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


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.


Horse Vaccines

Horse Vaccination Guidelines

Have you been thinking about horse vaccinations and parasite prevention?   We understand that with rapid developments in vaccine technology and a seemingly endless array of products on the market, it’s often hard for horse owners to know where to begin. 

We are here to help!

Deciding what vaccines to give your horse, boils down to a few factors so therefore, an effective equine vaccination program begins with a discussion with your veterinarian!

Vaccine Protocols

Core vaccines— recommended as minimum requirement for all horses. 

These are:

  • Eastern encephalitis (EEE) (aka: sleeping sickness)
  • Western encephalitis (WEE) (aka: sleeping sickness)
  • Tetanus
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)

Other vaccines– recommended based on the use, housing and travel schedule of the horse.   Often the following vaccines are recommended in addition to the core vaccines:

  • Equine Influenza Virus (EIV) (aka: flu)
  • Equine Herpes Virus 1& 4 (EHV 1& 4) (aka: rhinopneumonitits or rhino)
  • Strangles– Only administer if the horse has NOT been exposed to or infected with strangles recently (Titers can be performed to ensure the vaccine is safe for your horse).

Some vaccines are recommended based on specific risk or situation/outbreak:

  • Strangles – Strep. equi (aka: distemper)
  • Potomac Horse Fever (PHV)
  • Rabies

Deworming Protocols

Every herd is different. Parasite load is directly related to stocking density, management practices, and individual variation. Fecal testing is highly recommended before deworming to assess the parasite level of the horses in question and whether or not deworming is required. With good management practices, the amount of dewormer required can be reduced.

  • Within a herd, there will be some animals with high parasite levels (requiring treatment), some animals with low levels (not requiring treatment), and a spectrum of animals in between. It’s important to know which horses are which.
  • Typically your high shedding horses will be consistent year to year. Fecal testing will be able to identify which animals these are.

We are happy to discuss your unique situation, give us a call any time 780-349-3663.

Bug Season!

Please be aware, bug season is here!

We’ve been getting quite a number of calls from dog owners that their dog’s belly looks like this (see attached photo)

Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to prevent these black fly bites. If your dog runs around or lays in a tall grass area, they could get bit. They most commonly occur on the inside of the rear legs and on the belly. As bad as it can look, if this happens, most dogs will not notice and it should clear up quickly on its own. If your dog is bothered by it and is itchy, you can use an Elizabethan collar to prevent unwanted licking or a t-shirt to cover in the area. To help with the itching, try cool water baths and pet oatmeal shampoo. If itching is still severe, or you want more advice by please contact your veterinary clinic for further advice. 


This type of fly is only around for a week or so every spring so hopefully they will be gone soon! 


You’ve found a stray dog….now what?

Westlock Vet Center - Stray Dogs

In the event you find a stray dog, here are some tips and steps to follow.

The first and most important step, is to stay safe! The animal may be confused and scared, so be cautious.  IF you choose to approach the animal, move slow and watch for signs of discomfort or aggression.  DO NOT approach an animal if it is showing any signs of aggression.

Call your local bylaw office (see directory below). Depending on your municipality or county, they will generally provide stray dog services during day time hours, or if they are unavailable they will give you directions on what to do.

Once you have approached a pet in an attempt to reunite it with its owner, you are responsible.  It is your responsibility to contact the appropriate bylaw and arrange with them the transportation to the correct impound facility.  It is best to call bylaw immediately when dealing with a stray, they will ensure that your information is protected and the stray has the best chance of being reunited with its family.

We act as the “pound” for multiple counties and municipalities including The Town of Westlock, Westlock County, The Town of Athabasca, and Thorhild County.  This means, many “found“ pets end up here at WVC.  Be assured we do everything we can to reunite lost animals with their owners and treat them like family while they are in our care.  When a stray is brought in it is scanned for a micro-chip, checked for tattoos or other identifying tags and given a wellness exam.  If an animal has no tattoo/microchip upon arrival and an owner cannot be found they  get vaccinated right away. A happy healthy pet will NOT ever be euthanized; even pets with illness or injury are given a chance.  The exact length of a holding period is variable, but at WVC we often hold an animal for an extra few days, especially if we are tracing possible leads or trying to get a hold of a registered owner.

As WVC works closely with a number of local animal rescues we don’t directly adopt out these lost pets for a variety of reasons. Meaning dogs posted on our Social Media and our website are not available for adoption.  Through these partnerships with rescues we help each other maximize the number of stray dogs rescued and re-homed. Animals that aren’t able to be reunited with their families are spayed/neutered and once given a clean bill of health, transferred to a rescue to be adopted out.

Local Bylaw Resources:

Westlock County

Town of Westlock

Thorhild County

Town of Athabasca

If you are interested in adopting a dog please check out Second Chance Animal Rescue: