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


Maui’s New Year’s Resolution

My name is Maui, and I am overweight.

Maui posedI haven’t always been this way. I used to be a thin, strapping, scrapping cat, toughing it out on the mean streets of Hamilton.  And then that car came out of nowhere……and that’s when my life changed forever.
My mom happened to be working at the hospital that night, and she saved my life. Literally. I heard her talking to the Animal Control agent, saying that she wanted to save me, even though he said I should be ‘put down’, whatever that means.  I was pretty scared.  But she gave me some great drugs and a nice cuddle, and a few weeks (and two surgeries later) I was feeling much better.

You can read about my story here:  http://guelphvet.ca/blog/2012/05/07/mauis-lucky-day/

Since she rescued me, I’ve been living the life of luxury, and quite honestly I’ve simply let myself go.  The food she gives’ me is so good I usually eat my portion and everyone else’s as well.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious, I can climb up and wiggle the lid off the food bin and crawl right in.  Mmmmmm.  Food coma. Maui relaxingI know I’ve been on diets before, but this time I’m gonna take it seriously.  No more overeating. No more food bin diving.  No more fruit loops that baby Asher drops on the floor. Fruit Loop MauiI’m going to get my body back, and I’m going to be more healthy.  When I crawl through the cat door to the food room, I have to squish through because my body makes contact on all sides.  I want to be able to make it up the stairs without taking a break halfway. And I really want to be able to run fast when the baby is crawling my way. He’s cute but he likes to pull my tail.

So join me as I begin my weight loss journey. 2016 is my year.

Stay tuned for more information and stories from Maui’s weight loss journey!

Aging Cat Wellness Myths

Senior Cat Wellness Myths

cat Question mark

Myth:  “I would know if there was something wrong with my cat.”

 Truth: Cats are excellent at hiding their Disease/Illness and early signs of often very subtle and easily missed by Owners. Regular physical exams and Wellness testing (including bloodwork and Urine tests) will allow the veterinarian to detect health changes and illness in the senior cat. Early changes to health often begin before the cat will exhibit symptoms

Myth  “My cat is not old he/she is only 8.”

Truth: Cats are considered to be mature between 8-13 years old (that’s 48-68 in human years), they are classified as seniors by 13yrs. There has been an increase in cats aged 15year and older from 5%-14% in recent year, this is due to advances in detection and management of age related health changes and illness.  Senior Wellness testing and physical exams are recommended annually on all cats over 7 yrs. Remember every year of a cat’s life is equivalent to approximately 4 human years and early detection is key in extending the quality and length of your cat’s life.

Myth:  “Don’t do bloodwork on older pets because if you find something wrong you can’t do anything about it.”

Truth: Early Senior Wellness screening (which includes blood and urine tests)is great at detecting changes and can be great at preventing or slowing the progression of illness. Some of the more common illness detected on wellness testing are changes in liver or kidney function, early diabetes and changes to the thyroid. These can often be managed by a change in their food, or adding a supplement/medication to their diet.

Myth: “I only need to bring my cat to the vet if there is a problem.”

Truth: Immune system function can deteriorate in older cats, which means the ability to fight infection is less effective. Your veterinarian can advise you of the most appropriate vaccination program. Veterinarians are able to assess things and catch changes that Owner often miss such as changes to the body condition, heart, eyes, ears and mouth.

Contact Guelph Animal Hospital at 519-836-2782 to book your senior cat for an annual physical exam and to discuss options for Wellness screening.

Written by:  Stacey Strauss R.V.T Guelph Animal Hospital

In the Know for Feline Nutrition

King tutFeline Nutrition

Feeding your cat a quality, well balanced feline specific diet is important to their overall wellbeing.  Since felines are of desert origin they are obligate carnivores and require meat in their diet. Also, because of this desert origin cats typically drink less water and this can become problematic. It’s important to encourage cats to take in more water by having access to fresh water at all times. Using a pet drinking water fountain is an excellent enticement to drink as well as supplementing with canned cat food. Most cats graze when they eat and will have several small meals throughout the day. This, however can be a problem for cats prone to weight problems, or who have a tendency to overindulge themselves. It is important to only have an appropriate measured amount out for them to eat within the day and be sure to monitor your cat’s weight and body condition regularly. The following points are important to consider when choosing an appropriate diet/ feeding regime for your cat.

  • Kittens, adult cats, and senior cats all have very different nutritional requirements, much like baby, adult and geriatric humans, so avoid diets claimed for all life stages.thirsty kitty
  • If home cooking for your cat is your preference it is important to follow a specific recipe that has been designed by a professional who specializes in nutrition to ensure it is properly balanced. A recent study found 90% of homemade pet food to be nutritionally unbalanced and incomplete.
  • The words ‘Holistic’ or ‘Human Grade’ have no legal definition for pet food, so they can be used on any pet food label without any relation to the ingredients.
  • By products are products produced in the making of something else (ex/flax seed oil, corn oil and soy oil are all by products). Animal by-product meal is an excellent source of nutrients and protein. Avoid foods containing generic name by-products (meat-meal, Animal By-product meal) and go for by products with the source named (Chicken by-product meal).
  • Choose diets with only 1-2 protein sources, since too many proteins sources can increase the cat’s likelihood of having a sensitivity/reaction. 80% of reported food allergies in cats are to Beef, Dairy, and Fish.

munching cat


Choosing a food for your cat from all the available options can be very overwhelming as the pet food industry relies greatly on persuasive advertising to sell their products. Veterinary health care providers are your best source for pet food questions. Here at Guelph Animal Hospital we have several different Pet food options for your Cat:

  • Life stage diets and clinically specific dry and canned  foods
  • Supplement and balanced recipe for homemade diets
  • Freeze dried complete & balanced whole foods (just add water)
  • Minimally processed, grain free diets
  • Frozen completely balanced whole food diets


Spring Toxins For Your Pet

Everyone looks forward to Spring, including our pets.  It’s that time of year when curiosity can get the better of cats and dogs after being inside for so long.  As we celebrate Easter and take life outside, it’s best to be mindful of the potential hazards for our pets.

Gardening and Spring Cleaning can expose our pets to toxins.  Fertilizers such as blood118551815-632x353-dog-with-cleaning-products meal, iron, and rose & plant, pose a risk if our pets ingest them.  And always be aware of where your pet is when using pesticides and insecticides.  Remember that buckets of cleaning product can look a lot like a water bowl and the smell of them is not necessarily unpleasant to our pets.

Whether inside or outside, plants that can be hazardous include: Lilies, Tulip Bulbs, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Crocus, and Lily-of-the-Valley.Dog-in-Garden - Copy

Easter is a holiday where we need to be especially aware of our pets and remember to “child-proof” for their safety.  Potential hazards include: Decorative Easter “Grass”, Chocolate, Easter Lilies, Xylitol (sweetener commonly found in candies)  For more information visit: Pet Poison Helpline  or Animal Posion Control

Watch for signs of vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and any other abnormal behaviour.  Ingesting a toxin can lead to liver and/or kidney failure, pancreatitis, internal bleeding, and gastrointestinal upset.  If you fear your pet may have ingested a toxin, please call Guelph Animal Hospital right away to see your veterinarian 519-836-2782 or call the ASPCA Poison Control Helpline (888) 426-4435.  

Kimberley Janes, CCS