a lot of useful (and some not so useful) supplements on the market for joint health. There are glucosamine preparations, omega fatty acid supplements, herbs and other derivatives which are on the market for joint support. For some patients they work, for others not so much. Nutritional supplements can be helpful if used properly, and here again it is useful to ask a veterinarian to get the best information. Supplements are not backed by as much research as medications, and there are differences between products. One way of knowing a product has been manufactured to quality standards is to look for a NN number on the label (nutraceutical number).

If all this is not enough, we might have to control pain with medication. This will increase comfort of your pet and therefore quality of life. Of course, medications do have side effects. To safely administer any medication, we might have to look at regular blood screening tests, to ensure that the medication is doing good and not harm.

There are a variety of ways to deal with arthritis in our pets. If you have questions about it and want to help your pet have a better quality of life, ask your veterinarian!

Have a merry Christmas everyone!

By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

Camping With Your Pet

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I don’t know about you, but I already have a few campsites booked for the summer! Looking forward to seeing you all out there with your pets as well. But, before booking your sites make sure you know if they are pet friendly, and if so, what are the rules!

First of all, make sure your four-legged friend is allowed on site. Most Provincial and National campgrounds allow pets, but better safe than sorry, so check the regulations of the specific campground you’re going to!

Understand your pet. Some campsites can be rather busy and may cause some anxious or aggressive behaviour. Make sure your pet can handle it well or look for more isolated campsites.

Bring all the supplies you may need for your pet, such as a leash, cable, and anchor, poop bags, extra food, treats, and bowls, as well as their favourite toys!

 Last but not least, please make sure tick and flea treatments are up to date! Ticks can transmit a number of diseases to our four-legged friends and us!

If you want more information on these diseases as well as flea and tick treatment options, make sure to come for a visit and talk with one of our Doctors at the Leduc Animal Clinic!

Happy camping everyone!

By Dr. Alysson Macedo

Off Leash Park Manners

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Wait, don’t go quite yet. I know you all want to be out there enjoying the dog parks and getting some exercise in today, but should we review some dog park etiquette before we go?

This month I thought I’d brush up on a few things we may be doing wrong when we bring our furry friends to dog parks. Bear with me and make sure you check all the boxes before you head out!

  • Entering the dog park: The dog park can be very exciting for some dogs, making them slightly more difficult to handle. So, a good tip is to exert a little control first and make sure your dog is calm before entering. That may require a little walk before going off-leash at the dog park.


  • Spotting aggressive behaviour: Funny enough, most dog fights at the park happen because of over-stimulation when the playing becomes a little too rough, territorial, or timid. Ideally, your dog will have a good recall in order to prevent any awkward situations.


  • Separating bigger dogs from small dogs: Due to differences in size, abilities, and temperaments, bigger dogs can be dangerous to the smaller ones, even if they have the best of intentions. Make sure to keep the little ones safe at the park.


  • Toy stealing: When we bring toys to play with our dogs at the park, it is natural that other dogs will show interest as well. If there’s some toy stealing at the park you may need to be patient, and don’t ever attempt to get the toy back from a dog you don’t know, or even your own. Be sure to teach your furry friend to answer to a solid drop.


  • Harmful behaviour: Remember that you’re always liable for your dog’s actions and behavior. Taking accountability is the most effective way to handle these situations.


So how do you feel about getting out there and enjoying the park?

Always bring tasty treats to reward your friend for their good behaviour!

Have fun everyone, and if you need anything, do not hesitate to contact us at Leduc and Beaumont Animal Clinics. We’re always here to help!

By Dr. Alysson Macedo