Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network

View Larger Map

Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

Bloor Animal Hospital

Should you wrap Christmas gifts for pets?

Pets with gift wrapping

Cats, dogs and other pets have long participated in the holiday tradition of unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree, as well as any participation in any other gift-exchanging December holiday their family celebrates.

Most of us even go so far as to wrap the gifts for our pets, and either unwrap them in front of Mittens or help Fido unwrap the gifts. Inside are new toys, pet jackets, snack or cans of premium human food like tuna or beef stew.

Taking a step back, the whole practice sounds kind of silly. Pets are oblivious to the words and images printed on boxes and packaging, so wrapping up a can of shrimp isn’t going to create a Christmas-morning surprise.

But even though they can’t read and depend more on sense of smell then vision, our experiences have been that pets enjoy unwrapping items and discovering what is inside. Sure, they may not be aware that there is something inside for them when they are first presented with the wrapped gift, but if they find a toy mouse or bone inside they will know it’s theirs.

Unlike with kids, you can remove the packaging from pet toys before you wrap them so that they can play with them immediately.

The only thing to look out for is the pet attempting to eat the wrapping paper, which could cause an intestinal blockage. Keep a close eye on your pet during the gift exchange, and avoid using any ribbons, strings, bows or tags when you wrap the gift.

As an alternative, several companies make pet-friendly wrapping paper that can be chewed without causing injury.

Yes, pets can be good gifts

Pets do make good gifts to close loved ones, even for Christmas

We’ve all heard the warnings about giving pets as gifts – it’s supposedly bad for the pets and should never be done. The concern is that the pets will be unwanted and likely to end up in an animal shelter.

But recent research says that’s simply not true.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted research in 2013 to learn the attitudes of people who own gifted pets and found equal love and attachment to gifted pets. Existing research also showed that when pets are sent to animal shelters, less than 1 percent of the pet owners say it’s because they were “unwanted gift.”

In fact, most people with gifted pets believe the act of receiving the pet from a loved one gave them a greater attachment to the pet, even pets that came as a complete surprise.

Now, there are some restrictions. Obviously giving your coworker a new puppy on a whim is a bad idea and puts them in a difficult social situation. Pets are a lot of responsibility and generally a long, long commitment, so you’re best reserving the gift of dog to close relatives or close friends in very limited circumstances. Some people may have restrictions you don’t know about, like family members with allergies who would no longer be able to visit. They may also have a lifestyle that doesn’t work with pet ownership, or be concerned about fur or the cost of having a pet.

Ideally, your gift recipient should have already indicated that they wish for a pet. Getting a pet is a big life change for someone who currently has none, a bigger difference than if someone already has three dogs and receives a fourth.

Pet gifting should not be impulsive. Remember this is supposed to be about improving the enjoyment of a friend. While there are plenty of people it doesn’t make sense to give a pet, giving one to your spouse or child can be a very gesture.

5 tips for naming a pet

A pet’s name says a lot more about its owner than it does about the pet itself. Names allow pet owners to express themselves, but like all forms of creative expressions there are some common mistakes to avoid and guidelines to follow.


#1 Make it short and sweet

The best pet names are one or two syllables in length, like “Max,” “Baxter” or “Princess.” This is both easier for the pet to recognize, and it makes it easier to scream the pet’s name when it chews up a favorite pair of shoes.


#2 Involve the kids

Any kids in the family will likely have some name ideas of their own to contribute. Just be prepared to veto ill-chosen names. Imagine what it’ll be like 10 years from now if you name the family pet after a character from a kids TV show and little “Pikachu” is still part of the family. An easy compromise is for the kids to draft a short list of names and let the kids chose one from the list.


#3 Take names from history, pop culture or mythology

There is a rich world out there to draw pet names from, such as historical names like “Poe” and “Caesar,” entertainment tie-ins like “Ozzy” or “Homer,” and a whole world of mythological figures. Here are links to lists for inspiration of mythological dogs, such as Cereberus, and mythological felines, such as Barong.


#4 Attributes or behavior

Classic pet names like “Spot” and “Mittens” come from basic observations about the pet’s appearance. This is a time-tested approach, along with names based on animal behaviors and personalities, like “Sir Barksalot,” “Dash,” and “Pounce.”


#5 Remember your pet will grow

Pets will physically change over time. It may sound cute to name your chocolate lab “Olive” while it’s little, round and black, but one day that dog will be an adult and the name won’t make as much sense. Light fur may darken, skinny animals may become fleshed out and big eyes may become more proportional. Hamsters, on the other hand, will remain little puffs of fur forever. Plan accordingly.

Flea and Tick Prevention in Toronto – Flea Collars, Dips, Sprays, and Medication

Flea and Tick Treatments and Preventions in Toronto ONSince Fleas seem to be pestering everyone these days, we thought we would put together something talking about the various forms of Flea prevention and treatment available to pet owners.

If you are having flea issues and need help getting that problem under control you can call one of our Toronto Veterinary Clinics and we will recommend the best course of treatment for you. We have five clinics in Toronto, Willowdale Animal Clinic serving the North York and Toronto North neighborhoods, Beaches Animal Hospital servicing the Beaches and East end Toronto area, Bloor Animal Hospital serving Bloor West Village, West Toronto neighborhoods and Etobicoke, Downtown Animal Hospital serving the downtown waterfront neighborhoods including Cabbagetown, The Danforth, The waterfront, King St. West and downtown Market and Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital serving Toronto’s most Eastern neighborhoods. Call any of our clinics today, we are here to help you and your pets!

Collars, Dips, Sprays, and Medication for Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are not only a nuisance, they can also transmit deadly diseases to you and your cat or dog. If left unchecked, you can have a serious problem within your household. There are many options available for cat and dog owners to keep pests at bay, and here we will discuss the most common ones used today. Please use them only as instructed and consult your veterinarian if your cat or dog experiences any adverse reactions after being given a flea and tick control product.

1. Topical Medications

Medications that you apply to your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck, are called “spot-ons.” These popular products typically contain ingredients that repel and kill fleas and ticks as well as mosquitoes. Spot-on chemicals spread over the animal’s entire body, depositing into the sweat glands of the skin, where the active ingredient can be released over several weeks’ time. They are very convenient to use and will continue to work even if your cat or dog is bathed or goes swimming.

2. Oral Medications

If you don’t like the idea of using a topical medication on your cat or dog, there are a few different monthly oral medications available. Some products not only kill fleas and ticks, they also prevent heartworm disease in dogs  and cats and even some internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Side effects of oral flea and tick preventive medications are generally few, but can include vomiting and diarrhea. Some animals may develop a skin reaction that causes redness, itching, and/or hives to develop. Depression and lack of appetite have also been reported.

3. Sprays

A relatively inexpensive method for controlling fleas and ticks on your cat or dog is to use a spray. Depending on the product you select, flea sprays can last for quite some time (up to several months), as long as the pet stays dry (i.e., the product is not washed off). Application of sprays is relatively easy, but be sure to avoid getting the product close to your pet’s eyes or mouth. Read all instructions carefully before applying anything to your pet.

4. Powders

Powders are dusted over the entire body (again avoiding the eyes and mouth) and rubbed into the fur and even between the toes. Side effects of powders may include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, lack of appetite, and shaking.

5. Shampoos

Flea and tick shampoos will help wash away adult fleas and their eggs for a short period of time, but will not usually stop an infestation or keep the fleas from returning. The common ingredients in these products are usually pyrethrins, which kill adult fleas quickly on contact. When using a shampoo, allow it to stay in contact with the skin and coat for at least 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Avoid getting this product in your pet’s eyes or mouth.

6. Dips

A flea and tick dip is a concentrated liquid (usually containing a pyrethrin) that is diluted with water and applied to the animal with a sponge or poured over the body. The pet is not rinsed off after the dip is applied, and is allowed to air dry. These products should never be used on very young animals or on nursing or pregnant animals. Dips can be quite concentrated, so use caution when applying. Protect your own skin and eyes while you are applying the dip to your pet, and take care not to allow the product to get in your pet’s eyes or mouth.

7. Collars

Flea collars use a concentrated chemical to repel fleas (and ticks) from an animal. The chemical will disperse all over the animal’s body and can last for several months. The common ingredient in flea and tick collars is usually pyrethrin, but some will also contain insect growth regulators to reduce flea populations. Flea and tick collars are relatively inexpensive and can provide some protection to your cat or dog, but they can also smell quite strong and can be irritating to your pet.

If you are unsure of how to treat your pet or what flea & tick prevention medication is best for your pet, give one of our Toronto Veterinary Offices a call.

Veterinarians in North Toronto / Willowdale – Willowdale 24-Hour Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in The Beaches / East Toronto – Beaches Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Ashbridges Bay / East Toronto – Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Downtown Toronto – Downtown Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Bloor / West Toronto – Bloor Animal Hospital


Does Your Pet Have Allergies?

Like humans, there are many, many different types of allergies that your pet can have. While it may not be as easy to notice them on animals as it is with people, it is very important to keep a watchful eye out for anything unusual, like extra scratching or fatigue. Similar to us, pets can be affected by allergens in the air, allergies resulting from bites, food allergies, or allergies from things they come in contact with.

Air Allergens: These are your seasonal allergies. Be it pollen in the spring, ragweed in the fall, or dust mites in the winter, seasonal allergies affect pets similarly to how humans are affected. Common symptoms that point to your pet have an allergic reaction to air allergens could be chewing at the feet, incessant licking at the groin, rubbing of the face, inflamed ears, wheezing, or respiratory issues.

Allergies From Bites: Fleas are an issue for many reasons, one being allergies. Small red bumps are to be addressed immediately!

Food Allergies: 10-15% of all pet allergies are food related. Increased bowel movements and soft stools should be closely monitored. Common symptoms that point to food allergies would be constant itching (face, feet, limbs, and trunk), ear problems, or skin infections.

Contact Allergies: Not as common but just as important are contact allergies. These are allergies that stem from things that pets rub into, such as carpets, plastics, or reactions from certain cleaning products.

Just as you would address allergies with any member of your family, it’s important to address your pet’s allergies as soon as possible!

Veterinarians in North Toronto / Willowdale – Willowdale 24-Hour Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in The Beaches / East Toronto – Beaches Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Ashbridges Bay / East Toronto – Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Downtown Toronto – Downtown Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Bloor / West Toronto – Bloor Animal Hospital

Fall Fun in Toronto with Your Pet

The warm days and cool nights are here, with all the beautiful colors and smells of Fall.  It’s a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy some time with your dog.  Here are a few activities and tips for enjoying the Autumn season with Fido.

1. Take a fall hike

The Fall is a perfect time to get outdoors, with the cooler weather, beautiful colors, and drier days it’s a great time to get some exercise! Be sure to protect yourself and your dog from ticks and other parasites on your hike as they are still out.  Even though the weather is cooler, hydration is important.

2. Attend an outdoor Festival.

Many outdoor festivals are becoming pet friendly now.  It’s a great opportunity to share some fun with your dog, while also socializing them.  Make sure that the festival is indeed pet friendly, and keep your dog under your watch and on a leash.  Watch your dog closely for signs of stress and remove them if you see they are getting overwhelmed.

3.  Snuggle up at home

Everyone loves a good cuddle and it’s great on a cool night to curl up with your pup while reading or watching television.  Spend some time sharing love and bonding with your dog.

4.  Try an agility class.

Dogs love to play!  Try an agility training class if your dog has enough energy and stamina.  This will tire them out both physically and mentally and it’s a lot of fun!

5.  Relax in your backyard.

Fall is a great time to just be outside, enjoying a fire in your backyard, reading the newspaper and playing fetch.

Have a safe and wonderful Fall!

Caring for a Senior Pet

Senior pets often need specialized care.  Here are a few tips to care for your senior pet:

1-Keep up on their physical exams and vaccinations. 

As pets age, their immune systems need extra care and catching any health issues early will be less expensive and prevent future issues and complications for your pet.

2-Provide your pet with plenty of exercise and activities. 

Exercise helps keep your pet youthful and prevents weight gain plus it keeps them mentally engaged.  Exercising with your pet, whether it’s just a walk around the block, playing a game, or hiking, is a great way to bond with them.

3-Feed your pet a nutritious diet.

This may require supplements or changing their food.  Keeping your pet lean is very important.  Remember that even a few pounds on your pet can put a lot of stress on their body and joints.

4-Make sure to clean their teeth.

Oral health is so important as pets age.  If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how awful it feels.  Keeping a pet’s mouth and teeth clean will help with their immunity and overall health.

5-Provide you pet with any assistance they need to get around.

As pets age, they can get stiffness and arthritis.  If they start to show signs of difficulty getting up and down stairs, jumping onto the couch, or even walking around outside, take steps to make them more comfortable to limit inflammation.

Share your tips for caring for a senior pet with us!


New Pet Guide: How to Find and Prepare for a New Pet in Your Home

1-Do your research

Find a pet that will fit with your home.  If you have allergies to certain animals, it’s best to avoid trying to make it work.  If you have young children, be sure your future pet has the temperament to be in a home with kids.  Make sure you have the time, financial ability and the space to accommodate a new pet.  Especially if its a younger pet, you may need to be at home with it to help it adjust and train it.

2-Don’t rush

There are plenty of pets out there, so take your time finding one that will be a perfect fit for you and your family.  It’s important to find one that has the personality you’re looking for.

3-Test out the waters

Before committing to a new pet, future owners can usually spend time with the animal to get to know it and be sure its a right fit. This may even involve being able to bring it home for a few days.

4-Address Health Concerns

Your pet may need vaccination updates, spaying/neutering, or could have a parasite that may not show symptoms.  Discuss this with your breeder/adoption center and be sure to get them proper testing and veterinary care before taking them home.

5-Prepare your home

When ever you bring a new pet into your home, you will find that there are a lot of things they can get into.  Keep all toxic items secured and out of their reach.  Put trash in a container they can’t get to, mend any sections of a fence where they could escape to, and prepare an area for them.  At this time, buy your basic pet supplies you need, food, bowls, terrariums, flea/tick prevention, leashes, pet carriers, crate, litter box, etc.  Set these items up in your home so they are ready for your new pet when they arrive.

6-Transport your new pet home safely

While it may not cross your mind, pets can get injured in a car accident.  Use a proper pet carrier or a harness/pet seatbelt when you transport your new family member home.

7-Allow your pet adjustment time

Let them get familiar with their new home.  This may result in them sniffing around, hiding, or maybe even having an accident.  Reassure them that they are in a safe place and give them space if they appear to need it.

8-Spend time bonding with your pet

This world is all new to them, new home, new people, maybe even other new animals.  Spend some time bonding with your pet and show them this is their true home.  This may take some time and may require play time outside, training classes, taking walks or just quality time on the couch.

9-Train them and set boundaries

Some pets require more training than others.  Perhaps you just have to show them the litter box, or you need to teach them to not jump on the counters.  Maybe you want to teach them tricks.  Whatever it is, training is great for the pets and it helps you bond with them!  Make sure to set boundaries and stick to them.  If the dog isn’t allowed on the couch, don’t let other people allow him on the couch.

10-Have fun and enjoy life with your new family member!

What’s that Smell – Flatulence in Dogs

Sniff, sniff. Yuck. What is that smell?! Here at the hospital it’s a story we hear all too often. Almost daily we see concerned pet owners distressed and embarrassed about their dog’s foul flatulence (or passing gas). Firstly, this is a common problem and typically not something you’d need to worry about too much. That said, we understand that for people who take their dogs in to work, or keep them at their side during a variety of social situations, doggy gas can be a real issue.

Read More…

Doggie beach etiquette 101- tips for the responsible pet owner

The dog days of summer are here and you may plan to head to the beach for the next few weekends until the weather cools down. Frolicking on the beach with your best friend and companion on a hot day can be as enjoyable to you and your pet as the wildlife and beachgoers sharing the same space.

Be sure to follow a few of the following etiquette suggestions to ensure the safety and well being of your pet, wildlife, and fellow beachgoers.

Check with the local laws prior to bringing your pet to the beach.  Ordinances regarding dogs on the beach vary with the seasons and violations could incur a fine.

Dogs at Beaches, Dogs Beaches Animal Hospital, Beaches Veterinarians, Toronto ON

Dogs on the beach should be leashed at all times.  This keeps the dogs, beachgoers and wildlife safe

Do not allow dogs to chase birds.

Do not allow dogs to dig above the surf line.  This will protect turtle and bird nesting areas.

Pick up your animals waste.  While it is true that the ocean will wash it away eventually, the pet waste will increase the bacterial levels in the ocean which could lead inspectors to close the beach due to health risks.

Additionally, the American Kennel Club has provided the following 6 guidelines to keep your dog healthy at the beach;

  1. Provide plenty of fresh water and shade for your dog
  2. Dogs can get sunburn, especially short haired dogs and one with pink skin and white hair.  Limiting your dog’s exposure when the sun is unusually strong by applying sun block to its ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.
  3. Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions – dogs are easy targets for jellyfish and sea lice.
  4. If your dog is out of shape, don’t encourage him to run on the sand.  Running on a beach is strenuous exercise, and a dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament
  5. Cool ocean water is tempting to your dog.  Do not allow him to drink too much seawater.  The salt in the water will make him sick
  6. Salt and other minerals found in the ocean can damage your dog’s coat. So, when you are ready to leave for the day, rinse him off with fresh water.

We know our canine companions better than anyone else, but it is important to remember most of us are not medical professionals.  If you are uncertain on how to treat your dog’s medical needs or you have any questions, you should contact your Toronto veterinarian or Toronto Veterinary Hospital  immediately.

Veterinarians in North Toronto / Willowdale – Willowdale 24-Hour Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in The Beaches / East Toronto – Beaches Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Ashbridges Bay / East Toronto – Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Downtown Toronto – Downtown Animal Hospital

Veterinarians in Bloor / West Toronto – Bloor Animal Hospital

After Hours Petcare Service