Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



When Love is Not Enough


Natural Flea Products - Do They Work?
When a Safe, Secure Home is Not Enough for your Rescue Dog
Meet our Vet Techs!
8 Tips for a Happy Howl-o-ween

Natural Flea Products - Do They Work?

fleasThe recent humid weather has brought the fleas out in great numbers. If you have cut back on using any flea products this summer, you are probably feeling the bite (literally) of the fleas now. It is major warfare to get rid of fleas and often people are concerned about the amount of pesticide used on the pet and home to eliminate them. There are lots of products on the market; some safe some not. I appreciate a client's concern for their pet and family's safety and exposure to chemicals. 

I am seeing some clients reaching for natural products to get rid of the fleas and having variable success. Much of what I have seen has peppermint, eucalyptus or clove oil in the product. These plant products do not kill the flea - they repel the fleas. Many fleas will still get on the pet and take some bites, resulting in intense scratching and blistering skin. The fleas lay their eggs in a matter of a few minutes so that quick blood meal keeps the population going. The plant oils can soothe the skin and do help to decrease how many fleas are on the pet, but they are poor in eliminating the flea problem. Some of the plant oils can be toxic to cats, and irritating to the skin and mouth if the pet licks at it. Lastly if they are overused they can be poisonous.

It is not healthy for people or pets to have any level of fleas in the home. Fleas carry the tape worm which is infectious to humans as well as the pet. The chronic biting and sucking of blood causes anemia, not to mention the skin infections to the pet. Lastly there are some serious diseases such as Rickettsia Typhi in people and Rickettsia Felis transmitted by flea bites which can cause serious health problems - even death.

So, one must weigh out the risk of chemical and natural plant based products against the health risks of fleas. The majority of our home products available at the store, the veterinary clinic and exterminators are a low level of pesticide. When applied correctly these products do not cause harm. When a product with a growth inhibitor is used in the home, the amount of pesticide needed for control is markedly reduced. The growth inhibitor is not toxic to mammals at all - just the flea. So, it is far less risky on the health of humans and the pets to use flea products, as directed, with safe levels of pesticide combined with growth inhibitors. You can still use some of the natural products under the supervision of your veterinarian. This will overall decrease the pesticide use. That in the end will decrease risk to you and your family.

Fleas are resistant to many products. They grow exponentially in a short period of time. Do not allow your pets to suffer as you try various products to eliminate fleas that are not working. Seek the advice of your veterinarian and staff to help you and your pet.

When a Safe, Secure Home is Not Enough for your Rescue Dog

Bella with tennis ballsAs a veterinarian and behaviorist, I care for a range of pets for medical and behavior problems. When positive training, routines, and increased exercise is not enough, then the problem is a deeper often requiring medication and specific behavior plans.   

Medications and managing other health problems can resolve some serious behavior problems. Behavior is determined not only by choices an animal makes, but also by the way the entire body is able to function, especially the brain. Brain function is not static - there is continual development especially in the first year of an animal's life. The amount of time for this development will vary with species - cat's brains develop faster than a dog for example. Brain development depends not only on pre birth health and genetics, but also those early life experiences. These experiences literally shape the brain's  tissue in the area of memory and cognition.  

A pet adopted from a rescue can be the perfect pet or have some problems. Many rescue dogs have some sort of  baggage. All of my pets have been rescues, and some of them had some problems. Butterscotch was a sweetie with people, but would lunge and aggress at other dogs. Bella our current dog does not trust unknown people and has been that way since we adopted her at 8 weeks. She likely had some rough experiences around dogs and people in her puppyhood which affected her. She has improved with medications and supplements but takes days to be trusting around a new person. All the training, counter conditioning is not going to change her brain to like it. That is how she is wired.

The brain is an organ like your heart, or leg muscles. How an individual animal's brain develops depends on them - their ability to heal after severe fear, their development prior to birth, and their need for brain chemicals. So you will see variability in the same litter, experiencing the same thing in development.   

So some of our rescue dogs have come from some pretty bad settings that go back to this early puppy period. All the love, routine, good food, rewarding and positive training cannot erase the brain development that was affected by early puppy hood experience. For some rescues a perfect home may not exist. Trying to get this dog to accept or tolerate other dogs for example, keeps this dog in a constant state of anxiety and aggression. No medication can completely remove this mental state for some dogs and the result is the dog will aggressive at times. While the frequency may decrease, that one time they are aggressive can still be very dangerous.   

I have heard some rescues state that no animal should be euthanized due to behavior problems. That if they are physically healthy, euthanasia is wrong. This is a misinformed opinion not taking the welfare of the animal and the people into consideration. These cases are very difficult to manage like a severe physical health problem. I often see the adoptive family in a dilemma with a dog who cannot be reliably managed for anxiety or aggression despite medication, behavior plans and other intervention.    

If love could fix it all, then the first home for a rescue would likely be the fore ever home. The best solution I can offer is having a lot of support for that early puppy development from shelters, veterinary clinics, and other rescues.

Meet our Vet Techs!

October 16 - 22 is National Veterinary Technician Week. We are celebrating it here by telling you a little bit about what a technician does and a little bit about our technicians. To become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), you must go through a Vet Tech course at a college and then pass a certification test to be licensed in your state. Parkland College has a Veterinary Technology course. Most tech courses are two years of intense classes and an internship at a veterinary clinic. After receiving the college degree, we study for the state test. After passing the state test, we are now a CVT. We must earn 15 hours of continuing education every two years to keep our license. To earn our continuing education, we attend educational seminars and read articles. CVTs can do many tasks at a veterinary clinic including drawing blood, administering and monitoring anesthesia, assisting during surgery,performing dental cleanings, evaluating slides of urine, skin and other samples under the microscope, giving injections and many other tasks.

We have three CVTs at our clinic. All three attended Parkland College and are licensed by the state. Get to know our techs:

Rachael Green
12 years at Okaw Vet Clinic

I grew up in a small town and have had pets my entire life. We have always had at least one dog and outdoor cats. We live on a farm, so I also grew up around horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, chickens and a goat.

I decided to work in an biology related field when I was in high school and started my general studies at Lake Land, where I received my Associate in Applied Sciences. Then I transferred to Eastern and looked into various Zoology degrees. I wanted to help animals and I started looking into what degree I would need to work in a veterinary field. I did a bit of research and found the Vet Tech program at Parkland College. I thought this would be a great way to help animals. I applied and got into the program. It was a tough - lots of studying and long hours of classes. But it was worth it. I have enjoyed working with animals and helping keep them healthy.

I have one cat named Effie that lives with me in my apartment. I also have two dogs, Keyser and Mac, who live at home with my parents. Effie was found as a stray in Tuscola. Keyser and Mac were found as strays where my parents live. In my spare time I like to take photos, sketch, tat and crochet. I also spend time on Facebook.

Debbie Gass
11 years at Okaw Vet ClinicDebbie

From a very young age, I just knew that I was going to work with animals. Back in 1988, I had the opportunity to work at an Animal Emergency Clinic. Oh boy, was I hooked! I just knew that this was what I was meant to do.

Upon arriving in Illinois (from my native Rhode Island), I learned about Parkland College's Veterinary Technology program. I jumped at the chance to learn more and get some more training. It was great to know there was a program to gain more knowledge and training for the field I had come to love.

Every day as a veterinary technician is a learning experience. There are always new medicines, techniques, diagnostics constantly coming out to keep this field so fresh and exciting. (Not to mention all the great animals and people I meet!)

In my spare time I spend time with Brad, my husband of 5 years. Crafting with plastic canvas, learning how to knit and reading are favorite things as well. We have 2 feline children that keep us busy as well as entertained.

Lazarus was 5 weeks old when I got him. He was a C-section kitty that I assisted in, he had a heart beat, but was unable to breathe on his own, it took me 30 minutes of CPR to get him to breathe on his own. At the time his mom's owner said " If he lives his name will be Lazarus and Debbie should be the only one to get him as she brought him back from the dead."

Our little girl, Simone was adopted by Brad & I together as our first wedding anniversary present to ourselves. We adopted her at PetSmart through Prairie-Land Anticruetly cat rescue. Her grey & white markings reminded us of Hoppy, one of our previous cats, but then she turned her head showed us her "torti mask" we knew we had to have her.

I am blessed that I love my job and look forward to going to work to see what each day will bring.

Leeza Chapman
6 1/2 years at Okaw Vet ClinicLeeza

I have wanted to work in the veterinary field for as long as I can remember. I used to bring home stray animals. My mother wasn't too happy, but I wanted to keep them. In second grade, I announced that I wanted to be a veterinarian. In fifth or sixth grade I decided that I would like to work in a vet office, but not be a vet. I decided to look into other jobs that would allow me to work in a vet office. I found information about veterinary technology and decide to be a veterinary technician.

I have a dog named Delilah, she graduated from the Parkland Vet Tech program and came home with me. In my spare time I like to scrapbook and spend time with my nieces and nephews.


8 Tips for a Happy Howl-o-ween

  1. Ranger fallKeep candles out of your pet's reach. Your pet may be burned by the candle. Dogs and cats can also knock over the candle and may start a fire.
  2. Keep fake cobwebs out of your pet's reach. Dogs and cats may eat the webbing. The webbing can cause a blockage or cut off blood to part of your pet's intestines.
  3. Put your pet in a bedroom, kennel or other confined area during Trick or Treating. Your pet won't be able to dart out the door when you open it for Trick or Treaters. Your pet may get scared by the funny and scary costumes children wear.
  4. Keep candy away from your pet. Chocolate and sugar free candy containing Xylitol can make your pet very sick. Your pet can eat candy wrappers which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  5. No nuts from the yard. Falling walnuts, hickory nuts, buckeyes and other nuts may be fun to play with, but they can cause your pet to become sick. The nuts and shells can scratch and get stuck in your pet's intestine. Buckeyes are poisonous to dogs.
  6. No sticks. Sticks are fun for dogs to chew on, but if your dog eats the stick, it can get stuck in their intestines.
  7. Do not let your pet eat Asian beetles (orange lady bugs). The bugs secrete an irritating liquid that will make your pet sick.
  8. Be aware of rat and mouse poison. Neighbors may putout poison to control these pests. If your pet eats the poison or a mouse or rat that ate the poison, your pet will get sick.

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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