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

News & Features

Look out for distemper

The raccoons of Ontario have seen an unusually high rate of distemper this year, a potentially fatal disease that can be passed on to dogs.

Distemper cases typically spike in the fall and can carried by skunks, wolves, foxes, ferrets, raccoons, dogs. Unlike rabies, distemper is not known to spread to humans. Feline distemper is a separate disease with different qualities and symptoms.

The distemper virus can be spread through direct contact, indirect contact such as a shared food dish or bedding, and even through the air. Infected animals first experience a high fever as the virus attacks the lymph nodes and tonsils before moving deeper into the body and impacting the dog’s entire body, especially the nervous system.

Infected animals will have red, watery eyes, a wet nose, lethargic behavior and loss of appetite. Vomiting, diarrhea, frequent coughing and enlargement of foot pads may also occur.

In the late stages, the dog may experience seizures and hysterical fits. Pets can recover from the disease, but treatment is limited to alleviating symptoms and sick animals must persevere through the disease in order to recover. The best strategy is prevention, including vaccinations and separation from infected animals and carriers objects.

Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be exposed to distemper. If you see a raccoon with distemper, notify the city of Toronto at (905) 546-2489 to help control the spread of the disease.

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.

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.

Why you should brush your pet’s fur twice a week

Grooming Dogs, Brushing Dogs, Toronto VeterinariansBrushing isn’t just about removing tangles and matted fur from your pet’s coat. It also promotes good health and overall wellness in your dog or cat and will help strengthen the bond between pet and owner.

Brushing needs to start early and often. Puppies will need to be introduced to the brush slowly, so let them sniff it before your first few brushing sessions. They may try to chew on it so be ready to pull it away if they try.

Let your first few brushing sessions be light and brief. Make sure it feels like a positive experience for your pet, and not a chore or an unpleasant task. Stop if you find yourself getting frustrated to avoid making it unpleasant.

Reward your pet with praise and gentle strokes to reinforce good behavior during brushing and gradually make the grooming sessions longer. Brush every few days and consider setting up a regular brushing schedule, like every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

Not only will routine brushing help you and your pet grow closer, but the activity is beneficial for your pet’s fur and skin. It pulls off dead fur and skin cells, spreads the pet’s natural oils around its coat to improve the shine and luster and it stimulates the blood supply to the skin.

With a firm but gentle stroke your dog or cat will grow to love your regular brushing sessions.

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.

Is a pocket pet right for you?

Pocket pets are small domesticated rodents, such as Guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats and hedgehogs. They are tiny, fuzzy and don’t take up too much space in the home.


Pocket pets make good first-time pets for pre-teens. They are relatively cheap to purchase and simple to maintain. They still need food and water every day, but unlike dogs, pocket pets do not need to be walked or brought outside for exercise.


Their enclosures are pretty small, but do need to be cleaned regularly.


One big difference between pocket pets and larger, traditional pets like cats and dogs are their short life spans. While this is clearly a downside as people develop an emotional connection to their pets, it also means less of a long-term commitment and responsibility.


Pocket pets need to be kept within their enclosures, unlike cats and dogs which are usually able to roam freely through the house. They can still chew up possessions just as well as a dog can, although their bites are much smaller.


Pocket pets also can bite their owners if given a chance, and can’t be taken along on outdoor adventures the way a dog can. They’re also much more vulnerable to injury because of their small bodies.


Those are the basic considerations to take into account when deciding on ones next pet. Pocket pets do not literally need to be stored in one’s pocket, but it’s so cute to see their little noses poking out that most owners try it.


Spring into Combating Winter Weight Gain & Pet Obesity

Even for the most active among us it’s tough to keep up our fitness levels during the winter months.  There are just so many distractions and more comforting ways to spend our time. The holidays—Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter—don’t help either, all that chocolate, wine and beer are oh so tempting! It takes a lot of will power to step outside on a frosty morning and go for a jog. Waking up in the dark and heading to the gym in the early morning isn’t much more appealing. As tough as it may seem for you, let’s think about how difficult it must be for our dogs and cats, who are not in full control of their exercise habits. You may not want to go to the gym but your pup doesn’t have that choice, his health and fitness, or alternatively, his weight gain is entirely in your hands.

Read More…

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


Prepare your Pet for a Fear Free Vet Visit, Toronto Veterinarians, Pet Wellness Network

The Fear Free Vet Visit

Presented by your Toronto Veterinarians at The Pet Wellness Network

A routine visit to the vet can create the exact opposite of a routine day for owners and pets alike. Many owners report that their pets do not like coming to the vet. The preventative care your pet receives throughout its life is extremely important. Our goal is make it easier for you.  Here are a few things to help your pet feel more comfortable during their vet visit:

Pet Owner Relaxation:

Ever notice that you pets can take on your emotions? Using your usual voice, and not rushing the process of getting there is very beneficial in reducing apprehension.  Keep them hungry: Unless there is a medical reason, pet owners should bring hungry pets to appointments; this allows them to be fed treats by the staff and reduce the risk of an upset stomach on the trip in

Car Rides:

For many pets, car rides symbolize a trip to the veterinarian, or some other unwelcome change. Adding some enjoyable car rides between veterinary visits will make the trip feel more normal.  Try a car ride to visit a favorite place, a park, a friend and reward them for good behavior on the ride.  Also be sure to make the car comfortable for them.  Suit them with a harness (pet safety belt) and provide them with a soft place to lie on during the ride. Speak normally, and playing soft music encourages their sense ofwell being.

Pet Carrier Issues:

Much like car rides, pets also associate their carriers with vet visits. Clients should use pet carriers as cozy dog and cat retreats at home, which helps them associate it with a safe place to be.


There are wipes and sprays available that can be used to promote a sense of well being in your pet. For example, Adaptil for canines or Feliway for felines can be used on carriers, bedding or blankets. Simply spray or wipe 30 minutes or so before you place them in the carrier.

Use ThunderShirts:

With the calming effects of consistent, gentle pressure, many dogs and about 50% of cats will respond well to wearing a thundershirt while visiting their veterinarian.

Don’t Forget Training:

You have likely worked hard on training your pet for various situations whether you know it or not.  If you revert back to training and basic commands, it gives your pet something to focus on while in the waiting room.

Reward your Pet:

Throughout and after a successful pet visit, be sure to reward your pet.  Give them play time, a treat, bring them to their favorite place or provide a new toy.   This way, their experience is reinforced as a positive one.

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