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October is Farley Month!

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We at the New Hamburg Vet Clinic understand how devistating it is when a pet becomes sick or injured. It is an even harder situation when a pet owner is unable to provide necessary veterinary care due to financial restrictions beyond their control.

During the month of October, the New Hamburg Vet Clinic will be raising awareness of and supporting the Farley Foundation! This year Merck has put together special items to be auctioned off and donated on behalf of Farley, alongside many of our other amazing veterinary companies (Royal Canin, Hill’s, Virbac, Zoetis, Aventix, Elanco and Dechra).

So, how are we raising money for Farley?

$5 Nail Trims , $1 Farley Bandanas, and best yet, RAFFLE PRIZES (a draw will be held on November 3rd)!
(Please call in advance to book any nail trims, cash only).

Any donation over $15 will be eligible for a tax receipt.

Unsure of what the Farley Foundation is all about? Or want to make a donation online?
Please visit their website at:

September is Pet Insurance Month!

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A lot of you out there may be thinking, “What? There’s PET insurance?” or “Why would my pet need health insurance?” or even “Can they be covered by my own insurance?”. This post will give you some ideas and some brain waves to think about whether you feel your pet needs health insurance or not. Sure, some pets may go on for it’s entire life and never need anything more than their annual vaccines, but there are many more pets that will end up needing a doctor’s appointment outside of the routine. September is the month to showcase the reason that pet insurance exists, and also to help you choose if you and your pet are the right candidates.

What is Pet Health Insurance?

Pet health insurance helps pay some or most of the costs of diagnosing, treating, and managing your pet’s illness or injury. Thanks to ongoing improvements in veterinary medicine, your veterinarian is able to offer ever-progressive therapeutic plans and improved outcomes for your dogs and cats. With improved care, however, comes increased cost, and that’s where pet health insurance comes in.

Who needs Pet Health Insurance?

Pet Insurance can be for absolutely any pet, of any size, sex, breed or species. Not only is it relevant for high energy, active dogs or dogs that go camping or hiking, but low energy, couch potato dogs are also prone to long term health concerns. Some of these long term health concerns include arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and other hormonal conditions. Your veterinarian is the one who can help you explore the different health concerns that may be anticipated based on your pet’s breed and lifestyle.
Some of you may be asking, “What about my cat?” Outdoor cats are especially more at risk of accident or illness because the great outdoors is an uncontrolled environment. Indoor cats may not be as “accident-prone” as their dog counterparts, but in their senior years they can also develop long term health issues such as diabetes and kidney failure.
Overtime, a lot of these diseases and illnesses can become quite expensive to manage without pet insurance. Therefore, pet health insurance gives owners peace of mind and the ability to make decisions about diagnostic testing and treatment based on your pet’s needs.

Who offers Pet Health Insurance?

There are a few different companies in Canada that offer insurance:
OVMA Pet Health Insurance –
PetSecure Canada –
Pets+Us –
Trupanion –

Whichever route you decide to choose, whether it is with pet insurance or not, the option is always there for you. If you need more assistance with insurance plans, please feel free to contact any of the companies above and they will be more than happy to help you find the right plan for you and your pet.

Winter Weather Hazards for your Pets

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Chilly temperatures, cozy fireplaces, and extra layers are all part of the winters we have here in Ontario.  We prepare ourselves every year for this season by wearing our jackets, hats and mitts, as well as making sure our furnace or fireplace is working properly, but do you prepare your pets for the cold weather?  Here are a list of things to watch for and ideas to keep your pets safe this winter season.

1.  Frostbite: just like humans, animals are susceptible to frostbite.  Be aware that tissue damage (especially on ears and paws) usually doesn’t appear until several days after exposure, so make sure they are dressed properly, or reduce the amount of time you have them outside.  Basically, if it is too cold for you to be outside without a coat, it is too cold for your pet.

2.  Hypothermia:  To follow the above, body temperatures can fall dangerously below normal if exposed to the cold.  Watch out for signs such as, decreased appetite, severe lethargy, shivering and discoloration of skin (red or black).  Call your Veterinarian if your pet is experiencing any of these conditions.

3.  Shorter Days:  Dogs still need to go outside.  With winter come shorter days and darker nights,  For this reason, it is a good idea to get them (as well as yourself) some reflective gear, such as, leashes, collars or a coat to be more visible at night.

4.  Antifreeze:  Antifreeze is a poison that is very bad for our pets once ingested.  The sweet taste of this common household item is what attracts them to it. so be sure to wipe up spills and keep containers out of reach.  Also, make sure everyone in the house is aware of this poisonous substance to make sure it is always returned to it’s proper location.  CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN if you suspect your pet has consume any antifreeze.

5.  Protect their paws:  Because of the icy nature of winter, it is very common to have salt on our streets and sidewalks to keep us from slipping.  Unfortunately, salt can injure the pads of your pet when out for walk.  Consider buying booties to protect their feet while outside.

6.  Provide shelter:  We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but it you are unable to keep your dog or cat inside during cold weather provide them with a  warm, dry, solid shelter against wind.  Many feral cats live outside throughout all of winter so consider building a warm, dry shelter for them out of styrofoam or plastic boxes.  Tutorials for this can be found online.

7.  Thermal Burns:  During the cold weather you may have your baseboard heaters or fireplace on to keep warm.  Just remember, cats love the warmth, so make sure to keep your feline friends at a safe distance to avoid burns.

8.  Make some noise:  A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for stray or feral cats, but is deadly.  Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage these feline friends to get out.

Veterinary Technician Week

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October 16th-22nd 2016 is National Veterinary Technician week. A time when we take a few moments to say thank you to the people who do so much to help the people and the animals that we work with every day.

Veterinary Technicians fulfill many roles in a veterinary practice, from educators to anesthesiologists to animal care personnel to lab techs, they do just about every job in the clinic. They are often the first people that you meet when you come in and the last people you see when you leave, and they are with your pet the whole time that they stay with us. The clinic would not run the way it does without our technicians and we depend on them for all that we do.

For more information about Veterinary Technicians or to find out what it takes to become a Veterinary Technician, visit the American Veterinary Medical Associations website.

Thank you to our Veterinary Technicians for all you do.

Farley Foundation Ride 2016

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This past weekend, our own Dr Glen Blier participated in the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association Ride for Farley in Milton, Ontario. The ride was 100km long through the twists and turns of the Milton escarpment, and against a strong headwind on the last 40km. Even though the terrain & weather were not cooperating, Dr Glen gave it his all and finished the ride with his team (although he refrained from commenting on his course time…). Through generous donations from our clients and our by-donation nail trims for the past 2 months, Dr Glen was able to raise $1420 for the foundation, which helps people and pets who need help with paying for veterinary care.

Way to go Dr Glen! Thanks for representing New Hamburg in this Ontario wide fundraising event.


To find out more about the Farley Foundation, what they do and how you can be involved, look at the links below.

IMG_2431 IMG_2413

Does my dog need a heartworm test?

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Summer months mean mosquitos in Ontario. Annoying for us, but potentially deadly for our furry friends. Dogs (and to a much lesser extent cats) can be infected by the larvae of a parasite known as Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), which is transmitted to pets by mosquito bites during the warmer months of the year. Many of our pets receive monthly preventative medications to stop them from becoming infected by the heartworm parasite and these act to kill of any larvae that our pets may have been infected with. If an animal has an adult worm inside them, a blood test is the easiest way to find out before the worm causes damage to the heart, lung and blood vessels, and before we see clinical signs like shortness of breath, coughing or decreased activity.

“But my dog was on medication, do I need to do the test?” A great question and one that we get asked all of the time. The recommendation from the suppliers of the once monthly heartworm medication is that a dog gets tested prior to starting medication. There is a small risk for a dog who has a heartworm infection to have an allergic-type reaction if they are given a dose of the medication and the larvae in their blood stream begin dying. In Southern Ontario, this risk is small due to the prevalence of the heartworm parasite. However, another risk exists for dogs that are not tested, and that is that a dog is affected by heartworm disease and goes undiagnosed. For instance, Gus the Golden Retriever is on once a month preventatives in the summer of 2015. In July his parents take him to the cottage and forget his medication. He is bitten by a mosquito while there and picks up the heartworm parasite. He gets his August dose of medication and goes on like nothing has happened. But inside, the larvae have started to grow into worms and are no longer affected by the preventative medication. Testing in 2016 will tell us that Gus is infected and we can get him on the treatment he needs; Heartworm is treatable if caught early. If he is not tested, Gus goes on receiving his monthly medication this summer without anyone knowing he is infected and the treatment this year does not help with the worms already growing in his heart. This same concern exists for pets if mosquito season starts earlier, lasts longer or if there is a resistance developing to the parasite medication. This is why we can’t just ignore testing completely.

Currently we are recommending a “Spot check” approach to heartworm testing. For dogs in Southern Ontario with no travel history and who have been on preventatives June 1st to November 1st, it is reasonable to test them for heartworm once at some point in a two-year period (not necessarily before starting summer medication) to make sure that they have not been exposed to the parasite.

That is a brief summary of why we test and what risks are involved. There are many factors here and one answer does not always fit each pet’s lifestyle. Our staff will be happy to help you make the best decision for you, your family and your pet. Please let us know if there is any way that we can help?


Image courtesy of

Get out and enjoy the sun, not the blood-sucking parasites

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Spring certainly looks like it has sprung. Warm weather, green grass, long walks in the park- all the things we enjoy this time of the year. Spring is also a time of the year that we see a lot of our patients for their annual wellness exams, Heartworm testing and parasite control medications. This is because this is the time of year that we start thinking about parasites waking up from the long cold winter and becoming active again. Last month our blog was about ticks and mentioned that 4 degrees Celsius is the temperature that ticks will start to become active. Fleas prefer temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius (don’t we all?), so warm spring days mean active flea infestations. Cool spring nights mean that those same fleas are looking for a warm place to sleep like on your dog or cat, but they can also seek shelter in your house. This year’s warm-cold cycles have made the perfect set-up for fleas moving indoors; and it will be happening earlier this year than most years.

Below is a great animated video showing the life cycle of a flea including time spent on your pet and in your home. Watch it and see if it makes you squirm?

If you have questions about flea control or other parasite questions, or to choose the parasite prevention product that is right for your furry friends, give us a call and one of our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you out.

(Flea image courtesy of

What is a proglotid and why should you care?

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Recently in Ontario, the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College diagnosed 4 cases of Fox Tapeworm (Echincoccus multilocularis) in pet dogs. This small tapeworm which is infective to people had not previously been seen in Southern Ontario and so it’s presence raised some alarm. Lets take a look at this emerging parasite and see what it means to you.

(Taken from the worms and germs blog; <>

  • Echinococcus is a group (genus) of tapeworms. Tapeworms are parasites that live in the small intestines of many different species of animals, including humans.
  • Echinococcus spp. are quite small compared to other tapeworms. For example, Echinococcus multilocularis is less than 1 cm long, whereas an adult Taenia saginata may be up to 10 metres long!
  • Except for the head, a tapeworm’s body is made up entirely of small segments, called proglottids, which regularly break off from the end of the worm’s tail as it grows and contain the parasite’s eggs. Both intact proglottids and eggs may be passed in the feces.
  • Of all the tapeworms in pets, Echinococcus spp. pose the greatest disease risk to people.

Like other tapeworms, Echinococcus spp. are normally transmitted between two different groups of animals: definitive hosts and intermediate hosts. A definitive host is an animal that normally carries the adult tapeworms in the intestine and sheds the eggs in its feces. For E. multilocularis, foxes and other wild canids such as coyotes and wolves are definitive hosts, and sometimes dogs. An intermediate host is an animal species that typically harbours the cyst stage of the parasite in the body tissues, and is then eaten by a definitive host. Small prey animals such as voles, mice and lemmings are common intermediate hosts for E. multilocularis, whereas E. granulosus may be found in larger animals such as rabbits, sheep and moose. People and dogs can be “accidental” intermediate hosts.

Now here is the scary part. People can develop Alveolar echinocococcis caused by E. multilocularis. With this species there are often multiple cysts that grow inside the accidental host, ranging in size from that of a sesame seed to a large melon. The cysts usually start in the liver but can form and spread elsewhere. Although the cysts grow slowly, usually for 5-15 years or more before a person becomes sick, they tend to invade nearby tissues like a cancerous tumor, making treatment very difficult.

The parasite can be detected in pets by examining stool samples. Deworming medications are used to treat infections in the intestines, but cysts can be more difficult to treat, even requiring surgical removal. Preventing infection in our pets and washing our hands, especially after handling dirt in gardens or flower beds are the most effective way to prevent infection.

If you have more questions about Fox Tapeworm or parasites in general, please feel free to contact us

How do I choose a dental treat?

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February is Dental Health Month at the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic and for this post we wanted to address a very common question that we get asked at the clinic. “What is a good treat for my pet’s teeth?”

We all love our pets and want them to be happy, but at the same time we strive for their continued health and well-being. As more companies become aware of the risks that dental problems can pose to our pets, more foods, treats and toys are marketed as “Good for their Teeth” or “Tartar Fighting” or “Brushes as they Chew”; but do they really?

The American Veterinary Dental College has created a way for pet owners to know if a product meets certain standards for improving dental health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council seal (pictured above) is applied to products that have produced studies showing that they will reduce or control plaque and tartar formation in pets. If a product carries the seal, then you can be sure that this product will help to improve the oral health of your pet. Look for this seal and use it to help guide you to products that will help fight dental disease versus those that may not.

Of course, we still need to be cautious of other concerns like digestive upset and calorie intake, but this is one tool that can help you make an informed decision

For a list of products that bear the seal, click below;

And what about bones? for more information on why we suggest NOT to feed your pet animal bones, click the link below;

Happy Chewing!

What is a Dental Cleaning?

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February is Dental month at New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic and that means a time when we focus our attention and yours on the oral health of your pets. We are (of course) always concerned with dental disease as it is the most common infection we see in animals and affects over 80% of the pet population, but February is a time when we like to create a little more awareness of what goes on behind the lips.

Just like in people bacteria forms on our pets teeth after eating. This bacteria uses undigested food particles as an energy source and forms a thin layer or film on the surface of the teeth which is known as plaque. Over time if this film is allowed to remain on the teeth then it forms into tartar (also known as calculus) which is the hardened brown substance that people often see on their dog or cat’s teeth. If this is not removed from the surface of the teeth, particularly under the gum line, the bacteria present can eat away at the thin ligament that holds each tooth in place. This causes pain, redness, swelling (known collectively as gingivitis) and loose teeth. The infection that is maintained in our pets mouths causes bad breath and bacteria from these infections can migrate into the bloodstream causing problems for the liver, heart and other organs. Teeth crowded together, broken teeth and damage to the hard external enamel can all predispose a pet to oral infections but virtually every animal will have some level of oral plaque, tartar and gingivitis.

So what can we do about it? Well tooth brushing, Dental care diets, oral rinses, dental chews and dental toys are all great ways to help with oral care. But the corner-stone of our dental care program is the Dental Prophylaxis or Dental Cleaning under general anesthesia. With a pet under general anesthesia, we can safely and completely inspect the oral cavity, clean all of their teeth above and below the gum line, remove any loose or damaged teeth, and (very importantly) polish the surface of a pet’s teeth to prevent further plaque formation and damage.

For more information on Dental Cleaning have a look at the information page of the American Veterinary Dental Society;  

Or this video of a Dental Prophylaxis by Dr Parr of Tender Care Animal Clinic in Georgetown, KY

If you would like more information on dental care or to find out how we can help, please feel free to contact the clinic for a dental exam for your pet.