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Small Animal

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. 

 

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. www.coventryvets.ca

Safe Travelling with Your Pets

By | Small Animal

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