Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What to do if your pet has a tick:

Ticks are a relatively common parasite in our area.  At times, they are a VERY common cause of concern (or even panic!) amongst pet owners.  If you have found a tick on your pet, here are some “Do’s and Don’ts" of removing the tick.

  • Part the fur so you can see where the tick is attached to your pet’s skin.
  • Grasp the tick (using a specialized tick remover or common household tweezers) as close to the skin as possible.
  • Using firm, steady pressure, pull the tick away from your pet’s skin until it is removed.
  • Clean the area where the tick was removed using alcohol if necessary.

  • Use flame or heat to burn the tick.
  • Use alcohol, peroxide, or other methods to irritate the tick in an effort to get it to back out
  • Freeze the tick off the pet
Methods that irritate the tick (burning, freezing, chemicals, etc) can cause the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents as it is removed.  This can increase the risk of disease transmission as Lyme Disease is carried in the tick’s gastrointestinal tract.  Simply pulling the offensive creature out is safer AND more effective.

The saliva of ticks is very antigenic.  This means it will produce a significant immune reaction in the animal that has been bitten.  It is quite common for a bump to develop after a tick bite.  It will at times look irritated, scabbed, and raised.  These reactions may take up to 3-4 weeks to completely resolve.

If your pet has been bitten by a tick, do not panic!  Thankfully, peak disease transmission occurs after the tick has been attached for 24-48 hours.  Quickly removing the tick will reduce the chance of disease transmission by quite a bit.  Using preventative products and regular tick checks will help with disease prevention and early diagnosis.

As always, we are more than happy to help you out with any tick related concerns.  Don’t hesitate to give our hospital a call!

Article Written By:
Derek Williamson, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Vernon Hills and Crawford Animal Hospital

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Help your pup conquer seasonal allergies with Cytopoint!

Help your pup conquer seasonal allergies with Cytopoint!

With warm weather right around the corner, allergies are starting to act up. Just like humans, many dogs are affected by seasonal allergies.  Allergies in dogs show up as skin problems, typically signaled by licking, biting, scratching, etc.  The discomfort from the allergy itself can be doubled when secondary (bacterial and/or yeast) infections on the skin occur. Though it depends on what your dog is allergic to, allergies are commonly seen seasonally in the spring, summer, and fall. 

There are many medication options for seasonal allergies.  All of them have their pros and cons.  Some common medications work well but have annoying side effects.  Others are very safe, but are only minimally effective.  Recently, a new injection known as Cytopoint was added to your veterinarian’s arsenal to combat the itch associated with your pet’s allergy.

What is Cytopoint? 
Cytopoint is an injection works by decreasing the itch associated with allergies.  It does this by blocking IL-31, a cytokine that triggers the process of sending itch signals to the brain.  Cytokines are a protein that signals other cells by binding to receptors on those cells.  Basically, the cytopoint blocks the itch from being felt by the brain and thus stops the licking, biting, scratching, and discomfort associated with allergies.

When given, Cytopoint begins relieving itching within one day and injections last for 4-8 weeks.  They can be repeated as needed.  Cytopoint is very safe for dogs of all ages, even those with other diseases, and can be used with many other common medications.  It has little to no side effects and has minimal effects on the immune system as a whole.

If your dog has signs that may be consistent with seasonal allergies, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see if Cytopoint might be a good fit for you!

Written by: Derek Williamson, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Vernon Hills
Crawford Animal Hospital

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Cold Weather Tips for You & Your Pet

Cold Weather Tips for You & Your Pet 
Helpful tips for keeping your pet safe during the cold weather

  • Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it's as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Make sure your pets don't have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.
  • When you are working on housebreaking your new puppy, remember that puppies are more susceptible to cold than are adult dogs. In cold conditions or bad weather, you may need to opt for paper training your new pet rather than taking the pup outside.
  • When taking your pets out for a bathroom break, stay with them. If it’s too cold for you to stand outside, it is probably also too cold for your pets.
  • When walking your dogs during bad weather, keep them on leash. It’s easier for a dog to become lost in winter storm conditions — more dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season. (And don’t forget to microchip and put ID tags on your dogs and cats!)
  • Leash your pets if you have frozen ponds, lakes or rivers nearby, as loose pets can break through ice and quickly succumb to hypothermia before trained ice-rescue personnel can arrive. Never try an ice rescue of a pet yourself — leave that to trained professionals.
  • Salt and de-icers: Many pets like to go outside to romp and stomp in the snow, but many people use powerful salt and chemicals on their sidewalks to combat ice buildup. Thoroughly clean your pets’ paws, legs and abdomen after they have been outside, to prevent ingestion of toxic substances and to prevent their pads from becoming dry and irritated. Signs of toxic ingestion include excessive drooling, vomiting and depression.
  • If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
  • A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it's deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
Written By: 
Christine, CVT
Companion Animal Hospital River North

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fleas and Ticks in the Winter: Frozen or Flourishing?

Fleas and Ticks in the Winter: Frozen or Flourishing?

After the first frost of the season, it may be tempting to skip Fluffy’s dose of flea and tick prevention, but contrary to popular belief, fleas and ticks can still be a threat in the winter.

Although near-freezing temperatures will kill adult fleas living outdoors, not all fleas will die in the winter. Fleas can survive outdoors in temperatures as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 5 days, long enough to latch onto your dog, enter your home, and find a warm place to hide out for the winter. Without a proper dose of flea and tick prevention, that flea can go on to continue its life cycle in your home.

In fact, one single adult female can lay as many as 50 eggs per day. As your dog shakes, scratches, or lies down throughout your home or yard, those eggs disperse and hatch into larvae that can hide in your furniture before finally maturing to adults and leaving your dog (or even you) scratching uncontrollably.

Unlike fleas, however, ticks can actually survive freezing temperatures. Most ticks will find shelter in leaf litter and lie dormant during the winter months. However, certain species of ticks such as the deer tick (the tick that most commonly transmits Lyme disease) are actually at their most active stage from October to February. Skipping flea and tick prevention for the winter gives those ticks opportunity to transmit potentially fatal diseases to both you and your pet.

So while it may be tempting to forego Fluffy’s flea and tick prevention this winter, it is in your pet’s best interest to continue flea and tick prevention year around and with many different flea and tick preventatives on the market, it is easier than ever.

By Megan Murray, D.V.M.
Companion Animal Hospital of Norridge

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How to Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from Companion Animal Hospital! 
With the holidays fast approaching, we know what a busy time of year this can be.  By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that everyone in your family (including your furry friends) enjoys the holidays! Below are some ideas to help avoid timely and expensive emergency visits to the vet.

  1. Keep your holiday plants away from your pets. While there are many beautiful plants we associate with the holiday season, some of these can be quite toxic to our pets. Holly and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and even abnormalities with the heart. Ingesting only a small amount of certain types of lilies can cause kidney failure. If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic plant, seek veterinary attention immediately.
  2. Be very careful about feeding table scraps. While it is never a good idea to feed your pets table scraps, some of the foods we associate with the holidays can be especially dangerous. For example, turkey bones can pose as choking hazards or obstruct the gastrointestinal tract. Fruit cake may contain grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure. Chocolate can cause an array of symptoms ranging from vomit and diarrhea to death. Also, we see a spike of “pancreatitis” (inflammation of the pancreas) around the holidays because of pets often getting fatty scraps; this disease is quite uncomfortable for your pet!
  3. No alcohol! In addition to avoiding table scraps, be careful your pet doesn’t get into the alcohol. Alcohol can cause dangerously low drops in blood pressure, blood glucose, and body temperature.  Even some desserts made with alcohol (rum cake for example) can cause these signs, along with GI upset from ingesting the dessert!
  4. Firmly anchor the tree. A nosey pet can potentially knock a Christmas tree down if not firmly anchored, which can injure your pet. Also for those of you with live trees: be sure that your pet is not able to assess any water you may have in the base, as this may contain fertilizers that can be toxic to your pet.
  5. Consider skipping the tinsel on the tree. What cat doesn’t love something shiny and stringy to play with?? Unfortunately, your cat may decide that the tinsel is a fun toy. If your pet ingests the tinsel, there is little risk of toxicity but a big risk that it can block up their intestines and result in an expensive surgery to remove it!
  6. Prep your house guests. Make sure that all holiday visitors understand how to appropriately interact with your pets. For example, if you have small children visiting that do not have pets at home, make sure the child understands how to engage with the pet and that they are closely supervised. Also make sure guests are careful to close main entrance doors behind them quickly so that there is no chance for a pet to escape. Ask all visitors to lock up any medicine or food they may have in their luggage, so that a nosey pet doesn’t get into something they shouldn’t!
  7. Have fun! The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy time with your pet. Consider getting them a stocking and fill it with appropriate treats (talk to your veterinarian if you need recommendations on what to fill it with!). Maybe take your pet for pictures with Santa. Play in the snow. Do whatever makes you and your pets holiday season merry and bright and SAFE!

article written by:
Erin Walsh, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Dog Ate WHAT??

The dog ate WHAT??

I arrived at work one morning and was told by our receptionist that there was a client on the way with his 5 month old Shepherd. She said they thought had eaten nails that had been laying around in the garage. When they arrived, I told them the best way to visualize what is going on was to take a radiograph (aka x-ray) of the abdomen, since metal objects appear very clearly and densely compared to regular tissue.
      Here is the image I got:

     After the initial shock of learning his wife's engagement ring was in Jake's stomach, I told him we could retrieve it pretty easily. I gave Jake a drug that causes dogs to safely vomit within about 20 seconds. He preceded to vomit up his breakfast - and the diamond studded ring! 

    I love this radiograph so much because in all the years of taking x-rays, you never get one that so closely shows the object like this one.  Typically, all you will see a dense object and are unable to make out what it is because of the the angle being off or the inability to show it straight on, but this one was laying perfectly on it's side! A scary beginning made for a very interesting, and happy, ending! 

Written by: Dr. Megan Moser, DVM 
Companion Animal Hospital of Skokie

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

End of Life Care: Making Every Day Count

End of Life Care: Making Every Day Count

Being a veterinarian is often a rewarding job; we get to watch our patients grow and mature, perform preventative care to keep them healthy, and help heal them when they’re sick. However, being a vet also means that I sometimes have the unfortunate task of having to give bad news to pet owners. Whether it is a terminal cancer diagnosis, debilitating arthritis, failing kidneys, or something else, we know that medicine and surgery can sometimes only do so much and that eventually we must decide when it’s time to humanely end our pet’s pain.
When your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, it is a devastating feeling. However, I also see it as an opportunity to truly make the most of your time with your pet. I have had to let three senior pets go over the last few years due to terminal diseases and I’d like to share some insight on what I have learned about making every day count.  

1   1) First, have a thorough talk with your pet’s doctor. Consider asking questions like:
a.      Are they in pain and if so, how will we control it?
b.      Are there any dietary restrictions I should be aware of?
c.      Are there any physical activity restrictions I should be aware of?
d.      What kind of timeline can I expect for this disease progression?
e.      What clinical signs should I be watching for with this disease? What should I do if I see these signs?
Basically, the goal of this conversation is “what can I do at home to keep my pet comfortable and how do I know when they’re no longer comfortable?”

 2) Next, think about what your pet enjoys and go do that thing with them.
a.      Does your dog like swimming? If so, plan a trip to the beach (or an indoor pet pool if weather isn’t cooperating- check local training and boarding facilities for dog friendly pools). 
b.      Does your pet like to ride in the car and go new places? There are many affordable vacation rentals that are pet friendly, so you can plan a road trip with your furry friend.
c.      Does your dog like to eat (I mean, what dog doesn’t?!). Take them to a boutique pet shop to pick out a fun new treat! Some restaurants have outdoor dog-friendly patios, so look into that as well.
d.      Does your pet like meeting new people and animals? Look into local fests that are dog friendly and go check them out with your furry friend.  

    3) Consider a photo shoot with your furry friend. Take lots of pictures of all the good memories you’re making, as you’ll cherish these moments after they’re gone.  One complaint I hear sometimes is that owner’s wish they had more pictures of themselves with their pet, so don’t be afraid to take some selfies with your cat or dog!

4   4) Try to spend a little time every day doing something enjoyable for both of you. Perhaps your dog likes getting out of the house, so taking them for a walk or drive around the block could be fun. Play with toys at home. You don’t always have to do something big; remember, these daily moments are just as important as the big gestures!

 5) Take comfort in doing nothing. Sometimes just relaxing at home with your pet can mean everything to them! Turn off your phone, put on a movie, and just cuddle on the couch and enjoy each other’s company.

  6) Consider a farewell party. Invite the people (and perhaps other pets!) that are close to your pet to come say their goodbyes. Try to make it a celebration of life! Reminisce about your favorite moments with your pets, what you love most about them, and just enjoy being surrounded by people that love your cat or dog as much as you do.

Remember to not push your pet to do anything they are 
uncomfortable with; the goal is to do things that are fun for BOTH of you! While saying good bye to your pet will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, having these memories to look back on will help to ease some of the hurt.

Written By: Dr. Erin Walsh
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect