Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Heat Stress and Your Pet




Top 10 Things to Know about Heat Stress and Your Pet
Fighting Felines - Helping Mercy and Ranger Get Along
Ranger's Exciting News
Hot Dogs in Hot Cars
Hot Dogs and Hot Cats - Prevent Summer Boredom


Top 10 Things to Know about Heat Stress in Pets

10. Air conditioning is good for your pet to stay cool. If you have an outdoor pet, staying outdoors will stress them more than coming into the air conditioning. 

9. Hair cuts help both dogs and cats. When the temperature or humidity rises, long hair makes cooling the body more difficult. Now this long hair can trap heat not insulate against it. Clip at least the underbelly, chest and sides of the body in dogs and cats so when they lay on the floor they will lose the heat faster.

8. High humidity is as bad as high temperatures. As humidity goes up, panting will not work to release heat since the saliva cannot evaporate. Limit time outdoors when it gets muggy.

7. Even a few minutes in the car with the windows open is dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Wear a heavy coat and hat on in your car and pant. Keep your pet home. If you are traveling with your pet, plan ahead with a cooler full of food, go through the drive through and picnic, gas up the car ahead, and check out our AAA book on pet friendly hotels, parks and places.

6. Panting cools at first, but then builds up heat.  If your dog starts panting, get them to a shaded area, wet them down and get them off any concrete or paving.  They cannot drink water while panting so having water with them will not help.

5. Minor health problems can become major with heat stress. A little vomiting or loose stool can cause profound dehydration. Do not wait to get a moderately ill pet to the vet!

4. Cats hide to avoid the heat. Be sure you put the litter, food near where your cat is hiding out to and check that they are eating. If not, bring them in for a checkup.

3. The bigger the animal, the less tolerant to the heat. Heat stress is more common in the Labradors, Retrievers, Shepards or push faced dogs like Boxers and Pugs.

2. Walk your dog in the early am and after dusk. Keep your dog on the grass to avoid the reflection of heat up on the body.

1. Do not keep your dog outside for more than 15 minutes in the late am through the afternoon!!!  Dogs can start to overheat rapidly after 10-15 minutes. If they look drunk, dazed or are wandering get them wet, on cool concrete and to the vet!

We still have about another month of high heat days to come.  Please take these precautions to help your pets.



                                                                                                                            Fighting Felines - Helping Mercy and Ranger Get Along

Over the past week or so, Ranger and Mercy have been at odds with each other in the mornings.  It would be hard to tell who was starting things - Mercy or Ranger.  We would suddenly hear the 'aurggggg" sound of Mercy as she was staring at  Ranger who would mindlessly pounce on her in a playful way.  This was not what Mercy wanted - she would then roll him over and the two would wrestle in a sort of confused play fight.  Usually tossing the tube toy would get Ranger to redirect, but not now.  Actually Mercy seemed to be starting it.  What is going on? 

Lots of clients deal with this very same scene at home.  These 2 cats get along much of the time, they actually do groom each other and the outbreaks were not daily.  Aggravating especially since these 2 cats live at an animal hospital that promotes good behavior!  How embarrassing to say the least.  I decided to treat my staff and the cats like a case.  Let's document what is happening, what does help to decrease the fighting and observe both Mercy and Ranger for what is triggering the events.  At first you think you know what is happening, but as we took a closer look we found out a few things.

Ranger ready for the day all dressed up
These are the facts we already knew.  The skirmishes were typically in the morning shortly after Ranger and Mercy were allowed free access to the clinic. The fights were in the waiting room area when no clients were there. Putting a baby T shirt on Ranger helped  him to be less of an agitator.  Now he loves to dress up, but it somehow it was helping him to ignore her threats.  I surmised that Mercy may want to have more range for facial rubbing of the clinic.  As she has aged she does not get up on all the counters for rubbing and perching like she used to.  So  now Mercy could be free in the whole clinic while Ranger was still confined ( he still gets into things).  Ranger would get dressed up each am before he had free range with Mercy.  Rachael made up an incident sheet to record where - when - who and what started it. 

Mercy's favorite spot
We discovered a few things!  Mercy was picking on Ranger most of the time. It just looked like he was the bad guy because she was vocal and he would be more physical.  On closer look he  was pouncing back in play not aggression.  She would stare him down as he passed by the chair at the laptop in the hall.  As I found out Mercy loves to sit on the chair for the workstation in the hall.  She waits for it to be free.  So there are times she wants to perch but can not get to her favorite spot.  As a solution we put another chair - same type and kind right next to one she wanted.  Mercy will go up there or move over to it. She also gets her favorite treats at this new perch occasionally.  Fighting has decreased !!!!!  I think we are onto something.

  Ranger lounges on the high reception counter,hammock bed and shelf in the waiting area.  Mercy likes the lower reception counter and waiting room seats too. Now that there is one more perch for her in a different area.  This has expanded the space for the cats and has brought kitty harmony.

The chair is staying put. It is the right size, height and in the right place. I think I will name it "Mercy's chair"  

Now there is a place for Mercy and the staff 

Overall the number and intensity  of incidents have decreased.  The solutions were simple once we opened our eyes to what our cats were  needing.  Mercy wanted more alone time to facially mark the clinic and another perching area. One last thing, Mercy brought up a huge hairball as things were getting better.  Maybe she was having some pain in her bowels that was also an agitator.  We have increased her pumpkin dose to help with that.

Now we just have to keep up Ranger's wardrobe! He does love to dress up.  I would love to find a forest ranger outfit for him to go with his name.  If anyone has ideas  where to get one let me know.

Ranger advises lots of perches  and always look sharp!

 Read more on Dr. Foote's blog.









Ranger's Exciting News

Pssst....Ranger here. I got the keyboard again when no one was looking. I had to telll you about a couple really cool additions to my, I mean, the clinic's website.

Let's start with the most important one.... Me! The girls have finally decided to put my photos up online so everyone can enjoy them. Check them out. I have my own special page. It is called Ranger's Photo Gallery. Click here to start looking at my cute photos, but come back to continue reading my news.

Next, more me. Sensing a pattern. I am featured on the cover of a new book! I am becoming so famous. The book is about helping your pet be happier at the vet clinic. Just like me! I get lots of liver paste when I have to see Dr. Foote for my check ups. The girls give me lots of liver paste while the doctor does whatever she does... I usually don't pay much attention, because I am getting liver paste and everyone is telling me how cute I am. Dr. Foote wrote the book and the book has photos of real clients and real pets during real exams. The book comes in a neat little kit that pet owners can buy for their pet. It has a bandana, a Bella Behavior, a place to record your pet's preferences, stickers and a month of support. You can get more info here.

Lastly, I put a new video on our website. I know, I know, I am so talented. I am not featured in this one. But I thought I should share it. I heard the girls talking about Heartworms and having a couple dogs test positive for Heartworm Disease recently. The girls were looking at some blood from a dog that had Heartworms. They were talking about the baby Heartworms in her blood. So I decided to look for myself. I climbed up and looked in the microscope and saw the baby Heartworms! I decided to video it (I know, I am so talented) so you could see it too! Check it out here. Take a look at some of the other videos the girls took while you are there.



Hot Dogs in Hot Cars

Never leave your dog or cat in the car in the summer. The temperature inside your car can start to reach dangerous levels after only a few minutes. On an 85 degree day it can reach 102 degrees in your car in only 10 minutes and will reach 120 degress in just 30 minutes. Even leaving the windows cracked doesn't help cool the car enough to keep your pet from over heating. Dogs and cats can not sweat to keep cool, they can only sweat on their pads of their feet. They have to pant to try to stay cool. Panting moves hot air out of the dogs body and brings cooler air in. But in a hot car the dog is just breating in more hot air. And, the act of panting itself, is also causing the pet to get hotter because of the work of the muscles are doing (like exercising). Leaving a dish of water in the car will not help. Your pet will still overheat. The best thing you can do for your pet is to leave him or her at home while you are out driving around this summer.

If you see a pet in a car and he or she looks hot, see if you can find the owner. Ask in the local businesses, where the car is parked, if anyone knows who the car belongs to. Mention that there is a dog in the car, that is distressed. Let the owner know that their pet is hot and it would be better for their pet if he or she were left at home on hot days. You can hand them a Pet in Hot Car Flier from ASPCA. If you cannot find the owner, call your local animal control. They can come and rescue the dog and take it to a veterinary clinic for treatment. If the dog looks in bad shape, call the police department as well, they may be needed to help get the vehicle open to get the dog out. Feel free to print and post the Pet in Hot Car Flier where you live and work. It has some great information. We have already seen a case of heat stroke in our office.

Here is a list of some of our local Animal Control Offices and their contact information.

 Douglas County Animal Control
1007 E. South Central
Tuscola, IL  61953 


Coles County Animal Control
6818 N. Co Rd 1120 E.
Charleston, IL  61920

Champaign County Animal Control
210 S. Art Bartell 
Urbana, IL  61802

Edgar County Animal Control
1025 N. High St
Paris, IL  61944

Piatt County Animal Control
301 S. Charter St
Monticello, IL  61856




 Hot Dogs and Hot Cats - Prevent Summer Boredom

This summer has had hotter and very humid days than what we typically see in Central Illinois. Even with air conditioning, pets are stressed by the heat. Luckily people are better educated about limiting walks for their dogs to the mornings and evenings, and to provide shaded area for them outdoors or taking them inside where there is air conditioning for them. For outside cats, be sure there is a porch they can get under, or a shaded area with a dog house they can get shelter in. Beware that cats go under cars during the heat so watch out for them there. What makes things stressful is the decrease in activity that dogs and cats get because they can't get as much exercise. It is about as difficult as when the cold winter winds blow in January.

So, a usually active dog is now bored with less time outside and the time that is outside is a bit hard on them. Often these dogs will start getting naughty due to boredom. You may find a usually calm, well mannered pet is now pulling pillows off the couch, barking more at people or cars going by outside, or extra exuberant when you come home. What to do? Life has to be more interesting and challenging on the inside now (even in a garage or basement if that is where your pet is) to keep them from getting bored.   

First of all you can buy a food puzzle/toy. This is kind of a big word for a toy that will have the food fall out of it as the dog or cat bats the object around to release the food. It is not mean, or punishing to do this. Actually this is exactly what an animal wants is to have to investigate or figure out how to get something good (food) out of some object. This is part of the reason pets chew to get the squeaker out of toys, or the stuffing out of pillows. You can find these food puzzles at some of the pet stores. We do have a few at our office as well. One by Premier is shaped like a flying saucer made of durable rubber. Other food puzzles made by Kong look like a buoy that keeps wobbling around. There puzzles are a great way to get kitty fit. They are also good for keeping an old dog's brain sharp.

A second thing to do is have your dog earn its food by doing sits, downs and come when called for kibble. This may take a little time with you, but that is exactly what is going to save you time on getting your shoes back from your dog, or straightening out the couch 4 times a day. This "will work for food" program has your dog thinking and working which is what they want to do. When your dog is beginning to bark at things outside, call them to you and reward for that recall. This is how you interrupt that barking out of boredom. It also helps them to be a better canine citizen. Cats can also be taught tricks and use kibble or praise as a reward.

Whatever play games are acceptable in your home set up at least 2 -10 minute play sessions with your cat or dog a day. Get them tired in the home. So throw the toys up and down the stairs in a 2 story home to use the stairs for exercise. Teach them to jump through a hula hoop or over a swim noodle. 

Have play time, then some training time, and then play time. If your pet is not a big one on play, or is not co operative then ignore any uncooperative behavior (like not releasing a ball during fetch). When play stops because they are not following the rules they will drop the ball. When that happens, give them praise and start again. It may be frustrating at first, but remind yourself that you can wait for them to do right. Be patient.
When the days do get better, get back into walking and other play outside. Even if it may be one day here or there it is really refreshing for dogs especially to get on those walks to check their "pee mail" and see all the sights and smells about town. You may have to work them back up a bit to high activity as the weather is more consistent, but do take advantage of any weather breaks we do get.
For more boredom breaking ideas, check out our other behavior articles or our facebook page. 
Premier company and Kong company have great websites also with good uses for food puzzles.


Okaw Veterinary Clinic
140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953
(217) 253-3221


Mon & Fri 8 am - 6 pm
Tues & Wed 8 am - 5 pm
Sat 8 am - noon
Closed Thurs & Sun

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