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Tips on Preventing Kennel Cough While Boarding Your Dog this Summer

By Small Animal No Comments

If you plan on going away this summer, your dog may need to spend time in a pet boarding facility. Boarding facilities (as well as grooming facilities and dog parks) are common areas where dogs may catch Kennel Cough!

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is an upper respiratory tract infection spread between dogs. It is most commonly caused by infectious bacteria and viruses such as Bordetella bronchiseptica or Canine Parainfluenza. When infected with these, the defense mechanisms of your dog’s upper respiratory tract is lowered, allowing bacteria to grow and thrive. This will commonly lead to upper respiratory signs, but can descend further into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

How do dogs catch Kennel Cough?

Dogs catch Kennel Cough by being around other infected dogs and inhaling the organisms. Unfortunately, dogs can shed Kennel Cough without actually showing any signs that they are infected, this makes it difficult to prevent in kennel situations. Signs usually occur 3-10 days after exposure. Dogs that are particularly stressed are more likely to develop Kennel Cough.

What are signs of Kennel Cough?

The most common sign is a dry hacking cough. Often it will sound like your dog has something stuck in its throat. Typically dogs are still very bright and energetic. More serious signs that suggest a deeper infection and possibly pneumonia include lethargy, fever, a productive cough with mucous and difficulty breathing.

What should I do if I think my dog has Kennel Cough?News_April12_AntiinflammatoryDrugUse

The best thing to do would be to take your dog to the veterinarian for a thorough physical exam. This will allow your vet to make sure your dog has no other issues that could cause a cough, such as heart disease.

How is Kennel Cough treated?

Many dogs are able to recover from infection on their own with two weeks of rest. It is important to keep your dog isolated from other dogs while it recovers, as Kennel Cough is highly contagious.

If your dog is really feeling unwell or if your veterinarian notices signs of secondary infections, the vet may elect to place your dog on antibiotics and/or cough suppressants.

Can Kennel Cough be prevented?

Vaccines are available for both Bordetella Bronchiseptica and Parainfluenza. Like flu vaccines, Kennel Cough vaccines may not fully prevent your dog from getting Kennel Cough in a high exposure area but will help prevent your dog from experiencing severe signs. You should make sure your dog is vaccinated at least one week before entering a boarding facility.

Is there anything else I can do?

An important part of preventing Kennel Cough while boarding is ensuring as little stress as possible, since stress can lower the immune system’s defenses. Here are some boarding tips:

  • Choose a facility that suits your dog. If your dog enjoys the outdoors or playing with other dogs, you may want to choose a facility where your dog will be able to do that. However, if your dog isn’t as social as some, it may be best to find a facility that keeps all dogs separate with individual exercise times. You could also or consider a pet sitter.
  • Make a visit to the facility. Make sure the kennels are kept clean and bedding and bowls are changed frequently. If the facility does not offer a full tour, it should be avoided.
  • Do a short stay first. If your dog has never boarded before, it is a good idea to have him stay for a day here and there before doing a longer stay. This way it will not be such a new place for your dog when he has to stay longer and he will be far more comfortable.
  • Start young. It is best to introduce kenneling early in your dog’s life. Allowing it to have occasional stays as a puppy will help it to adapt to these situations much more easily. This would also provide valuable socialization for your puppy.
  • Bring the things your pet needs. Bring your dog’s usual food so there are no sudden changes to diet that can cause an upset stomach. Also make sure to bring any medications your dog may need.
  • Bring some reminders of home. Leaving your dog’s favourite toy or blanket will add an extra level of comfort for your dog. Just be aware that sometimes stressed dogs may chew up these things, and sometimes things will get lost in the hustle and bustle of busy boarding facilities.
  • Be happy when leaving your dog. Try not to be upset about leaving. Dogs are very good at sensing our emotions! If you are stressed about leaving your dog, your dog will also be stressed.

We hope that by following these tips, your dog will have a safe, healthy and enjoyable time boarding!

World Rabies Day

By Small Animal No Comments

Did you know that September 28th is World Rabies Day? This day is meant to raise awareness about Rabies and ultimately to prevent Rabies from occurring. Sadly, in many countries in the world people are still infected and almost 59,000 people are killed every year from this fatal disease.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected animals biting other animals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour, aggression, paralysis and death. Once signs are evident, Rabies is almost 100% fatal.

What is the Risk of Rabies in Canada?

Luckily (thanks to extensive vaccination programs), the risk of Rabies is low in Canada, but still present. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2021 (up to July), there were 21 confirmed cases of Rabies in Ontario (56 in Canada).  Half of those cases were bats.

Other animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes are also more common carriers, though any mammal can be infected.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?

  • Vaccinate your pets: Make sure your pets are always kept up to date with their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets These vaccination programs are an important part of the reason why the risk of rabies is so low in Canada.
  • If you are bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound well and see a doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you were bitten by a wild animal so that the treatment for Rabies can be started.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound and take your pet to your veterinarian right away. Depending on the vaccination status of your pet, he may need to go into quarantine. To avoid this scenario, it is best to keep your pet up to date on its Rabies vaccine.
  • Keep your pets indoors. Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.
  • Teach your children not to approach wildlife.
  • Bat proof your home. Learn more about this here:


Rabies is 100% preventable, but people are still exposed every year which is why this is still an important issue. Keep your family safe by talking to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services about Rabies vaccinations for your pets.


Recommended read – Rabies in Ontario blog



Pet Obesity: Is Your Pet Overweight?

By Small Animal No Comments

Did you know that according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more that 56% of dogs and 60% of cats are classified as overweight or obese.  If you are looking at your pet and wondering if it is overweight, here are some things you can check:

  • Can you feel the ribs and spine? On an ideal body type you should be able to feel the ribs and spine with a little layer of tissue over it.
  • Does he have an hourglass figure? You should be able to see and feel your pet’s waist. It should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
  • You should also be able to see the tummy tucked up when viewed from the side.

You may be thinking, “So what? My animal is overweight; there is just more of him to love.”  This may be the case; however, pet obesity can cause some serious health problems, and make existing ones worse, which can reduce your beloved pet’s life span and decrease his quality of life. Some conditions are:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory compromise (difficulty breathing)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Osteoarthritis (lameness, joint pain etc.)
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased anesthetic risks
  • Lower immune function
  • Cancer

Your Vet may have told you that “Fluffy” should lose a little bit of weight, but did you know that for cats and small dogs 1 lb overweight = 10 lbs overweight for humans? For large breed dogs 1 lb overweight = 5 lbs overweight on a human? Even if Fluffy is only 5 lbs overweight (if we think about it in human weight), Fluffy would be a 50 lb overweight human!

Did you know that a 20lb dog eating one hot dog is equivalent to a 5’4″ person eating 3 hamburgers? What may not seem like a lot adds up for our pets!

What is the next step for losing weight?

*Feed a specific weight loss food to guarantee the appropriate amount of nutrients, as decreasing regular food could be depriving your pet of its dietary needs.

* Increase exercise slowly

  • More frequent walks
  • Hiding daily food food portion throughout the house to encourage their hunting instinct
  • Throw treats of toys up stairs
  • Use food toys or puzzles

* Decrease food intake

  • With measured meals
  • Keep a food diary
  • use a portion of meals as treats for the day

*Consult your Veterinarian with any questions


If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s weight, talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic.

Cat Lover’s Month

By Small Animal No Comments

December is Cat Lover’s Month, and so we decided to put together a list of some fun facts about why cats are so amazing. This list only reflects a very small reason as to why we love cats so much!

Purr Therapy

Cat purrs come in a range of frequencies, but scientists have discovered that these frequencies can have healing properties. It is known that a cat’s purr can help increase bone density and maintain muscle mass. It is well known in the veterinary community that cats are remarkable healers, healing from trauma much quicker than dogs and people. This is likely due to the therapeutic nature of their purr!

Cat purrs have also shown to have a significant benefit on people. It can decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and help people heal from injuries as well. Owning a cat in general also improves health, significantly decreasing the risk of having a heart attack.

Cat Talk

Cats can make many different noises. In fact, cats can make well over 100 different vocal sounds (unlike dogs who can only make around 10).  Obviously, one of the most well-known is their meow! But did you know that cats mostly meow as a way to communicate with humans? When cats communicate with other cats, they use other forms of communication such as body language and scent. Over time cats have learned that those methods don’t work so well on humans. But what does catch our attention? Meowing! Cats have many different styles of meowing, and most cat owners learn what each meow means for their kitty.


We all know that the famous feline, the Cheetah, is one of the fastest animals on earth, getting up to speeds of 120km/hr. But did you know our own house cats can run pretty fast too? Some cats can run as fast as 48km/hr! If you consider that speed when you are driving around, it is pretty impressive!

Landing on their Feet

Most of us are familiar with the old saying “Cats always land on their feet”. While that saying may not be entirely accurate, it is pretty close to the truth! Cats have a very strong righting reflex. When they are falling, their vestibular apparatus in their ears allow them to quickly figure out which direction is up and down, and they are then able to maneuver their very flexible body to right themselves. Their flexibility also allows them to absorb some of the shock of impact when they hit the ground, decreasing injuries.

Cats are amazing animals who truly become very special members of our family. They bring us so much joy, there is really very little that compares to the love of a cat!

If you have any questions about your cat, talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic.



Canine Lymphoma

By Small Animal No Comments

November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day.

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common canine cancers. Lymphoma is the expansion of lymphoid cells and can include other lymphoid tissues. This illness targets organs associated with the immune system including the spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes but can affect other organs.

Unfortunately, there is no known cause. Scientists are looking into the possibility of genetic predisposition for this cancer, as we tend to see it happen more commonly in certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers. Older dogs seem to be more prone to developing lymphoma but younger dogs can develop it as well.


Signs and prognosis are dependent on the type of lymphoma present, and how far it has progressed. The following is a list of some of the common types and signs we see:

  • Multicentric lymphoma (most common)
    • Swelling of the lymph nodes is usually the first sign. People usually first notice the lymph nodes under the jaw when they are enlarged. Without treatment the pet could develop signs of weakness, high temperature, lethargy.
  • Alimentary lymphoma
    • Diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
  • Mediastinal Lymphoma
    • Coughing and shortness of breath due to lesions formed in the chest cavity. Swelling and increased thirst leading to urinating more.
  • Extranodal lymphoma
    • Is dependent on the affected organ.


Your veterinarian will need to do a full physical exam and gather history about your pet. Other diagnostics may be performed such as bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, or biopsy. Frequently, one of the first tests would be a small biopsy, called a “fine needle aspirate”, of an enlarged lymph node.


Although lymphoma is not curable, it is one of the most successfully managed cancers. The main treatment for lymphoma is chemotherapy. Quality of life is always the priority for our pets, so chemotherapy in dogs is very different than chemotherapy in humans. Great care is taken to make sure it is well tolerated, minimizing side effects as much as possible. Animals do not tend to lose hair with chemotherapy, but can have vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or decreased appetite. With chemotherapy, as many as 70% of dogs will go into remission. However, survival times vary based on many factors, but can range anywhere from months to over 2 years.

Talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic if you suspect your dog may have canine lymphoma.


Top Ten Reasons Why Senior Pets Need Extra TLC

By Small Animal


Senior pets are some of our most special patients. We’ve seen them through the chaotic puppy and kitten stage and had many years to develop a strong relationship with them and now they are more willing to calmly spend time relaxing with us.  We  recommend a physical exam every six months for senior pets.

Here are some medical differences between an adult and a senior pet:

  1. Decreased ability to digest protein and decreased metabolic rate
  2. Behaviour changes due to brain ageing
  3. Declining hearing, vision and sense of smell
  4. Skin and coat changes
  5. Increased risk of heart and lung disease
  6. Progression of tooth and gum disease
  7. Increased risk for hormone disorders
  8. Decreased muscle mass and degeneration of cartilage
  9. Declining kidney function
  10. Intolerance to extreme heat/cold

We recommend feeding senior pets a high-quality food that is very easy to digest and contains anti-oxidants, omega fatty acids and an appropriate amount of protein and calories. Joint health supplements, soft padded bedding and neutral temperatures are also recommended.  Deterioration of body systems may be painful and many geriatric pets benefit from pain medication.  Routine blood work can trend organ function and determine if therapy for chronic kidney disease, hypothyroidism (in dogs), hyperthyroidism (in cats), diabetes or other diseases should be implemented.  Routinely having masses assessed may catch cancer early and allow it to be cured.


Just because your pet is old, it doesn’t mean that it should be slow or stiff, smell bad or be non-interactive and painful. Do not accept diseases in your pet simply because it is a senior.  Unlike in people, your pet may not show you symptoms that you would associate with illness.  At Mitchell Vet Services, we aim for early detection of disease in pets that may outwardly appear healthy.  Our goal is to prevent or delay disease and death where possible.  We also assess your senior pet’s current quality of life to determine whether measures can be taken to improve its daily comfort.

Talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic to discuss your senior pet’s individual needs.

Other Recommended Reading:

Cognitive Dysfunction in Senior Pets

Feeding Mature and Senior Dogs

Feeding Mature, Senior and Geriatric Cats

Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet


Pet Insurance

By Small Animal No Comments

With our Fur Babies being such a big part of our lives now, we treasure our time with them even more.  They love us unconditionally and are also so dependent on us.  We shower them with our love and attention; through food, cuddles and play.  Our biggest responsibility as pet owners is to keep them safe and healthy.  Even with good preventative care we are not able to prevent everything as accidents and illness still happen.  Pet insurance can provide us the comfort we need to know that we are prepared for these surprises.

There are many different types of Pet insurance out there.  Often you can choose from plans that help with emergency and illness care only and others that also include preventative care. We encourage you to do research and choose a plan that works best for you and your Pet.

Pet insurance helps to maintain and improve our human and animal bond!

Please feel free to check out the links below for pet insurance companies (listed in no particular order) or talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services.



Pets + Us

National Immunization Awareness Month

By Small Animal No Comments

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  During the month of August, there is a focus on the importance of vaccination for the human population.  On-time immunizations play a role in preventing serious disease for people of all ages.

Just like for people, immunization for animals is also important for the health of our pets at all life stages. 

What Vaccines Does Your Dog Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • DHPP (this includes 1) distemper 2) parvovirus 3) adenovirus and 4) parainfluenza)
    • Leptospirosis
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Bordetella (kennel cough)
    • +/- Lyme


What Vaccines Does Your Cat Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • FVRCP (this includes 1) feline herpes virus, 2) feline calicivirus, as well as 3) feline panleukopenia virus, which is also known as distemper)
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Feline leukemia


A series of vaccines are required to achieve immunity.  Immunization against core vaccine DHPP and FVRCP is generally given to puppies and kittens respectively every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks.  Very young puppies/kittens have maternal immunity (antibodies from their mother), which fades in the first few months of life.  Early on, maternal immunity will block disease, as well as vaccines, but when it has faded, will not prevent disease.  The purpose of the series of boosters is to ensure that the puppy or kitten is protected against disease during the window of time where maternal immunity no longer is protective. 

The second core vaccine is rabies, which is generally given at 4 months.  This immunization is extremely important to protect the public from rabies exposure.  

Leptospirosis is also a core vaccine for dogs in Perth County, due to the number of cases contracted from local wildlife.  

Lifestyle-specific vaccines

  • Feline leukemia vaccine may be appropriate for kittens that may have exposure to other cats outside. Prior to immunization, they are ideally tested for feline leukemia virus. 
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure through boarding, grooming, dog parks or public dog interactions
  • Lyme vaccination may be appropriate for dogs travelling to areas in Ontario where there is a high risk of Lyme disease transmission from infected ticks 

Vaccines may not be protective unless they are correctly administered at the appropriate intervals.  There are vaccine guidelines that form the basis for your veterinarian’s recommendations for which vaccines should be given to your pet.  These recommendations change based on your pet’s age, risk of exposure, health and history of vaccine reactions.  There is a small risk of vaccine reactions, ways to minimize these risks can be discussed with a veterinarian. Titers, a blood test that evaluates a pet’s antibody level, may be discussed with a veterinarian as well.

For additional information, please check out the “Vaccinating Your Pet” section on the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association website:   or talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic.


Recommended blog

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How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

By Small Animal One Comment

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years to produce a healing response in the body.  Acupuncture involves the use of very thin, sterile needles at specific energetic points just under the skin where there is a high density of free nerve endings, blood vessels, lymph ducts and mast cells.  Through placement in these energy channels the needles enhance circulation and induce the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters throughout the body with the goal of restoring normal body homeostasis.

Is Acupuncture Safe?    

Yes! Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Many animals become sleepy and relaxed after a treatment. Some animals may experience minor discomfort as needles are placed.

How Long Does Each Treatment Take? 

Each session may take between 20-40 minutes. The first session takes longer than follow-up appointments.


How Soon Can We See Results?

Some results can be seen immediately but others require several treatments.  Generally speaking a minimum of 3-5 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for chronic conditions are needed before seeing significant improvement.

How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: pain management for muscle soreness, back pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Neurological disorders: seizures, intervertebral disc disease, laryngeal hemiplegia, nerve paralysis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, diarrhea, colic, constipation
  • Other chronic conditions such as skin problems, renal failure, chronic liver disease, behavioural problems, infertility, Cushings disease, geriatric weakness
  • Quality of life and hospice care
  • Performance enhancement and disease prevention

Always work closely with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan for your pet.  Alternative healing methods like acupuncture might have the potential to make your pet’s life more comfortable and can be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. 

To determine if your pet’s condition may be responsive to this treatment modality, please set up a consultation with Dr. Angela Gerretsen at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Coventry Animal Hospital. 


Click here to view our Acupuncture Service page



Pet Fire Safety

By Small Animal No Comments

July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day.  This is the perfect time to prepare a fire safety plan and review some tips to prevent an accidental house fire.   The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports that nearly 1,000 house fires every year are started by pets.  Pet deaths related to fires are mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Ensure all smoke alarms are in good working order and change batteries regularly.   Include all family members when developing a fire safety plan so everyone knows what to do in case of an unexpected fire emergency. In households with multiple pets, each family member can be delegated a pet to be responsible for.   Practice escape routes with your pets. Leashes can be left by the door for quick access. Ensure all pets have a collar with ID should they become loose during a fire escape.   When pets are left unattended at home, placing them in a confined area/room near the entry door can limit potential fire-starting hazards.

Local fire stations provide window stickers to alert firefighters of the presence of pets.

Ensure candles or any open flames are never left unattended. Pets are naturally curious and can harm themselves or start a fire as a result.

The NFPA reports that stoves and cook tops are the #1 cause of house fires started by pets. Stove knobs can either be removed or covered if pets are able to reach them.

Exposed electrical cords can be seen as chew toys for pets so if possible hide cords behind furniture or unplug them if pets are left unattended.

By taking some time to ensure your home is fire safe and implementing a fire safety plan for your furry family member, you can rest assured that should a fire develop within your home your pets will be safe.

Our team at Mitchell Veterinary Services and Pauly Veterinary Clinic hope that these tips help keep your pets and home safe from fires.