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Must Know New Pet Owner Information

Congratulations on becoming a first-time pet owner! Along with the excitement and happiness that a new pet brings into the home, a new pet also comes with a huge responsibility. Whether you recently got a new puppy/kitten or adopted a pet in-need of their forever home, Elgin Animal Hospital is here to help you navigate your experience as a dog or cat owner. On this page, you will find everything you need to know to keep your new pet happy, healthy and, most importantly, safe!

Pet Services Your New Pet Will Require in the First 12 Months

Veterinary Exam (First Appointment, Ongoing)

Not only do we want to meet your furry family member, but it’s also important that they get to know us too! During an examination, we spend the time getting to know you, your pet and their lifestyle. In addition, we will complete a head to tail assessment to ensure your pet is healthy. This is also a great time to ask us any questions you may have.

Puppy Vaccinations and Kitten Vaccinations (Week 8, Week 12, Week 16)

Getting your pet started on a proper vaccination program early will help keep them healthy for life. As the immunity their mother provided them starts to wane, it is important to time the vaccines properly so their own immune system is prepared to protect them from exposure to diseases.

Dog Vaccinations and Cat Vaccinations (Every 1-3 Years)

Vaccines help protect against common infectious diseases seen in cats and dogs. They stimulate the body’s immune system to attack and ‘remember’ the infectious organism so your pet can fight against the infection again in the future (if necessary). Without vaccines, many cats will become seriously ill due to a virus in their body that they are unable to fight off on their own effectively. The use of vaccines has prevented death and diseases in millions of pets. Vaccines also protect people from diseases, such as rabies, that can be transmitted from pets to humans.

Dog Deworming and Cat Deworming (Week 2 up to 6 months)

Deworming is an important part of your pet’s preventative health care program. Intestinal parasites can occur in both cats and dogs, especially when they venture outdoors. Parasites can deprive your pet of essential nutrients and cause digestive upset. Some can also be transmissible to other animals and humans. Our veterinarians will talk with you about your pet’s risk level for parasitism and set up a schedule for deworming that is tailored to your pet’s needs.

Dog Spaying & Neutering and Cat Spaying & Neutering (Around 6 months)

One aspect of responsible pet ownership is having your pet spayed or neutered. Not only are you helping to control pet overpopulation, but spaying and neutering can also help eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of developing certain health and behaviour issues.

Dog Microchipping and Cat Microchipping (Anytime)

Having your pet microchipped is highly recommended for a multitude of reasons, such as if your dog happened to break free from their collar or if your cat slipped out the front door. If found, a permanent form of identification for your pet will help ensure they make their way back to you. We can complete a microchip service at any time. However, it is most common to do this during the spay or neutering procedure.

Dog Fleas & Tick Prevention and Cat Flea and Tick Control (Year-round)

It is important to take your pet in for their annual exam to be prescribed a flea and tick prevention medication to protect them from dangerous parasites. It is especially important from the spring to fall season and for pets who travel often. Call us to discuss the importance of year-round parasite prevention.

Dog Diet and Cat Diet (Anytime)

Although your pet may be more interested in what you are eating, cats and dogs have specific dietary needs based on their age, lifestyle and current state of health. Our veterinarians provide nutrition advice to ensure your pet is properly nourished.

Puppy Socialization & Cat Training (<12-18 months)

As a puppy or kitten, it is a great opportunity for you to teach your pet healthy habits to maintain as they grow older. Whether it’s puppy socialization or feline enrichment games, our team can provide you with different techniques and options for your pet’s behaviour and lifestyle.

Pet Health Insurance and/or Veterinary Savings Account

The investment of a pet is always something to be considered even before adding a new member to your family. In addition to ongoing preventative care and annual check-ups, we encourage our clients to be prepared for any unexpected emergencies that may happen. We recommend looking into health insurance options, such as Trupanion, or opening a ‘Veterinary Savings Account’ and contributing some money each month. This way, you’ll be prepared for anything your pet may need in the future without the additional stress!

What to Expect On Your First and Future Appointments

At Elgin Animal Hospital, we are here to help you feel confident as a new pet owner! Our compassionate and experienced team of veterinary professionals can answer any questions you may have, as well as provide the necessary information you didn’t know you needed. We will assess the health of your pet and provide recommended treatments. From their early days to their golden years, we are here for all of your pet needs.

You can count on us to provide superior care and excellent service every single time you walk through our doors. Call 519-631-0430 to schedule an appointment and ensure your pet gets the proper care to live a long and healthy life as your right-hand companion.

 

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Veterinary Diets vs Store Bought Diets

Exactly why is Vet food so much more money? And why would I spend that when I can get the same food at the grocery store? Am I getting ripped off?! At $60+ a bag, yes, you would think that you might be getting taken to the cleaners on dog or cat food. Let me de-mystify the cost versus quality question. What you might not realize is that there are some very key differences between the food you buy at your veterinarians vs the foods you buy at the grocery or pet stores. We don’t sell theirs, and they CAN’T  sell ours for some key reasons. Veterinary food is formulated to treat a specific condition; think of it as medicine. Typically, a veterinarian would need to prescribe this nutrition for the treatment of a specific disease or condition. Hence the brand “Prescription Diet”. Store-bought brands are for wellness and prevention, NOT treatment - this is a very important distinction! So, now we’ve established that veterinary food is to aid a specific condition and that it’s prescribed by a Veterinary Doctor, I can tell you more about what makes prescription diets unique. Why are prescription diets different? Let’s take a look at urinary health foods. I’ll use Hills C/D vs Hills Science Diet urinary for example. C/D you can only purchase at your veterinarian's office, while Science Diet Urinary is available at pet stores. Both are Hills ( a name and brand we trust ). Let me start by saying that they both have similar properties in terms of ingredients, but here’s the difference - Hill’s Science Diet Urinary is for wellness and prevention of calcium oxalate and struvite crystals. Keywords are wellness and prevention. It doesn’t claim anything more than that. Hills C/D, however, treats crystals and also treats cystitis (inflammation of the urinary system).  It does this by being more tailored with pH, and minerals, as well as controlling the minimum amounts of all ingredients more. How would you use this information? Well, let’s say you have a kitty that’s male and getting up in years,  and also might be a few pounds overweight. We know that many male cats develop some type of urinary issues, especially if they carry some excess pounds. In this case, by using a urinary diet that is formulated for prevention and wellness, you can get ahead of the game. Once Fluffy is in the realm of blockage or crystals are diagnosed, this food is no longer useful. Here is a great example of where C/D is prescribed for treatment. Another difference between veterinary vs store-bought brands is that unless it’s veterinary food, there are NO STUDIES done that show treatment results (ie no studies prove that Science Diet Urinary  dissolves crystals. Same goes for Perfect Weight vs Metabolic.) There aren’t any studies that show that Perfect Weight food actually causes Fluffy to lose weight. Sure, it’s a more controlled calorie diet, but it’s not for obesity. That’s where a prescription diet is recommended. It is, however, great for preventing obesity or for slightly overweight pets with no other health issues. The difference in AAFCO Statement - why does it matter? An AAFCO statement should be on every bag of pet food. It stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials. All foods that are made in the USA but sold here in Canada must have this statement. The statement shows that a particular food has nutrients that fall  “within the range” for a certain life stage be it adult, growth, pregnancy, and lactating. This range can be quite large, and your bag will show the MINIMUM amount. Now going back to veterinary vs store-bought food, one thing that your Veterinary diet will always have is an AAFCO statement. With that statement it will also say “Formulated and Trialled”; pet store food will likely only say “Formulated”. That means that not only are veterinary foods formulated to maintain a minimum amount of nutrients for specific life stages, but it also states that that diet has been trialled on a group of pets to prove that the diet maintains optimum health for that particular life stage. These trials would include things like weight, urine samples and blood samples, to be sure that there is optimal health achieved or maintained. If your pet store food only says “Formulated'', that means no actual trials on real dogs/cats have been conducted. Guaranteed Analysis - Why minimums and maximums matter The guaranteed analysis is a confusing one. What I can tell you is to always look at the nutrient on a dry matter basis; this is the best way to actually compare foods. It will tell you the minimums and maximums, but not the absolute values. Why do you care? Because Prescription diets will follow a  specific recipe with NO deviations from it.  *Side note: that is why sometimes diets go on backorder. The companies that make veterinary food are extremely specific to their ingredients and will not stray just to make a diet. Store food brands also use minimums and maximums, however, the actual recipe will change from batch to batch. For example, if the protein minimum is 36% on one bag of food and the protein comes from chicken, the next batch could be 47% protein and the source may be from a different “bird”. The issue arises when Fluffy has renal issues caused by excess protein, however, your bag only tells you a minimum value. You would never know if the last 4 bags were made with a larger protein content. I’ve seen this issue with dogs with allergies. They do well on a “salmon” based food for a month, and then the next month break out in an itchy rash. After a little digging, we find it ends up being that the bag of food ran out and the owners have started the next one. This is the reality when feeding brands that are not regulated by recipes. Always consult your veterinarian about any diet-related concerns That is a lot of information! It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for any food changes or diet-related concerns.  Veterinary food is meant for a specific purpose - for the treatment of a health concern. Store-bought food is made for wellness and prevention. There are very key differences between the two, and one cannot be exchanged for the other.  Besides looking at the type of food, remember to look at the labels. Check to see if it is AAFCO  regulated, check whether it’s been “Formulated” or “Formulated and Trialled”, and always compare using dry matter. Remember that the minimums are important as is the use of an actual repeated recipe. If in doubt, call! Every bag should have a contact number to reach the company with concerns and questions. Written by: Tania Admans, RVT, Nutritional Advisor and Advocate

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Last updated: June 21, 2022.

Dear Clients,

To ensure all of our patients and clients get the best care possible, please let us know if you cannot make the appointment. All no-shows will be recorded and clients with multiple no-shows may be asked for a deposit before making future appointments. We understand that unforeseen circumstances and emergencies arise. A simple phone call before your scheduled appointment is all that is required - 24 hours notice preferred. This will allow us to offer that spot to a pet in need.

- Your dedicated team at Elgin Animal Hospital