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Celebrating Senior Pets

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There is something so special about older dogs and cats; something so endearing and soul-full. They just melt our hearts. We have spent so many years together with them, getting used to their quirks and silly ways and them with ours.  They have been there with us through so much and now it is time for us to be there for them in their golden years.

So what are the needs of our senior pets and what can we do to give them the best and longest life possible?

1) Diet:  Good nutrition is always important, but nutritional needs do change as our pets pass through different life stages.  As metabolism slows and senior pets tend to be less active than their younger counterparts, caloric needs decrease.  It is important that our pets maintain an ideal body weight to avoid excess strain and pressure on their joints.  Some senior diets have added ingredients to aid in joint health and mobility such as glucosamine, chondriotin, omega three fatty acids and green lipped muscle.  These ingredients when present in therapeutic levels can decrease the clinical signs of arthritis and improve your pet’s comfort.  A senior diet should be of high quality, lower calorie and have added benefit to aid in joint health.  However, if your pet has another illness or condition, they may already be on a prescription diet that is best suited to them.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian what diet would be best for your senior pet.

2) Exercise:  Although our senior pets may not be catching fly frisbees in the air as they once did, daily exercise is still important to their health and wellbeing.  As the aging process can cause painful arthritic change in your pet’s joints.  It is so important to maintain muscle mass in order to support the weakened joints.  Daily exercise can help prevent this.  Whatever your pet is up for; a romp in the dog park or a slow steady stroll or chasing a laser pointer again and again; you will both be better for it!

3) Pain control:  It will happen to the best of us, arthritis (inflammation of the joints) will affect us all.  It is a slow steady ache that is progressive over time.  It mainly affects our middle to older age pets, causing them to slow down and be less active.  It often gets mistaken for aging alone and can be hard to detect.  Signs of arthritis can be slowing on walks, reluctance to do stairs, sitting on the floor instead of their favorite chair, stiffness after getting up from rest and pacing or circling prior to lying down.  Although changes on x ray can show arthritic changes, there is no test for arthritis.  If you are concerned that your pet may be painful, talk to your veterinarian.  A two week trial can be beneficial in helping to determine if you can improve your pets comfort and mobility.  An active pet is a happy pet and a comfortable pet can be an active pet.

4)  Regular checkups:  Our pet’s age more rapidly than we do and it is important to be preventative about their health. Both dogs and cats can be very good at hiding the early signs of disease, making it hard for us as their caregivers to realize that they are ill.  Often by the time we have noticed the weight loss or other clinical signs, they are in the later stages of an ailment that we might have been able to slow down or treat had we known earlier.  Regular check ups for our senior pets are essential in maintaining their health and picking up on the early signs of disease, helping your pet to live a longer and better quality life.

5)  Love em and spoil em!  Our senior pets are our most loyal and loving of family members.  Their world revolves around our comings and goings…..and the odd tasty morsel.  Take the time to love them, cuddle with them and let them know how special they are to us.  They deserve it!!



Frodo’s Tale

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This is the story of one of our favorite seniors, Frodo written by his mom.  Thank you Luana for sharing his “tail”.

Frodo is my 13+ year old pure bred Chocolate Labrador Retriever. He is a loving, wonderful, gentle old soul whose registered name is Jaunenoir’s Frodo Baggins, after the dear character in the Tolkien books.

Frodo has survived 2 bouts of cancer and a case of Lyme disease, and is still sparky and as happy as ever today.

When Frodo was 8,  Dr. Downer found a small lump on his back leg, the size of a grape, above his left foot, during an examination for a torn toenail.  Since Frodo had a number of “fatty deposits” starting to accumulate on his body, as Labs do as they age, we decided to have this one tested, as well as several others on his body.  The back leg lump came back as a mast cell tumor, which is histamine based cancer tumor. We scheduled surgery without a second thought and Dr. Morris removed the lump on the leg, as well as two other tiny lumps on his right side.  The back leg lump came back as Grade 1, and they were able to remove it with clean margins, so no further treatment was needed and Frodo recovered well and returned to his normal self in no time, after a month of rest and TLC.

When Frodo was 11 (and after 3 healthy years), I found a small raised red lump on his right ear, just near the base where it attached to his head. It was painful to the touch for Frodo. Dr. Lyons had the lump tested, and it came back as another mast cell tumor.  While the lump was small, because of its location on the ear lap and so close to his head, she suggested we see a canine oncologist to explore options for removal.  We saw the oncologist, and they recommended removing the entire ear flap and surrounding area.  We were unsure whether to proceed with surgery, given Frodo’s age (his health was otherwise great). We had to weigh the risk of the lump growing rapidly and being itchy and painful, as mast cell tumors can do and potentially spreading internally, reducing not only his remaining lifespan, but the quality of those remaining months or years, with the risks and costs associated with surgery, and potential chemotherapy.  It was a difficult decision, given that Lab’s generally live to an average age of around 12 years old. We decided to proceed with the surgery, in order to prevent Frodo from having to live his remaining days with a potentially painful and growing tumor on his head, but we opted for no chemotherapy afterwards, regardless of the what grade the tumor came back as. The surgery was the most intervention we would do for him at his advanced age, and we chose to do it in order to maximize his comfort in his final year(s).  We also requested that the margins be the minimum size, in order to save as much of the ear flap as possible.  I remember weeping as I handed his leash off to the vet staff at the clinic, while Frodo was looking at me saying “What’s up mom, I feel fine, where am I going? Why are you sad? What now? “.  To make things worse, this all happened in the week before Christmas.  We scheduled the surgery for January 6th, and just prior to it, we had a photographer friend take pictures of Frodo so we could remember his beautiful head and soft velvety Lab ears before the right one got partially removed. We had no idea what he would look like after surgery, and there was always a risk they would open him up and make a decision to remove the whole ear flap or potentially more of his head and face.

The surgeon did an amazing job – Frodo came out with only a small portion of his ear flap missing! Once the hair grew in, you could hardly even notice!!!  It far surpassed our expectations! The tumor did get graded a high Grade 2, so while they recommended chemotherapy, we declined and took Frodo home and gave him lots of love, and treats, and hoped for the best.

frodo post surgery Frodo after his surgery.

It has been almost 2 years now and Frodo is happy and as healthy as he can be at 13.  He is a little/lot heavier and slower, and sleeps a lot, but still goes out with his dogwalker every day. He has many friends at  the High Park off leash area.  He still perks up and investigates the sound of anything that might resemble food or treats being opened. And he will always sneak in a big wet kiss any chance he can get! He has a lot of real estate on our main floor (2 orthopedic dog beds) since he doesn’t climb our stairs anymore, and his daily supplement regime of vitamins, fish powders and oils, etc. keeps us busy.  I think the fresh salmon skin we give him every week is extending his life!  We love him to bits and every day with him is a blessing.



Halloween Safety Tips For Your Pets

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Trick or Treat! It’s Halloween and we are all getting ready for our haunted celebrations.  In all of the excitement of decorating and picking the purrfect costume, we at Bloor Animal Hospital want to provide you with some helpful hints to keep your pets healthy and safe during the Halloween season.

  • Keep your black cats indoors! Sadly, black cats can be mistreated and abused around Halloween time.
  • Halloween treats with chocolate are not appropriate for pets.  Depending on the dose ingested they can be potentially poisonous to many animals
  • Candies and gum containing the sweetener xylitol can be toxic to pets
  • Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets.  They can cause vomiting and even an intestinal blockage.
  • Never offer or allow your pet to access alcoholic beverages.  If ingested, the animal could become very ill and weak and may go into a coma, possibly resulting in death.
  • Halloween decorations such as plants, pumpkins, and decorative corn are considered non toxic, yet they can potentially cause stomach upset.
  • The ghouls and goblins trick or treating at your door can be very stressful to your pet.  Providing them with a quite area of the house to retreat to will help ease that stress.
  • If your pet will be participating in the festivities with a costume ensure they are not too constricted and are able to walk, see, hear and do their “business” comfortably.  Some pets find this a little overwhelming; you may want to help prepare them for the big night early by slowly introducing the costume for short periods.  And never force your pet into the costume; you wouldn’t want them to leave you a little trick or treat on the carpet!

Halloween is fun and can be happily enjoyed by all the members of your family if you keep these hints in mind.  If you are concerned that your pet has gotten into any dangers, please contact your vet immediately.

Wishing you a safe and terrifying Halloween,

Your friends at Bloor Animal Hospital

Easing Back to School: Tips For Your Pets

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Back to school.  It’s the time of year when we kiss summer goodbye and return to our jobs, classes and regular routines.  Although may of us appreciate this return, this can be a stressful time for your pet.  They have likely  been used to having their family around and having lots of attention and outdoor activity, cottage trips and swimming.  It can be a big change and a stressful one, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here are some tips for easing the transition and keeping your pets safe this fall.
1)  Stimulate your pets by giving them interactive toys. Toys can be fun and can provide a mental workout for your pet. This can prevent them from demonstrating boredom with chewing and excessive barking! Toys like the Kong and treat puzzle games are great for exercising their minds!  Filling the treat puzzle with a portion of your pet’s kibble can also be a great weight loss aid!  Kongs filled with a small amount of peanut butter or a portion of your dog’s canned food can be frozen for a longer lasting game.
2)  Get physical!  Exercise can be a great activity for the whole family!   Physical activity can help reduce boredom and behavioral issues. It is important to schedule time to take your dog out for walks before everyone leaves for school and work. The whole family can participate after school as well with regularly scheduled playtime and walks.  This can be a great way for kids and pets to enjoy some quality time together too.  Cats can also burn some energy by playing with a laser pointer, crinkle ball or toy mouse! 
3)  Ease into routine.  Routine makes our pets feel safe and comfortable.  Back to school is a sudden change which can be a stressful event for your pet.  If possible, try to ease this transition by slowly transitioning into a routine.  This can be done a week or two before school starts by setting regular times for walks, play, meals, cuddles etc. 
4)   Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children give it to them just before they are ready to go out. Put it away again once the children come home so it remains the “special toy.”   You can create a scavenger  hunt game by hiding favorite pet treats around the house for your pet to discover while you are away. 
5)  Keep your pets on a leash!  Back to school also means more traffic; cars, children, pedestrians and bikers.   Everyone is rushing to get where they need to go.  A dog running across the street after that squirrel or towards another dog may not be noticed in time!  Keeping them on a leash is an easy way to avoid serious injury to your furry family!
Saying good bye to summer and back to school is always a bit stressful for everyone, we hope these tips help make the transition a bit smoother.  
Wishing you all the best this school year!

Helping Your Anxious Canine

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With the Labour Day around the corner there are lots of things to celebrate: the CNE is in town, fireworks, the Air Show, back to school…ok maybe somethings are more exciting than others.  This time of year makes us all a bit anxious, including our dogs. Some dogs are so anxious during loud noises they will either spend their time cowering under the table, or if they’re like my dog, the bathtub, or worse, run away. If your dog is one of those high anxious dogs you may want to try a couple of these tips to help make the celebrations a bit more relaxing for everyone in the family.

  • Keep your dog indoors or on a leash: Even the calmest dog can spook when they hear a loud bang. By keeping them close by you can ensure they don’t run off to hide.
  • Adaptil: This is an appeasing pheromone naturally found in lactating dogs. The pheromone is released as the puppies nurse, making them feel calm. They have been able to synthesize this pheromone and is currently available as a spray or collar.  For short term stressors we would recommend spraying their bed or a bandanna. The pheromone (that only dogs can smell) will last for 5 hours in the environment.
  • Thundershirt: This is a snug fitting shirt that applies gentle constant pressure on the dog’s chest. This technique has been used to successfully reduce anxiety for many years.  This product also comes with a 100% guarantee! If you are not happy with the results, you can return the shirt for a full reimbursement.

In very stressful situations such as the Air Show this weekend, we would recommend applying all 3 of these techniques. Spray the Thundershit with the Adaptil and keep your dog inside.  If you have any questions about these products, or if you would like to try the Adaptil or Thundershirt, please stop by the clinic, we would be happy to help.


Your pet and Heatstroke…do you know the signs?

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We are experiencing one of the hottest summers on record this year, which has been very hard on many of us, including our furry friends.   These very hot and humid conditions can cause our pet’s body temperature to increase dangerously, which can lead to hyperthermia or heatstroke.  Heatstroke can occur when dogs and cats are left in hot vehicles with inadequate ventilation, left outdoors without access to shade or exercised in hot weather.  Pets that are overweight, have underlying heart or lung disease or are brachycephalic (short nosed – such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers) may have a more difficult in these extreme conditions.

It is important to monitor our pets for signs of distress in hot weather.  Initial signs may include:

  • Excessive panting
  • restlessness
  • large amounts of drool from the nose or mouth
  • They can then become unsteady on their feet
  • Eventually you may notice their gums turning blue or purple or bright red in colour due to lack of oxygen

Severe heat stroke can affect the entire body, causing major organ dysfunction and/or failure.  It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.  If you suspect heat stroke, your pet should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

If you think your pet is beginning to overheat and you are concerned, the first step is to remove your pet from the hot environment.  Move to a shaded/cooler environment, or direct a fan towards him.  You can continue to gradually cool down your pet by placing wet towels over him.  If you are still concerned, you should take your pet to the nearest veterinarian immediately.

It is important not to attempt to cool your pet too rapidly.  Using cold water baths or ice for cooling can cause constriction of local blood vessels, trapping heat in the core of the body.  This can make the problem worse.  Monitor your pet closely and make sure you have adequate cool water available for your pet to drink, if your pet is alert enough to take interest.  Do not force water into your pet’s mouth.

  • Walk your dog at dawn and dusk when it tends to be cooler out
  • Avoid heavy exercise on these hot days
  • Taking a water bottle for your dog to have a drink and cool down while on his walk can also be helpful to prevent overheating and dehydration.
  • If possible a swim in the lake can be a perfect escape from the heat – for you and your pet alike.

If you are walking through the Bloor West Village, feel free to stop in to the clinic to cool down and grab a cold drink of water.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay cool!



Chewzing Safe Dental Chews for Your Dog

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Time and time again in the exam room we are asked if a particular teeth cleaning chew is appropriate for dogs.  Clients describe anything from bones, to particular products marketed exclusively for teeth to other chew toys commonly found in pet stores.  There are too many products out there to be familiar with all, but we can offer some helpful hints in order to choose safe options for your pets.  Careful selection of appropriate chews is very important to your pet’s oral health, not just for the purpose of cleaning their teeth, but to not cause damage to your pet’s teeth as well.  When dog’s chew a chew toy, they do so with great strength using the large 4th premolar, also known as the Carnassial tooth.  It is the largest tooth in their mouths and is the main tooth used for chewing and grinding up food.  Dogs that chew hard chews may fracture the exterior part of the tooth.  This is called a slab fracture.  This type of fracture exposes the sensitive “pulp chamber” inside the tooth which contains the blood vessel and nerve.  It is a painful lesion and places the tooth at high risk for abscess/infection.

slab fracture

X rays of the tooth are required to determine if the pulp chamber is exposed, giving bacteria access to the root and other sensitive structures of the tooth and to ensure that surrounding teeth have not been damaged as well.



Treatment options include a root canal if the tooth meets criteria or surgical extraction of the tooth.  This tooth contains three roots which extend deeply into the jaw bone.  It is a painful lesion and requires extraction.  Dental fractures caused by hard chews are one of the most common reasons for extractions in dogs.

Obviously we want to try to avoid these injuries and extractions at all costs.  Although most people feel hard chews will help clean their pet’s teeth, they will likely fracture them as well.

 Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when choosing a dental chew:

  • The Veterinary Oral Health Care Specialists (VOHC) is a group of board certified veterinary dental specialists.  They have a “kneecap” rule.  If you wouldn’t want to be hit in the kneecap by a chew you are contemplating giving your dog, then it is too hard and should not be given to them, as it can fracture their teeth.  Bones, antlers and other synthetic hard chews are good examples of this.
  • Rawhide chews are a good example of a safe chew.
  • You can look for the VOHC seal on any dental product to see if they have approved it as a safe and effective part of your pet’s health care routine.
  • Never leave your dog unattended with a chew. They can become small and slippery and can potentially be a choking hazard.
  • Some individually packaged chews become very hard once exposed to air for more than 24 hours.  Inspect the chew and do the kneecap test before they chew.
  • Remember that chews have calories too. Some of the large chews can have upwards of 520 calories! If your dog is an avid chewer of chews, it is often a good idea to cut back their kibble by ½ cup to compensate for the additional calories.

If you have any questions regarding safe chew toys or fractured teeth please call or make an appointment to speak to one of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians.  Happy chewing!