Caring For An Aging Pet

I have learned a lot from my geriatric animal patients over the years. I’ve had that in my back pocket, and so when it came to looking after my own geriatric girl, Mini, I had the good fortune of having shared experience and knowledge from others in a similar situation of caring for an aging pet.

A first-hand perspective

While I was in the thick of caring for Mini I wanted to share the delights but also the reality of dealing with an aging and sick dog, but I somehow couldn’t do it.  Maybe I felt it would jinx how well she was doing; then, in the last few months when her care was fairly constant (I did not leave her more than 4 hours without someone checking in on her) the worry that I was not making the right decisions for her was almost overwhelming.  After I lost her, … Continue reading

3 Top Holiday Hazards For Your Pets

‘Tis the season to fill your stockings with stories of holiday hazards. Most of us know to keep the chocolates and tinsel away from our pets; these safety tips serve as a friendly reminder and will also help you recognize some of the other things that might land your furry friend in the emergency room over the holidays.

1. People Food

I can tell you from my own experience that a tempting panettone, well wrapped and in a festive cardboard container is no match for a determined little dog (and off to the clinic we went to make her vomit…).

Although they love to eat it, rich “people” food spells trouble for dogs for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that some dogs don’t tolerate sudden changes in their diets; in addition, pancreatitis in dogs can be triggered by food high in the fat, butter and cream … Continue reading

Blood transfusions in cats and dogs

In this blog, you may have noticed that there have been cases where a pet either received a blood transfusion or donated blood. Did you wonder where the blood comes from for a donation? You’re not alone. Not many people think about this until the need arises.

So where do we get blood?

While the donors are “volunteered” by their guardians, the dogs who are typically selected to become donors are calm dogs who are not bothered about the prospect of sitting still (or lying down) for the 20 minute procedure. For our feline friends the process is a bit more complicated as it requires heavy sedation; most cats don’t tolerate holding still that long!

We usually obtain the blood from an animal blood bank, but sometimes we need to collect fresh whole blood ourselves, either from guardians who have let us know they could be called should we require … Continue reading

Dead Heat

The days of summer are (finally) upon us; the government has issued a heat advisory for the end of the week so now is the time to seriously consider the perils of warm weather.

Dogs have a limited ability to sweat so even a short time in a hot environment can be deadly.

I have seen many cases of fatal heat stroke, and those cases, although varied, have all been devastating – for the treating team but obviously to a much larger degree for the grieving families.  Heat stress happens very quickly and depending on a variety of factors can lead to heat stroke and what you might imagine Ebola to look like – bleeding, severe hemorrhagic diarrhea, organ failure and death.

There is no amount of time that is safe.   Just don’t do it – not even for 5 minutes – even with open windows or in the shade.… Continue reading

BBQ Hazards

Although it doesn’t quite feel like summer yet here in the Lower Mainland, we are still playing outside.  Today’s blog is a reminder of the potential harm the seemingly innocuous BBQ can pose to the dogs in your family.

Corn cobs are very tasty yet poorly digestible and if eaten, will cause intestinal obstruction.  Over the years, we have removed more than our fair share of lodged corn cobs from the bowels of enterprising dogs.

Another hazard of family cookouts is skewer ingestion.  Even what looks like an empty skewer to us is a tempting treat to an animal with such a developed sense of smell.  Just like with sword swallowing, skewers can actually go down quite easily.  However, skewers can puncture the esophagus, intestines and other organs.

Recently, we saw a lovely 6 month old Golden Retriever pup who had been rushed to the emergency service at Twin Trees  … Continue reading

Sago Palm Toxicity

Dinousaurs and Palms

Cycads (aka sago palms or Cycas revoluta) are highly poisonous plants that look like palm trees. Because they reached the height of their diversity during the Jurassic Period, they are often described as living fossils. In fact, when Jurassic Park movies came out, potted cycads were often sold with the slogan “dinosaur food”. Their natural habitat is a tropical environment, but they are found as houseplants and landscaping features as far north as West Vancouver, B.C.

While it may have been appropriate food for the dinosaurs (although things didn’t work out so well for them), cycads are definitely highly toxic to modern mammals. Our cats and dogs seem to find sago palms particularly tasty, with fatal consequences.

While any part of the plant is poisonous, the large seeds are especially toxic. Within twelve hours of ingestion, the plant’s toxic agent cycasin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, seizures, liver failure … Continue reading