Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Stop Storm Fears Now!



Heartworms: Did you Know...
Top 7 Things to do for Storm Settling and Safety
How You can Help Wild Baby Animals


Heartworms: Did you Know...

  • Cats can get heartworms. Cats usually have fewer worms in their heart, but have more damage done to their lungs by the worms. 
  • Dogs and cats get heartworm by being bitten by a mosquito. So your pet does not have to be around other pets in order to get heartworms. The mosquito bites an heartworm infected pet and sucks it's blood and also sucks up baby heartworm (larva) The larva grow inside the mosquito. The grown larva then go to the mouth parts of the mosquito and are injected into the next pet the mosquito bites.
  • 6 months after your pet is bitten by an an infected mosquito he or she will have adult heartworms living in his or her heart. 
  • Female heartworms can grow to be 14 inches long. Male heartworms grow to 7 inches long.
  • Heartworms live in other areas besides the heart. They live in the vessel entering the heart (vena cava) and the vessel going from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary artery).
  •  If not treated, a dog or cat with heartworms will die. The worms clog the heart and put extra stress on the heart and lungs. One dog can have 250 worms in his or her heart.


Heartworm is on the Rise!

This map shows the number of cases of Heartworm Disease clinics reported in 2013. Last year we had 3 heartworm cases seen in our clinic. Why do we see so many cases of Heartworm Disease? There are several reasons. Some pets take heartworm prevention, but for only part of the year. They are bitten by a mosquito during the time they are not taking the preventative and develop Heartworm Disease. Another reason is that many pets are not on prevention and many of those pets have Heartworm Disease. These pets act as carriers and help infect other pets when mosquitoes bite them. A third reason is that heartworms may be becoming resistant to the medications that kill them. So it is recommended to give one heartworm preventative for part of the year and then switch to another heartworm preventative. A fourth reason is counterfeit, expired or damaged medication is often purchased through some online pharmacies. Many of the medications purchased through online pharmacies are"bootlegged" products. Owners purchase these medications, not knowing that they may be purchasing a product that will not protect their pet. A final reason is from Katrina rescues. Animals that were rescued and sent to sanctuaries around the country. Most of these animals were tested and treated for Heartworm Disease. Other animals were not tested or treated for Heartworm Disease. These animals help spread heartworm around the country. 

 What can You do to Protect your Pet from Heartworms?

Keep you pet on heartworm prevention year round. You have several options to choose from. We carry two Heartworm preventatives at our office, Revolution and Interceptor. We also offer more through our online pharmacy. Also have your dog tested for heartworm every year. Cats are not tested for heartworm unless they show symptoms.

What Happens if your Pet has Heartworms?

We have much safer treatments for heartworm than we did 15 years ago. We have a couple different options. The first is an injection that will kill the adult worms. The second option is giving your dog a pill once a month for at least one year. The second option is the safest for older dogs or dogs who have many heartworms. Treating a cat with Heartworm Disease is a little bit more complicated. We are still learning about cats and Heartworm Disease. Right now we treat the cat's symptoms such as trouble breathing, vomiting, wheezing, anorexia and a rapid heart rate.

How do you Know if your Pet has Heartworm?

The best way to find out if your pet has Heartworm Disease is to bring your pet in for an exam and a Heartworm Test. Dr. Foote will examine your pet, including listening to your pet's lungs and heart. She will take a sample of your pet's blood. We test that sample using a snap test. The test looks for heartworm antigen, your pet's immune response to the female heartworms. We may also do anothertest where mix a sample of blood and a solution to remove the blood cells. We push this mixture through a filter and look at the filter under a microscope. We are looking for the baby worms, larva.

Dogs with heartworm can have the following symptoms:coughing, tire easily when exercising or playing, trouble breathing and fainting. Cats with heartworm can the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, coughing, rapid heart rate, blindness, collapse,convulsions, vomiting, weight loss, fainting, lethargy and sudden death.



Top 7 Things to do for Storm Settling and Safety

  1. When it is not stormy out, toss treats and occasionally feed your dog in the basement,bathroom or other safe room for a storm. This makes it fun not scary to go in there before and during a storm.

  2. Put rap, Latin dance, disco or rock music from the 60's to the 80's with a regular danceable beat heavy in the base. No high pitched singers or guitars. No TV. Find the oldies station and play only that one. The beat is what keeps your pet's heart rate at a slower pace to keep them calm.

  3. Stuff a Kong toy with canned food and keep in the freezer. When the first winds pick up, toss this in the safe room to keep your dog distracted and rewarded for being calm.

  4. Try a tight fitting T shirt or a Thunder shirt ™ when the first signs of a storm appears. Keep the shirt on them until after the storm has passed.

  5. Use Adaptil collars or spray on a bandana on storm days. Keep the bandana refreshed with spray 2-3 times a day. Use this early, at the first signs of storms.

  6. Ask your veterinarian about nontranquilizer - anxiety reducing medications and supplements that help dogs be less fearful. There are different combinations of medications that can help severely affected pets that do not drug them up. Alprazolam - Reconcile - Clomicalm - Theonine are a few.

  7. Stay calm yourself, do not scold your pet or put them in a crate that they hate. Allow the pet to go where they are most calm even if it is under the bed. 

Always have your dog or cat wear an Identification tag and have your pet micro chipped. In severe storms pets can escape from the home and without identification how will they get back home to you? 

For more Storm help download Butterscotch's Playlist and read "Thunderstorm Nightmares No More" on Dr. Foote's blog.


How You can Help Wild Baby Animals

Published: Apr. 6, 2011  Source: Anne Rivas  An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/

In springtime wild critters emerge from their winter hideaways and before you know it, baby animal season is here. When you go out to enjoy the warmer weather, you may hear the peeps of baby birds high up in the trees, or the little chirps of baby rabbits hiding in their nests of grass.

But, wait! You see no sign of the mother. You begin to worry about the helpless little ones. You sit on your porch, waiting for the mother to return. After several hours with no sign of the mother, you conclude that these animals must be orphaned. What can you do to save them?

According to Anne Rivas, a veterinary student and co-manager of the Wildlife Medical Clinic at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, approximately half of the"orphaned" animals brought to the wildlife clinic are perfectly healthy. Some of these animals have been removed from their nest to avoid such dangers as the family pet or tree removal. But unfortunately,well-meaning people often "kidnap" baby animals that are being cared for by their parents.

Why don't you see the mother? It's because mothers in the wild instinctively try to protect their nests.That means not drawing attention to the area where the newborns lie. If the mother detects that her nest is being watched by a potential predator (even a human standing at a distance), she will stay away from the nest completely until the coast is clear. If you would like to ensure that the mother visits the nest to feed her babies, it is best to watch from afar (completely out of sight) for 4 to 6 hours. In fact,even without the prospect of danger, mother rabbits normally spend no more than 5 minutes at their nest per day.

If you find a baby animal out of its nest, however, this is a time when you can take action to help the newborn! What to do depends on the age of the animal.

Young birds with feathers are likely fledglings that may be ready to leave the nest even though they are not yet fully able to fly. If the bird is featherless, it needs to go back to its nest as soon as possible.

For baby mammals, age is more difficult to estimate and depends on the species. The most commonly found baby mammal is the wild rabbit. If the rabbit is about the size of a tennis ball, looks just like a miniature form of its adult counterpart, and is able to hop around, then it is old enough to survive on its own.

If the baby animal appears too young to survive on its own, it is very important to remember that any baby animal's best chance for survival is with its mother.

"Even in the best possible scenarios,humans will be nowhere near as proficient in care for these delicate little animals as their mothers will. Survival rates for animals raised in captivity can be significantly lower than those raised in a natural setting," Rivas says.

There is also a risk that the baby animal will "imprint" on humans, meaning that it will no longer have a fear of humans. In order for the animal to have a good chance of being successfully returned to the wild, it needs to maintain a healthy fear of humans to avoid harm to itself and to people. This is particularly true for raccoons, deer, and birds, who may pose a risk if they approach people once they are returned to the wild.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that the mother won't feed a baby that has been touched by human hands. If a baby animal has fallen or been removed from its nest, you can certainly pick up the baby and return it to its nest if possible. If you are unable to find the nest or the nest is no longer intact, you can place the baby in a shallow box with grass and place it near where the baby was found (in a tree for birds, on the ground for baby mammals). Then, out of sight, you can once again monitor the make-shift nest for the mother to return.

Unfortunately, you may also find a baby animal that is injured. According to Rivas, "If the animal appears to have broken a bone, is very cold, is bleeding, or has been attacked by a predator, the baby animal needs medical attention."

There are many wildlife rehabilitators throughout the country who know how to care for an injured baby animal and ready it for release back into the wild once it has healed. To find a wildlife rehabilitator, you can call your state wildlife agency, a local veterinarian, humane societies, Audubon societies, animal control officers, or the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you are unsure whether an animal is old enough to survive on its own or needs medical attention, then it is best to contact a wildlife rehabilitator before removing it from the area where you found it.

"Remember," Rivas stresses, "any baby animal's best chance for survival is with its mother in the wild." If you have any questions about orphaned animals, contact your local veterinarian or visit the website of the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic at vetmed.illinois.edu/wmc/.  

Veterinary Extension/Office of Public Engagement
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

News writer: Julia Disney

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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