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



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.


Not Just Cuddling Puppies and Kittens

Courtesy of: Joye

As a Registered Veterinary Technician, I often hear comments like “It must be nice to play with pets all day”, or “You have my dream job, hanging out with kittens and puppies!”  Although on occasion we do get to share some special moments of cuddling with the amazing pets who come to see us, there are many hazards in the veterinary profession as well.  Last week I experienced something that is one of the greatest fears in our profession…a dog bite on my face.

As members of the veterinary team, we accept that there are many risks in our line of work.   Pets aren’t able to understand what we are doing to them, they are in a strange environment, and often times (from their perspective) we aren’t being very nice.  We don’t respect their personal space and boundaries, and as a result we need to take many precautions to prevent injury to anyone (vet team, owners or pets) when pets become upset.

All of us have experienced some minor injuries in our line of work.  Even a simple appointment such as vaccines for a new puppy can sometimes result in ugly scratches from sharp puppy nails.  Cats come equipped with lots of built-in weapons and often aren’t afraid to show their displeasure with both their teeth and their claws.  Many of these cats are happy house pets who wouldn’t scratch or bite in their own environment, but when they are subjected to strange people, smells, sights and sounds, all bets are off.  We also work with feral (wild) cats who are trapped and brought in to be spayed or neutered and re-released.  We expect these cats to be frightened and aggressive and we take precautions accordingly.

As with cats, some dogs find visiting our hospital extremely stressful.  Dogs are generally much better at giving us warning signs when we are pushing them too far.  They will often start either by avoiding our gaze or by directly staring at us.  We also watch for what is called “whale eye“, when the white part of the eye is easily visible.  These are early signs that a dog is uncomfortable in a situation.  They may then escalate to a growl or a slight lift of their lips to show their teeth.  If we continue our activities without paying attention to these signs, these dogs may bite.  Some dogs who have a history of stressful visits to the vet may simply skip the preliminary warnings, however, and head straight to biting to get their point across.

We are very committed to protecting the safety of our team members, clients and patients.  We have Occupational Health and Safety rules in place to provide guidance regarding handling these types of situations.  Communication and awareness are key factors in keeping our hospital team safe.  We have a system by which pet files are clearly marked with “Caution” stickers if the pet has a history of attempting to harm team members in the past.  These stickers also include helpful information such as what methods of restraint worked best (for instance, some cats respond well to just being wrapped in a towel while some also benefit from an Elizabethan collar).

Towel and E-Collar

With dogs we record the type and size of muzzle we have used in the past.  It is important that we all know the history of an animal before it comes into the exam room and each time we add notes about what methods are most successful.

Even with all these measures in place, unpredictable events occur.   A dog who has only been mildly nervous in the past may suddenly become very defensive if they have to wait for a long time for their visit, or if there are other dogs in the waiting area that are feeling stressed.  There may be strange smells in the hospital that day that are upsetting to dogs or cats.  Hospital team members may be feeling rushed or pressured to get an appointment done quickly for a dog with a history of having a hard time at the vet, in an attempt to get them home and happy as quickly as possible.  All of these factors may result in the nervous dog becoming a fearful dog, and fearful dogs are much more likely to bite.

Dog bite wounds are very rare in our hospital, thanks to our experienced team and good communication.  Minor bites on the arms and legs are certainly serious concerns, but many people who work in our industry carry a little worry in the back of their mind about experiencing a bite on their face.  In addition to permanent facial scarring, there is always a risk of damage to the eyes, which could be life altering.  Thankfully, my eyes were unaffected, but my upper lip was torn and I have a large U-shaped laceration on my cheek.  These required repair by a plastic surgeon and it may be months before we know how well the scars will heal.

Facial scars

Our team will be meeting to discuss this incident and look for ways to prevent something like this from happening again.  While we continuously look for new ways to improve our safety at work, there are many things pet owners can do to help.  Dogs and cats who are well socialized and frequently exposed to new situations in a safe manner are much more likely to handle vet visits well.  If your dog has been nervous about visiting the vet in the past, consider dropping by for more frequent visits to allow team members to pet, play with and reward your dog when no negative procedures need to be done.  Check out this great blog by Dr. Sophia Yin regarding Dog Bite Prevention Week, held annually in May, for more information.  If your pet has a history of biting or showing defensive behaviours, it is important to let us know before your appointment so we can be prepared.  Dr. Yin also has a blog about handling a dog who has bitten someone in the past, you can read it here.

Please respect our experience and best intentions when handling your pet.  Even though your dog or cat may be friendly and happy with everyone at home, please trust us when we express concern over how they are feeling here.  In some cases we may suggest that our technicians and assistants hold your pet for procedures, when we are concerned that the pet is stressed and may bite.  We have all  had training in recognizing the early warning signs discussed above.  When we suggest that your dog may need a muzzle for procedures here, we aren’t trying to be mean to your pet, we are simply trying to keep everyone involved safe.  If we work together, combining your knowledge of your pet’s normal behaviour with our experience and training, we can have every visit be safe and successful.


If you have any questions or concerns about how your pet handles vet visits, please call us at 902-893-2341.  The suggestions above are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making trips to the vet more relaxed and safer for your pets.


CANDi + Mexico = A Great Adventure!

Courtesy of: Joye

On November 30, 2013 I headed off to Cancun, Mexico for the trip of a lifetime.  Over the next week, working with over 50 other volunteers organized by Cats and Dogs International, we spayed and neutered over 900 dogs and cats!  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) is an organization dedicated to promoting the humane treatment of animals through tourism.  CANDi partners with tourist destinations (such as Cancun, Mexico) to raise funds for sterilization clinics in poor communities in the surrounding areas.  Pet and stray population control is a huge issue, since many people have little or no access to (or funds to support) veterinary care.  CANDi recruits international volunteers (veterinarians, technicians and non-medical personnel) to travel to these communities to provide free spay/neuter services.  For more information, please see my previous blog “Truro Vet Gives Back – In Mexico” and visit

As I was saying, on November 30th I traveled to Cancun to take part in this amazing event.  We stayed at the lovely all-inclusive RIU Cancun, a beautiful resort that is a proud sponsor of CANDi.  Although we were each responsible for paying for our stay, the cost was greatly reduced and we all appreciated their hospitality.  Our team had a meet-and-greet that evening, where we got our first look at the folks we would be spending lots of time with over the next week!

Morning 1 at RIU Cancun

The clinic ran for a total of 5 days, with one free day in the middle to recuperate.  Each day we spent 12-13 hours at the clinic, catching the shuttle over early and returning late in the evening.  I’m sure the hotel staff were thrilled to see us all trooping in to the buffet at the end of a long, hot, tiring day.  We quickly adopted the concept of “dirty dinner”, which meant heading to the buffet before going to our rooms to clean up.  Somehow, our little section of the restaurant always seemed to have lots of space for us…certainly couldn’t have been because we smelled bad? 🙂

As a technician, I knew before I headed out that I would be assigned to one of three areas: induction/intubation, surgery monitoring, or patient recovery.  All three areas are extremely valuable and present different challenges.  When I learned I would be assigned to surgery monitoring, I was nervous, but excited.  All patients were kept asleep for surgery using injectable anesthetic drugs, with no access to supplemental oxygen or anesthetic gas.  This is hugely different from the normal procedures I am used to, and adds a higher level of risk for the patient.  If they began to wake up during surgery, an alert technician had to deliver the correct dose of anesthetic (based on weight and species) intravenously before the patient became too alert.  It was a tough but rewarding learning curve for the techs involved…but after all my careful planning and preparation…I wasn’t one of them!

A surgery technician all ready to go!  Surgery techs in action

When we opened for the day on the first morning (late, of course…there are always bugs to work out on the first day), I happened to be sitting at the reception table drawing up drugs for sedating the dogs.  This is the “induction” portion of the day, where the awake dogs are given an injection in the muscle to send them to sleep for the surgery.  Since no one else was available, I began greeting people and sedating dogs…a job I continued right until the very end of the clinic.

Drawing up drugs

Induction presents its own level of challenge that is very different from surgery monitoring, however.  The number one concern is that the patients are awake when you meet them.  Some of these dogs are beloved house pets, friendly and happy to meet a new face.  Many, however, were frightened by the noises, strange dogs, funny smells and overwhelming environment they had arrived in, often waiting many hours outside for their turn.  I was the last person they wanted to see.  We also did surgery on “street” dogs, stray/feral dogs who had been captured by volunteers and brought to us in kennels.  These dogs were also frightened and aggressive and required special care.  I had fantastic volunteers helping me with dog restraint and I hardly got a scratch all week long!

Restraint for induction  Street dogs arriving

Determining the right amount of drug for each dog was sometimes a challenge as well.  Sedatives work very differently in happy, relaxed dogs than in terrified, aggressive dogs.  There are also some breeds that are more sensitive to sedatives than others, which was also a factor in calculations.  We also did surgery on very small puppies, who have different drug needs from older puppies or adults.  The most difficult aspect of induction for me, however, was managing the surgical flow.

Puppy induction

After dogs were sedated, they would head to the intubation table where two technicians placed endotracheal (breathing) tubes and IV catheters.  From there they would travel to the surgical prep area, where volunteers would clip and scrub the surgical site.

Intubation  Surgical prep

The next step was surgery, assuming that I had done my job well and there was a table (well, an ironing board) available for them.  If I sedated too many animals, or perhaps too many females in a row (spays take longer than neuters), there might not be a veterinarian available right away.  If I sedated too few animals, there were vets standing idle with nothing to do!

Oops..all backed up!

To add to this mix, another team was busy sedating cats for surgery as well.  Cats present their own special challenges, since they come with many built-in weapons and a very strong instinct to flee.  Many came to us in shopping bags, allowing us to deliver their injections through the bag and reducing the chance of injury (to anyone, pets or people) or loss of the pet.

Cat in a bag

Some other carriers were more creative!

Cats in a bird cage

After sedating, cats headed over to the same intubation/prep team used by my dogs, so it was easy to miscalculate the number of animals waiting for surgery.  Thankfully, by Day 2 I had a pretty good handle on that aspect and we didn’t have many issues after that.

After surgery, patients were carried to recovery by local volunteers (or anyone with free hands).  The recovery team, headed up by Sherrill MacKeigan (who you may remember from her days as a technician student at TVH), had a lot of work to do.  They had to ensure a safe and rapid recovery from anesthesia, monitoring patient temperature, heart rate and respiration rate. They gave injections of antibiotics and pain medication.  They also gave each pet an ear tattoo, trimmed toenails, clipped fur mats, cleaned ears, picked ticks, and any other grooming care needed by the pet.

Sherrill in recovery  The recovery table Ticks!

The pet owners played a huge role in caring for their animals throughout the day.  They helped restrain their pets for induction, waited with them until they went to sleep, and then headed over to recovery with them to help wake them up after.  This was a real bonding experience, and often the whole family was present.  Once the pet was up and walking, the owners would take them home, filled with smiles and gratitude.

Recovering pets  Checking a heart rate

One of the aspects of the clinic that surprised and impressed me most was how quickly the volunteers came together as a team.  Despite the heat, the long days, the aching feet and sore backs, there were no complaints and everyone worked hard all day long.  When you are united by a common purpose of helping others, it’s easier to set aside conflicts and work together to achieve your goals.

The team

Special thanks to all of the industry representatives who donated products to support my trip and the sterilization program.  Thanks go as well to Hector Navarro, professional photographer who took most of these beautiful images.  Please visit his website at to see many more great images.  Huge thanks to Dr. Gwen and Juanita for supporting me in this endeavor, and to all of our clients who donated through the complimentary nail trim donation program in November.  The success of these programs depends heavily on all the generous donations of time, money and supplies.

CANDi’s next sterilization program will be held in the Dominican Republic from April 25-28, 2014.  If you are interested in helping dogs and cats in the DR, please visit CANDi’s website at  There are currently positions open for volunteers, or you can choose to donate to help out.

If you would like more information about my trip with CANDi or have any questions, please call 893-2341 and ask for me (Joye) or email



I Am A Veterinary Technician

Courtesy of: Charity

A wagging tail or a soft purr has the ability to melt my heart in an instant.  I am a sucker for a cute, furry face and because of this, every day I wear a smile from ear to ear (and of course a layer of fur on my scrubs). I can be a nurse, anesthesiologist, radiology technician, surgery assistant and a pharmacist within a matter of minutes and for this I certainly will always be a veterinarian’s closest sidekick.  I speak dog, cat, and even cow and can be found conversing with patients during any down time.  I enjoy a good cuddle and as a result become a companion, playmate, and parent many times a day.  I can be creative and clever, because every patient tests my wits.  Every single day I speak for those who speak with their eyes, and advocate for their every need right down to the blanket they want to curl up on.

I am a teacher to every animal`s human and, more importantly, a student to every four-legged friend.  I take lessons on having an appreciation for the little things in life.  I am a shoulder to cry on in a time of need.  I make a special connection with all patients and as a result, sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on as I shed a few tears. I take my work home with me, figuratively and occasionally literally. I work seven days a week, because even on my days off I am visiting or calling to check up on a certain patient that has touched my heart.

All of this I would not trade for the world, because I am a Veterinary Technician.

Charity enjoying her job!


Getting A (Stress-Free) Handle On Your Pets!

Courtesy of: Ashley

One of the wonderful things about working at Truro Veterinary Hospital is the encouragement and opportunity all staff members are given to continuously learn.  Recently six of us attended a two day seminar with amazing Animal Behaviourist, Dr. Sophia Yin.

Dr. Yin became a veterinarian in 1993.  Soon after, she realized that more and more pets were being brought in to be euthanized due to behaviour problems.  In 2001 she graduated with her Masters in Animal Science from UC Davis and focused her studies on Animal Behaviour.  Sophia learned that “Every pet needs a human who can lead.  Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance – someone who gives clear signals,  rewards desirable behaviour as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behaviour immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behaviour is a habit.”  Her knowledge of animal behaviour is widespread and watching her throughout the seminar was like watching Picasso paint…simply put…stunning!

Dr. Yin spoke to a wide range of audience members, including pet owners, day care and kennel workers, groomers, veterinarians and veterinary staff.  She spoke at length about the “Earn to Learn Program” where pets (dogs AND cats, among other species) should learn to say “please” by sitting for anything they want.  This can be for something like putting on a leash, waiting for you to throw their toy, or sitting for attention.  Having your pet sit for attention also reinforces no jumping, and if your puppy learns to do this at a young age, it will become a habit before they are big enough to knock someone over!

Puppies start learning at a very young age when they are still with their mother and littermates.  They are like sponges in the sense that they soak up everything – including the bad behaviours we, as pet owners, don’t want.   They learn by trial and error – if they do something that works they will continue doing it.  Starting to train your puppy as soon as you introduce them into your family will not only start them off on the right paw, but show them what is appropriate and what is not.  Introducing your puppy to a wide range of objects and noises will give them more confidence.  For more information, visit our blog on socialization!  As pet owners, we must realize that every interaction with our pet is a training session.  Dr. Yin has published a book called The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days which portrays her own experiences training puppies.  She gives a step-by-step guide to start you off.  Kaila, our trainer, has also learned many of Dr. Yin’s techniques and will be happy to help you put them into practice.

One of the main reasons I wanted to attend Dr. Yin’s seminar was to learn how to better handle your pets while they are here visiting us.  Dr. Yin discussed techniques outlined in her book Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behaviour Modifications of Dogs and Cats.  In this lecture, she gave us pointers to help your pet love their visit or stay at our hospital.  She focused on Desensitization & Counter-Conditioning (learning by association) or Operant Counter-Conditioning (learning by trial and error) of pets for things like blood draws, exams and x-rays.

Counter-conditioning is when we put the pet in a new emotional state by pairing food (a pleasant experience) with an experience the pet may be nervous about.  This method may not be effective for all pets, however, especially if they are already very stressed about the experience before we get the opportunity to offer them food.

Operant Counter-Conditioning is using positive reinforcement paired with negative punishment.  Positive reinforcement means to reinforce (reward) something the pet has done in order to increase the likelihood it will happen again.  For example, when your dog sits quietly in her crate, a treat can let her know that you appreciate that behaviour and want to see it again.  Negative punishment involves removing the reward the pet is hoping for in order to decrease the chance that the pet will perform that behaviour again.  For example, when your dog jumps up for attention, leaving the room and providing no attention will reduce the chance that he will jump up the next time he wants attention.

Dr. Yin demonstrated some towel restraint techniques to use on dogs and cats that can reduce their stress level and that are safer for them and us.  However, the steps to helping your pet enjoy a visit to the veterinary hospital really start before they even arrive.  I learned some new tips and techniques to counsel owners that they can work on at home, such as getting your cat or dog used to a carrier or a muzzle.  Another tip that can make your pet’s visit pleasant is to give them lots of rewards while they are here.  That doesn’t necessarily mean treats.  Each pet is different in stressful situations so what works at home might not work at the veterinary hospital.  If your dog simply enjoys lots of attention, we can reward her by everyone (staff and owners) telling the pet they are a “good boy/girl” and providing plenty of pats and rubs.  If your dog likes toys then playing with them in the exam room while you are waiting can ease their stress level.  Not feeding your pet before his/her appointment and bringing their meal with you so we can hand it out to them could make it a good experience for them, as they may think “if I’m good I might get more food”.  All these tips don’t take extra time at all; just using what “wait time” you have wisely.

Dr. Yin uses “7 general principles of handling difficult dogs”, all of which I believe we do well here, but there is always room for improvement.  She reinforced the importance of being part of and providing a comfortable and safe environment, possessing the skills to know how to support each pet, and knowing where to hold and the degree of restraint needed for each individual pet.  All pets are individual and the protocol used will vary from pet to pet.  Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help us to be successful in making your pet’s next visit more positive.

We were shown the correct way to greet a dog.  It is best to approach scared dogs while standing with your back to them and offering treats.  Once the pet is calm, sit side-on (don’t bend over them) and let them come to you.  Keep your movements slow.  She demonstrated that when doing all of these things incorrectly, it can make you look like some alien creature from outer-space with a knife in hand…scary!  Videos and photographs were a big part of her seminar, and it reinforced my knowledge on reading body language with cats and dogs.

At the seminar, we got to see firsthand the importance of timing rewards correctly so you capture the correct behaviour.  Some people who attended brought their “pets with issues” so Dr. Yin could demonstrate techniques.  We learned the difference between the incorrect deliverance time and the correct one.  She demonstrated how using the correct deliverance time is crucial when trying to keep the pet’s attention when you are working with them.  Keeping your pet focused on you will make training far easier with your pet.  She spoke again of “being a partner in a dance”, and indicated that your posture when training can mean one thing when you want another.  Being aware of where your hands and arms are, bending at the knees, and your movement speed are all factors that will increase your success when working with your pet.

Dr. Sophia Yin has a wonderful website with lots of information and resources.  She has multiple books (I bought two!) and DVDs with LOTS of tips.  If you have the opportunity to purchase any of her resources or better yet, see one of her seminars in person, I highly recommend you attend.  I left with more knowledge than my brain could store and I will be using her references frequently!   If you would like more information, please contact us at 893-2341!

Special thanks to Dr. Gwen Mowbray-Cashen for providing us with this opportunity to learn, to Betty at Stay N Play Canine Centre for organizing Dr. Yin’s seminar in Truro and last, but not least, to Dr. Sophia Yin for opening my eyes further to the world of Animal Behaviour!

Our staff with Dr. Yin


Nothing Brightens A Day Quite Like A Kitten!

Courtesy of: Joye

Before you ask, no, we don’t take strays!  That sounds like a rather tough rule, but as a Veterinary Hospital we handle requests from overwhelmed folks almost daily, asking us to take in a stray cat (often pregnant or a new mom with many kittens) or rehome a kitty who just isn’t working out any longer.  Sadly, we just don’t have the space or resources to help all the animals in need.  That means that we have a rule of only seeing stray cats who need medical assistance.

That first paragraph is very important.  I will refer back to it several times during this blog.

Because sometimes…rules just get bent.  Take Pineapple and Papaya.  No, we aren’t specializing in tropical fruits these days.  Instead, we have two little visitors hanging out with us, looking for forever homes.  This is their story.

Meet Pineapple.


Pineapple is a male short-haired orange tabby kitten brought to us a couple of weeks ago.  When he arrived, he was about 4 weeks old with a belly full of worms and a bad attitude.  Well, a fearful attitude anyway.  Pineapple was brought in by a caring lady who found him and felt he had been abandoned and was doing poorly.  One look at that little face and we just had to take him in.

Remember…we don’t take strays!

Meet Papaya.


Papaya is a female short-haired calico kitten who arrived just a few days after Pineapple.  She’s a little older (about 16 weeks when she arrived) and she was brought in by some folks who were worried she seemed sick or injured.  Luckily, her main issues were fleas, worms and ear mites, all of which we treated with Revolution.  Papaya is a super groomer and within a couple of days her fur was sparkling.  Her personality is sparkling too, and she loves to cuddle and be petted.

So, within three days we had accumulated 2 kittens.  (Remember, we don’t take strays!)  The SPCA is already overrun, so we decided to hang on to these guys until we could test them for Feline Leukemia and get them vaccinated.  Once they both passed their test (with flying colours) we introduced them and they became fast friends instantly.

Now, I mentioned that Pineapple didn’t have the best attitude when he arrived.  We don’t think he had had much interaction with people before he arrived with us.  We have never been put off by a cranky cat, however, and a little ½ pound ball of fur was no match for us.  With a lot of patience and care, soon Pineapple came to see people as an essential source of comfort and (very importantly) food!  In fact, as you can see in this photo, he’s sleeping on my arm as I write this very blog!

Snuggly Pineapple :)

Remember – we don’t take strays!

One universal fact about Veterinary Hospital staff is that we love kittens!  Having kittens in the clinic is a fantastic morale booster.  Having a bad day?  Go cuddle a kitten.  Need a laugh?  Watch tiny Pineapple wrestle Papaya to the ground.  Even the busiest day is made a little easier when we can pause for moment and watch kittens playing…or eating…or sleeping…or heck even using the litterbox is adorable when kittens do it!  Having kittens is great, but there are two major drawbacks.

The first is quality of life for the kittens.  While we handle them as much as possible, and these kittens are each lucky enough to have each other, the treatment room of a Veterinary Hospital is really no place for a cat to live.  On slow days, the kittens can come out and socialize with us and each other, but on busy days they can spend almost 24 hours confined to a kennel.  While we make sure they are fed and have clean litter, they don’t always get the attention and exercise they deserve.  They are also missing out on some important bonding time with their new parents in a forever home.

The second drawback to having kittens is the expense.  There are several costs associated with having kittens in the clinic, including Feline Leukemia Testing, deworming and flea control, vaccines, food and cat litter.  A conservative estimate of costs for each kitten so far is about $250 and it keeps growing daily.  This doesn’t even include the time that staff members volunteer on the weekends to care for the kittens when we are closed.  Our clinic has established the Lost Souls Fund to help provide for the care of strays like these, but every nickel spent on kitten care takes a little away from other pets that may need help.

So, as you may remember, we don’t take strays.  Well, we try really hard not to.  Once we have them, however, it becomes our number one priority to find them a new, loving forever home.  If you have room in your heart and household for one (or both) of our little kittens, please give us a call at 893-2341 to get more information.  We also accept donations to the Lost Souls Fund to provide for their care and that of other needy strays.  We regret that we cannot issue tax receipts for donations, but we do appreciate every dollar we receive.

Papaya says "Come pick me up soon!" :)

Both Pineapple and Papaya have found wonderful forever homes and settled in perfectly.


Guest Post: A Volunteer’s Experience

Courtesy of: Kaitlyn – Veterinary Administrative Assistant Student Volunteer

Volunteering at Truro Vet was a very good experience.  All the people I met were amazing and helpful, and all the animals I met I fell in love with.  I will never forget them.  I wish I could stay with their team forever but I need to spread my wings.  They helped me grow and move on.  Working at an animal hospital you need to have compassion for every animal that comes in the hospital as well as the owner.  You need to think of it as your pet and how you would feel in the owner’s shoes.

Working at this hospital for 6 weeks, I thought it was going to be the longest 6 weeks of my life and to tell you the truth I didn’t even want to go there in the first place, because I thought I would do nothing but clean kennels!  Now that I only have 2 days left I don’t ever want it to end!  The 14 people I met while I was there, you couldn’t ask for better co-workers; they are an awesome team of people.  There are 3 Technicians (#1 – the youngest, #2 – always has the chair sitting on the ground, #3 – ask her anything and she will give you the definition);  3 Doctors (#1 – you can ask her if she needs help but she never does, #2 – she’s the shortest, #3 – she will answer any questions you have); 4 Assistants (#1 – she’s very emotional, #2 – always cleaning, #3 – very tall,  #4 – always laughing and making jokes); and 4 Receptionists (#1 – always asks about my dog, #2 – went school with her, #3 – she never gets mad, #4 – she hates if you ring the bell more than once).  What the heck…why don’t we just make it 5 Assistants!?!

The things people do for their animals are the same things they do for their kids, and for some owners, their pet is their kid and they want them to be the happiest little cat or dog.  Sometimes, that means their kid is a little rounder then others, but that’s why they go to Truro Vet so they can get help with any problems.  The people at Truro Vet will never forget your animal because they all have so much compassion for their job.  Something I was told from one of the other assistants when I was there was “Never stop caring “and I will never forget that.

One of my favourite memories volunteering happened on a Friday afternoon around 3pm.  A beautiful dog came in that wasn’t in very good shape and needed our help.  I fell in love with him at first sight, all I wanted to do is cuddle him (but at the same time I didn’t because he didn’t smell too good) but that didn’t stop me.  I sat with him for 2 hours and then it was my time to go home .  I didn’t want to, but at the same time I knew he was going to be in good hands.  Monday came and all I could think about all weekend was that cute dog I met on Friday and I hoped he went to a good home, but there he was still at the hospital at 9am Monday morning.  The first thing I did was ask about him and then I jumped in the cage with him and started to cuddle him like I did Friday.  Then one of the Technicians came over and told me the bad news, and it was that he wasn’t doing so good, his kidneys were failing and there was nothing else they could do for him.  All I could do is cry and smile, and now you are probably wondering why I was smiling?  That’s because I knew he didn’t have to suffer any longer.  That dog was a strong dog, a loving dog, a dog I will never forget, he’s the reason I want to help animals.

Kaitlyn loving her dog, Duke


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!


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.