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Is Your Dog or Cat Itching and Scratching? Seasonal Allergies Might Be to Blame

By Moose Tracks No Comments

Dogs and cats can suffer from seasonal allergies, just like we do, but their symptoms tend to be different. This time of year in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas, we tend to see pets with allergies caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds that bloom or peak during the late spring and into summer.

So what are the signs of allergies in dogs and cats, and what should you do if you think your pet has allergies?

Allergies 101

To start with, it helps to understand what an allergy is. An allergy results when the immune system overreacts or becomes hypersensitive to a harmless, often common, substance (called an allergen) that comes in contact with or enters the body. Essentially, the immune system thinks the substance is dangerous and tries to destroy it.

For a pet (or person) to become allergic, they generally need to have been exposed to the allergen more than once and typically multiple times over months or years. However, even young pets can get allergies.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are a type of environmental allergy that often gets worse in the spring, summer, and fall. However, allergies in pets can last throughout the year, depending on the cause. That’s because pets can be allergic to more than one plant’s pollen or to other items in the environment that are around all year long, like dust mites or some mold spores.

In the spring and summer, seasonal allergies are typically caused by trees, weeds, and other plants that pollinate during this time of year, as well as some molds that tend to bloom inside or out. In and around the region of Waterloo, our pets may encounter pollen from oak, elm, maple, and mulberry trees as well as grasses like Bermuda, orchard, Timothy, and sweet vernal, all of which can cause allergic reactions. Later in the summer (usually in August), ragweed may be responsible for allergy symptoms in pets.

Signs and Symptoms of Pet Seasonal Allergies

Itching is often the main symptom of pet allergies, which is why allergic dogs and cats may:

  • Scratch
  • Rub against furniture
  • Shake their head
  • Spend a lot of time licking, chewing, biting, or grooming, sometimes to the point where they cause hair loss or hot spots (painful, raw, inflamed areas on the skin that may bleed)

In pets with seasonal allergies, chewing or licking the feet is a common sign, so affected pets may have red, swollen-looking paws. Their ears may also be inflamed or infected, and they may have anal gland issues. Seasonal allergies can cause nasal discharge and sneezing as well, although these are less common allergy symptoms in pets.

The ears and paws are commonly affected, but the groin, underarms, ankles, and areas around a pet’s eyes and muzzle may also show signs of allergies like irritation and hair loss.

Seasonal allergies may be to blame in a pet with a red, itchy belly who chews or licks the paws or nails excessively.

Some pets with allergies may get bacterial or yeast infections from excessive scratching and overgrooming. These are referred to as “secondary infections.”

Getting Your Pet Relief From Allergies

We treat allergies in pets in much the same way human doctors treat people with allergies. However, although some of the medications may be the same, pets process medications differently than people do, so it’s important to remember to never give your pet human medication unless your Westmount veterinarian has prescribed it. Only give your pet medications exactly as prescribed.

For seasonal and other environmental allergies:

  • Bathing your pet with a pet shampoo after time spent outside can help remove pollen and other allergens. Ask us for recommendations!
  • Washing your pet’s bedding frequently may also help minimize exposure to allergens.
  • We can prescribe oral and/or topical medications to give your pet relief.
  • Some pets might benefit from allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy testing and specialized allergy injections), which desensitizes pets to specific allergens over time.
  • Any secondary yeast or bacterial infections need to be treated as well, so we may run lab tests to make sure we’re targeting the right culprit and giving your pet the most effective treatment.
  • There are also some newer treatment options to help itchy pets. These can provide rapid and long-term relief.

If your pet is showing signs of allergies or you’re concerned about your itchy pet, give us a call and schedule an appointment with your Westmount veterinarian.

We individually tailor therapy to each pet. After ruling out any other potential causes of your pet’s symptoms, we will work with you to come up with a plan to ease your pet’s allergies. Let us help your allergic pet get relief!

Vaccinations: Why Your Pet Needs Regular Vaccines

By Moose Tracks No Comments

Vaccines help keep pets protected against serious, highly contagious, and life-threatening diseases. Certain vaccines are important for all dogs or cats, and your Westmount veterinarian may recommend other vaccines based on your individual pet’s lifestyle, age, environmental risk, and overall health.

Vaccines are an essential part of wellness and preventive care for both cats and dogs.

How Vaccines Work

Vaccines are designed to reduce the chance of pets getting certain diseases. As an added benefit, if a pet does get a disease that he or she was vaccinated against, the symptoms are often less severe and don’t tend to last as long.

Why Puppies and Kittens Need Vaccines

The antibodies that young pets receive from their mothers’ milk protect them while their immune systems are first developing. But this protection declines over the first few weeks to months of life, making puppies and kittens susceptible to diseases. This is when vaccines first become valuable.

We vaccinate puppies and kittens every 3 to 4 weeks until they’re about 16 to 20 weeks of age. These vaccinations stimulate a pet’s immune system to kick in. Finishing the full series of puppy/kitten vaccines is crucial for providing your pet with complete protection. 

Vaccines set puppies and kittens up for a healthier life down the road.

After your puppy or kitten has received enough protection from vaccinations, your Westmount veterinarian will let you know when your young pet is ready to start socializing with other dogs or cats.

Why Adult and Senior Pets Need Vaccines

Although diseases like parvovirus and distemper may be thought of as ones that only puppies and kittens get, the truth is that pets need boosters for certain vaccines at regular intervals throughout life (every 1 to 3 years) to ensure that they stay adequately protected. This is the case for several reasons:

  • Not all pets who are vaccinated develop an immune response.
  • A pet’s level of immunity to specific diseases decreases over time, based on how long vaccines remain protective.
  • Other vaccines don’t provide pets with long-term immunity, so these vaccines need to be given more frequently.
  • As pets age, their immune system tends to decline, so vaccinations can help boost an older pet’s immunity.

Core Vaccines

The essential (or “core”) vaccines provide protection against rabies, as well as severe respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses.

Core Canine Vaccines

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis (adenovirus)
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine parainfluenza

Core Feline Vaccines

  • Rabies
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Panleukopenia (also called feline distemper or feline parvovirus)
  • Rhinotracheitis (feline herpesvirus type 1)

Some of these vaccines are given together, as a combination vaccine.

For adult and senior pets, we rotate the core vaccines given during the annual wellness exam. This ensures that your pet stays protected against serious, potentially life-threatening diseases while not being over-vaccinated.

Lifestyle Vaccines

Other vaccines are available to help protect pets based on exposure risk. These are referred to as lifestyle vaccines.

Canine Lifestyle Vaccines

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (to protect against canine infectious respiratory disease complex or, as it’s more commonly known, kennel cough)
  • Leptospirosis

Feline Lifestyle Vaccines

How to Protect Your Pet

By making sure your pet is vaccinated following your veterinarian’s recommendations, you’ll be helping to keep your pet protected against highly contagious, potentially deadly diseases.

Your Westmount veterinarian will tailor a vaccination program specifically for your individual pet. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions about your pet’s vaccines.

Schedule your pet’s wellness exam today!

Complimentary nutritional consults

By Moose Tracks No Comments

Keeping your pet at their ideal weight can be a difficult challenge. We understand that life is hard especially during these trying times. We want you to know that we care and are here for you and your pets.

We are offering complimentary nutritional consults to help assist our clients in keeping their furry family members as healthy as possible; so you can enjoy many years together.

Simply contact the clinic either by calling 519-569-7902 or email to [email protected] and request your pets nutritional consult. We will work with you to help shed those unwanted pounds from you pet.

Sorry, we only do consults for pets not people!

Heartworm and Ticks

By Moose Tracks No Comments

As the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, it’s important to keep certain routines in place with our pets: walks, exercise, playtime, grooming (including teeth brushing!), feeding times of course, and Parasite prevention.

With Spring here and summer literally around the corner, means mosquitoes are buzzing about and ticks are active. Mosquitoes may seem like just another annoyance that we encounter while out for a walk with our dog, but mosquitoes pose a serious health risk to our pets. Ticks pose severe health risks to both pets and people!

Heartworm disease is a deadly disease that affects both dogs and cats. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes when they feed on infected animals and then feed on our pets. Foxes and Coyotes are a Heartworm positive source that could potential act as a reservoir to infect our pets.  While dogs are most often affected, it is important to know that cats can be affected too and should be on heartworm preventives as well.

Heartworm have a complicated life cycle, but prevention is simple! Treatment is costly, can be life-threatening, and doesn’t always result in positive outcomes. It is easy to forget about heartworm disease as you do not often hear about cases. The reason for this is due to many pet owners having their pets on heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease is very much still active and without prevention; pets are at risk.

Due to COVID-19 and our protocols that we have implemented to keep you and our staff safe.  We feel strongly that keeping your dog protected this season from Heartworm, Fleas and Ticks are important too; especially since our dogs are getting walked more than ever as we all practice Stay at Home and physical distancing.

 We have created an easy way for you to get your pets prevention and manage the physical distancing we need during COVID-19.  Simply call the clinic and request a curbside appointment for testing and to pickup your prevention.                                              

Your best defense to protect your pet from parasites is prevention.  Have peace of mind during in this pandemic that your pet is protected from any parasites it may come in contact with during the many trails and walks we are all enjoying.


Puppy training while practicing social distancing

By Moose Tracks No Comments


Have a New Puppy?
Here’s how to Socialize Your Dog While Social Distancing.

It may seem like the middle of a coronavirus crisis is not the time to take your pup out, but we found ways you can be social while keeping your distance.
Are you locked inside your house with your new puppy who is bouncing off the wall? Are you hunkered down with your adult dog, who needs training, but you never had the time?

It may seem like the middle of a coronavirus crisis is not the time to take your pup out to socialize or enroll in a group training class; staying 6 feet away from people would be tough.
But there are ways you can be social while keeping your distance.

Socializing while social distancing
If you just got a puppy, experts say socializing them properly with new people and dogs is vital to their development, especially when they are under 16-weeks-old.
“While in an ideal world your puppy would meet many, kind, tolerant adult dogs, and yes, certainly some new people along the way too, socialization just means exposing your puppy to all sorts of new things,” Jenny Wyffels, a certified professional dog trainer says.

But how do you do that while social distancing? To keep germs at bay, Jenny suggests you can assume some multiple personalities, or get all the old (not scary) Halloween costumes out of your closet. “Wearing different perfumes and colognes along with new, unusual, or interesting attire can help puppies learn from a young age that humans don’t all look and smell the same, and that is OK,” she says.

Car rides can be an excellent way for your pup to see the world, and while you’re glued to the TV sheltering in place, try turning on different shows, so your puppy hears different sounds and voices.
You can also enlist the help of a pal who will keep their distance. “They could play a game of cookie toss with a friend or neighbor. A puppy seeing a stranger, even from across the street on a separate driveway, is beneficial. More so if they are getting treats,” Jenny recommends.

Socialize your dog through virtual training virtual training

Use some of this extra time constructively and take virtual dog training classes.

Certified trainer Adrienne Liddle just launched purely positive online puppy group training classes. You and your pooch get the know-how, without the germs.
“Being quarantined can cause cabin fever for our dogs and us,” Adrienne says. “I want to offer something that’s not only educational but also a source of entertainment and community. My group classes are interactive, and people are meeting other dog lovers and connecting over dog training while getting help and guidance from me. I love it!”
Adrienne says sheltering in place is what sparked her to create these creative classes; she worried dogs would not get the training they need.

She’s offering online courses for adult dogs, too, because having a well-behaved dog makes everyone happier in the end. Especially now when pooches and their people are spending 24/7 together.
“When you teach a dog new things and reward them, they love spending time engaging with you,” she says. “When you help a dog through difficult things using clear criteria and communication, they learn to trust and believe in you. When you help a dog build problem-solving skills, they become more balanced and less reactive to their environment. I’ve seen some amazing change and growth in dogs and their humans through the training process.” And Jenny recommends using some of this solitude to teach your dog a lifetime of good habits. “Some of us may temporarily have schedules that allow us to devote more time to consistent day to day training, or behavior modification plans. Why not make the most out of a challenging situation by devoting that time to our dogs?”

Both Jenny and Adrienne also offer individual training sessions remotely using Skype, Facetime, Zoom and video-conferencing programs to dog owners anywhere in the world. Contact them through their websites.

Westmount Animal Hospital Updated Covid-19 Protocols

By Moose Tracks No Comments



We have had to institute some changes to keep both our clients and staff safe.
Effective Immediately we will be only offering curb-side appointments with the exception of Final Goodbye Euthanasia appointment (call the clinic for more information).

What does this mean to a pet owner?
• Please call the clinic when you arrive and we will come out to retrieve your pet. The doctor will examine your pet and call you on your cell to discuss the findings and/or treatment options.
• Payments are ideally taken by credit card over the phone. If this is not possible; we will have you come into the clinic to do your payment.
• We will bring your pet back to your vehicle along with any medications and your invoice.
• Food and medication pick-ups: payment ideally over the phone and we will place your pet’s medication and/or food outside the front door along with your receipt. We can have you do payment inside if absolutely necessary but only one person in the clinic at a time.
• Please knock on the front door for entrance as it will be locked during regular business hours.

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes you and ask for your understanding as we all deal with this unique situation. We care and want to continue to provide the high-quality care for your pets as we have always done.


Westmount Animal Hospital’s online Vet Store is now open!

By Moose Tracks No Comments

We are excited to let all of our client’s know that you may now order your pet’s supplies from the comfort of your home.

Simply click on the “Shop now” link  located in the upper right corner to be redirected to Westmount Animal Hospital’s webstore. You can register there to enjoy the convenience of online ordering for your pet’s food, supplements and more.

Have your order shipped right to your front door!

Westmount Animal Hospital online vet store

Westmount Cares – Covid-19 Protocols

By Moose Tracks No Comments


Westmount Animal Hospital COVID-19 protocols

We are still open and taking proactive steps to make sure our clients and patients continue to get the care they need. We know that these are trying times for everyone as we go through this uncharted territory together.

In order to limit unnecessary contact and maintain essential social distancing we are doing curbside appointments.

In the best interest of both clients and staff, we are implementing the following:

• Longer appointment times – comply with Social Distancing (Public Health)
• Drop off/Pick up’s
• Curbside appointments
• Phone consultations
• Video conferencing
• Online Food and Prescriptions available

We apologize for any inconvenience the above listed measures may cause, but please know we are doing everything we can in order to ensure the safety of those who work at, or visit, our hospital while also working to continue to provide the services and care that you have come to rely on us for.

Please call/speak our Client Service Team if you have any immediate questions or concerns.

Stayed tuned for more communication on how to utilize any of our on-line sources.



By Moose Tracks No Comments

We believe by educating pet owners, you can help protect both yourself and your pets. Ticks can travel up to 46 km per  year can be found almost anywhere due to migratory birds and animals. Below is a short video we think you will enjoy. Please visit for more information.

Please contact the clinic for more information and book your 4dx parasite blood screen test and pick up your pet’s parasite prevention.


Dental Health For your Dogs and Cats

By Moose Tracks No Comments

February is Dental Health Month in the Veterinary World;  we believe that dental health is important year round!

We believe that dental care is an important part of an animal’s overall well being, for that reason we offer free dental examinations with one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians year around, not just one month of the year.

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.

Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets’ teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. 

The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.

The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.

Oral health in dogs and cats
Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
bad breath
broken or loose teeth
extra teeth or retained baby teeth
teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
reduced appetite or refusal to eat
pain in or around the mouth
bleeding from the mouth
swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.

Causes of pet dental problems:

broken teeth and roots
periodontal disease
abscesses or infected teeth
cysts or tumors in the mouth
malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite
broken (fractured) jaw
palate defects (such as cleft palate)


Why does dentistry require anesthesia?
When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.
Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.
Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day. We follow strict protocols to ensure the safest anesthesia for you pet.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.


Related resources:
Veterinary toolkit: Pet dental health – Available exclusively to AVMA members