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LifeLearn Admin


By | Featured Pet

It is with sad hearts that we pass along the news that our dear Trixie passed away on January 21, 2015. Trixie was surrendered to our clinic in 2012 when her owner could no longer manage her health problems-most of which resulted from being very obese. Trixie lived at the clinic until 2014 when she was adopted by one of our summer students. Trixie spent the last year of her life in a very loving home and was finally able to be a cat. Her new owner, Michelle, worked with Trixie to help her lose weight through controlled diet and hydrotherapy. Trixie was finally at a healthy weight and she enjoyed exploring both the upstairs and downstairs of her new home. Our thoughts are with Michelle at this very sad time and we are very grateful that she gave Trixie so much love and care.

Trixie was adopted by Headon Forest Animal Hospital in 2012 (see her full story under previous featured pets).  In early 2014, Trixie was very fortunate to find her forever home with Michelle, one of our summer students. Under Michelle’s care, Trixie has undergone underwater treadmill therapy and laser therapy which have helped her mobility greatly.  Adjunct therapy along with continued weight loss has   allowed Trixie to decrease her arthritis medication -she can even do stairs-a feat that was unimaginable months ago. Her diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease is in remission thanks to a special diet and controlled weight loss. Trixie is a very happy kitty and is living the life of a princess. Although we miss her sweet face and silly antics at Headon Forest, we are very thankful that Trixie is in a wonderful home enjoying her golden years. Thanks Michelle for giving Trixie a new lease on life.


Sleeping cat on couch

Adopting the senior cat

By | Featured Pet

Hi, my name is Lindsay and I am a technician at Headon Forest Animal Hospital. I wanted to share with you my experience of adopting two senior cats. Remi is approximately 13 years old and I adopted him two years ago when he was found by Burlington Humane Society and was treated at our hospital for dehydration. Remi was so affectionate and handsome and seemed like a great fit for my family. As an older cat we knew his personality right away and there was no worries about litter box training or climbing furniture or curtains like kittens often do. He was already neutered so we did not have to incur that expense. Remi loves to cuddle and socialize and plays with his human brother with a catnip duck. Remi visits the clinic twice a year for routine wellness checks and we are very happy to have him in our family.

Twix is our second senior cat that we have agreed to be long term fosters for the Burlington Humane Society. He is approximately 11 years old and was VERY stressed at the shelter to the point of not wanting to eat. Twix would need periodic treatment for dehydration so being in a home was an easy solution. Now that he lives with our family, Twix eats well, is very active and social.

As there are a wide variety of furry friends varying in ages available for adoption, think about adopting a senior cat. When adopting an older cat, you benefit in skipping all the tougher stuff you would need to go through with a kitten such as litter training, inappropriate scratching and biting. You also know what you’re getting in terms of a cats’ temperament – senior cats already have their personalities developed so you know if he or she is a good fit for your family. Something to keep in mind as well is that senior cats aren’t defective – they have likely come from a loving home where their owners have either developed allergies, moved into a nursing home or apartment and can no longer keep their pet. Senior cats at adoption centers are usually up to date with routine vaccines and many have been neutered or spayed. Older cats are often content to just relax in your company whereas younger cats may get into trouble if they’re bored.

With both of my adopted senior cats, we quickly formed a close bond. They both seem to show a level of affection and attention that is exclusive to adopted older animals; Remi and Twix somehow know that I’ve provided them a forever loving home.


By | Featured Pet

Bruin is a lovable young tomcat who was found as a stray in Burlington this summer. He was rescued by the Burlington Humane Society (BHS) and they generously covered the costs of his extensive medical care. Bruin’s initial exam found him to be in pretty rough shape. He had several broken teeth and evidence of healed battle wounds including notches in his ear tips which are common in cats who have been fighting.

In co-ordination with BHS, Bruin was neutered and had dental surgery to address his broken teeth at another hospital. Recovering from his surgeries back at the shelter, Bruin was slow to heal and still feeling unwell. He started showing signs of an upper respiratory tract infection including fever, sneezing, runny eyes and nasal congestion. Poor Bruin wasn’t eating well because he was so congested that he couldn’t smell his food. One of our veterinarians Dr Hall is also the shelter vet at BHS. She transferred Bruin to Headon Forest Animal Hospital (HFAH) to treat his respiratory infection.

During his stay at HFAH, Bruin had bloodwork done and he tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV is a viral infection in cats that is spread through saliva, commonly by cat bites. This infection has a higher incidence in cats who fight. It can also be spread from the mother cat (queen) to her kittens. FIV infection can suppress the cat’s immune system, making it harder for them to fight and clear infections and often delaying their healing time.

Due to his FIV status, Bruin had to be treated more intensively in hospital to help him recover from his respiratory infection and heal from his surgeries. He stayed at HFAH for almost three weeks in intensive care in our isolation ward before he was well enough to be adopted. During his stay with us, all of our staff fell in love with this sweet lovable kitty. Even when he was feeling sick, Bruin was a purr machine!

As an FIV positive kitty, Bruin needed an extra special adoptive home where he was the only cat and he could get lots of TLC and regular veterinary care to help him live a long and healthy life. When the people at Pets Plus Us insurance company heard Bruin’s story, they offered to adopt him as their office cat. Bruin has settled in very well and now rules the roost in their spacious headquarters in Oakville. He even has his own office! We are all so happy for Bruin!


By | Featured Pet

My name is Trixie, a.k.a. Trixie Doodle, I am Headon Forest Animal Hospital’s new clinic cat.

I came to them in April of 2012 when my owners could no longer take care of me. I lived in a busy household and I used to have a lot of accidents when it came to using my little box. I was also morbidly obese, had arthritis and I would get awful urinary tract infections and skin infections around my private parts because I couldn’t groom myself properly. I have since been on a special diet to help me lose the extra pounds while keeping my lean muscle (yes, I have muscle under all the fat!) and already I have lost over 3 pounds! I hear that this is a big deal in feline dieting!!

The doctors at Headon Forest put me on medication to help my arthritis and the wonderful girls keep a close eye out for any problems in the urinary department. I also have an extra large litter box that is kept very clean and a little step to help me get into the box. I try so hard to make sure I use the litter box every day and I now only have the occasional accident. Everyone at the clinic treats me so well and I feel so grateful everyday that they gave me a second chance!!


By | Featured Pet

Hello, my name is Zoey. I am a 4 year old Maltipoo. I have had pet insurance since my family brought me home at 8 weeks of age. I have always been a healthy dog, so my mom and dad would have conversations (lengthy conversations) of whether is was worth it to keep the insurance.

One night when my mom and dad came home from a movie, my mom left chocolate in her purse (obviously for me to eat). They didn’t seem very happy about taking me to the emergency hospital at 1:30 am. At 4:30 am we were on our way back home with a $250 bill. All was well, especially because my insurance helped cover the costs from that visit.

Recently, while I was home with my mom relaxing, I started feeling strange. My mom came into the room and found me unable to stand or walk. Before I knew it I was at Headon Forest Animal Hospital getting checked out. Dr. Martin thinks I had a seizure like episode and I was referred to a neurologist. At the neurologist I was told that if I had another episode I would need an MRI and a spinal tap to check my spinal fluid. These procedures may cost almost $2000. The cost of the combined visits at Headon Forest was almost $350 which was covered by my insurance. Luckily, I haven’t had anymore episodes but my parents are very happy that if I do need more tests they can do them because of my insurance.

A couple of days ago while on a walk, I started to favour my left hind leg. In I came to visit the girls at Headon Forest Animal Hospital. The doctor was concerned that I had a cruciate ligament tear. After being sedated and getting xrays of my knee I heard my mom yell “YAY!” I did not have a tear,it was my luxating patella acting up (which I may need surgery for in the future but not yet). My mom paid the bill ($520) with a smile on her face that I was fine and she will be expecting a cheque from the pet insurance provider.

I now never hear mom and dad discussing if pet insurance is worth it. Instead, they discuss how lucky they are to have signed up so early before all of my issues occurred. Now, if I can just stop eating my 2 year old brother’s food…..

Cayco Miskimins

By | Featured Pet

Cayco is a beautiful 5 year old Golden Doodle who is owned by the wonderful Miskimins family. She has been a patient of Headon Forest Animal Hospital since she was a puppy. Cayco’s owners noticed that she was not herself and had decreased energy and she did not want to go for her evening walks. Her appetite was also reduced and her owners were very concerned that she was sick. Dr Carolyn Martin examined Cayco and found that Cayco was overweight and her heart rate was low. Cayco had gained about 2 kilograms (about 4.5 pounds) in 3 months. Dr Martin recommended some blood work for Cayco especially to test her thyroid function. Cayco’s blood work revealed that she had a disease called hypothyroidism. This disease is common is large breed dogs (especially Golden and Labrador Retrievers). The thyroid gland plays a very important role in regulating the body’s metabolism. It is located in the neck near the trachea (windpipe). In dogs with hypothyroidism, the immune system causes destruction of the cells in the thyroid gland causing thyroid hormone to be produced in very small amounts. This causes the affected dog to gain weight, act tired and not want to eat. They may also seek areas of warmth. On physical exam, a veterinarian may notice a low heart rate, weight gain and sometimes, poor hair coat and dark skin. Blood work will often reveal a low red blood cell count (anemia) and high cholesterol. Free T4 levels will be low. Free T4 is the thyroid hormone we measure in the blood. If the thyroid level is low, we will ask the lab to also run a TSH level. If this level is high then we have a confirmation of hypothyroidism. This disease is very easy to treat; we simply supplement the pet with thyroid hormone pills. The pet is on the medication for the rest of his/her life. We take a blood sample for a thyroid level 4-6 weeks after starting the medication, then if the levels have normalized we check the free T4 every 6 months to make sure that the pet is getting the right amount of medication. Sometimes we need to change the amount of medication as the pet ages.

Cayco was started on thyroid medication and after 2 weeks Mrs. Miskimins noticed a difference in her attitude. She has energy like a puppy and they even noticed her eyes were brighter! Cayco came in for a recheck of her thyroid level and it was perfect! She even lost about 2 kilograms. We at Headon Forest are very happy with how she is doing and we are thankful to have such dedicated pet parents like the Miskimins family.

Fergie the Super Pug!

By | Featured Pet

Fergie is a 1 year old pug dog with a sweet loveable wrinkly face. Her owner Carrie noticed that Fergie snored a lot when she slept and couldn’t walk around the block without having to stop to catch her breath. Also, she seemed to have trouble with her hind legs and occasionally limped as if her leg had given out on her. Carrie brought Fergie in for a visit at Headon Forest Animal Hospital to discuss these concerns. Upon examination, her veterinarian, Dr Patton discovered that Fergie had a few problems that are common in pugs and other small breed dogs.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome: Due to their cute wrinkly pushed-in faces, certain breeds of dogs (eg. pugs & bulldogs especially, as well as Persian & Himalayan cats) can have trouble breathing. They have excess tissue at the back of their throats due to their shortened snouts, and these tissues can become more swollen due to the extra pressure of heavy breathing. Their nostrils & windpipes are often too narrow, making it difficult for them to get enough air into their lungs; kind of like trying to breathe through a straw. All of these problems with their breathing apparatus are worsened with obesity, exercise, respiratory infections and during hot humid summer weather.

Treatment: Keep the dog up to date on vaccines to prevent infections. Keep her cool during the summer and manage body weight to help minimize trouble breathing. If symptoms are severe like Fergie’s, surgery can be performed to improve her airways and breathing. Fergie had surgery to widen her nostrils and her owner Carrie noticed an improvement in her snoring and breathing right away! We will continue to monitor her breathing closely, and she may have a second surgery to trim the excess tissue at the back of her throat if needed.

Luxating Patellas: Many small & miniature breed dogs (eg. Yorkshire terriers, Pugs, Boston terriers, Chihuahuas) are born with kneecaps that slip out of place when they bend their legs. This is caused by an abnormality in the anatomy of the dog’s knee. This hereditary disease can cause occasional limping in hind limbs, bowlegged stance and the dog may hold one of his/her back legs up when running or the owner may feel the kneecap pop in & out of place when the dog’s leg is bending. There are different levels of severity of this condition, depending how abnormal the alignment of the dog’s knee is. This condition is also worsened by obesity.

Treatment: If the limping is severe or the kneecap is out of place most of the time; then surgery is recommended to correct the problem. Without treatment, these dogs will have ongoing discomfort and limping, are more prone to other knee injuries (such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture) and will develop arthritis in their knees at an early age. Fergie had surgery to correct one of her knees in July and is recovering well. She plans to have her other knee corrected in 2-3 months. • Obesity: Overeating and not getting enough exercise (or both!) can contribute to weight gain in pets. Being overweight increases the pressure on dogs’ & cats’ joints and hearts and increases their risk of diabetes, heart disease, skin problems and joint injuries/lameness. Overweight pets often have less energy and interest in play or walks; and their obesity can worsen any other pre-existing conditions (in Fergie’s case- her breathing and knee problems).

Treatment: Measuring the amount of food at each meal and minimizing treats & extras are helpful ways to reduce your pet’s calorie intake. The veterinary team at Headon Forest Animal Hospital designed a feeding plan for Fergie which included portion control to meet her recommended amount of calories per day based on her age, weight and body condition score. This was achieved by feeding a reduced calorie prescription diet to help maximize her weight loss success, and monthly weigh- ins to monitor her progress.

Luckily for Fergie, her owner Carrie had planned ahead in case of any unforeseen illnesses and signed Fergie up for pet insurance. Her insurance policy helped to cover the costs of her much needed corrective surgeries to help improve her comfort and quality of life. She is on the right track with her weight loss plan and looking and feeling better already!

Introducy Lucy!

By | Featured Pet

Twas the month AFTER Christmas and all through the house

Lucy the puppy is playing…she’s cuter than a mouse.

Cheryl hung Lucy’s leash by the chimney with cheer

Knowing that she’d been a healthy puppy all year.

She’s been to Headon Forest to be checked nose-to-tail

Their team has helped her grow strong without any ails.

Her diet is the best food to develop and grow

So she can have fun romping around in the snow.

Her puppy vaccines had gone smooth as can be

At eight weeks and twelve weeks and then week sixteen.

Her poop showed no parasites and her blood tests were done

So she had her spay surgery and everything was plum!

Her microchip implant ensures she’ll always have I.D.

No matter how far she runs, as fast as can be!

If out on the lawn she causes a clatter

Pet Secure Insurance will cover whatever’s the matter.

When Cheryl picks up her leash and gives a big whistle

Lucy comes flying like the down of a thistle!

With a wag of her tail and wiggle of her nose

Lucy is a perfectly healthy puppy… and it shows!

LucyLucy is an adorable 7 month old French Bulldog puppy. She has been all taken care of by her loving mom, Cheryl.

Cheryl has done everything necessary to ensure Lucy is protected from viruses by vaccinating her and growing steadily with an appropriate diet. She has chosen to microchip Lucy in case she is ever lost from home. Lucy has been spayed to ensure there will be no unwanted litters. Most of all, Lucy is insured with PetSecure Insurance, in case any unforeseen accidents or illnesses occur. Hats off to Cheryl for being such an excellent pet parent!

Sasha’s Story

By | Featured Pet

Sasha is a 10-year-old, female unspayed Siberian Husky who presented to our hospital due to lethargy and vomiting. Sasha’s physical examination revealed her to be quite dehydrated and she was immediately placed on intravenous fluids to correct this. Abdominal x-rays were performed and revealed a greatly enlarged uterus. Based on her history and physical exam findings, a pyometra or infection of the uterus was suspected.

Pyometra is considered a potentially life threatening emergency. Pets will often appear lethargic, lose their appetite, vomit and appear excessively thirsty. If left untreated, the infected uterus can become so large that it may burst releasing the infection throughout the abdomen. Treatment for a pyometra involves surgically removing the infected uterus (ovariohysterectomy – also called spaying) preferably before the uterus ruptures.

Sasha’s condition continued to deteriorate and therefore emergency exploratory surgery was performed, confirming a pyometra. Unfortunately for Sasha, her uterus had already ruptured and there was evidence of infection and damage throughout her abdominal organs. Her uterus was removed and the abdomen was washed thoroughly with saline. Sasha stayed in the hospital for several days after her surgery and made a full and complete recovery!

We are happy to report that Sasha is doing well and now has a new lease on life! Her 10-year-old littermate Nikita was also spayed shortly after Sasha’s surgery to prevent her from having to go through the same ordeal. Both dogs are now happy and healthy.

Any unspayed female cat or dog is at risk for a pyometra, with the risk increasing with age. These uterine infections are often caused by E.coli which can also damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure. If you do not intend to breed your pet, the best way to prevent this life threatening condition is to have her spayed. Spaying your pet helps to prevent the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancers and spaying her before her first heat will also reduce her chances of developing mammary cancer later in life.

Satchmo Hargreave

By | Featured Pet

Satchmo Hargreave is a 5 year old neutered male Golden Retriever (from the kennels of Chartwell Golden Retrievers) who presented to Headon Forest Animal Hospital a few weeks ago after eating a muffin cup. His owner had been baking carrot cake muffins and briefly left the silicone muffin cups unattended with the batter in place. It was easy to surmise that he had eaten the cup, batter and all, when he was seen licking his lips by the empty counter space! After 4 days of trouble swallowing his food, mom knew there was a problem and Satchmo came to visit us.

xrayWhen Satchmo was examined, he looked perfectly normal. We decided to take an xray due to the certainty of consumption and a visible swelling in his esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). We then did a barium swallow which nicely outlined the position of the silicone cup sitting as expected in the esophagus. The esophagus is not an organ that lends itself to surgery and our concern was that the longer the cup stayed in place, the greater the chance of stricture formation here. Our best option was immediate endoscopy. Fortunately, we had available the services of an internal medicine specialist that same day. We were able to remove the cup using a flexible endoscope. Satchmo recovered uneventfully and went home that same day. His owner has since given away her silicone muffin cups and will never again leave her delicious baking unattended.