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Vacationing with your pets: Car travel

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Car travel with your pet

For many of us, we consider our pets’ part of our family. So it is no surprise that when we plan a weekend away, we like to include our dogs (and sometimes cats), too! However, traveling can be highly stressful for you and your animal companions if not done safely and properly. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

In Ontario we are blessed with cottage country! This means many of us travel by car to reach our relaxing destinations. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and smooth car trip:

  1. Start preparing for your road trip with your pet by making a copy of all your pet’s medical records and ensure that they are up to date on vaccinations, as well as flea prevention and for your dog, tick and heartworm prevention. If your pet gets sick on the road, this will make it easier for another veterinarian to treat your pet.
  2. Make sure you are familiar with the locations and hours of some of the veterinary clinics on the way to your destination. If an emergency were to arise while you are on the road, knowing where the closest veterinary clinic is can save you precious time and help your pet receive medical attention faster.

**Also make sure you know where the closest emergency and after hours clinics are along your route, as well as the closest veterinary and emergency hospital when you arrive at your destination**

  1. Will this be your pets first time travelling in the car? If so, make sure you take your pet on “practice-runs” to ensure they are comfortable in the car, and are not nauseous or uncomfortable. Start by taking them on short 5-10 minute drives, and slowly increase the time in the car and monitor how your pet adjusts.
  2. Keep smaller pets (small dogs, cats) safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. If you have the space in your car even larger dogs can travel comfortably in a crate. There are a variety of wire-mesh, hard plastic, and soft-sided carriers available. Make sure the crate or carrier is large enough for your pet to stand, lie down and turn around in. Larger dogs that are not in a crate still need to be restrained to keep them safe. A pet seatbelt, or a harness and leash attached to the seat belt can ensure your large dog is safe in the car.
  3. Feed your pet a light meal 2-3 hours prior to travel. A full stomach can lead to car sickness.
  4. Plan where on your route you will be able to stop so your pets can relief themselves, and are able to walk about, and take a small drink before continuing in the car.

** Pay attention to your pet’s body language and attitude during the trip. A pet that can usually go hours without needing to relieve themselves may need to stop more frequently on a trip due to the added stress he may be under. Be patient with your pets – they don’t understand what the road trip is about like we do!**

  1. Bring your own water for your pet, or purchase bottled water while on the road. Not all tap water is filtered, and tap water from an area your pet is not accustomed to can upset their stomach.
  2. Keep your pet’s head inside the vehicle. Although it may seem like fun, flying debris could cause injury to your pet’s head, eyes or ears, and your pet could also pose as a distraction to you and other drivers. Also, abrupt stops and tight turns could lead to injuries for your dog.
  3. If you know that you will be making stops and overnight accommodations, make sure you plan and book them ahead of time. Not all hotels are pet friendly, so it is important to find pet-friendly accommodations and to let the hotel know exactly what type of pet you are bringing. Some are strict on what pets they allow and may only accommodate small dogs and cats. Make sure you tell them the breed of your dog to ensure there are no surprises when you arrive.
  4. Make sure your pet has some sort of identification on them. If your pet does not typically wear a collar with a tag, it would be a good idea to have them wear one while you are away from home. If your pet is microchipped, make sure all the information is correct and you know the microchip number, so if your pet does go missing and his/her microchip is read, the microchip company will be able to contact you.
  5.  Let your veterinarian know that you are travelling with your pet and where your destination is. If something was to happen and your pet needed to see another veterinarian, your current veterinarian will not be taken by surprise if they call to request history or information about your pet.

Travelling without your pet?

Sometimes it is not always possible to bring our pets with us when we travel. In that case, make sure you have a responsible boarding kennel or family friend to care for your animals when you are away. It is NOT recommended to leave your pets unsupervised for an extended period of time, even if food and water are left out.

If you do travel without your pet, make sure you notify your veterinarian and provide them with the contact name and number of who is caring for them. Leave all the medical records for your pet accessible for the caregiver, and ensure they know who you pet’s veterinarian is and their location, as well as directions stating what you would like to do regarding treatment until you are able to be reached in case an emergency should arise. Always provide them with your best means of contact, and an emergency contact in case you are unable to be reached.

The Animal Clinic of Brooklin wishes you and your pets safe and happy travels!

Lyme disease and our pets: Part 3 – Proper tick removal

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Proper Tick removal

It is important to check your pets that are outside regularly for ticks. Although dogs are capable of becoming infected with the Lyme organism, ticks can also be found on cats, rabbits and other pets in your home, so it is important to check all members of your family for ticks.

Ticks typically latch on around the head (ears, back of the neck, top of the head), around the base of the tail, on their underbelly, neck, as well as their feet and in between your pet’s toes. Make sure to run your hand all over your pet’s body, feeling for bumps or noticing any abnormalities in your pet’s skin or coat.

Ticks are not always easy to see! The longer the tick has been attached, the larger the tick will be. Therefore, if the tick just recently attached to your pet, it may be small, so be diligent when looking.

When removing the tick, it is very important to remove the entire tick. Ticks typically implant their head in the pet, making only the torso and legs visible. A tick’s head may detach if removed incorrectly, leaving the dog susceptible to infection and disease.

It is best to bring your dog to a veterinarian to remove the tick. However, if that is not possible, you can remove the tick with tweezers, or better yet, a tool specifically made to remove ticks, called a tick twister (visit our clinic to purchase a tick twister!). If removing the tick yourself, be very careful not to squeeze the tick’s body (can squeeze Lyme organism into the dog), and do not burst the tick’s body (you can get the Lyme organism on your clothing and could absorb it through a cuts or scratches on your skin).

Tick Twister

  1. Gently push the twister against your dog’s skin, near the tick.
  2. Slide the notch of the twister under the tick.
  3. Rotate the twister slowly and continuously.
  4. You will feel a slightly decrease in resistance to the twisting when the tick has released its mouth parts
  5. Then it is safe to gently pull up on the tick.


If you do not have a tick twister, and are unable to bring your pet to a veterinarian, you can use tweezers to remove the tick.

  1. Pinch the tick with tweezers as close to the pets skin as possible.
  2. Apply gentle, steady pressure with the tweezers to remove the tick.
  3. You will feel the tick “let go” as you are gently pulling it.

After removal, inspect the area thoroughly, as well as the removed tick. Make sure the head, mouth parts, and all the legs have been removed. Save the tick, and book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you can so they can determine if the tick was removed completely, and to discuss follow-up care and disease testing.

**Removing the tick on your own is not recommended. It is best to bring your pet into the veterinarian office to have the tick properly removed by your veterinarian**


Lyme disease and our pets: Part 2 – How it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.

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Lyme disease is a perplexing condition as it can present in so many different ways. If a tick is found on your dog, it is important that it is removed correctly (stay tuned for Part 3 – Proper tick removal). The site at which the tick was attached is also important. Your veterinarian will examine the area to make sure the entire tick is removed, and depending on the site, may apply a topical medication to help with the healing and prevent infection. It will also be important to scan the rest of the dog for the possibility of multiple ticks.

The tick may be sent off for further analysis to determine if the tick is carrying Lyme disease. This process could take several weeks. Four weeks following the bite, your veterinarian will perform a blood test to check for Lyme organisms, as it may take weeks or months for Lyme disease to develop.

Not every dog that is bitten by a Lyme infested tick will acquire Lyme organism. The most important factor in determining if your dog will become infected with from a Lyme infested tick is the amount of time the tick is attached to your dog. The longer the tick is attached, the greater the chance your dog will acquire the Lyme organism. If your dog did acquire the Lyme organism he/she may develop Lyme disease over the next 4 weeks to several months. Not all dogs that are carrying the Lyme organism will actually become ill (Lyme disease).

Ticks in Durham region may also carry other organisms, such as Ehrlichia canis and Anaplasma phagoctophilum (red blood cell parasites).


If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, your veterinarian will start by putting your dog on a cycle of antibiotics, typically for 4 weeks in duration. If your dog is experiencing joint pain, an anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed as well.

Dogs typically improve when the treatment plan is followed; however it is believed that Lyme disease is never fully eradicated from the dog’s body. Instead, the disease goes into remission, but continues to lurk in the body in an inactive form.


The easiest way to prevent Lyme disease is to properly protect your dog against ticks. This includes products prescribed and purchased by your veterinarian to kill and repel ticks, as well as minimizing the contact your dog has with ticks. Of course many of us enjoy hiking, walking and taking our dogs to our cottages and camping, so we are bound to find ourselves in environments where ticks live. This is why it is so important to prevent and protect our dogs from tick infestation. Please call our clinic today and speak with our staff, or book an appointment to learn more about the products we recommend for tick and Lyme disease prevention and how to properly protect your dog!

***Interesting Fact: Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are related to spiders, not insects!**


Lyme disease and our pets: Part 1 – What it is, how it is transmitted, and how it affects our pets (and us!)

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Lyme disease is an infection caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called, Borrelia burgdoferi. These bacteria are spread most commonly by the bite of a Blacklegged Tick (formerly known as Deer Ticks), Ixodes scapularis, and is the most common tick-transmitted disease known to date. These ticks can be found throughout the province of Ontario, and have exploded in the Durham region (including Brooklin!) over the last few years.

What are ticks?

Ticks are very closely related to spiders, and when unfed are typically small (1 to 5 mm in length), and all active stages feed on blood. Ticks cannot fly (thankfully!) and actually move quite slow. They come into contact with people or animals by positioning themselves on tall grass and bushes, and attaching to the person or animal as they walk by.

Are your pets at risk?

Yes, your dogs are at risk! Dogs can contract Lyme disease from the bite of a tick. Once in the bloodstream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body and is likely to localize in joints, giving the dog the symptom of generalized pain, and can be confused with arthritis. Unlike in arthritis, joint pain in Lyme disease typically “jumps” from joint to joint, and may resolve and reoccur for months after the initial bite.

Clinical symptoms in your dog

Many dogs with Lyme disease are taken to the veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain (mild to very severe), fever and loss of appetite. However, many of these symptoms do not appear until a few weeks (or even months) after the initial bite. A few dogs may develop swollen lymph nodes, and Lyme positive dogs can develop life threatening kidney problems. Heart and neurological disease has been suspected in Lyme positive dogs, but has yet to be proven.

Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease include:

  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Depression and lethargy

Lyme disease and YOUR health

Lyme disease can also be transmitted to people, but not through your dog. Just as in dogs, Lyme disease is transmitted to people by the bite of a tick. So you cannot contract Lyme disease from your dog, nor can you give Lyme disease to your dog (or other people at that!).

Many people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite within thirty days. Other symptoms tend to mimic the flu, and can include: fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and fatigue.

In Lyme disease left untreated in people, it can progress to the following symptoms such as: neurological abnormalities, cardiac conditions, rheumatological conditions such as arthritis as well as multiple skin lesions.

Ticks and Lyme disease are on the rise! Stay tuned for Lyme disease and our pets Part 2 – How it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.

**Interesting Fact** Lyme disease has been called Lyme disease ever since 1975, when an astute doctor recognized it in a cluster of children near the town of Lyme, Connecticut!

Pet Foods

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Recently through the Animal Clinic of Brooklin’s reception staff we have been getting a lot of inquiries regarding pet foods and what clients should be feeding their pets. I thought that I could help with a few of the myths and recent claims that some foods are making and help you make an informed choice about the food that you feed your pets.

Two claims that have been around forever are the holistic and organic labeled food. Something everyone should know is that just because your pet food has holistic and organic on their label doesn’t always mean that’s what it is. There is no organization that monitors the label claims of “holistic and organic” foods by food companies. Which means your food could say it is holistic and, in turn, not even be close. I am not saying that all foods with this claim are not true, but when a lot of clients come in with the food packaging we find many are not organic or holistic.

Some people are also making the assumption that the more you pay for a food the better it is. But the only thing that comes to mind for me is the old saying it’s not quantity it’s quality. It’s not the price you pay for the food but what you get for the money you paid. Again not saying that all higher priced pet foods are not good quality food, but you can’t go for the most expensive and believe it’s the best without being informed as to what is in the food, more so then what the label says.

A big trend I’ve seen lately with pet food is the “all life stages”… there is no way that any company can make a food that is well made for all life stages. You can’t survive on milk the way you did as a baby, so how can your adult dog life on a puppy food. An “all life stages” food is generally a puppy/kitten food. Normally those foods have higher fat and protein content, which can cause obesity and kidney problems in older animals, because their bodies can’t digest and filter these components like they did when they were younger. Similar to us as we can’t eat as we did when we were teenagers… I don’t know about you guys but that is true for me.

A big claim that is around is that dogs need to eat like wolves… meat all the time, uncooked and straight from the butcher. Yes this means I’m talking about RAW diets. What some people don’t get is that dogs are not true carnivores… they’re omnivores, even wolves. In the wild wolves do eat raw meat but they also eat vegetation (berries, grasses, grains, ect.). And they eat meat raw because that is what they have adapted too; domesticated dogs are not use to surviving on raw meats. And yes out there are homemade diets which you can do as a pet owner. But those diets aren’t just throwing your dog a steak and that’s all they get. Those diets have to be balanced with carbs, protein, fats and vitamins and minerals, not just protein by it’s self. And if that’s how you choose to feed your dog, a homemade diet, there are many resources through your veterinarian that you can look in to.

This now brings me to my all time favorite myth floating around about pet foods regarding “by-products”. I would like to put it out there do you really know what an animal by-product is… Animal by-produces are pieces of that animal that can still be good for your pet like hearts, livers, and things along that nature. But I bet you that the word by-product made you go straight to “hot dog meat”. By-products in a high quality food that come from a quality source are not bad for you pet when done in acceptable qualities. With all the advertising out there it makes by-products seem like the worst thing that you can be giving to your pet and that isn’t always the case. Some of the “no by-product” foods are really not a healthy choice for your pet. Again it comes down to being informed about what your pet is truly eating

The number one thing that pet owners need to do is ask question about what you are feeding your pet. Most companies have hotlines or email where you can write in and ask them questions regarding the food. And I know it seems very easy to ask that cheerful pet store employee what food is the best for your pet… but just take a moment to think… have they studied pet nutrition ever… do they have the knowledge about the quality of the foods to help you make an informed decision… I ask myself this question every time I’m in a pet store and see these new pet parents asking “What should I feed my puppy/kitten?”

Help us name our Puppy…

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I thought that for our first blog here at the Animal Clinc of Brooklin we would start off with something fun. For those of you that come to our clinic and have been in in the last few weeks you may have seen our new little friend out front. A beautiful black and white dalmation with a lovley red collar. We only have one problem with him/her… we need to find a name. So we thought we would put it out to our clients to help us name our new friend. So within the comments if you could put your name and what name you think we shoud give our special new friend that would be great and at the end of september we will anounce his/her name. Be creative and let you imagination run wild…