Primary Care

 

Vaccination

Vaccination is now adapted to the lifestyle of each animal. Every dog and cat without exception should receive the basic vaccine and the rabies vaccine. The basic vaccine protects against the major respiratory and digestive diseases. Rabies affects all mammals and is transmitted mainly by bite. Even an animal that lives exclusively indoors should receive this vaccine. The risk of an animal escaping through an open door and coming into contact with an animal that is not indoors cannot be eliminated. There is also a legal aspect to this vaccine. If unfortunately a dog or a cat bites someone and they are not vaccinated against rabies or if they are bitten by a wildlife animal without being vaccinated, authorities may require that the animal receive a series of rabies vaccinations, whether they are quarantined or even euthanized. Rabies is a zoonotic disease (i.e. a transmissible disease of the animals to humans) fatal in almost all cases. It is our responsibility to protect humans through the vaccination of all animals. The city of Gatineau is also asking that your pets be vaccinated against rabies and other contagious diseases.

 

There are several other vaccines but they are only given if the animal is at risk. For dogs, it is important to consider leptospirosis that is a potentially fatal disease that is transmissible to humans and can even be diagnosed in dogs that remain mainly indoors. There are also vaccines against kennel cough and Lyme disease. In cats, a vaccine against feline leukemia virus is important for the individuals at risk. It is important to understand that when you start vaccinating an animal, some vaccines need to be repeated once or twice, at one-month intervals, depending on the age of the animal, while others do not. These initial monthly boosters allow the vaccines to succeed in developing good immunity. After the initial vaccination, annual or every 3 years booster shots are necessary depending on the vaccine.

Deworming

Intestinal parasites:

Intestinal worms are very common. Almost 100% of untreated puppies and kittens are affected! The mother passes them on to her offspring through the placenta and milk. After birth, they are transmitted when the animal swallows parasite eggs from his environment, from the placenta to the milk, from ingesting raw or undercooked meat, infected prey or even from flea bites. There are several kinds of worms and several are transmissible to humans, in which some can lead to serious health problems (ex: blindness, encephalitis, pneumonia, etc.). Children are more at risk because of their propensity to put their hands in their mouths, as well as immunocompromised people (ex : cancer, HIV/AIDS, transplantation, etc.). It even happens that an animal is a carrier without showing any clinical signs (symptoms), particularly in adults.

 

The ideal deworming program is on a regular basis until the age of 6 months and then annually every month when contamination is possible, or at least once a year. It is recommended that a stool analysis be performed at the first visit and then annually at the same time as the annual visit.

 

Heartworm:

 

The heartworm is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. Adult worms gradually damage the heart and lungs. The infection can remain asymptomatic for a long period of time (a few years) until the disease is advanced. The curative treatment is complex, expensive and risky (the animal may die from it). It is therefore strongly recommended to prevent this disease. The south-western Quebec region is considered endemic and several cases are reported each year.

 

Monthly preventative treatment is recommended from June 1 st to November 1 st every year. Preventive products are also effective against several intestinal parasites. A screening test for heartworm must be done at least every 2 years.

Fleas:

 

Flea infestations are common in dogs and cats. They can cause itching, allergic dermatitis, and even transmit intestinal and blood parasites. There are some excellent products for monthly administration sold by veterinarians to prevent them, which are effective against many other parasites simultaneously. As for flea collars, they only serve to protect against adult fleas and do absolutely nothing to protect against infestations. Their range of action is 2-3 inches on either side of the collar, but fleas hide mainly on the backs and bellies of animals.

Ticks:

Ticks are becoming more and more frequent due to global warming. They can transmit many diseases including Lyme. They are certainly a threat to human health and the health of our dogs. Ticks are most active in spring to early summer and at the end of the summer to fall. There are many drugs or products that can be administered monthly that are effective in treating ticks, i.e. they kill ticks before they have a chance to transmit disease. Cats have little or no susceptibility to tick-borne diseases. It is recommended, however, that cats that go outdoors be given tick prevention to diminish the risk of bringing them back into the house.

Spay or neuter surgery

 

Unfortunately, thousands of animals are euthanized every year in Quebec because of overpopulation. We therefore strongly encourage spaying and neutering your pets.

 

Neutering in males also brings its share of advantages for your pet: avoiding the development of urinary territorial marking, urine with a less pronounced odour, a less hormonal temperament, less escaping and running away when females are in heat in the neighbourhood as well as the prevention of several medical problems related to the prostate and testicles. Ovariohysterectomy in females avoids several inconveniences or reduces the risk of certain diseases: bleeding during heat, unwanted litters, infections of the uterus (pyometritis) and mammary tumours. It should be noted that spaying after the third heat no longer has any influence on the incidence of mammary tumours. An unspayed female or female spayed after her third heat has one chance out of 4 to develop a mammary tumor during her life, that's huge!

 

The ideal age to sterilize a male or female cat is around 6 months. Male and female dogs of small breeds are also expected to wait until they are 6 months old. In small breeds, decidual teeth are often slow to fall out or never fall out at all. You can then take advantage of anesthesia to remove them at the same time as sterilization. However, one should avoid waiting any more than when they are 7 months of age, as small breeds can be sexually mature from that age. For male and female dogs of large breeds, the ideal is to wait as close as possible to the end of growth and after a heat in the bitch thus around the age of 12 months and potentially 18 months in very large breeds. It should be noted that a minimum of 2 months following a heat should be waited before proceeding to avoid potential surgical complications such as excessive bleeding and induction of pseudogestation (nervous pregnancy).

 

Please note that, out of respect for the well-being of our cats, we are pleased to no longer perform onyxectomy (declawing) since January 1 st , 2018.

Food

 

Comparison of different foods should ideally be done by looking at the digestibility of each diet. This represents the proportion of the food ingested that will be digested and absorbed. However, no such indication is readily available for the consumer. Digestibility is in fact based on the quality of the ingredients contained in the in the food. So we have to rely mainly on the company's reputation. The guaranteed analysis, which gives the percentage of nutrients such as fat, proteins, and carbohydrates, has very little value in comparing different foods. One could make food out of old shoes, heating oil and old tires and this one would contain an ''x'' percentage for each of the nutrients! Although this is an extreme example, this food would not be digestible and therefore would not provide for the animal's needs in any way. A well-composed food with good quality ingredients provides all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Your dog will have a silky coat and a strong immune system and produce a reasonable amount of stool that will be well-formed.

 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of false advertising on the market. Every company claims to have the best product. Foods on sale at veterinary establishments are usually very high- end. Such food can appear more expensive to purchase, but being more digestible, the quantity to be served is usually less. Therefore, the bag should last longer than an equal-sized bag of lesser quality. So, serving high quality food is not necessarily more expensive but can have a huge positive impact on your pet's health.

 

Dogs and cats should eat a minimum of two meals a day. The food should be measured in grams using a kitchen scale because there's nothing more precise. If you have more than one pet at home, serve food to each pet in its own bowl, far away from each other to allow each pet to eat only what he should. It's important to know that growing animals, adults and seniors have very different nutritional needs and must therefore each have their own specific food. This is especially true for sick or injured animals.

 

It is important to note that many medical problems can be treated using canned food. A cat that has never received such a food, especially when he was young, is highly likely to refuse it. It is therefore necessary to accustom your cat from a young age to eat it on a regular basis.

 

If you have to change your pet’s food for any reason, make sure you do so gradually by mixing the two foods and increasing the amount of the new food gradually so as to administer the new food completely after 7 days. For sensitive animals, it is best to proceed over 14 days. However, if your pet presents diarrhea, vomiting or refuses to eat throughout the transition process, do not hesitate to contact us.


Example of transition


- 75% of the old food with 25% of the new food for 2-3 days;
- 50% of each food for 2-3 days;
- 75% of the new food with 25% of the old food for 2-3 days.

 

A raw diet for our pets? Raw meat diet enthusiasts proclaim several benefits to feeding raw food. They are convinced that there is evidence of these benefits and they are choosing these diets for their pet’s well-being. However, no studies demonstrating a beneficial effect in the short, medium or long term currently exists in veterinary literature. The duty of the veterinarian according to its code of ethics is to recommend what has been studied and proven scientifically. It is therefore impossible for us to advise you to apply these dietary principles.

 

The biggest concern about raw food is its potential to carry infectious and zoonotic diseases, which most owners fail to take into consideration. The raw products, in particular products of animal origin, are indeed a source of potential contamination by bacteria (e.g. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter), intestinal parasites and viruses, for both animals and humans living with them. Puppies and kittens as well as children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases (e.g. cancer, AIDS, transplant recipients, taking medication that affects the immune system such as cortisone) are more susceptible of developing complications of these infections. Attention must certainly be given to disinfecting properly the feeding area and material but we should not forget that animal feces and their mouths remain potential sources of contamination. Animals may show clinical signs of infection, but there are animals that are healthy carriers (i.e., they are infected but show no signs of disease).

The little extras

 


Oral Health:

Dogs and cats also need dental care! Approximately 95% of adult dogs have tartar, gingivitis or more or less advanced stages of periodontitis. The small breeds are more often afflicted than large breeds. Periodontitis, which is the inflammation of the tissues around the teeth, is a silent disease. It often goes unnoticed until it is advanced.

 

Periodontitis causes chronic pain and slowly leads to tooth loss. In addition, irritated tissues bleed easily and allow bacteria to enter the blood circulation. Periodontitis is considered irreversible although it can be controlled. An annual dental check-up by a veterinarian is therefore very important. Only scaling under anaesthesia can remove tartar and treat periodontitis.

 

However, several actions can be taken to delay its appearance. The ideal is of course to brush your pet’s teeth once a day, as studies have shown that less frequent brushing is not effective. Plaque only takes 48-72 hours to calcify into tartar that cannot be removed by future brushing. It is important to use enzymatic toothpastes specially designed for animals. A young animal has a much better chance of getting used to brushing its teeth. Start early!

 

Prescription diets such as Hill's t/d and Royal Canin Dental are excellent choices in order to maintain oral health. These foods clean the teeth at the same time as the animal eats. They work either by an abrasive mechanical action or by addition of an ingredient that delays the transformation of the plaque into tartar or both. Several companies claim that their product works against plaque and scale but only foods bearing the ''VOHC'' seal have been proven effective by an independent scientific study (the Veterinary Oral Health Council).

 

There are several other options secondary to brushing and prescription diets such as rawhide-like chews (e.g. CET chew strips, PVD Dental Chewz), gels, treats containing polyphosphates that delay mineralization of the plaque, etc. It is obvious that the more preventive measures are combined, the better the results will be.

 

 

 

Don't hesitate to ask our team for advice!

Microchip:

For some time now, pet tattooing has been replaced by microchipping. The microchip is an electronic device, about the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted subcutaneously with a needle in the back of the pet between the shoulder blades. The microchip is an excellent permanent method of securely identifying and registering an animal as your own. Each animal is identified by a unique number.

 

Veterinary institutions, municipal animal services, animal welfare societies and shelters are equipped with microchip readers and have access to records of identified animals and thus to the contact details of owners of lost, escaped or stolen animals. It is important that owners keep the contact information for their microchip company in case they need to make any changes to phone number or address. A tag is also provided with the microchip which can be attached to the animal's collar. This allows the person who finds the animal to call the company who is able to contact the owners directly.

 

To date, this is not a means of geographically locating the animals by satellite. The microchip can be implanted at any age and in all breeds of dogs and cats. This can be done during a health check or at the same time as the spay or neuter surgery, which minimizes the slight discomfort associated with implantation. There are no contraindications to microchipping.

Insurance for pets:

You're probably already very attached to your pet. Insurance allows you to ensure your pet's health and to provide the care it needs in case of illness or accident. Once insured and depending on the package chosen, you can enjoy peace of mind by having access the costs of the planned or unplanned veterinary care.