Feline Breed Spotlight: Somali

The Somali!


The Somali is the long haired version of the Abyssinian. The name suggests that the breed was found and created in Somalia, but that isn’t the case.  The breed actually came about after the second World War, when breeders were trying to breed back populations of the Abyssinian. Due to the lack of breeding stock, some Abyssinian breeders were using cats of unknown linage, and some cats must have been carrying a recessive long haired gene. Many Abyssinian breeders were not pleased with the occurrence of the long haired cats in their litters, and quickly dismissed them out of breeding programs and placed them in homes as pets. A few breeders did like the long haired version and continued to breed them to create a new breed of cat. The name was chosen because Somalia is next to Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia.



Feline Breed Spotlight: Russian Blue

The Russian Blue!


This breed of cat originated in Russia, in the port town of Arkhangelsk. They are also sometimes called Archangel Blue (named after the port town). The Russian Blue has a thick, dense, warm coat, which allowed it to thrive in the cold Russian climate. The breed made it’s way to other countries via sailors fascinated by the breed who took them overseas when leaving the Russian port town. This is a naturally occurring breed, as it was not created by human involvement. Nowadays, the breed is sustained by many years of selective breeding of only blue short haired cats in breeding programs. This has resulted in a breed with a distinctive appearance and a unique personality particular to the Russian Blue.



Canine Breed Spotlight: Newfoundland

Canada’s own! The Newfoundland!

Dog breed group: Working Dog

Average life expectancy: 8-10 years


The Newfoundland originated right here in Newfoundland, Canada! This breed came about from breeding the working dogs already in Newfoundland with Portuguese Mastiffs brought over by Portuguese fishermen in the 1600s. There were two main breeds developed that worked with the fishermen, the lesser Newfoundland and the greater Newfoundland. The lesser Newfoundland (also known as the St. John’s dog) is now extinct, but was the basis for breeding today’s modern retrievers. The greater Newfoundland persisted and is the ancestor of the Newfie as we know it today. They are a hard working dog, known for carrying heavy loads, pulling tow lines from ships to land, and rescuing the drowning.



Canine Breed Spotlight: Havanese

The Havanese!

Dog breed group: Companion Dog

Average life expectancy: 12-15 years


The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba. The breed is descended from the now extinct Blanquito de la Habana (“little white dog of Havana”) The Blanquito de la Habana was cross bred with other Bichon type dogs to create the Havanese of today. Historically, the  Havanese were a popular breed for many aristocratic families in Cuba. European travelers brought these dogs back to Europe, where they became trendy and popular. Later, their popularity waned and the breed almost became extinct, even in Cuba. During the Cuban Revolution, some Havanese dogs came to the US with their owners, where the breed was saved by starting a breeding program with this handful of dogs.



Anal Gland Abscess

What are anal glands?

Anal glands are two small glands just inside your pet’s anus. They sit at about 4 and 8 o’clock on either side of your pet’s anus.  The material secreted into these glands is thick, oily, stinky, and is commonly described as smelling fishy. Normally, every time your pet has a bowel movement there is pressure placed on these glands and some of the secretion is placed on the fecal material. Other dogs and cats are then able to tell who has been in the neighborhood, back yard, litter box etc,  just by sniffing the stools they find.


Ear Infection (otitis externa)

Otitis externa (commonly known as an ear infection) is an inflammation or infection of the external ear canal. Bacteria, yeast, ear mites, allergies and hormone imbalances can all cause otitis externa. Once an ear infection starts you may see your pet scratching at their ears, shaking their head or holding one ear slightly dropped. Discharge and odour may be noticeable as well.



Feline Breed Spotlight: Egyptian Mau

Let’s look at the Egyptian Mau!


Ancient Egyptian artwork depicts spotted cats with the same markings as the Egyptian Mau (mau means cat) as we know it today. These ancient Egyptian cats are most likely descendants of a small spotted African wild cat, which may or may not be the origin of the Egyptian Mau as we know it today. The breed as we know it today is fairly new. A Russian princess was very found of spotted cats, and was given one as a gift while in Italy. Later, when she moved to the USA she brought that cat and two of the offspring with her. She started a cattery and began to establish this spotted breed of cat. Selective breeding of Egyptian Maus began in the 1950s, and the breed standard was created.



Heartworm and your dog

How is heartworm spread? How would my dog get it?


Heartworm is a parasite that is usually specific to dogs, but on rare occasions cats have become infected (a cat is considered a resistant host of heartworms because the worms do not thrive as well inside a cat’s body).  Heartworm is spread though mosquitoes. If a mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests microfilariae (the immature form of the heartworm), the mosquito becomes infected. The infected mosquito can then bite another dog, and the microfilariae pass through the tissue into the blood stream (this is the point of action of preventative heartworm medications-it kills the tissue state of microfilariae before they enter the blood stream). Once the microfilariae enter the blood stream they grow in the blood vessels of the lungs, then migrate to the heart and other vessels causing heart disease.

Heartworm here in Edmonton


Luckily for us, here in Edmonton (a cooler part of Canada) heartworm is not a major concern. The development of the microfilariae in the mosquito is temperature dependent, requiring about two weeks of temperature at or above 27°C. Below a temperature of 14°C, development and transmission of heartworm cannot occur in the mosquito. Since we rarely see 14 consecutive days of a temperatures consistently above 27°C and it will commonly drop to 14°C overnight over the summer months heartworm is a rare occurrence here in Edmonton.

Does my dog need heartworm prevention medications?

We recommend that your pet be on heartworm preventatives if you plan to travel to southern Canada (especially south BC or Ontario), to the USA or to anywhere else where heartworm is endemic and preventatives are recommended. Pets that remain in Edmonton year round are not at risk and do not need preventative medications.

If you do plan to travel where heartworm is a concern, treatment should be started 30 days after your pet’s initial exposure to the heartworm area and continued  monthly until 30 days after they are not exposed anymore.  For example, a short trip to a heartworm area would require 2 doses of medication. If you arrived in the area on June 15th and only stayed 1 week (returned to Edmonton June 22nd), your pet’s first dose would be given July 15th. 30 days after your return is July 22, which is after the initial dose on July 15th, so you will need to give a second dose on August 15th. Longer trips will be prescribed for accordingly: monthly treatments, continued until 30 days after exposure to the area is complete.


Heartworm prevention medications are available as either a chewable tablet or a topical broad spectrum dewormer.

When is heartworm testing recommended?

  • If your dog has never been to a heartworm area before and this is your first trip, testing for heartworm as a precautionary measure before starting medication may be recommended by the veterinarian.
  • If you are unsure of your pet’s travel history, testing for heartworm should be done before starting preventative medication.
  • If your pet has traveled to a heartworm before and was not treated with preventative medications on that trip, heartworm testing will be needed before prescribing preventative medications for the next trip.
  • If your pet travels frequently to heartworm areas, but is always on preventative medications testing will be recommended once every 2-3 years as a precautionary measure.


If a dog is unknowingly positive for heartworm and is started on a preventative medicine, it will not treat the disease. It can actually be harmful to give a dog infected with heartworm the preventative medicine. First of all, heartworm preventatives will not kill the adult heartworms.  Secondly, the preventatives are designed to kill the microfilariae as they migrate through the tissue and not when they are already in the bloodstream. If the microfilariae have already entered the bloodstream the preventive may cause the microfilariae to suddenly die, triggering a shock-like reaction and possibly death of your dog. This is why testing prior to starting these medications are so important.

What if my dog does get heartworms?

It usually takes several years before dogs show clinical signs of infection and unfortunately by the time clinical signs are seen, the disease is usually well advanced and is potentially fatal. The adult heartworms cause disease by clogging the heart and lung blood vessels. This interferes with the action of the heart, causing heart failure. The clogging of the lung vessels reduces the blood supply to the other organs of the body causing them to fail as well. Once your pet is evaluated for the severity of the disease (physical exam, x-rays and laboratory diagnostics) and is deemed stable enough, treatment can be started.


Treatment is a two-step process, the first step kills the adult worms, the second step kills the microfilariae still circulating in the system. The treatment of the adults usually causes the most severe side effects. If the worms are not already blocking blood vessels in the body, after they die they can lodge in the lung arteries and block even more blood vessels than before the treatment was started. After the adults are killed and start to break down, they also release foreign substances in to the dog’s circulation, causing large amount of inflammation and swelling.

After the side effects from treatment for the adult worms have resolved another medication is given to eliminate the microfilariae still in the system.

After the treatment is completed heartworm testing is done about 4 months later. If the results are negative, preventative medication can be started. If there is still heartworms present a second round diagnostics and treatments will be needed.


If you are planning to travel to heartworm areas, please call for your prescription first. These medications are by prescription only and your pet’s annual health exam must be current. By calling first we can check if an examination or blood testing needs to be booked prior to dispensing them and gives us time to get the prescription ready for pickup.