The Lab Sisters – Dakota and Hailey: A Double Weight Loss Story

Obesity is the most common form of malnutrition in our companion animals in North America. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are significantly overweight or obese. People often do not recognize what a healthy weight should look like on their dog or cat and often think that “pudgy” is cute. Just think, how many cute Pugs, Labs or Beagles do you know that are a “tad” roly poly? As we all know, obesity leads to many long-term health problems, including diabetes, osteoarthritis, cruciate ligament tears and certain cancers.

Even knowing the benefits of a healthy weight, it is often hard for people to stop feeding their pets table food, scraps and dog cookies because “they are loved”, “they look at me with those big eyes”, “they went out for a pee” etc. We give food as freely as head pats these days. Unfortunately we are loving our pets the wrong way.

Lovely Dakota

When they were first seen at Snelgrove Vet Services in March 2018, Dakota and Hailey’s owners were aware that they were a bit of the heavy side and were rightfully concerned. They were particularly concerned about lovely Dakota. They were worried that her hips were bothering her because “when they went for a walk, she would lay down and not want to move”.  After an examination, it was easy to see that her hips and legs were not an issue. Her issue was her extra weight.

Dakota, a spayed female, yellow Labrador Retriever was, at that time, 4 years old. She weighed 45.2 kg (99.44 lbs) and had a Body Condition Score of 4.5/5 (with 1 being extremely underweight and 5 being extremely overweight) which indicated that she was quite heavy indeed.

(A BCS is a subjective measurement used to determine the body type of a patient based on several different visual/palpable parameters. Is there a definite “tuck-in at the waist? Does the belly droop or is it tucked up? Are the ribs easily seen? Are the ribs felt but not seen? Are ribs not felt at all? Etc. Regardless of the chart used, the ideal BCS for healthy animal is usually half of the upper number on the chart – I.e 2.5 or 3 out of 5 would be ideal in Dakota’s case)

Dakota Wedgewood 1

Labrador retrievers are well known for being the “vacuum cleaners” of the canine world. Most will keep eating until they are physically sick to their stomachs. There have been numerous cases of Labs eating ENTIRE Thanksgiving turkeys and then eating a whole pie for dessert, when left unattended. People often laugh about their overzealous appetites but most people don’t realize that there is actually a genetic reason for them to be like this. Labs carry a gene deletion on their POMC gene which causes them to be genetically prone to weight gain because their brains do not receive the signal that their stomach is full after eating a meal. This then leads to a dog that is extremely food motivated, perpetually hungry and as a result, owners usually feed way too much food and offer way too many treats. An increase in body weight, and body fat is inevitable.

(There is actually a good side to this gene deletion, believe it or not. Labs, as a result, are extremely easy to train when using food as a reward. It has been proven that Labrador retrievers in the service dog sector have an 86% occurrence of this defective gene which makes them so successful throughout their training. Food = success.)

Back in early 2018, Dakota and her sister Hailey were eating a popular GRAIN-FREE pet food from a pet store. Their mom thought she was doing the best for them, and why wouldn’t she? There are so many marketing campaigns about dogs being “true carnivores” and not needing grains in their diets etc. Even pet store employees recommend these foods as grains are thought of as fillers and allergy-triggers. In truth, most dogs benefit from grains and these grain-free diets are thought to cause other health issues not being discussed here. Grain-free foods are higher in protein and by necessity are therefore higher in fat than diets that have a good ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat. This trend towards GRAIN-FREE diets, is leading our pets toward obesity faster than ever before.

Dakota Wedgewood 2

Dakota was eating a high fat food and being a lab, she loved to eat endless amounts of other food and treats. Her mom and dad readily admit that they gave both dogs “heaping scoops of dog food”, sweet potato treats, cheese, gourmet dog treats and pigs ears regularly. Upon further questioning, mom and dad realized that, since they left at different times for work, they were each giving cookies to say goodbye to the girls every morning and each giving cookies when they came home at night. Too many calories were going in and not enough calories were being burned off.

Extra calories add up over time as we all know. And we all know that exercise helps to burn off some of the excess calories but often we just don’t feel like exercising, especially if we’ve had a long day, a hard day or the weather is crummy. Dogs aren’t any different, but it’s up to us to feed them correctly and exercise them properly. They can’t feed themselves in our houses, they can’t portion control their food/treats, and they can’t take themselves for long, brisk walks/runs. That’s up to the humans in their lives to do that for them.

Dakota Wedgewood 3

And Dakota’s mom and dad did JUST that. After speaking with our staff over several months, they absolutely rose to the occasion with our complimentary Project Slim Down counselling and weigh-ins. We had them transition to a weight loss food (with grains), measure their food every time and completely reduce treats to 1/day.

Our regular weigh-ins started showing wonderful progress. By October 2018, Dakota was down to 41.4 kg (91.8 lbs) and by November, she was down to 39.8 kg (87.5 lbs). In January 2019, she was down to 37.7 kg (82.9 lbs) and by March she was 35.5 kg – a FULL 10 kg less than she was a year earlier. She was then able to go for long walks again without stopping!!!

She didn’t stop there. By June of this year, she had reached 34.5 kg (75.9 lbs) and by our last recorded weight this summer, she was down to 33.2 kg (73 lbs).

Dakota Wedgewood after

Dakota has been an absolute success story for our clinic. Her owners have done such an amazing job with recognizing the issue with her weight, being totally on board with helping her lose the weight and being completely committed to changing her life for the better.

But we can’t forget about sweet Hailey!


Hailey, their other spayed female, yellow Labrador retriever, is year younger than her sister and is a smaller dog all around, but even she was heavy at 34.5 kg (75.9 lbs) in early 2018 with a BSC of 4/5.

Hailey Wedgewood before

By October 2018, with the new weight loss food, the measured amounts of food and treats, Hailey had also dropped a lot of weight and she weighed in at 33 kg (72 lbs). Hailey’s weight wasn’t as big of a concern to us as her older sister’s, but her mom and dad knew she could be slimmer. They persevered and as of March 2019, they got her down to a fantastic weight of 29.6 kg (65.1 lbs) which she has maintained since then.

Hailey Wedgewood after

We couldn’t be prouder of our yellow Lab sisters and their owners. They have done a fantastic job helping these girls to live a healthier, more active life. Congrats to all of them!!

Dakota and Hailey Wedgewood puppies Aug 13-19

October is RVT Month!


During the month of October, we want to take a moment to thank our amazing RVT’s for all of their hard work and dedication to animal health. This is not only within the veterinary industry itself, but also within our very own clinics across the country!

What is an RVT?

An RVT, or Registered Veterinary Technician, is part of the support staff within a veterinary hospital. It sounds simple enough, but a tech actually has one of the most challenging roles within a practice. They work alongside a veterinarian and are responsible for performing diagnostic procedures on patients such as blood collections and taking x-rays; they are responsible for administering treatments, whether is it orally, rectally or through intravenous; they are responsible for monitoring patients throughout surgery, into recovery and even following up after they’ve gone home. Honestly, the list could go on for pages – basically, they do it all! (And all with a smile on their faces, even if they’ve had to change their scrubs twice today after getting peed and/or pooped on!)

An RVT is also highly educated within the animal health field, and they are constantly learning. In fact, they are required to fulfill a certain amount of “continuing education” credits in order to keep their status as a registered technician, so they are always bringing new things to the table in an effort to provide better care for their patients.

So, the next time your pet goes to “the back,” guess who they are going to see…

You’re right, it is one of our amazing, talented, dedicated, compassionate RVTs!

A big thank you to all of the wonderful RVTs out there. We couldn’t do it without you!

Weight Loss Success Story – Phoenix

Phoenix is a 5 year old, neutered male Doberman Pinscher who we had noticed to be a little on the heavy side in 2017. This good-natured boy LOVED to eat his food, apples and any other treats offered to him but this unfortunately left him being quite overweight by mid June 2018. He was recommended to start on our PROJECT SLIMDOWN by our staff that month. His weight that month was 55 kg (121 lbs) and we stressed the importance of a slow weight-loss to his loving owners. They knew we worried that he might hurt his ligaments in his knees and was at an increased risk for other complications from being overweight.

As everyone knows, change is always difficult, but Pheonix’s owners rose to the occasion. They initially tried to keep him on his canned and dry weight loss food they purchased from the pet store, but it quickly became obvious that he wasn’t losing enough weight by December 2018.

(As a sidenote:

Bags/cans of pet food often have feeding guides on the back of the bag/can to allow people to have a rough idea of how much food their pet should be eating daily. This guide however, is just that – a guide. Each pet is different, depending on activity level and their specific nutrient requirements. It is often not mentioned on these bags/cans of food that a pet should be fed a LEVEL, MEASURED amount (instead of simply eyeballing a scoop) and that the measured amount needs to be based on the pet’s IDEAL weight, not their current weight if a weight-loss program is being implemented. For example, a good ballpark weight should be made by a veterinary team member for a weigh-loss goal and then THAT weight should be followed on the back of the bag/can. Also, keeping in mind that once this measured feeding of dry/canned food has been established, any additional treats, human table scraps etc., will be above and beyond the needs of the pet and will derail any weight-loss program.)

Phoenix started on our Purina Veterinary Diet food, Overweight Management (OM) in December 2018 and his owner’s gradually switched him over to this from his pet store variety. They also cut out his whole apple-a-day snack and reduced any canned food that they had been feeding him. His weight loss results were amazing and continue to this day. From his heaviest weight at 55 kg, he is now an AMAZING 43.5 kg (95.7 lbs) and his owners report that he has so much more energy and loves to run again at the park like he did when he was a puppy.

We are SO proud of Phoenix and his family and are so happy to share his story with you. His before and after pictures of his weight-loss journey are a testament to how successful he has been and shows just how much livelier and happy he has become.

If you have an overweight pet and would like us to help your pet lose some weight, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic. This weight-loss program is complimentary and is a win/win scenario for you and your beloved pet.


Phoenix Fonseca before July 18-19

Before his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca before 2 July 18-19

Before his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca after July 18-19

After his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca 2 July 16-19

After his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca 1 July 16-29

After his weight loss

Recent Declaw Bans happening in Canada

Since the early 1990’s people have been questioning whether it is ethically correct to be declawing cats just for the ease of living with them. Many cat owners in the past would choose to declaw their cats at the time of spaying or neutering as per the recommendations of their veterinarians. Younger cats tend to heal quicker than their older counter-parts. Declawing was performed to prevent cats from scratching on furniture or the people they live with. Especially kids. The problem with this was two-fold. As a veterinary profession, we were led to believe that fewer pets would be surrendered to shelters because their owners would enjoy them more by not having to be stressed by inappropriate behaviours and secondly, we were performing these procedures prior to even knowing whether a specific cat would even behave in that manner.

What we do know, declawing is the equivalent to amputating all of your fingers at the first joints.  The word implies that it is only the nail that is permanently removed but in actuality it’s the whole first section of bone. Studies over the years have been inconclusive as to whether certain behaviours occur because cats have been declawed. (Inappropriate urination, increase in biting behaviour)

In recent years, many provinces have banned the procedure altogether. Nova Scotia, British Columbia and PEI, all have a ban currently in place, with Newfoundland/Labrador will as of January 2019.

So where do we stand here in Ontario? Some of us still feel declawing has it’s place. People that are immuno-compromised may under a doctor’s recommendation choose to declaw their cat(s) to protect the health of themselves or a child.

So, what do we do instead? Trimming your cat’s nails from an early age is a simple way of making sure the sharp, pointy claws won’t even cause an impact. Nail caps can be applied to cats that persist to scratch. Providing and teaching your cat the appropriate places to scratch.

Pheromones can be applied to help entice cats to scratch in appropriate area(s) and to avoid others (Feliway and/or Feliscratch). Scratching posts with catnip rubbed on them many times helps entice them to use the area.

If you have any questions, as always, feel free to contact us at 905-846-3316



Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

What is Echinococcus Multilocularis?

Echinococcus multiocularis is an emerging tapeworm here in Ontario. Echinococcus is found across the globe and is especially prevalent in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America. Prior to 2012, Echinococcus multilocularis had never been seen in wildlife nor in domestic animals in southern Ontario. Since that time, it has established itself here. It is also now firmly established in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Although the risk is extremely low people need to be made aware of it.

antique antique globe antique shop antique store

Why Should We Be Worried?

Echinococcus multiocularis is a small tapeworm that can cause big problems in humans. People who are infected with this tapeworm do not typically show signs for 5 to 15 years due to their incubation period. It then typically presents itself as a cyst on the lungs or liver, but cysts can develop anywhere. Once the cyst is large enough to cause compression on other parts of the body, that’s when we typically find out we have it.

people in front of macbook pro

Now that we know our wildlife here in Ontario can be infected, we have to think about the possibility of our canine and feline friends being exposed to it, as well as ourselves.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Echinococcus multiocularis is typically found in foxes, coyotes, and dogs. Larval stages can be transmitted to people through ingestion of food, water or fecal material contaminated with tapeworm eggs. Follow these easy steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from a potential infection:

  • Do not allow dogs to eat rodents or other wild animals.
  • Avoid contact with foxes, coyotes, stray dogs and other wild animals.
  • Do not encourage wild animals to come close to your home and do not keep them as pets.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling dogs or cats, and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Deworm your dog regularly.
  • Inform your veterinarian if you notice white rice-type looking segments on your dog’s feces or anus.
Fireworks: Effects on Wildlife, Farm Animals and Pets

Fireworks: Effects on Wildlife, Farm Animals and Pets

Spring has arrived and with summer to come we welcome all the activities and events that go along with it. Unfortunately, one of the things that make our children smile with glee is the same thing that puts animals into flight mode around the world – leaving orphaned young, causing injury to others and sorrow in our hearts. Fireworks are actually of huge concern to animal welfare everywhere.

Horses bolt, ending up on public streets; cows stampede, ever watched a western where they shoot off a gun to get cows to run? Same thing; birds flying into objects, or each other; mothers leaving their young and becoming disoriented when they’ve gone to far; deer darting and becoming impaled on fences, the list goes on and on…

Here are some articles from the news to help put this devastation into perspective;

49 horses injured and 11 killed since 2010: the real cost of fireworks *warning: graphic images*

A dairy farmer in Maryland was forced to put down four of his cows in 2013 after they were injured in a stampede caused by a firework show in a nearby field.

If anyone remembers, it was all over the news,  in 2011 in Arkansas, hundreds of birds fell dead to the ground during New Year’s eve festivities with researchers thinking fireworks were to cause for them to be flying and crashing into each other and objects due to fear. 

Forbes magazine posted this  in December 2017, reaching out to everyone whether on not this should continue and countries and municipalities around the world are reaching out to politicians to put an end to these. 

Let’s also not forget all the injuries to people and possessions caused regularly by fireworks. In 2015, Brampton had a house fire that engulfed two neighbouring houses when they used fireworks in their backyard. Brampton does actually have a by-law that private homes can NOT use fireworks that travel more than 10ft from where they are ignited.

“Permitted Fireworks” are consumer fireworks that do not travel more than three (3) metres (10 feet) from the point of ignition, and may include fireworks such as fountains, wheels, ground spinners, burning school houses, flying ghosts and sparklers. But even these should be used with extreme caution. 

“Prohibited Fireworks” are consumer fireworks that would reasonably be expected to travel or pose a hazard more than three (3) metres (10 feet) from the point of ignition, such as roman candles, flying lanterns, barrages, bombshells, cakes, comets, mines, missiles and skyrockets.

Should we all be thinking twice about the impact these cause to the animals on this planet? Do we really need to showcase these to celebrate a public holiday?

Alternatives should be considered.

Dr. Dallas Reports on Accidental Pet Poisoning

Dr. Dallas Reports on Accidental Pet Poisoning

Allow me to set up a scenario for you:

You are just getting home from work, or grocery shopping, or picking up the kids, or working outside… In any case, when you walk through the door you are met with a scene that no pet owner ever wishes to encounter: your dog or cat has gotten into something. If you are lucky, it is just a spilled pile of mail, or maybe a torn up pillow. But what if it’s not? What if they have gotten into some medications, household cleaners, or maybe even a box of chocolates?

Do you know what to do in a situation where you pet has potentially ingested something that could do them serious harm?

Each year, thousands of pets in North America suffer accidental ingestion of potentially deadly substances that have been found in and around their home. The key to saving your pet from an unintentional poisoning is education. In this blog, we will discuss how to prevent pet poisoning incidents and what to do if you believe that your pet has ingested something toxic.

Not everyone is lucky enough to only have a few pillows destroyed…


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

– Benjamin Franklin

The best way of saving yourself the headache (and potential heartache) of a pet accidentally ingesting something toxic is to be aware of what items within your home are poisonous to your animals and making sure that they are safely stored in a place that your dog or cat cannot get to.

Toxic Substances

A full list of substances toxic to dogs and cats can be found here, but the most common ingested items are:

  • Alcohol
  • Antifreeze
  • Chocolate
  • Fertilizer
  • Lilies
  • Mouse/Rat Poison and
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Advil (ibuprofen)

Remove Temptation

Once you have familiarized yourself with what items in the home can be a potential danger to your pet(s), the next step is to do something about them. You need to eliminate your pet’s access to these items, which can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Crate your pet when you are not able to supervise them.
  • Make use of baby gates or other barriers to stop animals from entering areas where harmful items are kept.
  • Store dangerous items in a locked cupboard, or out of reach entirely (even from counter-surfing animals) on a high shelf.
  • Swap out the use of rodenticides and insecticides with traps but keep them far from your pet’s access. Don’t forget unwanted critters can track poisons to other locations around the home if they walk through them. Also, an avid mouser may potentially ingest mouse/rat poison if they catch the offender after it has been exposed.
  • Keep the clutter to a minimum – meaning, remove any enticing items (ie. chocolates, scented lotions, flavoured medications) from counters and side tables.
  • Invest in trashcans with a secured lid, or keep them behind closed cupboard doors or in inaccessible rooms.
  • Clean up spills immediately (ie. antifreeze or de-icers in the garage, coffee grinds or table salt in the kitchen).
  • Close toilet lids after use, especially if you use automatic toilet bowl cleaner in the tank, or stick-on pucks on the inside of the bowl.
  • Eliminate toxic flowers from any bouquets or potted plants received and displayed.
  • Hang your purse out of reach on a hook, or store in a closed closet.
  • Keep pets off of lawns that have been sprayed with commercial herbicides.

When they are not being supervised, the best place for a mischievous pup is their crate!

Be Ready

It is always recommended that you have your pet’s information on-hand. This means an accurate description of your pet and their medical history available in case you, or anyone else, need to go to the nearest veterinary clinic in an emergency situation. Keep a folder handy that is clearly labelled and indicates the following:

  • Pet’s Name, including the last name they are registered with. It is especially important to keep registered last names the same if you go to more than one clinic.
  • Age, Sex and Breed/Species
  • Up-to-date Weight
  • List of any underlying Medical Conditions
  • List of any Current Medications

It is also important to have necessary contact information readily available. This would include the name of your veterinarian and their clinic’s phone number and address, as well as an after-hours emergency clinic should you require assistance outside of regular business hours. The information for emergency services such as the Pet Poison Helpline would also be useful. Be sure to include all of your own contact information as well, in case it is a house-sitter or dog-walker that has encountered the emergency situation.



Despite your best efforts the worst has happened – you suspect your pet has ingested something that they shouldn’t have and you are concerned that it could pose a serious health risk. There are a number of steps that you need to take, and you need to act fast. Time is a factor here, even if your pet is not yet displaying symptoms of poisoning. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated and the better chance they have of being okay.

Tend to the Area

First things first, safely remove your pet from the immediate area in order to eliminate continued exposure to (or ingestion of) the potentially toxic material. Also remove any other pets or children that could be harmed by exposure to the substance in question. If possible, quarantine the area as you may not have time to adequately clean it in the moment.

Tend to the Animal

Next, check that your pet is safe. Make sure they are breathing and acting normally. Resist the temptation to give them any type of home remedy or to induce vomiting yourself. Either of these can be very dangerous and you may inadvertently cause more harm than good.

IMG_3008 exam

Get Help

Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately for further instructions (if you are travelling with your pet, be sure to research while you are making travel plans where the nearest veterinary clinic and emergency animal hospital are located). It would be prudent to be prepared with as much information as possible regarding the incident. This information will be dependent on the situation and the material ingested. Here is a basic guideline on what you may be asked about the material ingested:

  • Plant – What is the name of the plant? Is it a houseplant, outdoor plant or weed? Which part of the plant was ingested (bulb, leaves, flowers, stem, fruit)? How much was consumed?
  • Medication – What is the name of the drug? What is the milligram strength? How much of medication was potentially consumed (ie. how many tablets were in the bottle and how many are remaining)?
  • Chemical – What is the brand name of the product? What are the active ingredients and concentration of those ingredients? What are the label warnings? How much was ingested (ie. what was the original weight of the product and how much remains)?

If you need to immediately go to a veterinarian and do not have time to contact them, be sure to collect up all the wrappers/packaging from the item and take them with you.

You will most likely also be asked about the scenario in which the material was consumed as well. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How long ago did ingestion occur? If your pet was unattended when it happened, how long were they alone (thus how long ago could they have potentially gotten into the product)?
  • Is your pet currently displaying any abnormal behaviour, such as pawing at their mouth, pacing, whining, drooling, etc.?

While these questions may be tough to answer, it is important that you do so calmly and to the best of your ability in order to receive the best guidance and care for your pet.

We hope that you will never have to refer to this guide, but if you do, here are some names and numbers that we feel you should always have accessible:

Snelgrove Veterinary Services (That’s us!)
Tel.: 905-846-3316
11526 Hurontario Street, Brampton
Located on Hwy 10, South of Mayfield Road and North of Concervation Drive/Wanless Street

Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Brampton (After-hours clinic)
Tel.: 905-495-9907
1 Wexford Drive, Unit 10, Brampton
Located in the Wexford Square Plaza, on Highway 10 just South of Bovaird Drive

Pet Poison Helpline (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 855-764-7661

Mississauga Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 905-829-9444
2285 Bristol Circle, Oakville

404 Veterinary Emergency + Referral Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 905-953-1933
510 Harry Walker Parkway South, Newmarket

Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 416-247-8387
21 Rolark Drive, Scarborough

Veterinary Emergency Clinic (South) (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 416-920-2002
920 Yonge Street, Suite 117, Toronto