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

Fun Filled Articles

5 Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

Are you planning a trip with your best furry, four-legged or feathered friend? Before you go, it’s important to plan ahead and always keep their best interests in mind. Use these five tips to help ensure a safe, comfortable — and fun — journey for everybody!

1. Get Them Used to Their Carrier

Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, keeping your pet appropriately restrained is safer for both them and you. In a car, larger dog breeds can be restrained by a pet-friendly seatbelt. But for airlines, your pet almost always needs a hard-sided carrier. Soft-sided pet carriers are only okay if your pet is small enough to fit under the cabin seat.
Any carrier should be big enough that your pet has enough room to stand naturally, turn around and lie down. If you’re going to be separated from your pet at all, clearly label the carrier with their name and your travel contact information.
Don’t wait to introduce the carrier or car seatbelt just before your trip: Give your pet plenty of time to get used to it beforehand by taking short trips, or by leaving the carrier in the house with the door open so your pet can wander freely in and out. Use plenty of treats, praise, and short trials to make sure your pet associates the seatbelt, carrier, or car rides with positive things.

2. Time Food and Bathroom Breaks

A little strategic scheduling will help keep your pet comfortable: Start by feeding them four to six hours before flying, so they have time to toilet and won’t have to deal with an uncomfortably full stomach during the flight.
If you’re traveling by car, keep your pet’s feeding schedule as regular as possible. Also make sure they have opportunities to toilet first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and after every meal.

3. Check Ahead for Pet-Friendliness

Some hotels accept pets graciously, while others assess extra fees, and yet others may turn your pet away at the door. Some may also have specific rules like breed or size restrictions; the only way to be sure is to call ahead and ask. If you encounter a hotel that doesn’t allow unattended pets in the room, ask the front desk if they can recommend a pet daycare service.

4. Make Sure Your Pet Can Be Identified

Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with the worst-case scenario of being separated from your pet while on a trip. But accidents do happen.
Both dogs and cats should wear collars and ID tags just in case, and ideally, they should have a tattoo or microchip, too. Make sure that you’re accessible at the number listed on the tag, microchip, or tattoo registry, or have someone monitor that contact number for you. Finally, take current pictures of your pet with you to make searches easier — again, just in case.

5. Pack a Pet Kit

Much like traveling with a small child, having a travel kit for your pet can make the journey smoother for everybody. Useful things to bring include familiar food, toys, treats, and a packable or no-spill water container. You should also bring current vaccination records. If you’re traveling by air or crossing international borders, you’ll also need a veterinarian’s health certificate dated within 10 days of your arrival.
Of course, all the standard ways of watching out for your pets apply during a trip, too; not leaving them in a parked car, for example, or not sending them through an airline’s cargo hold during periods of very hot weather. As long as you keep thinking proactively about ways to keep your pet happy and comfortable during your trip, you’ll have a grand time traveling together.

Contact us!

Call to schedule an appointment today at one of our four convenient Toronto locations. Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital at (416) 915-7387, Beaches Animal Hospital at (416) 690-4040, Bloor Animal Hospital at (416) 767-5817, Downtown Animal Hospital at (416) 966-5122.

Fun Water Activities for You and Your Dog

Generally, unless you’re living in the wild tundras of northern Canada or the depths of Siberia, summers have a habit of getting incredibly hot and, while we’re busy complaining about sweat and fanning ourselves dramatically with our hands, our pups are stuck in their thick winter jackets. Not wanting to shave off all of our dogs beautiful fur, it’s up to us to come up with other ways to provide some relief for our furry best friends. What better way is there then taking dip at the local beach or a nearby lake?


Here are six water activities to help you and your dog cool off during the summer months:

Dog in her vest learning to swim in the pool

Teach them to swim

This is both an entertaining learning experience for you and your pup and a necessary milestone for a trip to the water. It’s best to start in a shallow area so that you can walk alongside your dog as they take their first paddles. If you know that your dog is not a natural swimmer, then it might be a good idea to purchase a life vest to ensure that they keep their head above water and to ease any stress. You can even bring some toys or treats to help ease (or bribe) your pup into the water and make it more of a game for both of you.

dog at a pool

Good Old Fashioned Fetch

This one sort of speaks for itself but once your dog has reached swimming proficiency, you can start to turn swim time into more of a game! When it gets too hot for running around outside, take to the beach and bring along some water toys for you and your pet’s enjoyment. Of course, if you dog isn’t a huge fan of returning the toy to you, you’re gonna have to be prepared to get wet!

Lifeguard dog rescue demonstration with the dogs in the pool.


“What on earth is that?” you may ask, but it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of just chilling in the pool in a tube or a pool lounge while you dog watches why not teach him something that’s fun for him and way more entertaining for you. As both a game and a rescue tool you can teach your dog to tow things like giant pool floaties (or you on giant pool floaties!) around the pool.

beautiful woman on her paddle board with her dog


If your dog has got basic obedience skills down (Sit, stay, etc), or if you have the initiative to start to train them then you should try paddleboarding! Although it’s best that you, yourself, are comfortable on a paddleboard first, it’s fairly easier skill to learn and great fun for you and your pets. For your pup’s safety, be sure you have a life jacket for them in the event that they decide to jump and be aware that should you pet decide they want to go for a swim off the paddleboard, it’s quite likely that you’ll be joining soon after.

Attractive Young Woman Surfing with her Dog. Riding Wave Together in Ocean. Surfing Dog.

Wanna take it one step further? Surfing!

Although this may take some experience on your part, surfing is a great way to spend some time with your dog out on the water. It’ll take some practice to get them to stay, getting the used to the board and comfortable with sitting on it in the waves. Once you think you’re ready though, strap that life jacket on you and your pup and get out to ride the waves! Even if you’re not a surfer you can just take them out on the board and drift along through the waves with your furry buddy.

Smiley woman playing with fun and training golden retriever puppy in swimming pool - jump and dive underwater to retrieve stone. Active games with family pets and popular dog breeds like a companion.

Or you can just relax and swim

Even that can be a fun way for you and your pet to spend some time together in the water. Just take him out swimming. Relax floating on your back while you pup swims around you or swim alongside them, doing laps across pools or exploring around the lake. The whole point is just that you get to have fun and spend quality time with your best friend in the water where it’s cool and comfortable for both of you.

jack russell dog sitting on an inflatable mattress in water by the sea river or lake in summer holiday vacation rubber plastic toy included toy included

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.

6 ways to make Halloween better for your pets

Pirate Cat

Halloween can be a great time of the year for humans, but for pets it’s a chaotic day with a lot of new hazards and strange happenings that can be confusing or even scary. Here’s six ways to keep your pets safe and happy on All Hallows’ Eve.

Jack-o-lanterns and pets don’t mix

Keep your animals away from lit pumpkins. They may get too close and get singed by the candle or may knock the pumpkin over and create a fire hazard. Both situations can be avoided by keep Jack-o-lanterns outside on Halloween and the pets indoors.

Think twice about pet costumes

Pet costumes are for the amusement of the owners; not the pets. Many pets hate the experience, but some will find it tolerable. If you think your pet won’t mind wearing a silly costume try putting it on them earlier in the week and see if they object or if it shifts around too much for them to handle.

Mind the cords

If you have an elaborate yard display or a haunted house in your garage be very careful where the trailing electrical cords are placed. Pets love to chew on cords and you can prevent them from being zapped to make sure they placed somewhere where little teeth can’t get at them.

Keep your pets indoors on Halloween

A dog in the yard that barks at every person who comes nearby won’t grant an exception to Trick-or-treaters, so keep your dog inside for the night. Halloween is also a night of pranks and busy roads so don’t let your animals outside where they can be decorated and nabbed by pranksters or struck by a vehicle. This goes double for black cats who may be targeted because of the holiday.

Make it impossible for pets to escape

Opportunistic pets love to bolt for the door when it’s opened for visitors. and Halloween is a night of constant door openings. You won’t have to hold onto a pet’s collar while admiring children’s costumes at the door if you put your pets in a safe place, such as a closed bathroom or a roomy cage.

No candy for Fido

Don’t feed your pet Halloween candy. While most people know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, what’s less known is that the artificial sweetener xylitol is also harmful to dogs. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free candies and is extremely toxic to dogs.

Fall pet safety hazards to watch out for


Summer is finally ending and the warm fall colors and cool nights will soon be upon us. However, there are some subtle dangers that come with the change in season that pet owners need to keep an eye out for.



The days are going to continue to keep getting shorter and shorter until December. As a result, morning and evening dog walks will take in more and more darkness. This presents a very real danger of car strikes because of the decreased visibility, so considering reflective vests for you and your pet and don’t let the leash run too long.

The early nightfall also means more danger to pets who are let outside to roam free, so know your pets and neighborhood and consider the risks when you decide to let them out.


School supplies

Pets and kids are usually a great mix, but young children tend to bring home a lot of items that may tempt chew-happy cats and dogs, such as crayons, glue sticks, markers and pencils. If these items are ingested they may present toxicity, choking and gastrointestinal hazards.


Fall leaves

Picturesque piles of fall leaves may be fun for pets to play in, but they can also trap in moisture and grow colonies of bacteria and mold, so intervene if pets attempt to eat any of the foliage. The same piles of leaves can also cover sharp tools and stumps, so be careful where you place them.

Lawn Mowers and leaf blowers produce a lot of noise, which may startle pets, so keep pets inside when performing any heavy-duty yard work.



With the falling temperatures homeowners may decide to add antifreeze to their engine fluids. Antifreeze also has a very sweet taste and dogs are known to lick up puddles left behind in garages and on driveways. The primary ingredient, ethylene glycol, is a ruthless poison and even a small amount can kill a cat or dog.

Poisonous plants and mushrooms

Flowers like clematis, autumn crocus and chrysanthemums bloom in the fall, which may attract the attention of cats and dogs. They are all as poisonous as they are beautiful, so don’t let your pets be around them while unsupervised. Wild mushrooms that grow in the yard or nearby woods are also as big a risk to pets as they are to people.


Rat poison

The cold weather encourages mice, rats and other rodents to find warm places to nest, which often draw them to houses, garages and other buildings. These leads to a large amount of rat poison being placed out during the fall.

If you suspect your pet has consumed any variety of poison, call your animal hospital immediately for emergency instructions.

4 tips for helping your pet settle into your new home

Did you just move to Ontario and need a new Toronto-based vet for your dog? Make sure they arrive as gently as possibleWhen you arrive at your new home, your pet will not be familiar with the neighborhood.. To keep your pet from getting lost in the confusion of unpacking here are some helpful hints to ensure that your pet settles safely into your new home.

  1. As soon as you have the address of your new home, acquire new pet ID tags with updated information on it.
  2. Or if your pet has a microchip, have the information changed before you leave for your new home.
  3. Have a familiar friend or relative be responsible for your pet while unpacking, this will offer some sense of comfort for your pet and allow you the freedom to unload undisturbed.
  4. Keep photos of pets handy in case your pet gets away from you. Photos are a great way to identifying lost pets.

Knowing your pet is safe and secure will allow you to enjoy the moment, a new home with new beginnings.


This is a three-part series.

Part 1

Part 2

4 tips to safeguard your pet on moving day

It's moving day, but are you prepared? Do you have pet photos and your new downtown Toronto veterinarian clinic address print?Moving day can be a whirlwind of activity in your home. To help your pet deal with the stress of the event, here are a few tips to keep your pet safe and limit the stress your pet may feel as your new home is dismantled on moving day.

  1. It is important to keep as normal a routine as possible. A few weeks before the move, make small changes every day. Changing your pets routine in small ways. One day moving the food dish to a new location. Maybe the next day, taking a walk at a different time or walking a different route. These small changes will make the pet aware that something is different but they will eventually accept the changes with a minimum of fuss.
  2. On moving day, place your pet in the bathroom with a ‘Do not Enter’ sign.   This will notify the moving company that they are not to enter the room and possibly disturb your pet. There will be a lot of confusion on moving day and you want to make sure that your pet is safe and secure.
  3. Have a neighbor, friend or relative take responsibility for your pet on moving day to ensure that your pet does not escape in the confusion or is left behind in the aftermath of packing.
  4. On moving day, keep photos of your pet on hand in case your pet gets away during the confusion of packing. Pictures are great for identifying lost pets.

Moving day can elicit a lot of emotions from people and pets alike. Keep your move positive and stress free by creating a safe haven for your pet, like the bathroom, while strangers dismantle your home for your new adventure.


This is a three-part series.

Part 1

Part 3

3 tips to alleviate pet stress when preparing to move

Are you moving with your cat or dog towards a new Toronto vetinarian hospital? Advice from the animal experts on how to keep your furball friends from getting stressed out.Owners may be surprised to find their pet acting out when preparing to move. Like humans, pets thrive on routine.   Like humans, change is scary and unpredictable. With some advanced planning, patience and affection any move can be successful and stress free.

  1. A few weeks before the move, purchase a carrier for your pet that is large enough for your pet to lay down in comfort. Make sure there is enough room for water and food dishes.
  2. After purchase, let your pet get familiar with the carrier. Encouraging your pet to sleep and eat in the carrier or crate will provide your pet with a personal portable shelter.
  3. Be sure to clip your pet nails prior to introducing them to their carrier and crate. This will protect them against hooking their nails on the carrier door, holes and other crevices.

Hopefully the carrier will become a haven for your pet, a home away from home. This will sooth your pet and ensures a safe and stress free trip to your new home.


This is a three-part series.

Part 2

Part 3

Celebrating the Holidays with Your Pet

Holidays are a busy time for us, entertaining, shopping, cooking, wrapping gifts, and hosting guests can be exhausting.  But don’t forget to include your pet!

Here’s a few ways to include your pet in the festivities

1-Bring your dog to that holiday party
After you ask permission of course!  This is great socialization for them and you won’t have to worry about rushing back home to let them out.  Just make sure to keep an eye on your dog, guests may want to feed them food he can’t eat or he may become irritated by all the hustle and bustle.  If your dog has a difficult time socializing, leave them at home but make sure to give them plenty of exercise and attention before and after the party.

2-Treat them to a gift.
Give your pet a gift during the holidays too.  It could be a snack, a new toy or bed. They will certainly appreciate it!  Take a look at our pet gift guides here.

3-Spend some time with them.
Pets value our time and company.  Whether you’re playing games with them or snuggling up on the couch, they will love that you gave them a little personalized attention and it will help you relax after all that gift wrapping!

4-Take them for a holiday hike!
We all want to avoid that holiday weight gain so take a few moments to get out for some fresh air and exercise with your pet!

5-Provide your pet with something to do.
Pets may get bored while you’re away for festivities or may not want to be around when all the guests are gathered in your living room.  Consider getting them a toy, puzzle or play place to occupy them while you entertain.

6-Keep your pet safe!
Read our holiday safety guide for pets blog here. 


Gifts for Pets and Owners

You’ve seen us post about gifts for pets, but what about the owners?  Here’s some unique gifts for owners from pets that you both can share!

1-Dog Biscuit Maker
Love to bake?  Make your own dog biscuits using this cute biscuit baker!
2-Cat Charmer
Play for hours with your cat using this ribbon game from

cat charmer

3-Chuck it for the long distance dog
Use this chuck it toy, available from, to tire out your dog.  This is perfect for dogs with a lot of energy and those that love to play fetch!

chuck it toy

4-Backpack for Dogs
From Back Country K9, get your dog their own backpack!  For dogs who need a task and love to help out, this is a perfect gift for them to enjoy while you take them hiking or snowshoeing!
dog backpack
5-Playplace for small Animals
Create a new space for your small animals, like guinea pigs, to have fun in!

6-Fish Garden
Love to garden?  Try this aquaponic self-sustaining fish garden.


7-Pop up Park for Birds
Try out this Pop Up Park for Birds, something fun and educational for them!

play area pop up park

8-Make a DIY Pet Paw Ornament
Use the directions here for a keepsake Pet Paw Ornament to display on your tree.

pet paw ornament

9-Orvis Dog Travel Kit 
Get them ready for holiday travel with this travel kit from Orvis.

orvis travel kit

10-Collage a Pet 
Get a custom made Collage a Pet, a canvas painting of your pet, to hang in your home.

collage a pet



After Hours Petcare Service