Prevent the Big Three Pet Parasites

Ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. Nobody wants these bugs on their pets or in their house. But the reasons for keeping these bugs away go beyond just avoiding pests. “Ticks, fleas and mosquitoes are dangerous because they can carry and cause malicious diseases,” explains Dr. Gary Brummet, who heads the small animal primary care service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana and counsels pet owners on preventing pet parasites.

“Ticks are infamous for their disease-carrying capabilities. They transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and can also pass along protozoa like Cytauxzoonosis and many others,” says Dr. Brummet.
Dogs are extremely susceptible to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which typically causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. When left untreated, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can lead to death.
Cytauxzoonosis is a deadly disease caused by protozoa that affects domestic cats. It begins with nonspecific signs, including lethargy and a poor appetite; the disease will progress to an extremely high fever and death if not treated quickly.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that can affect dogs, horses, people and potentially cats. It can cause neurological issues, joint disease and overall lameness. In its most severe forms, it causes renal failure and ultimately death.
In the past this disease was more prevalent in the northeast, but due to increasing deer populations (an ideal tick host) and reforestation providing prime tick habitat, Lyme disease-spreading ticks have increased in number and are becoming more and more prevalent in the Midwest as well as other parts of the country they were not in even just 20 years ago.
This year preventing tick bites is going to be even more relevant as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted high tick populations, likely due to the mild winter.
FLEAS TRIGGER ALLERGIES “Fleas may be less known among pet parasites for causing deadly diseases, but are detrimental nonetheless,” says Dr. Brummet. It is not uncommon for dogs with skin allergies to be reacting to a flea infestation, even if they have very few fleas. Fleas also carry tapeworms, which work their way into your pet’s digestive system when the fleas are swallowed while the animal grooms itself.
Additionally, fleas can easily infest a house, which can be very unpleasant. Dr. Brummet says, “Once fleas get in the house, they can be hard to get rid of, so it is easiest to stop them before they start. This means protecting your pets with preventive medication.”
Heartworms are the last of the big three pet parasites most commonly discussed, and they are exactly what their name implies: worms that live in your pet’s heart.
“Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Any time pets are outside, they are at risk. Heartworms can grow to eight inches in length and can spread from the heart to the lungs,” explains Dr. Brummet.
The signs of a heartworm infestation often start subtly; the animal will begin to tire easily when exercising and may cough. If left untreated, the worms will create such a burden on the heart that the heart cannot perform its job and the animal will die. In cats, heartworms can cause sudden death because there were no discernable signs of disease. “Heartworm can be treated, but the treatment is costly and the animal will likely need to be hospitalized. The course of intramuscular injections used to treat heartworm takes months to complete, and even if the animal survives, it may have lifelong restricted activity because of the damage done to the heart,” Dr. Brummet says.
“Preventive medications are really the best way to combat these parasites and the diseases that accompany them. It is less expensive in the long run and much safer for your pet,” recommends Dr. Brummet.
He notes an added bonus to giving your pet a heartworm preventive: “Heartworm preventives also protect your pet from intestinal parasites that can cause gastrointestinal disease.”
Preventive medications for fleas, ticks and heartworm should ideally be given year round.
“Many owners stop giving medications toward the end of the summer as the weather cools down, but September and October are probably the worst months for flea and tick infestations. At the very least, flea and tick preventive should be given until the second hard frost. Heartworm preventive should be given all year,” cautions Dr. Brummet.
Preventive medications are available in oral and topical forms. Dr. Brummet advises speaking with your veterinarian to choose what is best for your pet.
“Many of these medications are speciesspecific. Using dog products on cats can cause harmful reactions. You should only give the medication to the pet it was prescribed for,” says Dr. Brummet.
If you have questions about fleas, ticks, heartworms or other pet parasites, talk to your veterinarian.
From Pet Columns, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine:


Avoid the Dangers of Raw Pet Food

Compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as  Salmonella and  Listeria monocytogenes.

Salmonella bacteria cause the disease salmonellosis, and L. monocytogenes bacteria cause the disease listeriosis. People and animals can get both diseases by eating food contaminated with the harmful bacteria. That’s why salmonellosis and listeriosis are called “foodborne” illnesses — the bacteria are carried, or “borne,” in or on contaminated food.
People can also get both salmonellosis and listeriosis by handling contaminated food, such as contaminated raw pet food, or touching contaminated surfaces and utensils and accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Some animals can carry Salmonella and L. monocytogenes  without showing signs of being sick. Some animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, cattle and chickens, can have Salmonella in their bodies or in their habitats. After handling a live animal or touching an object in its habitat, people can get salmonellosis by accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Food products made from animals, such as raw meat and poultry, can be sources of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes infection.
Symptoms of salmonellosis in people include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Symptoms start 12 hours to three days after a person ingests the bacteria.
Most people recover from salmonellosis in four to seven days without treatment, but some groups are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms.
These high-risk groups are:
  • Children under five
  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases)
Compared to salmonellosis and other foodborne illnesses, listeriosis is rare but very serious with a high mortality rate of 20% to 30%.
L. monocytogenes  can invade many places in the body, including the brain, membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (called the meninges), digestive tract (the stomach and intestines) and bloodstream. Symptoms vary depending on the body site, or sites, affected.
Listeriosis occurs almost exclusively in:
  • Pregnant women and their fetuses
  • Newborns
  • The elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases) Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and life-threatening infection of the newborn. Newborns suffer the most serious consequences of listeriosis, including pneumonia or respiratory distress, a blood infection and meningitis.
To prevent infecting  yourself or other people in your household with Salmonella and L. monocytogenes, it’s best if you don’t feed your pet a raw diet.
If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, here are some tips to prevent infection:
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely. • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face. No matter what type of pet food you feed your pet, you should always follow these the safe handling instructions below.
Pet food and treats, like many other types of food, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis and listeriosis. Pet owners should be mindful of the potential risks. You can lower your risk of getting a foodborne illness from contaminated pet food and treats by following these simple and safe handling instructions:
Tips for Buying Pet Food
Buy pet food products (cans, pouches or bags) that are in good condition. Check the packaging for visible signs of damage, such as dents, tears and discolorations.
Tips for Preparing Pet Food
  • Begin and end with clean hands. Both before and after handling pet food and treats, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
  • Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon or cup instead. Use the scooping utensil only for scooping pet food.
  • Throw out old or spoiled pet food in a safe way, for example, by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.
Tips for Storing Pet Food
  • Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Tightly cover refrigerated pet food.
  • Store dry pet food in a cool and dry place.
  • Store dry pet food in its original bag and keep the top of the bag tightly folded down.
  • Keep pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.
thinks that raw pet food poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners. Because raw pet food is more likely than other types of pet food to contain Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, the single best thing you can do to prevent infection with these foodborne bacteria is to not feed your pet a raw diet. However, we understand that some people prefer to feed raw pet food diets to their pets. If you choose to feed raw pet food, you should be aware of the risks.
From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration


Backyard Hazard Series: Seoul Virus

The Backyard Hazards series of articles focuses on the diseases that you or your pet may be at risk of contracting, right in your own backyard.
Seoul virus (SEOV) is a type of zoonotic virus (meaning it can be spread between humans and animals) known as a hantavirus that is seen throughout the world in both wild and domestic rats. It is most commonly sees in the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus).
Commonly, pet rats are from the same species of rats as the Norway Rat but appear in different varieties (Fancy, Hairless, Dumbo, Rex, etc.).
In December 2016, Ontario saw its first few positive cases of SEOV surface. Since then, both humans and rats have tested positive in an outbreak that has encompassed both Canadian and American rat-breeding facilities.
Since this outbreak was detected, Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Local Public Health Units, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have been working together to monitor this outbreak and provide direction to rat owners.
Rats who have contracted the Seoul virus will shed the virus through urine, feces and saliva. The virus is then passed to other rats when they come into contact with these, or when they are bitten by an infected rat.
Just like when rats pass the virus to other rats, humans can become infected when they come into contact with an infected rat’s urine, feces and saliva. This may occur when handling feeder rats (fresh or frozen food for reptiles) or pet rats, receiving a bite from an infected rat or while cleaning out their bedding in their cage. Sweeping and vacuuming rat habitats while cleaning should be avoided as the virus can be aerosolized and inhaled. People do not pass the Seoul virus to other people.
In rats Rats that have Seoul virus do not show signs or symptoms. Once a rat has Seoul virus it will shed the virus for life and may pass the virus along to other rats and people.
In people
Some humans may not show signs of SEOV infection either. Although, others may present with flu-like symptoms one to two weeks after exposure to the virus that include:
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness/inflammation of the eyes
  • Flushed face • Rash
The CDC states: “While Seoul virus infection in humans is generally considered less severe than some other types of hantavirus infections, it can still cause a severe illness in some cases. Some people may develop a severe form of infection known as hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), and an estimated 1% to 2% of people may die after being infected with Seoul virus.”
In these more severe cases the following may be seen:
  • Kidney failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Signs of bleeding
  • Shock
  • Death
Those who are pregnant, children, elderly and immunocompromised may be more at risk of developing disease.
There is no specific treatment available for rats with SEOV. In some cases, blood testing can be performed on live rats to test for Seoul virus. If you are concerned that your pet rat may be carrying the Seoul virus you should reach out to your local public health unit to inquire what your next steps should be.
People who have developed symptoms of Seoul virus may be treated with supportive care until the virus runs its course.
First, clean the habitat in an area that is well ventilated. Cleaning outside is best if possible. If cleaning must occur indoors, make sure to open windows 30 minutes prior to cleaning and avoid areas where food is prepared. The CDC recommends the following steps when cleaning rat habitats:
When you begin cleaning, it is important that you do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings, urine or nesting materials. Wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves when cleaning urine and droppings. Spray the urine and droppings with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water and let soak five minutes. The recommended concentration of bleach solution is one part bleach to 10 parts water. When using a commercial disinfectant, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label for dilution and disinfection time.
Use a paper towel to pick up the urine and droppings, and dispose of the waste in the garbage. After the rodent droppings and urine have been removed, disinfect items that might have been contaminated by rodents or their urine and droppings.
Mop floors and clean countertops with disinfectant or bleach solution. Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets with evidence of rodent exposure.
Wash any bedding and clothing with laundry detergent in hot water if exposed to rodent urine or droppings. Lastly, remove gloves, and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water (or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled).
Rats make great family pets and it is important to note that not all rats carry Seoul virus. If you are considering a rat as a pet for your family, it is important to look into the breeder you are considering purchasing your rat from and inquiring about their rattery’s Seoul virus status. A reputable rat breeder will not breed and sell infected rats and should be able to provide proof to you that their rattery is free from the virus. More information about the virus can be found on Public Health Ontario’s website by searching “Seoul virus.”
Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at


I t’s that time of year when Fluffy and Fido are due for their annual examinations, and while on the phone booking their next appointment the receptionist asks, “When you come for your next visit please bring along a fresh fecal sample?” You reluctantly agree, hang up the phone and wonder what they possibly could want with your pet’s poop. Turns out, your pet’s feces can provide some valuable insight into your pet’s health.
Once a stool sample has been brought into your veterinary clinic, the first part of any fecal analysis will be observing the stool for regularity. Feces should appear well formed, in a cylindrical shape that holds its shape and appears moist but not hard. Normal feces will have a chocolate brown appearance. Abnormal looking feces can indicate a digestive system concern such as:
  • Black, tarry stool — May indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Red stool — May indicate bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract
  • Light-coloured yellowish-orange stools — May indicate liver or gallbladder issues
  • Grey or greasy stool — May indicate a pancreas issue
  • White speckled stool — May indicate parasites
  • Loose and/or mucus-lined stool — May indicate stress or intestinal inflammation
Fecal Floatation
A fecal floatation is a test often performed at your veterinary hospital. It is used to detect parasitic eggs from worms like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, lungworms and tapeworms. They are also used to look for intestinal parasites known as protozoa, which are single-celled organisms, such as coccidia, giardia, toxoplasma and cryptosporidium.
A fecal flotation utilizes a small amount of feces mixed with a floatation solution in a small vessel that allows the parasite eggs/protozoa to float to the top of the vessel after a specified amount of time. The fluid at the top of this vessel is transferred to a glass coverslip and viewed on a slide under a microscope to determine if any parasites are present and to identify them.
This test is performed most often with general wellness visits or when your pet is encountering a digestive issue.
Centrifugation Fecal Floatation
The Centrifugation Fecal Floatation test may be performed in house or by an external laboratory. This test is also used to detect parasite eggs from worms like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, lungworms and tapeworms. They are also used to look for intestinal parasites.
A small amount of feces, along with a floatation solution, is placed into a tube and is centrifuged (spun) at high speeds in the hopes of pushing any parasite eggs or cysts to the top of the tube. Once the tube has spun, a glass coverslip is placed on top to catch the parasite eggs and cysts that have been forced to the top, which is then placed on a microscope slide and viewed. This method of testing often yields more reliable results than both the fecal floatation and fecal smear tests as the centrifugation process forces any parasite eggs and protozoa to the top, versus having them passively float to the top like in the standard floatation test method.
This test may be used in place of the standard fecal floatation test or when a standard fecal floatation test returns negative results but signs of parasitic disease are present.
Fecal Smear
If your pet’s stool is loose and watery and there is not enough stool to perform a fecal floatation or centrifugation fecal floatation test, a fecal smear may be used. In most cases it is performed to look for protozoa that may have not been detected in a regular fecal floatation. This test is performed by placing a small amount of the feces onto a glass slide and examining it under a microscope.
Not much at all. Your veterinary healthcare team will be more than happy for you to only bring along a large marble-sized piece of poop. If there is a portion of poop that looks abnormal, be sure to include this too.
The fresher the better! Fecal samples should be tested within 24 hours. Worried that your sample won’t be fresh enough before you arrive for your pet’s appointment? No worries, just drop it off at the veterinary hospital after you have collected it ahead of your appointment.
Once you collect a fecal sample from your pet make sure that it is kept cool in the fridge. Samples are best stored in a small disposable leak-proof container. A cleaned and rinsed margarine or sour cream container works great.
Parasites can be harmful to your pet’s health and detecting them through fecal testing allows you veterinarian to treat your pet with the proper medication to rid them of these parasites. Some parasites your pet may carry can also be passed along to your human family members. Detecting parasites early in your pet and treating them helps to lessen your chance of getting them too.
Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at

CPR can save a pets’s life

I f you have confirmed that your pet has no heartbeat and is non-responsive, or the normal pattern of breathing has stopped and gums have turned ashen grey blue, have someone call your veterinarian or the local emergency veterinary hospital for guidance while you begin rescue efforts. In death, if you gently touch the surface of the eyeball where it is clear, there is no blink reflex
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, can be used to treat an animal that has stopped breathing and has no heartbeat. It is not useful for collapse/unresponsiveness from other causes, such as a low sugar coma or fainting. Basic life support is the appropriate response to cardiopulmonary arrest. Basic resuscitation can be broken down into three steps, which are called the ABC’s of CPR; Airway, Breathing and Circulation.
Basic CPR step one is to confirm that the airway is open. How? The first step is to open the mouth, pull out the tongue and examine the throat. Do not do this if there is agonal breathing since the mouth can clamp closed with great force, causing injury to your fingers. Agonal breathing is a slow deep gasping effort that can happen at the time of passing on and for a few minutes after. In long-nosed breeds of dogs, a small flashlight may be needed to visualize the throat area. Use your finger to check for and remove any foreign material from the mouth.
Breathing for the pet involves mouth-tonose (snout) resuscitation. How? To protect fingers in case the pet starts to arouse during the examination, make sure the fingers are never placed in the path of the large teeth at all times. If the animal is becoming conscious, one must not put the fingers in the mouth at all because the pet may bite very hard due to reflex. For medium-sized to large-sized animals, holding the muzzle closed with your hands should seal the mouth, providing opportunity for mouth-to-nose resuscitation. For cats and very small dogs, your mouth will seal the pet’s whole snout when you perform CPR.
Placing your mouth over the animal’s nose and exhaling directly into the nostrils begins resuscitation. Do not overinflate the chest or lung damage may occur. After four to five quick breaths, the breathing should be checked again and if no spontaneous breathing begin formal resuscitation cycles of two minutes each. If no equipment is available, 30 chest compressions should alternate with two quick breaths and the people should rotate roles every two minutes to reduce fatigue for chest compressions. Check for return of breathing and pulse during the cycle changeover. If the animal does not start breathing after 15 minutes, it is not likely to revive
To check whether enough air is being provided (or too much), watch the movement of the chest wall as you provide air. The chest wall should move up and out as if a large normal deep breath is occurring. If the wall moves very high, you are overinflating the lungs, and a smaller, less vigorous breath should be used. If the chest wall does not move at all, it is quite possible that a blockage of the windpipe is present.
Cardiovascular (circulatory, heart and blood vessels). How? For small dogs, the pet should be lying on its right side. The palm of one hand should be placed over the ribs at the point where the elbow would touch the chest if he was lying down with back facing up, with forelegs tucked at side, while the other hand is placed beneath the right chest wall opposite it. Compression rate should be about 100- 120/minute, allowing time for the chest to spring back in between pressure application. If there are two people present, one person can perform the breathing, while the other compresses the chest then checks for a pulse in the femoral artery (running up the inside of the leg and felt ½ way down from the junction of leg and body wall to the knee joint).
For medium to large dogs, the hands must be cupped over each other on the top side behind the elbow on the chest wall where the elbow would naturally sit if the pet was lying down, with back facing up, with forelegs sitting normally, and the arms kept straight and elbows locked. The person needs to place their body squarely over their hands in order to get sufficient power to compress the chest properly. If there are two people present, one person can perform the breathing, while the other compresses then checks for a pulse every two minutes. A folded towel placed under the chest will help to keep the pet from shifting during the application of pressure.
Cats should be placed on their side, and one hand should be placed over the backbone near the shoulder blades, while the other hand is cupped around the underside of the chest where, if the cat was standing, just behind where the elbows would be. Flat fingers on the underside, and flat part of the thumb on topside are applied over this region of the heart.
gion of the heart. Pulses can be checked by placing a finger over the mid portion of the inside rear limb about half way between the body wall and the stifle, or knee joint half way between the back and front margins of the limb. The femoral artery lies within a minor trough in the muscles here. A veterinarian can teach you how to find pulses during a routine annual examination. It is best to practice getting the pulse on a healthy, awake pet before any time of crisis. Important: The chest should go down by about a third to half of the height as the animal lays on the side.
Lay the pet with the body angled so the head is lower than the heart, and hind end is higher than the heart using blankets or pillows, or coats, if they are handy. This keeps more blood in the brain. This should not be done if there is trauma especially to the head.
Do not attempt to drive and do CPR at the same time! Ideally enlist a friend or family member to assist with you promptly. At the veterinary clinic, they have important aids for resuscitation, such as adrenalin and other key drugs, oxygen, intravenous access, breathing bags and windpipe (tracheal) intubation to maximize effectiveness of CPR, so do not delay your trip to the clinic whatsoever.
Note that once a pet has passed away, resuscitation with even the very best equipment and trained personnel there is only a success rate of 9% reported as of 2012, and of those animals that recover, some will have permanent brain damage and may not be themselves afterward. However, this should not deter anyone from trying it in an emergency situation. To learn more about CPR, ask your veterinarian.
The greatest chance of success is when there is an observed passing and immediate CPR begins. Presence of agonal breathing (heavy irregular gasps) does not mean the pet is still alive. These can continue to occur for a few minutes after death but do indicate very recent death (or is currently dying).
If you see a return of heart beat and breathing, it is essential to still present the pet right away to the hospital for very important post-resuscitation support that must happen. It can happen that the animal re-arrests, so it is not over until quite a while has passed, with the animal remaining stable. Brain swelling and other complications of recovery require a hospitalized stay, so don’t delay
From the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association



Hailey was sitting in class one day, watching a presentation. What she didn’t know was that she was about to experience a hypoglycemic episode. Coincidentally, the woman who was talking at the front of the class had brought her Diabetic Alert Dog Guide with her; during the presentation the dog alerted Hailey to her diabetic low. Hailey was amazed and couldn’t wait to tell her parents what had happened. After hearing Hailey’s story, her family promptly applied for a Dog Guide from Lions Foundation of Canada.
What makes type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness so dangerous is that Hailey’s body does not show any physical signs that her blood sugar is changing – or dropping. On a typical day,
Hailey needs to check her insulin levels 10 to 12 times. “It’s a helpless feeling,” Hailey says, “but it’s all I’ve ever known.” Hailey has learned how to look after herself over the years. She has taken on more responsibility than others her age.
“It really prevented Hailey from doing normal things that 12 year olds want to do, like going to sleepovers with friends,” says her mother, Christine. “Managing Hailey’s condition has been a full-time job for the whole family.”
Now with Hailey’s Dog Guide, the family is relieved knowing Quatchi is there to watch over her. Lions Foundation of Canada is a national charitable foundation, created by Lions Clubs across Canada, that matches clients like Hailey with specially trained Dog Guides. Its mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost. Since 1983, the Foundation has placed more than 2,500 Dog Guides with handlers across the country.
Each of these Dog Guides will cost approximately $25,000 to raise, train and place with a Canadian in need; yet these dogs are provided at no cost to qualified applicants. Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides does not receive any government funding and relies on the support of fundraising events and donations from corporations, individuals, service clubs, estates and foundations.
Its dog guide programs include:
Canine Vision Dog Guides
For people who are blind or visually impaired
Hearing Ear Dog Guides
For people who are deaf or hard of hearing
Service Dog Guides
For people with a physical disability
Seizure Response Dog Guides
For people who have epilepsy
Autism Assistance Dog Guides
For children (aged three to 12) on the autism spectrum
Diabetic Alert Dog Guides
For people who have type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness
The Diabetic Alert program was launched in 2013 and was the first internationally accredited program of its kind in Canada.
When Hailey’s blood sugar drops, Quatchi alerts her by jumping on her lap and nudging her arm. Quatchi barks for help when needed and is even trained to fetch objects like an insulin kit, juice boxes or the phone. Diabetic Alert Dog Guides are also trained to activate an alert system for handlers in an emergency.
“It’s nice knowing I can have him with me at all times,” says Hailey. “I have someone there to help me when I need it.” Thanks to Lions Foundation of Canada – and Dog Guides like Quatchi – more and more Canadians are able to enjoy an increased sense of safety, mobility and independence.
Sarah Miller is communications manager with the Lions Foundation of Canada/Dog Guides Canada. Angela Thibert is a communications volunteer at Dog Guides Canada. To learn more about the organization or to make a donation, visit