I just adopted a new puppy or kitten. What is involved in its first year with deworming, vaccines and getting my pet fixed ?
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Firstly, congratulations on the new member of the family.  For puppies and kittens, vaccines start at 8 weeks of age.  At the first visit, a complete head to toe physical exam is preformed to ensure that new pup/kitten is healthy and deworming is given at this appointment.  Roundworms, which are the most common of intestinal worms and can be transmitted to people, and hookworms can cause severe illness and poor doing in any young animal.  Usually, the pup or kitten pick up the worms from mom’s milk, skin or oral-fecal routes.  Once dewormed, steps must be taken to ensure no re-infestation occurs; we can discuss at the first appointment.

Puppies are vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks.  At the first appointment, the pup will receive a vaccine for Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza and Parvo (DA2PP).  The booster vaccine (DA2pp) is done at 11-12 weeks with the Bordetella Vaccine (kennel cough) and the last vaccine is a reboostering with DA2PP with Rabies.  Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvo MUST BE DONE in 3-4 week intervals.

Kittens are vaccinated at 8 and 12 weeks; the first vaccine is for Rhinotracheitis (Herpes Virus), Panleukopenia (cat Parvo), Feline Leukemia, and Chlamydia (FvRCP and Leukemia).  Deworming is also dispensed at this appointment.  The booster vaccine is typically done in 4 weeks for  FvRCP/Leukemia and Rabies is also given at the second booster appointment.

I bought some over the counter dewormer at the pet store; is it ok to use? Is it effective ?
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Unfortunately, dewormers are not created equally.  Due to increase in resistance of parasites to certain dewormers as well as different species of intestinal parasites, we cannot guarantee that the deworm will be effective or safe.  For instance, certain species of roundworms are resistant to piperazine which is a common ingredient in dewormers.  Tapeworms cannot be eliminated by dewormers over the counter.  Depending on your pet’s lifestyle; roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are the most common intestinal parasites in our area.  There are a few uncommon parasites that can occur but these are on a special case basis.

My pet has fleas and I bought a flea collar. Will that take care of the problem ?
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Unfortunately, this is incorrect.  Flea collars are worn around the neck and will help repel fleas but it will not stop fleas from being attracted to your pet.  Once your pet has fleas, there are better alternatives to get rid of these unwanted guests.

Dog Lice is becoming popular in our area over the last few years.  With any accumulation of a number of dogs in an area, lice could be transmitted from an infected pet to a non-infected pet.

Ticks are not new to the Timmins area, however, Lyme disease has been getting quite a bit of attention as the number of cases build in 2017.  As of late 2017, we do not have the ticks responsible for carrying the bacterium responsible as of yet.  With travel into areas south, transmission of Lyme disease becomes a higher possibility.  There are hotspots in the province of Ontario but this situation constantly changes as the tick vectors travel.  Please call our hospital for more information on this ever-changing disease and surveillance information.

When do I have to get my pet fixed ? What are the benefits ? Isn't better to have a litter before fixing ? My breeder says to wait until 18 months - 2 years old before fixing. Is this true ?
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We routinely recommend that every pet gets spayed (female) or castrated (male) before reaching sexual maturity.  In most cases, this is before 6 months of age.  Most female dogs will go “into heat” and bleed every 6 months and are more likely to get pregnant after the blood has subsided (not always the case).  It is a proven scientific fact that spaying a female before the first heat is almost completely protective against mammary cancer (breast cancer); this protective effect is lost in any female over the age 18 months or the age after the third heat.  Any mammary lump in a dog not spayed or spayed late in life has a 50% chance of having benign vs cancerous mammary changes.  Female cats are a bit different though: they do not bleed, are vocal while in heat and are what we call induced ovulators (this means they need to be with the male in order for the eggs to be released from the ovaries).  Female cats that are still intact or spayed late in life have 90% likelihood that any mammary mass is cancerous; this is not great especially if it could have been prevented.  Female dogs and cats can also develop a life threatening uterus infection called a pyometra.  We will discuss all of these potential complications at appointment time.

Male dogs and cats are not immune to behavioural and medical problems if not neutered.  The behavioural problems can range from territorial urine marking to aggression.  There are numerous medical benefits of neutering: decreasing or eliminating prostate enlargement, tumors, perianal hernias, rectal tumors and controlling behaviour to some degree.  Again, we can discuss any or all of these issues at the vaccine appointment to ensure that all questions are answered thoroughly.  Males should between 4-6 months and will vary with certain exceptions which will be discussed on the individual basis.

There is no proven fact that having a litter before spaying changes an animal’s behaviour; in fact, there are so many more risk factors involved.  Females should NOT be allowed to breed until 1 year to 1.5 years dependent on the breed.  If this falls after the third heat, the protection given by early spaying and breast cancer is null and void.  Also, genetic screening should also be preformed on certain breeds so that genetic abnormalities are not passed down to the offspring.  For example, any large breed dog should have the hips proven NEGATIVE for hip dysplasia.   C-sections can also happen and you should inform yourself with the risk to mom and the cost of the surgery.  All of these points can be discussed at the vaccine appointment in greater detail.

Why does my pet need to come in yearly for vaccines ? What about titers ? Should I vaccinate my animal even if there is no contact with the outside or any other animal ? Rabies is not in the area, my pet does not go outside therefore no Rabies vaccine is needed.
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It is unclear how long a vaccine will last and impart its immunity.  With the vaccine that the South Porcupine Animal Hospital currently uses, the manufacturer’s insert states that the immunity can last ANYWHERE BETWEEN 1-8 YEARS for the dog vaccine DA2PP.  Unfortunately, there is no specific black and white test to confirm where your pet fits into this category.  Vaccine Titers are available but misleading as the test only measures the amount of antibodies within the body of an individual but does not test the cell-mediated immunity needed to fight off a viral infection as per Animal Health Lab Virologists.  Simply, the titers ONLY MEASURE ONE PART of the equation and a high antibody load within the body DOES NOT MEAN FULLY PROTECTED.  Recently in southern Ontario, there have been pockets of outbreaks of Canine Distemper and Rabies; had the affected animals been vaccine protected, the virus would not have been able to survive.  Again, there are no simple answers to the vaccine question but at our clinic we believe in giving all of the information and then making an informed decision.  Did you know that the Parvo virus can survive our winter?  Or that Parvo can be transferred on clothing or just simply walking down the sidewalk where a parvo positive dog had just been ?  Is this a chance you are willing to take ?  We can discuss the vaccine protocol suitable for your loved one governed by lifestyle.  For our feline patients, the same is also true for viruses transmitted through the cat population.

Rabies is becoming a larger concern over the last few months.  In southern Ontario, there has been a rabies outbreak which started with raccoons attacking dogs.  Unfortunately, rabies does linger and cycle through the mammal population in every portion of this great province.  Rabies is a zoonotic disease which means it can be transmitted through mammals (warm blooded animals).  This means that a rabid dog biting a human can transmit Rabies to that person.  It is a public health hazard when there are cluster cases of rabies.  Even if your pet does not go outside, it still can be a reservoir for rabies.  For instance, if your cat bites you and breaks the skin,  your pet will be placed in quarantine with the local health unit to ensure it is rabies negative.  Although unlikely, it can and does occur on a weekly basis within this area.  The same is true for dog bites and the quarantine is placed by the Porcupine Health Unit.  If your unvaccinated animal gets outside or a wild animal comes into contact with your pet and a bite occurs, then the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is contacted and they will set up an appropriate quarantine.  As previously remarked, these questions are not simple to answer and are in fact, complicated and there are many other professional organizations that deal with situations like these on a daily basis.  Here is a link to an amazing blog by Dr. Scott Weese.  Please consult it as it is quite informative! https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/


My dog/cat is scooting on the carpet. is this normal ? Should I be concerned ?
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The three most common reasons for scooting the anal area would be: impacted or infected anal glands, parasitic problem or overgrowth of hair in the rectal area causing irritation with feces.

Why does my pet need to come in for yearly visits if my dog or cat is healthy ?
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While we appreciate that your dog or cat is healthy, yearly physical exams can potentially identify any health concerns that the veterinary team observes on your pet.  For example, severe dental tartar can cause problems not only with the mouth but with the heart and kidneys if left uncorrected.  At these appointments, Nutritional counselling is available to deter our pets from being overweight or underweight or to pinpoint any subtle physical abnormality that is not yet a problem.  Here at this hospital, we pride ourselves in PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE not reactive if at all possible.

My pet has been sick for a while. Can I just walk in and be seen ? What do I do after hours for emergency care if he/she gets worse ?
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Our preferred first line of communication is a phone call. When you call, we ask questions; some related to the concern at hand and some seemingly not related, in order to fully understand what is happening with your pet.  Here is a common misconception:  A male cat seems constipated going and coming from the litter box with a sore abdomen when touched.  In fact, this may not be constipation but a life threatening urinary blockage which left untreated can cause irreparable kidney damage and in some cases, death.   The first call is to get a history of your pet and sometimes even the smallest things are extremely important!

During office hours after the technician and veterinarian discuss your pet and its health concern, it is then decided when the animal should be seen.  Sometimes it is immediate dependent on what is going on and sometimes it could be within a few days if not life threatening.  Once the pet is presented we will go through any history to ascertain what the problem is and individualize blood work and radiographs as needed.  Throughout this process, a written estimate will be given and will be thoroughly discussed at the time of the appointment.

After hours emergency care is available to our patients 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, statutory holidays included.   If your pet is declining or experiencing a life threatening situation,  a call to the clinic will be answered and a veterinarian will be calling back to discuss your pet and concerns.   Sometimes an emergency call is handled with simple phone advice but can range to full blood work and radiographs on a sick pet with hospitalization required; it is case dependent.   There is an extra fee to come in on an emergency basis but that will be discussed over the phone.  While the veterinary team tries to see non-clients on emergency, sometimes this is not always possible.  We do encourage a phone call, however, we may not be able to see non-clients on emergency.

Do I need an appointment for drug refills ? I haven't brought my pet into the clinic for over a year, but why does my pet need to be seen when it is the same problem as 2 years ago ?
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The College of Veterinarians of Ontario has discussed the following: VALID VETERINARIAN CLIENT PATIENT RELATIONSHIP must exist between the three members of this relationship.  Here is the link for the legal description:  https://cvo.org/CVO/media/College-of-Veterinarians-of-Ontario/Resources%20and%20Publications/Professional%20Practice%20Standards/PPSVCPR.pdf .  At the South Porcupine Animal Hospital, we practice veterinary medicine with the highest quality and will not jeopardize the health of your pet.  If your pet has had no physical exam or contact with us within 1 year of the current concern,  we will require a current weight and physical exam to ensure we are pursuing the right treatment even though it may be the same as 2 years ago.   Also, if it has been over a year, we seldom give over the phone advice as again, the status of any pet can change in that time.   Please respect that our veterinary team has dedicated their professional careers through university and now clinical practice and will not endanger a loved one if there is no valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

My pet is being fed the RAW diet. Why are veterinarians so against this diet ? Dogs are like wolves aren't they so they should be eating the same diet ?
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The popularity of feeding raw diets to pets is cyclical and unfortunately there is so much false information concerning this type of nutrition to your pet.  Feeding raw meats to your pet can in fact spread Salmonella and E coli infections and any old or young people, any person in an immunocompromised state (cancer treatment), or any person with a weakened immune system can contract these infections which can be LETHAL!   Below, we will post numerous links to discourage this practice as it is unsafe.  The South Porcupine Animal Hospital has contacted the CVO, OVMA, CVMA, as well as our insurance provider to discuss the ramifications of contact with pets being fed the RAW diet with other pets in hospital, veterinary hospital team members and overall the general population.  In essence, we have put into place the following to ensure everyone’s safety at work while handling those being fed RAW: no elective surgeries will be done on pets fed raw and if in clinic admitted for hospitalization, will be placed in quarantine at the owners’ expense.   Our approach is to protect our loved ones so that our veterinary team is healthy and protected at all times.

Here are the links:






What form of payment do your take ? Does your clinic offer payment plans ?
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We take cash, debit, Visa and MasterCard for bill payment; payment is due when service is rendered.  We do not offer payment plans but do work in close contact with a company called Medicard to help finance any bill.  When an emergency arises, a lot of people are unprepared, whether it is a medical emergency or a broken down car.  The team at SPAH will give you a written estimate for any proposed treatment plan and will only proceed with your approval.  Sometimes we do ask for a down payment prior to any work being performed but this will vary on a case by case basis.  Please contact our office to discuss Medicard or visit their website for more specific help:    https://www.medicard.com/veterinary-services.php.

My pet is old and not doing very well; I think it is time to make the decision to put him/her "down". Can you explain the process ?
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Firstly, our condolences in losing your beloved pet; we know that this loss can have a huge emotional impact on the entire family structure.   After arriving to the clinic, we settle yourself and your pet in our euthanasia room as soon as possible for as much privacy as possible.  The receptionist or the veterinary technician will go through paperwork to ensure that the decision has been made to euthanize your pet and to discuss the cremation services offered.  At this hospital, we only offer cremation services which can vary from private cremation with returned ashes to cremation with the ashes spread in the gardens at the crematorium.  This is a personal choice and will be respected.  We do not offer burial services.  After all the paperwork has been completed, your pet will be taken into the treatment area for placement of an intravenous catheter; this does not take long to place.  We sometimes give sedation if warranted or requested to ensure that the pet is comfortable throughout the entire procedure.  Once complete, we lovingly bring your pet back before we administer the anesthetic overdose through the IV catheter.  We have had people hold, cuddle and sing to their pet while the injection is being given.  This veterinarian will then listen to your pet’s heart to ensure that they are gone.  We try to make this experience as comforting as possible for you and your pet; we will answer any question that is asked and strive to treat your pet like ours, especially during their passage.