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Keep your Pet Safe this holiday season — INDOOR TIPS!

By | Uncategorized

Here are some really quick tips about INDOOR safety for your Pets this holiday season!

1. Tinsel and Ribbon are pretty and eye catching and fun to play with!  However, if eaten the result can be severe intestinal problems including blockage and surgery to remove.  This happens WAY more often than most pet owners think and often with pets who normally “don’t eat non-food items”

2. Holly, Mistletoe, Lilies and Poinsettias can also cause Gastrointestinal upset or even be potentially fatal if enough is ingested.

3. Chocolate (the darker the more toxic), Candy, Raisins, Grapes and Currents are also toxic.

4. Gravy and other high fat foods could cause Pancreatitis in your pet and an extended hospital stay…..

5. Don’t let your pet drink from the tree stand as the run off sap can be toxic.

6. Christmas Crackers and balloons can make loud noises that can frighten your pet and make an already stressful time for them more stressful

Which bring us to # 7.  With all the comings and goings our pets can be very stressed out during the Holiday season.  Watch them closely when visitors are entering and leaving so they don’t inadvertently escape and always make sure that they have a safe and quiet place to retreat to if need be.

Following these simple tips can keep your pet out of harms way this Holiday Season!

Dr. John

dog with big ears

Royal York Animal Hospital’s Manifesto for Dealing with Ear Infections

By | Uncategorized

Royal York Animal Hospital’s goal is to clear up  ear infections quickly and  to avoid unwanted complications, including infections that become resistant to the medications we prescribe. Antibiotic resistance is a growing issue in human and veterinary medicine, and it’s important that we all do our part to prevent it. Pet owners can help by ensuring the timely and proper treatment of pet ear infections.dogandcat

1. Don’t wait. Do those ears look red? Do they smell bad? Is your pet scratching, rubbing, or shaking its head? Any of these can be signs of an infection that’s not going to get better on its own. And all that scratching and head shaking can add insult to injury by rupturing a blood vessel and causing a painful aural hematoma (buildup of blood within the ear flap).

2. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Please don’t ‘Dr. Google’ or self medicate your pet into a corner. Home remedies from the internet, family, or friends may seem like a good idea, but they often make matters worse. And nogoogleplease don’t use medication that hasn’t specifically been prescribed for your pet’s current infection), use expired medication (it’s likely lost its ability to fully clear an infection), or use medication intermittently for random periods. All of these practices can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

3. Say yes to pet diagnostics! Every pet ear infection requires that  our veterinarians  take an ear swab and look at the sample under a microscope so we can identify the type of infection involved and how bad it is. A culture needs to be done for some infections, or we risk using a drug that won’t work and could ultimately make an ear moredog at microscope
difficult to treat. If your pet has chronic or recurrent ear infections, it’s also worthwhile doing blood work to rule out an endocrine disease that could be contributing. Once we’ve done that, we can explore whether allergies are the underlying culprit.

4. Follow your veterinarians orders. Clean the ears and medicate them exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian for the full course of treatment. (For a refresher in pet cleaning & pet medicating, see our video online.) Most pet ear infections need to be treated for a full 2 weeks. If you stop too soon, the remaining bacteria or yeast will regroup and colonize anew. Every time they have that opportunity, they develop mechanisms that make them resistant to the drugs we use. And then we get into real trouble

RYAH’s ear cleaning video

5. Keep your re-check appointment. It’s important to have your pet re-examined at the appointed time even if you think “the ears seem fine now.” They may look fine to the naked eye, but only cytology can determine whether an infection has cleared. If it hasn’t, we need to keep treating until it does or investigate why it hasn’t resolved.

Dr. Iz Jakubowski


Acupuncture for your pet

By | Uncategorized

Royal York Animal Hosptital Veterinarian Dr. Luisa Alvarez is also a Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist.   She is very passionate about this technique. Veterinary Acupuncture is an effective therapy that can be combined with most conventional treatments and medication.

Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturists are Veterinarians who also have comprehensive training with scientific support, knowledge and skill to understand the interactions between different forms of treatment to address difficult medical problems.

Acupuncture is a recognized veterinary medical treatment.

 What Is Pet Acupuncture?

  • The insertion of small sterile needles into specific points of the body to cause a therapeutic effect by stimulating local nerve and blood vessels and cells.  These effects are both local and systemic.

 What medical conditions can it be used for?

  • Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis 
  • Neurological Disorders (disc disease, epilepsy)
  • Skin Disorders (allergy, lick granuloma)
  • Others conditions such as renal and urinary or gastrointestinal problems

Is it painful?  How will my pet react?

  • Dog with pins in legMost pets tolerate the needles really well
  • Many relax and many fall asleep during treatment.
  • Very few are uncomfortable during treatment

How often and for how long will my pet need treatment?

  • Most Treatments are 20 minutes long
  • The duration may vary depending on the pet and the condition being treated.
  • Pets may be treated once or twice a week; some only need 3 or 4 weeks of treatments while others may need to continue once a month long term

Will Acupuncture help YOUR pet?

  • To determine if your pet is a good candidate, Dr. Luisa Alvarez will need to perform a comprehensive, physical medical and acupuncture examination.
  • She will ask you lots of questions as it is important to have complete medical history including dietary history, physical activity, and lifestyle.
  • About 90% of pets will respond well to acupuncture therapy

For more information about Veterinary Acupuncture here is a link to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.


Dr. Luisa Alvarez
Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist
Royal York Animal Hospital


Pet Acupuncture Etobicoke

Hot Spots, Itchy Skin And Allergies, It Must Be Summer!

By | Dog Hot Spots, Pet Grooming, Pet Treatment

Hot Spot, Moist Pyoderma, Summer excema, Pyotraumatic dermatitis….its all the same!

I can tell summer is here. At Royal York Animal Hospital, Golden Retrievers and other thick coated dogs are flocking in for their summer grooming  and trimming. Why trim a golden retriever?? To detour a Hot Spot!!  Hot Spots are an area of localized skin irritation that can appear quite superficial or go deep into the skin layers. It is itchy and uncomfortable for your pet and gets worse, very, very quickly.

99 % of Hot Spots are due to allergies.
Itches and Allergies with Pets

Has the pet had skin or ear problems before? Is the Hot Spot seasonal? Are fleas present?? The affected areas will appear red and  wet. It can be the size of a dime to the size of a basketball depending on how much self mutilization has occurred. Usually hairloss is noted and can be very painful for your pet.

How To Treat  Your Pet When Threatened With Hot Spots and Itchy Skin in Toronto

The area needs to be shaved  to stop the spreading…….like a forest fire, a trench is made to stop the flames from spreading hence shaving the area larger than the wound, stops the wet skin discharge from spreading  to the surrounding areas. The affected area is then washed and disinfected and sometimes washed with an Iodine based liquid. We may dispense a topical antibiotic/steroid to apply to the area twice daily as well as an accompanying antibiotic to dry the lesions.  A head collar , T-shirt or light wrap may be recommended to detour the aggressive licking/scratching that may ensue.  The skin wounds take about 2 weeks to heal and hair growth is complete in 12 – 16 weeks. Once your dog has had hot spot they can get it again.

It is thought that dogs who don’t completely dry after swimming or bathing may be predisposed to hot spots but we also usually see a run of hot spots with the dramatic weather change.  The temperatures cools and rises quickly and the dog hasn’t had time to acclimatize. At the first sign of your pet itching/scratching or excessive licking of an area..please contact your Veterinarian ASAP to stop it getting larger. The sooner the hot spot is diagnosed and treated, the sooner your pet will be comfortable again.

Dr. John Allen

Fleas and Tapeworms in Cats

By | Cat Fleas, Pet Parasites, Tapeworms

If my cat has FLEAS then why would my vet recommend DEWORMING as well as treating for fleas???

The answer lies in the life cycle of the common flea. Fleas can act as an intermediate host for tapeworms ( Dipylidium caninum ) This tapeworm that infects both cats and dogs. Immature Fleas become infected after ingesting tapeworm eggs ( which can be from the ground/carpet/animal sleeping areas). Once these Fleas become adults,  they then can be ingested or swallowed by a cat or dog.  This usually happens when your pet is grooming or licking themselves. The result is a Tapeworm infection in your beloved pet.

Dipyl can worm1.JPG
Dipyl can worm1” by CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases (DPD) – Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

What are the signs of tapeworm?

A pet owner usually sees visible segments around your pet’s bum area or fur in that general area!!  Sometimes you may see segments on top of your dog’s poop. These look like pieces of white rice. You may see several or just one. This is why whenever fleas are found on a family pet during a physical exam, we always advise it is best to treat for the fleas along  deworming  for internal parasites just to be safe. It is never harmful to deworm your pet (even if tapeworm is not present). If you wait for segments to appear, an infection is already established! INDOOR cats can be potentially exposed to fleas and tapeworm through contact with mice inside the home. Tapeworms  can also be transmitted to humans. For further information on tapeworm or fleas or ask one of our knowledgeable staff, or checkout our website and these other helpful links:

Dr. Annelle Valentin

Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas St West, Etobicoke, Ontario


Why Did My Dog Get Kennel Cough?

By | Pet Treatment, Pet Vaccination

Have you ever wondered why your dog got kennel cough but may have already had the Kennel Cough Vaccination (Bordatella)? Royal York Animal Hospital sees Kennel Cough pretty commonly these days.  This increase is most likely because dogs are increasingly more “social”  often congregating with their owners at dog parks or doggy day care centres. We often even hear of and can pinpoint “outbreaks”  in certain Etobicoke dog parks or communities as they are happening.


The question that we hear the most is  “Why did my dog get kennel cough even though he/she had the kennel cough vaccine?”  I will try to explain this!

What is Kennel Cough (bronchotracheitis)

Kennel cough (bronchotracheitis) is a group of diseases caused by 12-15 pathogens. Most of these are viruses while a few of them are bacteria. All of these pathogens can cause bronchotracheitis, i.e. upper respiratory infection, and many of them make dogs cough. Some of these pathogens are quite contagious, and therefore dogs that go to day care, groomers, boarding kennels may contract them if another dog is carrying it.

How to Prevent Kennel Cough

The difficult part about preventing kennel cough is that there are only vaccines for two of these pathogens. No vaccines are available for the other pathogens. This is similar to flu shots in people, where only certain strains are in the protective vaccine and therefore the vaccine doesn’t prevent people from getting other strains. However, dogs can get multiple pathogens during a kennel cough episode, so dogs that are vaccinated tend to get milder symptoms as they are protected against the strains they’re vaccinated for.  This is why we recommend vaccinating.

Get Your Pet Examined for Kennel Cough

If your dog is coughing excessively, the first step is to have them examined by a veterinarian, as kennel cough is not the only cause of coughing. If Kennel Cough is diagnosed it often can be managed with just cough suppressants that make them feel better and more comfortable. Most of the causes of kennel cough are viruses and antibiotics do not kill viruses so that is why antibiotics may not be prescribed.  However, in some cases antibiotics would be indicated if the doctor felt there was another concern or individual need for that dog.

It’s common that Kennel Cough takes 2-3 weeks for dogs to recover from.  Because Kennel Cough is contagious it is recommended that they don’t meet other dogs during this period of time.

Dr. Lilla Yan

Cats grooming each other

Grooming and Brushing Cats

By | Uncategorized

Cat Grooming in Etobicoke

Royal York Animal Hospital believes all cats owners like to see their cat with a nice shiny and fluffy coat.  We also know that most cats shed quite a bit of hair and the shedding can lead to hair balls, those hair balls can lead in turn to vomiting and other health concerns.   Shedding can also be a nuisance and the common saying many of you have heard is true ” no outfit is complete without pet hair” !  So, while we laugh about cat hair on our clothes and furniture and may avoid the hairball in the hallway there can be some practical ways to at least limit the amount of hair in your home.  We love our cats but cat hair not so much!

It’s Time to Have Your Cat Groomed at Royal York Animal Hospital

Cats clean themselves continually on a daily basis.  For some cats this is enough but for longer haired cats it often isn’t.  Regular cat grooming and brushing is the only answer to really getting out all the loose hair.  Some kitties love brushing, some will tolerate it and some are not really keen on you brushing them at all!  Also, it is often hard to schedule regular brushing into our own busy lives.   As professional pet groomers, we can tell you that the number of cats we groom has really been on the increase the last several year. People are busier but at the same time enjoy a closeness to their cats who in turn enjoy free access to everywhere in their homes resulting in the nuisance of more cat hair everywhere.    Cat owners tell us that it is really helpful, even once a year, for their cat to be thoroughly brushed to remove all the matts, tangles and dead hair and to be bathed to start fresh again.

In between grooming appointments we can recommend some some tools for you to use at home to help your cat maintain a glossy and matt free coat.  Late fall, before it gets too cold,  is an excellent time for a thorough bath and brush out. As an added incentive RYAH will be offering 10% off all cat grooming for the month of November 2013!

Lily and Karina


Your kitty can be beautiful just in time for the holidays and your home will be a little less hairy too!

Lily and Karina

Professional Pet Groomers, Royal York Animal Hospital, Etobicoke



Pet Swallows Household Items In Etobicoke

By | Uncategorized

 What to do when your pet has an unusual meal


Why Would Your Pet Eat Something Like That??


Junior , a 7 ½ year old male beagle, was presented to the RYAH a few days ago for the ingestion of an entire raw pork chop a few days earlier! Junior was truly unwell. He had been vomiting many times since and the owners were concerned.

My job was to figure out why he was so sick and what was causing his vomiting.  Rule outs included one of three things :

  1.  Bacterial i.e. Salmonella vs Parasitic Infection eg Trichinosis post ingestion of the raw pork chop
  2.  Dietary Indescretion..i.e the bones of the pork chop were irritating his stomach and intestines
  3.  Organ Dysfunction i.e. his organs were not working efficiently and the Pancreatitis  was reacting to the ingestion of the fat on the pork chop and the overdose of fat.





 The most common reason dogs and cats get sick is # 2 (Dietary Indescetio ), Radiographs in this care are the first order of business.  Lo and behold only one bone chip was noted in the intestine but what was the other strange silhouette on the radiograph??  A BOTTLE CAP !   Junior had at sometime, ingested a bottle cap and as the cap around in the stomach and touched the stomach wall, Junior would vomit.

Bottle cap

Bottle cap

What does RYAH do next?

Surgical removal is the most common option depending on the location of the foreign object but in Junior’s case since the bottle cap was still in the stomach,  scoping of the stomach was the quickest and best option.  Recovery of the bottle cap was made using alligator forceps down the oesophagus and into the stomach while Junior was under anaesthetic and is a less invasive option..

Blood work was updated prior the procedure to ensure liver and kidney could handle the anaesthetic and a CPLI or definitive Pancreatitic Enzyme Test to ensure Pancreatitis from eating the pork chop rind was not complicating this procedure.

Endoscopy and retrieval of the bottle cap was successful!

Aren’t you amazed..some dogs will eat Anything !!

Dr. John

Hot Spots On Dogs in Etobicoke

By | Uncategorized

Summer Time and Your Pets



Dog Hot Spots |  Etobicoke Dog Burns |  Summer Time Dog Hotspots

I can certainly tell that summer is here!  One of the most common medical conditions, in dogs, we see during the hot weather is “hot spots”. Hot spots, Moist Pyoderma, Summer excema, Pyotraumatic dermatitis….its all the same!  Here is 5yr old Golden Retriever, Cinnamon to illustrate my point.

A dog hot spot is an area of localized skin irritation that can appear quite superficial or go deep into the skin layers. It is itchy and uncomfortable for your dog and as a result he may be scratching and biting at it and making it much worse very quickly.   The affected areas appear red and  wet. These area usually start out to be the size of a dime but can rapidly increase in size depending on how much self mutilization has occurred. I have seen hot spots as large as a basketball.  Usually hair loss is noted and Hot Spots are quite painful.

Hot Spot on Dogs in Etobicoke

Dogs such as Golden Retrievers or other thick coated dogs are in for their summer groom and trim. Why trim a golden retriever?? To detour Hot Spots!!  We see a steady parade of Goldens and similar coated breeds for a thorough brush out, trim and bath this time of year, especially if they have suffered a hot spot in the past.

To treat pets with hot spots we have to shave the area completely  to stop it spreading as it spreads  very quickly  Like a forest fire, a trench is made to stop the flames from spreading hence shaving the area larger than the wound, stops the wet skin discharge from spreading it to the surrounding areas. The area is then washed or disinfected and sometimes washed with an Iodine based liquid.

I may dispense a topical antibiotic/steroid to apply to the area twice daily as well as an accompanying antibiotic to dry the lesions. Sometimes a head collar , T-shirt or light wrap may be recommended to detour the aggressive licking/scratching that may ensue.

The skin wounds take about 2 weeks to heal and hair growth is complete in 12 – 16 weeks.

Once your dog has had a Hot Spot they certainly can get it again!

It is thought that dogs that don’t completely dry after swimming or bathing may be predisposed to Hot Spot but we also see a run of dogs with this condition the dramatic weather change ie 24th of May when the temperatures go for 60 – 85 overnight and the dog hasn’t had time to aclamitize.

At the first sign of itching/scratching or excessive licking of an area..please contact your Veterinarian ASAP. .The sooner the better to get Hot Spots diagnosed and treated as they can certainly get worse very, very quickly.


Dr John

Etobicoke Dog Heartworm and Dog Lyme Disease Monthly Prevention

By | Uncategorized

Every spring, in Etobicoke, we are busy testing dogs for Heartworm and Tick exposure and prescribing a monthly preventative, such as Revolution, to keep your dog protected from May to the end of October. Heartworm disease is a serious and potential fatal condition caused by worms that live in the heart and the pulmonary arteries of an infected dog.   Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites and mosquitoes readily pick up the larval heartworms from infected dogs or coyotes and carry them to new dogs.   We have several new concerns this year.   We are all aware that coyotes are becoming more urban. Obviously coyotes are not tested for Heartworm Disease (HWD) OR on prevention so an infected coyote is a continual source of infection to our pet dogs.  We have also experienced climate changes and mosquitoes are more active much earlier than they used to be  and around a lot later than October 31.

Royal York Animal Hospital Treatment for Dog Heartworm and Lyme Disease

Last year Royal York Animal Hospital diagnosed and treated over a dozen positive heartworm dogs and there were over 50 in the Toronto area. We expect those numbers to be higher in 2013.   This spring, we are also very concerned about Lyme Disease and Ticks (see my blog on our website dated April 29, 2013) Toronto recorded over 800 positive Lyme cases in 2012 and RYAH has had several positive cases already this year. We are recommending the test HW4DX this spring for all dogs which tests for Heartworm disease but also Tick borne disease exposure. Prevention is the key. After a negative test your dog should be treated with once a month topical protection (Revolution) starting now until late fall.

Treatment for Heartworm Disease

Treatment for heartworm disease and lyme diseases is available but is costly and can be dangerous.  The use of once a month preventative topical treatment can eliminate the need for more expensive and uncomfortable treatments.

Veterinarian Treatment for Heartworm and Lyme Diseases

As a veterinarian I am sometimes asked why testing is recommended every year.  The reason is that without regular testing, HWD is usually only detected after the disease has progressed and has done irreversible damage.  Even if you are diligent about applying the monthly prevention there are several reasons why your dog may not be protected.  These reasons include: mosquitoes being around earlier in the spring and later in the fall, unintentionally missing doses or administering partial doses or late doses, dogs rubbing partial doses off or swimming immediately after treatment.  HW testing remains the most reliable way of getting the “all clear” before starting treatment every year.

Please call TODAY if your dog has not had a Heartworm Test and Lyme Test (HW4DX) yet this spring.  416-231-9293.

Dr. John