Keep your Pet Safe this holiday season — INDOOR TIPS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. John

Dr John holding dog

Toronto Heats up! Tips to keep your dog cool!

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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

dog with big ears

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

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

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

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

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

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

RYAH’s ear cleaning video

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

Dr. Iz Jakubowski


Dr. Luisa Alvarez

Acupuncture for your pet

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

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

Acupuncture is a recognized veterinary medical treatment.

 What Is Pet Acupuncture?

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

 What medical conditions can it be used for?

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

Is it painful?  How will my pet react?

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

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

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

Will Acupuncture help YOUR pet?

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

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


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


Pet Acupuncture Etobicoke

Laser Therapy for your pet

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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?

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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?

By Uncategorized
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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