Monday, November 25, 2019

What your pet can (& can't) eat this Thanksgiving

What your pet can (& can't) eat this Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving this week, many of us are feeling extra grateful and are looking forward to sharing memories and food with family & friends - for most of us, this includes our furry family members as well! It may be hard to turn your pet down, especially with
all the yummy smells floating around the house. But don't worry - while there are a handful of foods that you should keep away from your pet, there are some items that are perfectly healthy to share! If you do want to provide your furry family member with their own Thanksgiving feast, it is important that the foods listed as safe to share are only safe when given to your pet in their pure, raw, unseasoned form

Here is a look at some things you can (& can't) give your pet: 

Safe to feed your pets: 

  • Turkey Meat (no bone or skin)
  • Plain Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
  • Plain cooked Pumpkin
  • Plain Peas
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans

DO NOT Feed:

  • Turkey Skin
  • Turkey Bones
  • Turkey Stuffing
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Candy and Gum (may contain Xylitol)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes and Yams with added ingredients
  • Pumpkin Pie (may contain Xylitol)
  • Chocolate Desserts
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Salads with Raisins or Grapes
  • Onions
  • Scallions
To learn more about what is and isn't safe for your pet this holiday season, visit

If you are worried that your pet may have ingested something they shouldn't have, please call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. 

Written By: Morgan Rhyner, Marketing Manager 
Companion Animal Hospital Partners, LLC

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a Fur Baby!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a Fur Baby!

               The excitement of bringing home a new puppy is unrivaled to most, but there can be a lot of uncertainty and questions for new pet parents or if it has been awhile since a new four legged fur baby has been in your home!

               Puppies and kittens make frequent veterinary trips in the first few months of their life to ensure lifelong health. Booster shots, food nutrition, learning about safety precautions and training are all things that new pet owners should understand, and talking to your veterinarian is the best place to start.
               It can be scary for your new fur baby their first few nights at home, and in order to make them feel safe it is important to give them their own space in a quiet, warm area to relax. It is also important to get them in for their first exam within the first week of adoption. We will break down the different core vaccines for both puppies and kittens as well as other simple treatments to guarantee pet health.
  • Bordetella
    •  Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacterial agent responsible for kennel cough in dogs.  This vaccine is required for boarding but is highly recommended for all dogs.  This vaccine is given one time after 8 weeks of age and some clinics will booster it 3 weeks later.
  • Distemper (DHPP)
    • This vaccine integrates multiple defenses against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Vaccine is a series of 3 boosters, each given 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Leptospirosis
    • Lepto is bacteria that is spread through stagnant water where small rodents, wildlife will live and urinate. This can be lethal to dogs and should be given especially when living in cities or by  forestry preserves. This vaccine is a series of 2 boosters, given 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Rabies
    • This vaccine is mandated by law! This is a one-time vaccine that is given is on or after your pet is 16 weeks old and is good for 1 year.
  • Influenza
    • Yes, dogs can get the flu like humans. Although this is not considered a “core” vaccine it is better to be safe than sorry if your pets daycare, boarding facility, groomer (etc) were to have a flu outbreak. Vaccine is a series of 2 boosters, given 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Lyme
    • The prevalence of ticks in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate. In addition to flea/tick preventatives, this vaccine is an extra defense mechanism. And yes, it should be given even if you live in a city. Ticks can travel from wooded areas to alley ways on the bodies of little critters! Vaccine is a series of 2 boosters, given 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Fecal Test
    • This is done once a year to check if your puppy has any intestinal parasites. But before you get nervous, they are very common and easily treated! It is best to get this done once a year, or if you notice your pet having loose stool.
  • Heartworm Test
    • This is a simple blood test done to check if your puppy has been exposed to heartworm. If positive, you and your vet will talk about treatments for your pet. If negative, ask your vet about heartworm preventatives that might fit your pet and lifestyle the best.
    • This vaccine protects against the 5 most common cat viruses that they can be exposed to. Vaccine is boostered 3 times, each given 3-4 weeks apart.
  • FELV
    • Protects against feline leukemia. Vaccine is boostered 2 times, 3-4 weeks apart.
  • FELV/FIV Test
    • This is a simple blood test that will be run on your kittens first vet visit to see if they are negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.  
  • Fecal Test
    • This is done once a year to check if your kitten has any intestinal parasites. But before you get nervous, they are very common and easily treated.
That was a lot of information, but once these boosters are done your pet should only have to come in for their annual exam and annual vaccines! It is important to educate yourself on what your pet needs to stay healthy and keep track of when the boosters for each vaccine are due. In addition to these core vaccines, there are some preventatives for fleas and ticks as well as heartworm so that your pet is not at risk of contracting heartworm or lyme disease from infected mosquitos or a flea wrecking havoc on your pet’s skin.
It may seem like a lot for a tiny four legged animal, but if you start out your pet’s health journey on the right foot, you will have many happy years with your new pet!
Written By: Dr. Megan Moser, Companion Animal Hospital Wicker Park

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Companion discusses pet allergies & factors on CBS Chicago

Our very own Dr. Amanda Schnitker at Companion Animal Hospital River North was featured on CBS Chicago! Watch the video to learn more about pet allergies and what do do if your pet has a serious allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis.
Severity of allergies in pets can vary, just like in humans, and can be due to a long list of factors such as medications, pollen, dander, shampoo, dust, and food. Often times, minor allergies produce symptoms such as:
- Excessive paw-licking
- Itchiness
- Scratching and butt-scooting
- Hair loss, either an all-over thinning or bald spots
- Coughing, sneezing, or asthma
- Tummy trouble like vomiting and diarrhea (for food allergies)
However, anaphylaxis is serious and can be fatal as it can affect major organ systems such as the gastrointestinal tract, the circulatory system and the lungs. Action should be taken immediately if your dog shows any of the following symptoms:
- Swollen muzzle and/or eyes
- Sudden gasping and trouble breathing
- Rapid-onset diarrhea or vomiting
- Weakness
- Collapsing
Please reach out to your nearest Companion location with any questions or concerns!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Know the Signs: Heatstroke in Dogs

The summer heat is officially here!

While that means lots of fun activities outdoors, be sure to be extra careful when including your canine companions. Dogs can quickly suffer from “heat stroke” or extremely high body temperatures. A dog’s normal temperature is between 99-103 degrees; heat stroke occurs when body temperatures are at or above 106 degrees. When the dog overheats, the blood vessels dilate in attempt to cool the body and the heart beats faster. This leads to low blood pressure, shock, and then death of organ tissues. Treatment can be costly and may not be effective, depending on extent of damage. In one study, 50% of dogs with heat stroke did not survive despite treatment. We want to avoid this becoming an issue for your pet, so below are some tips on how to enjoy the heat safely!

  1. Don’t leave your pet outside during the day for extended periods of times. It is especially important that when your pet is outside that they have access to water and shade. Remember, dogs do not have the same type of sweat glands that we do, so they can only pant so much to compensate for the heat
  2. Don’t leave your pet confined in the sun. Many heatstroke deaths occur due to dogs being left in hot cars. It can get incredibly hot inside a car on a sunny day very quickly. It is best to leave your dog at home in the AC if you will be running errands that require you to leave them in the car.
  3. Be extra cautious if your animal is a breed at increased risk of heat stroke. Some breeds have a harder time panting properly to compensate for the heat. These breeds have short snouts (“brachycephalic”) and include shih tzus, bull dogs, pugs, and boxers.
  4. Exercise with caution! Even if your dog is usually a great running mate, try to limit exercise to cooler times of the day. Dawn and dusk are good times to consider a walk or run in the summer. The other perk is that the concrete or asphalt is not as hot at these times- remember that dogs can burn their pads when the ground is too hot!
  5. Dogs can get heatstroke even when swimming or playing on the beach. It’s great if your pet enjoys playing in the water, just be sure to limit their play time and give them a break in the shade or AC!
  6. Consider the age and health of your pet. Very young pets and senior pets may not be able to tolerate the heat as well as healthy adult dogs might. Dogs with heart or lung disease will have a harder time in the heat as well. 

If you think your pet might have heat stroke, do not delay in contacting your vet! Your vet will be your best resource for helping you decide appropriate next steps if your dog is suffering from heat stroke.  Some signs that may indicate your pet is suffering from heat stroke include: 

  • Heavy/ excessive panting
  • Lethargy
  • Unresponsive
  • Dark red gums
  • Rapid heart beat

If you have specific questions on your pets and their exposure to heat this summer, please contact your vet. We hope you have a happy and safe summer with your pets!

If you have specific questions on your pets and their exposure to heat this summer, please contact your vet. We hope you have a happy and safe summer with your pets!

Bruchim Y, Klement E, Saragusty J, et al: Heat stroke in dogs: A retrospective study of 54 cases (1999-2004) and analysis of risk factors for death. J Vet Intern Med 2006 Vol 20 (1) pp. 38-46.

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Did you know one third of all dogs suffer from noise phobia?

Thunderstorms and Fireworks are here!

Noise phobia
Noise phobia is a common disorder in our pets, and is thought to affect one third of all dogs. Common signs of noise phobias can include; pacing, lip licking, panting, cowering, hiding, refusing to eat, trembling and shaking to name a few. Does your pet exhibit these signs? If so, there are options to help them this time of year! There are several medications, supplements and environmental changes that can be made to help your furry friends.

Introduction of Sileo
Sileo is the first FDA approved medication for noise phobia in dogs. It comes as a gel based medication that is applied to the gums in the event of a loud / stressful situation. It is designed to relax the dog without causing significant sedation. If this medication seems helpful please contact the team at our hospital for more information or click the link below.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Be Prepared - Microchip Your Pet!

Be Prepared - Microchip Your Pet! 

It is a heartbreaking event for any pet parent to have to endure. Even with our best intentions, pets seem to find a way to slip out and away. Their natural curiosity can get them into trouble. Have you taken the proper steps to assure your pet is identified?

 The first step is to keep a collar with a tag on your pet. The tag should have your pets name, your name and current contact information. A current rabies tag should also be on the collar. If your pet has any special medical needs, you may document that on a tag as well.

The second step is to have your pet microchipped. Studies have shown that pets with microchips are significantly more likely to be reunited with their owners. A microchip is a small enveloped electronic chip that is about the size of a grain of rice. They do not have a battery, but rather, are activated by the scanner as it passes over them. A microchip is not a GPS tracking device. When a lost pet is found, they are frequently taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic. Staff will scan the pet for a microchip. Provided the pet's microchip number was properly registered by the owner, the chip number can be traced to the owner.

Having a microchip implanted is a safe, quick, and a well-tolerated procedure. It can be performed in most patients during a routine wellness visit, but is also commonly performed while a pet is under anesthesia for their spay or neuter. Microchips are safe. A British Small Animal Veterinary Association database review indicates that only 0.01% adverse issues rate in 4 million microchips implanted. The most common problem reported was movement of the chip from the original implant site over time.

Regular scanning of the microchip during wellness visits will reassure you that your pets chip scans correctly, is in the correct location, and serves as a reminder to keep your owner contact information up to date.

For more information, go to:

article written by:
Laura Rau-Holl, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Kenosha

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