Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic




             Rabbit owners please take heed!


          There is a deadly, highly infectious rabbit virus that appeared in British Columbia for the first time ever early February of this year.  (2018). Initial reports were from cases found on Vancouver Island.  Since then, wild rabbits from Nanaimo, Annacis Island, Courtenay, Comox and Delta have tested positive for this virus. 


  It infects the rabbit’s body very quickly and causes very fast deterioration of their health due to internal bleeding and severe liver and spleen damage.  The mortality rate is very high! Sudden death occurs often between 1 and 9 days after exposure.  Breathing difficulties, lack of coordination and nasal bleeding are common signs.   The virus causing the devastating illness is named RHD2.  It is a new variant of much more common, less lethal various forms of the virus.  Essentially, it has become virulent with a vengeance! 


 The virus just affects rabbits; it does not cause disease in cats, dogs or humans.


     The disease can spread very easily!  It is very important as a long-term safety measure to avoid pet rabbits being in any kind of contact with wild rabbits, rodents and insects, including flies and fleas.  During this recent outbreak, it is important to be even more careful about where pet rabbits are housed and to keep them in quarantine to avoid them contacting new rabbits or sick rabbits.  Also to keep them separated from cats or dogs that may have been outdoors and in contact with wild rabbits or their droppings.    Strict biosecurity measures for people in contact with groups of rabbits should be firmly in place.  These include changed clothing between rabbits and the use of bleach, virkon or potentiated hydrogen peroxide products for disinfections of the environment and of handler’s hands and shoes. 


    Other longer-term protective measures include avoidance of the offering of home grown food, even if from a private yard garden due to the risk of contamination of fecal, digestive or respiratory secretions left from infected wild rabbits.


 Very fortunately, there is currently an imported vaccine now available to veterinarians.  It has been cleared by the federal governments to be distributed to B.C. by a special emergency permit since it is an unlicenced vaccine. It is administered as a single dose and is recommended as a yearly vaccine to avoid rabbits succumbing to this devastating illness.





Ready? Set? Fetch it Rover!  


      Fetching Games are fun for almost all dogs but high-speed catches and pick-ups can result in your pet breaking some teeth, lacerating his or her gums and sometimes suffering from much more serious emergencies as a result of sharp ends of sticks or other parts of hard objects penetrating the tissues of his or her mouth, esophagus or of delicate tissues further down the digestive tract.  In more extreme cases tragedies such as suffocation from inadvertent inhalation of the thrown object or (parts broken off it), may be the outcome of this innocent interactive game.    


      The great majority of these hazards can be avoided if the object involved in the fetching game is safe for your dog.   As fetched objects, sticks, tree branches and rocks can often be hazardous and should be avoided whenever possible.  Fortunately there are a wide variety of affordable dental- friendly dog toys such as fuzz-free rubber balls and Kong toys available at most reliable pet supply outlets.


     Also, since the fetching instinct is so very deeply entrenched in the D.N.A. of most dogs, teaching them to “Drop-it” on command is a very valuable lesson to teach a pet no matter their breed or size.




     Should a dog walk into the clinic peeing on the floors here and there and with out inhibition, drooling, appearing to be a little spacey, a bit wobbly and staring at me with wide pupils I would be thinking right away of marijuana intoxication.  A cat that has ingested marijuana may appear sedated or hyperexcited, often would be shivering or twitchy and may be vomiting. 


     The most common source of exposure is through the owner’s own cache of “Mary Jane”. Other sources include laced cookies, brownies and “fortified” candies and remnants of joints left on sidewalks or tossed into garbage cans.  Second hand smoke is also a possible but less common cause. (Studies have shown that second hand smoke from tobacco as well as marijuana can increase the risk of nasal cancer in dogs).



  Many cases of marijuana intoxication are relatively mild and result in no lasting effects.  However, clinical signs and recovery periods may very depending on numerous factors such as the amount of substance ingested, the health status and age of the pet and the quality and components of the marijuana   Higher concentration or combinations with other drugs can lead to “bad trips” and even more serious lasting complications and sometimes even coma or death!


Unfortunately, rapid diagnostic tests are not yet available to confirm pot poisoning. 

Marijuana tests of urine as used in the human field are not useful since dogs excrete the toxin differently then do humans. Laboratory diagnosis can confirm the diagnosis but takes too much time to be of much value in emergency cases. Of course, open admission by the clients (or the smell of marijuana on their clothes) can make the diagnosis much easier to make and expeditiously treat.


    Treatment of marijuana ingestion in animals is largely supportive; it can involve hospitalization for electrolyte fluid administration and administration of treatments that allow for rapid excretion from the patient’s digestive tract of any unabsorbed toxin.


      With the legalization of marijuana for public recreational use in Canada inadvertent ingestion or inhalation of pot is going to be a much more common problem for both pet owners and well as for families with young children.


    Increased public awareness of the dangers of marijuana to pets is very important since it is too easy for users to assume that no harm can come to a stoned pet and that “ waiting it out” is an acceptable approach.  Involve your veterinarian for professional guidance.  You may be very glad you did!  


     Does your cat often convince you to allow him access outdoors? Are you aware that this opportunity significantly increases the risk of him or her being hit by a vehicle or attacked by a raccoon, stray cat or of him pouncing on a songbird to methodically play with it and eventually savagely kill it?

        Are you aware that cats are the number one killer of many billions of songbirds in Canada and the U.S?  


     Further, are you aware that cats can acquire a serious disease called “Songbird Fever” ( Salmonellosis) from consumption of living and dead birds?

     Does it surprise you that even well-fed cats will still prey on birds because their hunting instincts are so strong that even if they don’t feel like eating them they will still greatly enjoy the excitement of their " capture- play- with- and- then- kill game"?

     Very unfortunately, fledglings, young birds just out of their nests, are often the easiest targets for cats since they are still learning how to fly and to exist in their world fraught with dangers.

     If any of these points disturb you enough to want to take action here are a few suggestions:

1)     Provide enough enrichment indoors to keep your cat entertained and active. (Laser light play between commercial breaks can keep you entertained too! A helpful hint to avoid your furry friend from becoming bored with this game is to have a pre-placed reward for him at the end to reinforce his prey instincts).


 2)    Buy a bell for your cat’s collar or take him with you outdoors on a leash.


   3)   If he is allowed access onto a patio deck be sure to put decals on any patio side-windows to avoid small birds accidentally flying into the glass panes and becoming dazed and fair game for your cat.


   4)  Not quite convinced yet? Well, how about the benefit of not being presented with a decapitated bird head delivered to the doorstep or hauled into the kitchen by your proud hunter?


     Historically, songbirds have inspired poets, novelists, songwriters and researchers as well as nature lovers all over the world. It is very sad that globally songbird species are on a decline of population at an alarming rate. Pollution, loss of habitat and especially predators such as cats are largely responsible for this appalling loss.

Let’s strive to reduce such devastating losses of many songbird species so that future generations can enjoy what we take so much for granted; the melodious song of birds heralding the onset of spring and summer.



Rabbits Can Be Great Pets!

                                                      By Dr. Leslie Ross D.V.M.  B.Sc.



            Rabbits as pets are becoming increasingly popular in Canada, as more people become aware of how they have distinctive personalities, intelligence, and are relatively easy to care for.   In addition to being affordable pets, they are interactive and entertaining house companions who can bond very closely to people they trust.   Rabbits generally can get along well with other household cats or dogs.  They enjoy life to their fullest if allowed time to hop about the home but do need to be supervised at these times since they have an innate tendency to chew on objects such as electrical cords, some wood objects and other items of interest to them.  


           Rabbits have very different basic needs from cats and dogs so it is important for new owners to be well informed about their rather unique nutritional and overall wellness requirements.  Also, because of their well-known fertility capabilities along with the quite high risk of intact females developing uterine cancers and male rabbits developing male-oriented behaviours such as territorial marking and dominance behaviours, it is very important for them to be spayed or neutered at an appropriate age.  


            Please feel very welcome to phone our office to set up an appointment to have us provide your pet with a wellness assessment and to offer you further suggestions and tips to assist you to maintain your adorable rabbit-friend as a healthy and happy pet for many rewarding years of companionship together.                           
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