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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.

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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.

Holiday Orders

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We would like to remind you that our suppliers have holiday closures this year and that it may be more difficult to get special orders in during these times.

If your pet is on special food or medications, please give us as much advance notice as possible to ensure that we can get these for you.

Tuesday December 22nd is our last day to order before Christmas and Tuesday December 29th is the ONLY day between Christmas and January 3rd to place an order through our clinic. Our orders go in at 11am, so please have a look at your food and medication supplies now to make sure you have enough.

We will be Closed from December 24th at 12;00 noon until December 28th at 8:00am, but will have emergency services during this time.

We will also be Closed from December 31st at 12;00 noon until January 2nd at 8:00am, but will have emergency services during this time as well.

Please call us at 519-662-1525 if you have any questions, or use the same number and press option 1 if you have any after hours emergencies.

The benefits of a dental cleaning

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October is still Pet Dental Month at the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic and today’s blog will highlight some of the benefits of a professional dental cleaning with the story of Casey.

Casey, a 5 year old male Chihuahua, came in for his annual exam this year and Dr. Glen noted that he had some early oral health concerns; Plaque, Tartar and Gingivitis. Dr Glen knew that small breed dogs often suffer from dental decay and end up losing teeth as they get older due to this condition. He also knew that it can be hard to really get a good look inside any dog’s mouth while they are awake so he recommended that Casey come in for a full oral exam and dental cleaning during our Dental Month. Casey’s Mom & Dad understood that oral care is very important for the health and longevity of their pet, and they wanted what is best for Casey, so they scheduled him in this past week. Posted below are some pictures of what we found when we got a good look inside Casey’s mouth.

Casey had bloodwork done to check his organ function and blood cell counts before starting. Everything was normal so he was anesthetized and had a breathing tube placed for his safety. We used an ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and tartar from Casey’s teeth (both above and below his gum line). One tooth (his upper fourth premolar on the right side) had more tartar than the others and when we cleaned it off, we found out why. Casey had fractured this large chewing tooth and had exposed the sensitive dentin and pulp chamber in the middle of the tooth. Until we got into his mouth under anesthesia and cleaned away the tartar, this was difficult to assess.

In people, crown fractures like this are very sensitive and stop people from chewing on that side of their mouths. Casey is a tough little guy and never showed any signs of this injury, but if left untreated this tooth could have caused pain, appetite loss and even tooth root infection. Luckily, Casey’s parents brought him in for his yearly exam, had his mouth looked at, followed Dr Glen’s advice on dental cleaning and then were able to have the tooth removed before it became a bigger problem.

The last few pictures are a little graphic (so feel free to skip them if you don’t want to look) but they show Casey having his tooth removed. A flap of skin is lifted off the tooth roots, bone is removed with a high speed drill, the tooth is cut into three pieces and then each root is extracted before the skin is sewn over the hole. Casey is given pain medication, antibiotics and soft food after his surgery and we will re-check him to make sure that he is healing well, but we expect that he will be back to eating his regular food next week. He won’t miss his tooth and it won’t cause him any problems in the future now that he has had the treatment that he needs. Well done Casey!

If you have any questions about dentistry in pets or to schedule your free oral health exam in the month of October, please feel free to call our front office and book an appointment (519)-662-1525

Casey's teeth pre-opperative

Casey’s teeth pre-opperative

Casey's fractured tooth, cleaned and exposed

Casey’s fractured tooth, cleaned and exposed

A surgical flap is created in the skin (gingiva)

A surgical flap is created in the skin (gingiva)

Sectioning the damaged tooth

Sectioning the damaged tooth

Extracting the tooth roots

Extracting the tooth roots

The first tooth root extracted

The first tooth root extracted

All roots extracted and the sockets are cleaned

All roots extracted and the sockets are cleaned

The final skin suture has been placed

The final skin suture has been placed

Casey 2 days after his surgery, showing off his smile

Casey 2 days after his surgery, showing off his smile

How do I brush my dog’s teeth?

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Dental care is very important to the health of our pets, just as it is for people. Bad breath, gingivitis, loose teeth, infection and pain can all be avoided by routine dental care. There are many options for keeping our pet’s teeth and gums healthy including dental foods, dental toys, chewing approved dental care treats, oral rinses and professional cleaning; but the cornerstone of oral care for pets is toothbrushing. Regular brushing of our pet’s teeth will prevent bacterial plaque formation on the teeth and gums and avoid many of the oral issues that animals suffer from. Regular brushing will also allow pet parents to monitor the condition of their pet’s mouths and notice any changes.

But most animals are not very co-operative when it comes to brushing. So how do we change this? Below are some information sheets on brushing in cats and dogs. The basic idea of convincing your pet to accept tooth brushing is go slow, do it regularly, provide rewards for progress no matter how small and don’t give up.

If you need help, let us know.