Moose Tracks

Ticks: Is Your Pet Protected From These Parasites?

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Finding ticks in and around Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas is becoming more common, especially as these parasites are spreading farther into Ontario and other parts of Canada. Be aware that ticks like to hang out in wooded or grassy areas, tall grasses, and ground cover such as leaves. In addition, other locations you might visit, such as Hamilton, Turkey Point, and Long Point, are considered to be risk areas.

Ticks are scary because they do more than just feed on blood: they can transmit serious diseases to pets (and people), which may lead to heart and kidney complications, joint damage, and even neurological issues, especially if not caught and treated early. We want to arm you with an understanding of the damage ticks can cause, as well as how to help keep you and your pets protected.

A Look at Ticks

Related to mites and spiders, ticks are small arachnids that live off the blood of people, dogs, and cats, in addition to birds and other animals such as coyotes, deer, horses, rabbits, and rodents.

Of the 900 or so tick species worldwide, just a handful can cause disease in pets and people in our area. The main ticks we have in Kitchener and the surrounding area are blacklegged (deer) ticks and American dog ticks. We occasionally find brown dog ticks as well. Although the lone star tick isn’t a concern in our area yet, this species is being monitored.

Did you know? Nymphs (immature ticks) are about the size of a pinhead or poppy seed, and adult deer ticks are only about as big as a sesame seed!

Tick-bourne Diseases

Not all ticks are infected with disease-causing agents (pathogens), but those that are can transmit Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and other diseases to dogs and cats.

Ticks can also cause tick paralysis, a serious, potentially deadly condition in which the nervous system is attacked by a toxin in the tick’s saliva.

Symptoms of Tick-bourne Diseases

Let us know right away if you notice any of these signs of tick-transmitted diseases:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fever
  • Lameness (potentially shifting from leg to leg, referred to as “shifting leg lameness”)
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Stiff, swollen, or painful joints
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight or appetite loss

Canine Lyme disease cases in Ontario have been steadily increasing. More than 5,200 dogs tested positive last year.

Ticks Environments

Ticks love wooded and grassy areas, including fields and parks. If you walk, hike, or camp with your pet in these areas, you may come across ticks. Ticks are also being found in urban areas, such as gardens in the city. Depending on where you live, ticks may even live in your own backyard. Ticks will actively look for a blood meal as soon as the temperature reaches is 4 C .

Many ticks search for hosts by “questing”—they climb up onto a low shrub or blade of grass and reach out with their front legs, waiting to grab a pet or person who walks by.

If you spend time outside with your pet, especially in risk areas, it can be difficult to avoid ticks, which is why protecting yourself and your pet against ticks is your best bet.

Preventing Ticks

You can take several important steps to help protect your pet and yourself from ticks:

  • Keep your pet on a veterinary tick preventive, as recommended by your Westmount veterinarian. We have topical and oral products to protect your pet.
  • Use insect repellents with 25% to 30% DEET or 20% icaridin (picaridin) on yourself. DEET-containing products can also be used on children who are at least 12 years of age, and icaridin can be used on those 6 months of age and up. DO NOT use these products on your dog or cat. DEET is especially toxic to both cats and dogs.
  • Avoid areas known for being infested with ticks.
  • Try to stay out of tall grass and heavily wooded areas. This tactic won’t prevent you from coming in contact with ticks, but it can help limit the number of ticks you encounter.
  • If you’re planning to hike or camp, ask us which areas are high risk for ticks.
  • Check yourself and your pet for ticks after you’ve spent time outside, especially if you’ve been in risk areas.

Learn more about how to prevent tick bites and create a tick-safe yard at these sites:

The temperature in the Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas doesn’t tend to stay cold enough for ticks to die off, so they may remain active year-round.

How to Properly Remove a Tick

If you or your pet does end up with an attached tick, here’s how to safely remove it:

  1. Grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool right by the skin (near the tick’s mouth).
  2. Pull the tick straight out, steadily but gently, without twisting, or follow the instructions provided by the tick removal tool manufacturer.
  3. Place the tick into a sealed baggie or container (like an old pill bottle), and bring the tick into the clinic for identification.
  4. Clean the bite wound with a mild antiseptic.
  5. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the tweezers or tick removal tool.
  6. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid squashing the tick’s body.
  • Use gloves, especially if you don’t have tweezers or a tick removal tool. Do not touch the tick with your bare hands, which could potentially allow disease-causing pathogens to get through cuts or scratches in your skin.
  • Don’t try to remove the tick’s head if it remains embedded. It will typically fall out on its own within a few days. If the skin around the bite wound remains red or becomes more swollen or irritated, give us a call.

Smothering ticks in petroleum jelly, nail polish, or liquid soap doesn’t work. Burning or freezing a tick is also ineffective and could harm your pet.

How We Can Help

Ticks and tick-bourne diseases are becoming more common in and around Kitchener. At Westmount Animal Hospital, we want to help keep our patients as safe as possible from these parasites.

Call us today to make sure your pet is protected, and feel free to ask any questions you might have about the ticks in our area.

Wellness Exams: How Preventive Care Visits Benefit You and Your Pet

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Regular veterinary visits are essential for cats and dogs throughout their lives. We typically recommend wellness exams once a year for healthy adult dogs and cats and more frequently for young pets, senior pets, and those with chronic medical conditions. We also recommend bringing in any newly adopted pet for a wellness exam.

Many pets don’t tend to show signs of disease, especially in the early stages. That’s where regular checkups play a crucial role: They give us a chance to catch potential diseases or conditions as soon as possible. Early diagnosis can provide us with more options for treatment and may also give pets a better quality of life.

By being proactive, we can sometimes even prevent certain conditions or illnesses.

Regular testing of pets, including blood work, urinalysis, and fecal screening, helps us identify any hidden diseases or health conditions. Because certain diseases may have similar symptoms, we use screening tests to figure out what’s wrong and how to properly treat pets.

What to Expect During Your Pet’s Checkup

Puppies and Kittens

When dogs and cats are young, we need to see them frequently to make sure they’re adequately protected against common contagious diseases through the puppy or kitten series of vaccines. We also want to see kittens and puppies several times over that first year to make sure they’re gaining weight and body mass as expected, their teeth and bones are developing normally, and their heart, lungs, and other organs are healthy. In addition, we’ll look inside your young pet’s ears, examine the eyes, and record temperature and weight.

This is also when your Westmount veterinarian will typically perform a spay or neuter procedure. Spaying/neutering can help reduce some undesirable behaviours, protect your pet against certain cancers, and protect female pets against a potentially life-threatening type of uterine infection called pyometra.

We’ll deworm your puppy or kitten several times to get rid of any intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. We’ll also recommend parasite control to help protect your pet against ticks, heartworm disease, fleas, and intestinal worms.

Making sure pets receive the right nutrition throughout their lives can help keep them healthy. We can recommend a high-quality food that meets your pet’s specific nutritional needs. Our technicians will also provide nutritional consult to assist your pet in meeting the required calories he or she needs. We will also assist in helping overweight/obese pets stay on track to lose weight.

Adult Pets

As pets move into their adult years, we want to see them at least once a year for a regular checkup. During these visits, we’ll:

  • Perform a thorough physical exam of your pet
  • Give your pet needed vaccine boosters to help provide continued protection against serious, highly contagious, and potentially deadly diseases
  • Recommend additional vaccines to help protect against diseases that your individual pet may be at risk for because of lifestyle, exposure risk, and other factors
  • Check blood work for heartworm disease, tick-borne diseases, and breed-specific conditions, such as heart disease or joint issues, as appropriate for your individual pet
  • Make sure your pet remains free of fleas and ticks
  • Check for intestinal parasites by recommending yearly fecal testing
  • Examine your pet’s mouth and teeth and recommend any dental care that’s needed
  • Perform a nutritional assessment to help ensure that your pet is continuing to get the right nutrition for his or her breed, life stage, health, and lifestyle

Senior Pets

Once pets have reached senior status, we like to see them more frequently. So when does that change tend to happen?

  • We consider most dogs to be seniors between 7 and 8 years of age (a bit younger for larger dogs).
  • Most cats move into their senior years between 7 and 11 years of age.

Remember that pets age far faster than we do—unfortunately, this is why we have less time with them than we’d like!

Senior checkups help us detect any potential diseases or conditions, like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, dental disease, thyroid issues, and heart, kidney, and liver disease, which may become more common as pets age. The earlier we can catch any changes, the better. More frequent veterinary exams may even give you more quality time with your pet.

At Westmount Animal Hospital, we don’t want to wait until something’s wrong if we can catch diseases early, when they may be easier to treat or manage.

Ideally, we like to begin senior screening (blood and urine tests) at 7 years of age or earlier, so we can get a baseline of what’s normal for your individual pet.

How Wellness Exams Help You

In addition to playing a crucial role in helping to keep your pets healthy throughout life, regular checkups give you the opportunity to:

  • Ask us about any questions or concerns you might have
  • Bring up anything you’ve noticed that seems different with your pet, like a behaviour that’s new or a lump or bump you hadn’t noticed before

And screening tests can not only give us an early start on treatment, but if they come back negative, the results will give you peace of mind and provide us with a baseline that is normal for your pet that can be used for referencing in the future.

Practicing Preventive Care

Contact us to schedule your pet’s wellness exam, or make an appointment today.

If anything changes in your pet’s health or behaviour in between regularly scheduled exams, or if something just doesn’t seem right, get in touch with us quickly. When possible, we want to catch anything that isn’t normal early on.

Anxious Pet?

Stress can make pets more prone to other health issues. At Westmount Animal Hospital, we aim to create stress-free veterinary visits for pets and their owners. Ask us how we help keep pets calm and comfortable during exams.

If your pet tends to be anxious at other times, we’ll work with you to come up with a personalized solution to help relieve your pet’s anxiety.


Complimentary nutritional consults

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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.



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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

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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