3 Steps to COVID-19 Pet Preparedness

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Although it’s not something most of us want to think about, it’s a critical time to create a preparedness plan for your pet in case you get sick. We strongly encourage you to go over these steps with your family to ensure your pets will be taken care of in the event that you might not be able to. You can even DOWNLOAD & print a checklist that we’ve compiled here.

  1. Learn the facts: The CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. It’s important for your animal to be inside the home they know and love. If you get ill but are still able to care for your pet, it’s best to keep them at home where they’re most familiar and comfortable.
  2. If you become too sick to care for your pet or you need to go to the hospital, who can take over your pet’s care? Are there other people in your home who can help? Do you have any friends, neighbours, or other family members that could take them in? You could also ask if there are any groomers, daycares, or boarding places that could help with advance notice. The most important thing to do is come up with 2 different pet plans and talk with those designated people so they’re prepared to help if need be. 
  3. Make a pet supply kit. It may seem like overkill today, but it will be very helpful should you find yourself in an emergency situation without the ability to get the proper supplies at a moment’s notice. Your pet supply kit should include the following, to the best of your ability:
  • Name and contact information for the designated pet caregiver
  • Name and contact information for your backup pet caregiver in case your first choice is unable to help
  • Food, leash, a few treats, a few toys, and any other supplies needed to care for your pet for at least two weeks
  • A crate or carrier
  • Vaccination records
  • Collars with ID tags (make sure your pet’s microchip information is updated if needed)
  • Medications, along with instructions on how to use, administer, and how often
  • Normal daily care instructions
  • Name and contact information for your veterinary clinic

If you have your entire family ready and a plan in place for your pet(s), you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll be safe no matter what happens.

Treats and Toys to Avoid

Treats and Toys to Avoid

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Although chewing is essential for animals to try to keep their teeth clean – they need to chew on the right things. Things like veterinary-approved dental diets, dental treats, rubber toys by companies like Kong are effective but also safe – in that, they are very unlikely to break or damage teeth.

The trick in making a good dental toy or treat is to be hard to chew, but not harder than the tooth itself. Dogs should not chew on objects outside like wooden sticks, mulch, rocks, pieces of metal – basically any non-food object that could potentially break a tooth, get stuck between teeth, act as a sliver into the gums or soft palate, or be ingested. Tennis balls are great for chasing and catching but if they are given to dogs as a chew toy they will act like sandpaper and wear the enamel of a dog’s teeth.

Things like real animal bones, artificial nylon bones, or deer antlers are extremely hard and, although animals really like them and they will help clean the teeth – the risk of tooth damage is too simply too high. Broken teeth can be a source of pain and infection. Examine your dog’s treats and chew toys. Eliminate any bones, antlers, cow hooves, and nylon chews. Throw out chews or toys that do not readily bend.

Ask your veterinarian or look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council ( seal of acceptance for dental treats, diets, and devices that are safe and effective in decreasing the accumulation of plaque and/or tartar.

Dr. Will’s Top recommended Dental Chews

1. Hill’s TD Dental Diet

2. Royal Canin Dental Diet

3. C.E.T. Chews

4. Veggiedent Chews

5. Kong Dental Toys



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First of all, thank you for your patience and understanding through this trying experience.

At this time, our clinic is remaining open to serve our clients but with some critical adjustments to keep us all safe.

Please if you have cold/flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath, or if you have traveled internationally in the last 2 weeks (or have been around anyone who has) – DO NOT COME IN. If your pet must be seen, find someone else to bring them to the clinic.

We are asking that people do not book non-essential appointments at this time. We are open to treat sick or injured animals or to ensure that puppies and kittens get life-saving vaccines and de-worming on schedule. We also recommend that dogs get their Heartworm (4Dx) test along with their flea, tick, and de-worming & preventative medications.

For the safety of our staff and our clients, we are limiting the number of people coming into the clinic and practicing social distancing. Please do not come into the clinic building.

As far as appointments go, we are asking that you wait out in the car and call us when you get to the clinic. One of the technicians will come out to the car, get a bit of history and bring your pet into the clinic while you wait in the car and the doctor will examine your pet. Once this is all done, the doctor will call you on your phone or come out and discuss things with you. At the end of the exam, we will bring your pet back out to you and

  1. Have you call in your credit card, or, 
  2. We can bring a portable machine out to you that we are disinfecting between each transaction.

Likewise, If you are picking up medications or food, we ask that you call us from the parking lot when you get here and we will bring it to you out the back door – and you can pay over the phone or by our portable debit machine.

We also encourage you to consider ordering and paying for your food through our online store to have your order shipped directly to your home address. Please call the clinic at 519-472-3770 or email us at for assistance with setting up an online account.

Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic Diseases

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As the coronavirus pandemic is in the news, I thought it might be prudent to discuss the concept of zoonotic diseases – which means diseases that can transmit (pass) form animals to humans.

What should I know about Zoonotic Diseases?

Thankfully, the number of such diseases is relatively small. Most diseases are specialists and adapt themselves to infect only one host species (one type of animal). Even when diseases mutate to infect multiple species of animals – they often do not gain the ability to infect human beings. Some diseases can develop the ability to transmit from an animal to a human but then become a dead-end (meaning they cannot transfer from human to human).

Some of the main culprits for transferring diseases from animals to humans are the avian species – chickens, turkeys, and ducks and pigs – and they transmit diseases like coronavirus and influenza. In places like Asia, the agricultural practices used to raise these animals are still relatively primitive and in close proximity to densely populated towns and cities. It is not uncommon for consumers to buy live animals and butcher them in their homes. This kind of close contact with these animals is a veritable mixing pot for interspecies disease mutation and transmission. Which is why a large number of these pandemics originate in Asia. In contrast, Canada is a sparsely populated country that has strict rules on how avian and porcine livestock are raised.

Other problem species in the wild include primates (ebola, HIV, ) and bats (hantavirus). There are of course others but these are the main culprits.

Thankfully, the two main species that humans keep as pets – the dog and the cat – have a relatively low prevalence of zoonotic disease. The main zoonotic diseases which transmit directly from dogs and cats to people are:

  1. Rabies, Pasteurella, Bartonella, and Capnocytophaga which are all relatively self-limiting infections transmitted by bites and scratches. Rabies is virtually eliminated through vaccination and the others are treatable by antibiotics.
  2. Visceral or ocular larval migrans transmitted via feces form intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, giardia, cryptosporidium, and toxoplasma. These are rare and kept in check by having your pets properly dewormed and practicing basic hygiene such as handwashing when dealing with pets.
  3. Leptospirosis which is transferred in the urine of infected wildlife and can infect dogs and then people. Vaccinate your dogs against this disease and practice basic hygiene to avoid this infection.
  4. Lyme disease. This disease requires an intermediate host – the tick. You can’t become infected by Lyme disease directly from a dog or a person. You must be bitten by an infected tick. This is why veterinarians stress tick prevention in your dogs and cats.

Thankfully, viruses such as the coronavirus and influenza virus do not seem to transmit from cats and dogs to humans. Or, if they do, they do so extremely rarely and inefficiently.

The take-home message is that, if you work with your veterinarian and doctor,  most of the infections you could contract from a dog or cat are rare, preventable, treatable, and self-limiting.

dental procedures

Dental Health Procedures

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How will my pet benefit from dental procedures?

When most humans have a dentist appointment they are able to sit in a chair and open their mouth and let the dentist go to work for a cleaning. In this scenario, these cleanings usually cost over $100 and are recommended every 9 to 12 months. If a dentist finds any problems, for example – a cavity – the procedure is booked on another day and can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the severity.

There are some humans who cannot simply sit in a chair and open their mouths – due to fear or anxiety – and they often require “sleep dentistry”. This means they require some level of anesthesia in order to tolerate or cooperate during a dental procedure. The anesthesia raises the cost of most of these procedures from the hundreds into the thousands of dollars.

Dogs and cats all require sleep dentistry. They undergo the same type of procedures that human beings do, including preoperative blood tests, intravenous catheter placement, induction and maintenance, digital dental x-rays, scaling and polishing and – more often than not – dental extractions.   This all means that the procedures are expensive. I advise my clients to either

  1. Get a pet insurance policy that covers dental procedures or
  2. Put aside $100 per year to build up a fund you can use to apply to your pet’s dental procedures.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Before and after pictures of dog and cat dental procedures are the best way I can stress the importance of dental procedures:

dog dental procedures
dental procedures before and after

Why You Should Be Concerned About Dental Abscesses

Why You Should Be Concerned About Dental Abscesses

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What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, jaw, or throat that begins as a tooth infection. The original cause may be from a deep cavity, periodontal (gum) disease, a cracked tooth, or other trauma but the end is the same: PAIN, swelling, tissue damage, fistulous draining tracts, a rotten odour, and PUS.

What can be done?

Put another way, dental abscesses are what happens when dental disease reaches its end stage and can no longer be ignored. These animals need dental extractions. Antibiotics and pain-killers can provide temporary relief but the abscess will recur because the source of the infection is a severely diseased tooth root.

What should I know as a pet owner?

At Byron Animal Clinic we strive to have our patients do proactive and preventative dental care. We want to try to ensure that dental abscesses never happen in our patients. We do this by promoting tooth brushing, dental sprays or water additives, dental treats, dental foods, dental chew toys and, – when necessary – dental cleanings and extractions under a general anesthetic.

The Dangers of the Internet

The Dangers of the Internet

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The internet has been an amazing invention for humankind. I am as guilty as anyone at becoming enamoured by and even addicted to it. That said, it has created some clear problems. In particular, there is very little oversight as to the reliability, accuracy, morality, or veracity of anything that is posted online. We are all familiar with so-called “fake news” by now – but there are things that are even more sinister. Such as relying on a web browser or social media site for medical advice. It routinely happens when people or their family members get sick – even their furry family members. And it is dangerous. 

I can respect people wanting to learn and understand about healthcare. Having a “black box” approach – where you simply accept and don’t question – is not good either. However, people must be aware that not all sources of information are equal. Veterinary professionals – like human healthcare professionals – have years of post-secondary education, degrees and diplomas, continuing education, and experience in the field. They are the experts you should consult first and trust most. When something you find online is contradicted by a veterinary professional – you should go with the veterinary professional every time. Even if the online source seems credible – like a breeder, boutique pet store employee, blogger, or celebrity. It is an especially bad idea to post a veterinary medical question on social media and take the advice of well-intentioned online friends. I have seen this end badly and result in animals being harmed more times than I can count.  

Many internet pages are written by people with no special educational training or experience. Some of it is maliciously fraudulent. Some of it is well-intentioned but inaccurate. Other things simply become rumors and trends that spread like wildfire. This happens in the human health field as well. Fad diets, miracle supplements, “all-natural” cures, and home remedies are everywhere. Fear-based propaganda advising people to avoid evidence-based medicine like vaccines or pharmaceuticals is rampant. This extends to the veterinary field and to pet care as well. 

Most recently it has been discovered that “grain-free diets” have caused an increase in heart disease (cardiomyopathy) in dogs. These diets are incredibly popular and people buy them believing that they help with allergies (they RARELY do), improve health (they don’t), encourage weight loss (they don’t), or are “more natural” because dogs are carnivores (they are, in fact, omnivores that require grains and vegetables in their diet. The pet food industry is rife with misinformation as people are told (incorrectly) to feed: “all life stages” diets, to feed “all-natural”, to avoid “by-products”, to feed “raw food”, and to avoid pet food sold by reputable science-based companies like Royal Canin, Hills, or Purina in favour of small boutique brands. Pet owners are also faced with stories about the dangers of veterinary-approved drugs – which have an intense safety and efficacy screening process similar to human drugs – in favour of unregulated pesticides, supplements, tinctures, potions, and “all-natural” cures. I’ve seen so many cats seizure from flea and tick products sold at pet stores, it makes me sick inside.  

At the Byron Animal Clinic, we encourage our pet owners to ask us first. There are literally no stupid questions and we are never bothered by a question about animal care. All the staff at our clinic are animal lovers and pet owners first and foremost – but we are also highly educated and trained animal health professionals. We would much rather spend time educating (sometimes re-educating) pet owners – if it can prevent tragic accidents, illness, suffering, and death. If you have a question about veterinary healthcare or animal care, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (519) 472-3770 or

New Year's Resolutions for Pet Owners

New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

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Happy 2020 from the staff at Byron Animal Clinic! 

As a veterinarian, pet owners often ask me what they should be doing in order to help keep their pets healthy. To help others with similar concerns what follows are my top six pet health tasks to promote the well being of your pet. We all want the best for our animals. Hopefully, these health tips will ensure your pets live a long and healthy life. 

1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise is good for both you and your pet. Make a pledge to extend your daily walks or increase their frequency. The majority of pets in Canada are overweight to obese. This increases their chances of developing arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Monitor portion sizes and keep treats to no more than ten percent of the total calorie intake per day.

2. Budget for both preventative and especially emergency care.

We never like to think about bad things happening to our beloved fur family members, but the reality is that most pet owners seek emergency care at least once with their animals due to trauma, illness, or sudden injury. The costs for after-hours care can be steep. Consider pet insurance or put some money aside specifically for this purpose. It is never ideal to have cost be the biggest factor in determining the outcome of a medical case.  

3. Pledge to upgrade nutrition.

Cheap foods may taste good, but in the long term, upgrading to a higher-quality diet has many benefits. Much of what you see and read about pet food online is about marketing and advertising gimmicks and results in misinformation. Veterinary technicians and veterinary doctors are trained to understand animal nutrition and to identify which foods will best fit your pet’s needs.

4. Consider a microchip.

Most veterinary clinics and shelters have the ability to quickly and inexpensively implant an identification chip between an animal’s shoulder blades. This is especially helpful if your pet gets lost and loses its collar and identification tags. It greatly increases their chance of finding their way back to you. It is not GPS technology but it is a reliable technology that has led to the recovery of millions of lost pets. 

5. Continue pet wellness care.

We humans can usually tell if something is a little “off” in our bodies. Animals cannot speak to tell us when they feel this way. Regular check-ups can help detect a problem early and thus increase the chances of successful treatment should something abnormal be detected. Diagnostic tests like blood work, urinalysis, and x-rays are especially helpful to assist your veterinarian in diagnosing and treating your pet.

6. Dental care.

Pets have teeth too. Imagine not brushing or flossing and not seeing a dentist for 5, 10, 15, even 20 years! Ask us about tips on brushing your pet’s teeth, using oral sprays, or water additives. Ask about treats and foods that help to keep the teeth and gums clean. Try to budget for dental cleanings for your pets. These must be performed under general anesthetic and often include costly extractions. Planning ahead is the best way to ensure that the cost of this type of service is manageable.February and March are Dental Awareness months at Byron Animal Clinic and we offer a 15% discount on dental procedures at that time. If you have any questions or concerns about the above suggestions or about pet care in general, please feel free to contact us at 519-472-3770.  

Fear Free Vet Appointments

Fear Free Vet Appointments

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Going to the vet can be a stressful and even scary time for many pets. Our goal at Byron Animal Clinic is to make your pet’s experience as safe, fun, and enjoyable as possible.


There are lots of things our pet owners can do at home with their pets to help set them up for a positive experience before they get to the clinic.


For puppies and kittens, socializing them at an early age with other people and other animals is really beneficial.  Puppy classes, and dog parks are a great way to socialize puppies with other dogs.  Having friends or family physically interact with your pets is also beneficial.  Introduce touch to your pet to help them feel comfortable with having their feet and toes touched, their belly, and in and around their mouths.


Having your pets visit the vet in their early stages is also really helpful in preventing fear as it helps them get used to our environment, we love to give them treats to help them feel comfortable!  Bring your pet with you next time you pick up a bag of food, or a refill medication.    A quick in and out visit will help with reinforcing that not all trips to the clinic are for exams or when they’re sick.


A helpful tip for cat owners to avoid the dreaded cat carrier fight is to leave the cat carrier out in your house.  Keep the door open so it can be explored.  Put toys and treats inside.  Even try putting their food and water dishes in it occasionally.  This will help reduce the fear a cat feels when the carrier comes out before a trip to the vet. 


Introducing your puppy or kitten to car rides early on is also beneficial.  Take them to places other than the vet to help them learn that not all car rides end up at the clinic.


There are other ways we can help reduce your pet’s stress with some products that we recommend. 


Pheromone products like Adaptil and Feliway are a great way to reduce fear and enhance calm and can be purchased from Byron Animal Clinic or the Byron Webstore. These come in sprays, collars, and plug-in diffusers.


If your animal does not respond to any of the above, we can send home safe and effective medications that reduce fear and anxiety. Medications like Trazadone and/or gabapentin can be picked up prior to the veterinary visit and administered at home.


For some other helpful articles and resources regarding making your pets vet visits less stressful check out this website.  


If you have any questions or concerns about making your pet’s veterinary visits as fear-free as possible, please call the clinic at 519-472-3770.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners

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Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet, and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents or antifreeze are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice: 

  • Smaller breed dogs and cats have smaller body mass and surface area to mass ratio. They have a much harder time keeping warm than larger breed dogs.  
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear. 
  • After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Be on the lookout for obsessive licking and chewing at paws as this can lead to self-trauma and infections. You can also consider using Epsom salts in warm water to soak, clean, and soothe paws.  
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Bathing can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask us to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse that contains aloe and oatmeal. 
  • Massaging vaseline or other paw protectants containing vaseline into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly road salt and de-icers whenever possible. 
  • Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. 
  • Cats can often seek out warmth and crawl up into car engines. Bang on your hood and check before starting your vehicle. Providing outdoor shelters for your own cat, neighbours’ cats, or even feral or stray cats can be quite helpful.  
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure he/she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry. 
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. 
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can become hypothermic, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. They can also suffer from frostbite injury – particularly at the tips of ears, tails, and feet. This includes outdoor cats. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. 

If you have any questions about winter safety or any other concerns about your pet, please feel free to call Byron Animal Clinic at 519-472-3770.