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Guelph, ON veterinarians - friendly, experienced veterinarians offering a tailored approach to each individual pet. Specializing in cats, dogs, companion animals. Open 6 days a week for appointments and retail sales. Full service veterinary clinic with state of the art diagnostics on site. Located at Eastview Rd and Watson Pkwy.

Poultry flavoured toothpaste. It's a thing.


It's true! Poultry flavoured toothpaste might sound awful to us, but to many dogs and cats, it's actually a pretty great treat.

Why do we recommend brushing your pet's teeth?


Dental disease can be a serious issue for your pet and can lead to other health concerns if left untreated. In some cases, complications could including broken teeth, infection, bone loss in the mouth as well as, in quite severe cases, heart and other organ issues. If your dog or cat is experiencing any of the following, it might be an indication that they need some dental treatment:

Before a dental cleaning at GLVH

Before a dental cleaning at GLVH

  • Stinky breath

  • Excessive drooling

  • Dropping kibble

  • Avoiding hard foods

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Loss of teeth

  • Changes in behaviour

Before it gets to this point, prevention is really the best course of action, and regular tooth brushing is the most effective way to reduce tartar buildup and keep your pet's mouth healthy. Of course, there are many products on the market, including dental diets (larger kibble so that the pet has to crunch the pieces which helps keep tartar buildup down), dental chews and even additives for their water that can make an impact on your pet's mouth health.

After a dental cleaning. With a proper hygiene program after a dental, we can try to keep them looking this good.

After a dental cleaning. With a proper hygiene program after a dental, we can try to keep them looking this good.

What happens if brushing isn't enough?

Just like with humans, your veterinarian might recommend a dental cleaning to remove tartar and plaque buildup. Our equipment is similar to the tools used by human dentists - scalers, high pressure water and polishers are all used to clean up your pet's mouth and have them smiling again in no time!


Heartworm Testing and Much More


Key Points

  • Prevent, don’t treat

  • Screening/Testing is part of the prevention program

  • Infections are unpredictable

  • Talk to your veterinarian

  • Ticks are getting worse, fast

  • Cats can be affected too

I am writing this post in the middle of a -24 degrees Celsius cold snap in Southern Ontario as if talking about summer parasites will make spring come faster.  I will use analogies, anecdotes and common sense to try and help pet owners understand the mystery that is “Heartworm Testing”.

We are in the profession of dealing with living beings in the form of pets who are a huge part of our families and who we want to live long and healthy lives.  The key here is that living beings in even simpler terms constitute BIOLOGY. In biology, there is no black and white (other than life and death). Focusing on the “life” part we are constantly working in the grey zone within which fluctuates health and disease.  As I helped my daughter with basic algebra the other night, I was once again jealous of the mathematics community where the answers were either right or wrong, simple as that. I must say, we were right most of the time, but she hasn’t started calculus yet.

As spring approaches (slowly) the parasites we dread also come alive ready to wreak havoc on this years crop of susceptible pets.  I am talking about the big three in this post since current medications overlap in helping prevent disease from these. You guessed correctly if you named fleas, ticks and heartworm as the culprits.  Keep in mind this is southern Ontario. Many pets further south deal with this year round.

Prevention is easier, safer and more economical than dealing with disease.  Why are there so many lube shops out there? Because we take our vehicles there every 5-8000km for oil changes; to PREVENT larger issues.  So why not prevent Lyme disease which is also a human health concern? Why not prevent heartworm disease which can be fatal and if detected can be costly, painful and dangerous to treat?

Ok, so prevention sounds like the way to go (pretty black and white).  Why do I need to test (a grey zone)? The first thing to note is that not all heartworm testing is created equal and at our hospitals, we only use a blood test that screens for Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis which is why we often now call it Heartworm/Lyme screening because these are the two most common in this area.  It is a screening test because not only is it unpredictable as to whether your pet is infected, we are also trying to catch infections before they cause disease. The other important note is that preventative products for heartworm are designed to be given to negative animals and can be harmful if given to positive animals. So let’s make sure they are negative before we start!

So if you check off any of the following boxes, heartworm testing is recommended:

  • Has not been on preventative between June and November last year

  • Travelled outside of the immediate area to hot beds in Ontario/Canada or to the States

  • Missed a dose of prevention last year (have some left over)

  • Has not had a test for two years

  • Has had a tick removed or spent time in tick endemic areas

In a perfect southern Ontario world, one of two things would happen.  Pets would be on prevention year round or they would be screened/tested every spring.  It is hard to justify preventative medication today (literally, it is -24) as there are no mosquitos or ticks doing anything.  

Our compromise is that we recommend screening/testing every 2 springs and your compromise is that you do the testing when recommended and give the preventative medication as intended.  

For approximately $70 every 2 years, it is much less than those oil changes we spoke of. For the “do it yourself” mechanics out there who can do an oil change for $35, bring me a blood sample in a purple top tube and I will match that.


There are many products available. Jump to the post on Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention to get all the information. Or  contact us at (519) 824-9898 or via email.

Background Information (and a few more analogies, sorry)

Heartworm is literally caused by worms that live in the blood stream in or near the heart.  You don’t need me to tell you this sounds bad. It is transmitted by mosquitoes so the risk period remains June to November in this area but you can see why geography matters.  It is unpredictable! Why is it not a bigger issue in this area? I think that the biggest reason is because historically the majority of dogs in the area have been on prevention.  We certainly have mosquitoes and we certainly have dogs. Within a 2 hour drive of here, there are populations of dogs where heartworm is almost the norm. What might be changing? Less prevention might be getting used.  Much like not vaccinating children, we can see disease that has not been an issue for a long time. Importing infected dogs through rescue groups who are already positive. Did your neighbour just rescue a dog from Texas?  Is it heartworm positive? You can’t control this but you can protect your own dog.

Ticks are relatively new but are coming on strong.  We now live in a deer tick established area meaning that they will only ever get worse and never better in the coming decade at least.  So Lyme disease positive cases are on the rise and this represents another good reason to screen your pets. Ticks are active (looking to feed on your pet) at any temperature over 4 degrees Celsius meaning that there is a less defined time frame than heartworm.  Many dogs should be on prevention in early spring until almost Christmas. Lyme disease prevention is two fold. Use a product to prevent infection and consider Lyme vaccination if ticks exposure is likely to be high. Lyme disease can infect people so unlike heartworm, human health must be factored in as well.  Tick prevention can be started prior to the blood test. Ask your vet for more information.

Fleas are almost a year round concern although I might guess we see more on pets when the days are warm and the nights are cool.  All tick prevention products will protect against fleas and many heartworm prevention products will also. Fortunately, fleas do not typically transmit disease but an infestation can be devastating and lead to human flea bites as well.

I have not forgotten about cats but can keep it short.  Outdoor cats should be on flea and heartworm prevention and should be dewormed as well.  Any time they spend outside puts them at risk. Their lifestyle puts them at less risk for ticks but as I write this, I don’t know what the coming years will bring.  In eastern Ontario many pet owners have ticks in their own backyards.

In summary, I hope you feel more informed and can see why most clinics in the area recommend a strategic program for parasite prevention.  Biology is not black and white and infection with these diseases is at best unpredictable so take control of your own pets health.

Looking for more information on heartworm and lyme, click here


Pet Owners Helping Pets


#SecretSantaGuelph 4 - Guelph helps feed neighbourhood kids


Since 2014, we at GLVH have been proud sponsors of a grass-roots initiative designed to help support the Food & Friends program at Brant Ave Public School. #SecretSantaGuelph, a Twitter-based fundraising effort headed up by community leader Bang Ly, directly benefits the community around our clinic by helping to extend the food available to children at school, as well as the food pantry available to families in need.

How does it work? If you have a Twitter account, you can sign up to be matched with another #SecretSantaGuelph participant. You'll follow them on Twitter, get some gift ideas, and find something in the $15 range that you think they'd like. You'll also need to make a donation to the cause to help feed those kids!

2014's event raised nearly $13,000 from donations and sponsors and the Secret Santa Guelph team is aiming for even higher heights in 2015. This year's event is taking place Dec 6th at the Guelph Concert Theatre - big enough for a party of epic proportions! If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so at and you can even donate online to make it super easy (just make sure you include #secretsantaguelph in your donation form so the funds go to the right place!).

Oh! And don't forget to check out all the sponsors (including us!) and what they have to offer for #SecretSantaGuelph participants.

Here at GLVH we've got lots of toys and gifts and treats for your pet-loving Secret Santa match - we know there are lots of pet owners participating in the event this year. But really, the most important part of this event is the community that comes together. We're helping because these kids are our neighbours, they could be families we see in the clinic and no one should have to go to school or to bed hungry. Let's feed some kids, Guelph.

Cloverbuds are taking over the world!


Well, not really, but it sure felt like it recently when Guelph Lake Vet Hospital hosted 22 up and coming children between the ages of 6-8.  Thank goodness for our open concept design!  The Cloverbuds program is an opportunity for youth to learn about all facets of 4-H Ontario projects with a hands-on, activity-based approach.  It covers a wide variety of topics, including agriculture, food, crafts, lifeskills, environment and science. By participating in Cloverbuds, the kids are able to get a taste for the topics covered in 4-H projects while developing an understanding of 4-H values.

We started with a slide show showing some of the work we had done in recent months (because we have to entertain the parents too). We discussed vaccination and learned the difference between a syringe and a needle.  We examined a real live cat named “Sunflower” and determined that we were having a lot more fun than she was. The good news is Sunflower is a very healthy cat. We let the smell of manure waft through the treatment area as we took a break to display some unusual large animal tools that a farmer or veterinarian might need and fortunately I knew what they all were. We then sealed the tools (and the smell) up to learn how to properly splint an injured or fractured limb. This was certainly the highlight of the day as the participants had all brought a stuffed animal and each received limb sparing splints from their reliable owners.  The only victim was a rabbit that lost an ear. Our only caution is that next time there is a broken bone at home and contrary to what the eight year old insists, tongue depressors and vetwrap may not be enough!

I hope everyone learned something but most importantly had fun. I learned that it is possible to capture the attention of 22 children for 2 hours, but then again these are Cloverbuds. Thanks for coming out and asking all those challenging questions.

Dr. G

Does my kitten really have a cold?


We see a lot of new cats and kittens in the spring and summer, which means we see a lot of sneezing cats with weepy eyes. Cats and kittens may sneeze for a number of reasons including bacterial or viral infections, irritation to the mucous membranes, allergy and foreign objects within the nose. Discharge from the eyes (or weepy eyes) can also occur for many reasons; bacterial or viral infections, injury, foreign objects within the eye and allergy. By far the most common cause of both eye discharge and sneezing in the young cat is an upper respiratory infection caused by Feline Herpes Virus. Feline Herpes Virus is highly prevalent within the cat population with approximately 80% of cats infected with Herpes virus, although many may not show any signs of infection. Cats at risk of showing signs of infection are those with immature or compromised immune systems, cats from a shelter environment, outdoor cats and those that live with more than 1 or 2 other cats. Many new cats and kittens come from a shelter environment or have an immature immune system which explains the higher incidence of upper respiratory disease in these animals. 

Signs of infection:

In addition to sneezing and discharge from the eyes, infected cats may display discharge from the nose, coughing, corneal ulceration, ulcers within the mouth, lack of appetite and lethargy. The signs shown by any individual cat depend on the severity of infection and whether or not there is concurrent infection with other viruses or bacteria. 


In mild cases of Upper Respiratory Infection a tentative diagnosis is made based on history and physical examination. In more severe cases further diagnostics are often required to rule-out other causes of illness. Diagnostics tests may include baseline blood work, FIV/FeLV testing, swabs of nasal or ocular discharge for viral and bacterial testing and possibly radiographs to look at the lungs. 


Most cases of Feline Upper Respiratory Infections will run their course within 7-10 days without treatment. Cases with concurrent bacterial infections may need antibiotics to help speed along recovery. A Lysine supplement can help to speed recovery from Herpes virus infections. In severe cases cats may require hospitalization with intravenous fluids and assisted feeding if they are lethargic and not eating. 


Prevention of upper respiratory infections in cats is three pronged – vaccination, supplementation and avoidance.


The kitten vaccination protocol contains vaccines for common viruses that cause upper respiratory disease in cats. Kittens should receive 3 inoculations beginning at 6-8 weeks of age spaced 3-4 weeks apart. Re-vaccination is every 1-3 years depending on lifestyle and the type of vaccine used.


Cats or kittens known to be infected with the Herpes virus can be given a lysine supplement daily or when signs of infection are noticed. 


Once infected, cats are infected for life; however, episodes of overt disease can be avoided.  Cats that are not infected can be protected by following these same avoidance strategies. 

  • Cats should be housed in uncrowded situations with less than 3 cats total per household.
  • Stressful situations should be kept to a minimum. 
  • Keeping cats inside will lower their risk for upper respiratory infection. 

If you have any questions, if your cat's sneezing cold is lasting more than 10 days or if your cat's behaviour is affected (lethargic, not eating), please don't hesitate to call your veterinarian.



Client Feedback - Sirius the Cat Star


There are some pretty wonderful things about being a veterinarian - puppies and kittens, great owners and fantastic pets that you get to know over the years, just to name a couple. Unfortunately, though, conversations about the end of life stages for beloved pets is a reality that owners and  veterinarians face nearly every day. It is never easy. So, we do the best we can to make those decisions as comfortable for the owner and for the pet, but we don't always know how that is received by you, our clients.

A little while ago we received an email from a client who is new to our practice here at GLVH, but who wanted to share his thoughts with us and specifically asked us to make sure that we let you see it, too.

Thank you, Francois, for your kind words. We look forward to seeing you and your other feline family members under healthier circumstances.

The email, in its entirety, is posted here.

::  ::  ::

Sent: Tuesday May 26, 2015
Pet's Name: Sirius the Cat Star
Subject: Exceptional Support and Service from the Staff at Guelph Lake VH

My wife, Carolyn, and I would like to express our sincerest thanks to Dr. Gardiner and the staff of the Guelph Lake Veterinary Hospital. We recently moved to Guelph and have found a sympathetic, understanding and truly supportive team of professionals. We brought our cat, Sirius, in for an assessment and treatment. 

The entire team from beginning to end provided support and assistance in determining what was troubling our feline family member. Everyone took time to explain exactly what was happening to our "boy" and what we needed to try to bring him back to health. 

Despite all attempts, Sirius did not improve after the first week or so of treatment. Tonight, we called after hours and Dr. Gardiner, who was still in the hospital, answered the phone. He remained after hours to help us ease the passing of our little boy. 

We wish to express our sincerest gratitude to Dr. Gardiner for his sympathy and kindness. You can be sure that if you need help with your animal companion, that the staff of the Guelph Lake Veterinary Hospital will provide unparalleled service.


Wildlife in urban centres - what should I do?


It's that time of year when veterinary hospitals get an increased number of calls about wildlife, in particular newborn or young animals that kind, well-meaning citizens think have been abandoned.

In most cases, the truth is that the adult has left the babies safely hidden to go in search of food and will return soon, or is hiding nearby waiting for the humans to leave. Removing the babies often actually lowers their chances of survival, since veterinary hospitals and humane societies are often just not equipped to provide the around-the-clock specialized care that a wild newborn requires. Wild babies that are handled by humans will likely not survive if returned to the nest, so the best course of action is really to assume to that the mother is nearby and coming back.

It's difficult to remember that wildlife is just that - wild. They are well adapted to their surroundings, and WE are encroaching on THEIR space. We encourage you to leave the nests and litters that you find this spring, and trust that nature will look after them.

Truly injured wildlife or abandoned litters can be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre, of which there are several in the area, however we recommend that you call them first before touching the birds or animals. They will be able to direct you in the best course of action and let you know if they have space or resources available.

Guidelines for Helping Wildlife (City of Guelph)

Guelph Humane Society

Songbirds Only Avian Rehabilitation (S.O.A.R.) - Rockwood

Ontario Wildlife Rescue


Levi the long-legged wonder



It's been awhile since we've had a feline from the Guelph Humane Society here so we're pleased to introduce Levi to you! It's nice to have a "resident" cat in the clinic again, but we'd really love to find this handsome fellow a permanent home quickly.

Levi is a lovely long-tailed, long-legged green-eyed kitty who likes to be around people and has enjoyed exploring the clinic. He came to the Guelph Humane Society as a stray and has recently been neutered and had his first set of shots. He's a pretty mellow guy, and would likely do well in a house with other pets or children. He's got an easily coaxed purr, and is content to sit and cuddle for awhile!

If you or someone you know are interested in coming by to get to know him, just drop in during our regular business hours.

UPDATE: Levi has been adopted and is enjoying exploring his new home and getting to know his new family!

January is Walk Your Pet Month!


January is national Walk Your Pet Month.  I know, cruel isn’t it?  Why January instead of say May, June even October??  With a little planning, though, January in Guelph can be just as enjoyable a time of year to walk your dog as any other month.  There are a couple of important things to consider when planning a walk in the middle of the winter – the cold, the ice, the salt and the lighting.

Oooooo it’s COLD out there!  But, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the fresh air.  I am sure I do not need to tell you how to dress yourself, but I may surprise you by telling you to dress your pooch as well.  Dog breeds that are meant to work in colder climates generally can tolerate a 30 minute walk in January, think Husky or Malamute; however, most short haired breeds will require an extra layer.  Dogs that are close to the ground will also appreciate a coat as they are more likely to get damp from the snow touching their belly.

Sidewalks can get pretty treacherous in the winter and to combat this people tend to use a lot of salt.  Both ice and salt can prove hazardous in the winter.  Like most winter hazards, a little planning will help you stay safe on your January walk.  Various types of shoe grips exist that can be easily attached to the bottom of your boots to prevent you from slipping while walking Fido.  Most dogs can get fairly good purchase on the sidewalk or they walk on the grass/snow so they do not require extra footing.  What will cause grief to our four legged friends is the salt.  Road salt and sidewalk salt are extremely irritating to the tender tissue between the pads of our dogs’ feet.  To protect your pet from irritating salt outfit them with a set of winter booties.  You can also encourage those in your neighbourhood to use a pet friendly salt product.

The final hazard to consider is the lighting, or lack thereof.  The days are quite short during the winter and most of us pet owners are not out for our walk until we return from work.  By the time we head out the door there is often no daylight to be seen.  It is very important to make sure that both you and your dog are visible.  Purchase collars with reflective strips or LED lights.  When choosing a coat for your dog, choose one with reflective strips.  For yourself consider a lighter coloured jacket that will be easily visible to drivers or reflective arm bands that can be worn over your jacket.

So now that you are all prepared, get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland!  I know I will be!

::  ::  ::

Thanks to Dr. Cirinna for this blog post - and it's true, she and her dogs are out walking every day, even in these January cold snaps!

** also posted at Woodlawn Veterinary Hospital blog **

Holiday hazards around the home


We don't want to be a downer at the holidays, but it's true that at this time of year we tend to see more pets needing emergency care due to some common holidays hazards. Families are busy celebrating, and might not always notice what their dog or cat are getting into. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the festive season:

Christmas Tinsel and Christmas tree ornaments

Tinsel, though very pretty, is very attractive to pets, especially cats. Though it is non-toxic if they do ingest it, the long strands can become tangled within their intestines. They will not be able to pass the tinsel themselves, and it can result in a foreign body obstruction.  If you see your pet eating tinsel it is best to seek immediate veterinary care.

Ornaments hung on the tree at pet height can easily be seen as toys. Make sure if you are hanging any decorations on your tree that you place them out of your pets reach. Pets may decide they look like a tasty snack or toy and break them, leading to injury.

Christmas lights and electrical chords

Lighting on the tree or even around the house may be a hazard for curious pets. It is best to hang lights out of reach, and only have them turned on when you are home to supervise.

Pets that like to chew are also at risk of chewing on electrical cords.  Electric shock can occur and lead to damage in your pets mouth. This can be in the form of burnt tissue, or even fractures of the teeth. It is best to check over your entire electric chords daily to look for any signs of chewing.

Gift wrap ribbon

Just like tinsel pets may decide this makes a fun toy or snack. This can lead to choking, or again a foreign body stuck within the intestines. It is best to discard any ribbon or bows into the garbage right away before pets have a chance to chew on them.

It might look really cute to decorate your pet with a Christmas ribbon collar, but make sure to remove these after you are done taking photos, or if you are not able to supervise your pet.

Food Hazards

There are many holiday treats that although they are tasty for us, can be toxic to our four legged friends. Here is a list of foods to keep away from pets this season:

-Depending on the size of your pet, it may only take a small amount of chocolate to cause toxicity. Chocolate contains theobromine, which when ingested can make your pet sick. Theobromine is present in higher amount in products like baking chocolate, then dark chocolate, with milk chocolate containing the least amount. The most common signs of chocolate toxicity are vomiting and tremors at low doses, but at high doses we can see seizure activity and sometimes death. If your pet gets into any Christmas goodies this holiday season, contact us and we can let you know if your pet needs to seek immediate medical attention.

-Fat trimmings and turkey bones are dangerous for pets especially dogs. The fat off the turkey can lead to pancreatitis. Bones can break and splinter in your dog’s mouth, and can even break teeth. If fragments are swallowed the can become obstructive in the intestines, or cause lacerations.

-Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps.

Holiday plants

Some decorative plants can be poisonous if ingested by our pets.

-Poinsettias can cause oral irritation to a pets mouth and stomach. They can also induce vomiting.

-Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.

-Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.

-Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.


The holiday season, though filled with Christmas cheer for us, can be a very stressful time for our four legged friends. Make sure pets have a safe spot to go to hide, or be away from all the noise when they feel the need.

All of us at Guelph Lake Veterinary Hospital want to wish you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season! 

Note: Parts of this blog post were originally posted on our sister hospital's blog at Woodlawn Veterinary Hospital.