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Small Animal

Rabies in Ontario: what the public needs to know – an update for 2018

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What is the Risk of Rabies in Ontario?

There have been 50 cases of rabies in Ontario since January 2018.  The majority of these are from raccoons, followed by skunks and bats.  Other species that also tested positive include cows, stray cats and red foxes.  There have been over 500 cases of rabies in Ontario in the last 4 years.

There have been 17 cases of fox rabies confirmed in Perth, Huron and Waterloo counties since December 2015.  In that same time period, there have been over 400 cases of raccoon rabies confirmed in Hamilton and surrounding areas. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected mammals biting other mammals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound.  The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will causes neurological signs, including changes in behavior, aggression, paralysis and death.  Once signs are evident, rabies is almost always untreatable and fatal.  All mammals (companion animals, livestock and humans are at risk).

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/ahw/rabies.htm

 How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?

 Vaccinate your pets: make sure your pets are always kept up to date on their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets.  For example, any indoor pet could be in a scenario where:

  • a cat attacks a bat that enters the home
  • a dog bites a visitor

Rabies vaccination for dogs, cats and horses is a regulatory requirement for our local district health units. 

Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.

Teach your children not to approach wildlife.  Bat proof your home.

Rabies vaccination should be considered for livestock in high-risk areas.  Ask your local veterinarian whether vaccination is recommended for your cattle, sheep or goats.  If livestock go outside or travel to fairs, they are at risk of exposure.  Rabies is a core vaccine for horses.

Who to Call in Case of Potential Rabies Exposure?

1.If you are exposed (bitten or handle) a potentially rabid animal, contact your local Public Health Unit:

  • Perth Health Unit: 519-271-7600
  • Huron Health Unit 519-482-3416

2. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, contact your local veterinarian.

3. If you spot abnormal wildlife and there has been no pet or human exposure,

  • contact a local wildlife control agency for assistance with a live animal
  • contact the MNRF Rabies Hotline 1-888-574-6656 for dead or confined terrestrial wildlife
  • contact the CWHC 1-866-673-4781 for sick/injured bats

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 vaccination for your pets.

How to Recognize a Puppy Mill/Farm

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What is a Puppy Mill?

  • Is a commercial farming operation in which purebred dogs are kept and bred solely for their offspring. The large number of puppies are sold and are often kept in inhumane conditions without environmental enrichment.

What do Puppy Mills look like?

  • The hard thing about puppy mills is that they can look like anything.
  • Puppy mill owners have very clever schemes. They can easily make their puppies look like they were home bred.

How do I know if I’m buying from a Puppy Mill?

  • Pet stores: they all buy their puppies from a puppy farm, they are not registered breeders.
  • If the parents or puppies don’t seem accustomed to human interaction, it is most likely a puppy mill.
  • If the puppies and/or parents seem unhealthy or unclean.
  • They might not let you see the parents of the puppies
  • The “breeders” might breed multiple breeds of dogs – Normally if they are a reputable breeder they will be passionate about 1 type of breed, and won’t have multiple breeds.
  • Be careful when buying online, this has become a popular way of selling puppy mill dogs.
  • The puppies don’t have the breed standard traits, as they may not be from purebred parents.

When buying a puppy avoid the temptation of “rescuing” a puppy mill puppy, this is still putting money into the pockets of the puppy farm owner. As long as they keep making money, they will keep producing puppies. If you are considering getting a puppy, contact Mitchell Veterinary Services and our staff will be happy to help you, to ensure you end up with a healthy puppy.

Purchasing a Puppy

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Purchasing a puppy or new dog is extremely exciting but is also a huge decision. When purchasing a new companion, it is important to know what breed best suits you, where to buy them, and how to avoid health issues with puppies.

What breed is right for me?

  • When we buy clothes we usually buy with our eyes first, see how cute the shirt is, then try it on, then purchase. This is what a lot of new pet parents will do with their puppy. They will see how cute it is and just buy it. The only thing is that we normally can’t return our puppy purchases, which leads to them going into the humane society.
  • Doing research on the specific breed is extremely important! You should see what their temperament will be when they are fully grown, what type of lifestyle they will need and what kind of lifestyle can you provide, how big they will be, how much energy they will have, if they are good family pets, etc. By doing research into the breed before buying, you can determine which breed is right for you.

Where should I buy from?

  • The best place to buy would be from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders will have extensive knowledge on that one breed they are selling. They will do health tests on the parents of the puppies, socialize the puppies, as well as have them fully vaccinated and vet checked. These breeders tend to be extremely supportive of new puppy parents and will help the new owners however they can.
  • Adopting from the humane society is always a great idea too!
  • Buying online can be tricky. Use caution when buying from someone selling online. Good breeders normally don’t advertise puppies on any big online puppy classifieds. People that sell their puppies online usually just bred their family dog (no knowledge about breeding), or from puppy farms/mills.
  • Don’t purchase puppies from pet stores; these puppies always come from puppy farms/mills!
  • Be careful when purchasing from a non-breeder, puppy mill owners are very clever about tricking you to believe that they are not puppy mill owners! If you want to read more about puppy mills and how to spot them, read next weeks blog: How to Recognize a Puppy Mill/Farm.

How do I avoid health issues?

  • Most purebred dogs have their own set of health issues and risks. But being smart about the breed you are purchasing can help in the long run!
  • Most reputable breeders will do a health check on their breeding parents (hips certification, heart certificate, etc.)
  • If the parents don’t look healthy, the puppies most likely aren’t healthy.

Know the breed you want to buy and be smart about your purchase! If you have any concerns or doubts, contact your Veterinarian and ask them questions!

 

Tips on How to Keep Your Cat Happy

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  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!

The Difficult Decision: Pet Food

By Small Animal No Comments

 

As humans we are told that if we eat healthy and exercise we will live a long and healthy life, why would this statement be any different for our pets? Nutrition is hands down one of the most important building blocks for our pets to live a healthy lifestyle. However, it is still one of the hardest decisions we have to make as pet owners.  The question that we should be asking ourselves is: Is this food right for my pet? There are a lot of different pet foods out there with many different ingredients and nutritional claims, so choosing a diet can be a lot of work. Not to worry; below are some helpful hints/tips when choosing a pet food!

Activity Level

  • If your pet has a high activity level he is burning more calories, therefore you want a food that will give the correct nutrients to give him enough energy required.
  • If your pet has a low activity level (stays inside more than goes outside) he is not burning as many calories and he will usually gain weight on most ordinary diets. Therefore, these dogs should get a food with lower calories or in some instances be fed less food of a maintenance diet. Please discuss this with your regular veterinarian.

 

Age/Breed

  • Age plays a huge role in what your pet should be getting for food.
    • Puppies/kittens and pregnant animals need higher calories and more nutrients then a full grown adult pet. When puppies/kittens are growing they need to be on a diet that will help them maintain a good/healthy weight, and will give them the correct nutrients needed to help their growing body, joints, and bones
    • Adult pets need a maintenance diet; they do not need all the extra nutrients that a young pet would need.
  • Breed
    • Depending on the breed of your dog or cat they may need a different food. Bigger breeds such as Great Danes normally need more supplements in their food to help decrease the wear and tear on their joints.
    • Smaller dogs such as a Yorkshire terrier, should have diets that will help prevent urinary crystals or stones; and dental disease.

Weight

  • Working in the Veterinary Profession unfortunately a common issue that we see is pets that are overweight. Maintaining ideal body weight should be achievable and it is the most important component for your pet to live a long and healthy life.
  • Usually when we see overweight pets, it means that the food they are on is either too high in calories, they are getting served too much and/or they are getting to many extra treats or table scraps.
  • For weight loss there are certain diets that cater to overweight pets; they are lower in calories and a diet that will make your pet feel fuller so they are not begging for more food.

If you have any questions regarding your pet’s food give us a call to discuss your pet’s nutrition plan. We offer a wide variety of food and we also have weight control programs; including weigh-ins at no charge.

You can also visit our website www.mitchellvets.ca for more information on nutrition.

 

“Let Food Be Your First Medicine”

 

What Happens at My Pet’s Annual Visit to the Doctor’s Office?

By Small Animal No Comments

We strongly recommend annual visits to the vet clinic for both cats and dogs.  Why might that be?  It’s not all about vaccines. 

HISTORY TAKING

Firstly, a technician and doctor will gather history on your pet.  What is it’s lifestyle?  Tell us about the typical day of your pet.  Knowing who your pet interacts with, where he travel, his activity level and what he eats helps us to paint a picture of what risks he may be exposed to. 

  • For example, do you take your dog to public areas where it may have close contact with other dogs? He may benefit from the kennel cough vaccine. 
  • Does your dog go camping with your family at the Pinery where there is a high risk of Lyme disease from ticks? Tick prevention in the form of topical or oral products, as well as vaccination against Lyme should be discussed. 
  • Does your kitty hunt and eat houseflies inside your home? Despite being an indoor cat, cats can contact intestinal parasites, such as roundworm and tapeworm from eating insects.

We want to know if you have any specific behaviour concerns for your pet. 

  • For example, are you worried that your pet will be stressed when the new baby joins the family?
  • Is your new kitten scratching the furniture?
  • Is your dog anxious when left home alone?
  • Is your senior cat howling during the night?

 

PHYSICAL EXAMINATION

A lot of changes occur in a cat or dog during a calendar year.  Their lifespans differ from that of a human and correspondingly, growth and aging occurs at a faster rate.  Your pet may outwardly seem itself, but on physical exam, early signs of disease may be present.  The goal of a physical examination is to assess an animal’s health by examining its body systems.  This is done by sight, smell, listening to the heart and lungs and touch (feeling internal organs through palpation and manipulating joints).  A veterinarian will look for symmetry and examine the eyes, ears, nose, teeth and gums, throat, lymph nodes, skin, nails, genitals and abdomen.  A pet’s mental state, nerve function and gait can also be assessed during examination – this is known as a neurological exam.  In addition, your pet’s body condition score, weight fluctuations and degree of muscling are assessed.

image of report card

We take your pet’s life stage into account – is she growing, adult, senior or geriatric?  Her needs will differ greatly based on her life stage and breed.

 

VACCINATION

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.

 image of vaccine schedule

 

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING

We recommend yearly intestinal parasite screening.  This involves bringing a fresh sample of your pet’s poop for our technicians to analyze in our in-house lab for the presence of intestinal worms or eggs.

Annual wellness bloodwork is also recommended – this is a screening tool to look for signs of early organ disease BEFORE there are signs present on a physical examination or to confirm suspicions of a disease.  Testing the thyroid level is recommended for pets 8 years of age and older.  Analyzing a fresh morning urine sample is recommended for senior patients as well.

We recommend annual heartworm and Lyme testing to ensure that your dog is negative for heartworm prior to starting seasonal heartworm prevention.

PREVENTATIVE CARE AND TREATMENTS

Seasonal parasite prevention for intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm), heartworm and external parasites, such as fleas and ticks, is recommended based on your pet’s level of exposure.

We discuss and perform grooming needs.  It is very important to maintain a healthy coat and nails.

After pin-pointing health concerns through a physical examination and diagnostic tests, issues can be addressed in a timely manner.  For example, patients with early dental disease benefit from a dental cleaning.  Routine skin, ear and bladder infections can be treated with antibiotics.  Obesity and arthritis are also health concerns that can be managed in partnership with your regular veterinarian.

An annual pet visit maintains a VETERINARIAN-CLIENT-PATIENT-RELATIONSHIP (VPCR).  A VPCR allows a veterinarian to prescribe prescriptions for your pet.

https://cvo.org/For-the-Public/What-to-Expect-from-Your-Veterinarian.aspx

https://vimeo.com/174248006

Your pet’s annual vet visit is an opportunity to find and address issues early on.  We want to discern individual concerns pertaining to your pet’s well being, so that we can take measures to keep it pain-free and hopefully extend its longevity. 

If you’re not sure of your pet’s last annual examination, call and talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services/Pauly Veterinary Clinic.

 

Grooming; More than Just Looking Good

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Grooming:

Do

  • Brush your dog regularly and brush before bathing (if you bathe your dog before brushing – this can cause the mats to get tighter)
  • Trim their nails: if you can hear them clicking on the floor, they should be trimmed
  • Rinse off shampoo and make sure you are using a pet friendly shampoo
  • Starting grooming them young
  • If you are uncomfortable with any of these; take your dog to a professional groomer

Don’t

  • Leave animal unattended while grooming
  • Allow water into the ears, nose, or eyes
  • Brush with wet coat or tug hard when brushing
  • Forget to comb the double coat (depending on breed)
  • Clip mats away with scissors

It is true, grooming does make our dogs smell good, but did you know there are other benefits to grooming then just the smell? Some of the benefits are;

  • It helps maintain a healthy coat and skin – which makes them look good and feel good
  • Early detection of issues – by getting regular grooms, the groomer may recognize new lumps or changes to skin, ears and oral health.
  • Gets rid of mats – mats are very uncomfortable for pets (imagine putting your hair into a ponytail and having it too tight all day – this gets very uncomfortable after the first few minutes.) That is an analogy of what mats feel like. They pull at the skin and can cause pain to your pet.
  • Fur acts as insulation – it protects the body from the outside environment, both to keep the cold out in the winter and keep the heat out in the summer. However, in hot environments, once the heat does get in to the body, fur acts as a barrier that slows the ability of the heat to radiate away.  Ask a veterinarian whether having your pet’s fur clipped is right for it.  Certain breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Pomeranians and Shetland Sheepdogs are double-coated and shaving their coats may actually make them more susceptible to sunburn.  Pets that are sunburned are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer, especially if they have light-coloured skin and fur.  Exposed skin areas, such as the tips of the ears and nose, are at increased risk of sunburn.  Ask your vet for sunblock suggestions for your pet.

 

Structure of the coat on a double coated dog (Image created by Brook Wilkins)

Here are before and after pictures of Gramp’s groom.

 

Stay tuned for tips on keeping your pet cool through the summer!

Additional Reading:

First Aid for Hot Spots

 

Pets and Camping

By Small Animal No Comments

We view our pets as family members and it’s natural to wish to bring them on a family vacation.  Please take some time to plan ahead and determine whether camping with your pet is going to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Before Camping with a Pet

Consider leaving your pet at home if there are large predators such as bears, wolves or fishers that view domestic animals as food.  Pet food is also considered an attractant for wild animals and must be safely stored either in the trunk of your car or hung in a tree if backcountry camping.  You will not be able to leave your pet unattended.

Different campgrounds have different rules.  Not all campgrounds accept pets and those that do generally restrict pets to certain campsite areas or beaches within the park.  For example, while taking your dog on a walk, it must be on a short leash and under control at all times.  Your pet is not permitted to make excessive noise, to chase wildlife or damage live vegetation.  When your animal defecates, its waste needs to be properly disposed of – consider an environmentally-friendly bag.

Preparations for Camping with a Pet

Have a crate that your pet feels comfortable travelling in (see summer travelling blog article).  You’ll want to bring some of the comforts of home such as its blanket and regular food.

Consider packing a first aid kit (see first aid blog article).

Consider picking a campsite with shade for your pet.  Remember that your pet is wearing a thick fur coat and may be prone to overheating. If your dog likes swimming, bring some extra towels and ear cleanser to dry its ears once it comes out of the water.

rsz_1100_0115Make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date and bring a copy of them.  Depending on the region, consider tick prevention and Lyme vaccination for your dog.  We recommend monthly flea, intestinal parasite and heartworm prevention from May through December.  Research the address and number of a local veterinary clinics and a kennel in the event that your pet needs medical attention or you are unable to supervise your pet. Make sure your pet has identification that includes a cell phone number in case it becomes separated from you.

Mitchell Veterinary Services hopes your camping experience this summer is a fun one!

 

 

 

How To Keep Your Pet Safe in the Hot Weather

By Small Animal No Comments

With summer weather (especially in Perth County) comes high temperatures, high humidity and the occasional heat wave. Pets are especially vulnerable to the heat and we see many cases of heat stroke in the summer months. Here are some tips for how to keep your pet safe during the summer.

Never leave your pet in a car on a hot day.heat_stroke-1_2009

Unfortunately, year after year we are still seeing pets being kept in cars. Even with the windows opened, the interior of a car can quickly reach dangerous temperatures. On a 30 degree Celsius day, the temperature in a car with windows open can reach 40 degrees in only 10 minutes. What makes it worse is that dogs have a lot more difficulty cooling off than humans; relying only on panting and sweating through their feet. This means that dogs also heat up a lot faster than people, so what may be a comfortable temperature for you may be too hot for your dog.

If you need to run errands, leave your dog at home. If you need to make an unexpected stop, ask to bring your dog into the store with you. A lot of stores can be very understanding about this.

Avoid exercising your pet on hot or humid days.    

While some dogs are good about policing their own activity levels, a lot of dogs will play until the point they overheat and suffer heat stroke. It is best to avoid exercise during hot and humid days. If you must, consider exercising them early in the morning or later in the evening when the day is cooler.

Always have cool fresh water available.

If your pet is to be left alone without supervision, make sure there is ample fresh water available. If your dog is left outside, make sure the water is kept in the shade and in a bowl that your dog cannot accidentally knock over.  Consider also adding ice cubes to the water to keep it cooler for longer. If you are out exercising with your dog, always make sure to carry water with you so that your dog may drink. Pouring some water on its feet will also help keep it cool.

Avoid walking on pavement.

Pavement can get really hot and burn your dog’s feet. Consider only walking it in dirt or grassy areas. If it must walk on pavement, consider protecting its feet with something such as Invisible Boot.

Provide shade.

Ideally, pets should be kept indoors during extreme temperatures. If your dog must be kept outside, make sure to provide an area of shade. This is best accomplished with a tree, umbrella or tarp. Dog houses get very hot with lack of air flow and are not places your dog can go into to cool. Also consider having a children’s pool filled with water available to your dog so that he can use it to cool himself.

Prevent Hot Spots and Ear Infections

We commonly see hot spots and ear infections over the summer, especially in dogs with longer hair. The most likely cause of these issues is being wet for long periods of time. Therefore, the best course of action to prevent hot spots and ear infections is to make sure to dry your dog as best as possible after playing in water. Be sure to towel dry its body well. Also, always try to have some drying ear cleanser and cotton balls to clean out its ears after swimming.

Water Safety

Always supervise your dog while playing around water. When boating, make sure your dog also wears a life jacket like the rest of your family in case an accident happens. Breeds with short faces such as bull dogs, may need life jackets at all times to keep its nose above the water. As mentioned above, make sure to dry your dog thoroughly after swimming. For more tips on water safety, see our previous blog.

Boarding

If you plan on boarding your dog this summer, you need to make sure it is up to date with all its vaccinations including kennel cough. If your dog has never been boarded before, consider doing a short trial stay first so that it can get used to the place. For more tips on boarding your animal, see our previous kennel cough blog.

Certain pets are even more at risk of heat stroke and extra care should be taken to avoid the heat:

  • Short-nosed dogs
  • Dogs with heart issues
  • Ill or elderly dogs
  • Puppies
  • Overweight dogs

What are signs of heat stroke?

  • Excessive panting and restlessness
  • Drooling large amounts from nose and mouth
  • Stumbling around/unsteadiness

What should I do if my pet is having heat stroke?

  • Remove them from the hot environment
  • Get towels soaked with cool water (cold setting on the tap) and place around neck, in armpits, in groin area and wet feet
  • Do NOT use ice packs or ice water as this will actually prevent cooling by constricting the blood vessels
  • Do NOT force water into your dog’s mouth, but offer some to him if he is interested
  • Bring your dog to a veterinarian while cooling him

 

Heat stroke can be prevented by following the above recommendations. If you ever have any concerns that your dog may be over heating, contact your veterinarian right away. We at Mitchell Veterinary Services wish all our patients a safe and fun summer!

Recommended Read – It is Getting Hot in Perth County! Here are Some Tips on Preventing Heat Stroke in Your Dog and Cat

 

Preventing Anxiety for Dogs during Fireworks and Storms

By Small Animal

The May long weekend is here and we at Mitchell Veterinary Services wish you and your pets a lovely, warm weekend!   

Fireworks, as well as thunderstorms, may be a stressful time for your pets.  Dogs have sensitive hearing and it can be overwhelming to hear threatening loud noises that can’t be traced to a specific location.  Unfortunately for some animals, after each exposure to storms (or fireworks), their phobia becomes worse.  Dogs with separation anxiety may be more likely to experience storm/firework anxiety. 

An anxious dog may tremble, pant, pace, try to hide, vocalize or in extreme cases become destructive and hurt itself or its people in the process.  Punishing a dog for this behavior may increase their stress level and is not recommended.  On the other hand, soothing a dog with mild anxiety by using touch and praise is also not recommended, as you are rewarding undesirable behavior. 

We recommend remaining calm and acting as if the storm is not a big deal.  Depending on your dog, you can use this time to work on obedience training, play time or tranquility exercises.  The goal is to distract your pet and reward it for desirable behaviour.  Giving a pet a reward (a delicious treat, toy or praise) for good behavior is known as positive reinforcement.  Recordings of a thunderstorm may allow your dog to gradually become desensitized to the noise and allow you to practice your distraction and relaxation techniques.  

Individual animals respond differently to different tools.  There are multiple treatment options that Mitchell Veterinary Services recommend for your pet depending on its severity of anxiety.  Having a “safe place”, such as a crate for your dog, can give it a feeling of security.  Ideally, this would be a quiet place with a limited view of windows, like a closet, that your pet can access at any time.  Music or other white noise may help block out noises.  There are products available that wrap the dog’s body, much like a child hiding under a blanket to muffle sensations.  Supplements with natural calming ingredients may help reduce anxiety.  Pheromones also may increase the dog’s confidence in a fearful situation.  Anti-anxiety medication used in combination with behavior modification may be an effective tool as well.  In some cases, a referral to a veterinary behaviourist may be recommended. 

We wish you and your pets a fun and safe long weekend!