Coping with the Loss of a Pet

When you welcome a pet into your home to care for and love, they truly become a member of the family. The bond that we share with our pets can be very fulfilling as they turn from a furry four-legged creature into our trusted companions and friends. We go out of our way to make them feel comfortable and they, in turn, comfort us. Given this connection that we develop with our pets, it stands to reason that coping with the loss of one can be a very difficult time in our lives.

I have recently gone through this experience myself. The other week, we had to put our cat Fitz to sleep. He was not doing well and was going to require a level of specialized care that we were not willing to put him through as we felt it would only prolong his suffering, without a guaranteed recovery. My family opted for humane euthanasia. Just writing that is very difficult, but I think it is important to discuss.

Admittedly, the loss of a pet is different from the loss of a person, but it is still important to properly grieve. Some people may not recognize the attachment that we have to our animals (“It’s just a cat/dog, what’s the big deal?”), but as I’ve said before, they become a member of our family regardless of whether or not others appreciate that. I am lucky in the fact that I work here at Snelgrove Vet, because I am surrounded by a fantastic group of very supportive friends that understand that bond.

To cope with the loss of a pet, it may seem like a good strategy to get just rid of anything that reminds you of them, and simply move on. But this is not a very good approach, and it ultimately diminishes and trivializes the relationship that was once shared. Instead, it is important to cherish the memories that we have of our pets, even if they are no longer with us. Understandably, this may be difficult, but it is a necessary step in coming to terms with death. Additionally, you should not ignore or suppress your feelings of sadness. A family member is no longer a part of your household, it is only natural to be upset by this.

Another way to handle the loss is to commemorate your pet in some way. Some people choose to have a pawprint (painted clay impression of your pet’s paw) made. Others take their pets home for burial, or choose a private cremation and keep the remains in a special urn. Still others create scrapbooks and keep pictures around, or even have their pets memorialized with a tattoo.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to understand that grieving is a complicated process that takes time. It is sad, it is painful. Surround yourself with love and support, appreciate the time you had with your pet,  and deal with your emotions head-on. Remember that your pet was an important part of your life, and just because they are no longer with you does not mean that they are gone.

– Kait.

Fitz 2004 - 2014

2004 – 2014

Adopting a Special Needs Pet

emma-johnnie (2)

Usually when people consider getting a dog or a cat, they automatically think puppy or kitten. Our logic is usually due to the fact that we feel that they can be trained or raised the way we want them to be. But for many people a special needs pet may be more appropriate. Sometimes we don’t have time in our life to raise and train a puppy, then an elderly pet may be the way to go. We may have a sedentary lifestyle that would be better suited to a quieter pet. We may have lots of time on our hands and would love the challenge of a rambunctious, untrained youngster. Or we may just feel the need to help a pet that no one else wants. Whatever the reason may be, consider a special needs pet.

Special needs pets can be some of the most heart-warming, satisfying pets that we may ever have. Special needs pets come in many shapes and sizes. They end up in animal shelters primarily due to illness, injury or behavior. They can vary from the young, to the elderly and anywhere in between.

There are many older pets just waiting in animal shelters for that special home to live out the rest of their days. Many of these animals have found their way into shelters due to deaths in the family, or other special circumstances. These are pets that are typically house trained, well-behaved and lonely. To have spent most of their life with someone who loved them and then have to go live in a cage, is utterly heart-breaking.

Pets with medical conditions may need some special treatment but many conditions are simple to manage or just take a watchful eye to notice any changes as they occur. Some pets may have had previous illnesses that may never arise again. Others may need daily medications or treatments.

Behavioral issues are typically the hardest to place. Conditions like Separation Anxiety need a special home with extreme patience and a lot of work and diligence. But sometimes, it’s as simple as having a well-fenced yard, or keeping away from young children or even just a little extra attention.

Many times these are pets that have been abused, mistreated, ignored, found at the side of the road and rescued. And now it is their turn to go into a loving household.

Please consider a special needs pet for your next pet. Contact your local animal shelter or rescue to see what pets they may have waiting for that special home. Or, better yet, just ask Dr. McQueen how great special needs pets are. She currently has an adopted elderly Great Dane, Emma (pictured above), a one-eyed cat, Johnnie (pictured above), a 3-legged cat and a rescued Great Dane due to a serious medical condition.

The Everley Chronicles: The Box

I’m sure everyone has heard the idiom that you can buy a child a toy, but they’d rather play with the box. I think the same goes for our pets! When we first decided to take Everley home, I excitedly went on our webstore and started looking at all the cute kitten things I could get for her. I bought her tons of balls and catnip toys and dangly things. I also bought some new toys for Adelaide to replace some of her more torn up ones (she’s a big fan of her wubba and “cosmic” carrot). When Everley had the run of the house, I started presenting her with various different play things. She would bat the balls around for a bit, but get bored with them as they didn’t bat back. She seemed to be a fan of the wand I had with cloth ribbon and a bell attached to the end of, likely because it was a lot more interactive as we had to move it around for her. And as I had already discovered, she was not big on the catnip; not that it mattered much because Adelaide stole all of those toys and added them to her stockpile anyway. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Everley found her absolute favourite toy in all the world!

We were excitedly decorating our house for Christmas one weekend. I was in charge of inside and Andrew was in charge of hanging the lights and everything outside. Let me preface this by saying that kittens and garland do not mix. I’m pretty sure there were more fake leaves and berries on the floor than on the garland by the time all was said and done. Nonetheless, we had a great time getting everything decorated. While I was attempting to create a beautiful winter scene over the fireplace, Andrew was also in the living room getting the Christmas lights all ready to be hung outside. He had bought some clips and to make life easier, he was putting them on the string of lights before he took them outside. He had his pile of clips beside him when Everley came over to investigate. She sniffed around for a second, then all of a sudden she grabbed one of the clips on her mouth and promptly took off. Andrew of course got up and retrieved it from her. Two seconds later, she was back at the pile and stole another one. They were plastic, and a fair size, so after a few more retrievals and plunders we decided to just let her have her fun and keep her clip for a little while. Only her love affair with the clip lasted all day. She carried it around with her everywhere she went. She would jump up on our laps with it in her mouth and we would throw it for her, then she would bring it back to be thrown again. She loved her clip. We didn’t have the heart to take it away from her.

Now, weeks later, she still carries her clip around with her like it’s a prize. Every now and then it gets lost, but after a few days we find it in some weird place (like the toe of our shoes or the bottom of our reusable grocery bags) and give it back to her. It is her favourite toy ever! Like I said at the beginning, they’d rather play with the box.


GO BIG!! go small! Or somewhere in between!

What is the best breed of dog for you??

Let’s face facts. Puppies are cute. Puppies are adorable! Puppies melt our hearts. But, just because one looks at you in that special way, does that mean it’s the right one for you? Not necessarily.

Too many people focus on the size and look of the dog they want opposed to what are the right qualities for them.

There is a common misconception that large dogs need a larger home and small dogs don’t need as much exercise. So not true!!! The breed of dog matters more than the size of your home.

So, what breed of dog is right for you?

You need to sit down with your family and ask yourselves these questions:

  • Do you like to keep your house meticulously clean? Then minimal shedding may be what you want. (remember – short-haired dogs shed too!)
  • Do you like to walk daily? Short and sweet or jog daily? Energy requirements vary greatly between breeds.
  • Are you willing to groom a dog daily, weekly or rarely? And how much are you willing to spend on these services?
  • Do you have a prize vegetable or flower garden? Terriers tend to dig.
  • The larger the dog the more it costs to feed and treat medically
  • A smaller dog tends to bark more
  • Will you be stern enough for a stubborn dog or are you going to spoil it?
  • Are you aware of some of the common medical problems of the breed you are looking into and are you prepared to deal with them if they arise?
  • Are you available during the day to let your puppy out or are there arrangements that can be made?
  • How much time do you plan to spend with your dog outside and in what type of weather? (A Newfoundlander may not make a great beach dog, and a Chinese Crested may not be up to ski trips)
  • Is your yard fenced or do you back onto large empty fields? (A Siberian Husky may not be a good choice if you don’t have a well fenced yard. They love to run and run and run.)
  • Do you want a dog to protect you or a dog that will let anyone through the door?

There are many things to consider prior to picking the right breed. Make sure to do your research prior to having your heart set on a dog that may not be the perfect match. And even if they don’t turn out exactly the way we hoped, we love them! They’re Family!!

The love of cats and dogs!

spike and harry 2

Why is at that people always think cats and dogs can’t get along. Or if you have a certain breed of dog you definitely can’t own a cat. So not true!!!

All breeds of dogs and all cats can get along just fine depending on the personality of said dog and cat. It doesn’t matter if they are puppies or kittens or adult pets, it all just depends how socialized they are, how much patience you have and how tolerant they are of other animals and new situations.

A cat that typically swats his/her claws at new objects, people or gets upset in changes in routine may not get along with a dog or for that matter another cat. A cat that is shy and runs away at sudden movements or loud noises may need private space. Cats that run like the dickens whenever scared is just asking a dog to chase it. But, if you have a cat that is very mellow, or can just ignore things and likes to go off on its own then it probably wouldn’t mind living with a dog.

A dog that takes chase or is overly rambunctious may not be a good choice to live with a cat unless you are willing to work with your dog and keep it always supervised in the presence of the cat.

The key to being able to own a dog and cat in the same house relies on slow introductions. Letting your pets live in the same house separately, at least in the beginning,  makes it a little easier on both of them and you. Consider setting up a room for privacy if bringing in a new cat. Let them sniff each other through the bottom of the door and offer slow and short introductions while fully supervised. A new dog should be crated when being left alone with a cat in the house unless they are both very tolerant right from the beginning. Let them have separate eating areas and keep the litter box in a private place.

You may not end up with a dog and a cat that will cuddle up on the couch together like these two but they should at least learn to tolerate living together.

Why insurance?

Because owning a pet isn’t cheap!! It takes a huge financial commitment.

Puppies, kittens, dogs and cats need food, cat litter, vaccines, toys, crates and carriers, leashes, collars, spaying/neutering, treats, deworming, heartworm prevention, brushes, combs, toothpaste, etc… and sometimes they get sick!! We have to be prepared for the unexpected. This is where pet health insurance comes in. So that if something happens, we don’t have to worry about if we can afford to treat our pets. We know that our pet will obtain the best treatments available to them, from specialists to orthopedic surgeons, to rehabilitation, to major cancer treatments, MRI’s, cat scans and more.

So? How do we pick insurance?

There are many choices available.

Some only do emergency treatments, others offer full preventative and medical treatments. Some have only a deductible and others have a percentage. Some have fees that will increase with the amount of claims, while others will discontinue covering certain medical conditions after your pet has already had a claim for it. Some offer an amount you can spend over the life of your pet. This is where you need to decide what is the right type for you?

The younger you register your pet, the less expensive it is. However, older pets should still be registered. As well, many insurance companies offer a free trial.

We have composed a list here of different companies that offer pet insurance here in Canada. Please take some time to review all of your options to see if insurance is right for you and your pets. Please note, there may be other pet insurance companies that we may not be aware of.

We sincerely hope that your pet will live a long and happy life with no complications but it’s always best to be prepared. Even our staff and vets here at Snelgrove Veterinary Services have pet insurance for our pets because we want to be able to provide our pets with the best medical care available.

Once again, thanks for reading our blog. We are here to help you make informed choices on owning and enjoying your pets. Have a happy day!

Is Lip Licking Beagle a Threat to Baby?

Wilde About Dogs

beagle licks lipsA veterinarian recently told me an interesting story. A woman who had brought her beagle in for vaccinations mentioned that she was very concerned about the dog’s behavior. There was a baby in the family, and it seemed that the beagle would lick his lips whenever he was in close proximity to the infant. The dog also growled when the infant made certain sounds or movements. Did this lip licking, the woman wanted to know, mean that the beagle wanted to eat the baby?

The woman’s concern is understandable. But the good news is, it’s very unlikely that the dog was looking to have the baby for lunch. Lip licking is a common, subtle stress signal in dogs. It’s often seen in anxiety-producing situations such as sitting in the vet’s waiting room, being in a training class where harsh corrections are used, or even being hugged. (There are some dogs…

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The Everley Chronicles: Scratch-tastic!

Once Everley was out and about around the house, it was a lot of fun. There is nothing better than watching a kitten run around the house like a maniac! That is, until we noticed the very bad habit she was developing – scratching our furniture and carpet… Obviously, we were not very impressed. We are looking to replace our couches anyway, but in the meantime I didn’t want her to continue destroying the ones we do have, and I also didn’t want her to think it would be okay to scratch new couches when we get them. It had to stop.

Now, cats typically scratch for one of two reasons – scent marking their territory, or to get in a good stretch and condition their claws. It would be unfair to expect Everley to stop this behaviour entirely as it is instinctual. What we needed to do was redirect the scratching to an acceptable area, such as a scratching post. The first order of business was to trim those little kitten nails. I don’t know what it is, but kitten nails are like mini razors! The first time I trimmed her nails she was not happy, but still tolerant. A few weeks later when I did it again, she was terrible! She put up a massive fight for such a little fluff ball. She tried to bite me and claw me and she even hissed (how terrifying that was – not lol). It turned into a two-person job, with Andrew restraining her and me cutting as fast as I could. She was so mad at us. I guess she’s going to be one of those cats… Hopefully after a few more trims she will realize that she isn’t going to win the battle and she’ll give up the fight. But I digress.

Once she got her mani/pedi, the next step was to try to entice her to a more appropriate scratching area. I bought a couple different types of scratching posts – a card board one and a fabric one. I put them right in front of the area on the couch that she so enjoyed scratching. It didn’t work. She just knocked the post out-of-the-way and continued to scratch. I thought maybe she needed something more to attract her to the posts, so I sprinkled some catnip on them. Let me tell you, Adelaide loved those scratching posts after that! Everley on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less. She was proving to be a tough case.

My next option was to continue to leave the scratching posts accessible and attempt to deter her from the couch itself. I wrapped a bit of tinfoil around her preferred corner, right at kitten level. The theory was that she wouldn’t want to scratch it and the crinkling of the tinfoil would scare her off. It did, but only to the opposite side of the couch. And the armrest. And the headrest. As I wasn’t willing to cover my entire couch with tinfoil, I had to come up with something, but I felt I was running out of options.

I was reaching  my breaking point – I didn’t know what else I could do, I was frustrated with myself and Everley, and Andrew was getting pretty upset as well. He was even threatening to have her declawed at the time of her spay (but that’s a whole separate issue I will save for another post). We were talking about it in the kitchen one evening and I was wracking my brain for a solution when I saw it: a bottle of Feliway spray that I bought for Adelaide. I had bought it a few months early when we moved to help make her transition to our new environment easier. I looked at the box and it said it was suitable for travel, urine marking and – guess what – vertical scratching. Here was something I hadn’t tried yet. In fact, I hadn’t even thought of it! I immediately went to the living room and sprayed the now tattered corner of the couch. It wasn’t long after that Everley came walking past me through the living room and right up to her couch corner. I was bracing myself for another scratch-attack, but all she did was give the area a few sniffs, then she turned and kept on walking. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed! Lo and behold, something finally worked, and it had been in my house right under my nose the entire time!

For those of you who are not familiar with Feliway products, I explain them to clients as “happy kitty pheromones.” Using more technical terms, it is a synthetic version of the facial pheromone, which makes cats feel safe and secure when they smell it, thus eliminating unwanted behaviours. It is available in a diffuser that you plug into the wall, wipes or the spray that I used. The spray doesn’t smell to humans and it is clear so I haven’t seen any marks on any of the furniture, carpets or drapes that I’ve sprayed in my house. The company also has a line of products for our canine companions called Adaptil.

Since I’ve been using the Feliway spray, I have been able to eliminate most, if not all, of Everley’s bad scratching habit. I have left the scratching posts available for her use, but she still has not warmed up to them. Of course, she has plenty of other “toys” to play with…


Welcome to Snelgrove Vet Services 2014!!


We would like to thank everyone for a wonderful 2013!   We have had a great year and are looking forward to 2014!!

A lot of things have happened this year and we would like to take a moment to share them with you.

Here is a re-cap of the past 12 months;

We started this blog which helps us to voice our opinions on matters that we find of importance and hope you do too. It also gives us a venue to share our experiences with our pets and some of yours. Always feel free to comment on anything you read here. If you would like to write a blog about your pet experiences or would like us to write on a specific topic, feel free to email us at

We launched our Webstore which offers not only products we carry in hospital but also ones that we cannot carry due to space restrictions. It even has everything from leashes and collars, to cat litter and treats. You can view our webstore at

As always we try to keep our website up-to-date and are always refreshing the information posted there. Visit us at and don’t forget to view our pet health section with 100’s of pet related topics with everything from bird training tips to diabetes to poisonous plants. Feel free to search this area extensively anytime you have a pet related question or give us a call at 905-846-3316. We are always glad to help.

Our staff have had an exciting year with many new additions. It seems to be Baby Year!!!

Baby #1:  Sheila, one of our part-time staff members returned to work after her maternity leave from having her daughter, Jordyn.

Baby #2: Dr. Stephanie Gunsinger returned to work this summer after her maternity leave from having her son, Grant.

Baby #3: Dr. Jessica Ioannou went on maternity leave to have her son, Max, and has just returned to us today. Welcome Back Jess!!!!

Dr. Erin Bourns joined us to cover these maternity leaves and sadly it is time to say goodbye to her.  We wish Dr. Erin all the best and we are sorry to see her go. We will miss your wonderful personality and your warm and caring ways with all of the patients. Best Wishes for 2014!!

Baby #4: Stephanie, our receptionist is leaving us to go on maternity leave in January 2014. We wish her all the best.

Nava left us to go work for a veterinary distribution company as a sales representative but we were lucky enough that she continued to stay on for one Saturday monthly.

A warm welcome to Pattie, our newest technician that came in to fill Nava’s position. We are very glad to have you on board.

Thank you again and we wish everyone a wonderful 2014.