National Pain Awareness Month….Pets can feel pain too! How do you know if your pet is in Pain

Kit:  Oh hey Al Catcino!  It’s National Pain Awareness Month for Humans, so I thought we should chat about pain in pets! I figured you might know a thing or two about pain 😉

Al Catcino: Hey Kit, no problem! I sure do know a lot about pain! Being a tom cat, sometimes I get into…shall we say…disagreements with other tom cats….and sometimes I get hurt!  Don’t tell anybody though – I don’t want to mess up my tough guy image.  The thing is, pain in pets can be tough because we can’t talk!  So we can’t tell our owners with words how uncomfortable we are – and being the tough guy that I am, I often hide my pain and act like everything is fine until the pain is really bad!

Kit: I know lots of pet friends who pretend to be fine when they are in pain. Our instincts tell us we should not show our pain to others. If we can’t talk and we hide our pain, how will our owners know something is wrong and that we need to go visit the vet?

Al Catcino: Well Kit, the last time I got into a really bad, um, disagreement… well, let’s just say that I had some pretty bad bruises and a small cut – and you shoulda seen the other guy!  Anyway, after a couple days of pretending that everything was ok, the cut got infected and it hurt so bad that I could not put any weight on my foot. That’s how my owner knew to take me to see my vet, Dr. Murphy.  Dr. Murphy talked a lot to my owner about pain in pets and how to pick up on the little clues. I guess next time I won’t be able to hide it so well! Dr. Murphy fixed my infected cut and I am feeling great now! If you like, I can tell you some of the things she told my owner.

Kit: That would be great Al. It’s important for people to know that pets feel pain too! And because we can’t talk, it’s even more important to be able to notice little things that might mean we are uncomfortable.

Al Catcino: First of all, Dr. Murphy said that the reason we like to hide our pain is because of our instincts like you said. When great-great-great-great granddaddy Caesar lived in the wilds in Sicily, he naturally wanted to protect himself from any bad guys looking to make him their lunch! Those predators look for injured animals as they are easier prey. It was safer for us back then to pretend we were not hurt or in pain. Caesar was really tough and he never let his pain show.

Dr. Murphy also said that it is more difficult to tell if a cat is in pain. One of the most common things a cat does when they are in pain is HIDE.  She was right with this one! Every time I get into a scuff and get hurt, I go right under the bed and stay there!

The American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) came up with 5 clues for owners to help identify discomfort or pain in pets. Dr. Murphy gave them to my owner, I’ll list them below!
“Abnormal chewing habits: Abnormal chewing can be a sign of pain in the mouth. This could be due to dental disease or a growth in the mouth. Other signs include face rubbing or smelly breath. Regular dental checkups at your vet are very important to catch dental concerns early and prevent unnecessary dental pain.
Drastic weight gain or loss: Pain can influence a pet’s weight and eating habits. Animals carrying excess weight are at increased risk for joint or ligament pain. Pets with arthritis or sore muscles may not eat as well if it is uncomfortable to bend down to the food dish or go up or down stairs where the food bowl might be located. Arthritis pain can be very subtle – you might notice weight gain because the pet is less active. If pain is really bad, it often can lead to a lack of appetite in cats and dogs.
Avoiding affection or handling: A normally active pet may spend more time sleeping or laying around if it is painful. A pet may not like being petted if there is an area that is sore.
Decreased movement and exercise: Pets may be reluctant to go up the stairs, jump into the car or up onto the bed if they have sore muscles or joints. You might even notice limping if a limb is painful. Back pain can often cause dogs to walk very stiffly and cry out loud when they jump up or are picked up.
Accidents in the house: Sometimes accidents in the house can be seen as a behavioural issue when they are actually secondary to pain. A cat with arthritis pain may not want to go downstairs to a litter box or climb over the high sides to get into it, and therefore may do their business on the floor somewhere else in the house. Urinary tract infections or tummy troubles can also cause pets to have accidents in the house. The pet may be very painful in its abdomen if there is a bladder infection or if they are experiencing a sore tummy. Unwanted surprises in the house should prompt an owner to take their pet to see the veterinarian to make sure there are no health concerns.
Being aware of a pet’s habits can be helpful too, any changes may be a sign that something is wrong or that the pet is uncomfortable.
 Kit: That is very helpful information Al, thank you! It sounds like it can be really hard to tell if a pet is in pain. Is there anything else owners should look out for?

Al Catcino: Well Kit, we’ve talked quite a bit about cats, I suppose we should talk about those other pets… dogs!  Here is a list of other signs that dogs may be in pain.
“Most dogs that are experiencing pain will show a vocal cue such as whimpering or crying out. They also might be significantly agitated and not able to get settled. Sometimes they become extremely sensitive and things that normally would not hurt them, such as picking them up, may cause them to cry out.
Long term pain in dogs can cause signs of depression, reduction in appetite, changes in attitude such as nipping or growling, and trembling.
Dogs that are hurting may…
Appear less active and quieter than normal
Hide or avoid being around people
Have stiff body movements or unwillingness to move, limping
Appear restless and pace around
Show increased panting, shallow breathing, trembling or pupils may be dilated
Stop eating
Be licking or chewing at an area that might be uncomfortable
Seek more attention than usual or follow the owner everywhere
Stand in a hunched position when there is back or abdominal pain

Kit: That’s a great list of signs to watch for! Hey Al, can you tell me a bit about how pain in pets can be treated?

Al Catcino: Sure Kit! When I saw Dr. Murphy last week, she gave me something called a “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug” or NSAID. It helps with pain and can take down swelling too. You can get it in two ways – from a needle or in a pill. There are human forms of NSAIDs but they ARE NOT SAFE for pets!! This is a common problem for veterinarians. Many humans who think that their pet is in pain, give them one of their own pills, like Tylenol or Advil. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the proper enzymes in our liver to break down these drugs and they can be TOXIC!  Sometimes even fatal! Especially with Tylenol in cats!  Stay away from that, Kit!

If owners think their pets are in pain, its best to see the veterinarian. Veterinarians can prescribe SAFE pain medication, some that are made just for pets! Most of them come in yummy flavors too!  Some pets with long term pain, such as arthritis pain, take these NSAIDs on a regular basis. For these pets, it’s important to have their blood checked out every 6-12 months to make sure it’s safe to continue taking this medication long term.

These days, many people are looking for alternative options for pet pain management. Things such as laser therapy, acupuncture, massage and physiotherapy can really help. Dr. Penney at PetFocus Bedford South does those cool treatments.

Kit: I didn’t know that people pain medication like Tylenol or Advil were so toxic for pets! I am sure glad my owner always calls my veterinarian first if she thinks I am sick! I’m glad we talked about this Al, this is important information to know! One more question for you before you go, what happens if a pet is in a lot of pain and their owner cannot get them to the vet clinic?

Al Catcino: That’s a good question Kit! It happened to a good friend of mine once who fell out of a tree! His owner was afraid to move him! They called PetFocus and the veterinarian came out to their house! Did you know PetFocus now offers house calls?

Kit: I didn’t know that! That’s great! Sometimes I get terrified when I am at the vet clinic, even though my vet is really nice. There are a lot of scary smells and sounds there. I think I would be much less scared if my vet came to visit me at home. Thanks for all your helpful information today Al! I hope our blog readers find it useful!

Al Catcino: No problem Kit, now back to guarding my territory!

Kit:  Stay out of trouble, Al Catcino! You don’t want to be visiting your veterinarian over the Christmas Holidays, unless it’s for a treat!


And they called it… Puppy Love….

Kit: How are you today, Kapoodle?


Kapoodle: I’m great Kit, how about you?


Kit: Well I am a little worried today, Kapoodle. My owners are talking about getting a new puppy! I am the only pet in the house right now and it’s not just that I like having all the attention, I’m worried because my owners have never had a dog.


Kapoodle: Oh my, that is big news and it’s normal to be worried – a new puppy comes with a lot of responsibility but can be a great addition to a family!


Kit: I guess it would be nice to have another pet to hang out with. But how will they know what breed to get and how to train it? I sure don’t want to step in dog pee! And what if the puppy gets sick? I know when I got sick once, my family found it hard to fit the cost into their budget.  What if the puppy doesn’t like cats and chases me around the house, oh no! I’m getting more stressed all the time… what should I do, Kapoodle?


Kapoodle: Take a deep breath.  There is a lot of good information out there to help your family pick out a wonderful puppy that will fit just right and maybe even become your friend! I can help answer some of your questions if you want, after all, I do know a few things about dogs 😉


Kit: Oh would you!? That would be great Kapoodle, then maybe I can stop worrying and get back to playing with my toys and watching birds through the window.


Kapoodle: First of all, picking the right breed of dog is one of the most important things to consider! Every family is different and some breeds may fit into a family much better than others. For example, if your family has lots of time and loves to hike and play outdoors, or you live on a large property or farm, a larger breed or more active breed might be best. On the other hand, if you have a family that lives in a small apartment and works long shifts, a smaller, less active dog might be best. There are dogs that shed less for people with allergies or who are bothered by dog hair too! Some families have young kids and if so, it would be important to pick a breed that is known for being wonderful with kids – gentle and calm.


This website might be helpful in choosing a breed:


Does the family have any pets already living in the home? This is very important to consider, as everyone wants his or her family members to get along! If getting a puppy from an SPCA or shelter, it would be important to make sure they get along with any pets in the home before deciding to adopt. Some places will allow a home visit to see how the pets get along and other shelters might already know if a certain dog does not get along with cats. I am sure your family will make sure they get a dog that enjoys the company of a cat, Kit J


As you mentioned Kit, pets can be costly to care for sometimes so it’s important to be sure a new puppy will fit into your family budget. Even puppies that are adopted for “free” are never really free. Puppies in their first year of life can be quite costly as they require frequent deworming, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, food, dishes, and of course, lots of toys to play with! New puppy owners should also consider long term costs as well, such as health issues that may pop up. There is nothing more sad for an owner or a veterinarian then when a pet is very ill and the cost of care is too great for the owner to afford. Pet Insurance is something that new puppy owners should strongly consider. When a pet is ill, it can ease a lot of stress from an already stressful situation for the owner and the veterinarian. The pet is able to get their care they need and deserve without breaking the family budget or putting a family in a very difficult financial situation.


Kit: Thanks Kapoodle, I feel better already. Is there anything else they should know?


Kapoodle: Well Kit, training can be a challenging issue for some owners. A well behaved dog, like myself, doesn’t just happen, it takes work! I remember chewing up many of my owner’s favourite things when I was a puppy! I got in big trouble and learned quickly that when I was good, I got lots of snuggles and treats! Kit, did you know that many pets are surrendered to shelters because of bad behaviour that could have been avoided and corrected with proper training!


PetFocus offers puppy socialization classes and obedience classes at many of their locations! These can be very helpful for new puppies to learn proper behaviour and manners. It is also a great way for them to be properly socialized and be mentally stimulated.  Obedience classes are great for older dogs too, I have gone to a couple with my owner and had a ton of fun, and I got lots of treats too!


Where should you look for a new puppy?  Once you decide what breed or size of dog might suit your family, you then need to find that new puppy! There are many breeders out there; ask your vet for a recommendation. They often know many good breeders. You can also check out your local shelters and SPCA. There are always lots of nice puppies and mature dogs looking for a loving forever home. A mixed breed dog can be just as great as a purebred and many times have fewer health issues too. When choosing a breeder, it is important to see the mom and dad, ask for health certificates and be sure they are well bred and well cared for. You may want to see what kind of personality the parents have or how big they are.  Be careful purchasing pets online; you want to make sure the pet is healthy.  Never get a puppy from someone who won’t give you all the information you want – or who wants to meet you in a parking lot!


Always remember that pets are forever – families should look into the future and decide if it’s the right time to get a new puppy. Our futures are never predictable but a family should consider what they have planned such as changes in career, a move, financial changes, marital or parental status changes. Pets are sometimes surrendered to shelters because of a divorce or because a family is moving and cannot take the pet. It’s something to think about – your home should be a forever home for a new pet.



Puppy Proofing your home!

Puppies also like to chew and eat things they shouldn’t! Its very important to “puppy proof” your home like you would for a baby. Keep clothes and socks off the floor, all food should be locked away or up on high counters where pets cannot reach. Did you know Kit, that veterinarians see many puppies every year for tummy troubles? Many times the puppies have eaten something they shouldn’t, sometimes the item even gets stuck in their tummies and they require costly surgery to remove it!

“Puppy proofing” your home and using a crate to contain your puppy while you are at work or away can greatly reduce the chances of a puppy ingesting something it shouldn’t. And always remember that chocolate, raisins, grapes and onions can be toxic to dogs! Yuck… I stay away from all of those things – and you should too!


Lastly Kit, there are a couple of health related things to know about puppies! Puppies should be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Your veterinarian can help a family decide which vaccines are appropriate for their puppy. Puppies also tend to have worms! Ewww! They need to be dewormed every 2 weeks until they are 3 months of age, then monthly. Flea protection should be used monthly as well. It is recommended that puppies be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age. This prevents unwanted puppies. Many people do not know this Kit, but spaying and neutering is also important to prevent many health issues, some of which can be life threatening! It can also decrease behavioural issues such as marking areas with pee and roaming or running away for example.


Helpful websites:


Kit: Oh wow Kapoodle! You have given me so much helpful information! I feel so much better now. I will bring this information to my family to help them chose the right puppy and make sure it stays healthy and happy! Maybe they will contact our veterinarian at PetFocus as well to get some help!


Kapoodle: You never know Kit, you might think this new puppy is just as awesome as me!


Kit: Hang on now Kapoodle, you are my friend, but you will always be a DOG J


The Tale of the Trials and Tribulations of Sir Labsalot on Howl’oween

Indiana Bones, a young beagle puppy, was peeking through the fence at his neighbour Sir Labsalot.  Labsalot was a 3 year old yellow Labrador retriever that was usually a bundle of energy but that day he was just laying down in the leaves – not rolling in the leaves like his usual goofball self but quietly resting.  Once in a while he would let out a big sigh and then go back to sleep.  Just then, Sigmeow Freud, the wisest cat in the whole neighbourhood, came sauntering along the top of the fence and gave a big long stretch and then settled into a comfortable perch just above Indiana.  When Indiana asked what was wrong with Labsalot, he began to explain what happened.  You see, Halloween had just passed, and with it, many dangers to cats and dogs like Sigmeow, Indiana and Labsalot.  This year was another close call.  The story of last night begins 3 years ago…

Stress from the frequent doorbell and costumes and lost pets – Oh My!

Sir Labsalot’s first Halloween was coming and he was so excited!  He couldn’t wait to see what all the commotion was about.  Then it started to get dark and then the doorbell kept ringing.  At first he thought it was the mailman and he ran to the door barking with his best tough boy voice!  But then when the door opened, it was all he could do to not pee on the floor, he was so scared!  That night, there was what appeared to be an endless stream of scary lurking figures stalking his front door.  The doorbell kept ringing and as it got darker and darker, the figures got even more frightening.  He didn’t know who these people were and why they were there.  He then was so upset and things were so busy he ended up running out the door during one the many times it was opening and closing.  He ran around the neighbourhood dodging between cars and then finally Labsalot hid behind an old shed until morning.  Boy, was his family scared that night and so was he!  Luckily he was found by Mr. Herman when we was out for his morning walk.  It is a good thing Labsalot had his collar with ID tag on and he was micro-chipped as well.  That made it a lot easier to find his home for sure!   Remember, Halloween can be a scary and confusing time for pets.  Did you know some pets become very fearful or aggressive at the sight of certain Halloween costumes?  These pets would much prefer to be kept in a safe, quiet place in the home away from the trick-or-treaters. Labsalot wasn’t the nervous type but he knew a dog named Bony Soprano that would not have responded to trick-or-treaters as well as he did. 

You are making me wear what?

The next year, Labsalot’s family decided to take him out with the kids as they went door to door – and they dressed Labsalot up! He did look very cute in his costume.  “Did I mention he was dressed up as a cat?”  Sigmeow lifted his head in obvious pride as he told Indiana about the costume.  People need to be careful dressing pets up on holidays. Sometimes costumes can make it hard to see and hear.  Moving becomes awkward too and boy, can it ever get hot in those suits.  Have you ever seen a dog trying to pant in a cat costume?  It isn’t pretty!  That night, Labsalot did think about chewing his way out of the cat suit but luckily his family stayed with him the entire time he had it on so he didn’t hurt himself or eat any parts of the costume.

Watch that candle!

The following year, Labsalot was wagging his tail and it knocked over the candle in the pumpkin and the fire department had to be called!  No one was hurt but that pumpkin didn’t look very good after that… his tail was a bit singed too!

Don’t tell me you left out the chocolate and candy…

Just then, Indiana Bones looked over at Labsalot through the fence posts and saw him lift his head a little and reposition himself a little to get comfortable.  “Why does Labsalot seem so uncomfortable today?”  Sigmeow looked off into the distance for what seemed like a long time and then turned to the bright eyed Beagle pup and said, “Well that is because of what happened this past Halloween, Indiana…”  After a busy night of trick-or-treating, when the kids came home with all their chips, chocolates and candy, they all went to bed and didn’t put the treats away, out of Sir Labsalot’s reach.  Well if I know one thing, it is that you are hard pressed to keep a Labrador retriever from eating something as tempting as Halloween candy.  That night, Labsalot ate more chocolate, candy, wrappers and chips than one would think possible.  His family had to take him to the veterinary hospital to help him recover.  He had to stay in the hospital to help him get better from being so sick!  Luckily his family woke up in the middle of the night and caught him in the act and got help right away!  He was going to be okay but boy, did he have a belly ache!  And do you know what?  If you put a bag of candy in front of Labsalot again, he would probably do the same thing!  You see chocolate is really harmful to dogs – even just a little bit!  And when it comes to chips and candy – they can cause really bad belly aches! 

And with that Indiana realized he would have to wait and play with his friend Labsalot another day when he was feeling better. Hopefully next year his family will remember the previous years and do their best to keep him safe so he can have a wonderful time with his family and his friends Indiana and Sigmeow!! 


National Veterinary Technician Week

(Kapoodle) Hey Kit!  How’s it going? I’ve been a bit lonely lately, what with the kids back in school and all.  All this talk about homework and studying hard so that they can get a good job has got me to thinking…what is a “good” job?  I’m pretty happy with the work I do here so I guess I have a good job, it never hurts to consider your options though.

(Kit) A good job?  Please Kapoodle, tell me exactly what kind of “work” it is you do?  All I see is a bunch of laying around and knocking things over.  Why are dogs so clumsy anyway?  You could learn a lot from a cat you know!  The only time I knock things down is when I want to, usually when my humans are late with dinner.

(Kapoodle) What do ya mean, I don’t do any work?  I fertilize the yard, I help clear the table and wash the dishes when my family is finished eating, and…all that knocking stuff down gives them something to do so they don’t get bored.  I’ve often heard my people say “Thank goodness Kapoodle spread these tissues all around, I didn’t know what I was going to do with that extra 5 minutes!” Next week I’m going to do some gardening.  You wait and see how excited they’ll be?!

Anyway, I got to thinking about what other jobs are out there that might be fun and then I ran into my friend Hairy Pawter.  You know Hairy, he’s the Puli with the crazy dreadlocks.  Well, turns out Hairy was over at Harbour Cities Veterinary Hospital the other day for his yearly check up.  He said there was quite a commotion going on because one of his favourite people, Toni Martin, was receiving an award from the Eastern Veterinary Technician’s Association.  Toni is what they call an RVT, or Registered Veterinary Technician.  Now, you’re probably wondering what that means, I know I was.  The closest comparison I can give you is that an RVT is a lot like a human nurse.  The main difference is that RVTs need to be skilled in all aspects of patient care such as medicine, surgery, radiology, dentistry, diagnostic testing (like looking at poop, which doesn’t sound so bad to me), etc.  Hairy said that over the past few years Toni has taken blood from him, trimmed his nails, given him medication (that he really didn’t like), took pictures of his stomach that time he ate the corn cob and couldn’t stop throwing up, and lots of other things.  He said that Toni was responsible for carrying out a lot of the veterinarian’s treatment plan. 

It was starting to sound like an interesting and difficult job so I looked into what kind of education is needed.  It turns out there is a Veterinary Technician program right here in Nova Scotia through the Dalhousie Agricultural College.  The program takes two years to complete and involves spending some time at the Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI as well as in a regular veterinary clinic.  Students who graduate from this, or any other accredited Veterinary Technician program, can write an exam to become “registered” and carry the title of RVT.  Then, every year they have to take some continuing education courses to stay current and maintain their registered status.  It’s great to know there are some standards in place to ensure those caring for us are well trained!

It sounds to me like technicians are the veterinarian’s right hand.  I bet it is a really challenging and rewarding career.  I guess that would make it a “good” job.  It also sounds like a lot more work than pulling up tulips and sorting through the garbage.  I think I’ll keep my job.  Afterall, what would my owners do with their extra time if I wasn’t here?

On the road again… Happy Tails on the Trails, Rails and in the Air

“Where are we going?  Is it the last train to Barksville? Are we flying to Meow-mi? I do hope we are going to Paw Springs”, said Liz Claybone, the beautiful Cocker Spaniel, as she and Catrina, the elegant Russian blue cat, were chatting about their summer vacations with their families.  They were very excited that their families are planning to take them along on their trips – they used to always be left home but now, they travel much more.  “Why was it that in the old days, we never got to go anywhere?”, asked Liz.  “Times have changed”, purred Catrina.  “So many more humans want to take their pets with them now – and it is a lot easier than it used to be.  There are a few important things to know though, to help make the trip better for the humans and for us,” she continued.  “I like everything to be purrrrr-fect”.

Here are some of her tips:

Where are you going? – “Lots of hotels, beaches and parks like us – and we can go there any time and we might even be allowed to run around without a leash.”  Liz Claybone added that she had been to a few places where leashes were required – and even some where pets were not allowed at all!  Seriously!  She was quite miffed about that but said that she was so glad that her humans checked first so there were no surprises – it would have been awful to go to a park and then not be allowed in!  That is when some humans forget about what happens when pets are left in cars… it can get much too hot.  That’s another whole story…

Catrina, who has travelled across Russia and to many other countries, said that it is also important for humans to check on customs or immigration rules.  That means knowing about the rules when you cross a border into another country.  Not every country has the same rules about pets as Canada and so humans need to know these rules.  Catrina was stuck in quarantine once because her humans didn’t have all the paperwork they needed – “Quarantine means you have to stay with the government people for awhile until they are sure you are not sick – it was just awful… I missed my family – it was worse than being stuck in Siberia” she said!  Fortunately, her humans learned about checking with the consulates of other countries she has visited.  They knew about the vaccines she needed – and had all the paperwork ready.  They also learned about parasites, those awful little bugs, which are different in other countries.  Liz said that on one of her family’s drives to Paw Springs in California, her dog food was taken at the border because her humans didn’t have the label from the bag to show the ingredients and country of origin.  Very important!  “They forgot that paperwork but they did have my rabies certificate”, she said.  “Fortunately, they remembered to take me to the vet to get that before we left or who knows what might have happened!?”

Bring your ID – Always keep an identification tag with up to date contact information on your pet’s collar and consider microchipping them in case they lose their collar.   Liz and Catrina said they both have microchips – “I was surprised”, said Liz – “it didn’t hurt a bit!  I saw the veterinarian coming with that needle and was worried but it was fine.  And my owner’s information is on a computer database and so if I get lost anywhere, a veterinarian can wave a magic wand over me and find out everything.  It is great!”  If you’re heading far from home, it’s a good idea to also attach a temporary tag with your cell phone number and address of your destination. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a photo handy.

Secure them for the ride – Airlines, trains and ships have rules about shipping crates for cargo or “in cabin” carriers. Liz said that it is so important to check their policies and make reservations early.  Once, she said, we got the airport, and my crate was not suitable.  We had to get a new one right away.  Another time, the airline said that only one animal could be in the compartment at a time – “fortunately,” said Liz, “it was me!” 

Catrina said that she heard about a dog who was hurt in a car accident from flying through the air from the back seat – he hit the dash and he hurt a human too!  “How awful”, said Liz.  “I have a sparkly harness that has a slot for the seatbelt to go through,” she said.  “And in some vehicles, I take my carrier and nap in there – totally safe for me and my humans.” 

Keep them comfortable –Try to arrange as direct and short a journey as possible. The danger of flying is mostly the time spent on the ground while we wait to be loaded or unexpected delays. It can get really hot or really cold during these times. Most airlines will post recommendations for food and water. Liz said that her owners always freeze some water in her dish overnight so it won’t spill during loading and it melts when she needs it.

Stress and anxiety; to medicate or not to medicate? – Liz said she does not like to have any medication before flying – it makes her groggy and a bit uncoordinated and she hates that.  It also made it hard for her to breathe properly.  She says that it is always best to avoid sedating your pet for travel. 

Catrina said that her owners have discovered Feliway and she loves it!  It is a calming pheromone (that is, a smell that she notices) and she loves having it sprayed in her carrier before she travels – even in the car to go to the vet.  She also has a Thundershirt for anxiety.  She told Liz that these tight shirts make you feel like you are being gently hugged and it feels so good!  She said her humans got one for her at PetFocus and they have them for dogs too!

Consider leaving us behind – Even though pets love to be with their humans, sometimes it may be best for your pet to be left with a trusted friend, relative or boarding kennel. “Oh, so true,” said Catrina.  “Sometimes I’d rather just stay in one place and look out the window.   The cat condos at PetFocus are so great… I love staying there,” she said. 

Happy trails!!!

Additional information: Travel products; Canadian Food Inspection Agency;;;


“Wanna go to the park?”  Tommy Holedigger was trembling with excitement when he heard that question – “I can’t believe it!  It’s “Parks and Recreation Month” again – or as I like to call it, “Barks and Recreation Month” – my favourite month of the year!  This is the month that all pet owners are reminded to take us out to play outdoors with them.  Hurrah!  Let’s go… c’mon…now!” 

Tommy is a very busy Border Collie and he likes nothing more than to get to an off-leash park and run, run, run… and then when that is done, to run some more!  Of course, he does have a few “issues” and has been known to get into a bit of trouble sometimes as he is not always polite with others – and he does not always come right back when called.  His buddy, Indiana Bones, a busy beagle pup, has learned a few things at his Socialization classes and decided to share with Tommy. 

Indiana was excited too but he knew that he had to follow a few rules.  His tail was wagging as fast as it could go and he ran around in circles as he reminded Tommy of a few things… 

Tommy, get a grip.  I just came from my obedience class and Dr. Callen was there and she said we have to remember a few things – here is what I learned:

  1. Leash: What park are you going to?  Do you need your leash or not? Check first or you might get in trouble with “the law”.  Remember, Tommy – we are not allowed to run loose anywhere except in special “off-leash parks”.  As much as we like to take off and run, we have to be “under control” all the time… I hate that too, but it is for our safety.  We are well behaved (most of the time) but there are other dogs or safety issues that we might not know about and so we need to be on our leash to be safe.  My owner is really good about that and says that she wants to be a “responsible pet owner”.  Hurrah for her!
  2. Aggressive dogs: Have you ever been to the park with that big mutt, Bony Soprano?  That guy is mean – he pretends to be friendly and then “Wham!”, he lunges.  We have to be careful about guys like him, and his cousins – those guys just should not go to off leash parks at all.  Don’t their owners know that?  It’s because of thugs like them that being on a leash is good as it makes it easier to break up fights. 
  3. Training: I am so glad I have been going to obedience classes.  It is sooo hard to come back when I am called when I am off exploring or chasing squirrels but now I know how to do it – every time.  My humans will let me go off leash now.  Tommy, if you would learn to do that, you might get to go free more often!  Even busy Border Collies like you can learn to do that.
  4. Licenses:  I just got a new tag – and it looks pretty sharp!  My human said I need it on my collar so that the City knows about me and can help if I get lost.  Pretty cool, eh?  Make sure you get your license renewed too. 
  5. Microchip: Hey, Tommy… do you have one of those cool microchips?  I do, and it kind of makes me feel like a space dog.  I went to see my vet at PetFocus and she put this little thing, about the size of a rice grain, under my skin.  It didn’t hurt a bit.  It’s very high tech – if I ever got lost, a vet could wave this magic wand over my back and the information about my owners would pop up.  How awesome is that?  I think all the guys should get one.
  6. Poop:  Well, we know all about that, right?  When you gotta go… anyway, our owners have to remember to “scoop the poop.”  I hope they know that this is the law too… back to that responsible pet owner thing again.  I love sniffing poop but apparently there can be dangerous stuff in it – like buggy things and diseases.  Ick.  As much as I love checking it out, I wouldn’t want to carry bad stuff back to my owner’s house.   My owner is really careful about that – she just took a sample of my poop to PetFocus to be tested – she said we will do that every year.  She’s the best.
  7. Parasites: I hate ticks and fleas!  Those things make me itchy and give me a rash.  Fortunately, I get some stuff every month to keep those pests away from me…  The problem is, not all the guys get that stuff and so some of the dogs I like to play with at the park are carrying around pests, and they are in the grass too.  Make sure your owner is giving you the monthly dose of treatment.  My owner also checks me over (I love that part – it’s like a free massage!) for ticks every time we come in – and we don’t go back to the places where I find ticks.
  8. Vaccines:  I was at PetFocus last week – my owner took me in because we are going camping and she was afraid we might run into some deer or raccoons.  You know I just can’t help sniffing around where those guys have peed!  Anyway, it seems I needed some vaccine to help protect me from some of the awful stuff those wild beasts might carry.  Tommy, you should check that out too as I know you like to drink from puddles and ditches – you don’t know who peed there, buddy!  Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your humans. 

So anyway, Tommy, I am ready to roam.  Let’s go celebrate “Barks and Recreation” month and enjoy the great outdoors.  Be safe and responsible. 

Additional information:

CPRA ACPL – Parks and Recreation Month

HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy –

By-Law A-300 Respecting Animals & Responsible Pet Ownership –

Getting Too Hot Under the (Dog) Collar

“Whew! Dahling – it’s like an oven in this car!  I can’t possibly wait for you here.”  Zsa Zsa Dogbor was indignant that her owner would even think about leaving her in the car while she went in for her hair appointment.  Summer is here and some owners forget that their pets need to stay cool!  Zsa Zsa was chatting later with her friend, Schnitzel, about this and he agreed that it is a scary time of year for dogs, especially.  “Ja, dis is da wurst time for dogs.  Sometimes, I feel like a ‘hot dog’ bratwurst in da bun”, said the little dachshund.  “Every year, dey hear da warnings, and every year, some dog owners let their pets suffer in the heat.  Why, why, why do dey do dat?” 

“Oh Dahling”, Zsa Zsa cooed, “some owners have memories that are shorter than your legs – we have to keep reminding them about the dangers of heat stress for us.  My cousin, Ilsa, almost died from being left in a car while her owner went for lunch.  Can you imagine?  She was stuck there, with no air conditioning, and no idea why she was left there or for how long.  She panicked and that made it even worse.  Here is what I learned from my PetFocus vet after they saved her…. 

“It’s Ok – I’ll only be gone five minutes.”  That’s what Ilsa’s owner said when she left her.  The human was going into Tim’s to pick up a coffee – but, she met a friend and decided to have lunch and forgot about Ilsa.  That happens so often.  Five minutes becomes twenty-five.  Honestly, I don’t know how any human could forget about me for a moment, but it happens!  The scary thing is that Ilsa started to be stressed in only 10 minutes.  Her human left all the windows open a crack and left her some water but it didn’t help.  She still suffered from heat stress. 

“How hot is too hot?”, asked Schnitzel.    

Well, even on a typical summer day at 21OC, temperatures inside a parked car can reach 38OC and on a really hot day of 32OC, they can hit a whopping 60OC!  Oh Dahling, we literally cook at those temperatures.  People don’t realize that inside temperatures can be 10–20OC higher than outdoors within minutes. Of course, Dahling, I don’t sweat!  Actually, no dogs and cats can sweat like humans and most of us have heavy fur coats. I don’t like to talk about it as it is not very ladylike, but we cool down mainly by panting and through sweat glands on our feet. The other problem, which Ilsa had, is that as it got hotter, she panicked which made things even worse.  Poor baby was barking and pacing and no one noticed.  

“Ach, nein!”  said Schnitzel.  “Dat is terrible.”  He wondered… 

How can you tell if a panting animal in a car needs immediate help?”  

Zsa Zsa explained – Oh, it is not at all ladylike – some signs of heat stroke are extreme panting, drooling, deep red or bluish tongue, trouble breathing… Ilsa threw up (how embarrassing), and she was stumbling and weak and her muscles had tremors.  When her owner finally came back, her eyes were glassy and she had a “far away” stare… it was awful, dahling.  The vet said that the next step would have been a seizure, collapse or loss of consciousness.  Even worse, after that, she might have gone into a coma or even died! 

“What if someone had seen her in the car?  What should they have done?”  asked Schnitzel.

This is a difficult question to answer – they could call 911 or the local animal control agency right away.  They should write down the license plate and a description of the car. They could also try to find the owner in nearby buildings – ask stores to page the car owner.  If they think that it is urgent, they could get another person to check too and then do whatever they can to get the poor baby out of the car.  They will need to go to the vet right away.  They should be moved to an air-conditioned car or building and they should be wetted down with “cool” (never cold or icy) water for a few minutes.  Give them some cool water to drink.  

Other things to think about in the heat are that pets can get sunburned too – Zsa Zsa said that she never sits in the sun as she is so concerned about her perfect skin but some dogs are taken places where there is no shade.  Cats, she said, are sometimes better at finding shady places and dogs need that too.  It is also important to make sure that pets don’t have to walk a long way on hot pavement – oh dahling, my poor feet. 

Don’t make excuses. Don’t take pets out for walks or runs during the hottest time of day.  Leave your pets at home if you know you will need to make any stops and NEVER leave them unattended in a parked car.  Paying attention to this may save their life.