Monday, September 26, 2016

Friendly Pet Dogs Improve a Child’s Health, CDC Suggests

If there weren’t already enough reasons to own a dog, here's another....

Having a pet dog in the home helps in reducing childhood anxiety, according to research recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Researchers found that dogs can reduce childhood anxiety, particularly social and separation anxiety, in a variety of ways.  Dogs can stimulate conversation and alleviate separation anxiety, and social interaction between humans and dogs may lead to increased oxytocin levels in both the human and the dog.

“Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses to stress.  These hormonal effects may underlie the observed emotional and behavioral benefits of animal-assisted therapy and pet dogs,” according to the study.  Visit for more information on this study, “Pet Dogs and Children’s Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention?”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Savvy Dog Owner’s Guide to Nutrition on the Internet

More than 75% of all homes have computers and this is both a blessing and a curse.  For dog owners, the internet provides vast amounts of information on many subjects.  The information, however, is virtually unregulated and its quality ranges from excellent to pure quackery.  Deciding which websites are trustworthy can be difficult! Canine nutrition is a popular topic.  There are literally thousands of websites, promoting everything from recipes for raw food and vegetarian diets; advertisements for supplements and holistic foods; recommendations for diets that allegedly prevent or cure disease; ‘get-rich quick’ pyramid-selling schemes for nutritional supplements and consultation services operated by ‘nutritionists’.  Many home-made diets are promoted – some which are almost nutritionally balanced; some that are mildly unbalanced and some that are downright dangerous!

All in all, many nutritional myths are perpetuated, many half-truths reinforced and many incorrect facts conveyed.  There is, of course, some excellent information – but not nearly as much of it!

Surfing Tips
So how can you decide what to believe?  Here are some recommendations to help you when evaluating content of websites:
Discuss information with your veterinarian.  What you read online should enhance what your vet tells you, not replace it.  If in doubt, ask him or her to help you evaluate.
Research the credentials of the site’s author.  Is it a pet owner; a company; a veterinarian; a PHD in animal nutrition or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist?  Be careful when a person marketing  his or her services claims to be a ‘pet nutritionist’ or a ‘certified nutritionist’, as there is no standardization in training for this.  The exception is a veterinary nutritionist who is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN).  These are veterinarians who have undergone several years of rigorous post-graduate nutrition training in approved residency programs and who have passed the ACVN or ECVCN’s certifying examination.
Read the website address.  Sites with an address ending in .com are commercial.  Those ending are educational and those ending are non-profit organizations.  Large pet food companies often have high-quality websites with good general nutrition information that is separate from their product information.
Check the source of the information.  Do the authors simply state that a product ‘prevents cancer’ or is there a reference to a scientifically-conducted research study?  It is easy – though illegal – to make unproven claims for nutritional products but it is much harder to back them up scientifically.  If there is a reference, where is it from?  Is it from the author’s own article or promotional literature or is it from a peer-reviewed veterinary journal?  Most products on the internet do not cite studies to back up their claims.  Those that do, often cite studies on humans or rats which may not be pertinent to dogs.
Check the timelines of the information.  Things change quickly in veterinary medicine and especially in the field of nutrition.  Many websites are out of date.  What was recommended two years ago may not be accepted practice today.  A good website will be updated frequently.
Be wary of anecdotal information.  Descriptions of one person’s experience (e.g. “When my dog was diagnosed with kidney disease I gave him ‘GET BETTER’ nutritional supplement and now he’s cured”) can be misleading.  While it can be useful to hear about other people’s experiences, their positive evaluations do not mean that the actual product or treatment is really beneficial.  Always discuss what you’ve heard with your veterinarian.
Watch out for rating websites.  Most websites that rank dog foods do so either on opinion or on criteria that do not necessarily ensure a good quality food (e.t. price, ingredients, size of the company).  It’s important to use more objective criteria (science, quality control) in judging a dog food.
Be skeptical of grand claims or easy answers to difficult problems.  Remember the old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you are a critical web surfer and work with your veterinarian to analyze the information  you find, you will reap the benefits of the computer age without experiencing its problems.

WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Becoming a Veterinarian - Living the Dream!!!

Deciding on career path can be one of the most daunting decisions you must overcome as young adult. The choice to pursue either college or university education at barely 17 or 18 years of age does not permit for much time (if any) to experience the working world, and only adds to the pressure of making such a crucial decision; one that society believes will affect the rest of your life.
            It wasn’t until just recently that I now understand why I often heard people, peers, friends, and family members tell me how lucky I am that I just “knew” what I wanted to be in life. And for me the answer was simple: I wanted to become a veterinarian. (Might I point out that this is much easier said than done – but I’ll get to that later.)
            Sure, as young kids we all aspire to be great figures of authority within society -firefighters, policemen, doctors - or perhaps we dream to grow up just like our parents, becoming teachers, engineers, or architects. But how many of us are actually lucky enough to get there? Along the way we all get side-tracked, life intervenes, we discover new avenues, and before you know it we’re off down a path our 5 year-old brains didn’t even know existed.
            My love for animals fueled my passion to pursue veterinary medicine. From my earliest childhood memories I knew that I wanted to help the creatures of this earth, great and small, and that becoming a veterinarian was the path I was destined to follow. I knew it would be tough, and I heard countless people tell me how extremely difficult it would be to get accepted – boy were they right.
            In my last year of high school I elected to do a co-op placement (in a veterinary clinic of course) in order to finally get my feet wet within the profession. I had no idea what to expect, and honestly was quite nervous to see how it would compare with the visions in my head. As fate would have it (and I still think of it that way) I was chosen to do my placement at the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic. It consisted of 3 hours in the morning, Monday – Friday, for about 5 months. But that ended far too quickly for my liking.
            And so I headed off to UOIT where I completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science, and during my summers off I came back here to volunteer whenever I could. By this time I had done enough research to know (and scare myself) about what it would take to get accepted into the Ontario Veterinary College – where there are only 100 seats per year for Ontario residents…yikes. Being one of the top veterinary schools in the world, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Most accepted applicants have thousands upon thousands of hours of veterinary and animal experience, in addition to academic averages in the 85-95% range. If this wasn’t hard enough, well-rounded applicants typically have thousands of extracurricular hours as well. It seemed like a near impossible feat.
            So I buried my head in the textbooks, and spent as much time as I could volunteering. It was another truly fateful day when I received a phone call from none other than the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic offering me a position as a Veterinary Assistant. I was absolutely ecstatic that such an opportunity had arisen, and could not be happier to join such a fantastic team of individuals, committed to the welfare and care of animals. It was enlightening to see all the time and hard work I had invested start to pay off.
            As you are reading this, I have been working here for just over a year, and have loved every second of it. Thanks to the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic, and their unwavering belief and support, I was on my way to gaining the experience that would make me a competitive applicant.
            After taking several months to prepare my application, I was selected as one of the top 200 applicants chosen to undergo the grueling interview process. Drawing on my experiences here at the clinic helped in more ways than I can explain, and I can happily tell you that less than two weeks ago I received my acceptance into the Ontario Veterinary College, Class of 2020 – the single greatest moment of my life. My dream of becoming a veterinarian is now closer than ever.
            I often look back to that moment in high school, when I was selected by the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic to complete my co-op placement. At the time I did not fully appreciate the significance of that event, but now I cannot help but notice how important a role it played. Without their support, I would not be where I am today.

            The most important thing I learned through this journey (which is far from over) is to follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Turn your dreams into reality, and live the life you always imagined.

Stephanie Spencer, OVC 2020 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Injured and Orphaned Wildlife

You can help...
(On Behalf of Ontario Wildlife Rescue)
When you find that little huddle of wildlife; raccoons or skunks, squirrels or possums, groundhogs, porcupines, beavers, these are things you can do ...

Access the situation carefully—is the mother likely to return? Are cars, dogs, other wild animals, or even other humans, a threat? If it is safe, and possible, you might watch for awhile and see if a mother does return. However, if the area is one of traffic and human activity, the likelihood is slim.

Contact wildlife centres by phone. Do not use email in an animal emergency. Call before taking an animal to a wildlife centre. They may not be able to take it. Before you turn the animals over to them, ask questions. How will it be taken care of? Will it be euthanized? What is its future? Be satisfied!

Use gloves, or a blanket or towel, to pick it up, it will be frightened and will not know you are a friend. Put it deep in a dark box, with warm towels and blankets or even your old sweaters! Darkness and warmth are very very necessary. So is quietness. Handle as little as possible. If it is a bird of prey (hawk, eagle, owls) or large mammal (bears, moose, etc.) talk to a Wildlife Centre first. These types of animals even if injured can be dangerous to handle.

Best case scenario is for you to do nothing to the orphan, besides getting it to a rehabber. However, if you are having trouble finding a rehabilitator to take the orphan, or give advice on how to keep it alive until you do find one, and you believe nourishment is necessary to keep it alive, you must warm and rehydrate orphaned first.  If the baby does not feel warm, do not feed it, as it will die. Hot water bottle wrapped in towel [even pop bottle] can work.  Rehydrate first using pedialyte or Gatorade. If old enough they might lap, if not administer with a 1 or 3 cc syringe [no needle], slowly, so they do not aspirate the fluids and you can measure how much the animal has taken. This can sustain them a day or two. Never give cows milk it will kill them. Some species tolerate goats milk some do not. Espilac puppy formula or KMR kitten formula can be used with most mammals until a rehabber can take them. A raccoon can use a human baby bottle and nipple, other mammals cannot so continue using they syringe [it is better than an eyedropper]. All fluids should be warm, just like feeding a human baby.

Keep yourself clean, use gloves if possible, wash your hands after handling an animal, keep yourself, the animal and the box clean.

Realize it is illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet.

Realize it will want to live the free life for which it was intended. The time will come, when it is mature and would be breaking the bond with its own parent in the wild, and it is given to an accredited place, where that will be its future .

For more information on what you can do to help visit

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Life as a Veterinary Technology Student

Everyone has been asked at one point or another, what their dream job would be. Some might say an astronaut, professional hockey player or award winning writer. I was recently asked this question and after giving it some thought, there isn’t anything else I would rather do; except win the lottery and spend my days on a beach but that just isn’t going to happen.

 I have always loved animals but never considered the veterinary field as a career option until my childhood dog passed away. I went on to complete a Veterinary Assistant program at Durham College and worked for awhile in a different field. After a bit, I realized that I needed to be working with animals and went back to school and will be graduating from St. Lawrence College’s Veterinary Technology program this June. The program I’ve completed is unique in nature as it deals extensively with lab animals such as rats, mice and rabbits.

Courtney and Briar
My final semester has been spent doing my five and four week co-op placements, the last being here at Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic. No two veterinary clinics are the same, so I was looking for a special kind of fit from a clinic. I came across Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic online and was extremely excited to see that they worked with wildlife and exotics as well as small animals. I also wanted to make sure that the place I would be at every single day, was willing to teach me and guide me to be a great future Registered Veterinary Technician. The last four weeks that I’ve been here, I have learned so much! All of that is thanks to the amazing Registered Veterinary Technicians, Veterinary Assistants, kennel staff and receptionists. Some of the awesome things I’ve been able to do here are things like syringe feed baby squirrels (definitely adding “professional squirrel cuddler” to my resume now), participate in all aspects from pre-op preparation to post op recovery of surgery patients, run lab tests on various samples and even meet two very cute, but wild, Ocelots!

Clowning around at Puppy Happy Hour
Its clear to me that all members of staff here at Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic are absolutely dedicated to the care and love of all types of creatures. It’s not often that a clinic goes above and beyond all aspects of care and caters to their patients as well as their families. Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic runs some amazing complimentary programs like Puppy Happy Hour, where I got to play with some adorable puppies and help socialize them all at the same time; it doesn’t get much better than that! The Junior Vet program also provides some insider insight into the veterinary field for some of the younger audiences. 

Next time you’re bringing in your four legged (or two legged) pet into Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic, be sure to thank the staff for their tireless efforts while caring for your pets and teaching others like me how to as well.

Courtney Fraser 
3rd Year Veterinary Technology Student, St Lawrence College

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs – Please read all labels!

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener in the place of sugar.  Its use has been on the rise and I first heard about it in sugar free gum.  More recently it can be found in candy, some toothpastes, mints, sugar free granola bars, pudding, multivitamins, probiotics, chocolates, protein shakes, some liquid medications and even some peanut butters.   Many of these products such as the peanut butter are often marketed at health food stores.  Xylitol can also be purchased in a granulated form for baking. 
People will often use over the counter medications for their animals or use peanut butter to disguise medication given to their dogs.  If these products happen to contain xylitol it can have serious and even life threatening effects.

Xylitol can cause severe hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and/or liver failure in dogs.  Cows, goats and rabbits can be affected as well.  For some other species such as cats and birds the effects are not clear yet.  Low blood sugar can lead to weakness, seizures and potentially death.  The liver is involved in many different functions.  With liver failure we can see seizures, low protein levels, internal bleeding and death.  Not all dogs will show both signs.  The signs of hypoglycaemia are usually noted within 30 minutes of ingestion,  but can take up to 12 hours to be seen.   The signs of liver failure are often noted within 12-24 hours but can take longer.

It can be difficult to determine how much xylitol is in a product to calculate your toxic dose.  For instance, one piece of sugar free xylitol containing gum can cause low blood sugar in a 10kg dog. However not all brands of gum contain the same amount of xylitol and the amount is not usually on the label of the gum.  Larger doses need to be consumed for liver failure to occur generally.  Dogs that develop liver failure often don’t survive. 

There is no antidote for xylitol.  Early recognition is important for an optimal outcome. If you have the package of the product please always take this to your veterinary clinic with you.  Your veterinarian may get your dog to vomit if the product was ingested recently enough. Blood sugar levels and liver enzymes will need to be monitored closely.  Often an intravenous sugar drip is started and these animals are hospitalized for a number of days. 

It is important to read labels on any human product that you happen to give your dog.  Even better avoid human products in dogs if possible or contact your veterinarian prior to giving anything to your pets that is not labelled for them.  Remember dogs and cats are not small humans and their bodies metabolize things differently than us.  If you have any questions about toxins or products please talk to your veterinarian. 

Dr. Brigitte Rudolf
Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rhys & Dorian
Living in a Multi Species House

Our family has a dog, a cat, an amazon parrot and a cockatiel and for the most part they dislike each other and the feuding is usually over me. They all want my attention all the time!!  My day starts with my cat, Rhys, meowing as soon as my eyelids begin to flutter, my dog MacTavish, urgently wanting to go out for his duties and my two birds screaming from downstairs for me the minute my feet hit the floor. Good Morning!!  

Stefaan & Dorian
I rush around like a mad woman opening the backyard door while dishing out some cat food, then tear off the blankets covering the two bird cages and put a bird on each shoulder, which makes them stop screaming. Once I have fed the crew and given them fresh water I can start getting ready for work while they are eating.  I know immediately when they are done, both cat and dog come into the bedroom and the birds start to whistle loudly for me to come and get them too. As I get ready, brushing my teeth, drying my hair, and applying makeup with one bird on each shoulder, both cat and dog staring at me, and I feel so loved. 
When I leave for work I have to make sure the cockatiel is put in the parrot’s cage, the parrot is put in his daytime enclosure, the cat is in the basement and the dog has his tricky treat ball filled with his kibble to keep him occupied while I am making my getaway and I think to myself, my pets are so loved. 
My workday is peaceful in comparison to the loud mayhem of the morning but it is all waiting for me at home the second my key goes in the lock.  Before I am even in the door I can hear the birds screaming for me , my dog runs to the door and practically knocks me over and my cat is meowing and banging on the door to get out of the basement and  to me, and I feel so loved.
The evening is a delicate balance of giving my attention to each one of my pets without making another jealous but I am an expert at this now.  I can scratch the necks of each bird with my two hands and rub the bellies of my dog and cat with my two feet. All my pets are happy and I feel so loved. 
I’m sure I am not alone, thanks for reading.
Sandra McBride, Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic