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Toxic Plants

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If you are anything like me you may have a house full of plants. Although they make our homes cozy and pretty, did you know that some of them can be dangerous to our furry family members?

Here are a few of the plants you may have at home and the troubles they can cause your pet:

1) Lilies: the Stargazer and Easter Lily could be fatal to cats if it goes untreated as it affects the animal’s appetite and kidneys. As for the Peace Lily, your dog or cat could start vomiting and have a problem swallowing due to irritated lips and tongue if it’s ingested.

2) Aloe Vera
: The leaves contain a type of gel substance which isn’t harmful to your pet if it’s ingested, but the other parts of the plant can harm a dog’s digestive system.

3) Ivy
: We’ve all heard of Poison Ivy, but even regular Ivy can be harmful to a dog even though it’s quite pretty. A dog may develop a rash and/or breathing problems if the plant is eaten, but things can become much worse as Ivy can also lead to a coma or paralysis.

4) Jade: Nobody really knows what the specific toxins are in this plant, but ingesting it can result in vomiting, incoordination (ataxia), a slow heart rate (bradycardia) and/or depression.

If you notice that your pet has ingested any of your plants and you are unsure if they are toxic or not, please contact us for immediate assistance. The doctors and staff at Leduc Animal Clinic are always happy to help!

Happy gardening everyone!

By Dr. Alysson Macedo

Quality of Life Assessment

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Hello, it’s Dr. Susanne Krägeloh again. As a veterinarian, I enjoy working with pets. Our team gets to cuddle all those cute puppies and kittens, and we see them grow up and become adult dogs and cats. We see them grow older and then accompany them into their senior years. For the most part this journey is enjoyable and satisfying, if we can help our pets live long, healthy lives. Often, we can alleviate the little aches and pains which set in once they age. Your pets grow on us during their lifetime. We take part in their lives, celebrating milestones and rooting for them if needed. 

But here is something we often forget to consider: The lifespan of a pet is shorter than ours. The end of a life is not something we want to think about, ever, but we have to. Death is a part of life, and we can prepare for the day when it happens. In an ideal world our pet would, when its time has come, curl up in its bed and simply not wake up. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. So, what do we do? How do we prepare for this unthinkable event? How do we know when it is time to say goodbye? And how do we approach this? This is a question we get asked often, and we can help. This is part of our job. First of all, we can look at the quality of life our pet has. The Ohio State University has published a quality of life assessment tool I often use. Here is the link: www.vet.osu.edu/honoringthebond. This tool enables us to objectively judge the quality of life our pet has – or doesn’t have. It helps us take a step back and try to walk in their paws. 

Euthanasia does not sound right for most of us. The word actually comes from the Greek language and means “beautiful death”. But what about death can possibly be beautiful? To me it means that we can alleviate suffering, we can help your pet with the transition, and help you to know that you made a good, caring decision. It does not take away from the pain of the loss, but we can also reflect on all the good during the lifetime of your pet. In fact, our pets live on in our memories. We do not forget them. I read a quote once which said: “They leave paw prints in our hearts forever.” This is so true.

As a veterinarian I have to advocate for quality of life. And we in the veterinary profession can help you to make decisions which are right for you and your pet. If you have questions, please ask. This is not an easy talk to have, but it is better to be prepared when the time comes. 

So, please: ask the questions. It is not something we can avoid; it is a part of life, and a reality within life. Asking questions regarding end of life decisions is hard, but should never be something we should be ashamed of. Just the opposite: it shows consideration for the wellbeing of our beloved companion. 

Injuries from a Sudden Increase in Activity

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I don’t know about you, but March always brings my hopes up and I start to think that summer is just around the corner! I start daydreaming about all the outdoor adventures that I may chase!

As we get more active so do our pets, and we’re all subjected to some tricky black ice or frozen over ponds this time of the year, isn’t that right? Although most falls aren’t very traumatic, some of them are and require more attention. Sudden limping or lameness may be the first warning sign of a sprain or strain. If this lasts more than a day or so, or it keeps happening, you may want to bring your pet for a visit!

The Doctors at Leduc Animal Clinic will figure out what kind and how severe the injury is.
A thorough physical exam will be performed and we’ll check the muscles and joints by pressing on certain points to determine if they are sore, warm, swollen, or even out of place. We may need some radiographic images to assist us in that lesion hunting process in order to provide the best care and outcome possible!

If you have any accidents with your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Stay safe everyone and enjoy the outdoors!

By Dr. Macedo

Why an exam with the vaccinations?

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Hello, it’s Dr. Krägeloh! Spring is here, and despite Covid-19 restrictions life goes on, and it goes fast! Today I would like to outline why we perform health exams with our routine vaccinations.
Vaccinations are an important part of health care, for humans as well as for our pets. Don’t we refer to them often as “fur-babies”? Preventative care is supposed to protect against (mostly) viral diseases which can be quite severe or even deadly to our pets. Vaccinations work by helping the pet’s body, or specifically their immune system, to create a defense mechanism against viruses which can invade their bodies. With booster vaccinations the (immune) system gets a “reminder” to refresh these defences.

Since these vaccinations directly affect and stimulate the immune system, we want to be sure that our pets are healthy at the time when they receive the vaccines. The way we determine this is with a health exam. The added benefit of this is that the information we gather can help us pick up early on changes in the pet’s body, and discuss these changes with you, the pet owner. We can discuss what the changes mean and how we can prevent these changes from becoming a problem, or how to intervene early with developing problems like dental disease, kidney disease or metabolic diseases.

The best terminology for this kind of exam would be “annual health examination with vaccinations”. Often this is all that is required to keep our pets healthy and happy, at least during adulthood into early mature years. It also helps us to find the best solutions for evolving problems, if caught early. For us as health professionals it is mandatory to keep records of our patients and findings, which in turn also make it easier to tailor any necessary treatment plans. Having records of vital signs and findings on physical examinations helps to trend these findings, for example weight, and address changes. This is the added benefit of the health exams. It is not solely about the vaccinations, it is about maintaining good health for our pets, and helping them and you in their journey through life!

In this sense, I hope everyone has a great start into spring!

New Year’s Resolutions

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By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

It seems that time is flying, and New Years resolutions were made and sometimes already forgotten. One of the most popular resolutions is weight loss and paying attention to better health.

Apparently, we are more successful with New Years resolutions if we have a friend we can strive for success with. So why not make our pet this friend? Maintaining a good weight (or achieving weight loss) and striving for healthy lifestyle will benefit our best friends as well.

But how do we address weight loss in a pet? It is not that different from us. The key is often in how much is consumed. But how much is too much? So, the first thing to do would be to look at how much food your pet consumes in one day. How much food is offered, and how much food is consumed? Are there any treats given or food items outside mealtimes?  Anything offered besides regular meals will increase the calorie count per day, and often treats are more calorie dense than we think they are. Also, our pets are in most cases much smaller than us, and a small treat for our small dog could be for us as much as a full chocolate bar or an extra cheeseburger.

Then we need to calculate how much should be fed. Here again, we often miscalculate how much we need to feed. All pet foods come with some instructions how much to feed. But often this is quite generous since no manufacturer wants animals to starve while being fed their product. Also, these are guidelines only. If your pet is already overweight, we need to feed for less than their actual weight. The rule of thumb is to look at the ideal weight (or a target weight) and feed for 2/3 of that. But please do not decrease the amount fed suddenly significantly! Slowly reduce the amount until we are at the amount we want to feed.

The next step is exercise. Typically, physical activity does have an indirect influence on weight management by kick-starting metabolism and to help maintain, sometimes even increase, muscle mass. Here again we want to start slow and steady and continue raising our bar. Please do not take your pet on a 3-hour hike after a 3 month down period! This can cause discomfort or worse, injury. It is much better to set achievable goals and proceed from there!

As always, when in doubt, ask us for advice if needed. There are multiple options available when it comes to weight management foods (for our pets), and we can also weigh your pet regularly to keep track of success!

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Toxicity

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By Dr. Alysson Macedo

I hope you’re just as excited as I am for Valentine’s Day. I know that Christmas was not that long ago, but there’s no such thing as too much chocolate, is there?

I mean, at least not for us. However, did you know that chocolate is highly toxic to our furry Valentines?

Here are a few things you should know about chocolates:

These delicious piece of heaven on earth contain methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine). The more methylxanthines in the chocolate, the more toxic it is to pets. Keep in mind the following order of toxicity: Baking chocolate > semisweet and dark chocolate > milk chocolate > chocolate flavoured cakes and cookies. Ingestion of any of these may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms, and even death in severe cases.

We know sometimes our pets decide to share a few treats without our permission, so if that happens at your home, please make sure to contact us for assistance. The Doctors and staff at Leduc Animal Clinic are always here for you!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

What Do Pet Food Labels Really Tell Us?

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By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

Hello again, it is Dr. Susanne Krägeloh. This crazy year is drawing to an end, and despite increased measures to contain Covid19 we all hope for a peaceful Christmas and holiday season.

Typically around this time there are warnings about foods which can be poisonous or dangerous to our pets when consumed; this is a huge concern but I just would like to give everyone a helpful link: good information and an extensive list of toxins and what to look for when ingested are to be found at petpoisonhelpline.com. Also, you can always contact your veterinarian!

I would like to address a few misconceptions which are widespread when it comes to pet food. We all want the best for our pets. There are literally hundreds of different options, brands, and formulations, as well as thousands of opinions. What about the legal side of it with labelling, though? What do the words on the label mean?

First, the label must include the common or generic name (“dog food”/”cat food”), the amount of product, and the information of the manufacturer or importer. Additionally, the following information should be included: list of ingredients, feeding instructions, guaranteed analysis and nutritional adequacy or intended life stage. The ingredients must be listed by their common name. If an ingredient or combination of ingredients add up to 90% of the total weight of the ingredients it may form part of the name. That means if the food contains 90% chicken it can have “chicken” in its name (“House Brand Chicken Cat Food”). (See: Consumer packaging and Labelling Act)

Then there are a host of different claims which are used on the labels.  The claim “natural” is often found – the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has a definition what can be called “natural”; in essence it is free of artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives. “Natural” also is not to be confused with “organic”, which refers to the conditions under which the plants were grown, or animals where raised. Currently there are no official rules to be applied to the term “organic” other than said conditions. 

What do we expect from out pet food? We often hear that people do not want “fillers”. What do we think fillers are? Especially for “weight control” or “light” foods, but also for all others it is important to have good fibre in the formulation. Fibre is an ingredient with a purpose – it helps the digestive process in a very desired way, and also can make our pets feel full longer – who likes a pet begging for food because the digestive process went too fast! So – fibre has a place in our pet food!

And why is meat not always the first ingredient? First of all: dogs (not cats though) are omnivores, which means their nutrition contains animals as well as plant-based foods (fruit and vegetables as well as grains and other starchy foods). So, they need a variety of food items, not just meat. Then the processing comes into play: ingredients have to be listed by weight, and during processing water is removed from the ingredients, which makes up a good chunk of meat. So, a food with a non-meat ingredient in first place can still be a qualitative high-ranking food!

All in all, pet food labels contain a lot of information, just sometimes not what we expect or read into it! For the readers who want to delve in detail into this: more information can be found here: Guide for the Labelling and Advertising of Pet Foods (Government of Canada); the website of AAFCO; and also worthwhile looking at, is the website of the FDA (pet food labels). Or have a chat with your veterinarian!

Intestinal worms – why deworming our pets is important

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Summer is over, and winter is knocking on our door. We are staying indoors more, and so are our pets. We as veterinary professionals often get asked: why is it important to deworm our pets, even in the winter months? And even if we do not see any worms in their stools?

The answer is: we usually do not see worms in the feces.  Only if we have severe infestation with them do we see worms or pieces exiting our pets. A good routine with deworming helps us keep our pets worm free, and healthy. And it protects us as humans, as well.

Here is some short information on different types or worms and what this means for our pets and ourselves:

Roundworms:  Those are the worms we are mostly concerned about with young puppies. They can be transmitted already in the womb, or with the mothers’ milk. The life cycle of roundworms can be complicated, but we know that they can also infect humans, and transmission is not depending on direct contact with feces or the animal carrying the parasites. Especially young children and immunocompromised people are at risk. Therefore, it is advisable to deworm dogs regularly.  

Hookworms: Just like with roundworms, these worms can affect our pets from the time they are babies. These guys can be contracted by ingesting an infectious egg or even by larvae penetrating the skin, and the adult worms usually live in the intestines of their host, where they feed on the blood of their host. This can lead to anemia in severely infected animals. Here again: these worms can be transmitted to humans, either by ingesting infectious eggs or by larvae penetrating the skin. The good news is that they can be treated readily with the same products we use for roundworms.

Tapeworms: Typically, we think of cats which are hunting and eating mice as carriers of tapeworms, and it is right to want to deworm mousing cats for tapeworms. Recently another tapeworm is also more in the spotlight: Echinococcus, or the fox-tapeworm. While the “usual” tapeworm which affects dogs and cats is gross, echinococcus can be a huge health concern in humans.  Echinococcus can affect inner organs (liver, even the brain) where it can form cysts and lead to extensive damage. Fortunately, that seems to be relatively rare, but we want to be proactive and not risk severe health consequences from these critters. Treating tapeworms requires specific medication, which is in several, but not all products, for deworming. These products are generally prescription products.

To sum it up:  Deworming our animals regularly is necessary to keep our pets (and ourselves) healthy and free of parasites. We can help you find the right products and the right regimen for your pets.

Creepy Crawlies

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By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

Hello, my name is Dr. Susanne Krägeloh, and I have been working in Beaumont since August 2020. My welcome to the new workplace has been warm, and I really appreciate to be in a community like Beaumont, where the people are so nice, friendly and helpful. Working in the midst of a pandemic has hindered to get to know people more in depths, but we are getting there.

It certainly has been a challenging year for everyone; I am sure our pets feel it too. Having said that at this time we are blessed with nice fall weather, and are preparing for the winter months. So, a lot of us are drawn outside for walks or camping, and enjoying the outdoors, together with our dogs, and our indoor­outdoor cats will also be roaming to get some hunting in.  

Who has probably not been affected by the pandemic are little critters living on or inside our pets: parasites. There are a multitude of parasites here in Alberta, and mostly we are unaware of them since they are not visible in most cases. External parasites are the ones living on the outside of our pets: mites, fleas and ticks as well as lice. We are more aware of them since they can cause visible changes for our pets: itchiness is the most common sign. 

There are several groups of ectoparasites: Fleas, ticks, mites and lice are the main ones we see frequently. They can affect a specific host only (which means they only feed on one species of animals like dogs only) or they can affect several different species of hosts like dogs, cats, wildlife and also humans.  

Fleas are a common parasite of dogs and cats, as well as other mammals (wildlife: coyotes, foxes, small rodents). Their bite can cause itch and also hypersensitivity reactions of the skin, which is frequently seen in dogs (as well as in humans). Adult fleas feed on the hosts blood, and lay their eggs on the host; then the eggs fall into the environment (inside and outside, depending where the host lives). Larvae hatch from the eggs, and the larvae feed on organic debris. Then they form pupae, from which adult fleas emerge as early as after one to two weeks. The adult fleas need a host for a blood meal, in order to produce eggs. Then the life cycle is complete and starts over. Adult fleas can live 2-3 months, and can produce 40-50 eggs per day – a stunning number of up to 1500 eggs within 3 months!  

Besides being a nuisance, fleas can also transmit diseases: for me the most well known is the plague (caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis), but also salmonella, a bacterium which can cause diarrhea, or blood parasites which can cause anemia (lack of red blood cells) among others. Some fleas can even transmit tapeworms!  

Ticks are also a parasite present in Alberta, and lately we have been hearing a lot about them. They seem to have become more prevalent here. We are concerned about the transmission of diseases by ticks, with Lyme disease being the most well-known disease, but there are other diseases they can transmit as well, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia or Anaplasmosis. These diseases are caused by pathogens transmitted by the ticks, when the ticks are feeding; and the pathogens are released into the bloodstream of the host after several hours of feeding.  

There are several different species of ticks in Alberta, and they all have the potential to transmit diseases. Most ticks are acquired from being outdoors; they live in the woods or in grassy areas, climb up on vegetation and let themselves fall onto a passing host. The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguinueus) though can live inside homes or kennels, where dogs are, in cracks and crevices of any building, and can survive there for quite some time.  

The life cycle of ticks can be very specific, generally there are eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. Larvae, nymphs and adults feed on a host, then fall off to molt into the next stage and move on. Adults will mate, then when the female is engorged, she will fall off the host and lay a cluster of eggs. She will then die, but the life cycle goes on. 

Mites are usually transferred in younger animals by close contact, the most well-known mite here is the ear mite (Otodectes cynotis). Other mites can infect the skin, which can cause mange. Signs of infestation are head shaking and itching of the ears with ear mites and hair loss and itchiness with demodicosis or sarcoptic mange. Fortunately, mites are relatively host specific, which means they do not affect people (with the exception of Sarcoptes scabiei which can cause scabies in people as well). Therefore, it is always a good idea to wear gloves when handling a dog with suspected mange.  

Lice are also in the category of ectoparasites. They are extremely host specific and cannot survive away from their host. However, a severe infestation with lice can cause itchiness. The biggest concern here is transfer of eggs through grooming equipment like combs or brushes.  
All of these critters are unpleasant to have around, but they are easily treated or prevented. There are a multitude of products available, in different forms (usually topical products which get applied onto the skin of the animal or chewable tablets), and usually are given on a monthly basis, either all through the year or in the months when these parasites are most active, which is still possibly from March through November. Fleas and mites can occur right through the whole year, and ticks are active at temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius/40 F. We as veterinarians can help you find the right prevention product for your pets.  

This is a very general overview of these creepy crawlies; it is a good thing that we have the ability to treat and prevent them. Next time I will give some information on internal parasites but for now I want to wish everyone a pleasant and parasite free October! 

On My Own

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The mornings are getting cooler, the wind is getting stronger, and the sun is setting earlier. That can only mean one thing; school is almost back in session. After months of upheaval, for better or for worse, the world is starting to return to normal. With this return to normalcy, our pets are going to be left alone at home more often. For all the COVID puppies out there, this will likely be the first time they have been left alone, and that will present certain challenges. Lets explore how we can help our furry friends through this difficult time.

  1. Start Early: The time to start leaving your dog alone isn’t on the first day of school, its weeks to months before. You want to start with small trips away from home at first, so that your dog doesn’t think each time you leave you will be gone for hours. You can gradually work up how long you are gone each trip.
  2. Create a Routine: Just like humans, dogs thrive on routine, and it can be very comforting for them. Start to develop a routine for when you leave in the morning. This includes the little details; like where you grab your car keys from before you leave. Try to make your entrances and exits as boring as possible, so they learn it’s no big deal.
  3. Film It: When you first start leaving your dog alone, do like they do in the movies, and set up a nanny cam. This way you can see how your dog reacts when you are gone, see how anxious they are, and learn how much work you have left to do to make the experience more positive for them.
  4. Create Distraction: Fill your house or crate with items that are safe for them to be left alone with, and that make for good long-lasting toys/treats. This is where those frozen Kongs come in handy!
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Teaching your dog to be alone is not an easy task, especially if they are anxious by nature. Don’t be afraid to contact a trainer to help with these issues. At Leduc Animal Clinic we are more than happy to connect you with a positive-methods trainer, or discuss if medications may be needed.

Happy learning! Best of luck to all the little humans starting their school year!