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Dr. Zach Jones

The Litter box and the “Port-o-Potty”

By Uncategorized

The Litter box and the ‘Port-o-Potty’

Let’s face it: cats are a little weird.  What other species likes to sprint around the house at 3 am without warning? Or play inside a cardboard box for hours on end?  These odd yet endearing little creatures are often viewed by people as having a very unusual set of habits and preferences that are often confusing to us.  Fortunately, our understanding of normal feline behaviour has demonstrated that people and their feline companions are far more similar than you might expect…  Cats – just like people -have preferences.  They prefer certain foods to others.  They have preferred sleeping and playing areas within your home.  They also have predictable bathroom preferences too…

Cat Tips in Royal York
So what if my cat’s litter box is not quite to their liking?
 Because of the many options available to them, most of our furry friends will have no problem finding a more preferable location to do their business if something isn’t quite right about their litter box.  This ‘new and improved’ location is commonly a bed, a couch, or a carpet – and this is the point where a ‘normal’ feline behaviour can often be interpreted as ‘abnormal’ and often intolerable for many owners.  Unfortunately, many medical problems can cause increased urination, impaired ability to urinate, pain on urination, etc. and these problems can manifest in the exact same way.  Therefore it is imperative that we don’t assume it’s a matter of preference until the vet has ruled out all potential underlying medical conditions first.

My vet has ruled out all medical problems, but my cat is still peeing on my couch, bed, etc – now what?  A possible explanation is that your kitty likes to go on the couch/bed/rug better than in their litter box – but why?  A useful analogy that I often use to explain this issue to clients is one I call ‘the port-o-potty analogy’.  You are likely familiar with the dreaded ‘port-o-potty’ portable toilets.  Just think of how uncomfortable and often utterly disgusting they can be.   But ask yourself: what exactly is it about these awful plastic bathrooms that we dislike so much?  Although it’s a bit uncomfortable to think about, our bathroom preferences can tell us a lot about how our cats may perceive their litter boxes.  Some of these preferences are outlined below in what may be the internet’s most awkward and unusual chart:

Toileting Preference: “Port-o-potty”:  Litterbox:  Our Suggestions:
Cleanliness There is nothing worse than a dirty, smelly port-o-potty – enough said. A soiled litter box is equally disgusting for your cat.  Alternatively, peeing on the owners bed means someone will clean up after you… every single time! -Scoop your cat’s litter box at least once daily and completely change the litter once weekly
-If you have multiple cats then you will need to scoop 2 times per day or more.
-Keep boxes separate from areas where your cat eats/drinks
Privacy Most of us don’t enjoy the idea of other people waiting outside the bathroom, watching you enter and exit – it’s just plain awkward! Your cat does not want to use a litter box in a ‘high traffic’ area either, and the risk of encountering other pets while doing their business is unsettling for them. -Litter boxes should be located in secluded areas where your cat can be alone.
-Each cat in the home should have their own private litter box (+1) and each box should be in different areas of the home. 2 separate boxes placed side by side will be seen as 1 litter area by most cats.
Comfort Port-o-potties are often uncomfortably small, hot, & smelly – gross! A litter box that is too small/confined, uncomfortable to get into, or filled with a litter type that is unnatural is NOT going to work out very well for you or your cat. -Choose a litter pan with low edges to allow easy entry/exit.
-large boxes are best (ie minimum 1.5x the length of your kitty).
-Choose a litter type and depth which allows the cat to dig a hole and bury their ‘business’
-Unscented, clumping litter is best!
Conveniance Would you want to travel great distances or climb several stories to use a gross port-o-potty?  Didn’t think so … If you have an older cat with mobility issues, or an exceptionally lazy cat, keeping the box in the far reaches of your home is far from ideal. -Keep litter boxes in an area that is easy for your cat to access (ie minimize stairs), ideally located on the same floor of your home where you cat spends the most amount of their time.
Litter Box Tips for Your Cats

What’s wrong with this picture? A litterbox next to a loud machine can be very uncomfortable for your cat. Also, placing it in a high traffic area such as near a doorway can create anxiety and aversion to the litter box. The high rim on this box may be difficult for older cats to enter/exit as well.


What if I try everything in your weird chart and my cat still urinates outside the box?  Feline toileting problems can be a multi-factorial issue and the solution for each individual is often different.  Homes with multiple cats are at increased risk of house-soiling problems because each individual has a set of preferences which need to be satisfied.  Once a cat develops a habit of going outside the box, it can sometimes be very difficult to break that habit.

If your cat is peeing outside the box, it is important to discuss this issue with your veterinarian first to explore the possibility of an underlying medical concern before addressing any unsatisfied toileting preferences.  Once a diagnosis has been made, your vet will work with you to come up with a plan to keep your cat healthy and happy – not to mention keep your living quarters cat-pee free.

For More info on house-soiling problems and how to address them, we encourage you to check out the handout from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) here.

Dr. Zach Jones

Royal York Animal Hospital 4222 Dundas Street West Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6 416-231-9293


Christmas cautionary “tails” by Dr. John

By Uncategorized

Christmas Accidents Can Happen To Anyone’s Pet

There is a lot of information out there about keeping your pet safe during the holidays and all the potential hazards.  At Royal York Animal Hospital, we try to provide our clients with as much information as we can.  After a while, especially if your pet is older or if you are lucky enough to have a “good” pet who normally doesn’t get into anything, it is easy to let our guard down a little bit.  The fact is Christmas time is stressful for most pets especially because the two-legged family members are often busy and distracted…..and…..  All this new stuff is around — trees, presents, decorations etc.

For a quick review check out the AVMA’s Holiday Pet Don’ts.

Sometimes even good pets do out of character things:

When you are a Tech or a Receptionist at Royal York Animal Hospital you are very aware of potential Christmas Hazards for your pet right?  You know all about  Poinsettias causing gastrointestinal upset and tinsel on the tree being swallowed inadvertently by your cat. You keep the chocolate and other tasty treats way up high out of reach….

Pepper and Leila

Pepper and Leila

Here are two recent situations that happened to staff members at RYAH:

It was 2 weeks before Christmas……the tree is up and decorated and the presents are wrapped and beautiful are presents under the tree. Leila, was a 2yr old Chihuahua and Pepper was a 9 year old Staffordshire Terrier and  their “mom” is one of our long term Veterinary Technicians.  She had left them alone many times in her home and this time she was only out for a few hours.  They were reliable and trained and had never before shown any interest in the Christmas decorations, tree or presents nor were they the type of dogs who steal food or try to get in the garbage etc.

Returning home, she discovered both dogs had ripped apart and eaten one of the wrapped gifts under the tree which happened to be a 400 gram Toblerone Dark Chocolate bar, Hot Chocoate Packages and Shortbread Chocolate Chip cookies…….All completely gone!!

Chocolate toxicity is one of the most common holiday hazard we see. Be aware that chocolate can be fatal.

Next step for Leila and Pepper:  Emergency treatment and IV fluids for 2 days saved these dogs lives!   Thankfully both received supportive emergency treatment immediately and recovered uneventfully.

Tinker was a 5 month old kitten owned by one of our receptionists.  Everyday she talks to pet owners on the phone and in person giving advice about holiday hazards and organizes appointments for sick and injured pets who have had misadventures during the holidays.  She paid special attention to her own decorations, that particular year,  as she had a young kitten in her home. “Tinker”, in typical kitten fashion was into everything and climbing everywhere!  So,  imagine the horror of coming home to find that Tinker had climbed up the artificial tree and got wedged between the branches and lights and almost strangled to death.

 This is "Theo" who has been a very good kitty this year. (Tinker was camera shy)

This is “Theo” who has been a very good kitty this year.
(Tinker was camera shy)

I can’t stress enough that these things can happen to any pet!

Check this out for tips from one of my previous blogs.

Check this link out to read Dr. Suzie Jerabek’s blog about the specific dangers of home-made decorations, small children and pets.

Christmas is around the corner…….please keep your home safe for your pet !

Dr. John

The facts about Kennel Cough (Bordetella) and Kennel Cough Protection

By Pet Treatment, Pet Vaccination

The Facts about Kennel Cough Protection

Our veterinarians have seen an increase in cases of kennel cough in dogs during October and the first part of November.

At Royal York Animal Hospital, we include immunization for kennel cough (Bordetella Bronchiseptica) as a part of our core set of vaccines for all of our canine patients.  So, at times when there is a surge in the number of dogs with kennel cough, the question arises……..: “If my pet has been vaccinated for kennel cough, then why did he/she get sick?”….

Kennel Cough Protection for Pets


The answer lies in the nature of the disease itself, and in some situations the timing of vaccination can also be an important factor.

  • Kennel cough is a SYNDROME – this means it can be caused by numerous  complex combinations of different bacteria and viruses. Every case is different. The Bordetella vaccine is specifically targeting the Bordetella bacteria which is a very important and highly-probable component of this disease, but it is not the ONLY cause.
  •  Being vaccinated each year does not mean that a pet will never get kennel cough – depending on what specific combination of  organisms are involved in their particular infection their level of protection may not be adequate to fend it off completely. Also keep in mind that some animals just inherently produce a better response to a given vaccine compared to others.
  • Timing can also be very important especially when dogs are coming in for boarding, as it impacts how effective the vaccine will be for protection. The intranasal kennel cough vaccine requires 3-5 days to be effective, and the injectible form can take a week or longer. Keep this in mind when planning your boarding visits.

We all want to do our best to prevent disease, and these are just a few important things to keep in mind when trying to keep our animals healthy and safe – especially for dogs who frequent doggy day cares or public dog parks or other places where dogs are together.

The Facts about Kennel Cough Protection

Kennel cough is very contagious between dogs.


For more information about Kennel Cough please check out Dr. Lilla Yan’s blog “Why did my Dog get Kennel Cough

Dr. Annelle Valentin

Royal York Animal Hospital, 4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario L6J 3Y1 416-231-9293

Dr. John and friends

Is Hallowe’en fun or scary for our pets?

By Uncategorized

Cat in Witch CostumeWe love Hallowe’en in Canada.  It can be a fun and exciting time of year for families and children……but let’s face it…..for most cats and dogs Hallowe’en can be downright scary!

At this time of year,  Veterinarians  treat pets for  injuries and illnesses both major and minor which can be all the more heartbreaking due to the fact that most could be prevented with a few simple precautions.

When asked for advice, the first this I always say is:  KNOW YOUR OWN PET.  Is she/he stressed by loud noises?  Gets over excited with all the comings and going and door bell ringing?   Steal food or maybe just help himself when no one is looking? Typically eat things or chew on things that are not food?  Hide?  Run away when afraid?

On Hallowe’en night most of us are distracted and we may not be paying as much attention to the family pet(s) as we normally would do.  Thinking about their comfort and safety in advance can take everyone’s anxiety down a notch or two!

Typical Hallowe’en mishaps fall into two general categories:

  1. SICKNESS due to eating something toxic or inedible    Think: Chocolate, candies, wrappers, decorations, glow sticks, parts of costumes. Click on these two links for more detailed tips:  Pet Poison Hotline, and Foreign Body Ingestion in Pets.
  2. INJURIES.  Most pets become anxious due to the incessant knocking  and door bell ringing, laughter and chatter and  the many  strange looking costumes at the door.  Some pets hide but others may bolt out into the night, jump out of their owners arms or just become frantic. Learn more here about pet anxiety and phobias.

Buderick (480x640)If you know your dog will eat just about anything then the whole family needs to do  their extra due diligence to make sure all treats and decorations are kept out of reach (do you hear me LABRADOR RETRIEVER owners?).

If you know your pet is stressed by the door bell, even though you want to show off his costume to the neighbours, I ask you to please re-think this and instead allow him to spend the evening in a “safe room” away from the action or somewhere at the back of your home where it is quieter.  And please make sure all your pets are INSIDE and never left unattended outside…..even in your back yard.

Speaking of costumes: Most are cute and most are safe. However, any costume that restricts movement because it is tight fitting or has too many strings and sashes can cause injuries and should be avoided.

Enjoy a safe and Happy Hallowe’en from all of us at Royal York Animal Hospital!  Dr. John

Enter RYAH’S second annual Hallowe’en costume contest! Click here to enter!

Cute Dog in Costume

New puppy? New Adult dog ? Here are some tips!

By Uncategorized

New Puppy?

Puppy Care in Etobicoke

Mochi the French Bulldog

Puppy Exams in Etobicoke

Yorkshire Terrier

Puppy Vaccinations in Etobicoke

Bentley Labrador Retriever







Bringing a new puppy into your home is always exciting!

At Royal York Animal Hospital we see proud new puppy parents everyday.  Whether this is your very first puppy or you have shared your life with many dogs we all hope for a healthy, happy and well behaved pet.

It is important to have your puppy examined by a Veterinarian as soon as possible to make sure the puppy is healthy, to ensure a proper vaccination and deworming plan is followed and to discuss nutritional requirements including the importance of a good quality puppy food.

It also very important to talk about behaviour and training to make sure you raise a a well behaved confident dog.

Here are some Important considerations:


Socialization is the period when a puppy learns to accept people, other pets and new environments. This period is during the first 3 to 12 weeks of age. During this period puppies will startle easy but will recover quickly learning that these new people, pets, environments or situations are safe. As the puppy gets older, he/she will become increasingly wary of strangers and unfamiliar situations. This is a prime time for teaching your puppy to accept being handled in many different ways.

During the socialization period make sure you introduce your puppy to as many different pets, people and situations as possible and in a way that is pleasant and not threatening.

Invite friends to meet your puppy.!

Allow your puppy to interact with friendly, healthy, well vaccinated dogs and cats of all ages.

Puppy Care in Etobicoke

Cairn Terrier “Hecktor” helps to socialize Border Terrier pup “Razzle”

Take your puppy for car rides, and introduce him to as many new environments as possible.

Accustom your puppy to being brushed, bathed, handled, having ears touched and cleaned, getting nails trimmed, having teeth brushed.

Pet Dentistry in Etobicoke

It is important to teach your puppy to like getting their teeth brushed!


Pet Grooming in Etobicoke

Bath time!


Puppy school and training is very important in raising a well behaved and confident dog. This will teach the puppy what is appropriate behaviour and what is not.  Your puppy will learn how to react in a calm and positive way and how to socialize with other puppies and people.  It is also a great opportunity to increase your bond and relationship.

Check this website out for some excellent tips:

Crate Training

Some people still think crate training is a form of punishment.. However, free roaming dogs seek shelter in small enclosed spaces. Dogs can easily be trained to perceive a crate as a cozy cave. Most dogs can be crate trained quickly and there are so many benefits for both dogs and owners if their crate is a happy place.  An important consideration, often overlooked, is that the anxiety level of sick or injured dogs in a veterinary hospital is greatly reduced for dogs that are completely at ease in a kennel.  It is all about teaching your dog great things happen when they are in their crate.

Depending on your puppy’s personality and experiences, failure to socialize and train properly can result in many behavioural problems. The most common problems are aggression, separation anxiety & compulsive behaviour.

Consider this: Behavioural problems are the Number One reason dogs are abandoned or euthanized.

Dog Aggression:

Aggression is a normal dog behaviour when used in the proper context. It is a tool for a variety of purposes like defence, obtaining food, etc.  When faced with an overwhelming threat the dog may also react in a submissive way, but when these signals are not recognized the dog may be forced to rely on aggression.

Aggression is the most common behavioural problem and one that can have devastating consequences. Aggression is not a static problem, it is determined by the constant interaction between genetics and environment at any point.

Types of dog aggression are:

  • Fear motivated (by far the most common one): is a defensive reaction that occurs when the dog believes it is in danger of being harmed.
  • Protective/ Territorial: involve the defence of a valuable resource (home, family, toys, food)
  • Redirected: when a dog is provoked by an animal/person but instead redirects the aggression to another animal/person.  In these circumstances punishment WILL NOT HELP, in fact it will often make the problem worse.
  • Punishment fails to show puppies the appropriate behaviour which is your ultimate goal.

Some steps that can be taken to improve aggression problems are:

1. Avoidance: if you can identify situations that trigger the problem you should avoid them. This will increase safety, reduce anxiety in the dog and owner and will prevent learning unwanted behaviours

2. Relationship building: work on reward base training. This will provide a common language between  your and your puppy and will build a predictable relationship. Consistency is fundamental in establishing a predictable relationship.

3. Consider consultation with a Veterinary Behaviour specialist, they can provide you with tools for behaviour modification base on conditioning and desensitization.

4. In some cases pharmaceuticals and adjunctive therapy can be use always base in proper diagnosis.

There are as many dog personalities as there a size and style. Some dogs are easy going, others need constant work.  Typical breed behaviours vs looks are extremely  important considerations.  These are important  to think about before you bring a new dog into your family.  Sadly, not doing the research first can be the difference between a long-lasting happy relationship and many dogs being relinquished to shelters.


Adopting an Adult dog can be a incredibly rewarding for so many reasons….but….adoption of an adult dog, especially those that have been relinquished for possible unknown reasons need to be given extra special consideration.

First it is very important that you ask yourself what kind of time and effort are you really willing to invest and what are your expectations? There are as many dog personalities as there is size and type. Some dogs will be easy going and others will need constant work.

It is important that you adopt an Adult Dog with your eyes wide open to give the dog the best chance he deserves for a forever home!

LISTEN to what the caregivers/foster home/rescue/humane society folk have to say about this particular dog as they know his personality best!  For the best chance for success you need to  truly make a decision about whether this is a good match for both your family and the dog and take into consideration as much information as possible.   Never consider looks over behaviours that you (or another family member)  may not be able to accommodate later.

Regardless of what age your dog is when adopted into your family,  a well behaved and confident dog is a wonderful companion and beloved family member and worth every bit of effort you put into the relationship.

Dr.  Luisa Alvarez & Sam

Dr. Alvarez & Sam


Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6 416-231-9293

Do you have a Brachycephalic (flat faced) Dogs (Bulldogs, Pugs, Bostons and more…)

By Uncategorized

Do you have a brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog?

Rosie the English Bulldog

Rosie the English Bulldog

What’s a brachycephalic dog?

The word ‘brachycephalic’ means quite literally “short head”. Some common brachycephalic breeds include bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Chow Chows, Boston Terriers and Boxers.

Mochi the French Bulldog

Mochi the French Bulldog

Fred the Pug

Fred the Pug

Pedro the Boxer

Pedro the Boxer

Why are brachycephalic dogs different from other dogs?

Brachycephalic dogs have gained popularity in recent years because of their cute, wrinkly look. However, over the years, these breeds have been bred for shorter and shorter faces, to achieve the extreme version of this flat-faced appearance. You can see from this picture how the English bulldog has evolved in the last 50 years:

Braceochepalic Dog skull

Brachychephalic Dog Skulls (Image is courtesy of Natural History Museum, Bern)

What health problems do flat-faced dogs experience?

Unfortunately, the selection for flatter and flatter faces in these breeds has been associated with a number of health issues.

  • Breathing problems are probably the most significant of all. Dogs with flat faces often have stenotic nares (very narrow nostrils), elongated soft palates (the roof of the mouth is too long thereby covering airway openings), and narrow tracheas (narrow windpipes). These anatomical conditions make it hard for the dog to move air in and out.  This is why it’s common for bulldogs or pugs to make noisy breathing sounds and snore loudly.


Rosie has a noisy nap

Rosie has a noisy nap

  • Because dogs can’t sweat anywhere except on their paws, they rely on panting when they’re hot. The conformation of the brachycephalic dogs’ faces mean that these dogs have poor tolerance for heat or exercise, because they can’t move air through their airway well.

I  remember well seeing a young healthy Bulldog coming into the Veterinary Hospital having suffered a heat stroke.  He had been playing outside for only a short period of time on a warm day.  It was absolutely devastating to watch her sadly pass away.

What can you do to help my Brachychephalic Dog?

  •  Avoid leaving them outside on a hot day. Walk them first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.
Etobicoke Animal Hospital

Rosie chillin’ on the deck on a summer day…..water and A/C close by.

  • Use a harness instead of a neck collar. Neck collars place more pressure around their neck, which can obstruct their airway even further.


Some brachycephalic dogs can benefit from surgeries to correct their nostril size or length of their palate. These procedures broaden their airway and make it a lot easier for them to breathe.

More questions?  Call 416-231-9293 or visit

Dr. Lilla Yan

Dr. Lilla Yan

Dr. Lilla Yan

woman posing next to fluffy dog

What to do When Your Pet Goes Missing

By Uncategorized

Missing Pet in Etobicoke

You’re out with your dog “Buddy” on an afternoon walk when all of a sudden something darts by and catches his eye. The physical connection between the two of you (the leash) slips from your hand and he’s gone.  He is off and running faster than you can catch up and this thing  he is chasing is much more interesting than you and your desperate calls for his return.

Out of breath you stop but “Buddy” is gone, out of sight and a hole in your heart opens up and fills you with panic, confusion, and fear.

“Where did he go and how will I get him back?”  This is one of the most dreaded pet parent’s scenes and we hope you never have to experience anything like it.

I, personally, know this feeling but replace “Buddy” the dog with Cecil, a Quaker Parrot, who is young, fully flighted, and now in a tree 100ft from the ground.  I was terrified, I felt like the worst pet owner in the world.  How could I, a pet professional, be so careless?

Missing Pet in EtobicokeFortunately, with a lot of Etobicoke neighbourly support and reassurance from our local “bird lady”, Cecil managed to be reunited with his human flock after many tears, a sleepless night, and his desire to return.

Needless to say, I have learned a lot from that experience and I wish to share some tips and advice to help prevent or manage this scenario if it happens to someone else.

First Things First

  • Put On a Collar with Identification
    – This is one of the easiest tools for recovery. Collars can be unique in colour and design.  Collars can be embroidered with a name and phone number.  Here is a link for great embroidered collars:
    – Attach a tag with your pet’s personal information.  These are available at pet supplies stores and over the internet.
        – Register your Pet’s Rabies tag issued by

Royal York Animal Hospital

Pet Tags in Etobicoke

  • Have you noticed that this tag we give at your pet’s Annual Examination/Vaccination visit has a number and QR code?  When you register this tag at you can create a profile that will be linked to that individual tag.  If your pet is found, the finder can use a smartphone to scan the QR code.  The finder is then given options for contacting YOU.  These options are customizable by the pet guardian when the profile is created.  This information can be as detailed or as limited as the user would like.  You can have Royal York Animal Hospital as a contact or you can add every single member of your family. Medications and health concerns can be added to your pet profile and there is also an option to be emailed with the finders location if the QR code is scanned.  This is a complimentary service and is well worth the registration effort!
  • Get Your Pet Microchipped

Microchipping Your Pet in Etobicoke

    –  This rice sized chip is injected under the skin at the back on the neck of dogs and cats and provides a tool for permanent identification.  The chip itself is encoded with an unique number that relates to a database.  This database stores your pet’s name and description as well as your personal contact information.
    –  If a pet is found and brought to Royal York Animal Hospital or most Veterinary Hospitals or shelter, the staff are able to use a scanner that is able to read the number encoded on the chip.

Microchipping Your Pet in Etobicoke

    – With this information, pet and owner can be reunited quickly
    – If your pet is not microchipped – WHY NOT ?  Ask us to do this simple procedure next time your pet is at Royal York Animal Hospital OR bring him in specifically for  this procedure and one of our Technicians can do this while your wait.

IMPORTANT:  DON’T FORGET TO UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION IF IT CHANGES (i.e. you move, get a new phone number, change your last name, etc.). Several times a Pet has been found and a good samariton has brought him into Royal York Animal Hospital only to find that the contact information on file with the chip company is outdated.

When the Unthinkable Happens

  • KEEP CALM, even if it feels impossible
  • Check with neighbours.
    – Often cats will stray within a 3 house perimeter around their home base.  Cats also like to hide in garages and under cars, so ask your neighbours to check theirs and check yours too.  Dogs are often found down the street from where they live.
  • Call Toronto Animal Services: 416-338-PAWS. And call AGAIN.
    – As a general rule, anytime a pet is lost or found it is your responsibility to notify the city.  They truly are a wonderful resource for animal care and welfare and should be a first line contact for veterinary hospitals and shelters.
    – This is another complimentary service that owners can use to create a lost pet profile.  The site also offers services that allow users to send out emails, post their pets profile to social media, create lost pet posters, and get the word out that your pet is missing.
  • Post PHOTOS everywhere!
  • Contact local shelters and veterinary hospitals.
    – At Royal York Animal Hospital we keep a log of lost/found pets in Etobicoke and Toronto.  We are also able to use the number on a rabies tag issued by us to locate a pet in our client/patient database.
  • Keep Your Hopes Up.
    – There is always a story floating around of a lost pet that is reunited after years or being miles away from their family.
    – Continue to check in with your points of contact even as time carries on

When All Else Fails

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, pets are unable to make their way back home.  The best hope is that we are able to find some closure to the situation.  Pets can succumb to the hazards of the street or be rehomed with another loving family, we hope for the latter.  Take these harsh lessons and move on.  Offer that love you shared to another, visit your local shelter and bring some joy to a pet in need.


Cheryl Powless
Veterinary Technician
Office Manager
Royal York Animal Hospital

Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips

By Uncategorized



The unavoidable arrival of cold weather will soon be upon us and we all aren’t as happy about it as Moose and Jasmine!








In Etobicoke, we know that the cold winter weather is here.

For us humans, that means hauling out the thick sweaters, warm winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens. For our pets, it means that we as owners now have to think a little bit before heading outdoors for daily walks – not only about coats and boots for our furry friends, but also the many outdoor hazards that can be a problem for them such as exposure to the cold, walking on sidewalk salt or ice melters, and potential exposure to antifreeze. Here are some quick tips to help beat the winter blues…

  • Use dog coats and/or boots for your pets to protect them from the wind, snow and salty sidewalks – an extra layer helps protect them from the elements. Paw protecting creams (usually petroleum jelly-based) are also available for the pets who won’t tolerate footwear.
  • When coming in from outside, be sure to thoroughly dry off your pet with a towel (be sure to wipe down all exposed areas of their body including the paws and in between the toes) to remove any residual moisture, clinging ice balls, and any potential salt crystals or de-icing products from their fur. All of these things can potentially dry-out or irritate the skin, and any chemical ingestion from licking later in the day can irritate the mouth leading to drooling or discomfort depending on the amount present. You may need to bathe the feet if your pet doesn’t wear boots and you’ve walked in a particularly salt-covered area.
Benjamin Bengal

Benjamin Bengal

  • Use “pet-friendly” ice melting products whenever possible.
  • Anti-freeze is a lethal poison for pets. Only 1 teaspoon can be deadly for a cat; and less than 4 teaspoons can seriously harm a 10-lb dog. Clean up any visible spills as soon as possible.
  • When we have a record-setting cold day, please remember that if it’s too cold for you, then it’s probably too cold for your dog or cat to be outside too. On those particular days it’s best to just plan to stay inside.
  • Never leave pets alone in a car during cold weather. If you are going to a place where they cannot join you, then it is best to leave them at home where they’ll stay warm and safe.

So enjoy the outdoors and all of the fun that winter brings…but just plan ahead and always think of the animals that are a part of our families too.

Dr. Annelle Valentin

photo (7)

Pets and Small children together– safety tips for both this Holiday Season

By Pet Safety, Uncategorized


Hi there! I’m Dr Suzie Jerabek and I have been a veterinarian at Royal York Animal Hospital since 2007.

My husband and I and big sister, Elena, welcomed baby, Marcus to our family in September and I am currently on maternity leave.  However, my mind never wanders too far away from veterinary medicine and Royal York Animal Hospital!

As with most households at this time of year, my home can get just a little busy over the holidays.  Besides my two legged family my household of our two fur babies Charlie (13 year old Golden Retriever) and Peanut  (9 year old domestic long haired cat)

Elena 2014 (Tanya Cimera Brown Photography)

Elena 2014
(Tanya Cimera Brown Photography)

With Elena getting older and getting more interested in crafts and homemade decorations, I’ve had to be more diligent about what is around the house and what our pets can get into and how to keep Charlie and Peanut safe.   Here are a few pointers I hope you find helpful too.




Christmas time is a special time especially for families with small children.   Things can get a little crazy with all the excitement and parties and more visitors than usual in and out of your home.  Adding pets into the mix…..well….it really can be a frenzy.

Most of us know to watch out for the dog getting into chocolate and to be careful with the cat playing with the ribbons on the presents.

But what about all of those cute,  homemade ornaments that your child made at preschool?

Here are a few things you may not have thought of that could cause problems for your furry friends.

Playdough –  One of the main ingredients in home made play dough is salt.   If ingested in small quantities salt is not a problem.  However, the amount of salt found in play dough can be deadly if eaten in quantity.  Salt poisoning in dogs and cats results in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated. Treatment for salt poisoning includes careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

If your pet eats playdough it is an IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY.  You need to seek veterinary care asap — do not wait.  Your pet may still seem well but he is not.

Often children make home made gifts or decorations with playdough or it maybe wrapped and under the tree as a present.  Dogs are attracted to playdough and WILL eat it willingly.

Check out more info here about playdough.

Toys with small pieces – On christmas morning gifts are being opened and toys are being played with.   Make sure your pets don’t mistake these small pieces for food or pet toys.   If eaten some of these can cause irritation to the intestinal tract or even cause a blockage that might require surgery to remove them.

Arts and Crafts:  Everyone loves a homemade wreath or garland.   Just make sure not to leave any lying around for pets to get into.   Needles, macaroni, cranberry garlands if ingested can cause havoc for your pets gastrointestinal tract

Interested in what the Top Ten most frequent Dog and Cat toxins are?

With a little extra care we can make sure your whole family is safe, jolly and happy over the holidays.

Elena & Marcus

Elena & Marcus


Wishing you and your two legged and your four legged all the best this season!

Dr Suzie





Grooming Tips To Properly Brush Your Dog

By Uncategorized

It is important to continue to look after your dog’s coat when the weather turns cooler and his coat may get longer and shaggier for warmth.  As professional pet groomers in Etobicoke we often hear people say that it is “too cold” to have their dog groomed.   The truth is that while it is getting colder your dog still does need to be groomed as well as brushed and possibly your grooming routine needs to be changed to accommodate the colder temperatures.

Brushing your dog’s coat is always beneficial for both you and your pet. Brushing helps to increase blood circulation and distribute oil.  It also means less hair around the house and fewer uncomfortable hair matts on your dog.

PRO TIP – Regular brushing helps stimulate oils in your dog’s skin which in turn helps to maintain a healthy coat.  Brushing also helps fight winter dry skin which can be irritating for your pet.

Here are step by step instructions for how to brush your dog:

1. Start by brushing at the top of the head and brush downwards to the base of the neck. Remember to brush the middle and the sides.

Brushing Your Dog
2. Next brush the ears remembering to support them. Keep one hand on the underneath of the ear while brushing the top.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke
3. Lift the head and gently brush the neck starting from the top down. Always remember that a dog’s skin is sensitive. Be careful not to scrape the skin with your brush.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
4. Lift each leg one at a time and gently brush all around. Don’t forget the hair on their paws !

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
5. To brush the underside and belly you will need to lift your dog up by picking up both front legs. Brush starting from the top down. Remember this is a VERY sensitive area is so be gentle.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
6.  Next start from the back of neck and brush the entire body working your way down to the tail and down the side. Remember to always start from the top down when it comes to this area.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
7. Starting from the top brush the backend (bum)  area gently. This is also a very sensitive area. Work your way to your pets back legs, remembering to the brush the hair on their paws.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
8. When brushing the tail hold it at the base and start brushing towards the tip. Remember to keep the tail supported. If your dog has a feathered tail, hold the tip and gently brush the tail downward to untangle it.

Brushing Your Dog in Etobicoke, ON
9. For finishing touches quickly go over your dog with a comb to get any tangles you might have missed.  Check once again under the arms, behind the ears, the neck and chest, and viola your dog looks beautiful!

 At Royal York Animal Hospital we hope that you have found this blog helpful.  Don’t forget that we open for grooming seven days a week.  We groom all breeds of dogs and cats, whether you are looking for a professional breed cut or a brush out and bath.  We are also being available to answer any questions you may have.

 Lily and Karina

Professional Pet Groomers

Royal York Animal Hospital





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