Keep up to date with the happenings of Bow Bottom Veterinary hospital with this blog!

Chiropractic to Improve Your Pet’s Body and Mind

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Dr Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC

I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 American Veterinary Chiropractic Association’s annual conference.  It was excellent to learn from over 300 of my colleagues, practice new techniques and become aware of the latest advances in this great field.   

Improving a pet’s mobility is important.  A veterinarian’s goal is to have their patient moving pain free, with full range of motion in their joints.  Mobility and motion are so important in making your pet feel good and live healthier and longer.  Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, proper nutrition, supplements, herbal medicines and essential oil therapy will help enable this.

Your veterinary chiropractor will palpate all of your pet’s joints to assess range of motion.  Joints that are not working well may have malalignment causing nerve or spinal cord compression.  The irritation may be local or distal.  For example, improper positioning of neck vertebrae can cause decreased mobility of the hind legs. 

The field of chiropractic believes that the body has an innate ability to heal.  If we can restore a pet’s joint mobility, then their immune system, circulation system and neuromuscular system should be able to restore the imbalances and help the pet regain health and comfort.

Many pet owners have seen the benefits of providing petting and massage to their pets- they feel better often instantly.  Some pets really enjoy bathing, which is a super powered massage as the warm water is also relaxing.  It is also exciting for owners to witness their pets improved feelings of well-being.

Use it or lose it.  Keeping your pet’s brain functioning well will help prevent degeneration.   This includes stimulating all of their senses including touch, smell, taste, vision, and hearing.  Chiropractors use these senses, especially touch, to assess the health of the nervous system using a system called Functional Neurology.  Using neuronal pathways, chiropractors stimulate the immune system in specific ways to help their patient’s healing systems to work better, sooner and faster.

Ways to help your pet remain mentally active and therefore improve their physical well-being include taking them on walks- there is an abundance in smells, sights and sounds on walks.

Bringing your pet for daycare visits and hiring a dog walker for them when you are at work is also stimulatory.   It is important not to overwhelm your pet, especially if they are older, therefore, sometime shorter walks and shorter periods at daycare are best. Hiding treats in your house for your pet to sniff out and find is also helpful.  Many professional training schools offer scent classes, often called nose work, which are great for all dogs, especially seniors who may not be able to keep up with prolonged walks at first. 

At Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital we often use Essential Oil therapy for pets.  The oils have amazing healing properties including aromatherapeutic properties including improving olfactory awareness and also decreasing anxiety.  Check out a video we made about essential oil therapy for pets:

Cookie stretches are excellent- hold a treat in front of your pet and move it left and right so that their eyes or nose tracks the sight and scent.

The simple act of petting, grooming and bathing your pet improves their brain health.  Many pets can be trained to truly enjoy bathing.  If trained well, pets may even learn to enjoy nail trimming.  Your veterinarian can help you find ways to prevent your pet from becoming overwhelmed or experience anxiety during nail trimming.


For more information about veterinary chiropractic and your pet’s total well-being, check out and and and and and and

Busting Myths About Parasites

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We’re here to bust some common myths about parasites and parasite prevention.

One of the main risk of parasites is the zoonotic transmission that may happen to your family. Children and immune-compromised family members are at the biggest risk. Please discuss your questions about prevention and treatment with one of our friendly staff. Annual testing ensures early and timely detection of a positive case.

 “My pet’s stool is normal (no diarrhea) – they must not have any parasites” – False

Diarrhea is not the only symptom of an internal parasite prevention! Often they will have normal stool production until the infestation is at a critical level. More common symptoms to be observant of is pale mucous membranes, failure to gain weight, dehydration, poor hair coat, coughing and that pot-bellied appearance.

Please remember most infections are asymptomatic (no signs).

I don’t see any “worms” in the stool – they don’t have any worms. False

Parasite’s live in the intestine, they are happy there and do not want to leave. The eggs they produce are what is passed in stool, these are microscopic! The only way you will see a parasitic infection is in tapeworm infections if severe/rare cases you may see little rice like bits moving in the stool. Also roundworm infections as patients often vomit large masses of worms that look like spaghetti. Gross right? Instead of letting your pet get to an overload of parasites before noticing/treating we recommended monthly preventive for everyone’s health.

 They are on a monthly dewormer – do I still need to test?Yes

Yes! The de-wormer we recommended at Bow Bottom is broad spectrum and generally covers most parasites. However there is concern that some worms are becoming super worms – therefore we still recommend testing annually. Also there are common parasites like giardia, coccidia and the new major concern is Echinococcus that are not covered under the deworming normally prescribed. Giardia is most common in puppies and coccidia in kittens. 

My puppy was dewormed by the breeder – that is sufficient.No

Sadly no, breeders often deworm with an over the counter medicine which is considered not adequate. Of course each breeder is different and we recommend bringing your puppy in for its first puppy visit as soon as possible, that way we can sign your pet up for insurance and discuss a proper vaccine schedule and deworming plan. Please bring any records your breeder has given you for us to place in your file. 

My cat is always indoor – no need for parasite preventionFalse

Yes! Your cat although indoors is still at risk. We leave the house daily and may walk around higher risk areas like farms, parks or other outdoor places and track in parasite eggs on our shoes. Also if you have an indoor cat but a dog as well, they can share parasites between species so highly recommended to keep your indoor kitty up to date on parasite prevention and vaccines!

Flea and parasite prevention is toxic for my pet. The pet store products are the same– False!

Veterinary products are by prescription as it is important to ensure your pet’s health before administering any medications. There are possible reactions to any medication and if you have concerns, please discuss with one of our technicians or with Dr. Schell. Pet store products are very risky as they are more based off pesticides and you are more at risk of selecting the wrong dose, they can be very toxic to cats if the wrong medication is given. It has been demonstrated that pet store products only affect approx. 50% of fleas due to resistance and lack of residual effect.

Ticks, Are those parasites too? – Yes

Yes. Ticks transmit a large variety of disease agents that can cause Lyme disease and many other harmful diseases. Ticks are very small and often overlooked therefore prevention is the best method of protection and not just removal.

Heartworm? Not here in CanadaFalse

Yes. Heartworm occurs in warmer regions, where summer temperatures are high enough for the worm larvae to survive inside the carrier mosquitoes. The high-risk areas in Canada are southern Ontario, southern Quebec Manitoba, and the Okanagan in British Columbia. Heartworm is also found in most states in the US. Although it is not absolutely certain, it appears that heartworms are unable to survive at prevailing temperatures in Alberta and Saskatchewan. A few cases are diagnosed in these provinces every year, but to date the dogs have visited or lived in heartworm risk areas. We recommend heartworm prevention as many of our patients travel and it is one less concern on the pre-packing list.


Did you know?!

Biggest areas of infection: Dog parks, farms/barns, daycare centers, puppies from mothers and exploring the environment, fleas, anywhere wild life is, even your own backyard!

A female roundworm can lay up to 85,000 eggs per day! These hard shelled eggs can survive in the environment for years. A whipworm female only produces about 2,000 eggs a day but they can still live for multiple years in the environment.

Hookworms have a very short growth period, even pets on a monthly dewormer may have adult worms in their intestines. This stresses the importance of minimally yearly stool testing. 

In puppies under 6 months studies have shown as many as 30% are infected with roundworm.

Just one flea can become 1,000 on your pet and in your home in only 21 days.

Preventive measures

At least yearly stool testing at your annual exam.

Monthly parasite prevention with a broad spectrum medication.

Feeding a commercial or home cooked diet, raw diets are not recommended.

Limit access to areas where wildlife are (Stay on leash in parks, on hikes)

Do not let cats outside unsupervised, most cats take to a harness and leash walking very well or build a catio!

Do not handle animal feces or urine with bare hands.

Promptly and regularly clean your yard with proper stool disposal

Reduce tick habitat, such as leaf litter or long grasses in your yard.

We have teamed up with our Veterinary Reference Lab to help research parasites in our area, and to make sure our fur friends are parasite free!

For the next 4 weeks (ending November 30th at 12pm!) we are offering Annual Parasite Screens at no cost!  (** Conditions apply, see below)  The screen includes the routine fecal centrifuge (looking for pesky parasites and eggs), as well as a giardia test, and the brand new antigen screening looking for hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.  This entire screen is normally in the realm of $100, but our charge to you is $0!  All we ask is that you make a donation to Tails of Help.

Why Tails of Help?

Tails of Help recently reached out to all clinics in Alberta with a sad message:

“……. Tails of Help is now on the verge of having allocated all our available charitable funds for providing pet treatment aid.  Effective immediately, as of September 11, 2019, Tails of Help will have to temporarily suspend accepting applications to aid pet owners in need.”

Click HERE to learn more about Tails of Help!

We wanted to help, and thought we would use this parasite data collection as an opportunity to collect some donations for Tails of Help. We have nominated our clients and patients for this charity and they have used them to help their pets. We are hoping to help them replenish some of the bank and aid more pets in need.

Please call our team if you have any questions! Samples can be brought in during office hours.  

 ** For research purposes the free testing is on “Healthy screens”, the No charge test cannot be completed on diarrhea or loose stool


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Dr. Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC

Calgary has very poor air quality due to forest fires up north sending severe amounts of smoke.

Protecting lung and nasal tissues is important.  When the air is this bad, keep pets indoors as much as possible and give them indoor rather than outdoor exercise.  Soft sponge-type balls and stuffies can be thrown indoors to play fetch.  Humans need to wear air pollution masks if outside.  There are even air pollution filtration masks for pets.  Check it out:

Pet owners should also keep their pets well hydrated so their lung’s cilia cells can filter better.  The cilia cells line the trachea (wind pipe) and help sweep particulate matter like smoke particles, dirt and mucus out of the lung. The immune system also works better when the body is properly nourished and hydrated.  Therefore, fresh water needs to be available at all times for pets and they need to be fed balanced, nutritious diets.

Keeping your pet’s body in shape is also important.  Excess fat cells release inflammatory mediators that decrease health and comfort of pets at many levels. They also insulate the pet, making them feel overheated, especially on hot, smoky summer days.

Here are some other interesting ways to help your pets stay healthy during smoky conditions:

  1. Provide a clean, healthy house for them. Hepa Filters are excellent ways to keep inside of your house free of excess dust.  Humidifying the home may be helpful to prevent the home from being too dry.  The lungs do not do well with environments that are too dry, too wet, too cold or too hot.
  2. Vacuum your house regularly to remove excess dirt, pet and human dander and fur. This decreases antigen exposure to your pets.
  3. Prevent excess drafts, fans and aggressive air conditioning. Drafts, especially along the back and the neck are challenging to the immune system.  In Chinese Medicine, they are felt to cause Wind and Cold Invasion.
  4. Energetically warming teas with cinnamon, ginger, clove, and green tea for detoxification can be fed to pets. Check out directions:
  5. Diffusion of essential oils such as clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, pine spruce, lavender, cypress, peppermint, marjoram, rosemary which help support and soothe the respiratory system.
  6. Keep your pets away from cigarette smoke, cannabis smoke, firewood smoke and vape smoke. Those are known carcinogens and very hard for their lungs to tolerate.
  7. Bath your dog weekly to remove particulate matter like dirt and smoke particles that cling to the skin and causes immune system stimulation and irritation.
  8. Bring your pet to your veterinarian for diagnosis, and treatment. Veterinarians trained in Herbal medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture may prescribe immune tonifiers such as echinacea larch, reishi and cordyceps mushroom, atragalus, n-aetyl-cystein, Lung Yin tonifiers, andrograpis and Xiao Chai Hu Tang.  Acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, topical essential oils and home cooked food can also help many pets.
  9. Asthmatic pets may require metered dose inhalers (puffers). Allergy testing can also be done by your veterinarian to help identify immune system needs and allergy desensitization therapy needs.

If you have any questions please contact us at




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Dr. Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC
Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital

Fascinating facts about ticks include:

  • There are about 40 different species of ticks in Canada.
  • They are arachnids as they have 8 legs, whereas fleas are insects with 6 legs.
  • Some female ticks can live 3 years as they complete their life cycle.
  • Ticks can cause major, serious diseases such as Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, paralysis and anemia (blood deficiency).

They are very powerful creatures that can severely negatively impact pet’s lives, and therefore their owner’s lives.  For example, Lyme disease is a crippling illness and can have long lasting, devastating clinical signs such as arthritis, fever and decreased energy.

Ticks are very hardy and small.  Some species are only the size of a poppy seed and therefore, are very challenging to find hidden in the fur of your dog or cat.  They are also often painless when attached to skin, so your pet may not scratch them off themselves.  To help prevent your pet from being bitten from ticks, contact your veterinarian.  They will prescribe safe and effective tick protection in the form of a tasty chewable tablet given either monthly or every 3 months for dogs, or, topical medication applied to the neck area monthly or every 3 months for dogs and cats.  All dogs and cats who go outside should be treated as ticks can fall off birds flying overhead and land in your back yard, waiting in the grass or trees to attach to your pet as they walk past.

Dogs who travel or who live in areas of Canada that are heavily infested with ticks may also require a vaccination to protect against Lyme Disease.  Contact your veterinarian to discuss if vaccination is necessary.

In addition to the prevention medication, applying veterinary approved, pet friendly essential oil topical sprays that have peppermint and cedar are helpful.  The sprays may also have citronella and lemon which dispel mosquitoes:

You should also do a check of your pet’s coat each day to look for ticks.  Usually you will only find them in a larger adult life stage as the juvenile or non-engorged size is very small.                                

If you do find a tick on your pet, it needs to be removed as quickly as possible.  This is because within 48 hours of attachment, an adult tick can transfer the causative agent (Borrelia burgdorferi) into your pet or start injecting toxins that lead to paralysis.  You have two options for tick removal:

  1. Bring your pet to your veterinarian or to an emergency veterinary hospital if your regular veterinarian is closed. They will professionally remove the tick and send it for testing to the Government of Alberta.  The test will include tick species identification, and if the tick is the Ixodes genus, further testing for Lyme disease will be done.  Your pet’s skin will also be examined to determine if the tick’s attachment site is painful or infected.  Topical ointments, and possible oral antibiotics may be needed.
  1. If you cannot get your pet to a veterinarian (for example you are camping remotely), then try to remove the tick yourself. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the tick with proper equipment such as the commercially available “Tick Twister”:   Or tweezers.  You should always carry a Tick Twister or tweezers with you while camping.

Do not touch the tick with your bare hands as sometimes the saliva of the tick will have infectious agents such as Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.  Be sure to remove the whole tick including head and body.   The “Tick Twister” or tweezers will help you do that (pull the tick off at the base of the mouth parts are attached the skin).  Then, the tick should be placed in a secure hard plastic, glass or metal container (with a piece of wet tissue or cotton ball that is wet to keep the tick alive) and brought to your veterinarian.  Your veterinarian will then send the tick to the Alberta Government for identification.

For more information contact your veterinarian and check out:

Global News Ticks Segment

Bow Bottom Website Search on Ticks

Dog Owners and Ticks

Cat Owners and Ticks


Preparing Your Home and Family for a New Pet

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Preparing Your Home and Family for a New Pet
Dr Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC

It takes a village to raise a puppy or kitten so it is important to be as prepared as possible.

1. It is important to determine what veterinarian you choose as your veterinary team will play an integral role in helping you choose your pet, giving pre-purchase examination, setting up pet health insurance and keeping your pet health and happy for a lifetime. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource for everything pet related including nutrition, behaviour, and medical health. Your veterinarian can even guide you about how and where to find a new pet and determining what species and breed best suits you and your family. Feel free to interview several veterinarians until you find the right match.

2. Pet Health Insurance will save you thousands of dollars throughout your pet’s lifetime. Register your pet for the best policy you can. Not only does it save you money, it saves you from making tough decisions about your pet’s care.

3. Ask your veterinarian what breed of dog would suit your and your family’s life style. Be sure everyone in your family is on board with having a pet and wanting to take responsibility caring for him/her. Cats can live 41 years! Dogs can live 29 years! They both need commitment both financially and through time and effort needed to train and raise them.

4. If you decide on a purebred, interview breeders until you find a helpful one who provides health guarantee and has healthy breeding stock who have been tested for the congenital mutations that may be common in that breed. A good breeder can also help you determine if their breed is a good match for you and your lifestyle.

5. If you buy from a rescue center, be sure you receive medical records and health notes so you know what vaccinations and tests the pet has had before purchase. You may be able to foster the pet to determine if he or she is the right match for you.

6. Prepare your home- pets need a safe environment. No poisonous plants for pets to chew, or access to railings or stairs that kittens can climb and fall from. Ensure there are safe toys, chews, games, scratching posts, windows to help keep your pets occupied. Your veterinarian will be very helpful in helping you ‘pet proof’ your home as well as improve the resources and environmental enrichment for your pets.

7. Consider adopting an older pet. Sometimes an older pet is easier to accommodate compared to a puppy or kitten because often they are already trained. Dog training classes are excellent ways to help you train you new dog or puppy and will give you helpful training advice, and a lot of fun!

8. Look into pet daycare facilities and over-night care/boarding centers and pet sitters for your pet. It is helpful to prepare in advance for trips. Also, if you work outside of your home more than 5 hours per day, you will probably need a dog walking service or a daycare. It is challenging to train puppies and is not fair to the puppy if they are left home all day long. This can set back potty-training with your puppy.

9. Also look into pet friendly hotels when planning holidays so you can enjoy your pet during your holiday.

10. If you have existing pets, have plans in place on how to introduce your new pets to them. For example if you are adopting a dog, introduce them to your existing dog in neutral and joyful territory such as a dog park or a green space that your current dog enjoys. Do not let two new pets together alone unattended until you are certain they accept each other and do not fight. If you are introducing a new cat to an existing cat, it is often best to keep your new cat/kitten in a spare room for a few days or weeks so that your existing cat can smell them under the door and get used to the sounds of the new cat. Then, you can swap spaces so that the new cat/kitten is allowed to explore the house and the existing cat can stay inside the room to acquaint itself with the scents of the new cat. If you own birds and are introducing a cat, be very cautious to protect your birds from being attacked by the cat. You may need to house the birds in a safe, protected room or keep them inside large, safe cages.

11. Litter box etiquette is important. Note that puppies and adult dogs will eat cat feces. Elevate your cat’s litter boxes onto a table, or place them in areas your new dog will not reach. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 more litter box than the number of cats you have in the house. So if you have two cats, have at least 3 litter boxes. And place them in different floors of the house. This will help if your cat accidentally gets trapped in the basement.

12. Ensure enough water is placed in the house, in many areas of the house there should be water bowls that are kept full. Adding more pets to your home will increase the water consumption stations and volumes.

13. Decrease stress of introductions of new pets with pheromone sprays such as Adaptil for dogs, and Feliway for cats. Thundershirts are helpful as well as essential oil sprays for pets. Oral anti-stress herbs and supplements that contain ingredients such as colostrum, valerian, L-theanine, Chinese herb formulas suited specifically to your pet, acupuncture, massage, are all often very helpful to your pets.
This is a video on Thundershirts-> click here!
This is a video on items and products that reduce stress in cats-> click here!

14. Monitor feeding times well. It is important that the new pet is eating and is not getting his/her food stolen by the existing pet. Watch them closely while eating or you have to separate them into different rooms during meal times. Leaving food out all day and not measuring meals can lead to obesity or starvation for the other pet. There are excellent technologies that help prevent pets from over eating including automatic feeders triggered by an individualized fob attached to each pet’s collar.

15. Children must be educated about how to properly and safely handle a pet. Never leave a child alone unattended with a pet, especially when you are still learning your pet’s personality and needs.

This is an article on decreasing stress in pets-> click here!

As well as behavior protocols to help relax pets-> click here!
and how to introduce a new pet-> click here!
and introducing a pet to children-> click here!

Thank you!

Dr. Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC
Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital
1186 137 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2J 6T6

Your pets are our passion!

Protecting Pets From Spring and Summer Hazards

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Dr. Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC

After seeing three different external parasites on three different patients all within three days, I was rudely awakened that spring has arrived!!!

These are some of the common spring and summer hazards that pets can be protected from:

1. Fleas – The first patient, a sweet 6 month old Australian Terrier puppy, presented with severe itchiness of her ears and head, shortly after poking her face into a badger hole while on a walk.  My team and I microscopically identified the military, brown, jumping bugs.  Fleas live on dogs and are quite species specific, meaning not many dog fleas will be able to survive on a human or a cat; however, dog fleas can live on badgers, coyotes, wolves, and dogs.  There are effective preventive medications from your veterinarian: either topical monthly products, or monthly or every 3 months chewable tablets to be eaten.  They can survive indoors year round on pets, but most pets are more likely to become infected during the spring and summer months.  This is because pets are more active at interacting with each other at off-leash parks where there are other dogs and wildlife, or at grooming facilities or daycare centres.

This is a good article about fleas:

2. Lice – I found lice on a dog last week who was itchy.  The owner thought she was just dirty from not having had a bath for a few weeks; however, during her chiropractic exam I found a single adult sucking lice, engorged full of her blood.  When one lice is found, there are usually others, in addition to lice eggs which will hatch and start sucking the pet’s blood.  They cause intense itchiness and usually live around the eyes and ears, but this lice was on her poor back!  Fortunately, your veterinarian also has shampoos and sprays and topical preventive mediations.

More information about lice:

3. Ticks – These little spiders not only have the ability to suck your pet’s blood (and if present in large enough numbers cause anemia and weakness) but they also are notorious for harbouring dangerous parasites and bacterias that cause severe disease in pets, namely: Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  The great news is that your pet does not have to suffer from ticks, as there are many topical and oral medications to prevent them.  Calgary definitely has ticks now, as do most other cities in Canada. Thus, prevention is essential.  If you do see a tick on your pet, do not touch it with your bare hands, as their saliva can carry Lyme Disease organisms and infect you. Wear rubber gloves and remove the tick with a special tick remover system available from your veterinarian, or tweezers, or bring your pet to your veterinarian right away for removal.  The tick should be saved in a strong plastic container and brought to your veterinarian for species identification, and to be sent to the government for testing for Lyme Disease.

This is an interesting information article on ticks:

4. Hot environments leading to heat stroke – A pet’s body temperature is warmer than humans. Normal core temperature is 37.5 to 39.5 for dogs and cats, and they only have 2 natural ways of releasing heat. They can pant or sweat to release excess heat, but they only have sweat glands on their feet.  There are special cooling bandanas your pet can wear around his or her neck, and also cooling beds that take away heat when your pet lays on them.  We also make a beautiful, cooling essential oil spray that has oils such as peppermint and lemon to swiftly and effectively cool your pet.  Offering a small children’s swimming pool for your dog outside is a great way for them to flop in water to cool off.  Always supervise if your pet is swimming, even in the backyard, to prevent drowning.

5. Swimming too far away from owner – Many dogs love swimming and it is great exercise; however, some get carried away by swimming in rapid currents or swimming clear to the opposite side of a large lake.  A safe way to keep your pet afloat and close to you, but still able to swim, is to put a pet life jacket on him or her, and attach a long leash that you can hold onto when you are in a boat or walking along the shore.

This is a video demonstration that we made about pet life jackets:

It is also important to wash your dog after swimming.

This is a video we made on bathing pets:

6. Mosquitoes – Not only are they uncomfortable to a pet when they bite to suck blood, but they can transfer Heartworm disease.  Monthly tablets or chewable medications can be given to protect pets from Heartworm disease.  We at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital also make an effective, safe essential oil spray that help prevent mosquitoes from biting you and your pet.

Check it out:

7. Dehydration – Always bring water with you when you are walking your pet or if your pet is outside in your backyard, definitely have fresh water available at all times.   Inside your house it is important to have many different water stations set up in many areas of the house. The more often your pet walks by a water station, the more likely he or she is to take a drink.  When the weather outside is hot and when a house is hot, or if the air conditioning is turned on, a pet’s water needs increase due to panting and sweating (releasing heat and moisture) or from convection losses (air conditioning currents).   When you are hiking or walking your dog, there are special back packs that can hold water bottles for pets, and there are lightweight compressible water bowls that your pet can also carry in his or her back pack.  Offer them water every 15 minutes, or more often if the weather is very hot.

This is an article on how to encourage your pet to drink water:

8. Plants – These are very abundant in the spring and summer months, and many pets can be allergic to them. Your veterinarian can test your pet for plant and other environmental allergies and work with you to prevent their immune systems from being so reactive.  Also, many toxic plants and mushrooms may be eaten by your pet. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a toxic plant or mushroom, bring him or her to your veterinarian right away.

This is a helpful list of dangerous plants:

9. Allergies – Pets are exposed to more allergens in the spring and summer, even if they stay indoors.  This is because as snow melts, snow mould develops, which can be tracked indoors to cats who stay indoors as well as pets who venture outside.  The spring and summer also provide excellent growing temperatures for plants which produce pollens that can cause hay fever-like symptoms or itchiness to sensitive pets.  Your veterinarian can help treat and prevent allergy symptoms in your pet including allergy serum injections, hypoallergenic food, herbal medicine, essential oil therapy, shampooing, topical sprays, acupuncture and chiropractic.

For more information contact us at

Thank you!

Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation to Strengthen Your Pet’s Body

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Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation to Strengthen Your Pet’s Body

Dr Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC

Since joint health is highly dependent on strong muscles and nerves, it is important to help keep your pet strong and fit throughout their whole life.  This will help to improve their comfort, mobility, and decrease pain and injuries.

Pets need to develop their strength back after injuries, surgeries or periods of inactivity such as ‘snow days’ and cold conditions that may prevent them from having proper levels of outdoor exercise.  These are options on how to help pets, indoors and outdoors.

Your veterinarian, if certified, can give or prescribe your pet these treatments:

  1.  Acupuncture, chiropractic, therapeutic massage
  2. Herbal Medicine- items such as Turmeric, and  other Traditional Chinese herbs
  3. Moxibustion- an ancient Chinese therapy which involves holding a smoldering herb above acupuncture points:

Your veterinarian can prescribe a Moxa stick and train you how to perform Moxibustion on your pet

  1. Advise the best nutrition for your pet’s needs. This may include a prescription diet or a home cooked diet that you can make at home with proper supplements.
    For example:
  2. Essential oil therapy:

  1. Pain control medication, if needed.
  2. Underwater treadmills at a proper veterinary rehabilitation centre are great for providing non-slip resistance to build strength and balance.

This is a list of exercises and treatments you can give your pet at home for building strength and improving healing:

  1.  Passive Range of Motion exercises to improve circulation:
  2. Massage small breed dogs:

Massage large breed dogs:

Massage cats:

  1. Gentle walks uphill.  Hill ‘climbs’ are excellent for encouraging weight transfer to the hind legs. Slowly work up to allow 3 to 5 minutes of walks up inclines two or three times daily depending on your pet’s stamina.  You can find gentle hills and inclines in many neighborhoods. The pitch of the hill does not need to be very steep, just enough to encourage weight transfer to the hind end.
  2. Treadmill- dry land—if you own a treadmill, many dogs and even cats can be trained.  Treadmills can provide a gentle incline. Slow and steady training with positive reinforcement helps.
  3. Encourage your dog to walk through tall grass- this encourages them to lift their feet high while walking and also to use proper balancing muscles and proprioception.
  4. In winter, walk your dog through slightly deep snow (not too deep and ensure it is not icy or slippery).  It is important to have good traction at all times.
  5. Swimming in a safe, current-less pond, while wearing a pet life jacket. Supervision at all times is vital.  Many dogs and some cats like swimming and it helps decrease weight and pressure on joints.
  6. Cavelettis (tiny ‘horse jumps’) work well to improve your pet’s proprioception (leg, body, mind coordination) and balance.  You can use foam cylindrical rollers or broomsticks placed down your hallway parallel in tandem.  Ask your pet to walk down that hallway. They will have to lift their feet up higher than usual to clear the cavelettis.
  7. “Cookie Stretches”.  Have your dog lie down on their side, then hold a tasty (small piece) of a treat against their chest so the dog has to lift and turn his/her head to grasp the treat.  This can also be done while your dog or cat are sitting or standing as well.  It helps gently extend their leg, neck and back joints.  Gradually work your pet 10 reps each side twice daily.
  8. Have your pet stand on a non-slip mat (such a carpet runner or yoga mat).  Then gently push the left hip slightly to the right encourage them to transfer weight to the right leg, and vice versa. Repeat 10 times daily.  Be slow and steady
  9. Life up one paw at a time (ensure you do all 4) while standing up.  This improves balance muscles and also strength.  Hold for 30s to 60s each leg.
  10. Ask your dog to put both front legs up onto an exercise ball.  They will have to use balance muscles of the hind legs to keep standing.  This takes time and patience. Some small dogs need a much smaller ball than others.
  11. Ask your dog to step into an open cardboard box.  Not too high though.  Less than 1 foot tall.  By stepping in and out of a raised box your dog has to extend his legs and balance well.
  12. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed as short as possible without making them bleed.  Short nails prevent over extension and they improve traction.
  13. Moxibustion.
  14. Train your pet to give a ‘High Five’, or even ‘Sit Pretty’.  The act of raising one paw while sitting (High Five) or rising up both paws at the same time (Sit Pretty) helps flex abdominal muscles as well as arm muscles.
  15. When strong enough you can ask the pet to go from standing to sitting to lying down, then back to sitting, then standing.

It is important that the physiotherapy program suits your pet’s needs.  The program should be challenging but not overwhelming.  Ideally it should be an enjoyable way for you and your pet to spend quality time together.  Work with your veterinarian to develop a plan optimal for your pet.

For more information contact us at

Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats

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Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Cats

Dr Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC


After the death of my 13.5 year old Lilac Point Siamese cat this past August I was devastated.   He died of symptoms related to his chronic Feline Asthma.  God rest his soul.

I  had purchased Sir Percy as a 3 month old kitten from a breeder. It was the best and worst decision I ever made.   It was the best decision because I immediately fell in love with Sir Percy, and was loved back, and was able to learn how to improve the comfort and longevity of cats with Feline Asthma and I will forever be grateful for all that Sir Percy taught me and gave to me.  But it was the worst decision I ever made because I suspected that as soon as I met him that he would be ill.  Ill because the environment he lived in was heavily infused with cigarette smoke.  Sir Percy’s breeders were chronic chain smokers.  One of them had to carry their own oxygen behind them due to severe cigarette-related emphysema.  The air in their home was thick with smoke, and the walls were yellowed from the toxins.   I remember the horrible smell to this day.  Throughout her pregnancy, Sir Percy’s mother was subjected to these toxins, as well as her mother, and her grandmother.  In Chinese medicine, we believe that disease affecting the patient often has been a result of environmental or mental trauma up to seven generations before them.  In other words, whatever affects our great, great, great, great, great grandmother or grandfather affects us.  Since many of our grandparents lived through the Great Depression, we are affected by them.  We have to work hard to not only stay healthy, but prevent illnesses related from the traumas our ancestors suffered.  We owe it to our descendants to stay as healthy as possible, so that they will be healthier than we were.

As many cat lovers can understand, it is very sad and lonely to live without a cat. Even if you have two or five dogs and a bird!  Thus, I started searching hard to find who I feel is the best Siamese Cat breeder in Canada.  With much research, I found one who I am completely happy with.  She works hard to try to produce the healthiest kittens.  She focuses on testing her cats and kittens for as many genetic diseases as possible, and strives to produce healthy, balanced, loving, well rounded cats and kittens.  She gives her cats and kittens love and a healthy, non-smoking house to live and helps educate the new parents to provide the best life for their new family member.  She is supportive and kind, and her work is a labor of love.

We discussed the importance of screening for genetic disease called Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which causes blindness in cats and dogs.  I had my future kittens screened for this test, and am so happy my breeder was open to this and had been doing it routinely on her kittens for years.  All good breeders should be screening their adults for PRA gene before breeding.  If the cat or dog is a carrier, they should not breed that animal.  It is important to work towards preventing genetic illnesses that are preventable.   Especially now that the genome of dogs and cats has been effectively mapped.

I have added a link below that discusses PRA in detail.

Before you purchase a puppy or kitten from a breeder you should definitely inquire about genetic testing and if they are a breed at risk for PRA, for sure ask your veterinarian to screen the kitten or puppy before purchase. For more information contact

Also, be sure to enroll your new baby with pet health insurance.   That will give you freedom to treat illnesses that they may develop with the vast financial resources that the insurance company can provide.  Check out

This is the website and the article is attached below:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Felines


In Abyssinian, Somali and some Ocicat breeds, an inherited late-onset blindness condition has been identified and is characterized by progressive degeneration of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) in the retina.  This disease has been designated “rdAc”.  Cats affected with this form of blindness have normal vision at birth, with degeneration first detected by electroretinographic (ERG) exam at about seven months of age.  Vision loss progresses slowly and is variable, with most cats becoming blind by usually 3-5 years of age.  There is no treatment available for the condition.  This is an autosomal recessive condition, thus the disease is not associated with gender and two copies of the mutation are required for the cats to lose their vision.  Carriers, cats that have one copy of the mutation, are not affected and have normal vision.

A single nucleotide mutation in the gene called CEP290 produces a defective protein which is associated with this progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in the cat.  In addition to Abyssinian, Somali and Ocicat, a survey of 43 cat breeds showed presence of the CEP290 mutation in many other breeds including, American Curl, American Wirehair, Bengal, Balinese/Javanese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Munchkin, Oriental Shorthair, Peterbald, Siamese, Singapura and Tonkinese. The high frequency of the CEP290 mutation in Siamese (about 33%) and related breeds (Oriental Shorthair, Balinese/Javanese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Peterbald) poses a significant health risk in the Siamese breed group.

A different form of blindness called “rod cone dysplasia”, or “Rdy” has also been identified in Abyssinian and Somali cats. The mutation is a single base pair deletion in a different gene, CRX, which also results in a defective protein that is critical for eye development.  Cats carrying one copy of this mutation have retarded development and degeneration of photoreceptor cells, which leads to early-onset blindness by 7 weeks of age. Current information suggests that the “Rdy” mutation is restricted to the Abyssinian and Somali breeds. The “Rdy” mutation is inherited as a dominant trait. Cats that have one or two copies of the mutation will be affected. The Rdy mutation is rare.

To assist owners and breeders in identifying affected and carrier cats, the VGL offers DNA tests for the two mutations known to cause the two different forms of PRA in cats – rdAc (CEP290) and Rdy (CRX).  The tests use DNA collected from buccal swabs.  Breeders can use these tests as tools to avoid breeding two carriers of rdAc which would produce 25% affected offspring, or to test for the presence of “Rdy” in the CRX gene of suspected affected cats.

Since both forms of blindness are found in the Abyssinian breed, all associated breeds may have a concern for these diseases.  The two mutations (rdAc and Rdy) have been tested in a novel form of blindness in the Bengal cat, and both have been excluded from causing the Bengal cat blindness (LA Lyons, personal communication).  Since Bengal cats have had Abyssinian breedings in their ancestry, these genetic tests may be warranted in some Bengal lines.

Procedure for collecting a feline DNA sample

Allow 2-6 business days for results.

Results reported as:

Test ResultCEP290 PRA-rdAc Status
N/NNormal, cat does not have rdAc mutation*
N/rdAcCarrier, cat has one copy of rdAc mutation. Breedings between carriers will be expected to produce 25% affected kittens.

* This test only detects the mutation in the CEP290 gene known to cause PRA in Abyssinian, Somali, Ocicat and other breeds mentioned above.

Test ResultCRX PRA-Rdy Status
N/NNormal, cat does not have Rdy mutation**
N/RdyAffected, cat has one copy of the Rdy mutation. This cat will produce affected kittens 50% of the time when bred to a normal cat, or 75% of the time when bred to another cat with one copy of the Rdy mutation.
Rdy/RdyAffected, cat will always produce affected kittens.

** This test only detects the mutation in the CRX gene known to cause PRA in Abyssinian and Somali breeds.


Menotti-Raymond M, David VA, Schäffer AA, Stephens R, Wells D, Kumar-Singh R, O’Brien SJ, Narfström  K. Mutation in CEP290 discovered for cat model of human retinal degeneration. J. Hered. 2007 May-Jun; 98(3):211-20. Epub 2007 May 16. PubMed PMID: 17507457.

Menotti-Raymond M, Deckman KH, David V, Myrkalo J, O’Brien SJ, Narfström K. Mutation discovered in a feline model of human congenital retinal blinding disease. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Jun; 51(6):2852-9. Epub 2010 Jan 6. PubMed PMID: 20053974.

Menotti-Raymond M, David VA, Pflueger S, Roelke ME, Kehler J, O’Brien SJ, Narfström K. Widespread retinal degenerative disease mutation (rdAc) discovered among a large number of popular cat breeds. Vet J. 2009 Sep 9. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 19747862.





Dangers of Foreign Body Ingestion in Our Pets

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Dangers of Foreign Body Ingestion

Dr Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC


Mike, a 7 month old kitten, was very fortunate to be scheduled for his neuter surgery today.

Unbeknownst to us and his owners, Mike had swallowed a whole fabric covered, red hair elastic and it was trapped in his stomach.  Measuring 20cm in length and 0.4cm wide, it posed a huge threat to his well being.

Foreign bodies. which are non-food items ingested by the pet, not only irritate and inflame the stomach lining, but they also can cause blockage of the intestine leading to painful and life threatening gastrointestinal/digestive disturbances.

We discovered that Mike had the foreign body because while he was at our hospital he vomited it out.  We did not know how long it had been there or whether or not there were more. This inspired us to perform gastroscopy before his neuter surgery in order to search out and remove any other elastics or foreign bodies.  A gastroscopy involves using our flexible endoscope to pass down a pet’s esophagus, into their stomach and proximal small intestine. An endoscope may also be used to pass up their colon, in order to view with a special fibre optic camera the inside of the gastrointestinal system.  It also helps us grasp and remove many of the foreign bodies without having to cut into the stomach or intestines surgically.

Mike’s foreign body also reminds us to help educate pet owners about the dangers of other foreign bodies that we have had to remove from other patients in the past. This has included: hair elastics, Lego or other children’s toys, rubber bands, plastic bags, pine cones, corn on the cob, telephone cords, electronic cords, string, thread, Christmas tinsel, erasers, needles, bones, antlers, rocks, foam particles, rope toys, balls, bottle caps, milk jug lids, coins, whole almonds or other nuts, ear plugs, jewelry, socks, peach pits, avocado pits, turkey or roast beef twine, underwear, and plants that many pets love to chew and swallow.  All of these items and many more can pose serious threats and need to be stored safely out or reach of all animals. Children need to be educated to clean up after themselves so that pets do not eat their toys which are often small or have pieces that come apart easily.

Pets, both young and old, may decide to eat foreign bodies because they smell like food or they smell like their owners who they love, or because they are bored.  They may have a neurological issue called Pica, which causes them to think that non-food items should be eaten.

Sometimes anxiety or poor nutrition, under nutrition, or gastrointestinal parasites cause animals to eat non-food items. Diseases such as Hyperthyroidism and Diabetes Mellitus, which increase a pet’s appetite, can also cause pets to eat non-food items.  Also, pets being treated with certain medications such as prednisolone, a steroid, can increase their appetite, which may encourage them to eat items they have previously left alone.

To help prevent your pet from eating non-food items due to boredom, provide them with an enriched indoor environment including look-out towers where they can see outside, videos on TV, radio so they can listen to soothing music, cat condos, safe toys and chews in many areas of your house that will attract your pets. Interactive toys such as puzzles, cubes or Kongs can be stuffed with treats and provide stimulation for your pet. You can ask us if a toy is safe- we can give you good ideas and provide safe chews and toys for your pets.

Also, bring your dog or cat to daycare several times per week to decrease boredom.  Take them on lots of walks. Even cats enjoy outdoor walks on leach and harness.  There are even pet strollers which allow you to take older dogs and cats for outside walks.  This provides stimulation including new sights, sounds and smells.

You can also hire a dog walker or a pet sitter to give your pet extra attention during the day, especially if you are at work. Enroll your dog in hobbies and classes such as agility and obedience and dock diving because a tired dog is a happy dog!  And they will be much less likely to destroy the home or eat non-food items.

Check out our article on ways to decrease anxiety in pets by clicking here!

If you suspect that your pet has Pica, or is eating non-food items definitely contact us right away.  If we are closed at that time contact the nearest pet emergency clinic.

Please let us know if you have any question.   403 278 1984

Thank you very much!