Lung Worm

Recently we have been seeing cases of lungworm in cattle and while it is normal to see a few every year, outbreaks are certainly more common during wetter summers like the one we’ve been experiencing. Lungworm is a parasitic infestation of the bovine respiratory tract ingested from grazing contaminated pasture.

Just like gastrointestinal worms, animals become infested by eating grass contaminated with infective larvae.
However, the difference is, once ingested the larvae migrate through the bloodstream into the lungs where they develop into adults, once in the lungs they cause damage to the air sacs in the lungs and live in the bronchial tubes. Once they are adults they produce a tremendous amount of eggs, the eggs are then coughed up out of the lungs into the trachea and swallowed. These eggs become larvae and are passed in the infested animals feces. The entire cycle takes about one month.

Lungworm is typically seen in older calves from July to October. If left untreated, the disease may not be noticed until after cattle are brought home from pasture. Widespread coughing in a herd is the most notable sign but signs also include weight loss, diarrhea and laboured breathing. Death can occur in heavy infestations.

Finding these larvae in manure is one of the ways we can diagnose the condition. It is a different test than looking for the intestinal worm eggs. While it is treatable, many factors play into what we may recommend for your herd.

If you suspect this pest or have more questions give us a call!


Potomoc Fever

Westlock Vet Center - Potomac Fever


It’s that time of year again!

It’s been a long wet summer, and we have been starting to see horses with Potomac Horse Fever(PHF) here at WVC.

Potomac horse fever is a potentially fatal gastrointestinal disease that strikes in the late summer months. The disease is infectious, but not contagious between animals. It can effect any breed, sex or age of horse.

It is a disease caused by a microscopic bacteria that grows and multiplies in fresh water. The bacterium, called Neorickettsia risticii, has a critical step in it’s lifecycle that involves snails and insects. It is suspected that horses ingest the insect and bacteria accidentally while drinking standing water or grazing nearby.

While the most common signs of PHF are fever accompanied by loss of appetite, lethargy, and severe diarrhea. Here is a list of the many clinical signs. 
• Depression
• Anorexia (not eating)
• Fever
• Colic
• Soft manure/diarrhea
• Dehydration
• Laminitis
• Abortion (occasional)
• Death

Prevention includes limiting exposure to freshwater streams, ponds, dugouts, or other natural water sources especially when insect activity is at its peak. There is a vaccine available; however, PHF has many different strains, which can cause the vaccine to fail as there is only a single strain in the vaccine.

PHF progresses quickly and can be fatal, however it can be treated. Survival rates depend strongly on quick intervention. If you notice your horse is a bit “off” or is showing the above signs of PHF give us a call.


Calves with Broken Legs

broken leg calf

This time of year we see a fair number of calves with broken legs.

Typically the calf is a few days old and gets stepped on by over eager, protective moms.

The good news is, these breaks can heal with a little TLC, especially in young calves with fractures of the lower leg. A broken leg calf, with appropriate care, casting, and monitoring generally has a good prognosis. Although it can depend on the location, a cast is applied, left on for 4 weeks and a positive outcome expected!

If you have further questions on casting calves with broken legs, please give the clinic a call.


This little guy was only a day old when he fractured his back lower leg.

Thanks Dr.Lewis and RVT Cassandra for getting him on the road to recovery!

broken leg calf

broken leg calf


We want your TICKS!

March is Tick Awareness Month! 

Ticks will become active at temperatures as low a zero degrees.  Ticks are more than just a nuisance, they can transmit diseases to both animals and humans. This is why we wanted to post a friendly reminder that we are participating in The Alberta Governments “submit-a-tick”program, where they will collect ticks from across the province to determine species and what diseases they might be carrying.

Their mission is:

  • to identify the tick species present on dogs and cats across Alberta.
  • to characterize the tick-borne disease agents carried by ticks on dogs or cats in our region
  • to better understand and communicate the risks to Albertans

So how does it work?

-Bring your cat/dog and/or their ticks to WVC. We have all the necessary supplies to submit your pet’s ticks, free of charge.

-We send the ticks from your dog or cat with an accompanying submission sheet in to “Submit a Tick”

-The AB Government will report back to us the type of tick and if it was carrying any disease

To learn more check out the website.



How To Remove a Tick

Here’s a step by step guide to removing a tick.

  • Use fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool
  • Spread your pets fur
  • Gently grasp the tick’s body as close to the skin as possible
  • Very gently pull straight upward in a slow, steady motion
  • Don’t twist the tick as you might break the body from the head, leaving the head imbedded in your pet

If you feel uncomfortable doing this, bring your pet in and we are happy to help!




Hoar Frost - Cows


As many producers are now aware, changes have come as to the purchase and sale of antimicrobials in Veterinary medicine in Canada starting December 1st 2018.

This info is an attempt to clarify the practical implications of these new Canada-wide standards.

Antimicrobial Resistance

  • It is important to understand that these changes are coming into effect because of the current and developing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The animal industry is facing increasing scrutiny every day as to how we use antibiotics.
  • In the USA alone, it is estimated that 80% of all antibiotics used in a year are used in feed to farm animals.
  • It is believed that this use is contributing to the resistance of bacteria to certain antibiotics.
  • Worldwide, 700 000 people die from antimicrobial resistant infections every year and by the year 2050, it is estimated this number will increase to 10 million individuals annually.
  • To respond to this growing concern, the Canadian government developed a Federal Framework and Federal Action Plan on AMR.
  • Health Canada has mandated (by recommendation of the World Health Organization) that all antibiotics will now be considered prescription products (including penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics).
  • This is a federally mandated change – NOT a push by veterinarians to create a monopoly on the antibiotic market nor an attempt to limit your access to them

At the Veterinary Clinic

  • This means all antibiotics must be purchased through a veterinary practice – no longer can they be purchased over the counter at UFA, Co-op, Peavey Mart etc. because now all antibiotics require a prescription.
  • Provincial law (through the Veterinary Profession Act – Alberta Regulation 44/1986) mandates that a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship exists before any prescription drug can be sold to an individual
    1. This relationship is established through farm visits and communication with a veterinarian about the medical needs of your herd

To meet the requirements of the both federal and provincial legislation, it is necessary for veterinarians at the Westlock Vet Center to have medically important information about your herd. This information is necessary groundwork to start meeting the requirements of a prescription. To do this we will be using a Herd Health Questionnaire and/or site visits.  This will provide an excellent opportunity to discuss vaccines, treatment protocols and general herd management for your herd.   In the long run this will result in less hassle and time wasted when attempting to pick up antibiotics and vaccines for your herd from the veterinary clinic.  With this herd information we will be able to create standing prescriptions in your file so that you will NOT need to talk to a veterinarian every time you need to pick up a bottle of antibiotics from the veterinary clinic.  For all clients we will have to create a prescription for each medication we sell you and with it have a certain amount of refills/volume we can sell based off of your expected annual usage.  If you go over this usage we will have to re-visit your usage amounts.  Further to this if you are considering a different prescription medication that we agree will be effective,  we will have to write a prescription for that as well before we can sell it to you.


Hoar Frost - Cows

How we intend to implement these new changes:

Existing clients:

For an Existing Client we will require a Herd Health Questionnaire be filled out.  We will try to achieve this during regular visits to your farm.  Any fees associated with filling out the herd health questionnaire will also be waived for 2019.

New or infrequent clients:

  • For a New Client it will be required that a site visit and Herd Health Questionnaire be filled out. The initial site visit/consultation fee will be waived in the first year to establish a vet-client-patient relationship for 2019.  Mileage may still apply but we will make all attempts to minimize this cost.
  • For infrequent clients or clients with only a small amount of animals that we see periodically, you will have to prepare and plan ahead. You will not be able to just stop in to grab some antibiotics or other prescription medications if we do not have a regular relationship (loosely defined as at least once annually) with you and your animals.  Phoning ahead to speak with a veterinarian and/or bringing along photos and videos of your affected animals may be enough to allow us to prescribe something for you, but not always.  Reaching out to us to discuss the typical needs of your animals and what you typically use before you even need it can help us to avoid delaying you services in the case of an emergency.
  • For clients that typically use another veterinary clinic but occasionally stop in to pick up some prescription medications from us you will either have to:
  1. a) Have your main veterinarian send prescriptions for all products you would expect to purchase from us or
  2. b) Schedule a site visit to establish a proper vet-client-patient relationship

If neither of these conditions have been met we CANNOT sell you prescription products, even if we have in the past.


How you will have to adapt to these changes:

As you can see things will not be as simple and fast as they used to be.

We are all adapting to these changes and there will be growing pains for all of us.  We just ask for your patience, your cooperation and for you to plan ahead so we can all make this transition smooth.


Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a VCPR?

A: A veterinary-client-patient relations is defined by the Alberta Veterinary Association as:

  1. The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making clinical assessments and recommendations regarding the health of the animal(s) and need for medical treatment.
  2. The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) on which to base the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian:
  • is professionally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s), and
  • has documented relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner or caretaker and animal patients, and
  • has documented medically appropriate information and knowledge about the animal(s)
  1. The client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations and prescription.
  2. The veterinarian is available or has arranged for follow-up evaluation, especially in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

Q: How do I avoid inconvenience and added costs? 

A: Establish a VCPR pro-actively, work with a veterinarian to see how your current herd health program can be strengthened to help reduce disease and how you can establish preventative measures. See how working with your veterinarian can be an investment that actually improves your bottom line.


Q: Will a veterinarian need to exam every sick animal before I can get a prescription to treat them?

A: Not necessarily, as long as you have a current Vet, Client, Patient Relationship (VCPR).  It should be noted that there is no defined length of time when a VCPR is valid, just as long as the criteria in the first questions are met.


Q: Is a veterinarian the only one allowed to administer antibiotics?

A: No. Once you have purchased the antibiotic you are still able to administer it yourself as you have in the past.

Q: Will I need a new prescription every time I have sick animal? 

A: Again, not necessarily. Work with your Vet to plan ahead. Once a herd health protocol is developed you can have prescriptions on file to be filled if they are needed.

Q: What if there are no veterinarians in my area? 

A: You can have a VCPR with any veterinarian, local to you or not, provided they are licensed to practice in Alberta.