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Cold Weather Safety for Pets

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As you know, our weather can get rather extreme here in Manitoba. We range from approximately forty five degrees Celsius in the summer to minus 50 degrees Celsius in the winter months. This can be extremely hard on your pets so I’d like to address some things that we can do to keep our animals safe and happy during our winter months.

First of all, your dog or cat should never be left outside for extended periods of time, just like people they are prone to frostbite and hypothermia.  To ensure that you and your beloved pet are going into the coldest months well prepared, make sure they are up to date with their wellness examination as well as preventative care such as vaccinations and blood work.  At their annual checkup you can discuss things such as arthritis and stiffness, how their heart and lungs sound, how your pet is aging, etc. which are all things that may affect your pets tolerance to the cold. 

Your pet’s tolerance of the cold weather will also be affected by coat type, how much body fat they have, size of the pet, etc. but regardless of this all pets are at risk!  Dogs should be let outside only briefly to go to the bathroom and return back inside the house, walks should be kept to a minimum but if you have a high energy breed that requires exercise you can put a dog jacket or sweater on them as well as some dog boots to help keep them warm and prevent frostbite.  If you are worried that your dog or cat has frostbite or hypothermia you should take them to your regular veterinarian as soon as possible.


            During these cold snaps when your pets can’t get the same physical exercise that they’re accustomed to there are some things you can do to help keep them mentally stimulated in the house. Food puzzles and games are a simple and affordable way to keep your pet busy, there are many options online and they have different difficulty levels starting at beginner for a pet that hasn’t done a puzzle before. Make your dog work for his or her food, throwing dry food that won’t make a mess down a staircase and making them go up and down the stairs for the food is a good way to help them get some physical exercise while indoors. Many dogs can also be easily trained to walk on a treadmill if you have one at home as well, this is a great alternative to having them go outdoors for a walk.  

Many dogs will also enjoy a game of hide and go seek and it’s very simple, all they need to know is stay!  Simply have your dog sit or lay down and stay in an area of the house while you go and hide, call your dog one time and release them from their stay and let them sniff you out, make sure to reward with a treat when they find you.

Tug of war is another great game to physically and mentally challenge your dogs, just make sure it’s safe and controlled while playing, to play this game with your dog they should know the “out” or “drop it” command.  The cold weather is also a great opportunity to teach your dog or cat a new trick and work on their general obedience, try practicing “heel” with your dog without a leash all around your home, this will help their manners on leash as well when it’s warm enough to go outside again, or practice their “stay” command, this will help keep them mentally active. 

Introduce them to new people and places, although your pet can’t go for walks outdoors you can find some pet friendly stores to take your dog into for something to do, please note that this should only be done if your dog is well socialized and if you have full control over your dog in public settings. 

Give them something to chew on, many dogs love having something to chew on, bully sticks or Kongs stuffed with frozen baby food are great options for dogs that seem to be able to chew anything quickly.  Cats can also be fed out of a treat ball for mental and physical exercise, and many cats will happily chase a toy wand for hours on end. Catnip or honeysuckle toys are a great way to help keep our feline friends busy as well.  They also love having lots of different surfaces to be able to scratch and climb on such as cat trees and cardboard boxes, this is a great natural way for them to be mentally stimulated.

            Hopefully some of these tips have helped give you some ideas as to what you can do with your pet while it’s too cold for them outside and please never leave your animals outside during freezing temperatures.


From Katie

In Memory of Bonnie

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Bonnie has been a loyal and loving part of our family 13 years. We adopted her from the City of Winnipeg Animal Services on November 9, 2005 and after a tumultuous first year with Houdini (the escape artist) who suffered from separation anxiety, she settled into the best friend we could ever have had.

She was a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog and a Canadian Animal Blood Donor.

I swear that she walked more than 500 miles with me up until my first knee surgery in 2016. Her vocabulary far exceeded that of our other 2 dogs we had the pleasure of having in our lives.  She always wanted to please and was very easy to train. We enrolled in an obedience/agility class shortly after her adoption and she did amazingly well.  She would do whatever I asked her to do because she had so much trust in me.

She had the memory of an elephant too.  If she spotted a bunny under a tree on a walk she would remember that bunny on a walk weeks later.  She also knew the route of our walks and would usually lead the way, and we had more than one route.

She loved the cottage as well as her back yard at home where she would chase the squirrels daily. She loved Christmas so much. We would have to make sure all our presents were open before we gave hers to her, otherwise she would try to open ours for us.

We would like to thank McPhillips Animal Hospital for the fabulous care and compassion given to Bonnie for the past 13 years.

Chase those squirrels “get’em Bonnie”.  We love you and you will remain in our hearts forever.


Jaclyn/Bruce Douglas

4 Considerations Before Committing to Bringing Home a New Puppy

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by Karina, RVT


There is nothing more exciting than picking out and bringing home a new puppy.  Before you dive in, take a moment to consider the following:

  • Does everyone in the household (including other current pets) want a new puppy, and do they understand and accept their roll in the care tasks they’ll be responsible for?
  • Do you / your family have the time to spend caring for a new puppy?
  • Do you / your family have the finances to support the costs associated with a new puppy, and ongoing costs of owning a dog?
  • Does a dog fit into your life 10+ years in the future?

Before you go ahead and get a new puppy, there are a number of factors to consider if a new puppy is right for you and your family at this time.  All members of the household should discuss together their feelings towards bringing a new puppy into the home.  This also means taking into consideration any current pets, and how they will react to having a new puppy in the home.  Care duties should be discussed to ensure each member will know what is expected of them when the new puppy comes, and everyone is aware of the amount of work a new puppy will be.  Who will feed the puppy 3-4 times a day?  Who will take the puppy outside for potty breaks, and who will clean up after the puppy?  Who will be responsible for training the puppy and keeping a schedule in place for the puppy’s care? 

A new puppy will take a lot of time to properly care for.  Each day try to imagine if you already had a new puppy, do you have time every single day to devote hours to training, playing with, feeding, cleaning up after, and exercising a puppy?  Will you be able to ensure the puppy is let outside every 30-60 minutes while house training?  In the first couple weeks, this can mean a trip or two outside at night as well.  The puppy will need vet visits every 3-4 weeks until he/she is 16 weeks of age.  Once the vaccine series is done, the puppy should be enrolled in weekly puppy manners lessons.

Puppies are expensive, not just to buy (average puppy price approximately $1000), but to properly care for as well.  The first 6-8 months are generally the most expensive when it comes to routine care.  You’ll need to buy a kennel, collar, leash, food and water dishes, blankets, beds/pillows, toys, food, treats, etc (average cost $350-$500).  Your puppy will also need a vet visit at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age for healthy growth check-ups and vaccinations.  Vaccines the puppy will receive will protect him/her against many viruses including parvo, which is a very common virus that is almost unavoidable.  If a puppy contracts parvo, it is almost always fatal without veterinary care.  Treatment for parvo can cost $2000+, and mean the puppy is hospitalized for a week or more, so it really is better for you and your puppy to ensure he/she is protected from this virus by vaccinating.  The puppy will also need his/her neuter/spay at 6-8 months of age.   The average cost of puppy vaccine series, spay/neuter, microchip, deworming, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick prevention for a puppy is approximately $1000-$1500 depending on the size of the pet, and the presurgical options you choose.  This means in 6-8 months of puppy ownership, when it comes to buying the dog, accessories, and routine vet care, it could cost $2350 – $3000.  This does not include ongoing costs, such as grooming, and dog food.

Look ahead.  Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, even 15 years?  A dog is a lifetime commitment.  If you think you may move homes, change jobs, or have other major life changes (have kids, etc), make sure these plans will still work if you also have your dog.  Shelters are full of previously owned dogs whose owners chose not to keep them for one reason or another.  If you choose to get a puppy now, make sure he/she does not end up in a shelter in the future.

 While it may seem daunting, these considerations should be well thought out before a new puppy is chosen and brought home.   If you’ve read through this, and still feel prepared to bring a new puppy into your home, do your best to choose a responsible breeder or rescue to purchase your puppy or dog from.

Small Breed Dogs and their Behaviour – Katie’s Story

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Growing up we only ever had large breed dogs, but I have been a small dog owner for many years now, we currently have three tiny rescue dogs Ellie (a 3kg mini aussie mix), Gracie (a 2kg yorkie mix), and Sophie (a 1.5kg Chihuahua) and I often get comments telling me how well behaved my small dogs are. 

There are a few reasons for this and I’d love to share them with you, first off, they’re exercised regularly.  They accompany us on all sorts of adventures such as hiking, camping, road trips, going to parks, visiting family, and even dressing up and going trick-or-treating with my nieces. Ellie tags along on trail rides with and they all love helping with barn chores with our dog-friendly horses.

Regular exercise helps keep their energy under control and therefore reduces anxiety and promotes confidence and relaxation. Exercise also helps reduce the risk of obesity which is a common problem in small dogs, and keeps them fit and agile therefore reducing the risk of injuries, diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, etc.



I also try to socialize them with other people and pets as frequently as possible, luckily for me, I have lots of friends that are dog-savvy that own other well socialized dogs that mine get to interact with on a regular basis.



They get lots of mental stimulation.  They know all sorts of tricks such as sit, down, stay, shake, high five, roll over, spin, sing, crawl etc. and they’re all fantastic on or off leash.  I taught them these things during short, persistent training sessions as I want to keep their attention and not have them get bored or flustered from what they’re learning and I of course want them to enjoy their training time as well.  Trick training improves their concentration and balance and increases their confidence in you and their desire to listen.  


And just like children, they have rules that need to be followed.  For example, they must sit and wait for their food, when I say “okay” they get to eat their meal. They’re also not allowed to be in the main area of the kitchen when I’m cooking, this is for their safety as well as mine, they won’t be accidentally stepped on or tripped over this way nor have anything dropped on or around them. Another big rule is that they aren’t allowed to pick things up off the floor without permission, and they know the command “leave it” very well, this one is very important as it prevents them from eating food that has been dropped and could potentially be toxic to them such as onions, garlic, or chocolate.

            Overall I try my best to keep them happy and healthy by giving them as much exposure as I can, and by getting them looked after by the doctors here at McPhillips Animal Hospital.


The Adventures of Penny

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We had a litter of kittens here, born to a rescue cat, River, in September of 2017, and Penny was adopted by a staff member’s daughter.  She has a unique life — as she is co-pilot to her owner, who is a long haul driver.  Here is her story:


Hello, we would like to introduce you to Penny:


We adopted her from McPhillips Animal Hospital in September 2017, waiting for her to be old enough to leave her mum was painstakingly long but worth the wait!

She is the only cat I know that has a job of co-pilot. Our daughter is a long hauler driver and asked if she could have a cat for company. 

Turns out she is a great traveler, wakes at the crack of dawn to start the day and goes a little nutty to wind down at night.  She has an abundance of toys, beds and her litter box. She also has an assortment of harness which she wears when traveling. She has a microchip and tattoo for ID along with tags plus up to date with vaccines and parasite prevention. 


When not in motion, she enjoys looking at the sights from the dash board of the truck. When walking through a truck stop you notice lots of dogs in the windows but not many cats so you do a double take when you see one.

Penny is now 6 months old and she could tell you she’s seen all kinds of weather and all kinds of places. She is a fantastic companion as well as a stress reliever.

When home she blends right in with our 4 cats, like she never left.  We did a lot of research and watched videos to ensure a cat would have a well-balanced life, within the confined space which they appeared to have. 

Thought we would share our unique story.

Happy travels from the crew!!

Thank you Cheryl & Caitlyn for sharing Penny’s story with us!


Three Tips on Preventing Tick Borne Diseases in Your Dog

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Three Tips on Preventing Tick Borne Diseases in Your Dog

By Karina, RVT at McPhillips Animal Hospital

            Did you know that some dogs who have never left Winnipeg have been tested positive for Lyme Disease?  The tiny deer tick that can transmit Lyme Disease does not need long grassy areas to live in, they are often found in leaf litter, under ground cover plants, around stone walls or wood piles, or even in cut and raked lawns.  By following these three tips you can decrease your dog’s chance of being bitten by a tick and becoming infected with tick born diseases including Lyme Disease.

  • Use a tick preventative medication. There are many types of tick prevention available, unfortunately many of the preventatives available from pet stores don’t work well, or can even cause serious burns to your pet’s skin.  At McPhillips Animal Hospital we can help you find the right prevention for your pet, depending on their lifestyle.  We have different types of preventatives available, depending on your pet’s lifestyle.  We recommend starting tick prevention on April 1st and ending November 1st each year.  Feel free to give us a call (204-589-8381) or come in any time to discuss which product would be right for your dog.


  • Remove any ticks you do find on your dog. While prevention does decrease the number of ticks your dog will get, it may not be able to eliminate 100% of the ticks 100% of the time.  We recommend you routinely check your pet for ticks and remove any ticks you do find.  Keeping dogs well groomed will help with finding any ticks they may get.Vaccinate your dog for Lyme Disease. Even when using tick preventative, as well as doing a regular ‘tick check’ on your dog, there is still a small chance a tick may become attached and transmit disease, such as Lyme Disease. Deer ticks are extremely small and tend to be extremely difficult to find on a dog, even when fully engorged.  A Lyme vaccine needs a booster 2-3 weeks after the first time it is given, and then should be repeated yearly to provide the best protection.  Ticks become active once it is 4°C.  If we are having unseasonably warm days in the winter, it is possible for ticks to emerge, causing a potential for infection outside of the April – November ‘tick season’.  Having the yearly Lyme vaccine can help to protect your dog all year round.

By following these three tips you will significantly decrease the chance that your dog will become bitten by a tick and infected with Lyme Disease and other diseases carried by ticks.

Regardless of what method of prevention you choose, yearly testing is recommended to make sure your pet is free from tick borne diseases.

As always, do not hesitate to contact McPhillips Animal Hospital to find out how we can help keep your pet healthy and happy!


Shadow’s Story: Our Heartworm Positive Dog

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We unfortunately have our first Heartworm positive case of the year to report. We are sharing Shadow’s story, to spread awareness about the importance of Heartworm prevention.

Shadow Desmarais

Meet Shadow! Shadow is a very special girl, with a wonderful family who loves her dearly. Here is her story:

Hi, Shadow here! Boy, do I have a story to tell! I’m only 2 years old, but I’ve already had a lot to go through in my short life.

Here is my adoption story from my family:


“Our home was supposed to be just a quick stop on her way to her new home but the new owner only wanted the male puppy. Our son asked if we could keep her and after much hesitation we agreed. In the back of our truck she was just a little shadow (hence the name) and still today blends in when there is little lighting.


We only got to see her bossy and adorable personality for a day and a half before she got sick (Parvo) and went to McPhillips Animal Hospital for the first time. The news was not good (we were all in tears) and I’m not sure how we (my husband, son and I) got so attached to her in such a short period. Despite the slim chance of survival we agreed that as long as there was a chance we had to do what we could for her.


We have grandchildren and she is great with children and loves the attention as much as they do. Shadow is very much loved and part of our family. Our son loves Shadow and she loves him.”


Now, here I am, two years old, and I’ve contracted Heartworm disease. All it took was for me to get bitten by a mosquito carrying the disease.


Heartworm Microfiliaria

Heartworm Microfiliaria

The symptoms of Heartworm disease include fatigue, weight loss and a chronic cough. Thankfully, my family had a Heartworm screening test done, and the disease was caught early; so I’m not showing any of those symptoms yet.


What’s next? I am undergoing more tests, to give my doctors all the information they need to treat me. I will receive injections to get rid of the Heartworms that are in my system, and be put on “bed rest” to make sure that while the Heartworms in my system are dissolved, my body doesn’t go through any unnecessary strain. My family and my healthcare team will monitor me closely, to make sure I don’t have any side effects that need additional treatments.


After I go through all the treatments to get rid of the Heartworm disease, I will be started on a regular Heartworm prevention schedule, and life should start to get back to normal for me and my family. I am lucky, I was diagnosed early. Animals who are diagnosed after they show symptoms, may have to be on lifetime treatments for heart disease. That is why early detection is so important!

Thank you for reading my story. I hope it helps everyone recognize the importance of Heartworm prevention. Remember to always ask your pet’s veterinarian about any concerns you have for your pet’s health. They are here to help your pets live long and healthy lives!


Better Breath Equals Better Health

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5 Ways to Improve Your Pet’s Overall Health by Improving Oral Health

by Karina Smith, RAHT at McPhillips Animal Hospital

It’s safe to say that everyone has heard or used the phrase “doggy breath” (or “kitty breath”), but have you ever thought about where that smell comes from or what it means about your pet’s health?

A foul smell coming from a dog or cat’s mouth is often a sign of infection.  Dental disease (infection and inflammation such as gingivitis) in your pet’s mouth can lead to problems with other organs – such as kidney or heart disease.   When a pet has infection in the mouth, you may notice his/her gums bleeding when they eat, or even if you were to touch them with your finger.  If your dog chews rawhide, bones, or other similar objects, you may see blood on the object while your pet is chewing it.  This means that while blood is escaping circulation, bacteria from the pet’s oral infection is gaining access.

So how do I prevent dental disease?

We all want the same things for our pets, for them to live long, happy, comfortable lives.  Oral health has a huge impact on the total health and comfort of your pet.  Here are 5 ways to improve your pet’s oral health, to keep them as healthy, happy, and comfortable for their whole long lives.

1. Teeth brushing.  Many people don’t think to brush their pet’s teeth.  Brushing your pet’s teeth every day (or even twice daily) is the best way to prevent tartar build-up, gingivitis, and infection in the mouth.  It also gives you a chance to check their whole mouths for anything you wouldn’t otherwise notice (such as cracked or broken teeth, lumps or tumors starting to grow, etc).  At McPhillips Animal Hospital, we offer many flavours of pet-specific toothpaste (it’s OK for them to swallow!) that uses enzymes to break down the plaque and bacteria on your pet’s teeth.

brush felines

2. Oral care chews.  There are many different types of oral care chews available.  Many are high calorie, and can stick to the surface of the pet’s teeth, which will not do much to improve their oral health.   At McPhillips Animal Hospital, we have Enzadent and C.E.T oral care chews available to both dogs and cats.  These chews are treated with enzymes which work to break down the bacteria that cause plaque.  They are a great addition to a tooth brushing routine, or can be given to a pet who may not tolerate having their teeth brushed.

enzadent chews

3. Oral rinses and water additives.  Some pets won’t tolerate having their teeth brushed, and are also not interested in the chews.  For those pets we have options as well!  Oral rinses such as Novaldent or CET Chlorhexidine work like a mouthwash for your pet.  You can just squirt it onto the teeth to help kill bacteria.  For more sensitive pets, we also carry water additives such as StrixNB.  This is a product you would add to your pet’s fresh water each morning.  Every time he/she takes a drink, the additive will aid in killing the plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth.

oral rinses

4. Diet.  Believe it or not, there are foods made specifically with oral health in mind.  This is one of the easiest ways to help keep your pet’s mouth healthy.  Hill’s t/d dog or cat food id a special diet that is formulated in a way that allows the pet’s teeth to penetrate and be scrubbed by the kibble, rather than having the kibble just break apart as soon as the pet bites into it.  This is a great diet for any healthy pet, or can even be fed as a treat.  Many pets find the Hill’s t/d to be very palatable.


5. Dental cleaning under anesthetic.  If your pet already has moderate – severe dental disease and tartar build-up, they will need a dental cleaning under anesthetic to remove the tartar and any teeth that may be a source of pain or infection to your pet.  When we do a dental cleaning on your pet, he/she will stay with us at the clinic for the day.  We will start by doing a full blood work-up to ensure your pet’s organs are functioning well enough to undergo general anesthetic.  We will then insert an IV catheter into a vein on your pet’s leg in order to administer IV fluids to him/her for the duration of the procedure.  Once asleep, we will start by taking x-rays of your pet’s entire mouth – all the teeth and their roots, as well as the surrounding bone.  This allows the veterinarian to assess each tooth and decide what ones are healthy, and what one(s) need to be extracted.  Diseased teeth are extracted; the remaining healthy teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, and then polished.  Polishing creates a very smooth surface on the teeth to aid in the prevention of new bacteria, plaque, and tartar.  Once your pet’s dental procedure has been completed, he/she will be recovered in one of our ICU kennels where he/she will be monitored by one of our veterinary technicians until he/she is fully recovered.  He/she will be able to go home that evening.

Dylan before and after

If you would like an assessment of your pet’s oral health, please call us at 204-589-8381.  We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about your pet’s oral health, and help you choose the right product or products for you and your pet.

Happy Brushing!!