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January is National Train Your Dog Month!

By Small Animal No Comments

A well-trained dog is definitely something worth celebrating!  Dog training is a journey that is never done – there are always new skills to learn together.  You’re in a partnership and it takes time to build a relationship. 

If a dog doesn’t perform a command that you think it understands, this means its level of distraction is too great and he hasn’t practiced the command in enough locations.  This is useful information that tells us (as the owner) we have work to do; we need to decrease the difficulty of what we are asking our dog to do and gradually work our way up the scale of distraction.

Most dogs aim to please you, but they don’t know what you want unless you teach them. Training is an important part of helping your dog become a member of your family.

The benefits of a well-trained dog include:

  • Your dog does what you want. Trained dogs have good manners and generally are a joy to be around and will be welcome in people’s homes.
  • Training provides mental stimulation, which is very important for a dog’s psychological wellbeing. A bored dog can be an unhappy dog.  If dogs do not receive enough mental stimulation, they may go looking for it – think garbage cans and chewed shoes or furnishings and excessive barking.
  • Training is an excellent bonding activity between pet owner and pet. It builds respect and trust.
  • Training sessions tire your dog out. On days that you can’t take your dog out for a long walk or run, a half hour training session will satisfy his energy requirements.
  • If you take your dog to training classes, your dog has a chance to socialize with other dogs and will learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs.
  • Training keeps your dog safe. If your dog is about to jump out of the car and cross the road, the “stay” command may save your dog’s life.  Teaching a “leave it” command may prevent it from consuming a toxin. 
  • Training is fun! It doesn’t all have to be about safety and good behaviour commands. Once your pet has mastered the basic commands, you can introduce sports, such as agility or flyball, tricks or advanced obedience for some additional fun training exercises.

This January, consider signing up for an obedience class, agility class, or just teach your dog some new tricks!  Both you and your dog will enjoy the time that you spend together.

Visit our Facebook and You Tube pages to see some short training videos by Dr. Justine Rudniski and her dog Vesper. Also visit our website for more information on training your dog.






Tips on How to Keep Your Cat Happy

By Small Animal No Comments


  1. Feed your cat well: feeding a well-balanced kibble (and / or canned food) is extremely important for the well-being of your cat. Obesity is the most common source of problems among domesticated cats. Obesity can make it hard for your cat to do regular cat duties, as well as it can lead to multiple health issues.
  2. Keep environment clean; cats need to be clean. In order for them to hunt and be undetectable they need to be odor- free, so regular grooming is necessary to keep them happy.
    1. You don’t need to bathe a cat. They are able to groom themselves (unless they are obese). Cats are very good at keeping themselves odor-free.
    2. Their litter box should be cleaned regularly. They bury their poop to be undetectable; if it is not cleaned routinely they may go outside the litter box. Scoop out the litter box once a day and thoroughly clean litter box 1-2 times a week.
  3. Enrichment: Indoor cats need enrichment to keep their brains active and more importantly to keep them happy! Enrichment can be mental or physical stimulation. Some examples are below:
    1. Catio – a “cage” that is big enough for them to be outside and big enough for them to walk around in it.
    2. Perches near windows
    3. Cat trees
    4. Playtime toys marinated in cat nip, and/ or food puzzles
    5. Drinking fountain
  4. Hiding Places: Cats are usually on high alert most of the time, so some might go and find warm hiding places to rest. Having places for your cat to hide can be critical for her well being. It can be as simple as having a cardboard box, or a cat tree with a cat bed, some cats might even just hide under your bed. So having that spot for them to rest can make them feel safe and keep them happy.

There are multiple things you can do to keep our feline friends happy and healthy; however every individual cat is different in what they prefer. You know your pet best, so if she starts to not act like her normal self, then contact your local veterinarian!

Spring & Garden Pet Hazards

By Small Animal No Comments


They may smell and look amazing; however, that doesn’t mean they are safe for your pets. There are quite a lot of plants that can cause stomach upset or can even be fatal if ingested by your pets. Always check before you plant them in your garden or have them in your home. Below is a list of several common poisonous plants:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Diffenbachia
  • Foxglove
  • Tulips (the bulb is very poisonous)
  • Cyclamen
  • Chrysanthemum
  • English Ivy’s Foliage
  • Jade Plants


Always be mindful of the mulch you put in your garden. Sometimes commercial mulch has cocoa bean shells which can be very dangerous for pets. When in doubt go with organic mulch.

Fertilizers and Pesticides:

Fertilizers and Pesticides may contain chemicals that can be deadly to pets. Always read the label to see if it is pet safe before putting on your gardens. If you are questioning whether is it safe for your pet or not, do not use it.


As humans we can get seasonal allergies, did you know your pets can get seasonal allergies as well? During certain times in the year they may have flare ups (usually the spring and fall). Symptoms of allergies are: skin irritation/excessive itching, hair loss, ear infections, excessive sneezing or a runny nose. Consult your Veterinarian if any symptoms occur.

Marijuana Toxicity in Pets

By Small Animal No Comments

Did you know that Marijuana poisoning cases have increased 448% over the last 6 years?

Marijuana’s two main components are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

THC – Is the psychoactive component of marijuana – which is the component that affects pets and makes them extremely sick.

CBD – Does not make you ‘high’, it is actually used at a higher concentration in medical     marijuana (the therapeutic component for pain management).

How Marijuana Poisons Pets

  • Ingestion of plant (any part of plant)
  • Ingestion of edibles (laced butter, brownies, cookies, etc.)
  • Inhalation of second hand smoke

Signs and Symptoms

  • Central nervous system depression – difficulty walking, tremors, seizures, etc.
  • Slow heart rate (sometimes increase heart rate)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Lethargy/ Sedation
  • Glazed expression and dilated pupils
  • Potentially coma
  • Signs usually can appear 30 minutes – 12 hours after exposure and can last 30 minutes to several days (depending on quantity ingested or THC levels)
  • High concentration = worse/prolonged effects

Edibles, Dried Plant, and Medical Marijuana

  • Edibles: #1 source of toxicity.
    • High concentration of THC
    • Top sources are cookies, butter/oil, brownies, chocolate bars, and gummy bears
  • Dried Plant: #2 source of toxicity.
    • Up to 30% THC
    • Vomiting is the most common reaction
  • Medical marijuana:
    • Some medical marijuana will have higher THC (50-90%)
    • Extremely high risk to pets due to the higher concentration

How to Prevent Marijuana poisoning

  • Keeping edibles up high in a cupboard that pets can’t get to
  • Put animals in separate room with good ventilation when smoking
  • Keeping the dried plant in a closed jar and safely out of reach from pets
  • Most important – Educate yourself, on the impacts marijuana can have on pets.

How do Veterinarians treat marijuana poisoning?

  • There is no antidote for marijuana, the only treatment is making the animal vomit and then addressing the symptoms

Medical Marijuana for Pets?

There are a few dispensaries in Ontario that sell dog biscuits and CBD oil. They do not have any THC in them; they are altered so the pet doesn’t get high but still benefits from the therapeutic aspect of the drug. They claim that these can help with anxiety, inflammation, cancer, bone pain, not eating, and end of life care. There has NOT been enough information and tests yet to prove this theory, so if you are thinking about trying these products on your pets always ask your Veterinarian about it first!


            If your pet has ingested any form of marijuana call your veterinarian immediately, this is not something that should wait! Large quantities ingested can be fatal to animals.

Never hesitate to call, our team at Mitchell Veterinary Services and Pauly Veterinary Clinic are here to help.


Holiday Pet Safety Tips

By Small Animal No Comments


                As the holidays approach, so do the hazards of Christmas. There are many ways to keep your fur baby safe this holiday season; below are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Secure the tree – Anchor the tree down so those curious pets aren’t able to move it or pull it down.
  2. Ornaments – Cats and dogs are very curious by nature; try to avoid tinsel and ribbons, and keep lights away from your pets. Strings, ribbons, and tinsel are a serious hazard for cats and if they get swallowed they can cause serious injury or worse yet they could get stuck in your pet’s GI tract. Keep lights secured away from pets that will chew at them. A baby gate might be a good way to keep them away from the tree and any harmful ornaments.
  3. Leave human food for humans to consume – During this holiday season, it is best to keep human food away from your furry companion. Although it may be nice to give a piece or two of turkey to your pet, it can upset its GI tract and cause you further problems. Sweets, chocolate and other sugary snacks may taste great, but are not good to give to your pets. They will cause a big stomach upset and chocolate is toxic to dogs. Everyone loves cocktails during the holiday season but it is best to keep these away from curious “thirsty” pets!
  4. Holiday plants – They may look good, but did you know that holly, mistletoe, lilies, and cyclamen are actually toxic to both cats and dogs? Poinsettias on the other hand, aren’t toxic, but they will cause digestive upset. If you do have these plants around the house this holiday season, it’s best to keep them somewhere that your pet can’t access.
  5. Wrapping presents – Its fun to have your fur babies help with wrapping presents; however bows, ribbons, and strings can be a serious hazard. As already mentioned (especially for cats), ribbons and bows can be a fun thing for pets to play with, but not good if they swallow them. If you are looking for appropriate toys this holiday season, browse on My Vet Store for some options!
  6. Holiday glow – Candles look beautiful, but if they are in reach of curious noses or paws they can be very dangerous!
  7. A safe haven – As we already know, Christmas is a time of celebration and usually a lot of family and friends come to visit. You may love having people over and socializing, but sometimes our pets don’t. Have a room set up for them to be able to get away from the holiday stress and to be able to have a rest (without constant attention).


Our team at Mitchell Veterinary Services & Pauly Veterinary Clinic hope these tips help your family have a safe and Merry Christmas!

Mitchell Veterinary Services Discusses Puppy Socialization

By Small Animal No Comments

Understanding how puppies develop can help you start your puppy off right. There is a critical socialization period during which time your pup will need to have exposure to people, dogs and surroundings if they are to accept them and be well-adjusted confident adults.

Neonatal Period: 0 to 2 weeks – Puppies are born deaf and blind.  During this period, a puppy uses touch and taste to find warmth and food from its mother.

Transition Period: 2 to 4 weeks – Puppies hearing and vision develop during this period.  This means that they are exposed to the sounds where they are raised.  They learn to walk too.

Socialization Period: 3 to 12 weeks (in some cases until 18 weeks) – During this period, it is vital that a puppy has opportunities to meet other dogs and people.

Traditionally, puppies are weaned from their mother at 8 weeks of age. While with their littermates and mother, a puppy is learning important skills through play and exploration.  A puppy will learn about the consequences of its interactions.  For example, a puppy will learn that biting its littermate too hard will result in its wrestling buddy walking away and playtime is over.  Ideally, you want to adopt a puppy that has been raised inside a home with handling by various people, including men.  If possible, you want a puppy that has lived with and had positive experiences with adult dogs too.  Well-socialized dogs are more likely to have well-socialized offspring, as their pups observe how their mother interacts with people.

There is a saying that your puppy should meet 100 new people in 100 days. This means people of different ethnicities, genders, young and old, friends, family and strangers, people wearing hats, with facial hair, no hair, babies in strollers, teenagers on skateboards – you get the idea.  If your puppy has positive interactions with a variety of humans during the critical socialization period before it develops fear, it will learn that interactions with humans are generally positive.  A positive interaction is one where the puppy enjoys its experience – this can be enhanced by having rewards (such as tasty treats), play and petting being offered.  However, it is important to clarify that having a small number of positive interactions is far more valuable than having a vast number of exposures, especially if too many of them are negative exposures.

How can I socialize my puppy before it is vaccinated? Plan puppy play dates and invite a friend’s well-socialized (vaccinated) adult dog to meet your puppy at home.  Host a puppy party where family members come and offer your puppy treats.  You can walk your puppy in town and expose it to pedestrians and traffic noises from a comfortable distance.  All of these activities need to be kept short and done at a pace that your pup feels comfortable with.  Supervise your puppy when it is interacting with people, other animals and places.  If your pup will be expected to ride quietly in the car – now is the time to expose it to short drives.  Start exposing your puppy to a grooming routine, which includes exposure to brushing, examining ears and handling paws.  If its ears are back and it looks apprehensive and will not take a treat, it is a cue to give it more distance from its current interaction.  Your puppy will gain a lot from its experiences even if it doesn’t have direct exposure.  Remember that puppies are toddlers and although nurture plays a big role, nature does as well.  Some puppies will naturally be shyer and others will be more outgoing.  As its pet parent, your role is to watch your pup’s body language and work within its comfort zone to bring out the best in him.

Socialization is an ongoing process that doesn’t end when your puppy gets older. It is just as important to continue re-exposing him to people, animals and places so that he remembers the positive associations.  Last but not least – have fun.  Puppy training and puppy socialization will have its ups and downs, but if you’re not enjoying the journey, then you’re not doing it right!

If you have any questions about socializing your puppy ask one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services.

Mitchell Veterinary Services Discusses Considering Euthanasia of Your Pet

By Small Animal, Uncategorized No Comments

How do you know when it’s time?

This is a very sensitive topic and a difficult one to address. We all hope that our pet will grow to an extremely old age and pass away in its sleep, but that is not something that is in our control.  What is in our control is making sure that our pet is comfortable and has a good quality of life while it is under our care.

You want to look at the big picture – is your pet having more good day or bad? Is your pet having more good parts to the day than bad?  Compare your pet today to your pet at their best.

Here are some questions to ask when measuring your pets quality of life:

1)      Is he mobile? Can your dog get outside to urinate and defecate and go for walks?  Can your cat posture in the litter box?  Do you need to carry your pet?

2)      Does she have an appetite? Do you have to coax it with lots of different temptations?  Are they eating enough calories to maintain a healthy body weight?

3)      Is he happy to see you? Is he interactive or do they prefer to hide?  Is he grumpy or disoriented?

4)      Is she vomiting? Do they have diarrhea or difficulty eating?

5)      Is he sore? This is a challenging one to answer correctly because cats and dogs hide their pain, a survival technique that their ancestors use in the wild.  Here are some signs to look for:

  1. Limping, stiffness, reluctance to be handled
  2. Bad odour – from the breath or skin or genital region
  3. Lack of grooming (dull, oily or flaky coat)
  4. Vocalizing – crying, whimpering or hissing or panting
  5. Unexplained weight loss
  6. Open wounds or trauma

The questions above are meant to provide a checklist that can help you assess your pet’s current quality of life. The next question then becomes – what are the options available to control my pet’s pain and what can be done to improve its quality of life? After consulting with a veterinarian, pain management can be instituted if appropriate.  Sometimes humane euthanasia is an appropriate option.

Many people experience a sense of grief when their companion animal’s health has declined and they are faced with the overwhelming task of considering medically-assisted death for their pet. The Mitchell Veterinary Services team can help you assess your pet’s comfort and offer recommendations, as well as support during this difficult time.  We are pet owners ourselves and want to listen to your concerns regarding your pet’s welfare.


Mitchell Veterinary Services Tries to Demystify Pre-anesthetic Protocols for your Pet – Part 1

By Small Animal No Comments

It’s the morning of surgery/anesthesia – here are some things you may want to know as your pet is about to undergo general anesthesia.

General anesthesia is a medically-induced state of unconsciousness where your pet cannot feel pain.

Why does my pet need an empty stomach?

We advise lifting food dishes away from cats and dogs after 6pm the night before anesthesia.  The purpose of fasting a patient is to limit the chance of them regurgitating ingested food into their mouth and then aspirating that material.  While they are anesthetized, they do not have the ability to cough out that material.  There are a few exceptions where a veterinarian may give different recommendations, such as a very young or small patient or a diabetic.

Do you perform a physical examination if they have already been recently examined for their vaccines?

It is important that you share any health concerns with our team before your pet undergoes anesthesia. If your pet is taking any medication, the anesthetic team needs to be made aware of when they were last given.  On the day of anesthesia, the technician will collect a brief history and the veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your pet.  In particular, the veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart to assess for abnormalities, like a heart murmur.  For example, if your pet has a fever, rescheduling and treating the underlying cause would be appropriate.  If a female dog is in heat, her spay will be rescheduled.


The veterinarian carefully chooses injectable anesthetic drugs and their dosages based on your pet’s individual needs. We take pain management, the age, breed and health status of each patient into consideration.  Different drugs are metabolized through different organs.  By using a combination of low doses of drugs, we can limit the impact on any one organ.

Why should I consider pre-anesthetic bloodwork for my pet?

Bloodwork is an internal health screen, in the same way that a physical exam is an external health screen. Bloodwork looks at:

–   Red blood cell (RBC) count

o   a low RBC count means the animal is anemic from blood loss or inadequate RBC production

o   an elevated RBC count often means the patient is dehydrated

–   White blood cell (WBC) count

o   a high WBC count often means infection or inflammation

–   Protein level

–   Sugar level

–   Liver values

o   high liver values can suggest some form of liver disease or toxicity

–    Kidney values

o   high kidney values may be caused by kidney disease or dehydration

All of these precautions are in place to maximize your pet’s safety leading up to the time of anesthesia. Our next article will discuss the protocols during anesthesia.

If you have any questions contact our team at Mitchell Veterinary Services and we would be happy to answer them for you.


Mitchell Veterinary Services Discusses Separation Anxiety

By Small Animal No Comments


As the name would suggest, separation anxiety is a behavior driven by fear of being left alone. Mitchell Veterinary Services takes a closer look at this behavior and ways to curb it.

How is separation anxiety diagnosed?

This behavior only occurs when the pet anticipates being left alone or is alone. For example, when you reach for your keys to leave the house, your pet exhibits some of the following signs of distress:
– over-grooming
– salivation, panting (in a dog)
– pacing
– vocalizing loudly (may be high-pitched whining or howling)
– defecating or urinating in the house
– destroying barriers, such as doors and crates
– following the owner from room to room and constantly wanting to be held or pet
– little or no interest in food when the owner leaves

These activities may result in self-harm (bleeding paws, broken teeth or spots of fur licked entirely off), as well as damage to belongings.

How is separation anxiety treated?

We want to reward desired behavior and ignore undesirable behavior. It is important to avoid reprimanding your pet and focus on rewarding calm behavior. Punishing a dog that is in a panic will actually have the reverse effect and make them even more fearful. Here are several tools that we use to treat separation anxiety:

1) Environmental Enrichment
– Offer them a special treat only available when they are alone
o take away the item when you come home

– Pheromone mimicking mother dog’s mammary gland or territorial marking gland in cats
o promotes confidence and a sense of calm

– Radio or tv noise to provide pleasing white noise

2) Drugs
– Anti-anxiety medications
o increase the level of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) in the brain
o take several weeks to work

– Tranquilizing medications
o for situations where the pet is in a panic
o act rapidly, but don’t last long

– Natural products – plant-based supplements
o useful only for treating mild anxiety

3) Behavior Modification
– Desensitization and counter-conditioning
o Keep greetings and departures predictable and non-emotional. Do certain activities that your pet associates with your departure repeatedly during the day without leaving – for example, jingling car keys or walking to the door.
o Try to discourage your pet from becoming too attached to one member of the household by having multiple people provide food, attention and playtime. At bedtime, it should have its own bed and not sleep on the human’s bed. If a pet is constantly trying to be held, do not let it initiate contact with you, but rather, you will give them attention once they settle.

A Sample Training Program for Your Dog:

Start by teaching your dog to sit for treats with the verbal cue “sit”. You can get your dog to sit for every single kibble that they eat in the day. Use the verbal cue “down” and get them to lay down for food rewards as well. From that exercise, it will learn that sitting/laying down calmly will get your attention, but that barking or whining will not be rewarded. Eventually, when you say the word “down”, your dog should automatically lay down. Next, you ask for a “down” and give them treats for staying down – gradually practice taking a step back, then coming back to the dog and rewarding it with a treat before it gets up. Eventually, your dog should start lying down when you are several steps away because they associate that behavior with you returning to give it a reward. This same training can be applied when you leave the room – start with extremely short periods of time outside of the room then increase their duration.

Behavioral modification is the cornerstone to treatment of separation anxiety – all of the other tools are just aids to facilitate creating the new desired behaviors.

At Mitchell Veterinary Services, we find that separation anxiety is fairly common in our patients. It doesn’t have to be an embarrassing condition to be endured but is treatable by using the tools at our disposal. We welcome any questions you may have about your pet’s behavior.