Small Animal

World Rabies Day

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Did you know that September 28th is World Rabies Day? This day is meant to raise awareness about Rabies and ultimately to prevent Rabies from occurring. Sadly, in many countries in the world people are still infected and almost 59,000 people are killed every year from this fatal disease.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected animals biting other animals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour, aggression, paralysis and death. Once signs are evident, Rabies is almost 100% fatal.

What is the Risk of Rabies in Canada?

Luckily (thanks to extensive vaccination programs), the risk of Rabies is low in Canada, but still present. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2019 (up to July), there were 28 confirmed cases of Rabies in Ontario (56 in Canada, including one human case in BC).  Half of those cases were bats.

Other animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes are also more common carriers, though any mammal can be infected.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?

  • Vaccinate your pets: Make sure your pets are always kept up to date with their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets These vaccination programs are an important part of the reason why the risk of rabies is so low in Canada.
  • If you are bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound well and see a doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you were bitten by a wild animal so that the treatment for Rabies can be started.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound and take your pet to your veterinarian right away. Depending on the vaccination status of your pet, he may need to go into quarantine. To avoid this scenario, it is best to keep your pet up to date on its Rabies vaccine.
  • Keep your pets indoors. Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.
  • Teach your children not to approach wildlife.
  • Bat proof your home. Learn more about this here:


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 vaccinations for your pets.


Recommended read – Rabies blog





Pet Insurance

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With our Fur Babies being such a big part of our lives now, we treasure our time with them even more.  They love us unconditionally and are also so dependent on us.  We shower them with our love and attention; through food, cuddles and play.  Our biggest responsibility as pet owners is to keep them safe and healthy.  Even with good preventative care we are not able to prevent everything as accidents and illness still happen.  Pet insurance can provide us the comfort we need to know that we are prepared for these surprises.

There are many different types of Pet insurance out there.  Often you can choose from plans that help with emergency and illness care only and others that also include preventative care. We encourage you to do research and choose a plan that works best for you and your Pet.

Pet insurance helps to maintain and improve our human and animal bond! 

Please feel free to check out the links below for some of the available pet insurance companies (listed in no particular order) or talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.



Pets + Us

National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  During the month of August, there is a focus on the importance of vaccination for the human population.  On-time immunizations play a role in preventing serious disease for people of all ages.

Just like for people, immunization for animals is also important for the health of our pets at all life stages. 

What Vaccines Does Your Dog Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • DHPP (this includes 1) distemper 2) parvovirus 3) adenovirus and 4) parainfluenza)
    • Leptospirosis
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Bordetella (kennel cough)
    • +/- Lyme


What Vaccines Does Your Cat Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • FVRCP (this includes 1) feline herpes virus, 2) feline calicivirus, as well as 3) feline panleukopenia virus, which is also known as distemper)
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Feline leukemia


A series of vaccines are required to achieve immunity.  Immunization against core vaccine DHPP and FVRCP is generally given to puppies and kittens respectively every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks.  Very young puppies/kittens have maternal immunity (antibodies from their mother), which fades in the first few months of life.  Early on, maternal immunity will block disease, as well as vaccines, but when it has faded, will not prevent disease.  The purpose of the series of boosters is to ensure that the puppy or kitten is protected against disease during the window of time where maternal immunity no longer is protective. 

The second core vaccine is rabies, which is generally given at 4 months.  This immunization is extremely important to protect the public from rabies exposure.  

Leptospirosis is also a core vaccine for dogs in Perth County, due to the number of cases contracted from local wildlife.  

Lifestyle-specific vaccines

  • Feline leukemia vaccine may be appropriate for kittens that may have exposure to other cats outside. Prior to immunization, they are ideally tested for feline leukemia virus. 
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure through boarding, grooming, dog parks or public dog interactions
  • Lyme vaccination may be appropriate for dogs travelling to areas in Ontario where there is a high risk of Lyme disease transmission from infected ticks 

Vaccines may not be protective unless they are correctly administered at the appropriate intervals.  There are vaccine guidelines that form the basis for your veterinarian’s recommendations for which vaccines should be given to your pet.  These recommendations change based on your pet’s age, risk of exposure, health and history of vaccine reactions.  There is a small risk of vaccine reactions, ways to minimize these risks can be discussed with a veterinarian.   Titers, a blood test that evaluates a pet’s antibody level, may be discussed with a veterinarian as well.

For additional information, please check out the “Vaccinating Your Pet” section on the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association website:   or talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.


Recommended blog

What Happens at My pet’s Annual Visit to the Doctor’s Office?

How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years to produce a healing response in the body.  Acupuncture involves the use of very thin, sterile needles at specific energetic points just under the skin where there is a high density of free nerve endings, blood vessels, lymph ducts and mast cells.  Through placement in these energy channels the needles enhance circulation and induce the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters throughout the body with the goal of restoring normal body homeostasis.

Is Acupuncture Safe?    

Yes! Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Many animals become sleepy and relaxed after a treatment. Some animals may experience minor discomfort as needles are placed.

How Long Does Each Treatment Take? 

Each session may take between 20-40 minutes. The first session takes longer than follow-up appointments.


How Soon Can We See Results?

Some results can be seen immediately but others require several treatments.  Generally speaking a minimum of 3-5 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for chronic conditions are needed before seeing significant improvement.

How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: pain management for muscle soreness, back pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Neurological disorders: seizures, intervertebral disc disease, laryngeal hemiplegia, nerve paralysis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, diarrhea, colic, constipation
  • Other chronic conditions such as skin problems, renal failure, chronic liver disease, behavioural problems, infertility, Cushings disease, geriatric weakness
  • Quality of life and hospice care
  • Performance enhancement and disease prevention

Always work closely with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan for your pet.  Alternative healing methods like acupuncture might have the potential to make your pet’s life more comfortable and can be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. 

To determine if your pet’s condition may be responsive to this treatment modality, please set up a consultation with Dr. Angela Gerretsen at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Coventry Animal Hospital. 


Click here to view our Acupuncture Service page


What’s That Lump!?

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Is there a lump or growth on your pet?  Do you ever wonder what it may be and if it is something to be concerned about?

Growths on our pets come in many shapes and sizes.  Unfortunately, just looking at them with the naked eye doesn’t tell us very much. 

The least invasive way to help us identify these lumps is to collect a fine needle aspirate (FNA). To do this we place a small needle into the lump and draw some cells into the needle.  We then gently place the sample onto a microscope slide.  The next step is to stain the slide(s) using a 3 step stain to allow us to see the different cellular structures.  Once the slide(s) are dry we examine the sample under the microscope. On the sample we look for signs of inflammation, infection or abnormal cell growth.   

This procedure is easily done in our practice and is very well tolerated by our patients. Using treats as a distraction, they don’t even flinch! If possible we like to collect at least 3 samples per lump. 

FNAs are a great tool to know what actions need to be taken next. These can include the following:

  1. Obtaining a biopsy to send for further testing or grading
  2. Surgical removal of the lump
  3. Monitoring the lump for growth and how it effects the patient
  4. Treat for infection/inflammation

 Lumps can be a “growing” concern and are not recommended to be ignored. 

“Why wait? Aspirate!”


If you have found a lump on your pet, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.

Heart Murmurs and Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs

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What is a Heart Murmur?

When your veterinarian is listening to your dog’s heart, they are listening for the typical sounds a heart makes when it beats. These sounds represent the closing of the heart valves. When a heart murmur is heard, this means your veterinarian is hearing a “whooshing” sound over the typical “lub-dub”.


What Causes a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is caused when there is turbulent blood flow through the heart. The heart is responsible for pumping the blood through the body, and normally the blood flows smoothly through the heart. This is usually a quiet process. However, sometimes there is something within the heart that disrupts this smooth blood flow. This creates a “whooshing” sound.

Most frequently, in older dogs, the murmur is caused by one of the valves of the heart (most commonly the mitral valve) not closing all the way shut. When a valve does not close all the way, some blood is allowed to flow backwards. This causes turbulent blood flow, and the “whooshing” sound of a heart murmur.


What Does it Mean for My Dog?

Your dog being diagnosed with a heart murmur means you veterinarian is concerned with possible mitral valve disease. Unfortunately, we do not know the ultimate root cause of mitral valve disease, other than for some breeds where there seems to be a genetic component.

The good news is that many dogs with mitral valve disease can live long and happy lives without it ever causing them any ill health. This is because mitral valve disease is frequently mild and slowly progressive.

However, in some cases, mitral valve disease can progress to congestive heart failure. As the leaky valve worsens, more blood flows backwards. The heart stretches to accommodate this. At some point, the muscles of the heart are at their maximum stretching ability, and are no longer able to contract strong enough to push the blood forward through the body. This causes a backup of blood in the veins in the lungs. The pressure this creates causes fluid to build up in the lungs, making it very difficult to breathe. Unfortunately, once a dog is in congestive heart failure, the prognosis is poor.


What Can Be Done to Help My Dog?

Previously, when we diagnosed a heart murmur, there was not a lot that could be done until a dog was actually in congestive heart failure. The good news is that times have changed and we now have the ability to figure out if a dog is likely to go into congestive heart failure, and significantly prolong the time it takes for them to get there.

The first thing to be done is x-rays of your dog’s chest. This will allow your veterinarian to assess your dog’s heart size. The sign that a dog with mitral valve disease is headed towards congestive heart failure is an enlargement of the heart. Many dogs will have enlarged hearts without showing any clinical signs of heart disease, so an x-ray is a very good tool for early intervention.

If heart enlargement is noted on x-rays, then it is time to start on medications to support the heart. A new study has shown starting medication at this time can significantly prolong the time it takes for dogs with mitral valve disease to go into congestive heart failure. This means a much longer and happier life for your dog!

If you have any questions, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.






Why Cats Scratch

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It is completely normal for cats to scratch. They aren’t doing it to bug you, or because they always hated that floral couch; they do it for a multitude of reasons.  Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory (they leave both visible evidence and a scent – they have scent glands in their paws), and also to stretch their body and toes.  Yes it can be frustrating, but since it is a normal behaviour you don’t want to discourage it completely.

Watch Them – Watch where they like to scratch. Note the type of material, when they scratch (after a nap, or when they see you?), how do they scratch (vertically, do they scratch the carpet, etc.?) Once you know all of that information, you can present them with alternatives.

Alternatives – Start by covering the off-limit spot with things that your cat’s paws will avoid (like aluminum foil or double sided sticky tape).  You can even change the odour; cats don’t like citrus or menthol smells.

  • Provide Scratch Zones:
    • Rope trees, cardboard pads – whatever textures your cat enjoys to scratch
    • Experiment with placement (near bed, near couch, by door etc.)
    • Rub catnip on the designated scratching zone or try to use specific cat pheromone spray ( which attracts cats to scratch in that one place)

Location – Place the scratch post where the cat will use it. Then eventually, little by little you can move it to where you want it to be.  

Clipping Claws – cats don’t wear down their claws like dogs can, which means they can become overgrown. It is beneficial to clip their nails and check every couple of weeks to see if they need clipped again.

If you have any questions, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.

Why is Having a Pet Good for Your Health?

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June 2 through 8 is Pet Appreciation Week.  Coventry Animal Hospital wants to take a minute and celebrate our four-legged friends.  Cats and dogs provide us with many mental and physical health benefits.  Give yours a hug while you read this!


  • Pets act as companions and family members
    • They provide company and prevent loneliness
    • They are non-judgmental and provide unconditional love and affection
  • Pets reduce stress, anxiety and depression
    • Petting a dog or cat has been shown to lower blood pressure
    • Studies have found that heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without
  • Pets in the house can lessen the likelihood of developing allergies or asthma in children
  • Pets provide structure and routine to your day
    • This is especially important for people who are living with mental diseases or stressful lifestyles
  • Pets improve your mood
    • Pets calm and relax people
    • Playing with a dog or cat can increase dopamine and serotonin
  • Pets promote social interaction
    • Walking a dog helps you to meet new people
    • There are clubs geared towards dog and cat enthusiasts, which are a great way for people to bond over a shared interest
  • Pets increase your activity level
  • Taking a dog for daily walks promotes weight loss for people, in addition to keeping your canine healthy

No matter what kind of a day you’ve had, your pets can make you happier and healthier.  We appreciate cats and dogs for all the ways that they enrich our lives.

How to Bring an Older Adopted Dog into the Household with Other Dogs

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Let’s say you already have a dog at home and you have made the decision to add another dog to the household – how wonderful!  Congratulations!  Dogs tend to be a social species and many of them would love to have a canine companion to interact with.  Getting a second dog is not known to reduce separation anxiety for a dog already in your home, but it can be a great way to fulfill their need to socialize!

If you had your first dog from puppy hood onwards, he has grown into a bond with you and his routine.  He likely feels that your home is his safe place.  He knows the “house rules” to abide by, which can differ from one household to another.  For example, some owners love having their dog cuddle on the couch with them and others do not permit their pets on the furniture. 

Adopting an older dog means that they come from a previous situation that may have had a different set of rules.  In addition, there is a good chance that they have gone through a period of uncertainty, including the loss of their previous owner, an upheaval in their routine or perhaps they have been staying in a shelter or foster home for a period of time.  Some rescue dogs come into our home and seem to display extremely polite behaviour, but in reality, they are too frightened with all of the recent changes to open up and show their true personality.  It can take months of being in their new home for them to regain enough confidence to shine. 

How to Set Up the Meet and Greet

Puppies on the whole (there are some exceptions), tend to be very open to socializing and playing with new dogs, but this inclination diminishes after they reach social maturity.  Some adult dogs no longer have the same interest to meet with and play with dogs that are unknown to them.  This is a generalization, but you likely have a good idea of how your dog at home reacts to meeting a visiting dog.


  • Allow the 2 dogs to meet in a neutral environment with open space (vs a closed space where one of them may feel trapped in a corner). Consider having them meet outdoors with room for one or both to add distance from one another if they wish.
  • Actively supervise. Similar to when children under 8 years of age are interacting with dogs, it is recommended to have eyes on them (being distracted by making dinner or looking at social media on your phone does not count!)  Consider having both dogs on leash if they have a history of not enjoying the company of other dogs.
  • Learn to read dog body language . Do not punish a snarl or the growl, which is a request for space.  If one dog is asking for space and the other dog is not respecting that request, then it is recommended to give them a break from visiting.  If one or both dogs are showing excessive calming signals, keep the visit short.
  • The desired response between 2 dogs would be that they curve in a half circle around one another to sniff each other’s butts, then disengage. Other possibilities include a play bow or ignoring each other.


Gated Community Living

It is highly recommended to have an area designated for the dog that is currently living in the home, as well as a SEPARATE area for the newcomer to have as their safe place.  In the initial stages, this may mean having baby gates up, or having one dog crated while the other is out.  They can take turns in a communal open space.  There is no reason to rush the dogs to live in the same living quarters.  They can eat in separate spots, so there is no concern that one dog will steal another dog’s food.

Using a calming pheromone diffuser in the shared space or where the dogs spend the most time can be a nice way to reduce both dogs’ anxiety.  Please ask your veterinarian if anti-anxiety supplements or medication would also be appropriate.

A word of caution: boundaries are extremely important for safety, but some dogs perceive barriers (such as leashes or baby gates) as very frustrating and will actually become more reactive when interacting with another dog if a barrier is involved.  This is because they cannot do proper dog greetings or read the other dog’s body language correctly.  Visual access to the other dog may need to be blocked.  For example, stationing the dogs in rooms separated by a door when they are home alone. 

Now for the fun part!  You want to make it rewarding for each dog to be around one another.  This involves rewarding calm behaviour, such as having both dogs sitting in the same room or lying down on dog beds in close proximity.  You can offer one-bite treats for this calm behavior, providing that neither of them exhibits resource guarding.  Resource guarding is defined as a dog protecting something they view to be valuable, such as a favourite person, toy, location or food item.  Research has shown that jealousy does not exist between dogs, but rather, some dogs have retained an ancestral instinct to protect food (or other items).  Resource guarding should be addressed with the help of a veterinarian or veterinary behaviourist. 

Sticking to a routine and having short positive sessions of supervised time in the communal space throughout the day will allow both dogs to understand what is expected of them, which in turn builds confidence.  They know that they will be safe at all times.  If you have specific concerns regarding aggression between dogs that are already living together, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Coventry Animal Hospital.


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.