Pet Fire Safety

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July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day.  This is the perfect time to prepare a fire safety plan and review some tips to prevent an accidental house fire.   The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports that nearly 1,000 house fires every year are started by pets.  Pet deaths related to fires are mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Ensure all smoke alarms are in good working order and change batteries regularly.   Include all family members when developing a fire safety plan so everyone knows what to do in case of an unexpected fire emergency. In households with multiple pets, each family member can be delegated a pet to be responsible for.   Practice escape routes with your pets. Leashes can be left by the door for quick access. Ensure all pets have a collar with ID should they become loose during a fire escape.   When pets are left unattended at home, placing them in a confined area/room near the entry door can limit potential fire-starting hazards.

Local fire stations provide window stickers to alert firefighters of the presence of pets.

Ensure candles or any open flames are never left unattended. Pets are naturally curious and can harm themselves or start a fire as a result.

The NFPA reports that stoves and cook tops are the #1 cause of house fires started by pets. Stove knobs can either be removed or covered if pets are able to reach them.

Exposed electrical cords can be seen as chew toys for pets so if possible hide cords behind furniture or unplug them if pets are left unattended.

By taking some time to ensure your home is fire safe and implementing a fire safety plan for your furry family member, you can rest assured that should a fire develop within your home your pets will be safe.

Our team at Coventry Animal Hospital hope that these tips help keep your pets and home safe from fires.


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Ontario was the rabies Capital of the world during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Then, due to organized rabies vaccination programs by the health units and baiting projects by the Ministry of Natural Resources the problem was wrestled under control. Of course, once controlled these efforts were relaxed and now, once again, rabies is back in the news.

As of December 18th there have been six confirmed cases of raccoon rabies in the Hamilton area. Last week, one of our clients in Perth County had a heifer confirmed rabies positive. Family members are being inoculated.  So, rabies is becoming a problem again!


Q1: What is rabies?

A: Rabies is a viral disease transmitted through the saliva or tissues in the nervous system from one infected mammal to another. Rabies can be transmitted from a wild animal, such as a bat or racoon, to a dog, cat or human, and from pets to humans. The virus attacks the central nervous system causing severely distressing neurological symptoms before causing the victim to die. Rabies is one of the deadliest diseases on earth, with a 99.9 per cent fatality rate. For detailed information about rabies visit and type in the search “rabies in Ontario”.


Q2: Does my pet have to be vaccinated against rabies?

A: Yes. Dogs and cats over 3 months of age must have either a current Certificate of Vaccination or a current Statement of Exemption issued by a veterinarian for that animal. Unvaccinated animals are a risk to human health, and owners of unvaccinated animals can be subject to fines of over $90 per animal.


Q3: What happens to unvaccinated animals that come into contact with rabid animals?

A: Once signs of rabies appear, the disease is virtually always fatal. The incubation period for rabies in dogs and cats can be up to six months. If your animal is unvaccinated and comes into contact with a rabid animal, it may need to be confined for up to six months. If in that time your pet contracts rabies, the only option is euthanasia as your pet would die from the disease within 7-10 days.


Q4: What happens to unvaccinated animals that bite a person?

A: Any domestic animal that bites a person should be reported to the local public health unit. The animal will be placed under a 10-day (dogs and cats) or 14-day (most other domestic animals) observation period. If the animal does not display any clinical signs of rabies by the end of this period, then the risk that it could have been shedding the rabies virus in its saliva when the bite occurred is negligible. Washing any wound immediately after exposure to animal saliva can greatly reduce the risk of infection. After exposure, the local Public Health Unit should be contacted to determine risk of exposure.


Q5: How many cases of rabies have been reported in Ontario?

A: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provides a listing of positive rabies cases reported by species in each province, each year. To view a list of reported cases go to: and type in the search “rabies in Canada”.


Q6: Where can I get my pet vaccinated?

A: Rabies vaccinations are available from any accredited veterinary practice in Ontario. Before administering the vaccination, your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your pet to ensure that he or she is healthy enough to be vaccinated. The examination also allows your veterinarian to identify any concerns about your pet’s health and treat them before they become serious and costly illnesses. Learn more about basic pet care at


Q7: How long does the rabies vaccine last?

A: Rabies vaccinations protect your pet for one to three years, depending on the vaccine used. Talk to your veterinarian about the vaccine that’s best for your pet.


Q8: Is the rabies vaccine safe?

A: Some animals may experience adverse reactions to the rabies vaccine, ranging from minor to severe. You should discuss your animal’s risk, health and any prior reactions your animal has had to vaccines and medications with your veterinarian to determine if they can be safely vaccinated. Animals should be monitored for reactions after they are vaccinated and in consultation with your veterinarian.


Reminder of who to call in cases of potential rabies exposure:

  1. Human exposure to a potentially rabid animal – Local Public Health (PH) Unit
  2. Domestic animal exposure to a potentially rabid animal, NO human exposure – Local veterinarian/OMAFRA
  • Animal owners should be directed to contact their local veterinarian as the first step for any animal health concerns.
  • Veterinarians can call the OMAFRA Agricultural Contact Centre: 1-877-424-1300 for assistance.


  1. Abnormal wildlife, NO domestic animal exposure, NO human exposure – MNRF or CWHC
  • For terrestrial wildlife, call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Rabies Hotline: 1-888-574-6656.
  • If a sick or injured bat is found, consider contacting the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) at 1-866-673-4781.


Additional information for the public & veterinarians:

OMAFRA Rabies in Ontario website


If you can’t remember when you dog or cats were vaccinated talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.


Yours truly,

R.G. Reed



Coventry Animal Hospital Discusses Separation Anxiety

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As the name would suggest, separation anxiety is a behavior driven by fear of being left alone. Coventry Animal Hospital takes a closer look at this behavior and ways to curb it.

How is separation anxiety diagnosed?

This behavior only occurs when the pet anticipates being left alone or is alone. For example, when you reach for your keys to leave the house, your pet exhibits some of the following signs of distress:
– over-grooming
– salivation, panting (in a dog)
– pacing
– vocalizing loudly (may be high-pitched whining or howling)
– defecating or urinating in the house
– destroying barriers, such as doors and crates
– following the owner from room to room and constantly wanting to be held or pet
– little or no interest in food when the owner leaves

These activities may result in self-harm (bleeding paws, broken teeth or spots of fur licked entirely off), as well as damage to belongings.

How is separation anxiety treated?

We want to reward desired behavior and ignore undesirable behavior. It is important to avoid reprimanding your pet and focus on rewarding calm behavior. Punishing a dog that is in a panic will actually have the reverse effect and make them even more fearful. Here are several tools that we use to treat separation anxiety:

1) Environmental Enrichment
– Offer them a special treat only available when they are alone
o take away the item when you come home

– Pheromone mimicking mother dog’s mammary gland or territorial marking gland in cats
o promotes confidence and a sense of calm

– Radio or tv noise to provide pleasing white noise

2) Drugs
– Anti-anxiety medications
o increase the level of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) in the brain
o take several weeks to work

– Tranquilizing medications
o for situations where the pet is in a panic
o act rapidly, but don’t last long

– Natural products – plant-based supplements
o useful only for treating mild anxiety

3) Behavior Modification
– Desensitization and counter-conditioning
o Keep greetings and departures predictable and non-emotional. Do certain activities that your pet associates with your departure repeatedly during the day without leaving – for example, jingling car keys or walking to the door.
o Try to discourage your pet from becoming too attached to one member of the household by having multiple people provide food, attention and playtime. At bedtime, it should have its own bed and not sleep on the human’s bed. If a pet is constantly trying to be held, do not let it initiate contact with you, but rather, you will give them attention once they settle.

A Sample Training Program for Your Dog:

Start by teaching your dog to sit for treats with the verbal cue “sit”. You can get your dog to sit for every single kibble that they eat in the day. Use the verbal cue “down” and get them to lay down for food rewards as well. From that exercise, it will learn that sitting/laying down calmly will get your attention, but that barking or whining will not be rewarded. Eventually, when you say the word “down”, your dog should automatically lay down. Next, you ask for a “down” and give them treats for staying down – gradually practice taking a step back, then coming back to the dog and rewarding it with a treat before it gets up. Eventually, your dog should start lying down when you are several steps away because they associate that behavior with you returning to give it a reward. This same training can be applied when you leave the room – start with extremely short periods of time outside of the room then increase their duration.

Behavioral modification is the cornerstone to treatment of separation anxiety – all of the other tools are just aids to facilitate creating the new desired behaviors.

At Coventry Animal Hospital, we find that separation anxiety is fairly common in our patients. It doesn’t have to be an embarrassing condition to be endured but is treatable by using the tools at our disposal. We welcome any questions you may have about your pet’s behavior.