Ami-Fidèle Veterinary Clinic | Saint-Jean sur Richelieu |

The endocrine and nervous systems allow communication between your pet's brain and body.



Diabetes, also referred to as Diabetes Mellitus (DM), affects a pet's ability to properly use or produce insulin; their body stops producing insulin altogether or cannot produce the quantity necessary. With diabetes, a pet's body also inhibits organs and muscles from converting sugars into energy, creating a condition known as hyperglycemia - an excess of glucose in the bloodstream.

Female, obese, and elderly canines run a much higher risk of obtaining diabetes, whereas male felines have twice the risk as female cats. While the cause of each individual pet's case is difficult to determine, genetics and obesity are believed to be the top two risk factors.
Symptoms that may indicate diabetes:

  • Anorexia
  • Canines occasionally develop cataracts
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Labored breathing
  • Sudden increase in appetite and excessive hunger
  • Sweet smelling breath
  • Tiredness combined with weakness
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Vomiting

Treatment for diabetes

If we suspect that a patient may have diabetes, we usually perform a blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis as standard tests to diagnose diabetes. Once a positive diagnosis is made, our veterinarian will discuss a custom treatment plan with you. Disease management differs for every pet depending upon their current health status and activity level. Most every pet can benefit from exercise, especially a diabetic animal. Daily exercise lowers insulin demand and is usually included in a treatment plan.

Nutrition is also an important aspect of care. We commonly enforce a strict nutritional diet alongside owner-administered insulin. You will receive proper instruction about correct dosages and timing prior to administering the insulin on your own. Keeping the amount of calories your pet eats consistent is critical, because insulin dosages are calculated upon that determinant. Diabetic pets perform best with regularly scheduled meals, and insulin dosages should be given at the same time every day. Diabetes is incurable, but the sooner a pet is examined and diagnosed, the sooner the disease can be managed; and the better the pet's outlook is.

Please contact our veterinary office if you suspect that your pet might be suffering from diabetes.



When a pet's body overproduces the thyroid hormone, it increases their metabolism, potentially resulting in weight loss, anxiety, diarrhea, and a multitude of other symptoms. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, is fairly rare in canines but increasingly common among cats. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that usually affects older pets and is most likely caused by multiple factors.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in canines:

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Excessive thirst
  • Forced breathing
  • Heavy, rapid breathing
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Increased urination
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shaggy hair texture
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Treatment options for pets with hyperthyroidism

There are three primary forms of therapy used to treat hyperthyroidism depending on the severity of a pet's particular case as well the cause behind the issue. When a pet owner opts for non-invasive treatment, medication is prescribed that inhibits the production of thyroid hormones. By preventing the pet's body from making more of these hormones, the issue usually subsides.

Other treatment options are more involved, requiring pets to undergo monitoring and stay within our facility for several days but can permanently solve canine hyperthyroidism. Surgery comprises of the veterinarian removing the thyroid gland entirely, though it is usually only performed when one gland is causing problems so that the body still has one functional gland remaining. If both thyroid glands are removed, the opposite condition, hypothyroidism, can result. When a tumor is causing overactive thyroid, radioactive iodine therapy is usually the treatment of choice. In liquid form, radioactive iodine destroys thyroid tissue without harming any other bodily tissues. Eventually the iodine is passed out of the dog's body through the urinary tract, but until this takes place, the pet will be held in isolation to prevent exposing other pets in our facility to the radioactive materials.

If your pet is exhibiting the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or you have more questions about the condition, please contact our office today.



Hypothyroidism is a pet's inability to create enough of the necessary thyroid hormone, which results in a low-functioning metabolism. The disease is usually caused by a shrunken or inflamed thyroid gland, which commonly appears in middle-aged large dog breeds; hypothyroidism rarely occurs in cats and small dogs. On occasion, hypothyroidism is caused by a tumor that forcefully puts pressure on cells of the pituitary gland. In these cases, hypothyroidism can be life-threatening, thus seeking veterinary care is critical.

Most thyroid hormone deficiencies go unnoticed by pet owners because the symptoms appear gradually. By the time a new symptom onsets, an owner has already adjusted to a previous issue, not considering that the two could be connected and caused by the same underlying problem. If your pet is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, please contact our office to schedule an exam.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Droopy facial expression
  • Dull coat
  • Hair loss or thinning of hair
  • Increased shedding
  • Intolerant of cold temperatures
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unexplained weight gain

Treating hypothyroidism in pets

Pets that are positively diagnosed with hypothyroidism undergo hormone replacement therapy and remain on synthetic hormones for the remainder of their lives. In certain instances, the veterinarian may also find dietary restrictions helpful for your pet as well, such as limiting fat intake. After implementing the supplements, most symptoms subside within a few months, and the veterinarian will determine if levels can be reevaluated or adjusted, though this isn't certain in all cases.

For pets receiving hormone therapy it is important to note that pet owners should not administer any medications or herbal supplements without consulting the veterinarian first. Medications react differently with synthetic hormones and it's best to inquire first in order to prevent any subsequent issue.

If you have any questions about hormone therapy or about hypothyroidism, feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.



In accurately diagnosing a pet with epilepsy, our veterinarians rely heavily on pet-owner cooperation. The process of diagnosis requires close observation and recording of a pet's seizure activity outside of our veterinary office, as well as observation from the vet. Epilepsy is a disease that has symptoms similar to other diseases; when possible, video and written records of episodes of seizures greatly improve accurate diagnoses, and we appreciate you actively participating in your pet's treatment.

Epilepsy is a persistent neurological condition that is distinguished by seizures. There are several different types of seizures which are classified by the affected pet's reaction to the episode and the brain activity patterns it causes. Seizures can be partial, secondary generalized, or generalized. Partial seizures are localized within a specific area of the brain; when a partial seizure spreads to the cortex it is considered secondary generalized. A generalized seizure is one that involves the entire cortex.

In all cases, the cause of epilepsy is difficult to determine. Some predisposing factors include bacterial/viral encephalitis, brain malformations, brain trauma, brain tumor(s), high fever, genetic and hereditary factors, metabolic disturbances, and stroke. When the onset of epilepsy can be determined, it is considered Secondary Epilepsy. If the reason for seizures cannot be established, it is referred to as Idiopathic Epilepsy.

Types of seizures in pets

Cluster : numerous seizures within a short span of time, allowing very short periods of consciousness between each seizure.

Complex partial : involves behaviors that are continually repeated throughout the seizure. In otherwise normal pets these behaviors include biting, chewing, hiding, vocal noises, running. Seizure side effects can also include biting oneself, diarrhea, temporary blindness, and vomiting.

Partial : seizure-like jerking movement limited to specific areas of the body. (i.e. localized muscle spasms, facial twitches).

Petit mal : there are several different indications of a petit mal seizure and all do not necessarily occur at once. Some pets shake their head left and right for a few minutes: others' entire bodies shake throughout the extent of the seizure. Some pets blankly stare with a glazed look while others continuously blink while arching their backs.

Status epilepticus : life threatening emergency of a continuous seizure lasting longer than 30 minutes, or a series of multiple seizures in a short time without periods of consciousness in between.

Tonic-clonic : a pet typically falls over, losing consciousness and extending its limbs to a rigid outstretched position. Breathing stops for a short period of 10-30 seconds until the convulsing movements begin which can include chewing or making a paddling motion with the limbs. Some dogs exhibit dilated pupils, excessive drooling, and incontinence.

Stages of pet seizures :

Prodome - preceding a seizure (hours to days) a pet's mood/behavior might begin subtly changing from its normal essence.

Pre-ictal phase - marks the beginning stages of the seizure and can include constant salivation, nervousness, trembling, or whining. It can last seconds to hours.

Ictal phase - the actual seizure. Most last from a few seconds to a few minutes and are characterized by tensed muscles and partial paralysis. Some pets lose control of their salivary glands and bowels.

Post-ictal Phase - the post-seizure period in which the dog is still disoriented, confused, and possibly dehydrated or salivating. Some pets also experience temporary blindness and wander aimlessly.

Treatment options for pets with seizures

Once a thorough neurological examination has been completed (accompanied by necessary blood tests) and epilepsy has been diagnosed, it is typically controlled with medication. The veterinarian will decide which medication is best for your pet based on their species and breed. In more severe cases epilepsy can be treated with surgery, but surgical options will be determined by the veterinarian for those particular cases. If your pet's seizures are severe enough to be placed on a medication, common anti-seizure medications for pets can include the following:

Clorazepate - A relatively mild anticonvulsant that is also used to treat anxiety and phobias in canines and felines. Side effects include tiredness, increased appetite, and lack of coordination.

Diazepam - An extremely fast acting anticonvulsant typically used to treat status epilepticus. Side effects include hypotension, hypoventilation, and impaired consciousness.

Felbamate - Highly effective in controlling partial seizures with little-to-no side effects when used as the only anticonvulsant in a treatment plan. Side effects are limited in reported case studies due to the drug's short half-life.

Levetiracetam - Can be used singularly or combined with a Phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide and is one of the newer anti-seizure medications for pets. Must be administered three times per day. So far, the most common side effect is that some pets develop a tolerance for it, thus losing its effectiveness.

Phenobarbital - Most commonly prescribed anti-seizure medication. Side effects can include increased appetite, dehydration, frequent urination, lethargy, or ataxia.

Potassium Bromide - Can be used singularly or in addition to Phenobarbital and is the second most prescribed anticonvulsant. The commonly reported side effects are increased appetite, dehydration, frequent urination, lethargy, or ataxia (involuntary muscle movements).

Primidone - Similar to Phenobarbital in effectiveness, but has a greater risk of causing liver disease so is only prescribed when Phenobarbital proves ineffective. Side effects can include agitation, anxiety, ataxia, dehydration, depression, frequent urination, increased appetite, or lethargy.

Zonisamide - Used to treat generalized seizures in canines but it is not commonly prescribed as it is very expensive. The most common side effects are ataxia (involuntary muscle movements), nausea, and tiredness.

If you think your pet may have had a seizure, the first step is to remain calm and keep your voice mellow and soothing in an effort to prevent the seizure from reoccurring. Show your pet love and affection, allowing them to understand that they have done nothing wrong and that everything will be okay. Please contact our office immediately so we can complete a full pet evaluation to ensure there are no pressing health issues that require emergency medical attention. It is important to remember that epilepsy treatment is not curative and is only meant to help prevent seizures from occurring; though a pet can relapse, and they can still occur.

If you think your pet may have epilepsy or have questions about the disease, please contact our office.