Bow Bottom Custom Articles

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 Result CEP290 PRA-rdAc Status
N/N Normal, cat does not have rdAc mutation*
N/rdAc Carrier, cat has one copy of rdAc mutation. Breedings between carriers will be expected to produce 25% affected kittens.
rdAc/rdAc Affected

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

Test Result CRX PRA-Rdy Status
N/N Normal, cat does not have Rdy mutation**
N/Rdy Affected, 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/Rdy Affected, 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!

Restorative Balm

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

Does your dog or cat develop calluses on elbows, or dry skin on ear tips or foot pads?|
Does your pet ever chronically lick an area of their skin?
Have your pet ever had a cut or skin lesion that you just cannot or do not want to apply a steroid-based cream?

Restorative Balm, our custom designed healing ointment that is soothing, balancing and healing for cat and dogs.  It is made of lavender (soothing, relieves stress and anxiety, improves healing antibacterial, antifungal), basil (antihistamine, anti-bacterial, antifungal), copaiba (anti-inflammatory, decreases pain, stress and anxiety), and chamomile (soothing, antibacterial) essential oils, as well as beeswax, organic shea butter and coconut oil.  These oils help disinfect, condition, and decrease itch and pain.  Basil is an excellent antihistamine as well so it provides relief for pets with contact allergies or insect bites.

Restorative Balm is all natural, non-toxic (even if eaten) and safe to use for dry skin on foot pads, elbows, ear tips, noses as well as topically for scratches, and as a poultice for bandages to encourage wound healing.  It is also provides protection in the winter when pets walk on areas covered in irritating road salt.  And in the summer months when pets run on hot pavement or run so much that they traumatize their foot pads.

The thickness of the beeswax also adds a protective barrier to moisture, bacteria and debris.  The shea butter and the coconut oil are also moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and they promote healing.  They smell great too!

Come on in to check out our new Restorative Balm! We’ve got sample jars located in each examination room and at reception so feel free to try it out!

How To Comfort Your Pet During Thunder Storms

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

Remember- desensitizing your pet towards frightening experiences is a great way to prevent fear before they could even start.   Even before the storm brews, start instituting actions to calm your pet including talking to them, playing with them, brushing them, giving special chew toys and puzzles. Try to help your pet associate the sound of thunderstorms with positive things like treats, toys, and massage.  Try using these Relaxation Protocols:

These are excellent products and exercises to help your pet live more comfortably during the fearful times of storm season:

  1.  Thunder Shirt- these are special hugging wraps that provide a sense of balance and grounding.  Immediate results are often seen as soon as the shirt is applied. Check out:
  1. Essential Oil Therapy- check out
  1. Relaxing Pheromone therapy in the form of diffuser, sprays or collars:  Adaptil for dogs:  and Feliway for cats:
  1. TheraBite Mellows Chews- herbal chews that contain relaxing valerian, colostrums and l-theonine:
  1. Bio Calm an herbal liquid that both cats and dogs enjoy eating.   It contains colostrums and l-theonine, which are products in milk that calms anxiety.
  1. Jia Wei Xiao Yao San- a Traditional Chinese herb formula that Dr Schell can prescribe for your pet, or another customized TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medical) formula.
  1. Massage provides excellent relaxation for pets and fun for owners:

Dog massage:


Cat massage:

  1.  Play relaxing music that your pet enjoys. This helps drown out the loud thunder noise.
  1. Give your pet a job to distract them, such as working with a pet puzzle and treat ball: and
  2.  Contact your veterinarian if your pet’s thunderstorm fears are excessive or prolonged, as there may be an underlying medical problem contributing to their fear and anxiety.  Also, sometimes your pet may need a prescription sedative to cope.

For more information contact us or check out

How to Get Your Pet to Eat Slower

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

Often dogs love their food so much that they quickly devour each morsel in seemingly two or three gulps. Then, they may promptly vomit the food because their stomach was not ready for such a dramatic, sudden change in size.  Their digestive processes don’t get a chance to start preparing and working properly, and their satiety centre in their brain does not get a chance to feel satisfied.

This gulping habit hinders the quality of the dog’s life.  Sometimes cats even portray this strange binge and purge ritual.  There are ways to help your pet overcome this bad habit.

First, have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine if there are any gastrointestinal parasites, food allergies/sensitivities, foreign bodies, or inflammatory bowel, pancreatitis or other digestive diseases present.  The type of food chosen to feed your pet is also very important. Sometimes pets only do well on home cooked food (such as or hypoallergenic or low residue types of foods.  Your veterinarian can help choose the ideal food for your pet’s needs.  Regular de-worming (monthly for dogs and cats who go outside) is important year round.

If you and your veterinarian have worked to rule in/out and treat any health concerns, yet your pet still eats their whole meal in less than a minute, there are other alternatives to consider. Helping your pet slow down their food consumption will improve their digestion, feeling of fullness and comfort, which will make eating more pleasurable and healthy for your pet.

  1. Spread the food out onto a cookie sheet with toys intermingled. This should help slow down the eating so that they will not binge then vomit.
  2. Offer smaller, more frequent meals.  For example, instead of feeding two large meals, feed three to five smaller meals throughout the day.  An automatic feeder helps make this easier if you are feeding dry food.
  3. Change to at least 50% canned/wet food- ask your veterinarian about the best food for your pet.
  4. Place the meals inside of a treat ball or a feeding maze.  Check out:


  1. Feed his meal in an elevated feeder- ask your veterinarian how high the feeder should be.  It improves the comfort ergonomically while the pet eats.   It can decrease anxiety and arthritis issues that some pets have by eating from bowls on the floor
  2. Hand feed your pet one or a few kibbles at a time or 1 teaspoon of wet food at a time.
  3. Try throwing each kibble down the hallway for your pet to chase, then eat it one at a time.  This definitely slows down eating times!

For more information please check out and contact us at 403-278-1985

Heart Deficiency and Gold Homeopathic

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Heart Deficiency and Gold Homeopathic

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

Heart Meridian Deficiency is not commonly discussed in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) however it is discussed by Dr. Are Thoresen, Norwegian Acupuncture.  In addition to a Heart Deficient pulse, the Heart Deficient patient is often sorrowful.  They have often suffered sadness in life, or their parents have or their grandparents, all the way back 7 generations prior.  Sometimes the tongue will have an obvious crease down the middle all the way to the tip.  Fatigue, shortness of breath and lethargy may also develop pallor. The treatment for Heart Meridian deficiency includes:

1.  Pet owner wearing more yellow gold (necklace, pendant, or bracelet)- the higher the carat the better (ie 24K) and choose the color dark red (the Heart Color) for objects your pet uses such as blankets, leashes and collars.

  1.  There is an excellent ‘Heart Qi Soup’.  Feeding heart meat and heart-shaped foods is helpful to a patient with Heart Deficiency.  It abides by Doctrine of Signatures in TCVM   Try to feed this soup to your pet: 

    Large pets can eat about 1 cup of this soup daily.  You should also drink it yourself as humans and pets are so bonded that they often share the same deficiencies.  Thus, treating the human for the pet’s deficiency is helpful for the pet, and also the human. The herbs listed in the Soup can be found here at Bow Bottom! Let us know you require these, and we’d be happy to fill it.

  2.  This is a good instruction list for making homemade homeopathics: (you have to scroll down to see the directions on the website link listed below).  We have brown bottles here that work well if you need bottles.I use Evian water rather than tap or boiled water.  We have to make the gold “12D”  ie– the 12th dilution. For each dilution you have to concuss it 20 times , then remove 5 drops and put it in a new bottle filled with 30mL, concuss another 20 times, then take 5 drops from that and put in a new bottle with 30mL water and concuss again, etc.  This must be repeated 12 times to get the 12D.

The pet is given her body weight in kilograms in drops (1 drop per kg of weight).  For example, if the pet is 10kg, they get 10 drops per day, from a brown glass dropper bottle.   We can provide a dropper bottle for you.  (note that 1mL is 25 drops, so a 10kg dog  would get 0.4mL)

The gold homeopathic is given daily either at 12pm or 12am or as close to one of those times as possible. It is ok if given earlier or later if other times are not possible.

  1.  Also good for the Heart are to do things with your pet that bring you both joy.  Like walking through a park, and playing, visiting people and other pets you love.  Love and joy are important emotions of the Heart.  Love and joy must be encouraged and nourished. Laughter is the sound of the Heart.
  1.  Using essential oils such as Rose and Joy Blend which contains rose.  The flower and aroma associated with the Heart is rose.
  1. St. John’s Wort herbal tincture should be given orally, according to Norwegian Acupuncture.
  1. Acupuncture especially of the Heart Jing or Ting points such as HT9

For more information contact us at 403 278 1984 and check out


Helping Blind Pets

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


Regular,  twice yearly veterinary examinations are important as your veterinarian can pick up on issues that you were not aware of.  Even blindness as many pets are blind without their owners even knowing.  If you suspect that your pet is blind, for sure bring him or her to your veterinarian immediately.  Sometimes when the underlying cause is discovered, pets can regain some or even all of their vision.  Sometimes their vision improves as if they can see changes in light, and shadows.  Other times, unfortunately their vision cannot be regained.  The great news is that pets are extremely adaptable.

The most common way to for cats to develop blindness is due to systemic hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure.  High blood pressure may be linked to kidney disease, however some cats develop high blood pressure due to an idiopathic primary problem and have no underlying kidney disease.

The most common way for dogs to become blind is through the development of concurrent diabetes mellitus.  Treatment includes treating the diabetes and options to restore vision include cataract removal surgery by the veterinary ophthalmologists (eye specialists) here in Calgary.

Always remember that blind pets can still have excellent quality of life and longevity.  So, definitely keep up hope!

There are many ways to help your pet adapt to their blindness while they are being treated and healed:

1) Dogs and cats are extremely flexible, intelligent animals with excellent memories.  They use their sense of smell, hearing and feeling especially well if they lose their vision. They can memorize the location of furniture in the house very well.  Thus, when you do have to change the position of furniture, do it very slowly and gradually.

2) For cats, keep their litter boxes in the same position.

3) Have water bowls in several areas of the house in easily accessible places.  A water drinking fountain for pets is excellent because the noise will attract the pet.

4) For dogs, using a body harness or a Gentle Leader Head Halter can help guide the pet while on walks.  For cats that go on walks, a body harness is useful as the cat learns to understand where to walk based on the gentle pressures it feels.

5) You can teach your pet more verbal commands- he or she will listen closely to you and learn what you are trying to communicate.

6) Continue to give your blind pet new toys, safe chew toys, vegetables to chew, and puzzles/games as these are stimulating and your pet will know and appreciate them.

7) Bring them to your veterinarian at least twice yearly for monitoring.  Also bring them if you suspect eye injury.  Sometimes blind dogs may bump into things and injure their eyes.  It is important that the eyes remain comfortable and free from glaucoma and scratches.

8) Consider for dogs- Doggles are protective eye goggles to help prevent dogs from injuries to their eyes.

If you have any questions, please contact us at, via email or by phone.