Truro Vet has recently become AAHA accredited!

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is the only organization to accredit companion animal veterinary hospitals. They set standards for quality veterinary care throughout the entire hospital. These standards strive for excellence in client and patient care, and give us guidelines to help us accomplish that.

Only 12-15% of veterinary hospitals in Canada and the US are accredited with their organization!

To become AAHA accredited, Truro Vet was evaluated on 900 standards of care. These are all encompassing for each section of the hospital. We have always been very proud of our patient care and how we work together as a team to provide it. Gaining AAHA accreditation gives us access to endless resources to guidelines in patient care. This helps us keep up to date with the ever-changing science of veterinary medicine and how we provide it to you and your pet. When you take your pet to an AAHA accredited veterinary clinic you can be confident you will be receiving quality care.

We are excited about our new AAHA accreditation and invite you to ask us more about it! For more information please check out


Surprise Diagnosis – Importance of Early Disease Detection Screening

Autumn, a 12 year old dog came to see us because she seemed to have problems with her hind end. Her owner was worried about her hips because she was having trouble walking and especially on the stairs. Sure enough in the exam room, she seemed to be crouching as she walked and was uncomfortable. We were suspicious of arthritis due to her age and decided to go ahead with Early Disease Detection.

This is labwork that we use in older pets to screen for multiple diseases that are more common in our seniors. This can include kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, cushings disease, anemia, infection and abnormalities with minerals and electrolytes. A urinalysis is also included for our senior animals.

Animals cannot communicate with us to let us know how they are feeling or where it hurts. The labwork we checked at Autumns visit was also going to provide us with baseline values before starting her on an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.

Much to our surprise, Autumn had a severe urinary tract infection. She uses a doggy door into her backyard at home so during the summer months her owner does not see her bathroom habits. Once we started her on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for the infection and discomfort, Autumn improved tremendously. Her mobility is back to normal.

We rely on labwork in addition to a good patient history and complete exam to help us treat our patients that cannot speak!

To learn more about our Early Disease Detection in senior pets, please call us at (902) 893-2341


How to Find the Right Dog Trainer for you and your Best Friend

Written By: Dr. Gwen

The most important investment of time, energy and money in your new dog’s future is training. The number one reason dogs are surrendered to shelters is for behavior problems. Most of these behavior issues could have been prevented with good training and early intervention.

Training a dog requires the caregivers to understand how to train a dog. In the past couple of decades, there has been many new discoveries about how dogs learn and how we can help them have happy fulfilled lives by understanding their body language and emotional states. Consider how our schools have changed over the years to teach our children. Corporal punishment is banned and much more humane and effective and sensitive teaching practices are now common place. The dog training world has changed too. Training a dog using the same techniques as you learned in 1970 to 1990’s are outdated and can actually cause more behavioral issues than actually train the dog.

The best trainer for your dog is you, but you must be trained to deliver the lessons and work with your dog. If you understand how the training process works, you can train many behaviours to enable your dog  be a good canine citizen and behave and be able to do fun things that you both enjoy together.

When looking for a dog trainer to teach you, it is a good idea to interview the dog trainer you are considering.

Ask about their experience and qualifications. Where did they get their training what organizations are they members. Ask how does he/she educate themselves about dog behaviour and health on an ongoing basis. (Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers)

Ask about their training techniques. Positive reinforcement or reward based training the best, most effective training you can learn to use. It is humane and effective. There are many terms that are used to describe this training. Some of these are: Clicker training, Reward training and Operant conditioning. To ‘test’ the trainer you are interviewing, ask how they would correct an undesirable behavior. If their answer suggests any kind of punishment or physically stopping the behavoiur or could cause your dog to feel fear, then it is not reward based training and that method should be avoided.


Do they offer private lessons or group lessons or both. Do they offer several levels of classes that would allow you to do training that interests you the most.

Ask if you can observe a class. A confident professional will not object. While watching a class, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the trainer explain the exercises in a clear and easily understood manner? 
  • Did the trainer take the time to assist each attendee with the exercises? 
  • Did the participants look like they were having fun? (You may not think this is important but when the class is enjoyable you’ll be more willing to attend.) 
  • How did the dogs seem to enjoy the class? Was the trainer concerned about the dog’s enjoyment?
  • Was the class structured and organized?
  • What support does the trainer provide? i.e. take home information, contact information if you get stuck at home after the class, etc.

After observing a class, ask the trainer questions about what you observed. A couple of thoughtful questions can be all the difference in finding the right trainer for you!  Do you feel comfortable approaching the trainer and asking questions? It’s important to feel like you can ask questions. Like any other professional in your life – you must be prepared to have a good working relationship with this person.

Good luck with your search!


When Gilbert Met Scrappy

Written by: Juanita
Unfortunately, this is not a love story. Its not even a like story. It’s a story of hate and disgust, it’s a story of blood and gore. And unfortunately it is true.

This is Gilbert. He’s a 4-year-old short haired grey tabby. He’s been known to be play aggressive which means after a couple of pats he would grab onto my hand while biting and rabbit kicking it. Ouch.

Meet Gilbert
Meet Scrappy

This is Scrappy. He’s a 6-year-old short haired orange tabby. Despite his name, Scrappy is a lover. Content to sit on your lap and purr for hours. That being said, Scrappy rubs other cat the wrong way. He was returned to his adoption group for failing to get along with others.

When Gilbert met Scrappy, it was hate at first sight. We kept them separated for the first few days, then supervised visits but the end result was screaming, hissing, scratches, pus filled wounds, and tumble weed sized clumps of fur on the floor.

As time passed, the frequency of the fighting slowed, but someone always had a scratch. Scrappy started over grooming leaving his belly stripped of fur. Help!

We turned to Feliway, it helps comfort and reassure cats by mimicking the natural feline facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar. We brought home a spray bottle and we would spray 1 pump once a day in the common areas of our house. The effect wasn’t immediate or highly noticeable right away but after a month I realized I hadn’t seen any tumble weeds of fur. Scratches were healed, and no glass shattering screeching was heard. When the spray bottle emptied, I replaced it with 2 diffusers. These plug into a wall outlet and last for a month. Refills are available to replace monthly.

We have 1 diffuser on each level of our house and while they aren’t going to curl up and groom each other, Scrappy’s tummy fur is starting to growing back. Here at the clinic we use Feliway as part of our Low Stress handling initiative for our feline patients. We strive to reduce the stress our patients could experience during a visit, Feliway in our exam rooms helps to calm and relax an edgy kitty.

If your feline friend is having some anxiety or behaviour issues be sure to ask us about Feliway. You can contact us via Phone (902-893-2341), via Email ( or in person (165 Arthur Street, Truro, NS).



Edith’s Story – Orthotics To The Rescue

Meet Edith Anne and her very noble and tolerant big brother, Bishop. Edith Anne is  9 1/2 years old and has always played the pleasant but somewhat annoying loving little sister to Bishop (11 1/2 years).

Over the last year, poor Edith’s arthritis in her carpi (wrists) have caused a significant deformity to her front legs making it very difficult to walk, let alone run and play. She looked like a little stubborn old women hobbling about but still refusing to give up.

We took X-rays and her condition had gotten much worse. The deformity to her wrist joints was putting more strain on her damaged joints, making the degeneration escalate and creating more pain.

Her Dad, Earle, wanted her to have an active life to enjoy; so we called in Jeff Collins of K9 Orthotics. Jeff is a trained registered prosthetic technician and has a prosthetic limb himself. He personally understands what’s it like to be on the receiving end of a prosthetic device.

Edith Anne visited Jeff in early March. Jeff and his team designed and built braces for Edith Anne’s front legs. During the two weeks it took to get the braces made, Earle started wrapping Edith Anne’s legs with a bandage material to get her used to the feeling of a brace.

Once Earle got the braces, he started to apply the braces for hour or so three times a day. Jeff showed Earl how to adjust the tension on the strap to make it comfortable for her and what to watch for if there were problems. 

Earl said: “It takes a while to get the tension correct on the velcro straps – the blend between too tight (blood flow)  and too loose (chafing and lack of support ). She flops on the couch every morning and night to get braces on and off. This makes her dad’s back feel a little better. ”

Within a week Edith wore them up to 10 hours a day. It didn’t take long for little Edith to start pestering brother, Bishop although there was still an obvious lameness to her gait, her attitude was back!

Now, a month later, Edith can wear the braces for a full day. She is back in true form with Bishop enjoying playing with her again and she doesn’t look lame … just happy … really really happy!

Thanks Jeff of K9 Orthotics! You made Edith young again and gave Bishop back a play mate.



How to Find a Groomer That’s Right for You and Your Dog

Written By: Dr. Gwen

For some dogs, going to the groomer is like a spa day, but for others, the change of routine, strange handling and getting wet is worse then getting porcupine quills … in your eye!

Finding the right groomer reduces the stress on your dog, enables you to feel free to leave your best friend for the day without worries.
To help you find the right groomer for you and your best friend, here are a few questions and things to think about:
  • Look local first and expand your search if you can’t find the right groomer nearby. This saves the environment and if your dog does not appreciate travelling, a short trip is preferable to a long car ride.
  • Looks to see how the dogs are housed. Are there many crates or larger more spacious kennels? Are the kennels in a climate controlled space? Are there many other dogs present at the same time? Is there a lot of barking?
  • How many people are on staff. Some dogs are not the ‘happy go lucky’ types and meeting new people can be stressful.
  • Are the dogs allowed to socialize with each other. Socializing may be the best or the worst thing to happen to your dog. It depends on his/her personality.
  • Can small and nervous dogs be separated from larger or more assertive or aggressive dogs?
  • What does the groomer do for the nervous, aggressive or just an extremely exuberant dog. What techniques does the groomer use to calm a dog? Would these things work for your dog?
  • Did the groomer ask about nail, anal gland and ear care?
  • Did the groomer suggest dental care too? This is a flag – proper dental care can not be done in an awake pet safely. Do not allow a groomer to clean your pet’s teeth.
  • Did the groomer ask about the most recent vaccines (especially kennel cough) and deworming treatments and flea and tick prevention. If this was required for your pet, you can safely assume that the establishment is careful about disease transfer.
  • What does the groomer do for old, arthritic dogs to keep them comfortable while being groomed. The groomer may suggest several shorter sessions so the pet is not too stressed standing for extended periods of time.
  • How far in advance do you have to book ahead to get the date of your choice?
  • Will the groomer allow you to stay and assist with the grooming.

Tips to Make Your Dog’s Spa day wonderful.
  • Go to the groomers place before booking an appointment for your dog. Check out the facility and see if there are any things the groomer can do to make your best friend’s stay fun.
  • Bring your puppy hungry and have a few of his/her favourite treats to ‘break the ice’. This short and fun visit helps make future visits go much easier.
  • If car rides are a recipe for car sickness, we have to work on that before you travel to the groomer. The last thing a nervous dog needs is to combine scary things. Ask us how to train your dog to tolerate or even love the car.
  • Discuss with the groomer the expectations you have for the finished look of your pet. Bring pictures that you like so that the groomer knows what you want and can discuss with you what is possible with the condition of the coat.
  • Discuss how mats and areas of poor hygiene can be helped with good grooming techniques.
  • If your dog has any special disabilities, arthritic, deaf or blind; please share this with the groomer so adjustments can be made in the grooming technique to lower the stress on your dog.

How to Find a Boarding Kennel that is Right for You and Your Dog

Written By: Dr Gwen

For some dogs, going to the kennel is like going to doggy camp, but for others, the change of routine and familiar things and people is a recipe to stress … and sickness.

Finding a boarding kennel that reduces the stress on your dog, enables you to feel free to enjoy your holiday without worries that your best friend is having a bad time.

To help you find the right boarding kennel for your best friend (and you), here are a few questions and things to think about:

  • Look local first and expand your search if you can’t find the right kennel. This saves the environment and if your dog does not appreciate travelling, a short trip is preferable to a long car ride.
  • How are the dogs housed? Are the kennels in a climate controlled space. What’s the flooring made of? Is bedding supplied.
  • How many people are on staff. Some dogs are not the happy go luck types and meeting many new people can be stressful.
  • Are there recreation areas for the dogs to exercise? A place to swim?
  • Are the dogs allowed to socialize with each other. Socializing may be the best or the worst thing to happen to your dog. It depends on his/her personality.
  • How frequent are the dogs checked on? Hourly, throughout the day? Two to three times throughout the night?
  • Are there web cams so that you can have a virtual visit with your friend?
  • Is barking an issue? How does the kennel operator reduce barking?
  • Can small and nervous dogs be separated from larger or more assertive or aggressive dogs?
  • What does the kennel operator do if the dog is nervous, aggressive or just extremely exuberant at the kennel. What techniques does the kennel operator uses to calm a dog? Would these things work for your dog?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about food allergies or sensitivities? If there are special food needs, ensure the kennel knows about it.
  • Does the kennel provide food or do you supply the food?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about the most recent vaccines (especially Kennel Cough) and deworming treatments and flea prevention. If this health care is required for your pet then the risk of transmitting disease is much lower.
  • What does the groomer do for old, arthritic dogs to keep them comfortable?
  • How hard is it to book dates for a kennel stay?

Tips to Make Your Dog’s Kennel Stay seem like Doggy Camp.

  • Go to the kennel before booking a stay for your dog. Check out the facility and see if there are any things the kennel operator can do to make the pup’s stay fun. Bring your puppy hungry and have a few of his/her favourite treats to ‘break the ice’. This short and fun visit helps make future visits go much easier.
  • If car rides are a recipe for car sickness, we have to work on that before you travel to the groomer. The last thing a nervous dog needs is to combine scary things. Ask us how to train your dog to tolerate or even love the car.
  • You may want to pack some familiar things for your dog. Toys, favourite treats, bedding and maybe an old shirt of yours that your recently wore to give your dog olfactory (smell) comfort.
  • If your dog is on a special diet, bring enough of it to last the stay. Last last thing a dog needs is a diet change when he/she is already stressed.
  • Give the kennel instructions for vet visits if necessary and ensure kennel operator has your contact information or contact information of someone you trust to make decisions about your dog’s care in case of an emergency.

Brenley – The Super Dog

Written By: Ashley Weatherbee, Vet Assistant

In 2012 my partner and I added to our family. We drove to Springfield, Massachusetts and picked up our new 9 week old Bullmastiff puppy.  She was perfect and we fell in love immediately!  She has stolen the hearts of everyone she’s met, including all my co-workers here at the Truro Veterinary Hospital.  From the very beginning, we had plans for her.  She’s graduated obedience classes, been to rally-o classes, and we still have hopes of her, one day, becoming a therapy dog.  Her personality is amazing!



Working in the veterinary industry, I know how challenging and important it is to have blood donors. Truro Veterinary Hospital looks for dogs who weigh 23 kg or more but are not overweight, are aged between 1-8 years, are up to date on vaccines, are in general good health, and possess a good temperament. Females must be spayed and have never whelped a litter of puppies.  Brenley fit these criteria perfectly!

The procedure of being a blood donor is short and not very painful. In preparation for blood collection, a small amount of hair is shaved from the donor’s neck and the area is cleaned well with a disinfectant.  The blood is collected from the donor’s jugular vein.  The collection takes about 5 minutes, with 1 unit of blood (approximately 450 mL) collected.  Dogs need to remain calm for the procedure and in some cases, mild sedation may be necessary.

Being a parent of a donor participant comes with a commitment. We have agreed to be contacted any time, including the middle of the night in the event of an emergency.  Brenley is kept up to date with her vaccinations, dewormed monthly and has routine bloodwork yearly.  We also had her blood typed, but that is not necessary to become a donor.



In veterinary hospitals, like any human hospital, we come across cases where a patient needs a blood transfusion. Truro Veterinary Hospital has a Canine Blood Donor Program in place to aid in these emergency situations.  Blood transfusions are needed for various reasons.  These include trauma from motor vehicle accidents, supportive therapy during and after surgery, supporting dogs with bleeding disorders, and treating conditions such as parvovirus, anemia, and poison ingestion.

In June 2014, Brenley was called upon to help Bully.  Bully is an American Bulldog and at the time he was 7 years old.  His mom got a call from Doggie Day Care; he was not himself!  They believed his abdomen seemed big and he was drooling more then normal.  The Day Care brought him to us immediately where his mom was here waiting on his arrival.

Doctor Melissa assessed him upon his arrival. He was retching (non-productive vomiting), and his abdomen did indeed look distended.  Radiographs confirmed his stomach was bloated (filled with gas). A stomach tube was inserted, removing liquid and some gas.  Although this made him more comfortable, he was still retching.  Blood was drawn, we repeated radiographs, and his stomach was now twisted, a dangerous condition called Gastric Distention and Volvulus, or GDV.  He needed emergency surgery.  His life was in danger!

Doctor Gwen performed a gastrotomy procedure. She removed lots of food and hotdog pieces, and could correct the torsion and secure his stomach with a gastropexy.  Bully’s surgery was a success, but he was not out of the woods yet. Doctor Gwen was checking on Bully throughout the night.  He became weak, able to stand and walk but was unsteady.  His breathing was heavy and shallow, unlike his normal deep slow breaths.  He was monitored very closely!  Doctor Gwen requested repeat bloodwork to see if anything had changed.  The results showed his packed cell volume or PCV (the amount of red blood cells in his system) was low.  Before surgery, it was at 40% (normal 37% to 55%) and after surgery it had dropped to 24% with all other blood work normal.  Brenley was needed!


I brought Brenley with me to work that day. Because this was her first time donating, we decided to sedate her and she donated 1 unit of blood to aid in Bully’s surgery recovery.  Throughout the day, Bully’s transfusion ran and Brenley recovered from her sedation.  A post transfusion PCV was run, and it was now 28%.  Still not in the normal range, but an improvement! Brenley came home with me after my work day.  She slept most of the evening, getting up to eat her supper and go outside for bathroom breaks.  The following morning, she got up as if nothing happened.  The only sign she had from donating blood was a shaved mark on her neck.

Doctor Gwen monitored Bully though the night and morning. His PCV the following day remained at 28% and he seemed to be feeling better.  Happy that his PCV maintained, he was started on medications to help with his stomach, fed small frequent meals, and he was slowly weaned off his intravenous fluids during the day.

The following day and three days after surgery, Bully was stable enough to be discharged into the care of his owner. This year, 2017, is three years after Bully’s blood transfusion.  He will also be celebrating his 10th birthday.



If you are interested in having your pet become a blood donor or you would like more information on Truro Veterinary Hospital’s Canine Blood Donor Program, please call our office at 902-893-2341.








Life With Little

Written By: Charity Allen

little1In the Fall of 2010, I was a new student in the NSAC Veterinary Technician Program. Daily, I went to the campus clinic where the majority of the animals were from shelters. These animals were there to be spayed or neutered. One particular cat named Willow, had caught my eye. He was small, had disheveled fur, severe dental disease and had diarrhea and vomiting since arriving for his procedures. I had heard through the grapevine that he may be euthanized as his symptoms were not improving.

Instantly, I rushed home from class, filled out my adoption application and eagerly waited for a call. That afternoon I received the good news that I was going to be a cat mom for the second time! At that moment, I had no idea what kind of emotional rollercoaster I was about to embark on with this guy (and his sister) for the next 6 years.

My little ball of fur, now named Little Man fit in well with his new sister and everyone was happy and healthy. After deworming him his diarrhea had come to a halt and having his teeth cleaned with multiple extractions made him happy as ever. That was until January of 2011. Little started to form bloody sores all over his body, and his diarrhea and vomiting had come back. After repeated trips to see Dr. Melissa, having fecal examinations completed, blood tests run and medication/ food trials we learned that he had developed food allergies and irritable bowel disease.  He was prescribed Hypoallergenic HP, and for 3 years he did exceptionally well, only having an occasional flare up of his bowel disease when he decided he needed to steal food and treats! Gradually his irritable bowel disease began to progress over the years, but he maintained his health on steroids and hypoallergenic food.  It wasn’t until a year ago that his health began to decline. His steroid dose was increased to the highest amount, and he needed injections to keep him from vomiting and having diarrhea. At this point he had developed an over growth of a skin parasite called demodectic mange, which occurred because his immune system was no longer up to the task of keeping them under control.  With parasite treatments every 2 weeks and multiple visits to see Dr. Melissa, I began to notice a change in Little’s temperament and he was no longer the cat willing to give constant affection. By September, he had continued to get worse and I researched new ideas and treatments to keep him happy and healthy. After his bowel disease had progressed into lymphoma (a form of cancer), I decided to try chemotherapy which would be administered at home through pill form and bi-weekly blood draws to monitor his response. At this point in his life, I often wondered if doing all of these treatments and repeated visits to the vet were worth it and if I was being selfish. We had our ups and downs, he had his good days and bad days and looking back on Little now, I always wonder what else I could have done to make him comfy longer. I second guessed if I was doing the right thing.

I believe making this decision is different for everyone and there is never a perfect time. Although his life was a short 6 years and I would give anything to have my furry shadow with me forever, knowing he is probably doing his favourite activities like shredding many cat toys and rolling in glitter gives me peace of mind.

Miss B on the Left and Little Man on the right.
Miss B on the left and Little Man on the right.


rileyThis is Ripley, an 8yo German Shepherd that came to us after sneaking into his owners luggage and eating ~24 pieces of Pur gum. Thankfully she realized quickly what had happened and brought him in for immediate treatment.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute used in gum, toothpaste and even peanut butter. In dogs it causes a large release of insulin, which causes severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In higher doses it can cause acute liver failure. Many products do not list the actual xylitol amounts. In Ripley’s case, only 4 pieces of the gum he ate would have caused symptoms of hypoglycemia including weakness, tremors and/or seizures. Fortunately we induced vomiting and retrieved 21 pieces of gum! After having his blood sugar monitored for several hours, he was cleared to go home. For many toxins, we can use activated charcoal to bind anything that is not vomited before it gets absorbed. Unfortunately this does not work for xylitol. If absorption did happen in Ripley’s case, we would have started intravenous fluids with added dextrose to keep his blood sugar in the normal range. We are all so thankful that he is doing very well!

It does not take very much xylitol to make a dog seriously ill. It can be life threatening. Read labels, avoid keeping these products in your home and if inadvertent ingestion occurs, seek veterinary care immediately.

If you have any questions, call us at Truro Vet (902) 893-2341