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The Story of Benji and the Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue

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This interesting case is an appreciation to some of the amazing dog rescue groups around the world.  We happen to have a fantastic one right here in Niagara called the Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue which is run by Silvana Alberton who is an extremely dedicated and caring person.  Silvana is the President and Founder of this group and has been rescuing small breed dogs from all over North America since 2001.  Often these dogs are in very poor shape or elderly and her goal is to give them the best quality of life possible for the remainder of their lives. 

We have been fortunate enough to care for almost 200 of these rescued dogs over the years, which brings us to the story about Benji.

Benji is a 6 year old Chihuahua Mix (however suspected to be older) who was rescued from Texas in June 2019.  He arrived in rough shape with severe dental disease and a pneumonia likely secondary to contracting kennel cough from being housed with so many other dogs travelling to Canada.  While his pneumonia improved over the next couple of weeks, Benji’s appetite did not and blood work and x-rays revealed some kidney disease and an irregular dense foreign object in his stomach (see x-rays with the red arrows detailing the object).

It was opted to see if we could remove the object with an endoscope, which is a minimally invasive camera that travels into the stomach from the mouth.  This would save him the pain of surgery if we had to remove the object by incising into his stomach.  Luckily we were able to grasp the stone with endoscopic graspers and remove the stone orally.  The graspers and the 2.5 cm stone are seen here passing through the esophagus. 


We were able to also perform a dental procedure and remove numerous abscessed teeth during the same anesthesia. Benji made a dramatic recovery and was back to eating well and playing normally within a few days.  We are happy to report that he has also been adopted and is now living the quality of life he deserves with his new family. 

 Silvana’s Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue organization relies on fosters and funding from adoptions and donations.  Find out more about this wonderful organization on their website at   

Without amazing organizations like this, Benji and thousands of other dogs in need of rescue, would not be with us.

Making anaesthesia….. safer!

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Surgery is an unfortunate reality for most pets during their life time.  Sometimes the surgery may be a routine spay/neuter, a dental procedure or even a surgical procedure for a serious medical issue. We continually strive to make ANY anaesthesia and surgery as safe as possible, regardless of our patient’s age. 

We have just purchased the latest anaesthetic monitor that assists us with monitoring how well our patient is ventilating.  For years we have had devices to monitor our patient’s blood pressure, heart rate and how well they are being oxygenated during surgery.   We all produce carbon dioxide (CO2) in our bodies that needs to be released when breathing (ventilation).  It is vitally important that this CO2 is properly eliminated in an anaesthetized pet by continuously measuring the CO2 released throughout each breath. 

The capnograph is a non-invasive monitoring device that can provide split second information on ventilation (pulmonary function), blood flow, and equipment function.    So if your pet does require an anaesthetic, we can make it even safer with the advent of this new capnography anaesthetic monitor. 

Tea Tree Oil Toxicity

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Many of our clients like to use “Natural”  or “Holistic” products on their pets.   Many of these products are benign, but most have very little true scientific data proving their safety and efficacy when used on pets.  

Oscar is a 16 year old gentle senior dog who has dozens of warts all over his body which is quite common in older pets.  The owner heard about applying tea tree oil to the warts from a friend, so she purchased some from a health food store and applied it on all of Oscar’s warts.  The next morning Oscar could not stand and was shaking and twitching from muscle spasms.  The owner realized it must have been the oil and gave him a bath and brought  him in to see us.  

Oscar was very weak on initial exam and wouldn’t even raise his head.  He was immediately started on intravenous fluids and given an IV injection of Methocarbamol to stop the muscle spasms.   He was also given another bath to remove as much of the tea tree oil as possible.   We took some blood and urine samples to assess the liver since tea tree oil can cause potential permanent liver damage.  We also started him on a liver protectant supplement  to help reduce this liver damage from occurring.

Oscar steadily improved over the next 48 hours and continued to make a complete recovery over the week.  The liver values were re-checked in a month which were normal and the liver supplements were stopped.   Tea tree oil is just one of the many products that can have serious toxic effects to dogs.  Some dogs may tolerate small doses of tea tree oil without any problems at all, while others can have severe toxic side effects and may die from it.  Just because it is a “Natural” product does NOT mean it is a “Safe” product.  Arsenic is also a natural product in the environment, but we certainly wouldn’t give it to our pets…

   Oscar after 48 hours of hospitalization        and ready to go home.

Neville the Itchy Puppy

By Interesting Cases

Neville is a 5 month old German Shepherd mix breed puppy with a real zest for life! He presented to our hospital  months ago for his puppy boosters and was reportedly scratching himself for what seemed to his parents to be an excessive amount of time. They had tried moisturizing shampoos and a better quality diet which seemed to improve this for him so no further investigation was made at that time.


Fast forward 2 months later and Neville continues to itch and scratch and his coat is now brittle and patchy, especially on his legs and face. Skin scrapings were taken to look for a type of skin mite known as Demodex. The scrapings are made in a few areas of the body, allowing us to count numbers of mites and identify if the mites are thriving (juvenile and adult mites) and if they are reproducing (discovery of eggs).


Demodex mites are very common, humans even have their own species of these little critters living in their eyelashes and eyebrows. Normally there are a few mites found on the skin of healthy dogs, but in young puppies their immune system sometimes cannot keep up with the mites and they grow and multiply excessively in the hair follicles producing the itch and hair loss.


We were able to start treatment to eliminate the excessive number of mites from Neville’s skin, and his parents report he is much more comfortable and no longer constantly itchy. After a few months of treatment his hair coat will return to normal, and he can go on learning and growing and being a puppy.


Dr. Charlotte Sir


Cryosurgery and wart (adenoma) removal

By Interesting Cases

Lumps are quite common on dogs as they get older.  Some larger lumps or lumps under the skin and may need a biopsy or fine needle aspiration to rule out a serious cancerous growth.  However adenomas (or warts) are one of the most common lumps that we see on our dogs.   Most of these warts or adenomas to not bother the dog.  However, sometimes they do irritate the dog who will chew at them or get them infected.  Sometimes the owner just wants them removed since it is on an area where they commonly pet the dog such as the top of their head.   In the past, we had to use a general anesthetic or local anesthetic in order to excise the adenoma and place sutures. 

Recent advances in human medicine, and now veterinary medicine,  has made cryosurgery accessible to veterinarians.   We are able to use a Cryoprobe which sprays a very cold yet precise flow of nitrous oxide directly onto the wart.  The freezing power of the Cryoprobe penetrates fast to the bottom of the lesion.  That results in effective treatment with very little discomfort and without the need for any sedation or anesthesia. Give us a call if you are interested in having any warts removed from your dog.   

Interesting Cases – The Vomiting Dog Who Wouldn’t Eat (CAUTION – contains surgery photo’s)

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Suzie is an adorable 6 year old mixed breed dog.

Her concerned owner brought her to us for evaluation of non-specific signs of reduced appetite and vomiting. Her physical exam revealed a swelling in her left groin area, which was suspected to be an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia is an opening of the abdominal cavity where fat and/or other abdominal organs can push out of the abdomen to the area under the skin in the groin. An abdominal ultrasound was performed the same night and it ruled out other causes of her signs and confirmed that she did have a hernia.


X-ray showing gas in her intestines prior to the trapped area of intestine.

The next morning Suzie was admitted for surgery. When the hernia was opened up, there were intestines trapped in the hernia causing an obstruction and the vomiting.  To make things worse, the piece of trapped intestine was not receiving blood supply, causing it to die. An abdominal incision was made and the trapped intestine was released and the dead segment of intestine was removed and the healthy intestine was sutured together.


 Dying segment of intestine that was trapped in hernia


Removal of the dying segment of the intestine.


Re-attachment of the healthy pieces of intestine.




The opening of the abdomen in Suzie’s groin was also sutured closed to repair the hernia.  Thanks to the careful monitoring of our experienced veterinary technicians, Suzie did very well throughout the lengthy surgical procedure. Suzie remained hospitalized for a few days and was sent home with many medications to help her get better.


Due to the dedication of her loving owner, Suzie received the post surgical care and medications that she needed for a complete recovery.  Suzie started eating well, she stopped vomiting and her energy level was similar to that of a puppy again. Suzie quickly gained weight and her incisions healed well.  She is expected to have a normal life without any future complications from her repaired hernia.


Bloat (GDV) & Preventative Surgery

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Bloat or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a horrible disease that affects primarily large breed dogs.  Larger breed dogs tend to have a deep chest which allows the stomach to become more mobile and potentially twist due to this increased mobility. The typical history involves a dog who has eaten a large meal or has drunken a lot of water and was too energetic prior or after this causing the stomach to twist.  However, most large breed owners are aware of this condition and are very careful in preventing their dogs from exercising immediately after eating.  Unfortunately, this condition also commonly occurs when all the precautions have been taken.

The incidence of GDV varies between breeds with the Great Dane having the highest risk with 37% of dogs affected.  When a GDV does occur, it is an emergency condition that usually requires emergency surgery and a great deal of expense.  Even when an emergency surgery is performed to correct the twisted stomach,  approximately 1/3 of dogs will die despite the veterinarians best efforts.

Bloat/GDV Summary

Normal Abdominal Radiograph

  Normal lateral abdomen X-ray showing the normal positioning of the organs.


GDV lateral abdomen radiograph

 X-ray showing a dog with Bloat (GDV) with the large distended stomach that has twisted and required emergency surgery

Prevention is key with this condition.  In the past, a preventative surgery was far more invasive and required a large 12-15 cm incision.  With the advent of Laparoscopy (or Key Hole Surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery), the procedure is now far less invasive by using a small medical camera to find the stomach and surgically “tack” the stomach to the inside wall of the abdomen.  This procedure can be performed along with a laparoscopic spay in female dogs through the same incision.  It can also be performed the same time as a castration in male dogs, however separate incisions are needed.  The procedure is highly effective in preventing this life threatening condition and dogs are typically kept over for one night in hospital and sent home the following day.  The  first 10 days require minimal exercise while the area heals and then they are allowed to resume their normal activity.

Laparoscopic gastropexy - grasping stomach

 Appearance of the stomach being grasped by forceps to be sutured to the abdominal wall


Laparoscopic gastropexy site

Final appearance of the stomach sutured to the body wall to prevent twisting just prior to the gas being removed from the abdomen (to remove the tension)

Laparoscopic Gastropexy Incisions

Appearance of incisions after surgery. The dog had a laparoscopic spay at the same time.

Do not hesitate to call our office for an estimate, if you have any questions, or if you are wondering if this procedure would be ideal for your large breed dog at 905-354-5645.

Dental Health

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Dental disease is very common in our pets and can cause a variety of problems beyond bad breath.  This video featuring Dr. Gagnon and Lacey highlights a dental procedure and how to give your pet a healthy mouth to improve their overall health.

Laparoscopic Spay

By Interesting Cases

We are excited to offer this minimally invasive alternative to traditional spays.  A laparoscopic spay provides up to 65% less pain to your pet compared to a traditional spay.  A laparoscopic spay (medially termed a laparoscopic ovariectomy) is also less traumatic and provides a faster recovery time.


Click on our YouTube link below to find out more this procedure and how well Ziggy did undergoing a laparoscopic spay:


Why Choose a Laparoscopic Spay?

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed by passing a narrow medical camera (laparoscope) through a tiny incision into the abdomen. The laparoscope provides a magnified view of the organs allowing for greater precision.

A Laparoscopic Spay (medically termed a laparoscopic ovariectomy) requires a second tiny incision (typically <1cm) for the placement of medical instruments to perform the spay.

The ovaries are identified and isolated with endoscopic forceps. A special vessel sealing device carefully cauterizes, seals and cuts the ovarian blood vessels and ligament, thereby freeing the ovary from the rest of her uterus. The ovaries are then retrieved and removed through the tiny instrument incision. The uterus is left intact and in its natural state.

Research has found that there is no benefit to removing the uterus**. Retaining the uterus will not increase the risk of breast cancer or uterine infections, nor will your dog go through any heat cycles.

Lap OVE1

Lap OVE2