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It is important to make sure your pet is protected against ticks, heartworm, fleas and intestinal parasites. We know that ticks become active whenever temperatures reach 4 degrees Celsius or above. As our weather changes rapidly and can be unpredictable, we are recommending year-round tick prevention to protect your pet from diseases transmitted by ticks.

Ticks and Lyme disease are now established in the Ottawa area, with recent studies showing that 1 in 3 ticks in this area are carrying the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. In addition, ticks in this area have also been found to carry similar bacteria that cause a disease called Anaplasmosis.

Any dog that spends time outside is at risk of picking up ticks, contracting mosquito bites, or coming in contact with material that exposes them to intestinal parasites. Mosquitoes are the main carriers of heartworm, and intestinal parasites can be found on the ground anywhere that another animal has defecated. Many of our clients have found ticks on their dogs, even though they haven’t left the backyard.  Of course, dogs which are spending more time in forested areas, long grasses or wilderness are at even greater risk for contracting ticks.

We recommend annual screening for your pet to test for exposure to diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes, such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and heartworm disease. This is a simple blood test that only takes a few minutes to collect and results are available within 24 hours. We recommend testing annually as we have had many cases of dogs testing positive for Lyme disease, with several becoming symptomatic. Because the bacteria that cause the disease can stay in your pet’s system for several years, annual testing helps us identify whether or not a Lyme positive is a recent infection, or an old infection that has been there for a while. If your pet tests negative, it is important to test every year so we do not miss a new infection.

We recommend your pet be on tick prevention year-round, but annual testing is still important as none of the preventative medications can guarantee 100% protection. Products available for parasite prevention include oral or topical, monthly or every-3-month dosing, products for specific parasites or all-new comprehensive products that combines heartworm, tick, flea and intestinal parasite prevention in one monthly dose.

Please call us today at 613-271-8387 to book your pet’s annual screening test and discuss product options that are right for you and your pet.

Should I have my pet insured?

The short answer to this question is YES!

Common Procedures Required

Common Procedures Required

We strongly recommend that all our clients obtain health and accident insurance for their pets. If you think you don’t need to insure your pets or feel it may not be worth the expense, you should ask yourself the following question: If my pet got sick or had an accident and the cost to treat him/her was $5000 or more (potentially a LOT more), would I be able to authorize treatment without any hesitation and without causing myself financial hardship?

If the answer to this question is NO, then you need pet insurance.

Many people feel that it is not worth paying for pet insurance because they may never need it or may not use it for several years. Using this argument, we would not insure our homes or cars either, but this is not the case. Some clients feel that they would be better off putting the money they would spend on insurance into a separate account each month to pay for unexpected veterinary costs. There are two problems with this approach:

1) Many of us have this good intention but will not actually keep up with it.

2) This approach only works if your pet does not need treatment for several months/years after you start to save.

Another mistake people tend to make with respect to pet insurance is to wait until the pet is older, thinking that they will not need to pay premiums for as long. This often results in the pet ending up with what is termed a “pre-existing” condition, which the insurance company will no longer cover. If you insure your pet when it is young and healthy, then the pet will likely be covered for all illnesses for the rest of its life.

It is possible to obtain pet insurance which only covers accidents. Obviously the monthly premiums for this type of insurance are cheaper. It is certainly better to have this type of insurance than none at all, especially for younger pets as they are more prone to things such as swallowing toys, etc., but keep in mind the above advice about pre-existing conditions; it may be worth the extra each month not to have to worry about what you may end up needing to claim for.

Below are some links to some of the major companies offering pet insurance in Canada. If you have specific questions about choosing a company or a plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Over the counter pain medications

As a pet owner, you hate to see your dog or cat in pain. Therefore, many pet owners will try to help reduce their pet’s pain by giving them human, rather than veterinary, medications that they have found effective in alleviating their own pain or that of their children. After all, “if it helped me/my child, there’s no reason it won’t help my pet, right?’

WRONG! Not only may some human products not be effective, many of them can be downright harmful.

Dogs and cats are not the same as small people. Their metabolisms, and therefore their ability to metabolize drugs, can vary greatly from our own. This means that a drug which is effective for a person may not be effective for your pet and in some cases can actually be quite toxic or have negative side-effects.

We often hear clients say that “Dr. Google” or even “my friend’s vet” said that it is okay to give my dog aspirin. While it is true that most dogs can tolerate the occasional dose of aspirin, there are many instances in which it could still be harmful. Additionally, it is not the most effective pain reliever for dogs. Most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have 2 main effects on the body: pain relief and also gastric, or stomach irritation.  Most of the NSAIDs used in veterinary medicine have been developed to maximize pain relief while minimizing the gastric side effects. This is important because dogs, and especially cats, are more prone to developing complications such as stomach ulcers from the use of NSAIDs than people are. Another consideration when using NSAIDs for dogs and cats is that they are also more prone to kidney toxicity from their use. As owners often give these products to older pets who may be suffering from arthritic pain, these older pets may already have impaired kidney function and a decreased ability to handle these drugs.

So you might think, “OK, so I will just give my dog one dose of aspirin until I can take him to the vet”. The problem with this is that NSAIDs require what is called a “washout” period between their use. This means that if aspirin is given, it will then be several days before a different NSAID can be given. This is due to the fact that some of the drug will still be present in the dog after the time when the pain relieving properties have finished, and adding another NSAID too soon will greatly increase the chances of negative side effects such as stomach ulceration. Thus, the one dose of aspirin that you gave your dog to “tide him over” has now resulted in an inability for your vet to start the dog on a safer NSAID for several days.

The take-home message from all of this is that you should always contact us prior to giving your dog or cat any over-the-counter medication to prevent administration of products that could be harmful, toxic, wrongly dosed, or ineffective. This includes drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin (Excedrin, Anacin), and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Acetaminophen, in particular, is extremely toxic to cats.

Our pets certainly feel pain in the same way we do – if something causes us pain, it will cause pain for our pets. Many options exist to help alleviate pain in pets. Make sure to work with your vet to do so safely!

Old Age is Not a Disease

While there are many diseases that are seen more frequently as pets get older, arthritis being arguably the most common, old age itself is not a disease. There is no cure or treatment for old age, but there most certainly are treatments for arthritis and some of the other diseases associated with aging.

On a daily basis, we see pets for their annual checkups, and when asking about their current health status, we hear “Fluffy/Rover is doing fine I guess, just getting old.” This is followed with statements such as “he is slowing down”, “she can’t jump in the car any more”, “he just isn’t the dog/cat he was a few years ago”.

Aging happens to us all, humans and pets alike. As humans age though, we do all we can to alleviate the symptoms, and maintain our quality of life and stay active. We do this through medications, health supplements, diet, appropriate exercise, and therapies such as physiotherapy and chiropractic. We generally do not suffer in silence, nor should we.

Unfortunately, many of our pets do just that, most likely because they are more stoic than most people and because it is part of their nature not to want to show any sign of weakness; this does not mean that the discomfort is not present. This is especially true for cats.  Additionally, many people are just not aware that virtually any treatment/therapy available for humans is likely available for our pets.

At the first sign of “slowing down” or even before, starting joint supplements will help to keep pets’ mobility at an optimal level for as long as possible. As symptoms progress, medications can be added to keep them comfortable. If pain is controlled, normal movement and function will be better maintained, which in turn will prevent muscle loss and further decreases in mobility. Using alternative treatments such as therapeutic laser, underwater treadmill, and chiropractic adjustments will keep pets comfortable and mean lower doses of pain medications can be used. These treatments can also be very valuable for pets who cannot take medications due to other health concerns.

Consulting with your veterinarian to develop a plan to maintain your pet’s comfort and mobility will greatly enhance their senior years and keep the human-animal bond strong between you and your beloved furry family member. One important thing to consider long before you pet shows age-related symptoms is that many pet insurance plans will cover not only prescribed medications but also the additional therapies such as physio and chiropractic, as long as the policy is in place before a diagnosis of arthritis or other orthopedic problems is made.

Do not go gentle into that good night……..rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

QWAH – Humane Society Visit

Last month, the staff of Queensway West Animal Hospital spent an entire evening at the Humane Society of Ottawa-Carleton volunteering their time and veterinary expertise to spay and neuter several dogs and cats.



We arrived to have an orientation from one of the technicians at the humane society and then set to work. Both Dr. Duns and Dr. Morrison performed surgery at the same time. The technicians, Mary, Dawna and Andrea, anesthetized and prepared the animals for surgery and then monitored anesthesia during the surgery.



Amanda helped with preparing the animals and was also in charge of monitoring the recovering animals. Sara assisted wherever needed and also made sure to take plenty of pictures to document our evening. Finally, Dr. Morrison’s daughter, Paige, was on hand to observe and was given the all-important task of naming any of the puppies and kittens who did not already have a name.



In total, we spayed 5 cats and neutered 2 cats and 2 dogs.  In addition, we microchipped each one of them and vaccinated those which needed it.

The Humane Society was kind enough to feed us and ordered plenty of delicious pizza for everyone (no, we didn’t have to eat dog and cat chow!).

We all had a very enjoyable evening while being able to provide much needed help to a worthy organization. We enjoyed getting to see “behind the scenes” at the Humane Society. It is a beautiful facility and well worth a visit for anyone who loves animals. We hope to be able to repeat the experience in the future.


Queensway West Animal Hospital’s First Veterinary Blog

Hello and welcome to Queensway West Animal Hospital’s first veterinary blog! Queensway West Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic located in Kanata, Ontario. We offer a comprehensive range of veterinary services with an emphasis on promoting wellness and preventative medicine within a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Please visit our website at to learn more about us.

Our plan is to write a blog on a monthly basis. We will be including some informational articles on various veterinary topics as well as posting about more personal aspects of our practice, including some of our community outreach endeavours.

On that note, we recently held a campaign to encourage people to follow our Facebook page:

Fb fund raiser( blog photo)We invited people to like our page, and in return for each “Like” received we promised to donate 1 pound of pet food to one of two charities: the Arnprior Humane Society and the Ottawa Food Bank. This resulted in us providing 100 pounds of much-needed food to each location! At the same time, we held a raffle for two Christmas pet-themed gift baskets with proceeds going to the Ottawa Humane Society. We like to spread the love around!

In the upcoming couple of months we have some of our staff members attending veterinary continuing education conferences as well as our entire staff participating in a volunteer program for the Ottawa Humane Society. We will report on these activities in an upcoming blog.

We welcome your feedback on this and future blogs and also invite you to let us know if there is a topic you would like us to cover in the future. Please feel to contact us any time at 613-271-8387 or or leave us a message on Facebook.