Bow Bottom Custom Articles

Senior Pets Have Special Needs

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Dr. Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM

Pets speed through their life stages, much faster than humans. One year to a human is equivalent to 5 years in a dog or cat. Because of this fast aging process, senior pets have special needs. They definitely need to be examined by your veterinarian every 6 months, twice yearly. This is to help diagnose and cure health issues that they may have before it’s too late.

Did you know that most large-breed dogs are considered seniors at 7 years of age? Cats are considered to be seniors when they are 10 years old.

Senior dogs and cats are at a greater risk for conditions affecting the heart, kidney, and liver. They are also more susceptible to arthritis, cancers, thyroid disorders and diabetes. Through twice-yearly thorough physical consultations as well as blood and urine analyses and blood pressure monitoring, your veterinarian is able to identify animals that appear clinically ‘normal’ but may be developing early signs of organ dysfunction. Animals unfortunately cannot tell us when they are in pain or discomfort. This is why it is important to be pro-active so that diseases can be identified early. By diagnosing and treating medical problems before your pet becomes sick, longevity and quality of life will be improved.

Quality nutrition is also very important for senior pets. They generally have a lower metabolism and thus require less calories per day. They also have a higher risk for cancers and organ problems feeding extra vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals, they are able to be more resistant against these diseases. Your veterinarian will help you choose a food that meets the needs of senior pets.

Joint supplements such as glucosamine HCl and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the signs and discomfort associated with age-related arthritis. Regular exercise and keeping your pet at his or her ideal weight will help prevent wear and tear on he joints and therefore decrease arthritis.

Senility, otherwise known as cognitive dysfunction has been documented in dogs. As their brain ages, dogs can be more prone to behavior changes such as house-soiling, lack of response to verbal or visual cues, sleeping more during the day and less at night, pacing, staring into space or the walls and seeking less attention. Your veterinarian can help you determine if these behaviors are due to age change or if they are caused by underlying diseases that can be treated.

Dental care cannot be encouraged enough. Senior pets who have not had regular dental cleanings throughout their life are especially susceptible to disease. Resistance to disease in seniors is not as good as it was when the pet was younger. The healthier your pet’s mouth is, the less chance that bad bacteria will migrate from the mouth to other organs.

Advances in veterinary care help pets live longer, happier lives. Don’t let your pet be a stranger to your veterinarian- bring them twice yearly. For more information, please contact your veterinarian and visit websites such as and

Encouraging Your Pet To Drink Water

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  1. Try giving water in different types of bowls, cups, mugs and even saucers and shallow plates. Sometimes cats prefer drinking from shallow bowls.
  2. Try adding a small amount of low sodium tuna juice or chicken or beef stock to the water.
  3. Try adding ice cubes into the water bowl- some pets prefer very cold water.
  4. Water fountains for pets can be attractive to them because they provided oxygenated, free flowing water.
  5. Offer water from a dripping tap- some cats love to lick water from the tap.
  6. Add a glass of water on top of a kitchen or bathroom counter.
  7. Offer plain ice cubes or ice cubes with cooked frozen meat or vegetables or soup stock mixed in.
  8. Offer a veterinary recommended canned food to your pet’s daily meals.
  9. Dogs are omnivores, so offering safe fruit and vegetables such as carrots, apples, green beans, 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.

Raw Food Diets

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Dr.Scott Kelman

 Are You Willing To Feed Your Dog B.A.R.F.?

Many pet breeders, pet food retailers and some veterinarians advocate the feeding of raw food diets (B.A.R.F. – Bones And RawFood). We at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital believe that the feeding of raw meat and bones to domestic animals is a dangerous practice, both for our pets and their families. There is no proven nutritional advantage to feeding a raw food diet but there are several disadvantages. The top three being:

1. Unbalanced nutrition – most raw food diets are too high in mineral content due to the large amount of bones that the diets include.

2. Bones as potential gastrointestinal obstructions – the most common stomach or intestinal foreign body in dogs is bones. Many require surgical or endoscopic removal.

3. E. coli or Salmonella poisoning – these two fecal bacteria are very common in raw food diets, most of which are chicken based. Several recent studies show a significant increase in these enteric pathogens in raw foods over high quality commercial diets.

Many advocates of raw food diets blame commercial pet foods for the increase in certain diseases in dogs and cats – cancer, allergies, immune diseases. What they fail to consider is the fact that the average life span of dogs and cats has almost doubled in the last 40-50 years, largely in part due to the superior nutrition that is available. Due to this increased life span, we are diagnosing more pets with these various diseases as they start to near their genetic potential for longevity. Your interpretation of these statistics depends on whether you see the glass (or pet food bowl) as half-empty or half-full. Many advocates of raw food diets use wild dogs such as wolves and coyotes as their standard to which to compare our domestic canine companions. It is true that wolves and coyotes eat raw food, no one can dispute that. It is also true that the average life span of wild canids is virtually half of the average domestic dog. We just do not see the wild dogs that die from gastrointestinal infections, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, tooth root abscesses caused by broken teeth, or simply malnutrition. If feeding a non-commercial pet food is important to you, please consult with us and we will help you devise a safe and nutritious home-made alternative.

Additional information on this topic can be found here:

Pet Parasites

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Dr. Julie Schell, BSc(Hons), DVM

The spring and summer season provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with your pets. It is important to prepare for the potential hazards that accompany these adventures. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and cause potentially deadly disease in dogs and cats. Your veterinarian should be made aware if your pet is travelling outside of Alberta so that heartworm testing can be performed. Preventative medication given once per month can protect your pet from heartworm disease as well as intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms and roundworms.

Another danger to active, outdoor pets is Giardia, an intestinal protozoan that causes Beaver Fever. This parasite lives in fecal material and stagnant water and can also infect people. Beaver Fever results in intestinal damage, diarrhea and malabsorption. A vaccination is available for dogs to protect them from this disease and is recommended for dogs who spend time outdoors.

Your veterinarian can also help protect your pet from external parasites such as Ticks and Fleas. These parasites feed on the blood of your pet and can cause skin irritation and infection. They can also be carriers of other parasites such as tapeworms and Lyme Disease-causing organisms. Some pets are allergic to Flea saliva and can become very sick when infected. Fleas and ticks can be transmitted to your pet through contact with a previously infected animal or environment. Medication is available from your veterinarian to protect your pets from these pests.

Treats & Healthy Nutrition for Pets!

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

Halloween is an excellent time to consider treats for pets, however, healthy nutrition can and should be considered year round. Its exciting to help your pet develop optimal health with the use of food. In addition to veterinary care, outdoor exercise, grooming, tooth brushing, and the psychological attention and comforts (aka TLC or tender loving care), proper nutrition can help pets live longer, happier lives! Correct balance quality of nutrients as well quantity has been proven in scientific research to promote longevity. It has even been discovered that pets who are kept at normal to slightly below normal weights live much longer than pets who are overweight.

Lets discuss this important topic of healthy eating. The easiest way to ensure that your dog receives balanced and nutritious diet is by discussing your pet’s needs with your veterinarian and letting them help you chooses a commercially prepared veterinary diet. These companies, such as are dedicated to nutrigenomics, which is using food as therapy and optimal maintenance of pet’s health. So many times over I have witnesses the beneficial effects of improving pet’s nutrition.

For people who have the time and energy to home make their pet’s food from scratch, there are several very reputable resources to help guide you through this. These people are veterinary nutritionists who have studied and developed balanced recipes that you can use at home. One of my favourites is and another is Along with the help of your veterinarian, you can choose the best recipes for your pets. Most people will make the recipe in large batches once or twice per month and freeze it into individual feeding sizes for ease of use.

As for feeding raw meats, I do not recommend this as there are several documented dangers including salmonella poisonings. Did you know that Salmonella can survive a dishwashing cycle? I recommend cooking the meats, but raw fruits and vegetables are safe to feed.

Feeding treats to pets is fun and if in proper amounts and qualities, it will not cause obesity. On days that your pet is receiving more treats, then level of food should be decreased. There are commercially prepared healthy treats for pets such as and

Other options are healthy, safe fruits and vegetables. Although cats are carnivores and cannot tolerate large volumes of vegetables, some enjoy eating treats like canned plain pumpkin or cooked squash. Dogs, being omnivores, can easily digest meats, grains, fruits and vegetables. It is important to avoid certain items however that can be dangerous including raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee, alcoholic beverages, onions, avocados, macadamia nuts and walnuts, which can injure the kidneys, liver and red blood cells. Giving your dog a corn on the cob is extremely dangerous as it can be easily lodged in the intestines or stomach and cause death. Corn can be fed as long as it is first removed from the cob. Be certain to prevent access to garbage as dogs will definitely seek out and eat dangerous items. If you suspect that your pet has eaten something dangerous, call your veterinarian immediately.

Healthy options that dogs often enjoy include carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, apples, squash, yam, oranges, celery, Brussels sprouts, crushed almonds. Sometimes cooking the vegetable makes them more likely to want to eat it. I do not recommend feeding whole almonds as one patient of mine ate one and it needed surgical removal after it was trapped in the intestines. Bones should be avoided because they will break teeth.

For pets who are prone to developing calcium oxalate crystals or stones in their bladder, avoid feeding oxalate rich vegetables such as apples, carrots, spinach, broccoli as there is a theoretical suggestion that these types of oxalate-rich foods may contribute to stone or crystal formation in their bladder. There are also genetic and lifestyle predispositions however. Pets who are ‘stone and crystal formers’ should be encouraged to drink lots of water (add water to their food, offer ice cubes as treats, etc), and be let outside often and given lots of exercise to improve frequent urination and proper circulation. Feeding fruits and vegetables that are water rich but low in oxalate is recommended, such as plumbs, melons, cauliflower, and green peas.

According to TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) pets who are prone to ‘Dampness diseases’ such as obesity, bladder stones, moist skin eruptions and tumours should not be feed foods that can lead to ‘Dampening’ such as roasted peanuts (peanut butter), bananas, dairy products, concentrated fruit juices (like tomato juice, or frozen orange juice from concentrate), and beer (or any other alcoholic beverage).

Also according to TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine), it is very healthy for pets to be given green tea. There are many anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, glucose levelling and so many other benefits known to humans who drink green tea (check out: ) and now many of the TCVM traditionalists and veterinary herbalists recommend including this in your pet’s diet. Green tea comes in decaffeinated varieties, which is preferred for pets, however if you steep the green tea in cool water rather than hot, then not as much caffeine will be present. the usual recipe is to steep 1 green tea bag in 250ml water for 5 minutes, then let it cool. It can stay fresh in the fridge for 3 days. Large dogs can have up to 1 to 1.5 cups day, medium sized dogs 3/4 cup, and small dogs 1/2 cup and cats 1 to 3 tablespoons daily. It can be mixed into their regular food. Some animals like the taste so much they will drink it plain in a bowl!

For more information about healthy nutrition, definitely contact your veterinarian and check out resources such as and

Public Service Announcement

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Dr. Julie Schell, a veterinarian, practicing in Calgary, Alberta at the Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital, successfully completed the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) Certification Examinations and is now certified in Animal Chiropractic by the AVCA.

Licensed doctors of chiropractic and licensed doctors of veterinary medicine who have passed a postgraduate program in animal chiropractic approved by the AVCA are eligible to sit for the ACCC/AVCA Certification Examinations. In order to become ACCC/AVCA certified in animal chiropractic a graduate from one of the accredited programs must pass both the ACCC Comprehensive Written and Clinical Competency Examination. An ACCC/AVCA Certified Doctor is required 30 hours of continuing education every three years to keep certification current.

The AVCA was established in 1989. Chiropractic is a drug-free approach to pet health care. It deals with the nervous system housed inside the spinal column. If you are seeking health care treatment for neuromusculoskeletal function or dysfunction in your animal, or would like more information on animal chiropractic you may contact us at the Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital website, or via email, [email protected] or by giving us a call at 403-278-1984. You can also visit the AVCA website at

Thank you.

Important Tests When Adopting a New Pet

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

It will forever amaze me how good dogs and cats are at hiding illnesses. They can be carrying and spreading so many diseases to other pets and ourselves without anyone knowing. Also, what may seem like a perfectly healthy pet from the outside, may actually be showing signs of disease with symptoms so minor that they may be missed. One example is fecal output, texture, size, color. A puppy’s feces may look firm and formed, but if examined closely, it may have excess mucus around it, or actually be quite soft in the centre or ends. That could mean he actually is housing huge numbers of Giardia parasites!

Even if your pet’s feces look normal, he or she should still be tested for giardiasis and other parasites such as hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm, whipworm and coccidia. This involves the help of your veterinarian and a Giardia Elisa test and a proper fecal centrifugation study. Often I examine puppies and kittens who’s owners feel their feces are normal, however they just have an appearance of looking normal because clumping cat litter can cover feces and make people misinterpret the consistency. Also, sometimes the feces may look formed, but it is actually loose when examined more closely. Feces should remind owners of a firm, round chocolate toffee roll candy, or a round nut-filled chocolate bar. Yes- that sounds slightly gross, however, it is important to monitor your pet’s feces every day. That way, when change occurs, you will notice it and be able to report this to your veterinarian.

Not all dogs or cats will lick their anal area or exhibit “scooting behaviour” or drag their bum if they have worms. Also, not all dogs will automatically vomit if they have worms. Parasites are very good at infecting pets unnoticed because they want their host cat/dog to remain alive. Thus, sometimes only mild clinical signs will be evident on the outside. However, on the inside of the pet, the parasites are creating a war zone and battling with the pet’s immune cells and important organs. Eventually the pet will become sicker and during that time shed the parasite to other animals. If not treated, the pet may never realize optimal health and may be predisposed to other types of illnesses. We must be vigilant at testing and treating pets as soon as possible. Puppies and kittens need to be de-wormed every 2 weeks until they are 4 months of age. Then, puppies and outdoor cats need to be dewormed monthly, year round. This is because some worms can live throughout the winter in protected forms and still be infective. Also, often dogs and cats may catch and eat rodents without us noticing. Dogs often eat other animal’s feces without us noticing. Indoor house cats should be dewormed at least once yearly, because we often unknowingly bring dirt into our homes on our shoes and therefore potentially expose our pets to parasites.

Definitely only use parasite prevention products that have been prescribed by your veterinarian. Over the counter remedies are often not effective and not safe.

Cats adopted from catteries are especially susceptible to easily transferrable diseases such as Tritrichomonas and Giardia that can live in their intestines, cause discomfort, and transfer to other pets in your home. Giardia can even transfer to humans. However, even if you do not adopt from a cattery the kittens can be infected. Therefore, in addition to regular Giardia Elisa testing and fecal centrifuge study, they should all have advanced testing. Pets are susceptible to viruses and agents that can cause respiratory diseases including sneezing, snotty nose secretions, decrease ability to detect odours and decreased appetite. Even dehydration can occur if too much mucus is lost through the nose. There are very effective ways of testing cats and dogs through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, aka DNA testing. Samples of feces and nasal secretions, and conjunctival swab and pharynx swab (all of which can be easily collected by your veterinarian) are sent to special veterinary laboratories. The results arrive quickly- within a few days or less. this will enable your veterinarian to make an accurate diagnosis so the best treatments can be chosen. It is important to cure these diseases quickly before the pet becomes dehydrated and gravely ill.

Because Parvo virus and Distemper virus infections are still unfortunately common, dogs with illness, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, etc, should also be tested for Parvo virus. Again, there is an excellent PCR panel that is very helpful at detecting these viruses.

All kittens and cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Viruses and if the results are normal, should be retested again in 60 days. New research by the American Association of Feline Practitioners discovered that just because the result is normal once, does not mean the cat does not have the virus. Resting is important.

Pets can also be harbouring external parasites such as ear mites, lice, ticks, fleas and internal blood parasites such as heartworm, ehrlichia, anaplasma, lyme and Mycoplasma haemofelis. I have seen some pets who do not even scratch their ears, however when looking at ear swab cytology, their ears are swarming with these types of parasites. Thorough veterinary exams and testing are so important.

If you adopt a cat or dog who is positive for parasites or treatable diseases, your other existing pets must also be protected. Sometimes strict isolation and husbandry techniques must be installed to help prevent disease transfer. It is always better to test your new adopted pets and isolate them from your existing pets before introducing them to each other.

Do not be afraid of adopting a new pet however. With proper vaccinations, deworming, testing and monitoring, you and your veterinarian can work hard to enable your pets to be healthy and comfortable and safe. By identifying, treating and preventing parasites in your pets, you’re also protecting yourself, your family and other people’s pets too! For more information, contact your veterinarian as well as,, and for information specifically on feline Tritchomonas, check out

FDA Issues Warning Against Online

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Rockville, Md. – When it comes to purchasing veterinary drugs online, buyers should beware, says a top official from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine. In fact, in a consumer alert issued today, Dr. Martine Hartogensis, director of FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, says that while some websites selling veterinary drugs represent legitimate businesses, others do not.

In fact, FDA regulators have documented unscrupulous practices relating to the sale of unapproved and counterfeit pet drugs, dispensing of Rx drugs without a prescription and sale of expired drugs. And while the risk is present for consumers purchasing bogus, unapproved products through foreign and domestic pharmacies, “CVM is especially concerned that pet owners are going online to buy two types of commonly used prescription veterinary drugs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs and

heartworm preventives.”Both drugs can be dangerous if given without involvement by veterinarians, Hartogensis reports.

Without a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship, she calls the practice dangerous. The consumer alert outlines the important role veterinarians play in evaluating the need, use and safe dosages of veterinary drugs for dogs and cats.

If consumers opt to use an Internet pharmacy, FDA wants them to pick a pharmacy accredited through the Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site)
program. Outsourced prescription management services used by veterinarians offer another credible pharmacy source, FDA says.