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A Vet’s Pet Gets Sick

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Last Thursday was my day off. The plan was to tackle a long around-the-house to-do list. I started the day as usual; feed the pets, run, feed horses, clean stalls, and then walk the dogs. I have 2 Labs, 10 year old D.J. and almost 3 year old Blue. I gave them a pet after our walk and my day changed dramatically. I felt a lump under D.J.’s jaw. I felt another one on the other side of his neck and a few more below these. Immediately, I knew I needed to test the lumps, run some blood tests, take chest X-rays but there was only one possible diagnosis for what I had found. D.J. had lymphoma and this was going to end his life.

I felt it all; my heart sank, I had a lump in my throat, my energy faded, my mind filled with too many thoughts.

I had talked the talk many times. Lymphoma is treatable but not curable.
Treatment options include:
• a 6 month multi-drug protocol can results in an 80-90% remission rate and an average life expectancy of 12 months including the 6 months of treatment;
• a single drug protocol every 3 weeks for 5 to 6 treatments for a 70% remission rate and average survival time of 9 months;
• oral palliative chemo every 3 weeks with an average 4 month survival time.
Having talked the talk, I now had to walk the talk and I had no idea what to do.

Is it fair to put D.J. through 6 months of chemo so I can have him a bit longer? Well, pets are supposed to tolerate chemo better than people do. Where would I find the time to get to treatments every week or two? I could probably do some of the treatments myself. An average life expectancy of twelve months isn’t very long. But 12 months means we might have him next Christmas and that is a long way away. We would have spring, summer swims in the pool and autumn bush walks.

With my head far to full of questions, I gave up on my to-do list and took D.J. to the clinic to start the testing. The roller coaster ride this day was going to be continued.

When I arrived at the clinic I was immediately informed that clients, whose dog I diagnosed with lymphoma a few weeks ago had called wanting their dog euthanized that day. She was no longer responding to palliative treatment. They requested me for the appointment but were informed that it was my day off. My associate would be helping them and they were scheduled to arrive at any moment. I was now there and wouldn’t hide. I decided to greet them, take them into the quiet room and explain why I was there. They took the time to give me a hug. I offered to try to do the appointment and if needed my team would assist. I shut down the pet owner part of me and helped them say good bye to their beloved pet.

I needed this roller coaster of a day to slow down.

The next event at the clinic was just what I needed. An internist was scheduled to arrive to consult on a complicated case. I stole a few moments of her time. She palpate D.J.’s neck. “You poor thing.” She also did not need any further testing to diagnose lymphoma. I told her I didn’t know what I was going to do. She put things in very simple terms. I shouldn’t think about a 6 month commitment to weekly visits and $5000. I should just try one round of chemo (3 weekly treatments) and see what happens. One round will show how D.J. tolerates the medication and will determine if the lymphoma responds to the treatments. Decision made. We will try one round of chemo.

I had to remind myself that I hadn’t yet confirmed the diagnosis. I planned to do blood work and X-rays but diagnosing lymphoma meant taking a sample of the lumps and submitting the sample to a pathology lab. I have worked with a local pathologist for 25 years but he recently stopped reading this type of sample. I really trusted his work. I sent him a message asking if he would consider reading this cytology for me. He answered by personally calling the clinic to say he would be happy to help. Without me knowing, arrangements were made that one of my assistants would drive the sample to the pathology lab and he would read the sample that evening so I would have results the next day. The support network was starting to form.

My family was still unaware of D.J.’s condition and the events of the day. That evening we had a family meeting the outcome of which I already knew. The usual decision at family meetings about pets is that since one of us is a vet that member should make the decision.

The report came the next day. It included some supportive comments and the words “no charge” but confirmed the diagnosis of immunoblastic malignant lymphoma. I called OVC (Ontario Veterinary College) Oncology Center and D.J. starts treatments on Thursday. I am expecting another day off full of emotions and questions.

Kittens Looking for Loving Home

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Meet Whelan and Olive. Both of these precious kittens are currently at our clinic and we are trying to find loving homes for them.

Whelan is the Orange and white kitten. He is 5 months old. He has been vaccinated, dewormed and neutered.

Olive is the Black kitten with splashes of white. She is 10 weeks old. She has received her first set of vaccinations and deworming.

Both are playful, curious and love lying around.

Please let us know if you are interested in bringing one of these little darlings into your home!

Happy Canada Day!

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Wishing everyone fun, safe and memorable 150th Canada Day Celebrations.
Here are a few pictures of our own pets all ready to party in their Canada gear!

The clinic will be closed on Saturday July 1st, 2017.

We are open our regular hours on Friday June 30th and Monday July 3rd 8am-6pm.

Dr Fell’s new addition- Scout

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I am so happy to announce the new addition to my family, Scout!
He is a bouncy, loving and beyond cute 3 month old chocolate male Labrador.
Yesterday he was here at the North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital for his second set of vaccinations- DA2PP second booster and initial Leptosporosis and his intestinal parasite deworming medication.
Can’t wait to share more pictures and stories about this little guy.

Dr. Julie Fell

Happy Easter

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Helping get the Easter Bunny ready for big day.
Delilah was in to get some medications today and was such a great bunny for us.
Wishing all of our patients a Happy and safe Easter!
We are closed Friday April 14th but open again for our regular hours on Saturday 8:30-12pm.

We’re all jealous, Kasey gets to go on vacation!

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Kasey was in this week to get his vaccinations prior to travelling south of the border and we’re all jealous of the beach days he has a head of him.

While his mom packed his sunglasses, we helped prepare Kasey for his trip by making sure his vaccinations were up to date and sent him home with his Rabies vaccine certificate which is required to cross the Canada/US border. We also made sure he’ll be protected against Fleas and Heartworm disease which can be found year round in many Southern States. Protection against Ticks is also often recommended depending on where one is travelling to.

We wish Kasey and his family a happy and safe vacation and are all definitely jealous!

Dr Julie Fell

Ticks can be active starting at 4 degrees!

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March 1st 2017 Elmira’s daytime high reached 12 degrees Celcius! Yes I was excited I didn’t have to endure the battle of the snowsuits for my two young girls but another thing it brings up is new recommendations regarding Tick prevention. Over the last few years, Dr. Hirzer and I have been seeing an increase in Tick cases and are encouraging using prevention against them for dogs that live an active outdoor lifestyle. Ticks can become active at temperatures starting at 4 degrees and with predicted day time highs of 10 degrees again next week we are recommending starting prevention now in March and continuing until November.

Dr. Julie Fell

North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital is a Certified Cat Friendly Hospital

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North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital Implements Cat Friendly Practice Program Cat Friendly Designation Elevates Cat Care
The cat is king. With cats being the most beloved pet in the country, there is a growing need to improve the health care and overall well-being of the feline population. Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. And, to further its dedication, the clinic recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process. “We are committed to providing quality care to our feline patients,” said Dr. Linda Hirzer of North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital. “When we heard about the CFP program, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the practice to determine what could be done to make the veterinary visit more positive for cats and cat owners.” Program Puts Cats First The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) pioneered the CFP program to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling. “The AAFP realizes that cats present unique challenges before, during, and after a veterinary visit,” said Dr. Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline) & President, American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Some things that can cause a cat anxiety include aversion to carriers, sensitivity to new sights and smells, and the added stress of an unfamiliar location or experience. Understanding these obstacles helped to shape the CFP program and its dedication to putting the needs of cats first.” At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats. Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language. Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety. North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital Boosts Cat Care “We evaluated every aspect of the practice and its environment from the perspective of the cat,” Dr. Hirzer said. “We can proudly say that from the minute they walk through the door, our patients and clients will be part of a welcoming, comfortable experience that will ultimately lead to the improved health of our feline patients.” For more information about North Waterloo Veterinary Hospital, visit us at or call 519-669-2901.

Trim Tuesdays for Cancer

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On Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 5 pm we are offering nail trims for $5. The money collected will be donated to local charities. On April 26 we participated in the Great Ride N Stride for Cancer. From our Tuesday Trims and various sponsors we raised $690. One of the ways the Cancer Society uses this money is to fund the cost of volunteer drivers who help cancer patients travel to medical appointments. Dr. Linda’s mother benefitted from this program last year when she needed rides to her daily radiation treatments. Although Dr. Linda took her to most of these appointments, the cancer volunteer drivers helped so Dr. Linda could be here for her clients and patients. Our Trim Tuesday fund raising continues with the next charity to be announced in June. Any suggestions?