Safe Pets = Happy Pets = Safe and Happy Halloween!

Below are a few tips to help keep your furry family members in one piece this Halloween:

1. Trick-or-Treat

Keep your pets from getting into your Halloween candy stash! Both chocolate and candies (including the wrappers!) can be dangerous for your pets to ingest. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and seizures. Candy containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause vomiting, sudden drops in blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures. Tricks may be for pets, but keep the treats for the humans only.

Jenga Candy

2. Safe and Sound Indoors

It is best to keep your pets inside on Halloween. Firecrackers, excessive traffic and large crowds of people may startle your pets. Avoid the danger of having your pet run away and get lost or hit by a car. Many people still find it entertaining to tease, injure and steal pets on Halloween. Unfortunately, black cats are still the main targets of these pranks. Keep your pets safe and sound inside your home for Halloween.

Jenga Front Door

3. Playing With Fire

Be careful with lit candles around your pets. Should they get too close, they could end up burning themselves or knocking the candles over and causing a fire. Make sure electrical cords for Halloween decorations don’t become toys for your pets. Chewing on them can cause life-threatening electrical shock or start house fires. Your pets may not realize that if they play with fire, they will get burned.

Jenga Cords

4. Check IDs

Before the big night, double and triple check that your pet is wearing their collar with all ID information, just incase they do end up getting spooked and running away. Better yet, having your pet implanted with a microchip provides them with permanent identification that can be scanned at any vet hospital or animal shelter. All pets participating in Halloween activities need to be carrying one or two pieces of valid ID.

Jenga ID

5. Comfy and Cozy

If your pets become very stressed with firecrackers, knocking and doorbell ringing they may need to spend Halloween sedated and sleeping in their beds. Speak with your veterinarian about a safe sedative prescription for your pets.  A comfy and cozy pet is a happy pet.

Jenga Curled UpJenga Sleeping

**A big thank you to “Jenga” from the Squamish SPCA for being a very cooperative model for our Halloween blog photo shoot!

Save the Human Food for the Humans – Gobble, Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Many of you may have big family gatherings for dinner; some of you may just enjoy a little quiet time with your pets. With all the yummy turkey, gravy and stuffing smells travelling throughout your home, your pets may find it hard to resist not drooling and giving you their best sad-eyed begging for food look. No matter how cute they are, they do not need to stuff themselves with human food.

Allowing your pet to ingest a large amount of Thanksgiving food can lead to stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea or vomiting. It can also put your pet at risk for pancreatitis. Allowing them to chew on bones (raw or cooked) can be fatal. Small pieces can break off and tear or puncture the digestive tract and large pieces can get stuck and cause a blockage in the digestive tract.

Be sure to inform all of your guests of your house rules for your pets. Take your energetic dogs for a long walk before guests arrive. Tired dogs are often (but not always!) better behaved. Allow shy dogs and cats to have a quiet place to go and hide if they are too stressed by all of the houseguests.  It is a good idea to ensure that all pets are wearing their ID collars incase they escape from your home.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Salmon Poisoning

Salmon poisoning disease is a potentially fatal condition seen in dogs that have ingested raw salmon (as well as other raw, rotting fish along from the rivers, ocean or garbage).  Not only do dogs enjoy rolling in dead fish, they also enjoy chowing down on them for some strange reason. Mmm, tasty!


The Neorickettsia helmonthoeca organism living inside the fish is responsible for causing the disease. If left untreated, salmon poisoning can be fatal within 2 weeks of exposure. Some symptoms of salmon poisoning are:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Nasal or eye discharge
  • Weight loss

If you know your dog has ingested raw fish, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment often involves intravenous fluid and antibiotic therapy, deworming medication and other stomach calming medication. If caught early enough, your veterinarian can often induce vomiting for your dog.  Most dogs respond to treatment quickly.

Dogs are the only species susceptible to salmon poisoning. Cats, raccoons and bears eat raw fish on a regular basis without any consequence.


“Axl” and “Ocho” sniffing the fishy rocks.


“Eli” sniffing the dead salmon.


“Ocho” sniffing the dead salmon.


“Eli” curiously watching the salmon jump out of the water.

Comforting Pheromones: Can They Really Make A Difference?

If you have been in our exam rooms, some of you may have noticed a little bubble shaped plug-in on the wall. Ever wonder what these are for?  No, they aren’t air fresheners or night-lights. They are pheromone diffusers.

Pheromones are natural substances that play a large part in communication between animals. Certain pheromones play a large role in comforting animals. For example, when a cat feels safe and secure, it rubs its head against various objects in its environment. The facial pheromones this rubbing action leaves behind later helps the cat gain emotional support with minimal anxiety in that certain area of their environment (such as a living room or bedroom). A dog that has just had puppies usually releases the canine appeasing pheromone. This pheromone helps to support bonding and to comfort and reassure her puppies which gives them confidence to explore the world around them. The canine appeasing pheromone has the same comforting effect on adult dogs. Having comforting pheromones diffused into our exam rooms helps create a less stressful environment for your pet.


The diffuser in the cat exam room is called Feliway. Cats only need to detect a very small amount of the pheromone to receive the comforting and reassuring effects. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone. It is safe for all cats, non-sedative and non-systemic. It will not affect people or dogs. Cats cannot overdose on this pheromone being diffused into the room.


The diffuser in the dog exam room is called Adaptil. Dogs can gain a feeling of comfort and confidence after detecting small amounts of the pheromone. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the canine appeasing pheromone. It is safe for all dogs, non-sedative and non-systemic. It will not affect people or cats. Dogs cannot overdose on this pheromone being diffused into the room.






My Dog Ate What?! Human Poop?!

Be careful with your dogs off leash around town, as we seem to have a surplus of human feces, human vomit and garbage hiding throughout the bushes. For some crazy reason, dogs will work as fast as they can to sniff this stuff out and eat it before you can stop them. Yuck!

As it ferments in the stomach, dangerous toxins are released into the body and cause the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated and fixed pupils
  • Shaking or twitching
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Death

If you suspect your dog has ingested some garbage, contact your veterinarian immediately.  They may give your pet medication to make them vomit, run intravenous fluids into them to rehydrate their body and give some activated charcoal by mouth to bind with any toxins lingering throughout the intestinal tract. Some pets may even need intravenous antibiotics, intravenous medications to stop seizures or overnight care to watch and make sure that no other reactions occur.

Garbage guts can be fatal to our pets. Let’s keep our town clean!

Below are some photos of little Romeo who decided that eating human poop and/or vomit was a great idea at 10P.M. on a Sunday night. At 3:30A.M. his owner awoke to him shaking violently beside her in bed. His hind end was weak and his pupils were dilated. He was given medication to encourage him to vomit and what you see below is what came up…

Romeo recovered well and has hopefully learned his lesson.


Painful Pets: Don’t You Wish They Could Talk?!

Do you have a painful pet? Although they can’t talk to us, our pets have other ways of letting us know that something is bothering them. Below are some things you can look at to help recognize sigs of pain in your pets:

Look at your pet’s posture. Do they prefer to lying to sitting or standing? Are they sitting or resting in an abnormal position? Are they shifting frequently while resting?

Check in with your pet’s “talking” habits. Are they crying and whining? Are they quiet when they would normally be happy and barking?

Watch your pet walk. Are they limping? Are they stiff or slow to get going (especially after resting)? Do they have trouble getting up after laying or sitting down? Are they lagging behind on walks? Do they tire a lot faster than usual on walks?

Watch your pet’s breathing. Are they panting excessively? Does each breath come mostly from the pet’s chest or abdomen?

Analyze your pet’s activity level. Are they no longer able to do the things they used to do? Are they reluctant to go for walks or climb stairs? Are they restless? Do they shiver or shake out of nowhere?

Monitor your pet’s responsiveness. Do they cry or bite when you try and handle them? Do they keep themselves withdrawn from situations?

Watch your pet’s eating habits. Has their appetite decreased? Do they not want to eat at all? Do they eat their meal slower than they used to?

Keep an eye on your pet’s grooming habits. Do they look unkempt? Are they licking or chewing excessively in one area?

There are many things we can do to help control or eliminate pain in your pet. After consulting with your veterinarian, they may recommend some anti-inflammatory medication and rest for your pet or they may even request x-rays to further see what is going on inside your pet. Chiropractic medicine and acupuncture are also very common (and extremely helpful!) to have done for your pets.


“Eli” patiently waiting with his acupuncture needles in place. He currently has treatments to help improve the flow of his liver and kidneys, to improve his bladder tone and also to help with his arthritis.


Those Pesky Lumps and Bumps!

You found some lumps and bumps on your pet… now what?

  • Book an appointment with your veterinarian.
  • Your veterinarian will assess them mass (along with a full physical exam of your pet) and take a fine needle biopsy from the mass.
  • A fine needle biopsy can be done while your pet is awake. The area of skin over the mass is scrubbed clean and then a needle is quickly poked into the mass. A sample of cells is drawn up through the needle into a syringe. The sample of cells is then put onto a microscope slide, fixed and stained. The veterinarian then analyzes the cells under the microscope.
  • Depending on the type of cells seen under the microscope, recommendations will be made by your veterinarian to have the mass surgically removed or to continue to monitor its size and shape (if a mass does not show cancerous cells under the microscope then it is usually ok to monitor the mass as long as your pet is comfortable).  Sometimes masses will become an irritant to your pet and if they lick or chew at it, it will become infected.
  • If the mass is surgically removed, it can be sent to the lab for complete analysis. The lab will be able to report back about the type of mass, the aggressiveness of the cells and whether or not they think more tissue needs to be removed from your pet (if they think the mass has a high chance of re-growth).
  • If a mass has been surgically removed, your pet is not allowed to lick or chew at the stitches. They need to stay calm (short leash walks only for dogs!), clean and dry until the surgical site has completely healed (usually 10-14 days).  A cone collar is used to keep your pet from being able to get at their incision. They are able to eat, drink, sleep, walk around, poop and pee with their cone collar on.


Socialization 101


“Mischa” preparing to do her homework.

Puppy socialization is a very important part of a puppy’s first steps in life. Proper socialization can help eliminate behavior problems in the future and help develop a better bond between the puppy and your family. Socialization is the learning process that puppies go through to become accustomed to various things in their surroundings such as: people, other animals, different environments, etc. Be careful not to introduce your puppy to other dogs until they have been properly vaccinated. Your veterinarian will let you know when your puppy is ready to be around other dogs.

By exposing puppies to different situations in a positive or neutral way (before they can develop a fear of these things!), owners can reduce the possibility of future behavioral problems. The critical time to socialize a puppy is during the first 3-4 months of its life. If we are able to create less future behavioral problems with puppies, then we will hopefully see fewer dogs surrendered at the local shelters.

Attending a puppy training class led by a professional trainer is a great way for you and your puppy to learn together. The goal of socialization is to expose your puppy to as many different things as possible without overwhelming them. We want the puppy’s experiences to create positive memories for them.


“Mischa” and her sister “Maquita” playing a friendly game of tug of war.


  • Familiarize your puppy with touch. Whenever possible, you should touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make it easier  (for you and the veterinary team) to clean ears, brush teeth, trim nails and examine them in the future.
  • Introduce your puppy to people of all different ages, sexes, heights and races. Once your puppy seems comfortable, allow other people to touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make your puppy more comfortable in the future when being handled by others at the daycare, groomers or veterinary hospital.
  • Once your puppy is properly vaccinated, they can then be socialized around other animals. Be sure to introduce them to many different dogs in various public areas. You don’t want to do this too soon and expose your puppy to an infectious disease when their immune system is still developing.



“Mischa” when she was a little girl! Now she has grown up to be a 70lb teenager.

The Gross Truth About Anal Glands


Anal glands are two small glands located inside your pet’s anus. They have visible ducts that are located at the four and eight o’clock positions on your pet’s anus. The material found inside these glands can be quite foul smelling.  It is usually a light brown to dark brown colour. The anal glands are usually emptied when your pet has a bowel movement. Sometimes they may even empty if your pet gets startled or feel scared.

For many reasons, the anal glands may become impacted (or blocked). For example, if your pet has diarrhea, there is not enough pressure on the anal glands to express them with each bowel movement. The material inside the glands will continue to be produced by the gland and your pet will feel very uncomfortable. Dogs and cats will usually try and “scoot” on the ground (drag their bum along the ground) or excessively lick at their back end. If the glands are left impacted for too long, they are at risk for rupturing and becoming infected.

The anal glands can be manually expressed if needed. External expression is the method typically used on cats and small dogs. Internal expression is typically used for medium and large dogs.


To externally express anal glands: A tissue is held up to the anus and both sides of the anal area are gently squeezed.

To internally express anal glands: A lubricated, gloved finger is inserted into the anus. The anal gland is the gently squeezed between the thumb and forefinger into a tissue held on the outside of the anus. The procedure is then repeated on the other side.

Who Can Resist A Treat?!

Pet obesity is an extremely common problem. It increases the risk for other serious health problems including arthritis, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases. Being overweight can also lower your pet’s energy level and effect their ability to enjoy an active lifestyle with you and your family.

Weight gain can result when your pet consumes more calories than they are burning during the day. Overfeeding or overeating, inactivity or low activity levels, breed and age can all play a role in weight gain. Certain breeds, especially smaller ones, are more prone to being overweight or obese, as are many senior pets.

Give your pet plenty of opportunities for regular exercise that is appropriate for their age and health status. A vigorous daily walk (if your dog can tolerate it) is an excellent place to start. You can also take them swimming, running, hiking or have play dates with other dogs. Most cats won’t tolerate leash walking but regular play periods with fun toys can provide satisfactory activity levels and help maintain their health.

It is important to feed a well-balanced diet to your pets. If necessary, feed a calorie restricted diet. When you give treats to your pet, make sure to give healthy treats. It is best to meal feed your pets instead of allowing them unrestricted access to food (or the other pet’s food!). Be sure to get all family members are on the same page when it comes to feeding and giving treats to the family pets.

To help your pet lose weight, follow these tips:

•Consider a diet change. We offer many low calorie diets that can help pets feel full after a meal. We now offer the new Hill’s Metabolic Diet. You can phone us for an appointment and we can get your pet set up on this diet.

•Maintain portion control and invest in an accurate measuring cup.

•Try splitting meal portions. Sometimes your pet may be happier with two or three feedings per day, rather than just one. Just remember to divide the total portion for the day without any extras!

•Walk or play away the weight. A combination of diet and exercise will help any pet lose weight!

•Feed healthy, low calorie treats. Many treats on the market are very high in fat, salt and calories.

You may bring your pet in at any time and use our scales to monitor weight loss.


Stella, one of our clinic cats, looking unpressed about showing off her weight (in kilograms).

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