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Easter IillyCAUTION! Easter time comes with beautiful plants such as the Lilly, however members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. Ingestion of very small amounts of the Lilly plant can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, and severe kidney damage. Please keep these plants out of reach of your furry loved ones!


Photo Credit: Scott Adams via Compfight cc


4179374976_aef01aa4a3TIP FOR YOUR DOG:

Have a large or giant breed puppy? Be careful with exercise, as their rapid growth combined with extensive activity can result in injuries. Tip: encourage play on carpeted surfaces in your house rather than slippery surfaces such as hardwood or tile floors.


Did you know…cats tend to dislike the smell of citrus. Placing citrus scented objects in a place where your cat scratches inappropriately may help deter them! Try rubbing catnip on an area where you would like your cat to scratch, like a cat post or perch.


Photo Credit: ryantron. via Compfight cc


Pet Dental TipsFebruary is Pet Dental Health Month!  Here are a few tips…

DENTAL TIP: Did you know…
85% of pets have some degree of dental disease by the age of three. The good thing is, there are many things we can do to help! Brushing, chew toys, feeding a diet that targets tarter, and dental checkups with your veterinarian are several ways to combat that dental disease!

DENTAL TIP: Signs of dental disease in your pet!
– Bad Breath
– Change in chewing or eating habits (eats more slowly, more messy, doesn’t enjoy chewing on chew sticks/toys anymore)
– Yellow/brown crust on the teeth
– Inflamed/bleeding gums
– Loose or missing teeth

DENTAL TIP: Did you know…
Daily brushing is the best way to combat dental plaque and tartar buildup, and feeding the right diet can help promote good oral hygiene.


It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON!!!  I CAN’T WAIT to beg for some turkey, see what’s under the tree (hmm, I am sure I can smell something from the pet store under there!), play with the decorations, and greet everyone that comes by! My “owner” has a different idea of what I am and am not allowed during the holidays – something about “safety” and “I don’t want to get an upset tummy” and the like. I suppose like all good things, moderation is the key.  If you’re of the four legged kind, maybe just stick to the candy cane shaped rawhide you got for Christmas so you don’t wind up taking a trip to the pet hospital…below is what my “owner” would like to share on the subject!

The holidays are full of seasonal delights with beautiful decorations, plants, foods, and the gathering of loved ones. Unfortunately these delights can cause unneccesary stress and/or harm to our furry companions. Below are some helpful tips on common holiday hazards to avoid for a safe and happy holiday!

Pets and DecorationsDECORATIONS

Tinsel and ribbon are often a very attractive toy for pets, especially cats!. When ingested it can obstruct their gastrointestinal tract causing severe discomfort and illness, often resulting in surgery to remove it.

Lights  Be sure to avoid having your power cords and light decorations near the floor if your pet tends to chew on new objects. If the animal chews on the electrical cord, electrical burns and/or electrocution can occur.

Place candles in an area where your pet does not have access. Along with creating a fire hazard, coming into contact with or knocking over a candle can seriously burn your pet.

Ensure Christmas trees are anchored properly. Curious pets may knock over your beatiful tree and injure themselves.


  • The sap of a Poinsettia can cause mild toxicity as well as irritation. Ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Mistletoe and Holly can be moderately to severly toxic. Ingestion can cause tremors, vomiting, difficulty breathing, seizures and in severe cases death.
  • The Christmas Tree (Fir Tree) is considered to be mildly toxic. The oils in the tree can cause irritation of the mouth and stomach with excessive drooling or vomiting. The tree needles are not easily digestible and if injested can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture. Christmas tree water is also unsafe for your pet.

Pets and Food at HolidaysFOOD AND BEVERAGES

A majority of holiday season related cases that are seen in a veterinary clinic are food related. Please do not give your pet the following:

Turkey/chicken bones  When ingested, poultry bones can splinter and wind up becoming lodged in the throat or in the gastrointestinal system.

Chocolate  Chocolate can be toxic to your pet, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizuring, and in severe cases death.

Xylitol This artificial sweetener is found in gum, candies and baked goods, and can be very toxic causing low blood sugar, liver damage, and in severe cases liver failure. Signs of ingestion are weakness, disorientation, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, not eating/drinking, and possible seizures.

Onions, garlic  They can be very toxic to your pet. Ingestion causes the destruction of the animal’s red blood cells. Signs of ingestion are lethargy, weakness, pale gums/tongue, increased respiratory rate, and collapse.

Fatty foods. Although these things have little effect on our gastrointestinal systems, they can wreak havoc on your pet’s, causing vomiting, diarhhea, and pancreatitis. Ensure table scraps are kept out of reach.

Alcoholic beverages  Alcohol can be very dangerous for your pet! If your pet ingests alcohol contact your local veterinarian immediately. Signs of ingestion are disorientation, wobbly gait/falling over, vomiting, and unconsiousness.


The holiday season often brings welcome visitors, however, many pets don’t tolerate a change in routine.  They can become frightened, destructive, or even aggressive towards others.  Try to keep their routine as normal as possible. If a pet is not tolerating the festive season well, ensure he/she has a warm, secluded, familiar place for retreat during those stressful times.  A little exercise can help relieve stress – a long walk or some play in the yard will help your pet relax before your guests arrive.


If your plans include travel and a visit to the “pet hotel” is needed, ensure that all vaccinations required  by the boarding facility are up to date.  Usually rabies, kennel cough, and the distemper/parvovirus combination is required for dogs, and rabies and the upper respiratory/panleukopenia combination (occasionally leukemia) is required for cats.  Ensure all parasite prevention measures recommended by your veterinarian are followed.  Appropriate paperwork, medications, and contact information are also very important.


Of course those who surprise their children with a furry friend for Christmas will be forever labeled the BEST PARENT IN THE WORLD!!! But when thinking of giving a pet as a gift, be sure the receiver is wanting a pet. Even with the best intentions, a surprise gift  such as a puppy or a kitten may not be an ideal present.  Pets are a long term commitment that require time and attention an unsuspecting person may not be prepared for. Let’s all make sure those furry loved ones find their forever homes the first time around!






American Veterinarian Medical Association. 2011. FDA warns of xylitol dangers to dogs, ferrets. Retreived December 9, 2013 from

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. 2013. Pet Safety During the Holiday Season. Retrieved November 9, 2013 from

Crosby, J. T. (2013). Poisonous Holiday Plants. About.Com Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved November 1, 2013 from




ticks and animalsWhaaaat? Ticks?! Lyme Disease?! 

My “owner” says not to panic, although ticks are slowly becoming more prevalent in Edmonton and surrounding areas, not all species of ticks carry Lyme disease, and Lyme disease is rare in our region. I still get to do all the fun stuff like go to the dog park and run around in the brush, my owner makes sure I am protected from these uuugly little critters! My “owner” has put together some more information on the subject, please see below…

Ticks are small insects in the arachnid family that burrow part way into the skin, bite, draw blood, and then drop off. The feeding tick’s mouth will be under the skin, but the back parts will be sticking out. They will be full of blood and blue-grey in colour. This is called an engorged tick (HealthLink BC 2011).  Ticks are common in mountainous and southern areas of North America, and can potentially transmit Lyme disease. Ticks are slowly becoming more prevalent in Edmonton and surrounding areas. Ticks usually hide in long grass, under leaves, and other foliage debris.  Pets (and people) who frequent these locations (e.g. dog parks, wooded areas, mountain trails) are more prone to coming into contact with ticks.  Ensure to check dogs and yourselves thoroughly for ticks after an outing to such an area.

Lyme disease is caused by a microscopic spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi that can be transmitted through tick bites. It usually takes several weeks to months to start to show clinical signs of soreness/lameness, fever, and very rarely kidney damage.  Ticks attach for blood meals for 3-5 days, but it takes a MINIMUM of 48 hours of tick attachment for the Lyme disease organism to transmit from tick to dog (Brooks 2010).  If the tick can be removed within 48 hours of attachment, the pet will not get Lyme disease.  Note that not all species of ticks carry Lyme disease, and Lyme disease is uncommon in this region (Bubbie Foster 2013).

To remove an attached tick, use tweezers or gloved fingers to grasp the tick as close to the pet’s skin as possible.  Pull it away from the skin slowly without twisting.  Monitor the area closely and give us a call if it looks red or infected. If the tick’s mouthparts/head is still in the pet, the animal’s body will push out the left behind pieces as if it was a foreign body (like a sliver).

Preventative medicine is the best way to avoid issues related with ticks, the most common being topical tick control products obtained through your veterinarian.  In addition, Lyme disease vaccines are an available alternative. If there is any concern that a pet has Lyme disease, the treatment is very effective, simple, and cost effective.

The Alberta government is conducting a tick surveillance program which will identify the species of tick and determine if it is a species known to carry Lyme disease.  If you find a tick on your pet, place it in an empty pill vial or zip lock bag with a small piece of damp tissue and and bring it in to the clinic, we will send it in for testing.

Of course, if there is any concern regarding Lyme disease or removal of a tick, give us a call and we will be happy to assist you and your pet.

Dr. Travis Foster (D.V.M.)

References:                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brooks, W.C. (2010). Lyme Disease. Veterinary Partner. Retrieved July 3, 2013 from 

Foster, Bubbie. (2013). Tick Talk and Lyme Disease. Bubbie’s Tips. Straight from the Dog’s mouth August 11, 2013.

HealthLink BC. September 2011. Tick Bites and Disease. Retrieved July 28 2013 from



One day I was rubbing my bum along the carpet because it was itchy and uncomfortable. Some people thought I had worms, but that didn’t make sense since my “owner” for all intents and purposes (we all know who owns whom around here…) dewormed me recently cause I like to eat gross things. So it turned out my anal glands were full and not expressing themselves. Once I got them squeezed (by my “owner”, who also happens to be my doctor) it sure felt a lot better. For some reason my “owner” said we should get the carpets cleaned!

To learn more about anal glands click here.