Small Animal

What is the Best Time to Neuter or Spay Your Pet?

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Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that involve sterilizing cats and dogs, so that they can no longer reproduce.  These surgeries are performed on patients under general anesthesia.  Please check out the 3 parts of the article Coventry Animal HospitalTries to Demystify Pre-anesthetic Protocols for your Pet,  Coventry Animal Hospital Tries to Demystify Anesthetic Protocols for your Pet and Coventry Animal Hospital Tries to Demystify Post-anesthetic Protocols for your Pet if you would like to learn more.

A neuter is a procedure in which the testes of a cat or dog are surgically removed.  It is also known as castration or orchiectomy.  The feline neuter involves a scrotal incision and the canine neuter involves a pre-scrotal incision.

A spay is a procedure in which both ovaries and the uterus are surgically removed.  It is also known as ovariohysterectomy.  See feline spay, canine spay for more information on the surgical procedures.

What are the Benefits of Neutering my Male Cat by 6 Months of Age?

Neutering your male cat by 6 months old will prevent him from getting a female cat pregnant.  Neutering will greatly reduce the odour of a male cat’s urine, as well as urine spraying and marking behaviour.  Inappropriate urination in cats is a huge reason why male cats are rehomed and we want you to have your kitty companion for his lifetime.  Neutering may decrease his chances of roaming and getting into territorial fights with other cats.

Should I Allow my Female Cat to Have a Litter of Kittens Before Her Spay Surgery?

We recommend having your female cat spayed before her first heat cycle.  Allowing your cat to have a litter of kittens would contribute to the problem of pet over-population.  Spaying a cat at this young age will prevent her from going into heat (See our cat heat cycle blog), decrease her risk of mammary cancer later in life, prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and prevent cancer of the uterus or ovaries.

Should I Wait Until My Large-Breed Dog is Over a Year Old to Sterilize Them?

There has been research in large-breed dogs that suggests waiting until a large-breed dog is 15-18 months old and their growth plates are closed may reduce their risk of orthopedic diseases, such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture and hip dysplasia.  Please consult your veterinarian to determine the best time frame to sterilize your large-breed dog based on their lifestyle and other risk factors.

What are the Benefits of Neutering My Male Fog by 6 Months of Age?

Neutering your dog will prevent certain health issues such as prostatic enlargement and decrease his risk of developing testicular or prostatic cancer.  This will prevent your male dog from breeding a female dog.  There is no benefit to delay neutering a small breed dog until after sexual maturity.

What are the Benefits of Spaying my Female Dog by 6 Months of Age?

Spaying female dogs prevents the over-population of puppies.  Please check out our dog heat cycle blog.  Spaying a female dog prior to her first heat cycle significantly lowers her chance of developing mammary and ovarian cancer and pyometra.  Her risk of pyometra increases with consecutive heat cycles.

Will Spaying/Neutering my Pet Cause Them to Get Fat?

Within days of sterilization surgery, your pet’s metabolism will slow down by approximately 30%.  This means that their caloric intake will need to be adjusted in order to maintain them at an ideal body weight.

If you have questions or concerns about spaying or neutering your pet, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital, we would be happy to address them. 


January is National Train Your Dog Month!

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A well-trained dog is definitely something worth celebrating!  Dog training is a journey that is never done – there are always new skills to learn together.  You’re in a partnership and it takes time to build a relationship. 

If a dog doesn’t perform a command that you think it understands, this means its level of distraction is too great and he hasn’t practiced the command in enough locations.  This is useful information that tells us (as the owner) we have work to do; we need to decrease the difficulty of what we are asking our dog to do and gradually work our way up the scale of distraction.

Most dogs aim to please you, but they don’t know what you want unless you teach them. Training is an important part of helping your dog become a member of your family.

The benefits of a well-trained dog include:

  • Your dog does what you want. Trained dogs have good manners and generally are a joy to be around and will be welcome in people’s homes.
  • Training provides mental stimulation, which is very important for a dog’s psychological wellbeing. A bored dog can be an unhappy dog.  If dogs do not receive enough mental stimulation, they may go looking for it – think garbage cans and chewed shoes or furnishings and excessive barking.
  • Training is an excellent bonding activity between pet owner and pet. It builds respect and trust.
  • Training sessions tire your dog out. On days that you can’t take your dog out for a long walk or run, a half hour training session will satisfy his energy requirements.
  • If you take your dog to training classes, your dog has a chance to socialize with other dogs and will learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs.
  • Training keeps your dog safe. If your dog is about to jump out of the car and cross the road, the “stay” command may save your dog’s life.  Teaching a “leave it” command may prevent it from consuming a toxin. 
  • Training is fun! It doesn’t all have to be about safety and good behaviour commands. Once your pet has mastered the basic commands, you can introduce sports, such as agility or flyball, tricks or advanced obedience for some additional fun training exercises.

This January, consider signing up for an obedience class, agility class, or just teach your dog some new tricks!  Both you and your dog will enjoy the time that you spend together.

Visit our You Tube page to see some short training videos by Dr. Justine Rudniski and her dog Vesper. Also visit our website for more information on training your dog.

Safe Travelling with Your Pets

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January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day.

If you are planning on travelling with your pet, whether driving a short visit to the vet clinic or taking your pet on vacation, here are some things that you need to know to keep it safe and comfortable.

Car Safety 101

NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET ALONE IN A PARKED CAR!  Temperatures rapidly become too hot or too cold, which can be fatal.  If left alone, animals can become anxious and injure themselves or escape, not to mention cause damage to your car or belongings!

Animals must be contained while riding in a car or truck.  Cats and small dogs should be secured with a seat belt around a carrier.  Dogs should be trained at an early age to be familiar with a padded harness attached to a seat belt.  Check out your local pet store for seat-belt friendly harness options.  A leash that is attached to a collar can create a choking hazard.  We also recommend that dogs not ride in the open bed of pickup trucks, as there is a risk of injury from a fall and from traffic.

Do not leave the window down, as there is a risk of strangulation with electric windows and animals can fall out of them.  In addition, the force of the wind can injure the blood vessels in their ears, creating blood blisters.  Use air-conditioning and heating to keep your pet comfortable.

Pets should never be in the front seat, as air bags can injure them if deployed.  Also, pets in the front seat may distract the driver or even get in the way of the steering wheel, brake or clutch, causing unsafe driving.  Consider a mesh barrier to create a partition that will keep your dog in the back seat.

Motion sickness

If your pet is not experienced with car rides, do not feed them in the six hours before travel as a full stomach can cause them discomfort and result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Never withhold water and pull over to offer it regularly on long trips.

Acclimatize your pet to a car ahead of time when they are young.  Reward them for getting in a parked car with praise and treats.  Try taking them on short errands.

Travel checklist

  1. Health certificate – this contains proof of vaccines, which is required to cross the border to the United States and also serves as proof of ownership.IMG_0109
  2. Travel carrier – use a high-quality carrier that will not pop open or break.  To minimize anxiety, get your pet used to being inside the carrier prior to travel.  Keep the open carrier in a quiet place at home, so that your pet enjoys resting inside it.  Do not remove your pet from the carrier unless there is an emergency.  Your pet may be frightened by the new experience and may try to escape or become aggressive.
  3. Food and water – offer chew toys and peanut butter-filled toys to dogs.  Bring plenty of food along and protect it from extreme temperatures.
  4. Medications – bring an adequate supply of any medication that your pet is currently taking
  5. Supplies – in case of accidents, bring plastic bags and a roll of paper towels
  6. Pet ID tag – keep your pet’s ID on a collar in case of an accident or if your pet were to get lost.  Microchips also serve a similar purpose.


If you have any questions about travelling with your pets, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.



Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet

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When adopting a new pet, most people will go looking for a younger dog to “save”, not realizing how much love and joy an older, senior dog can give them. Don’t walk past the older ones; there are so many benefits to adopting a senior pet for both you and the adoptee. Some benefits are:

  1. Seniors need homes just as badly as younger dogs.
    • There are just as many senior dogs as younger dogs in shelters. They want the same love and attention as the younger ones.
  2. You may end up saving his life
    • In some shelters the senior pets are euthanized because no one adopts them. However, thankfully this is becoming less frequent in Ontario; it still will happen in other parts of Canada and the US. Helping that senior pet live out his golden years in a home with a loving family will make him so much happier then being in a shelter for the rest of his years.
  3. Senior pets aren’t always “problem dogs”
    • A lot of people have this perception that senior pets are in the shelter because they are “problem dogs” that no one wants. This isn’t the case most of the time. There are lots of dogs surrendered because of allergies, the novelty of being a pet owner wearing off, death of the owner, a new baby, loss of a job, etc. They can be surrendered for reasons that are not their fault, nor the owners.
  4. They already are trained and understand basic commands
    • Since they are already house trained and know basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, “lay down”, etc. It makes it easier to transition them into your home. It will also save you time in the day because you don’t have to potty train them.
  5. Calmer and less energetic then younger dogs
    • Seniors normally have less energy, and a calmer demeanor/temperament. This makes it easier if you live a busy life, they don’t need to be walked as much and they will sleep most of the day.
  6. Teaching old dogs new tricks
    • Even though they are old, doesn’t mean you can’t teach them new tricks. It is actually recommended to keep teaching them tricks as they get older, it will keep their mind and body healthy!
  7. Settle very quickly and become instant companions
    • Older pets are ready to love and be loved. They usually will easily transition to your house and bond almost immediately. You will forever be their best friend and partner.

Therefore, if you are looking to adopt, think about adopting a senior pet. You can be their saviour.

If you have any questions about adopting a senior pet, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital. We would love to help you find the perfect pet!


RVT Month

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What is an RVT?

RVT stands for Registered Veterinary Technician.

What does this mean?

It means they have a Veterinary Technician diploma, and then have gone even further and done a 4 hour test to become registered. They are dedicated to continually learning and expanding their knowledge. RVTs act as the right hand to the Veterinarian, their role in the veterinary clinic is similar to a Registered Nurse in a human hospital.

What do they do?

They are integral members of the veterinary health care team. They are educated, which provides them with the theory and practical skills to deliver the best standard of veterinary care.  RVTs are often overlooked due to being “behind the scenes”; however, they are extremely important to every veterinary clinic. Some tasks they do daily are:

  • Taking and developing x-rays
  •  Administering and dispensing medications and treatments as prescribed by the Veterinarian
  •  Collecting blood, urine and tissue or body fluid samples; as well as analyzing them under a microscope
  • Providing excellent animal care, restraint, and safe handling of pets
  • Delivering anesthesia and monitoring for surgeries, as wells as preparing the surgery room and assisting whenever the vet needs
  • Placing bandages/wound dressings and splints
  • Triaging emergency arrivals and helping with emergency care and first aid
  • Performing dental cleaning and polishing procedures
  • Using their knowledge of tests, medications, supplements, and nutritional needs of pets
  • Being the biggest advocates for your pet


Rabies in Ontario: what the public needs to know – an update for 2018

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What is the Risk of Rabies in Ontario?

There have been 50 cases of rabies in Ontario since January 2018.  The majority of these are from raccoons, followed by skunks and bats.  Other species that also tested positive include cows, stray cats and red foxes.  There have been over 500 cases of rabies in Ontario in the last 4 years.

There have been 17 cases of fox rabies confirmed in Perth, Huron and Waterloo counties since December 2015.  In that same time period, there have been over 400 cases of raccoon rabies confirmed in Hamilton and surrounding areas. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected mammals biting other mammals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound.  The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will causes neurological signs, including changes in behavior, aggression, paralysis and death.  Once signs are evident, rabies is almost always untreatable and fatal.  All mammals (companion animals, livestock and humans are at risk).

 How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?

 Vaccinate your pets: make sure your pets are always kept up to date on their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets.  For example, any indoor pet could be in a scenario where:

  • a cat attacks a bat that enters the home
  • a dog bites a visitor

Rabies vaccination for dogs, cats and horses is a regulatory requirement for our local district health units. 

Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.

Teach your children not to approach wildlife.  Bat proof your home.

Rabies vaccination should be considered for livestock in high-risk areas.  Ask your local veterinarian whether vaccination is recommended for your cattle, sheep or goats.  If livestock go outside or travel to fairs, they are at risk of exposure.  Rabies is a core vaccine for horses.

Who to Call in Case of Potential Rabies Exposure?

1. If you are exposed (bitten or handle) a potentially rabid animal, contact your local Public Health Unit:

  • Perth Health Unit: 519-271-7600
  • Huron Health Unit 519-482-3416

2. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, contact your local veterinarian.

3. If you spot abnormal wildlife and there has been no pet or human exposure,

  • contact a local wildlife control agency for assistance with a live animal
  • contact the MNRF Rabies Hotline 1-888-574-6656 for dead or confined terrestrial wildlife
  • contact the CWHC 1-866-673-4781 for sick/injured bats

Rabies is 100% preventable, but people are still exposed every year, which is why this is still an important issue.  Keep your family safe by talking to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital about rabies vaccination for your pets.

How to Recognize a Puppy Mill/Farm

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What is a Puppy Mill?

  • Is a commercial farming operation in which purebred dogs are kept and bred solely for their offspring. The large number of puppies are sold and are often kept in inhumane conditions without environmental enrichment.

What do Puppy Mills look like?

  • The hard thing about puppy mills is that they can look like anything.
  • Puppy mill owners have very clever schemes. They can easily make their puppies look like they were home bred.

How do I know if I’m buying from a Puppy Mill?

  • Pet stores: they all buy their puppies from a puppy farm, they are not registered breeders.
  • If the parents or puppies don’t seem accustomed to human interaction, it is most likely a puppy mill.
  • If the puppies and/or parents seem unhealthy or unclean.
  • They might not let you see the parents of the puppies
  • The “breeders” might breed multiple breeds of dogs – Normally if they are a reputable breeder they will be passionate about 1 type of breed, and won’t have multiple breeds.
  • Be careful when buying online, this has become a popular way of selling puppy mill dogs.
  • The puppies don’t have the breed standard traits, as they may not be from purebred parents.

When buying a puppy avoid the temptation of “rescuing” a puppy mill puppy, this is still putting money into the pockets of the puppy farm owner. As long as they keep making money, they will keep producing puppies. If you are considering getting a puppy, contact Coventry Animal Hospital and our staff will be happy to help you, to ensure you end up with a healthy puppy.



Purchasing a Puppy

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Purchasing a puppy or new dog is extremely exciting but is also a huge decision. When purchasing a new companion, it is important to know what breed best suits you, where to buy them, and how to avoid health issues with puppies.

What breed is right for me?

  • When we buy clothes we usually buy with our eyes first, see how cute the shirt is, then try it on, then purchase. This is what a lot of new pet parents will do with their puppy. They will see how cute it is and just buy it. The only thing is that we normally can’t return our puppy purchases, which leads to them going into the humane society.
  • Doing research on the specific breed is extremely important! You should see what their temperament will be when they are fully grown, what type of lifestyle they will need and what kind of lifestyle can you provide, how big they will be, how much energy they will have, if they are good family pets, etc. By doing research into the breed before buying, you can determine which breed is right for you.

Where should I buy from?

  • The best place to buy would be from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders will have extensive knowledge on that one breed they are selling. They will do health tests on the parents of the puppies, socialize the puppies, as well as have them fully vaccinated and vet checked. These breeders tend to be extremely supportive of new puppy parents and will help the new owners however they can.
  • Adopting from the humane society is always a great idea too!
  • Buying online can be tricky. Use caution when buying from someone selling online. Good breeders normally don’t advertise puppies on any big online puppy classifieds. People that sell their puppies online usually just bred their family dog (no knowledge about breeding), or from puppy farms/mills.
  • Don’t purchase puppies from pet stores; these puppies always come from puppy farms/mills!
  • Be careful when purchasing from a non-breeder, puppy mill owners are very clever about tricking you to believe that they are not puppy mill owners! If you want to read more about puppy mills and how to spot them, read next weeks blog: How to Recognize a Puppy Mill/Farm.

How do I avoid health issues?

  • Most purebred dogs have their own set of health issues and risks. But being smart about the breed you are purchasing can help in the long run!
  • Most reputable breeders will do a health check on their breeding parents (hips certification, heart certificate, etc.)
  • If the parents don’t look healthy, the puppies most likely aren’t healthy.

Know the breed you want to buy and be smart about your purchase! If you have any concerns or doubts, contact your Veterinarian and ask them questions!


Tips on How to Keep Your Cat Happy

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  1. Feed your cat well: feeding a well-balanced kibble (and / or canned food) is extremely important for the well-being of your cat. Obesity is the most common source of problems among domesticated cats. Obesity can make it hard for your cat to do regular cat duties, as well as it can lead to multiple health issues.
  2. Keep environment clean; cats need to be clean. In order for them to hunt and be undetectable they need to be odor- free, so regular grooming is necessary to keep them happy.
    1. You don’t need to bathe a cat. They are able to groom themselves (unless they are obese). Cats are very good at keeping themselves odor-free.
    2. Their litter box should be cleaned regularly. They bury their poop to be undetectable; if it is not cleaned routinely they may go outside the litter box. Scoop out the litter box once a day and thoroughly clean litter box 1-2 times a week.
  3. Enrichment: Indoor cats need enrichment to keep their brains active and more importantly to keep them happy! Enrichment can be mental or physical stimulation. Some examples are below:
    1. Catio – a “cage” that is big enough for them to be outside and big enough for them to walk around in it.
    2. Perches near windows
    3. Cat trees
    4. Playtime toys marinated in cat nip, and/ or food puzzles
    5. Drinking fountain
  4. Hiding Places: Cats are usually on high alert most of the time, so some might go and find warm hiding places to rest. Having places for your cat to hide can be critical for her well being. It can be as simple as having a cardboard box, or a cat tree with a cat bed, some cats might even just hide under your bed. So having that spot for them to rest can make them feel safe and keep them happy.

There are multiple things you can do to keep our feline friends happy and healthy; however every individual cat is different in what they prefer. You know your pet best, so if she starts to not act like her normal self, then contact your local veterinarian!

The Difficult Decision: Pet Food

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As humans we are told that if we eat healthy and exercise we will live a long and healthy life, why would this statement be any different for our pets? Nutrition is hands down one of the most important building blocks for our pets to live a healthy lifestyle. However, it is still one of the hardest decisions we have to make as pet owners.  The question that we should be asking ourselves is: Is this food right for my pet? There are a lot of different pet foods out there with many different ingredients and nutritional claims, so choosing a diet can be a lot of work. Not to worry; below are some helpful hints/tips when choosing a pet food!

Activity Level

  • If your pet has a high activity level he is burning more calories, therefore you want a food that will give the correct nutrients to give him enough energy required.
  • If your pet has a low activity level (stays inside more than goes outside) he is not burning as many calories and he will usually gain weight on most ordinary diets. Therefore, these dogs should get a food with lower calories or in some instances be fed less food of a maintenance diet. Please discuss this with your regular veterinarian.



  • Age plays a huge role in what your pet should be getting for food.
    • Puppies/kittens and pregnant animals need higher calories and more nutrients then a full grown adult pet. When puppies/kittens are growing they need to be on a diet that will help them maintain a good/healthy weight, and will give them the correct nutrients needed to help their growing body, joints, and bones
    • Adult pets need a maintenance diet; they do not need all the extra nutrients that a young pet would need.
  • Breed
    • Depending on the breed of your dog or cat they may need a different food.Bigger breeds such as Great Danes normally need more supplements in their food to help decrease the wear and tear on their joints.
    • Smaller dogs such as a Yorkshire terrier, should have diets that will help prevent urinary crystals or stones; and dental disease.


  • Working in the Veterinary Profession unfortunately a common issue that we see is pets that are overweight. Maintaining ideal body weight should be achievable and it is the most important component for your pet to live a long and healthy life.
  • Usually when we see overweight pets, it means that the food they are on is either too high in calories, they are getting served too much and/or they are getting to many extra treats or table scraps.
  • For weight loss there are certain diets that cater to overweight pets; they are lower in calories and a diet that will make your pet feel fuller so they are not begging for more food.

If you have any questions regarding your pet’s food give us a call to discuss your pet’s nutrition plan. We offer a wide variety of food and we also have weight control programs; including weigh-ins at no charge.

You can also visit our website for more information on nutrition.


“Let Food Be Your First Medicine”