Why Does Your Cat Get Hairballs? | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Why Does Your Cat Get Hairballs?

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Why Does Your Cat Get Hairballs? | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Hairballs are a familiar occurrence for cat owners, and we see this a lot at our animal hospital.

But what exactly is a hairball, and are they dangerous or a sign of something worse?

Educating yourself on veterinary medicine for cats can help you become a proactive pet parent, no matter what issue may arise.

Although hairballs are seen as normal behaviour for cats, they are often a sign of an underlying issue such as digestive troubles.

Let’s discuss all there is to know about why your cat gets hairballs, and what is the best course of action for you as a cat owner.

What Does A Hairball Look Like?

Despite the name, hairballs aren’t actually in the form of balls.

They are globs of thick, matted hair, usually tubular in shape rather than round.

This is due to the clump of hair travelling up through your cat’s esophagus.

Hairballs are covered in mucus so they will appear wet and slimy.

Their size ranges from an inch to a few inches in length, occasionally longer.

Where Do Hairballs Come From?

Your cat’s tongue is coated in inward-facing barbs, which they use for grooming.

It’s normal for your cat to end up ingesting hair as a result of this process, considering how about a third of their day is spent grooming.

No matter the breed or length of coat, all cats can develop hairballs.

Even if you have a hairless cat, they may develop hairballs if you have another cat in the house with hair, as cats often groom each other.

It may sound like your kitty is coughing, but hairballs come from the stomach and not the lungs.

Basically, your cat is vomiting hair from their stomach — not so charming, but sometimes that’s just part of having a pet.

how to tell if you cat has a hairball | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

What Causes Hairballs?

Although it may sound alarming that your kitty is consistently eating their own hair, it’s actually a normal behaviour.

The hair is supposed to travel through your cat’s digestive system to be expelled with their food.

However, if your cat can’t properly move the hair through their stomach and intestines, it will end up as a hairball.

Ultimately it’s a mechanical problem that affects motility, which is how efficiently material moves through the stomach and digestive system.

There are some conditions that can affect your kitty’s motility.

Some of these include inflammatory bowel disease, diet issues, or cancer.

Cat breeds including Rag Doll and Maine Coone are prone to developing intestinal valve problems, which may cause hairballs and vomiting.

Diet may also be a contributing factor.

If you’re unsure about whether your cat’s diet is sufficient or perhaps causing hairballs, touch base with your vet to take care of any underlying issues.

How Should You Handle Hairballs?

You may hear your cat making that familiar sound and be unsure of what to do or how to help them.

If you only notice this issue occurring every once in a while, there is most likely no need to worry.

If your cat is coughing up a hairball or vomiting more than once a month, it may be indicative of an underlying problem.

However, hairballs are considered by many veterinarians to be abnormal and not a behaviour inherent to all cats.

If you’re concerned, you should absolutely bring your pet in for a checkup.

Depending on the severity and frequency, your veterinarian can run some diagnostic tests including X-rays, blood work, and an ultrasound or endoscopy.

How To Prevent Problem Hairballs

There are some over-the-counter remedies aimed at helping hair move through your cat’s digestive system.

However, it’s not a good idea to try treating symptoms without knowledge of what is causing them.

If there is a deeper underlying cause, treatment will depend on a diagnosis and should be determined by you and your veterinarian.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Whether your cat is vomiting or expelling hairballs frequently, or if it’s a one-time occurrence, it can still be a sign of an underlying condition.

The best way to be a proactive pet owner and engage in preventative pet care is to check in with your veterinarian whenever concerns arise.

For more information on internal medicine for cats, contact us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.

Our veterinarians understand your cat is a member of your family.

We would love to get to know you and your furry friend, and help you be the best pet owner you can be.

Some illnesses are easy to spot, but some need a vet’s trained perspective.

The most important thing is the happiness and health of your cat.

Book an appointment with a knowledgeable and experienced veterinarian at Bickford Park Animal Hospital today.

Does Your Dog Have A Sensitive Tummy? Here's How To Help | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Does Your Dog Have A Sensitive Tummy? Here’s How To Help

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Does Your Dog Have A Sensitive Tummy? Here's How To Help | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

“My dog ate something they shouldn’t have”.

If you have a dog or know someone who has a dog, chances are you’ve said this, or have heard it said.

And although some dog owners claim their furry friends have “iron stomachs”, meaning they can eat just about anything with no ill-effects, there are some dogs with sensitive stomachs.

If this is the case, leaning about proper nutrition for dogs to avoid foods which could upset them is important.

Does your pup have a sensitive tummy?

Keep reading to learn more about how to keep them comfortable and manage digestive issues.

Why Does Your Dog Have A Sensitive Stomach?

There are a number of reasons why your dog might be experiencing stomach upset.

Many of these reasons are not too different from the reasons we humans get a sore stomach.

One reason is related to diet – if they aren’t getting enough fibre, or are eating too much fat this can cause issues.

Issues could also be because of an allergy to the type of protein used in your dog’s food – if this is the case they will likely show other signs such as skin or ear infections.

Stomach upset in dogs may also be a sign of other digestive issues such as intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, or bacterial overgrowth.

Solutions To Manage Your Dog’s Sensitive Stomach

No one likes to see their pet in pain.

If you suspect the stomach upset is due to diet, there are a few things you can do to try to get things under control.

If, however, symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting are persistent, then a trip to the vet should be on your “to-do” list, as we can check for intestinal parasites and infection.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to help ease your dog’s sore tummy.

how to tell if you dog has a sensitive stomach for certain food | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

1. Switch To A Temporary Bland Diet

If you’ve ever experienced stomach upset, ulcers, or heartburn you might have been given the advice to go on a bland diet.

Stick to soft, bland foods.

Avoid things which are spicy, fried, or raw.

And eliminate caffeine and alcohol.

The same advice applies to your dog (although I hope your dog isn’t haven’t caffeine or alcohol – as these are both poisonous to dogs).

If your dog has been experiencing digestive troubles, foods such as plain chicken, canned pumpkin, and rice can help resolve these issues.

Your vet may also prescribe probiotics to add to your dogs’ food – this helps restore healthy bacteria in the intestine and help to improve digestive function.

2. Consider An Elimination Diet

An elimination diet involves removing foods which are known to cause symptoms such as digestive upset, long enough to allow the inflammation and other issues to settle down, and then gradually adding foods back in.

Generally, this involves switching your dog to a food formulated for dogs with allergies and removing exposure to all other foods (including table scraps).

If your dog has an allergy to a specific food, this process can help to determine what is causing the issue, as you slowly re-introduce foods to their diet.

3. Switch To A Dog Food Made For Sensitive Stomachs

Another option for handling your dog’s sensitive stomach is to switch them to dog food developed specifically to address digestive issues.

Your vet can prescribe a special diet or might make recommendations for brands you can pick up at the pet store.

These special foods are generally high in fibre, low in fat, and often contain probiotics.

Additionally, it is important to use foods which are meant for your dog’s life stage – a puppy has different nutritional requirements than a senior dog.

Finally, anytime you are transitioning your pet to a new food, especially if the change is due to stomach issues, it’s important to do so gradually.

A sudden change in diet, even to one which is supposed to help with digestive issues, can cause its own problems – if you’re unsure of the best way to make this transition, ask your vet for advice.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Is your best friend experiencing digestive upset?

Have they been vomiting or having diarrhea which you can’t quite explain?

Do you wish they could just tell you what’s wrong?

Bickford Park Animal Hospital can help – call us today to book an appointment.

Our experienced and caring team will work with you to determine the cause of your dog’s stomach issues, and work with you to provide solutions to get them feeling back to their usual happy selves.

How To Perform CPR On A Cat | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

How To Perform CPR On A Cat

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How To Perform CPR On A Cat | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Your cat is like a child to you.

You give them the best food and schedule annual vet visits.

You’ve carefully studied which human foods are good (and bad) to share with your cat.

But what happens when your cat has a medical emergency and you don’t have time to take them to your local veterinarian?

Do you have a plan for that?

Today we will look at cardiology for cats and what you can do if your cat stops breathing, or if their heart stops.

Keep reading, to be prepared for an emergency.

Get Your Cat To The Emergency Vet If You Can

So your cat has started acting strangely.

Perhaps they aren’t eating, or are vomiting.

Maybe they’ve stopped using the litter box or are making strange breathing sounds.

These are all warning signs something is wrong with your cat, and definitely reasons to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible – hopefully before things get worse.

How To Determine If You Should Do CPR

So you’ve come home from work to find your cat is not at the door to greet you like they normally do.

You don’t worry too much at first – cats can be fickle creatures.

You notice your cat sleeping soundly on the couch, and go over to give them a few pets, but something doesn’t seem quite right – normally this would cause your cat to wake up, or at least stretch.

This time there is no response.

At this point, you should try to wake your cat – shake them gently, try talking and saying their name.

Check for breathing by placing your hand in front of your cat’s nose and mouth to feel for air, and look and feel for the movement of their chest.

Once you have determined there is no breathing or heartbeat you can start CPR.

CPR for your cat: what you need to know | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Performing CPR On A Cat

If you have learned how to do CPR on a human, you will find the steps for performing it on a cat are very similar.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what to do.

1. Check for breathing and a heartbeat, as we described above.

2. Once you have determined your cat is not breathing, open their mouth and check for anything which might be obstructing the airway. If you see any obstructions carefully use your finger to scoop it out – being careful to not push any foreign objects deeper into your cat’s throat.

3. Gently pull your cat’s tongue towards the front of their mouth, so it can’t fall back and obstruct the airway, and hold their mouth shut.

4. Ensure your cat’s neck is straight so their airway is clear, and breathe short “puffs” of air into their nose, being careful not to over-inflate their lungs. Generally, a good measure for a “puff” of air is the amount of air you can hold in your cheeks – be careful not to over-inflate your cat’s lungs, by giving too much air at once. Remember, their lungs are a lot smaller than yours. You should see your cat’s chest rise slightly.

5. Repeat these breaths four or five times, every three to five seconds, and then check for a heartbeat. If there is a heartbeat but no breathing, continue rescue breaths, at a rate of about ten per minute.

6. If your cat does not have a heartbeat, begin CPR (steps 7-10).

7. Place your cat on a flat surface, on their side.

8. Using your thumbs over your cat’s heart, located just behind the front legs, compress the chest about one-third of its normal thickness or about one inch.

9. Continue to do compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute, with two rescue breaths every 30 compressions.

10. If you have another person to help, you can alternate between chest compressions and rescue breathes so you don’t become tired.

How Your Vet Performs CPR

If you are able to get your cat to the vet, the way they perform CPR will look a little different, as they have many more medical tools at their disposal.

They will use an endotracheal tube to provide oxygen.

This is a tube which goes from the mouth, down the trachea and to the lungs.

They will also start an IV in order to give fluids and medication, such as epinephrine to stimulate the heart rate.


If your cat goes through an experience where they require CPR, it is likely they will need to be kept under observation until a diagnosis can be made.

Depending on the cause, your vet will provide aftercare instructions – it is very important to follow your vets’ instructions carefully and be prepared to contact them if anything doesn’t go as expected.

Book an Appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Here at Bickford Park Animal Hospital, we’re here for you and your cat – whether it’s an emergency or not.

We would love to get to know you and your feline friend under better circumstances, so if you do need to come in during an emergency you already have the comfort and familiarity with our staff to trust us to provide the best care possible.

Contact us today to book an appointment.

How To Tell What Your Dog Is Feeling | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

How To Tell What Your Dog Is Feeling

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How To Tell What Your Dog Is Feeling | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Dogs are expressive animals but it isn’t always easy to figure out what they’re trying to tell us.

Sure we know a lot of the general kinds of body language but there are times when something is up with your pup and you just can’t figure it out.

It’s also important to make sure that you don’t misread your dog’s signals.

As a veterinarian, I have to first read a dog’s body language to better understand how to approach them and ultimately treat them.

When reading a dog’s body language, it’s important to take into account their entire body instead of focusing on just one body part.

For example, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean your dog is happy.

Keep reading for helpful tips on how to decipher what your dog is feeling, and how it can help you maintain better wellness for your dog.

How An Alert Dog Acts

An alert dog is looking at their surroundings to gather information.

When your dog is assessing their surroundings, you can expect to see their ears perked up and pointed forward.

Their eyes will be wide and focused with a neutral relaxed forehead.

Their mouth will be closed with a little tension at the lips.

Their tail will be extended away from the body and possibly wagging.

In all, your dog’s body posture will be evenly distributed between their four paws as they display a “ready” position and determines their next steps.

How A Happy Dog Acts

A happy dog generally has a loose waggy posture and in many ways can appear relaxed.

Looking at your dog’s ears, they should be in their natural position.

Pointed ears will stand straight while floppy ears will hang slightly forward.

A happy dog usually has soft eyes and a relaxed forehead, with no wrinkles or furrows.

Your dog’s mouth will either be closed and relaxed (no tension) at the lips or open in a relaxed pant.

Your dog will have a wide sweeping tail wag in line with their spine or, if they’re playing, their tail will wag slightly higher.

Think of those times when your dog has been so happy that it seems like their tail is wagging the entire lower half of his body and you know what a happy wag looks like.

Overall, a happy dog has a soft and wiggly posture with some over exaggerated movements, especially if they’re in the middle of playing.

How A Submissive Dog Acts

A submissive dog generally tries to make their body appear smaller so that they look like less of a threat.

A submissive dog might even lower their body to the ground or lay down and expose their belly to show they aren’t threatening.

When examining your dog, notice if their ears are pinned back and they avoid eye contact.

These are both signs that your dog is being submissive.

They will also have tension around their mouth, sometimes exposing their teeth as if they’re trying to smile.

This is your dog’s way of showing deference.

They might also lick their muzzle frequently and keep their tail tucked down or in a low wag.

Some submissive dogs even raise a front paw as a way of showing appeasement.

Overall a submissive dog will move slowly and keep their weight to the back part of their body, again as a way to appear less threatening.

signs that tell you what your dogs emotions are | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

How An Aggressive Dog Acts

An aggressive dog will carry their body in a way that allows them to react immediately.

In this situation a dog’s ears won’t tell the full story.

You will have to look at their ears along with the rest of their body language to figure out what kind of aggression they’re displaying.

For example, a fearful dog will hold their ears back and against their head.

An assertive dog will prick their ears forward or to the side.

An aggressive dog will also keep their eye on whatever is bothering them with a hard, steady stare.

There will often be wrinkles across their forehead as they focus on what’s going on around them.

Looking at your dog’s mouth, their lips will be tense and in some cases may be pulled back, exposing the upper teeth in a bit of a snarl pose.

A fearful dog may keep their tail tucked between their legs before an act of aggression as well, but raise it while they’re being aggressive.

A confident dog may hold their tail high and keep it moving in a tight wag.

One of the easiest signs of aggression to recognize is that your dog’s “hackles” might be up.

This is the area of fur that appears to raise itself up across the shoulders and at the base of the spine near the tail.

Overall, an aggressive dog will have a tense body with a stiff-legged “ready” stance as they prepare to react to their environment.

How An Anxious Dog Acts

An anxious dog will exhibit a lot of the same postures as a nervous dog but will also perform a serious of “calming behaviours” which are behaviours meant to self-soothe or reduce escalating tension.

Some of the most common calming behaviours are:

  • Slow movements
  • Yawning
  • Lip licking
  • Lip smacking
  • Scratching
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Raising one paw
  • Looking away
  • Turning away
  • Moving in a circle
  • Freezing
  • Slow movements
  • Shaking off (the way your dog does when wet)

A distressed dog will often avoid eye contact or look at their trigger only to look away again quickly.

You may also notice that your dog is stressed if they’re grooming excessively, scratching, excessive yawning, sneezing, or licking their lips.

How An Afraid Dog Acts

A dog who is feeling afraid will often have a stiff posture and hunch over so that their face is closer to the ground.

If your dog is feeling afraid, their ears will be tucked back against the head and might turn his head away from the stressor while moving his eyes to look at it.

This causes the whites of their eyes to show in what is known as “whale eyes.”

Your dog’s mouth might also be tightly closed with the corners of the mouth pulled back, and they may begin panting for no apparent reason.

And a telltale sign that your dog is afraid is that their tail will be tucked between their legs, going down under their belly, distributing their weight so that they’re shifted back and away from potential dangers.

A fearful dog may shed more easily and their overall posture will be stiff and low to the ground.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

If you’re concerned about your dog’s behaviour, book an appointment with us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.

Your dog’s behaviour can be an indication of a lot more than just their mood.

If they’re acting strange, we can help.

Book an appointment with us today.

Vaccinations Your Outdoor Cat Needs | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Vaccinations Your Outdoor Cat Needs

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Vaccinations Your Outdoor Cat Needs | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

It’s that time, and it comes every year.

Time to take your cat to your local vet for their annual check-up and vaccines.

You’ve struggled to get them into the carrier, and heard their protest cries in the car on the way ride there.

And after you bribe them out from under the counter in the vet’s exam room, it’s time to have a discussion about which vaccinations are needed this year.

Sometimes the information on vaccinations for cats can be a little confusing.

So today we’re going to help break it down for you.

What do they REALLY need?

What (if anything) can you skip?

And do outdoor and indoor cats have differing needs?

Today we’ll look at what your cat needs to stay healthy, and happy.

Vaccines For Outdoor Cats

There’s no doubt about it, outdoor cats face more risks than indoor cats.

And they’re more likely to come in contact with disease and parasites than cats who stay indoors.

When it comes to general wellness for cats there are some aspects of preventative care which outdoor cats require in order to stay safe and healthy.

Today we’ll look at the specific vaccines your outdoor cat should be getting.

outdoor chats need different vaccinations than indoor cats | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

1. FVRCP Vaccine For Cats

This multi-purpose vaccine protects your cat against a variety of diseases, including feline rhinotracheitis virus (FVR, aka feline herpes virus 1, FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV) and feline panleukopenia virus (FPV, aka feline distemper).

Although these diseases won’t spread to humans, within cat populations they are highly contagious and can spread rapidly.

Although it may seem that this is mostly required for outdoor cats, they are also recommended for indoor cats, as the viruses can attach to clothing and shoes and be transmitted through this “hitchhiking”.

2. Feline Leukemia Vaccine For Cats (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia is spread when a cat comes in contact with another cat who is infected, and the virus is transmitted through blood and saliva.

Although feline leukemia can’t be transmitted to humans, it can be fatal for your cat if they contract it.

All kittens should be tested and vaccinated for feline leukemia, as it is possible for them to be born with it, however after this initial stage only outdoor cats are required to continue to receive boosters.

3. Rabies Vaccine For Cats

Protecting your cat against rabies is not just important for them, but also for you.

Rabies infections can be transmitted to humans, so if your cat contracts it, you could be at risk as well.

It is also fatal to mammals who become infected.

In many jurisdictions, including Ontario, rabies vaccines are required for ALL cats (and dogs too), even if they are indoor-only.

Depending on the type of vaccine used, rabies vaccines can be effective for either one or three years.

Be sure to discuss with your vet which type your cat is getting, and stick to your vet’s prescribed schedule in regards to keeping this important shot up-to-date.

4. Anti-Parasite Treatments For Cats

Cats who are allowed outdoors are exposed regularly to parasites.

Every time they hunt and kill a rodent or bird, there is the risk of contracting fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

Other animals and wildlife can also carry parasites, some of which can also be contagious to people.

While some are simply annoying, such as fleas, which require some amount of work to get rid of, others, such as heartworm, can be deadly.

Regular deworming, as well as fecal testing is imperative for cats who go outside regularly.

This isn’t considered a vaccination treatment, but because it’s a unique issue which outdoor cats face, we’ve included it here anyway.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Do you have an outdoor cat?

Or perhaps you have an indoor cat who escaped recently and went on an adventure, and now you’re wondering what they may have picked up on their journey.

Bickford Park Animal Hospital can help.

Contact us today to book an appointment, and ensure your cat is getting the best care possible.

5 Health Conditions Your Pet Can Catch From You | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

5 Health Conditions Your Pet Can Catch From You

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5 Health Conditions Your Pet Can Catch From You | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

When it comes to transmittable diseases, it isn’t just other people you have to worry about.

Certain conditions can pass from you to your pet, and vice versa.

Zoonoses, or diseases you can contract via contact with an infected animal, are relatively well known from rabies to toxoplasmosis.

However, there are also reverse zoonoses — diseases your pet can catch from you.

Educating yourself on the potential illnesses you’re at risk of spreading to your pet is incredibly important when it comes to preventing pet disease.

Let’s identify some of the reverse zoonoses every pet owner should know about.

How Can Illness Spread From A Human To A Pet?

Various kinds of illnesses can spread from you to your pet, with the majority being bacterial infections.

However, other types can also be spread from human to animal, including viral, parasitic, and fungal infections.

Reverse zoonotic diseases are quite rare, but they do occur with all types of animals from wildlife to household pets.

Diseases can spread to your pet via direct contact, fomites (an object such as clothing or furniture that acts as a carrier for infections), or oral or hand-to-mouth contact.

The method of transmission depends on what kind of illness is in question, so let’s discuss some specific reverse zoonotic diseases.

Illnesses Your Pet Can Catch From You

It’s an important aspect of preventative pet care to know which illnesses can and cannot be spread to your pet.

Below are some reverse zoonotic diseases you should be aware of.

1. Influenza

As you may recall from the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, this disease (also known as swine flu) is a subtype of the influenza A virus.

During this time, a case of note occurred in which multiple family members came down with an undiagnosed flu-like illness.

Days after their illness subsided, their pet cat experienced wheezing, dehydration, and other signs of a respiratory infection.

After various extensive tests, it was determined the cat was positive for influenza A.

Thankfully, the cat (and the cat’s human family) recovered with proper treatment and monitoring of symptoms — but this case is referred to as the first evidence of influenza spreading from human to animal.

Since 2009, various pets have been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, including cats, dogs, and ferrets.

If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s recommended you avoid close contact with your furry friend.

Additionally, consider getting your annual influenza vaccination to avoid worrying about contracting the flu in the first place.

2. Salmonella

Most associate this bacterial infection with food poisoning and consuming raw poultry products, but salmonella is both zoonotic and reverse zoonotic.

This means you and your pet are at risk of contracting this disease from one another.

Symptoms of salmonella include:

Although cats and dogs are typically more resistant to salmonella than us humans, it’s still dangerous to expose your pet to any human gastro-intestinal bacteria.

If you or a (human) member of your family is experiencing a salmonella infection, make sure you engage in strict hygiene measures and avoid contact with your pet.

how your pet can get ill from your illness | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

3. Ringworm

Most dog and cat parents are probably familiar with ringworm, but many are not aware you can spread this skin infection to your pet.

It’s actually one of the most common illnesses that can be transmitted between humans and animals.

In humans, ringworm (which is a fungus, not a worm) manifests as small circular patches that are inflamed, itchy, and red.

In cats and dogs, ringworm causes similar hairless circles and can often be difficult to spot.

This infection can be transmitted from you to your pet via direct or indirect contact by contaminating objects such as clothing or brushes.

Although ringworm is usually treated effectively and easily in both humans and animals, it can leave scarring.

If you spot an itchy lesion anywhere on your body, give your doctor a call and avoid close contact with your pet.

4. Tuberculosis

One of the more serious illnesses that can be transmitted from you to your pet is tuberculosis, also known as TB.

Tuberculosis is a chronic infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria, and it can affect almost every kind of warm-blooded mammal.

There are different kinds of bacteria known to cause tuberculosis, some of which can affect animals and some of which cannot.

For example, the M. bovis bacterium originated in cattle and is known to infect animals — however, the most common bacterium when it comes to human infection is M. tuberculosis, which rarely affects other mammals.

However, all cases of tuberculosis no matter the culprit must be treated as infectious to humans and pets alike.

Symptoms of a pet with TB include:

  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Abscesses or lumps
  • Wounds that do not heal

Tuberculosis can be spread to cats and dogs through close contact, inhalation, or oral contact (drinking infected milk, or eating infected animals).

5. Mumps

Although it’s a rare disease and not often seen these days as a result of vaccination, mumps is a viral infection that can be spread from you to your pet.

In fact, mumps is known to specifically affect dogs, and the symptoms caused are the same as those seen in humans with this infection.

These symptoms include fever, headache, and painfully swollen salivary glands.

Severe complications may also occur as a result of this disease, so if you’re diagnosed with mumps, ensure you keep your distance from your dog (and visit a hospital, of course).

Again, mumps is rare but not completely extinct — we still see outbreaks across the globe each year.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Education and preventative care are crucial tools for every proactive pet owner.

Knowing which human diseases have the potential to affect animals is a key step in helping your pet live a long and healthy life.

At Bickford Park Animal Hospital, we understand your pet is a member of the family and should be treated as such.

We would love to get to know you and your furry friends.

Contact us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital today.

Heartworm In Dogs: What It Is And How To Prevent It | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Heartworm In Dogs: What It Is And How To Prevent It

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Heartworm In Dogs: What It Is And How To Prevent It | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

One of the most well-known diseases that affects dogs today is heartworm.

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal parasite, specifically caused by the organism Dirofilaria immitis.

Thankfully, there are many preventative treatment options for you and your pet.

Ask your veterinarian today about heartworm treatments for dogs and how they can help you protect your pup from contracting this pesky parasite.

But what is heartworm disease, what are the signs and symptoms, and what does treatment look like?

Let’s dive into the details of what every pet owner should know about heartworm.

What Is Heartworm?

Heartworm is a disease that occurs after your pet has been infected with Dirofilaria immitis, an organism — specifically, a nematode — known as roundworm.

The severity of your dog’s illness will vary depending on how many worms are present, the length of infection, and the response of your dog’s body.

These worms are spread through bites by mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae, which gradually travel to your dog’s heart and lungs.

After travelling through your dog’s body (which takes around 6 months), the worms will grow and reproduce, releasing their young into your dog’s bloodstream.

These immature heartworms, or microfilariae, can be passed from dog to dog via mosquito bite, spreading the disease.

Heartworm has been diagnosed in various climates all across the world, but it is prevalent in subtropical and tropical areas.

This disease can range in severity, which we divide into four classes.

Each class has slightly different symptoms.

Class I

Class I is the least severe of the four classes of heartworm disease.

Dogs with Class I heartworm often do not display any symptoms at all, other than an occasional cough.

Class II

The symptoms of Class II heartworm are mild, but more noticeable than the previous class, including coughing and exercise intolerance.

Class III

With Class III heartworm comes a general degradation of body condition.

This includes weight and muscle loss, extreme exercise intolerance, dry or greasy hair, difficulty breathing, and a distended stomach/the appearance of a potbelly (due to fluid accumulation as a result of heart failure).

Class IV

Dogs with class IV heartworm have so many worms in their heart that the flow of blood is obstructed.

This is known as caval syndrome, and it is a sign that heartworm disease has progressed too far to treat.

What Causes Heartworm In Dogs?

Heartworm disease is one of the many diseases transmitted by mosquito bite.

Not just an itchy pest, mosquitoes carry microfilariae (heartworm larvae) that mature inside the body of the insect.

They can bite an infected animal and subsequently transmit the disease from dog to dog.

Symptoms Of Heartworm

As mentioned in the class sections above, there are varying symptoms that range from coughing and lack of appetite to exercise intolerance, fatigue, and coat condition.

If you suspect your dog may have heartworm, it’s best to visit your veterinarian immediately to run a quick blood test.

Heartworm blood tests are performed regularly as a preventative measure for pups who are on preventative heartworm treatments.

Once a positive blood test has been performed, additional tests will be needed to support the initial diagnosis, such as a blood chemistry panel, urinalysis, chest X-rays, and a blood cell count.

learn all about heartworm in dogs | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Risk Factors For Heartworm

There are three major risk factors that affect your dog’s likelihood of contracting heartworm disease, although preventative measures should be taken no matter what.

The first is living in an endemic region, where the disease is prevalent.

Tropical and subtropical climates are especially high risk areas.

The second big risk factor is exposure to mosquitoes, since they are the only way your dog can contract the disease.

If you live in an area where mosquitoes are common pests, heartworm prevention should be at the top of your list.

Thirdly, the most important risk factor is a lack of preventative heartworm medication and care.

Treating your dog to avoid ever contracting heartworm is a simple process every dog owner should do.

Heartworm disease can be difficult to catch until it’s too late to treat, and it’s much easier on you and your furry friend to make sure you never have to worry.

Treatment For Heartworm In Dogs

The treatment and prognosis for dogs with heartworm disease depends entirely on the class, or severity, of the disease.

For dogs who have received some heartworm treatment for mild to moderate cases, the prognosis is often good.

This treatment involves multiple medications, including three injections to kill the adult heartworms, prednisone and doxycycline, anti-inflammatory meditation, and preventative medication to prevent any further infection.

Oxygen therapy is also sometimes utilized as part of this treatment.

Surgery is sometimes necessary for particularly bad cases, to remove the larger worms from the heart and blood vessels within the lungs.

Surgery always comes with risks though, for dogs, people, or anyone else, so it’s best to take preventative measures instead.

Exercise restriction is also a key part of heartworm treatment and is absolutely required during the entire process, which usually takes around 9 months.

It’s at this post-treatment point that your vet will start testing to see if your dog tests negative for heartworms.

Pain and anti-nausea medication may help your dog feel more comfortable during treatment.

If left untreated, most cases of heartworm are eventually fatal.

Preventing Heartworm

The number one step you should take as soon as you add a dog to your family is to speak to your vet about monthly heartworm medicine.

Before prescribing this medication, your vet will test your pup for worms just to be sure.

There are many different kinds of preventative heartworm medicine that are extremely effective and safe.

To learn more about your options, talk to your veterinarian.

Unfortunately, and like most medications, these meds are not 100% effective (especially if you miss a dose or if a dose was given late).

Routine heartworm screening is necessary as a preventative measure, to ensure your dog is clean of worms — and if they do have worms, it’s extremely important to catch them early.

It’s not only more cost-effective to prevent rather than treat heartworm disease, but we both know it’s about more than just the cost.

The best course of action for your dog’s health is to protect them against ever contracting heartworm.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

If you have any questions about heartworm disease and how you can prevent it, we can help.

Book an appointment with us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.

We understand that your dog is a member of your family and should be treated as such.

Heartworm disease is easily preventable, with care and energy from both you and your veterinary care team.

We would love to get to know you and your dog, and help you develop a preventative treatment plan that works for you and your family.

Call us at Bickford Park Animal Hospital today.

Health Solutions For Cat Scratch Fever | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Health Solutions For Cat Scratch Fever

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Health Solutions For Cat Scratch Fever | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

“Well I don’t know where they come from

But they sure do come… they give me cat scratch fever”…

Wait a second, wrong “Cat Scratch Fever” – today we’re talking about the bacterial infection which can be spread by cats, not the 1977 Song by Ted Nugent.

Also known as “Cat Scratch Disease”, today we will explore what it is, how it spreads, and what to watch out for.

If you suspect your cat may have cat scratch disease, or any other infection, your local veterinarian can help.

What Is Cat Scratch Fever?

Cat scratch fever is caused when a cat carrying the bacteria bartonella licks an open wound, or bites or scratches skin hard enough to break the skin.

Although complications in people are rare, when they occur they can be serious including affecting the brain, eyes, and heart.

These complications are more likely to occur in young children and those with weakened immune systems, so it is important to be aware of this when your cat is around young children, or those who are ill.

Symptoms Of Cat Scratch Fever

If your cat has cat scratch disease, you might not know as most cats display no symptoms.

When symptoms do occur they can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Laboured breathing

It can also result in inflammation of organs, which will be hard to determine without a visit to the vet.

If your cat has had a history of fleas or ticks, it’s especially important to be aware of these symptoms.

how to help your itchy cat | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Symptoms Of Cat Scratch Fever In Dogs

Cat scratch fever isn’t just limited to cats.

If your dog comes in contact with an infected cat, they could also pick up the disease.

Symptoms to watch for in dogs include:

  • A red bump at the site of the scratch
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fever

Humans Can Catch The Fever Too!

The presentation of cat scratch fever in humans is very similar to that of dogs.

Look for a round, red bump at the site of the scratch or bite, as well as swelling and signs of infection.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Cramps

How Does Cat Scratch Fever Spread?

Cat scratch fever is spread to cats by fleas.

Namely through flea bites and contact with flea droppings – cats then scratch and bite at the fleas and pick up the infection in their teeth and claws.

Once a cat has the infection, they can also spread it to other cats, dogs, and humans through biting or scratching, when those actions result in broken skin.

Preventing Cat Scratch Fever

If you want to prevent the chances of your cat contracting cat scratch fever, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Ideally, keeping your cats indoors is one of the biggest steps you can take to prevent this and other disease, as this limits their chance of coming in contact with fleas, or stray cats.

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed, to prevent them from picking up the bacteria under their claws is important.

Flea control is also a key preventative measure.

Speak to your vet about the best flea control products to use, and keep in mind that many over-the-counter flea prevention products are not safe.

Use a flea comb to inspect your cat for flea droppings, and if you have had the misfortune of having fleas in your home keep things under control by vacuuming frequently and calling a pest control company if needed.

If you’re scratched or bitten by your cat, be sure to wash the area immediately with soap and running water, or hydrogen peroxide.

If you have a dog and are worried about infection, be sure to use an oral or topical flea prevention product.

Book an Appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Do you think your cat has contracted cat scratch fever, maybe from some kitty next door?

Has your outdoor cat come home with some fresh wounds and you are worried about the chance of infection?

Perhaps your dog got into an altercation with the local stray cat, and now you’re worried about the possibility of disease?

For these, or any other issues which may arise with your furry friend, Bickford Park Animal Hospital is here to help.

Contact us today to set up an appointment.

5 Common Cat Skin Conditions | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

5 Common Cat Skin Conditions

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5 Common Cat Skin Conditions | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Cat owners know that there are few things in life more enjoyable than settling down to a good cuddle session with our furry friends.

When a cat decides that you’re their person, and allows you to pet them to your heart’s content, life is good.

But, commonly, our feline pals experience skin and coat issues that prevent them from enjoying their owner’s touch as they normally would.

Cat skin conditions can greatly affect a cat’s comfort. It’s important that we, as pet owners, are aware of signs of skin conditions that require veterinary care.

So, what can we look out for to ensure that our cats are comfortable in their skin?

What Causes An Unhealthy Coat?

An unhealthy coat can appear dull, unkempt, show signs of dandruff and make our cats itchy.

Here are some factors that can affect the health, and appearance, of your cat’s coat.

Weight Problems

If your cat is overweight, they may have difficulty grooming themselves properly.

This can result in cats being unable to reach their backs and the base of their tails.

If they can’t clean those areas, cats can develop dandruff and dull looking fur.

Just like with humans, if your cat has dandruff, you might notice flaky skin, as well as your cat trying to itch those places.

If you’re concerned that weight issues are preventing your cat from properly grooming, consult your vet about switching your pet to a healthier diet that will support weight loss.

It’s important to remember that cats need to lose weight slowly, and making any drastic changes to their diet can have harmful effects on your pet.

Your vet will be able to advise you on what dietary changes will best suit your cat.


Cats have issues with flexibility as they age.

Poor flexibility, made worse if your senior cat has arthritis, may stop your cat from being able to groom as efficiently as they could when they were younger.

Or it might be that they can’t reach it without significant pain, so they forego grooming that area.

You can help your pet groom as they age by brushing them regularly.

Fine-toothed combs will work best for grooming your cat because their bristles are capable of grabbing onto the dull hairs that need to be removed.

You can also help your aging cat keep their coat healthy by asking your vet about adding omega- 3s to your pet’s diet.

Poor Nutrition

A poor diet can drastically affect the health and appearance of your cat’s coat.

Cats require a well balanced diet, consisting of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

If your cat does not have a well balanced diet, their coat can appear dull, and their skin can be dry and itchy.

Switching to a high quality food that will provide your cat with the nutrients they require
can help alleviate those issues.

Along with recommending a well balanced high quality food, your vet may suggest adding fish oil supplement to your cat’s food.

These supplements can help restore the shine to your cat’s coat, and help ease dry, flaky skin.

Before you change your cat’s food, or add any supplements to their diet, make sure to consult your vet.

how to tell if your cat has a skin condition | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

5 Common Cat Skin Conditions

1. Fleas

This common ailment can cause your cat to be incredibly uncomfortable.

Cats that have fleas can be seen scratching their irritated skin.

Some cats are especially sensitive to flea saliva and excessively itch and scratch themselves when bitten by a flea.

Treatments for fleas often consist of topical, oral, and environmental products.

Your vet may also suggest that you clean furniture, carpets, and other surfaces in your house that are susceptible to flea infestations along with treating your pet.

In general, humans don’t get infested with fleas, but the occasional stray flea may still bite you if your cat has them.

2. Environmental Allergies

Like humans, cats can suffer from environmental allergies.

Your cat can experience allergies to dust, pollen and/or grass.

If your cat has allergies, you might see them rubbing their face, scratching their ears and armpits, chewing at their skin, and over grooming.

Your vet will be able to properly diagnose your cat’s allergies and suggest the best treatment for your pet.

Again, as with humans, allergies can require lifelong treatments so getting help from a vet will greatly impact your cat’s comfort.

3. Feline Acne

Feline Acne, also called ‘comedones’, are blackheads that are found on a cat’s chin.

All cats, no matter their breed, age, or sex, are susceptible to having feline acne.

In some cases, cats suffering from feline acne will experience itching and hair loss in the affected area, but it is common for there to be no further symptoms than the visible acne.

If you notice lesions on the skin, itching, and/or hair loss, bring your pet to a vet for a checkup since they could be suffering from feline acne.

In the meantime, make sure their water and food dishes are clean – sometimes these can lead to feline acne.

4. Ear Mites

Ear mites are most common in kittens but can affect cats of any age.

A cat suffering from ear mites might be seen shaking their head, or rubbing or scratching at their ears with their paws.

Ear mites are very contagious so it’s important to you seek veterinary help for your cat right away if you suspect they have ear mites.

They can be spread easily, and quickly, between cats so your vet may suggest that each cat in multiple cat homes is treated if one cat is diagnosed with ear mites.

Topical treatments and/or ear drops are commonly prescribed by vets to clear up a case of ear mites.

5. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fairly common fungal infection but it can be difficult to detect in cats.

A cat suffering from ringworm can have scaly skin, patchy hair loss, and/or round thickened patches of skin with hair loss in those areas.

Your vet can help you determine if they have ringworm, and what to do about it.

Some common treatments include anti-fungal shampoos and oral anti-fungal medications.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

If you have any concerns about the health of your cat’s skin and coat, book an appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.

We’ll work to diagnose your cat’s woes, and provide you with a treatment plan designed to get them feeling back to their normal goofy self.

Call us today to book an appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital.

How To Treat Cat Scratch Injuries | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

How To Treat Cat Scratch Injuries

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How To Treat Cat Scratch Injuries | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Better than anyone, veterinarians know the sting of the cat scratch.

Cats have extremely sharp claws, that they constantly sharpen and groom.

Most cat owners are also familiar with cat injuries, caused by an overly-playful paw.

Here are some things to keep in mind about cat scratches, especially if you’re a new pet owner.

What Happens When A Cat Scratches You?

They’re renowned for how painful they can be, but sometimes cat scratches can bleed, become infected or swell up.

When you’re assessing the wound, consider the location and depth, as well as the health and cleanliness of the cat that scratched you.

If it’s minor and the cat is low-risk, you can clean it at home; other scratches might require a visit to the doctor or even the emergency room.

Risks Associated With A Cat Scratch

There are a few considerations if you get scratched by a cat, especially if it’s not your own.

Read on below for the most notable.

1. General Infection

If the area immediately surrounding the cat scratch becomes reddened, swollen, and painful, or the area is warm or is leaking pus, then you likely have an infected scratch.

You may notice other signs of your body fighting infection, such as fatigue, body aches, swollen glands, fever and chills.

Serious infections may require antibiotics, so if you’re noticing worsening symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.

2. Rabies

If it’s a feral cat that scratched you, you should reach out to your local animal control or health department; they may wish to find and test the cat for rabies, and possibly quarantine it.

If the cat bit as well as scratched you, your doctor may have you put through a prophylactic round of rabies treatments.

If you don’t have an up-to-date tetanus booster, be sure to mention this to your doctor as well.

3. Cat Scratch Fever (No, Seriously)

Catchy name, but we’re not playing you a tune – cat-scratch disease (aka cat scratch fever) is a well-known side-effect of being scratched.

It’s caused by a strain of bacteria called bartonella that a cat picks up from flea bites or feces.

And yes, humans can catch cat scratch disease through being scratched by an infected feline.

Beware also letting cats lick any open wounds you may have, because the bacteria can be found in the saliva of infected cats, and their saliva can be how it ends up in your bloodstream.

Cat scratch disease can manifest between three and fourteen days after you’re infected.

If you experience loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and you notice that the scratch broke your skin, you may have contracted cat scratch disease.

best ways to treat scratches from your cat | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

How To Treat A Cat Scratch

For scratches that haven’t broken the skin and bled, you can get away with merely washing the site with soap and water.

If the wound is bleeding, apply a gauze pad and apply pressure until it stops; if it refuses to stop, seek medical attention.

If you sustain a scratch to your eye, you should seek immediate medical attention.

For most wounds, you can use an over-the-counter antibiotic cream and cover the scratch with a sterile bandage until it’s healed.

Be aware that wounds on the hands and feet often are more easily infected, so give them extra care.

Book An Appointment At Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Do you have a recent feline addition to your family?

We provide regular veterinary checkups, including inoculations, spaying and neutering.

We also have an emergency service available after hours, because we know your pet is like family.

Call now to book an appointment with Bickford Park Animal Hospital.