Tag Archives: vet blog

AAHA Accreditation

 AAHA Accredited

The Elmwood Veterinary Hospital Achieves High Level of Veterinary Excellence!

The Elmwood Veterinary Hospital has achieved the highest level of veterinary excellence following a thorough evaluation by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). We earned AAHA accreditation after a rigorous review of the hospital’s practice protocols, medical equipment, facility and client service.

Unlike human hospitals, not all animal hospitals are required to be accredited. Accredited hospitals are the only hospitals that choose to be evaluated on approximately 900 quality standards that go above and beyond basic state regulations, ranging from patient care and pain management to staff training and advanced diagnostic services. AAHA-accredited hospitals are recognized among the finest in the industry, and are consistently at the forefront of advanced veterinary medicine. AAHA standards are continuously reviewed and updated to keep accredited practices on the cutting edge of veterinary excellence.

Pet owners look for AAHA-accredited hospitals because they value their pet’s health and trust the consistent, expert care provided by the entire health care team. At AAHA-accredited practices, pet owners can expect to receive the highest quality care from well-trained, professional veterinary teams.

Only the top small animal hospitals in the United States and Canada have achieved accreditation by the Association. To maintain accredited status, the Elmwood Veterinary Hospital must continue to be evaluated regularly by AAHA.

Elmwood Veterinary Hospital, located at 130 MacAleese Lane, Moncton  can be reached at 1-506-858-9900 or at http://www.elmwoodvethospital.com. Visit us on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/elmwoodvethospital

For more information about accreditation, visit aaha.org/petowner, or connect on Facebook and “like” the American Animal Hospital Association.

Flea and Tick products and natural options

With the warmer months approaching, flea and tick season will soon be upon us, calling for preventative measures to hopefully protect your canine friend from becoming prey to these parasites. Fleas can cause dozens of health issues, ranging from severe allergies, injured skin, skin infections, anemia, and tapeworms. Choosing a flea and tick product to use is often overwhelming and confusing. There is a wide variety of different options, from standard spot-on or oral flea treatments, such as Frontline, Revolution, Advantage, Adventix, Sentinel, Program, Bravetco, Nexgard Capstar to a variety of natural topical remedies and supplements.

flea dirt



Preventative Measures For Fleas and Ticks

Although flea and tick infections are not entirely possible to prevent, it is certainly practical to use preventative treatment options to keep your dog’s immune system as healthy as can be.

— Improving Your Pet’s Health

Improving and strengthening your pet’s overall health is a preventative option for any type of disease. In some households with multiple dogs or cats, it’s not uncommon for one dog/cat to be ravaged by fleas while another is flea-free. Flea problems can stem from the mere presence of fleas, but sometimes health and environmental factors allow opportunistic parasites to feed on weakened animals.

Diet plays a major role in your dog or cat’s health. In some cases, upgrading their diet may help strengthen their immune system and help them prevent these opportunistic parasites from invading them and your house. See our previous blogs on raw diets, home-made diets and commercial kibbles/cans.

Proper grooming and daily body exams for fleas and ticks is part of the recommended guidelines for any pets during the summer months. Groomers can help identify and find fleas on  your pet, so regular visits to them may help prevent issues.

— Supplements and Herbal Remedies

Supplements can also be helpful in repelling fleas and ticks; however their effectiveness varies on the individual’s body chemistry and makeup. An essential fatty-acid supplement (Omega 3) is important, as essential fatty acids play critical roles in how your dog’s immune system responds to threats of infection, including parasites. Essential fatty acids are also beneficial in creating healthy skin and a shiny coat. Not all Omega 3’s are created equal and the brand I currently recommend and trust is the Ascenta Dog/Cat fish oil. Make sure to store the product in the fridge once it is open as rancidity is a problem with all omega 3 supplements.

Probiotics may also be a good supplement, as they assist with the transport of nutrients throughout the body and aid in the breakdown and removal of waste and toxins. Purina Fortiflora, Rx Vitamins Biotics, Rx Vitamins Nutrigest, Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics are all good options. Consult with your veterinarian about which pet specific probiotic would  be best. I do not recommend using human probiotics since the bacteria found in animal flora is different. Pet specific probiotics are usually ideal. Here is a link to Dr Dodds point of view on probiotics for those interested in reading more about them.

As far as herbal support, some holistic veterinarians recommend garlic for flea issues but I do no agree with them. Garlic is helpful as it supports the immune system, liver, and the skin but it does nothing to directly prevent or treat fleas and ticks. No study has ever been able to support its usage for fleas/ticks versus other natural less toxic products. Natural does not mean safe! Some owners use fresh garlic, garlic powder, or garlic oil which can be very dangerous! It is important to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet on a garlic supplement, as garlic can be toxic at certain doses, causing anemia and possible hospitalization. CATS ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO IT!  Usually I do NOT recommend its usage in cats and I would not recommended it for fleas in dogs since there are more safer and more efficient products available. 

I am not a fan of over-the-counter products containing garlic since it is very hard to know the exact dose of garlic in these products and therefore there is a risk to pets consuming these. I would highly recommend you consult with a veterinarian before using any garlic containing products. A lot of people think garlic actually kill or repels fleas and IT DOES NOT ! There has never been anything published supporting this belief but there is a lot published about the benefit of garlic on the immune system. A lot of people will use that as proof and mis-represent garlic as a flea repellent product when it is more of a immune system supporter. The link between giving garlic to pets and preventing fleas has never been directly established. If you give garlic, you may help the immune system, which may then help prevent against opportunistic external parasites (like fleas) from infesting your pet. But, garlic has been linked toxicity and poses a risk at certain doses.

There is no scientific study supporting the use for garlic, brewer’s yeast or vitamin B as being able to control fleas. Client often buy these products at pet stores and they believe these work because they have yet to see fleas on their pets. The main reason they are probably not seeing fleas on their pets is because either their pets were not exposed to fleas or they are healthy enough to not allow fleas to invade them. We must not forget that fleas are opportunistic and will invade weak animals more often then strong ones.

For ticks, there are several types of natural spray/shampoo products that may be effective in discouraging ticks from infesting on your dog. If you are unsure of which type works in your area, contact your local holistic veterinarian for guidance. I personally do not use any of these products on my pets. They need to be applied often and if you forget and miss a few applications you are putting your pet at risk. A lot of them have a lemon smell and I am not a fan. 

If your pet is having problems with itchy skin, talk to your veterinarian about other skin support supplements. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a good herb to give to your dog if the itching is severe and the skin is inflamed. It also acts as an internal anti-inflammatory. Nettles is another great anti-itch herb.   Some probiotics like Rx Vitamins Nutrigest contain garlic (low dose) and licorice so these types of product may benefit dogs with allergies during flea season.

Borax, Borates and Borax powder can be toxic (irritants) to cats and dogs. They can kill fleas but these products are not safe for pets. Electronic flea collars not really effective while electric flea trap do work but I personally would not bother using them. Products with citrus extract like limonene will repel fleas but should not be used on kittens and puppies. Flea and tick collars may help reduce fleas, but I have seen so many pets loaded with fleas come into my office wearing those collars and scratching that I usually do not recommend them.

Pyrethrum (natural form) or permethrin (synthetic) based products can be found in topical flea and tick powder at your veterinarian’s office. Permethrin or pyrethrin products are considered SAFE INSECTICIDES FOR DOGS ONLY. DO NOT USE THESE PRODUCTS IN CATS! Pyrethrum is derived from chrysanthemum flower. Be careful with organophosphates based products in cats.

Essential Oils Blends FOR DOGS ONLY (I do not recommend the topical use of essential oils on cats for flea prevention). Cats are very sensitive to essential oils like tea tree, cedar, peppermint, lavender and many more and this can be very toxic for them if ingested. Cats like to groom themselves and therefore the risk of exposure is high. In regards to dogs, the same can apply, specially if you are making bandanas and collars out of essential oils mixes. Make sure you dog does not chew them as they are potentially toxic.

Essential oils repel but do not kill fleas. Because of this, they are not recommended for pets with allergies to fleas or when you are dealing in a major flea infestation.

I would not recommend this to my clients, but these examples have been recommended by some holistic vet and I am making the information available to my clients. If you want to know what I do for my own pets for flea prevention, read this blog.

a) This formula was taken from page 46 of Dogs naturally magazine March-April 2014 issue.

1/2 oz base oil (hazelnut or sweet almond), 4 drops of clary sage, 1 drop citronella, 7 drops peppermint, 3 drops lemon

Apply 2-4 drops topically to the neck, chest legs and base of the tail. You can also add the drops to a bandana or cotton collar.

b) The book The Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs and cats (well worth the 15$) gives other mixes for essential oil blends at p. 556-557. Again, I am not a fan of using essential oils for flea and tick prevention. Dr Barbara Fougere, will also sometimes recommend using Revolution and supplementing with herbs like milk thistle, omegas and other natural supplements to support the immune system and detoxify topical flea products. She co-authored the textbook Veterinary Herbal Medicine with Dr Susan Wynn. Both of these books are great references.

Example of how to make a natural DOG flea-free collar(not for cats) found in book the The Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs and cats .

Buy a soft cloth collar. Mix vodka 2 tsp, lavender 2 drops, citronella 1 drop, cedar 1 drop, rose geranium 1 drop, garlic capsule 2 capsules

Double this formula for pets over 15kg and under 30kg. Triple this formula for dogs over 30 kg. You need to soak collar with mix and allow to dry. Repeat each month as the smell wears off.

Essential oils used for flea sprays should always be diluted to about 15 drops per 500ml of water. If you prefer to dilute with almond oil, then use about 10 drops per 20ml of almond oil and then massage onto your dog’s fur twice a week at about 1 drop per kg.

—- Repellent Herbs

Dr Barbara Fougere, in her book suggests to plant Fennel, Sage or Wormwood near the kennel or cattery. These are meant to environment outdoor flea repellents, not to be ingested by your pet.  Lavender can also be sprinkled around the bedding.

— Outdoor Environment

Controlling the outdoor flea population can be difficult, especially since you can’t control how your neighbours keep their yard. Keep your grass short, especially where your dog spends a lot of time, as this will help reduce habitat for fleas. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae live in long grass and piles of leaves.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy to control the tick population with simple measures such as grass clipping. Ticks do like to live in organic matter, so keeping the leaf or pine needle litter to a minimum in your yard may help prevent ticks.

You can also use food grade diatomaceous earth, which is a calcium dust ground from single-cell, ocean organisms (fossilized remains of hard shell algae). Diatomaceous earth acts as an abrasive and a desiccant, drying out and destroying adult fleas and killing larvae. This is a relatively easDEy and inexpensive product to use with positive results. Food grade diatomaceous earth is the only recommended kind (do not use the industrial type) and in some case it may lead to lung irritation in people. Also, water and rain will wash it off and you will need to re-apply it as needed.

I personally do not recommend using food grade diatomaceous earth anywhere near myself nor on my pets. I would use it strictly outdoors. It is basically fossilized remains in a dust form and I personally do not want to be breathing calcium deposits (dusts) into my lungs nor do I want my pets to breath that in either. It is a known lung irritant and some people may be more sensitive to it. I constantly have direct contact with my pets and their fur so I do not want to have them full of a potential lung irritating powder. Chronic lung irritation in people and pets can lead to long term health issues and I am not willing to risk that at this time.

Beneficial nematodes can also have a good effect on flea-infested areas. Nematodes are small worms that kill flea larvae and pupae by feeding on them. They can be purchased at some garden supply stores or online.

Products containing Insect Growth Regulators (chemicals/insect hormones) do work. They are still not considered natural, but they do seem safe and effective for long term use. I call these products the birth control for fleas! The veterinary products Sentinel (Lufenuron) and Program are considered Insect Growth Regulators versus Revolution (Selamectin) and Advantage (Imidacloprid) which are considered insecticides. The Insect Growth Regulators do not kill the fleas like insecticides but they stop them from developing. The fleas will eventually die off. They are considered a more biological way to control infestation than the use of insecticides and do remain a valid options for clients.

— Indoor Environment

When controlling your indoor environment, it’s important to target the highest pfleas and their life cycleart of the flea population — the non-adult stages. Over 90% of the flea population is in your house is in the form of egg, larvae and pupae. It does not reside on your pet, but in your actual home environment. Less than 10% of the fleas will be found on your pet. I often hear clients saying that they do not have a flea problem because they only saw 1-2 fleas on their pets. In my brain, this actually translates to: these people actually have millions of fleas in their house that they are not aware of!

Good housekeeping is essential when preventing flea growth. Wash your floors frequently, vacuum carpeting, and remove any rugs. Wash your dog’s bedding at least once per week in hot water and mild detergent or vinegar. If you own a steam cleaner or can borrow one, this is a great tool to use as the steam kills adults and larvae. The steam stimulates the eggs to hatch as well, so it is important to follow up with a vacuum after a day or two to capture the newly hatched fleas. Otherwise, you can simply vacuum weekly any carpets, but also on and under furniture. Make sure you seal your vacuum cleaner in an airtight bag before disposing or put in the freezer overnight. In some cases, where people have ceflea cycle vetntral vac, they will put flea collars in their vacuum containers to help. Vacuum will kill fleas in all life stages and at a rate of about 96% for adult fleas and 100% of younger fleas! So, people looking for a great chemical-free option to get rid of flea infestations in their houses can start by buying and using a vacuum routinely! This is a great article that talks about a study done on vacuuming and fleas.


Ticks do not thrive in houses, so the issue of larvae nesting in your sofa is thankfully not an issue!

Flea and Tick Control Products

Unfortunately, as much as we may try to prevent them, fleas and ticks may still invade our dogs and our home. Luckily, there are multiple treatment options. As a general rule of thumb, in treating any disease, choose the lesser of the two evils — many flea and tick products arguably contain some ingredients that may not be the safest, yet in some severe cases, may be deemed necessary for the overall health of the dog. Generally, choose the least toxic product that is effective in your dog’s individual case.

Check to see if your product is targeting multiple parasites — some products target both fleas and ticks. Others also offer protection for heartworm and intestinal worms. Don’t subject your dog to these additional ingredients if the targeted parasite isn’t an issue in your area or at a certain time of year.

Cats are very sensitive to chemicals, so only use flea and tick products labeled for cats.

Also, use these products only as needed or as directed by your veterinarian. Many manufacturers recommend administering tick and flea repellent monthly, year-round. But, for most people, flea and tick season is not a year-round threat and this is completely unnecessary. If fleas is the major concerns, then some people prefer waiting till their pets actually get fleas before using veterinary products like Revolution or Advantage. At one point, it becomes more a personal choice. Other owners never use conventional flea and tick prevention and their dogs never have issues with parasites. It truly depends on the environment and the animal’s overall health.

 Flea Allergies

Some dogs and cats suffer from flea allergies, resulting in severe itching to the point of skin damage and infection. This is caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva which contains an anticoagulant substance that prevents the blood in the wound from clotting, thus allowing the flea to suck additional blood. Flea saliva also contains other substances that can irritate the pet’s skin. In cases of flea allergies, I always recommend using an insecticide to kill the actual fleas. So products like Avantage and Revolution are used instead of Program and Sentinel. Only a couple of fleas are required to send your pet into a scratching fit, so you need to get rid of the fleas ASAP.


Typical Flea allergy Pattern

Typical Flea allergy Pattern

Lyme Disease

Some areas of the world may experience a higher number of Lyme disease cases, while in others the probability of your dog contracting it is rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme disease is most commonly found in the United States northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper north-central regions. In these areas, the risk is greatest in residential areas surrounded by woods.

Unfortunately, the natural options for tick prevention aren’t really effective, especially when the risk of Lyme disease is high and you feel that your dog needs to be protected. In the end, it ultimately depends on the individual dog’s body makeup and chemistry, determining if the product works.

pet fur tick

Tick attached to a dog.

As far as preventative measures, check for ticks every time your dog has been outside, particularly around the legs, belly, neck, and armpits. Ticks can transmit lyme disease in about 2 days, so even if you only check your pet once a day at night for ticks, removing what you find can prevent the transmission of lyme. Ticks travel towards dark and warm areas of the body. Ticks are most active mid-morning, so try to limit your dog’s exposure during this time.

Fleas and ticks are frustrating to deal with, however with patience you can usually find a safe product that works effectively for your dog or cat. As always, prevention is key, and concerning fleas, there are quite a few options for controlling both indoor and outdoor populations. With the high of flea and tick season approaching in many areas, we wish you the best of luck in protecting your pets from these parasites!

Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Grad Dip Vet Chinese Herb Med CVHM (IVAS/CIVT)

Omega supplements in pets

Part 4 Immunity series: Omegas in pets

In today’s society, the word “fat” has a negative connotation on multiple levels. However, contrary to popular belief, not all dietary fats are bad, nor are they the root of obesity. In fact, there are many good fats that enhance and support your dog’s immune system, even enhancing energy production and promoting weight loss. Fats are also important for maintenance and growth of tissues. Although many fats are naturally produced in the body, some fats can only be obtained by eating certain foods. For example, your dog’s body cannot naturally produce linoleum acid (omega-6) or alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).


If your dog is not receiving adequate amounts of omega-6 essential fatty acids, your dog may experience significant skin problems, loss of hair, slow healing from wounds, liver and kidney issues, weak immune system, circulatory problems, weakness, sterility, and much more. Most dogs suffer from mild deficiencies with minimal symptoms. Common minor symptoms of an omega-6 deficiency include dull, flaky coat, loss of hair, abnormally greasy skin, and excess itching.


Omega-3 fats, or alpha-linolenic acid, are also tremendously important to your dog’s health. Dogs that do not receive enough omega-3’s may experience stunted growth, eye problems, and weakness. Omega-3’s help with the production of compounds that regulate inflammation and blood clotting, as well as arthritis and bowel conditions such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Omega-3’s also have an impact on the heart and circulatory system, helping with arrhythmia, high blood pressure, strengthening then immune system and decreasing blood cholesterol levels. The absence of essential fats in dogs is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and clearly a large issue. So what can you do to help this?
Luckily, the answer is simple. Omega-6 fats are found naturally in sunflower, safflower, corn, borage, evening primrose, and black current oilsOmega-3 fats are found in fish oils, such as salmon, halibut, herring, and mackerel. They are also found in sea buckthorn, flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and wheat germ. Dried beans, such as kidney, northern, and navy, are sources of both omega essential fatty acids. It seems that fish oils are  better absorbed then flax seeds in pets. Although you can supplement home-made diets with grounded flax seeds or flax seed oil, I prefer using fish based products in cases where I want to help a dog with arthritis, immunity issues, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, cancer or a pet with skin problems.


It is extremely important to ensure that your dog is receiving enough of both essential fatty acids. Commercial dog foods may contain proportionately incorrect ratios, and can result in high levels of omega-6’s and  low levels of omega-3’s. All sources of essential fatty acids oxidize and break down quickly, becoming destroyed by light, heat, and oxygen. High processing temperatures, transport and long shelf-life of commercial dog foods can all affect the actual amount of omegas being consumed by your dog.


If you fortify your dog’s diet with omega fatty acids, you are helping to ensure that he/she is receiving enough. Essential fatty acids are a crucial necessity to your dog’s overall wellbeing. Choosing a quality product to support your dog’s need for these fats is very important and one that will benefit your dog for the rest of his/her life.There are a variety of quality products available on the market and we recommend you check with your veterinarian about which he/she recommends since not all omega 3 products are created equal. The quality of fish oils is important since they can be contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides and some can be high in vitamin A and D. If you would prefer a vegan product, there are others on the market containing flax seed or sea buckthorn oil.   When selecting an omega 3 supplement, make sure to look for the inclusion of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is necessary to insure that the omega-3s are completely metabolized.


If a pet is allergic to Linum family of plants, flax seed would be contra-indicated and if your pet is allergic to shellfish avoid krill oil. In some cases pets may also be allergic to fish and in particular instances flax seed oil may be recommended instead. Fish oils can cause diarrhea in some pets and sometimes it is best to start them at 1/4 of the recommended daily dose and slowly increase to the full dose over 1-2 weeks. This would be the same recommendation as when introducing your pet to a new food. Omega-3 fatty acids can interfere with blood thinners, beta blockers and diuretics therefore always consult your veterinarian. Because fish oil supplements can reduce blood coagulation and increase bleeding, we always recommend to discontinue omega-3 fatty acids supplements at least 7 days prior to any surgery and they can be restarted about 48 hours after.


Long term supplementation of omega 3 can lead to deficiency in omega 6 so this is why we recommend to  always consult with your veterinarian about using supplements in your pet. Omega-6 oils can be pro-inflammatory and usually Omega-3 supplements are preferred. If you are looking into using a combined product that contains both these types of omegas, make sure that a ratio 2:1 is respected (Omega-3:Omega-6). Cod liver oil contains vitamin A, so it is not the exact same product as a capsule of Fish oil. High amounts of vitamin A and in some cases low amounts of vitamin D can increase the risk of  vitamin A toxicity.  This is why some vets will suggest fish oils instead of cod liver oil.  If you do want to use cod liver oil, then make sure the ratio is 1 part vitamin A to 4-5 parts vitamin D. Fish Oil should be kept refrigerated. The dose recommend by veterinarians may vary, but the dose I recommend for arthritis, cancer and skin issues is 30 mg/kg of DHA. Usually Omega-3 supplements will show their benefits within 6-8 weeks but in some cases skin and coat can improve in as little as two weeks. I personally prefer the Ascenta Dog and Cat fish oil supplement as they contain higher amounts of DHA versus other products. This allows pet parents to give less of this supplement versus others to get the correct amount of DHA required.
Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Cert CVHM (IVAS). Elmwood Veterinary Hospital
  1. Resources
•           Dodds, Jean. Alternative Therapies for Pain Management. Holistic Veterinary Medicine Club Symposium, 2013.
•           Larsen, Jennifer. Evidence-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dogs & Cats. ACVIM Forum Proceedings, 2011.
•           Schenck, Patricia. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dogs and Cats. ACVIM Forum Proceedings, 2011.