Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Storm Safety


Low Stress Handling - What does that Mean?
Top 7 Things to do for Storm Settling & Safety
Terrible Ticks


Low Stress Handling - What does that mean?

My staff and I completed the certification program in low stress handling for veterinary practice. What does this mean? This is a multi lecture, demonstration and self test course of 16 teaching hours, that each of my staff members and I completed and passed. This course greatly enhanced our knowledge in the most kind and least upsetting techniques of holding, treating, and approaching dogs and cats. This certification, developed and evaluated by the late Dr. Sophia Yin, insures to you the pet owner, that all of the staff knows the best way to handle your pet that is pet friendly. These skills are used every day, with every patient, in every visit.   

I took the course and passed certification because I feel it is essential for the doctor to know the best way to handle patients. The extensive education in brewing fear and aggression is so important to keep the stress of exams low for our patients. When we miss those signs, that is the time when the pets struggle, fight and even attempt to bite. I have a much deeper respect for my staff in what they know and are able to do in a kind, minimal restraint method. There are easy variations to the techniques that they already know that has many more cats relaxed for exams and vaccinations, and that dogs taking rewards during and ear exam.

Low stress handling - pet friendly handling is what I and my staff have been doing for years. The certification raises our knowledge and credibility ever more. My clinic is a part of the change in veterinary medicine to more pet centered practice. By having this certification,it ensures that my staff is well educated and able to do the techniques. Most importantly the staff has also completed veterinary behavior education to also recognize anxiety and aggression before it erupts.This is essential for a safe and calm exam. Pets can get hurt when struggling. Calling in the reinforcements of more assistants is not good for your pet and is a big part of increasing that fear that leads to aggression. There is a better and easier way.

When you take your pet in for care, ask if the staff has learned low stress handling. The low stress certification program is very new; we are one of the first practices nationwide to pass the course. You practice may not be certified, but ask what they do to decrease the fear,timidness, and dread your pet feels when it goes to the vet. If your clinic has been using low stress techniques it is likely your pet likes to go to the clinic. If so, wonderful!!!! Tell that staff you appreciate what they do to make the veterinary visit good for your pet.

Change is happening in veterinary medicine but it is slow. You the pet owner can drive change in the profession more quickly by asking for low stress - pet friendly handling. Traditional methods of holding and taking a pet to the back for treatment are steadfast due to our liability insurance companies telling us how we needed to practice. So for years veterinarians have been told by lawyers and insurance executives that going to "the back" and have more people hold the pet to prevent the veterinarian from being injured was the way to do things. Actually this was a major cause of the fear and aggression as we behaviorist discovered. While we do not want the owner to hold their own pets -owners sue the veterinarian for injury and win - removing some pets from the sight of the owner increases fear and thereby increases struggling and aggression. A low stress practice would likely allow the owner to be present if they wish and be in sight of the pet to relieve any anxiety the pet may have from separation.

So how does a practice hold a pet for injections and not have the pet turn to bite? We use small sharp needles that do not hurt as much; we use muzzles loaded with peanut butter, or baby food to make them yummy and distracting as I examine an infected ear. I apply novacaine cream to areas to decrease the pain BEFORE examining a sore area. My staff offers calming pheromones in the waiting area so your dog or can will relax before the check up begins. There are many more techniques, but I hope you get the idea. We put our patients first - think of their needs physically and mentally before pursuing our need to get samples or into treatment. Yes our exams take a little longer but after a visit or two the dogs are dragging the owner in the door and hopping right up on the lift table. Cats go into their carriers because we educated our clients on how to leave it out and help the cat like it.

Top 7 Things to do for Storm Settling & Safety

  1. Adaptil collarWhen 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.


Terrible Ticks

Ticks live in grass, leaves, brush and bushes. Ticks crawl onto your pet as he or she walks past. We often find ticks attached pet's head and neck since your pet is sticking his or her head and sniffing areas where ticks like to live. Ticks attach to your pet and drink blood. If the tick drinking your pet's blood is infected with a disease, it can pass this disease on to your pet. Ticks can give your pet diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease. The female tick will feed for days until she is fat and swollen. The female tick is the easiest tick to find on your pet. The male ticks do not feed as long and are therefore smaller and harder to see. Other immature stages are also small and are harder to see on your pet. The smallest stage that can attach to your pet is called a nymph and can be as small as the head of a pin. A good way to find ticks is to rub your pet's head, neck and legs a few times a day. Also look at both sides of your pet's ear flaps. 

What do you do when you find a tick on your pet? Get a bottle of alcohol, a cotton ball and a pair of tweezers, and some of your pet's treats, and someone to help. Pour some alcohol onto the cotton ball. Have the friend hold your pet and give him or her some treats. Put the cotton ball onto the tick for at least 10 seconds, then remove the cotton ball. (This helps stun the tick and loosen it's grip). With the tweezers, gently grasp the tick as close to your pet's skin as you can and GENTLY pull. Do NOT twist or jerk. (Removing it slowly helps reduce the chance of the mouth parts being left behind in the skin). If the tick gets squished and starts to bleed, try not to get any of the blood on you or your pet. Wash your hands and any place the blood got on your pet. 

How can you prevent ticks from giving your pet a disease? Use a flea and tick preventative such as Frontline Plus or Revolution. These products are applied to your pet once a month. These products do not repel ticks. No product spot on product (like Frontline, Revolution, Advantage, etc) will repel ticks. The products will kill the tick when it attaches to your pet. The tick dies before it can give your pet a disease. You can also make a spray to help repel ticks. Mix 1 tablespoon of Avon Skin So Soft in 1 pint of water in a spritzer bottle. Spray on your pet before he or she goes outside.

What can you do to help keep ticks out of your yard? One way to help keep ticks out of your yard is to make it unfriendly to ticks. Ticks like dark and humid areas. So keep your lawn mowed and and remove bushes. Remove any sticks, leaves or other yard waste. Plant grass that requires less watering in the summer. Create a "tick free zone" around your yard. The zone should be covered in mulch and be at least 3 yards wide. Do not have any plants, except trees in this zone. This should reduce the tick population in your yard by at least 75%. Another way to keep ticks out of your yard is to keep other animals out of your yard. Ticks will feed on any warm blooded animal (squirrels, birds, deer, cats, dogs, etc). By keeping these animals out of your yard, you will keep ticks out of your yard.

* Image of a tick from www.capcvet.org

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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