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Seizures and how dogs and cats can be affected - mactaggartvet.comSeeing your pet seizure can be a very unpleasant, stressful, and frightening event. Here is some helpful information on what to look for, and what to do if your pet has a seizure.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a sudden, disorganized over-activity of the brain cells and their connections to one another. This can range from a localized, short seizure event to a widespread, lengthy event. There are multiple causes for a seizure that include but are not limited to: epilepsy, tumours, trauma, electrolyte imbalances, kidney or liver disease, low blood sugar, and toxin ingestion. Seizures are more common in dogs than in cats, and certain breeds of dogs are more prone to seizures than others.

Most seizures have three phases:

  • Pre-ictal (behaviours prior to the seizure). In the pre-seizure phase, the animal is restless, acting oddly, or in a deep sleep.
  • Ictal (the actual seizure). The seizure phase will vary. A small “petit-mal”/focal seizure may be nothing more than a facial twitch, biting at the air, stiffness in one limb, or staring off into space. A large “grand-mal” seizure is much more dramatic. Typically, the unresponsive animal is on their side with the legs stretched out stiffly and paddling. There is often frothing at the mouth as well as urination and defecation.
  • Post-ictal (behaviours after the seizure). In the post-seizure phase, the animal is often disorientated, hungry, temporarily blind, and may vocalize.

All phases can be of varying length.

What can I do if my pet seizures?

  • During a grand-mal seizure, things happen quickly. Try to peek at the clock to time the seizure if possible.
  • As some animals become aggressive during a seizure and may bite, ensure your own personal safety by avoiding the mouth (in addition, they are not at risk of swallowing their tongue, do not try to put anything in their mouth).
  • Protect the pet from injuring itself before and/or after the seizure, from hazards such as water, falling down stairs, and off of furniture.
  • Do not try to keep them still or hold them down, let the seizure complete its course.
  • If a seizure lasts longer than 3 – 4 minutes, emergency care should be sought by your veterinarian immediately, as lengthy seizures can lead to long term health deficits.
  • Animals that seizure for longer than 3 minutes may become very hot, cool the pet with a damp cool cloth on the belly, ears, and paws.

If your pet experiences a seizure, it is recommended to have your pet examined by a veterinarian, especially after the first event. A physical exam as well as laboratory testing and/or imaging is used to help diagnose and treat the underlying cause. If the seizure occurs after regular business hours and your pet requires emergency medical attention, there are several emergency clinics throughout the city that are available after-hours.

– Article by Dr. Travis Foster, DVM – Dr. Foster is the owner of the MacTaggart Veterinary Clinic and has over 14 years of experience practicing Veterinary Medicine.


Bubbie“My name is Bubbie, and I used to eat my own poo. That was up until I was one, when I kicked that “nasty” habit with the help of my “owner” (or so he likes to be called). I still eat rabbit poo every chance I get. What can I say? I am a coprohagiac and I just can’t help it.” ~ Bubbie Foster

Say What?!

Coprophagia (the ingestion of feces) is unfortunately an all too common problem many dog owners face. The worst part is, after having their “little brown treat”, your loving dog may come over and try to lick your face…leaving you thinking “Oh great (and perhaps a few choice words), this is not what I signed up for, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ROVER?!”.


No-PooWhy on Earth?!

Natural behaviour: A nursing mother stimulates very young pups to eliminate by licking their hind ends, then ingests the feces to keep the nest clean. It may be considered a normal exploratory behaviour in pups that may or may not be outgrown.

Funzies: Stool left out to freeze in the winter time may become fun toys (poop-sicles) to toss around and eventually ingest. Some dogs actually find feces appetizing so it is a self-rewarding behaviour.

Medical/Behaviour Issues: Anemia, malnutrition, parasites, separation anxiety, or a fear of an “accident” being discovered can all be potential causes of coprophagia. If this new undesirable behaviour begins, please have a veterinarian examine your pet to ensure any potential medical issues are being addressed, as well as for behavioural advice.


What Can I Do?

Dog ToiletSanitation: The best way to break the habit once medical concerns are ruled out is to remove access to the stool by picking it up immediately. Most dogs will eventually forget about it if it simply is not there.

Positive Reinforcement: A dog very intent on eating it may be faster on the draw than the pooper scooper. If this is the case, try a leash with a head harness to control the mouth, while at the same time calling the dog to you. Deliver a treat once he leaves the stool and comes to you. Back away a few feet, call him and when he comes, deliver another treat. Do this a few times and he should have forgotten about the stool. Take him inside and return by yourself to clean the poop. Over time, you can begin to clean up with the dog outdoors with you.

Food Additives/Diet: There are food additives that can make the stools taste less desirable, however speak with your veterinarian to ensure they are safe for your pet before trying. A change in diet may help curb coprophagia, either because it is more nutritionally balanced, or the consistency and taste of the feces changes making it less desirable.

Although coprophagia is an unpleasant behaviour, rest assured you are not alone dealing with this “dirty little secret”. Numerous ploys have been attempted to curb the behaviour, some with more success than others, but usually one can find a technique that works after some experimentation. And don’t forget, there are many breath freshening dog treats out there…

Here are common spring time plants and other toxins to keep your pets away from.

Lilies – Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestion of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs – The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Amaryllis – Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Fertilizers and pesticides can be very toxic to your pet. Do not allow your pet to come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides, read all labels and MSDSs before use!

If you think your pet has come into contact with a toxin, seek Veterinary care immediately.



Fall is in the air, leaves are changing color and decorating the ground, and pumpkin carving is upon us! Halloween is on its way, and thoughts of candy, costumes, and frivolity are on our minds, however Fido might think otherwise. Here are some tips to help your pet have a safe and happy Halloween.Halloween dog

Being as dogs and cats have much more sensitive hearing than us, they may not appreciate the doorbell ringing, knocking, and hollering of “trick or treat”. If loud noises induce stress or anxiety in your pet, try to make their evening as pleasant as possible by ensuring they are in a quiet, safe, comfortable place with some ambient music playing or a companion(human or otherwise) for reassurance.

The change in routine may be worrisome for a dog or cat. A constant flow of strangers at the door could raise the “territorial” instincts in some and cause unwanted aggression. In addition, some costumes are downright terrifying and can bring out a fear response or a defensive attitude. If any signs of aggression are noted, the pet should be removed from the situation immediately to avoid any unpleasant experiences for the “scary” little visitors at your door. Keep in mind some children are allergic to pets and may not appreciate a hairy, four legged greeting party!

With the door opening and closing a lot more than usual, along with the hubbub of kids, costumes and candy, some dogs and cats see this as an escape route and sneak away into the night. Proper identification is important in the event the great escape is a success. Cats are particularly prone to encountering trouble on this evening, so a good idea to keep them inside. If your dog doesn’t fancy the kid’s costumes, walkthemat a time when there are less ghoulies roaming about.

Curious noses may find the new and inviting smells of chocolate and candy quite intriguing, as well as the crinkly wrappers a fun toy to chew on. Chocolate can be toxic to pets, as well as products with Xylitol (artificial sweetener). Wrappers can cause upset stomachs, choking, or obstruction. Take care to keep all candy up and out of reach of our shorter, multi-legged roommates.Samurai Dog

Dressing up your pet for the holiday can be fun (and quite hilarious), keeping in mind some pets like it, and some find it very stressful. If your pet does not enjoy wearing that hot dog costume, include them in the festivities by giving them a new pumpkin stuffy to play with, or some fun treats from your local veterinary clinic or pet store. If your pet is sporting the latest Halloween fashion, be sure to always supervise as an entangled pet could become injured.

Candles are often an enjoyable part of Halloween decorating, keeping in mind although your pet may not be aware of candle safety. Keep candles out of reach of pets, and covered should your cat be enjoying the view from your tables and counters!

With a little extra caution and remembering to “set them up for success”, animals and people alike can enjoy a happy and safe Halloween!


Happy Halloween

MacTaggart Veterinary Clinic is raising funds for the Canadian Cancer Society at the Bark for Life event Sept 20, 2014!

To pledge us or to find out more click here.


We are participating in Bark For Life in Edmonton 2014 to support the mission of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The money raised from this event helps fund leading-edge cancer research that is improving cancer treatments, preventing cancer and saving lives; provide reliable and up-to-date information on cancer, risk reduction and treatment; offer vital community-based support services for people living with cancer and their families; and advocate for healthy public policies.

Please pledge us and help us reach our fundraising goal!  Every pledge takes us one step further in the fight against cancer.  Online pledging is secure and it saves the Canadian Cancer Society money by reducing administrative costs.

Thanks for your support!

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