Our team continues to be here for you and your cherished pets. We are OPEN and are now able to provide a wide range of services. To learn more about the changes we have implemented in response to COVID-19 and what to expect during your next visit, click here.

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Pets and Thunder!

It is the Summer storm season around Morinville. Long, hot days are followed by nights where lightning fills the sky, chased by booms of thunder. These storms are either so interesting or so terrifying, depending on who you are.

It is hard to understand why your dog is afraid of a balloon, or why your cat is afraid of your grandmother. Neither of those seem scary in the least. It is a little easier to understand why pets are afraid of thunderstorms: They are loud and bright and very intimidating. Lots of people are scared of thunderstorms for the same reasons. Unfortunately, when a pet is frightened by thunderstorms, they take that fear to a level way beyond what a person would. If they are outside during thunderstorms, pets may just start running with no regard for where they are going, or how for. Even if they are in their own house or kennel, they may start shaking, drooling, or vocalizing uncontrollably. In the worst cases, thunderstorms drive cats to hide in places they cannot or will not come out of, and make dogs do destructive behaviour (digging, chewing) to get away from the noise of the thunderstorms. Out of fear, many pets forget their house training.

The questions we hear about storms at Morinville Vet Clinic center around how to reduce the stress on the pets. We find that the most common solutions that owners have are not very helpful. The first solution is to hold the pet and comfort it. When they get this kind of close attention during thunderstorms, this only reinforces that they are showing the right behaviour to get their owner’s attention. They are being coached that they are supposed to be stressed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, owners that punish animals for being stressed in thunderstorms are reinforcing the message that storms are a bad thing. The third solution is to medicate the pet during thunderstorms. This might work if dogs and cats were not more sensitive than people to the signs of imminent thunderstorms. By the time an owner knows about a storm, their pet is already too stressed to be helped by tranquilizers. To be helpful, medicine would need to be given during the whole season when thunderstorms may occur. That is months of sedation in some places.

In the experience of the vets at Morinville, the most successful strategy is to work on desensitizing the pet to storms. You make a recording of a bad storm, then play it back very quietly while keeping your pet’s attention with an enjoyable activity like play or brushing. You keep repeating this until your pet is calm with the noise, then do it again with the volume slightly louder. The volume is slowly getting increased as the pet gets used to it. In the end, the pet is able to do something fun while the storm sounds are at full volume. The pets will still notice the noise, but they are able to focus on something else.

One recent product that is available for smaller pets is the “thundershirt”. This is a tight-fitting shirt that a cat or small dog can wear all the time during storm season. It gives the sensation of being snuggled up and protected, much like a baby is calmed by being swaddled. We have seen several pets that are much calmer wearing the shirts.

If you are concerned about your pet being too stressed during thunderstorms, please give us a call at (780)939-3133.

 

Written by Dr. Michael High

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Last updated: July 23, 2020

Dear Clients,

Thank you for choosing Morinville Veterinary Clinic for your pets' veterinary needs. As we continue to adjust to the "new normal," we have implemented new protocols to keep you and our team safe.

It is still preferred that you stay in your vehicle while we bring your pet in for their appointment. However, as of Monday, July 21, 2020, we will be allowing one client to accompany their pet during their visit.

Along with wearing a face mask and using hand sanitizer, any client wishing to be present during an exam will need to record your name, phone number and email address for contact tracing purposes, in compliance with Alberta Health requirements.

Should you choose to come in with your pet, we kindly ask that you comply with the following protocols:

  • Our doors will remain locked. Please call us at 780.939.3133 upon your arrival.
  • Physical distance with staff and other clients while inside the building.
  • Face coverings must be worn to enter the clinic.
  • Use hand washing station upon entry.
  • Continue the use of credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • Continue with curbside pickup of food and medication (unless you have used our online store and are having your order delivered directly to your home). To place an order through our online store, visit our website and click on "Online Store".
  • If you wish to wait in your vehicle during the appointment, when you arrive, please remain outside the hospital and use your cell phone to call us. We will take a history of your pet's health and discuss any concerns. A staff member will then meet you outside to bring your pet into the hospital for an examination. The Veterinarian will call you to discuss the recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a staff member will return your pet to you outside, and take care of any needed medications and payment.
  • ONLINE CONSULTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

    If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

    NEW PET OWNERS

    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    OPERATING HOURS

    We are OPEN with the following hours:

    - Monday to Friday: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
    - Saturday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    - Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Morinville Veterinary Clinic