Survey Says: We’re The Best!

Courtesy of: Joye

Last May we got some exciting news.  The Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce notified us we were among the top 3 finalists for the Best Pet Service award at the Best of Colchester awards in June 2012.  We were ecstatic.  I was particularly excited, since I had never heard of this awards ceremony and we certainly hadn’t done anything to deliberately earn the nomination (besides providing excellent pet service, of course).  As a result, I was selected to attend the awards banquet.

I headed off on the night of the banquet very excited at the prospect of possibly winning an award.  So excited, in fact, that I forgot to double check the location and ended up at the wrong place.  Once I got myself straightened out, I arrived at the event with just minutes to spare.  I barged my way into a seat at a table full of strangers and settled back to wait for my big moment!

I sure picked the right table!  Every business represented at our table won in their category.  Since “Pet Service” is a fair way along in the alphabet, I restlessly congratulated my tablemates while waiting for our turn.  The procedure for each award was that the three finalists in the category all walked to the front and got applause, then the winner was announced and they got to make a speech while the two “non-winners” watched.  I felt badly for those poor folks just standing there, but I knew I would be making a speech (I was already practicing in my head) because I was at the winning table!

Finally, the moment I’d been waiting for.  I was called to the front, along with the other two finalists.  Unfortunately, no one was present from one of the businesses, but since I just knew we were going to win, I didn’t think it mattered much.  Then…we didn’t win!

I was so disappointed.  I felt like I’d let down our winning table.  I even worried they might not let me sit back down!  Even worse, the winning business was the one with no representative present.  I tried to convince the folks running the show that you should have to be present to win, but no deal.  I left the banquet saddened, but resolved.  Next year we would win that award!

Along came May 2013.  Frankly, I had rather forgotten all about the Best of Colchester awards, until I saw a Facebook post from a friend asking for support for his home-based business.  I immediately leapt into action!  Not only did I head to the website to cast my votes, I posted a plea for help on the Truro Vet Facebook page.  I believed that many of our clients are nearly as passionate about us as we are about them, and I was right.  Lots of folks commented to say they would love to vote for us.  When the voting closed, we were one of the top 2 finalists in the Pet Service category!  I began to feel very optimistic.

Last night (June 13, 2013) the awards banquet finally arrived.  Once again I set off with high hopes (and this time I went to the right place!).  Coincidentally, I shared a table with one of the same businesses as last year, and since they have an impressive record of wins going for them, I thought that had to be a good sign (totally ignoring the fact that it didn’t work out that way last year).  The evening opened with draws for door prizes, and to my amazement, I won two movie passes!  I was torn between excitement over winning and that little voice in my head that said “you just used up all your luck”.

Again, the awards were distributed alphabetically and “p” didn’t arrive until pretty close to the end of the evening.  This year the format of the presentations was changed slightly.  The runner-up for each award was announced and they stood at their table while a little paragraph was read about their business.  When the winner was announced, they still went up front to give a short speech.  I refused to prep any words at all this year, sure that I had jinxed myself the year before.

My business buddies at our table won again in their category, of course.  As the moment drew closer, I got more and more nervous.  I realllly wanted to win this award.  Finally, our category was called and…we won!  I’m pretty sure going up to accept on behalf of Truro Vet was the closest I’ll get to giving an Oscar speech.  When I watch the Oscars, by the way, I’m always amazed at how unprepared people are when they have to speak after winning an award.  Now I get it.  I opened my mouth, ready to dazzle the audience with my brilliant (yet humble) speech and said “I’m so excited we won this award, because now I’ll be able to put ‘Best of Colchester’ on our sign out front!”

So, first thing this morning…I did.

Celebratory Sign

We want to say a big thank you to all of our clients who supported us to win this amazing award.  We are honoured by your trust and faith in us and we will continue to work hard to provide you and your pets with excellent service.

After all, we want to win again next year!


Help, My Dog Is Limping!

Courtesy of: Ashley

In a previous blog I shared with you one thing that scared me about owning a Bullmastiff:  Bloat!  This is the second thing that gives me a fright:  Cruciate Ligament Rupture.

Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.  Cruciate ligaments (CLs) live in the knee joint.  These ligaments connect the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone).  These ligaments help the knee move backwards and forwards.

A normal knee

CL damage can occur when the knee twists in an unnatural direction.  Often times, a CL tear can occur when a dog is running, then stops to change direction.  The direction change twists the knee in a manner that the knee is not supposed to bend.  When the CL tears it causes pain and the dog becomes lame.  In most cases the dog is not weight bearing (limping) or will only toe-touch and the knee may appear swollen.  The dog may begin to use the leg again but will become lame again with time.

Monitoring your dog’s exercise routine can help reduce the risk of a CL rupture.  Larger or overweight dogs are more prone to this condition.  Making sure your dog is at an ideal weight and keeping larger breeds in a controlled exercise routine will help control the wear and tear on their joints.  Small breed dogs with a luxating patella (when the knee cap moves out of place) may be predisposed to rupturing a CL.

A veterinarian looks for “drawer” when diagnosing a ruptured CL.  By placing one hand on the femur and one on the tibia and manipulating the joint they can observe abnormal movement.

A veterinarian assessing drawer

Within a healthy knee there is very little movement in the joint but with a ruptured CL there is laxity in the joint and movement occurs.  With large or nervous dogs assessing for “drawer” can be difficult to accomplish.  In these cases heavy sedation may be needed to allow the veterinarian to manipulate the joint.  A veterinarian may want radiographs (X-rays) of the joint to see if there is arthritis present as well.  A radiograph can help to confirm the diagnosis of CL rupture.

There are different ways to treat a ruptured CL.  Factors that influence the choice of treatment are the size of the dog, if the rupture was a complete or partial tear, and the dog’s home environment.  If the CL was completely ruptured, surgery is recommended.

One surgical method to correct the rupture is called “extracapsular repair.”  In this method, a strong suture material (cruciate line) is used to create an artificial ligament.

Extracapsular Repair

The torn ligament is completely removed and the cruciate line is placed from the outside lower portion of the femur to the inside upper portion of the tibia, which acts like a brace within the knee.  After this surgery the dog must have very strict rest for 8 to 12 weeks.  The dog’s activity is restricted, with only activities such as leash walking and (eventually) swimming permitted.  The veterinarian will guide the owner with appropriate activities for the dog as the healing progresses.  During the healing time the instructions given by the veterinarian should be followed precisely to prevent further injury.  This method of surgery is performed here at Truro Vet.

Another surgery commonly performed is called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO).  This surgery is recommended for dogs weighing more than 50 pounds or in dogs with poor conformation (ie: Bulldog).  The purpose of this surgery is to correct the angle of the tibia in relation to the femur, to stop the femur from being able to move in an abnormal direction.  The veterinarian cuts a portion of the tibia and rotates it before reconnecting it with plates and screws.

TPLO plates

This surgery is more challenging to carry out but usually generates a faster return to normal function.  TPLO surgeries are referred by our veterinarians to specialists in this type of procedure.

In select cases, medical treatment may be chosen in lieu of surgery.  Circumstances include:   the CL is only partially torn; the dog has other health conditions; the dog’s age or other health conditions present a risk for anesthesia; or the owners cannot keep the dog quiet for the 8 to 12 week healing period.  The veterinarian will discuss restricting the dog’s exercise to activities like leash walking or swimming.  If the dog is overweight, weight loss and low calorie diets will be discussed.  Frequently anti-inflammatory medications are used to reduce pain and inflammation.  Products containing glucosamine and other joint health supplements may be added to the dog’s diet.

If a CL rupture is not treated, severe joint deterioration usually occurs.  Arthritis sets in and the dog will usually compensate by putting more weight on the other leg causing that ligament to deteriorate and possibly tear.  Without treatment you also run the risk of the dog experiencing chronic pain.

If you would like more information on risk factors for CL ruptures or you are worried your pet may be experiencing this condition, please contact the office at (902) 893-2341.

Hugo and Brenley


Get Me To My Food On Time!

Courtesy of: Wiggles

I must say – Victor is the King for getting fed, not only on time, but just about whenever he wants! I am still learning from him, but he is a very good coach.  He starts off by simply stating that he is hungry…at the top of his lungs!  This often happens even when he was just fed five minutes earlier. I think Victor is starting to forget things in his old age – either that or he just really enjoys bugging the girls at the desk.  I haven’t decided yet which one it is.

If the vocalizing doesn’t work then he will be sure to block the girls’ vision by standing in front of their computer screen or the phone.  Sometimes he even walks across the keys on the keyboard or phone.  If he’s lucky, he lands in just the right spot to hang up the phone while the receptionist is still talking.  That REALLY gets their attention!  They are tough cookies, though, so most of the time they don’t get up right away and go get him his meal.

His next tactic is to start to knock things off the desk.  He will take a paw and shove papers, entire files, pens or pencils over the edge.  He will do pretty much anything to get their attention!  Usually the girls will be so fed up at this point that they go out back, make him up a fresh meal and deliver it right to him!

Victor being served!

Personally, I don’t believe in being a squeaky wheel like Victor.  I will often simply go and sit by the door to my room and stare at it for awhile – hoping that maybe they will see me looking sad and come and feed me.  This used to be really effective, but lately something seems to have changed.  I’ve heard a lot of talk about “overweight” this and “diet” that and the food definitely doesn’t flow like it used to!  The good news is that when they do feed me, it’s really yummy and I’m not hungry all the time like I used to be, but I still feel like I’ve lost my touch.  Maybe it’s time to look at little closer at exactly how Victor manages his staff so well!



NOT The Happiest Place On Earth!

Courtesy of: Cecelia

My cat, Tom, was one of a kind.  He was my sweetie.  Tom always showed his affectionate side for friends and family but he had another side too.  That side he saved for visits to the vet.  He hated coming to the vet hospital for his visits and I hated to take him.

Tom relaxing at home

I got Tom after working in a veterinary hospital for 2 years.  I knew then (and still know now) that regular visits to the vet for health care are important to identify small problems before they became big problems.  Tom’s regular vet care allowed him to live 18 wonderful years.

Tom was brought to Truro Vet when he was 4 months old to be ‘put to sleep’.  He was a small ball of black fur with a white bib and dazzling eyes.  It didn’t take long for him to win my heart and for the next 18 years he honoured me by being my cat.  The only time I didn’t feel that honour was when I got out the carrier to take him to work with me for a vet visit!

Maybe it was his traumatic experience as a young kitten, being dropped off for euthanasia, or maybe it was that his life with me was so sheltered that any experience that was different was scary to him.  Maybe it was the unusual and sometimes scary smells from other animals that I brought home on my clothing or maybe it was the famous feline ESP.  However he knew, he understood what the carrier meant and he would go into evasive action the minute he saw it.

I tried many things to lessen the trauma for him. Some helped and some did not.  Through the process of trial and error, I was able to lessen his anxiety.  It seemed as I did things to lessen his worry, my worry decreased too and that made a big difference for both of us.

Tips to make your feline friend’s vet visit go purrfectly:

For some cats, a trip to the vet office is just an excuse to get a great back scratch and face rub, but to cats like Tom, it is a trip to hell.

Imagine the vet visit from a frightened kitty’s prospective.  First, there is the hateful carrier. That box of containment that makes many cats run from the sight.  Why? Some cats appear to believe that the carrier is going to eat them whole and they fight desperately to avoid the jaws (aka the door).  Next comes the car ride.  The trip in that smelly, noisy machine that rumbles and reminds them of the last time they were in the car…the last vet visit.  It is not surprising that by the time that your cat makes it to the office, adrenaline levels are soaring for both the cat and their human companions.

Our pets are very empathetic.  If you are stressed, so too is your kitty.  Even an Academy Award winning performance cannot fool your cat.  Our cats know us so well, they can see through the entire charade.  Some people even feel that their cats can eavesdrop on the phone call to book the appointment!  It’s true that many cats conveniently ‘go missing’ at their appointment time.

Thankfully with a little planning, there are several things that we can do to alleviate some of this stress.

  • Start by choosing a day when you are not rushed and can feel a sense of calm.
  • If possible, select a day when the weather is expected to be fine.  Ideally, good road conditions make less scary noises in the car.
  • When you call for an appointment, be open with us about any anxieties that you or kitty might have.  An appointment booked at the start of your vet’s shift or at the start of appointments after a supper break can mean little to no waiting time and less interaction with other animals. We can also pre-arrange to have you and your cat escorted to an exam room immediately on arrival rather then waiting in the reception area.
  • Have a cat carrier that can be easily dismantled so we can access your feline friend by removing the lid rather than dumping the cat out if she doesn’t want to come on her own.
  • Place an old towel in the carrier.  Sometimes stressed kitties going for a drive will lose control of their bladder and bowels. Absorbent bedding can make the clean up easier and preserve some of your cat’s dignity.
  • Spray the carrier and blanket in the carrier with Feliway.  Feliway is a product that is a pheromone (a scented hormone) that comes from cat’s facial glands. These glands produce a scent that has a calming effect on kitties. This can be used at home, in the carrier, car and vet office to ease stress.
  • About two weeks before the visit, leave the carrier out near the area where you would normally feed your cat.  Have the door open and place the food dish near the door. Gradually move the dish into the front of the carrier and then to the back of the carrier so that you kitty sees the carrier is a breakfast nook rather then big jaws.
  • The day or two before the visit, trim your cat’s nails.  This makes for a safer visit for everyone involved.
  • Skip the meal prior to the visit and just use a few treats to get your feline friend into the carrier. Travelling with an empty stomach helps with car sickness and might motivate tolerance of gentle handling in the office.  We have many treat types at the office but you might want to bring a few of her favorite treats.
  • When you and kitty arrive at the vet hospital ask to be put into an exam room as soon as possible.  Once in the room, open the carrier door and let your cat out to explore the room. Entice him with treats or toys. Catnip is not recommended. The effects of catnip can be unpredictable.
  • If you have more than one cat to bring, don’t put them in the same carrier.  Like people, at times of stress cats can redirect their frustrations and anxieties onto each other.  Having separate carriers or preferably separate visits, for your kitties is a wise step to lessen the stress.

If you have questions about making your cat’s trip to visit us as stress-free as possible, please give us a call at 893-2341.  Working together, we can all try to make your cat’s visit as easy and comfortable as possible.

Tom happy on his couch


A Social Puppy Is A Happy Puppy!

Courtesy of: Kaila

Did you know that socialization is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy?  It is also the first step in raising a well-behaved dog.  Proper socialization involves exposing puppies to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as possible during this time.  It should be done safely and without causing over­stimulation manifested as excessive fear, with­drawal or avoidance behavior.  The crucial time period for socialization with your puppy is the first three months of life.  Socializing your young puppy well means there is a better chance your puppy will be calm and accepting when he experiences these same stimuli again later in his life.

A dog that has not been socialized may become an epicenter in a storm of problems.  Some dogs may even become sick from stress, which can inhibit your ability to train them.  They can shed excessively and develop long-term health issues.  Stressed dogs can be aggressive, unpredictable, and unmanageable, all of which may lead to a dog that bites. Therefore it is very important that you make socialization a priority in your training. Turn each opportunity of meeting someone or something new into a positive experience that results in treats, toys and fun!

A Happy Play Date!

Here at Truro Vet we offer a FREE Socialization Class every Thursday night at 6pm.  We call it a Puppy “Party”.  These classes are drop-in supervised one hour play sessions designed to help young puppies learn valuable play skills.  Equally important, puppy owners learn the basics of dog body language.  This should be considered a good addition to enrollment in a well-run puppy class, not a substitute for classes.

Puppies must be under 16 weeks of age the first time they attend and must have had at least one set of core vaccinations one week prior to attendance (including Distemper, Parvovirus and Bordetella).  Puppies are exposed to a number of novel things to accustom them to a new environment and owners learn when and how they need to intervene in play.

You don’t have to be enrolled in other classes or be a client of Truro Vet in order to attend our Puppy Parties.  We want this important first step toward a well socialized dog to be available to everyone.  We also offer Puppy Classes which will continue to give your puppy great socializing opportunities. Here are a few other tips to help you out on your own:

  • Give a treat to each person that your puppy will meet and ask them to give it to your puppy.
  • Expose your puppy to lots of strange sights, sounds and situations.  This will help them get comfortable and familiar with them.
  • When you bring your puppy to class we can supply you with a socialization check list that has a variety of ideas.

If at any time during socialization the puppy becomes frightened (tries to run away, tucks his tail underneath flat against his belly, or attempts to snap at you) consider the following:

  • Do not coddle a frightened puppy. Unknowingly you are praising his uncertainty; he will feel as though there is something to be unsure about. This will worsen the situation.
  • Jolly him up with a silly voice, a treat or game.
  • If a situation is overwhelming to the puppy, back away until the puppy is relaxed again.
  • Start from this point and build up the pup’s confidence.
  • Gradually get closer to the stimulus that is causing the puppy discomfort.
  • Your ultimate goal is for your puppy to be confident and comfortable around stimuli that was previously scary to him.

Over time you and your puppy will become experts at meeting new people, seeing new sights and hearing strange sounds.  For more information or to sign up for classes, please contact us at 893-2341.

A BIG New Stimulus!


The Cone Of Shame!

Courtesy of:  Brea

It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone!

“What on earth is that?”

“Why is your dog wearing a lamp shade?”

“Hey look, here comes cone head!”

Actually, the technical name for this contraption is “Elizabethan Collar” (e-collar for short).  While they do look bizarre, they serve a VERY important purpose.  E-collars are used to prevent your pet from biting, licking or scratching at their healing wounds.  Most commonly, they are sent home with a patient after they have been spayed or neutered.  This was the case with my lovely little fur child, Cooper.

Cooper, (aka “Coopy” and often called “Loopy”) is my crazy 11 month old German Shorthaired Pointer.  For those of you who are not familiar with the breed, they are very versatile all-purpose hunting dogs.  They are extremely energetic dogs who love to run and never seem to get tired.  The very thought of trying to keep this dog quiet for 2 weeks after his neuter seemed impossible!  But of course, it had to be done.

On January 9th, Cooper was neutered.  The operation went smoothly, and soon enough he was ready to roll again.  He didn’t seem too concerned about his little incision, so we didn’t bother with an e-collar at first.  If he started to pick at it, I would simply tell him “No” and he would stop. What a good boy!  As the days went on, I began to notice the incision site looked irritated and wasn’t healing as fast as I had hoped.  I started to spy on him and realized he was licking when I wasn’t watching!  One of our vets looked at him the next day and believed he was reacting to the suture material.  She prescribed some antibiotics and the dreaded cone.

Cooper's first cone

For most dogs, e-collars work great.  They are simply unable to reach the area and the wound is able to heal properly without infection.  However, that was not the case with Cooper.  I would catch him bending the cone so he was able to lick himself!  We even used the largest size cone available here with the same result.  This dog is smart and flexible, and has a long nose which makes things very difficult.  Since the cone wasn’t working for him, we tried bitter spray on the incision.  The horrible taste should deter him from licking, right?  Again, for most dogs, it works well.  Clearly Cooper didn’t think it tasted all that bad, because he continued to lick!

I felt like I was running out of options. It has now been almost a month and no improvement. Not only that, but keeping a dog who is used to running off leash everyday calm and quiet is not an easy task.

I also tried:

-Underwear             -T shirts            -Long sleeved shirts        -Children’s pants
-Leggings                  -Band-Aids

Cooper's stylish underwear

These are all great ideas, but not ONE worked for this dog!

Now this is where I start to brag about how awesome my co-workers at Truro Vet really are.  Since NOTHING else was working, they developed Cooper a custom made cone.

Cooper's new cone!

As you can see, it’s a giant ice-cream container with an e-collar attached to the top, complete with padding around the bottom, and loop holes to string his collar through.  The fact that he tolerated this contraption so well made it a lot easier.  I guess he had to get used to it, since it was on him 24/7 for a few weeks. Yes, even when he crawled into our bed at night…under the covers!  This amazing contraption is the reason why Cooper is now 100% healed!

Cooper cuddling

Every pet is different.  They all react to situations in different ways.  Some ideas will work great for one pet and not at all for another.  If nothing seems to work…don’t worry.  Give us a call at 893-2341.  We will be happy to put our heads together to help you find something that works for your pet!



The Inside Scoop On Royal Canin Pet Food

Courtesy of: Dr. Michelle

In June of last year, I was invited by Royal Canin (RC) to Guelph, Ontario, for a tour of the Royal Canin (formerly Medi-Cal) pet food plant.  Royal Canin is the manufacturer of the food that you will primarily see on the shelves of Truro Vet Hospital because it is the brand that the vets and staff trust enough to feed to their own pets.  In California (where I am originally from and began my veterinary career), RC is not well known.  When I moved to Canada, I was curious as to why TVH chose to stock the RC brand instead of one of the other three veterinary prescription diet lines. What makes Royal Canin so special?

The night I arrived in Guelph, I met up with 29 other veterinarians and veterinary staff from Atlantic Canada who were going to join me on our tour.  We had a few learning sessions about the history of Royal Canin, and the philosophy and values of the company.  These are: dogs & cats first, knowledge & respect, health nutrition, and research & innovation.  The next morning, we started the day with a few more sessions about the many different diets that RC offers (everything from the veterinary exclusive diets to the pet specialty retail diets), the science and ingredients that go into their food, and future innovative diets in the works.

Then came the plant tour!  When we pulled up to the plant, the first thing that we noticed was the lack of odor.  The facility has a biofilter (an odor treatment system) that uses naturally occurring bacteria to destroy odor compounds.  The air is then filtered before it is released into the environment without the use of hazardous chemicals or harmful waste products.  This means that the residents living behind the facility do not have to deal with the smell of pet food being cooked (something Truro residents are all too familiar with!).

We were then shown the laboratory where the food is tested for quality and safety. The floors were white and spotless, and I felt like I could eat off of them! The state-of-the-art equipment they have was fascinating to see in action.

The manufacturing facility was the last part of the tour. We did not actually get to see any kibble being made at the time of our tour because they were in the middle of disinfecting the entire plant – they do this before each and every batch of the Hypoallergenic diet is made. This is to ensure that there is no cross contamination with other diets, because Hypoallergenic diets must be entirely free of even trace amounts of other proteins.  We got to see how the raw ingredients are stored before they become a part of the food.  Each truckload of these ingredients that is brought in is allocated a batch number and is then analyzed to make sure the food is up to the standard needed to enter the facility. The drivers of the truck are asked to stand by and wait for the analysis to be completed to make sure that their batch will pass the inspection.  RC is very strict about what they will allow in their plant, and therefore batches are declined and sent back to the source on a weekly basis.

Royal Canin is the only one of the four veterinary prescription diets to have earned its ISO 14001 certification. This means that RC has incorporated an Environmental Management System into their business which minimizes the impact on the environment. This is done by finding alternate ways to dispose of kibble waste other than landfills, energy efficient equipment, a decrease in water consumption, as well as an on-site water treatment facility.

After leaving Guelph, I understood why Truro Vet Hospital supports the RC company. They have so many safety features in place to ensure excellence in their products, care about the ingredients that go into their food, and are mindful of the environment. My cats love their RC food…Earl is on the Hypoallergenic diet, and Flynn is on the Dental formula!

If you have any questions about any Royal Canin diets or their safety and environmental commitments, feel free to give us a call at 893-2341.

Royal Canin plant


Good To The Last…Pill?

Courtesy of: Dr. Gwen

“That last prescription you gave Tommy Boy worked wonders!” Mr. Jenkins said excitedly.  I was happy to hear it but I wasn’t so happy to hear the rest.  “He didn’t even have to take all the pills for it to get better, so now I have some left to keep on hand for the next time he gets into a fight.”  Mr. Jenkins seemed very proud of this accomplishment.  While I was pleased that Mr. Jenkins was happy with the outcome of his beloved Tommy Boy’s infected bite wound, I was also worried about the next time Tommy Boy gets into a cat fight.  Maybe Mr. Jenkins and Tommy Boy won’t be so lucky next time.

When antibiotics are prescribed for a condition, the animal’s age, weight and overall health together with the condition being treated are carefully considered.  For example, some antibiotics work better in dental disease while others work better on skin infections.  Other health issues may affect the dose of the drug used since one patient may not be able to clear the drug from their system as efficiently as another individual.  The personality of the patient is also a concern.  If you have ever had the task of giving pills to a cat, you will know what I mean.  Some patients will never take a pill in their food which means the care giver must find another way to outsmart their pets.

If the medication is not taken as directed then the antibiotic designed to treat the problem may never reach the levels it needs to kill all the bacteria.  If some bacteria survive the improper dosing then they can continue to thrive in your pet and cause more disease and the antibiotic that was used will not work anymore.

Antibiotics have probably saved more lives than any other medical breakthrough of the 20th century. We have come to depend on antibiotic therapy to treat many day to day problems. After more than 75 years of using antibiotics, we are learning that there is a down side, a potentially very serious one… antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is the term used when a population of bacteria becomes unaffected or poorly affected by an antibiotic that has been effective against them in the past.  These bacteria may require antibiotic treatment at a higher dose, with more frequency, or for longer duration.  In some cases, they require a different type of antibiotic medication entirely.  Unfortunately, the number of different types of antibiotics available for use is limited, and some bacteria have become resistant to multiple types.  These bacteria are frequently referred to as “superbugs”.  We have likely all heard of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Human hospitals screen for this because the doctors know that if the highly resistant bacteria gets into an immune-compromised person, there may be no treatment.

Our pets have their own version of MRSA. It is called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudointermedius (MRSP). These organisms have been found in wounds, on skin, in ears and in urinary tracts. It has been identified in dogs, cats, horses, birds and humans. Yes, that’s right, humans. Allowing these organisms to grow by not using antibiotics correctly can not only put your pet’s health at risk but also the health of your human family.  Transmission has been documented between animals and people but the shocker is that once the MRSP is allowed to establish itself, it can spread through the environment with the aid of hair or shed skin cells, which make up the majority of house dust.

Antibiotics are dispensed less often these days because of the recognition of these resistances.  We try to treat medical problems with alternate therapies to alleviate this serious health issue.  A good example is bladder disease in cats. Thirty years ago, the common problem of bladder disease in cats was thought to be due to infections.  Antibiotics were a cornerstone to their treatment.  Much has been learned about bladder disease in the last 30 years.  We now understand the problem better and have long recognized that infection is rarely a component of bladder disease in young to middle aged cats.  Instead of antibiotics, we use diet and anti-inflammatories to treat the condition.  Sometimes it is just a matter of increasing the water in the kitty’s diet to help them though this painful condition.

The key to successful antibiotic therapy is to complete the treatment and follow the instructions carefully. If you cannot get the pill in your cat, ‘Fang’ (or your dog, ‘Jaws’) without risking a bite and possible antibiotic therapy yourself, tell your vet. Veterinary hospital staff know many tricks to get the medication in your pet where it belongs. If the tricks don’t work then a different type of antibiotic may be needed.

The last consideration of antibiotic therapy is determining how long to treat the problem. Some infections only need treatment for a week, others need much longer because the bacteria are hard to kill or the ability of the antibiotic to get to the affected area is time dependent. Re-assessment of the condition is often required to ensure that the antibiotic is working and that it has been given long enough.

Careful use of antibiotics can be accomplished only by veterinarians and pet owners working closely together as a team.  Following the instructions precisely at home is the best way for you to help prevent antibiotic resistant organisms from developing in your pets, and also in your family.  If you have any questions about the proper use of antibiotics or any medication prescribed for your pet, please call us at 893-2341.


What Do You Mean He’s Fat?

Courtesy of: Juanita

“Ah, excuse me?”

That’s what I thought when Dr. Michelle told me my 4 year old Golden Retriever, Charlie, needed to lose weight.  Who did she think she was?

Then I took a step back and really looked at Charlie.  Apparently what I had taken as a full winter coat was indeed extra padding over the ribcage.  When I bent down to rub his side, I could not feel his ribs anymore.  Life with 2 preschoolers and a toddler had taken its toll.  Too many table droppings and plate scrapings.  Too little exercise.  Poor Charlie and his waistline had gone unnoticed.  Even more concerning to me was that Charlie suffers from severe hip dysplasia.  The head of his femur does not sit properly in his hip socket.  We have been able to keep him pain free with muscle toning through exercise.  Keeping him at a healthy weight is equally important to prevent hip pain.  Were his hips starting to bother him too because of the weight gain and I hadn’t noticed?

So, I had a heart-to-heart with our Charlie-dog.  We were going to cut back on the food and we would get back to our regular daily walks.  He was thrilled about the walking part, not so much about the food part.

I did not want to change Charlie’s diet entirely.  At this point he is on Royal Canin Dental formula to promote a healthy mouth and prevent gum disease.  We decided that his weight gain was small enough that reducing his feeding amount and increasing his exercise should be sufficient to manage it.  In more severe cases, the better solution would be to change the diet to one formulated specifically for weight loss.  Royal Canin has effective diets designed for successful weight management.

We use a yogurt container to scoop each meal, which we have measured and determined to hold two cups of food.  We cut the top of the yogurt container down so that a full container would only hold 1 ¾ cups instead, making measuring his food still easy and accurate.  Now hubby or I could still give him a full scoop but the cup would contain less.

We started daily walks again.  Some days we only go for 20 minutes, but other walks are over an hour.  He is now looking slim and trim, scoring a perfect 3 on a body conditioning scale of 1 to 5.  He lost 5 pounds and is goofier than ever.

If you notice a little extra padding on your pet’s ribcage or a tummy waddle when they walk, call 893-2341 and ask to speak to one of our Nutrition Counselors.  Together we can get your pet back on the road to good health.

Charlie in his favourite spot!


You’re Never Too YOUNG To Learn!

Courtesy of: Kaila

One question that I hear often is “When can I start training?”  The answer is, the sooner the better! When I got my puppy Indy (almost 5 years ago now) he was 8 weeks old and I started his training the very first day he arrived home.  Some time ago, people were told that their dog had to be at least six months in order to start training. This misconception was brought about by choke collars – as they thought puppies could not handle the harsh leash correction before six months of age – yet it was perfectly OK once the pups reached six months. We don’t support correction training, choke collars or prong collars here at the Truro Veterinary Hospital; instead we encourage positive training methods.

Indy, Sit!
Indy, Sit!

If you want to wait until your puppy is six months of age then you miss out on a lot of opportunities not just in training your dog (that’s four months of training time lost).  You also miss out on preventing bad habits and behaviours from developing (that’s four months of bad behaviour!). A puppy’s mind is like a child’s – a sponge waiting to learn and soak up information and behaviours (good or bad).  They are able to learn and absorb so much – so why not get them started on the right paw as soon as they come into your home? Don’t let four months (or longer) of training opportunities pass you by! Remember, even if you are not training your puppy they are learning every single day, and some of this learning might be unwanted behaviours that you will have to re-train down the road.

I will go back and talk a bit about Indy – and his training.  We started when he was eight weeks of age because I wanted to get off to the right start for both of us. Indy has been working every day since then.  Within that first week we accomplished so much!  We worked on some basic behaviour and he was starting to get pretty fluent in them already. We learned sit, down, stand, loose leash walking, come when called, stay, even roll over to the left and the right, twist and twirl, and shake a paw – all by the time he was 9 weeks old!

Cutest roll over ever!
Cutest roll over ever!

We also worked on general good behaviours and manners such as nipping, and biting, house training (Indy had only had two accidents in the house as a puppy), proper greetings and so much more. There is no reason why you can’t have a puppy that is as well behaved as Indy right from the start!

It does require time, patience, and training classes – but that is where we can help you out! We offer a variety of different training classes for all ages and breeds.  If you have a new puppy, or an older dog who could benefit from some manners, please call us at 893-2341 to learn more!

At 8 weeks old, Indy came when called!
At 8 weeks old, Indy came when called!