Frequently Asked Questions

About Our Hospital

(please keep in mind that some of the answers to these questions may not apply due to the need for a “curbside” service model and current public health guidelines due to COVID-19)

Call us immediately at 705-645-3077

Emergencies will be seen immediately and triaged during regular business hours, but please call us right before you leave or while you’re on your way to help us prepare for the situation.

After-hours, please call the above number, and you will be able to speak to a registered Veterinary Technician who can direct you based on the patient’s needs (i.e. telemedicine, go to an emergency clinic and facilitate the transfer, or wait until regular business hours).

Don’t panic, but call us right away at 705-645-3077.

After-hours, please call the above number, and you will be able to speak to a registered Veterinary Technician who can direct you based on the patient’s needs (i.e. telemedicine, go to an emergency clinic and facilitate the transfer, or wait until regular business hours).

You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-866-897-8049 for assistance. There is a fee for the medical advice received during this call that can be paid over the phone by credit card.

The Pet Poison Helpline website is also helpful as you can search various substances/plants to see if they are listed as poisonous.

When your pet ingests something toxic, time is of the essence! Do not delay in seeking advice. In cases of poisoning, urgent intervention is ideal.

We are a multi-doctor, multi-technician practice. When you make an appointment, you may ask for a particular veterinarian or veterinary technician, and we will make every effort to accommodate your request. However, there may be circumstances that prevent a certain veterinary team member from being available during your pet’s visit. Scheduling conflicts, emergency situations, and vacation schedules all play a role in their availability. Please be understanding if we cannot fulfill this request. All of our team members are skilled professionals who look forward to your pet’s visit.

We want our patients to have the best possible outcome. This is why we sometimes make the decision to refer patients to veterinary specialists or specialty clinics when advanced training or equipment will be beneficial.

Our veterinarians make every effort to stay current and skilled in many aspects of animal health. However, board-certified specialists have extensive experience and training in their particular area of veterinary medicine or surgery.  Specialty clinics and university-affiliated referral centres have specialized equipment to perform procedures that are not routinely undertaken by general practitioners.

Be assured that when we refer a patient to another hospital, we continue to stay involved with his or her care, consulting with the treating specialist and often providing any needed follow-up care and rehabilitation.

We can send proof of vaccination to your pet’s kennel; just let us know the fax number or email address.  If you have a Petly account you can also access it there.

We do not provide boarding at our hospital.

If you need, we can provide a list of local facilities that offer boarding.

We do, for patients registered with our practice, and by special arrangement. If you would prefer to have a veterinarian come to your home, please call to schedule an appointment. We also offer additional support should you wish to discuss your decision. Please call us if you have any questions about the process.

If your pet is not a patient of our practice, we can give you contact information for mobile veterinarians offering this service in our area.

Unfortunately, we cannot offer refunds for veterinary care. Our fees cover the cost of examining, testing, diagnosing, and treating your pet.

Not all health problems have a straightforward solution. Some may be chronic, requiring a long-term management plan; others may be more difficult to diagnose or may involve several causes. A cure may not always be possible, and treatment may be ongoing. Our veterinary team will do everything they can to find answers and continue to help your pet.

Using our knowledge of pain medication and pain relief strategies, we do everything we can to prevent and manage your pet’s pain under all circumstances. We will tailor a pain management plan to your pet’s medical condition and individual needs.

We may also refer to pet physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and chiropractic services, which can help control pain in some pets.

We perform a physical exam and pre-anesthetic testing before surgery and monitor your pet during surgery. During the procedure, a Registered Veterinary Technician will continually assess your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to help reduce anesthetic risk. We also provide appropriate pain medication during recovery.

Veterinarians cannot diagnose over the phone. Besides being unethical and illegal, diagnosing by phone doesn’t allow veterinarians to physically examine a pet. A physical exam is necessary so the veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Treating a pet for the wrong disease or condition will cost more in the end and could be harmful or even deadly to your pet.

We keep track of your pet’s weight just like your doctor’s office keeps track of your height and weight each time you visit. Having an accurate and current measurement of your pet’s weight will help us ensure that we prescribe the right dose of preventives, medications, and any needed anesthetics. Weight loss or gain can also be an early clue to underlying health concerns. Regular weigh-ins can help you track and manage your pet’s weight, with the goal of maintaining a healthy weight.

Yes. When you call to schedule your appointment, please let us know that you would prefer to go directly into an exam room upon arrival.

Yes, we have portable point-of-sale machines and can take payment in the exam room. If you would like to pay ahead of time, please let us know when you schedule your appointment. We typically ask for a credit card and will send you a receipt at your request. Any adjustments can be made on the day of the appointment.

For the safety and protection of all clients, patients, and veterinary team members, we require ALL pets to be on a leash or in a carrier when they arrive at our hospital. They must continue to be restrained while they are in the reception area and while traveling to and from the exam rooms. Your Veterinarian or Registered Veterinary Technician will let you know when it’s OK to let your pet off leash or out of his or her carrier.

There is often a lot going on at our hospital. Combine that with the unfamiliar surroundings and new animals, and any pet—even one that is well trained—might become uneasy or excited. We want you and your pet to have as pleasant an experience as possible every time you visit our hospital, so we ask all our clients to respect our policy.

Call us. Just like doctors, veterinarians sometimes need to try more than one treatment/medication to find the solution to cure or manage a pet’s condition. Please let us know if something we recommended or prescribed isn’t helping. We want to work with you to find the right answers for your pet.

Although we can’t provide lengthy consultations or a diagnosis over the phone, we welcome questions from our clients. Please feel free to call anytime.

We prefer not to offer drop-off appointments, as we have important questions to ask you about your pet as part of our examination process, and want the opportunity to consult with you regarding your pet’s health care and disease prevention or treatment at the end of the appointment.

However, we understand you have a busy schedule.  We may be able to arrange to gather history information over the phone, admit your pet during the day for examination and required testing, and then finish the consultation part of the appointment with you when you pick your pet up at the end of the day.

Please inquire if you would like to arrange for this type of service.

Unfortunately, we do not offer any payment plans at this time. We request that you pay for services provided at the time of your pet’s visit. If you have any questions about our payment policy, please feel free to ask.

We recommend that you include the cost of veterinary care in your personal annual expense budget. However, we understand that this sometimes isn’t possible, especially in unexpected emergency situations.  We do accept major credit cards and do not charge a fee for completing necessary pet health insurance plan forms to process claims. We strongly recommend you consider a pet health insurance plan to allow you to be prepared for unexpected expenses due to accidents or illness.  We can also give you contact information for financing companies specializing in credit for veterinary expenses.

For routine care, if you contact us ahead of time, we can help you determine ways to keep costs down and stay within your budget. For instance, some preventive veterinary care can be spread out over several visits. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with a cost-effective plan to keep your pet’s health care up to date.

We can accept any of the following payment methods:

  • Cash
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express

We also accept most pet insurance plans.

Please call 705-645-3077 to book a convenient appointment time at either our Bracebridge (Centennial Animal Hospital) or Gravenhurst (Gravenhurst Veterinary Services) locations.

You can also call Gravenhurst Veterinary Services directly at 705-687-5158.

We have two locations:

Centennial Animal Hospital

1008 South Monck Drive, Bracebridge, Ontario, P1L 1W8

  • This is our main hospital where we accept routine, wellness, and illness appointments, perform surgeries and dental treatments, ultrasound, x-ray, general anesthetics and sedation, and where emergencies are seen when we are open.

and

Gravenhurst Veterinary Services

150-C Second Street South, Gravenhurst, Ontario, P1P 1H4

  • This office is located in the same building as the train station in Gravenhurst.
  • At this location we see routine and wellness appointments and can supply prescriptions and foods, but any more involved procedures or testing would be done at our main hospital location: Centennial Animal Hospital, Bracebridge.

Veterinary Healthcare

The fees you pay for veterinary services take into consideration a number of factors, including the costs to compensate your veterinarian and veterinary team for their professional services, and the expenses involved in maintaining the hospital and equipment. When someone decides to adopt a pet, he or she needs to be prepared to include annual veterinary care in the overall cost of owning the pet.

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer, which means you may be spending more over the lifetime of your pet. However, in general, the annual cost of caring for a pet hasn’t increased much over the past several decades. (Consider how much the costs of many professional services, such as human healthcare, have risen over that same period!) Certain advanced procedures may come at a higher cost, but as the owner, you decide what care you want to provide your pet.

It may seem like you’re paying more for your pet’s care than for your own, but that perception may stem from the fact that you’re paying the entire cost of a service or procedure, rather than a percentage or set fee determined by an insurance company.  There are several pet health insurance plans available. These plans may cover or help keep costs down for many routine veterinary services, prescriptions, medical conditions, and diseases.

A Registered Veterinary Technician is trained to assist Veterinarians in caring for pets. These professionals perform many of the same tasks that a nurse would for a doctor. Veterinary technicians have received training, either in accredited programs or on the job. Responsibilities vary among clinics, but the basic duties remain the same. For instance, technicians collect patient samples, perform lab tests, assist during patient exams and dental cleanings, and take x-rays. Senior techs also train and mentor other staff members. Some veterinary technicians work in research facilities or for manufacturers.

Supplements, and nutraceuticals in particular, are becoming very popular with pet owners. It is important to know that the regulations governing such products to ensure quality, consistency, and effectiveness are not nearly as stringent as those for prescription medications.  Your veterinarian can help you sort out confusing and conflicting information and advise you on any supplements your pet might benefit from.

The answer is different for each pet, and depends on your pet’s stage of life, breed, species, and health status.  Your veterinarian can recommend a pet food, as well as give you advice on reading pet food labels and determining how much to feed your pet to maintain a healthy weight.

Please call us. We are here to help you, and understand that losing a pet can be extremely upsetting and hard to move beyond. We have such a close bond with our pets, so letting go is never easy. We can provide support and resources to help you through this sad transition.

 

Most of the time, no. Even though your pet may be showing the same symptoms as he or she did the last time, the problem may be different. Many diseases have similar symptoms, and your veterinarian needs to examine your pet to ensure that he or she correctly diagnoses the cause. If you have such a question, call us for advice.

We offer veterinary-approved toys and accessories for pets for sale at our hospital, and can help you determine which toys and accessories are appropriate for your pet from the multitude of options available commercially.

Certain behaviours can be frustrating and difficult to overcome. Call to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to discuss your pet’s behaviour.

Modern anaesthesia is generally quite safe. We perform a physical examination and run blood tests before all procedures requiring general anaesthesia to make sure your pet doesn’t have any hidden health issues. In addition, a veterinary technician monitors your pet’s vital signs during the procedure, to ensure your pet’s safety and to catch and treat any potential concerns as quickly as possible. Anaesthesia and patient monitoring vary from clinic to clinic. Ask us specifically what we do to protect your pet before, during, and after the use of anaesthesia.

Please feel free to call us for more information.  Our veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians are happy to discuss your pet’s condition further so that you feel as fully informed as possible.

Alternatively, you can turn to the Pet Health Network website, which offers articles on a wide variety of topics. In addition, you can find other internet resources for information under the Links section of our website.  Seeking knowledge this way helps to ensure you are accessing the most current and accurate information.

Not any more than a regular injection. The chip is inserted at the back of the pet’s neck, where the skin is loose. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to identify your pet in case he or she becomes lost.

When your pet is microchipped, you will complete paperwork with your contact information that is forwarded to the microchip company for their database.  Your pet’s microchip should continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any maintenance; however, the system won’t work unless you keep your contact information current. Whenever you move or change your phone number, make sure you update that information with your pet’s microchip manufacturer. Remember to also get your pet new ID tags at the same time.

Although natural remedies may offer some protection or repellency against parasites, they are not nearly as effective as prescription products. In addition, natural remedies often need to be applied more frequently than once a month, making them less convenient as well. Some, such as garlic, may actually be harmful to your pet.

Just because a product has “natural” on its label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Consult with your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter preventives on your pet.

If you purchase preventives from sources other than a veterinary hospital, you don’t have any guarantee that the product is authentic or that it has been stored and shipped as recommended by the manufacturer.  When you order from your veterinarian, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to rely on her expertise and knowledge of your pet’s medical history, ensuring the correct product is chosen for your pet.

Fleas and ticks are not just minor nuisances; they can transmit serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, some of which can be passed to people. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because fleas and ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing, shoes, or other pets. Keeping your pet on a monthly preventive is your best bet for protecting your pet—and your family—against these parasites.

It is not safe, and it is illegal for anyone (including veterinarians) to offer anesthesia-free dentistry in Ontario if it includes treatment (scraping) under the gum line.

Some will offer scraping of tartar and calculus off the teeth above the gum line, but this is really doing a disservice to your pet. This practice does not address the real disease occurring below the gum line, can cause bleeding of the gums, and leaves the tooth surface rough.  A rough surface will attract even more plaque and tartar.

Please talk to us about how to keep your pet’s mouth healthy in the safest way possible.

Dental health is just as important for dogs and cats as it is for people. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and expensive oral surgery. Bacteria can also cause serious, potentially fatal infections in your pet’s kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart.

Unless your pet just ate something fishy, stinky breath isn’t normal. Having a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth regularly and clean them as needed will help prevent dental disease and any related problems.

Almost all puppies are born with intestinal parasites, which are passed from mother to pup during pregnancy. Although kittens are not infected when they’re born, they can become infected through their mother’s milk. Puppies can also become infected while they’re nursing.

We follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control: Puppies and kittens should both be dewormed every 2 weeks, starting at about 2 weeks of age.  After the biweekly series of dewormings is finished, monthly deworming should begin (12 weeks of age) and is continued until 5 or 6 months of age.

We ask that you bring a fecal sample to your first puppy or kitten visit so we can test it for evidence of intestinal parasites.   A second fecal sample should be examined at about 6 months of age to ensure any prior infection has been cleared.

Unfortunately, if you were late or missed a dose even once, your pet could have become infected if he or she was exposed during that time. Call us for advice.  Depending on how many doses have been late, we may recommend that you treat monthly for longer than the usual 6 months.  We will also recommend you have your pet tested for heartworm infection, in 6 months, or at the next scheduled wellness visit, whichever is later.  (It takes approximately 6 months from mosquito bite to when heartworm antigen can be detected in the bloodstream.)

No medication is 100% effective, and there is always the possibility with oral heartworm preventives that your dog may vomit up the medication without you knowing.  We want to ensure we diagnose heartworm-positive dogs in a timely manner, so they can receive appropriate treatment before damage to the heart occurs. Heartworm preventives kill the immature stage of the heartworm, not the adults that live in the heart.

At this point in time, we are testing dogs every other year as long as they haven’t missed any doses of medication in the summer, and haven’t traveled to places where heartworm disease is more common.  Pets that do travel to these places are tested annually.  We are paying attention to changes in heartworm risk in our area, and may eventually move to annual testing in all dogs.

Indoor cats are definitely at a lower risk than cats going outdoors, but just because your cat doesn’t venture outdoors doesn’t mean outdoor parasites can’t get inside. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, and as you probably know, mosquitoes always seem to find a way to get inside your home. Fleas and ticks can both hitch a ride on clothing or other pets that do go outside. We will discuss with you if we think your indoor cat is at risk for such parasites.

NEVER give your pet medication intended for people unless your veterinarian has prescribed it. Most over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can have serious, potentially fatal consequences if a pet ingests them.

A variety of pain medications are available for dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can help you determine which one will fit your budget and help alleviate your pet’s pain.

During your pet’s wellness exam, your veterinarian will take your pet’s history and perform a thorough physical examination.  Your pet will be weighed, diet and treats will be discussed, and a nutritional recommendation will be made, tailored to your pet’s needs.  She will also give your pet appropriate vaccinations and prescribe preventives against internal and external parasites (i.e. fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal worms).  She may recommend wellness testing, which may include blood and urine tests. A fecal sample will be requested to be tested for intestinal worms.   Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s dental health and may recommend dental work or other follow-up care.   Other areas of concern such as mobility, behaviour, and prevention or monitoring of diseases and conditions your pet may have or be at increased risk for, will be discussed.  The specific services provided during the exam will vary depending on your pet’s age, risk factors, and your budget. You can help by letting your veterinarian know if you’ve noticed any unusual behaviour or physical changes in your pet.

Veterinarians are highly trained to take a thorough history and perform a complete physical examination as part of your pet’s regular veterinary visit.  Regular veterinary visits help prevent diseases such as obesity, dental disease, and those for which vaccines are available (Parvo and Rabies, for example).  These visits also ensure your pet is not carrying intestinal parasites or is infected with heartworms, fleas, or ear mites.  Some pet diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to people.  It is especially important to ensure your pet is free of these.  Through the physical examination and consultation and often with the help of bloodwork, urine tests, or other testing methods,  the more silent diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and thyroid disease can be discovered early enough to begin treatment before serious symptoms arise.  Many times we find things on physical examination that even the most astute pet owner was not aware of.

Most pets require a regular visit at least once yearly.  Please call us to schedule an appointment for your pet.

Your veterinarian will determine which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog or cat, based on individual factors, such as lifestyle and health status. Veterinarians commonly recommend that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, and that cats be vaccinated against rabies, panleukopenia (feline distemper), calicivirus, and feline herpesvirus.  Additional vaccines, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Bordetella/Parainfluenza (kennel cough), and Leptospirosis, are recommended based on your cat or dog’s risk.

Many of these diseases can be fatal to your pet. Preventing them is far easier and less expensive than treatment. If you would like more information on vaccines, ask your veterinarian.

All dogs and cats must be up to date on Rabies vaccination, by law.   These laws help protect both pets and people from this deadly disease. Because of rabies laws, control and prevention programs, and pet owners’ cooperation, domesticated pets in North America rarely become infected with this disease, but it is still very much a concern as animals in the wild and occasionally unvaccinated dogs and cats are still a source of infection. By keeping your pet up-to-date on his or her rabies vaccination, not only are you protecting your pet, but you’re also helping to eradicate rabies from the pet population in your community.

Getting into veterinary school is extremely competitive. Because veterinary programs have a limited number of positions to fill, not all students who apply get in. Those who hope to become a veterinarian must have high grades in their pre-veterinary studies. In addition, any real-world experience or additional years of college may be beneficial.

Most veterinary degrees require at least 6 years of study at the university level, including a minimum of 2 years of pre-veterinary education and 4 years in a veterinary medicine program. Veterinary students usually spend 4,000 hours or more in classroom, laboratory, and clinical study.

To stay current with veterinary medicine, techniques, and technology, practicing veterinarians read scientific journals and attend continuing education symposiums, seminars, and courses.

A veterinarian is a doctor who studies animal health; prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases and health issues in animals; and helps protect the welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians are knowledgeable and well-educated on many aspects of animal care and fulfill a range of roles across the private and public sectors. You can find veterinarians working at animal hospitals, emergency and specialty hospitals, universities, research facilities, pet food and drug manufacturing companies, and government organizations.

Most practices in Ontario use the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s Fee Guide to determine their pricing. However, some choose to charge above or below this guide. If prices appear lower at one hospital, you should ask for clarification about what the procedure or treatment includes, and then ask also for clarification from the practice quoting a higher price. You may find differences in the level of care provided.  We are always happy to discuss fee structuring with you in an open and honest manner.

Several companies offer health insurance for dogs and cats (and other pets). These plans have premiums and deductibles, just like human health insurance plans. The premiums and deductibles vary based on the level of coverage you select. Many routine services, such as office visits and diagnostic testing, are covered, as well as prescriptions, procedures, and surgeries for a wide variety of diseases and conditions. However, there are restrictions and limits, as well as certain guidelines to follow, including making sure your pet receives regular preventive care.

Ask us if you would like more information about pet health insurance.

Puppies and kittens generally have the same health requirements: an initial veterinary visit that includes a physical exam, vaccinations, and tests for parasites. Follow-up visits include the rest of the puppy/kitten series of vaccinations, as well as treatment and preventives for parasites. We can give you a basic estimate for these services.  Please call us.  We’d love to meet the newest member of your family!

More information on the anticipated annual costs of owning a dog or cat can be found on the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association website.

Legally, once you decide to adopt or “take in” an animal, you become the owner. As the owner, you are responsible for the pet’s care. When you take in a stray, he or she may be injured and require veterinary care. Because the amount you pay for his or her care isn’t related to how you’ve acquired the pet, you need to carefully consider whether adopting a stray pet is a financially advisable decision. If you can’t afford the pet’s care, you have the option to relinquish the animal to a local humane society or shelter (although some shelters cannot guarantee that the pet will not be euthanized).

Veterinarians often come across such cases, and many of them will work out an arrangement for people who want to help the animal. However, make sure you tell the veterinarian the situation before he or she examines and treats the pet.

If you find a stray, you should also ALWAYS ask the veterinarian to check for a microchip to determine whether the animal has an owner.

Spaying and neutering can have major benefits for your pet, including lowering or preventing the risk of several diseases and types of cancer. Your veterinarian can discuss these benefits with you. In addition, spaying and neutering help control the pet population by reducing the number of unwanted pets.

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that require your pet to be put under general anesthesia. The cost of these procedures takes into account the anesthesia and pain control, your veterinary team’s time and expertise, monitoring, drapes, suture material, and hospitalization. Spaying or neutering your pet is much less expensive than feeding and caring for litters of unwanted puppies or kittens or dealing with potential pregnancy complications.

Petly is a secure web-based portal for your pet. You can access vaccination records and medical records that your veterinarian has shared with you through the portal. Ask us to set you up with a Petly account to get you started.

No.  Under current Canadian legislation, the only legal way to access medical cannabis is through the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation (ACMPR) which applied only to ‘persons’, and cannabis products sold under the new Cannabis Act are intended for human use, and are not approved for animal use.