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Animals and Heat Exposure

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Summer is here, and with the summer hot temperatures are arriving. We already had our first heatwave of the summer and lots of reports of pets being exposed to and affected by the heat. There are even reports from BC that pets died because of heat exposure/heat stroke.

Now, we cannot change the weather (and to be honest, I enjoy the heat more than the deep freeze), but we can change the way we are helping our pets through the heat spells if needed.

The major considerations are to keep pets out of the heat. Walk them in the early morning or late at night, otherwise keep them indoors, in the coolest place possible. Not everyone has air conditioning, but shade and a fan go a long way. Misting with water also can help. Always make fresh water available. Especially short-nosed breeds like bulldogs, pugs, and relatives are heat sensitive. Because of their short noses and smaller airways, it is more difficult for them to regulate their body temperature (which in dogs is accomplished by panting, thus eliminating heat through the airways). Excessive panting in hot conditions indicates that the dog is too hot!

A lot of people will provide a kid’s pool for dogs to wade or swim in – excellent, a lot of dogs will enjoy this, but make sure the water is clean!

When walking, make sure that concrete or asphalt (or any other surface) is not hot to the touch. Our pets are barefoot, and even the toughest foot pads can be damaged by heat. Burns on the feet are no fun!

Sometimes it is better to leave your pet at home. Car rides can be especially challenging in these temperatures, and of course, we all know never to leave the pet in a car by themselves, not even for a very shortstop.

Signs of overheating are: panting, drooling, gums turning from pink to red, tiredness, unresponsiveness, even seizures. If in doubt, call your veterinarian. However, prevention is always better!

Have a safe summer 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

Emergencies

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With all our Covid19 restrictions still in place, we are all getting impatient to return to a more normal, pre-Covid19 operating mode. Many of us have been spending more time at home than ever before, and a result of that is that we also keep a closer eye on our pets. We realize now how important health care is, for us as well as for our pets.

For us, as veterinary health professionals, this has some interesting consequences. People realize earlier when their pets are not doing well and thus seek help earlier. We appreciate this as it helps us address concerns earlier. The downside of the collective situation is that despite our best efforts to see all our patients, with all the policies in place to keep everyone safe and healthy, we are sometimes maxed out when it comes to squeezing in patients which need urgent care.

So: what is considered an emergency that needs to be seen right away? Certainly, any accidents resulting in trauma are high on the list, especially if it involves heavy bleeding or head trauma resulting in changes to consciousness, as well as loss of the ability to move. Seizures are another emergency that should be seen as soon as (safely) possible. Just as in human medicine, difficulty breathing is an emergency. The same applies to sudden, complete collapse. 

The ABC of emergency medicine is pretty much the same for human or veterinary medicine: we need an unobstructed Airway, Breathing has to happen, and the Cardiovascular (heart and blood circulation) system has to function. Valuable information to note is when it happened and what happened, essentially a timeline of events. Also, the last time the pet ate, drank, and acted normally. What medication the pet is regularly taking (this includes supplements and for example parasite control). If and how long a pet was unsupervised, and what it could have ingested (this is important if we suspect some toxin ingestion).

The stress of an emergency can be quite challenging, for you as the person owning an animal in distress, as well as for the staff of the facility who gets the call. The best-case scenario is if we can relay all the information needed accurately so that everyone involved can be prepared to do their best to help the affected pet. 

So, what in turn can wait to be seen until the next day or until an appointment is available to thoroughly assess your pet? If your pet is eating and drinking ok and can go to relieve themselves, it can wait. If your adult dog or cat has vomited once, or if there was a worm in its stools, it is certainly reason for concern, but it is not an emergency. Minor wounds need to be protected from dirt, as well as from the pet licking on them, but they often can wait to be seen. 

Some preparation can also help a lot: have the phone number of your veterinary office handy. Also, the information of an emergency veterinary clinic is valuable to shorten search times for phone numbers. Emergency kits for pets are available, and they contain besides some basic wound care supplies information pamphlets on what to do and who to call (with spaces you can fill in).

The list of true emergencies is not complete, and the list of non-emergencies is not either. The take-home message is we are here to help. We can counsel on what to do, and when, and where to go, but we need you to provide information to the best of your ability. Importantly, we all need to stay calm and listen to each other. Together we can achieve the best care possible. 

The first step is to be prepared, and we can help you with that too!  Hopefully, it never comes to it, but if it does, we know what to do!

By Dr. Susanne Krägeloh

Ear Infections

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I see you! I see you there reading this and shaking your head thinking: “here we go again, this Doctor is going to talk about another problem I may face with my furry friend”. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, but you are correct! I hope you bear with me so we can together prevent bigger problems.

Oh well, since we started with shaking our heads… how about we talk about ear infections this month?

Ear infections can be surprisingly common in dogs, and some may deal with it nearly constantly. Let’s try to keep it simple and divide those infections into 3 levels:

Level 1:  A simple ear infection that may clear up with professional cleaning and topical medication at home.

Level 2: On-going ear infection that is not controlled with medication or comes back once the medication is discontinued. In these cases, we may need further testing to determine why the infections are persisting. One of the most common reasons for recurrent ear problems is allergy but hormone imbalances can also be the underlying cause.

Level 3: Some ear infections simply cannot be controlled with the above steps as they have gone beyond medical management. Depending on how affected the ear canals are, the Doctors will discuss other options such as surgical correction of the ear canals.

Ear infections are common and can be challenging. Fortunately, most cases are simple and easy to clear up. So: at the very first sign of ear infection, please give us a call so we can help your furry friend.

Now I hope that shake turned into a nod instead! Pun intended.

Cheers!

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

 

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!