Articles on Nutrition

 Food is Love

 Parasites, Your Dog and You

 Palliative Care for Your Pet    –   a great article on the Ottawa Humane Society web site, in PDF format



Greenboro Veterinary Clinic logoFocus on Rabies    By Derek Fingler, DVM & Michael Sloss, DVM

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of all mammals, including humans. Rabies disease is always fatal in animals and people.

In Canada, rabies is most commonly transmitted by skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats through saliva contact by bite
wounds, open cuts or contact with a mucous membrane, such as the mouth, nose or eyes.

When rabies virus enters an animal's body, it spreads through the nervous system to reach the brain where it multiplies quickly causing signs of the disease. The time between exposure to the virus and the signs of disease (the incubation period) may be from two weeks to many months with the time frame depending on a number of factors, including the strain of rabies and the location of the bite. It is important to note that an animal can be infectious a few days before showing signs of the disease.

The signs of rabies can be quite varied but most of them relate to the effect of the virus on the brain. There are two basic forms, dumb rabies and furious rabies. Dumb rabies produces animals that are depressed and attempt to hide in isolated places. Wild animals may appear unusually friendly and lose their fear of humans. Those that normally are nocturnal may be out during the day. There may be signs of paralysis of the face or neck, causing abnormal facial expressions or drooling or paralysis of the hind legs.

Animals affected with furious rabies may show periods of extreme excitement and aggression, alternating with periods of depression. The infected animal may attack objects or other animals and may even bite or chew their own limbs.

If you suspect an animal has rabies, stay away from it. Pets and livestock suspected of rabies exposure should be kept confined in isolation, away from other animals and people. Because rabies is a reportable disease, you are required by law to inform the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) of any suspected rabies case or possible exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

If a person has been exposed to a suspect animal, the wound or exposed surface should be immediately washed with soap and water. Any clothing that may have been contaminated should be removed. The family doctor should be contacted or the person should go to the local hospital emergency department. Pets should also have wounds cleaned immediately and there should be no delay in seeking veterinary attention. Prompt treatment following exposure to a rabid animal can prevent the disease from developing.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a program to control the spread of rabies in Canada. The program includes an investigation of all reported suspect cases of rabies, a quarantine of all animals suspected of or at risk of having rabies, and the implementation of prevention controls on the importation of animals. The agency also continues to be active in rabies research.

There are several steps that pet owners can take to prevent the spread of rabies including the following:

  1. Have your pets vaccinated against rabies as recommended by your veterinarian.
  2. Do not let your pets roam free.
  3. Avoid animals that are behaving strangely.
  4. Keep a safe distance from wildlife, even if they look healthy.
  5. Do not attempt to raise orphaned wild animals.
  6. Teach your children not to handle wildlife or pet animals that they do not know.
  7. Report all animal bites to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (1.800.442.2342).
  8. People who work in occupations that bring them into regular contact with animals such as people in the veterinarian field, trappers and park rangers should protect themselves through pre-exposure vaccination.

Rabies is a fatal disease that can affect you and your pets. It makes good sense to be aware of the risks and dangers associated with the disease and to take reasonable precautions in preventing its spread.


Greenboro Veterinary Clinic logoFood is Love  by Derek Fingler, DVM and Michael Sloss, DVM

Currently obesity is considered the most common nutritional disorder that occurs in companion animals in North America. Despite the media attention given to this topic in humans, a study has shown that only 35-40% of owners with overweight pets actually believe their pet has a weight issue.

Obesity is considered an excess of body fat sufficient to result in impairment of health or body function, and fordogs that can be a weight 20-25% above their ideal body weight.

Obesity can cause a variety of health issues including muscle and bone problems, immune system changes, abnormal effects on blood sugar, and cardiovascular complications. Severely obese dogs may be at greater risk for anesthetic and surgical complications and heat or exercise intolerance.

Diagnosing obesity is relatively easy yet it is one of the most difficult conditions to treat. Although many factors have been implicated in contributing to obesity, one of the most important factors is food that tastes great. Commercial diets are promoted for their high palatability and similarly the practice of feeding table scraps and other appealing treats may induce many pets to overeat and gain excessive weight.

A game plan to overcoming obesity can involve several aspects including:

  1. Feeding more often. The total daily amount fed must be appropriate.
  2. Measuring and monitoring food intake so that a controlled amount is given. Everyone in the home who provides food or treats must participate.
  3. Monitoring body weight.
  4. Increasing the pet's daily exercise thereby providing an interaction between you and your pet that can be a substitute for giving treats. Daily walks and increased play time can be used.
  5. Diet changes. Feeding a smaller amount of your dog's current diet may be successful if the required weight loss is small. However, there are some advantages to using diets specially designed for weight loss. By using these diets, patients can receive normal levels of most other nutrients, while decreasing fat and calories.
  6. Modify treat and snack routines. Treats and snacks are an important part of the bonding process between owners and pets but the total daily calorie intake must be controlled. A reasonable plan is to limit treats to 10% of the dog's daily caloric intake. Many low fat commercial treats are available, or alternative treats such as popcorn (unsalted and unbuttered), raw vegetables or plain rice cakes can be used.
  7. Persistence. Weight loss in dogs, like people, is challenging and slow; stick with it.
  8. Maintenance of dietary and exercise habits that have been established during a weight-reduction program is extremely important once successful weight loss has been achieved.

Maintenance of a lean body condition has been proven to improve quality of life and extend the lifespan of dogs. Maintaining or achieving a reasonable body weight in dogs is challenging because of an abundance of highly nutritious and palatable foods, a tendency to live increasingly more sedentary lives, and the use of treats and food as a basis for enhancing the owner-pet bond. The result is often the consumption of excessive calories and the accumulation of fat. Since the development of obesity can have serious negative effects on a pet's health, weight reduction in obese dogs or weight stability in dogs with an ideal body condition must be a focus of the overall health of your pet.


Greenboro Veterinary Clinic logoParasites, your dog and you  by Derek Fingler, DVM and Michael Sloss, DVM

As we trudge through the end of winter and see spring on the horizon, our thoughts stray to warmer days and enjoying more time outside with our four-legged companions. We should also be thinking about the parasites they may encounter and how they can affect our pet's health as well as our own.

You cannot see them but they are there! Pet owners often do not appreciate the extent of parasite infections in our dog community. And most pet owners do not know that their pets may carry intestinal worms capable of infecting people. Parasite detection, prevention, and treatment are critical aspects of the overall health and well-being of your pet.

There are hundreds of different parasites that your dog can harbour, but this article will look at the more common concerns of roundworms, hookworms, heartworm, and fleas and their implications on human health.

Nearly all puppies are infected with roundworm when still in the uterus, or get the infection immediately after birth, while nursing. In addition, dogs of all ages are repeatedly exposed to parasites through contact with contaminated soil (or by directly ingesting fecal matter) that contain infective worm eggs or larvae or by mosquito bites, which can transmit heartworm infection.

Some of these parasites are potentially very dangerous to your pet and people. Roundworm infections in humans can result in diseases known as larval migrans syndromes where parasites migrate through organs in the body such as the liver and eyes resulting in severe debilitation or blindness. Thankfully, intestinal parasites can be prevented or controlled.

Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, can be identified by a process known as a fecal float performed on a fresh fecal sample. Fecal floats identify the eggs shed by the adult worms. Because of life-cycle development and intermittent shedding, multiple fecal floats may be required to identify an infected dog. Every dog should have at least one fecal float performed annually as part of an overall wellness evaluation of the pet.

Heartworm is a blood-borne disease of dogs that is spread through the sting of an infected mosquito. The juvenile heartworm develops in the bloodstream of the dog and eventually takes up residence as an adult in the heart.

Heartworm infection can be fatal. Detection of an existing heartworm infection in a dog requires a blood test that identifies evidence of adult heartworm in the bloodstream. Generally this test is recommended whenever heartworm disease is suspected and as part of an overall wellness screen of your dog; recommendations vary between clinics - talk to your veterinarian.

Fleas can live for six to twelve months and produce millions of offspring. Infestations of fleas can cause some dogs to exhibit a severe allergic reaction known as flea-bite allergy dermatitis. All cats and dogs are susceptible to flea infestations and may benefit from appropriate flea prevention products.

It is common practice to treat your dog with a veterinarian-approved heartworm product monthly from June 1st to November 1st in our region. Flea prevention will often start May 1st. Fortunately, all available licensed heartworm products are also intestinal de-wormers; while preventing heartworm in your dog you are also treating intestinal parasites thereby protecting your dog and the people he or she contacts.

Enjoy your (parasite-controlled) summer!




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