Dr Smolkin’s AHA Moment-Car Safety with Dogs

Dr Smolkin’s Winter AHA Moment- Car Safety with Dogs

I must admit, I do at times practice “do as I say not as I do”.  I own Sleepypod seat belts for both my dogs which I use religiously when my daughter is in the car.

When she isn’t?  Well, that’s another story.  The extra time, literally less than a minute I feel I can’t spare.  So this morning, running a little late, my daughter had a rough night so lack of sleep and up again at 3 am.  We have one of our doctors out sick so I knew I was in for a 12+ hour day and balancing with my husband’s schedule (who was also supposed to put in a long day at work today, however needs to sacrifice once again for our family) and of course like you all know dinner needed to be prepped and put into the slow cooker.   “Yikes, Honey please pack-up Robyn’s bag for daycare.”  We make a great team!

So this is where my “AHA” moment happened, we had quite a snowfall overnight and I still rushed Kenzie and Nacho into the car and didn’t take the extra time to secure them into the seatbelts.  We took off into the wintery weather. As we were driving along, we skidded.  We skidded a lot. My poor dogs were loose in the back seat and shifting about as I needed to focus on my defensive winter driving skills turning my wheel to regain control.  WE were lucky! My dogs are OK, I am OK….. we stopped a foot shy of the car in front of us.

I know better, I researched what seatbelts to buy my dogs.  We carry them at Guelph Animal Hospital as they have the best crash testing rating.  I use them to protect my daughter because I know that a crash or even a sudden stop could result in her injury when the dogs are in the car.  BUT what about them? Kenzie just turned 12 this week and I hope to keep her aging body around for a few more if I can.  What about me??  Through all my interactions with people over the years, I have seen first-hand the devastating effects a concussion can have.  What would happen to me, my brain, and therefore my career and mothering ability if a dog flew from the back seat and hit me in the back of the head?

On the CBC last week, I was listening to a story about reactions of people when seat belts became mandatory for people, you know the “good old days”! How did we ever survive.  That is in our lifetime and I personally remember being very young, in the front seat, maybe or maybe not clicked in.  Now, we would all think it careless for someone not to do up their own seat belt the moment they enter a car.

Needless to say, my dogs will have their Sleepypod seat belts on EVERY trip in the car from now on. Even in good weather, an accident can happen in the blink of an eye.  I want to know that I have done everything possible to keep my furry kids safe and maybe take better care of myself as well. 

Written by:  Dr Ilana Smolkin


Springtime Means Puppy Season!

Along with fresh air and sunshine Spring can also bring along the patter of four new little feet into your house! We see many new puppies over the Spring and Summer months which makes it one of our favourite seasons. If you have a new little furry bundle of joy here are some great products to keep your puppy happy and healthy!bath stuff

Earthbath Puppy Shampoo, Wipes and Spritz are all made to be tearless and gentle on new puppy’s skin. Nylabone Puppy Chews and Kong Puppy Toys are an excellent way to entertain your puppy and satisfy their need to chew everything in sight. Rope toys are a perfect way to clean your puppy’s teeth as well as give them something safe to play with. Of course you also need a Squeeky Toy to provide hours of entertainment and the Puppy Teether Toy is a great one to start with!

through a dogs ear


For those solo times in the crate we offer the Music to Calm Your Puppy CD which has been clinically proven to reduce stress levels in puppies. $4.40-$17.49 at Guelph Animal Hospital’s Boutique.




Come in with your puppy to try them out today!

Sara, Boutique Specialist

Sudden behaviour changes: Is your pet telling you something?

If there is one thing most of our clients have in common, it is that they view their pets as members of their family.  They give us love, make us laugh and keep us company.  Thissick-dog close relationship sometimes leads us to believe that they really are human.  As a result, we often attribute their behaviour changes to personality quirks, and sometimes they are. However, when a behaviour change is sudden it is often an indication that an underlying medical issue may be to blame. This is especially true when no sudden environmental change (new pet, moving, etc.) accompanies the behaviour change.  Our pets are not able to tell us when they aren’t feeling well, and so it is important that we listen to the clues they are able to give us.  That is why we at the Guelph Animal Hospital would like to share with you some common behaviour changes to watch for in your furry family members that should not be dismissed. 

Changes in Urination


 A common complaint from clients is that a pet is urinating in the house. Most often, owners believe that this is a behavioural problem occurring because their pet is upset with them. However, the majority of instances where a pet who was previously good about using a litter box or going outside to pee suddenly begins urinating around the home can be explained medically. Often times the pet is suffering from a bladder infection, crystals or stones. In addition to inappropriate urination, changes in frequency/amount of urination can also signal a health problem, such as reduced kidney function or an impending urinary blockage, in your pet. These issues can all be assessed and treated by your veterinarian.

Changes in Eating/Drinking Habits

Has your dog recently started emptying their water bowl several times a day?  Has your cat refused to eat even the most tempting of wet foods, no matter what flavour you try?  Is your pet suddenly ravenous, no matter how often you feed them?  Any sudden change in eating or drinking habits should be taken seriously and evaluated by your veterinarian. These symptoms can be signs of kidney failure, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal blockage and dental disease.  In addition to signaling an underlying medical issue, your pet’s refusal to eat or drink can cause additional problems if not addressed quickly.  In cats, reduced calorie intake (be it from complete refusal to eat or reduced hunger) can lead to liver failure in as little as a few days.  Taking this change in behaviour seriously, and getting your pet to a veterinarian quickly, is always the best course of action.

Less Active/Playful

 As our pets age, they often become less active and playful than they were when they were younger.  While some decreased activity is to be expected, often times a less playful pet is suffering from some degree of arthritis or pain.  You may notice that your cat, which always slept on the back of the couch, now prefers a ground level bed.  Perhaps your dog sleeps on the floor when you are used to him warming your feet at the end of the bed. These are common signs that your pet is experiencing discomfort, and should be seen by their veterinarian.  Depending on the severity of your pet’s individual case, options for treatment may include food changes, supplements, pain control, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and/or laser treatments.  Your veterinarian can help reduce your pet’s discomfort and increase their activity, giving them the quality of life that they deserve as a beloved member of your family.


When our pets are not feeling well, many will try to disguise their pain or illness by hiding.hiding cat If your normally outgoing pet begins to spend more and more time away from you, it is an indicator that they are not feeling well and should be seen by their veterinarian.

Inappropriate Defecation

Think your pet left you that special gift on your bathroom rug because you were late with dinner last night?  It’s possible that you have an especially vindictive dog, but it is more likely that they are not feeling well. Inappropriate defecation can be a sign of arthritis pain, inflammatory bowel disease or colon issues.  Before deciding that your pet is sending you a stinky message, you should bring them to your vet clinic for an exam to see if there is another explanation for their behaviour.

While this list contains some of the most common behaviour changes that are seen, it is important to have ANY sudden behaviour change in your pet evaluated.  Your pet may be unable to speak to you and explain what is wrong, but your veterinarian can use diagnostic tools (bloodwork, X-rays, urinalysis, etc.) to listen to what your pet is unable to verbalize.  If you suspect something may be going on, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re here to help!

Krystal Boehm CCS

Key Signs That Your Dog May Have Allergies

Does your dog lick and chew at his paws?  Does he rub his face against the couch, carpet or snow?  Does he scoot around on his bottom?  Does he keep you up at night with these behaviours?   These could all be signs of allergies.

Some common signs that your dog has allergies:

  •   Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
  •   Increased scratching
  •   Itchy, runny eyes
  •   Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
  •   Itchy ears and ear infections
  •   Paw chewing/swollen paws
  •   Constant licking


Dogs with allergies are itchy!  Symptoms can vary from mild annoyances to severe itching.   In severe reactions dogs can scratch so much that they can cause self-trauma leading to skin infections.  Chronic itchy and inflamed ears can lead to ear infections.  Scooting can aggravate the anal glands and cause anal sac abscesses.

Triggers can be environmental or food related and they often get worse as a dog ages.   There are diagnostic tests to help isolate the source of allergy.  Often food elimination trials are used.

If your dog is suffering from these allergic signs your Veterinarian can help diagnose and create a treatment plan to manage the allergy symptoms and make your dog more comfortable.

Spring allergiesErica Lane VA

Heartworm: Dispelling the Myths

Tis The Season For Hearthworm

Myth: Heartworms are contagious.

Fact:  Heartworm is NOT contagious.  Heartworm is contracted only by a bite from a mosquito.

Myth: Cats cannot contract Heartworm.

Fact:  Cats most certainly can contract the disease if bitten by an infected mosquito.

Myth: Puppies and kittens are immune to the disease.

Fact:  Although puppies and kittens have some immunity from their mother they are not immune to Heartworm.  Speak to your veterinarian to see if your puppy or kittens are old enough to begin prevention.

Myth: Pets are only at risk of contracting Heartworm between June and November.

Fact:  Although this is the primary Heartworm season in Canada unpredictable weather may occur.  It is not uncommon for us to experience mild winters and therefore would need to adjust length of prevention accordingly.

Myth: Indoor cats and dogs are not at risk of contracting Heartworm.

Fact:  Although outdoor pets are at higher risk, it is still possible for indoor pets to get bit by a mosquito that has gotten inside.

Myth: Heartworm prevention is not needed as treatment of the disease is just as easy as the prevention itself.

Fact:  Treatment requires injections to kill the heartworms.  In comparison to heartworm prevention, the treatment is expensive, can be up to $1000 and can be traumatic and risky.

Myth: Heartworm is never fatal.

Fact:  Heartworm is a very serious condition and must be treated. This is because the heartworm is concentrated around the heart and lungs, which reduces blood and oxygen circulation. Without treatment an infected pet cannot survive.

Myth: It does not matter what time of year you test for heartworm.

Fact:  Microfilariae in the bloodstream indicate that the pet is infected with adult heartworms (because only adult heartworms can mate and produce microfilariae).  Microfilariae can be detected in the bloodstream about six to seven months after the pet is bitten by an infected mosquito (this is about the time it takes the heartworms to develop from infected larvae into adults that mate and produce microfilariae).  This means that testing should wait 6-7 months after the previous heartworm season.  False negatives may occur if the test is performed too early in the year.

Here at Guelph Animal Hospital we begin our testing no earlier than March, you can book your appointment now and beat the rush!

Meaghan RVT