Chestermere Veterinary Clinic Blog



8 Surprising Things a Dog Can Smell

We all know dogs have an amazing sense of smell, but did you know a dog can smell:

1. Bacteria: Dogs have been used since 1970 to sniff out bacteria diseased bee colonies, to help prevent the spread of infection. The work that would take a human 2 days, is accomplished by the dog in 45 minutes!

2. DVDs: Dogs can smell polycarbonate in DVDs and are being used to make counterfeit DVD busts.

3. Diabetes: Dogs are able to predict dangerous blood sugar levels and if trained can alert their owner and even fetch an insulin kit.

4. Seizures: Seizure alert dogs can detect a faint change in scent and behavior and can warn their owner approximately 30 – 45 sec. prior to a seizure, giving the owner time to get into a safe position for the seizure.

5. Whale Poop: Scientists need to analyze a whales fecal matter to determine its health, but whale poop sinks within a half hour of exiting the whale. Dogs have been trained to smell the poop from over a mile away.

6. Bed Bugs: Dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs can be hired and are reported to have an accuracy as high as 96%.

7. Cancer: In breast and lung cancer, waste products of the tumors are exhaled in the breath of the patient. Dogs have been trained to smell these waste products by sniffing a patient’s breath.

8. Ovulation in Cows: Artificial insemination in cows is an expensive business. Dogs are being used to help cut some loses by letting farmers know when a cow is in heat and thus the best time for an insemination to be successful.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Wears, Adam. List Verse. 10 Unexpected Things That Dogs Can Smell. January 17, 2013. Web October 3, 2014.

Hoyt, Alia. How Stuff Works. Can a Dog Really Predict an Epileptic Seizure? May 5, 2008. . Web October 3, 2014.


5 Reasons to Walk Your Dog

1) Exercise – helps keep your dog a healthy weight and makes them more agile and limber.

2) Improves digestion and constipation.

3) Promotes better behavior – less boredom leads to less destructive behavior and hyperactivity. Exercise and getting some fresh air and sunlight promotes a feeling of well-being and relaxation.

4) Strengthens Bond & Trust – spending time with your pet strengthens your bond and promotes a strong, trusting relationship. Timid or fearful pets can gain confidence and trust with regular walks as they are exposed to new people, pets and situations, and have you there to comfort them.

5) Your health too – all of the above benefits of walking apply to you too! So get out there and walk your dog today!

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Pet MD. Top Ten Health Benefits Walking Provides Your Pet. . Web September 15, 2014.

5 Ways to Avoid Back to School Anxiety in Pets

When the kids go back to school, pets also notice and feel the effects. It is a transition period for them too, as they have become used to the extra time and attention from their family. The house suddenly becomes empty and quiet again during the day, and this can lead to some pets becoming anxious or depressed.

How can you help ease your pets through the transition?

1) Routines – try to start adjusting the daily routine before school starts. Start following the feeding and exercise routines that they will experience once the kids are back in school.

2) Separation – ease your pet into longer periods of being alone.

3) Special toys – try giving your pet an interactive toy to play with while you are away. Puzzle toys where your pet needs to figure out how to remove toys from within another toy, or treat balls that need to be played with in order to get the treats out, can give bored pets something to do.

4) Physical activity – make sure pets are still receiving regular physical activity. If possible an early morning walk for your dog is ideal and will help your dog to be more relaxed and calm during the day. Play with cats too, using a laser pointer or wand toy.

5) See the Vet – September marks the start of a busy school year ahead, with homework and recreational activities, making time to see the vet can take a back seat. If your pet is coming due for their annual exam or vaccines, book them sooner than later to make sure your pet does not become overdue. Call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-2573 to book an appointment.

If you find your pet is having trouble adjusting to the new back to school schedule and starts to present some troubling behaviors due to their anxiety, or you feel they are depressed, speak with your veterinarian about options that can help.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Beltran, Aimee. Coastal Virginia Magazine. 5 Tips to Avoid Back to School Pet Blues. Web September 2, 2014.

Pets that Fear Thunderstorms

Fear of thunderstorms is very common among dogs, and even some cats. While the exact source of the fear can be difficult to pinpoint, it may be one or a combination of storm-associated events including: sound of the wind, rain or thunder, lightning, change in barometric pressure, electrostatic disturbances, smell, or even low-frequency rumbles preceding a storm that humans can’t hear.

The fear can also manifest in different ways including:
Hiding (most common sign in cats)
Trying to escape (digging, jumping through windows or going through walls, running away)
Seeking the owner or clinging
Expressing anal glands
Not eating
Not listening to commands
Trembling or shaking
Dilated pupils
Vocalizing (barking or meowing)

Pets that have other behavioral concerns such as separation anxiety, fearful behavior, or aversion to loud noises like fireworks, tend to be more likely to be affected by storms.

There are a number of things that can be done to help lessen these pets level of anxiety and make them more comfortable during a storm. It may take a bit of trial and error to see what works best for a pet.

Behavior Modification

Do not over praise/comfort or punish a pet for showing fear during a storm. Too much praise/comforting encourages and rewards the behavior, and reinforces that the pet should be fearful during a storm. Punishment however, will only act to increase a pets anxiety level. Ideally, show your pet attention in other ways during a storm, such as grooming, or playing. You may choose to provide a favorite treat, toy or activity, only during a storm.

Another method of behavior modification includes desensitization. First you must teach your pet to relax when there is no storm. When they are able to successfully master a “relax” command, obtain a storm recording and see if it is enough to simulate a storm, so your pet is fearful. For some pets a recording (sound) may not be enough to stimulate their fear response. If it is, play it at first quietly, just loud enough so your pet becomes aware of it – their ears may cock up, but not loud enough for them to be fearful, and practice your relax command. Train in short 5-10 min. sessions and work on gradually increasing the volume the recording is played, then work on different rooms of the house as well. When you have worked up to a storm level volume and your pet is still able to relax, you can try leaving the recording on while you leave the house for short periods. Once a pet appears to have lost their fear, a weekly session should be enough to maintain the practice.

Talk to your veterinarian at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic (403) 272-3573 for medication recommendations that can help with your pets anxiety during a storm. Some medications can be given on the day of an expected storm, while others may need to be taken for the duration of the storm season. Another more natural option that may work for some pets is pheromone therapy. Pheromones such as Dog Appeasing pheromone or Feliway for cats can be purchased in diffuser, spray or collar form, and can help instill a feeling of calm.

Change of Environment

For some pets, simply taking them downstairs is enough to help reduce the sound of the storm and make them feel more comfortable. Others may enjoy a crate set up in an interior bathroom in the house, away from windows, and a blanket put over to help muffle the sound. White noise such as a fan or radio, may also help.

Daily vigorous exercise, and good health and nutrition help all pets to be less irritable and better cope with anxiety.

Projecting a calm and confident attitude yourself, can help your pet feel more at ease and likely to follow your lead.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Drs. Foster & Smith. Fear of Thunderstorms, Fireworks, and Noise Phobias. Pet Web August 15, 2014.

Bark for Life Walk Chestermere – Fight Against Cancer 2014

Bark for Life is a 3 hour fundraising walk for dogs and their owners to celebrate the lives of those who survived cancer, remember loved ones lost to cancer, and fight back against the disease. More than just a walk, Bark For Life is an opportunity for people to be empowered through their canine companion partnerships; those furry four-legged friends that support us along the way! Come together with other dog lovers and their canine companions for a day of fun, friendship, and fundraising to help the Canadian Cancer Society change cancer forever. Tell cancer it barked up the wrong tree!

Each participant and their dog is encouraged to raise a minimum of $150. Money raised at Bark For Life will help the Society fund the most promising cancer research in Canada, crucial support programs and information for people living with cancer, and various prevention initiatives. The walk is to be held Saturday September 27th, from 12 – 3 pm in Chestermere, exact location is still being determined. All registered participants will receive a bandana for their dog(s).

To register for the event click here.

The Canadian Cancer Society is looking for committee volunteers to plan the Bark For Life events in Chestermere. This is a commitment of 2 to 4 hours per week starting in August. A variety of committee positions are available.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to put your knowledge to use for a good cause, learn new skills, and make a meaningful impact in the fight for life. Volunteers are the backbone of the Society.

To learn more or to sign up as a committee volunteer, please contact Kristy at 403-303-3528 or

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Chestermere’s Listening Tails Program

In partnership with the Chestermere Library, the Chestermere Therapy Dogs Society introduced a free program called “Listening Tails” in March of 2014. The program uses therapy dogs as a reading buddy for children to read out-loud to, helping improve their confidence. Dogs are non-judgemental and help create a relaxing environment for children to read in. The dogs are always on leash and accompanied by their handler who plays a fairly passive role during the reading sessions. If a child struggles with a particular word, rather than the handler correcting the child, the handler suggests that the dog thinks the word is pronounced this way, thereby maintaining the bond between child and dog.

Since its introduction, 14 children have been helped by the therapy dogs. Sessions are held at the Chestermere Library and consist of a 15 minute session once a week for 6 weeks. The next reading session will be in September. For more information on the program, or to sign-up call the Chestermere Public Library at 403-272-9025 or visit, or to find out about volunteering contact Steve King at 403-272-1623.

Chestermere Veterinary Clinic provides a thorough medical exam to each of the prospective therapy dogs prior to their acceptance in the program.

The Chestermere Therapy Dogs Society is looking for other ways their therapy dogs can help the community, whether by providing support in times of tragedy or helping stressed students. There is a secondary program called “Visiting Tails” where therapy dogs visit seniors at Prince of Peace.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Dog Training Tips

Training a dog can be a lot of fun! Training your dog improves the bond you share, and rewards the entire family with a much more enjoyable and well loved pet. Read on for some basic training tips!

Earned Praise
Praise is the most important motivation for a dog. Dogs have evolved with a need to serve humans. Praise is how we communicate “a job well done” to a dog. Praise can be given verbally or physically.

Verbal praise should be given IMMEDIATELY after a pet performs correctly. Verbal praise also lets the dog know that the task has been completed.

Reprimand should not be thought of as punishment. Never hit a pet. This can lead to either aggressive or extreme submissive behavior.

The reprimand may start as a verbal “No!” followed by getting the pet to do something that they know well so you can praise them right away. In this way you reinforce the positive behavior and try to get your pet out of a negative behavior.

To effectively communicate to your dog with minimal confusion, follow the 5 C’s:

1) Be certain. Know what you want your dog to do, as well as what you don’t want them to do. Don’t confuse them by changing the rules at certain times or with certain people, for example, letting the dog jump on you but not on your guests is a confusing message.

2) Be confident. A dog will only follow your lead if they feel you are in charge.

3) Be consistent. Always correct your dog in the same way. Consistency and repetition will help them learn which actions are acceptable and which aren’t. Be consistent with how you praise, the commands you use, and what constitutes a successful completion of a command.

4) Be calm. Patience is required! Never yell at or hit your dog. Try to only say the dog’s name in a pleasant voice and under good circumstances or they may learn to associate their name with reprimands and might be afraid to come when called.

5) Be concerned. Spend at least 15 minutes each day playing with your dog. Don’t encourage a dog’s bad habits by only giving them attention when they misbehave. Some dogs prefer negative attention to none at all.

Tone of Voice
Dogs respond better to tones, than to specific words. Using deep tones usually indicate authority or disapproval. High pitched tones usually indicate praise and happiness.

Body Language
Dogs communicate to other dogs with body language. Dogs can also read your body language, so try to make sure it matches your tone of voice.

Praise Rules
•Never praise a dog until they have earned that praise through a command.
•Always give twice the amount of praise as reprimand (by following a reprimand with a task you know they can do and praising).
•The praise given should match the difficulty of the task, do not give excessive praise for a simple task.

Happy Training!

If you have questions or need more training tips or resources, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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What is a PALS pet? Wynnstan’s Story

Recently one of our clients and her dog became PALS volunteers, and she wanted to share their story with our readers who may not know exactly what PALS is, or have questions about becoming PALS volunteers. We want to thank Carla Hogan and her dog Wynnstan for taking the time to share their inspiring story!

PALS is a non-profit, registered, charitable organization located in Calgary, Alberta, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of individuals through pet therapy. PALS pets include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and even one horse, and many volunteers. These four-legged therapists respond unconditionally, in a non-judgmental and non-threatening manner, eliciting responses where all else has failed. These animals are family pets carefully screened by professionals as to suitability for the program. – Quoted from the PALS website.

Wynnstan’s story:

Wynnstan (Sir Wynnstan Churchill), our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, became a member of our family in February 2010. Wynnstan arrived with a very calm disposition, friendly, tolerant, curious, smart and willing to please.

As an employee of a nursing home I would often take Wynnstan to visit after hours, the residents loved it and Wynnstan was conscripted into a world of wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and many new sounds and smells. Another aspect of Wynnstan’s socialization training was to be introduced to many different situations. We were very fortunate to find a fantastic dog sitter who acquainted Wynnstan to many; other dogs, rabbits, cats and piano students. At home, we often would choose the busiest streets when walking and introduce him to the world of automobiles, motor bikes, trains, baby buggies, skate boards and bicycles.

In the spring of 2013 we applied to become PALS volunteers. We were contacted by PALS stating they were interested in interviewing both Wynnstan and I. After passing the interview we were given a date for Wynnstan’s screening. In preparation for this, Wynnstan and I worked on his table manners – taking food gently and only when told, as well as my command skills, and his listening skills, such as sit, down, and look at me.

A very important part of the screening process is the health of your dog/pet. Up to date health records from your vet must be submitted prior to screening. Your dog’s teeth, ears and overall health will be examined during the intake process. Chestermere Veterinary Clinic can provide these exams and records for screening, call 403-272-3573 to book an appointment.

On the day of the screening we were greeted by PALS volunteers and a room full of dogs. You and your pet are being evaluated the minute you walk into the room, so it is important to keep a short leash, find a place to sit, keep your dog calm, and his nose away from the other dogs. PALS dogs are service dogs, so it is required that there be no nose contact or any other contact with the dogs present. Service dogs have a very important job to do and it is crucial for your dog to know when you want him to work and when it is okay to play. A cat was present in the room and later carried past the dogs (they call this the cat scan)! They direct the attention of the dog toward the cat and observe any reaction. Wynnstan looked at the cat and without saying a word said it all with his attitude… yeah that’s a cat so what? Wynnstan’s name was called and we were led into a smaller office. There he was introduced to two PALS volunteers, wheel chairs, crutches, walkers and of course food. He was also subjected to loud noises and observed for his reaction and recovery time. His ears and teeth were checked, as well as being handled and touched on all body parts. Remember to relax, the greatest stressor for your dog is being stressed yourself. At the end of it all, Wynnstan walked proudly out the door with his PALS kerchief on!

Wynnstan and I volunteer at the Peter Lougheed Centre twice per month in the Palliative and Psych Wards. On our first day we were challenged with the revolving door and the elevator. With the PALS volunteers waiting on the other side and of course watching, I tried to enter through a doorway, but I could not get it to open. At that point Wynnstan sat down, looked up at me as if to say “we can do this” and we did! Talk about the calming behavior… we are so blessed to be able to share this lovely pet in the service to others.

For more information on PALS, to make a donation, or find out about becoming a volunteer, visit

If you have any concerns or questions please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Gardening Dangers to Our Pets

Spending time outside with your pet can be enjoyable and relaxing. But what happens when your pet’s curiosity gets the best of them? They may try to help you plant your new garden or even munch on the new pile of mulch you just had delivered.

Though gardening with your pet can be fun and entertaining, it is important to understand the risks and hazards of the products you are using on your lawn or garden. Your pet could unknowingly be playing in, digging in, or eating something toxic or very harmful.

Putting mulch over a flowerbed or around trees is a popular gardening trend. While most types of mulch are safe, there is one type that could be lethal to your best friend. Cocoa Mulch is a common mulch that can be purchased from most garden supply stores. Just like the name, it contains an ingredient found in cocoa and chocolate called theobromine. Dogs & cats metabolize theobromine much slower than humans, leading to potential poisoning or even death. If you see your pet chewing the mulch stop them immediately and monitor for early signs of toxicity such as vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination. If you are worried or see any of these signs contact Chestermere Veterinary Clinic right away.

Mulch isn’t the only thing to watch out for in your garden. Although cats and dogs may like a tasty treat and give those vegetables or flowers a bite, there are some varieties you should keep them away from. Here are some common things we plant in our gardens that are NOT healthy for your pet:

•onion, garlic, rhubarb.
•sweet pea, tulip, lilies, daffodil, iris, daisy, gladiola, geranium, dahlia, black-eyed susans, peony.

This is a small example of the many plants, veggies and fruits that can be toxic to your pet. If your pet does ingest any of these items, or any other poisonous plant, please call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic or take your pet directly to an emergency clinic.

Here is a short list of common plants that are ok for your pets:
•beets, cucumber, strawberry, buttercup squash.
•blue eyed daisy, Christmas cactus, marigold, moss fern, petunia, rose.

For a comprehensive list of plants, veggies and fruits that are OK for your pet, and a list of those that may be harmful, please visit the ASPCA website

Also be aware of the fertilizers and pesticides you use. If possible, don’t use any in areas where your pets frequent, use pet safe products, or keep your pet away from these areas for at least a few days after application.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at

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Happy Planting!

Wikipedia. “Theobromine.” June 22, 2010. Web June 22, 2010.

Helmesnstine, Anne Marie. “Theobromine Chemistry.” Chemistry. 2010. Web June 22, 2010.

ASPCA. “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.” 2010. Web June 22, 2010.

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