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Fall 2004 Petnews Issue

In this Issue:
•	Poisonous Plants at Home
•	Pup of a  Different Kind 
•	Common Medical Problems of Rabbits
•	Victoria Pet Adoption SocietyUpdates
•	Basic Rules for Cats Who Have House to Run

In this Issue:
•	Equine Parasite Control	(more than just deworming)


Shaw Pet Hospitals locations:
•	Central Saanich Animal Hospital, 1782 Stelly’s Cross Rd, Saanichton 
•	Vetcetera Pet Hospital, 10A 3170 Tillicum Rd. Tillicum Mall Victoria
•	Hollywood Pet Hospital, 277 Wildwood Ave., Fairfield, Victoria

Visit our website @:


Dr. Nick Shaw
       Michelle Krasnicki, RAHT
      Miguel Gavar. DVMFall PetNews Issue.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please send them to us by email at shawpethospitals@shaw.ca or by fax at (250) 6524338 and we will be glad to answer them.


Poisonous Plants at home

By M. Gavar

Most of us may have not realized that some plants we have at home can cause harm to our pets. Dogs and cats will eat almost anything from chocolates, to sewing needle, to owner’s underwear or socks and it is not surprising that they can get attracted to daffodils or lilies in your front yard. Whether it is a flowering plant or an onion in the garden, they contain toxic substances enough to cause serious problem. Cats may be more sensitive to certain substance compared to dogs but both species are at risk depending on the amount of toxin ingested. An animal may die, may be disabled permanently, or may recover completely, depending on the poison and amount of plant material ingested. Some plants cause immediate sickness or death after ingestion but others may take several days before signs of poisoning develop. While many toxic plants cause gastrointestinal effects, other may result in kidney, liver or neurological problems.

Clinical signs of plant poisoning in animals may vary depending on the type of plant, amount of toxin and the time from when the animal ingested the plant to onset of clinical signs and when treatment was initiated. The longer it takes to initiate treatment, the more serious

damage it can cause due to the rate of toxin absorption by different body organs through the blood. Signs vary from gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea), neurologic signs (seizure to convulsion), muscle twitching, generalized weakness and depression, skin or mouth irritation, paralysis, cardiovascular and respiratory signs, and in severe cases of highly toxic dose of certain plants this may lead to coma or sudden death. Even when an animal recovered from poisoning, damage to the liver and kidneys where the toxins are metabolized is another concern thus supportive treatment is usually indicated.

Here are some common poisonous house plants that are worth identifying. It is helpful that these plants are recognized so when the unexpected happens, you can be prepared and treatment can be initiated promptly by your veterinarian.

  • Aloe, Amaryllis, Asparagus fern, Autumn Crocus, Azalea
  • Buckeye
  • Ceriman (Cutleaf Philodendron), Clematis, Christmas rose, Cyclamen
  • Daffodil,
  • English Ivy,
  • Foxglove
  • Gladiolas
  • Heavenly bamboo, Hyacinth, Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • All members of Lily family
  • Macadamia nut, Marijuana, Mistletoe, Morning Glory
  • Narcissus
  • Onion
  • Poinsettia
  • Rhododendron
  • Tomato plant (green parts only), Tulip

Oh and by the way, dogs may not have a say on the issue of legalizing Cannabis sativa but we would rather they stay away from it anyway.


ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: Poisonous Plant Book

Veterinary Information Network: http://www.vin.com

Peterson and Talcott: Small animal Toxicology. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2001, p263.

Pup of a Different Kind!

By Michelle Krasnicki R.A.H.T.

On September 7th of this year the Central Saanich Animal Hospital (CSAH) had a patient admitted for surgery, a 2 month old Pacific Harbour Seal pup. He traveled by both car and ferry from the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre (IWNCC) on Salt Spring Island for an enucleation (or removal) of his left eye. The seal pup, better known to all as Skully came to the wildlife centre this summer underweight, lethargic and dehydrated. His eye had received some kind of trauma (often caused by scavenger birds as the pups are virtually defenseless lying on the beach). It became evident that the eye could not be saved and plans were made to have the eye removed. After hearing about Skully’s predicament Dr. Nick Shaw of the CSAH offered to donate the time and supplies for Skully’s surgery. However it would not be without risks. Harbour seals are known to be somewhat of an anesthetic risk due to a natural phenomenon known as the ‘pinniped dive reflex’, what this means is the seal will often stop breathing in preparation to dive, usually going into or coming out of general anesthetic. Although mechanical or manual ventilation can be used to breath for the seal, eventually independent post-surgical respirations will be necessary. All patients are rigourously monitored throughout their surgeries and the feisty little seal was no exception. His surgery went very well although he had a slightly elevated post-operative temperature which later came back to normal and he continued to recover without a hitch. Volunteers took him back to the sanctuary on the same day where he later enjoyed a small fish dinner. Skully continued his rehabilitation by gaining weight and practicing his swimming skills. He was released back to the ocean from IWNCC on November 3rd, 2004 and is now enjoying the freedom and life that was his birthright. Thanks to the dedicated wildlife rehabilitationists at IWNCC and veterinary staff of CSAH.

Common Medical Problems of Rabbits

By Michelle Krasnicki R.A.H.T.

The following is a brief discussion of a few medical conditions that are regularly seen in rabbits. Always consult a veterinarian when you have any concerns about your pet.

Incisor Overgrowth

Incisors grow continually but are normally worn down to appropriate lengths by constant chewing of hay/greens. When the front teeth are overgrown, the rabbit is unable to eat/hold food in its mouth. Common causes of dental malocclusion include genetics and improper diet. When teeth are not aligned properly, the animal should not be bred so this trait is not passed on to their young. A rabbit’s front teeth should line up so the bottom incisors sit just behind the top incisors hitting the small peg teeth (these sit immediately behind the top incisors). When rabbits are fed an inappropriate diet such as too much pellets, treats and no hay, the rabbit cannot wear the teeth down. Eventually the teeth will overgrow leaving the rabbit unable to eat. Regular teeth trimming by a veterinarian and a diet rich in hay will provide your rabbit with a healthy mouth. Rabbits can also develop problems with their back teeth and these may require examination under general anesthesia.

Hairballs (or Trichobezoar)

This condition is caused by a build up of hair in the GI tract usually from grooming. Symptoms generally include loss of appetite and fewer feces. Rabbits on high fiber diets that include plenty of grass hay and greens are usually able to pass hair through a normally functioning gut, if the gut slows and hair is able to accumulate or cause a blockage then nothing is able to pass through. This is a serious problem and can even lead to death. Since rabbits (unlike cats) are not able to vomit therefore ridding themselves of the hairball, they must pass the hair. If the condition is not too severe your vet may choose a medical approach to deal with the problem. Here the rabbit will be treated with oral medications that help flush the hair through the gut, if this is not possible then surgery is warranted to physically remove the hairball. To avoid this problem, feed high quality hay (and lots of it!) and brush your rabbits coat regularly.

Snuffles (or Pasteurella Multocida)

This is a bacterial condition which is passed from rabbit to rabbit or by contaminated objects. It can infect all major body systems but primarily affects the respiratory tract. Signs will generally include congestion and discharge from the nose, inflammation and redness around eyes, head tilt, skin infection/abscesses. Treatment by your vet will likely include antibiotics and supportive care.

Sore Hocks (or Ulcerative Pododermatitis)

The hock is the joint located in the middle of the hind leg, this area can first become irritated and sore then progress to ulcerations. This is generally a result of poor husbandry (improper flooring, sitting in a damp/dirty environment, small cage) or obesity. This problem is often treated with antibiotics, wound cleansing and improved husbandry.

Injuries from Improper Handling

Improper handling can result in severe injuries particularly to the back. This happens when the rabbit feels unstable when held, as they push away with their powerful hind legs they risk fracturing their delicate spine. Picking up and holding a rabbit should be done carefully and if you are new to handling you should start by working closely to the floor. See the following illustration on the proper way to pick up and hold your rabbit (and remember, rabbits should never be picked up by their ears)

. Victoria Pet Adoption Society Updates

By M. Gavar

The Victoria Pet Adoption Society (VPAS) would like to thank everyone for the continuous support to our pet adoption program through a joint project with True Value Foods. Your generosity and support by means of donations help us provide the veterinary services and care these animals need under this program. At Shaw Pet Hospitals the veterinary staff ensures that all the animals taken into our program receive the best veterinary care before they are sent to their new homes. Some of these animals were either feral/stray brought in by concerned people. Others are animals that the owners were no longer able to keep for a variety of reasons. The animals health is examined and their suitability for a new home is assessed by our veterinarians. From early this year to present, we have the following animals re-homed and adopted out; female Cats = 69, Male Cats = 43, Female Dogs = 2, Male Dogs = 6.

The Shaw Pet Hospitals have also taken in feral cats from individuals for no-charge spay and neuter surgeries under our

“catch and release” program. To date, our doctors have offered their services and performed pro bono surgeries on these feral cats brought into their clinics; 12 feral cat spays and 9 feral cat neuters.

We at the Victoria Pet Adoption Society ask that you continue to support this program for our small furry friends through True Value Foods. Please ask that your purchase points from True Value Food be donated to VPAS program. Donations in any form from individuals or groups are also welcome. Please contact Louise at 652-4312 for more information about VPAS.

Basic Rules for Cats Who Have a House to Run


  • Do not allow closed doors in any room. To get a door opened, stand on your hindlegs and hammer with your forepaws (screaming like you are being injured helps, too). Once the door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an outside door opened, stand halfway out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, and mosquito season.


  • Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that lap. If you can manage to have Friskies Fish ‘n’ Glop on your breath, so much better.
  • For sitting on laps or rubbing against trouser legs, select a fabric color that contrasts well with your fur. For example, white furred cats go to black wool clothing.
  • When walking among dishes on the dinner table, be prepared to look surprised and hurt when scolded. The idea is to convey: “But you allow me on the table when company is not here.”
  • Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything, just sit and stare.


  • If one of your humans is sewing or knitting or writing and another is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called helping, otherwise known as hampering.
  • For book readers, get in close under the chin, between the eyes and book (unless you can lie across the book itself).
  • When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and picked up and consoled.


  • It is important. Get enough sleep during the daytime so that you are fresh for playing catch-mouse or king-of-the-hill on your humans bed between 2:00 and 4:00 A.M.

Begin people training early. You will then have a smooth household. Humans need to know the basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent.

AUTHOR: Unknown cat

Equine Parasite Control

(more than just deworming)

Routine parasite control is one of the most important components of your horses preventive health care program.

Horses grazing on pasture may become infected with many species of parasites. These parasites can cause diarrhea, weight loss, colic and other serious intestinal problem. While deworming products are important, other measures are equally key to an effective parasite control program.

In addition to anthelmintics (drugs used for helminth parasites), an effective parasite control also requires non-drug/chemical means. To better understand the non-drug parasite control, it is important to review the basic life cycle of parasite infection, so we can identify the opportunities for intervention.

Parasite Life Cycle

Female parasites living inside the horse’s gut lay eggs that are passed into the environment with manure. Under conditions of favorable temperature and humidity, worm eggs hatch and develop into infective larvae. Infective larvae survive in the environment for varying intervals, depending on climatic conditions. Pastured horses swallow infective larvae as they graze or feed from the ground. Larvae mature within the horse, develop into reproductive adults, the cycle starts again with the next worm generation. During their life cycle in the horse, some parasites remain confined to the gut while others migrate through other internal organs including the gut wall, the walls of major arteries, the liver and the lungs. It is during this migration that parasites can cause a great deal of irreversible damage to the horses health resulting in ill thrift, colic and even death.

Because each individual parasite begins life as an egg in a pile of fecal material, preventing primary fecal contamination through prompt and thorough removal of manure from the environment can be very beneficial. Eggs hatch and develop into infective larvae under conditions of moderate temperature and moisture. Freezing cold slows the rate of development or stops it altogether, and excessive heat kills eggs and larvae. Proper composting of manure and soiled bedding will generate relatively high internal temperatures, and most infective larvae in manure are virtually eradicated by exposure to temperatures over 90 F for a minimum of 2 weeks.

A deposit of horse manure in a pasture can serve as a protective reservoir for parasitic larvae. This is especially true if the manure dries gradually over a period of several weeks. Larvae within fecal masses can be killed by chain-harrowing pastures to break up manure but this is only true in hot weather. In milder weather, harrowing may serve only to spread the parasites out and make the pasture more infective to grazing horses. Here in southwestern BC we rarely get hot enough weather to make harrowing a safe bet. Even in hot weather, (over 30C) harrowed pastures should not be used for grazing for three weeks to fully kill parasite larva.

Another method of pasture parasite control that may be more appropriate for our location is physical removal of horse feces. Depending on the number of horses and the size of the pasture, removing feces on semiweekly to biweekly basis should provide good control in most situations. Paddocks should also have manure removed but generally on a more frequent, ideally on a daily, basis. Finally, feeding horses in a manger or a hay net rather than on the stall floor or paddock ground surface will help reduce contamination of feed materials with parasites.

We are frequently asked about the recommended frequency for deworming. For most situations, deworming every 2 to 4 months is adequate. The exact frequency should depending on the number of horses housed, the size of the pasture and the type of animal husbandry practices being employed. For more intensive situations or where husbandry is less than ideal, more frequent worming is indicated. For low density situations with excellent husbandry with good husbandry, less frequent worming may be adequate.

Recently it has been suggested that tape worms may be worthy of more attention than we have paid them in the past. A new product, Droncit Equine Paste is particularly effective against tapes. Tapeworms have a unique life cycle involving a second host (a small mite). These worms can cause ill thrift, poor feed utilization and very occasionally colic. It may be prudent to consider using a cestocidal agent such as Droncit on a once per year basis. Remember that these products do not kill other parasites so this must be given in addition to your regular worming program. In the near future, (already in the USA) combination products effective against tapeworms and other parasites will become available.

Clearly the control of internal parasites is a very important subject. To see if your parasite program is working we recommend a fecal exam be performed on an annual basis. The best time to perform this exam is immediately before a scheduled deworming during the spring or summer months.

For specific product recommendations, please feel free to contact Dr Shaw or Dr Ball at the office.


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1782 Stelly's Cross Road
Saanichton, BC V8M 1S8
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