Compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.1
Salmonella bacteria cause the disease salmonellosis, and L. monocytogenes bacteria cause the disease listeriosis. People and animals can get both diseases by eating food contaminated with the harmful bacteria. That’s why salmonellosis and listeriosis are called “foodborne” illnesses—the bacteria are carried, or “borne,” in or on contaminated food.
People can also get both salmonellosis and listeriosis by handling contaminated food, such as contaminated raw pet food, or touching contaminated surfaces and utensils and accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Some animals can carry Salmonella and L. monocytogenes without showing signs of being sick.
Some animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, cattle, and chickens, can have Salmonella on their bodies or in their habitats. After handling a live animal or touching an object in its habitat, people can get salmonellosis by accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Food products made from animals, such as raw meat and poultry, can be sources of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes infection.

Symptoms of salmonellosis in people include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Symptoms start 12 hours to three days after a person ingests the bacteria.
Most people recover from salmonellosis in four to seven days without treatment, but some groups are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms. These high-risk groups are:
Children under 5
The elderly
Pregnant women
People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases)

Compared to salmonellosis and other foodborne illnesses, listeriosis is rare but very serious with a high mortality rate of 20 to 30 percent.
L. monocytogenes can invade many places in the body, including the brain, membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (called the “meninges”), digestive tract (the stomach and intestines), and bloodstream. Symptoms vary depending on the body site, or sites, affected.
Listeriosis occurs almost exclusively in:
Pregnant women and their fetuses
The elderly
People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases)
Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Newborns suffer the most serious consequences of listeriosis, including pneumonia or respiratory distress, a blood infection, and meningitis.
Tips to Prevent Infection

To prevent infecting yourself or other people in your household with Salmonella and L. monocytogenes, it’s best if you don’t feed your pet a raw diet.
If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, here are some tips to prevent infection:
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
Keep raw food separate from other food.
Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.

1 Source: Nemser S, Reimschuessel, R. Food Emergency Response Network (FERN)disclaimer icon  Microbiology Cooperative Agreement Program (MCAP), FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Special Project: Pet food testing for selected microbial organisms. Final Report 2010-2012. The study was conducted by FDA CVM’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), in collaboration with FERN MCAP laboratories. The journal citation is Nemser S, Doran T, et al. Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxigenic Escherichia coli in Various Pet Foods. Foodborne Pathog Dis 2014;11:706-709.

Consider Adoption First

In 2014 shelters represented by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) admitted 85,000 cats and 38,000 dogs. Of these 27% of cats and 11% of dogs were euthanized. This equates to 22,950 cats and 4,180 dogs. This was just in one year. The numbers in the United States are much higher.

The good news: these are the lowest numbers since the CFHS began collecting data in 1993. People are becoming educated on the importance of responsible pet care.

There are many advantages to ensuring your pets are spayed or neutered. Decreasing the number of euthanasias performed annually is the obvious reason. The following are reasons you may not be aware of:

1.    Health Benefits: prevention of testicular cancer and prostate cancer in males. Prevention of mammary cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine infections in females.
2.    Behavioral Benefits: reduced aggression, reduced roaming, reduced urine spraying/marking, reduced vocalization/howling, reduced house soiling.
3.    Cost Savings: Less chance of dog catcher fees, reduced cost to shelters, reduced livestock deaths (sheep, chickens).
4.    Public Health and Safety Benefits: reduced incidence of bites, reduced spread of Rabies and other zoonotic diseases.
5.    Additional Benefits to Society: decreased suffering and death of animals causing less distress to empathetic humans, decreased death of wildlife such as song birds, reptiles and amphibians.


Tick Season Is Around The Corner!


Remember when you used to hear warnings about tucking your pants into your socks before wandering in Point Pelee National Park? Those warnings were to prevent people from getting Lyme disease from the deer ticks found in the Park. Thanks to environmental change we now have ticks in our area that carry the organism responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi.
Different species of ticks carry different disease causing organisms. If you take your pet with you across the border you might pick up an extra passenger. Your pet might return with either Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis. Both of these diseases attack the blood cells causing either severe anemia or immune deficiencies. As with Lyme disease, people can also suffer from Ehrlichiosis.

Ticks become active in temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius. Because we have been experiencing extreme variations in winter temperatures and we are seeing an increase in the number of pets with tick borne diseases, we are now recommending year round prevention for fleas and ticks. Depending on which prevention you choose, it can also protect your pet against Sarcoptic Mange, which we discussed in last month’s newsletter.

Don't worry though, prevention of flea diseases and related issues is simple. Bring your dog in annually for a simple blood test that will detect the presence of B. burgdorferi, Ehrlicia, Anaplasma and Heartworm and we can treat it accordingly so larger issues don't develop.


There are many diseases that can cross between species, for example from dogs, cats or lizards to humans. That means that if Rover tangles with a parasite, you and your loved ones could potentially contract a disease if the right precautions are not taken. As March is Zoonotic month we thought we would address some of the common parasites that we see at our clinic.

What is Toxoplasmosis
& Why Pregnant Women Should Care?

Pregnant women are warned not to clean litterboxes because of an organism called Toxoplasma. This organism has the ability to cross the placenta and can cause varying degrees of blindness in the newborn. It can also cause a variety of severe neurological conditions and at its worse can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. This sounds frightening but please don’t give away your cat if you are thinking about starting a family. The organism takes 24 to 48 hours after passing from the cat (in feces) to become infectious. Cleaning the litterbox at least once a day and wearing rubber gloves will prevent infection. Better yet, get someone else to clean the litterbox!

Toxoplasma can also be transmitted from animals to humans by ingestion of undercooked meat.

What's The Big Deal About Roundworms & Hookworms?

Both Roundworms and Hookworms from dogs and cats can infect humans. We can become infected from contact with feces and possibly from being licked in the face by our pets.

Young children and the elderly are at the highest risk along with people who are immune suppressed from HIV-Aids, organ transplant recipients on anti-rejection drugs and anyone who is on immune suppressing drugs.

In the above population these intestinal parasites can cause Larval Migrans which means “migrating larva.”  When ingested by humans, who are not their first choice as a host, the larvae travel from the digestive tract and can cause damage wherever they end up. For example, larvae migrating to a child’s eye can cause blindness.

Roundworms cause
Visceral (organ), ocular (eye), and neural larval migrans. 

Hookworms cause
Visceral (organ) and cutaneous (skin) larval migrans. 

Puppies and kittens need to be dewormed beginning at 2 weeks of age, every 2 weeks thereafter until they are 4 months of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.


How Periodontal Disease Develops in Pets:

The cause of gum disease is the same in cats and dogs as it is in people. Gum disease is an infection resulting from build-up of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of the teeth around the gums. The bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue if plaque is allowed to accumulate, which often leads to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. Hard dental tartar (calculus) consists of calcium salts from saliva deposited on plaque. Tartar starts to form within a few days on a tooth surface that is not kept clean, and provides a rough surface that enhances further plaque accumulation. Once it has begun to grow in thickness, tartar is difficult to remove without dental instruments.

Consequences of Periodontal Disease in Pets:

Bad breath is the most common effect noted by owners. However, this is often only the tip of the iceberg. The gums become irritated, leading to bleeding and oral pain, and your cat or dog may lose its appetite or drop food from its mouth while eating. The roots may become so severely affected that some teeth become loose and fall out. Bacteria surrounding the roots gain access to the blood stream ("bacteremia"). Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more severe microscopic damage in their kidneys, heart muscle and liver than do dogs with less severe periodontal disease.


Keep your pets away from stream or pond edges so they don’t fall through the ice.

Ensure your vehicles are not leaking antifreeze as even a small amount (as little as one tablespoon) ingested by a dog or cat can be deadly.

Honk your horn prior to starting your car to alert any stray cat that may be seeking warmth under the hood.

Don’t tie a pet outdoors during periods of extreme cold. Even a few minutes in the cold without protection from wind and wet can cause hypothermia.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be stressful and sometimes dangerous for pets. Encounters with strangers, bright Christmas lights, chocolate treats and fatty table scraps are just a few holiday dangers a pet may encounter. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association & Blue Mountain Veterinary Services offer the following tips for pet owners and their animals to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
Holiday Food & Drink
Alcohol: Dogs in particular may be attracted to alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a dangerous substance for pets, so keep drinks and bottles out of reach at all times. Signs of alcohol intoxication in pets may include vomiting, wobbly gait, depression, disorientation, and/or low body temperature. If alcohol ingestion is suspected, bring your pet to see a veterinarian immediately.
Chocolate: All foods containing chocolate, which can be toxic to animals, should be safely stored away in areas inaccessible to pets.
Poultry bones: Avoid feeding poultry bones to cats and dogs. A turkey bone can splinter and become lodged in the throat or further down the digestive system.
Table scraps: Many pets are adept at finding food on counter tops and tables, so keep the meal out of reach. Ask guests not to feed your pet table scraps.
Xylitol: Ingestion of this low-calorie artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, candies and baked goods from grocery stores or bakeries can lead to liver injury or even liver failure.
Christmas Trees
Christmas trees with their prickly pine needles, wire hooks, shiny ribbons, and small ingestible ornaments are particularly hazardous. Tinsel, which is sparkly and attractive to pets (especially cats), can cause blockages in their intestines, leading to an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital. Chewing on Christmas light cords could shock, burn or electrocute a pet. Christmas tree water can also be harmful to pets.
Hazardous Holiday Plants
Holly: Ingestion is most commonly associated with signs such as digestive upset and nervous system depression. Holly has some of the same toxic components as chocolate (caffeine, theobromine).
Mistletoe: Can produce quite severe irritation of the digestive tract, as well as whole body symptoms including low heart rate and temperature, difficulty breathing, unsteadiness, excess thirst, and sometimes seizures, coma, and even death.
Poinsettia: Ingestion of leaves generally causes mild to moderate digestive upsets. Excess saliva, vomiting, and diarrhea may also result.
If you suspect your pet has chewed or ingested something unusual, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait until the end of a weekend, or overnight for regular office hours. Some toxins can damage internal organs and may cause significant (and perhaps irreversible) injury in a short time frame.


Dr. Tina Gray talks about pet cancer awareness month


Pets have an increased risk of cancer as they age just as we do. What can we do about it?
Smoking indoors increases the risk of cancer in exposed pets. Yes, this means if you smoke in your house you are increasing not only your own risk of getting cancer but your indoor pets will also be more likely to develop cancer. Furthermore, cats are very much at risk for feline asthma if they live in a house with a smoker.

Lymphoma, which is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in dogs, resembles non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans.
Risk factors that have been demonstrated for both of these cancers
include pesticides, household chemicals (in particular paints and paint strippers) and living in an industrial area.

The bottom line for both you and your pets is, live a healthy lifestyle including being aware of your environment, ensuring optimal nutrition and getting regular checkups.