Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic



                                                                  HE ONLY HAS EYES FOR HER!    By Dr. Leslie Ross D.V.M.  B.Sc                                 

       This month I have chosen to showcase “SPOT”, a gentle little 12 year old Shih Tzu cross as our “Case of the Month”.

       This choice is based not only on our clinic team’s admiration for this fluffy little dog’s personality but additionally, for my personal appreciation of the unfailing compliance of his owner as she has diligently attended to his health needs over many years of his life.


      Another of his characteristics is of particular value to mention. It is one shared universally by all pet owners that are strongly bonded to their pets; sustained eye contact between the two of them.   Eye contact between a pet and his or her owner can communicate emotions more eloquently than can any word or phrase. It is a measure of loyalty and trust.  Very similar is the child to parent bond where again loving eye contact actually causes positive hormonal changes such as the release of oxytocin, the “ feel-good hormone” into their blood streams.   Very aptly, a loving gaze has been dubbed the “Hands Free Cuddle” by some authorities!


            “Spot” was born October 1 2003 and adopted by his present owner when he was five years old.  He came with no documentation of vaccination or medical history from his previous life.


     We were introduced to him on October 26th 2009 when he was presented for a new pet wellness checkup.   At the time he had a soft, fluffy hair coat colored by patches of black and white of various shapes and sizes.  His very large, expressive eyes were his most outstanding feature.  I recorded at the time that he was a calm, very trusting little dog. I can still attest to this same description of his personality to the present day. 


     On his first visit wellness check-up Spot was found to have a significant degree of dental disease including some obviously rotten teeth. He also had a mild ear infection and indications of a low-grade anal gland inflammation. Medications were dispensed for his first two problems and dental procedures were performed a short time later. 


      As time moved on Spot developed a heart condition, kidney disease and high blood pressure. Subsequently, as these conditions have became more progressive, he has required more treatments and medications during his senior years. Many of the required medications needed to be given at specific intervals over various times of the day. Despite her many other family and friend activities his owner is unfailing and dedicated to maintaining his medication schedule over the years. Spot is presently receiving a variety of heart medications, kidney support medications, blood pressure lowering medication, monthly Vitamin B injections, as well as client- administered cartrophen injections for an arthritic back.  As well he is receiving a specialized diet to provide his body with nutrients to support his heart and kidney function and glucosamine treats for his arthritis.   (With the occasional diet drift, “doctor approved” to supplemental appetite kick-starters such as vanilla ice-cream and plain pasta with a pinch of parmesan cheese along with an appetite stimulant medication if his appetite is particularly jaded!).


   Also, his very conscientious mom walks him to our clinic twice weekly for a procedure involving sub-cutaneous administration of warmed lactated Ringers solution to provide additional support to his weakening kidneys. At other times when the need arises he is scheduled for anal sac expressions and eye treatments.


     Even further to these medical commitments, approximately every three months Spot’s blood pressure and intraocular eye pressure values are checked (the latter to check for glaucoma, which is not uncommon in his breed). 


   Spot’s body is changing as he ages and his body functions are slowly declining but his thought processes remain acute.  Similarly, his personality remains one of calmness and dignity seemingly unchanged from the day we first met him many years ago.   Despite having to undergo many diagnostic procedures and treatments over the years he still remains a very calm and trusting little dog. 


      He accepts all as long as he can lock his gaze on his mom close by as if invisible filaments are connecting his large eyes to hers. If she shifts her body position, his eyes shift to accommodate. He trembles but never resists, never demonstrating any needle shyness or resistance as long as his gaze is locked on hers.  It seems to be that in his mind, if it o.k. with her, it is o.k with him  so whatever needs to be done can be  done.  


                                              Lawn Grass and Leaf Salads by Dr. Leslie Ross D.V.M. B.Sc. 


         Lawn grass and plant leaf snacks tantalize many dog and cat palates. Research to date seems to indicate that this is the main reason why pets will frequently seize the opportunity to munch on various types of lawn and field grass, especially if it is fresh and succulent, as is spring grass.  However, some pets will eat grass or plants for reasons other than gustatory for example, because of mild stomach upsets or as a stress-relieving activity from over-excitement or conversely, boredom.  A few pets may munch on grass obsessively due to persistent gastro-intestinal disorders such as gastric hyperacidity, gastric reflux or chronic inflammatory bowel disease.


   Although, recreational grass and plant-leaf eating is not in and of itself harmful there are some elements of risk involved if this kind of snacking is allowed without supervision.    For example, there may be occasions where there are toxic plants in the grazing area, which could possibly be ingested along with a mouthful of grass. Another potential risk might be the ingestion of worm eggs or other parasites such as Giardia from contaminated grass or soil. or the ingestion of chemically treated grass.  A quite common risk for indoor cats is their unintentional access to toxic houseplants. 



   Simple preventive measures to deter overzealous munching when dogs are outdoors include ensuring that the dog is not overly hungry at the time of his outside access, and having him on a leash when traversing tempting greenery.   Appetizing treats can serve well as a distractive influence to keep the dog focused on these rather than on succulent patches of grass.


    Especially for dogs, increasing the fiber content of their daily diet with canned pumpkin or green beans may help blunt the urge to have a “taste of the wild”.    For cats, wild oat grass or oat sprouts may redirect their inclination to munch on tempting plant leaves. 


   For pets that are often outside it is very important to address the risk of parasite-laden grass being consumed. Since this risk is impossible to completely eliminate, regular deworming of pets is highly advised, ideally quarterly.


       Of course, seemingly obsessive grass eating should be a concern to any owner and is definitely a reason to consult with a veterinarian. With this kind of behavior, investigation for more obscure causes is likely to be pursued.  If this becomes an unproductive fishing expedition and all health concerns are eliminated, then supervised grass consumption can be looked at as a relatively harmless pastime for most pets.    






   The product line up for polysporin (bacitracin/polymyxin) includes a wide assortment of creams, ointments, washes, eye and ear drops and sprays. These products are very affordable and are found commonly in a large variety of retail outlets and pharmacies, marketed as over-the counter products.  Polysporin products can be effective when used to treat a variety of mild skin and ear and eye infections.   Although most of these products can be used safely for a limited period of time on dogs there are restrictions including avoiding its use in dogs having chronic or deep infections.

      Used on cats, on the other hand, it can be deadly!  Numerous kinds of polysporin and similar triple antibiotic ointments can cause anaphylactic reactions that can be fatal.  There are numerous documented cases of these reactions leading to kidney failure and heart damage in cats. To be safe, it is best to avoid using any polysporin or related ointments, drops or sprays in cats.


     Similarly, avoid polysporin use in rabbits and ferrets because they can develop serious body organ disturbances if the product is licked off their fur and ingested.

       It is always safest to consult with your veterinarian before pursuing with any home treatments that you may be considering to use on your pet.   What is safe and effective for human use is not necessarily as safe for use on pets.

       Always remember, cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small people! 

                                                                            Suffocation Danger Alert!


                      It is very important to be aware of the suffocation danger to pets from  plastic food packages and to take care to protect them from common household food packaged items such as Ziploc                        bags, potato chip bags, plastic cereal box bags and hard plastic food containers with narrow openings. 


                      The latest Bulletin from the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia flagged the importance of our profession increasing the level of awareness of the public to this surprisingly common                        cause of suffocation of hungry or curious pets. 

                       Pets suffocate often in a few minutes once their heads and face are fully encased in these items since they generally do not have enough dexterity to remove them in time.

                       For pet owners interested in learning more about this danger and on food package hazard prevention, a website link has been provided at: http//


                       Wild birds too are often exposed to the hazards of discarded plastic items.  In particular, plastic rings that encircle items bought in bulk such as beer cans or large juice containers. These                      plastic rings can encircle shore birds necks or legs causing them to die from starvation or be attacked and killed by predators.  It is a very simple and potentially life-saving act to cut these                          items up before disposing of them in your garbage container.  









                                                                               “ The dose makes the poison” 


      Tea Tree oil is an essential oil that is commonly found in many home cabinets.  It is valued for its use in humans and animals as a home remedy for a variety skin and respiratory conditions.

        It can be purchased from many Big Box stores, pharmacies and pet stores in a wide range of concentrations as an over-the- counter medication in a variety of formulations including shampoos, sprays , soaps and bottled oils.


     Not uncommonly, well-meaning pet owners sometimes reach for this plant-based, pungent essential oil as a home remedy to treat their pet’s ear or skin problems that appear to be of a minor nature.   In animals, Tea Tree Oil has been marketed as an animal flea and lice shampoo, antiseptic, fungicidal agent  and anti- allergy product.


 Unfortunately, most pet owners are often unaware of the significant potential for toxic effects of Tea Tree Oil on pets.  These toxic effects are dependent on the quality, quantity and concentration of the product. 


         Cats, especially young thin ones, are particularly sensitive to the negative effects of Tea Tree Oil; however, it can be toxic to any species of animal depending on the dose absorbed.


     Commercially, Tea Tree Oil is present at concentrations as little as < 1%, but up to 100% products are available. 100% Tea Tree Oil in dogs or cats can commonly cause serious signs of gastro-intestinal upset and nervous system depression, uncoordination, hind limb paralysis and tremors within hours after exposure and lasting up to 3 days.   Liver failure has also been correlated with its use and even death.


       Pets with damaged skin will absorb the oil faster and pets that self-groom (a common habit for most cats), are at higher risk of toxic reactions. 

       Mankind has used tea tree oil for centuries.  It certainly can exert beneficial effects on a variety of skin are respiratory conditions.  However, before a well-meaning pet owner reaches for this remedy it is very wise for them to consult with their chosen veterinarian first to ensure that it will be safe to give to their beloved companion rather than causing them harm.  

       “The dose makes the poison” is a very wisely stated adage credited to Paracelsus, a Renaissance age physician, who founded the discipline of toxicology.

          It is very prudent to keep this adage in mind when considering any kind of home remedy. “Natural products” are not necessarily unable to cause harm just because they are from ingredients of natural origin. 



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