Spring has sprung… we think! I write this in the midst of a wind and hail storm, on the heels of a 7°C day! Nevertheless, there is a lot going on and we cannot wait to update you on the latest at Westway Animal Clinic and the latest on issues in Ontario affecting our beloved pets. Whether you believe in vaccines or not, it is difficult to deny that the effects of not vaccinating are being felt within the human population in North America.

As a hospital, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of having immunity against common diseases. This doesn’t necessarily mean you must vaccinate yearly, it means you must be aware of your pets’ vaccine status, and whether or not their previous vaccines are still adequately protecting them. This can be achieved by running a titre test to assess your pet’s immunity against individual diseases. For some people, they feel safer vaccinating according to our recommended schedule of vaccinations, but others prefer to check immunity levels first. We will happily support you in your preferred approach – either one will ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

The idea of one of our beloved patients contracting a preventable disease is truly frightening for us. As the team charged with keeping your pets healthy and safe, knowing that a pet has become ill with a disease we could have avoided makes us feel that we haven’t done right by you (through appropriate education or recommendation) or your pet.

Since December 2015, there have been 459 cases of raccoon strain, and 21 cases of fox strain rabies in Ontario. While it is rare to see rabies in domesticated pets, a pet cat in Alberta (November 2018) and a pet dog in Wainfleet Ontario (February 2019) have sadly proven that it is absolutely possible.  Testing for rabies requires euthanasia of the animal in question which means that, if there is any question regarding your pet’s condition, a quarantine must immediately be carried out, with possibility of euthanasia (if your pet is not up-to-date on their rabies vaccine). It is the law that all pets have up-to-date vaccine status for rabies, especially because it is transferable to humans (zoonotic). Having the majority of pets vaccinated ensures “herd health” – meaning we dramatically reduce the risk to all. Knowing that some pets cannot be vaccinated (due to other health concerns and age), herd health is a necessary concept. It also applies to the other vaccine preventable diseases – we must protect all pets through vaccination, ensuring possible eradication of disease.

Another emerging concern in Southern Ontario is one that has literally been in the news this week. Echinococcus multilocularis is a potentially fatal type of tapeworm, commonly found in foxes and coyotes. Originally thought to only exist in the Prairies, studies have shown widespread prevalence of this tiny tapeworm in Southwestern Ontario. It primarily affects dogs who like to hunt or come into contact with dead rodents and other animals.  It is easily prevented through specific deworming protocols.

No matter what vaccines your pet might require, it is important that we see your pet annually for a thorough physical exam and a conversation with you to discuss this, and other dangers that may impact your pet based on their individual lifestyle. Protecting your pet with customized recommendations means that you can rest assured your pet can live their best life, safely and in good health.

Before I sign off, I wanted to give you an update on something very special happening at the practice. As I have previously mentioned, I have been completing training in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) modalities including Chinese food therapy and Acupuncture.

While we will always first-and-foremost be a Western Medicine hospital, the idea that we can provide TCVM offerings for clients interested in this approach, means we can help and support many more pets. We believe in science and evidence – that said – the outcomes of some recent cases in which we utilized a combination of Western and Eastern therapies has reinforced our belief that our integrated TCVM services are truly going to benefit our patients.

With great pride we would like to announce that we will be expanding our space to match our expanding services and commitment to put pets first. It has always been a goal of ours to be able to see cats in an area separate to our canine patients. Reducing the anxiety that comes with being around dogs means that our feline patients will have a more comfortable experience and, their examinations and diagnostics will not be negatively impacted by their elevated stress levels.

We hope that over the next few weeks we will have our renovations/expansion completed and invite you to come and see our new facility. Of course, over the coming months an open house can be expected, so that you can celebrate our latest chapter in The Westway Story with us!