Medical Services

Our knowledgeable staff and our facilities allow us to deal with a variety of medical conditions your pet may experience. We hope we do not have to see you or your pet for an emergency but if we do, we are equipped to handle the situation. In some cases, your pet may require hospitalization and further diagnostic tests. Our website describes the medical services we offer in more detail.

External Parasite Control

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A flea problem on your pet means a flea problem in your home. Understanding the flea life cycle and methods for its control can be a daunting task. We will gladly assist you in this process. We can provide you with safe, effective flea prevention and if necessary, flea treatment.

Animals become very itchy from the saliva that the fleas deposit when they suck blood.

Fleas are not a huge problem in northern Alberta. Our cold winters help to keep flea numbers low. Often we do have dogs that pick up fleas by travelling to warmer areas of Canada or the United States where fleas are prevalent in the environment ie. the grass in parks, etc. Please ask us before travelling about the very effective flea preventatives that are available.

See the flea article in the Pet Health Library


We do see louse infestations. Lice look like tiny dark brown spots next to the skin. They do not move. There are 2 types of lice-biting & sucking. Lice do make the animals itchy. Lice like warm areas on the body such as the armpits and the underneath side of the neck. For an animal to get infested with lice it needs quite direct contact with an animal that has them. We do recommend a preventative if your pet is around a lot of other animals on a regular basis such as a doggy day care. There are very good preventatives that can be applied once monthly.


Sarcoptic mange:

This disease is caused by a mite that burrows rapidly in the skin. It is very contagious. It is contracted from animals that have Sarcoptic mange. The animals are extremely itchy. There will be hair loss. Areas first affected are the ears, elbows & around the anus. There are very effective medications given once monthly to clear this mite from the animals body.



Demodex is another mite that burrows in the skin. It is normally present on most animals. It only causes problems if the animal’s immune system is compromised. It usually occurs in young animals. The animals are not itchy. Hair loss often occurs initially around the eyes & face. Hair loss can be patchy or generalized. It is more difficult to treat.

There are other less common external parasites of animals. If your animal is itchy and/or experiencing hair loss it is important to get it examined to get a diagnosis and proper treatment.


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According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3. It is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Common signs of oral disease include tartar buildup, red and swollen gums, bad breath, changes in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and generalized depression.

A veterinarian should evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet’s teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss.

There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet’s body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.

We can recommend and demonstrate preventative measures you can begin at home. Our wellness program emphasizes and explains how you can avoid costly dental procedures with your pet in the future.

We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth at least twice weekly. Daily is probably easier because you have a regular schedule. If you only brush your pet’s teeth once per week then the plaque mentioned above becomes calcified onto the teeth and you can no longer brush it off. Once this happens then you will need to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned.

A professional cleaning is a very comprehensive procedure that involves;

  1. a preanesthetic blood panel to make sure kidneys, liver etc are functioning normally. Also to make sure the animal is not anemic and does not have any other underlying disease.
  2. full anesthetic
  3. intravenous fluids to maintain good blood pressure throughout the procedure
  4. an intravenous injection of antibiotics to counteract the infection that is always present in their mouths
  5. scaling, polishing & a fluoride treatment done by an accredited animal health technologist using a high speed dental machine the same as our dentists would use to clean our teeth.
  6. after the cleaning the sulcus around each tooth is probed for depth, presence of pus, erosions of the enamel & each tooth is tested for looseness.
  7. teeth may be found that need extracting. These teeth or other questionable teeth may be radiographed to determine the extent of bone loss, abscessation, etc.
  8. if teeth are extracted the alveolus of that tooth is curetted , flushed with an antibacterial solution & sutured.
  9. the animal is given an injection of a non-steroidal medication to help prevent pain. This injection will help prevent pain for 24 hours.
  10. the animal is sent home on antibiotics for 10 days.

Picture of a dog before having a dental prophylaxis done

Picture of the same dog after a dental has been performed

Radiology (X-rays)

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Radiology (x-rays) is routinely used to provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). It can be used alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools to provide a list of possible causes for a pet’s condition, identify the exact cause of a problem or rule out possible problems.

When a pet is being radiographed, an x-ray beam passes through its body and hits a piece of radiographic film. Images on the film appear as various shades of gray and reflect the anatomy of the animal. Bones, which absorb more x-rays, appear as light gray structures. Soft tissues, such as the lungs, absorb fewer x-rays and appear as dark gray structures. Interpretation of radiographs requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.

A lateral radiograph of a dog with a large bladder stone

A cat with a broken tibia/fibula

An x-ray of a sewing needle in a cats abdo

Dermatology (Skin)

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Dermatology refers to the study of the skin. Skin disease is a frequently observed problem in dogs and cats. Diagnosing a skin problem in your pet may simply require an examination by a veterinarian; however, most skin diseases or problems require additional steps to accurately obtain a diagnosis. Additional diagnostic procedures may include blood work, urinalysis, skin scrapings, biopsies, etc.

Common causes of skin problems:

  • Allergies-allergic skin disease is the most cause of skin disease in dogs
  • Infections
  • External parasites-lice, fleas, mites
  • Hormonal or endocrine-skin diseases from hormonal causes are not itchy.

You should book an appointment for your animal if you notice any excessive itchy behavior, loss of hair, and/or the presence of scabs or scale on the skin.

Cardiology (Heart)

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A heart problem can affect your pet at any age although it is more often found in older pets. Heart failure occurs when the heart no longer has the ability to pump blood around the body effectively.

Some causes of heart failure include: congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the valves of the heart)), heartworm disease, arrythmias (rhythm disturbances), and cardiomyopathy (in dogs the heart wall becomes very thin, in cats the heart wall becomes very thick).

The most common heart condition in dogs is congestive heart failure.

If an animal is suffering from congestive heart failure, it usually accumulates fluid in the lungs although it can result in fluid accumulation in the abdomen as well. Animals suffering from congestive heart failure often experience difficulty breathing and frequent coughing. Reduced exercise tolerance is another symptom.

The most common heart condition in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a condition in which the heart wall becomes very thickened.

Cats can also suffer from hypertension, as do humans. This can lead to hemorrhages in the retinas of the eyes and blindness.

Dogs and cats with cardiomyopathy can die suddenly.

Many heart problems can be identified on physical examination. Additional tests are usually required to accurately identify the cause and extent of the heart disease. Additional tests include EKGs (electrocardiograms), radiographs (X-rays), and ultrasounds.

Heart disease is a serious life threatening condition but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life.

A healthy heart (above)

Chronic Valvular Disease (above)


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It is crucial for your pet’s vision that we detect and treat glaucoma and other problems with intraocular pressure (pressure within the eye) as quickly as possible. We can test your dog or cat’s eyes for excess pressure. The test, performed with a device called a tonometer, is not painful and does not require sedation.

If not treated immediately (within hours to days), glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Pets that have suffered eye injuries should have this test performed. In addition, we recommend that breeds that are prone to developing glaucoma come in for regular measurements so we can monitor eye pressure and begin treatment before any problem becomes irreversible. Please call us to discuss whether your pet may be at higher risk for glaucoma.

Call us right away if you notice any of the following problems in either or both of your pet’s eyes: dilated (enlarged) pupils, clouding of the cornea (the normally clear outer layer of the eye), red or bloodshot eyes, one eye protruding or appearing larger than the other, squinting, or tearing. Because glaucoma is painful, your pet may react by rubbing or pawing at the eyes or rubbing his or her head against the floor or furniture more than normal.


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Ultrasonography,or ultrasound, is a diagnostic imaging technique similar to radiography (X-rays) and is usually used in conjunction with radiography and other diagnostic measures. It allows visualization of the deep structures of the body.

Ultrasound can be used for a variety of purposes including examination of the animal’s heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, bladder etc. It can also be used to determine pregnancy and to monitor an ongoing pregnancy. Ultrasound can detect fluid, cysts, tumors or abscesses.

A ‘transducer’ (a small hand held tool) is applied to the surface of the body to which an ultrasound image is desired. Gel is used to help the transducer slide over the skin surface and create a more accurate visual image.

Sound waves are emitted from the transducer and directed into the body where they are bounced off the various organs to different degrees depending on the density of the tissues and amount of fluid present. The sounds are then fed back through the transducer and are reflected on a viewing monitor. Ultrasound is a painless procedure with no known side effects. It does not involve radiation.

There is a Veterinarian, Dr. Cam Friesen, who will bring his ultrasound equipment to our Clinic to do ultrasound on your pet.

There is also the Western Veterinary Specialist Clinic in Edmonton. They have board certified internal medicine specialists that will do ultrasound on a referral basis.

Endocrinology (Hormones)

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Endocrinology is the study of hormones and there are several common endocrine disorders found in dogs and cats.

The diagnosis of most endocrine diseases is made or confirmed with bloodwork and/or ultrasound.

The more common endocrine disorders in dogs include:

  • Hypothyroidism-hypothyroidism indicates that the animal has low levels of circulating thyroid hormone. The most prominent sign is bilateral hair loss on the trunk. Another less common symptom is lethargy.
  • Cushing’s disease or hyperadrenocorticism – this a disease the end result of which is excess cortisol circulating in the blood stream. This results in the clinical signs of excess drinking & urinating, saggy abdomen, poor hair coat & increased susceptability to infections. Cushing’s disease is a disease of older dogs. It is often diagnosed when a routine geriatric blood screening panel is done.
  • Diabetes mellitus – this is similar to the sugar diabetes that occurs in humans. The initial symptom is excessive drinking & urinating. This will be followed by weight loss.
  • Hypoadrenocorticism – this is a lack of cortisol in the blood stream. This disease mimics many other diseases.

The more common endocrine disorders of cats include

  • Hyperthyroidism – hyperthyroidism indicates that the cat has high levels of circulating thyroid hormone. The initial symptom is rapid weight loss. Hyperthyroidism is a very serious condition that if left untreated results in loss of appetite, high blood pressure & serious changes in the heart muscle.
  • Diabetes melitus – this is similar to the sugar diabetes that occurs in humans. The initial symptom is excessive drinking & urinating. This will be followed by weight loss.

There are many signs observable in pets with endocrine disease. These signs include (but are not limited to) the following: abnormal energy levels, abnormal behavior, abnormal drinking, urinating and eating behavior, excessive panting, skin disorders, and weight gain or loss.

Medical Assessment

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A complete medical assessment begins with a thorough physical examination whereby your pet’s eyes, ears, skin, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal and skeletal system are examined for any abnormalities. Blood tests can be performed as necessary to assess the proper functioning of your pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system including the thyroid gland and adrenal glands. Urine tests can also help to detect problems. Depending on your pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests such as radiography (X-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound or surgery.