Tick Talk

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This spring has been exceptionally warm, exceptionally early. All kinds of creepy crawlies like it when the warm weather starts. Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitos, Larvae from intestinal parasites, and others become active when we do in the spring & summer. The risk of transmission to our pets is higher this time of year because of this increase in activity and our own time spent outside.

Ticks are one species of parasite that can bite and attach themselves to our pets as well as to people. Creepy! But also dangerous as some species of ticks can transmit Lyme disease; a blood parasite that affects many species (humans and dogs among them). Below are two great articles on ticks and Lyme disease. If you or your pet frequent wooded areas or have contact with wildlife then tick prevention and Lyme disease awareness are important for you and your family. Prevention includes awareness, long sleeves and long pants (for people) anti-parasite medications (for pets) and vaccines for at risk animals. Please ask us how we can be a part of your preventative program.

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.

Winterize your pets

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The mild weather in the first part of this winter may have lulled us into a false sense of security, but now the cold weather is here and with it come winter hazards for our pets.

The most obvious of these is sub-zero temperatures and the risk of cold exposure, frost-bite and freezing. Because cats and dogs regulate their temperature differently than we do (panting rather than sweating) and have thick fur coats, it is easy to assume that they will be fine outside. Temperatures can change quickly in the dead of winter and day time highs can be deceptively different from night time lows. Ensuring limited exposure to these temperatures is important for all animals that spend a significant amount of time outdoors. Wind-chill can also be a huge factor in cold exposure for animals, decreasing the temperature by as much as 15 degrees on windy nights. Providing insulated shelter for outdoor animals will significantly reduce this hazard. If this is not possible, consider making arrangements to bring animals indoor on the coldest winter nights. Awareness is the key to keeping our pets safe. Check the temperature & forecast and adjust the amount of time your animals spend outdoors accordingly

Antifreeze is a common winter toxin; antifreeze has a sweet taste and can be easily consumed by animals at any time of the year, but it’s use is more prevalent in the winter months. The toxin forms crystals within the kidneys and even small volumes can cause irreversible kidney damage to pets. Careful storage and cleanup is needed with this dangerous chemical.

Salt on the roads mean salt exposure for pets. Many dogs walked on salted roadways will suffer irritation from the high concentrations of salt on their feet or on the sensitive skin between their toes. Licking affected feet after walking can also mean that the pets ingest the salts and this can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal upset. Avoiding salted roadways, cleaning feet after time outdoors or the application of foot coverings (Doggie Boots) can all help.

Winter can be cold and long, and we all have to go out in it (including our pets). With some fore-sight and planning we can all enjoy the cold months ahead and stay safe.

For more information, please see this article from the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic website.

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.

Poinsettias, Holly and Mistletoe- Are they in your Holiday plans?

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The Holiday season is a time when new decorations come out, old friends stop by with gifts and we all get a little busier in our lives. All of these things can mean that our pets are placed at higher risk of exposure to dangers. New things in the house are always interesting to curious pets and more time unsupervised can mean more opportunity to get into trouble. The question always comes up each year- what do we need to look out for? Any non-food item that is eaten runs the risk of creating a blockage in the stomach or intestines of our pets, and items like strings, threads or tinsel are common causes of blockage in cats because of their curious, playful nature. Foods that are new, eaten in excess or high in fat are common problems for dogs in the holiday season and often cause vomiting or diarrhea, but can be more problematic if they affect the pet’s pancreas causing pancreatitis. Toxic plants are also commonly included in the holiday season “No-No” list for pets and pet friendly homes. For a good review of problem plants and other concerns, have a look at this article from the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic website;

Or another great resource is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website listing poisonous plants, foods and household products;

And chocolate toxicity is such a common problem in pets that there is a website dedicated to calculating toxic doses;

So what should you do if you think that your dog has been exposed to something dangerous? The above resources are great information, but if you are concerned please call our clinic. We have a veterinarian on call and provide after hours emergency services 24 hours a day. You can reach the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic at 519-662-1525.

Pet-proofing for the holidays is always difficult, but preventing exposure is the best approach to keeping pets safe. Keeping food items and problem decorations above pet level can be helpful, but if your pet has a curious nature then keeping toxic plants, foods or decorations out of your house may be the best bet for a safe and happy holiday season.

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.

Juno’s Story

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A few weeks ago we had an article on dogs and human pain medication; here is a real life example of what can happen. Please read Juno’s Story

Juno, a 4-month-old Australian Shepherd, is a very active and loving puppy and the light of her owner’s eye.  One day her owner became concerned when she began to vomit and was not her playful, normal self.  After a poor response to initial treatment, a blood sample revealed her kidneys were shutting down and needed aggressive treatment.  After some questions about the possibility of her accidently consuming some medication her owner replied “Oh my gosh – she must have eaten the Advil I’m missing from my purse!”  After receiving intensive treatment in hospital she has made a good recovery and hopes to live a full and less eventful life.

This story highlights a few things for us as veterinarians: How dangerous commonly self-prescribed medication can be for our dogs and how easily puppies (just like children) can get into things that can cause them serious injury and or death.  Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and no name brands), ASA (Aspirin) and Naproxen (Aleve, Motrin) are all drugs in the NSAID class.  Unfortunately for dogs, they are less selective for inflammation (the benefit of taking them) and more selective for Stomach and Kidney tissue and more likely to side-effects and veterinary prescribed NSAIDS.  In Juno’s case she consumed 8-10 200mg capsules, which caused serious damage to her kidneys, but sometimes even 1 capsule can be enough if administered to manage pain without veterinary supervision.  Always ask your veterinarian before you administer any over the counter medication to your pet.  Unfortunately, medications are not the only household danger for your new puppy.  Think of how you need to baby proof a home and apply the same principles.  Tether cupboards closed to prevent access to garbage or household cleaners, place laundry, dish cloths and shoes where your dog will not be able to reach them and prevent access to some foods that are known to be toxic such as chocolate, grapes, raisons and onions.  Puppies are very oral and love to play with and chew anything.  Laundry and dish cloths are common items that are swallowed and then can become stuck in their bowels and require emergency surgery.  We know it’s a lot of work to puppy proof a home, but the cost of not doing this can be catastrophic.

The last point to consider is that puppies are expensive and can become a very unexpected expense if there is an accident.  We encourage all owners to consider pet insurance to help with these unexpected expenses.  Many providers will offer a free period of insurance as a trial that sometimes can be a lifesaver.  Our team is here for you and any questions you may have about your new puppies health care.  We wanted to share Juno’s story such that an accident like this may be prevented in the future.