Events at St. David’s Vet Clinic

At St. David’s Vet Clinic we love being a part of our local community. Each year we host a few annual events where we welcome you and your pets to the clinic to have a bit of fun! Next up is our annual Photos with Santa coming up in just a few weeks time. Read below for our events and be sure to check back on our blog and Facebook page closer to the dates for event details!

St. David’s Vet Clinic is located at 329 Four Mile Creek Road in St. David’s. Our phone number is 905-262-8777. We look forward to meeting you and your pets!

Pet Photos with Santa (December 2019)

Stop by St. David’s Vet Clinic on Saturday December 7, 2019 to visit with Santa and his helpers, enjoy some sweet morsels along with festive refreshments.

We invite you to get a memorable photo taken of your pet with Santa. 

Donations are accepted to enter a draw for a beautiful gift basket full of goodies. All donations raised go to the St. David’s Lioness Guide Dog Program.

NOTL Christmas Parade (December 2019)

Come and walk alongside us (every two years) representing St. David’s Vet Clinic in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Christmas Parade. We will be parading next in December 2020.

All are welcome to join in and enjoy this Holly, Jolly, Good time! We would love to share this festive tradition with all of our 2 legged and 4 legged friends.

Further information will be available closer to the event date.

St. David’s Vet Clinic Children’s Day (April 2020)

Come and meet Dr. Stephanie Hall and her amazing staff at St. David’s Vet Clinic to experience what it’s like to work at a Veterinary Clinic. 

Children’s Day is very popular with young people looking to be a Veterinarian or just have a passion to work with animals in the veterinary field. The activities are Educational, FUN and Interactive.

The kids participate in activities ranging from bandaging their own stuffed animal, checking on a post-surgery patient, viewing x-rays, performing surgery on “Paddington” the teddy bear … and more.

Check our Facebook page for regular updates regarding the event date and registration.

St. David’s Vet Clinic Community BBQ (June 2020) 

Every year in June, when the weather is warm and the sun shines brightly, we look forward to hosting our Annual Summer BBQ in appreciation of all our furry friends, as well as their humans.

Be sure to check our Facebook page leading up to the month of June for information regarding the bbq Date, Time and “Theme”.

We look forward to seeing all you party animals there to enjoy a delicious bbq lunch, casual chit chat and a chance to win a fantastic prize!

Ticks, Lyme Disease and our Pets

Information compiled by Julia Michitsch B.Sc., M.Sc. (Zoology)

 Based on surveillance data from 2017, we have approximately 25 of the 900 known species of ticks in the world living with us in Ontario1. The top 3 species of ticks identified were:  the black-legged, or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), the American dog tick (Dermacenter variabilis) and the groundhog tick  (Ixodes cookei )1.

 While each of these ticks can carry various disease-causing agents, the deer tick and it’s propensity for transmitting lyme disease to both dogs and humans makes it one of the top public health concerns in Ontario1. In the early 1990’s, Long Point Provincial Park (located along the shore of Lake Erie to the west of Niagara) was the only area in Ontario where the threat of contracting lyme disease from a tick bite existed2. Comparing the maps below, we can gain an appreciation of how fast the deer tick population, and hence the threat of disease, has spread across the province in only the last 3 years.

Images retrieved from

Researchers project that the deer tick population will continue to spread at a rate of approximately 46 km per year until 20223. Climate change has been implicated as the most important factor influencing this spread, as the warmer temperatures allow the ticks to become established in areas where they could not before3. At this rate, the proportion of the human (and pet) population of Eastern Canada that will inhabit areas with established deer tick populations will increase from 18% in 2010 to over 80% by 20203

 Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks pick up B. burgdorferi as newly hatched larvae in the spring/summer by feeding on the blood of small animals that carry the bacteria (mice, birds, squirrels)4. After spending the winter dormant in leaf litter, larvae mature into nymphs in the spring of their second year, and continue to mature through the summer until by fall they are adults, ready to mate and continue the lifecycle4. During both the nymph and adult stages, the tick will feed on the blood of larger animals (deer, dogs, humans)4. During the feeding process, the tick regurgitates enzymes from its gut that help to keep the blood from clotting5. As B. burgdorferi is also present in the gut of the tick, the process of regurgitation causes the bacteria to be transmitted to the new host along with these enzymes5. Transmission of B. burgdorferi from the tick to the new host takes a minimum of 48 hours – if the tick is removed prior to this time transmission will fail to occur5. Ticks are most active in the spring/summer months, but can remain active into the fall and winter as long as the temperature remains above 4°C 6.

Ninety percent of dogs that are infected with B. burgdorferi will not show any symptoms of lyme disease5. When symptoms (joint pain, fever) do occur it’s usually weeks to months after infection, and no bullseye rash will develop at the site of the tick bite, as it characteristically does in humans1,5. The most serious complication of lyme disease in dogs is Lyme nephritis (kidney disease)5. This condition results from the dog’s immune system being constantly active in response to the B. burgdorferi infection leading to the production of antibody complexes that build-up in the kidneys over time, causing damage and reducing proper kidney function5. While cats can become infected with B. burgdorferi, their immune system seems to be better able to neutralize the infection before they develop any symptoms of lyme disease5. In fact, there have been zero reports to date of clinical disease in naturally infected cats5

 A quick blood test is all that is needed to determine whether a dog has been infected by B. burgdorferi. The blood is screened for the antibodies created by the dog’s immune system to proteins on the surface of the bacteria.

 Dogs will test positive for these antibodies within 3-5 weeks of infection, and can remain positive for over a year while the antibodies continue circulating in the bloodstream5. A positive test result does not therefore indicate an active infection, but does confirm that bacteria have been present in the bloodstream at some point in the past. Antibiotics are highly effective in treating lyme disease in dogs, with symptoms generally seen to improve within 48 of the start of the medication5. Dogs that test positive for infection may be required to have a urine test done in order to ensure that their kidneys are healthy and functioning properly. 

What can we do to keep our pets safe?

Lyme disease can best be prevented through a combination of tick management techniques and consultation with your veterinarian to determine the best tick prevention products for your pet. 

Tick Management: 

  1. Ticks don’t like the sunlight, so keeping grass or brush around the house short will let light in and discourage ticks from inhabiting your yard. Remember that ticks also survive over the winter by hiding and laying their eggs in leaf litter where they are protected from the elements – cleaning up leaves before snow fall will reduce the likelihood of survival for the next generation of ticks. 
  2. Avoid walking dogs in grassy or forested areas where ticks are known to reside.  
  3. Check dogs for ticks every day. Remove any attached ticks with tweezers by grabbing the tick as close to the site of attachment as possible and pulling upwards in one steady and firm movement. Avoid squeezing the body of the tick with the tweezers, as this could facilitate infection by forcing the stomach contents (and potentially the bacteria) to the mouth of the attached tick. Place the tick in a container/sealed bag with rubbing alcohol after removal. Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, or soap and water. 

To help with surveillance efforts, you can bring ticks to your local Public Health office ( – This link provides details on how to package the tick, and where to take it in our area! 

As well, there is an ongoing project called the Canadian Pet Tick Survey organized by faculty at the Ontario Veterinary College. This is the largest systematic pet tick survey to date in Canada, and will provide necessary information on tick populations and the threat of disease across the country. If you discover a tick, please fill out the form at to help in their efforts!

Veterinary Care:

  1. Have a yearly blood test done on your pet to check for exposure to lyme disease.
  2. There are a variety of options when it comes to tick prevention products. Products can be administered orally or topically and should be given during the season when ticks are most active (May – November), although they can also be taken year round (remember, ticks are active any time of year as long as the temperature reaches 4°C). These products work to prevent lyme disease by stopping the ticks from attaching, and/or transmitting B. burgdorferi to your pet. 
  3. There are vaccines available for lyme disease in dogs. These vaccines should be used in conjunction with tick prevention products and only on pets that have not already been exposed to B. burgdorferi (negative blood test). The vaccine will not prevent ticks from feeding on your pet, but will help to increase the speed of the immune response to the bacteria by having antibodies ready in the bloodstream to fight the infection when it occurs. 

It should be noted that ticks can carry a variety of disease-causing agents other than B. burgdorferi  (eg. Anaplasma spp. and Ehrlichia spp.). For this reason, having your pet on tick prevention products that stop the ticks from feeding and transmitting bacteria will protect them from these other diseases as well as lyme disease. 

If you have any questions about tick-borne diseases, or if you’d like to discuss prevention options for your pet, please give St. David’s Veterinary Clinic a call! 


  1. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Companion animals and tick-borne disease: A systematic review. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2017. Retrieved from:
  2. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Vector-borne diseases 2015 summary report. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2016. Retrieved from:
  3. Leighton, P.A., Koffi, J.K., Pelcat, Y., Lindsay, L.R. and Ogden, N.H. (2012). Predicting the speed of tick invasion: an empirical model of range expansion for the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis in Canada. J. Applied Ecol. 49: 457-464.
  4. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Blacklegged tick life cycle. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2016. Retrieved from:
  5. Brooks, W. (2018). Lyme disease in dogs. Retrieved from:
  6. Duffy, D.C. and Campbell, S.R. 1994. Ambient air temperature as a predictor of activity of adult Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae). 31(1): 178-80.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a general term used to describe conditions affecting the bladder and urethra in cats. These conditions share a common set of symptoms including1,3:

  • blood in the urine
  • difficulty urinating (straining, going more often but smaller amounts, urinating outside of the litter box – most often in the bathtub or sink)
  • excessive licking at the genitalia

The underlying condition causing these symptoms can be different depending on the age of the cat2. In cats over 10 years old the most common cause is a urinary tract infection,  whereas in cats under 10 years old a cause cannot be determined about 50% of the time and the cats are given the diagnosis of Idiopathic Cystitis (IC, idiopathic meaning ‘unknown cause’)2. IC is a chronic condition and cats that suffer from it tend to be more affected by stress1,3. Flare-ups of IC can be triggered by anything from a change in the weather to a move to a new home1,3. The second most common cause of FLUTD symptoms in this younger age group is the formation of bladder crystals/stones2. Crystals/stones are most commonly composed of struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) or calcium oxalate4. They are formed when these constituent minerals accumulate in the bladder at high concentrations for a long period of time in the presence of a favourable pH4. If left untreated, these crystals/stones can cause an obstruction in the urinary tract leading to an EMERGENCY SITUATION requiring IMMEDIATE veterinary care4. This is more common in male cats due to their longer, narrower urethra which is more easily blocked by the crystals or stones4. Symptoms of a urethral obstruction include4:

  • inability to pass urine
  • vocalizing while attempting to urinate
  • decreased social behaviour or hiding (e.g. behind the couch or under the bed)
  • weakness, decrease in appetite, painful belly or vomiting

Making changes to your cat’s environment or diet can go a long way in preventing FLUTD.  Providing choices for your cat in terms of how/where they can sleep, play, eat, and use the litter box can help drastically to reduce stress3. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that each cat in a household should3:

  • be free to move around the house, with access to areas of varying temperature and their own private rest area where they will not be disturbed by loud noises or other animals
  • have the opportunity for social interaction with the owner(s), or with another cat if desired
  • have access to toys, scratching posts, climbing structures and/or viewing or resting perches
  • have their own food and water dishes which are washed daily, and access to a clean, private litter box that is kept in a well-ventilated area. The general rule is one litter box per cat in the household plus one extra.

Hydration is very important in the prevention and management of FLUTD1. Providing your cat with extra water bowls or fountains, adding water to dry food or feeding a wet canned food can help to increase water consumption1. Having a constant flow of water through the urinary tract can prevent the build-up of infection-causing bacteria, help to dilute the concentration of crystal-forming minerals, and flush out any irritants that may increase inflammation in the bladder wall1,4. As well, feeding your cat a diet that is balanced in terms of minerals and pH and high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids can help maintain a healthy urinary tract environment4.

Here at St. David’s Veterinary Clinic, we recommend feeding your cat a diet made up of 50% dry food and 50% wet, canned food. The Royal Canin brand offers several options for a well balanced diet and we are more than happy to help you select one that is perfect for your cat’s age, health condition, and lifestyle. Royal Canin can be purchased through the clinic, but is also conveniently available in pet stores. If you have any questions about your cat’s urinary health, or about selecting an appropriate food please don’t hesitate to ask us!

Information compiled by Julia Michitsch, B.Sc., M.Sc. (Zoology)

Works Cited

1.) Rothrock, K. (2015, August 8). Cystitis, Feline Idiopathic. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from Associate Database – Veterinary Information Network:

2.) Brooks, W. C. (2017, May 16). The Pet Health Library – Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from

3.)Brooks, W. C. (2017, May 04). The Pet Health Care Library – Feline Idiopathic Cystitis. Retrieved           February 15, 2018, from

4.)Nelson, R. W., & Couto, C. G. (2009). Chapter 47: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. In R. W. Nelson, & C. G. Couto, Small Animal Internal Medicine 4th Ed. (pp. 677-683). St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.

Welcome to our Blog!


Here at St. David’s Veterinary Clinic we like to make sure that pet owners are well informed so that you can give the best care to your pet…that’s why we started this blog! We’re looking forward to sharing original articles with you that will help you understand your furry friend and their needs.

It won’t be strictly pet care over here though…we will also share about the fun community events we like to host. They’re a great opportunity to get a chance to know the people and the pets of St. David’s. Events like our photos with Santa, our summer barbeque, and our kids veterinary day are some of our favourite days of the year! So, while we work on writing some fun and informative posts for you, we’ll leave this short note here to let you know what’s to come.

Check back soon!