Wednesday, 29 June 2011

"FLASH, why won't you stop scratching?"

Flash is a 7 year old Basset Hound who became a part of the Oakpark family in September 2008.  In the almost 3 years since first meeting Flash, I think we would all agree that he is a different dog from the day we were first introduced.  His saving grace was the family he found through a rescue organization.  Micheline and Doug were the parents he was always meant to have; caring, nurturing and willing to do anything and everything for Flash.  We knew that this would be a success story.  But Flash certainly presented challenges for his new parents in the form of ALLERGIES. After months of treatment with various oral medications and topical therapies, Flash's owners decided to pursue allergy testing and immunotherapy injections ("allergy shots").

About 2 months ago, Dr. Angela, Micheline, Doug and Flash all sat down to discuss their story with the hope of helping other families dealing with allergies.

Dr. Angela: 
So tell us a bit about Flash.

We adopted Flash almost 3 years ago now (he was 5 years old), we were his 4th home.  In his last home Flash was adopted to give their basset puppy a friend to play with.  With young children and a puppy in the picture, Flash didn't get the attention he needed, so he came to us.

Dr. Angela:
What symptoms were most evident when you first adopted him?

Flash suffered from poor coat quality, chronic ear infections and seemed alot thinner than he is now.  He suffered from constant itching, chewing, and did not like being touched.

Dr. Angela:
What was your biggest concern?

Flash had been through 3 homes, and we were concerned about the lack of veterinary care he had recieved in relation to his allergies.  When he was touched he would become aggreesive at times.  Mainly we were concerned about his quality of life.  One of the worst nights he was up for almost 10 mintues scratching and chewing every hour.  He would huff and puff when he was trying to sleep so we assume he was very frustrated.  He also lacked energy and seemed lazy. 

Dr. Angela:
How did you find the process of allergy testing?

The testing was very simple, it revealed interesting and useful results, and it reassured us that it wasn't something that we were doing that was causing him so much discomfort.

Dr. Angela:
Would you reccomend allergy testing? 

We would absolutely reccomend allergy testing, not only for his quality of life but ours as well.  It allowed us to know that there wasn't something more significant underlying the symptoms.  Once he started the injections, we were also able to take him off some of the steroid medications that he was taking, which in the long term could have been harmful to him.

Dr. Angela:
How would you describe Flash's quality of life now that he has begun the process of taking his allergy injections?

There has been a huge difference in Flash.  Both the long term and short term benefits certainly make the injections worthwhile.  He is scratching and chewing signifigantly less and is more comfortable as a result.  Overall he is a happier dog.
We noticed last summer he wouldn't want to go outside with us in the evening and discovered through testing that he was allergic to mosquiotos and ants, which would explain the hesitation.  The testing has allowed us to understand Flash alot better.

Flash is enjoying the summer with a new lease on life, and is feeling much more comfortable since starting his allergy injections. His owners have been able to significantly reduce the use of oral medications for him, which in the long term will greatly benefit his health. One of the biggest benefits is that his family/owners now know how to avoid or cope with some of the allergens he may encounter in his environment.  Allergy testing is not a quick fix, but it is a very valuable tool in the management of allergies in our canine companions. If you would like more information about whether allergy testing may be appropriate for your pet, please feel free to call us to set up a veterinary consultation.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Kittens - free to loving homes!

This sweet little ones are all looking for their forever homes.  A full blog is to follow but we wanted to share the great pictures of them first :)

4 month old male - still avaliable (to be neutered before going home)

This little beauty has been adopted :)  YAY

5 week old female - still avaliable

5 week old male - still avaliable

5 week old female - still avaliable

8 week old male - still avaliable

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Eggs, Larva and Pupae OH MI! A flea, a flea....

The buzz in the clinic this month, the anxiously anticipated warm weather... the inevitable calls start ; "I think Fluffy might have FLEAS.  Should I be worried?"  Simply put YES, you should worry.  One female flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day.... you do the math.  This all could result in a major infestation in less than 2 weeks and all it took was one flea who was looking for a warm and cozy ride!

How will you know that your fur family has fleas?
Most pets with fleas show few symptoms, until the infestation is severe.  The major red flags are excessive itching and possibly a rash.  You could also see the fleas crawling through the haircoat - much like head lice except they are brown/black color and they leave behind "flea dirt" on your pets coat.  And for you, the owner, small red flea bites on your own feet and legs!

How can I prevent my pet(s) from getting fleas?
There are several safe products that are available for the prevention of fleas.  These products can be used alone, or can be combined with heartworm preventative products.  They are safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive. 

But my cats never goes outside, should I worry?
Well even you can carry a hitchhiking flea into your home so that it could find its way to your pet.  And what if you have a dog?  Well they most certainly could mobilize the "flea army" to invade your home and once inside a feline blood meal is just a tasty as the canine version. 

How long can fleas stay in an enviroment ie. your home?

Pupae (one of the stages in the flea life cycle) can remain dormant in the enviroment for up to 9 months.  What that means is they could remain in your home without a host and hatch into fleas at anytime.  If your pets are protected once the pupae hatch the fleas will simply die off within 72 hours.  If left unprotected your pets will be itching in no time.

The take home messge is once you have an infestation you will quickly realize that is is easier and more cost effective to prevent rather than to treat.  Fleas are a terrible nuisance just ask anyone who has dealt with them.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Spring has Sprung - Are you ready?

SPRING IS HERE!  Along with the thaw and long awaited warm weather come the reality of Heartworm, Fleas and Parasites.  So in order to best protect our canine and feline friends we must first know what we are up against...  The next series of blogs will be dedicated to each specific threat beginning with Heartworm.

What is heartworm?
Basically, it is a parasite that lives in the heart and vessels of the chest cavity.  It is a "worm" in that it grows and develops within the cardiovascular system.

How would my pet get it?
Your precious pets can become infected with heartworm disease after being bitten by a mosquito which is carrying the infective larvae.  These mosquitoes are themselves infected by biting a heartworm positive dog.  The larvae are injected into the skin of the pet, where they migrate to the lungs and the right side of the heart.

My pet is not around other dogs is there a risk?
YES! We recommend heartworm preventatives for all dogs and outdoor cats.  The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, and not by contact with other dogs.  Any pet that is outside is at risk.

How common is heartworm in Ontario?
In 2008, there were 676 pets who tested positive for heartworm disease.  That is an increase of 280% since 2005!   Keep in mind those are only the pets that get tested there are many who are not tested.

What is a "heartworm test"?
A blood test is used to screen pets for the presence of heartworm disease.  This is normally done in April or May. 

What can I do to ensure that my pet doesn't contract heartworm disease?
Use prevention every year from June through November.

I have more questions?
Ask us!  Phone - 905.257.7387 or email

Get ready for fleas next...