Greetings friends of Westway Animal Clinic. It has been a little while since our last blog and there has been a lot going on! Just as we thought signs of spring were upon us, snow started falling one last time! 2018 is really taking it’s time to warm up and we know that, our own team can’t wait for nicer weather.

The first thing I wanted to let you know about is that, while our team members have worked hard to become Fear-Free certified, the Fear-Free team has now made it possible to have your entire hospital Fear-Free certified. We will be working towards this new designation and hope to achieve it in the coming months! This is all in an effort to make our hospital as pet-friendly, stress-free and comfortable as possible for our patients. We look forward to bringing you updates on this project as it is the essence of who we are as veterinary health care providers.

There are some issues we have been keeping an eye on in recent times that have prompted us to take a long hard look at our current protocols. As you already know, we do not make changes to protocols lightly and always weigh pros and cons carefully, assessing all of the facts and figures along the way.

Here are the facts that we want to make you aware of with respect to two canine diseases:

  • According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the number of leptospirosis cases has risen dramatically in eastern Canada over the past 20 years. As well, we have started seeing a significant increase in the number of small dogs affected, dogs who were not previously considered “at risk.”
  • The spread of leptospirosis is attributed to the increased spread in raccoons, rats, mice and skunks (all of which we have in Etobicoke) as well as the changing climate (milder temperatures) which allows for prolonged survival of the bacteria within the environment.
  • Leptospirosis is very dangerous and potentially fatal, so not a disease to be taken lightly.
  • In recent years, a small number of humans have become infected with leptospirosis after coming into contact with lepto positive dogs – the disease is transferable to humans (zoonotic) through contact with bodily fluids like urine (and since lepto positive dogs urinate excessively there is an increased risk for contamination).
  • In the past there was a concern that leptospirosis vaccinations were associated with a high number of vaccine reactions but recent studies have shown that dogs are not any more likely to react to a leptospirosis vaccine as they are to any of the other core vaccinations.
  • There is another emerging disease we are facing and it is garnering a lot of media attention – Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), a very serious and highly contagious disease.
  • There is no single identifiable cause for CIRDC and, while in the past we would talk about “Kennel Cough” or “Bordetella” as being the canine respiratory disease to be concerned about, we are now realizing there is a much larger group of complex viruses and bacteria that make up CIRDC – all of which are concerning.
  • CIRDC cannot be vaccinated against, but, we do have an intranasal vaccine (for B. bronchiseptica plus two viruses) which helps to maximize immunity and may reduce the likelihood and severity of CIRDC.
  • Intranasal vaccines (vaccines that are sprayed in the nose instead of by injection) are designed to stimulate both local mucosal immunity (in the nose) and systemic immunity (in the body) within 3 days – a very rapid onset of protection.
  • Intranasal vaccines are also preferred for use in puppies as they do not interfere with any maternal antibodies the puppy has potentially obtained from their mother.

With these 10 points to consider we have made the decision to begin including both Leptospirosis and Bordetella vaccines into our core vaccine recommendations. There is a great deal of accountability that comes with being given the responsibility to keep your pets healthy and, as these emerging threats present themselves, we will continue to be vigilant in our research and concurrent recommendations.

We do recognize that vaccines are not a fun time for anybody and, while they are a necessity for healthy pets and responsible pet ownership, we are committed to being a practice with a focus on minimizing pain, stress and undue hardship. That said, we are delighted to announce that, while we are making recommendations for increased types of vaccines, we are moving to a line of vaccines that allows us to provide the vaccines in smaller doses (from 1mL to 0.5mL)! Smaller volume vaccines have been reported to create less pain by human patients and so, we can only assume the same would true for our furry friends. These vaccines have been proven effective over the last few years and Westway Animal Clinic feels there is now enough evidence in favour of these vaccines to introduce them at our hospital.

We hope that these updates are helpful to you as pet owners. It is important to us that you understand what is happening in our area, and what pet diseases pose potential threats for both you and your pets.  Westway Animal Clinic takes great pride in being a progressive hospital with a lot of heart – please don’t ever hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns regarding your pet and their care. We are here to help.