The Library is an online repository of technical information created by our own staff for the benefit of the veterinary community.  Pet owners are always welcome to review the contents of the Library, but should be aware that material in this section is intended primarily for professional use.  If you are a Canada West client and have questions about your own pet’s condition or care, please contact the front desk.  If you are not a Canada West client, please contact your family veterinarian.

Strokes / Brain Infarcts

Brain infarcts, or strokes as they are more commonly known, occur in dogs as well as in people. Just like in people, strokes tends to occur in older individuals and those with risk factors such as high blood pressure, Cushing’s disease, adrenal tumors called phaeochromocytomas, kidney disease and some types of heart disease. They also occur in animals with bleeding disorders, such as immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP). Strokes are classically sudden in onset and do not usually progress for more than 24 hours before stabilizing or improving. One common site is the cerebellum and these cases are often mistaken as idiopathic geriatric vestibular syndrome. Diagnosis can be confirmed only by an MRI. There is no treatment other than giving the animals time, good nursing care and physical therapy. The prognosis depends to some extent on the part of the brain involved but is more dependent on the size of the stroke. … Continue reading “Strokes / Brain Infarcts”



Seizures are common in dogs and also occur occasionally in cats as well. A seizure is a neurological episode that is sudden in onset, repeatable in nature and that usually involves some disturbance in consciousness along with uncontrolled movements and unintended visceral functions such as urination. Seizures have a wide variety of causes, which can include birth defects such as hydrocephalus, metabolic defects like liver dysfunction, brain tumors, brain infections such as encephalitis, or a brain abscess, toxins such as lead and vascular disorders such as strokes and high blood pressure. Perhaps the best-known cause of seizures in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy, which is probably caused by either a genetic mutation, a microscopic brain malformation or possibly a birth injury. Epilepsy in dogs usually causes seizures to start between one and five years of age. If a dog starts to have seizures before one year of age … Continue reading “Seizures”

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is one of the three main treatment options for various types of cancer, the other two being surgery and then chemotherapy. Radiation is offered at two centres locally, Seattle and Pullman, which are both in Washington State. Radiation works mainly by damaging the DNA of tumor cells but unfortunately it does also damage normal tissue as well. Therefore side effects can occur, particularly if the animal’s eyes, ears or nose are in the radiation field. Ideally, any owner considering radiation therapy for their pet should have a consultation with a radiation therapist. See the links below for additional information

Further Resources

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This is a very rare disease in British Columbia but rabies is endemic (meaning it occurs regularly) in British Columbia in bats.  It also occurred in two skunks in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2004. Therefore, any animal that catches a bat and any animal (or person) that is bitten by a bat or is exposed to a bat while sleeping, should seek medical attention immediately. Any animal (regardless of whether or not it has been vaccinated) that develops acute neurological disease after exposure to bats should be considered a rabies suspect until proven otherwise. Rabies causes a uniformly fatal encephalitis and this is the only type of encephalitis that can be transmitted easily from animals to people.

Further Resources

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Physical Therapy


Rehabilitation after an injury or from any serious neurologic disease is enhanced considerably by the appropriate use of physical therapy techniques. For example, animals that have been paralyzed in their rear legs have to regain the strength that has been lost during their bout of paralysis and then retrain their joint position sense (called proprioception) before they can walk and balance normally. Animals that have had diseases that affect the brain also often have to learn how to balance or walk again. Physical therapy is especially important for animals that can not move themselves at all, such as to even change sides, as these animals are at great risk of complications like pneumonia. Our [intlink id=”61″ type=”page”]physical therapy service[/intlink] can help your pet to recover from its illness. In some cases we will recommend that you work with other centres in the lower mainland that offer hydrotherapy, such as … Continue reading “Physical Therapy”


Information on neurosurgical procedures is available in the section on disc diseaseWobbler syndrome, spinal fractures, syringohydromyelia, and atlantoaxial disease.

Further Resources



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