Back to School Blues and our Pets in Muskoka

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cute petsIt’s Back to School and back to routine! Remember that during the summer, your children and the family pets develop a strong bond. Now there’s suddenly an empty and quiet house. This change in routine can cause your pet to suffer from separation anxiety or depression as they , like many parents, adapt to the empty nest. 
Your dog may experience the effects of the loss of extra playtime and companionship by exhibiting the following behaviours:
•Chewing furniture
•Ripping the stuffing out of pillows
•Shredding paper
•Obsessive barking/whining for extended periods of time
•House soiling
or general depression
Separation anxiety is a serious condition that can be managed with structure and patience. NEVER punish your dog for exhibiting this behavior, as it will make him more fearful and potentially aggressive.   Instead, consider these positive approaches to helping your pet deal with the back to school blues.

•Start with leaving your dog at home for very short periods of time to get him used to being alone
•Avoid emotional departures and greetings
•Have your belongings prepared so that your departure from home is calm
•Consider doggie daycare or a dog walker for your pet
•Teach the kids to avoid over stimulating the pets with departures and arrivals
•Exercising your dog before leaving the house in the morning is a good idea so he’ll be relaxed when you return and be set for when you’re away.
•Leave some sturdy, interactive toys for your pets to help keep them from being bored.
Be sure to check with your veterinarian to have your dog or cat  fully evaluated and correctly diagnosed before trying to manage the symptoms. There may be an underlying medical condition that may be misconstrued as separation anxiety.

And finally, give your pet the most love and attention you can. Reassurance through regular walks, exercise, playtime and grooming will help your companion make a much smoother “back to school” transition.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture

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Dr. Wurdell performs laser therapy on Maggie during her rehabilitation process after TTA surgery.


What Is Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture?

Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture is one of the most common orthopedic problems in dogs. A dog’s stifle joint corresponds to the human knee joint, and the CCL is comparable to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans. Just as in humans, a partial or complete rupture of this ligament is debilitating and extremely painful, resulting in lameness and joint instability. Untreated, CCL rupture results in additional degenerative changes in the joint and, eventually, osteoarthritis. CCL rupture can occur in any dog. Risk factors include obesity, existing osteoarthritis or instability in the knee, and a lack of proper conditioning for the activity taking place, such as a normally sedentary dog that suddenly begins vigorous play.

What Are the Signs of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture?

The first sign of the disease is typically hind leg lameness. The degree of lameness depends on whether the injury is chronic or acute/traumatic and whether the rupture is partial or complete. As a result, some dogs may be slightly lame while others are unable to place any weight on the affected limb. Other signs include:

  • Pain and stiffness
  • A dog that sits abnormally because it no longer can or wants to flex its stifle joint
  • Difficulty rising
  • Joint swelling and/or muscle atrophy (wasting) in the stifle area
  • Decreased activity level

Causes of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture

Chronic Rupture: This occurs when the ligament has weakened and become damaged over time, as with osteoarthritis. Additional degenerative changes in the joint may result. Partial tears will eventually rupture completely if left untreated. Age, obesity, poor posture, and certain diseases can contribute to ligament deterioration and rupture.

Acute Rupture: Dogs typically injure their CCL while engaged in some type of physical activity during which the joint is hyperextended or rotated to such an extreme degree that the ligament tears such as playing vigourously in hard packed snow, over exertion in propelling to chase squirrels etc, or just normal play combined with being a little overweight.


Diagnosis of CCL is usually made based on clinical signs, physical examination, and radiographs (x-rays). During the examination, your veterinarian may conduct a “sit test” with your dog. Dogs with partial or complete tears of the CCL are reluctant to flex the stifle joint and may sit abnormally to one side with the injured leg held straight out. Your veterinarian will also evaluate the joint for abnormal movement or instability; this may need to be done with your dog under sedation. Any swelling in the joint or muscle atrophy will also be noted.


Your veterinarian may recommend surgical treatment for CCL rupture. Treatment recommendations are based on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the condition of other structures in the knee, and the size and overall health of the patient. Medical management typically consists of rest, appropriate pain medication (such as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications, or NSAIDs), and joint supplements and laser therapy.

Surgical treatment involves stabilizing the joint in order to create more normal joint movement. There are several surgical procedures that can accomplish this successfully. At Muskoka Animal Hospital we provide both the Extra capsular repair method and the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement Surgery . Both procedures are offered right here in Muskoka at our Huntsville clinic.   If your dog is a candidate for CCL surgery, our doctor’s  will discuss your surgical options with you.

The recovery period after surgery requires close following of the veterinarian’s instructions for a successful outcome. We have developed an individualized rehabilitation program that involves our support throughout the entire recovery process including counselling, physiotherapy, laser therapy and massage.After the surgery, closely follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding limitations on activity to allow the surgical site to heal. Pain medications and physical therapy will be prescribed as needed. The prognosis varies based on the degree of joint degeneration and the ability of the dog to stay within a recommended weight.


Cooper , Carson and Crosby spooking it up!

Hallowe’en Safety for your Pets

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Safety Tips for Pet Parents:
Attention, animal lovers, it’s almost the spookiest night of the year! There are some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet happy and healthy on this spooky holiday.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call us or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Keep a few pet friendly treats on hand such as Royal Canin’s Medi Treats or Medi Chews which are available from the clinic.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them. Be sure to supervise pets if they are in a room where these decorative items are kept.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4.A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. Costumes can also cause your pet to over heat during the course of the evening. If you do choose to dress your pet up in costume, check them regularly for over heating and always keep water available. Never leave a costumed pet without supervision.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana instead.

7. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. Some pets forget their manners with so many interesting visitors at the door and accidently overwhelm small visitors.

8. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

9. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you . If you take your family pet along trick or treating they must be on a leash to avoid the risk of being hit by cars or disoriented in the dark.

We wish you and your pets a very Happy and Safe Hallowe’en . Be sure to bring your pictures by the clinic for sharing or email them to us at