Shy Puppy

Do you have a shy puppy? Does your puppy cower behind you when strangers or dogs approach? Does it roll over on its back when nervous, or piddle a small puddle? Does its hackles go up or jump backwards and bark??


If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a shy puppy!

The first 12-16 weeks of life are the most important time to socialize your puppy and to let them learn about their environment. It is essential to expose your puppy to people, places, other animals, sounds and things during this time frame and to continue on throughout their first year of life. Repeated exposure helps to make your dog more tolerant of new things. Be careful not to reinforce these behaviors.

Try to keep all experiences happy. Never console a dog that is shying away from new stimuli. Telling a cowering or growling dog that “It’s okay” or petting them while they are behaving in these unwanted ways, only ends up letting them know that you approve of their behavior. Instead try to distract them with treats or a play toy or have them walk calmly away in another direction. Never force a dog to approach something they are not comfortable with but encourage them to come forward. That you are enjoying yourself and are not worried will encourage them.

Make a conscious effort to take them places whether by car or foot. Encourage people to pet your puppy or offer treats. Expose them to new areas, farmland, parks, city streets, stairs, vacuum cleaners, loud noises. Wear hats and use umbrellas. The more your puppy sees and experiences the more tolerant it will be of new experiences.

Introduce your puppy to as many new people and situations as possible. For example, people in uniforms, babies, toddlers, the elderly, and the physically challenged are just a few examples that might lead to fear and anxiety unless there is sufficient early exposure. Similarly, car rides, elevators, stairs, or the noises associated with traffic, trains, airplanes, or hot air balloons are some examples of events and experiences to which the puppy might be habituated.

One way to introduce your puppy to new situations and people is to provide a reward such as a favorite toy or biscuit each time it is exposed to something new or that they are uncertain of.

Having a stranger offer a biscuit to the puppy will teach it to look forward to meeting people and discourage hand-shyness, since the puppy will learn to associate new friends and an outstretched hand with something positive. Once the puppy has learned to ‘sit’ on command, have each new friend ask it to ‘sit’ before giving the biscuit. This teaches a proper greeting and will make the puppy less likely to jump up on people.

Be certain that the puppy has the opportunity to meet and receive treats from a wide variety of people of all ages, races, appearances and both sexes during the formative months and well into the first year of life. There will of course, be times when your puppy is in a new situation and you do not have treats. At those times, use a happy tone of voice and praise your puppy for appropriate responses.

If your puppy seems to panic, back off a little and try again later, rather than aggravating the fear. Be sure to identify any emerging fear and work to revisit the situation slowly and gradually using favored rewards to turn the situation into one that is positive.

See more puppy training tips on our website. Visit and click on the Pet Health tab where you can search through our articles on everything from “Crate Training” to “Poisonous Plants” and more.

Fox Lungworm – Should we be worried?

Recently it has come to our attention that the fox lungworm (Crenosoma vulpis) seems to have spread to Ontario. Some Atlantic provinces have always been familiar with this parasite but only recently has it started being talked about here. Since November 2014 there have been 13 confirmed cases in Ontario with one being in Brampton.

Dogs get fox lungworm by eating infected snails and slugs.

Signs of fox lungworm include chronic cough, exercise intolerance, weight loss and difficulty breathing.

Fortunately for us, Advantage Multi kills fox lungworm. So, if you already have your dog on this as a monthly preventive for heartworm, then you have nothing to worry about.

Bayer Animal Health is currently conducting a study on the prevalence of fox lungworm in Ontario. If your dog has been coughing for 1-2 weeks, does not have a fever and has not been dewormed with any product in the last 60 days, they will perform a Baermann test to see if your pet has fox lungworm.

Contact your veterinarian to see if this applies to your pet and how to submit a sample.

Fox Lungworm





Photo courtesy of Bayer Animal Health 2015.

Crenosoma vulpis is not considered a disease risk to people

You can read more about this at the University of Guelph’s Worms & Germs Blog

HELP!! My cat can’t pee!!



If you are ever concerned that your cat can’t pee, take it to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!

This condition is most commonly seen in the male cat because their urethra (the tube that allows the urine to flow from the bladder to the penis) narrows. This narrowing means that crystals or stones can become lodged in the urethra preventing the urine from being able to be excreted. As a result, the cat is unable to filter toxic materials or get rid of electrolytes that then build up to deadly levels!

How do I know my cat can’t pee?

The most common signs are:

  • Visiting the litterbox a lot, but no urine spots are noted
  • Crying (especially when straining in the litterbox)
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating
  • Grooming/licking at penis excessively
  • Hiding

What causes this?

The two most common causes are:

  1. Crystals or stones that block the urethra
  2. Stress that causes the urethra to spasm resulting in narrowing and obstruction

How do we treat them?

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination on your cat where they will feel their bladder to see if it is enlarged or firm. Bloodwork is done to assess for any toxic electrolyte build up as well as to assess for potential organ damage (in particular kidney damage). Radiographs of the abdomen are taken to see if any stones are seen in the kidneys, bladder or urethra. Cats that are completely blocked will be given heavy sedation or undergo a full general anesthetic to pass a catheter into their urethra to attempt to relieve the obstruction. These catheters are kept in place for a minimum of 24 hours to flush out the kidneys, bladder and urethra while your cat is on intravenous fluids. A urine sample is collected to assess for the underlying cause, and appropriate medications are started.

How can I help reduce the risks for my cat?

  • Encourage increased water intake: This can be done by trying different types of water, using a water fountain or even allowing cats to drink out of the tap
  • Feed a high quality diet: Many veterinary diets are now formulated to reduce the chance of crystal/stone formation. Consult with your veterinarian for more details                                                                          grey2
  • Reduce stress: Ensure you have a minimum of 1 litterbox/cat and that the litter is cleaned daily. During stressful times, the addition of pheromones (Feliway) or anti-anxiety medication should be considered to help cats cope.
  • Routine urine screening to assess for crystals.

Dr. Simone Herrlinger

Top 8 Myths about Being A Pet Owner

  1. You don’t have to brush your pets teeth everyday

Truth: Teeth are teeth, so yes, in an ideal world it would significantly benefit all pets to have their teeth brushed daily, just as we do our own teeth. Over time plaque and then tartar build up over the teeth and can cause dental disease that can later on lead to more severe health issues related to the liver, kidneys, heart and even brain.There are many products formulated to help assist with keeping your pets teeth clean, such as flavoured toothpaste, finger brushes, dental diets and treats. It is recommended that all pets have a dental cleaning done at least once, if not twice in some cases, in their lifetime. Ask your trusted veterinarian or veterinary staff for more helpful tips on keeping your pets teeth fresh and clean!

  2. Pregnant woman shouldn’t be around cats during their pregnancies because of toxoplasmosis.

Truth: This is a very abrupt assumption made by those unaware of what the real issue is with pregnant woman and our feline friends. There is a parasite called toxoplasmosis that can be shed in the feces of cats, commonly in ones who are on a raw diet, like stray cats or outdoor cats. It is spread to people only if you happen to touch the infected feces and then your mouth. Pregnant woman should refrain from changing the litter boxes of strays and/or outdoor cats who like to hunt and always wear gloves while gardening, which means luckily pregnant woman do NOT need to get rid of their cats once they are ready to have a baby.

     3.  Milk is essential to a cats diet

Truth: Cats ability to digest lactulose (the sugar found in milk) lessens more and more as they grow up. Many are even lactose intolerant! Giving a cat milk once it has been weaned off of its mothers milk can, and most likely will, result in diarrhea and a very upset stomach.

   4. Getting a puppy is an easy and simple task that requires no research because a puppy is just a puppy, right?

Truth: Wrong. A puppy is never just a puppy. There are many different breeds that all have their own individual needs, and in order for everyone to be happy you should really stop and think about which kind of puppy’s needs and wants match your own before bringing one home. Do you have time to spend with a high activity level dog, giving them the exercise and mental release they need? Or do you live in a one bedroom apartment and would better suit a small dog that requires fewer trips down the elevator for bathroom breaks and shorter walks? There are many factors to consider when considering adding a puppy to your family, and your trusted veterinarian team would be happy to help you choose the perfect fit.

   5. Getting your cat declawed is just as quick and easy as nail trim.

Truth: The process of a declaw is that the tip of your cats toes are removed.  Extensive research has been done in order to ensure the process remains as pain-free as possible. In all honesty, it can still be a painful procedure that in most cases requires an overnight stay in order for the patient to be carefully monitored for any signs of pain. Complications post surgery can leave some cats forever feeling sharp pains where their toenails used to be if not done properly. Many people are unaware of the alternate methods to stop your cat from scratching, such as Soft Paws and training them through positive reinforcement to scratch a designated scratch post instead of your furniture.

      6. Getting your pet neutered/spayed will change their personalities.

Truth: Pets personalities are developed from their genetics and environment. Having your pets neutered or spayed will not have much of an effect on your animal’s personality. Some people think it does because, dogs especially, are very pack-orientated and will sometimes challenge the dominance they hold against you as the owner if they stay un-altered throughout their life. You should always try to remain the most dominant “member” of the dogs perceived pack, in order to really stay in charge. We recommended you neuter or spay your animal around 6 months of age. At that point they are developed enough to safely lose their sex hormones and still grow up just as they always would.

      7. There’s nothing wrong with having a chubby pet.

Truth: Chubby animals can be very, very cute. But the truth of the matter is, obesity can lead to severe health problems such as heart and lung problems, and can also help cause a pet to become diabetic. Try measuring out the amount of kibble your pet gets in a day, and don’t forget that adding in dinner scraps from your dinner table doesn’t help the cause either. There are special diets formulated to help your pet lose weight and diets to help keep the weight off; speak to your trusted veterinary team about choosing the right diet for your pet on their way to a healthier lifestyle

         8. Cats always land on their feet.

Truth: Cats do have a natural ability to twist their bodies in the air so that their feet will be the first to hit the floor, but their bones will most certainly break if they fall from a great enough height or if they are sick or injured at all during a fall. Always make sure young children are clear that this is a myth to avoid the common curiosity that tends to lead young children to test this theory out.

Thanks for reading,


The Importance of Annual Exams for Cats

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DOGS, DOGS, DOGS… we are always talking about our wonderful canine friends.     Heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention, vaccinations, joint support the list goes on and on.

Now it is time to speak about our wonderful FELINES and shine the spotlight on them for a change.

Cats, most of us have one. Some of us may have two or more.

Living with our feline friends is totally different to living with our canines. Those who have both definitely know there is a difference.

Cats may act like dogs. Happily greeting us at the door. Trotting cutely in front of us. Showing us the way to the kitchen, just in case we have forgotten where it is. Getting under foot while we are busily trying to do our everyday chores. Showing affection in all forms. Which includes: head bunting, kneading, purring, licking, drooling, gentle hand biting, brushing up and rubbing their bodies next to ours or just laying there watching us with that “I love you” look on their face. Sharing our couch or lap at tv time. Sharing our bed at the end of the day. Stealing the pillow and laying on our head. BUT there is a difference.2014-04-08 13.22.09

We can read dogs much better than cats when something is just not right. It could be their body language. Feeding time. Play time. Dogs are better at communicating “Hey, I don’t feel well.” When that happens what do we do? We whisk them off to the vet. No questions asked. Something is not right and we are worried.

Cats on the other hand, lets say have a built-in mechanism that prevents them from saying I don’t feel well. They do not like to admit that something is wrong. They are excellent in disguising their feelings and prefer to just carry on as if nothing is wrong. Prime example, they go to jump onto a table and miss. They hit the ground and in most cases not in a very graceful way. Then amazingly jump right up, lick their paw or shoulder and walk away as if to say I meant to do that and you better not laugh. We all have seen it. I must admit, I have laughed.


2015-09-23 17.49.24We may have noticed they are not around as much or are hanging out in a different area of the house but they seem fine so, no concerns there. Their coat does not look as shiny but they are eating, drinking and using the litter. So I guess they are ok. We may see small changes but, all in all, they seem fine. We now walk over to them with some concern. “You ok”?  They stand up stretch and flop over for a belly rub. Seeing them do this we feel better. You’re fine we tell ourselves. Yup fooled again. The master of disguise is at work. NO something is not right!

This brings me around to annual physical exams.

Yes, even if they are indoor cats they should be seen at least once a year. More if their behaviour changes. This is the time when something serious could be lurking in the background and may be found during an exam. Our veterinarians are experts in looking for problems. They know what questions to ask that may indicate something that we have not seen. A thorough examination is done, they will decide if further work up is required and make recommendations. Annual blood work should be done. Even if the cat seems to be doing fine. This will give an excellent baseline to compare with, if tests are required at a later date. Cats by law should be vaccinated for rabies. Yes, indoor cats can come in contact with bats, as bats have been known to get into the house. What could be more exciting for a cat than a mouse with wings.

Bringing cats to the veterinary hospital can be stressful. Cats do not like carriers, even though that is the safest way to transport them. Car rides are definitely not on their to-do-list either. You hate to see them so worked up. Stress can be reduced with Feliway products. These are synthetic feline pheromones that come in wipes and sprays that can be used in carriers and the car. These pheromones are calming for cats and can reduce stress. When arriving to the vet clinic ask the receptionist to please put you in an exam room where it is quiet and away from dogs. Doing this can make the travel and visit much more pleasant for the two of you.

I can not stress the importance of annual exam for all our felines. This could help prevent a very serious illness. Cats can develop heart issues that the family does not now about and can be detected by a veterinarian. Sadly these can be silent killers if not diagnosed and treated early. Older cats may have thyroid or kidney issues. Again something that can only be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. It is a great time to discuss weight management and joint support for seniors or any other questions and concerns.   2015-01-07 14.17.24

I keep a watchful eye on all my feline furbabies. But always remembering there could be a ‘Master of Disguise’ in the group. I rely heavily on our veterinarians to keep my crew in purrfect purring harmony with annual exams and full work ups.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and if we have not already seen you this year, we look forward to meeting your feline furbaby.