How to cold-proof your Squamish pet

Cold weather poses serious threats to your pets’ health.

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Check it out:

Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Get your pet checked out to make sure the pain is under control.

Know the limits: Cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on its coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Shorten your dog’s walks in frigid weather.  Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with the snow-covered ground.

Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.

Provide choices: Provide comfortable sleeping places. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping area to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept indoors during cold weather. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should stay inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.

Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine is an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, or honk the horn before starting the engine.

Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat, consider a sweater or dog coat. Ensure clothing is dry. Wet sweaters or jackets can make your dog colder. Use booties to protect their dog’s feet. Make sure they fit correctly.

Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs, and belly may pick up chemicals that could be toxic. Wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and stomach to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned by licking itself.

Collar and chip: There is a higher chance of your pet getting lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might usually help your pet find its way back home.

A collar with ID, contact information, tattoo or microchip help lost pets get home.

Stay home: Cold cars pose a significant risk to your pet’s health. Cars parked in the cold are like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.

Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately. Even small amounts of antifreeze is potentially deadly. Make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.

Protect family: Ensure your house is winter pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution, because they can burn or be knocked over, potentially starting a fire.

Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water.

Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

For the love of Fido

Vaccinating your Squamish dog is essential to its good health

These days, many in Squamish go to great lengths to keep their fur babies happy and healthy. There are goggles and lifejackets on dogs in the summer and coats on them in the fall and winter. Not to mention organic dog food and even doggy massage to maintain the family pooch’s pep.

Ensuring a pet’s vaccinations are up to date is essential to making sure Fido stays healthy.

There is universal agreement among experts that vaccines have controlled and prevented infectious disease in millions of animals.

The veterinary community agrees all dogs should be vaccinated against diseases that are widespread, cause serious illness, and/or are highly contagious (termed “core” vaccines).

Other vaccines may be recommended based on the risk a particular disease poses to an individual dog (non-core vaccines).

Core vaccines for dogs

Canine distemper:

This virus disease causes respiratory, digestive, and nervous system signs in affected dogs and can be fatal in about half of unvaccinated dogs. The virus is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs.

Infectious canine hepatitis:

This disease is spread by infected urine. The virus may cause liver failure, eye damage, and respiratory problems. It can be fatal. Commonly encountered clinical signs are vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and occasionally, coughing.

Canine parvovirus:

The disease is both serious and widespread in dogs. Signs, which include severe vomiting and diarrhea that frequently contain blood, results from virus damage to the digestive tract lining. The disease spreads via infected feces.

Death is possible in as early as 48 to 72 hours; sudden death may also occur. This virus is very resistant in the environment and is easily carried around on people’s shoes and other objects leading to virus transfer. For this reason, even indoor apartment dogs that never go outside require protection. Vaccination is the most effective protective strategy for all dogs, young and old.


All mammals including humans are at risk of contracting rabies. This disease is almost invariably fatal. Rabid dogs may display “dumb” rabies signs, characterized by listlessness, weakness, and paralysis, or the classic “furious” signs of rabies characterized by abnormal aggression.

Non-core vaccines for Dogs

Vaccines are available to protect individual dogs deemed to be at risk. Discuss these further with your veterinarian.

Bordetellosis or kennel cough:

A vaccine for Bordetella (a bacterial cause of kennel cough syndrome) is available. These bacteria cause respiratory signs such as coughing, nasal discharge, and fever. Serious infections can lead to pneumonia. Dogs in close contact with other dogs such as in dog parks, shelters, boarding and grooming facilities, dog shows, training classes, and other high-risk environments will benefit from vaccination for this disease.


Signs of leptospirosis may include lethargy, fever, kidney and/or liver failure, sore muscles and joints, vomiting, and bleeding problems. Active infection may pose a real risk to the owner, as Leptospira organisms can infect people. Studies show that dogs without any clinical signs can shed bacteria in their urine and thus can transfer the bacteria to other people and dogs.

Borreliosis (Lyme disease):

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread via the bite of infected ticks.

Borrelia infections affect the kidneys, joints, and heart in dogs. While many dogs (90 to 95 per cent) do not develop clinical disease after infection, problems such as lethargy, fever, lameness, poor appetite, and swollen glands can occur in some dogs. Tick control remains the most important method to prevent infections.


Coronavirus infections cause mild and self-limiting disease in most young dogs. Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common clinical signs, though resolving within a few days. Vaccination may be considered for dogs in high-risk environments, such as dog shows, shelters, and kennels where outbreaks can occur.

Cat vaccines & Squamish felines

Squamish pet owners face lots of choices when it comes to their pets these days. What food, accessories and toys to buy, how much exercise to give them and what vaccines their fur-babies need.

When it comes to their feline family, vaccines are essential.

Vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system to form disease-fighting cells and antibodies that help fight disease off.

Cat vaccines contain viruses that have been killed or altered in some way to make them safe to be administered.

They fully protect the cat from the targeted diseases. In a small percentage of cases, the vaccines are unable to adequately protect but reduce the severity or duration of the disease. When given to young kittens, protection from their mothers (via antibodies in the milk) interferes with the vaccine, so multiple doses of vaccine need to be given. For some diseases, this protection declines until 20 weeks of age, making it important to boost the vaccine every three to four weeks until five months of age.

What diseases can vaccines protect my cat from?

The veterinary community agrees all cats should be vaccinated against diseases that are widespread, cause serious illness, and/or are highly contagious. These vaccines are termed as “core” vaccines, designed to be recommended to be administered to all cats.

Other vaccines may be recommended based on the risk a particular disease poses to an individual cat (non-core vaccines).

Core vaccines

Feline panleukopenia (Cat flu/cat distemper):

Panleukopenia is a potentially fatal viral disease that causes vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration, fever, and sudden death. Kittens born to infected cats may suffer permanent brain damage.

Vaccines against panleukopenia provide excellent protection. This vaccine is generally given as a combination vaccine along with feline viral rhinotracheitis and calici viruses.

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus) and calicivirus:

These organisms infect the airways of cats, cause runny eyes and nose, sneezing, mouth ulcers, and sometimes a reduced appetite. Vaccines against these “cold” viruses may help increase resistance to infection and reduce the severity of a disease.


All mammals, including humans, are at risk of contracting rabies, which is almost invariably fatal. Rabid pets may display a “dumb” form that is characterized by listlessness, weakness, and paralysis, or the “furious” form of rabies characterized by abnormal aggression. In some parts of Canada, where risk is high, vaccination of pets is mandatory.


Non-core vaccines for cats

Feline Leukemia Virus:

This virus causes a multitude of disorders from tumours, (including leukemia), to bone marrow suppression, to silent infection, although some infected cats may not show clinical signs for several years. All kittens under one year of age should be vaccinated against feline leukemia virus (FeLV) because they are at greatest risk for infection. Adult cats that go outside or that live with any FeLV-infected cat should be vaccinated.

Chlamydia virus:

This virus causes conjunctivitis and can potentially cause conjunctivitis to human beings as well, especially to immune-compromised people. The prevalence and spread of the disease are higher in multi-cat households. Vaccination against C felis is considered non-core. Vaccination may potentially be considered as part of a control regime for cats in multiple-cat environments where infections associated with clinical disease have been confirmed.


How often should my cat receive vaccinations?

Your veterinarian will develop a vaccination protocol suited to your pet. Generally, all cats receive a series of vaccinations as kittens that are completed by four to five months of age, and their first booster is given a year later. Subsequent boosters may be given every year or every three years, depending on the vaccine.

Regardless of your cat’s infectious disease risk, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) recommends an annual physical examination and consultation as the cornerstone of preventive care for your cat, with twice-yearly examinations for senior cats. More frequent examinations may be needed for cats with special needs or disease conditions.

Pets age much faster than people in the same amount of time; an annual “check-up” allows your veterinarian to early detection and management of illnesses such as dental disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney failure that may develop as your cat ages. Certain breeds may be predisposed to health problems even at an early age. In addition, an annual visit gives you an opportunity to discuss other topics such as behaviour, nutrition, parasite control and home care of your cat.


Are vaccines safe?

Although vaccines must undergo safety trials to receive licensing in Canada and are considered very safe, vaccines can still cause reactions in a very small number of pets.

Most commonly, cats (like children) may feel tired, may run a fever for 24 hours after vaccination, and may not eat as well. Treatment is seldom required. In some cats, a small, non-painful lump may form at the site where the vaccine was injected; usually disappearing within four weeks. Again, treatment is usually not needed.

If a lump persists for three months, grows larger than two centimetres in diameter or continues to grow beyond one month after injection, ask your veterinarian to evaluate it. Injection site sarcomas are very rare but should be identified early.

Very rarely, a cat will develop facial itchiness, or a generalized allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and extremely rarely, collapse. Should any of these occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Anaphylactic reactions are rarely fatal if treated in a timely fashion.

Veterinarians agree that appropriate vaccination by far outweighs any rare risks.


Are there alternatives to vaccination?

No. Despite the very occasional risks associated with vaccination, it is widely accepted that vaccination plays an important role in the protection of cats from these serious diseases.

Pets, parasites and You — Important things to know

Dogs and cats are not just pets but are members of the family. And like any member of your family, it’s essential to keep your companion animal healthy and free of parasites.

Most pet owners are unaware that their furry friends are infected with worms unless they see one. Most internal parasites are too small to be seen by the human eye. It is quite common for a dog or cat to become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in its lifetime. Parasites can impact your pet in a variety of ways, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated.

Some parasites can even infect and transmit diseases to you and your family.

Zoonotic disease

Zoonotic disease is one that can be passed from pets to people. People often worry about the possibility of infection for themselves or family when a pet is diagnosed with intestinal parasites, such as worms. This concern is valid because several intestinal parasites are considered zoonoses.

Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites seen in both dogs and cats. In fact, most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms. Roundworms have the potential to be passed to people. Children are at highest risk for infection with roundworms.

Hookworms are another common parasite in dogs and cats. They also are a zoonotic parasite and can be passed from pets to people.

Hookworm infection in human beings

Tapeworms are considered zoonotic parasites. However, typically, they are not passed from dogs or cats directly to people. Dogs or cats need to get infested with fleas to get infected with tapeworns or they need to hunt and ingest a small prey animal. Humans get infected by eating uncooked meat or fish that is infected.

Trichenella is another intestinal parasite that can be transmitted only by eating uncooked or undercooked meat infected with the parasite, most often pork or wild animals.

Toxoplasma is a parasite that is frequently found in cats. It is a serious threat particularly for a pregnant woman and her fetus.

How are internal parasites passed?

Intestinal parasites can be passed to people in several different ways.

Some intestinal parasites are transmitted to people through ingestion of feces from infected animals or ingestion of contaminated soil or water. Examples include roundworms, hookworms, Giardia and Toxoplasma.

Some can be passed when the larvae of the parasite contact uncovered skin. Hookworms can be transmitted this way.

Other intestinal parasites are transmitted by eating uncooked or undercooked meat that is infected. Certain types of tapeworms, as well as Trichinella, can be passed in this fashion.

Fortunately, in most cases, by taking simple precautions like practicing good hygiene and making sure all meat is cooked thoroughly before eating it, infection with zoonotic intestinal parasites can be avoided


Heartworms can be a very serious problem for both dogs and cats, especially those in mosquito-infested areas, as mosquitoes are a vector and intermediate host for the pest. Heartworms can kill or severely debilitate pets infected with them. That’s because heartworms live in the bloodstream, lungs, and heart of infected pets. Your veterinarian can do a blood test to determine if your pet has heartworm disease. A year-round preventive program is most effective to keep pets free of heartworms.

Fleas and ticks

Fleas and ticks can carry and either directly or indirectly transmit several potential illnesses. For example, rickettsiosis can be transmitted directly by ticks to humans. Bartonellosis is transmitted between cats by fleas and then may spread to people. Also, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworms, which can infect both pet and humans.

Reducing risks for your family

You can reduce the risk of parasitic infection to your family by eliminating parasites from pets; restricting access to contaminated areas, such as sandboxes, pet “walk areas,” and other high-traffic areas; and practicing good personal hygiene.

Disposing of pet feces on a regular basis can help remove potentially infective worm eggs before they become distributed in the environment and are picked up or ingested by pets or humans.

Year-round prevention

Parasites can infect your pet any time of year. External parasites, such as fleas and ticks, may be less prevalent outside during certain times of the year; however, they often survive in the house during the winter months, creating an uninterrupted life cycle. Other internal parasites, such as worms, may affect your pet all year long. That’s why it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to implement a year-round parasite control program.

What can I do?

Responsible pet parasite control can reduce the risks associated with the transmission of parasitic diseases from pets to people. By following a few simple guidelines, pet owners can better protect their pets and their family.


Quick tips

*Practice good personal hygiene

*Use a preventative flea and/or tick
treatment year-round

*Only feed pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat)

*Minimize exposure to high-traffic pet areas

*Clean up pet feces regularly.

*Visit your veterinarian for annual testing and physical examination

*Administer worming medications as recommended by your veterinarian

*Ask your veterinarian about parasite infection risks and effective year-round preventative control measures administered monthly


Just don’t do it

Summer’s here, and that means there are some important things to think about when it comes to your pets. Warm weather can be dangerous for our pets. It’s hard for them to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and that’s because animals don’t sweat as people do. You probably knew that dogs cool themselves through panting, but did you know that they sweat through their paws too? When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool.

While cats tend tolerate the heat a little better than dogs, and even prefer it (we’ve all seen a cat stretched out on a sunny windowsill), that doesn’t mean that you should forget about your cat this summer.

Never, ever, ever leave your pet in a hot car. One of the most life-threatening mistakes people can make is to leave a dog in a vehicle in hot weather.  When the air dogs are taking in is too hot  (as it is in a parked car in hot weather), then panting has little cooling effect. The dog quickly overheats.

Many people think their dog will be OK if they leave the windows open, but even with the windows wide open, the car can quickly become hot enough to cause heatstroke, brain damage, and even death. Your pet may pay dearly for even a few minutes spent in a sweltering car.

Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting that does not resolve as the pet rests, increasing distress, a tongue color that is dark red to almost purple, weakness or collapse, hypersalivation, vomiting and laboured breathing. If you suspect a dog or cat is suffering from heat stroke, move him to a cooler environment immediately and apply cool water to the abdomen, ears and foot pads. Don’t pour ice water over the whole animal, submerge him in a tub of cold water or cover him in a cold, wet blanket. Once he is stable, get him to a vet as quickly as possible, even if he seems to be cooling down and his temperature seems normal. Things may be happening on the inside that are not obvious from the outside.

Keep the paws in mind

If you walk your dog on a leash, keep in mind that asphalt can get very hot during the summer. In fact, it can get hot enough to burn a dog’s pads. That means causing him pain for days. You might want to do only short walks early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are lower. Before taking your dog for a walk, check the ground for hotness with one of your own hands or bare feet. If you can’t keep your hand (or foot) on the ground for more than three seconds, it’s probably too hot to walk your furry friend. Dogs who are older or overweight, have a thick coat or have a pushed-in nose — such as bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs — are especially at risk of overheating. On walks, bring water for both you and your pet, or a collapsible bowl if there’s a water source on your route.


Water and shade

If your dog stays outside during the day, make sure his water bowl isn’t in a place where he will tip it over. Water bowls can be tipped over by dogs trying to make a cool spot to lie down. If necessary, buy a tip-proof water bowl. Also, make sure he has a shady place where he can get relief from the sun. Kiddie pools are a nice way to give dogs their own clean puddle in which to play.



If you have a pet with a thick coat, consider a haircut! One inch is a good length to avoid sunburn — yes, pets can get sunburns too.


Keep your windows screened

We all know cats love windowsills. You may want your house to be ventilated, but you definitely do not want your kitty to fall out!


Stay safe at barbeques

Backyard barbeques are a lot of fun, but the food and drinks offered can be bad for pets. Keep your pets away from alcohol and foods like grapes, onions, and chocolate.


Keep your pets away from fireworks

The dangers are obvious — pets are at risk for fatal injuries and painful burns if they are allowed to run around freely when fireworks are launched. Some fireworks also contain chemicals toxic to pets like potassium nitrate and arsenic. Not to mention, the loud noises can be frightening and disturbing to pets. Remember, their hearing is many times better than ours.


No rides in the back of open trucks

You should never let your dog ride in an open pickup truck since truck beds are often dark colors, which can get very hot. And your furry friend can burn his paws, which means days of pain.