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 (info@trurovet.com) or in person (165 Arthur Street, Truro, NS).



Travel First Aid

Travel-Pet-First-Aid-Kit-FAID19By: Dr Jessica Rock.

Here in the Maritimes we are heading into the fall, which is arguably the most enjoyable season in Atlantic Canada. Temperatures are comfortable, mosquitos and blackflies are on the decline, and water temperatures are at their annual highest. This is prime hiking, swimming, cottage, and camping season!

 More and more, people are taking their pets along on outdoor and seasonal adventures and vacations. All of this time outside, stretching the limbs, strengthening the body, and settling the mind is great for the humans and pets alike, but are you prepared if your pet has an unexpected accident or emergency during your adventure?

How about assembling this easy to make travelling pet first-aide and care kit for your trip? None of these tools should delay you in calling your veterinarian for help if an injury or emergency occurs.

General Supplies

  • Water – carry enough for you and your pet, or bring supplies to clarify water
  • Collapsible bowl
  • CURRENT ID tags – if you are travelling a long way or for a long while, attach a spare tag with your temporary contact information
  • Extra Collar and Leash
  • More pet food than you think you’ll need
  • Thermometer and lubricating jelly
  • Travel packs of honey – nab a spare for your kit the next time you have breakfast out
  • A small dixie cup and some bandaging tape (you probably shouldn’t ask, but if you ever need it you (and your vet) will be SO glad you have it…)
  • Veterinarian Phone Number and Address – plan ahead – look up the veterinary offices that will be closest to you while you’re enjoying your travel/vacation

Bandaging Materials

These materials are available at your local pharmacy.

  • Betadine – for cleaning wounds
  • Non-stick sterile gauze
  • Gauze Pads
  • Gauze Cling rolls
  • Vet Wrap (self clinging bandage wrap)
  • Scissors (to cut bandage material to size)
  • Bandage tape
  • Muzzle – it’s a good idea to have a muzzle in case of a painful injury, your pet might be the sweetest ever in the whole world, but if they are badly injured and frightened they may snap or bite when you are trying to clean and bandage their wound – no one wants two injured road warriors so be safe and take a muzzle

Travel Pharmacy

Make a point of talking to your veterinarian about these over the counter medications – your vet can help you make a travel pharmacy that’s customized to your pet

  • Artificial Tears
  • Diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl)
  • Dimenhydrinate (e.g. Gravol)
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate (e.g. Original Formula, name brand Pepto-Bismol IN CANADA)
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Remember, in an emergency you should try to get to your nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible, but having these materials on hand can be life-saving in the interim between injury/illness and getting to the nearest veterinary office, especially when the unexpected happens while you’re away from home.

So brush up on your pet first aide and make an appointment to create a customized travel pharmacy for your pet.

Oh. And enjoy your adventure!


Get Enlightened about LASER Therapy

Veterinarians have learned a lot about how animals experience pain over the last thirty years.

When I graduated from vet school in 1985, we were instructed that animals feel less pain and handle pain much better than their human counterparts. We were told that a little pain is OK because it discourages activity and that the resulting rest helps healing.

That made a little sense but it still didn’t feel right to me.

Veterinarians are taught comparative anatomy in the early years of vet school. We look at the body systems of many species and compare their development and function.  There is very little difference in the function and nervous systems of all mammalian species – this includes us and our furry friends.

If we feel pain … then your pet feels pain to the same degree. They just can’t communicate their pain and THAT is the problem.

Vets and animal technicians are getting better at identifying pain and more importantly treating pain appropriately. Thankfully, information and aids to treat pain have exploded over the last 15 years. Vets have many ways to treat pain.

At Truro Vet, we have a new cutting edge, scientifically proven way to treat pain … LASER therapy.

You might ask – how, on earth doe light waves treat pain?


There has been a lot of interesting research in this field called photo- bio- modulation lately.

In a nutshell, laser therapy accelerates the body’s natural healing process through photo-bio-modulation. Laser therapy provides tangible health benefits to your pet. Laser therapy is effective in treating chronic conditions, acute conditions, and post- surgical pain and inflammation.

How does it work?

Decades of research, clinical trials, and laboratory testing indicate the following beneficial effects of laser therapy. Some of this is ‘tech talk’ so I translated in the italics at the end of each paragraph:

Laser therapy reduces inflammation with vasodilation, activation of the lymphatic drainage system, and reduction of pro-inflammatory mediators. As a result, inflammation, erythema, bruising, and edema are reduced.
Reduce the swelling – reduces the pain.

Analgesic Effect
Laser therapy of diseased and damaged tissue produces a suppression of nociceptors, an increase of stimulation threshold, and an increased release of tissue endorphins. The result is a decreased patient perception of pain.
Numbs the nerves so they send less messages to the brain that feels like pain.

Accelerated Tissue Repair and Cell Growth
Photons of light from lasers penetrate deeply into tissue and accelerate cellular reproduction and growth. Laser light increases the energy available to the cells so that they can take on nutrients and get rid of waste products more quickly.
Promotes cell growth and speeds healing.

Improved Vascular Activity
Laser light significantly increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue. This speeds the healing process, resulting in more rapid wound closure.
More blood supply allows the building blocks of repair travel to the diseased treated area faster.

Increased Metabolic Activity
The energy from photons of laser light is captured by chemical complexes within cells resulting in activation of enzyme systems and increased energy delivered into cellular metabolic processes.
If healing cells have more energy – they can speed up the healing process.

Trigger Points and Acupuncture Points
Laser therapy stimulates muscle trigger and acupuncture points without mechanical invasion to provide musculoskeletal pain relief.
Needleless acupuncture.

Reduced Fibrous Tissue Formation
Laser therapy reduces the formation of scar tissue.
More healing and less scars – on the skin and inside the body.

Improved Nerve Function
Slow recovery of nerve functions in damaged tissue results in numbness and impaired limbs. Laser therapy accelerates nerve cell regeneration.
Speeds up the growth and repair of damaged nerves.

Therapy laser photons have an effect on immune systems status through stimulation of immunoglobins and lymphocytes. Laser therapy energy is absorbed by chromophores (molecular enzymes) that react to laser light. The enzyme flavomono-nucleotide is activated and starts the production of ATP, which is the major carrier of cellular energy and the energy source for all chemical reactions in the cells.
Increases energy of cells that support the immune system.

Faster Wound Healing
Laser light stimulates fibroblast development. Fibroblasts produce collagen, which is predominant in wound healing in damaged tissue. Collagen is the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. As a result, laser therapy is effective on open wounds and burns.
Faster healing – this is especially obvious on patients with skin wounds or skin disease.


What does Anxiety look like in your CAT?

Fear is a normal response that enables a living creature to survive danger. Anxiety is an abnormal display of fear that, if allowed to build, can cause aggression. Most fearful pets do not show aggression but if the source of fear is not addressed or removed, aggression is a natural outcome.

FEAR –> Freeze or Flight –> Fight or Aggression

Think about yourself and your fears, worries and anxiety. You might have fears of being alone, fear of thunder and lightening or maybe fear of crazy driver ahead of you in the road. These are natural to have but if you experience too much fear, anxiety and possibly aggression might arise. How many of us have sworn at that dangerous driver?

Identifying fear at the beginning and removing the source of fear can help prevent anxiety in the future.

Long term fear leads to anxiety and that has many health effects on our bodies. It doesn’t matter what animal you are, if you have a brain you can experience anxiety.

Not all fearful animals behave the same way and many times if the initial signs of fear were not identified then one might only see aggression. Remember aggressive animals were almost always scared before the aggression surfaced.

Subtle signs of a fearful cat are:

* Ears high and out to the side

* Tries to hide

* Hypervigilant – Watching every move and sensitive to fast motions

* Hiss, growl

* Panting (not too hot)

* Stops taking food

* Moves slowly

Here are some examples:


7094875 tumblr_npa27rya8X1qzo1jbo1_1280


What Does Pain Look like in your Cat?

You are in the best position to look for subtle changes of behaviours that indicate your cat is in pain. If your kitty is showing one or more of these behaviours he/she maybe hurting. By completing this assessment, you are helping us to identify possible painful conditions

Please check all that apply:



  • _____ Meowing more then usual
  • _____ Purring that seems to be associated with pain
  • _____ Hissing
  • _____ Growling
  • _____ Vocalizes differently, makes noises that are not normal for him/her

Daily Habits:


  • _____ Decreased Appetite
  • _____ Withdraws from social interaction with family members or other animals
  • _____ Changes in sleeping (more or less); sleeps in unusual positions, not curled up; sleeps in abnormal locations (that may be easier to get to, avoiding jumping)
  • _____ Changes in drinking habits
  • _____ Urinates or defecates outside the litter box, has difficulty getting into and out of the box, unable to squat
  • _____ Constipated
  • _____ Won’t groom or grooms less, fur looks unkempt
  • _____ Licking, biting or over grooming a particular body part

Activity Level:


  • _____ Restless
  • _____ Reluctant to move or moves slowly or stiffly
  • _____ Trembles or shakes
  • _____ Limps
  • _____ Less active; play or hunts less
  • _____ Avoids jumping; can’t jump as high as previously
  • _____ Avoids or has difficulty on stairs
  • _____ Seeks more affection
  • _____ Hides



  • _____ Generally lays with feet underneath
  • _____ Crouches for long periods and doesn’t move
  • _____ Reluctant to sharpen claws or stretch
  • _____ Walks stiffly with back arched
  • _____ Overgrown nails, doesn’t sharpen them

Facial Expressions:


  • _____ Glazed, wide eyed or sleepy
  • _____ Enlarged pupils
  • _____ Squints eyes



Self Protection:


  • _____ Protects a body part
  • _____ Doesn’t put weight on a leg
  • _____ Doesn’t want or avoids being held or picked up or patted





Especially in a previous friendly cat

  • _____ Acts out of character
  • _____ Growls, hisses or bites
  • _____ Pins ears back
  • _____ Is aggressive to humans or other cats

Please list any other changes that are note listed above:


For a Printable Copy: Pain in cats


Pets and Parasites: The Pet Owner Resource

Courtesy of Dr. Michelle

38717981707304716We know that choosing the right parasite prevention product for your pet can be overwhelming. These days, there are so many products to choose from.. pills and topicals.. products that get fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and any combination of those! We are always happy to help you make an informed decision on which product is best for your furry family based on your lifestyle, risk, and desired method of administration. Here is a very simplified chart of the major products we carry and their main features. There are a few other products left off of this chart for simplicity sake, but may be mentioned to you in our office if we feel like it is the best product for your pet. Please give us a call (902)893-2341 if you have any questions about these products or would like one of our knowledgeable staff members to help make a recommendation for you.



Seasonal Allergies – Our Pets Can Suffer With Them Too!

Courtesy of: Dr. Melissa



As much as we all love to feel the warmer weather every Spring, those of us with seasonal allergies can dread pollen season.  Did you know our pets can be affected as well? Dogs and cats exposed to airborne allergens from grasses/weeds/trees can get inflammation affecting their skin. This inflamed skin gets itchy and is prone to bacterial and yeast infections. If your pet is especially chewing at its feet, shaking its head, or scratching its belly, allergies are a possibility. The skin can look red, raw and moist when it is inflamed and/or infected. There can be a dark discharge in the ears or pustules/scabs on the skin. Pets can also be allergic to parasites like fleas, which are very common in the summer months. Effective flea control is very important in these animals.

The technical term for sensitivity to airborne allergies is Atopy. For the most part atopy is managed, not cured. There are many therapies used to control allergies, including antihistamines, topical shampoos and ointments, anti-inflammatories, supplements to enhance the skin barrier and diet trials. Medications like antibiotics and anti-fungals may be needed to control secondary infections. In chronic cases we can do allergy testing to find out what is making your pet react and use medication to de-sensitize them to those allergens.

144334862-giving-cat-bath-632x475If your pet is itchy, make an appointment with your veterinarian. If the problem is recurrent, keep a log of flare-ups. Sometimes these patterns can help us narrow down the causes. We will get a full history and complete a thorough physical exam to help identify what the problem is and make a plan to get your pet more comfortable. Follow up is also very important to keep flare ups under control. Please call us with your questions/concerns at (902)893-2341!

Here are some great resources on Seasonal Allergies:




Vaccinations – Why Are They So Important?


Courtesy of: Dr. Melissa

A very important part of preventive care for your pet is keeping them up to date on their vaccines. Many people ask us whey their pets need yearly vaccines when people get boosters much less frequently. At our hospital we follow the American Veterinary Association Vaccination Guidelines. These are based on studies to determine how long vaccinations are protective to our pets.  Puppies and kittens generally get three vaccines between 8-16 weeks of age, with a booster on all of these one year later. Core vaccinations are then given to all pets  separately on a rotating 3-year schedule. These vaccines protect against Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calicivirus. Some of our vaccines are given only to those pets whose lifestyle puts them at risk for specific disease, like cats that go outside, or dogs that live in rural areas. These are given yearly and include Feline Leukemia, Leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme.

The diseases we vaccinate for can be very serious, even life threatening. Some of these diseases can infect humans as well. For each pet at each visit, we do a complete exam. Along with their medical history, we determine the best vaccination protocol for them. For animals with serious vaccine reactions, or those that have other medical problems, we may adjust the protocol or even consider checking their antibody levels (titers) to help determine if vaccination is necessary. Although titer testing has historically only been available at specialized laboratories, we can now check some of these antibody levels in-clinic after a simple blood draw.

Serious side effects to getting vaccinated are extremely rare. Most commonly we see mild lethargy, low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site.  If your pet is due for an exam and vaccinations, or if you have any questions regarding vaccination or titer testing, please call us at (902) 893-2341!

Here are some great resources for you to check out:




Truro Vet Says Good-Bye…To Declawing Cats

Courtesy of: Joye

Truro Veterinary Hospital is very excited to announce that we are no longer performing declaw procedures on cats.  For many years, declawing has been the procedure of choice for any owners worried about their household furniture or being scratched by a cat who plays too rough.  However, the veterinary industry, like any medical field, is one of growth and change.  As we learn more, we can do better.

The Procedure

For many people, the medical procedure of “declawing” has always been poorly understood.  Many believe that a cat’s claws grow from the skin, as fingernails do in people.  This isn’t the case.  In fact, the operation may be more accurately called “de-toeing”, as the first bone of each toe must be completely removed to prevent the claw from regrowing.  Each declawed cat has actually experienced 10 toe amputations.  In a human, that would look like this:


Ouch!  So, why did we do it?

The surgical technique of declawing was first performing in 1966 and became a very common surgery in the 1970s.  Eventually it became standard code of practice to have a cat’s claws removed at the time of spay or neuter.  Many owners came to believe that this was just part of owning a cat.  Others worried about their expensive furniture and the negative impact cat scratching would have.  Still others were immune-compromised individuals worried about the health consequences of receiving a cat scratch.  Many veterinarians perform the procedure in the belief that declawing is preferable to having a cat surrendered to a shelter or worse, euthanized.

Seems reasonable.  What’s changed?

In the last decade, veterinarians have become more conscious of the ethical ramifications of cosmetic procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping and declawing.  These procedures provide no health benefit to the recipients and are done purely at the preference of the owner.  In 2010 the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA) instituted a ban on tail docking or ear cropping by veterinarians in Nova Scotia.  (Unfortunately, a recent vote by the NSVMA did not pass a similar ban on declawing cats.)  These procedures do not “promote animal health and welfare“, a promise taken by all Canadian vets as they enter the profession.  In fact, declawing is illegal in at least 22 countries around the world.

In fact, declaws do not merely provide no health benefit to the patient, they frequently result in significant ill effects.  As the medical industry is coming to better understand pain, especially that of human amputees, we are able to understand more about the long-term effects this amputation has on cats.  Cats are stoic animals, with genetic instincts built in to ensure that they don’t let the world around them know they are feeling pain (in the wild, this may result in being someone’s lunch!).  We now know that declawed cats may suffer chronic pain which worsens as they age.

One side effect of chronic pain in the front feet is that declawed cats may be more likely to have problems with litterbox use.  Getting in and out of the litterbox, as well as scratching around in the litter, can pose a challenge for these cats and result in urination and defecation in inappropriate places around the house.

Behaviourally, cats use their toes and claws for many activities.

Courtesy of Tree House Human Society

Claws are used in play and self-defense, and even a friendly indoor cat will often give a swat as a request for some personal space.  This is one of the arguments in favour of declawing.  However, studies have shown that removing a cat’s claws simply makes them resort to a back-up plan…their teeth.  Cat bites are much more likely to result in serious injury to humans and other pets than scratches.  Bites often result in deep puncture wounds and bleeding, causing a much higher risk for immune-compromised individuals than scratches.

For the veterinarians worried about pet owners giving up their cats or euthanizing them if they can’t have them declawed, there is good news.  A survey of 276 veterinary clients revealed that just 4% of them would seriously consider these options if they could not have access to declawing.  This may be related to the fact that as many as 95% of declaws are done purely to save household furnishings, with concerns about human safety coming in a very distant second.  Interestingly, the top reasons that cats are surrendered to shelters are for inappropriate urination and biting, two side effects potentially associated with declaw procedures.

If you’ve made it this far, we hope that you have come to understand our perspective and why we are taking this big step forward for our feline patients.  If you’re like me, you might want to see some of the science/research behind this information.  Please visit here for an excellent summary.  If you’re a visual learner, or just want more information about the hazards and long-term effects of declaws, please check out The Paw Project, a ground-breaking movie bringing this issue to the forefront of social awareness.

Cookie Monster

Does our decision to stop doing declaws mean that you can never have nice furniture again?  Absolutely not!  There are several alternatives to declawing that are humane and inexpensive…but they often require some effort.  We think a healthy pet and a beautiful house are worth it!

Declawing Alternatives:

1.  Scratching posts are one of the most effective ways to deter scratching of furniture and walls in your home.  Cats need to scratch, it is a natural behaviour they will always do, so why not give them something appropriate to scratch on?  Not all cats scratch alike, however, so be sure to invest in a variety of options to find out what works best.  Find some helpful hints here.


(Scratching posts can be simple….or very complex!)

2. Trimming your cat’s nails regularly will greatly decrease the likelihood of damage to yourself and your belongings.  If you don’t know how, we are happy to teach you.  Also, if your cat has had vaccines with us in the last year, we will even trim them for you once a month at no charge.

Cat Nail Clippers

3. In off limits areas, you can try deterrents such as double-sided tape, aluminum foil, or car/chair mats with the spiky side up.  Cats generally don’t like the sensation of these things under their feet and will find a happier scratching spot elsewhere.  (This also can help with cats who hop on counters where they aren’t invited).

4. Did we mention scratching posts? 🙂

Horizontal post

5. Nail caps such as Soft Paws may be used to prevent damage from scratching.  These caps fit over the nail like artificial nails for humans and provide a soft tip so that scratching doesn’t cause damage.  This may be especially helpful in adult cats as you attempt other techniques to re-train them to proper scratching areas.

Soft Paws

We have tons of great information available about declaw alternatives and we’d be happy to share more ideas, tips and tricks with you.

What if it’s too late?  What if you, like many others, have already had your cat declawed?  Although you may be feeling badly about this decision, know that it’s never too late to provide the best care possible for your cat.  We recommend scheduling a visit with your veterinarian to discuss the more subtle ways your cat may be telling you she’s hurting.  Proper pain management may change your pet’s life.

If you have questions or concerns about declaws, please contact us at 902-893-2341.  We’re always happy to hear from you!



A Story That Could Take Your Breath Away!

Courtesy of: Dr. Gwen

Veterinarians practice veterinary medicine.  I always thought that it was an odd thing to say.  A hockey player practices slap shots or a student of music might practice the piano, but this type of practice allows for mistakes.  After all, how can one learn without making mistakes?  In veterinary medicine, however, mistakes can result in harm and must be avoided at all costs.

I discovered in my first year in the practice of veterinary medicine, I could make mistakes too.  My own kitty, Uri, was the victim of one of my mistakes.

I started working as a vet in Ottawa in a busy animal hospital that also provided emergency care after hours and on weekends.  We had many interesting cases walk through the doors and I learned a lot in the four years that I was there.  I considered myself a fairly seasoned vet when I left vet school because I had worked as a student in veterinary hospital since I was twelve.  I thought I knew a lot.

That was my first mistake.  I quickly learned that there were many gaps in my education that I needed to fill.  Also, the skill of talking to pet care givers was an art form that had to be developed on my own.  I definitely learned that some vets make lousy pet owners!

One day, while trying to catch a little sleep after a long weekend shift, I woke to the sound that all cat owners come to dread … the windup retching to a big vomit.  The cough/gag woke me out of a deep sleep. I rolled over and groaned, wondering what sort of mess I was going to find when I surfaced to the world after my slumber.  “Hair balls” I grunted to myself and I made a mental note to give Uri some hairball medicine.

I treated Uri for hairballs for three days but the horrible retching cough persisted.  Uri still ate food and he still did his standard purr that made me fall in love with him, so I wasn’t worried.  On the third day, I laid down on the floor with him to pat him and play and I noticed that his tongue was a shade of pastel blue.  “That’s definitely not good!” I had to admit. “I think I better take him to work with me.”

In those days I didn’t have a car and I was too cheap to get a taxi, so I bundled him up in my backpack and bicycled to work.  In hindsight, I should have made the journey as low stress as possible because when a cat with breathing problems is stressed, death can result.  Surprisingly, he tolerated the trip and amazingly, he survived.  After chest x-rays and blood work we had a diagnosis…asthma, feline asthma.

Asthma is a condition seen in cats of all ages.  It is reoccurring and involves constriction of the airways along with excess mucus production and inflammation.  This makes it difficult to take a deep breath without considerable effort.  This results in exercise intolerance, coughing, and wheezes which may or may not be obvious.  There are many degrees of asthma that can range from a low grade hairball-like cough to severe asthma that can cause death.

Feline asthma can mimic a number of other diseases so doing some tests to identify it is necessary.  Treatment in the early stages can be quite successful and the key to long term control is prevention by improving air quality in the cat’s environment.  This includes avoiding cigarette smoke, spray on pesticides, using dustless cat litter, and  using air filters.

Diagnosing Uri made me feel like a bad pet owner and horrible vet.  I had been treating him for hairballs while he was suffocating from asthma.  In typical Uri style he didn’t hold it against me.  He happily took his medicine and got better within hours.  In a few days he was back to normal.  He forgave me.  Thank you Uri for the unconditional love and being such a good teacher.