Animal Health Information & Tips

Check out our animal health section for useful information and tips regarding your pet’s health and wellbeing. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health, please don’t hesitate to contact Clinique Vétérinaire de Hull today.


Just like people, our pets can be allergic to many substances, including plants and pollens in the environment, certain foods, and even flea bites! While people with environmental allergies usually show signs such as watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing, environment allergies in our pets most often manifest as skin problems including scratching, licking at their feet, recurring skin or ear infections, and hair loss.

Pets can also be allergic to substances in their diet, most commonly the protein or meat source in their food. Signs of food allergies often present similarity to environmental allergies but digestive issues can also occur with food allergies. Allergies can be a frustrating disease to deal with for both you and your pet, and while there is no cure, there are several options for management including medications, dietary modifications, and even immunotherapy.


Anxiety in a dog can manifest itself in different ways starting with moaning when he finds himself alone, an intense fear of thunderstorms, fear of strangers or other dogs, ranging up to big panic attacks. Depending on the situation and severity, to help control anxiety, one can use behavior modification techniques, make nutritional changes and use pharmaceuticals. Our veterinarians are happy to discuss with you to eliminate any underlying medical problem and provide advice to manage your pet's anxiety and fears.


Although the exact prevalence of arthritis in our pets is unknown, it is likely that most cats over the age of 12 and many of our canine friends suffer from this painful condition. Signs of arthritis in dogs include lameness, stiffness, difficulty lying down or getting up, a reluctance to jump or go up and down stairs, and “slowing down” with age. Arthritis in cats can be more challenging to spot and subtle signs can include decreased grooming, reluctance or inability to jump or get onto higher surfaces, a dislike of being petted or groomed, urination or defecation outside the litter box, and stiffness or changes in gait.

Managing arthritis can be done in several way including weight loss, exercise modification, dietary changes and supplements, medications to promote healthy joints, and pain medications. Several treatment modalities are often used concurrently to get the best results and our vets can help you choose the right options for your pet.


The cage or "house" represents a burrow, a shelter, safety for your dog; the animal needs it. For the house, plan a wire cage adapted to the dog's adult size. Dimensions should allow it to lie on its side while stretching its legs, without allowing its digits to go through the wire mesh. It should also allow your dog to lie flat with its legs stretched out in front. During the puppy's growth, you should limit the space in the cage with an adjustable panel, so the puppy does not have more space than he needs to lie down with its legs stretched out in front.

Contact your cage manufacturer to get a separating wire panel built for this use. You could also use a Plexiglas or plastic panel. Avoid wood because your dog could scratch its foot pads or gnaw part of it! A dog will not want to relieve itself where it sleeps. That is why housebreaking of a dog that lives in a cage goes faster. In addition, the cage will not allow your dog to break things in the house in your absence or during the night. Your puppy must get used to the cage gradually; it must be pleasant and not stressful for your dog. It should not be a punishment. It is possible for your dog to get used to the cage if the experience is fun. You can also offer a treat each time it enters the cage.

Housetraining is an important step in your puppy's education. You might as well take all the time you need to start off well!


Diabetes is a well-known condition in our society. Diabetes can also affect domestic animals with high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Generally, animals present with weight loss, drinking and urinating excessively. Unfortunately, these symptoms are nonspecific and the diagnosis should be confirmed with further diagnostic testing such as blood work and a urine analysis. This disease can be treated with insulin injections given daily by the owner and a proper diet. Close monitoring should be done in the weeks after diagnosis to determine the correct insulin dosage to be administered.

Treatment should be maintained for the entire life of the animal except in rare cases where cats may have a remission. Obesity is a major risk factor in the onset of this disease, so that's another good reason to keep your pet in a healthy weight.

Ear Cleaning

Dirty ears are prone to bacterial and yeast infections, so regular monitoring and basic cleaning when necessary should be part of every pet’s grooming routine. We suggest using a pet ear cleaning solution and can recommend a specific one based on your pet’s needs. 

To clean your pet’s ears, instill a generous amount of cleaning solution into the ear canal to fill the entire canal. Dogs often enjoy the next step, which is to gently massage the base of your pet’s ear to spread the solution around and loosen any debris. Finally, use gauze to gently wipe away any debris from the inside of the ear flap and the visible part of the ear canal. Only go as far as you can see, and never insert anything down into the ear canal. Despite your best efforts, certain breeds, dogs with allergies, and dogs that bathe or swim frequently are prone to ear infections.

Warning signs include redness, discharge, thickened or crusty skin, a foul odour, scratching at the ears and head shaking. A veterinarian should be consulted promptly if you suspect an infection as ongoing infections can become severe and lead to permanent changes to your pet’s ears.



Puppies often do not have enough muscle tone to take long runs, but there are always exceptions. Most puppies will tell you when they have hit their limit, and it is important to resist pushing them beyond this point. Running or walking on pavement (especially hot pavement) can cause sloughing of the foot pads, so try to have breaks on softer surfaces by walking on grass. In the winter it is especially important that they don’t get cold. Provide your dog with the necessary gear (coats and/or boats) to get them through the winter by allowing them to go outside to have some exercise.

Until you understand your puppy’s stamina, be sure that you are able to stop when your puppy starts to lag behind. That means taking the short route 5 times instead of the long route once. If you feel that the puppy is not able to go as far as he should, consult a vet to see if there is a health reason for the intolerance.


Just as with children, excessive or inappropriate play can impact adult behaviour. Kittens that learn to play too rough often develop inappropriate behaviours that can impact their ability to fit into your home. The key is to allow kittens to develop their instinctive behaviours, but not to encourage them to become aggressive toward people or other animals. A simple rule is that claws and teeth are not appropriate interactions and when your kitten starts to scratch or chew on you, it is time to stop the play and find a new game at once.

So now how do you interact and play with your kitten? Start by providing environmental enrichment like climbing and hiding places. Cat trees or towers allow climbing play. Simple things like paper bags and boxes allow hiding behaviour as well as isolation. Playing kitten “peek-a-boo” or “hide and seek” will be fun for your kitten and a delight for you.

Providing toys you can share with your kitten will help strengthen the bond between you and your kitten. Again, they needn’t be fancy toys. A wadded up piece of paper or foil that you can roll across the room will suddenly become a thing to be chased, batted about and, in some cases, returned to you so you can continue the game.

Appropriate kitten play and enrichment will help assure you a relationship of delight with your kitten for years to come.

External Parasites

Ticks and fleas are probably the most common external parasites seen on pets. However, that is not to say that they are the only ones you need to think about controlling. Various mites, lice and flies may also deserve attention.

The threat of external parasites to your pet will vary according to your geographical location and the type of pet you own. Some of them (e.g., some species of ticks) can act as carriers (vectors) of disease agents and pass that disease onto your pet, while others may not act as a vector but may themselves cause a problem (e.g., fleas).

In cats and dogs, fleas are perhaps the most common external parasite problem encountered by pet owners. Fleas have been around for a very long time and know a thing or two about species survival so getting rid of a flea problem is never easy.


Demodectic Mange
These mites are considered to be normal inhabitants of dog skin. Pups acquire the mites from the dam while suckling. Most pups will not show any clinical symptoms of infestation. However, if they do, most cases resolve before one year of age. Demodex beyond that age indicates an immune deficiency. Two forms of demodectic mange can be seen. The first is a localized form. Here one gets a small patch (or patches) of hair loss and the skin can become slightly crusty. This form can heal without treatment. The second form is a generalized form where large areas of the dog’s skin are affected. This is obviously a more severe form but again, in dogs under one year, recovery can be complete.

Sarcoptic Mange
Again, these are far more common in dogs than in cats. They cause intense itching and are highly contagious. They are transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal or infected grooming tools. They can also be transmitted to humans and cause an intense itch and rash that is self-limiting unless there is constant re-infection by contact with an infected pet.


Lice aren’t very common in dogs or cats and are usually associated with animals in poor condition. They can cause severe irritation leading to scratching and hair loss. They lay eggs that look like little white grains of sand attached to the shaft of a hair. Lice are easily killed by most insecticides.

Please remember, that whichever external parasites you are treating, it is vital that you understand that most of the preparations you use are poisonous (otherwise they wouldn't kill the parasite!) and can harm your pet if not used correctly.


Fleas are tiny blood-sucking parasites that can affect both dogs and cats. Although they can also feed off humans, we are not their preferred meal. Signs that your pet has fleas include scratching, biting or licking at their skin, or skin changes such as hair loss, redness, rashes, and scabs. The fleas themselves can be difficult to see on your pet since they are less than 3 mm long and move very quickly. However, their droppings, also known as “flea dirt”, can often be seen in your pet’s coat.

Treatment and prevention of fleas is recommended since not only are they a nuisance to your pet, they can also cause significant skin disease and can even transmit several infections to your pet as well as to you. Because flea eggs, larvae and pupae can live in your pet’s environment for up to 6 months, treatment for several months is recommended to prevent recurrence.

There are several options for treatment and prevention, some of which also prevent/treat other parasites including intestinal and skin parasites, as well as ticks and heartworm. Our veterinarians and staff would be happy to find the solution that best suits your pet’s needs.


Infected mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting heartworm disease to our domestic animals such as dogs and cats. Did you know that other mammals are also susceptible to heartworm? Wolves, foxes, ferrets and sea lions can also develop this infection and serve as a reservoir. The parasite responsible for this disease is Dirofilaria Immitis. Mosquitoes become infected while taking a blood meal from an infected animal and eventually larvae will mature and be transmitted to an animal through a bite wound. These larvae will then develop into worms that enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries or occasionally the right side of the heart.

Did you know that heartworms can live up to 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats? Many infected animals do not have symptoms where as others will have symptoms such as coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing and weight loss. When heartworm is concerned, like any other disease, prevention is always the best medicine. Thankfully, diagnosing and preventing heartworm disease is simple and easy.

Our veterinarians are here to guide you in choosing the best prevention and also advising you on the best time of year to perform a heartworm test on your animal.

Intestinal Parasites

Our pets behave in ways that make them susceptible to developing intestinal parasites. Litter box charring, hunting and dog park attendance are some of the risk factors in developing these parasites. In addition, young animals can contract intestinal parasites through their moms, no need to even go outside!

It’s also important to realize that many of these animals can be coexisting with these undesirable hosts without any observable signs. Others will manifest symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, blood in their stool or poor general health and growth. The most commonly diagnosed intestinal parasites in our practice are; round worms, tape worms, whip worms and hook worms. Luckily we have an arsenal of highly effective and easy to administer products available to treat and prevent these pesky parasites!

House Training

House training starts with positive reinforcement: stroke, pet and reward the animal only when it obeys a command or behaves properly; avoid stroking it in other circumstances. This will make the dog more receptive to training. In other words, no stroking or "free" rewards. This will also help the puppy develop its independence.

Feed your pet according to a strict schedule: take the recommended amount of food per day and divide it in 3 meals, given at regular hours (even on the weekend!). After 20 minutes, remove the food and leave a little bit of water. The puppy will need to relieve itself 10 to 20 minutes after eating its meal; be ready to take it outside!

Go outside with your dog regularly, holding it on a leash and always using the same door. Choose a place where it can relieve itself in the summer as well as in the winter. Always bring it to this place and say words like "toilet", "pee" or any other word of your choice. This must all be done with enthusiasm. The puppy should have fun doing what you want it to do and this must show in your tone of voice; use a stimulating and happy tone.

If your neighbours look at you in a funny way, it means that you are using the right method! Once at the chosen area, you can play with your puppy and stimulate it. You will notice that it won't take long before it does its business. When this happens, congratulate it immediately. Give it a small reward if you want to (a piece of dog biscuit). Remember that you have only 4 seconds to express satisfaction; therefore, it is important to reward it at the exact moment it does what it is supposed to do. If it doesn't do anything after 5 minutes, it is useless to remain any longer outside. If you have a cage, put it back in it instead of letting it walk freely around the house, or keep it inside on a leash so as to always have an eye on it.

If you catch it crouching down to relieve itself in the house, you can say “NO” while growling softly, and above all without slapping it! Bring it immediately outside and there, demonstrate happiness by saying the special words chosen for its nature's needs. Whether it relieves itself or not, it is important to act happy once you are outside. It is the contrast in your expression that will enable it to understand the difference.

If you find urine or stools in the house, or if you catch it right after the fact, ignore the mess and pick it up when the animal cannot see you. It is useless to reprimand a puppy; it will not associate its mess with the punishment, even if it looks miserable. After one second, the action is already gone and forgotten for the dog in training. It will look miserable, but it will not be able to recognize that it has done its business in the wrong place a few seconds ago. You should definitely not put its nose in its urine or stools; doing this will not help it learn where it should have gone and the animal will quickly become confused, thinking that it should not relieve itself! Next time, it will try to hide to do it!

To clean an area soiled with stools or urine, avoid any ammonia-based solution (Lysol for example), because the odour of this product, which is close to the odour of uric acid, could prompt your pet to return to the soiled area. Once cleaned with soap, you can rinse the area with a half-and-half vinegar and water solution. This mixture will mask the pheromones (hormones that are distinctive of each animal and that humans cannot smell) and the urine smell.

Household Hazards

In the house:

      To avoid falls, put up window screens.

      Many plants are toxic when ingested. You can refer to the following site for more info: or

      Try to cover electric cords because kittens and puppies that are teething just love chewing on them (risk of electrocution).

      Don't leave your pet unsupervised around a burning fireplace or a heater that is turned on; it could burn itself.

      Don't let it play with plastic bags because it could choke.

      Pick up all small objects that it could take in its mouth and swallow.

In the garage:

  • Animals just love the taste and odour of antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Make sure containers are securely closed and out of reach. Clean up messes on the floor as soon as possible.

  • Put away paint, gasoline, oil, rat poison and any other chemical product.

Kitchen, laundry room and bathroom:

  • Make sure to turn off the stove and unplug the iron when you leave the room.

  • Keep cleaning products out of reach since they can be toxic (bleach, Swiffer, WetJet, Mr. Clean, etc.).

  • Keep washer and dryer doors closed and before turning them on, make sure your pet is not in them!

  • Make sure your pet does not have access to beauty products (shampoo, sunscreen, nail polish remover, etc.) and medications.

In the garden:

  • As with indoor plants, some outdoor plants can be toxic; refer to the internet site previously mentioned and look up "in the home".

  • Close the door of the storage shed securely in order to avoid accidents with tools and gardening products (fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, etc.).

  • If possible, do not allow your pet to come in contact with your lawn or garden if treated with chemicals.


Good training (teach your dog not to leave your yard) could help avoid your pet getting hit by a car. You can also install a high enough fence so that it cannot jump over it. The fence should also be close enough to the grounds so that your animal cannot crawl under it.


Hyperthyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland that normally affects middle-aged to senior cats (rarely dogs). A portion of the gland becomes larger and working harder than is necessary for the animal. In rare cases, it is a cancer of the thyroid gland. Most of the time, the owners notice that their cat is vocalizing more than usual, loses weight, is vomiting but he eats a lot and is very active. The diagnosis is confirmed by blood tests and dosage of thyroid hormone (T4). 

There are several treatment options such as including a specific diet, an oral medication, radioactive iodine or surgery where the thyroid gland is removed. Our veterinarian team can discuss with you the various options, their advantages and disadvantages in due course. It is a disease that has a good prognosis when treated and has a good medical care.


Hypothyroidism mainly affects middle-aged dogs (rarely cats) and results in a decrease of thyroid hormone production. Different symptoms can be observed such as weight gain, loss of energy, intolerance to cold, skin problems and excessive hair loss. A diagnosis is made with blood tests and dosage of thyroid hormones (T4).

In terms of treatment, the disease is well controlled with medication to be given by mouth daily for the entire life of the animal. Weight loss is also an integral part of the treatment and low-calorie diet should be started. The prognosis is normally excellent with hypothyroidism treatment.



Cats normally do not require a bath unless recommended by a veterinarian or if the cat is really dirty. Regular brushing and nail clipping is recommended. Start getting your kitten accustomed to brushing and combing and having her nails trimmed. Make it fun for her by rewarding tolerance and cooperation.

  • Ideally combing your pet 4 to 7 times per week will remove dead fur and keep their fur lustrous. Quite a few of our clients have had great success with the “Furminator” products (shampoos, conditioner and combs) and they are available at most pet stores.

  • Adding supplements that contain essential fatty acids (omega 3) to their diet daily can help with skin and coat.

  • Poor nutrition can also be a cause of dry skin or shedding.

Consider speaking to your veterinarian staff if you have any questions!

The most common reason for avoiding nail trims are that the owner is afraid of “quicking” the cat, or that the cat fusses and creates bad feelings around the procedure. Nail cutting becomes an event surrounded by angst and drama. Toe nail maintenance requires a trim every two weeks, just like maintaining human fingernails. If you can hear nails clicking on your kitchen floor, they are much too long. Make nail trimming fun! Always associate nail trimming with cookies and praise. If you cut the quick it’s ok! There is a powder that you can purchase that you apply on the bleeding nail.

The grooming experience should be a positive experience for you and your cat. Positive reinforcement is the key!


We recommend bathing your dog at least once every three months, but some may require more frequent baths if he or she spends a lot of time outdoors or has skin problems. Here are some steps to help you get started. Regular grooming with a brush and comb will help keep your pet's hair in good condition by removing dirt, spreading natural oils throughout her coat, preventing tangles, removing loose fur and keeping her skin clean and irritant-free.

Using a shampoo formulated for pets is best. Sometimes your puppy will require a bath more often than once every 3 months. Using a non-soap shampoo is a wise choice if you choose to bath at least once a week. We also recommend using a pet conditioner after the shampoo this is help condition the skin and leave the fur lustrous and soft. Combing your pet 4 to 7 times per week is ideal.

The most common reason for avoiding nail trims are that the owner is afraid of “quicking” the dog, or that the dog fusses and creates bad feelings around the procedure. Nail cutting becomes an event surrounded by angst and drama. For very active dogs that run all day long on varied surfaces, cutting nails may not be necessary. High mileage wears them down naturally.

Among city or suburban dogs who are lucky to get a mile or two walk daily, excessively long toenails are more common than not. Toe nail maintenance requires a trim every two weeks, just like maintaining human fingernails. If you can hear nails clicking on your kitchen floor, they are much too long. Make nail trimming fun! Always associate nail trimming with cookies and praise. If you cut the quick it’s ok! There is a powder that you can purchase that you apply on the bleeding nail. The grooming experience should be a positive experience for you and your dog. Positive reinforcement is the key!

Introducing a New Cat

Cats are territorial by nature and introducing a new cat to an existing group requires a lot of patience. Most cats can learn to cope with a new housemate, but it’s important to allow a period of adjusting to the mere presence of another cat before formal introductions are made. We recommend using crating and room restrictions where cats are sectioned off from one another at first. Cats seem to sense the presence of another, often before they see them. For a cat, sound and smell are as important as actually seeing each other. The introduction process should be very gradual, over a couple of days to weeks at the very least. Your current cats will be naturally curious about a new smell in a closed room.

  • Move the new cat to a small room, e.g., a spare bathroom and open the cage. The door to this room should be kept closed, and the room should contain a litter box, dry food, water, as well as comforting objects like a scratching post, comfortable bed and cat toys. Leave the carrier open on the floor so the new cat can retreat there if he or she feels threatened.

  • Observe your cat’s response. Undoubtedly, they will be drawn to the door by the sounds and smells of the new cat. The new cat will likely start to reach under the door which will provide a contact opportunity for them. Leave the new cat confined to the room overnight.

  • Make certain that litter pans are kept clean and water and fresh food are available at all times. Play with and handle each cat when the other is out of the room to minimize territorial jealousy.

Litter Box

Did you know an unclean litter box can results in serious behavioural and medical problems in cats such as: Urinating inappropriately around the house, defecating right outside the litter box, spraying and potentially predisposing them to medical conditions such as urinary tract disease?

Your cat does not simply need a litter box – your cat needs a clean litter box with fresh litter. Your cat may not use the litter box if it smells of urine. Think about it from the cat's point of view. When your cat soils your dining room carpet, the area is immediately and thoroughly cleaned. Given the choice between a regularly cleaned place and a litter box that gets changed only once or twice a week, your cat will naturally prefer the carpet.

The litter box must be cleaned daily. Make sure that the litter box is in an appropriate place. Cats do not like to soil the areas close to their sleeping or eating areas, so place the litter box some distance away. However, do not place the litter box in an area that is too inaccessible. For example, if the litter box is placed in the bathroom, make sure the door cannot swing shut preventing the cat from getting to it. If the cat is new to your home, she may go into hiding for a few days so place a litter box close to her hiding place.

Make sure you have the right number of litter boxes. You should always have 1 more litter box than the number of cats. If you have 1 cat, you should have 2 boxes. If you have 3 cats, you should have 4 boxes.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a common condition in our pets. Mostly dogs can vomit in the car even if the journey is short. In certain cases, measures are taken before traveling to prevent motion sickness. The website Dogs in motion provides you with some tips to incorporate into your routine before leaving with your dog in a car. If the nausea persists, speak to your veterinarian about a preventative medication that can be prescribed.


If you socialize your dog in a variety of situations, especially those situations in which you often find yourself (households with lots of children or pets, dog parks with your other dogs, a busy city street, etc.), you’ll know how he is going to react and feel confident that your dog is going to be comfortable and well behaved in any situation. If you’re not focusing on social skills from an early age, you’re basically always putting your dog into new and surprising situations. This can lead to fear, insecurity, and the negative behaviours that come with those emotions.

First of all, the socialization of a puppy should start early - before five weeks of age. By five weeks, the puppy is already showing signs of being afraid of people, objects and other new surroundings. This means it is essential that breeders and puppy foster homes perform a socialization plan.

Secondly, socialization should begin before 14 weeks of age if not many puppies will be condemned to a life of fear unless they have a more intense socialization than others. The message is simple and direct, and taking it to heart could be the difference between having a happy and well-behaved dog, to a dog that is afraid of people, objects, other animals and environments that we humans perceive as safe.

Traveling Abroad

Are you leaving the country with your pet? You should contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in your region to verify the requirements of the country you are going to. At the same you can acquire the export documents needed depending on your destination. It would be our pleasure for our veterinarians to examine your pet before your departure and to complete any official documents needed following the health exam, with a 24 hour delay following the exam.


546 Saint-Joseph Boulevard

Gatineau, Quebec

J8Y 4A4

  819-777-1333



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