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5 Common Pet Health Conditions in Ontario

Women walking her small dog by waterside in Toronto, Ontario

As Canada’s largest province by population, Ontario is a place bustling with people and their beloved pets. Given Ontario's size, cost of living and seasonal weather patterns it's helpful to be prepared for your pet's health needs.

Canadian pet insurance can be a great way to protect our pets. 97% of Canadian cats and dogs do not have pet insurance and with nearly 10 million cats and dogs in Ontario alone, covering more of them with pet insurance would protect household budgets and ensure Ontarian have stronger access to great veterinary care too. 

The health conditions that your pet may experience are determined by factors such as their breed, age, and genetics, as well as general factors like whether they live in a rural area or a city, and environmental aspects like the average humidity and temperatures in that area.

Every region has unique factors that can affect your pet’s health throughout their lives and Ontario is no different. To better understand why pet owners of Ontario should have pet insurance, let’s start with some basic facts about the province!

Ontario Facts:

Health Conditions:

Planning for your pet’s health needs is an important part of pet ownership, and unfortunately, vet bills can be expensive. Routine veterinary care can cost hundreds of dollars each year and emergency care can run up into the thousands. The total annual costs for owning a cat and dog in Canada are $2,500 - $3,700. Using pet insurance plans to budget for unforeseen health incidents with your pet can protect them and your household budget too. 

It’s important to know how common health conditions are influenced by the surrounding environment to best care for your furry friend. Pets living in very hot regions may suffer more from heatstroke and dehydration, just as those living in cold regions may experience frostbite on ears and paws, and hypothermia. Areas that have stray litter or garbage can promote dietary indiscretion in our pets, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Flowering trees, plants, and grasses can produce immense amounts of pollen, worsening the allergies of many cats and dogs.

Listed below are the five most common pet health conditions that Ontario's cats and dogs experience:


Similar to vomiting in humans, vomiting in animals is characterized by the evacuation of food, liquid, saliva, and stomach acid from the stomach. Immediately before vomiting, you may notice signs that your pet is nauseous, such as licking their lips, drooling, repeated swallowing, or restlessness.

Not only can vomiting be a clinical sign of several problems and diseases. In cases of serious vomiting, usually paired with other symptoms, additional testing can lead to a diagnosis and treatment for the source of vomiting.

Two women walking nature trail in Ontario with two white dogs

Vomiting paired with diarrhea

Although vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by all the same things as vomiting alone, the pairing typically occurs when the stomach and or intestinal tract becomes irritated or inflamed. Diarrhea is most commonly caused by parasites, viral and bacterial infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The combination of vomiting and diarrhea can be much more concerning than one alone because they often lead to rapid dehydration. Additionally, seeing both of these issues at once can indicate that your pet’s digestive system is very upset, irritated, or damaged.


Otitis is the scientific name for an ear infection and is typically distinguished as otitis externa (the outer ear), otitis media (the middle ear), and otitis interna (the inner ear). Otitis externa, or outer ear infection, is the most common in household pets, likely due to how easy it is for dirt, debris, moisture, and excess hair to irritate and infect this area.

Because ear infections can range from gross and uncomfortable to painful and potential for hearing loss, your pet should be treated as soon as the infection is noticed. Treatment for any type of otitis will entail a thorough examination of the ear canal, infection, and or any foreign material to determine the best type of medication.


Just like humans, our pets can be prone to having allergies relating to their skin, food, and environment. Our furry friends suffer many of the familiar “allergy” symptoms: general itchiness, sneezing, hives, and red, inflamed skin, often regardless of what they are allergic to.

With help from your veterinarian, you should be able to determine what type of allergies your pet suffers from and create a treatment plan according to that. Food allergies typically require trial and error with new dietary changes, where skin and environmental allergies are best treated by avoiding your pet’s triggers.

A Mass

Although any type of mass you notice on your pet could potentially be reason for concern, most veterinarians use a 1-2-3 rule to determine if the mass should be inspected immediately. This includes any mass that has been present for more than one month, has grown twice its original size or is larger than three cm in diameter.

After your veterinarian has accessed the mass, they can determine the best course of action. Abscesses are often lanced and benign masses may be left alone, while cysts and malignant tumors need to be removed immediately.

Other Common Conditions:

  • Heartworms: These parasites live in our pets’ hearts and surrounding tissues, damaging arteries, vessels, and vital organs. Thankfully, heartworms are easy to prevent with a monthly pill, since left untreated this condition leads to years of suffering and is eventually fatal.
  • Parvo: Canine and feline parvoviruses are highly contagious viral diseases characterized by persistent vomiting and diarrhea, fever or hypothermia, lethargy, and loss of appetite. To prevent parvovirus your pet should receive a vaccine and boosters, and you should avoid unvaccinated animals.
  • Lameness and limping: Lameness or the presence of a limp can be caused by several things: something sharp sticking into the paw pad, a cut or puncture on the bottom of the foot, a sprain, or other injuries. Try to remove any hazards from your yard and walking paths to avoid such injuries.
  • Foreign body ingestion: Pets have a reputation for eating things they shouldn't, also known as dietary indiscretion, which often causes them vomiting and diarrhea. Protect your pet from this condition by keeping any foreign bodies they might ingest safely out of reach.
  • Toxicities and poisons: Often grouped with dietary indiscretion, pets sometimes ingest things like chocolate, alcohol or marijuana, human medication, sugar-free gum, or raw dough which are toxic. Make sure to lock away any household items or food that could be toxic for your furry friend.

Pet Insurance

PHI Direct offers pet insurance coverage in Canada that helps keep costs low. Most pet owners can budget for smaller ongoing, and expected treatment costs (like prescriptions, annual check-ups, and vaccinations) and PHI Direct is designed to help with larger financial impacts of diagnosing and treating unexpected illnesses and accidents right when they happen. Just the like the conditions listed above in this article that most commonly affect Ontario pets.