Bow Bottom Custom Articles

Kinesiology Tape for Pets

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


Veterinarians want your pet moving freely and painlessly.  Kinesiology Taping, also known as K-Taping, helps them help your pet regain function and pain-free motion.

The skin has many neuroreceptors.  Some are sensitive to pressure (mechanoreceptors), some are sensitive to pain (nociceptors), and some body movement and position (proprioceptors) and some temperature (thermoreceptors).  They are very sensitive and are the reason we can detect when even a tiny fly lands on our head.  They are vital at protecting our body from injury and they help us heal if we are injured.

Kinesiology tape stimulates all of these neuroreceptors, and thus improve circulation and therefore, helps decrease bruising and pain.  The tape helps body parts communicate with the brain.  This feedback helps the brain improve circulation and healing to that area.  The tape also helps create free glide between the layers of skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle layers.

In a functional neurology view, K-Tape helps wake up a weak limb.  It helps the brain and whole body remember the neurological connections between that limb and the brain, and that limb and the rest of the body.

Kinesiology tape stimulates all of these neuroreceptors, and thus improve circulation and therefore helps decrease bruising and pain.

Indications for use:

  • Decrease bruising
  • Stiff leg
  • Not using leg
  • Muscle weakness
  • Painful limbs
  • Other reasons determined by your veterinarian


K-Taping should only be used after your veterinarian has assessed your pet.  It should not be used:

  • Over open wounds or tumors
  • If the pet has sensitivities to adhesives


Pets tolerate K-Tape very well.  Sometimes I will tape both the affected leg and the normal leg to prevent the pet from noticing or worrying too much about the tape.  Often, when both legs are taped, the pet does not mind as much as if only one leg was taped.  After the tape is applied, the pet may smell the tape, and take a few tentative steps, but after that completely ignore the tape.

K-Tape should be left on for as long as it will adhere to the fur. This may be only 30mins, or it may be for 2 days or longer.  It often even stays on if your pet goes swimming.  If it needs to be removed, you can gently ruffle up the fur around the K-Tape and the K-Tape will gently fall off.  Note that it will not damage hair follicles, thus, a show dog will still be able to perform in the show immediately after the K-Tape is removed.

I have never had a patient remove then eat the K-Tape, however you should monitor your pet while he or she is wearing the K-Tape, and report to your veterinarian if your pet has eaten the K-Tape. 

For more information, or if you have any questions, contact us at 403-278-1984 or via email at [email protected] Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook!

And check out Dr Wendy Coren’s book:  Canine Kinesiology Taping;  2019






Using Cookies to Hide Herbs

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


 Sometimes pets will not eat their medicinal herbs if they are simply mixed into their food.  You can try these methods:


Or, you can bake them into cookies!   Many dogs and cats love cookies.  Especially homemade ones!  I love making dog cookies- you can mix a combination of any cooked grain, legume, pulse, plus any cooked meat, any vegetable and/or fruit plus melted coconut oil and/or egg and/or almond milk and/or unsweetened low-fat yogurt.  Put it in a food processor to blend together.  


To determine how much wet ingredients to add to make the desired dough consistency, first add in the grains/legumes/veggies/fruit/meat into food processor and blend until the ingredients look “sandy”.  Then gradually mix in the liquids.


To add the herbs, you shape teaspoon or tablespoons sized pieces of dough into balls using your hands, or the spoon itself.  Then, with a straw, poke a hole and add in the herbs at the desired dose volume.  Then re-shape the ball to close the herbs inside.  Then bake at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit or 250 degrees Fahrenheit.


Must bake on parchment paper so it will not stick to the cookie sheet.  Convection ovens allow faster cooking time.


This is what PAWsionate Chef cookies look like:  


Feel free to contact  if you would like us to bake your pet’s herbs into cookies!

Comprehensive Dental Assessment & Cleaning

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Comprehensive Dental Assessment & Cleaning

A Step By Step Guide to Dental Procedures at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital


Why is this important?

This assessment and treatment is needed now in order to slow the progression of the current dental disease and to treat early infection. Our goal is to prevent periodontal disease from advancing in your pet and to prevent your pet from requiring tooth extractions.


Why this is more than “just a teeth cleaning”.

The complete dental exam and assessment under anesthesia is required to help obtain a thorough understanding of the oral health of your pet.  On awake patients we can identify issues with their gums, the exposed portion of the tooth and sometimes we can even note areas of possible bone involvement. However, the complete exam requires a sleeping patient to examine and probe every tooth looking for pockets and bone loss. Radiographs are required to assess root health. Most of the tooth itself is below the gum line and cannot be visualized without taking X-rays. Radiographs are needed to determine extensive bone loss, root abscesses and issues with re-absorption, just to name a few common things we are looking for.  Yes, the cleaning part is important, but we cannot ignore the exam and assessment portion.  This is the most important part to prevent tooth loss and advanced dental disease from affecting your pets’ overall health. Dental disease, if left untreated can lead to urinary tract infections, blood infections, organ disease and failure, anorexia and of course a lots of pain.


This hand-out explains step by step what you can expect for your pet on the day
that we schedule this dental procedure.


  • A thorough patient history is obtained, including an assessment of home care and your pet’s chewing habits. A thorough general physical examination and oral examination are performed.  This may have been done at your pet’s visit today with Dr. Schell.


  • Pre-anesthetic blood testing is performed if not already completed a few days prior to surgery. This is a safety screen we need to do before any pet undergoes anesthesia.  We run a Complete Blood Cell Count (looking for infections, inflammation, anemia, and platelets for blood clotting), chemistry tests (to check organ functions including liver and kidney function, pancreas, blood sugar), and electrolytes (to test hydration levels and balances).  We will include a thyroid test when indicated.  Other tests may be required based on your pet’s health status and age. Another recommendation for all ages and breeds is an ECG (electrocardiogram) to screen for any heart abnormalities.  These tests have been included on the estimate provided for you.  Blood work results may alter sedatives or anesthesia choices.  We want to be sure your pet is safe, so it is critical to see the lab results prior to medicating your pet. This is why you may be asked to bring your pet 3-5 days prior to surgery for pre-anesthesia labwork.


  • Once scheduled for the dental procedure, you will need to remember a few things starting the night before. It is important to fast your pet overnight.  This means NO FOOD after 8:00 pm.  They can have water overnight, but take it away first thing the morning of the procedure.  If they require medication the morning of their procedures, it is fine to give the meds with a small portion of food, as long as it is NOT with a full meal (1 tbsp in total).  A spoonful of canned food or peanut butter are just a few ideas. Please take your pet out for a walk that morning to ensure they urinate and have a bowel movement prior to the admission appointment.  It is important to arrive at your scheduled time in the morning, as there will be an admit appointment with a technician.  It will take about 10-15 minutes, so please budget your time if needed.


  • Once your pet is admitted, we will draw the blood sample to run the pre-anesthetic blood work if it hasn’t been done prior to your pets’ surgery date. They also receive a pre-surgical physical exam from Dr. Schell to check their vital signs to ensure everything is normal before proceeding with sedation or anesthesia. Dr Schell will check for fever and evaluate vital signs prior to sedation.  Sedatives are then given to your pet before their general anesthesia.  This allows your pet to become more relaxed and less stressed to allow ease of restraint, as well as allows us to use less anesthetic drugs.  An intravenous catheter will then be placed and an injectable anesthetic is given to allow us to intubate (using a special tube in their throat to administer a mixture of anesthetic gas and oxygen).  We then maintain them with the gas anesthesia.  We then hook IV fluids up to the IV catheter and administer fluids to your pet for the duration of the procedure. This will help maintain their blood pressure during anesthesia, replenish any blood loss and aid in a faster and smoother recovery.  It will also help flush the anesthesia from your pet and help them feel better.


  • Once under anesthesia, your pet is monitored by both the dental technologist and anesthesia technologist. We use up to date monitoring equipment and techniques.  Blood oxygen levels, electrocardiography, respiration monitors, blood pressure, and temperature are all aspects that are constantly checked.  Vitals are recorded every five minutes manually by the anesthesia technologist that is dedicated solely to your pet.  External warming is provided with our warm air circulating machine to prevent hypothermia, as the body temperature often decreases during anesthesia.


  • Oral treatment will start with a complete scaling and polishing. Scaling is performed above and below the gum line.  Below the gum line is very important and cannot be performed without anesthesia.  Most oral pathology is found under the gum line (Think of the tooth as an iceberg).  After cleaning, the dental technologist and Dr. Schell will complete the Dental assessment.  This is an extensive dental exam using visual assessment and periodontal probing and charting.  We have also started to include entire mouth dental radiographs. These X-rays are performed to ensure that there are no dental concerns, as we cannot see underneath the gumline.


  • Based on what is detected during the dental assessment, Dr. Schell may contact you with updated information if there are any changes from the original treatment plan. If surgical treatment is needed, oral nerve blocks are administered to allow very light levels of anesthesia and patient comfort.  This also allows your pet to wake up and remain pain-free for up to six to ten hours postoperatively.  Oral nerve blocks are essential for patient comfort and safety if extractions are required. Please provide us with a phone number where you can be reached at for these instances.


  • Schell will then perform the oral surgery based on the dental radiographs while the pet is monitored by the anesthesia technologist. It is important that the surgical extractions are performed by a licensed Veterinarian.  All diseased tissue, bone, and complete roots need to be removed and the socket needs special material inserted to aid in healing.  The extraction site is then sutured closed using a special dental suture. We take an additional x-ray after the extraction to ensure that the socket looks cleaned out and there is no root remaining.


  • Upon completion of the procedure, your pet’s mouth is thoroughly flushed and a fluoride treatment is recommended. This will be followed by a quick and uneventful recovery.  Pre-anesthetic medications and analgesics combined with nerve blocks aid in a rapid recovery by allowing your pet to stay at near waking levels during the procedure.  Schell will then call to inform you that your pet is comfortable once awake, as well as answer any questions you may have.  We like to keep the patient on IV fluids for most of the day to help flush out the body and replenish any blood loss.


  • Post-operative medication and instructions, home care, and recheck information are discussed thoroughly at the discharge appointment. A complimentary recheck appointment is needed in 7-10 days following your pet’s procedures.  Please be sure to ask us any questions or let us know of any concerns you may have, as we are here to help you as well as your pet!

If you have any questions or concerns about Dental assessments please contact our office at 403-278-1984, or email us at [email protected]

Your pets are our passion!

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


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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.