Hosted by Geneviève Castillo Huard President

Guests: Dr. Maude-Amélie Bissonnette, general practitioner veterinarian

Dr. Rebecca De Arburn Parent, specialized veterinary surgeon


  • What’s the difference between a regular veterinarian and a veterinarian specialist?

Both the regular veterinarian and the veterinarian specialist did the same basic academic program (i.e. a doctorate in veterinary medicine). The veterinarian specialist simply continued their studies to specialize in the field of expertise of their choice (dermatology, internal medicine, radiology, surgery, ophthalmology, pathology, behavioural medicine, emergency medicine, etc.).


  • Why is it that regular veterinarians do surgeries, but there are veterinary surgeons?

There are no acts reserved for specialists in veterinary medicine. A regular veterinarian can therefore perform surgeries and decide whether or not they are comfortable depending on the complexity of the procedure. If a regular vet doesn’t feel capable of doing the surgery, they will refer the client to a specialist. The client may then decide whether to consult a specialist or not.


  • Do you like vet technicians?

Of course! We couldn’t do our job without animal health technicians.

Vet techs are roughly the equivalent of nurses in human health. They are the ones who take care of the patients and who perform most of the technical manipulations (placing catheters, taking blood, etc.). They are essential.


  • What was Pancake’s condition?

Pancake had flat-chested kitten syndrome and Pectus Excavatum.

It is a malformation that causes the rib cage to flatten and, sometimes to cave in. It is generally genetic but can also result from the mother’s environment during gestation. Any unfavorable situation (such as nutritional deficiency for instance) can cause a cat to be more prone to having kittens with the syndrome.

To read Pancake’s entire story (in French only), click here:


  • Do veterinarians recommend goat milk or kitten milk replacer (KMR)?


Milk from ruminants (cows, goats) is not an adequate substitute for kittens. It actually contains less protein, fat and calcium, and has a lower energy content than substitutes for kittens and puppies. It is also higher in lactose, which can lead to diarrhea in kittens.

Soy milk is not recommended either since the iodine content could possibly cause thyroid problems in cats.

It is strongly recommended to use milk replacers specially formulated for kittens and puppies.


  • Can pets be infected by COVID-19?

Before answering the question, we want to mention that COVID-19 is a new coronavirus on which little information is available. Therefore, it is possible that the information shared in this article be refuted as we make new discoveries about the virus.

Here are a few links to reliable information about the Coronavirus:
OIE World Organisation for Animal Health

Dr. Scott Weese’s blog

As of April 18, 2020, felines and ferrets have tested positive to COVID-19. However, there’s no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to people. Contamination between animals of the same species is possible and while some species seem to be susceptible to infection, they are less affected by the disease.

There is no evidence at this time that animals play a role in the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic is the consequence of person-to-person contact.



  • How long can COVID-19 survive on the fur and noses of pets (dogs and cats)?

At the moment, we don’t know.

However, it is recommended to treat your pet’s fur as any other surface that can be contaminated and therefore to take certain precautions.

Basic hygienic measures are always required when handling animals:

  • Don’t touch your face and wash your hands before and after coming into contact with animals, their food or anything they’ve been in contact with.
  • Avoid kissing them, getting licked or sharing food.
  • Keep your pets inside as much as possible. If you have a dog, don’t let it come into contact with other dogs or people.


  • In the event that I must take care of the pet of a person suffering from COVID-19, how can I ensure to not become infected through the animal?

Obviously we strongly advise people infected with COVID 19 to limit contacts with animals of all kinds.

In the event that the animal has been in direct contact with an infected person, the basic hygiene measures listed above must be applied to limit the risks of spreading the disease.

Most importantly, NEVER clean your pet using alcohol-based products or products that can be toxic to them.


  • How to trim the nails of a pet that struggles and screams?

Here’s a link to a video that explains how to trim nails:

Try to make the experience positive for your pet. It’s a process that must be performed in several steps, spread over several days.

If you’ve never trimmed your pet’s nails, you’ll need to be patient and practice a few nails at a time.

Start by getting the animal used to having someone handle their paws, then their claws. Then, you can introduce the nail clipper of your choice. Reward your pet with treats.

Don’t go beyond your pet’s limit. If they start to become anxious and uncooperative, stop and start again later. It is perfectly normal to not be able to trim all your pet’s nails the first time.

If you are unsure how much to cut, it is best to leave the claws a bit longer and to clip them more often than to run the risk of hurting your pet.

Note: there are several different types of nail cutters that are all suitable for clipping claws. What matters is using one you’re comfortable with and using it properly.


  • Why do my cat’s nail caps fall after just a few days?

Here’s a video that explains how to apply nail caps:

Nail caps should normally stay in place 4 to 6 weeks.

To apply them, you need first to trim the tip of your cat’s nails. Then fill the nail cap about one third full with adhesive, put it on the cat’s claw and gently squeeze the sides of the nail cap.

If the nail caps fall off, you should make an appointment in a vet clinic that offers this service and ask the team to review the technique with you.


  • Is it dangerous for a dog to chew on wood? Do you have any tricks to prevent a dog from chewing wood?


Any chewing activity should be done under supervision.

Wood is often ingested by dogs and can get stuck in the digestive track. It is also not uncommon for ingested wood to puncture organs.

So it is better to offer you dog chewing alternatives to avoid them gnawing on wood. It can be something made of a rope or rubber. Plush toys are not recommended.

You can visit a store to see the different types of toys and choose one that is suitable for your dog (hard or soft plastic, size, rope, etc.) based on their size and age.

Also note that java wood seems to be a good alternative to normal wood. As for antlers (elk, deer, etc.), they are not recommended because they are very hard and have been known to cause broken teeth in dogs chewing them.

It is important to give your dog a toy that they cannot fit into their mouth completely to ensure your dog won’t swallow it.


  • Can I teach my cat to not go on the table?

Yes, that’s entirely possible.

You can cover the table with aluminum foil (cats don’t like the feeling of aluminum under their paws) and redirect your cat to a more suitable place when they jump on the table (like their cat tree for example).

If this doesn’t work, you can always contact L’Éduchateur, which is an excellent resource.


  • At what age should we start geriatric checkups?

When a dog is considered geriatric depends on breed and size as they have different life expectancies. Just like people, senior pets are more prone to developing diseases like diabetes, kidney failure, arthritis, cataracts and even cancer.

Cats are generally considered senior from 8-9 years old.
Small breed dogs, around 10 years old.
Medium breed dogs, around 8-9 years old.
Large breed dogs, around 6-7 years old.
Giant breed dogs, around 5 years old.

Some diseases don’t show any signs in their early stages. Preventive care therefore allows these illnesses to be detected early, which can help prevent them from occurring or reduce their progression.

So, it is very likely that following an annual checkup, a blood test and urine analysis be recommended to you.


  • What are the symptoms to watch out for in a geriatric animal?

Several signs can indicate a health issue, whatever your pet’s age. Watch your pet’s habits and if you notice any change in behaviour that worries you, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your vet.

Here are some signs that your pet might have a health issue:

  • drinks more/less often
  • urinates more/less often
  • has potty accidents
  • eats more/less
  • has lost/gained weight
  • shows changes in behaviours or activity level
  • has a persistent limp or stiffness in a limb
  • has trouble climbing stairs
  • has trouble jumping
  • pants more (or gets winded faster) after walking
  • has a cough
  • seems disoriented
  • doesn’t seem to see well (bumps into things)