Its spring and the creepy crawlies are blooming

By | Blog | No Comments

As the days get longer and warmer, we start to hear questions about the risks for our pets that come with warm weather. In our area most of our patients benefit from prevention for fleas and ticks from March to May with additional heartworm prevention from June to November.



Although fleas cannot survive freezing temperatures, they live in homes all winter and quickly reappear outside as the weather warms up. They can become a big problem quickly.

What Kind of Damage Can Fleas Cause?

Fleas are more than just a discomfort for pets. Smaller or younger animals are particularly vulnerable. When they feed on your pet, fleas can cause:

• Flea Allergy Dermatitis (fleas do not make animals itchy unless there a flea bite allergy)

• Flea Anemia

• Feline Infectious Anemia (a life-threatening blood parasite carried by fleas)

• Cat Scratch Fever/Bartonellosis (does not make the cat sick but the infected cat can make a person sick)

• Common Tapeworm infection

How to prevent fleas?

We used to control fleas with shampoos, powders, collars, and sprays. While these products are still available, there are newer and better products available now.


Ticks are found where there is long grass, wildlife and water with semi-annual “blooms” or increases in population, every spring and fall. These blind insects spend much of their life waiting for a passing pet or human to drop down on and feed in order to reproduce. Ticks can carry a number of infections but only Lyme disease can be vaccinated against. Other diseases carried by ticks include:

  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Tick Paralysis
  • Hemobartonellosis: spread by fleas and ticks, causes feline anemia
  • American Canine Hepatozoonosis: affects dogs in the southern United States
  • Babesiosis: more commonly affects dogs in the southern United States but also seen in Northeastern areas
  • Tularemia: more severe in cats than dogs, also spread by fleas
  • Cytauxzoonosis: affects cats in the southern United States

It is recommended  to use a topical or oral product that prevents ticks if your pet frequents areas with water and long grass. But since no product provides 100% protection, be sure to check your cat or dog for ticks daily by feeling around the armpits, ears and neck and other warm areas preferred by ticks. Lyme disease is more prevalent around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario being spread by ticks on songbirds which frequent those lakes, but shows up rather randomly elsewhere as ticks fall of birds in transit. However, you must be very careful — some products that are safe for dogs are lethal for cats. If you find a tick on your pet please contact us for assistance in removal and identification.


Good Neighbour Dog Training

By | Blog | No Comments

Is your dog a good neighbour?

Good NeighbourCarriage Crossing Animal Hospital will be offering lessons to prepare for upcoming Canine Good Neighbour Program Certification at the KW Pet Expo on May 7th and 8th.

These lessons will be held every second Saturday, beginning January 23rd, at 9am. Our popular Certified Dog Behaviour Therapist Amanda Rich will be teaching the lessons. The cost is $30 for each one hour lesson and eight lessons will be offered although attendance. Spaces will be limited so sign up now!

According to the Canadian Kennel Club, Canine Good Neighbours can be counted on to present good manners at home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs.

Requirements are as follows:

• Current vaccination rabies, bordetella (kennel cough), and distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus

• A leash not less than .75 meters (2 Feet) nor longer than 2 meters (6 Feet) in length

• Acceptable collars include a well-fitting slip, buckle or martingale collar, made of fabric, leather or chain. All other types of collars are unacceptable. (Harnesses are acceptable for our class)

• Current flea prevention and a bag of treats or toy your dog enjoys are recommended

Update: Six Furballs Looking for Furever Homes

By | Blog | No Comments

In June, us here at Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital shined the spotlight on 4 stray kittens and their mother in support of Adopt-a-Cat month. We are now back to give you an update on all of the cats as they grow to become the sweetest companions.

Mother cat Athena has learned to love people- she waits for her daily cuddles and enjoys her ear scratches most of all.

Athena (3)

Apollo is living up to his name with his rocket-fast speed, although sometimes he can be found tumbling out from his less-successful launches.

Artemis is the explorer. He has wandered the furthest away from the den and when he gets lost or in trouble he cries to Momma for help but that doesn’t stop him from doing it all over again right away.

Hades is the clown of the bunch. He loves to play fight and lay on his back with his big belly exposed.

Styx used to be very shy but now follows his brothers around all day long, making sure to stay right on their heels. His overwhelming curiosity has helped him overcome his initial timidness and allowed him to (quite literally) follow in his siblings’ adventurous footsteps.

Theia is the sweetest and most laid back. She’s not as outgoing as her siblings but once you’ve gained her trust, you’ve also gained a friend for life.

Nyx is the smallest and perhaps also the luckiest of the bunch. She has steadily been learning how to walk as she tries to keep up with her siblings.

Theia, Apollo, and Nyx

If you’d like more information on any of the kittens, or on other ways that you would be able to help out our feline friends, please do not hesitate to call or email us.

need a hand…

By | Blog | No Comments


Prince and Dr. Ashby at Old Orchard Farms

pardon the lack of formatting but I am typing one-handed after falling off a horse last week.  i’ve broken a metacarpal bone in my right hand, not much worse than a broken finger in my opinion.  i have proven i can still take blood, examine patients and sign forms but am not doing surgery for a couple weeks.

i fell off my horse turning left when he turned right, a bit of a misunderstanding while jumping. my horse prince is just like a Labrador Retriever, he enjoys positive training and having his ears scratched. we just need to work on our communication.

to encourage myself to rest i have moved up a planned trip to visit family in nova scotia.  our regular staff will be performing nail trims and weight rechecks and medication refills by appointment, and i will be only an email or phone call away.  i want all our patients’ families to know we will still be there for your pets while i heal.  we have always had an excellent back up network of technicians and doctors and will continue to rely on their support for any emergencies while i am “short-handed.”

here are some “handy facts”:

dr. erica heim lost her left arm to cancer as a final year vet student‎ and says she does not do surgery but has learned to practice one-handed, i am humbled

prehensile thumbs were evolved by primates descended from tree shrews

dogs and cats walk on their fingers, not their palms.

teach your dog to shake a paw and make nail trims fun by using “target training” to shape the behavior

six-toed cats are called hemingway cats because ernest hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and many polydactyl cats now inhabit the island of key west where he lived

cats and dogs only sweat through their paw pads


how many toes do you count?

Wanted: Furever Homes for Five Furballs

By | Blog | No Comments

June is adopt-a-cat-month! In support of this cause, Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital will be helping to find homes for cats and kittens in partnership with the rescue group Pet Patrol. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the kittens who will be ready for adoption at the beginning of August.


Three of the sweethearts!

These sweethearts were born to a stray that arrived, heavily pregnant, at a local barn 2 weeks ago.  The mama cat, Queenie, was found by Dr. Ashby and promptly taken into foster care by one of the boarders.  Queenie was lucky enough to deliver her litter of 6 in the comfort of the foster home just one day after being taken in.  It was as though she knew she had finally found a safe place!

Only a week old and these kittens have already begun to craft their own personalities.  Hades and Styx, the two orange kittens, are the feistiest of the group.  They sing all day long and are always managing to find something (or someone) to have fun with.  The two grey tabby kittens are called Artemis and Apollo.  These guys are the mama’s boys; they’re a bit tamer than their siblings and especially love to cuddle.  Theia is the grey that looks just like her mum and is quite the lady herself!  And finally, there’s Nyx, who’s the luckiest of the bunch.

Nyx had a hard start to life and almost didn’t make it past her first few hours in the world.  Her odds weren’t very good but with the support (and body heat) of her mum and siblings, she managed to survive.

Out of this litter of 6, the 4 male kittens, Hades, Styx, Apollo, and Artemis are up for adoption. The other two kittens, Nyx and Theia have already found their Furever homes.  Mama cat Queenie is also looking to find a family for herself once her kittens are old enough to be without her.  Queenie would be best suited for a quiet home with a loving family as she enjoys cuddling but is still overcoming her shyness.

Mama cat and her babes

Mama cat and her babes

Keeping these kittens in a foster home until they are old enough to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated ensures that they are healthy and tame before they go to their new homes. Foster care is easier with Mom Queenie around to help care for them. Foster care can save the life of orphan kittens, who need to be fed every few hours day and night by their dedicated human caretakers.

Although this group of cats has found themselves to be very lucky, there are many cats in Waterloo who are much less fortunate, making both foster care and forever homes desperately needed. During the summer months local rescues and shelters with pre-existing waiting lists will be overwhelmed by the numbers of cats surrendered so, if you can, why not support their efforts by fostering kittens- all it takes is a spare bathroom and a little extra time and dedication. Even better, provide a Furever home for an adopted cat or kitten.

Queenie and her babies Hades, Styx, Artemis and Apollo will be available through Pet Patrol or Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital by July 27th.  If you’d like more information on these adorable kittens or on what you can do to show your support for adopt-a-cat month, send us an email at or call us at 519-725-1777.


parasite heartworm dog cat scratching

The Five W’s of Parasite Prevention

By | Blog | No Comments

June first marks the beginning of heartworm season in Southern Ontario, in honour of this occasion, we’ve put together an article answering some FAQ’s regarding parasite prevention, take a look!

Who needs parasite prevention?

  • Every pet is at risk of parasites, even indoor pets
  • Puppies and kittens catch worms from their mothers
  •  And all cats and dogs, and ferrets too, are at risk of heartworm

What parasites are problems for pets?

  •  Intestinal worms are common, roundworm eggs are everywhere for example
  • Heartworm is less common but deadly
  • While Fleas have always been common and ticks are increasing in numbers

When should I prevent parasites?

  • At least from June to November every year for adult animals
  • Puppies and kittens need to start deworming when they are two weeks old
  • Year round prevention is recommended for many pets in high-risk situations such as boarding kennels or travel to the southern US

Where should I buy my parasite prevention?

  • Your veterinarian has the most knowledge of current risks, your pet’s health and the best access to safe suppliers
  • Beware of counterfeit products and canine products which are toxic to cats if you buy online or in a pet store

Why do I need to test for parasites if I use prevention

  • There is no one product that gets every parasite?
  • People forget to give doses
  • And Pets spit out or wash off medications

How do I choose a product?

  • Some pets, like wiggly greedy young labs are easier to give an oral product
  • Dogs with picky appetites or food allergies are better suited to a topical
  • Your pet’s lifestyle and your budget are the final factors to consider, protection from more types of parasites typically costs more money
  • There are lots of products and lots of parasites, we look at every patient individually and make a recommendation based on all these factors

Anesthesia: Why Do Pets Need it to Have Their Teeth Cleaned?

By | Blog | No Comments

Let’s start with a confession first…  when I was a child I bit my human dentist. I remember his thumb didn’t taste very good. No blood was drawn, we were not banned from the practice, and eventually I learned to sit still while my mouth was probed, cleaned, and polished.

Here is the main difference between veterinary and human dentistry: I was able to understand the importance of the procedure and eventually co-operate. In the case of our veterinary patients, general anesthesia is required.

Just because your pet Alfie will lie in your lap while you paint his nails, apply fake tattoos to his belly and even floss his teeth does not  mean Alfie will lie quietly enough for him to be safe during veterinary treatment of dental disease.  We pride ourselves on the safety of your animals when in our care.

Let’s look at the components of a Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment to see how this compares:

1. Dental x-rays, at least eight pictures, are essential to identify painful dental infections and other diseases.Alfie might eat the x-ray film or sensor, endangering his health and damaging costly equipment.

2. We examine the mouth and the teeth, probing around each tooth to measure gingival recession and looking around the mouth for signs of injury or cancer.

Diseased gums are sensitive to the probing and often bleed making anesthesia essential for probing depths as well as getting a good view of Alfie’s mouth.

3. The teeth are scaled to remove tartar, the brown stuff stuck to the sides of teeth, using a combination of hand tools and an ultrasonic scaler.

The hand tools are sharp and the scaler is noisy and vibrates but we need to reach down below the gums to scrape off the tartar that causes gingivitis. This is impossible in an awake dog.

4. Polishing is important after scaling to remove the fine scratches created by our instruments. We like to use strawberry flavored polish.

We do this to ensure that Alfie stays tartar free for as long as possible following the procedure by preventing bacteria from finding these scratches and hiding in them!


Before the Cleaning

Check out these pearly whites

And After!

5. Now it is time for numbing local blocks if diseased teeth need to be removed. The veterinarian will extract teeth and then take more x-rays to ensure all the roots were removed intact, then suture the sockets closed to prevent food from collecting in the resulting holes.

Tooth extractions are surgery and even with the numbing, Alfie does not want to be awake if he needs teeth removed. He also does not want his diseased teeth cleaned and left in his mouth, that’s like painting a rotten fence; a waste of time!

Scraping tartar off the crowns of teeth in awake dogs has been offered by groomers and other lay people and appears initially attractive without the cost of anesthesia or x-rays. Afterwards the teeth appear clean, but the tartar quickly recurs, dogs may be injured, and the periodontal disease is essentially untreated since x-rays, subgingival scaling, and needed extractions cannot be performed. For more information, look here to learn how the College of Veterinarians of Ontario has been protecting pets and their families from the risks of awake dental cleaning.

Your pet’s health is, quite literally my business, so I take it seriously.  It’s in my best interest to give you the facts so you can make informed decisions on what’s best for your pet.  If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I promise not to bite.