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Rabies – Prevention Tips for Pet Owners

July 20, 2016



  • Although there are now fewer cases, rabies remains a problem in North America. Wildlife species are the only carriers of the disease, with occasional cases affecting domestic animal and human populations.
  • Cats are more likely to be infected with rabies than dogs! This is probably because they are less likely to be vaccinated and may not be well supervised when outdoors.

Rabies Prevention Starts With the Animal Owner/Caregiver

  • All dogs, cats, horses and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating livestock or any other close contact mammals because animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated to help prevent exposure to the virus.
  • You can reduce the possibility of your pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
  • Neutering (spay, castration) of your pets may decrease undesirable behaviour, like aggression and roaming.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals — even if they appear friendly.

Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Rabies from Wildlife 

  • Don’t leave garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Wild animals should not be kept as pets. Observe wild animals from a distance.
  • Do not feed or handle them — even if they appear friendly. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control personnel.

What to do When a Pet Bites Someone

  • Contact your local health department. The person bitten should receive prompt medical attention after immediate gentle flushing of the wound.
  • A dog, cat or ferret that bites a human will need to be examined by a veterinarian and quarantined for 10 days, regardless of vaccine status.
  • Promptly report any illness or unusual behaviour of your pet to your veterinarian.

What to do When Your Pet gets Bitten by Another Animal

  • Consult your veterinarian immediately. They will examine your pet and assess your pet’s vaccination and other medical or surgical needs. Dogs, cats and ferrets can sometimes be observed for up to six months to see if they develop signs of rabies; the time depends on their vaccine status.
  • Contact the appropriate authorities if your pet was bitten by a stray or wild animal (varies by province) — your veterinarian can assist.
  • Identifying or safely capturing the animal that bit your pet will help determine if your pet was exposed to rabies, but it is very important that you do not risk getting bitten yourself.
  • The biting animal may be tested for rabies; this requires euthanasia and testing of brain material.

What to do if you are bitten by an animal

  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Contact your physician immediately. Prompt and appropriate preventative treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can help stop rabies.


April 20.2015

What is heartworm?
Heartworm disease occurs primarily in dogs, but can occur in cats and other animals. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which, in its adult and reproductive forms, lives in the right side of the heart and the adjacent blood vessels. Its presence in these blood vessels causes cardiovascular weakness, compromised lung capacity and, on occasion, death. When a mosquito draws blood from an infected dog or cat, it consumes microscopic forms of the parasite called microfilariae. Once inside the mosquito, the microfilariae evolve to infective larvae. Later, when the mosquito bites a new victim, the infective larvae are injected and that dog or cat becomes infected. 
What are the signs of a heartworm infection?
Once infected, a pet becomes a "carrier" or reservoir of infection. It takes about six and a half to seven months for the infective larvae to migrate to the heart, mature into adult worms and begin producing new microfilariae inside the circulatory system. Depending on the parasite burden, the adult worms may end up occupying the right chamber of the heart and the pulmonary arteries, while the microscopic microfilariae circulate throughout the bloodstream. A dog or cat may be infected with heartworms and show no clinical signs. If clinical signs occur, the disease is well advanced and more difficult to treat. At first, pets may exhibit a chronic cough and reduced exercise tolerance and, in rare situations in Canada, death.
How often should my pet be tested for heartworm?
In Canada, parasite prevention is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as your pet’s risk of parasitic disease is taken into consideration. Factors that may influence your veterinarian’s decision to test for heartworm may include your pet’s lifestyle, health status, your geographic location, any household considerations that may be relevant and the proposed preventive therapy. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended frequency of testing for your dog. 
How can I protect my pet from heartworm?
Prevention is preferred to treatment. While there is a treatment available, it can be associated with health risks and be costly. Oral and topical medications that are given monthly have been shown to be highly effective in preventing heartworm disease and are available from your veterinarian.  

Lyme Disease

September 17, 2014

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group that is commonly carried by rodents. Transmission of the bacteria happens when a tick bites an infected rodent and picks up the bacteria. The tick then passes the bacteria along when it bites a human or animal and feeds for as little as 24 hours. Not all ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
What are the signs of Lyme disease?
Once infected, dogs may experience a stiff walk with an arched back, sensitivity to touch, a fever, lack of appetite, depression, inflammation of the joints and lymph nodes. Signs of Lyme disease usually occur weeks after a tick bite. However, most dogs do not develop clinical signs when infected with Borrelia burgdorferi.
How often should my dog be tested for Lyme disease?
The need for testing will be determined by your dog’s lifestyle and your geographic location. An important discussion with your veterinarian about your dog’s risk factors can help you determine if and when your pet should be tested. Knowing the prevalence of this disease in your area and where you travel with your pet will be important in deciding the course of testing and preventive action you will choose in consultation with your veterinarian.
How can I protect my dog from Lyme disease?
Avoiding tick-infested areas is the best prevention. After walking in areas with long grass, run your hands over your dog’s fur to check for ticks, paying close attention to their ears, head, neck, belly and feet. Effective preventive medications are available from your veterinarian to repel ticks on your pet. New products are now available that treat for as long as 3 months after each administration. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. 
How do I remove a tick from my dog or cat?
Using tweezers or a tick removing tool, carefully grasp the ticks head and mouth as close to the skin as possible and gently pull the tick straight out. Do not twist as you pull and try not to squash the tick as you remove it. Save the tick in an empty pill bottle or a doubled zip-lock bag and call your veterinary hospital to find out if they can submit it for identification.
The Latest Update on Lyme Disease in Canada
Ticks populations are on the rise in Canada. In 1990, ticks carrying Lyme disease were only found in Long Island, Lake Erie, southern Ontario. Today, they have been identified in other parts of southern and eastern Ontario, Nova Scotia, southeastern Manitoba and New Brunswick. Ticks carrying Lyme disease are now commonly found in the area,

Exercise with Your Pet

Exercise is very important in helping your pet live a healthy and long life. You can also benefit from having routine exercise with your pet.

Benefits of exercise:

  • Improves strength, fitness, flexibility and movement
  • Increases energy levels
  • Helps decrease stress and can help improve you and your pets mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Prevents boredom
  • Decreases bad behavior
  • Improves the bond between you and your pet
  • Prevents obesity

The type and amount of exercise needed can differ greatly with breed, age and energy level. It is important to choose the right type of exercise for your pet with the help of your veterinarian. Low energy dogs like Bulldogs or dogs over seven years of age only need about 30 minutes of exercise a day, and this is usually in the form of slow, short walks or swimming. Medium-energy dogs, like German shepherds or Maltese terriers, need about 2 hours of exercise a day in the form of medium-paced walks or agility. High-energy dogs like Border collies or Dalmatians need about three hours of exercise a day.

Cats too need daily exercise. Setting aside 15-20 minutes a day will help keep your cat happy and healthy. Cats are nocturnal animals which means they are at their most active at night. Training them to exercise during the day will help you and your cat sleep at night. Cats enjoy exercise like stalking, pouncing, climbing and hiding that allows them to mimic the behavior of their wild counterparts.

It’s always important to exercise safely with your pet. Here are some important tips:

  • Check with your veterinarian to choose which exercise is right for your pet
  • Always get permission from a grown-up before exercising your pet
  • Always keep your dog on a leash unless in an enclosed supervised area such as dog day care
  • Check the path you walk your pet to ensure there are no hazards
  • Do not tie the leash to your wrist
  • Know exactly where your pet is at all times
  • Do not exercise when the weather is too hot
  • Bring water and a travel bowl for your pet

When pets don’t get enough exercise, they can become obese. This is one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats. Pets that are overweight can also become sick from other diseases. Your local veterinary hospital can give you advice on whether your pet is under, normal, or overweight. If your pet is overweight, it is important to exercise your pet only a little a day at the start to avoid injury.


Hôpital Vétérinaire St-Lazare 450-455-8179