Holiday tips for you and your pets.

Winter is fast approaching and here at Snelgrove Veterinary Services we would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday! Here are some winter/ holiday tips to keep your pets happy and healthy.


Cold weather, slush, ice, and snow are all synonymous with winter. It is important that we remember to keep our pets warm and dry too. Sweaters and coats are a great investment for short-haired dogs and dogs that are clipped. Heavier coated dogs will develop an undercoat to help them maintain their natural heat but dogs that are groomed and short-haired dogs are lacking in this undercoat. Hypothermia can set in very quickly, having severe side effects. Watch out for ice and snow sticking to the bottom of their feet, especially between their pads. This can make it very uncomfortable for a dog to walk and can cause cracking and chaffing of the area. Older dogs benefit from wearing footwear in the winter due to arthritis. Never use a snow blower with your pet present. The loud noise will often scare them and the blades are extremely dangerous.

Dry Coats

Many pets suffer from dry skin through the winter months due to heating our homes. Omega fatty acid supplements are a great way to moisture their skin and prevent dandruff and itchiness.


Many pets gain weight through the winter months. Consider switching to a lower calorie food, decreasing the amount they get, or better yet, continue to exercise them. Reflective gear is a great idea as it gets dark earlier in the evening.

Car care

Take extra precaution when starting your car. Pets and wildlife sometimes climb into the engine area of cars for warmth and to get out of the wind and snow. Bang your hood before getting into your car or press your electronic lock button/horn to activate a sound prior to starting your car to hopefully encourage them to run out.

Ethylene glycol, a sweet-tasting, odorless liquid, is the active ingredient in antifreeze/engine coolant. Ethylene glycol can also be found, in lower concentrations, in some windshield de-icing agents, hydraulic brake fluid, motor oils, solvents, paints, film processing solutions, wood stains, inks, printer cartridges, etc. Be extra vigilant when topping up these fluids that they do not spill onto your driveway or into the snow.

While these liquids smell and taste sweet to pets they are extremely toxic and therefore require immediate attention for the best chance of survival.

If you suspect or know your pet has ingested Ethylene Glycol it is critical that you bring your petto a veterinary clinic immediately, or if he is exhibiting any of the early symptoms. Do not wait; time is of the essence and immediate treatment is essential! Left untreated, the animal will die. Dogs must be treated within 8-12 hours of ingesting antifreeze, while cats must be treated within 3 hours of ingesting antifreeze, as the antidote only has a narrow time period to work.

­Common signs to watch for:

  • Drunkenness
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Sedation
  • Halitosis
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Death

Holiday Cheer

Now is the season for socializing with family and friends. Be careful to keep alcohol and food well out of reach of your pets. Keep a bowl of dog treats handy for guests to offer your pets rather than them offering food from their plates. Label it in a fun way, such as, “Fido’s Christmas Cheer!!” or use a cute saying “If you feel the need to feed me something yummy, please be careful of my tummy and use only treats put out by my Mommy” to remind your guests of appropriate pet treats.  


We all love to make our homes into a Christmas Wonderland, but be careful where these decorations are placed. Keep decorations elevated away from your pets and be sure to secure your christmas tree from potentially being knocked over. Never leave candles unsupervised and never leave wrapped boxes of chocolate under the tree. Your pet will be able to smell it! Keep your pets away from poinsettia, mistletoe, holly berries and lilies, all of these have the potential to make your pet quite sick. Lilies in particular to cats, are extremely toxic even without ingestion. Just having them in the house can be fatal to your cat.

From our website

The Everley Chronicles: A Proper Introduction


When I was finally able to take Everley home, I knew that introducing her to my other cat would need to be a careful process. When it comes to animals, first impressions can last a very long time! One has to be very considerate when introducing a new pet to a home with existing pets – and cats tend to be territorial so if things do not go smoothly, it can take a long time to recover. I got tips from our doctors here at the clinic, and also referred to the Pet Health section of our website, which had several great articles on cat behaviour and socialization.

I started by setting up food, water, a litter box, a bed and toys in our spare room. I did this for a number of reasons. First, Everley was not yet fully vaccinated and was only just recovering from her illness. I wanted to make sure she didn’t pass anything to Adelaide, and vice versa as Everley’s immune system likely was not 100% yet. This also allowed me to make sure she was eating, drinking and using the litter box regularly. I also didn’t want her to be overwhelmed, going from the clinic to a new house.

The second reason I kept Everley in her own secure area was for Addie’s benefit. As she is a mature cat, I wanted to make sure the integration of a new animal was gradual for her. A good way to start the introduction process is to allow both pets to get used to each other’s scent without a face-to-face interaction. It only took a few minutes for Addie and Everley to become curious and start playing with each other through the crack a the bottom of the door separating them. After about 10 days of this (during which time both cats got lots of individual attention from both Andrew and I) I decided it was time to let Everley out of her room when we were home to supervise. I would let her out during feeding time so that her and Addie were able to share the experience, and also in the evenings when we could play with them together. They would play together for a little while, then Everley would get a bit too rambunctious for Addie and I could tell Adelaide’s patience was wearing thin. When I noticed early signs of a negative change in behaviour, I would take Everley back to her room so as to avoid a conflict.

This continued for another few weeks, and eventually I let Everley out when we weren’t home. At first, it was only for a few hours to make sure nothing would get destroyed while we were gone. Once she passed that test and it seemed her and Adelaide were tolerant of each other, I let her out for the day while we were at work. She now has the run of the house at all times, her food dish has been moved to the main eating area, and her litter box is downstairs with Addie’s. While she does get a little too crazy for Addie sometimes, they seem to be getting along pretty well! Everley is Adelaide’s little shadow, sometimes to Addie’s dismay. Of course, once Everley was able to explore the house, it wasn’t long before she became a bit of a trouble-maker…



Hi Everyone. I thought I would share an experience with you. A few weeks ago I went to an evening discussion put on by a new food company. Now like you, I was thinking “Oh great! Another food company, because we just don’t have enough as it is!” LOL!!! Half the time when people come in to see me, I’ve never heard of the foods they feed, unless it’s Blue Buffalo, strictly because there are so many foods flooded on the market .  It’s all about feeding holistic, organic foods, whatever that means I am unsure. For the past year, everyone has wanted to go grain free, whether or not food allergies were involved.  There is growing concern with people to be wiser about what we eat and to start looking at labels more closely and becoming more aware of what we put in our bodies. Therefore, it is not surprising that we too should become aware of what we put in our pets mouths as well, especially with all of the recent recalls of the last year!

This new food company is called Rayne Clinical Nutrition and it is a strictly veterinary diet, not retail.  This is a Canadian owned and Canadian based company whose first concern is to provide WHOLE food based nutrition.  In fact their philosophy is as follows:

Rayne is dedicated to dogs and cats, their loving owners, and the veterinary profession with innovative whole food based nutrition products.  Honesty and transparency are the building blocks of all our relationships.

So what exactly does this mean? Well it means that their food has :

NO corn meal                   NO animal by products                    NO wheat               NO gluten meal NO artificial flavours          NO artificial colours                         NO chemical preservatives

and NO ingredients sourced through brokers!!!

So in fact this food is locally sourced with minimal processing.  It is many of the out sourced foods which end up being in our many recalls of late.  To ensure safety, maximum flavour and optimal nutritional value, these foods are pasteurized using a low impact form of cooking.  “Open-sourced” nutrition means that some of the most respected veterinary nutritionists in the industry are involved in formulating these diets. Because they are not employed by the company, they can develop diets based on the animals best needs without any limitations from the company. Not too many companies can say the same! 

This new company has come out with a select amount of diets for our canine and feline friends. Some of the indications are as follows :

Feeding cancer patients                                                Adverse food reactions

Urinary feeding                                                            Gastrointestinal feeding

Diabetic patients                                                          Renal patients

Feeding fat intolerant animals                                       Maintaining proper body condition

and finally….                        Feeding healthy pets.

So, what do I think?  I think that this is exciting news.  With everyone being more aware of what we eat, we should in fact be doing the same for our pets.  I can tell you that their soft food is highly palatable and looks just like meat .  I did take a tub of urinary diet home to try on my cats and I can say that I have NEVER heard them growl and eat at the same time?!! They were so excited!!!. And when I say tubs, they do not use cans but a resealable, environmentally friendly, microwavable container.  As stated in the lecture, because animals get so much more out of whole food nutrition, the amount that you need to feed actually decreases!  I do think this is an innovative new diet and as usual, I will be using my pets as guinea pigs! I will agree that their statements below are very true and very exciting for all of us!!!

Rayne is a more natural, whole foods approach to veterinary nutrition. Rayne diets are a dramatically different approach to veterinary nutrition.

For further information, you can visit their website at :

Written by Dr. Suzanne McQueen DVM

The Everley Chronicles: Love at First Sight

In this blog series I plan to outline some of the considerations and complications involved in adopting a new pet using my own experiences with my newly adopted kitten, Everley.

At Snelgrove Vet Services, we try our best to help the Brampton Animal Shelter by taking their kitten overflow to be adopted out here. Typically, we have 2-3 kittens to be adopted out front in our waiting room and we experience quite a bit of success in finding them a forever home. Everley was one of these kittens. You may have seen her on our Facebook page, she came in with a cute little calico, who was later adopted and named Gizmo.

When Everley came to us, she was a tiny little flea bag, weighing less than 1 lb! The first time I saw her, she ran up to the front of the cage and let out a squeak. I thought she was one of the cutest kittens I’ve seen in a long time, and knew she would have no problems finding a home. The thought never entered my mind that her forever home would be with me.

As the days went on, we noticed her health was declining. She was very lethargic and she wasn’t eating. Her weight was dropping and she was severely dehydrated. The doctors here went into immediate action and began giving her fluids daily, as well as putting her on a high calorie supplement. We offered all kinds of different foods, trying to entice her to eat. It was touch and go for a while, even Donna told me one night she left after giving Everley some love and she wasn’t sure if she’d see her the next time she was in.

Of course through all of this, I tried my best to give her lots of attention so that she would hopefully find the will to keep fighting. Day after day I would go to the back whenever I had a free moment and I would pet her and talk to her. I would also send my fiancé daily updates and pictures of her. She became a nightly topic of conversation during dinner and it became very apparent to him how much I cared about this little kitten. I think he realized it before I even did!

Eventually, Everley began eating and she slowly gained some weight back. She was up and about more often and was looking brighter. By this time, I knew she was going to be coming home with me once the doctors said she was okay to be adopted out. I had fallen in love.

The timing ended up being perfect. I had noticed my other cat Adelaide seemed a bit lonely at home all day by herself. We had moved from a house with another cat, where people were in and out all day long, to a house of our own where she was the only pet and we were gone to work for the majority of the day. Of course, deciding to adopt Everley was a lot easier than bringing her home and introducing her to Adelaide…


Black Cats = Best Cats

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Working in the animal field, it is easy to see that there is quite an aura surrounding black cats. It seems that many people view them as unlucky or as a bad omen. Unfortunately, black cats have been associated with “evil” and are often suspected of being “familiars” related to witchcraft. But did you realize that this is a largely Western ideology? In fact, in other parts of the world and throughout history, black cats have actually been considered to be very lucky and can even be taken as a sign of prosperity!

Sadly, because of this Western doctrine, shelters find it extremely difficult to adopt out black cats and kittens, despite their best efforts. Having owned a black cat, I can tell you that they are fantastic! Any black cat that I have known has had a wonderful disposition and (I promise) has brought nothing but joy and happiness. Next time you, or someone you know, is looking for a new cat or kitten, consider a black one – you won’t be disappointed!



One of the most frustrating things I deal with as a veterinarian on a weekly basis, is owner-directed medicating. I understand that this comes from a place of caring and dedication to your pet, however the results are often detrimental. Recommendations someone has received from a friend or breeder, read online or even extrapolated from human medicine are often inappropriate for a particular patient. Firstly, let me impress upon you that pets are not small, furry people. Their bodies don’t always process things the same. For example, if we ate a lot of chocolate, we would feel pretty satisfied at the end (albeit, maybe a little sick). If a dog ate the same thing, they could experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures and even death in extreme cases. So why would we assume that drugs and supplements might not be the same? Some of the more common things I deal with include:

  • Aspirin – You can’t dose this as you would a human or child. Similar medications in the veterinary world are not appropriate for every patient, even although much safer veterinary-only alternatives exist. Therefore, it’s best not to risk the potential upset this could cause with liver and kidney problems, as well as stomach ulcers.

  • Antihistamines – I often instruct owners to go to their local pharmacy, dose in hand, to pick up over-the-counter medications like Benadryl. While we can use these human medications, correct dosing is important and it is even more imperative to avoid the combination products, such as Benadryl with pseudoephedrine. This can cause many problems that may land your pet in the hospital for monitoring or supportive care!

  • Insulin – Almost all diabetic cats and dogs require insulin. There can be a steep learning curve for owners that need to give daily injections, while monitoring for signs of insulin over or under-dosing. It is always safer to seek veterinary advice rather than use your own judgment, or that of a stranger on the internet. While this may seem obvious to some, it happens more often than I would like!

  • Anti-seizure medications – This is another class of medications that can be VERY dangerous to change on your own. Any alteration in dosing can lead to an increase in seizure activity, which can also ultimately be fatal due to brain damage or hyperthermia from prolonged convulsions. Please refrain from changing the doses of these medications without veterinary approval!

  • Steroids – Steroids are used for a ton of different ailments, from allergies to inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. The higher the dose and the more severe the disease, the more important it is to not discontinue these medications abruptly. Prolonged therapy can suppress the body’s ability to produce it’s own steroids, which are critical for coping with day-to-day stresses and necessary for life. Without slow weaning, the body loses the ability to rebound from this. As well, some diseases can come back with a vengeance when therapy is discontinued, even for 1-2 .

  • Supplements and vitamins – People often want to seek out cheaper alternatives to veterinary-specific supplements. I always caution them that while some MAY work, the bioavailability (the body’s ability to absorb and use a specific supplement) may be different and the proportions of combo products may not always be appropriate. For example, excess vitamin A and D in certain products can wreak havoc on your pet’s body and lead to organ dysfunction and failure.

  • Antibiotics – I often provide first line antibiotics for potentially serious diseases while further tests are pending. If instructed, please don’t refrain from coming back to pick up more antibiotics or stop using antibiotics before directed to do so as this can lead to bacterial resistance and the emergence of superbugs! The implications of this can even cross over into the human medical world long term!

As a general rule, it is always best to seek veterinary advice when giving your pet ANY supplements or medications. Something that may seem benign to you, may not be and could lead to expensive veterinary bills or even be fatal! We are always happy to field any questions you may have and would rather provide preventative rather than supportive care!

Dr. Erin Bourns DVM