Bow Bottom Custom Articles

How to Give Chinese Herbal Medications

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Chinese Herbal Medicine Administration

Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital

Has your pet been prescribed herbal medicine based on a TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) diagnosis?
Here are some different ways to administer herbs, tinctures and tablets:

Administration of granules:

Herb granules can often be easily mixed into canned or home cooked food, or into a special treat that your pet enjoys.  Start with small amounts at first (1/8 tsp) mixed into food, then gradually wean up to the prescribed dose.  To mix with dry food, the granules can be placed in an empty pepper or herb shaker bottle, then sprinkled onto their dry food, similar to mixing spices onto popcorn.   Some pets prefer a small amount of water mixed into their dry food which will allow the herb granules to adhere to their dry kibble.  Often your pet will eat their food as usual and not know they are receiving their medicine this way.

Commercial “Pill Pockets” are available from us.  These are tasty, soft, hollow treats that can be filled with the herb granules that many pets will enjoy eating.

For pets that are sensitive and discerning, the granules can be placed inside gelatine capsules available from us, and then given to your  pet by opening their mouth, placing the filled capsule at the back of their tongue and then closing their mouth gently to encourage them to swallow.  About 2 to 3 mL of water should then be gently syringed into your pet’s mouth to help the capsule pass down the esophagus well.  Afterwards, reward your pet with petting, praise, playtime or a special treat for positive reinforcement.

Another way to help encourage dogs to accept the herb formula is to ‘butter’ a small (1/8 of a whole) piece of whole wheat tortilla or corn tortilla or whole wheat pita bread with organic coconut oil, then sprinkle the herb over coconut oil.  Then, roll up the tortilla or pita, and let the dog enjoy this fun treat.

Alternatively, the granules can be mixed with 1 to 3mL of water or pure maple syrup, honey, corn syrup, tuna water, chicken broth or other type of meat broth, and syringed into your pet’s mouth to encourage them to accept them.

Be certain not to use artificial sweeteners as they can be hazardous to pets.

Another way to help encourage dogs to accept the herb formula is to ‘butter’ a small (1/8 of a whole) piece of whole wheat tortilla or corn tortilla or whole wheat pita bread with organic coconut oil, then sprinkle the herb over coconut oil.  Then, roll up the tortilla or pita, and let the dog enjoy this fun treat.

Administration of herbal tinctures:

Try mixing the prescribed herbal tincture into your pet’s food, or mixed with a special treat that your pet enjoys such as cooked meat, fish, peanut butter, cheese, canned plain pumpkin, or a recommended food, or a “Pill Pocket”.

For pets that will not eat food mixed with the tincture, we can provide gelatine capsules that the tincture can be mixed in. 

Administration of herbal tablets:

Tablets can be crushed and then mixed with food or a treat or placed whole inside a “Pill Pocket”.  If your pet will not eat them this way, you can open your pet’s mouth, place the tablet at the back of their tongue and then gently close their mouth to encourage swallowing.  2 to 3mL of water should then be gently syringed into your pets’ mouth to help the tablet pass down the esophagus well.

“Pet Pillers” are helpful for some pets.  They are devices available from us that hold the pill so it can be easily placed at the back of your pet’s tongue.  A trigger is then activated which releases the pill, and your pet’s mouth then needs to be gently closed to encourage swallowing. Some of the “Pet Pillers” can be pre-loaded with water to ease swallowing.

Homeopathic remedies:

If your pet will not eat the herb granules, liquid tinctures or tablets at full strength, we can make them into an homeopathic liquid that has very minor taste that may be easier to disguise into their food.

If your pet is having any abnormal symptoms after starting the herbal treatments, such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or decreased appetite, please discontinue the treatment and please contact us as soon as possible.


Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would like demonstrations on medicine administration.  Thank you!
[email protected]

Excessive Barking

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

Excessive barking is not only frustrating to the dog, but to their owners as well.  It can be harmful to their vocal cords, upset neighbors and other dogs and pets in the house, and also be against animal bylaws in some cities.

Dogs normally bark to alert their owners or the rest of their pack when an intruder or threat is upon them.  This is normal dog behaviour, as dogs are pre-programmed to protect their home and family members.  If your dog barks at someone knocking at the door or ringing the door bell, tell them thank you, then give them a toy to calm them.  You can even train them to go to a special mat or bed while you greet your guests.  It is only natural for your dog to also want to go and meet the visitor, but be careful that they do not accidently escape out the door.  It is helpful to have a dog-gate separating the front door from the living area of the house.  I have a metal exercise pen unfolded in front of the door to prevent my dogs from running right up to the door.  You can also purchase very attractive wood gates such as these!

If your pet is barking excessively either indoors or outside, it means that he or she is frustrated, frightened or bored.  Dogs with any of these emotions will act out.  It is possible that your dog is suffering from a medical condition causing pain such as dental disease or digestive upset.  Thus, your dog should definitely be examined by your veterinarian if your dog is excessively barking.  Your veterinarian, and also a veterinary behaviour specialist are very helpful to set up behaviour modification protocols.

The way to prevent frustration, fear and boredom in dogs is to increase their exercise and given activities during the day.  Leaving your dog outside all day is often boring for them and they can bark excessively because they are bored and under stimulated. Bring them to daycare especially on days they have to be home alone for more than 6 or 7 hours.  You can also hire a professional dog walker or a trustworthy neighbor to bring them for a walk during the day- this helps break up the monotony of the dog’s day.

An interesting remote control training and positive reinforcement tool called Train and Treat works well to reward your pet when they are well behaved.

Also, while home alone, give your pet activities to do such as play with treat-filled toys and dog puzzles, which can be available through your veterinarian.  Use healthy food items to fill these toys such as almond butter, apple sauce, mashed sweet potato, grated carrots, and cucumber.  Dogs will often eat Brussels sprouts and spinach and cooked kale or broccoli if left on a plate for them during the day.  Your veterinarian can also recommend healthy, safe chewing treats that are enjoyed by dogs and are even helpful for dental health maintenance.  Check out these videos that we made of dogs using puzzles and interactive, “busy toys”:


I do not recommend or perform de-barking as it is a dangerous, painful procedure that does not solve the dog’s original problems that are causing barking.  I also do not recommend or use electric shock collars or citronella collars. They provide negative reinforcement/punishment for dogs.  Instead, dogs should be rewarded when they are doing something good.   They also need to be kept busy during the day and the time you are home with them as a tired dog is a happy dog.  Ideally, the dog should be so well exercised and played with that when you are not home they feel like catching up on needed sleep.  A good quality dog daycare will provide your dog with fun activities during the day.

Enrolling your dog in group training classes, private training lessons with a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques helps teach your dog new tricks and etiquette.  A great way for them to exert energy and have fun is to train them. Dogs often love performing for their owners, and behaviour training and training them tricks helps them use their brains.  This requires a lot of energy, almost as much as running.

I also have seen the addition of a new dog or a cat work well at keeping the existing dog company during the day.  They can become excellent friends and decrease their boredom, anxiety and fear.  This has to be well planned, and the animals must be supervised well when together until you can determine if they can be trusted alone together.

Additional ways to decrease anxiety in pets are listed in this article:

For more information contact us and check out

Keeping Pets Safe During the Holiday Season

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

It is important to be aware of the safety of our pets, especially with the excitements and business of the Christmas season.
Some dangers to be cautious of as well as solutions to increase safety include:

Holiday Stress and the Dangers of House-Guests and Visitors-

With many doors opening and closing, pets have escaped, or accidentally been let outside.  Often, pets are nervous and anxious around all the new people and noises, especially children they are not used to.


-Bring pets to a great daycare centre that they enjoy, take dogs for more walks, increase play sessions with your cat and dog.  Purchasing a few new toys helps keep them happy.

-Cats can be kept in a quiet room with food / water, toys, catnip, litter and signs that say “Caution Cat Inside- do not open this door”.

-There are excellent calming herbs, treats and supplements, food puzzles, toys, chews that your veterinarian has to help them relax.  Examples include BioCalm liquid, and Mellows chews.  Pets love the taste and they are very effective.

-Pure essential oils and Feliway or Adaptil Pheromone Spray, Diffuser, or Collar for pets are relaxing and calming.  These products are available from your veterinarian

-Ensure pets are wearing collars with identification at all times.

-Microchip the pet for identification and so he/she can be returned to you if lost.

-Maintain your pet’s routine to prevent stress. Continue their exercise, playtime, grooming and feeding schedules.

-Massaging your pet is an excellent way for people and pets to relax.  Check out these massage techniques:

2. Safe versus Unsafe Holiday Foods

-unsafe include most baking items, especially those high in butter, raisins, alcohol, onions, fat, and some nuts such as walnuts and macadamia nuts;

-Pets can have food allergies– sometimes house guests may think a pet will be fine if offered a ‘safe’ item like a bread bun, however some pets may be extremely allergic to seemingly benign foods.

-Chocolate can be deadly, especially dark.

-Xylitol and other artificial sweeteners are deadly- can cause life threatening hypoglycemic


-Warn guests and also get dog to wear a sign on his collar saying   “Please do Not Feed Me Treats”

-Offer healthy foods that guests can feed your pet such as cooked brussels sprouts, broccoli, safe dog chews and cookies or pieces of the dog’s own healthy kibble

-Keep all unsafe Christmas food inside fridges, cupboards and on high counter-tops where pets cannot reach.

-Bake for your pet some healthy, safe pet treats:   and


3. Decorations

– Electrocution by Christmas lights, ribbons can be ingested by cats due to their barbed tongue, and not just tinsel.

-Use cord covers, bitter spray on electrical cords, tuck cords away

-Secure tree because cats will climb, and so do some dogs.

-Avoid dangerous plants such as Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, Mistletoe, Holly, and even Poinsettias can cause severe stomach and intestinal pain and disease if ingested.   Lily flowers, leaves and stems are deadly as they cause kidney failure.

-Scented candles smell so good that pets often eat them, and sometimes unscented candles as well!  Long candles have a long wick which pets can swallow whole. This can tangle inside their intestines casing cuts, or can even plug their stomach or intestine and prevent food from passing through.

–          Do not use Tinsel on Trees, or any other decorations that have long strands that could be swallowed by a cat or dog

–          Keep candles high up and away from animals

–          Ensure that the Christmas tree is secured and anchored to help prevent it from falling down if cats climb it.

–          Do not put edible gifts under the tree unsupervised.  Even if wrapped in Christmas wrapping, pets will smell them and eat them.  Often they will eat the wrapper too!

4.  Cold Weather

–          If it is too cold outside for people unless they have to wear a warm coat, gloves and toque, then it is too cold for a pet unless they too are dressed up.

–          Comfortable jackets and coats are available for your pet at your veterinary hospital and pet stores

–          Booties are also available in a variety of designs- including strapless rubber booties and also fuzzy fleece types and ones with Velcro fasteners.

–          Some cats love cuddling up next to a warm water bottle covered in a soft blanket or towel indoors, and also often pets like to sleep near the warm fireplace.  You can place their beds nearby.

For more information check out Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital at or call 403-278-1984

How to Decrease Anxiety in Pets

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

Anxiety in pets affects them just as much as it affects us humans and pet owners who love them.  We are so bonded to our pets that often they sense our own anxiety and start to manifest signs of it.  A common scenario is when people are packing up their belongings and suitcases to move to a new home or to go on a holiday.  The cats of the household will often detect anxiety and the hustle and bustle and may start over-grooming their coat, or urinating inside the suitcases.

Another common issue is when dogs are apart from their beloved favorite person.  They develop a sense of grief and anxiety that can lead to many health problems if not prevented or treated.

If a new baby enters the home, some dogs and cats are overjoyed and excited for the new companionship, however others may become frightened of the new noises.   They may also start constantly licking a patch of skin on their foreleg to self soothe, similar to when a child sucks their thumb.

It is best to prepare our pets as best as possible to be able to handle stress and anxiety, and to help prevent the anxiety in the first place.

One of the best ways to prevent anxiety is to increase exercise, attention and play in pets.   Dogs are intelligent, curious animals and need to be walked and also given one on one play time and training exercise for stimulation.   Check out this helpful protocol on relaxation:

Bringing your dog to group training and socialization classes is exciting to them- not only do they get to go for a car ride, but they get to meet new people and other dogs. Dogs may also enjoy hobbies such as agility and dock diving.  Calgary has a large number of dog clubs that offer these types of activities. It is best to remember that dogs are social animals, like us!

I love offering two long, tall scratching posts for cats.   “The Cat Man” has excellent tall, custom cat scratching posts:

Check out the designs for ideas for you and your family to make or to order in.  Definitely add some sisal rope to the bottom for added interest/entertainment:

My own cat loves this Tall Pagoda style:

You can order them in from his website, or go to The Cat House to purchase them.

This is an excellent resource on maintaining the joy and happiness and decreasing stress in indoor cats:       and:     and:

And these are great veterinary links for cat health and happiness improvement:

Some cats love strollers- your cat may love these safe outdoor excursions, in addition to walking with a harness and leash.  You won’t know until you try!  This is the website for pet strollers:

Catnip and growing cat salad is also an excellent way to decrease anxiety for cats and help improve their exercise. When giving a cat catnip, they often will roll and stretch, which improves blood flow and comfort to the body, similar to doing Yoga.  You can even grow your own catnip and cat grass (oat seed) in pots indoors, year round.  Some dogs even love eating oat grass and catnip.

I think it is wonderful to give cats and small dogs outdoor adventures in warmer weather in a stroller, which is safe and controlled, yet still fun for many cats.  Older dogs may love going for walks, but get tired half way through. Thus, they can then be placed in the stroller when they are too tired to walk, for a rest.  Once rested for a few blocks, they can then be let out again to walk again.

Providing safe toys for cats and dogs is helpful- you can even rotate them so the pet does not become bored.  Puzzles where food and treats can be hidden will also provide hours of entertainment and will stimulate a pet’s natural hunting and tracking instinct which improve their well being.   Ask your veterinarian what the best toys and puzzles are.   You can even hide small amounts of the pet’s meal in 4 to 5 different areas of the home so they have to seek and find it.  Always have fresh water in each room, however.

Bringing your pet to daycare once or twice, or even more often each week is helpful.  Contact your veterinarian to get ideas on good daycare centres.  We offer daycare and overnight care here at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital. Come by for a tour of our facility! Daycare provides a great mid-week break to both you and your pet.

I love the idea of building a safe, escape-proof outdoor cat or dog enclosure in your back yard.  Safe so they can’t escape and so that other animals can’t get into their yard such as coyotes or other cats or dogs.  It is important to not let your pet outside all alone too long, as they will become lonely or mischievous, or start barking or doing destructive behaviour like digging or chewing on harmful objects like baseboards and garden hoses.

Also, check this amazing indoor exercise option out:  and

In addition to play and exercise, healthy nutrition is important part of decreasing anxiety.  If a pet has the proper nutrients and is not over fed or under fed, they will feel better and stay healthier.

Unfortunately obesity in pets is very common.  Excess fat tissue is very stressful on the body including the joints and heart and total metabolism.  It can also lead to Diabetes Mellitus.  If a pet is fed too much food, even too much healthy food, the body has to store all the extra calories that it does not need in the form of fat.  Fat is also an inflammatory tissue- it is constantly growing breaking down and as it does so, it releases pro-inflammatory chemicals that a pet must deal with.   Too much fat deposition is overwhelming to the body and the blood supply may not be sufficient to nourish it, thus, oxygen deprivation occurs. This results in the production of inflammatory mediators that can have deleterious effects on other organs of the body.  Plus, especially in cats, if the cat is overweight, it can have problems getting to the litter box, and thus holding onto their urine.  This can cause inflammation of the bladder that may result in crystal formation and lots of pain and anxiety.  That is why some cats over groom the fur on their belly and lower body, resulting in patches of baldness.

Fat can also alter the insulin receptor sites in the body, causing the pancreas to over work and release high amounts of insulin, eventually resulting in burn out.  Insulin-dependent diabetes can occur.

If your pet is overweight, definitely consult with your veterinarian on developing a diet plan and monitoring program.  We as veterinarians and veterinary health care teams love to help pet’s reach and maintain optimal body conditions.

In addition to exercise, diet, and playtime, another way to decrease anxiety is with essential oil therapy, both topically or through diffusion into the air like aromatherapy.   I prescribe specific essential oils unique to each pet’s needs often as part of an anxiety prevention and treatment program.  It is important to only use natural oils, and they must be diluted before application t he pet.  Check this out:


Also, Feliway and Adaptil are helpful pheromones that only a cat or dog can react to that helps naturally decrease stress.  There are also several oral herb-based compounds that your veterinarian can recommend for your pet.

Playing the radio and/or television while you are away helps calm many pets. The extra background noise helps make them feel like someone is home.

Acupuncture, chiropractic and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medical herb formulas are also helpful.   I am trained to help diagnose and treat with these alternative, effective modalities.

At Bow Bottom, we also offer special behaviour consultations to help your dog or cat with their specific needs. For more information, contact us at or phone us at 403-278-1984.

Importance of Bathing Your Dog

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

Would you ever wear the same pair of socks without washing them for a month or longer?  Would you ever go without washing your own hair for a month?   I assume that no, you would not.   Then why should we make our dogs go weeks or even months without giving them a bath?

Cleanliness is so important to the overall health and happiness of dogs.  Training your dog to allow you to wash and dry his or her feet after coming inside from outdoors is important and healthy.   It is amazing the amount of debris, mud and plant material that gets stuck in between their paw pads.  This includes dangerous items such as pine needles, tree sap, rocks, snow, ice, insects, and even harmful chemicals like lawn fertilizer crystals and motor oil.   Foot washing also decreases foul odors, and helps you identify problems such as skin irritations and redness that you can then show to your veterinarian.  The earlier problems can be identified and treated, the faster they will be healed.

If we as pet guardians do not remove this debris, then our dogs will often lick it out, which can be toxic to them.  Excess licking of the feet can also lead to skin infections and irritations.  Washing debris out of your dog’s feet will prevent your dog from tracking it all over your home as well.  If you let your dogs sleep on your bed, as I do, you do not want debris in your bed either.

Washing your dog’s feet daily can also help you monitor the length of their claws so you can bring him or her for a nail trimming, or trim them yourself.   The more you work with and gently handle your dog’s feet, the better they will be at trusting nail trimming and fur grooming.

Total body bathing once per week (or more often if your dogs love to roll in puddles or mud) is also very important.  Dogs feel so good and smell amazing after a good bath.   The act of bathing is similar to giving a massage, especially as the shampoo is lathered in.   I like leaving the shampoo in contact with the skin lathering for 5 minutes.  Giving your dog a 5 minute massage is very beneficial and can be done while you lather the shampoo in.  Here is a video on massage techniques for dogs:

Plus, bathing your dogs helps you monitor for skin irritations, lumps and cuts.  You can detect these issues earlier and then report them to your veterinarian.  Early detection is vital.

Letting our dogs swim in a pond, lake or river is not the equivalent of bathing them.  It is also inaccurate that weekly bathing is too frequent and will strip out your dog’s natural skin oils.  Those are myths.  Weekly bathing with a good quality shampoo from your veterinarian will never harm your dog.  Come in and check out the types of safe, natural shampoos we have here at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital.

For dogs that grow long fur, bathing at home can be done in between visits with his or her professional groomer.   You can also take classes and courses to learn how to groom your own dog.   Many dog owners have learned to groom and bath their own dogs in the comfort of their own homes.   You just have to prevent shampoo and water from going into your dog’s eyes and ears.  You can place cotton ball in their ears for protection.  And avoid shampooing vigorously their head.  Instead use a warm wet facecloth to spot bathe their head and muzzles.   Luke warm water is best – not too hot and not too cold.  I do use warmer water in the winter time, and cooler water in the summer time to help the dogs feel best.  Toweling dry is also excellent and comfortable for the dog rather than a loud blow-dryer.  I also let my dogs shake off the water- dogs are very good at removing the water with a full body shake, then I towel dry again with another fresh towel.

Dogs are routine oriented.  Thus, making a habit of bathing your dog on the same day and same time of the week is helpful.  My dogs know that Saturday night after work are their bath times!

It is definitely possible to train dogs to accept bathing and feet washing.  Gentle practice and positive reinforcement help so very much.   Check out our video on how to bath your dog:

And on nail trimming:

Work with your veterinarian to help make bathing more pleasurable to your dog.  There are many resources to help including safe, effective shampoos, relaxing herbs to help make it an even more comfortable experience for your dog, and tips to ensure success.   Embrace new skills!  Your dogs and yourself will benefit greatly!   For more information and help contact us at  and  [email protected]

NEW ARTICLE* How To Make Green Tea For Your Dog or Cat

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

Organic green tea is rich in antioxidants and helps fight bacterial infections. It has dental benefits of decreasing painful inflammations in addition to helping prevent arthritis and gingivitis, inhibition of cancer cell growth, tumor prevention, and treatment of several diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, atopic dermatitis, and diarrhea. It can be used orally or topically to help heal. Using topically, it is great for ‘hot spots’ and orally to soothe sores in the mouth and gums.

To prepare green tea for your pet to consume, you can:
1. Pour 1 liter of cold water into a glass pitcher. (I recommend glass rather than plastic to prevent PVC contaminations). Insert 1 tea bag (I prefer the organic, pure green tea) or 1 tablespoon of loose leaves. You can use Jasmine Green Tea or plain Green Tea or Sencha Green tea. There are many varieties of green tea. In my experience pets like the fresh, non-roasted green tea better than the roasted, however each pet is unique and therefore it is worth it to try a variety to see what your pet prefers. I like using cold water as less caffeine is transferred to cold water compared to hot. It is not necessary to use decaffeinated green tea if cold water is used to brew the tea. Another option is to use the tea bag after it has used to make tea for yourself. It will still have enough strength to then brew 1 litre in cold water for your pets.
2. Steep for 15 minutes.
3. Remove tea bag
4. Store in the glass pitcher (covered) in the fridge. It stays fresh for 3 days.
5. Most pets will drink the green tea if put in a glass bowl or even a drinking glass. I always offer plain water in case the pet prefers that over the green tea. It is important that pets always consume enough water and have access to it.
6. For small dogs and cats, you can also mix 1/8 of a cup twice daily into food.
7. For medium dogs, you can mix ½ cup twice daily into food.
8. For large dogs, you can mix 1 cup twice daily into food.

For questions please contact


Wynn, S.G. and Fougere, B.J.; Veterinary Herbal Medicine, 2007; Mosby Elsevier, p.575-7

Implanting Gold into Acupuncture Points

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Implanting Gold into Acupuncture Points

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

Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital


Acupuncture treatment can greatly help decrease and eliminate disease.   In addition to inserting needles temporarily gold wire, usually only a few millimeters long, can be implanted permanently into the point.   This provides the pet with constant stimulation of that point.  Since the gold implant is permanent, it is important to only implant gold when treating chronic diseases.  These include devastating and debilitating diseases such as idiopathic epilepsy, hip dysplasia, arthritis, and chronic pain.

Only the highest quality and purity of gold that can be found is used.  This is usually in the form of 24 karat gold wire, very thin- often only 22 gauge in size, which is less than 1mm in diameter.

To insert the gold, the skin near the acupuncture area is shaved and surgically prepared/washed. The skin is then given a local block for pain control and a 19 gauge needle is used to direct the gold into the skin which is then pushed deeper using an acupuncture needle as a stylet.   The pet is fully awake during the procedure because it is very fast and mostly pain-free.

Gold is used because it is a very bio-actively inert substance, and thus it will not break down or absorb into the cells or bloodstream of the pet.  The gold is left inside the acupuncture point permanently.  It can be surgically removed, but it is challenging to do so because it is so small and difficult to locate once inserted.  However, the chance of negative side effects are extremely rare.

For more information contact us at


Schoen, Allen;  Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine 2nd Edition 2001;  Mosby;   303-5

Thoresen, Are;  Holistic Veterinary Medicine;  Are Thoresen Veterinaerservice; 2012;  458-9

Encouraging Your Pet to Drink Water

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  1. Feed Canned Food:  Canned food has a high water content and most dogs and cats love the taste.  It can be heated to enhance flavor for finicky eaters.  Water can be added to the canned food.
  2. Provide fresh water every day.  Some pets are sensitive to the temperature and taste of water.
  3. Water bowls should be filled to the brim at all times.  Cats especially do not like getting their whiskers wet. Some like very shallow bowls.
  4. Some pets do not like the taste of certain types of water.  To alter the taste, try:
    1. refrigerating tap water
    2. try filtered water
    3. offer bottled water
    4. offer distilled water
  5. Add a drop or two of tuna juice from canned tuna (packed in water).  Always keep a separate bowl of fresh water as well.
  6. Add a teaspoon of Whiskas Cat Milk (lactose-free milk), beef broth or chicken broth to each bowl of water.
  7. Add ice cubes to the water bowl.  These can even be flavored with tuna juice or broth before freezing.
  8. Water fountains for pets can be attractive to them because they provided oxygenated, free flowing water.

9.  Turn the tap on several times throughout the day to see if they will drink.

10. Dogs are omnivores, so offering safe fruit and vegetables such as carrots, apples, watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, green beans, and pumpkin to your dog is a great way of increasing moisture in their diet.  Vegetables and fruits are high in water content.  Cats cannot tolerate vegetables or fruits in large quantities as they are carnivores.

  1.  Keep food and water bowls away from the litter box area.
  2.  Keep the water bowls clean.  Stainless steel or ceramic dishes are the easiest to keep clean and odor free.
  3.  Alter the size of the water bowl– offer water in a plate, a saucer, a clear glass bowl, etc.
  4.  Adding in the dental health improvement additive called “HealthyMouth” to the pet’s drinking water at a dose of 5mL to 1 litre of drinking water also helps encourage pets to drink more water because it improves the flavor of the water. We carry this product here at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital for cats and dogs.




For more information please feel free to contact us at
403-278-1984 or visit our website at


How to Tell When it is Time to Say Goodbye..

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How to Tell When it’s Time to Say Goodbye

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

 People become strongly bonded to their pets often after only minutes or hours of owning them.  Powerful  emotions of love and commitment and the desire to protect and care for the pet grow every day.   Fortunately, with medical care, excellent nutrition, and effective municipal responsible dog and cat ownership bylaws, many pets live well into their late teens, and some even twenties and thirties. During these decades, the bond and emotional connection grows exponentially.

It seems impossible to have to think about the day that we will have to say good bye to our beloved animal companions.  However, as responsible pet owners, and to fully give the most we can give to the animals we are fortunate enough to share our lives with, we must force ourselves to ponder and prepare for that day.

It is very important to know what is normal in each pet we know.  What is their normal food intake, activity level, likes and dislikes?  By knowing this, we will better able to recognize when our pets are in distress or have poor quality of life.  Quality of life is the way we determine when it is time to say good bye.  We all want our cherished pet family members to live as long as possible, but they also have to live as happy and joyful as possible.  Some unfortunate diseases cause crippling, devastating symptoms such as poor appetite, bleeding, weakness, chest congestion and breathing difficulties.  Definitely there are many effective cures and treatments for many diseases, and your veterinarian is able to help diagnose and help your pet.  Often, pets who have been seen by the same veterinarian since puppy or kitten-hood are well understood.  Their veterinarian knows their patient well and can help recognize signs of happiness and joy as well as pain and depression.

Signs that dogs are nearing the end of their life:

-not eating, even treats or tasty food such as cheese and bacon

-lack of interest in their owners

-no desire to play

-no desire to interact with other pets in the home

-defecating in their bed or next to their food, or repeatedly urinating in their bed or in their home as if they are too weak to walk outside or too weak to hold themselves up to defecate or urinate

-not drinking water, just staring at the bowl

-there is no “light” in their eye- this is a subjective observation , meaning that is obvious to pet owners and veterinarians but is difficult to explain.  Dogs with no energy or life force (Qi) have dullness to their eyes

-dry gums, very foul smelling breath, very dry nose as if dehydrated

Cats sometimes show signs of suffering often differently than dogs.  Cats often will withdraw from their owners and from daily activity centres in their home.  Being both a predator and prey species, cats have a huge desire to hide their illnesses, because in the wild, they do not want to show weakness.  Weakness means that their predators will seek them out and kill them.  Thus, instead of displaying their weaknesses they will go off and hide.   They will go away to secluded areas in the house or outside to hide to prevent from being eaten, but not necessarily to go away to die.   So, if a cat is always avoiding the company of its beloved owners,  that is a huge warning sign that grave illness may be present.

Signs of grave illness in a cat that show that their life is ending:


-not eating or drinking

-no litter-box use


-no longer grooming in cats who usually groom meticulously

-staring at the water bowl but not drinking

-very foul odor from mouth;  drooling red or brown-tinged discharge from the mouth

-very dry nose, extreme ‘skin tent’ indicating dehydration (ie when you hold up their skin it stays for a few seconds before going back down, or does not go down at all)

-severe weight loss, a very bony looking body condition

-lack of grooming, resulting in matted, oily, or dirty coat


It is important to note that not all dogs and cats exhibiting some of these signs are going to soon die.  Some of the above signs can be shown by healthy dogs and cats in a diseased state.   Thus, simply because an animal is exhibiting these signs does not always mean they are on their way out.  They may just be warning signs that there are underlying illnesses, some of which can be cured.  This is why it is very important to work with your veterinarian.   It is also important to bring your pet, especially your senior pet, to your veterinarian twice yearly, even if they seem to be looking healthy.   The sooner your veterinarian can diagnose illness, the more likely they are to be able to help cure it.

It is helpful to list in a diary or calendar, the number of good vs. bad days that your pet has.  If the number of bad days outnumber the good, or if there are more bad times per day than good times, then that helps one decide when it is time to say goodbye.   Bad days are days when some or all of the above signs are exhibited by your pet.

Your veterinarian will be ready for you and your pet when the timing is right, to humanely euthanize your pet.  It is important not to wait too long, as the pet should not have excess suffering.  However it is important not to have the euthanasia performed too early either, as the pet owner will be filled with grief and sadness.  When euthanasia timing is chosen well, there will not be as much regret or sadness, as everyone involved with the pet will know that it was the best treatment choice for the pet.   The grieving and healing process will so more quickly and smoothly.  After the euthanasia, your pet can be privately cremated by animal crematoriums, so that you can save their ashes.   Paw print impressions are also a wonderful memento that your veterinarian can provide for you.

It is also important to note that sometimes pets outlive their owners.  Another part of responsible pet ownership is to have plans made so that your pets will be well cared for when you die.  Your lawyer is very helpful at preparing a Will that ensures that your pets will have a comfortable future in the event of your passing.   You can stipulate in your Will who will become the guardian of your pet, or, if you do not know anyone capable of doing so, you can list and provide funds to several no-kill shelters and animal rescue and foster groups who will help.   You may even list your dog or cat’s breeder, as they often know many people who would be able to care for and love your pet.   It is comforting to know that your pets will be well cared for and loved forever.  Enrolling your pet in a pet health insurance program will also help you and whoever is gifted with your pet be able to financially afford to do so the best ways possible.

To help pet owners successfully get through the horrible grief surrounding pet loss, there are special social workers trained in this capacity.  Contact your veterinarian for contacts of people offering pet-loss grief therapy.  I find it very helpful to focus on the pets you still have, and the other animals in your life who will also miss your pet, often as much as you.  Give them a lot of attention and play sessions and love.  What can be helpful is putting your energy into your career work. Volunteering for animal rescue and foster groups is another way to help get people through the grief.

Here are some wonderful ideas to memorialize your pet’s life:

Memorialization is a way of honouring their pets’ life and creating something that they can turn to when they want to remember them. There are many ways to help clients memorialize their pets and the following is a list of a few ideas that can be suggested. We hope some of these ideas give you peace and closure. Some of these great suggestions are great to do as a family together:

  1. Take lots of photos and use them to make up an album of memories. Try adding stories or comments about the photos to help capture those special moments. Photos can also be made into a collage, placed in a multi-picture frame, or carried in a wallet.
  2. Write a poem, story, song, etc., about and/or dedicated to their pet.
  3. Write down some special memories of their pet. Add them to a photo album or journal of your pet/family. They may also try asking friends and family for stories and add these as well.
  4. Write a letter to their pet expressing feelings they may be struggling with.
  5. Videotape their pet doing anything and everything—eating, sleeping, playing, and just sitting there.
  6. Make something that reminds them of their pet, e.g., a drawing, a clay sculpture, a needlework project, etc.
  7. Have a professional portrait, sketch, and sculpture done of their pet. NOTE – this can also be done after the pet’s death from a photograph. Photos can also be transferred to such items as T-shirts, buttons, mugs or even clocks. You may suggest checking at local photography stores or in pet magazines for locations of businesses that do these things.
  8. Keep baby teeth, whiskers, fur (from shaved areas) and place in a locket.
  9. Horses – save shoes, tail, mane hairs from horses.
  10. Keep pet tags – these can be placed on their own key ring or in a special place (under a tree, album, memory box, etc).
  11. Have a plaque made to honor their pet – this can then be placed in a special place (next to ashes, a tree near where pet is buried, etc).
  12. Make a donation in memory of their pet to a charity/cause that is special to them.
  13. Volunteer time at a humane organization and/or help find homes for strays and unwanted pets.
  14. Start a pet loss support group in their area.
  15. Plant a bush, shrub, tree, flowers over or near the location where the body or ashes are buried.
  16. Place a bench with an engraved nameplate and/or inscription beside where their pet is buried.
  17. Place ashes in a locket with their pet’s name engraved on the locket. NOTE – ashes need to be sealed in an airtight bag and then placed in the locket, which must be airtight as well.
  18. Collect pet’s collars, tags, bowls, blankets, etc., and place in a special area in honour of their pet. They could also place ashes, sympathy cards, etc., with them.
  19. Send out cards with a photograph of their pet informing those people close to them/their pet of their loss.
  20. If the animal is not buried near them, take pictures of the grave and place these in a special spot that they can “visit”.

For more information please browse and contact us at [email protected] or 403 278 1984 


Homemade Cookies

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Homemade Cookies

hills logo If you are using canned product, cut up some bite-sized pieces and bake in your microwave for approximately 2 ½ -3 minutes. For a conventional oven, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes or until desired texture.

If you are feeding the dry form, grind the kibbles into a flour type consistency using a blender and mix with enough water to form dough. Shape into “cookies” and bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until crispy.

Oregano may be added to enhance the palatability. All homemade treats need to be stored in the refrigerator no longer than 5-7 days to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage.

As you know, it is very important for your pets to stay strictly on the prescribed food and this will allow them to feel special and spoiled!

These homemade treats should not exceed 10% of your pets’ total daily intake, as baking the treats does alter the nutritional characteristics of the food.