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Interesting Cases

Interesting Cases – The Monster Hairball

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Murphy is a 10 year old male Himalayan cat who presented to us with a history of not eating for a few days. He was also vomiting and the owners noticed blood in the vomit at times. Murphy was admitted for bloodwork and abdominal radiographs (x-rays) to try and track down the cause of his illness. The blood results were normal, however the x-rays revealed an object lodged in his stomach.

Lateral abdominal radiograph view with Murphy lying on his side showing an object in the stomach (outlined by the red arrows). The heart, lungs, and chest are seen to the left and the rest of the abdomen is seen to the right.


A V/D radiograph view (with Murphy lying on his back) is usually taken at the same time. Murphy’s chest is at the top of the image, while his pelvis (hips) are located at the bottom of the image. The arrows point towards the object in the stomach which is also obstructing his duodenum (first part of his intestines).


Based on the findings it was opted to perform endoscopy on Murphy which is a specialized minimally invasive camera that can travel to the stomach to assess the problem. The object was removed using endoscopic graspers which removed the object from the stomach and intestines and brought it out through the mouth.

The obstructed object turned out to be a massive 10 inch hairball which was blocking the passage of any food and making Murphy quite ill. Removing the hairball with endoscopy alleviated the need for more invasive surgery and the associated pain and other potential complications. Murphy woke up from his anesthesia slightly groggy but feeling a lot better. He was home again within a few hours and back to his regular routine.

Himalayans are beautiful cats and generally have a fantastic temperament. Unfortunately however, they have very thick dense hair coats and are quite prone to hairballs. The majority of hairballs are vomited up as most cat owners can testify to. In Murphy’s case, the hair continued to accumulate forming a large mass that was too large for the stomach to digest or vomit up. Routine brushing/grooming, hairball formulas, and special hairball diets will help to reduce the formation of hairballs. Despite this, hairballs are a common part of cat ownership especially with long haired cats. However a hairball as large as this could be in a “Sci-Fi” movie.

Interesting Cases – Severe Skin Disease – Demodex

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Sam is 4 year old mixed breed dog who came to see us for the first time in the summer of 2008. He had never had any health issues in the past and prior to this issue loved walking, swimming, and spending time with both of his owners.

Approximately 3 months earlier, Sam started scratching and losing his hair coat. The owners initially thought the dog was losing his winter coat but realized that something else was going on. They tried a pet store flea treatment and flea shampoos, which did not help at all and he seemed to be worsening. Sam’s was at the point where his quality of life was very poor and was suffering and losing weight.

We had the privilege of meeting Sam for the first time in June 2008 (seen in above photo). At that time approximately 80% of his hair coat was gone and replaced by raw, scabby, and bleeding skin from his scratching. He was quite emaciated but still a very sweet dog with normal vital signs otherwise.

Dr. Tummon took skin scrapings of the skin to look for any microscopic parasites. When looking through the microscope, the problem became immediately apparent when dozens of Demodex mites were seen (an example of the “cigar-shaped” Demodex mite can be seen in the photo on the left).

These mites are actually normal inhabitants of dogs skin (and actually humans) and the immune system keeps the mite numbers to a very low amount. In a normal dog, the typical number of mites on their skin will never cause any skin disease. However, dogs can develop immunosuppression (where the immune system is unable to fight off disease) for a variety of reasons which is what happened with Sam. The problem eventually spirals out of control and will eventually cause death.


The treatment for Demodex revolves around killing the mites and addressing the reason for the immunosuppression. Sam was placed on antibiotics and medicated baths to treat the secondary skin infection and treated with a product called Advantage Multi weekly to kill the Demodex mites on the skin.

The treatment of Demodex takes months to see the new hair growth. However after 1 month, Sam was feeling great as he pranced into the exam room with his head held high and tail wagging. By the second month, his hair was growing in very well (as seen in the photos below) and is starting to look like a normal dog again. Unfortunately, some of the skin has been permanently scarred and may never grow hair. However, Sam is now enjoying a great quality of life now and is now “itch-free” as his hair slowly re-grows.

Interesting Cases – Obesity and Slim Fit Program

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Steve and his Weight Loss Challenge

Whenever anyone brings their beautiful energetic new puppy home for the first time, they never imagine that one day their puppy could grow into an obese overweight dog. Owners never do this intentionally, however there are numerous reasons why dogs and cats become overweight. Similar to reports in human obesity, approximately 50% of our pets are overweight.

Certain breeds have a greater genetic potential towards obesity, such as Steve who is a Golden Retriever. There are also numerous medical reasons why dogs may become overweight (i.e. Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, etc). Unfortunately, the majority of overweight pets are simply overweight due to excessive calories in their diet and/or a lack of an appropriate exercise regime.

However, for the past year our Veterinary Technicians have been organizing a computerized “Slim Fit” program. This program is offered at no charge to our clients and formulates a detailed plan to get the weight off of overweight dogs and cats.

Let’s introduce you to Steve.

Steve is very lovable and adorable 7 year old Golden Retriever who is immensely loved by his owners. Unfortunately Steve’s weight dramatically increased once he became an adult dog to the point where he was more likely to develop certain health issues. His thyroid levels were checked in 2007 and were normal (ruling out Hypothyroidism).

Steve started the program in January 2008 weighing an impressive 123 lbs.



Around Christmas 2007, Steve slipped and became lame on his back leg. After x-rays and palpation of the limb, it was determined that he had ruptured his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his knee (which is often brought about from obesity and a genetic predisposition for the disease). He would have to lose weight to help prevent the same thing from happening in his other knee and to help prevent further damage after surgical repair of the affected knee.

Our Veterinary Technicians were starting the Slim Fit program and Steve was a perfect candidate.

His owners were very keen on the program and followed his instructions completely. The computerized program worked out his Body Condition Score (BCS) at 123 lbs and calculated the calories required to slowly reduce him to his ideal body weight at BCS. Steve went on a special diet called Waltham’s Calorie Control.

This is a picture of Steve in July 2008 weighing 90 lbs. An unbelievable 33 lbs weight reduction


Steve in July 2008 weighing 90 lbs









Overhead profile of Steve in July 2008 showing his slim profile in the waist area.

Steve’s owners report that he is doing great at home and is far more energetic and acting like a new dog. He has also recovered well from his knee after surgery. Steve’s owners have to be complemented on their diligent efforts especially for continuing to get weight off of him during the recovery period after surgery when his exercise was severely restricted. Steve will continue to see the benefits of his profound weight reduction for years to come.

If anyone has an overweight dog or cat and are interested in our program, our Veterinary Technicians are willing to assist you with the program.

Just give our office a call for all of the details at 905-354-5645.

Interesting Cases – The Importance of Spaying

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Scimpi is an elderly female Shih Tzu who came in very lethargic and not eating. She wasn’t spayed and the owner noticed some discharge from her vulva area for a few weeks. On examination her abdomen appeared distended on palpation and she had a mild fever.

An X-ray (radiograph) and blood work was done which revealed that she had a significant infection going on in her body.

Scimpi’s X-ray (seen on the RIGHT) revealed a large distended whitish structure in the lower back part of her abdomen that was full of fluid (dense structures appear whiter on x-rays while less dense objects appear blacker (i.e. air appears completely black)).


This is an x-ray of a normal dog’s abdomen of nearly the same size as Scimpi. Note that the large whitish structure is not present in the abdomen on this x-ray which is present in Scimpi’s. Instead there are normal intestines with blackish circles inside, which is normal gas in the intestines.




Scimpi had all the signs of a Pyometra, which is a severe infection of her uterus where her uterus fills up with pus and secondarily drained from her vulva. In severe cases, the pus might not drain at all risking the uterus to rupture. If the uterus ruptures, pus will leak into the abdomen which carries a high risk of death.

This is what a normal uterus looks like (ie that is not filled with pus). It also shows how we “Spay” a dog (or more appropriately called Ovariohysterectomy). This procedure was performed on Scimpi, however when the uterus is filled with pus (i.e. Pyometra), it is far more difficult and carries a risk of rupture and leakage which could have life-threatening consequences. It is also a far more costly of a procedure and more invasive to the dog.

During a spay, we remove both ovaries and uterus to the level of the cervix as shown on the diagram. Spaying your pet prevents a life-threatening Pyometra from ever happening. If a dog is spayed before their first heat (i.e. 4-6 months of age) the chance of the dog getting mammary cancer (i.e. breast cancer) is only 0.5%. However, if she is spayed after her heats, the chance of mammary cancer dramatically rises to 28%. There are also numerous other benefits of having your dog spayed.

This shows the paramount importance of getting your dog spayed at an appropriate age to reduce or prevent these severe problems from occurring.

In summary, Scimpi made a dramatic recovery and the owners could not believe what a new dog they had after the surgery. The owners said she appeared 5 years younger and she likely had a low-grade uterus infection for months or longer. They now really wish they had her spayed as a puppy and are now well aware of the benefits of having a dog spayed.

To find out more about spaying or neutering, their are numerous articles located within our website.

Interesting Cases – Cat Shot In Head With Pellet Gun

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This is an interesting case but unfortunately true. Tiddy Tat was referred to us from a veterinary clinic in Welland. Tiddy Tat is a very cute 1 and 1/2 year old female cat that was a stray for almost a year before her compassionate owner was able to adopt her once she lost her fear of people. She was seen around the neighbourhood for most of that year sneezing with a lot of nasal discharge coming from her nose.

Tiddy Tat was taken to the owners regular veterinarian for her vaccines, to be spayed, and to address the sneezing and discharge from her nose. She failed to respond to various antibiotics and was then referred to us for endoscopy (using a specialized fiber optic medical camera) to help determine the cause of the nasal disease.

This is one of the radiographs (x-rays) we took of Tiddy Tat’s skull prior to the Rhinoscopy clearly showing a small round object in the middle of her skull.




During the Rhinoscopy (using the small endoscope camera to examine the interior of the nose and the back of the throat area), this is what we saw as we entered the nose towards the back of her skull. This metallic object was seen lodged in the very back of her nasal canal. The object was only a few millimeters away from a section of bone called the cribiform plate that separates the nasal canal and sinus from the brain.

The metallic object was covered in white mucous and scar tissue due to being lodged for so long. The object was removed with the endoscope and small endoscopic grasping forceps.

This is the close-up picture of what was lodged in the skull. It was a pellet gun pellet that obviously “mushroomed” as it entered the skull. A very small scar was eventually found on the side of her face from where whe was originally shot.

This cat is very fortunate to have a fantastic owner who adopted her and was determined to get to the cause of her cat’s nasal disease. Tiddy Tat would have otherwise continued to live as a stray outdoors in pain and distress. It also serves as a reminder for any parent whose children have pellet guns to always use proper supervision when they are using them. Who ever shot this cat was bored with pop cans and went on to something that would move. Unfortunately Tiddy Tat was the one.

She has made a complete recovery and is enjoying her new life in pain free comfort.

Click here to see the newspaper article on March 25, 2008 in the Niagara Falls Review