November Is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

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The thought of cancer strikes fear into the heart of many pet owners, and with good reason: About 20% to 25% of dogs and cats will develop cancer during their lives, and the risk increases as pets age.

But the good news is that many pets do well with chemotherapy and other treatments, and even pets with aggressive cancers may experience long remissions (periods during which cancer is not detectable). In some cases, surgery can provide a cure—especially if the cancer is caught early and hasn’t spread.

Understanding the types of cancer pets can get, as well as the signs of cancer to watch for in cats and dogs, is important in helping to provide pets with the best quality of life for as long as possible.

What Types of Cancer Do Pets Get?

As in people, dogs and cats can develop many different types of cancer. Cancer develops when the DNA in cells become damaged and the resulting abnormal cells begin to duplicate (make copies of themselves) and multiply uncontrollably. These cells generally form tumours (lumps or growths) that can destroy and spread into surrounding tissue, or the damaged cells are released into the blood and circulate to other areas of the body (metastasize).
This process can occur in any part of the body, but certain kinds of cancer are more common in pets, including:

Fibrosarcoma—This type of soft-tissue cancer usually forms beneath the skin and in the connective tissue of the skin, often on the legs and trunk, but can also develop in the nose and mouth (and sometimes in the jawbone).

Lymphoma—Affecting the lymph nodes and lymphatic system (which includes the spleen and tonsils), this form of cancer can stay localized (in one specific area, such as under the jaw or behind the knees) or can spread throughout the body. Lymphoma can develop in dogs and cats and is associated with the feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) in cats.

Hemangiosarcoma—Developing from cells that line the blood vessels, this type of cancer often attacks the spleen but can also affect the heart, liver, and skin.

Mammary (breast) cancer—These tumours usually begin as tiny nodules near a nipple. Mammary gland carcinomas tend to develop in unspayed female dogs and cats. Male pets rarely develop this cancer, although it is possible.

Mast cell tumours—This kind of cancer tends to form masses or nodules in the skin, but it can also affect other areas, such as the liver, intestine, bone marrow, or spleen.

Melanoma—A common oral cancer in dogs that tends to affect breeds with dark gums and tongues, melanoma can be difficult to notice in the early stages and unfortunately tends to spread quickly throughout the body. Melanoma is rare in cats.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma—The most common oral cancer in cats, squamous cell carcinoma can develop in the gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, or tonsils and can also grow into the jawbone.

Osteosarcoma—This painful type of bone cancer commonly affects the long bones in the legs. These malignant tumours can also develop in the jaw, ribs, backbone, and pelvis, as well as in areas that aren’t bone, such as the kidneys, liver, mammary glands, and spleen.

Many pets respond well to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

What Are Symptoms of Cancer in Pets?

The signs of cancer vary depending on the type of cancer, and many cancers are silent (don’t have any obvious signs) in the early stages. But generally, pets with cancer may have:

  • A lump that continues to grow (either slowly or quickly) or fluctuates in size
  • A lump, sore, or lesion that bleeds or doesn’t heal
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Bad breath, drooling, or difficulty eating
  • Changes to the eye (such as the iris darkening)
  • Coughing
  • Facial swelling
  • Lameness
  • Listlessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of or decreased appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble urinating or defecating
  • Unexplained diarrhea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of muscle mass

Many of the symptoms listed can also be signs of other conditions or diseases, so don’t panic if your pet shows any of them, but also don’t delay in letting us know about them. The sooner we catch cancer or other medical problems, the better the chance of a positive outcome for your pet.

Can I Prevent Cancer in My Pet?

Unfortunately in most cases, there’s not much you can do to try to keep your pet from developing cancer.

Many factors are involved in cancer development, including exposure to known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, and sunlight.

Some cancers may be related to obesity, inflammation, and infection, while others can be linked to specific hormones.

Certain breeds may be genetically predisposed to developing cancer, and the risk of dogs and cats developing cancer increases with age.

Experts don’t know why certain factors promote the growth of cancer in some pets but not in others.

Spaying or neutering your pet can help eliminate or reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including mammary gland, ovarian, prostate, testicular, and uterine cancer. Obesity is believed to play a role in the development of cancer, so keeping your pet at a healthy weight may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Most cancers can’t be transmitted to other pets. However, if one of your pets has a condition that is transmissible to other cats and can cause cancers, such as FeLV, you will want to take precautions to ensure that other cats in your household don’t become infected. You can ask us for advice.

How We Can Help Pets With Cancer

At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, we have many options to help treat cancer in dogs and cats, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Let us know right away if you’ve noticed any symptoms of cancer or changes in your pet’s behaviour, or if your pet just seems off.

How early cancer is diagnosed and how quickly treatment is started may make a difference in a pet’s outcome. If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call.

Additional Reading

All accessed November 11, 2020.

Thanksgiving Tips: Help Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday

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Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? We are more than ready to celebrate one of our favorite holidays, but first, we wanted to share some pet safety tips to keep in mind. That way, you and your whole family can relax and enjoy the holiday.

Keep Your Pet Away From Dangerous Foods

You may be tempted to share your Thanksgiving fare with your pet, but some of the food we consume during this holiday is dangerous for dogs and cats. Table scraps in particular can cause serious issues, including pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), in pets.

Here’s a list of (foods and drinks) you should avoid feeding your pet:

Alcohol—Beer, wine, and liquor, as well as foods that contain alcohol, can cause breathing difficulty and even depression of the central nervous system in dogs and cats, which can be deadly.

Anything caffeinated—A stimulant found in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate, caffeine can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and seizures in pets.

Baked goods—Cakes, pies, and other baked goods may contain the sweetener xylitol, which can cause seizures and lead to liver failure in pets. Many baked goods intended for human consumption also contain a lot of sugar and salt, both of which are bad for pets.

Bones—Raw or cooked, bones are dangerous for dogs and cats; they can break teeth, cause oral lacerations, get stuck in a pet’s throat, or even puncture the esophagus or intestine, which can be deadly.

Bread dough—Unbaked dough can rise in the stomach, causing bloating and gastric dilatation and volvulus, a life-threatening condition.

Chocolate—Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both stimulants that are toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the greater the danger.

Fatty foods—Fat trimmings, bacon, ham, and turkey skin can cause gastrointestinal upset and possibly pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

Garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, and chives—These members of the genus Allium in any form (raw, cooked, dried, dehydrated, powdered, etc.) are toxic to cats and dogs.

Grapes and raisins—This fruit, whether fresh or dried, can cause kidney failure in pets.

Macadamia nuts—Although nuts of any kind contain a lot of fat and pose a risk of pancreatitis in pets, macadamia nuts are particularly poisonous to dogs.

Pie—Even though plain pumpkin and apples may be safe to use as treats in moderation for most dogs and cats, pie is far from a healthy treat for pets. It typically contains sugar, salt, and other spices that aren’t good for pets, and it may contain xylitol as well (see below).

Seasoned turkey or other meat—If you want to treat your pet to a taste of turkey, it’s probably best to do it on a day that isn’t Thanksgiving. Cooked turkey (without the skin) is generally safe to give pets in small amounts, but only if it hasn’t been seasoned, salted (brined), or butter basted, which is unlikely during the holiday.

Xylitol—This sweetener commonly found in baked goods, candies, nut butters, and even toothpaste is toxic to pets.

Help keep your pet from getting into these items unexpectedly by:

  • Asking guests to keep their plates and drinks out of your pet’s reach.
  • Covering snacks and other food if it’s sitting out.
  • Covering or putting away food right after a meal.

Call us right away if you think your pet has consumed something toxic. During off-hours or over the holiday, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (a fee will be charged).

Decorate With Pet-Friendly Flowers

Flower arrangements and centerpieces may enhance the festive feel of the holiday, but decorate with your pet in mind by avoiding toxic plants, such as amaryllis, azaleas, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, and lilies. Choose pet-safe plant options instead: African violets, orchids, prayer plants (Calathea insignis), and roses are all safe decorative choices for homes with pets.

Make Sure Your Pet Has a Collar With ID Tags

If you’re planning to have guests over for Thanksgiving, it’s especially important to make sure your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date identification. Getting your dog or cat microchipped will also add an extra layer of protection, just in case your pet manages to slip out a door during the celebration.

Give Your Pet a Safe Space

Even if you’re just having your close family over to enjoy Thanksgiving together, all of the excitement may be overwhelming for some pets. It’s a good idea to provide even the most social of animals a safe space away from the holiday gathering and guests.

Give your pet access to a room or area away from the action, where people aren’t permitted, and make sure your guests know that the space is off-limits to them. If your cat or dog isn’t comfortable around all the commotion, your pet can spend the entire time in that safe area. This will also help ensure that your pet doesn’t escape when visitors are going in and out.

Have a Calmer, Safer Thanksgiving

We hope our tips will help keep this Thanksgiving a fun, relaxing day that you’ll remember for years to come for all the right reasons. Let us know if you have any questions about keeping your pet safe over the holiday, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Additional Reading

All accessed October 6, 2020.

Microchipping May

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Microchipping 101

If your pet ever escapes and becomes lost, what can you do to help make sure he or she will get back home? We hope that never happens, but having a permanent form of identification with your pet at all times can give you a better chance of recovering your pet.

By microchipping your pet, you’re taking a proactive step to help get your pet safely back home if he or she ever becomes lost.

During the month of May, we’re offering 30% off microchipping for all pets as part of National Chip Your Pet Month. Give us a call to find out the details!

What’s a Microchip?

About the size of a grain of rice, a microchip is a tiny transponder that has a unique 9-, 10-, or 15-digit identification number or code associated with it. The microchip, encased in bioglass, is implanted just under the skin between a dog or cat’s shoulder blades. Bioglass is a safe material that’s used for implants in both animals and humans.

When a veterinarian or veterinary technician scans the microchip using a special handheld device called a scanner (or reader), the chip is activated briefly and transmits its ID number, which is then displayed on the scanner. This unique code is used to identify the microchip manufacturer’s registration database where the pet owner’s information is stored, and the owner can be contacted.

Will the Microchip Hurt My Pet?

The injection may pinch a little but should not hurt much more than a vaccination. Your veterinarian will use a hypodermic needle to quickly and safely implant the chip. The procedure can be done during a regular veterinary visit or at the same time as your pet’s spay or neuter surgery.

We recommend microchipping all pets. We can easily implant the chip in the exam room without the need for anesthesia.

What Are the Benefits of a Microchip?

Unlike ID tags, which can fall off, a microchip stays with your pet permanently. Microchips have no moving parts or batteries and are designed to last for a pet’s lifetime.

If your pet gets lost or injured, a microchip provides you with assurance that your pet will be identified and find his or her way back to you, with help from a veterinarian or shelter. After making sure a pet doesn’t have any injuries or need immediate medical help, the first thing most shelters or veterinarians do when they find a lost pet is to scan the pet for a microchip.

We recommend microchips for all pets, even those who are indoor only. That way, you’ll be prepared, just in case your pet accidentally gets outside.

What Doesn’t a Microchip Do?

Microchips are not GPS devices, so they can’t track your pet’s location.

Microchips also don’t replace the need for a collar and ID tags. Most people who find a lost pet will first check for ID tags and contact the owner if the information is up-to-date. But if a pet isn’t wearing a collar or the pet’s collar or tags came off, having a microchip offers another way to find the owner.

Microchips do not have the owner’s personal information on them. To retrieve the owner’s contact information, the microchip registry needs to be accessed.

What Microchip Will My Pet Get?

There are quite a few microchip brands and microchip frequencies, as well as a couple types of microchip scanners.

The microchips we use for our patients at Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group are all compliant with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) global microchip standard, which means they are all 15 digits and 134.2 kHz.

An ISO microchip can be recognized by any microchip scanner (unlike non-ISO microchips, which are either 125 or 128 kHz). So if your pet gets lost, whether near home or while you’re traveling, you can rest assured that your pet’s microchip can be detected and read.

Microchips offer an added layer of insurance that your pet, if lost, will be returned home to you.

The Key to Microchips?

For a microchip to be effective, it needs to be registered in the manufacturer’s database, and, even more important, the owner’s contact information needs to be kept up-to-date. If your information isn’t current, it won’t matter if your lost pet is found because the shelter or veterinarian won’t be able to find you.

Give us a call today so we can schedule your pet’s microchipping. If you have questions about the procedure, we’d be happy to answer them. You can also check out the additional reading below.

Additional Reading

Microchips & Microchipping

Microchip Registry & Recovery Services

Lost/Found Pet Advice

All accessed April 29, 2020.

Ticks, Fleas, and Heartworms: Is Your Pet Protected From These Parasites?

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Ticks, Fleas, and Heartworms: Is Your Pet Protected From These Parasites?

This time of year, we start thinking more about parasites like ticks, fleas, and even heartworms bothering our pets. Although ticks and fleas may remain active year round in the Toronto area, all of these parasites become more of a threat as the weather starts to warm up or if you travel to areas where these parasites and diseases are common.

Tick Diseases

If infected, the ticks we have in southern Ontario can transmit several diseases to both pets and people, including:

  • Lyme disease—Although Lyme disease hasn’t been considered a concern in Toronto in the past, as deer (black-legged) ticks creep farther northward, this disease has been diagnosed in pets in our area. Ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, have been found in the city, including in West Deane Park, Colonel Danforth Park, and Bob Hunter Park, and in the suburbs.
  • Ehrlichiosis—Ticks that transmit this disease can be found all the way up to New England in the US and are now moving into Canada as well.

Ticks can also transmit other diseases to pets, including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

People can get anaplasmosis and babesiosis too, as well as Powassan virus, tularemia, red meat (alpha-gal) allergy, and a number of other diseases from ticks. Many of these diseases aren’t yet common in Canada, but they can be spread from ticks during travel to endemic areas (such as those in the United States where the diseases are common).

In both pets and people (particularly children), ticks can also cause tick paralysis, a serious, potentially deadly condition in which the nervous system is attacked by a toxin in the tick’s saliva.

Because ticks that can transmit these diseases are moving into new areas each year, some ticks and diseases that are common in the northern US may soon make their way across the border.

See our March blog article for symptoms of tickborne diseases in pets.

Flea Diseases

Fleas tend to be more common in the warmer, wetter months (summer and fall), but they can survive throughout the year in the right conditions. Plus, once they’re inside your home, fleas can multiply quickly and be quite frustrating and hard to get rid of.

Although most people tend to think of fleas as irritating insects that bite pets, these wingless blood suckers can also feed on people and cause problems in pets that are much more severe than just itching, including:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis—Also known as FAD, this common condition affects pets who are allergic to flea saliva, causing itchy, inflamed skin and hair loss. It can lead to skin infections when pets scratch and bite themselves repeatedly. Even just a few flea bites can cause FAD.
  • Tapeworms—Cats and dogs (and people—usually children) can get tapeworms if they swallow an infected flea.
  • Anemia—Puppies and kittens with flea infestations can suffer from serious, potentially life-threatening blood loss.
  • BartonellaPets and people can also be infected with Bartonella bacteria (which causes cat scratch disease in humans).

Flea control is essential for pets with FAD and may be needed for other pets at risk for flea infestation.

Heartworm Disease

Although heartworms are still not that commonly diagnosed in southern Ontario, these mosquito-transmitted parasites are being found in dogs in Toronto. Dogs who have travelled to parts of the US that have heartworms are becoming infected and bringing them back to the city and surrounding areas. Heartworm disease has also been diagnosed in dogs with no history of travel outside our area.

Heartworm disease can be deadly and is difficult to treat. As with ticks and fleas, prevention is the best medicine, so if your pet is travelling to or through areas where heartworm is common, we may recommend a heartworm disease preventive.

Know Your Pet’s Risk

Ticks, fleas, and heartworms are a problem in other areas of Canada, as well as in the US, so if you travel with your pet, you’ll want to be aware of the risk where you’re headed. You can check out the Parasite Prevalence maps from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), which show the infection risk of tick-borne diseases, as well as heartworm, in both Canada and the US.

If you’re planning a trip, give us a call so we can make sure you’re stocked up on the parasite preventives you’ll need to help keep your pet protected while you travel. And if you’re sticking around home, let’s make sure your pet has the right parasite control.

Additional Reading

COVID-19 & Pets FAQ

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At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group your pet’s safety is our number one priority. 

Although there is a lot of information circulating about COVID-19 much of it pertaining to pets is misrepresented. We are here to provide you with the facts so that you can make informed decisions to keep you and your furry family safe!


Can cats and dogs contract COVID-19? 

At this time, experts believe that it is very unlikely. Based on the information currently available, there is limited evidence to support the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to your pet. The predominant route of transmission is from human to human. 

There have only been 2 canine cases and 1 feline case of COVID-19 being transmitted to an animal after close contact with an infected human worldwide. This relationship is still being monitored, however these instances are being regarded as isolated events. Experts have concluded that dogs and cats are not easily infected with the virus. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing an epidemiological role in the spread. For more information regarding these isolated cases please refer to the Illinois Colleg​   e of Veterinary Medicine.


Can pets infect people with COVID-19?

There is no evidence that domestic animals can become sick with COVID-19 and spread the virus to humans. However out of caution it is important to continue good hygiene practices when interacting with animals through washing your hands before handling the animal, food or supplies. 


Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people?

Yes. It is possible that a person with COVID-19 could shed copies of the virus and contaminate their pet. If another individual could touch the pet animal, contract the disease. Veterinary experts believe the risk for transmission is low as the virus survives longer on hard, inanimate surfaces than on soft surfaces.


Can I still take my pets for walks? 

Yes. Please practice proper physical distance by staying 2 or more meters away from other people. Keep your pets on leash to avoid unintentional meetings. Reframe from letting strangers pet. 


What do I do if my pet is exhibiting flu-like symptoms?

If your pet shows signs of illness such as coughing, sneezing, lethargy or vomiting please call our offices immediately at 1(866)209-1001. Keep them inside to prevent the further spread of infection. These signs of illness are likely associated with other viral infections that are not transmissible to humans. 


How can I protect my pets if I am sick? 

If you are sick with COVID-19 you should restrict contact with your pets, just like you would around other people. If you must care for a pet while inflected make sure you wash your hands before and after all interacting with the animal, food or supplies. Ensure that your pet is not exposed to other people.

We recommend preemptively identifying another person in your household that is willing and able to care for your pet. Make sure that you have a pet emergency kit prepared with at least 2 weeks of food and medication. 


Should my pet be tested for COVID-19? 

Although there are tests available to test for the new COVID-19 in pets, routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended at this time. 


Is there a vaccine available for pets against COVID-19? 

Currently there are no vaccines against COVID-19 available for animals. There is no evidence to suggest that vaccinating with commercially available vaccines for other coronaviruses will provide any form of cross-protection against COVID-19. 


What is the best way to protect myself and my pets? 

Follow the public health guideline of physical distancing of 2 or more meters. Most importantly, practice proper hygiene through: 

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water,
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing,
  • Avoid others who are not well and
  • Stay home if you are sick



To help combat the spread of COVID-19 TDVG has made the following changes to our policy.

  • We are pleased to offer telemedicine to our clients in which one of our doctors will contact you through a secure line to discuss your pet’s case. Additional fees may apply. For more information please see the American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Effective immediately we will only be accepting emergency cases. Non-urgent in clinic appointments will be rebooked when appropriate.
  • We are asking that all arriving clients remain in the car and call us upon arrival. A staff member will meet you at your car and bring your pet into the clinic for evaluation.
  • We will contact you over the phone to obtain your pet’s history and relay our treatment plan and recommendations.
  • Once the care of your animal is complete, the discharge process will be discussed.
  • We will only be providing medications for emergency in-clinic cases. All other cases will be provided an external prescription.
  • Please select at home delivery for all online food and product orders to avoid any difficulty in the event that our offices close.


For more information about COVID-19 please see the following sources: 


For further information regarding COVID-19 and the impact that it will have on veterinary service please see the following links for additional reading.


If you have any questions that were not featured here, please reach out to our offices, we are here to help! 1(866)209-1001.

Tick Awareness: How Much Do You Know About These Parasites?

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Just a few years ago, we barely thought about ticks in Toronto around Etobicoke and suburbs like Brampton. But now, these parasites are becoming more common throughout southern Ontario and other parts of Canada. Each year, ticks continue to expand into new areas and move farther north.

Let’s take a look at ticks and the risks they pose to our pets—and to us.

Taking Stock of Ticks

Ticks are small arachnids related to mites and spiders that feed on the blood of people and a variety of other animals (including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, deer, horses, and coyotes), as well as birds and even lizards.

There are almost 900 tick species in the world, with about 40 tick species in Canada. Fortunately, only a few of these ticks pose a danger to pets and people. The main ticks we’re finding in southern Ontario are deer (black-legged) ticks, but we also have American dog ticks and brown dog ticks in the Toronto area.

Other ticks that feed on pets and people include the Western black-legged tick (which is typically found on the Pacific Coast), Lone star tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick. If you travel, you might encounter these ticks.

Besides being disgusting blood-sucking creatures, ticks can also transmit serious illnesses, including Lyme disease, to both pets and people. These diseases can cause lasting health issues, especially if they aren’t treated quickly.

Symptoms of Tickborne Diseases

If you find a tick attached to your pet (or even if you don’t), let us know right away if you notice any of these signs of tick-transmitted diseases:

  • Fever
  • Lameness (which may shift from one leg to another)
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Swollen or painful joints
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

In next month’s blog post, we’ll be talking about the specific diseases and parasites that ticks (and fleas) can carry.

Debunking Tick Myths

Despite popular misconceptions, ticks aren’t just active in warmer months, they don’t fall from trees, and they can’t be killed by covering them with petroleum jelly. Here are some tick truths:

Ticks ARE active in winter.

Whenever the temperature is above freezing, ticks may be active. In the city of Toronto and the suburbs, it never stays cold enough throughout winter to keep ticks from searching for a meal.

Ticks DON’T die off when it snows.

Not only does the temperature have to stay close to or below freezing for an extended period before ticks aren’t a threat, but ticks can survive under snow!

Ticks climb UP from grass or shrubs.

When ticks look for hosts to feed on, many of them “quest” by climbing up a blade of grass or low shrub and reach out with their front legs. That way, they can grab and climb onto a pet or person who brushes by. Black-legged ticks are found in grassy and wooded areas, including many parks in the area, such as High Park, Pine Point Park, and Humberwood Park, as well as Centre Island.

Ticks can be hard to spot, especially in your pet’s fur. Adult deer ticks are only about the size of a sesame seed!

Ticks DON’T always attach right away.

Some ticks spend time searching for just the right spot on your pet (or you) before latching on and feeding. Others quickly dig in. Either way, it’s wise to always check your pet and yourself for ticks after spending time outside.

Removing a Tick

Many myths exist about how to remove a tick. Despite what you may have heard, please:

  • DO NOT apply nail polish, petroleum jelly, or liquid soap to the tick in an attempt to “suffocate” it.
  • DO NOT yank the attached tick off with your fingers.
  • DO NOT try to burn the tick off.

If you find a tick feeding on your pet (or yourself or another family member), you’ll want to:

  1. Not panic.
  2. Either use tweezers (fine-tipped, ideally) or a tick removal tool.
  3. Using the tweezers or tool, grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin where it’s attached (near the mouthparts, not around the body).
  4. Pull firmly but gently straight out. Don’t twist!
  5. Place the tick in a sealed baggie or container (such as a used pill bottle). You can also tape the tick to a dated index card or date the baggie or container if you want to send the tick for identification (keep reading for more on that). Alternatively, you can simply throw it in the trash once the tick is secured in a baggie or under tape.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Never touch a tick with bare fingers; if possible, use gloves to avoid coming in contact with disease-causing pathogens that the tick may be carrying.

Found a Tick on Your Pet?

In addition to letting us know about the tick, you can take part in an ongoing study. Researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College and Atlantic Veterinary College are collecting ticks from dogs and cats through the end of March. They’re identifying tick species and testing for tick-borne diseases to better understand the risks that these parasites pose to our pets.

If you find a tick on your dog or cat, you can submit information about it here: Pet Tick Tracker. The site also provides instructions for sending in the tick, if you’d like.

If you find a tick on yourself or another human family member, click here instead.

The Bottom Line

Ticks are a risk in our area. Call us today to make sure your pet is protected. At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, we want to help keep our patients safe, especially against preventable problems, like ticks and the diseases they can cause.

Additional Reading

All accessed February 27, 2020.

Pet Dental Health Month: Celebrate With Us!

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We’re celebrating Pet Dental Health Month this February at Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group. For the whole month, we’re offering specials to help keep your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape.

The Dangers of Poor Pet Dental Hygiene

Pets who don’t receive proper dental care are at risk for more than just bad breath—although that’s the first sign you’ll likely notice if your pet has periodontal disease. Also referred to as dental or gum disease, periodontal disease can not only cause gum recession, infection, and tooth loss, but also changes in the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Periodontal Disease in Pets

Plaque forms on teeth (pet and human alike) constantly. When it’s not removed regularly (through brushing), it changes into hardened tartar, which can’t be brushed away. Plaque continues to form on top of the tartar.

Plaque changes into hardened tartar within about 24 hours.

Eventually, if these layers of bacteria-laden tartar aren’t removed through a professional veterinary cleaning, the pet will end up with inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which will progress to infection and loss of tooth support (advanced periodontal disease).

Signs of Dental Trouble in Pets

Contact your Tej Dhaliwal veterinarian if you notice any of the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Brown or yellow teeth
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Reluctance or refusal to eat
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Sneezing

Bad breath in pets isn’t normal. It’s almost always a sign of oral issues.

Steps to Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

  1. Schedule a Professional Dental Exam

Bringing your pet in for annual veterinary dental exams and cleanings is the first step to achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.

By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. When pets don’t receive regular dental care, they may need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.

During your pet’s dental exam, we’ll check your pet’s teeth and gums and let you know what we recommend to maintain or improve your pet’s oral health.

  1. Make Home Care a Priority

You play an essential role in your pet’s dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most important ways you can help keep periodontal disease at bay.

Never use human toothpaste in pets! It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.

Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be possible. Fortunately, you have a number of dental products to choose from that can also help control plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:

  • Special dental diets and chews
  • Dental toys
  • Oral rinses and sprays
  • Drinking water additives
  • Dental sealants (which your pet’s vet will apply first, after a cleaning, and then need to be reapplied at home)

Not all dental products are created equal. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance, and ask us what products we recommend.

Dental Care for Older Pets

Pets tend to experience worsening periodontal disease as they age. Because dental disease can affect the heart, kidneys, and liver and older pets are already prone to developing problems with those organs, dental health becomes even more important to maintain.

By being proactive about dental care, you can help protect your pet’s overall health.

Schedule Your Pet’s Dental Exam Today!

At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, we’ll create an individualized dental health plan for your pet. Make an appointment today!

Additional Reading

All accessed January 29, 2020.

Winter Safety Tips: Help Keep Your Pet Protected This Season

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At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, your pet’s safety is a top priority for us. And although dogs and cats may seem well equipped to survive the winter season much better than we are, the truth is that pet hazards abound in the cold and extreme temperatures. Here are some ways we can watch out for our pets this winter.

Limit Outdoor Activity

Pets—even cold weather breeds with especially warm fur coats—are susceptible to cold weather hazards, like frostbite (tissue damage) and hypothermia (low core body temperature). Both conditions typically result from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures or frigid water. Both are serious and can cause lasting damage, and hypothermia can eventually lead to death.

  • Signs of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, weakness, cold skin and extremities, dilated pupils, and trouble walking or breathing.
  • Signs of frostbite include pain, swelling, cold extremities, and pale, gray, or blue skin in affected areas.

To help keep your pet safer outside:

  • Pay attention to your pet during walks. Stop and assess the situation if your pet starts limping, walking strangely, whimpers, or refuses to keep moving. It may be something as simple as snow or ice getting packed in between paw pads or ice-melting chemicals irritating paws, or it could be a more serious issue, like hypothermia or frostbite.
  • Remember that just like us, pets can slip and fall on slippery surfaces. Steer your pet around icy areas during walks, and be especially careful with senior pets and those with arthritis, who may have limited mobility.
  • Wipe off your pet after time spent outside, paying particular attention to the paws. Remove any salt, ice chunks, or balls of snow from between toes or stuck in the fur.
  • Consider outfitting your pet with a sweater or coat, especially if he or she is sick, a senior, very young, thin-coated, or short in stature. If your pet tolerates them, booties can also be beneficial.

Call us right away if your pet may be suffering from frostbite or hypothermia! Both conditions need to be treated quickly.

Be Aware of Household Dangers

  • Avoid using chemicals or salt to melt ice. These can burn your pet’s paw pads and can be deadly if licked off paws, out of puddles, or off the ground. Pet-friendly ice melts (deicers) are a far safer choice.
  • Before starting your vehicle, always check to make sure your pet (or any neighborhood pet or stray animal) hasn’t taken refuge inside the engine compartment or under your vehicle. Make thumping on the hood part of your routine.
  • Be cautious with antifreeze. Make sure it isn’t leaking from your vehicle, clean up any of the liquid that may have spilled, and keep storage containers out of reach of pets. Antifreeze smells attractive to many pets and is toxic to both cats and dogs.

If you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous, contact us immediately. During off-hours, you can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (a fee will be charged).

Provide Shelter

If your cat or dog is an indoor-outdoor pet or lives outside, you’ll need to provide him or her with protection from the cold and other winter weather elements:

  • Start by making sure your pet has a shelter or house, ideally with an insulated interior and a flap that will help keep out snow, rain, and wind—and predators. You can build your own or buy a premade version.
  • Make it cozy and attractive to your pet by adding straw or water-repellent blankets.
  • Consider bringing your outdoor pet inside during extreme weather conditions (frigid temperatures and harsh winter storms).
  • Keep your pet indoors if he or she is elderly or has a chronic medical condition.

Stay on Top of Medical Care

In the winter, some pets may be more susceptible to problems stemming from cold temperatures and harsh weather. Keeping a close eye on older pets, puppies and kittens, and those with certain health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, hormonal conditions, kidney disease, and heart disease, is essential.

Make an appointment today with Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group so we can check your pet and make sure he or she is ready for the extreme Toronto weather that we all know is coming!

Additional Reading

All accessed January 10, 2020.

Have a Bright and Merry Holiday Season: Protect Your Pet From Holiday Hazards

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At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, we’re celebrating the holidays all month long.

Want a fun activity to do with your pet during the holiday season? Stop by South Etobicoke Animal Hospital on Friday, December 20, from 4 pm to 6 pm with your dog or cat to get a memorable pet photo with Santa!

And while you’re getting ready for the holidays and enjoying the festivities with family and friends, here are some potential pet hazards to keep in mind so you can keep the holidays fun and joyful.


Certain human foods can be dangerous—even deadly—for pets. Avoid feeding your pet any of these items:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Anything with xylitol (a sugar substitute found in some mints and other candy, nut butters, and baked goods)
  • Bones (raw or cooked, bones just aren’t worth letting pets chew on—they can break teeth, cut a pet’s mouth and tongue, get stuck in the throat, and even pierce the esophagus or intestine, which can be life-threatening)
  • Chocolate (of any kind, although the darker the chocolate, the greater the toxicity)
  • Fatty or salty foods (such as fat trimmings, turkey skin, bacon, or ham)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions and garlic
  • Raw dough
  • Turkey or other meat that’s been seasoned (most turkey eaten around the holidays has been brined and/or contains butter and seasoning; a small amount of plain turkey with no butter, salt, pepper, or other seasoning is usually fine as an occasional treat for most dogs and cats—ask us if it’s OK to feed to your pet)


Remember that even the most normally well-behaved dogs and cats may not wait for an invitation to snatch up a tasty-looking treat from a countertop or off a guest’s plate during holiday gatherings. Warn guests to keep their plates out of your pet’s reach, and consider covering snacks and other food if it’s sitting out.

Ribbon, Tinsel, Twine, and Yarn

Long, thin objects like tinsel, ribbon, yarn, and even the twine used to truss a turkey for a holiday feast can pose serious, potentially life-threatening issues if a dog or cat swallows them. These “linear foreign objects” can get stuck in the stomach, become balled up in the intestine and cause a blockage, or even tear or saw through the intestine. 

Don’t wait! Contact us if your pet is vomiting, has abdominal pain or diarrhea, or if you know your pet has swallowed a linear foreign object. This is a serious, potentially life-threatening situation.

Holiday Plants

Although plants play a big part in the holiday season, some festive flowers and greenery may be better left out of your holiday decorating—or at least far out of your pet’s reach. The following plants are toxic to both dogs and cats:

  • Amaryllis bulbs (the flowers and leaves are less toxic)
  • Holly berries and leaves
  • Lilies
  • Nandina berries (nandina is also known as heavenly or sacred bamboo)
  • Pine (often used for Christmas trees and other decorations)

On the other hand, some holiday plants tend to be less of a concern:

  • Poinsettias aren’t actually very toxic to dogs and cats. The sap can cause drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting, but these flowers generally don’t pose a more serious danger to pets.
  • Mistletoe typically only causes similar mild digestive issues, although ingesting large amounts can cause much more serious problems in pets (including death). To be safe, stick to a single sprig, and make sure it doesn’t fall on the floor, where a curious pet might consume it.
  • Christmas cactus also shouldn’t cause more than mild digestive issues.

Even though some common holiday plants may not pose as much of a risk, it’s always a good idea to restrict your pet’s access to these plants.

If you think your pet has consumed something toxic, call us immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (a fee will be charged).

Candles, Potpourri, and Essential Oils

Lit candles, simmering potpourri, and misting essential oils from a diffuser can all make homes smell wonderful, but you may want to think twice before using them if you have a pet in your house:

  • Candles can cause burns or worse if they get knocked over by an excited pet’s tail.
  • Potpourri may smell inviting enough to lick up, which can cause burns and poison your pet.
  • Some essential oils (tea tree in particular) can be dangerous for pets if they ingest or walk through concentrated forms. Although an oil diffuser isn’t likely to cause a problem for most pets, it can become dangerous if the oil is spilled or if your pet has any breathing difficulties.

At the least, keep these out of reach of your pet, unplug them when you leave the house, and consider limiting their use or using electric candles and plug-in diffusers instead.

Other Decorations

Unfortunately, a number of common holiday decorations can also put pets at risk:

  • Christmas trees should be secured to prevent pets from knocking them over during play or if they try to jump or climb on the branches.
  • Needles from trees, wreaths, and other greenery can irritate pets’ mouths and stomachs, and needles can potentially puncture the intestine or cause a blockage.
  • Water in tree stands can be toxic to pets, especially if it contains additives/preservatives.
  • Electric lights can burn or electrocute pets if they chew the cord.
  • Ornaments can cause problems if they break or are swallowed. If you display breakable ornaments, keep them toward the top of the tree or in an area your pet can’t access. Also be attentive with any ornaments that are made from food materials, contain small pieces your pet could choke on, or are soft (especially if your pet tends to think all soft toys are for him or her).

Be especially careful and attentive with holiday decorations if you have a puppy or kitten in the house and you don’t yet know what your new pet is most curious about or likes to chew on.

Happy Holidays

Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions or concerns about pet holiday safety, and contact us right away if your pet got into anything that could be dangerous. At Tej Dhaliwal Veterinary Group, we want to make sure your pet stays safe and gets to enjoy the holiday season too!

Additional Reading

All accessed December 5, 2019.