Healing is a Team Effort (604) 815-0057
Avoiding Dog Bites

Avoiding Dog Bites

Each year almost 5 million dog bites are reported across North America and it is a rare evening on the nightly news when a dog attack is not reported. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians and their staff make up a very small percentage of those bites in spite of their obvious risk factors. What can we learn from them to avoid being bitten by a dog?

According to veterinarian and behaviorist, Dr. Kersti Seksel, being aware of a dog’s warning signs can help people avoid the dog’s teeth. Almost everyone is aware that a growling dog who is baring his teeth is aggressive and likely to bite, but other warning signs might be less obvious and include raised hackles, overall tenseness, and even a slowly wagging tail. It would appear that veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other veterinary personnel have learned to quickly read the dog’s body language and adjust their movements and actions accordingly.

But not all dogs will read from the same book. Some pets have been punished for growling or snarling and therefore may provide little to no warning before lashing out at someone.

Prospective dog owners should research their desired breed and then take the time and effort to attend puppy socialization classes and even obedience training. If you have children in your household, their education should also be considered. Young children, especially young boys, should be taught never to approach a strange dog. Additionally, if the behavior of the dog seems to be unusual, teach children to stand still, keeping eyes downcast, and to remain quiet. Children should never run towards an unknown dog, even if the owner is present. Teaching children to ask an owner about petting a new dog can be a big step in avoiding potential dog bite situations.

For more information about avoiding dog bites, contact us about appropriate dog breeds and effective dog training.

Helping Your Pet Keep His Cool This Summer

Helping Your Pet Keep His Cool This Summer

Hot dogs may be a popular summertime treat for baseball fans and backyard cookouts, but allowing our canine friends to overheat is a potential fatal disaster! Keeping our pets cool as the temperatures heat up doesn’t have to be a challenge if you keep a few easy facts in mind.

Dogs don’t sweat like us; therefore, they rely on panting to cool themselves down during a warm day. Even just a few hours in the hot sun can spell tragedy for the pet and the owner. Everyone has heard about the horrors of dogs left in cars during summer days, but many of our pets can overheat easily in their own backyard.

Dogs need access to plenty of cool water and shade if they are going to be left outside for any extended period of time during warm weather. Even the seasoned “outdoor dogs” can succumb to higher temperatures if adequate shade and water are not provided. Short faced breeds, like Boxers and Bulldogs, are at higher risk because of their inability to pant effectively.

Signs that your pet may be experiencing heat stroke include: an inability to stand, weakness while standing, vigorous panting, thick ropy saliva, and occasionally, bright red mucous membranes.

This situation is a medical emergency!! Your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian without delay. Immediately bring your pet to a cooler area out of the sun and apply cool, but not cold, water to the extremities. A fan is often very helpful as well. As soon as you can, load your dog into the car and go to your veterinarian. Elevated body temperatures can be fatal to your pet in a matter of minutes!

Don’t let a preventable pet emergency spoil your summertime fun!

How Pet Food Is Made

How Pet Food Is Made

Many pet owners are just as concerned about what goes into their pet’s food as they are about their own food. With so many brands out there, how can a concerned pet lover know that they are feeding the best? How can we know what is going into our friends’ diets?

With the health of their pets on the line, pet owners have shown an increased awareness and concern for how commercial pet foods are produced. Many are choosing alternative sources when providing nutrition for their pets.
There are more than 15,000 brands of pet food offered in the United States and the responsibility for insuring the safety of those foods lies with the FDA, the USDA and the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Consumers have choices ranging from dry kibble that provides convenience and a long shelf life to canned and semi moist foods that look good enough for humans to eat.

Through a combination of quality ingredient selection, proper compounding, and a cooking process that destroys harmful microorganisms and enzymes, pet food manufacturers help to insure the safety of the pet’s food. The benefits derived from this attention to detail are evident in the extended longevity of our dogs and cats over the last few decades.

Home cooked meals have provided a strengthening of the human-animal bond for some pet owners, but veterinary experts agree that people should take time to discuss the possible concerns of this type of diet with their veterinarian. Nutritional deficiencies can be very common when feeding meals prepared at home. Whether discussing the merits of a particular diet or trying to decide which commercial food is best for your pet, the family veterinarian is still the best choice to help you make an informed choice.

LabraDoodle

LabraDoodle

They are all the rage across the United States and beyond. Cross-breed dogs such as cock-a-poos have been around for many years, while newer crosses, such as labradoodles and puggles have just begun to become popular. So, are these dogs a new “hot” breed or just a designer mutt?

The current rage of “new” breeds is believed to have begun in the late 1970s by an Australian trying to help find a seeing-eye dog for a woman whose husband was allergic to most dogs. According to the International Labradoodle Association, www.ilainc.com, a member of the Royal Guide Dogs, suggested mating a Labrador to a Standard Poodle and thus the first “Labradoodles” were born. One of the three pups born in the litter, Sultan, eventually made his way to Hawaii and the vision-impaired woman with the allergic husband. Amazingly, 29 out of 31 of these new cross breeds went on to become guide dogs. Since that time, thousands of dogs have been bred and registered with the ILA. There is even talk of a new line of miniature labradoodles.

But, the labradoodle is not the only, nor the first, cross breed to catch the public’s attention. Many different mixes, such as cockapoos, schnoodles, and yorkiepoo have also had their time in the spotlight. In fact, the American Canine Hybrid Club, www.achclub.com, lists more than 200 cross breeds. With names as amusing as the Woodle (Welsh Terrier-Poodle mix) to the powerful “Ultimate Mastiff” (Dogue de Bordeux-Neopolitan Mastiff mix), the ACH Club has been recognizing cross breeds for more than 30 years. One of the latest crosses to become famous is the Puggle. As the name suggests, the Puggle is a Beagle-Pug cross and is being hailed as one of the best family pets, especially among the elite of New York.

And, one of the biggest surprises to many is the price tag associated with these hybrid breeds. Labradoodles have routinely been sold in the United States at prices as high as $2,000 or $3,000 dollars. Puggles, which are becoming very popular in Manhattan due to their small size, have often cost their owners in excess of $600-900. A spokeswoman for the AKC warns consumers to not be taken in simply because the dog has a trendy breed name and price tag.

For many, the bottom line is simply that the puppy had a face that said “pick me”. Thoughts of breed history, monetary value, or AKC rankings often fade away when one is looking down into the eyes of a puppy. Your veterinarian can be a wonderful advocate for helping you to find the right breed, hybrid or otherwise. And, be sure to ask your veterinarian to help keep your puppy active and healthy for a long time. If you would like to know more about hybrid breeds contact us today!

Online Pet Pharmacies – Saving Money or Risk to Your Pets?

Online Pet Pharmacies – Saving Money or Risk to Your Pets?

Their ads promise to save you lots of money and even “a stressful trip to the veterinarian”. You are encouraged by slick video and professional announcers to purchase flea medications, pain relief drugs and even heartworm prevention all from the comfort of your living room and laptop computer. But, are online pet pharmacies really the best option for you or are there hidden dangers?

With record numbers of families enjoying the benefits of pet ownership and online shopping, it should come as no surprise that the amount of money spent on our pets is huge. Experts are forecasting that pet owners will spend more than $50 billion dollars annually. A significant percentage of those expenses include veterinary care and prescription medications. So, is it any wonder that buying your prescription medications online may also look like a good deal?

At first glance, online pet pharmacies would seem to be a great option. The promise of lower prices and having the medication shipped to your door is a big selling point for busy, budget conscious people. But, there are some pitfalls when relying on Internet based sources for your pet’s medication needs.

First, they all say you can “save a trip to the vet”. Unfortunately, this is only partially true. In order to prescribe and dispense medication to your pet, most states require that there is a valid veterinarian-client-pet relationship or VCPR. This is usually defined as a veterinarian having examined your pet within the last 12 months. If the VCPR does not exist, medication cannot be dispensed.

Some websites will offer to sell the drugs without a prescription. This is not only illegal but not in the best interest of your pet! Websites that sell without needing prescriptions are most often based outside of North America, where pharmacy and drug laws may not be as strict.

The requirement for this professional relationship insures that you and your veterinarian have good, up to date facts about your pet’s health. Plus the medical records and history for your pet are all in one place. The veterinary staff also knows your whole pet family and can help prevent problems when there are multiple species present in the household.

Since pets are unique individuals, some may have unexpected reactions to certain drugs and some medications can even be deadly if given incorrectly. Others may need a special formulation for ease of administration. The online pharmacies will not know this information and this could be a problem if your pet is on several medications or has secondary conditions.

If a life-threatening emergency happens with a medication, your veterinarian is only a phone call away. Some online pharmacies only allow contact through email and this will not help you if your pet needs assistance immediately!

Finally, despite many good businesses online, there will always be a few who are looking for a quick buck at your expense. Avoid sites that offer dramatically lower prices than competing sites or your veterinarian. Likewise, if you have ordered medication online, check the drug to make sure it looks similar to what you have given before. If it looks different in any way, do not give it to your pet.

The FDA is so concerned about this, it is now warning pet owners to be aware of shady online companies. And, the National Board of Pharmacies has instituted the Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program (Vet-VIPPS) to help you find properly licensed and compliant online pet pharmacies. Only twelve companies so far have earned the right to display the Vet-VIPPS seal of approval.

Check with your veterinarian about online pharmacies. Many veterinary hospitals now offer their very own store on their websites. You can order your pet’s medications conveniently from home, possibly even get home delivery and you know that the source is reputable. In addition, you will know who you are talking to in case of any problems or concerns. Honest and open communication with your veterinarian about cost concerns will prevent misunderstandings about money and help you do what’s best for your pet.

People Food for Pets

People Food for Pets

On a low carb diet? Planning on sharing some of those low calorie dessert treats with your canine friends? STOP! That sugar-free snack you think is good for you and your dog could actually send you to the veterinarian

The sugar substitute, Xylitol, has been a great development in the fight against tooth decay and in helping diabetics gain better control over their disease. However, this popular sweetener may be devastating to the family pet. New research now being released shows that ingestion of Xylitol by dogs can cause liver failure and even death. Reports from the ASPCA Poison Control Center show the number of Xylitol related pet exposures is on the rise and that rise has many veterinarians and pet owners concerned.

For years, veterinarians have suspected that Xylitol could make dogs sick, but an article in the October issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) has documented the outcomes of several cases of Xylitol ingestions in dogs from 2003 to 2005. Five of eight dogs died or had to be euthanized due to complications stemming from Xylitol ingestion.

Often found in human mints, sugar-free gums, toothpastes, and sweets, Xylitol, has been a popular sugar substitute since the 1960s. However, researchers found that even small amounts of Xylitol can cause liver damage and even death in dogs.

Dogs that ingest large amounts of Xylitol have sudden and profound drops in blood sugar levels, leading to weakness and uncoordinated movements. Occasionally, seizures may be seen as well. However, even small amounts of Xylitol are not safe. As little as 1 gram of Xylitol can set off a chain of events leading to liver damage. A dog could receive this amount in just a few candies or sticks of gum containing this sugar substitute. Xylitol can also be found in children’s chewable multi-vitamins, certain cough medications and even mouthwashes.

Although most pet owners routinely give some sort of “people food” to their dogs, the JAVMA report should be a wake up call, showing that many foods that are safe for humans can be harmful to pets.

Any pet owner concerned about anything their dog has ingested should seek veterinary medical attention immediately.