Pet Safety

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Canada’s Cannabis Act: What it means for your pet.

By Pet Safety

With the passing of bill C-45 (the Cannabis Act) into law in Canada, we’re not expecting the entire country to go to pot, but we do expect an increase in recreational & medicinal use of cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana, pot, weed, etc.). Home cultivation is likely to increase. The “edibles” market will undoubtedly expand. And people will eventually have access to a much wider range of products. Meanwhile, dogs will be dogs, & if cannabis products are within reach, they’re bound to help themselves. Cats have less of a sweet tooth & are generally fussier about what they’ll eat than dogs, but we all know cats that like to nibble on plants or get into things they shouldn’t. With increased access comes increased risk of intoxication. Read on, & you’ll see why this is not a trip you want your pet to experience.  

As for the use of cannabis for medical conditions in pets? We’re not there yet. While there are a few studies underway looking at cannabis use in veterinary medicine, we don’t yet know which (if any) conditions we can treat effectively or how exactly to treat them (product formulation, dose, frequency, & so on). In any case, at least for the time being, veterinarians in Canada cannot legally dispense or prescribe any cannabis products for use in their patients. (Nor can we legally make any recommendations about dosing of cannabis products.) For those pet owners who are taking a pet’s treatment into their own hands, it’s important to keep your veterinarian in the loop so you can navigate your pet’s health issues together.  Royal York Animal Hospital veterinarians can also help you keep abreast of new developments where veterinary cannabis is concerned.


A Quick Lesson in Cannabinoids

There are over 400 chemical compounds in cannabis, & different varieties of the plant have different proportions of those compounds exerting different effects. The two best-known compounds are the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Both have medicinal uses, but it’s mainly THC that exerts psychoactive (mind-altering) effects – not just the happy “high” we associate with pot but potentially a number of other, less desirable, outcomes. It’s THC that has adverse effects on pets when they’re exposed to it, whether by getting into someone’s stash, inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke, or devouring delicious cannabis-laced brownies or other edible products.

Recreational marijuana has the highest risk for pet intoxication because it contains high levels of THC. Medical marijuana contains mainly CBD & very low levels of THC. That said, some CBD products contain enough THC to cause toxicity in a pet. There are currently no CBD products approved for pets by Health Canada & no legal route for veterinarians to access CBD for veterinary use.

How does THC affect pets?

Cannabis products are metabolized by the liver into various compounds, THC among them. THC is then stored in fatty tissue in the liver, brain, & kidneys where it hangs around for a bit doing its thing before it’s excreted in feces & urine.

While it’s on board, THC does a number on the brain causing a host of neurological & other symptoms. The range, degree, & duration of those symptoms will depend on the amount & concentration ingested as well as the individual’s ability to handle the drug. (Pets are more sensitive to its effects than people & don’t handle it nearly as well.)

With limited exposure in a healthy pet, symptoms are usually mild & short-lived. But with higher levels of exposure, or exposure in a pet on certain medications or whose health is compromised in some way, things can get dicey (& probably pretty frightening) for the pet under the influence.

A pet on pot (or variations thereof) becomes disoriented, uncoordinated, wobbly, & super sensitive to sound & light (any kind of stimulation really). He/she may drool excessively, vomit, & lose bladder control while stumbling around trying to get his/her bearings. Some pets get sleepy & weak while others become hyperactive & vocal & develop the shakes (tremors). If you think about it, it’s likely a pet isn’t flying high so much as freaking out on a THC trip. With more serious exposures, body temperature, heart rate, & blood pressure drop, or worse, a pet can develop full-blown seizures & end up in a coma. Thankfully, deaths due to THC intoxication are rare, & we hope it stays that way, but we do worry as new & more concentrated products  become available.

Here’s a video of a little guy that ingested 4 brownies made with “cannabutter”. (Butter containing cannabis has high concentrations of THC.)   The Royal York Animal Hospital Veterinary team put him on fluids & sedated him to help him get through the intoxication.


How much is too much?

It’s impossible to know the toxic or lethal dose of THC because its potency depends on so many factors – strain of plant, growing conditions, fertilizers or pesticides used, fresh vs. dried vs. concentrated in oil or butter, presence of contaminants, synthetic vs. natural products, recreational vs. medical grade products & so on. The research just isn’t there to allow us to say “this much” is too much. When it comes right down to it, THC (in any amount) & pets don’t mix.

How is intoxication diagnosed?

Veterinarians make our diagnosis based on physical exam findings consistent with cannabis intoxication (see “How does THC affect pets?” above) & a history of exposure. THC can be detected in urine, & we can run a urine test for pets at our diagnostic lab, but it takes time to get results, so it isn’t very practical. (Over-the-counter human urine tests are unreliable in pets.) We do recommend bloodwork, though – not because it’ll identify THC but because it can help determine whether there are any other issues we need to consider in our evaluation & treatment plan.

Keep in mind that cannabis isn’t the only thing that causes the signs described herein, so an accurate history is key to making a diagnosis. To that end, it’s important for pet owners to be open & forthcoming with information about possible exposure. (No judgement on our part. We just need to know what we’re dealing with, so we can recommend appropriate tests & therapies.)

How is intoxication treated?

A pet experiencing THC intoxication needs to be kept warm as well as confined in a safe, quiet, dimly lit space (with no access to stairs or anything that could cause harm if he/she stumbles & falls) until his/her symptoms resolve.

Depending on the degree of intoxication, your veterinarian may also recommend the following:

  • hospitalization (to monitor vital signs & intervene if seizures develop)
  • intravenous fluid therapy (to prevent dehydration & support
    organ function)
  • intravenous lipid (fat) therapy in cases of serious intoxication
    (i.e., a pet that has lost consciousness)
  • medication (to prevent vomiting, nausea, or agitation)

With appropriate medical attention, a pet can pull through in about 24 hours, but some can take a few days to recover fully.

The Bottom Line

Any cannabis product containing THC has the potential to cause serious neurological & cardiovascular effects in pets that can become life-threatening, so it’s important to safeguard your pet from exposure. It’s best to keep recreational & medical marijuana under lock & key & avoid exposing a pet to second-hand marijuana smoke. If you think your pet has been exposed &/or is showing signs of intoxication, take him/her to a veterinarian right away.

Where treating a pet’s medical condition with CBD products is concerned, keep in mind that at present there are no studies that confirm whether or not it works or what sources & doses are appropriate in pets. Remember too, that some CBD products contain enough THC to cause intoxication in a pet. Your vet can’t prescribe cannabis products or give you doses to work with, but he/she can alert you to any conditions your pet has or any medications he/she is on that may contraindicate cannabis use. Your vet can also help keep you abreast of new developments in legislation & cannabis use in veterinary medicine.

Interested in learning more? Here are a few websites dedicated to veterinary cannabis:

College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) (for updates on medical marijuana)

Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine (CAVCM)

Veterinary Cannabis Education & Consulting (Colorado, U.S.)

Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Royal York Animal Hospital

Toronto, Ontario

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





reception desk

The Advantages of A Multi-Vet Veterinary Hospital in Etobicoke

By Dog Teeth Cleaning, Pet Boarding, Pet Grooming, Pet Safety, Pet Treatment, Pet Vaccination, Toronto Cats, Toronto Dogs, Toronto Pet

* Compassionate * Responsive * Proactive * Skilled *



You may think that a small veterinary practice with one veterinarian and few staff will be able provide more personal care for you and your pet. THINK AGAIN.

Royal York Animal Hospital - Etobicoke Vet Hospital

1.At Royal York Animal Hospital in Etobicoke, we encourage you to see ONE Veterinarian for CHECKUPS, VACCINATIONS and any other WELL PROCEDURES. We recognize that it is important to have a trusting relationship and your pet to bond with an individual doctor. (we can help you choose the best fit). This veterinarian is your “ Pet’s family doctor”. It is simple to book all your appointments with this veterinarian and there is lots of choice of times as all our veterinarians work varying shifts to allow morning, afternoon, evening or weekend choices.
Pet exams in Etobicoke

2. EXTENDED VETERINARY HOURS mean that WE ARE HERE WHEN YOU NEED US.  It isthe most stressful for you when your pet is ill or injured. We are open seven days a week (Monday to Friday 7am -9pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am to 5pm) Over a decade ago, we gave careful consideration to extending our hours. Our clients simply wanted us to be there when their pets were sick and injured. We wanted that too. In the year 2000 we built and moved into our new state of the art hospital (which is located behind where the old building was). We are fully staffed and open every day except statutory holidays. Longer hours require more staff to fill those hours!

3. WE KNOW YOUR PET no matter when you bring him in. If you pet is ill or injured you can be bring your pet to a familiar hospital where all your pet’s medical records are at our staff’s fingertips. The staff will recognize and welcome you and your pet will be less traumatized……even if it is Sunday afternoon or Thursday evening or 7am on Monday morning. We have been told that it is extremely comforting when a pet is ill to see a familiar face and to know that treatment and care is seamless between doctors and staff.

Best Vets in Etobicoke

4. NEED A SECOND OPINION FROM A VET? Two (or three!) heads are better than one. Our Etobicoke veterinarians and technicians are always eager to lend a hand to each other and to offer advice to benefit the pets in our care. Each day during “rounds” the doctors discuss the plan of each hospitalized patient in our care with the other doctors. Pet x-rays, blood work and all diagnostics are reviewed and discussed. The original treatment plan is  agreed to by all or amended after the discussion. We believe that this communal approach to medicine offers your pet the very best in veterinary care and keeps our veterinarians learning and sharing with each other all the time.

pet xrays in etobicoke

5. EVERYTHING UNDER ONE ROOF. We recognize all our clients lead busy lives. That is why we “PROVIDE ALL THE SERVICES YOU NEED FOR THE LIFE OF YOUR PET

6. Boarding and Professional Grooming for dogs and cats available 7 days a week.

We are Your Veterinary Medical Health Care Team!

Dr. John and Remy

Heartworm, Tick and Flea Prevention Animal Hospital in Etobicoke

By Dog Fleas, Pet Grooming, Pet Safety, Pet Treatment, Ticks

It’s Time For Your Dog’s Heartworm, Tick and Flea Prevention !!


Royal York Animal Hospital has been testing dogs for Heartworm and the Tick Borne Diseases with a “4DX” blood test for several months now.

As of May 1 we have had 5 dogs test positive for Tick Borne Diseases — 4 with Lyme disease and 1 with Ehrlichia.

Ticks are Different Than Fleas

It is very important to know that ticks are very difficult to kill and remove. Unlike fleas, ticks actually attach to your dog.  The sooner the tick is removed from the dog, the less likely your pet will contract disease. Below you can see a photo of what a tick looks like when it lands on your dog and then what it looks like when it becomes engorged with blood.  Many times people bring their dog in to be checked because they think they want a “new growth or lump” to be examined only for us to find that it is an attached TICK.


The Migration of Ticks to the Toronto Area

Hot spots for ticks for the last several yearshas been Kingston through an arc to Belleville , Haliburton and Barrie northwards and moving southwest to the Toronto area.   We know from our own client’s whose dogs, in increasing numbers,  have come in with ticks attached and have only been in our own High Park or grasslands on the Lakeshore or their own backyards.

Use this great tool to check out where Ticks are by postal code:

Ticks in the Toronto Area 2015

 When is tick prevention recommended?

At any point that you’re seeing an area on the ground without snow cover and the temperature is greater than 4°C (let’s say above freezing to be safe), ticks will be out questing for a meal. In our part of Ontario, people and their pets need protection from March through November. Adult ticks are active in the spring and 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, and nymphs are so tiny (1-2 mm in diameter!) they’re hard to spot.

How can I protect myself and my dog?

There is no “one product fits all” to treat and prevent where these parasites are concerned.  The Veterinarians at Royal York Animal Hospital have thoroughly reviewed all the products on the market

For 2015 we recommend two products:

1.   Bravecto™ which is a chewable preventive with the added bonus of lasting for 12 weeks (three months)

2. Revolution which is the product most are familiar with.  This is a once a month topical (put on the fur at the back of the neck) and protects your dog from Heartworm, fleas, internal parasites and has some tick protection

Bravecto Tick Prevention

Bravecto Tick Prevention



Other ideas to limit tick exposure:

1. Stay on trails

2. Keep your dog on a leash

3.Do tick checks after you’ve been outdoors.

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 blood test to check for exposure to disease.

Below are links to Royal York Animal Hospital’s own videos showing how to apply Revolution.

No need for a video for giving Bravecto as we have found almost all dogs will take this as a TREAT!

How Apply Your Dogs Revolution

If your dog has not had his Heartworm “4DX” test yet this spring please do not delay any longer!

Contact us today  to schedule this blood test and to pick up your supply of Tick, flea and Heartworm prevention.

Also, if there is only one other article you are going to read about Ticks it should be this one written by my co-worker  Dr. Iz Jakubowski

Protecting you and your Dog from Ticks 2015

 Dr. John

Dr. John snuggling a dog

Dr. John’s Top Ten Winter Tips 2015

By Pet Safety, Uncategorized

It is COLD out in Etobicoke, Ontario…
Keep Your Pet Warm and SAFE!

  1. IMG_0410 (2) (480x640) If it is too cold outside for YOU… then It is too cold for your pet
  2. Check the current temperature and your dog’s comfort when you head out for a long walk to the off leash park especially during this recent deep freeze in Toronto
  3. Keep your dog on a leash —  Certainly any time of year is terrible for a pet to become separated from you and possibly lost or hurt but when it is extremely cold the risks multiply
  4. Some pets need and appreciate a coat or boots when outside this winter
  5. Limit backyard play time to “potty breaks”
  6. Paws are sensitive to salt.. wash your pets paws and dry them thoroughly after walks
  7. Consider using kitty litter or sand on the areas your pet frequents instead of salt
  8. Outdoor cats are attracted to the heat of car motors.  Make sure you tap the hood of your car a few times before starting your it.
  9. Antifreeze is fatal to your pet if ingested. Any leaks or spills should be cleaned up immediately. Keep Antifreeze stored in a sealed leak-proof container and secured in a closed cupboard away from pets. If your pet has ingested antifreeze contact us immediately.
  10. Stay inside and snuggle with your pet any chance you get this winter!!

Dr. John

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