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).



A Tired Dog Is A Happy Dog!

Courtesy of: Brea

Many dog owners are surprised with the amount of energy their dog seems to have.  When dogs have too much built-up energy, they can display it in a number of unhealthy ways such as chewing, barking, and destroying anything they can get their mouths on!  My motto is “A tired dog is a happy dog” and it’s true!  There are numerous ways to help channel your dog’s energy in a healthy way.

Walking, running, or even bicycling with your dog is a great way to help burn off some energy. These repetitive movements strengthen your dog’s muscles and help to get them in shape.  Oh, and by the way, it’s great exercise for you too!  For people with really high energy dogs (like Cooper, my German Shorthaired Pointer), you can purchase this amazing invention- a backpack for dogs!  This gives the dog a real “job” to do. Whether you pack his own things inside, or add some weights, it amplifies the walk so your dog has to work harder thus burning more energy.  Remember to start light and gradually build up the weight.  Also, make sure you have an equal weight in both sides of the backpack.  As a general rule, the weight should not exceed between 15-30% of your dog’s body weight.  If you aren’t sure, remember to consult with your veterinarian to determine how much your dog should carry.

Cooper's backpack

If you have a dog like mine who doesn’t think he even belongs on a leash, there are many “off leash” activities that can really help burn off that energy.  Make sure your dog has a reliable recall (comes when called) so it is safe for both you and your dog.  Our Trainer, Kaila, will be happy to help you in this area.  One of Cooper’s all-time favorite things to do is go to the dog park.  He absolutely LOVES other dogs, and could spend the entire day there if I would let him.  Taking your dog to the dog park is a fabulous way to socialize them with other dogs, and people as well.  People enjoy when I bring my dog  there because he is SO busy, he really tires out the other dogs!  I assure you, your dog will sleep on the drive home.

Another favorite pastime of Cooper’s is going to the field.  Whether it’s playing ball or running around foolishly, he has a blast.  There are also many off-leash trails that you can take them to really burn off some steam.  Just be on the lookout for any wildlife you may encounter.  A reliable recall is a huge asset when your best friend comes nose to nose with a skunk or porcupine!  We particularly like to go to places that have water near them so he can swim.  Swimming is another exercise that is great for your dog.  Swimming is great for your dog’s joints and helps to cool them off on hot summer days.

German Shorthaired Pointers are not only great companion animals, but they were bred to be very versatile hunting dogs.  My boyfriend does a lot of hunting during the season, so they are involved in a hunting club called NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association).

Cooper's a hunting dog!

Many dogs were bred for a specific purpose, whether it’s hunting, herding, or racing. Giving your working dog a “job” by letting them channel their instincts toward what they were bred for is a great way to help relieve energy in a healthy way.  If you don’t provide them with healthy outlets, your dog can display these instincts in undesirable ways.  For example,  a border collie who is not stimulated enough and not given a job to do, could start nipping at your heels or herding small children.

Many people tend to only think of the ways to make your dog physically tired.  Just as importantly, you can actually make your dog mentally tired.  This can come in handy when your dog is recovering from a surgery and has to refrain from physical activity for an extended period of time.  If you’ve read my previous blog regarding Cooper’s experiences with the “cone of shame”, you’ll remember that this is how I made it through his neuter experience!  Stimulating a dog’s mind is very exhausting for them.  Training requires your dog to think a lot, whether it’s regular obedience, or just teaching a new trick.

Cooper's new trick!

There are also many types of toys that help to keep them busy.  One of my favorite is called a “Kong Wobbler”.

Kong Wobbler

I bring Cooper to work with me here at the clinic every morning.  He used to hate coming here until I started using this fabulous invention.  I screw off the bottom and place his breakfast inside. He has to move it around so his kibble can fall out of the small hole.  By the time he finishes his breakfast, he is tired again!  It takes about half an hour for my dog to get all of the kibble out.  Another toy that we use is a Rubber Kong with stuffed with cheese whiz or peanut butter.  We then put it in the  freezer and it makes a nice tasty cold treat for your dog.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I still have to tell you about my all-time favorite activity to do with my dog… AGILITY!

Cooper loves agility too!

I absolutely love agility training.  It is a fabulous way to spend time with your dog.  Agility will help to fulfill your dog’s natural instincts.  These courses are designed to replicate types of natural scenarios and fulfill the instincts of your working dog.  Running a course that involves many different types of obstacles will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.  This will help to strengthen muscles, improve coordination, keep him fit, and increase endurance.  Agility training helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  Your dog is dependent on you on the course and could not do it without you.  Leading your dog through an agility course will help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve communication, and improve your dog’s behavior outside of the agility course. Agility will also help you get in shape, too!  You will learn very quickly if you have a fast dog, you need to be fast on the course.  Take it from me!

If you have any questions about keeping your dog tired and happy, feel free to contact me at brea@trurovet.com or give us a call at 843-2341.  Also, Cooper and I spend lots of time at the dog park if you want your dog to get a good workout!

Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!

A tired dog is a happy dog!


The Inside Scoop On Royal Canin Pet Food

Courtesy of: Dr. Michelle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Canin plant


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

Courtesy of: Joye

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

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

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


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

NOT Fluffy...but Tigger, who was obese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Smith (skeptically):  Maybe…

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


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

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

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