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Dr. Iz Jakubowski

UPDATE: Protecting Yourself & Your Dog From Ticks (Toronto 2020) *

By Dogs, Pet Parasites, Ticks

March is National Tick Awareness Month!

It’s not the beginning of tick season per se (there is no official “season” where ticks are concerned), but rather the time of year Canadian veterinarians (& especially veterinarians in southern Ontario) revisit the subject of ticks knowing that people & their pets will be spending more time outdoors as Spring approaches. Our complete primer on ticks follows, but here’s a summary of key points that are top of mind.

Tick Take-home Points for 2020

Toronto is considered a risk area for Lyme disease.

Check out Public Health’s map of risk areas in Ontario below. It’s not the kind of map any city wants to be on, but the deer tick has been found in sufficient numbers in parts of Toronto, to put us on it. Comparing the maps for 2016 through 2019, you can see that ticks continue to expand their feeding grounds. They’re now in Hamilton, York region, Kenora & near Orillia where they weren’t established previously. Ticks expand their territories at a rate of about 46 km/year. And where there’s a black-legged (deer) tick, there’s the potential for that tick to carry the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease. (Click on the 2019 map to see a larger version of it.)

Interested in how Toronto is faring where ticks are concerned? Click here for more information about the city’s tick surveillance program: Backlegged tick surveillance – City of Toronto. This website includes a link to the map shown below as well as data on the number of ticks found in different parts of Toronto. In 2018, about 35% of backlegged ticks in the Rouge Valley tested positive for Borellia burgdorferi (the causative agent of Lyme disease). 

By the way, you’re invited to be a citizen scientist & help Dr. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph with his tick surveillance efforts by submitting information about ticks you find on your pet here:  There’s lots of other useful information at this website as well, including some of the latest research on the subject.

Note: It’s still the case that nation- & province-wide, about 1 in 5 deer ticks carry Borrelia burgdorferi. But in certain areas where these ticks have been established for a number of years, as many as 40% of them carry Borrelia. (The longer ticks are established in an area, the higher the level of disease in those tick populations. Gananoque, Kenora District, & Wainfleet Bog have some of the highest level of disease in their tick populations.)

As more information becomes available about the numbers of ticks carrying Borrelia in our area, we’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, you can assume that at least 20% of our deer ticks are carrying the bacterium.

Tick activity is temperature-driven, not seasonal.

Any day it’s 4ºC or higher (or to be on the safe side, let’s say above freezing [0 ºC]), ticks come out of hiding in search of a meal. We’ve been monitoring weather patterns for a number of years now, & it’s become clear that while the weather is unpredictable, you can count on ticks being active through the winter. Take this winter, for example. One day, the temperature went from a balmy 11.8ºC to a frigid -6.9ºC within a week in mid-January. Almost 90% of January saw temperatures above 0 ºC and almost 20% of the month saw temperatures above 4 ºC. The calendar below shows that there was potential for plenty of tick activity — in the dead of winter.

Given that Toronto is on the map as a risk area for Lyme disease, & winter months here continue to see temperatures that support tick activity, we recommend year-round tick protection to ensure your dog is covered during those warm spells that are becoming a norm through the winter.

Tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease are preventable!

Tick-borne diseases are serious, but they’re also entirely preventable if you take the appropriate precautions. We recommend preventive medication for your dog, appropriate clothing and bug spray for you, staying on trails and keeping your dog on a leash, doing tick checks after you’ve been outdoors and removing ticks from your pet as soon as you find one (even if he/she is on preventive medication). It can take as little as 24 hours for the black-legged tick to transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease if it’s carrying it, so the sooner you remove any ticks, the better. If you find a tick on your dog, we can run a quick blood test to check for exposure to disease.

We’ve run the numbers, and it’s less expensive to prevent transmission of Lyme disease for a full year than it is to treat it. And because we worry about Lyme nephritis (a rare but typically fatal complication of Lyme disease that affects kidneys) and we still don’t know enough about subclinical & long-term effects of the disease, your best bet is to take appropriate steps to avoid disease transmission.

For year-round tick prevention (as well as coverage for other parasites for the months of the year they’re of greatest concern), we recommend a monthly chewable in the NexGard® family of preventives:

Note: At some point, we’ll be looking at whether it’s also appropriate to introduce the Lyme vaccine in our area. We’re not seeing a need just yet. 

Need reminders to give your pet flea & tick preventives? There’s an app for that! Instructions for downloading the app: Flea and Tick app Instruction Sheet_EN

Like to do your own research? Here are some reliable places to start.

Read on to further understand the risk ticks present, & to learn how to identify the ticks of greatest concern & take steps to reduce the risk of acquiring tick-borne diseases so you & your dog can continue to enjoy the outdoors in good health.


A Brief Primer on Ticks

What exactly is a tick & why are ticks a concern?

Ticks are external parasites that belong to the same family as spiders. They have several life stages: The adults lay eggs, eggs hatch into larvae, larvae molt into nymphs, & nymphs mature into adults that go on to lay more eggs. Adult ticks have 8 legs, 2 body parts, a flat body (when their bellies aren’t full of a blood meal), & a hard outer skeleton (hard to squish but don’t even try because you might release any disease they may carry). Both adult ticks and nymphs are vectors for (meaning they can carry) certain diseases that can be transmitted to you and your dog when they attach and feed. Not all adults and nymphs carry disease, but some do and their numbers are increasing.

Understanding tick behavior

Unlike fleas & mosquitoes, ticks can’t jump or fly onto their hosts. Instead, they “quest” when they’re hungry for a blood meal. That is, they cling to vegetation (e.g., a leaf or a tall piece of grass) with their back legs & reach out with their front ones so they can grab on & climb aboard any host that passes by (a bird, rodent, deer, dog, or a person, for example). They can sense a potential host through body heat & vibrations. Click: Tick questing  & you’ll see a good example of a tick questing for a meal ticket.

A tick "questing"

A tick “questing”

Once on board, some ticks wander around looking for the best seat in the house (for example, on or near an ear where skin is thin). Others will settle in wherever they land. They’re pretty hungry at this point & literally do a face plant when they feed, embedding their heads into skin & sucking up blood through a feeding tube for several days. Once they’ve had their fill, they fall off their host & move on to their next life stage. You’d think we hosts would notice, but ticks are really small (hard to see until they’re engorged with a blood meal) & some species release a kind of local anesthetic when they feed so their hosts don’t notice they’re there.

Tick feeding with head embedded into skin

Tick feeding with head embedded into skin

It’s only while adult ticks or nymphs are feeding that they can pick up a disease carried by one host & pass it on to another.

Which ticks are a concern?

Species of ticks found in Canada that will feed on dogs or people are listed below. The ones of greatest concern are the black-legged (deer) tick & American dog tick. (Brown dog ticks are uncommon, & Lone Star tick populations have remained low. They’re a greater concern if you’re spending time in parts of the U.S.) The incidence of most tick-borne diseases is still pretty low in Canada. But black-legged ticks that transmit Lyme disease in particular are growing in numbers, including in the GTA.

Travelling to the United States with your dog? Tick-borne diseases & heartworm disease are a much bigger issue there than in Canada, & we strongly recommend that you take preventive measures while you’re there. To learn about the parasites of concern in the U.S., see the maps provided by the Companion Animal Parasite Council at

How can I tell ticks apart?

Tick scrutumThe easiest way is by looking at the shield on their backs called the scutum. The scutum covers the entire back of males but only the upper back of females. It is solid black in black-legged ticks, more “ornate” with some white in American dog ticks, & displays a white spot in female Lone Star ticks (white spots around the margins in males). (Brown dog ticks don’t have a distinct scutum.) That said, ticks are small, so even identifying them by their scutum is challenging. Click here for a chart that can help you identify the four ticks of concern in Canada: Identifying Adult Ticks  

When is tick prevention recommended?

At any point that you’re seeing an area on the ground without snow cover and the temperature is 4°C or higher (let’s say above freezing to be safe), ticks will be out questing for a meal. In our part of Ontario, people & their pets need protection from March through November at a minimum. But given the consistent warm spells we’re seeing during our winter months, we recommend year-round protection. Adult ticks are active in the spring & fall. Nymphs are active during the summer. Nymphs pose the greater risk to people because they’re around at a time when people are wearing shorts & tee-shirts & have more skin exposed, & nymphs are so tiny (1-2 mm in diameter!) they’re hard to spot.

Tick Life cycle

Tick Life cycle

What’s the best way to remove a tick?

tick image3There’s a nifty 2-pronged tool for the job (pictured left) that we can give you.

1) Pick the large or small one depending on the size of the tick.

2) Engage the tick between the prongs of the tool approaching it from the side.

3) Gently lift & turn (clockwise or counterclockwise) until the tick releases its hold.

4) Disinfect the bite site and wash your hands.

Here’s a video showing how it’s done using the tick tool shown above:

Alternatively, grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers and gently but firmly lift upward. The goal is to remove the tick with its mouth parts intact. (If you leave anything behind it’ll cause a reaction under the skin.) DO NOT put oils, Vaseline, or other concoctions on the tick (we worry that it’ll cause the tick to regurgitate into its host – exactly what we don’t want!).

How worried do I need to be about Lyme disease?

On average, about 1 in 5 black-legged ticks in Ontario carry the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease (less in some areas, more in others). (In areas such as Kingston & Gananoque, up to 40% of ticks are carrying the bacterium.) The vast majority of dogs that are exposed to Borrelia don’t get sick. In fact, only about 5% of dogs develop symptoms of Lyme disease: a lameness that shifts from one leg to another, fever, lethargy, & a loss of appetite. And they can be treated successfully with antibiotics. But left untreated, about 1% of those that get sick develop Lyme nephritis (an immune-mediated disease of the kidneys that’s often fatal).

People can also develop serious complications of Lyme disease if it’s not treated. So if you develop flu-like symptoms (aches, pains, headaches) or a bulls-eye-like or other rash where you may have been bitten by a tick, please see your family physician.

While Lyme disease is serious, it’s also entirely preventable if you take the appropriate precautions.

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Royal York Animal Hospital  

4222 Dundas Street West Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6

*416-231-9293  *

Dr. Lilla Yan

Professional Pet dental cleaning and extractions

By Dog Teeth Cleaning, Pet Teeth Cleaning

This article is about professional dental care and will hopefully provide an understanding of what happens when your pet is admitted into the hospital for a dental procedure and most importantly why we do it what we do!




Just like  people, our pets’ teeth ideally should be professionally scaled and polished regularly.  This procedure not only cleans off the obvious brown tartar that you can see but more importantly it cleans underneath the gum line. Scaling underneath the gums reduces painful gingivitis (swollen and painful gums) and helps the diseased gums heal, and reduces worsening of gum recession.

A common question we get is why pets need to be under general anesthesia for dental cleaning.

The answer is fairly simple:  in order to scale and polish all of their teeth at all angles, especially scaling under the gum line, it is simply impossible to do properly with the pet awake. Unlike a person in a dental chair, we cannot reason with the pet as to why they need to keep completely still while we put an instrument in their mouth and perform a procedure for a significant period of time that may be uncomfortable for them. Physical restraint  is not an option.  Even if it was possible,  it would require  be extremely stressful for your pet and it still would be unlikely that each tooth could be properly cleaned and graded and scaling under the gum line could be done properly.       It is also important that they are intubated (a breathing tube attached to an oxygen/anesthethic machine) so they cannot aspirate any fluid into their lungs during the procedure.

Some people have a fear of general anesthesia.   At your pet’s next annual exam (or any time your pet is in), we encourage you to talk to the veterinarian and/or technicians about precautions and safety procedures we have in place as well as specific concerns you may have about your pet.  It is important to remember that the risk for anesthesia for young healthy pets is very low



It is a common concern that a pet will need many teeth extracted.

I will never forget an older gentleman that brought in his dog for an exam.  After I examined his dog I discussed with him that some of the teeth were very infected and needed to be extracted. I was well aware that a lot of people don’t like the thought of their pet’s teeth being removed. To my surprise, the gentleman said to me, “Doc, do what you need to do. I had all of my teeth taken out two years ago, and I only wish that I had done that years earlier! They were causing me so much pain.”

As much as we would like to always see teeth that only require cleaning, many times we do come across ones that are beyond salvageable. When a tooth is infected and painful, the best option for the pet is to have it removed.

Full mouth dental radiographs  provide us with important information about the health of each tooth and help us make informed decisions about extractions and other oral surgery needed.

Dr. Annelle Valentin views dental radiographs

Will your pet still be able to eat with some of their teeth gone?  The answer is, absolutely. In the wild, their ancestors needed their teeth to tear away meat. In captivity with our kibble and canned food pets really do not even need ANY of their teeth to be able to eat their food.


I hope this has answered some of your questions and busted some common myths about our pets’ oral health. If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a call!

Dr. Lilla Yan

Dr. Zach Jones

Why is your smile healthier than your dog’s?

By Dog Teeth Cleaning, Pet Dentist

The Veterinarians here at Royal York Animal Hospital see our fair share of teeth in a day.   Sometimes we see them in the mouth of a dog  – other times in a smiling pet-owner. Fortunately for us, many of the pearly whites we see on any given day are healthy ones. Unfortunately it is more often the dog owner’s teeth that are considerably healthier than their pets…

I often wonder: Why is that? How is it that we feel our own teeth need a twice-a-year tune up (once a year at a minimum) at the dentist office but teeth cleaning  pets once every year or two seems laughable? It pains me to say this but the disparities between human and pet dental care do not stop there.   Below is some food for thought – some comparisons, if you will – on the way we care for our own teeth and how we don’t care for our pet’s teeth.

Pet Dentist in Etobicoke, Ontario

Don’t let the disguise fool you – dogs and people require the same sort of maintenance on their teeth to keep them in good shape !


Daily Home Care

I am going to go out on a limb here but I assume you brush your own teeth at least once (twice? three times?) daily (thumbs up for you if you floss too!). Now here’s the question you knew I would ask: How many times per day do you brush your dog’s teeth? For most people that answer is zero. Imagine how disgusting your mouth would get after one week of not brushing. No offence, but your breath would be horrendous! Now imagine one year. Now imagine your entire life.   Gross! Dog’s teeth are just like ours and need regular brushing at home in order to prevent bacteria from ‘setting up shop’.
The Bottom Line: Brush you’re dogs teeth daily or expect to deal with dental problems later in your pets life.

Eating the Proper Diet

I often hear clients say to me, “We don’t brush his/her teeth but we feed a dry food so that keeps their teeth clean”.  Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The average pet food has the same texture as an oatmeal cookie. Imagine if your kids stopped brushing and instead just ate a few oatmeal cookies each morning – ew! I guarantee their dentist would not be pleased at their next visit.
The Bottom Line: Your dog’s food needs to be a prescription-grade food with dental claims on the label (supported by scientific studies, VOHC approved) in order for it to truly help keep their mouth in good shape. Regular pet-store brand kibble will not keep your dog’s mouth healthy for long.      

The Costs of a Healthy Smile

Imagine there are two next-door neighbours with similar homes on your street. Neighbour A is very tidy and cleans their house from top to bottom 1-2x per week. Neighbour B is a complete and utter slob who hasn’t cleaned at all for 5 years. If they both want to have their homes deep cleaned by a professional cleaning service, which do you think is going to pay more? Of course it’s neighbour B! The same principle goes for our pet’s mouths- without regular maintenance (ie brushing, dental diets) the amount of work the vet has to do increases exponentially.   And more work = more $$$. If you brush your dog’s teeth regularly at home, having their teeth cleaned once every 1-2 years would cost the same (or even less!) than the average person spends on their own dental bills.
The Bottom Line: Regular maintenance means cheaper vet bills. Ignoring your pet’s oral hygiene is very expensive.


Pet Dental Care in Etobicoke, Ontario

“Just a quick clean up for me this year, doc”. Think again ! This mouth has been neglected for years and will take several hours (and cost thousands) to repair.

So if you’re thinking “WE GET IT DOC. We are going to start brushing TODAY”, then good for you! Need some pointers on how to do it? Click HERE for our how-to video on brushing your dog’s teeth.

Want more info? I highly recommend you check out Dr. Fraser Hale (board certified veterinary dentist) and his wonderful website for tips on home dental care.

An Oral health assessment is part of your pet’s Annual Health Exam.  We will discuss dental home care individualized for your pet and /or if your pet requires a professional dental cleaning.

Of course, we are always available to help!  Give us a call : 416-231-9293

Dr. Zach Jones

Royal York Animal Hospital  4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario

Dr John holding dog

Toronto Heats up! Tips to keep your dog cool!

By Uncategorized


Keeping cool at Royal York Animal Hospital

Hot summer days are upon us in Toronto!  Days are long and hot and it is a great to spend time with the family dog…….however  hot  summer days and soaring temperatures can be very dangerous for your dog.  It seems nearly every day we hear about a dog that has been left unattended in a hot, airless car and often with a tragic outcome.

Basically dogs are unable to sweat other than a little around their feet but not through their skin as people do.  Their body temperature is largely regulated through panting.  Playing or exercising in the heat can bring on a lethal case of heat stroke.   Heat stroke is the condition that arises from extremely high body temperature (105 F or 40 degrees Celsius) Only about 50% of dogs can survive heat stroke and it causes weakness, collapse and/or coma.

Leaving your dog in the car with the windows closed is probably the most common cause of heat stroke.  Even with the windows open a bit temperatures can reach 120F or 48 degrees in a very few minutes.  I cannot stress enough NOT to leave your dog in the car during the summer months.  EVER.

Other tips to avoid heat stroke are to change up your day a bit and try to excersize your dog in the early morning or late evening avoiding the mid day peak.  Long haired or double coated dogs (huskys, shepherds) should be professionally groomed to thin or shorten the coat.

If you suspect heat stroke cover the dog in cold, wet towels, turn on the car air conditioner and get your pet to a veterinary hospital ASAP!

Keep your dog cool!

Dr. John

Laser Therapy for your pet

By Uncategorized


Types of Pet Laser Therapy

Pet laser therapy   offers therapeutic service to your pets.

Surgery Free Pet Laser Therapy

 Pet laser therapy is a surgery free, drug free, and most importantly, a pain free way to treat multiple conditions linked to inflammation. These include, but are not limited to; arthritis, acute injuries (ie. sprains & strains), skin, ear & anal gland infections, bone fractures and many more.

Here are some examples: (and they just look so darn cute in their “doggles”). 

1.” Jackie“,  a 12 year old Labrador Retriever, had trouble and discomfort in her regular daily activities, simply walking up and down the stairs had become a chore. We are pleased to report that Jackie is now off her regular daily regimen of pain medication and giving her 2 year old housemate a run for her money.

2. “Ever”,  a 4 year old Whippet, who had suffered a nasty gash on her elbow after playing and had fallen in a creek in Etobicoke.  With the help of our pet laser therapy, Ever’s wound healed significantly faster than first anticipated, so much so that she might not think twice before playing around that creek again…oh Ever!

Allie ending Laser sessionIf you have any questions about laser therapy and its benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or one of the veterinarians or technicians at Royal York Animal Hospital to see if laser therapy could help benefit your best friend! There is also lots more information on our website under our PET SERVICES Tab.

Dr. Suzie Jerabek




Dr. Zach Jones

Common Veterinary Dental Myths debunked

By Dog Teeth Cleaning, Uncategorized

 Dental Myths Debunked!

The 4 most common myths about vet dentistry

With all the information available to us online these days, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. As part of National Pet Dental Month, Dr. Zach Jones has come up with some of the most common misconceptions about veterinary dentistry…

1) “It’s okay that my pet chews on animal bones or antlers.”

There is a very common misconception among pet owners that animal teeth are stronger than human teeth – this is completely untrue! Canine teeth are very prone to fractures, which lead to pain, infection, and surgery (not to mention a big vet bill). Dr. Fraser Hale, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC (veterinary dental specialist) recommends using his “kneecap rule” to help decide whether or not a toy is suitable for your pet.  Simply put, the “kneecap rule” states that if you wouldn’t want someone to hit you over the kneecap with it, then your dog shouldn’t be chewing on it.

Pet Dental Myths

A broken tooth secondary to chewing a bone.  The pink region in the center of the tooth is an exposed nerve, which is excruciatingly painful.  Fractures like this require a root canal or surgical removal of the entire tooth.

Image courtesy of Dr. Fraser Hale,

2.) “The pet store carries dental products which work just as well as the ones my vet has.”

 Not all pet dental products are created equal!  Pet food companies are very good at marketing their products, even if it means making misleading statements (ever heard of the Blue Buffalo scandal?). Just because the bag says something like ‘dental formula’, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily beneficial for your pet’s teeth.  Looking for a product that is scientifically proven to help keep your pet’s mouth clean? Then choose products that bear the VOHC seal of approval on the front of the bag.  An image of the seal is shown below:

Veterinary Oral Health Council
**Click here for more info on the VOHC seal of approval and what it really means.

3.) “My pets teeth aren’t painful because he/she is still eating.”

 How much does your pet love his/her food? I’m guessing a lot.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that eating is one of your pet’s favorite things to do.  There are very few exceptions to this rule, and dental pain is not one of them.  I have literally seen thousands of dogs with mild or moderate oral pain over the past few years, but I can only count on one hand the number of pets with so much dental pain that they stopped eating all together.  The bottom line is this: a painful mouth isn’t enough to make your pet not want to eat.

 4.) “My groomer can clean my dogs teeth without an anesthetic.”

 This is BY FAR the biggest myth in veterinary dentistry, and it also leads to the most frightening results.  Non-professional dental scaling (NPDS) is illegal in Ontario, but many groomers (and human dental hygienists!) are offering it to clients as an alternative to a dental cleaning under anesthesia performed by a licenced vet.  It involves scraping debris off the surface of the teeth while your pet is awake.  Think of it like washing your car once a month, but never taking it in to a mechanicIt may look spectacular on the surface, but hiding under the hood there could be very serious issues that are left undiagnosed and untreated.  NPDS is like that car wash – it removes visible tartar from the surface of the teeth, but what it fails to do is remove the disease-causing bacteria below the gum line and identify and treat other dental problems like infected teeth.

Veterinary Dental MythsVeterinary Dental Myths







Pictured above is a greyhound who had undergone multiple NPDS’s over several years.  The left photo is pre-op, and the right is after some large chunks of calculus had been removed.   As you can see, the teeth are clearly in very rough shape! This owner thought he was doing the right thing by having her dog’s teeth “cleaned” regularly, but unfortunately this dog had to have 34 out of his 42 teeth surgically extracted.  Had he had a professional dental consult with a licenced vet from the start, it’s possible that he would not have suffered for so many years.  Images courtesy of Dr. Fraser Hale,

Dr. Zach Jones

Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke, Ontario


dog and cat under a christmas tree

Royal York Animal Hospital’s List of the Most Common Holiday Pet Hazards

By Uncategorized

Hello everyone!

We know everyone is busy this time of year.

We have compiled a handy list of the most common holiday hazards for Pets!

Royal York Animal HospitalPet Safety Tips in Etobicoke, ON

Everybody loves the holidays.  From the family gatherings and eggnog to the crackling fire and one-piece pygamas, it’s hard to imagine the holiday season as anything but rosey and nice. Unfortunately, this warm and fuzzy celebration can easily become a strange array of confusing and potentially hazardous events for one part of our family in particular. No, we aren’t talking about grandpa- we’re talking about our pets! If you’re interested in keeping your mischievous pets problem-free this season (and also keeping a hefty vet bill at bay), then you’re in the right place. Here are RYAH’s top holiday hazards for pets.

 Christmas Eats

1. Chocolate You’re not the only one who loves chocolate – it’s likely that your dog loves it too. The problem is that chocolate is highly toxic to dogs because it’s rich in theobromine and methylxanthines. Much like caffeine, it causes uncontrollable excitation of the nervous system. To make matters worse, darker chocolate means more methyxanthine. Not good news for all you dark chocolate lovers out there!

Pet Safety Tips in Etobicoke, ON











2. High Fat Foods That cheese ball on the coffee table is often right at eye level for our furry friends, and high fat foods like cheese and meat can often spell disaster for our pets with more sensitive turkey Pancreatitis is a life-threatening disorder caused by over-activity of digestive enzymes within the pancreas. It is triggered by a high fat meal such as a cheese ball, a few potato chips, or a morsel of grandpa’s Christmas ham.

TIP: Think twice before giving your pet a taste of what you’re having for dinner and avoid leaving food (and table scraps) out unattended

3. Sugar Free Sweets Xylitol, the artificial sweetener found in many sugar free candies and baked goods, is extremely toxic to your dog. It causes a life threatening drop in blood sugar which often results in unconsciousness/ coma and can also cause liver failure.  Not so sweet after all!

 Holiday Décor



1. Tinsel, Trinkets, Bows, and Boughs Christmas ornaments come in a vast array of shapes, sizes, colours, etc. These items are often very intriguing for our pets and the temptation to swallow them is often too great to bear.Christmas presents Cats have an uncanny obsession with string-like objects like tinsel and bows, and when swallowed they can cause the intestinal tract to bunch up and block. This blockage is a life-threatening condition which is treatable only with invasive emergency surgery. Same goes for your dog too!

2. Electrical CordsChristmas plug Every year cats present to the clinic with symptoms consistent with electrocution of the face and mouth – that’s because these cats will often chew on electrical wires from Christmas lights and other electronic devices.

TIP: If you know your cat likes to do this, be sure to minimize the number of live electronics in your living area when left unattended.

 House Guests

Unfortunately for all you entertainers out there, a very real risk for many pets is the introduction of guests into your home. Not only does this create great anxiety among some pets, it also introduces an opportunity for animals to escape, or to be exposed to things they are not normally exposed to.

TIP:  Advise guests not to offer your pets table scraps, and request that they keep all personal belongings (ie gifts, luggage, prescription medications) behind closed doors.

Charlie and Santa

Charlie and Santa

Above all else, the best piece of advice we can give you is this: know your own pet.  Understand and identify the areas of greatest risk to your pet and take measures to prevent accidents from happening.

If you have questions regarding this information or are suspicious that your pet may have succumb to one of these hazards please contact RYAH immediately at 416-231-9293.

We wish you and your pets a warm, safe, and enjoyable holiday season from all the staff at Royal York Animal Hospital .

The Royal York Veterinary Medical Team

Please Click Here to visit our other Holiday Blog Posts.

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Why does my pet need a physical exam before receiving vaccines?

By Uncategorized

Female Veterinarian examining brown chihuaha

Why does my pet need a physical exam before receiving vaccines?

This comes up a fair bit. Pet owners question the necessity of a physical exam when a pet is due for vaccines. After all, their pet is perfectly healthy and they’d just as soon skip the exam. For some people, it’s about saving time, money, and/or stress on a pet. Others genuinely feel their pet is healthy and that an exam simply isn’t necessary. We get that. But there’s no getting around a physical exam if your pet needs vaccinations. And for good reason.

First things first. Ontario law requires our veterinarians to have a veterinary-client-patient relationship before they can administer medication of any kind, including vaccines. A physical exam that’s been performed within a year is the minimum we need to establish and maintain that relationship at our hospital. If we haven’t seen your pet within a year, he/she will need an exam before we can vaccinate.

Fair enough. The law is the law. But what if we have seen a pet within the year – is that exam still necessary? Yes. Without question. And without exception. Regardless of how recently we’ve seen that pet.Female veterinarian and female veterinary technician examining kitten

Here’s the thing. No matter how healthy a pet owner thinks a pet is, there’s no substitute for the medical training and experience a veterinarian brings to bear in assessing a pet’s eligibility for a vaccine by reviewing a pet’s medical record, obtaining a history from a client, and performing a full physical – head to tail, top to bottom, inside (to the extent we can) and out. A new problem can crop up at any time, and while a pet may seem perfectly healthy to a pet owner, pets are notoriously good at hiding health issues from their families (it’s a hard-wired instinct that plays out routinely in companion animals). There isn’t a veterinarian at our hospital who hasn’t at one time or another delayed vaccinating a pet that a pet owner thought was perfectly healthy but in fact wasn’t healthy enough to receive a vaccine.

We give vaccines to protect pets from diseases that can have disastrous consequences. We give them to prevent the spread of those diseases to other animals. And we give them to protect the Female veterinarian giving needle to kitten that veterinary technician is holdingpublic. (Think Rabies here.) We take that responsibility very seriously. Vaccines put the immune system to work building protective antibodies. That work makes demands on the body’s energy reserves. If we give a vaccine to a pet that isn’t healthy at the time of vaccination, he/she may not build enough antibodies to be protected and it may take him/her longer to recover from whatever already happens to be in play. Either way, we’ve failed in our responsibility. A full physical is the minimum we can do to be reasonably sure that:

1) a pet’s health won’t be compromised by receiving a vaccine and

2) a pet is healthy enough to mount a good response to a vaccine (i.e., able to build enough antibodies to protect that pet from a specific disease)

We apply those same standards to every pet, including those owned by our own staff members. No wiggle room here. Vaccinations require a physical exam because it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6


Should I have my dog on tick protection all year ’round?

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december 2016 calendar with ticks
january 2017 calendar with ticks
february 2017 calendar with ticks

Should I have my dog on tick protection all year ’round?

There’s no such thing as a specific “season” for ticks.  The reality is that they’re active any time the temperature is 4 C or higher.  And that could be any time of the year.

Take last winter for example – December 2016, January and February 2017.   Each day in Etobicoke that fit that bill is shown here with a tick – 36 days in all, with temperatures rising as high as 19.1 C (in February no less!).  Even in January, the “dead of winter” that gives us the coldest days of the year, it wasn’t cold enough for ticks to play dead.

What will the winter of 2018 hold?  The only predictable thing about the weather is that it’s unpredictable. So it comes down to your tolerance for risk. If you have little or no tolerance for it and want to be able to take your dog for a walk wherever and whenever you like without worrying about ticks and the diseases they transmit, then year-round protection is for you.

The nice thing about Bravecto, our ‘go to’ for tick protection, is that a single chewable tablet treats your dog for 3 months. You’ve got the winter covered right there.

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Royal York Animal Hospital Logo

4222 Dundas Street West

Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6


Dr. John and friends

A few Halloween Tricks to remember !

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A Few Halloween ”Tricks” !

Halloween can be a  “scary night” in a fun way for children and adults but for our pets it can just be scary period.

Keeping your pet safe and unafraid are important considerations as you make plans for Trick or Treating with the kids and/or continually opening the door to scary monsters and pretty princesses.

A few common sense precautions are:

Keep the candy bowl away from your pet. Chocolate in any form can be dangerous for dogs or cats. Sugar free candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious problems too. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your Veterinary Hospital ASAP !!  Do not delay!


Decorations can be dangerous too.  Pet can easily knock over a lit jack-o-lantern and start a fire. Pumpkins and decorative corn are not toxic but can cause discomfort if ingested

Costumes:  Wearing a costume can be very stressful for some pets. Know your pet.   Make sure the costume doesn’t restrict the pets movement, cover his eye or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Make sure the costume has no dangling pieces to get chewed off.





Keep pets calm. Too many strangers can be stressful for pets. Keep pets away from the front door and ensure the pet is wearing proper Identification ie ID tags or Microchip should he or she escape.



Dr. John Allen

Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario  M8X 1Y6


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