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Basic Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Pet Allergies

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As summertime approaches in sunny Vancouver, BC, we thought it best to have a chat about pet allergies. There are many common misconceptions about allergy symptoms, treatment, and what even causes allergies. In this post we’ll break them down using insight from our knowledgeable vet here at Market Hill Animal Hospital.


What are common symptoms?

  • itchiness all around!
    • especially around the tail, ears, and nose
  • diarrhea and vomiting, especially with food allergies
  • snoring due to an irritated throat
  • itchy and swollen paws
  • scabs on the skin that get moist and red


What often causes allergies?

  • Mold spores
  • Dust and house dust mites
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Many flower species, especially lilies for cats
  • assorted species of weeds


How do we treat allergies?

Our friends at tractive ( break this down super well:


The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from your dog’s environment. If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly. And try to keep your home clean and dust-free. If your dog has a food allergy, he or she probably need a special diet. Once the allergy is determined, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet. If the problem is grass or pollen, weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can be more damaging than good.


Of course, there are limitations to just removing allergens from your pet’s surroundings. Often, changing your pet’s diet can have a tremendously positive effect on their symptoms. Here at Market Hill, we’d be glad to help understand your pet’s condition and provide prescription diet food. When your pup goes on this food exclusively, even for a few weeks, you’ll start to see an alleviation of symptoms almost like magic.

6 Canine Tick Breeds and Their Symptoms

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As the weather starts warming up in Vancouver and the endless rainy days come to a close, we encourage pet owners to educate themselves on ticks and the threats they pose. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what these parasites are and the most common diseases they cause in dogs.

Ticks are parasites that live on the skin a variety of animals and feed on their blood. Depending on the species, they can have a beak-like mouth, but all ticks require multiple blood meals in their roughly year-long life cycle. Because of this, they have the potential to carry a number of dangerous transmitted diseases.



This is caused by the transmission of super tiny organisms called protozoa. This is one of the most serious diseases, causing pale gums, depression, fever, dark coloured pee, and even shock in some cases.



This is the most common disease that ticks give to dogs- but only 5-10% of infected dogs actually get sick from it. At worst, it can cause lameness (limping), depression, or a number of digestive diseases.



This little bug attacks red blood cells, potentially causing anemia or other heart conditions. 



Many different types of ticks carry this. Symptoms are joint pain, nervous system issues, and depression.


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

For this fever to be truly impactful, the tick has to be feeding on your pet for at least five hours. Thankfully, dogs are at a much lower risk of this than cats, and if you have an indoor cat the risk of this is quite low.

Symptoms include depression, diarrea, vomiting. 



Symptoms for this typically include mild fever, depression, and a reduced appetite for dogs. For cats, the fever might be more severe, paired with a runny nose and maybe even abscesses where the tick bite happened. This is a more rare tick bite and is nicknamed Rabbit Fever.


If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

4 Quick Tips On Travelling with your Pet

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One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of owning a pet is travelling with your furry friend. In this post, we’ll outline what common pet stressors to look out for and how to best to prepare yourself for them.


Even seemingly insignificant factors like adjusted meal times or slight changes in bed time could be cause for a lot of anxiety to your pet. For instance, pets often get used to family dinner or TV time and a disruption to this will make them quite nervous.


When it comes to boarding your pet on a plane, it all comes down to preparation. Make sure your pup or cat has seen and smelled the kennel they’ll be staying in before your trip. If possible, try to book your trip on a non-peak travel day, like New Years or Christmas Eve day or eve. Definitely check with your airline if they allow pet travel and what the details would be. Most airlines will require your pet to be trained or experienced with the confinement characteristic of air travel.


Most holiday travel happens by car, and that presents a whole new set of challenges. Even if your pet is fine with short trips, they may act differently with extended travel. Make sure that your pet will be okay doing their business on a leash given short notice and that they have a reliable kennel situation.


Finally, keep in mind that your pet’s mood and emotion will often reflect yours. If you’re quite stressed and exhibiting anxious behaviour, that will likely lead your pet to become agitated as well. Be sure to include your pet on de-stressing activities during your vacation. This often looks like bringing your pet along for runs or outside activities.


If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

Prepping Your Pet for Family Gatherings and Holidays

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With the family day long weekend coming up for our friends in British Columbia, we thought it helpful to write a guide on how to keep your pet happy when you’ve got guests over.


A good starting point is to consider how your pet generally acts with strangers- are they super outgoing and attention seeking? Reserved and scared? When there’s 30 people crowded in your apartment, these behaviours will be amplified in a big big way.


Changes to routine can trigger pets’ protective nature to act up. If they’re used to sleeping in or expecting food when they enter the kitchen, they’ll understandably be upset if there are strangers shooing them out.


One way around this issue is to create a safe room for your pets to spend the party alone. Make sure it’s a room that friends won’t walk into, such as your bedroom. Your sole bathroom is probably not the best safe room for your pet.


One study we referenced suggested it’s best to put your pup on a leash when introducing him to guests. This will allow them to get used to the new smells and people in a controlled way. Also, it’s much easier to send you pet to their safe room if you have them on a leash.


In general, any change to your pet’s routine can be jarring. If they’re used to quiet TV viewing on weeknights but are faced with an abundance of commotion and alcohol, that could be a shock to their system. 

What Are Steps I Can Take to Avoid Dog Bites?

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We often get questions regarding dog bites at our Vancouver vet clinic. After consulting with Dr. Rashidi and referencing Dr. Barbara Sherman of the NC Veterinarian institute, we’ve put together a short and sweet guide on how to avoid a nasty situation.

Some of the first warning signs of a bite dog are easily visible. If the animal has his ears down and has big wide open eyes, it would be best to keep small child away. Tail wagging is not always a sign of playfulness! Some dogs do indeed wag their tail anxiously when they feel threatened. Other signs would be crouching or staring in a harsh and sudden way. If the pup is displaying these signs, it would probably be best not to approach him.


In addition, be sure not approach a pup when he’s asleep, growing, eating, growling, or displaying any of the signs above.


Much has been said about the topic, but our hope with this blog is to educate pet owners in the community to reduce the possibility of dog bites. Most often, dogs bite strangers and if one considers the above facts, that should help minimize some of the risk.


If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

Do Hormones Make My Dog More Aggressive?

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One of the most common questions we get from Vancouverites at our veterinary clinic is if hormones make dogs more aggressive. Using a few studies from researchers at North Carolina State Veterinary and Dr. Rashidi’s expertise, we’ll give a bit of insight in this blog post.

TV shows aside, there’s actually little known about dog aggression in an academic context- a problem that’s causing 2 million dogs to be put down for biting yearly (Centers for Disease Control). There are 4.5 million dog bites in the states alone in a year.

The study I referenced above has been collaborated on by researchers at Duke University and explores how hormones thought to trigger violence, such as vasopressin, affect dogs’ behavior.

First, the researchers measured hormone levels of the dogs before the experiment, seeing if animals with a violent past had higher levels of these hormones. Then, they watched the dogs interact with a plush toy and observed whether the pup ripped it to shreds or just played with it.

As expected, dogs with higher levels of vasopressin tended to be much more violent than, for example, guide dogs. The guide dogs happened to have higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone stemming from compassionate acts, usually within a family context.

This study, if built upon, could have fascinating effects on how we train our pets. In addition, it could help predict violent behaviours in dogs from a young age, hopefully decreasing the number of dog bites and subsequent euthanasias that stem from the issue.

If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

Should I Neuter My Cat? (pt. 2)

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Q. Will My Male Cat Stop Running away and Become Indoor if I Neuter Him?

A: There definitely is a calming effect of fixing your pet that will contribute to him being less willing to go out, but it’s important to understand why cats go outside in the first place. Cats wander outside not only to reproduce but to hunt as well. Fights picked with cats and other animals increase your pet’s risk for FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (something like AIDS for cats) if they sustain deep wounds. This is why it’s better for your pet’s overall health to be indoors, regardless of whether they’re neutered or not.


Q. My Cat Pees All Over My House! Will Neutering Fix This?

A: Probably. The big thing about neutering is that it removes your pet’s hormonal urgency to spray, and neutering early is a great way to get rid of that urge altogether. If your cat is still spraying after being neutered, it’s best to bring him in to see us or a behavioural specialist.


Q. Will Fixing my Cat Stop Future Diseases?

A. There is evidence that suggests neutering/spaying lessens the risk of breast cancer in female cats! Also, many unspayed cants often have pyometra, a uterus infection that can be quite dangerous. For male cats, the risk of testicular cancer decreases. Neutering and spaying generally leads to your cat having a happier and longer life.


If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

Should I Neuter My Cat? (pt. 1)

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Q: Will my tomcat stop running away from home if I neuter him?

A: We don’t recommend having free-roaming cats. And if you have an unaltered male cat, you’re probably not seeing much of him anyway.

Usually, neutering a tom will curb its desire to roam, although cats are a little different than dogs and wander for reasons other than reproducing, such as hunting. So neutering will reduce the instinct to roam, but it won’t eliminate it.

Unaltered males also are more at risk for feline leukemia [FeLV] and FIV [feline immunodeficiency virus]. That’s because they fight, and deep bite wounds are the leading factor in the transmission of those diseases.

Q: My cat sprays all over my house. If I neuter him, will that stop?

A: More than likely it will. It will certainly take away that hormonal urge to spray. Neutering early is your best bet to avoid that urge altogether. If you have a neutered cat that is still spraying, you should see your veterinarian. It could be a behavioural issue, or it could be a health problem.

Q: Will spaying or neutering my cat prevent future illnesses?

A: You’ll have a lower incidence of mammary tumours. We see a lot of unspayed cats come into our clinic with pyometra — an infection of the uterus — which can be a life-threatening disease for them.


For male cats, you eliminate testicular diseases, and for females, you eliminate the risk of uterine diseases. Generally, spayed and neutered pets live longer happier lives.


If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

9 Important Items to Buy For Your New Puppy

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Congratulations on your new puppy! During their first year, your pup will be growing quickly and learning new things every day.


However, having a pet is no small responsibility. Apart from the time commitment, there is a sizeable financial obligation you have to ensure preventative measures are taken and your pet receives the care she needs. Before all of that, however, be sure to purchase some essentials to make your pup’s transition home seamless!

Here are some basic essentials:



ID Tag

Food and Water Dishes

Puppy Bed

Grooming Brush

Nail Clippers

Two or Three Toys


6 Essential Ways of Puppy Proofing Your Home

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With spring just around the corner and many families adopting puppies, we thought it would be appropriate to do a series on frequently asked questions about puppies in a four part series. We’ll cover all the basics, even for those who just bought a bunch of chocolate bars as treats for Fido.

(Please note the sarcasm in the intro paragraph- don’t give your dog chocolate. Read these posts for more guidance instead.)

When your pup arrives home for the first time, it’s important that he has some time to adjust to his new surroundings. During the first few days, keep the household fairly quiet and have everyone interact with the puppy gently. Have lots of soft bedding and toys in your pup’s crates– this will make them secure and have a safe zone, and be sure to let your puppy outside every couple hours to do his business.

Here are the absolute essentials in a list for those of you that like lists:

1. Use covered trash cans

2. Keep kitchen countertops clear of food

3. Store away household chemicals

4. Keep toilet lids closed (so your pup doesn’t fall in or have a drink)

5. Keep electrical cords out of sight

6. Have dangling blind and curtain cords out of reach

If you have any questions, stop by our Vancouver location to chat with Dr. Rashidi or one of our staff members, as always! Check out the blog in a few days for parts 2-4 of this series.