I Love Old Dogs!

Courtesy of: Amanda

I have 2 old dogs.

Lyle and Tomar

They couldn’t be more opposite of each other, but I love them both the same. I love the grey around the muzzle, and the slowness of their gait. I love their patience. I love the fact that they think they can get away with the world. I love the sad puppy dog eyes they pull when they want up on the couch. I love old dogs.

I love that relationship people build over 10, 12, even 18 years. I love the bad breath that wakes me in the morning. I love the thumping tail, and the playful spirit that still springs up when it snows. I love the way they know who will give them treats, and who is always game for belly rubs. I love how easy they are – so quiet and happy just to be around you. I love the ears flapping out the window. I love the “can I?” look when they try to sneak on my bed. I love how excited they get to see my grandparents. I love the way they find the “sun spots” in the room. I love old dogs.

I love looking back at old pictures and seeing how young they once were. I love telling stories about how bad they used to be (remember that time?). I love taking them out to pee in a snowstorm, or at 2 am, or never being able to sleep in – because they are old dogs. I love the vet telling me how great they look for 18. I love the devotion they have for me, which sometimes I feel I’m not worthy of. I love old dogs.

I love trying a new medication for them, and finding how much more comfortable it can make them. I love their voracious appetites, despite their old-dog teeth. I love when I call and they ignore me, because they are now deaf. I love when they sleep at my feet. I love when they sleep in the sun. I love when they sleep all day. I love old dogs.

I love content old dogs. I love cranky old dogs. I love quiet old dogs, and loud old dogs who can’t hear themselves bark. I love old dog smiles. I love it when they steal food. I love it when they prove me wrong. I love watching them teach puppies manners. I love that sparkle in an owner’s eye when they talk about their old dogs. I love old dogs who are so attached to their owners. I love how so many years of love can shape a dog. I love how so many years of love can shape me. I love old dogs.


I love everything about old dogs, because someday they will be gone. I’ll miss that old dog smile, the thump of the tail, the 2 am wake-up, the puppy dog eyes, the greying muzzle, the moments of foolishness, the tufts of old dog dust bunnies, the simple contentment. But I’ll remember how much they taught me about why I love old dogs.


Bloat – An Ounce of Prevention Can Be Worth…A Life!

Courtesy of: Ashley

What scares me about owning a Bullmastiff?  BLOAT! (well, and a cruciate ligament rupture but that’s a blog topic for another day).

Bloat (also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or GDV) is a life threatening condition for which large and giant breed and/or deep-chested dogs such as the Bullmastiff, Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane, Irish Setter and Bassett Hound are at risk.  Bloat is when the stomach fills up with gas causing the pet to have discomfort and difficulty breathing.  When the stomach is full of gas it makes it easier for the stomach to twist around itself causing a gastric torsion.  A torsion cuts off the blood supply to the stomach and causes it to die.  When the twist occurs the life of the pet is at risk.

This condition is very serious and can be fatal if not treated as soon as possible by a veterinarian.  Often times a stomach tube is placed to relieve the gas buildup.  If that is not possible a needle is placed through the abdominal wall to relieve the pressure.  Once the pet is stable, surgery is needed to untwist the stomach.  At that time the veterinarian may discuss a procedure called gastropexy to help prevent future bloat.  This procedure involves tacking the stomach to the abdomen wall, to reduce the chance that the stomach may twist.  In at-risk breeds, these procedures are commonly done as a preventive at the pet’s spay or neuter time.

Understanding the early signs of bloat can be very beneficial.  Abdominal distention, vomiting or retching, restlessness, drooling, panting and shallow breathing are all signs that you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

The most common time for bloat to occur is two to three hours after a meal that has been followed by exercise.  Dogs should be fed two or three times a day rather than once a day to limit the volume of food in their stomach at any one time.  Limit the access of water after a meal and limit exercise and excitement before and after meals for one to two hours.  Dogs that are more likely to get bloat should be fed in a quiet location and if a diet change is needed it should be done at a slower rate over a period of at least five days.

Hugo and Brenley (you met Brenley in the nail trim blog), our Bullmastiffs, are watched very closely all the time but are especially not allowed outside off leash for at least one hour after meals to help prevent bloat.  Knowing the early signs can be life saving for your pet!

If you have any questions about bloat, or any other diseases large and giant breed dogs are susceptible to, please call us at 893-2341.


Does Your Bathroom Have A Door? – One Tech’s View

Courtesy of: Joye

Ok, I know the title is strange, but stick with me and you’ll see where I’m going.  This is the first in what will hopefully become a series of blogs about the way I see things at Truro Vet.  If you’ve met me, that might seem like a scary idea, but I promise to be nice most of the time!

Today’s topic is obesity in cats, which is certainly no laughing matter.  Over 50% of cats are overweight or obese, serious conditions that can lead to a number of diseases which shorten their life span.  Of course, discussing nutrition is at the core of any discussion about weight management, so I’m often called in when we have a tough case.  Sometimes the basic issue is simply lack of understanding and effective communication, so I always start there.

I’m now going to give you a sample conversation I might have with a fictional client.  I emphasize that this actual conversation has never taken place, and the client, “Mrs. Smith”, does not exist.  However, many of Mrs. Smith’s concerns are very real and the advice I (try to) give is what I would say to any client who presented the same issues.


RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician…that’s me!):  Good afternoon, Mrs. Smith, and hello Fluffy.  My name is Joye and I’m here today to start your appointment.  The veterinarian will be in to see you shortly.  I see that Fluffy is now 12 years old.  How has she been doing?

NOT Fluffy...but Tigger, who was obese

Mrs. Smith:  Oh, she’s great.  She’s the sweetest cat.  I’ve had her since she was just a kitten you know.  She has always slept on my bed, but for the last little while she doesn’t seem to jump up anymore.  I guess she’s just getting old.

RVT:  Well, Mrs. Smith, 12 years really isn’t that old for an indoor cat like Fluffy.  Let’s have a look at her, shall we?  Oh my…Fluffy is a pretty big girl!  Let’s get her on the scale.  Fluffy weighs 7.5 kg…that’s 16 and a half pounds.  That is very large for a cat.

Mrs. Smith (proudly):  Ha, if you think Fluffy’s big you should see our other cat at home!  Our cats have always been very big and healthy.  Fluffy loves to eat and sleep.  I tell my husband we should have called her Garfield, she’s so lazy!

RVT:  Actually, it’s not really very healthy for Fluffy to be carrying around so much extra weight.  At her age, it can lead to some pretty serious health problems, like diabetes and arthritis.  I can see that she has some mats on her back too.  I suspect she’s not grooming as well as she used to, because she can’t reach or she is uncomfortable.

Mrs. Smith:  Oh dear, you don’t think she’s hurting do you?  She doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable at all.  I noticed the mats but I thought maybe she just got into some sap on the Christmas tree.

RVT:  Hmm…well, it’s March now, so I would really expect any sap from the tree to be long gone.  You mentioned that Fluffy doesn’t jump on your bed like she used to.  That might be related to her weight and potentially to arthritis.  I think it is important for us to put Fluffy on a diet to try to get her to start losing weight, as well as trying to increase her exercise through play.

Mrs. Smith:  A diet?  Oh, I couldn’t do that.  I just put the food out for Fluffy and Mitzy and they eat whatever they want.  Fluffy wouldn’t like it if she went to the bowl and it was empty!

RVT:  Eating her food in meals and eating a calorie reduced diet is really the best way to help Fluffy lose weight.  Cats can get used to eating meals and sometimes having an empty bowl, although they can sometimes develop new begging behaviours unfortunately.

Mrs. Smith:  I just know that Mitzy will eat all of her own food and most of Fluffy’s too.  She’s very pushy and loves her food.  I don’t think we will be able to feed them in meals, sorry.

RVT:  One good way to ensure that each cat gets their full meal (and no extras) is to feed them in separate rooms, with a door closed between them.  After 15-20 with their food, you open the door and remove the dishes.  Cats will learn to eat their meals on time, since the food won’t be back again until their next feeding.

Mrs. Smith:  Oh dear.  We can’t do that.  Our home is very open concept…I don’t have anywhere to put the cats to separate them.

RVT:  Does your bathroom have a door?  (while thinking “If it doesn’t, please don’t invite me over to visit!”) Several people I know feed one cat inside the bathroom and one in the kitchen.  Could that work for you?

Mrs. Smith (skeptically):  Maybe…

RVT:  Here’s the veterinarian now.  Once she has completed her physical exam, she and I will come up with a recommendation for the best diet plan for Fluffy and I’ll be back in to chat.


As you can see, Mrs. Smith is not really a big fan of all the changes I’ve asked her to make.  It’s obvious she loves Fluffy very much and wants to do what’s best, but I’ve asked her to significantly rearrange her life to help Fluffy become a healthier cat.  Hopefully by the time our visit is complete, she will be more open to trying some of my suggestions.

If your cat is overweight or obese, we would love to talk with you.  The process of weight loss generally follows the same basic steps.  Our first recommendation is often a calorie reduced diet, such as Calorie Control from Royal Canin.  Secondly, cats need to be fed a measured amount in timed meal feedings.  In households with multiple cats, this may mean with a door closed between them.  It is also great to increase their playtime, by buying toys that encourage them to move (such as laser pointers or treat balls).  Finally, coming back for regular weigh-ins to make sure we are having success is a key part of the process.

If you would like to know more about obesity in pets (including how to prevent the problem in the first place), please give us a call at 902-893-2341.





At TVH The Learning Never Stops!

Courtesy of: Michelle

New advances are made in veterinary medicine every year. Breakthroughs in research and new scientific discoveries happen regularly. This allows for the development of more effective treatments for common diseases, novel procedures for a better prognosis, and an improved understanding of disease processes in general.

Did you know that veterinarians are required to have 40 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years in order to maintain their license to practice? Veterinary technicians are also required to complete 15 hours of CE every year.  There are several options for vets and techs to fulfill these hours. The first of these are veterinary journal magazines. Published on a monthly or bimonthly basis, these offer CE hours for reading articles on the latest research and completing quizzes found within the article.  Online webinars are a popular method to gain CE hours as well. Offered every few months, staff members can watch a webinar, usually in the form of an hour long lecture, from the comfort of their own home, or as a group in a clinic setting.  Regional seminars are offered a few evenings a year and focus on one specific topic of interest. These meetings are usually open to veterinarians and staff members in the area.

My favorite method of obtaining continuing education hours is by attending veterinary conferences. There are several large conferences offered across North America each year. In April, the Truro Vet Hospital closes for a weekend to allow the staff to attend the Atlantic Provinces Veterinary Conference in Halifax. This is a great opportunity for the entire staff- vets, techs, assistants, and receptionists – to attend lectures and learn something new!

Every year I attend either the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida or the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. While it may seem that these locations would make it hard to focus on anything educational with Walt Disney World and the Las Vegas Strip outside your doorstep, these conferences offer 5 days of intensive learning! Lectures are offered hourly from 8am-8pm and there are anywhere from 5-20 lectures to choose from during any given hour! It is usually quite difficult to decide which one to attend.  The lectures are delivered by board-certified veterinarians in their area of specialty. You can attend 10 lectures on 10 different subjects in a day, or you can focus on one subject such as dermatology or cardiology.

Stay tuned for a CE update after Joye and I attend the Western Veterinary Conference in February!  If you want to know more about our process for Continuing Education, please contact us at 893-2341.