The Danger of Essential Oils

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Mon, Mar 05, 2018 @ 08:35 AM

christin-hume-505815-unsplash.jpgEssential oils are nothing new - they've been around for years, but more and more these days these essential oils are showing up in the news because of incidents regarding children. Children are at risk when it comes to ingesting essential oils, but so are pets!

If you use essential oils in your home, that's fine, but it's also important to keep your pets safe by following the rules below. These rules are primarily for essential oils.

Essential Oils Can Be Toxic

Aromatherapy for humans uses essential oils to create a relaxing atmosphere to calm people, take away headaches, reduce stress, etc. Unfortunately, if your pet gets into contact with these essential oils they can also become really sick. Make sure that if you use these oils at home that you keep your animals away from them. Pets should not lick, smell or eat these oils and they definitely shouldn't come into contact with them in terms of getting the oils on their feet, in their eyes, or on their skin.

Essential Oils Can Be irritants

As you probably know animals, especially dogs, and cats have a heightened sense of smell, more so than humans. Because of this some scents may become overpowering to them and cause irritations to the inside of their nose or eyes. Beyond just being able to smell better than humans do, dogs and cats have a more sensitive respiratory system than we do as well, which is why essential oils are NOT recommended around pets.

Pet Aromatherapy vs Human

If you visit your local pet shop or favorite online store you might see these pet aromatherapy products for pets, the pet variations are greatly diluted which does make them safer for animals. It's still a good idea to talk to your veterinarian though before using any oils on your pet. And never ever use these oils on open wounds, scratched skin, irritated skin, broken skin, etc.

Never apply human aromatherapy oils to your animal as these compounds can quickly be absorbed into the skin and go into the bloodstream to cause possible issues to your dog's organs.

Liquid Potpourri

Potpourri has long been touted as the perfect way to make your home smell nice. And while this is true, it can also lead to serious problems for your pets, especially when it comes to liquid potpourri which is made from essential oils and cationic detergents. These ingredients can cause chemical burns on the face, mouth or in the eyes. Not to mention the pure heat that comes from a pot of liquid potpourri can cause burns - or even death.

Keep your animals away from liquid potpourri and away from the stove or oven while it’s on. If your pet does accidentally come into contact with liquid potpourri, essential oils or any other type of harmful liquid, bath them immediately using a hand-safe natural dishwashing agent and call the veterinarian just in case.

While humans might find benefits in using essential oils, they are simply not made for pets, especially if they are not meant for pets or they are not diluted properly. If there ever comes a time when you want to try aromatherapy for pets on your animal, always make sure that you talk to your veterinarian first before using it on the animal.

Your veterinarian is more experienced and has more knowledge on this and therefore can offer a heads up on any issues you might see if you use the product, symptoms to look out for, and what to do in case of an emergency regarding your pet and these caustic liquids.

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Topics: pet resources, pet care, exotic pet care, vet halifax, dog care, animal hospital, Halifax vet, cat care

Oral Care For Your Furry Friend

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 11:48 AM

Dental_Care_banner.jpgIf you have a veterinarian and they have told you that your pet needed teeth cleaning, you might be wondering if this is actually necessary. I mean, they’re just animals, right? Wrong! Chances are like many other people that have pets, yours isn’t just some animal, its an extension of the family. This might be an animal that you spend time with every day, it might be a pet that you have had since it was a baby. You want them to not only be loved and taken care of but healthy, happy and alive for as long as possible too. This can only be done if you take care of their health from day 1. One of the best ways to go about that is to visit a veterinarian for dental care.

Dental Cleanings For Pets

Pets like cats and dogs will often need to get their teeth cleaned. It works the same way human cleanings work. The cleanings not only help and prevent conditions such as gum disease, periodontal disease, and other oral issues but it, in turn, helps keep your dog happy and healthy. Diseases like gum disease can actually hurt your pets internal organs and lead to more serious issues down the line.

Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis revolve around plaque on the animals gum lining. If the plaque is not removed it can actually enter the pet's bloodstream and create all sorts of health issues from kidney diseases to heart and lung issues. Its important to remember how alike animals are to humans. Even humans can get sick from tooth decay and oral issues and its rare, but they can die from toxins going into the bloodstream. There’s no reason to doubt that pets aren’t equally as fragile.

Brushing At Home

Beyond just making sure your furry friend is taken to a veterinarian for tooth care and preventative care, you should also make sure you clean their teeth at home. You can use a regular dog toothbrush or a finger toothbrush – whatever works best for you and the animal. You should also only be using pet toothpaste. Fluoride which is an ingredient in many human kinds of toothpaste is poisonous for your pets.

Signs You Need To See A Veterinarian

The signs that might be present are pretty easy to notice. Again, animals really aren’t that much different from humans. They will definitely let you know when they are in pain or uncomfortable. But, some specific signs to look out for:

- Bloody Saliva
- Head Shyness – If they usually like getting their head or ears rubbed and suddenly they don’t want you to, this could be a sign they are in pain.
- Red or bloody gums, red or bloody chew toys, treats, bones, etc.
- Bad breath
- Crying, whining or any vocalization when they are eating, drinking or chewing on treats or toys.
- Sneezing. This might seem like a normal thing. Animals and humans sneeze all the time. But, if you notice a definite influx in sneezing or rapid sneezing it also could be a sign that they're having tooth issues or that advanced gum disease is underway.

Your pet should be getting frequent check-ups at the dentist. If you love your animal and you want your pet to be with you for years to come, the best place to start is their mouth. By visiting the dentist every few months you can significantly lower the chance of oral issues and in turn, allow your animal to live a long and happy life with you by their side.

Schedule a free oral health assessment now:


Topics: dental care, Halifax vet, vet halifax, pet oral care

Stenotic Nares - A concern for Brachycephalic (Short-nosed) Pets

Posted by Kyle Stewart on Sat, Oct 14, 2017 @ 01:01 PM

What are Stenotic Nares?

This is a condition where the openings of the nose or nasal passages are too narrow. These dogs will snore when inhaling or mouth breathing. When inhaling it creates a vacuum that causes the soft palate to be sucked back to the opening of the trachea. Repeated strain on the respiratory system creates an elongated palate that can interfere with normal breathing even at rest. With normal breathing now restricted these dogs cannot normally expel air, dissipate heat from their body and if the condition is severe enough it can lead to aspiration pneumonia.


What breeds are more at risk?

Brachycephalic breeds such as French bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs, Etc. Stenotic nares are rarely seen in cats but breeds such as persians are more at risk.

What can be done?

A brief surgery called a nasal resection can be done early in life to open up the nasal passages. By just slightly broadening the nasal passage it quadruples the air flow. This removes the suction in the back of the throat and helps the soft palate heal. Owners will hear less snoring as the dogs recover. Severe cases will need soft palate resection, however if done early in life the mild to moderate cases should not require the procedure.

The nasal passage has been broadened slightly to increase air intake.jpg

Who performs the procedure?

Currently Dr. Paul Kendall is performing the procedure out of the Quinpool Road location. If you believe your pet would benefit from the procedure please contact us at 902-422-8595 to setup a consult.

Topics: Dr. Kendall, vet halifax

Preventing Pet Poisoning

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 @ 12:36 PM

March 15-21 was Pet Poison Awareness week and you can play a part by taking steps to keep the animal poisonpoisioningmembers of your family safe and well.

Did you know that the number one cause for emergency visits to the vet or animal hospital is poisoning? As everyone who has a pet knows, they can be extremely inquisitive. Their curiosity for all things edible, drinkable or, for that matter, inanimate, seems to know no bounds. It falls to you, the pet owner, to provide a safe environment. Fortunately, the basics are easy to accomplish. Here are some tips to follow:

  • FOOD & PLANTS.  In Canada, the highest number of pet poisonings occur from food. Pets, especially dogs, love human food. A number of items, such as onions, garlic or raisins, however, can be extremely dangerous, as can xylitol, which is found in sugar free gums and candies. Chocolate in high quantities can cause a high heart rate and seizures, as well as digestive tract problems.

There's a long list of plants known to be toxic for animals, including acorn squash, macadamia nuts and aloe. Lilies have been known to cause kidney failure in cats, and lemon and lime are particularly dangerous for dogs.

TIP: Know which plants and foods in both your home and garden are poisonous and either keep them out of reach or remove them. If you’re not sure about your particular pet, ask your vet.

  • ANTIFREEZE/HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS.  Some antifreezes contain ethylene glycol, which has an attractive sweet taste, but can be deadly to an animal. Cocoa mulch is a popular ground cover, but it also contain theobromine, an ingredient used in the making of all chocolates. The scent makes it appealing, but it can prove deadly if ingested by your pet. De-icing salts are not only skin and paw irritants, but if licked off can be poisonous.

TIP: Purchase an antifreeze that contains the safer ingredient, propylene glycol instead. Use a natural mulch in the yard and keep all chemical fertilizers and plant foods sealed up tight and out of your pet’s reach. If your pet loves to play in the snow, be sure to wash and dry off its paws as soon as it comes indoors.

  • MEDICATIONS. The safest bet here is to assume all human medications are toxic for animals. Some common ones you might have out in the open are pain killers, including aspirin and ibuprofen, cold medicines, vitamins and diet pills.

TIP: Store all your medicine bottles and tubes (which can be viewed as chew toys) out of sight from your pet. If you drop a pill, make that extra effort to immediately find it before your pet does.

Some other common household items you shouldn’t overlook include batteries, pennies, automotive products and cigarettes, all potential toxins.

Your pet is a cherished member of the family. Make the safety habits outlined above part of your household’s routine, and you’ll reap the rewards for many years to come.

If you are in search of a veterinary hospital to provide care for your pet we'd love to give you a tour.

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Topics: vet halifax

What parents need to know about cats and children

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 06:34 AM

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If you are thinking of adding a cat to your household, you should give some consideration to how your kids will interact with their new furry friend. While cats mix with kids well, there can be some stumbling blocks.

Before introducing a cat to your home, sit down with your children and explain to them that all animals have to be treated with respect. Cats don't require much in terms of responsibility but they must be treated kindly. 

While many say that it is prudent to let your small child grow up with a kitten, this is not always the best choice. Kittens and kids don't always mix. Kittens are extremely sensitive and some children play quite rough.  Sometimes young kids just don't understand how fragile a kitten is. As a result, an adult cat is oftentimes the better decision for families with young children.

It is critical that you teach your children how to handle cats. They should be picked up infrequently and with great care. Teach your children that they have the capability of harming the cat if they pick him up inappropriately. Demonstrate the proper method to pick up the cat in front of your kids and then have them practice it to make sure that they can do it safely. If they haphazardly pick up their cat in a rough manner, it could cause the cat to be anti-social and withdraw from the family. The cat might even act out by hissing and scratching at the kids.

When you first introduce the cat to your family, watch your children closely. Observe how they interact with each other to see how each behaves. If you observe your child playing too roughly with your new cat or kitten, put a stop to the behavior before it becomes common place. If the cat or kitten shows signs of stress or fear, terminate the interaction calmly and try again at a later time.

While cats are sensitive creatures that must be handled with care, they can also help kids learn responsibility and how to treat animals properly. Your child will become much more compassionate toward animals when he has the chance to care for a cat. Just be sure to teach him the right lessons. 

Talk to your kids about treating the cat with love and how to respect the cat's space. Discuss proper handling of the cat before you actually bring him into the home and again before letting them interact together.

And of course involve them in cat care, your children are always welcome at your veterinary appointments and also welcome to tour the hospital at any time.

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Topics: veterinary hospital, cat care, vet halifax

Autumn and ticks: What you need to know

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 @ 07:48 AM

While you might like to pretend that nothing bad can happen to your dog in your own neighborhood, the truth is that you should always be on guard. Just because autumn is not a time typically associated with the influx of ticks doesn't mean your dog can't get them in the fall months. Here's a guide for dog owners so that you're not caught off guard.

Facts: Dogs that play outside a lot of the time are a lot morel likely to come into contact with exterior threats. Ticks are one of these threats. Ticks cause Lyme disease and that's a threat to the health of your dog. If your dog goes outside for even a small portion of the day this is something that should be on your radar. Ticks are very small and live off of the blood of the host animal so being aware of their presence is the best way to prevent infection. 


Urban Myth: There is the thought that ticks are only something which infiltrates the country. Wide open spaces, wooded areas and ticks always go hand in hand, right? Well, not exactly. The fact is that whether your dog is outdoors in the country or in an urban area, they are still susceptible to getting attacked by ticks. Tick infiltration might be a higher risk for dogs who spend a lot of time out in the woods, but even just going out for your daily urban bathroom walks, ticks are still something that you should be aware of. Ticks can live in city parks in long grasses or piled leaves the same as they can live in country fields, so when you take your dog out to any park area you should be attentive.

Protection: The easiest way to prevent your dog from acquiring Lyme disease is to keep the tick off your dog. That means a thorough once over every time you are outdoors with your dog; especially if your dog is in a park area. If you find a tick on your dog then the thing to do is remove it. The easiest way to get rid of the tick is with a Tick Twister or pair of tweezers. If you have never gotten rid of a tick before, you might be better off bringing your dog in to a health care professional. A visit to your veterinarian is a good idea regardless; even if you feel as though you have gotten rid of the tick, it never hurts to have your dog have a good checkup soon afterwards where your vet may recommend bloodwork to rule out Lyme infection.

Symptoms of Lyme disease vary but include lethargy (sluggishness) and non-specific pain symptoms, especially in the limbs. If your dog has had a tick and shows any changes in their comfort or energy, there may be cause to seek medical attention before things get worse. For all your pet healthcare needs in Halifax, there is the Halifax Veterinary Hospital.

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Topics: animal hospital, dog care, cat care, vet halifax

Harmful Pet Home Remedies

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 03:32 PM

When it comes to your dog, you know they are not just a pet but a member of the family. You do your best to take care of your furry friend, just like he takes care of you. 

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There are a number of maladies that can affect your pet, such as fleas and ticks, stomach problems and other conditions. A quick internet search can turn up a ton of information on treating these problems, but you should exercise caution. Not all information on websites is accurate, so some of these treatments will not only not work, they can even be harmful!

Here are a couple of pet home remedies that can be dangerous for your pet:

  • Garlic to ward off fleas. You may have heard that putting garlic in your pet's food can help deter fleas from biting your dog. The problem is that garlic (and onions) can be extremely harmful to your dog. Garlic damages the red blood cells. After a few days of eating it, your dog may become weak and lethargic. In extreme cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.
  • Using vegetable oil or peanut butter if you think your dog has been poisoned. This will not work, it is not good for your dog, and while you are waiting for it to work your dog may die because he didn't get the treatment he needed. 
  • You may have heard that it is okay to give your pet the same over the counter pain medication that you use, but it isn't. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are both dangerous for your pet and should never be used.

What about other medications?

There are some human medications that could be appropriate for your pet, but you should always consult a veterinarian before administering any medication to your pet. If you suspect that your pet has ingested a harmful substance, or is having an allergic reaction to a sting or a food he has ingested, your best bet is to call the vet. He or she can let you know what the best course of action is to take. 

He may recommend a home-based remedy, or that you wait to see if symptoms subside. Or, you may be instructed to take your dog to the vet immediately. Either way, it's best to know right away, so that you don't waste valuable time.

Do any pet home remedies work?

Not all pet home remedies are bad. Some are quite effective. Find out first from your veterinarian which pet home remedies are safe for your dog, and which aren't. Be sure to keep up to date on your pet's vaccinations and check-ups to keep him healthy, and keep your dog away from foods that are toxic, such as garlic, onions, chocolate, grapes and avocados.

When in doubt on any aspect of pet care it is always best to consult a veterinary professional.  

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Topics: Halifax vet, animal hospital, dog care, cat care, vet halifax

Some of the reasons owning a dog will improve your life

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Aug 07, 2014 @ 03:27 PM

This entry is brough to you by Dr. Draper of our Fairview Animal Hospital. 

All of us have ideas about why we have pets. Often the benefits of pet ownership cannot be measured. However here are some proven measurements that finally can show having a dog will improve your life.

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Improving mental health: The same 2011 study that showed that pet ownership also held psychological benefits. In the study, 217 people answered questions aimed at determining their wellbeing, personality type and attachment style. In all cases, pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than non-owners, the researchers found. Pets may provide social support for their owners, the researchers said.

Getting more exercise: Of course, you have to get off your butt and walk the dog, but research shows that most dog owners do more physical activity than people who don't have dogs. A 2000 National Institute of Health and Welfare study found that dog owners were more likely than other people to do 30 minutes or more of exercise at least five days a week.

Helping recovery from illness: in a review in the British Medical Journal in 2005 stated that dogs are “social catalysts”, leading to greater interaction between people. This helps moderate feelings of loneliness, especially amongst elderly patients and those with physical disabilities.

Experiencing better overall health: People show improvements in their health, and they engage in healthier behaviors after just one month of owning a pet, according to a 10-month study published in 2011 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People in the control group who did not own pets did not exhibit any significant changes in health or behavior over the study period, according to the researchers.

Reducing allergy risk: Pet allergies are often the reason why families decide not to get a dog, but a 2010 study in Journal of Pediatrics found that children who grew up with a dog in their home were less likely to develop eczema. If you're wondering about cats, this study covered that too. But kids who grew up with cats in the house were more likely to develop eczema, the researchers found.

Helping avoiding medical issues: dogs have been used to detect peanuts for those individuals with peanut allergies. Anecdotal reports say that dogs may help owners who suffer from seizures by detecting the signs of imminent seizure activity. Although this has not been fully proven it is likely that the dogs will reduce some of the triggers that may bring on a seizure event. Dogs have also been used in diabetic patients where they can help with detection of low blood sugar levels.

With all these benefits to having a dog this is why you go out in the rain after 11o’clock and walk around the yard for that final “pee” of the evening.

Topics: dog care, vet halifax

Diesel's Surgery -- Ligament repair.

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 10:48 AM

Diesel has a torn knee ligament, which basically means that the angle of his knee joint needs to be surgically altered to improve comfort and mobility. 

He had been pre-medicated and intubated, and was just wheeled into surgery...

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Here is Diesel's shaved knee, before any incisions have happened. Our technicians even shaved his toe fluffs off so he'll have more traction on his laminate floor at home :)

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Topics: veterinary hospital, animal hospital, dog care, vet halifax

Saying good bye is the hardest thing.

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Sun, May 18, 2014 @ 08:04 PM

By Dr. Eamon Draper at our Fairview Animal Hospital.  Read his full bio here FAH   Dr Eamon Draper s

Unfortunately saying good bye to a patient and friend is one of the parts of daily life as a veterinarian. It is our role to guide owners to a decision that is in the patient’s best interests.

In some respects it is the hardest part of our job. You spend years learning about disease processes and how to try and stop them. There are times however when you are left with the only option being putting your patient out of discomfort by euthanizing them.

This dilemma is made that much harder when you are a parent and the patient is a family pet. This was the situation in my household earlier this month. Although “Keith” was just a tiny hamster he was an important member of the family and his passing has left a gap in our household. This point is made that much more prominent after watching the latest “I-Movie” about Keith’s life made by my son.

However life does go on and unfortunately I have had a number of patients recently who have also come to the final stages on the journey of life. Our overriding aim is always to make the transition as peaceful as possible and this is why we keep on doing our job. It is not an enjoyable part of our job, but in some ways it is the most important part.

The last few weeks with Keith will always remain with us. No longer will I have to stop a movie because of Keith thundering around his exercise wheel at night. The weekly cleaning routine has just one participant now. With time it is planned that another hamster will arrive but the memories will live on.

So when I say that “I understand”, I do.

Topics: animal hospital, veterinary hospital, vet halifax