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Protecting Your Pet Against Preventable Diseases

Communicable diseases are the bane of every pet owner’s existence. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than to see your beloved furry friend succumb to a preventable disease. Recent headlines across Canada have told the story of outbreaks of kennel cough, rabies and other sometimes fatal diseases.

In Southern Ontario, we’ve seen rabies this year in skunks and raccoons, both very common creatures your pet may encounter in your own backyard. It’s worrisome because it’s the first time in a decade that rabies has been found in wildlife in this province due to a concerted effort on the part of authorities. That initiative consists of baits with rabies vaccine that are planted along the border where the animals are likely to slip into Canada. The program worked well from 2005 until recently.

In response to the recent outbreak that was centred around the Hamilton and Niagara areas, the province has carpet bombed the area with food baited with nearly 220,000 vaccines. The vaccine, called ONRAB, was developed by researchers at McMaster University and has replaced the culling method used previously.

You can be fined under a bylaw if you fail to vaccinate your companion animal against rabies and you’re leaving them open to a painful and sometimes deadly disease. The recommended schedule for vaccinating your pet has changed over the last several years and some, like parvo virus, may depend on age and exposure. It’s a good idea to discuss the issue with your veterinarian to come up with a custom vaccine schedule for your pet.

Kennel Cough
Kennel cough, a condition characterized by a persistent, noisy cough, has spread throughout Winnipeg and other cities this year. A very contagious condition, some experts believe dog parks, doggie walking services and other canine socializing are at the root of the outbreak.

• Symptoms are primarily a frequent, dry cough accompanied by a goose-like honking sound.
• Your dog may also cough up a white foamy substance.

Kennel cough is typically not a severe disease and causes discomfort rather than seriously debilitating symptoms. Your dog should still be active, although it may prevent them (and you!) from sleeping properly. Complications may include progression to pneumonia, although this is quite rare.

How to Treat Kennel Cough

Treatment for kennel cough sometimes consists of cough suppressants and possibly antibiotics that we can help you with in our office. You should keep your dog away from other dogs and pets while they’re symptomatic and please bring in your dog if they begin coughing suddenly – there may be other reasons for it that do require more serious treatment.


• If your dog is in constant contact with other dogs, and therefore at a higher risk of infection, you should have them vaccinated against Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus.
• All dogs should be vaccinated against canine adenovirus which causes hepatitis and can be spread by contact with wildlife.

The Best Advice
Take your pet in for an examination every year (twice a year for senior pets) and discuss your pet’s risk of contracting contagious and preventable diseases so that you can come up with an appropriate vaccination schedule – and then follow it.

Dr. Gary Arzem, Newmarket’s Go-To Veterinarian

About Dr. Arzem and The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital:
Dr. Gary Arzem received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario in 1989. He is the founder and head veterinarian at The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario. Having practiced veterinary medicine for more than 25 years, his skills and special interests include surgery, dentistry, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography), dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology and public health as it relates to pets and their owners. He is a founding member of The Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region in Newmarket. Dr. Arzem is recognized as an educational leader in the community and is involved with The Ontario Veterinary College, York Region District School Board, Simcoe County Board of Education, and Seneca College’s Co-Operative Education Programs. Dr. Arzem also participates in several continuing education conferences, including The North American and Western Veterinary Conferences and he is actively involved in fundraising for a number of charitable organizations, such as The Pet Trust Fund, The Farley Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Cancer Society. He has also appeared on City T.V.’s Animal House Calls and Rogers Your Pet Your Vet television shows and has written several articles for Newmarket’s Snapd Newspapers.

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