Heat Stroke- Prevention & Treatment

What is Heat Stroke?

Although a pet’s body temperature may become elevated due to infection (fever), it may also increase because of a warm and/or humid environment. Hyperthermia is a term used to describe an increased body temperature caused by warm environmental conditions. Severe Hyperthermia is commonly referred to as heat stroke.

• Hyperthermia can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate treatment • All types of animals are susceptible to heat stroke, including humans

• We most commonly see dogs with heat stroke during the summer months, but outdoor cats can also be affected if they spend too much time lying in the sun

• A dog’s normal body temperature is 37.5-38.9 degrees Celsius, anything above this range requires immediate treatment.

Dog wearing green straw hat and sun glasses
How does Heatstroke happen?

The climate in the Okanagan Valley is generally very warm, especially from early April to late October. It is of the utmost importance during this period, that we take extra precautions to ensure our canine companions (and feline friends) don’t develop heat stroke.
Your Dog is at risk of developing heat stroke if ANY of the following conditions apply:
1. Warm/hot summer weather (this includes any temperature greater than 15°C, especially when the sun is out)

2. When an animal is left outdoors in warm conditions without adequate shade

3. When exercised in warm weather (this includes a short walk)

4. When left in a car on a relatively cool day (10-15°C); the temperature within a vehicle may increase by10-15°C within 15-30min. Never leave your pet unattended in a car!

5. Predisposing factors such as obesity or underlying disease, which can lead to a lower tolerance for warm weather

6. Certain dog breeds are at an even greater risk. These include brachycephalic or short nosed breeds (Pug, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier, French bull dog, English bull dog, Boxer, Mastiff) and Arctic breeds (Husky, Malamute) to name a few.
Humans are able to regulate body temperature through perspiration (sweating.)Because dogs and cats are unable to sweat, they cool themselves down by panting. If you notice your dog panting, take them to a cool place.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Initial signs of heatstroke in your pet may include restlessness and excessive panting. As the hyperthermia progresses, your pet may secrete large quantities of saliva (drooling), vomit and/or have diarrhea. Your pet may also become unsteady on their feet, develop impaired neurological function and in severe cases, collapse. You may notice the gums turning blue/purple or bright red in color.
What to Do:

• Remove your pet from the environment where the hyperthermia occurred/is occurring

• Transport your pet to your veterinary clinic (or the closet emergency clinic) immediately.
Severe hyperthermia is a disease that affects nearly every organ in the body, and simply lowering the body temperature fails to address the potentially catastrophic events that accompany this disorder. Heat Stroke is a potentially fatal condition and prompt veterinary attention is required. Without veterinary attention, prognosis for recovery is guarded to poor.
If you have additional questions about heat stroke and what you can do to keep your canine companion safe please call the clinic for more information.

The Doctors and Staff at Fairfield Animal Hospital, Westbank Animal Care Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital.

What’s a ‘Hot Spot’ and why does my dog get them?

What is a Hot Spot?
A hot spot is a common term used to describe a superficial skin infection in animals. Medical terms used to describe this infection include: moist dermatitis, pyotraumatic dermatitis or superficial pyoderma. The infection is a result of damage to the skin surface (usually from scratching/licking) allowing bacteria to over run the natural defense mechanisms of skin.
Dogs are most commonly afflicted with this condition.

hot spot

What Causes a Hot Spot?
Anything that causes irritation to the skin can result in a hot spot. Common causes of a hot spot include: bug bites (fleas/flies), allergies, excessive skin moisture (post swimming/bath), matted hair, scrapes/superficial cuts. When an irritation occurs dogs have a tendency to lick/chew at the area. The primary insult combined with the mechanical action of licking/chewing further aggravates the skin. The final result is a hot spot.
What are the Symptoms associated with a Hot Spot?
You may notice: scratching, chewing, licking, a foul odor (due to infection) and/or pain when the affected area is touched. Hot spots are most commonly found under the ear (in dogs that have floppy ears) and at the base of the tail, but can occur anywhere on the body.

hotspot 1

What can I do to prevent a hot spot from occurring?

We see a rise in the number of dogs with Hot Spots in the summer. Tips for prevention include:

1. Drying your dog thoroughly after swimming (which includes drying the ear canal). If your dog has a long hair coat (ex: golden retriever) and loves to swim, it is recommended to shave your pet’s coat (not to the skin, just enough to thin the coat). This will not only reduce the incidence of hot spots but also help keep him/her cool during those hot summer months!   2. Manage your dog’s allergies. In the summer allergies are rampant (for both dogs and people). The mechanical action of licking and chewing/scratching is one of the main causes for hot spot development. If you think your pet may have allergies, please book an appointment to speak with one of our veterinarians.
3. If you notice your pet licking/chewing, stop them and investigate for an area of irritation. Call the clinic, as prompt treatment helps to ensure your pet’s comfort.

How do you treat a hot spot?                                                                                                         Treatment involves shaving/clipping the affected area to allow the air to get to the skin. This also allows us to fully assess the infection. The area of infection is often much larger than initially suspected and can be very painful, so sometimes sedation is needed in order to shave and clean the infected area properly. Treatment may involve antibiotics (topical and/or systemic), pain, and anti-itch medication. An E collar is often placed on your pet to prevent further licking/chewing at the hot spot. Treatment depends on the severity of the hot spot, chronicity, and other confounding diseases that may be present.
If you would like to learn more about hot spots or think your dog may have a hot spot, please call your favourite vet hospital!

Together we can help keep your canine companion safe and healthy.
The Doctors and Staff at Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital & Westbank Animal Care Hospital.

The dreaded Spear Grass is here!

What is Spear Grass?

Spear Grass is a type of wild grass that has a sharp point with fine, hair-like stems that spread back from the point, similar to that of an arrowhead. During the summer months the grass becomes very dry and sharp, thus posing a great risk to dogs. Spear grass is very common in the Okanagan Valley.

spear grass

Dogs are most commonly affected by spear grass when they come in direct contact with the grass. This often occurs while hiking with your dog.

What are the Symptoms?

Spear Grass can become embedded between the toes of dogs, especially those with a long-haired coat. The spear grass can then migrate through the tissues of the paw/leg. In addition to becoming embedded in the paw, spear grass is also commonly found in a dog’s ear(s). When Spear Grass enters the ear canal it can cause severe discomfort/infection and even rupture the eardrum. The unique, barbed shape of the Spear Grass prevents it from being able to back out, it can only move forward deeper into the paw/ear canal. The paw and the ear are the two most common places spear grass becomes embedded; however it can penetrate any area of the dog’s body that comes into contact with the Spear Grass.  We have removed Spear Grass from ears, paws, eyes, and noses to name a few.

Initial symptoms often involve licking and chewing at the site where the spear grass has embedded. Sudden onset of head shaking, head tilting and crying when the ear is scratched, can be a sign your dog has spear grass in it’s ear canal.  Signs of inflammation and infection include: pain, swelling, redness and discharge.

spear grass in paw

How do you treat Spear Grass?

Treatment involves removal of the Spear Grass. If the Spear Grass has entered the paw, sedation is required to allow surgical exploration of the affected area, with hopes of finding and removing the Spear Grass. If the Spear Grass has entered the ear or eye, sedation is required so that we can tactfully remove the Spear Grass without causing further damage to vital body parts. Pain medication is often prescribed to ensure your pet’s comfort. Antibiotics are sometimes required if an infection is present.

How can I keep my dog safe from Spear Grass?

It is very difficult to avoid Spear Grass because it is so prevalent in the Okanagan Valley. Some tips to help keep your canine companion safe include:

  1. Shaving the feet (especially if they have long hair). This makes the Spear Grass more visible and facilitates removal prior to the Spear Grass becoming embedded into the tissues.
  2. Thoroughly inspect your dog’s feet/ears/eyes after a walk for evidence of spear grass and remove it before it becomes a problem!
  3. Avoid walking your dog in areas where Spear Grass is rampant!
  4. If you notice your pet licking/chewing at his/her paws or scratching at his/her ears then they may be affected by Spear Grass. Call us!

If you have any further questions, please call. We are here to help your canine companion live a long, healthy and happy life!

healthy dog


Your friends at Fairfield Animal Hospital, Westbank Animal Care Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital!

Heartworm Season!

heartworm awareness

It’s the time of year for Heartworm Prevention!

Once per month from June to November.

Give our office a call to get your pet’s prevention today.


What is Heartworm?

Heartworm (dirofilaria immitis) is a parasite that infects dogs and other canine species such as foxes, wolves, and coyotes. Cats can also become infected, although they are more resistant to infection.

Heartworm is a blood-borne parasitic infection that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Heartworm infection was once limited to the southern regions of the United States, however it is now found in most areas of the continental United States, Mexico, and Canada – Including British Columbia.

Heartworm is a potentially fatal disease that affects the cardiovascular system. Heartworms mature in the heart and lungs (pulmonary arteries causing severe disease. If a large number of worms are present, blood flow through the heart can become obstructed and lead to heart failure. Blood clots may also form, and in severe cases and embolus (blockage) can become lodged in a small artery. This blockage obstructs normal circulation and can cause sudden death.


How can by dog become infected with Heartworm?                  

Mosquitoes inject a larval (immature) form of the heartworm parasite into the dog when they feed. The larvae mature into thin, adult worms that are several inches long. Adult heartworms live in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary arteries) in the heart. Their physical presence causes harm in two ways:

  1. They block the normal forward flow of blood through the heart, causing the heart to work excessively hard and to potentially fail.
  2. They damage the inner lining of blood vessels, which gives rise to blood clots and thus cuts off circulation to parts of the lungs.

Adult heartworms reproduce and release the next generation of immature larval worms, called microfilaria, into the bloodstream. Mosquitoes feeding on an infected dog pick up the microfilaria and then proceed to transmit the parasite to healthy animals.

How do you diagnose or screen for heartworm disease?

Several tests are available to diagnose heartworm disease in dogs. The test that we recommend is a very simple blood test called 4Dx test.  The 4Dx test detects antigens (substances secreted by adult heartworms), as well as it includes testing for ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis.  All dogs should have a heartworm test performed if they have not previously received some form of heartworm preventative treatment.



Treatment of heartworm disease is time consuming, expensive and can be associated with serious complications depending on the severity of infection. Prevention is a much safer and more cost-effective method, and also helps reduce the prevalence of heartworm in the animal population, thus limiting transmission of the disease.



It is very important to administer heartworm prevention to your dog during the summer months in British Columbia. We recommend starting your pet on heartworm medication June 1st and continuing until November 1st. In some areas such as the Southern USA, heartworm prevention is necessary year-round. This is very important to remember if you are travelling to a southern location in the winter.

If your dog has not previously received some form of heartworm prevention we will perform a heartworm test to ensure that your pet can be safely started on a prevention plan.

There are several different products that are safe and provide excellent protection against heartworm disease.

These include:

Heartgard Plus:  A beef flavored chewable tablet given once monthly

(just like giving a treat!)


Revolution: Applied topically to the skin once monthly


Please contact your pets favorite vet clinic today and make arrangements for your pet!

Central Valley Vet Hospital, Westbank Animal Care Hospital & Fairfield Animal Hospital

A Healthy pet is a happy pet !!!!

healthy dog


Tick Talk!

 What is a tick?

Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of unlucky host animals such as our canine companions. Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids. The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), examples of ticks that commonly affect dogs, require three feedings to complete their life cycles.

How Are Ticks Transmitted to Dogs?

Ticks are most active in from spring through fall and live in tall brush or grass, where they may attach to dogs playing on their turf. These parasites prefer to stay close to the head, neck, feet and ear area. In severe infestations, however, they can be found anywhere on a dog’s body.


How Do I Know if My Dog Has Ticks?

Ticks are visible to the naked eye. During the warmer months, it’s a good idea to check your dog regularly for these parasites. If you do spot a tick, it is important to take care when removing it. Any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your dog or even to you! Treat the area with rubbing alcohol and pluck the parasite with tweezers, making sure you’ve gotten the biting head and other body parts. You can also stop by our office anytime and pick up a complimentary “tick twister” which is a great tool you can use to safely remove a tick. Since it may only take a few hours for disease to be transmitted from an attached tick, it is ideal for your dog to be evaluated by a veterinarian soon after any ticks are found.

tick twister

Are Certain Dogs Prone to Ticks?

Ticks can be found all over the world. But dogs who live in warm climates and certain wooded areas, where ticks are particularly prominent, might be more prone due to increased exposure.

  • Tick paralysis
  • Skin irritation or infection
  • Anemia

What Are Some Complications Associated with Ticks in Dogs?

Ticks can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, all of which can cause serious complications and are potentially fatal without prompt and proper treatment.

What can I do to prevent Ticks?

The best way to protect your pet from Ticks is by using a Tick prevention. There are many different products on the market today that help. Call and speak to a member of our health care team for a recommendation that is best for your pet.


Nexgard is a beef flavoured chewable tablet that is given once monthly. It is a safe and effective way to protect your dog.

revolution topical

Revolution is a topical solution applied directly to your pet skin once monthly. Revolution aids in tick control.

Please contact one of our clinics for more information on ticks and tick prevention.  One of our knowledgeable staff members would be glad to help you!

Westbank Animal Care Hospital, Fairfield Animal Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital.

The dangers of Anesthesia-Free Pet Dental Cleanings

Did you know you could be doing more harm than good for your pets mouth by having “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings performed!

More and more pet stores, grooming salons and independent people are offering “anesthesia free dental cleanings for dogs and cats.” At first glance this seems like a marvelous idea! Who doesn’t want to avoid anesthesia for their pets! After all, humans don’t need full anesthesia to get our teeth cleaned, so really, why do our pets? Additionally these services are offered at a fraction of the cost that the veterinarian charges!

Well… let’s dig a little deeper and uncover the facts about “anesthesia free dental cleanings” for pets.

                                                                         anesthesia free cleanings

1. Myth: People offering “anesthesia free dental cleanings” are trained professionals, educated in pet dental health.

a.) Many people that offer “anesthesia free dental cleanings claim to be “pet dental hygienists” or “pet dental technicians.” However, there is no recognized licensing, training or certification to back up these statements. Those titles are simply marketing slogans. Additionally, many human dental hygienists are offering dental cleaning for pets; remember dog and cat dental health is very different from human dental health!
b.) It is best to trust your pets dental health to a trained and licensed veterinary professional; a person that has dedicated their life to the betterment of pet health.

2. Myth: My dog/cats teeth look so clean and his/her breath is much better after having an “anesthesia free dental cleaning”. This is evidence that all the tartar and disease is gone.

a.) The most important issue with “anesthesia free dental cleaning” is the quality of the dental cleaning. The tartar that ‘anesthesia-free’ procedures attempt to remove is above the gum line. It completely misses the tartar below the gum line. This is the tartar that is causing severe damage. Even if all the tartar is removed from the visible part of the tooth, the tooth is not any healthier! The tartar below the gum line is damaging the root. This will cause pain and infection, which can lead to many other systemic illnesses.
b.) Remember, just because your pets teeth look cleaner after they have an “anesthesia free dental cleaning”, the real damage is below the gum line and not readily visible. The only way to address the tartar under the gum line is to perform dental scaling under anesthesia.

3. Myth: Isn’t some cleaning better than none at all?

a.) NO! The teeth can visually look clean but this gives a false sense of security because the dental disease is silently progressing below the gum line, causing pain and infection. It is also possible for teeth to be damaged by a pet who struggles with a dental scaler in their mouth. Additionally, tartar will accumulate at an increased rate due to micro-abrasions left from scaling the teeth but not following with a thorough polishing.

4. Myth: My pet is very well behaved and will allow anyone to open his/her mouth; this makes him/her a great candidate for “anesthesia free dental cleaning”.

a.) It is impossible to perform a thorough and accurate dental examination and cleaning on a patient that is not anesthetized. Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not sit still with their mouth open when asked. This is even true for dogs/cats with excellent, calm temperaments. Without anesthesia it is impossible to fully assess the extent of dental disease and impossible to address/correct the dental disease.

5. Myth: Anesthesia is very dangerous, it is safer for my pet to have an “anesthesia free dental cleaning.”

a.) Many people prefer the idea of “anesthesia free dentistry” because they are afraid of the risks associated with anesthesia. It is important to remember that veterinary anesthesia protocols and drugs are considered very safe, allowing very elderly and very young patients to be anesthetized safely. The dental tartar that is left untreated after an “anesthesia free dental cleaning” is far more dangerous to your pets overall health and comfort.

After reviewing the facts it becomes evident that “anesthesia free dental cleaning” for pets provides the advantage of being cheap. However, this false sense of security will cost you more money in the long run. Dental disease below the gum line will progress, causing pain, infection and systemic illness. Many patients that have frequent “anesthesia free dental cleanings” end up requiring dental (tooth) extractions due to infection under the gum line.

As a veterinary hospital, we are committed to patient health and safety. The advantages provided by the use of general anesthesia are clear:

– improved patient safety,
– better experience for the patient,
– ability to perform a meticulous oral examination,
– ability to take dental radiographs,
– ability to perform dental extractions, if indicated, and
– ability to clean the tooth above and below the gum line, ensuring complete oral health.

In summary, all pet dental procedures should be performed using general anesthesia and by a licensed veterinarian.


The Veterinarians and staff of The Interior Pet Health Group

(Fairfield Animal Hospital, Westbank Animal Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital)

A Step-By-Step Dental Cleaning

What happens when your pet visits us for a dental cleaning?

Meet “Rosie”

Dr. Watt performed a full physical examination the morning of Rosie’s dental procedure. Dr. Watt listened to her heart, lungs & checked her temperature.

dental 1The animal health technician, Justine, drew a blood sample and ran an in-house preanesthetic panel, which checked her kidneys, liver, blood cell count & electrolytes.

dental 2

Rosie was placed on intravenous fluids to keep her blood pressure in the normal range, hydrate her and help flush the anesthesia out of her system.

dental 3.jpg

dental 4

Rosie is getting sleepy from her medication…

dental 5

She was intubated with a endotracheal tube to be maintained on general anesthesia during the entire procedure.

dental 6

Rosie was placed on an anesthesia monitoring system that measures her heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygenation levels.

dental 8

Dr. Watt performed a full oral exam, assessing and probing each tooth. She found abnormalities when probing Rosie’s carnasial tooth.

dental 9

**The carnasial tooth looked totally normal to the naked eye**

dental 10

The plaque and tartar was removed below the gum line and on the surface of the teeth via an ultrasonic and hand scaler.

dental 11

Dr Watt then performed a second oral exam to identify any teeth needing radiology and extraction. The radiographs show integrity of the tooth and its root.

dental 12.jpg

A local anesthesia (nerve block) was injected into the nerves surrounding the carnasial tooth.

dental 13

Dr. Watt performed a gingival flap (making 2 incisions in the gum and pulling the gum back to expose the root and the bone).  Dr. Watt probed the tooth and found a 6mm pocket. This confirmed the tooth needed to be removed.

dental 14

The technician then polished all of the teeth. Polishing post scaling helps seal any microscopic ridges that may have been exposed when the tartar was removed.

dental 15
Rosie was then moved into recovery and taken off anesthesia. She is carefully monitored by her technician post dental and is kept on intravenous fluids to help flush the remainder of the sedation out of her system. She is kept in hospital until she is alert and able to walk on her own.

Why “dog breath” is dangerous to your pet

Dental Disease In Dogs and Cats

Dental disease is a very common problem in pets. Over 85% of dogs and cats over 4 years old have dental disease. Unlike us, dogs and cats do not commonly get cavities but they do suffer from tartar buildup and periodontal disease, which left untreated, leads to infected and rotten teeth. Infected/rotten teeth are a significant source of pain as well as bacteria, which can spread to the heart and the liver causing severe illness.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease begins with the formation of “plaque”, a coating on the teeth and gums containing bacteria and debris. If plaque is not removed, minerals in chewed food/saliva will be deposited and hard dental “tartar” forms. The tartar causes irritation of the gums and tissues surrounding the tooth. Bacteria grow around the tartar and under the edge of the gums. These bacteria gradually dissolve the supporting structures of the tooth, permanently damaging the tooth itself.

How do I know if my pet has dental disease?

Most commonly people will notice bad breath, however dental disease is very advanced by the time this occurs.

  1. The earliest sign of periodontal disease is red/swollen gums, which may be subtle and difficult to notice in many dogs and cats. The large teeth located along the side of the mouth are more frequently affected than the front teeth.
  2. Next, “tartar” is deposited on the surface of the teeth just above the gum line. Tartar is hard and permanent, and cannot be removed with brushing.
  3. As this process worsens, bacteria deposit underneath the gum line and destroy the supporting structures of the tooth.
  4. The gums may eventually retract, exposing the roots of the teeth.
  5. Abscesses (large infections) may form under the teeth, which is very painful!

The earliest stage of periodontal disease—red, inflamed gums—is reversible. A proper dental cleaning performed under a general anesthetic plus a home dental care plan can restore your pet’s teeth to their healthy state. However, once bacteria develop under the gum line the teeth can become permanently damaged. This is often irreversible and dental surgery is required to remove the affected teeth.

Prevention and Treatment of Dental Disease

A thorough dental cleaning, followed by home dental care, can control periodontal disease. The cleaning must be done under anesthesia so that all areas can be cleaned and properly assessed. Additionally, any teeth that are infected/loose need to be removed during the procedure. Your pet will be more comfortable and healthier without loose, infected teeth.

Many people worry about the risks of anesthesia, especially with older pets. Yet older pets are often the ones most in need of dental care. A thorough physical examination and laboratory tests to identify health problems combined with modern, low-risk anesthetics can make safe anesthesia possible for many pets. The risks are low compared to the benefits of dental care for most pets, even elderly ones.

Dog Panting

How can I prevent dental disease?

  1. Tooth brushing using a pet specific toothpaste
  2. Specific Veterinary prescription diets such as the Royal Canin Dental Diet is very effective at reducing plaque build up.
  3. Oral rinses / Dental wipes
  4. Veterinary Oral Care chews
  5. Bones of any kind are NOT recommended for dental care, due to the risk of fractured teeth (among other complications)


    It is important to remember that pets are individuals and may develop plaque and subsequent dental disease very quickly despite prevention measures, while others seem quite resistant. Many small breed dogs, such as: Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas, as well as, short nosed dogs such as: Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs and Pugs require frequent dental care even with rigorous prevention measures.

Common Myths:

  1. My pet is still chewing his food so he must not be in pain
    1. All pets with dental disease are in pain, however pets will still eat despite this pain. Sometimes they will favour a certain side of their mouth in an effort to reduce the pain.
  2. If my pet has some teeth removed then he/she will not be able to eat!
    1. Your pet will be able to eat pain free now that the infected/damaged teeth have been removed.

Helpful links:

A list of products that have received approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (a non-profit independent group of board-certified veterinary dentists) is available at www.vohc.org. Check out this website and try to incorporate some of these prevention measures into your dogs routine.

Take home message

It is important to remember that oral health plays an important role in pet health. Dental disease doesn’t just affect the mouth, but the entire body. Dental disease is a source of extreme pain and infection. Bacteria that has accumulated in the mouth can be carried by the blood stream to the heart, liver, kidneys and other internal organs resulting in severe illness.

Please contact Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital or Westbank Animal Care Hospital today to book your complimentary dental assessment.


Sincerely, The Doctors and Staff of the Interior Pet Health Group.

(Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital & Westbank Animal Care Hospital)


Reference: Clinical Vet Advisor, 2nd Ed. Cote et al.


Cold Weather & Holiday Pet Hazards

Keep your furry friends safe this Holiday season by reading our list of potential toxins.

Winter Hazards:

  1. Antifreeze
    1. Antifreeze is attractive to pets due to its sweet taste. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat and less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Antifreeze toxicity can cause irreversible kidney failure. Thoroughly clean up any spills, store antifreeze in tightly closed containers and store in secured cabinets. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze and is recommended to use in pet households.
  1. Ice melting products
    1. The most common ingredients in these ice melts are sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, and calcium magnesium acetate. A few ice melts contain urea. Pets may be exposed by walking on the ice melts themselves or by ingesting granules brought inside on the shoes of the owner’s. Ingestion of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium salts can lead to vomiting and severe electrolyte abnormalities. In mild cases these products can be irritating to skin and mouth.
  1. Rat and Mouse Bait
    1. These products are used more commonly during colder weather when rodents seek refuge inside. Most bait products contain an anticoagulant such as warfarin. These products, when ingested, cause consumption of clotting factors within 24-72 hours causing the animal to bleed out and die. Prompt medical attention is needed.

Christmas for Max & Jolie

Holiday Food Items that are Hazardous:

  1. Alcoholic beverages
    1. Cats and dogs are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Pets are attracted to mixed drinks that contain milk, cream or ice cream (e.g. White Russian, alcoholic eggnog, Brandy Alexander). Ethanol is rapidly absorbed orally and signs can develop within 30-60 minutes. Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur.
  2. Chocolate (baker’s, semi-sweet, milk chocolate)
    1. Chocolate is directly toxic because of the theobromine it contains. The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more theobromine there is. This makes baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, followed by chocolate flavored cakes or cookies. Theobromine ingestion causes: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms and even death in severe cases.  Also beware of using artificial sweeteners in holiday baking.  XYLITOL is extremely toxic and can cause life threateningly low blood sugar and death, without prompt treatment.
  3. Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
    1. Coffee is a source of caffeine, which acts like a stimulant when ingested. Clinical signs include, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, abnormal heartbeats and even death.
  4. Moldy or spoiled foods
    1. Moldy/Spoiled foods can cause gastrointestinal upset or gastrointestinal obstruction. Additionally some moldy food may contain mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by fungi growing on a variety of foodstuffs. These mycotoxins can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from neurological dysfunction to liver failure and death.
  5. Onions, onion powder, garlic
    1. Onions and garlic contain Sulfoxides, when ingested these sulfoxides can cause a life-threatening anemia called Heinz body anemia.  Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.  While the exact source of the toxin in the grape/raisin is unknown it is highly recommended that dogs be discouraged from consuming them.
  6. Fatty foods
    1. Foods that are high in fat can lead to gastrointestinal upset (vomiting/diarrhea) and in severe cases can cause life-threatening pancreatitis. It is important NOT to feed your pet table scraps, especially if they are high in fat.
  7. Bread dough
    1. Ingestion of fermented raw bread dough can be fatal. The yeast added to bread dough converts carbohydrates to alcohol and in the process, carbon dioxide is released which makes the dough rise. This same reaction occurs in the stomach once the bread dough is swallowed. The ingestion of bread dough causes alcohol poisoning (depression, weakness, drunkenness, hypothermia, respiratory depression, stupor and coma) as well as marked distension of the stomach leading to cardiovascular and respiratory compromise/collapse.
  8. Bones
    1. Bones can cause gastrointestinal upset as well more commonly gastrointestinal obstruction and possibly perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. This is potentially fatal and requires emergency surgery. Never feed your dog bones.

Holiday Plants that are Hazardous:

  1. Lilies
    1. Often found in holiday flower arrangements and are fatal to cats. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats. If you have cats do not allow lilies in the house!
  2. Poinsettias
    1. Generally over rated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach. May cause gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea).
  3. Mistletoe
    1. Has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems when ingested in large quantities. However, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset.
  4. Holly
    1. Ingestion can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.
  5. Christmas Cactus
    1. Typically causes mild gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Miscellaneous Christmas Hazards:

  1. Electric cords
    1. Avoid animal exposure to electric cords. If they were chewed, they could electrocute your pet. Cover up or hide electric cords, never let your pet chew on them.
  2. Ribbons or Tinsel
    1. These are extremely hazardous. If ingested these decorative items can become caught up in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This could require emergency surgery.
  3. Batteries
    1. Batteries contain corrosive agents. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Glass ornaments
    1. If ingested these ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract, necessitating emergency surgery.
  5. Potpourris
    1. Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion, or from spilling the containers upon themselves.
    2. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal, and ocular damage. Dry potpourri generally doesn’t cause these issues, but there may be problems due to foreign body and (possibly) toxic plant ingestion.
    3. It is best to avoid potpourris.
  6. Human Medications
    1. Because winter is the season for colds and influenza, pet owners may have more medications in their homes. These medications should be kept out of reach of pets, preferably in closed cabinets. It is also important to remind holiday visitors to secure their prescription medications in a location that cannot be accessed by your pet.

More information on potentially toxic items at The Pet Poison Helpline.

We hope you enjoy a wonderful and safe Holiday season with your families!


The Doctors and Staff of the Interior Pet Health Group

(Fairfield Animal Hospital, Westbank Animal Care Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital)

Keeping Your Senior Pet Healthy

Senior Wellness

Dogs and cats age much more quickly than humans. Their development from puberty to adulthood takes place over a period of 18-24 months. After that time each year of a pet’s life is equal to about 4 years of a human life.

Portrait of a female german shorthaired pointer, age 11

What is a senior pet?

  • Any pet over the age of 7 years is considered a senior.
  • Large breed dogs over the age of 5 years are considered a senior.

Although age is not a disease, it is a progressive process that is associated with the development of age related problems. Some changes that are more prevalent in the mature pet include:

  • Physical and metabolic changes, joint disease, renal disease, muscle atrophy, cognitive and behavioural changes, thyroid disease, skin and coat changes

We are able to assess the health of your mature pet in several ways:

  • Annual/semi annual physical examination by your veterinarian
  • An early disease detection blood profile and urinalysis (senior wellness profile)

We recommend performing a senior wellness profile on all mature pets. There are several benefits to this:

  • In the early stages of disease there is often no noticeable signs (compromised organ function can occur before clinical signs are evident)
  • This blood panel can serve as a benchmark/baseline when done in a healthy mature pet. This enables better care and diagnosis for any changes that develop in subsequent years.

Early disease detection in the mature pet can result in earlier medical and nutritional treatment, which will impact the quality of your pet’s life.

During the month of November, we are offering a 20% discount on our Senior Blood panel when you book an annual examination for your senior pet.  Your pet will also receive a complimentary bag of the appropriate Royal Canin Veterinary diet, based on their nutritional requirements.

Please call the clinic or click the clinic of your choice below, to book your pets appointment.


The Doctors and Staff at The Interior Pet Health Group

(Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital & Westbank Animal Care Hospital)