Information for Pet Owners

For best pet health, visit your veterinarian
No one cares more about you and your pet than your veterinarian. For advice on all your animal concerns, visit your veterinarian.

Choosing a Pet

A group of international veterinary and animal organizations have drawn up practical guidelines to help prospective dog owners choose the right pet for them.

The Guidance on Choosing Your New Dog, in short, says prospective dog owners should:

  • Research first. This includes evaluating a dog’s needs and temperaments based on age, breed, health status, gender and past experiences, among other criteria.
  • Take into account the average lifespan of the dog and the estimated costs of lifetime care before buying.
  • Make sure that the dog is suitable for you, your home and your lifestyle.
  • Avoid buying animals with exaggerated physical features that are likely to affect their quality of life, and don’t base the decision on appearance alone.
  • Always see the puppy with his real mother in the environment where he was raised. Ask to see his brothers and sister, if they are still there.
  • See that the puppy is well socialized and has had appropriate good experiences.
  • Ask to see the puppy’s health records and ensure these are available by the time the puppy is purchased.
  • Make sure the puppy stays with its mother until a suitable age, normally until 8 weeks of age.
  • For pedigree puppies, ensure that any recognized registration papers and the parents’ hereditary disease certificates, where appropriate, are in order and available at the time of purchase.

Information found on

Pet Safety Tips

Holiday hazards
Chocolate – That box of chocolates wrapped and trimmed under your tree may satisfy your sweet tooth, but it’s poisonous for your dog. Make sure all food-related gifts are tucked away safely.

Turkey – Turkey is delicious, but its bones and fat are too much for your pet’s stomach and can cause severe upset. Make sure carcass leftovers are secured away from your pet.

Bones – Bones are never a good choice for a snack, as they may become lodged or splinter in the digestive system. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on appropriate treats.

Tinsel – This shiny decoration is tempting for your kitty. Pets, particularly cats, love to chew and play with glittery tinsel. Unfortunately, they can’t resist eating it, and tinsel can become entangled in the intestinal tract. Often, it must be surgically removed. Does it really look that pretty on your tree?

Stress – You may love company during the holidays, but consider whether your pet does too. The presence of many visitors unknown to your pet can cause unnecessary stress for him/her. If you’re planning a party, provide your pet with a quiet, secure place to settle in while you party.

Gifting pets – If you’re thinking of giving a new pet as a holiday gift, think again. The holidays can be a  hectic and stressful time, particularly for a new pet, and the recipient may be unprepared for the responsibility.

Electrical cords and decorations – These can pose potential hazards for your pets. Avoid leaving your furry friend unsupervised around these tempting items. Try to segregate your pet from holiday trimmings when you’re not home.

Holiday plants – A variety of plants can be toxic to your house pet. Check to see if a plant is safe before bringing it into your home.

Over feeding – You might overeat during the holidays, but don’t increase the treats for your pet. Obesity is one of the major causes of long-term ill health in pets. Maintain your animal’s regular diet and keep plenty of fresh water available at all times.

If your pet becomes ill as a result of coming into contact with any of these holiday hazards, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice on first aid and further treatment. 


Pets and poisons
Follow these guidelines to protect your pets from being exposed.

  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. Eating some plants can be fatal to a pet.
  • Never allow your pets to have access to the areas where cleaning products are being used or stored. Some cleaning products might only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause bad burns to the tongue, mouth and stomach.
  • When using pest bait or traps, put them in areas that aren’t accessible to your pets. Most bait contains sweet smelling inert ingredients, like jelly, peanut butter or sugar, which can also attract your pets.
  • Never give your companion animal medication unless directed by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals. For example, one 500mg acetaminophen tablet can kill a cat weighing seven pounds.
  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pet’s reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills can be lethal to animals, even in small doses. For example, one 200mg ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a dog weighing 10 pounds.
  • Never leave chocolate out. Even small amounts can cause problems.
  • Many common household items can be lethal to animals. Mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and hand and foot warmers are all highly toxic, even in small amounts.
  • Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that aren’t accessible to your pet. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat weighing seven pounds; less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a dog weighing 20 pounds.
  • Before buying a flea product for use on your pet, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
  • Read all of the information on labels before using a product on your pet or in your home. Always follow the directions.
  • If a product is for use only on dogs, it should never be used on cats; if a product is for use only on cats, it should never be used on dogs.
  • Make sure your companion animals don’t enter areas where foggers or house sprays have been used for the period of time written on the label.
  • Make sure your pets don’t go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely. Always store these products in areas that aren’t accessible to your pets.

If you’re uncertain about the use of any product, ask the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.
Provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For more information, visit

Pet Health Tips

Vaccinating your pet
Are vaccinations really necessary?
Yes. Vaccinations help protect your pet from a number of potentially serious and even fatal diseases, like rabies. Not only that, vaccinations cost considerably less than the treatments available for the diseases pets are normally vaccinated against. Every pet should be vaccinated — even indoor dogs and cats can be exposed to a rabid bat.

How do vaccinations work?
Vaccines contain viruses or bacteria that have been modified so they can’t cause disease. The vaccine stimulates the animal’s immune system. If your animal is later exposed to that disease, the immune system will react quickly to destroy the disease-causing agent.

Why does my pet need regular booster vaccinations for the same disease?
The protection provided by a vaccine gradually declines over time. Your pet needs regular “booster” vaccinations to ensure ongoing immunity from disease.

Do I need to get my pet vaccinated every year?
This topic is currently under investigation within veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, the duration of immunity for each vaccine is not currently known.

Owners can have blood tests (titers) done to test their pet’s antibody level, but this doesn’t test the level of immunity. Until more is known about the duration of immunity, the frequency and type of vaccines administered will vary. Talk to your veterinarian about the risk of viral and bacterial diseases in your area, and what type of vaccines are or are not necessary.

When considering what’s best for you pet, remember that pets age faster than people. Pets can’t talk, so we need to be their voices. Animals will try to hide any evidence of illness as long as possible. This means there may not be any outward signs that your pet is ill until a health problem is advanced.

That’s why annual physical examinations are extremely important. By performing an annual exam, your veterinarian can detect early signs of organ dysfunction and illness. With early diagnosis comes early treatment, and improved chances for a long and healthy life.

Are vaccinations 100% safe and effective? 
Although your veterinarian can’t guarantee a vaccine will fully protect an animal, vaccinations are the simplest, safest and most effective means of preventing a number of diseases in pets.

It’s important to administer vaccines only to healthy animals. If the animal is already suffering from an illness, or is receiving certain drugs, its immune system may not be able to respond to the vaccine. For that reason, before vaccinating your pet, your veterinarian will ask you about the animal’s medical history and perform a complete physical examination.

Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations during their first four months of life. Nursing pups and kittens receive antibodies from their mother’s milk that protect them from disease during the first months of life. These same antibodies can prevent a vaccine from being totally effective. Consequently, as maternal antibodies decrease, your veterinarian will give your pet a series of vaccines over 6 to 16 weeks to give your pet the best possible protection.

It’s important that you follow the vaccination schedule provided by your veterinarian. Missing a vaccine booster or being more than a few days late could put your pet at risk of contracting disease.

Puppies and kittens should not be exposed to unvaccinated dogs and cats, sick dogs and cats or places where dogs and cats roam until they have completed their puppy or kitten series of vaccinations.

Despite your veterinarian’s efforts to design a safe vaccination protocol for every pet, vaccine reactions can and do occur. Thankfully, they aren’t common. Some of these reactions are mild (some discomfort at the injection site, lethargy or loss of appetite for a day or so). Some of these reactions are more severe (allergic reaction, immune reactions). If your pet has reacted to a vaccine in the past, tell your veterinarian.


Spaying or neutering your pet
Canada is currently facing a cat overpopulation crisis. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies estimates that 600,000 cats in shelters failed to find new homes in 2011. They also found that only 44% of cats that enter the shelter system are adopted out.

By having your pet spayed or neutered, you’ll help prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens, while giving your pet other benefits.

Spaying and neutering are safe surgical operations that prevent animals from reproducing. Generally, these procedures don’t require an overnight stay and can eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of numerous health problems, including reproductive cancers and infections. Sterilizing you pet can also improve some behavioural problems, such as territorial marking, destructiveness and roaming in search of a mate.

The safety of both male and female animals is dramatically increased if they’re spayed or neutered.