Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital
is a true full-service hospital facility. We are able to handle nearly any type of medical or surgical problem your pet might have. On-site you will find a complete radiology suite with an automatic film processor, a dedicated operating room, a special area for dental procedures, as well as separate cat and dog wards and an isolation area.

Medical Services


Surgical Services


One of the critical aspects to any appointment with the veterinarian, be it for yearly vaccinations or for a specific health problem, is the complete physical examination.

The physical examination begins as soon as Dr. Leah enters the room. She is constantly observing your pet, noting his alertness, how he moves around the room, and how he reacts to people. You will be asked very important questions about your pet - the doctor needs to know if there are any changes in your pet's behavior, appetite or water consumption, if there is any unusual vomiting or diarrhea, if there are any new lumps or bumps and if your pet is on any medication for any current problems. She will want to know what diet you are feeding your pet, and if there are any other animals in the house. Dr. Leah will also ask you if there are any particular concerns or questions you might have regarding your pet and his care - this is your chance to "pick her brain" for helpful hints on any subject from nail trimming to weight loss.

The hands-on part of the physical examination is a full "nose-to-toes" using (nearly) all of the senses. Dr. Leah checks for any abnormal discharges from the eyes or nose, the teeth and gums are looked at for gingivitis and tartar build-up, and the mouth is sniffed for bad odor. Smell can be used to detect ear infections as well - a healthy ear should have essentially no odor - maybe just a little "doggy". Your pet's heart and lungs will be listened to, ensuring there is no heart murmur, abnormal rhythm or unhealthy lung sounds. The entire body is felt ("palpated") both on the surface checking for lumps and other problems, and more deeply in the tummy region to make sure the kidneys, liver, intestines and bladder are normal. Sometimes Dr. Leah will need to perform a rectal examination of your pet, checking the size of the prostate gland in dogs, or to empty the anal glands.

All findings during the physical examination will be explained to you - both the normal and the abnormal. Recommendations will be made for further diagnostic and treatment plans for the abnormalities, such as a dental cleaning or removal of a lump.

If your pet is healthy, he will be given the vaccines required and Dr. Leah will make suggestions as to how to keep him healthy for the following year. top


Vaccinations are vitally important to your pet's good health, as they are the key to preventing many diseases. Like many of the breakthroughs in human medicine, effective vaccines have been developed against many deadly viral and bacterial diseases. Vaccines remain an essential cornerstone of preventive health care in both human and veterinary medicine.

Below is a list of recommended vaccines for both dogs and cats, and a specific vaccination schedule to be followed. The actual vaccines administered may be changed to meet your pet's specific needs. Some factors Dr. Leah considers before beginning the vaccination program in you pet include:

  1. AGE. Most vaccines have limited effectiveness until your pet reaches 6-8 weeks of age, so vaccines given before 6 weeks will require an additional booster.
  2. OVERALL HEALTH. Poorly nourished or sick animals, or those on some medications may not respond well to vaccination. That's why a physical exam is required. Animals with a prior history of reactions to vaccines may still be vaccinated, but differently.
  3. RISK OF EXPOSURE. Vaccination against some diseases may not be necessary if the risk of getting them is low.

Using the information gained from the physical exam and from asking you questions about your pet, Dr. Leah will suggest a vaccination program that will help keep your pet healthy.

Common, Dangerous and Preventable Feline Infectious Diseases:

  1. Feline Leukemia. (FeLV) Many researchers now consider Feline Leukemia virus infection to be the #1 infectious disease causing death in cats. The virus attacks the immune system leaving the cat vulnerable to many other infections, including abscesses and upper respiratory disease. In a small percentage of cats, the virus may cause a certain type of cancer. Cats living in multi-cat households or going outside are at risk for the disease.
  2. Feline Panleukopenia. Also known as "feline distemper" this is a widespread often-fatal disease. The virus causes signs in the cat including fever, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Unvaccinated cats of all ages are at risk. This disease is often seen in an "epidemic", such as in kittens from an animal shelter, pet stores, or other similar situations.
  3. Upper Respiratory Diseases. This group includes Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Feline Calicivirus (FVC) and Feline Chlamydiosis. These diseases cause mainly cold and flu-like signs in the cat, ranging from fairly mild to serious enough to cause respiratory failure and death. Cats of any age are susceptible, and are particularly at risk if they are outdoors. These organisms can be picked up on our shoes and clothing and brought inside where they will infect our indoor cats.

Common, Dangerous and Preventable Canine Infectious Diseases:

  1. Canine Distemper. Nearly every dog is exposed to distemper in its lifetime, and when infection occurs, it is often fatal. The virus attacks many body organs including the nervous system. Early signs include listlessness, fever, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. In the final stages, it may cause convulsions and paralysis. Raccoons and coyotes can carry Canine Distemper.
  2. Parvovirus. This is a highly contagious, debilitating, and very often-fatal disease, which emerged worldwide in 1978. The virus is shed in feces, usually starting a few days before the dog shows signs of illness. Clinical signs include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and severe diarrhea. The vaccines are very effective; from time to time we see outbreaks of Parvovirus infection, at which time it is advised that all dogs receive a booster vaccination, regardless of when their other vaccines are due.
  3. Infectious Canine Hepatitis. This is a viral disease that primarily affects the liver and is spread between dogs by contact with urine, feces or other body fluids such as vomit.
  4. Canine Coronavirus. On its own, Coronavirus causes a mild intestinal infection leading to vomiting and diarrhea that is rarely fatal. However, Coronavirus loves to follow along with Parvovirus, and infection with both viruses results in certain death of the dog.
  5. Canine Cough or Tracheobronchitis. (Bordetella) This is a complex upper respiratory infection also known commonly as "kennel cough". Different airborne viruses and bacteria cause the disease. In 1995 there was a serious outbreak of "kennel cough" in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver, in which several puppies died of pneumonia due to the disease. Since that time we have been including the vaccine with the puppy series, and the number of dogs sick with "kennel cough" have dramatically decrease, as well as the severity of any infection.
  6. Lyme Disease (Borreliosis). This is a bacterial infection carried by many species of ticks, including the Deer Tick. Dogs that go hiking or camping with their owners, or that are running through the bush, are at risk for picking up ticks and developing the disease. Signs include lethargy, fever, and shifting leg lameness. Often owners report that their dogs just "aren't themselves". There are several effective vaccines available to help prevent Lyme disease, as well as many products effective against the ticks themselves.

Rabies Virus

Rabies is a federally reportable viral disease that affects all mammalian species. In British Columbia we are fortunate that bats are the only know reservoir of the virus in the province - it is estimated that approximately 8% of the bats submitted for testing are positive for rabies. All bats should be considered rabid until proven otherwise.

As a veterinarian, Dr. Leah must always consider the human potential for disease as well as the animal risk. Any person bitten, scratched or otherwise directly in contact with a bat or bat secretions should be advised to seek medical attention, as such a person may require rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccination). Bats that have been contacted by a person or found in the house should be safely captured for submission, and the local health unit contacted.

If there is known animal exposure to a bat or other suspected rabid animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for guidance. Dogs or cats not vaccinated for rabies and that are known or suspected of being in contact with a rabid animal are subject to a six-month quarantine, which under most conditions, can be in the owner's home. This quarantine may be reduced to three months if the exposed animal's rabies vaccination is current. These animals should be revaccinated at the time of exposure.

Although the risk of transmission of rabies to dogs and cats from bats appears low, it is a definite concern for human health. Over the past two decades most human rabies deaths due to exposure in North America have been bat related.


2 months
Distemper/Parvo/Hepatitis/Corona combo
3 months
Distemper combo (+/- Leptospirosis) + Bordetella + Lyme
4 months
Distemper combo (+/- Leptospirosis) + Lyme + Rabies
16 months
(1st annual Booster)
Distemper combo (+/- Leptospirosis) + Lyme + Rabies
(then Rabies every 3 years thereafter)


2 months
Panleukopenia-Upper Respiratory combo+ Leukemia
3 months
Panleukopenia-Upper Respiratory combo+ Leukemia + Rabies
14 months
(1st annual Booster)
Panleukopenia-Upper Respiratory combo + Leukemia + Rabies
(then Rabies every 3 years thereafter)


Nutritional Counseling

Many problems in our pets can be related to the food they eat. From allergies to obesity, we can find or design a diet just right for your pet.

Owners should take advantage of the opportunity during any physical examination of their pet to talk to their veterinarian about the diet. There are many misconceptions and myths regarding raw vs. cooked foods, grains vs. meats and vegetables, and canned vs. kibble (dry) diets.

A common phrase heard in exam rooms is "I don't know why Fluffy's teeth are so dirty - she eats only dry dog food, and we don't give her any people food at all!" There are several different issues brought up by that statement. One common misconception is that all dry food cleans pets' teeth. There is only one dry food that is proven to help clean soft plaque off animals' teeth - Hill's Science Diet t/d. The kibble is designed with interwoven fibers that don't crumble like traditional kibble, and so actually will scrape the teeth and stimulate the gums. Wet food doesn't necessarily create bad teeth and gums (a lot of it is genetic), and in some cases wet or soft food is preferable for the pet to eat.

The second part of the above statement is regarding the feeding of "human" food to dogs and cats. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with adding raw or lightly steamed vegetables (NO ONIONS!) to the food you feed your dog. A little plain white or brown rice, some plain pasta, low-fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt can really jazz up an otherwise bland meal, adding flavour and nutrients. Faced with a picky eater? Try some lean (cooked) ground beef or chicken mixed in to the regular diet - most dogs dig right in. When introducing new foods in to the diet, start with one at a time and pay attention to what your dog really likes, and if anything upsets his tummy. If he develops loose stool or vomits after a new addition, put that on the "DON'T FEED" list and try something else. Cats may like a bit of variety as well, but tend to be more sensitive to diet changes. If you know your cat has a delicate stomach, stay away from too many vegetables or dairy products. Dr. Leah's cat Armley will eat almost anything - including tortilla chips, lettuce, peas, and carrots! (Don't tell anyone she lets her cat eat tortilla chips!)

Cats, dogs and exotic pets all have extremely different nutritional requirements, and as pets age their requirements change constantly. Most good-quality pet food manufactures make diets specific for the type of animal and their life stage. top


Radiographs, or x-rays as most people call them, are black and white pictures of what's under the skin. Veterinarians, just like human doctors, use x-rays to "see" the bones and internal organs if a problem is suspected. Radiographs can show broken bones, dislocated joints, stones in the kidneys or bladder, foreign objects in the stomach, enlargement of the heart, or fluid in the chest, among other problems.

Your pet is put on the x-ray table and the picture is taken. Then the film is run through an automatic processor that develops the picture in under 2 minutes. Once the film is developed we can look at the radiograph using a bright light box. An x-ray machine and the automatic processor are expensive pieces or equipment - but absolutely vital for the accurate diagnosis of many problems your pet might have.

Normally the x-rays can be taken with your pet fully awake, but sometimes, for special studies, your pet might need to be sedated. The people that hold the animals in position protect themselves from the radiation by wearing lead-lined gloves and aprons, and collars around their neck. We also wear special badges that measure the amount of radiation exposure. The amount of radiation your pet is exposed to during the procedure is very minimal - even 10 x-rays in a day is less radiation than from the sun in the summer. ? top

This is an x-ray of the stomach of a cat
who has swallowed a sewing needle

Laboratory Testing

A urine test is performed on-site
with results available within minutes

Along with radiographs, laboratory testing helps to complete the diagnostic picture when your pet has an illness. At the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital we are equipped to perform many laboratory tests on-site, including: fecal examinations for parasites, urine testing for diabetes or crystals, skin cultures for ringworm, and blood tests for heartworm, Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency viruses.

If we need to have a more comprehensive blood test performed the sample is couriered to our local veterinary laboratory, and the results are returned to us by fax, generally in under 24 hours. The local lab is very accurate and the time between sending the sample off to receiving results is faster than most human clinics!

Other samples, such as biopsy samples from lumps and urine cultures for bladder infections are also sent to the local veterinary lab. Sometimes pets take medications that need to be monitored closely for toxic levels - one example is phenobarbitol for seizures. The lab will measure the levels of these drugs for us so we can properly treat your pet's condition. top

Surgery - General Information

Prior to any drugs being administered, Dr. Leah gives each animal a physical examination. Your pet is carefully checked for abnormal teeth, problems with the ears, and any lumps or bumps. She listens to the heart for evidence of a murmur or irregular beats, which may cause problems when your pet is anesthetized. Finally, the sex of your pet is confirmed, and males are double checked for both testicles in the correct position.

If any abnormalities are detected, she will contact the pet's owner and discuss the problem and solution.

Your pet will be given a mild sedative, which will help her to relax. There is also a pain-killer (analgesic) in the shot so she will be more comfortable after the surgery.

The technician and assistant inject a small amount of anesthetic into one of the veins in the leg. This anesthetic will help your pet to relax fully so she can be given the gas anesthetic.

We use only isoflurane mixed with oxygen for gas anesthesia. Isoflurane is the safest inhaled anesthetic that is available. It is a little more expensive, but we feel that safety is priceless when it comes to your pet.

The isoflurane is breathed in by your pet by way of an endotracheal tube, a hollow tube placed in the airway. The technician carefully monitors the proper mix of isoflurane and oxygen during surgery.

Once your pet is fully anesthetized, the technician will shave the area for surgery (in this case the belly is being shaved for a spay). The fur is removed and the surgical area is scrubbed with a special disinfectant soap. After the scrub your pet is moved into the operating room where she is placed on the table in the correct position, and alcohol and an iodine spray is applied to the skin before the surgeon begins.

While this has been happening, the surgeon (Dr. Leah) is preparing herself for surgery. She washes her hands very carefully with a special disinfectant soap before putting on the sterile surgical gown and gloves. Notice she is wearing a cap and mask - just like in a human hospital, it is important that there are no germs in the surgery!

The technician has prepared the surgical instruments necessary for the procedure. Each instrument pack is individually cleaned, dried, wrapped and then sterilized in a steam autoclave. We use one pack of instruments for each animal - there is no sharing allowed!

A sterile cloth, called a drape, is placed over your pet. The drape has a hole in the middle through which Dr. Leah will perform the surgery. The drape keeps the hair out of the surgical area during the procedure, and is held in place by special clamps.

After surgery is finished, the isoflurane is stopped and your pet will breathe pure oxygen for several minutes, until she begins to wake up. She is placed in a warmed recovery area and watched closely until she can sit up, and then goes back to her ward with a snuggly blanket to rest until it is time to go home. top

Surgical Laser

The Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital is pleased to announce the arrival of aesculight state of the art surgical laser technology!

What is laser surgery and what are the advantages?

Traditional surgery with a scalpel or scissors can bruise or crush tissue. 

When we use the laser, only an intense beam of laser light touches your pet. 

The laser has the unique ability to vaporize or “erase” tissue and it can be used to make incisions as well as to erase unhealthy tissue.

The laser seals nerve endings, so patients are much more comfortable during and after surgery. 

The laser kills any bacteria in its path which can mean reduced infections post-operatively. 

It also seals lymph and small blood vessels, so there is less swelling and bruising after surgery.

Our practice has made this substantial investment in order to offer you the best possible healthcare for your pet. 

Dr. Montgomery will be able to tell you if your pet is a candidate for laser surgery and will help you decide if this is the best treatment option for your pet.



The proper technical term for the surgical alteration of an animal is "neutering", regardless if it is male or female. The spay, or ovariohysterectomy, is the surgery performed on female animals in which both ovaries and the complete uterus is removed. The castration, or orchidectomy, is the surgery performed on male animals. In this case, both testicles are removed. Most people, however, refer to "spay" for females and "neuter" for male animals, but we will be as technically correct as we can.

For female dogs and cats that are being spayed, a small incision (cut) is made in the middle of the belly, just below the belly button. It is through this small hole that the ovaries and uterus will be removed. The ovaries are clamped and the blood vessels tied with suture, and then the end of the uterus near the cervix is clamped and tied as well. The inside of the belly is checked carefully for bleeding and if everything looks fine, the muscle layer is sutured (sewed) first, followed by the fat layer then finally the top layer of skin. The sutures (stitches) on the inside are special dissolving material so they do not need to be removed, however we will need to remove the skin sutures in 10 days.

Female dogs generally spend the night in the hospital, so they can rest and will be more comfortable when they go home the next day. We usually discharge the female cats the evening of surgery, provided a responsible person will supervise them.

The procedure for male dogs and cats is a little different. Both testicles are removed through a single small incision and the blood vessels and the vas deferens (sperm cords) are tied with sutures. In dogs we close the inside incision with suture and put sutures in the skin as well. Cats usually do not need sutures in either the inside layer or the skin.

Male dogs and cats generally are discharged the evening after surgery, provided a responsible person will supervise them.

Your pet may require an Elizabethan collar ("lampshade") so that it is not able to lick or chew at the sutures, preventing infection and additional surgery for your pet and cost to you. top


The "traditional cure" for cats that scratched furniture, carpets, or people is the declaw surgery. A declaw, or onychectomy, is the amputation of the last bone of the toe, including the nail. Usually the surgery is performed on the front paws only; in very special circumstances it may be performed on the rear feet as well.

With your cat under a general anesthetic, the toes are clipped of most of the hair and scrubbed for surgery. The last bone and nail of each toe is carefully removed using a very sharp scalpel blade. A small suture (stitch) is placed through the skin of each toe and the entire paw is bandaged. The cat is given a very powerful analgesic (pain killer) before waking up from surgery and allowed to sleep for several hours. The procedure is quite painful and sometimes the cats require a longer hospital stay than just one night to keep them as comfortable as possible.

Tenectomy of the deep digital flexor tendon (also called a "tendonectomy") is a viable, and some consider more humane, alternative to declawing. Also performed under general anesthesia, in this procedure a tiny incision is made on the underside of each toe and a small piece of the tendon is removed, which prevents the cat from extending it's nails and therefore cannot do any damage with them.

A tendonectomy involves separating out a tiny piece
of the white tendon from each toe, as shown above

The skin incision is closed with a dissolvable suture; the paws are not bandaged. The cat is given a mild analgesic and usually by the evening after surgery they are up and walking around, unaware they have just had surgery.

Once back at home, we recommend using a non-clumping cat litter for 2 weeks while the feet heal. Usually the cats leave their feet alone and do not lick or chew too much, but if your cat is chewing or licking at her feet or seems to be having trouble walking please contact our hospital immediately.

Cats that have had either surgery on their feet have a reduced ability to defend themselves and climb trees or fences; these cats must be kept indoors or be at higher risk of serious injury from other animals. If your cat has a tendonectomy it will be necessary to trim the toenails on a regular basis; we can do this for you if it is difficult. top

Tail Docking and Dewclaws (Puppies)

Certain breeds, such as the Schnauzer, Miniature Pincher and Rottweiler, are born with long tails but the breed standard is for short (docked) tails. The surgery is done within the first three days after the puppies are born, and is performed without anesthetic.

The procedure is quick - the tail is cleaned and alcohol and iodine applied, then a clamp is put across the tail where it will be cut. The clamp squishes the tissue and helps to stop the bleeding. Once the tail is removed, dissolving sutures (stitches) are used to sew the end of the tail. The puppy's stump is cleaned again and the pup is returned to mom for comforting.

Sometimes breeders will request that the dewclaws, which are the "thumbs" of the feet, be removed as well. After cleaning the foot and applying alcohol and iodine, a small clamp is placed where the dewclaw is attached to the foot. The toe is removed with a scalpel blade and a tiny dissolving suture is used to sew up the incision.

Once the pups are reunited with their mom she gives them a sniff and a lick, and tucks them in to her belly for warmth and comfort. They settle down quickly and usually are having a snack of milk before too long.

Some people feel the procedure is cruel and that we are harming the puppies by doing this surgery without anesthetic. You may read elsewhere that because the puppies are so young they do not feel the pain - but in our experience, that is not the case. The puppies do cry when the clamp is placed and again with the suture. But the sensation is probably no worse than having your ear pierced, a procedure that many parents have done on their young children. Having seen and performed many tail docks and dewclaw removals in 3-day old puppies, Dr. Leah believes the long-term benefits outweigh any short-term discomfort. And having seen many of these puppies when they are a little older for their first vaccines, there doesn't seem to be any lasting effects or memory of their experience. top

Dental Services

When your pet is admitted to the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital for a dental cleaning, she will receive a complete physical examination prior to any anesthetics or drugs being administered. If pre-anesthetic blood testing has been performed, Dr. Leah will review the results again and determine the safest anesthetic protocol possible. Your pet will be given a mild sedative to help her relax prior to the procedure. She will then be anesthetized and an endotracheal tube (breathing tube into the major airway) is inserted. The endotracheal tube allows us to administer the gas anesthetic (isoflurane) that keeps your pet asleep and also protects her from breathing in the nasty bits of plaque and tartar we are cleaning off her teeth.

Once your pet is fully anesthetized a full examination of the mouth and lips is performed, and any abnormalities or problems are noted and brought to the attention of Dr. Leah.

Your pet's teeth are then cleaned with a combination of an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments.

A probe is used on each tooth to check for loose gingival tissue (gum), holes, or other problems such as infected teeth. If any teeth are loose or infected, they may need to be extracted.

After the cleaning and any extractions are completed, all surfaces of the teeth are polished using a fluoride paste.

The mouth is rinsed with an antibacterial mouthwash, a final check is done to make sure everything is clean and healthy, and then your pet is woken up.

This spaniel is having her teeth cleaned
using the ultrasonic scaler

The average small dog or cat is under anesthetic for approximately 30 minutes; larger dogs, pets with very heavy tartar deposits, or those needing extractions or other oral surgery may be anesthetized for up to 90 minutes.

Most pets will need to have 5-7 days of antibiotics at home following a dental cleaning. We request that you bring your pet back in one week later for Dr. Leah to check her mouth, answer any questions you might have, and for the Animal Health Technician to review home dental care. top

Feline Rhinoplasty (Nostril Enlargement).

While at first the idea of sending your kitty in to the hospital for a "nose job" may seem a little over-the-top, for some cats and their owners it is just the right solution for a number of respiratory problems.

Certain cat breeds are born with a very squished in face, particularly Persians, Himalayans and Exotic Short Hairs. Often these cats have trouble breathing through their nose because their nostril openings are too small. Cats that are affected by this problem snort and wheeze a lot, snore when they are sleeping, are more prone to upper respiratory infections and often don't grow as well as their litter mates. While the snorting and snoring is usually more of a problem for the owner, chronic airway obstruction and poor growth are real problems for the cats themselves.

Dr. Susan Little, of the Bytown Animal Hospital in Ottawa, has developed a procedure that allows the nostrils to be surgically enlarged. Dr. Leah has performed many of these procedures and with very good success. Owners and breeders have travelled from all over the Lower Mainland and even Washington State to have this procedure done at the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital.

Like all surgical procedures, your cat will be given a thorough physical examination, and any other problems will be addressed. The kitty is given a general anesthetic and a very small amount of hair is clipped from the edge of the nose on both sides. The area is prepared as for any surgical procedure and the face is covered with a sterile drape, with just the nose poking through. Two small incisions are made on either side of the nostrils and a crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed. The amount of skin removed depends on how tightly the cat's nostrils are closed. After the piece of skin is removed, very tiny dissolving sutures are placed along the incision closing the wound. These sutures help to bring the nostrils up and out, opening the airway, making it easier for the cat to breathe.

Most owners notice a difference in their kitties right away, with a significant decrease in snorting and snoring. As a result, the energy level of the cats improves and they will usually gain weight. While no surgery can be guaranteed, to date Dr. Leah has seen very good results with this procedure. Please phone or email the hospital if you would like more information. top

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