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Top 10 Tips for Safe Air Travel with Your Pet, from the ASPCA (www.aspca.org)

Traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and the four-legged members of your family. With thoughtful preparation, however, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

The ASPCA urges pet owners to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo.

Unless your animal is small enough to fit under your seat and you can bring him or her in the cabin, the ASPCA recommends pet owners to not fly their animal. If pet owners have already committed to transporting their pets on commercial airlines, the ASPCA is offering the following top ten tips for safe air travel with your pet:

  1. Make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian for a checkup, and make sure all vaccinations are up-todate. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.
  2. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag. Breakaway collars are best for cats. The collar should also include destination information in case your pet escapes.
  3. Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.
  4. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. Shipping crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.
  5. Write the words "Live Animal" in letters at least one inch tall on top of and at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet's destination point, and whether you will be accompanying him or if someone else is picking him up. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding—shredded paper or towels— to absorb accidents.
  6. Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
  7. The night before you leave, make sure you’ve frozen a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading, and will melt by the time he’s thirsty. Tape a small pouch, preferably cloth, of dried food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
  8. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended, as it could hamper his breathing. Check with your veterinarian first.
  9. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.
  10. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaneing may be warranted.


The Key to a Healthy Pet is Early Detection and Prevention of Disease

The gradual onset of health problems in an apparently health pet often goes unnoticed. There are many conditions that, if diagnosed early, can be completely reversed or controlled for extended periods of time.

Regular dental care, vaccinations, control of parasites and a balanced diet are important for good health care. Laboratory testing for the early detection of changes in the health status of your pet is also important.

Laboratory tests are an important means by which your veterinarian can diagnose blood disorders, kidney and liver disease, diabetes, infection, cancer, thyroid disease and other hormonal problems. The promotion of quality pet health care through a wellness program can add years of vitality and extend your pet’s life.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) 
These numbers tell how many of each type of white blood cell are present and whether or not they appear normal. White blood cells help fight infection. It is important to know whether the count is low, normal or high. White blood cell numbers can increase in response to inflammation and infection. In leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood system, either the numbers of white blood cells are increased or their appearance is abnormal, or both. White blood cell numbers can decrease with severe infection or with bone marrow disorders.
PLATELETS Platelets help with blood clotting. It is important to make sure that these numbers remain normal or close to normal.
Red Blood Cells (RBC)
Packed Cell Volume (PCV) (estimate of RBC count)
MCV     MCH     MCHC
RBC Morphology
Tests to evaluate red blood cell number (to look for anemia). 

These tests help tell which type of anemia is present. (Size/shape/volume)

ALT               ALP
Liver enzymes. These tests help indicate that here may be a problems with the liver. They may also be abnormal with inflammation of the pancreas.
TOTAL BILIRUBIN A test for jaundice. Increased levels usually indicate a liver disorder (with or without concurrent disease of the pancreas) or damaged red blood cells.
ALBUMIN               GLOBULIN
Protein levels. Albumin maybe decreased with disorders of the intestine, kidneys, liver or decreased nutrient intake. The globulin level may also decrease due to intestinal disease and may increase in response to inflammation.
Test of kidney function (should be run in conjunction with urinalysis for the most accurate assessment of kidney function).
Elevated calcium levels can be a sign of a wide variety of diseases. Possible causes are lymphosarcoma (a type of cancer) and hyperparathyroidism.
GLUCOSE Blood sugar. Increased levels may indicate diabetes. In cats, elevations may occur in conjunction with stress. A subnormal level may occur with several disorders, including liver problems, sever infection, certain types of cancer, Addison’s disease (a disorder of the adrenal glands), and malnutrition.
Important body electrolytes. It is especially important that potassium levels be monitored in sick animals and in animals with decreased kidney function or adrenal disease.

Other Tests

The Key to a Healthy Pet is Early Detection and Prevention of Disease

CPK Muscle enzyme. Consistently increased levels (>2000) indicate muscle injury orinflammation.
T4 Thyroid test. In cats we look for levels above normal (hyperthyroidism) and in dogs we look for subnormal levels (hypothyroidism). This is a screening test. If the result is abnormal, more detailed thyroid testing may be necessary to determine the best course of treatment.
Complete Urinalysis
Specific Gravity
Occult Blood
WBC/HPF (White blood cells)
RBC/HPF (Red blood cells)

Urinalysis is a very important means of evaluating overall kidney function, especially when done in conjunction with blood tests. Urinalysis is also a key test for determining if there is a urinary tract infection or if there is inflammation in the urinary bladder. Urinalysis also helps to confirm, along with blood tests, whether or not an animal has diabetes (with diabetes, either sugar or both sugar and ketones are present in the urine).

*Note: In cats over 8-10 years of age with kidney failure, urinary tract infections, when present, are often “silent.” This means that frequently there are no signs of any abnormality such as straining to urinate, urinating more frequently, or presence of blood in the urine. If a urinalysis reveals bacteria in older cats, a urine culture should be done. Blood tests, blood pressure, and standard urinalysis should be part of a routine health check for all older cats, as well as for any older cat that is ill.

Urine Cortisol : Creatinine Ratio A screening test for Cushing’s disease in dogs (abnormal adrenal gland function)
Urine Culture and Sensitivity 
ClavamoxSulfa drugs
Urine culture testing determines whether or not there is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. Sensitivity testing determines which antibiotics will likely work best in clearing infection. By determining which bacteria are involved and which antibiotics are most indicated, we have a better chance of controlling the infection more quickly and completely.
Fecal Tests
Tests for parasites
Fecal tests are done to evaluate for presence of intestinal parasites (e.g., Giardia, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidian). It is important to check periodically for parasites (once to twice a year depending on the animal’s environment), even if stools are consistently normal. Parasites can cause significant intestinal problems in both animals and humans (some parasites can be transmitted from animal to humans). Test for parasites are done routinely in animals with abnormal stools. Specific treatment is prescribed based on results.
T4 by Equilibrium Dialysis This is a confirmatory test for the presence of thyroid disease.


Occasionally, situations occur where one is left to hand raise a puppy or kitten who is too young to be separated from its mother. This can be extremely time-consuming and occasionally, quite overwhelming. We would like to provide some resources to help you help these babies until they can thrive on their own.

The ASPCA urges pet owners to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo.

Shopping List:

  1. Milk replacement: commercial brands such as KMR or Just Born for kittens or Esbilac for puppies—can be found at PetSmart or PetCo or similar pet stores.
  2. Pediatric bottle kit—often the nipple hole needs to be made SLIGHTLY bigger
  3. A “nest box”—can be a regular cardboard box or a hard pet carrier—use a towel to drape over the top for extra warmth.
  4. Warm water bottles or a heating pad—NOTE—use heating pads cautiously as you must keep multiple layers of towels between the pad and the kitten or puppy as they can cause severe thermal burns.
  5. Optional (but helpful)—a reptile thermometer—ideal temperature of the box should be between 90-95 degrees for first 3 weeks until they can thermo-regulate on their own.

Best web sites to consult for care:

Veterinarypartner.com—search “nursing kittens” and you will find a great article on “Orphan Puppy & Kitten Care”.

Kittenrescue.org—good information on kitten care

☼ Some rescue groups will take young puppies or kittens if needed, and others might take them once they are done bottle feeding. Please let us know if you need a list of organizations to contact.☼

Clues to Detecting Fluffy and Fido’s Painful Secrets

To protect themselves from predators, animals naturally hide their pain. Your pet may be suffering even though s/he isn’t showing obvious signs. Advancements in veterinary science have decoded subtle telltale signs of animal distress. Observing your pet’s behavior is vital to managing his or her pain. How well do you know your pet? Use these five clues from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to help you understand your pet’s body language.

Clue 1—Abnormal chewing habits

TIf your pet is showing abnormal chewing habits, such as dropping its food or chewing on one side of the mouth, it may have a dental disorder or a mouth tumor. Additional signs may include weight loss, bad breath or excessive face rubbing. Routine dental checkups are important to prevent and treat dental disorders and related pain.

Clue 2—Drastic weight gain or loss

Pain directly influences your pet’s weight and eating habits. Animals carrying excess weight have an increased chance of tearing ligaments and damaging joints. Pets with arthritis or muscle soreness may not want to access their food because bending over is uncomfortable. Arthritis pain may also cause pets to gain weight while their eating habits remain the same due to lack of exercise. Pain can also cause animals to lose their appetites which will lead to weight loss

Clue 3—Avoids affection or handling

Did Fluffy used to be active and energetic, but now sits quietly around the house? Avoiding affection or handling may be a sign of a progressive disease such as osteoarthritis or intervertebral disc disease. Although your pet may appear to be normal before petting or handling it, the added pressure applied to its body may expose sensitive and painful areas. Hiding is also a sign of pain. Because the animal is hurting, she will hide to avoid a vulnerable position (this allows the pet to prevent painful interactions).

Clue 4—Decreased movement and exercise

Osteoarthritis or joint disease is the most common cause of pain. Pets that limp may be reluctant to go up or down stairs, exercise, or play. Weight and joint injuries can also go hand-in-hand. Losing unnecessary pounds will help overweight pets decrease pressure on sore joints and reduce pain. Consult your veterinarian about exercises, diets and medical therapies that can help improve your pet’s health.

Clue 5— “Accidents”

Pet owners often believe that “accidents” are a result of behavioral issues. Although behavioral issues may cause unwanted surprises, going to the bathroom in inappropriate places may be caused by pain. Pets with sore joints or arthritis may not make it to a convenient location due to painful obstacles like stairs. Urinary tract infections also may cause a messy situation. In addition to having “accidents,” symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include, lethargy, fever, tender lower abdomen and difficulty urinating. Even after the urinary tract infection is dealt with it may be necessary to get a new litter box because the cat makes painful associations with the old litter box.

The lack of verbal expression does not mean that your pet is not experiencing pain. Minor behavioral change can be cause for alarm. Being aware of your pet’s habits can help you and your veterinarian assess and treat your pet’s pain. Pain management has become an integral part of your pet’s overall healthcare.


From “Pet Care Tips”, Courtesy of the American Animal Hospital Association (www.healthypet.com)


The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) 
Poison Control Center is an excellent resource for information on toxic 
plants, as well as animal poison control in general:


If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, prompt action is necessary. Call a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will need to know what plant was eaten, so take a sample of the plant with you to the hospital.

You may also call ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. 
(Please note that a $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.)

The following list is intended as a quick reference and is not all-inclusive. 
If the plant you are looking for is not on this list, please refer to the website above 
for a searchable database of toxic (and non-toxic) plants.

  • Amaryllis (bulb)
  • Andromeda
  • Appleseeds
  • Arrowgrass
  • Avocado
  • Azalea
  • Bittersweet
  • Boxwood
  • Buttercup
  • Caladium
  • Castor Bean
  • Cherry Pits
  • Chokecherry
  • Climbing Lily
  • Crown of Thorns
  • Daffodil (bulb)
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dumb Cane
  • Easter Lily
  • Elephant Ear
  • English Ivy
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth (bulbs, and leaves 
        and flowers in quantity)
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris (rootstock and rhizome)
  • Japanese Yew (seeds and 
  • Jasmine (berries)
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Jimson Weed
  • Kalanchoe
  • Laburnum
  • Larkspur
  • Laurel
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Locoweed
  • Marigold
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Morning Glory (seeds)
  • Mushrooms
  • Narcissus (bulb)
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Peach
  • Philodendron
  • ** Poinsettia, in spite of 
        its reputation, isn’t 
        toxic, though it can 
        cause an upset 
  • Poison Ivy
  • Privet
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Sago Palm
  • Snow on the Mountain
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Sweet Peas (especially 
        the “peas”, which are 
  • Tiger Lily
  • Toadstool
  • Tobacco
  • Tomato plant leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Wisteria (pods and 

Common Intestinal Parasites

ROUNDWORMS (Ascariasis):

  • Clinical Signs: Diarrhea or constipation; most common in young puppies or kittens that often have a pot-bellied appearance.
  • Transmission: May be passed down from the mother (transplacental infection) or acquired from eggs ingested in the environment (fecal-oral)
  • Diagnosis: Eggs visible on fecal floatation or adult worms (white, round long worms—up to 10 to 12 cm in length) in stool or vomit
  • Treatment: Some options include fenbendazole, pyrantel pamoate and monthly heartworm prevention helps prophylactically.
  • **Roundworms can cause visceral or ocular larva migrans in humans**.
    (Infection in humans occurs by accidental ingestion of the eggs or larvae.)

HOOKWORMS (Ancylostomiasis):

  • Clinical Signs: Diarrhea, weight loss, pale gums (secondary to anemia).
  • Transmission: Fecal-oral
  • Diagnosis: Eggs seen on fecal floatation (adult worms too small to see in stool).
  • Treatment: Some options include fenbendazole and pyrantel pamoate.
  • ***Hookworms can cause cutaneous larva migrans in humans**.
    (Avoid walking barefoot in infected environments.)

TAPEWORMS (Cestodiasis):

  • Clinical Signs: Worms visualized in the stool, pets sometimes seen scooting or licking anal area due to irritation.
  • Transmission: Ingestion of adult fleas.
  • Diagnosis: Can sometimes see eggs or egg packets in fecal floatation or direct exam. Most commonly, flat segmented worms are seen in stool broken into moving-rice like pieces
  • Treatment: Praziquantel can be used to treat tapeworms, plus flea control is essential to prevent recurrence. (Infection rarely occurs in humans in the United States, but is possible and can be caused by ingesting a flea that is carrying a tapeworm larva.)

WHIPWORMS (Trichuriasis):

  • Clinical Signs: : Bloody diarrhea, often with blood and/or mucus
  • Transmission: : Fecal-oral. Eggs can persist in the environment for months to years.
  • Diagnosis:Fecal floatation (often need repeated samples as sometimes, not many eggs are shed).
  • Treatment: One option is Fenbendazole given in 3 doses on 3 consecutive days and repeated in 3 weeks and 3 months. Drontal Plus can be used as well. Milbymycin heartworm preventative (Interceptor) can help prevent recurrence.

**Stool samples should be rechecked 3 weeks after treatment is completed**


WHAT IS IT? Coccidia are single-celled organisms that reproduce within the cells that line the intestines. They are considered parasites although they are not the typical worms about which you may already know.

WHAT SYMPTOMS WOULD MY DOG OR CAT HAVE? Coccidia infections tend to cause watery diarrhea that sometimes contains blood or mucus. Many animals are asymptomatic and can clear the infection on their own, but coccidia can be quite debilitating in young or very small patients.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED? Coccidia can not be seen with the naked eye – a fecal flotation test is the best way to obtain a definitive diagnosis. Occasionally, it takes several tests to diagnose the problem, especially in a young pet with diarrhea that is not responding to conventional treatment.

HOW DID MY PET GET COCCIDIA? Animals are infected with coccidia through fecal-contaminated ground. They swallow the coccidia oocysts from grooming or licking dirt off their feet or body. It is possible they may get this from playing with another infected animal that is actively shedding the oocytes.

ARE HUMANS SUSCEPTIBLE? Although there are some special species of coccidia that can affect people, humans cannot become infected with Isospora canis or Isospora felis (the most common species of the parasite that affects dogs and cats.)

HOW IS IT TREATED AND FOR HOW LONG? There are no medications that will kill coccidia, but there are drugs that are “coccidiostatic” and can inhibit them from reproducing. This essentially gives the immune system time to recover and help clear out the parasites. Treatment generally lasts about a week but should be continued until there are no clinical signs (sometimes up to 2 to 3 weeks). An animal that is diagnosed should be treated – even if it doesn’t have clinical signs – in attempt to eliminate carriers. We most often use sulfa drugs such as Trimethoprim sulfa (TMZ) or sulfadimethoxine (Albon), although other anti-parasites are sometimes used. It is important to recheck a fecal sample 3 weeks after conclusion of the treatment.


WHAT IS IT? Giardia are microscopic protozoan (single celled) organisms that are found commonly in the intestines of many animals. The motile, tear-drop-shaped trophozoite stage of Giardia live and “feed” in the small intestines and then mature into non-motile oocysts that are shed in the feces.

WHAT SYMPTOMS WOULD MY DOG OR CAT HAVE? ? Clinical signs of Giardia range from asymptomatic to mild, moderate or severe diarrhea. The diarrhea is often bloody or mucousy and often has a rancid odor. Affected animals may also have increased amount of gas production. Young, small or debilitated animals will be the most severely affected. The cysts are too small for the naked eye to see.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED? Giardia cysts can be detected in fecal flotations (best with centrifugation or Zinc Sulfate technique) and occasionally one can detect the motile trophozoites in a direct fecal smear. Sometimes the cysts are shed only intermittently requiring multiple fecal samples to be evaluated before they are detected. Stool can also be sent to an outside lab for a slightly more sensitive (and more expensive) antigen test to determine the presence of Giardia

HOW DID MY PET GET COCCIDIA? Dogs or cats become infected by ingesting Giardia oocysts directly in feces or from an area contaminated by feces of an affected animal (such as standing water). Giardia cysts can live for months outside a host in the correct environmental conditions with adequate moisture.

ARE HUMANS SUSCEPTIBLE? ? Giardia has been reported in humans although it is uncertain if the species is the same that affects other animals. It is presumed that people become infected more from contaminated water sources and the significance companion animals play as a source of infection is still uncertain. Until this is better determined, if your pet is infected with Giardia, continue to maintain good hygiene practices regarding feces disposal and frequent hand washing, especially if there are small children in the household. Clinical signs would be similar to those described above in dogs and cats.

HOW IS IT TREATED AND FOR HOW LONG? There are multiple treatment options available including dewormers such as Fenbendazole (Panacur) and Albendazole or antibiotics like Metronidazole (Flagyl). Treatment should be carried out per instructions by your veterinarian for at least 5 days, and a fecal sample should be rechecked 2-3 weeks after completion of the prescribed medication

Disposal of Household PIMW 
(Potentially Infectious Medical Waste)

Illinois has not created a formal policy on the disposal of syringes used by individuals at home. However, the Illinois EPA provides the following guidance:

If a person chooses to place PIMW (which, for home animal care purposes, includes used and unused syringes, needles, lancets, and other sharps, along with any animal waste) in with their trash, the following guidelines help protect the trash haulers, landfill workers, and others who may come in contact with the waste.

  • First, the medical waste should be placed in a sturdy, puncture-proof container such as a sharps container from the pharmacy or a laundry detergent bottle.
  • When the container is full, the lid should be put on the container and taped in place.
  • The container should then be marked "Do Not Recycle" and then placed in the regular trash.

Unfortunately, you may not bring your PIMW to Family Pet for disposal, as our licensing restricts us to disposal of only the waste generated in our own facility.

Some sharps containers specifically designed for syringe/needle/lancet disposal, which you may purchase from a pharmacy or medical waste disposal company, also include either a mail-in or drop-off return program. Please check with your local pharmacy for details.

Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies

U.S. Department of Homeland Security http://www.ready.gov

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.

Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer

Preparing for the unexpected makes sense. Get Ready Now.

This information was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with: American Kennel Club, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, and The Humane Society of the U.S.

    1. Prepare - Get a Pet Emergency Supply Kit.

Just as you do with your family's emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. Plus, be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.

Food.Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.

Water.Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.

Medicines and medical records.Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.

First aid kit.Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book

Collar with ID tag, harness or leash.Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet's registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.

Crate or other pet carrier.If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you provided that it is practical to do so. In many cases, your ability to do so will be aided by having a sturdy, safe, comfortable crate or carrier ready for transporting your pet. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

Sanitation.Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.

A picture of you and your pet together.If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.

Familiar items.Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet

    1. Plan - What You Will Do in an Emergency.

Be prepared to assess the situation. Use whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet's safety during an emergency. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is immediate danger.

In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions. If you're specifically told to evacuate, shelter-in-place or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Create a plan to get away. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital that is near an evacuation facility or your family's meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets

Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet's emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency.

Talk to your pet's veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet's emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database. If your pet is microchipped, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to your being reunited with your pet.

Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society or SPCA, and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet's emergency supply kit. Obtain "Pets Inside" stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words "Evacuated with Pets" across the stickers, should you flee with your pets.

    1. Stay Informed - Know About Types of Emergencies

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit for yourself, your family and your pets, is the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, it's important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region as well as emergency plans that have been established by your state and local government. For more information about how to prepare, visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY.

Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Those who take the time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less difficulty, stress and worry. Take the time now to get yourself and your pet ready.

Preparing for Your Pets Makes Sense. 
Get Ready Now

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween can be fun and festive for people, but for pets it can also be dangerous. Here are some to help you ensure that your pet has a happy and safe Halloween...

Don't leave your pet outside unattended on Halloween (or on the days preceding or following this holiday). Halloween pranks committed against pets can be vicious, and black cats are particularly at risk.

Halloween treats are for people, not pets. Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can be hazardous if swallowed. Even small amounts of chocolate can be poisonous for some types of pets, and candies or gum containing large amounts of the sweetener xylitol can be toxic to pets.

Keep pumpkins out of reach of curious noses and paws. Pets may knock over a lit pumpkin and cause a fire, and ingestion of large pieces can result in intestinal blockage.

Despite how much fun it is for people, many pets don't enjoy getting dressed up for Halloween. If you do dress your pet, be sure that its costume doesn't interfere with the pet's ability to breathe, see, hear, move, or bark.

Consider keeping your pet in a separate room, away from the door, when trick-or-treaters arrive. Strange people in even stranger clothes can frighten some pets.

When you do answer the door for visitors, make sure that your pet doesn't suddenly head for the great outdoors. In case your pet does escape, make sure that it is wearing proper identification. Pets with identification are much more likely to be returned to their owners.

For more information and tips about holiday safety for pets, visit 
or ask your veterinarian for advice specific to your pet.


While you are busy making your festive plans for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, please don't forget to include your pets. The holidays are a time for giving, but there are some things you should not share with your little best friends. Once you know the hazards, a little precaution and prevention will make holidays a happy time for everyone. Some of the more common holiday hazards include:

Bones:The holiday turkey or chicken will leave a lot of tantalizing bones, but don't feed them to your pet. Beware of steak bones, too. Small bones or bone chips can lodge in the throat, stomach, and intestinal tract.

Fat:Those wonderful potato latkes (watch the hot oil!), gravies, and poultry skin can cause severe gastrointestinal upset as well.

Holiday plants:: Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous when eaten. The lovely poinsettia may not be truly poisonous, but its milky white sap and leaves can certainly cause severe gastric distress. With so many hybrid varieties available each year, the best approach is to keep the plants out of your pet's reach.

Electrical cords:Holiday lights mean more electrical cords for kittens and puppies to chew. Be sure you have cords secured and out of the way.

Candles:Lighted candles should never be left unattended and that is even more important if left at kitty's eye level or within puppy's chewing zone. An exuberant tail, a swat of a paw, and candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous. Anchor candles securely and away from curious faces and feet.

Pine needles:Check around holiday trees and boughs frequently. Ingested pine needles can puncture your pet's intestines if sharp enough.

Holiday tree:Make sure your tree is well secured. If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog with a happy tail, anchor the top of the tree to the wall, using strong cord or rope. Preservatives often used in the water in a tree stand can cause gastric upsets, so be sure it is inaccessible or not used. Avoid sugar and aspirin additives in the water as well.

Ornaments:Sharp or breakable ornaments, dreidels, and even aluminum foil should be kept out of reach. String objects, especially tinsel and ribbons, are to be safeguarded at all costs. They are thin and sharp and can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach.

Stress and company:With everyone coming and going, watch out for open doors and sneaky pets. Make sure your pets have collars and tags on in case of escape. Ask guests to keep an eye out for pets under foot and remind them that sometimes your normally friendly dog or cat may be less than willing to deal with enthusiastic children and rooms full of unfamiliar people. Provide a special quiet place with a blanket and fresh water for your pets to retreat to when the festivities get too stressful.

  1. Did you know that some caged birds are afraid of the dark? Try a night light or leaving the front of the cage uncovered.
  2. Before traveling with your pets, make sure they have all required vaccinations and health papers. If they are on medications, have enough to last through the trip.
  3. When traveling by air, be aware of airline restrictions regarding outside temperature and number of animals allowed per flight. Someone may have already booked a pet, and there are no more allowed. Check with the airline reservations or travel agent.
  4. Remember that even the most gentle and trusting pet may bite when in pain. If you must muzzle, use a soft towel or cloth strips and remove it as soon as possible so the pet can breathe more easily.

From “Pet Care Tips”, Courtesy of the American Animal Hospital Association(www.healthypet.com)


From “Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals” by Karen Overall, M.A., V.M.D., Ph.D.

The addition of a new baby to a household can upset the social environment of that household and can upset the pets in the household. Steps can be taken to greatly reduce the probability of this happening by following the instructions below. These instructions are primarily designed for two-parent families. However, it is possible to implement most of the instructions if only one parent is available; notations about this have been made throughout. Please remember that no animal should be left alone unsupervised with an infant for any reason. This is not because most animals are innately aggressive toward infants, but rather because no infant would be capable of pushing an animal away if that animal cuddles up to them either for love or for heat. Until the child is old enough to behave absolutely appropriately with the pet (and that could be as old as 10 years of age), do not let children interact alone with the pets until you know how they will respond in those circumstances. This protects both the child and the pet.

Step 1
Before the baby comes, get the pet used to a regular schedule that you believe is realistic and that will be kept when the infant is present. Start the feeding and walking schedule that the animal will experience once the infant comes. This schedule will probably be radically different than the current schedule, and it is best that they do not experience all the changes at once when the baby arrives. Include in the schedule a 5- to 10-minute period daily when you will attend only to the pet's needs. This period will represent its quality time and can occur either in one bout or in two. During this time, pet the animal, groom it, scratch it, play with toys, talk to it, massage it, and so on. Maintain the schedule no matter what, and make it one that can be implemented in the presence of the infant. This may necessitate setting an alarm clock 5 minutes earlier or agreeing that even if a baby cries at some point, you will not interrupt the interaction with the pet during those periods if the baby is not overly distressed and if the pet is not distressed by the child's cries. You might also find that this is a time you can set aside for you to relax; the grooming, massage, and conversation with the pet will help you relax. Be realistic and do not feel guilty. Five or 10 minutes of concentrated attention is probably more time than you give the animal as a block now. Although everybody will have to adjust to an infant's schedule, this is one way that you can tell the animal that it is still important to you and it counts. Realize that if you have multiple pets, each will need at least 5 minutes of undivided attention each day. If you have pets that get along particularly well with each other, you can certainly team them up to play with or to talk to them, but remember that the more animals you have, the more difficult it will be to give them all of the things that they need.

Step 2
Start the dog on a leash-walking schedule that you anticipate can be maintained with a baby. Make your schedule realistic and implement it before the arrival of the child. It would be preferable if the schedule changes could be made as early as possible before the arrival of the child. This is a good time to consider changing the mechanism you use to walk your dog. If you are using a choke collar or a regular buckle collar and the dog does not behave properly instantaneously, now is the time to teach the dog to walk in a head halter (either a Haiti or, preferably, a Gentle Leader Promise System Canine Head Collar) or to teach it to walk on a no-pull harness (Lupi or Sporn harness). This is the time to get the pet under control so that you are able to take the dog with you everywhere you go with the baby where dogs are welcome, and you want the dog to behave well. In addition, you do not want to struggle with a baby in a backpack or in a stroller and a dog that is pulling. That is a potentially dangerous scenario that is potentially injurious for all three of you. You may want the protection of the dog, the company of the dog, and the necessary exercise for the dog when you are with the baby. A well controlled dog will give you this. In addition, if you are unable to take the dog everywhere you take the baby, the dog will learn that the baby has displaced it in that role in the family. Although it is inappropriate to use terms such as jealousy when discussing the manner in which the pet treats the baby, any dog or cat will realize that it is not getting the same amount of attention. Pets will also realize that this attention has been transferred to another individual. This phenomenon could then promote attention-seeking behaviors that are designed to be competitive with the attention the infant is now getting. The more often you can exercise the dog (or cat, if the cat enjoys the exercise) with the child, the better everybody's relationship will be. As soon as you learn that an infant will be arriving, obtain and learn to use a device such as the Gentle Leader Promise System Canine Head Collar, a Halti, or a no-pull harness.

Step 3
Again, before the baby arrives, allow the pet to explore the baby's sleeping and diaper changing area. For the same reasons discussed previously, you do not wish to wholly exclude the dog from every place the baby will be. These areas will provide smells that are interesting to the dog or cat. Let the dog or cat become familiar with them. You will be using baby powder, lotions, diapers, and baby objects before you have the baby. Let the dog or cat become accustomed to these by sniffing and even pawing or nosing at them.

If the dog or cat tries to drag any baby items off, correct it by telling it "No" and asking the animal to relinquish the object. If you are unable to get the dog to relinquish the object, now is the time to start teaching the dog more appropriate manners, such as "sit," "stay," "drop," "down," "take it," and "drop it." If your dog cannot do these before the arrival of the baby, you will have serious management problems. Now is the time, when you have some time, to address them. It is insufficient to say that your dog has been to an obedience class if the dog still does not respond to you instantaneously for a vocal command. Mechanisms for teaching dogs these types of behaviors are discussed in the "Protocol for Deference: Basic Program" and "Protocol for Relaxation: Behavior Modification Tier 1."

Do not let the pet make a habit of sleeping in or on any of the baby's furniture. It will only seem like a further correction when you do not allow the pet to do so once the baby arrives. Do let the animal become familiar with the area.

If your pet has had toys that are stuffed animals that may look just like infant or baby toys, expect that the pet will think that it can play with the baby's toys, if you are willing to wash these, there is nothing wrong from a health standpoint; however, the big problem will be that the dog may round up and take all of the infant's toys, As the baby ages, the dog may drag the toys from the baby's hand, Babies can be unintentionally, but tragically, injured under such circumstances, it may be preferable to shift the dog to toys that do not closely resemble the toys the baby may have, Such toys can have different scents or different sounds associated with them, if your dog can "sit" and "stay" and take an object and" drop it" at your request now, you can use that behavior to teach both the baby and the dog how to interact appropriately with each other later in life.

Step 4
When the baby is born, have your partner (or whoever is caring for the pet at that time) take home some articles of clothing that the baby has used, This will teach the animal not only that these new clothing smells are part of its new repertoire, but also that there is an infant involved, Allow the pet to smell these items, Leave them around the house.

It is also best to make arrangements for the pet to be cared for in your home in advance of the arrival of the infant, Advance notice is good because the animal will be rushed around in a surprising manner, left with strangers, and shifted quickly from one place to another, only to return home to discover the infant, it is preferable to have the dog watched for in your home because this decreases the dog's stress level, A dog, especially if it does not like being in a kennel or has never been kenneled, may become more anxious and fearful when removed to the kennel, The pet can learn to associate the advent of this fear and anxiety with the advent of a new arrival.

Step 5
When the baby comes home, you will need help, Someone, whether or not he or she is your partner, should hold the baby while you go in to greet the animals. You have been missing from the household while either having or going to meet the baby and the pets will have missed you. You should be able to greet and pay attention to the animals without having to tell them to go away and without having to risk them inadvertently knocking you over or scratching the baby. If you have a dog that jumps, the dog should be put in another room until everything is calm and you can get inside to greet it. You may want to introduce any jumping dogs or dogs that are difficult to control or exuberant to the rest of the family on a leash if it provides more control, but first you should greet the dog or cat exuberantly. Remember, you have been gone and that is potentially scary for pets. After the greeting process, the baby should be held by someone else and kept out of the way. When you are ready to start to introduce the pets to the new baby, harnesses and leashes can be very helpful. Introductions should only be begun once all pets are already quiet and calm and everything is back to a more normal situation. This could take 15 to 30 minutes. During this time the pets might be curious about the baby, but they must first calm down from the earlier rambunctious mode.

Step 6
Once the initial pandemonium has ceased, you are ready to start formally introducing the pets to the new baby. Your partner, or a friend who is helping you, should sit comfortably on the couch with the baby. You can then be responsible for controlling and monitoring the pet. The pet should be able to smell the baby and explore. Pets should be leashed or otherwise restrained in case they make any sudden aggressive (or even non-aggressive) movements toward the baby. If the pet is fearful of the baby, talk to the pet gently, rub it, massage it, and encourage it to smell the infant. Do not hold or dangle the child in front of the pet. This could cause the pet to lunge. It is a wholly inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior. The animals and the baby will get used to each other on their own terms; certainly, any infant that is dangling over a pet is in an abnormal social circumstance. If you are alone, you can put a harness on the pet and tie the harness to solid, stationary pieces of furniture with a leash. If you do this, you can then sit down at a distance where the pet can sniff the infant but not lunge. You can still verbally reward the pet while enforcing this safe distance.

Remember to be calm at all times. Although one lick might be acceptable, you should be able to tell the animal to stop instantly. If the animal is unable to respond to a verbal correction, licking is not acceptable. If the animal hisses or growls at the infant, you must be able to verbally correct those behaviors. If not, take the animal and put it in another room until it is calm. As soon as it is calm, you can try this again in the same circumstances. Do not reassure the pets that it is "okay" and that "Mommy" and "Daddy" still love the pet; an aggressive behavior toward an infant is not okay. The animal must learn that if it wants favorable attention from you, it must behave in a favorable manner toward the newest addition to the family.

If you have trouble getting the animal to calm down or getting it to respond to a verbal correction (this might be particularly true with cats), you can try using a water pistol. Squirt the animal as it begins to hiss or look aggressive. Remember that cats that take showers will not respond quickly to water, and you may have to use a higher power water pistol or one that has a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar added to the water in it. Remember that the point of any correction is to startle the animal so that it aborts the behavior, and you can then reinforce a more appropriate behavior. The point of these corrections is not to terrify the animal. In fact, terrifying the animal or brutally punishing the pet will grossly misfire and will teach the animal that any time the infant is present horrible things happen. Corrections are best done in the first 30 seconds of the beginning of the behavioral sequence, and that behavioral sequence usually starts with a look. Cats' eyes usually become huge, the ears are moved back, the hair is up, and the cat might arch its back, duck its neck and retract its lips or sound nasty. Please do not wait for a pounce or a swat to correct any animal.

Step 7
If there is only one parent at home with the infant during the first few weeks, pets should be restrained or confined in the presence of the infant. It is impossible for you to be sitting on the couch, ministering to a baby, and prevent a pet attack if the situation arises. The key is to avoid any aggression or any circumstances in which the pet might be unsure of what the appropriate behavior would be. If the pet is a dog, it can be leashed at a distance with either a head halter or a harness or, if the dog does not pull, a neck collar. The animal can still be close to the baby and you can pet it, but the dog cannot lunge and reach the baby. Baby gates also work well for some dogs. If the dog is prone to run through baby gates, a new baby is a potent stimulus. If you are tying the animal, make sure that the full extent of the animal's reach, including the extent of the neck and head, is at least one dog length away from the child. This is because you will invariably be nursing the baby, typing on a computer, and the fax machine and the doorbell will ring at the same time. Any dog that is problematic may wait for a moment when your guard is lowered to lunge at the baby. Cats are more difficult, but many cats adjust well to leashes and harnesses; otherwise, many cats do not object to being banished from the room for short periods of time.

Step 8
If, after 3 weeks or so, the pet accepts the baby with no untoward behavior, it can be unleashed. Regardless, the pet still needs to be closely supervised and observed. It is best if one partner tends to the pet while the other tends to the baby. It is important that if two people are to share caretaking duties and the responsibility for reinforcing appropriate behavior, that one person does not always reinforce the dog. Sharing and trading off the attention for the dog and the baby is critical for both people so that the dog learns to associate the warm, loving environment with everybody. For dogs that do not respond well to voice commands and for whom the baby is a strong stimulus, the dog should never be alone with the child, even in passing, until the child can fend for himself or herself. In many cases that dog should not be alone with the child if only one adult is available until the dog can be taught to react more appropriately to the child. Please do not believe that a muzzle could protect an infant or a young child from damage from a dog. Muzzles may prevent bites, but they do not dissuade the dog from lunging and pushing on the child. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to crush injuries and, in many cases, skulls have been fractured by a dog that lands on a child in play without the intention to do damage.

Step 9
If the pets do not pose a hazard (tripping, falling, jumping, grabbing) and they are truly just being social, there is no reason, once they are accustomed to the new baby, that they cannot accompany the parent around the house and be with the baby while he or she is being changed, bathed, and so on. In fact, this helps facilitate the future interaction between the child and the pet and may help the child become a kinder, more humane individual by learning age-appropriate pet behavior. Regardless, any dog so treated should be very responsive to voice commands so that no struggle should ever ensue in getting the dog to comply with a desired behavior.

Step 10
Under no circumstances should any pet be allowed to sleep in a room with an unattended infant or young child. Use a baby monitor, an intercom, or a room monitor, and close the door. Predatory tendencies are far less of a concern than is the fact that a dog or cat could inadvertently smother a child. The amount of guilt associated with a tragedy would be unbearable for both the new parent and for the pet.

Step 11
If the pet is aggressive or frightened around the child, you should start exposing the pet to children very gradually. Go back to Steps 5 and 6. Such pets must be supervised in all interactions with children. Remember that even muzzled animals can harm infants. Predatory aggression is the most common form of aggression shown by dogs to very young infants, whereas aggression caused by pain or fear is frequently associated with older children (18 to 36 months of age). These children are often uncoordinated and may inadvertently hurt a pet by their play or their ambulatory capabilities. Older pets that may be arthritic or that have painful hips or shoulders are particularly at risk, as are those with chronic ear conditions. These are areas that children frequently grab. Young children should be taught to treat pets gently: no pulling, no tugging, and no pounding on them. Again, this is especially important if the pet is old, ill, or arthritic because any dog that is in pain may use a bite as its only defense against a rambunctious child.

Finally, there has been a well-documented link between animal abuse and child abuse. Children who abuse animals will progress to abuse of other individuals and will abuse their own children in the future. In turn, many children who are abused will abuse pets. If your child has a problem complying with age-specific, appropriate, humane, and gentle handling conditions of pets, it could be that the child has a problem or has observed this behavior from friends. If so, this potential problem should be explored. On the very positive side, appropriate pet-child behavior can be a wonderful experience and can help make the children more humane and socially well-adjusted.


When you first bring home a new pet, s/he should be kept totally separate from the resident animals except when working on the gradual introduction. To begin, the new pet should be placed on the opposite side of the room from the other pets while being fed or petted. Doing this teaches the animals to connect the good things in life with the other animal. It is crucial that the animals do not react violently to each other for this to be successful. Watch for changes in facial expression, posture or vocalization as a clue that any of the animals are upset. If the negative signs either do not decrease within 5-10 minutes, or dramatically increase, increase the distance between the pets. If the animal who has been upset calms and becomes quiet, reward this within the first 30-60 seconds of the change in behavior. Pet him/her, tell her she’s wonderful, and/or give tiny food treats

Gradually, over a period of weeks, the animals should be moved closer to each other during feeding time. Once you are able to have them eating next to each other, you can allow them to spend time together while supervised. The animals can be leashed and secured at a distance from each other, and rewarded with praise and food treats when they are calm in each other’s presence. Both pets should receive equal attention, both alone and in each other’s presence. Make sure there are adequate toys, sleeping areas and (for cats) litter boxes, to lessen the chance of competition for these items.

Until the pets either cease to react to each other at all, or react favorably, they should be separated when unsupervised. Be sure to rotate the areas in which they are confined; you do not want the original pet to feel s/he has banished the newcomer to the bathroom forever, enabling him/her to maintain free reign! If the new pet is a young puppy, you may wish to crate it. Please remember that this does not afford total protection from willful fangs and claws.

The key to this is patience. If the animals are allowed to become hostile or nervous in each other’s presence, that state of mind will be reinforced. Remember, work up to this as gradually as possible; moving too abruptly could ruin all that has been achieved, and you will have to start from the beginning.

This method is also successful for animals which have lived together for some time, but have recently developed problems with each other. The pet who is a victim of aggressive behavior should be fed, walked and given attention before the aggressor; this is to reinforce the pet with less status in the household. Only allow the animals together when supervised. When separated, the aggressor should be confined in a more restrictive setting, while the other pet is given free reign of the house.

During the periods of reintroduction, watch closely for any signs of hostility, such as flattened ears, growling, hissing or staring. Within the first 30-60 seconds of the initiation of aggressive behavior, use a foghorn or a battery-operated water pistol to negatively reinforce the pet for that behavior. If the aggression persists, place the perpetrator in a neutral room for approximately 15 minutes. This deprivation of human contact further emphasizes that the aggressive behavior is unacceptable. When the pet is quiet and calm, s/he may be allowed to rejoin the owners and other animal(s).

If the aggressor continues to react unfavorably to the other pet despite the use of these methods, a flooding technique can be used. The pet who initiates the aggression is placed in a wire shallow crate in a room in which the other pet has free reign. This forces the aggressor to acknowledge the other animal’s right to exist in the household. While stressful for both animals involved, this method may hasten the resolution of the problem.

Pharmacological intervention may be required in conjunction with the described behavior modification techniques. In extreme cases of inter-animal aggression, the only solution may be to place one of the pets in a new home.

(Behavior Clinic – VHUP: Overall, Schulman, Trammell, 1990)

Adapted Statement from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) on

Meeting the Cost of Pet Care

Our pets provide us with fun, companionship, and unconditional love. In return, we incur the responsibilities that go along with pet ownership, including veterinary care.

Money spent on wellness and prevention, as well as keeping pets in a safe environment, significantly reduces the risk of illness and injury. Nevertheless, pets do occasionally become sick or injured; thankfully the veterinary profession today is capable of providing virtually the same kinds of care and procedures available for people.

The American Animal Hospital Association strongly suggests that all pet owning families assess their financial situation and consider their ability to meet unexpected expenses that may be incurred for veterinary care. For some families, these expenses may be met through existing savings. Others may be able to use credit card reserves or medical payment cards. Ask at Family Pet’s front desk for information about CareCredit, which can be used to extend your payment out over 6 months interest-free. Some families should consider budgeting for these expenses, and still others may want to consider protecting themselves through pet health insurance policies.

For those considering pet health insurance, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Be sure you understand what the policy covers. Some policies (but not all) cover some preventative care, such as vaccinations, but there may be additional cost for this coverage.
  • Understand the exclusions. Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions and some exclude hereditary conditions. Some may exclude certain conditions unique to certain breeds.
  • Almost all policies have a deductible and a co-pay requirement. Some pay according to a set schedule of “usual and customary fees” while some pay based on the actual incurred expense. Be sure you understand how expenses will be reimbursed.
  • Ask whether or not the policy allows you to seek care from a veterinarian of your own choosing or whether you must go to a veterinarian that participates in the company’s network of providers. When faced with a pet’s serious illness, most pet owners want to be able to obtain care from their regular veterinarian.
  • Check the websites www.Pet-Insurance-University.com for comprehensive information on choosing a plan, and www.PetInsuranceReview.com, an independent source for reviews and information about pet insurance coverage.
  • Again, veterinary care can provide your pet with many years of healthy and happy life. Managing the expense of veterinary care can be done in a number of ways; the important advice is to think about it before the need arises.

Non-toxic Plants

1717 S. Philo Road, Suite 36 
Urbana, IL 61802 
1 (888) 4 ANI-HELP

This list contains plants that have not been reported as having systemic effects on the animals or as having intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Any plant material ingested by an animal (as when dogs and cats ingest yard grass) may produce signs of vomiting, depression, or diarrhea. These signs are generally mild and self-limiting and often do not require any treatment.

Non-toxic Plants

Achira Bluebottle Carobinha Common garden canna
Achyranthes verschaffelti Blushing bromeliad Carolina hemlock Common greenbrier
Acorn squash Blunt leaf peperomia Carrion flower Common snapdragon
African violet Bold sword fern Carrot flower Common staghorn fern
Algaroba Boston fern Carrot fern Confederate jasmine
Aluminum plant Bottlebrush Casaba melon Coolwort
Alumroot Bottle Palm Cast Iron plant Copperlead
American rubber plant Brazilian orchid Cat brier Copper rose
Anthericum comosum Bride's bonnet Cat ear Coral ardisia
Antirrhinum multiflorum Bristly greenbrier Cattleya labiata Coral bells
  Brodiaea pulchella Celosia globosa Coral berry
Arabian gentian Broom hickory Celosia plumosa Cornflower
Aregelia Bullbrier Celosia spicata Crape myrtle
Artillery plant Bur gourd Chamaedorean humilis Crataegus phaenopyrum
Aspidium falcatum Burro's tail Chaparral snapdragon Crataegus spp.
Aubepine Buttercup squash Chenille plant Creeping charlie
Autumn olive Butterfly squash Chestnut Creeping gloxinia
Baby rubber tree plant Butterfly ginger Chicken-gizzard plant Creeping mahonia
Baby tears Butterfly iris Chickens and hens Creeping pilea
Bachelors buttons Butterfly orchid Chin-lao-shu Creeping rubus
Ball fern Butterfly tulip China aster Creeping zinnia
Bamboo Button fern China root Crepe myrtle
Bamboo palm Caeroba Chinese plumbago Crimson bottlebush
Bamboo vine Calathea insignis Chlorophytum bichetii Crimson cup
Banana Calthea lancifolia Chlorophytum Crisped feather fern
Banana squash California pitcher plant Chocolate soldier plant Crossandra
Begonia species Callistemon bradyandrus Christmas dagger fern Cucumber
Belmore sentry palm Callistemon viminalis Christmas orchid Cushon aloe
Big shellbark hickory Callistemon citrinus Christmas palm Cushion moss
Bigonia Calochortus nuttalli Cinnamon jasmine Cyrtudeira reptans
Bitter Pecan Camellia Cinquefoil Dainty
Bitternut Canada hemlock Cirrhopetalum Dainty rabbits-foot fern
Black haw Canary date palm Clearweed Dallas fern
Black hawthorn Candle plant Cliff brake fern Dancing doll orchid
Blaspheme vine Candycorn plant Club moss Davallia bullata mariessi
Bloodleaf Canna lily Cocks comb Davallia trichomanoides
Blooming sally Cantebury-bell Cocktail orchid Desert trumpet
Blue bead Cape jasmine Collinia elegans Dichelostemma
Blue daisy Cape primrose Color-band Cryptanthus Dichorisandra reginae
Blue echeveria Carob Columnar cactus Dinteranthus vanzylii
Blue-dicks Carob tree Common camellia Duffii fern
Blue-eyed daisy Caroba Common catbrier Duffy fern
Dwarf date palm Golden bells Kaempferis Minature fish tail
Dwarf feather fern Golden lace orchid Kahali ginger Minature maranta
Dwarf palm Golden shower orchid Kenilworth ivy Minature marble plant
Dwarf Rose-Stripe Good luck palm Kentia palm Mistletoe cactus
Dwarf royal palm Grape hyacinth Kenya palm Mockernut hickory
Dwarf whitman fern Grape Ivy Kenya violet Mosaic plant
Earth star Great willow herb Kharoub Mosiac vase
Easter cattleya Green ripple peperomia King nut Moss agate
Easter daisy Greenbrier King of the forest Moss campion
Easter lily cactus Hagbrier King and queen fern Moss fern
Easter orchid Hardy baby tears Kuang-yen- pa-hsieh Moss phlox
Edible banana Hardy gloxinia Lace flower vine Moss rose
Elephant-Ear Begonia Haws Lace orchid Mossy campion
Emerald ripple peperomia Haws apple Ladies ear drops Mother fern
English hawthorn Haworthia Lady lou Mother spleenwort
Epidendrum atropurpeum Hawthorn Lady palm Mother of pearl plant
Epidendrum ibaguense Hedgehog gourd Lagerstroemia indica Mountain camellia
Epidendrum Hellfetter Lance Pleumele Mountain grape
Episcia spp. Hemlock tree Large Lady Palm Mulberry bush
Falsa aralia Hen and chickens fern Laurel-leaved greenbrier Mulberry tree
Fairy fountain Hens and chickens Leather peperomia Musa paradisiaca
Fan tufted palm Hickory Leng-fen tu'an Muscari armeniacum
Feather fern Hindu rope plant Leopard lily Muscari spp.
Feathered amaranth Holligold Leopard orchid Muskmellon
Fiery reed orchid Holly fern Lesser snapdragon Narrow leafed pleomele
Fig leaf gourd Hollyhock Lily of the valley orchid Natal plum
Figleaf palm Honey locust Linden Neanthe bella palm
Fingernail plant Honey plant Lipstick plant Nematanthus spp
Fire weed Honeydew melons Little zebra plant Neanthebella
Fish tail fern Honeysuckle fuchsia Little fantasy peperomia Neoregelia
Flame african violet Hookera pulchella Living rock cactus Nephrolepsis
Flame of the woods Horse brier Living stones Nerve plant
Flame violet Hoya carnosa 'exotica' Locust pods New silver and bronze
Florida butter-fly orchid Hoya carnosa 'krinkle' Lou-lang-t'ou Night blooming cereus
Fluffy ruffles Hoya carnosa 'variegata' Luther Odontoglossum spp.
Forster sentry palm Hoya 'Mauna Loa' Madagascar jasmine Old man cactus
Fortunes palm Hubbard squash Magnolia bush Old world orchid
Freckle face Hypocyrta spp. Mahonia aquifolium Orange star
Friendship plant Ice plant Malabar gourd Oregon grape
Frosty Imbricata sword fern Malaysian dracaema Ossifragi vase
Garden marigold Irish moss Manila palm Paddys wig
Garden snapdragon Iron cross begonia Mapleleaf begonia Painted lady
German violet Iron tree Maranta Palm lily
Gherkins Ivy peperomia Marbled fingernail Pampus grass
Ghost leafless orchid Ivy-leaf peperomia Mariposa lily Panamiga
Ghost plant Jackson brier Maroon Pansy orchid
Giant aster Jacob's ladder Mary-bud Paradise palm
Giant holly fern Japanese aralia Measles plant Parlor palm
Giant white inch plant Japanese holly fern Melons Parlor plant
Gibasis geniculata Japanese moss Metallic peperomia Parsley fern
Globe thistle Japanese pittosporum Metallic leaf begonia Peace begonia
Gloxinia Jasmine Mexican firecracker Peacock plant
Gold bloom Jewel orchid Mexican rosettes Pearl plant
Gold-fish plant Joseph's coat Mexican snowballs Pearly dots
Golden aster Jungle geranium Miniature date palm Peperomia foster
Peperomia hederifolia Ribbon plant Tahitian bridal veil Whitman fern
Peperomia peltifolia Roosevelt fern Tailed orchid Wild buckwheat
Peperomia rotundifolia Royal velvet plant Tall feather fern Wild buckwheat
Peperomia sandersii Rubber plant, baby Tall mahonia Wild hyacinth
Pepper face Russian olive Teasel gourd Wild lantana
Persian violet Saffron spike zebra Texas sage Wild sarsaparilla
Pheasant plant Saint Bernards lily Thea japonica Wild strawberry
Piggy back plant Sand lily Thimble cactus Willow herb
Pigmy date palm Sand verbena Thorn apple Windmill palm
Pignut Satin pellionia Ti hu-ling Winter cattleya
Pignut hickory Sawbrier Tiger orchid Withered snapdragon
Pilea microphylla Scabious Toad spotted cactus Woolflower
Pilea mucosa Scarborough lily Torch lily Yellow bloodleaf
Pink Brocade Scarlet orchid Tous-les-mois Yellow-flowered gourd
Pink Pearl Scarlet sage Trailing peperomia Yerba linda
Pink polka dot plant Sego lily Tree cactus Zebra haworthia
Pink starlite Shagbark hickory Tree gloxinia Zebra plant
Pirliteiro Shan ku'ei-lai Tropical moss Zinnia sp.
Pitaya Shellbark hickory True cantalope Zucchini squash
Plantanus orientalis Shiny leaf smilax Tu fu-ling  
Plantanus occidentalis Shrimp cactus Tulip poplar  
Platinum peperomia Silver bell Tulip tree  
Platycerium alicicorne Silver berry Turban squash  
Plumbago larpentiae Silver heart Turf lily  
Plush plant Silver-leaf peperomia Umbrella plant  
Polka dot plant Silver nerve plant Urbinia agavoides  
Polystichum falcatum Silver pink vine Usambara violet  
Pony tail Silver star Variegated laurel  
Porcelain flower Silver table fern Variegated oval leaf peperomia  
Pot marigold Silver tree anamiga Variegated philodendron leaf peperomia  
Prairie lily Slender deutzia Variegated wandering jew  
Prairie snowball Small fruited hickory Variegated wax plant  
Prayer plant Smilax tamnoides vas hispida Velvet plant  
Prickly bottlebrush Speckled wood lily Venus fly trap  
Prostrate coleus Spice orchid Verona fern  
Purple baby tears Spider ivy Verona lace fern  
Purple passion vine Spider plant Vining peperomia  
Purple waffle plant Spotted laurel Violet slipper gloxinia  
Purpleosier willow Squarenut Waffle plant  
Queen's spiderwort Squirrels foot fern Walking anthericum  
Queencup Star jasmine Washington hawthorn  
Queens spiderwort Star lily Water hickory  
Queensland arrowroot Star plant Watermelon begonia  
Rabbits foot fern Star tulip Watermelon peperomia  
Rainbow orchid Star window plant Watermelon pilea  
Red african violet Strawberry Wax plant  
red berried greenbrier Striped blushing Wax rosette  
red edge peperomia Sugar pods Weeping bottlebrush  
red hawthorne Sulfur flower Weeping sergeant hemlock  
red palm lily Summer hyacinth Weisdornbluten  
red veined prayer plant Swedish ivy West indian gherkin  
reed palm Sweetheart hoya Western sword  
resurrection lily Sweetheart peperomia White ginger  
rex begonia Sweet william White edged swedish ivy  
rhynchophorum Sword fern White heart hickory  

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, an operating division of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), is the only animal-oriented poison control center in North America. It is a unique, emergency hotline providing 24-hour-a-day, 7-day- a-week telephone assistance. The Center's hotline veterinarians can quickly answer questions about toxic chemicals, dangerous plants, products or substances found in our everyday surroundings that can prove poisonous or fatal to animals.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 
1-888-4 ANI-HELP 

Treating Pain In Your Dog:

Keeping Your Best Friend Active, Safe, And Pain Free

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) help control inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body that cause inflammation. These pain relievers are used sometimes for acute pain, for example following surgery or an injury, or for chronic pain like arthritis. The NSAID medications that we use at Family Pet are:

  • RIMADYL (carprofen)
  • METACAM (meloxicam)
  • PREVICOX (firocoxib)
  • ZUBRIN (tepoxalin)

* Duralactin, a non-NSAID anti-inflammatory pain reliever, is sometimes used along with these (or used instead in patients with liver or kidney problems.) Similarly used are other non-NSAID pain relievers like tramadol and amantadine, which can be used in addition to NSAIDs.

What should you watch for?

    Most NSAID side effects are mild, but some can be serious including kidney and liver damage, and gastrointestinal ulcers. Watch your dog carefully for:
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy, depression, changes in behavior
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or black tar-colored stool
  • Yellowing of gums, skin, or the whites of the eyes
  • Increased thirst and/or urination
  • NOTE: Some NSAIDs come in a chewable form, which makes them easy to administer but also tempting for your dog to eat. Be careful to not leave the bottle where your pet can reach it! NSAID overdose is a common toxicity!

What you should think about before giving your dog an NSAID:

  • Never give aspirin or corticosteroids (like prednisone or Temaril-P) along with an NSAID.
  • In dogs with kidney, liver, heart and intestinal problems, NSAIDs are rarely used. When prescribed, their use should be approached cautiously.
  • Don’t assume an NSAID for one dog is safe to give to another dog. Always consult your veterinarian before using any medication in your pet.
  • Never give the prescribed NSAID if your dog is dehydrated (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)
  • Never switch from one NSAID to another without consulting your veterinarian, and NEVER give one along with any other.

Long-term NSAID use

  • When your veterinarian prescribes the chronic use of an NSAID, blood tests will be required first to check organ function (CBC/Chemistry.) Recheck bloodwork will be needed 2-4 weeks later to look for immediate side effects, and again every 4-6 months to check for long-term cumulative effects.

Complementary treatment options include:

  • Weight loss in an overweight dog. Maintaining lean body weight is key.
  • j/d diet (Hill’s brand veterinary prescription food)
  • Dietary supplements such as Cosequin, Adequan, omega-3 fatty acids
  • Physical therapy, including laser therapy and underwater treadmill
  • Acupuncture and chiropractic medicine
  • Stem-cell and Gel Core Matrix – Newly available therapies intended to improve arthritic joints. They require 1-2 anesthetic procedures and range in price from $600 to $2500, but may be worth investigating for your pet.

While these treatment options are targeted to dogs, many of them can apply to cats. Studies have shown that up to 90% of cats over the age of 10 have arthritis. Our feline friends do not show us overt signs of arthritis like our canine companions do, but if you notice that your cat is jumping less, grooming less, hiding, or walking differently, please ask your veterinarian which of these therapies might be appropriate.


Quick Facts:


  • Puppies develop 28 temporary teeth at two to three weeks of age. Their 42 permanent teeth emerge at about four months.
  • Studies show that, by age 3, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease.
  • Small dog breeds are more likely than large breeds to develop periodontal disease. Canine dentistry experts believe this is because the teeth of small dogs often are too large for their mouths, forcing the teeth closer together.


  • Kittens have about 26 temporary teeth at two to three weeks of age. Their 30 permanent teeth erupt at about three to four months.
  • According to studies, about 70 percent of cats have signs of gum disease by age 3.
  • Cervical line lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime.

Dental Home Care:

  • The American Veterinary Dental Society considers daily brushing the single most important aspect of regular dental care. In addition to daily brushing, dental treats, toys and therapeutic diets can be a part of your pet’s home care and may delay the need for further dentistry. How quickly your pet will develop periodontal disease (inflammation/infection of some or all of the tooth’s support structures) and when your pet will need periodontal therapy depends on many variables. These variables include: proper home care, diet, age, breed and size of patient, health status, and most importantly, genetic disposition. Just like humans, some pets are born with better mouths than others.

  • Family Pet’s website library at www.FamilyPetAnimalHospital.com/library/ features links to videos on how to brush your cat’s or dog’s teeth! For additional information online, please visit: www.VeterinaryPartner.com and search Dental Home Care and the Dental Care series.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t use a human toothpaste on your pet, as it contains ingredients that can harm your pet
  • Do use a toothbrush without any paste at first so that your pet may get used to the object in the mouth before having to contend with flavor
  • Don’t attempt to clean the inner surface of your pet’s teeth. Natural saliva cleans this surface on its own.
  • Do try to perform dental home care at least once daily.
  • Don’t let your dog chew on cow hooves or bones as these are too hard and teeth may break against them.

TREATS and FOODS that can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy:

  • The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) was created in 1997 to certify veterinary dental products that effectively control plaque and calculus in cats and dogs. For products positioned for different-sized pets, the manufacturer must submit separate efficacy studies for each size. For more information, visit www.vohc.org/accepted_products - or see our handout which lists all of the approved products to date.

Turn the page – You can teach your pet to enjoy having its teeth brushed!



If a tiger can be taught to jump through a ring of fire, it is possible for you to teach your pet to accept oral hygiene care. You must begin the process slowly ~ It may be several weeks before you are actually brushing the teeth.

  • Have tiny bits of a food your pet LOVES available.
  • Pick a time when they are likely to be hungry
  • Pick quiet time.....not the first thing after you get home from work.
  • As long as they are quiet, responding to requests, and allowing you to manipulate their mouths, they get IMMMEDIATE food treats. If they resist in any fashion....you take your treats away and end the session.
  • Use a calm, gentle tone of voice.
  • A small dog may work best on your lap; a cat probably would be best next to you on a large chair or couch; a large dog should be asked to sit on the floor.
  • Begin a brief time of affectionate touching and giving treats if they are staying calm.
  • Next, lightly touch around the face and lips. If they remain still, give an IMMEDIATE reward. If they pull away or resist...end the session and try again in a little while.
  • Slowly - over the course of many sessions - progress from manipulating the lips, to running your fingers along the teeth and gums, then add in a moist soft cloth on your finger, then add veterinary toothpaste on the cloth.
  • THEN bring the toothbrush out, touch it to their face, put it under their lips and gently work it around. Concentrate on the outside surface of the teeth under the lips. It is more difficult to get on the tongue side of the teeth. A variety of toothbrush types is available, and actual brushing is ideal. Sometimes, however, we only use the soft cloth or Q-tip ~ It doesn't have to be a brush.
  • This process may take several weeks. There may be two steps forward and one step backward.....Hang in there!
  • The goal would be to spend two or three minutes every day brushing your pet's teeth

Please ask us for assistance. We would be happy to coach you with your timing and techniques!

The VOHC® Seal of Acceptance

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) was created in 1997 to certify veterinary dental products that effectively control plaque and calculus in cats and dogs. For products positioned for different-sized pets, the manufacturer must submit separate efficacy studies for each size. For more information, visit www.vohc.org.

Products listed below have been awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance in the category specified:

‘Helps control plaque and tartar’:

  • Hill’s Canine t/d Original and Small Bites
  • Hill’s Feline t/d
  • Science Diet Oral Care Diet for Dogs and Cats
  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health brand Feline Formula
  • Canine Greenies products – regular, Weight Management, Senior, Veterinary Formula Canine Dental Chews, Hip and Joint Care Chews, Grain-Free Dental Chews
  • HealthiDent, Brightbites and Checkups Chews for Dogs
  • Hill’s Science Diet Canine Oral Care Chews
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Canine Dental Care Chews
  • SANOS Dental Sealant

’Helps control tartar’:

  • Iams Chunk Dental Defense Diet for Dogs
  • Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Diet for Dogs
  • Purina Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health brand Canine Formula & Small Bites Canine Formula
  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz Dog Treats
  • Purina Busy HeartyHide Chew Treats for dogs
  • Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews for Dogs
  • Virbac CET VeggieDent Chews for Dogs (all sizes)
  • Improved Milk-Bone Brushing Chews for Dogs
  • VetIQ Minties Medium Dog Dental Treat
  • Pettura Oral Care Gel for dogs
  • Feline Greenies Feline Dental Treats
  • Purina Pro Plan Dental Crunch Cat Snacks
  • Purina DentaLife Daily Oral Care Cat Treats

’Helps control plaque’:

  • Dog::ESSENTIAL Healthymouth Anti-Plaque products: anti-plaque water additive, water additive – Mobility Formulation, Gel & Brush Combination, Oral Spray
  • Cat::ESSENTIAL Healthymouth Anti-Plaque products: Water Additive, Gel, Oral Spray, Toothpaste and Brush
  • Petsmile Toothpaste by Supersmile
  • Royal Canin Feline Dental Diet

Remember that there is no perfect chew toy for your pet. Supervision should be provided whenever your pet is given chew toys. A good rule to follow is that your dog should never chew on anything harder than its teeth. Nylabones, natural bones, pig ears and cow hooves may lead to fractured teeth. Kong toys are firm rubber toys that are compressible and provide good chewing activity for your dog.


Do you know what’s in your pet’s food? Do you know what to look for on your pet’s food labels in order to maximize the health of your pet? Deciphering pet food labels and sifting through all the marketing buzz words used by the pet food companies can be challenging. We’re here to debunk some of the biggest misconceptions about your pet’s food and help you make informed decisions about what to feed your dog or cat

Be careful interpreting what you read! The following are AAFCO label requirements to help demystify words or phrases commonly found on pet food labels:

  • Products naming a specific ingredient in a description, such as “salmon for cats” or “beef for dogs,” must contain at least 95% of the named ingredient.br

  • Food descriptors like “seafood formula” or “chicken dinner” can be used if the named ingredient makes up at least 25% of the product.

  • A product listed as “beef-flavored” does not have to contain any beef. AAFCO has NO requirement for the amount of specified protein mentioned with the word “flavored.”

  • An ingredient listed after the word “with” only has to make up 3% of the product. “Kitten food with tuna” may be made up of only 3% tuna!

What do the terms organic, natural, human-grade or holistic mean?

  • Foods that are labeled "organic" must be certified as organic in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) regulations. For a product to carry the USDA organic seal, at least 95 percent of its content must be organic by weight. To be organic, the components of a product must be grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers, such as manure, bone meal, compost, etc.

  • We hear the word "natural" all the time, but what does it actually mean? According to AAFCO, the term "natural" requires a pet food to consist of only natural ingredients that have not been subjected to chemical synthesis. Natural does not mean that a food is also organic.

  • Does your pet’s food boast the labels "holistic" or “human-grade”? There are no legal definitions of these terms under pet food laws, so anyone can claim that their food is "holistic” or “human-grade." These terms may sound appealing but are, in fact, meaningless.

Are all by-products bad?

  • Not at all, in fact, we all eat them! By definition and regulation, by-products are the non-meat parts of chicken, beef, pork, etc. after the meat has been removed. However, by-products are NOT feathers, beaks, fur, hooves or teeth. Examples include vegetable oils, vitamin E, chicken fat, and clean internal organs - pork, chicken and beef liver, heart and kidneys. All these items have nutritious value and are often preferred over muscle meat by animals in the wild. Other examples are treats we commonly give our pets - bully sticks, rawhides, pig’s ears, cow hooves, trachea and lamb lung.

  • By-products are a valuable source of energy, vitamins and minerals. And while it may sound good to feed your pet a meat-only diet, muscle meat alone is deficient in many nutrients, which could lead to poor growth, bone fractures and loose teeth.

  • Ever wonder what the phrase “animal digest” listed in your pet food ingredients means? Animal digest is a byproduct and it is NOT intestinal contents! The term “digest” refers to proteins which are hydrolyzed (i.e. broken down) into smaller components, which are a good source of protein and used to enhance the flavor of foods.

Are grains unhealthy for my pet?

  • There is nothing inherently bad about grains! Grains are a good source of carbohydrates, which are essential for growth in puppies in kittens and are an important source of energy for most cells of the body (young or adult). Corn and wheat, two common grains found in pet foods, are excellent sources of quality protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Corn meal, which commonly appears in a list of pet food ingredients, is simply corn minus the water and fat and is highly digestible. Properly processed and cooked grains are generally well utilized by both cats and dogs. Furthermore, the fiber provided by grains is essential for the health of the gastrointestinal tract.

Are corn and wheat responsible for pet allergies?

  • Despite frequent claims to the contrary,meat ingredients are more common sources of food allergies in pets than grains . In dogs, the most common food allergens are beef, dairy products, then wheat, followed by lamb, egg and chicken. For cats, the most common culprits are beef, dairy products and fish.

  • While some dogs do have allergies to wheat, Celiac disease (allergy to wheat gluten) is very rare and has primarily been reported in the Irish Setter. Wheat gluten is a valuable source of protein for your pet. It is more than 80% protein, highly digestible, has an amino acid profile similar to other proteins (meat) and enhances the texture of food (which is a top priority for our pets).

Raw diets seem to be very popular. Should I change my pet to a raw diet?

  • There is no objective evidence to suggest that raw meat diets are better than other kinds of diets for our pets. Raw diets can pose pathogenic and physical risks to your pet. Raw diets can carry E. coli, Salmonella and MRSA bacteria, as well as parasites and protozoa. Besides putting a pet at potential risk of infection, human family members are exposed and susceptible to these pathogens as well. The FDA has gone on record stating that raw diets are a public health risk. Raw and cooked bones can fracture teeth, become lodged in or tear the esophagus or cause intestinal tract obstructions.

  • For more information, see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s article regarding raw diets:


Are flax seeds a good source of omega-3 fatty acids?

  • Flax seed does NOT contain the type of omega-3 fatty acids which research has shown is beneficial. Many pet food manufacturers now add flax seeds to their diets and tout them as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, flax seeds contain “short-chain” fatty acids, which must be converted to “long-chain” fatty acids by your pet’s body in order to be beneficial. Because, in pets, the conversion process is inefficient and the amount converted by the body is quite low, flax serves as a poor source of this essential fatty acid. Instead, look for ingredients which are sources of long-chain omega-3s – fish oil (salmon, cod-liver) and fish meal.

Remember! No matter how good the company, how pretty the packaging, and how yummy the ingredients, the only TRUE test of whether a food is good for your dog or cat is what happens when you feed it.

Find out more information at www.aafco.org and www.wsava.org/nutrition-toolkit.

Be Prepared !!!

Jill A. Richardson, DVM 
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. Because of this, you should be prepared.

Your animal companions regularly should be seen by a local veterinarian to maintain overall health. You should know the veterinarian's procedures for emergency situations, especially ones that occur after usual business hours. You should keep the telephone numbers for the veterinarian, ASPCA/APCC, and a local emergency veterinary service in a convenient location.

You may benefit by keeping a pet safety kit on hand for emergencies. Such a kit should contain:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% (USP)
  • Can of soft dog or cat food, as appropriate
  • Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe
  • Saline eye solution to flush out eye contaminants
  • Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing)
  • Rubber gloves (for use during bathing)
  • Forceps to remove stingers
  • Muzzle to keep the animal from hurting you while it is excited or in pain
  • Pet carrier to help carry the animal to your local veterinarian

You should not attempt any therapy on your pet without contacting either the Center or your local veterinarian.

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.

If your animal is seizuring, losing consciousness, unconscious or having difficulty breathing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Most veterinarians are familiar with the consulting services of the Center. Depending on your particular situation, your local veterinarian may want to contact the Center personally while you bring your pet to the animal hospital.

Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

When you call the Center, be ready to provide:

  1. Your name, address and telephone number
  2. Information concerning the exposure (the amount of agent, the time since exposure, etc.). For various reasons, it is important to know exactly what poison the animal was exposed to. [If the agent is part of the Animal Product Safety Service, the consultation is at no cost to the caller.]
  3. The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
  4. The agent your animal(s) has been exposed to, if known
  5. The problems your animal(s) is experiencing
  6. Your credit card number to pay for the service

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, an operating division of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), is the only animal-oriented poison control center in North America. It is a unique, emergency hotline providing 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week telephone assistance. The Center's hotline veterinarians can quickly answer questions about toxic chemicals, dangerous plants, products or substances found in our everyday surroundings that can prove poisonous or fatal to animals.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 
1-888-4-ANI-HELP (1-888-486-4435) 

Chicago Veterinary Emergency Services 
3123 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, IL 60618




Pet caregivers can use this Quality of Life Scale to determine the success of pet hospice care. This scale can also be used by pet owners to help provide some objective criteria for making difficult end-of-life decisions.

Using a scale of 1(poor) to 10 (best):


  • Adequate pain control, including breathing ability, is first and foremost on the scale. Is your pet’s pain successfully managed? Is oxygen necessary?


  • Is your pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Does s/he require a feeding tube?


  • Is your pet well hydrated? For patients not drinking enough, use subcutaneous fluids once or twice daily to supplement fluid intake.


  • AYour pet should be kept brushed and cleaned, particularly after elimination. Avoid pressure sores and keep all wounds clean.


  • Does your pet express joy and interest? Is s/he responsive to things around him/her (family, toys, etc.)? Is s/he depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can his/her bed be close to family activities and not be isolated?


  • Can your pet get up without assistance? Does s/he need human or mechanical help (e.g. a cart)? Does s/he feel like going for a walk? Is your pet having seizures or stumbling? (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, but animals that have limited mobility yet are still alert and responsive can have a good quality of life as long as their caregivers are committed to helping them.)


  • When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware that the end is near. The decision needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly, that is OK


  • A total score of greater than 35 (out of a possible 70) is generally representative of acceptable life quality. This scale was originally developed to help pet caregivers determine whether or not hospice care should be continued, so it assumes that the patient is already infirm and nearing the time to say goodbye. Talk with your veterinarian if you have questions or need help evaluating any of these criteria.

Top 10 Tips for Safe Car Travel With Your Pet, from the ASPCA (www.aspca.org)

For some pet parents, a trip’s no fun if the four-legged members of the family can’t come. But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off—especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:

  1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. A variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers are available. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it’s smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.
  2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. And please be sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.
  3. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.
  4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death./li>
  5. What in your pet’s traveling kit? In addition to travel papers, food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
  6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat collars.
  7. Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. This can subject him to inner ear damage and lung infections, and he could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.
  8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record, as some states requires this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn’t a problem, it’s always smart to be on the safe side.
  9. When it comes to H2O, we say BYO. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he’s not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.
  10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.


DON’T FLUSH! The age‐old advice to flush pharmaceutical waste* is currently considered to be the least desirable thing to do.  Even though it is a low cost alternative and prevents unintended use by others, flushing or pouring pharmaceutical waste down the drain has resulted in traces of painkillers, estrogen, etc. to be present in water samples in 30 states.

  • Dispose of unused pharmaceuticals in the trash. It is better to dispose ofhousehold pharmaceuticals than to hang on to them, especially if there is risk of accidental poisoning or diversion.  To safely place them in the trash, do the following:
    1. Remove or mark over all labels that indentify the materials as pharmaceuticals or that could provide personal information about you
    2. Render the products unattractive to children and thieves by dissolving them in a small amount of water or rubbing alcohol, or by grinding them up and mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter
    3. Put them in a second container or small opaque plastic bag and hide them in your trash
  • NEVER BURN pharmaceutical waste in a burn barrel.


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners the coming of spring brings with it certain risks to your pet's health. Take a few moments to review AVMA's top spring hints for pet owners:

Lilies are a flower common in the spring, and they are very, very toxic to cats. But cats will often chew them, and even small amounts can lead to kidney failure and death. Cat owners may want to pass on this spring and Easter tradition.

*Fleas and ticks. 
They can be tiny, little more than a pinhead in some instances, but they grow and spread quickly once they find a host. The preventative treatments that you may have discontinued in the winter should start early in the spring to keep your pet's coat, and your home, free of pests.

*Lawn fertilizers. 
Lawn fertilizers are very toxic to pets. Store fertilizers in a place far from where your dog or cat -- and children -- can get at them. After applying fertilizers to your lawn, follow manufacturer instructions on how long you should wait before allowing your pet on the lawn. If you see a sign posted on a lawn that tells you to keep your pets off, abide by it.

*Pesticides and herbicides. 
It's probably not surprising that these chemicals can be toxic to your pets, but, even when they're not lethal, there are some long-term health concerns. Studies indicate the use of pesticides and herbicides may be tied to increased rates of specific forms of cancer in dogs. If your pet is exposed, wash them with soap and water immediately and call your veterinarian.

*Cocoa bean mulch.
It's becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant spent shells of cocoa beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic.

*Rhubarb leaves.
Rhubarb makes a fine pie and it's a staple in many vegetable gardens, but the leaves are poisonous and can cause kidney failure.

*Rat and mouse poisons.
Controlling vermin becomes an issue again in the spring. Be aware that the same properties of common rat and mouse poisons that make them irresistible to pests will also attract your pet. If consumed, these can be fatal to your animal.

*Cleaning products.
Spring cleaning is an annual tradition in many households, but make sure the cleaning products don't hurt your animals. If the label states "keep pets and children away from area until dry," follow those instructions carefully, and store all chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

*Paint and paint thinners.
If you're putting a fresh coat of paint on the house, keep the pets away. Paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or even if they come in contact with your pet's skin. Latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, but some specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

*Preventative medications
Consult with your veterinarian about seasonal medications to keep your pet healthy. For example, in many parts of the country heartworm medications for dogs are often discontinued in the winter. Springtime is the season to restart this medication to keep your dog free of this parasite. But keep in mind that manufacturers' instructions warn that heartworm medications should not be given without first visiting your veterinarian to ensure that your pet has not developed the heartworm parasite. A simple blood test will give you that peace of mind.

For more information, visit www.avma.org

For a full-length video on common household poisons and hazards, visit www.avmatv.org


We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, warn ASPCA experts.

"Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat," says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, "and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly."

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet 
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren't on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs 
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, "symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees." Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking! 
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Make a Safe Splash 
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Screen Test 
"During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets—mostly cats—fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style 
Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. As far as skin care, be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts 
When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Avoid Chemicals 
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals 
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. "Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas," says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services. "Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol."

Fireworks Aren't Very Pet-riotic 
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. "Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous," says Dr. Hansen. "Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals."


More than two-thirds of pet owners will travel with their pets this year. Traveling with your pet, whether short or long distances, requires forethought and planning. AAHA offers tips to help you prepare your furry friend for a trip, whether you are traveling by plane or car.

"The best thing you can do prior to traveling with an animal is to see your veterinarian," says Dr. Link Welborn, AAHA president. "Your veterinarian can decide whether your pet will be able to withstand the strain of a trip and what kinds of precautions you will need to take before leaving."

If you are traveling by air, many airlines require that pets be examined by a veterinarian no more than ten days prior to the travel date. Airlines also require current health and rabies vaccine certificates. Make sure to check with your airline regarding their pet travel policies.

By understanding their options and taking a few precautions, owners can help make flying a safe and healthy experience for their pets. Owners should keep in mind that if their pet is small enough and can comfortably fit in an airline-approved carrier underneath the seat in front of them, the pet may travel in the passenger cabin. If you choose to check your pet as baggage, he should be exercised, placed in the cage with complete identification and a license tag, and picked up promptly upon arrival.

If you are traveling by car, make sure to take at least a few short rides with your pet prior to the big trip. This can help curb any nerves or agitation, and may lessen the effects of motion sickness. Buckling up is an important safety precaution for your pet. Restraints help protect pets in case of a collision and keep pets from escaping the car through an open window or door. Cats and smaller dogs are often most comfortable in pet carriers while traveling in a car

While packing for your trip, remember to throw in a few of your pet's favorite toys, food and water bowls, a leash and food. Keep your pet on her regular feeding routine while traveling, and give your pet her main meal at the end of the day, or when you have reached your destination.

Remember that your veterinarian is a good source of information about your pet's travel needs. If an emergency occurs while you are traveling, you can call AAHA at 800/883-6301 or visit our hospital locator for names and phone numbers of AAHA veterinarians near you.


    1. How long have you been breeding (this particular breed of cat/dog)?
      1. Where are you located?
      2. What is your facility like?
      3. What is your cleaning/disinfectant policy?
    2. How and why did you choose this breed?
    3. How do you choose your breeding pairs?
    4. How many animals do you have? (Less is better)
      1. How many litters per year?
      2. Do you follow the animals you adopt out?
      3. Do you take the animals back if it doesn’t work out?
    5. Have you had to make any changes in male/female matches?
      1. Obstetric problems?
      2. Congenital problems?
    1. Who is your regular veterinarian? 
      1. What do the breeding animals get checked for?
        1. Dogs:
          1. Brucellosis (blood test annually if active breeder)
          2. Breed specific
            1. OFA – hip check for most breeds over 50 lbs.
            2. Eyes – veterinary ophthalmologist
            3. Intestinal parasites (deworming?)
            4. External parasites (fleas, ear mites, mange)
          3. Cats:
            1. Feline Leukemia Virus
            2. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
            3. Intestinal parasites (deworming?)
            4. External parasites (fleas, ear mites, mange)
      2. Do you give a health guarantee or have a return policy? 
          1. (One should exist even though you may never use it!) 
      3. What medical problems have been identified in the litters as they have matured? 
        (Dental disease, hormone imbalances, allergies, behavior disorders) 
      4. Are new animals quarantined?
        1. For how long?
        2. Where are they kept?
    2. Puppies and kittens 
      1. At what age are they weaned? Adopted out?
        1. What diet is fed? Since what age?
        2. Any supplements or table food given?
      2. Are they examined by your veterinarian? At what ages?
      3. Have any members of this litter been to the vet for anything other than a routine checkup?
        1. Explain. What was the diagnosis?
        2. Did they improve?
      4. What vaccine(s) have they received and at what age?
      5. Have they been dewormed? With what product(s)?
      6. Have they been given any heartworm preventative medication? a. Pups – time of year and location variation. Cats – Location dependent

      7. Breed specific questions FOR DOGS
        1. Do you believe in ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal?
        2. Who performs the procedure(s)? At what age?
    1. Visiting the breeding facility
      1. USE YOUR NOSE! How does it smell?
      2. Is it clean?
      3. Do the animals seem happy, friendly, well cared for?
      4. Are puppies being housebroken? Are they crated?
      5. Identify the quarantine area
    2. Picking a puppy/kitten 
      1. Personality traits
        1. Positive = outgoing, playful, curious
        2. Potentially negative = shy, withdrawn, fearful, antisocia
        3. Arrange to meet the mother and father of the litter
          1. Assess their personalities
          2. Do they look well kept?
      2. Healthy at a glance
        1. Size and weight compared to the others
        2. Bright eyes, clear nose, alert
        3. Healthy haircoat
    3. Can your veterinarian be contacted by my veterinarian?

After asking these questions, we hope you will be able to determine whether your breeder is:

  1. Open with their information
  2. Honest
  3. Trustworthy
  4. Breeding for the love of the breed or to make a profit
  5. Reasonable or strongly opinionated


She used to be beautiful, but now her coat is matted and she’s hungry, thirsty, tired and scared. You may know the dog I’m talking about. She’s the Golden Retriever you saw trying to get across the highway.

He’s never known a happy moment in his whole life. No one has ever cared for him properly or loved him enough. You know the one I mean. He’s the dog tied up in the backyard day and night. The one nobody feeds until the neighbors complain.

They’re exquisite, warm and friendly. Why shouldn’t they be? What could be more perfect than a box full of puppies? You know the ones I mean. The ones that were left on the steps of the animal shelter one night. Or stuffed into a garbage can and left to die. Or dumped at the side of the road and left to fend for themselves.

Some people don’t see the connection between pet overpopulation and animal neglect, abuse and abandonment. They don’t understand that when their dog has puppies, many other animals will suffer. But as long as dogs and cats are plentiful, they will be neglected, abused and discarded.

There aren’t enough good homes for all the animals, so many end up in bad homes, or on the streets, in research labs or in animal shelters.

Every puppy or kitten in this country reduces the chance that another dog or cat will find a good home.

You may not see the connection between the eight German Shepherd puppies you just sold and the fact that today at least eight dogs must be destroyed in some animal shelter. But that connection is real, and if you allow your pet to breed, you’ve contributed to pet overpopulation.

The pet overpopulation problem stems from many sources. It comes from people who breed animals intentionally for profit, such as puppy mills or backyard breeders. It comes from animals abandoned and left to fend for themselves, reproducing litter after litter. It comes from hobby breeders who didn’t sell their pet-quality puppies with spay/neuter contracts. It even comes from animal shelters that do not ensure that the pets they offer for adoption are spayed or neutered.

It comes from pet owners who allow their pets to wander free out-of-doors where they will inevitably breed. And it comes from people who allow their pets to have “just one litter” for whatever reason, or from those who realize belatedly that “Sam” is really Samantha when she delivers kittens.

When you allow your pet to breed, even if by accident, your action is at the root of the pet overpopulation problem. Authorities estimate that up to 15 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the United States. Many more will die on city streets, country roads or in research labs. (It’s hard to reduce wasteful or repetitive animal research when scientists have an endless and cheap supply of subjects.)

The animal shelters can work day and night and not make a dent in pet overpopulation unless you sterilize your animals. We can’t do it without you. That’s why we can’t stop talking about it! And we can’t stop hoping that one more person will spay or neuter his or her pet so that fewer animals will be mistreated or destroyed. Will you be that one person?

Chicago Park District

Dog Friendly Area (DFA) Frequently Asked Questions

    Answer: The permit and tag fee is a total of $5.00
    Answer: Any permit and registration tag will be valid only for a single season no matter when purchased. A single season is defined as the period running from January 1st of any year through December 31st of the same year.
    Answer: There will not be a sliding scale. Visitors must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.
    Answer: Permits and tags will only be available at participating Chicagoland veterinary offices. If you are an out- of-state resident you must also contact one of the participating Chicagoland veterinary offices to determine what paperwork is necessary to obtain the permit and tag. Most of these veterinarians will help those whose own vets are not participating. You should call them first to confirm that they will assist you and to determine how much they charge for an office visit.
    Answer: Permits and tags will be available at participating Chicago veterinary offices beginning February 1st, 2006.
    Answer: There are no visitor or day passes. Any visitor wishing to bring their pet to a Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Area must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.
    Answer: Pursuant to regulations under the new Cook County Ordinance, dog owners must show proof of: 
    • Current dog license issued by the City of Chicago, or proof that the dog has a current rabies vaccination.
    • Examination within the past year for any communicable diseases including an examination of a stool specimen for internal parasites.
    • Current vaccination or titer if possible for Distemper, Hepatitis, Para-influenza, Parvovirus, and Bordatella (kennel cough) unless an exemption to this requirement has been granted by the Administrator upon the written recommendation from the Owner’s veterinarian.
    Answer: The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control will enforce DFA rules and regulations and issue tickets to violators. Violators, along with the Chicago Park District, will face a possible fine of $500. Dog owners must carry their permits at all times when attending DFAs. Each DFA will have a sign posted at the entrance stating all DFA rules and regulations
    Answer: If a patron loses their dog tag or permit, they must reapply for a permit and tag for a $5.00 fee with a participating Chicagoland veterinarian.
    Answer: Pursuant to a regulation issued by the Administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, all dogs entering a DFA must have a permit and registration tag from a licensed veterinarian. People bring dogs into a Chicago Park District DFA must have both a permit with them and a registration tag for each dog. The registration tag must be on the dog’s collar or harness. The permit and registration tag may be used at any officially sanctioned Chicago Park District DFA.

Rules & Regulations of a Dog Friendly Area

    • Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs.

    • Owners must remain with and watch their dogs at all times.

    • Dogs must be leashed prior to and upon leaving the DFA. Gates to the DFAs must remain closed except upon entering and exiting the DFA.

    • Owners must immediately clean up after their dogs. Owners who fail to clean up after their dogs are subject to a ne of up to $500.00 (City of Chicago Ordinance 7-12- 420).

    • Dogs with a known history of or who exhibit dangerous behavior are prohibited.

    • Dogs must be healthy, fully immunized, dewormed, licensed and comply with the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control Regulation for Chicago park District DFAs.

    • No dog will be allowed in DFA unless it has a current rabies vaccination.
    • Dog owners are responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the DFA.

    • Owners or other responsible persons must have a DFA permit with them for each dog visiting the DFA.

    • Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult; younger children must be closely supervised.

    • Only three dogs per person allowed.

    • Puppies under four months old and female dogs in heat are prohibited.

    • Failure to comply with the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control Regulation for Chicago Park District DFAs can result in a ne of up $500.00.

    • No food is allowed in dog friendly area.

The Chicago Park District dog friendly areas are places for dogs to exercise,play, and socialize legally “off-leash.” A $5 permit fee and registration tag for your dog is required to use the Chicago Park District dog friendly areas, which are enclosed off-leash areas for your pet. A current dog license can be used to obtain the required permit and tag to access the Chicago Park District dog friendly areas. Permits and tags are required and are available at participating veterinary offices. For a list of participating veterinarians or if you are interested in creating a dog friendly are in your community, please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or cal 312-742-PLAY.

Bartelme, Mary Park 
115 S. SangamonSt. Chicago, IL. 60607

Battle of Fort Dearborn Park
1801 S. Calumet Ave Chicago, IL. 60616

Challenger Playlot Park 
1100 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago, IL. 60613

Churchill Field Playlot Park
1825 N. Damen Ave. Chicago, IL. 60614

Clarendon Park Community Center
4501 N. Clarendon Ave. Chicago, IL. 60640

Coliseum Park
1466 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL. 60605

Grant Park
337 E. Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60601

Hamlin Park 
3035 N. Hoyne Ave. Chicago, IL. 60618

Lakeshore East Park 
450 E. Benton Place Chicago, IL. 60611

Lincoln Park
2045 North Lincoln Park Chicago, IL. 60614

Margate Park Fieldhouse 
4921 N. Marine Drive Chicago, IL. 60640

Noethling Playlot Park 
2645 N. Shefeld Ave. Chicago, IL. 60614

Norwood Park 
5801 N. Natoma Ave. Chicago, IL. 60631

Park No. 551 
353 N. DesPlaines St. Chicago, IL. 60611

Portage Park 
4100 N. Long Ave. Chicago, IL. 60641

Pottawattamie Park 
7340 N. Rogers Ave. Chicago, IL. 60626

River Park
5100 N. Francisco Ave. Chicago, IL. 60611

Walsh Playground Park
1722 N. Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL. 60614

Ward. A. Montgomery Park 
630 N. Kingsbury St. Chicago, IL. 60606

Dog Registration FAQ


How do I register my dog? 
Dog registration is available online: http://chicityclerk.com/ezbuy/
and at all City Clerk office locations. Offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
You can also call 312-744-DOGS to have an application mailed to you.

What are the benefits of licensing my dog?

  • A portion of the money from registration fees adds to City funds directed to Animal Care & Control.
  • Your dog’s registration tag assists in finding your lost pet. The person who finds your dog calls our office at 312-744-DOGS with your registration number (on your dog’s tag). We then reunite you with your lost pet.

  • Your dog must be registered with the city when taking it to an animal care facility that boards or provides dog daycare services.

  • Dog registration is used to obtain your required permit to enter Chicago Park District dog-friendly area. Permits to enter these areas are available at participating vet offices and are valid Jan 1 through Dec 31.

How much does a dog license cost?

  • Sterilized dog (neutered male, spayed female): $5.00
  • Sterilized dog with a Chicago owner over age 65: $2.50
  • Unsterilized dog: $50.00
  • Unsterilized dog with a Chicago owner over age 65: $5.00

Replacement licenses are half the otherwise applicable fee, a maximum of $20.00. For the year permits, simply multiply the above permit fee by 3.

What do I need to bring in order to license my dog? 
Owners of dogs must provide the most recent rabies certificate, proof of sterilization (e.g., proof of adoption from an animal shelter), and proof of age for senior discounted fees.

Where do I register my dog? Dog registration is available online: http://chicityclerk.com/ezbuy/and at all City Clerk office locations. Offices are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Office of the City Clerk
    City Hall, Room 107 
    121 N LaSalle St 
    Chicago, IL 60602 
  • Satellite Offices
    5430 W Gale St 
    Chicago, IL 60630 
    5674 S Archer Ave 
    Chicago, IL 60638 

When does the license expire? 
The dog emblem expires at one or three year intervals. It expires one year from the month it which you purchased it, as long as the rabies vaccination is still valid. For example, if you purchase your emblem 2 months after the rabies vaccination, your emblem will only be good for the remaining 10 months.


What is a Subluxation?

Chiropractors use the term SUBLUXATION to describe a specific problem of the musculoskeletal system, especially of the spinal column. It involves subtle misalignments of the bony system that interfere with the normal function of the nervous system. Subluxations result in loss of flexibility, stiffness, resistance, muscle spasm, lack of coordination and balance, and other dysfunctions of the nervous system.

How does my dog get subluxations?

Traumatic (both macro- and repetitive micro-trauma) and stressful situations present themselves daily to both the companion and performance dog. Collars, handlers, confinement, sustained vigorous activity, or lack of exercise and activity can all cause problems in the spinal cord.

The following may cause subluxations:

  • Trauma: Both macro trauma and repetitive micro trauma, i.e. falls, slips, missteps, “deck dog”, etc.
  • Conformation traits: Creates a predisposition to subluxations, i.e. long backs.
  • Traveling: Extended or multiple rides, poor suspension, auto accidents.
  • Birth: Trauma during delivery causes initial misalignments in the soft and plastic spine of the newborn dog. Also developmental contractures may result from a poor position within the womb.
  • Confinement: “Crate Dog”. Constant confinement decreases balance and coordination predisposing to “accidents”. Lack of mobility also results in weak and contracted muscles, tight joints and further loss of mobility.
  • Performance Type: Each type of use (for example jumping, racing, agility, obedience, or conformation) can affect dogs in different ways, and each may predispose the dog to specific types or patterns of subluxations.
  • Handler Ability: Lack of experience, knowledge, or ability in a handler may cause subluxations as the dog has to compensate for the handler’s unbalanced leash correction.
  • Equipment: Poorly fitting collars and/or harnesses may cause problems in the spine.
  • Age: As dogs age, the spine will accumulate multiple large and small injuries and compensations, while their bodies become less able to deal with injury or the late affects of injury.
  • Foot Care: Lack of proper attention to toenails or overaggressive toenail trimming will create problems in the spine.

What are the symptoms of a subluxation?

Subluxations of the spinal column may produce many symptoms in the dog. The most common problem is pain. Dogs in pain will compensate in gait or posture and may resist or refuse to perform. Compensatory movements may cause other problems such as added stress to the joints.

The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate pain from a subluxation:

  • Abnormal and varying posture when standing or sitting
  • Discomfort when on lead or when being handled
  • Evasions, such as extending head and neck, or hollowing back
  • Dead tail or ear infections
  • Refusal or resistance in performance, such as refusal or unwillingness over jumps, lateral or collected movements, reluctance or inability to initiate or maintain a sit/stay
  • Development of unusual behavior patterns
  • Facial expression of apprehension or pain
  • Sensitivity to touch

Subluxations may cause changes in muscle coordination and flexibility that affect the performance ability of the dog. These symptoms may include:

  • Lack of coordination in gaits
  • Unusual, perhaps indefinable gait abnormalities which vary from limb to limb and change depending on the gait
  • Difficulty flexing in the neck or head
  • Decreased stride length or shortened stride in one or two limbs
  • Stiffness when coming out of a crate
  • Stiffness in lateral movements of neck or back
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Side winding or crabwalking
  • Inability to lengthen topline or poorly developed topline
  • Difficult to stack
  • Crooked or bent tail
  • Uneven pulling on leads
  • Not using hind end in movement
  • Not using back in movement (leg movers)
  • Reluctance to jump in one direction

Subluxations may cause problems in the nerves that supply other cells such as those of the skin, glands, and blood vessels. Some of the symptoms that may result are:

  • Unusual body or tail rubbing
  • Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Coat changes, i.e. asymmetrical hair loss, “cowlicks” or dandruff, greasy or oily hair, “hot spots”
  • Bad breath or body odor

Who do I go to for Chiropractic care?

Go to either a veterinarian or chiropractor with extended, post graduate education and certification in animal chiropractic. In Illinois a chiropractor may work on your dog by referral of your primary veterinarian.

The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association trains and certifies chiropractors and veterinarians in the art and science of animal chiropractic. They can be reached for a referral to a certified practitioner in your area by visiting:



Background information:

There is a large selection of heartworm, intestinal parasite, flea, and tick prevention products on the market. No one product is perfect for all dogs because each dog – and its companion family – has a different lifestyle and needs.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (www.capcvet.org) recommends year-round heartworm prevention. This recommendation is based on multiple factors related specifically to heartworm, as well as the fact that modern heartworm preventives provide additional intestinal parasite control in our companion animals. The incidence of companion animal heartworm and intestinal parasite infections has increased because:

  1. Movement of our companion animals to or from warmer climates with higher rates of infection continues to increase – many dogs are traveling with their families to warm weather during the winter months and local shelters/rescues are adopting out pets relocated from other areas of the country. (The prevalence of heartworm infections increased after Hurricane Katrina relocated hundreds of thousands of pets to other areas of the country.)
  2. Climate change has resulted in milder winters with sporadic periods of warmer weather. Thus determining a time frame for a seasonal preventive program that is safe, effective, and definitive is very difficult.
  3. Working or traveling families often use day care/ boarding facilities to offer their dogs exercise and environmental enrichment. Although these facilities diligently disinfect their environments, no disinfectant will kill all parasite eggs. Many of these facilities require year-round prevention for their clients as a means of additional protection for your dog (and your children, who are susceptible to intestinal parasite infection.)

Increased intestinal parasite burdens in our companion dogs are a danger to young children, and to adults who are immunocompromised (HIV, autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women). Multiple

Considering all these factors, it is prudent to keep your dog on heartworm prevention year round.

Recommended Heartworm / Flea / Tick / Intestinal Parasite Preventives

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right preventive(s) for your pet. Please speak with your veterinarian about which products are the best choice for your dog and your family.

Oral heartworm / parasite products: 
Interceptor Plus – heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm 
Sentinel – heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and flea control (growth regulator only) 
Heartgard - heartworm, roundworm, 2 types of hookworm prevention 
Comfortis - flea control only (fast acting) 
Bravecto – flea & tick control (12 week efficacy)

Topical heartworm / parasite products: 
Revolution - heartworm, flea, tick (American Dog Tick only), ear mites and Sarcoptic mites

Topical Flea / Tick Products (no heartworm preventive): 
Parastar - fleas, ticks, chewing lice 
Parastar Plus – fleas & ticks (with growth regulator), chewing lice, Sarcoptic mites


Leptospirosis, a disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira, is the leading cause of acute kidney failure in dogs and can also damage the liver. Severe infections can be fatal. Infection is most commonly caused by exposure to contaminated water. Stagnant or slow-moving water becomes contaminated when diseased small mammals deposit their urine near the water. If your dog drinks from puddles in the alleys (contaminated by rats) or puddles in the forest preserves (contaminated by raccoons, squirrels, etc.) then s/he may contract the disease. The bacteria can also be spread directly from animal to animal, and that means YOU!

There are ten serovars (strains) of Leptospira. The current vaccine protects against four strains. PROTECT YOUR PET! Illinois is known to have the second largest number of leptospirosis cases in the U.S. per year.

Remember that leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means animals can give the disease to humans. PROTECT YOURSELF! Allow Family Pet to vaccinate your dog annually and in turn protect our community.

This vaccine does not last three years like the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) described below. The leptospirosis vaccine will be administered in a combination DHLPP shot when all vaccinations are due, OR given alone on the off years.

Distemper / Hepatitis / Parvovirus / Parainfluenza (DHPP) Vaccination

Although this vaccine is licensed to be given annually, University studies show the duration of immunity to last a minimum of three years. This is also supported by the Veterinary Vaccine Task Force, an academic body that makes recommendations for general practitioners.

Puppy boosters are still required at 8, 12 and 16 weeks and should be followed with a booster one year later. Only at that time can we feel confident that immunity of the vaccine will last three years.

For our older or immunocompromised patients, we offer vaccine titers (a blood test) to check antibody levels against some of these diseases. If antibodies are still sufficient, then we will choose not to vaccinate. If antibodies are not sufficient, then you may choose to vaccinate your pet OR keep him/her away from high risk situations. Vaccine titers should be performed annually.

Please check with your kennel or daycare for its policy on vaccines, as some still require annual revaccination for their clients.

Deworming Of Cats And Dogs

Almost all puppies and kittens are born with intestinal parasites. Breeders typically deworm puppies and kittens every two weeks until they are adopted. Once your pet arrives at Family Pet, we will do a fecal test to check for specific parasites. Since parasite eggs are only shed intermittently, they will not always show up in a fecal sample – So if the test result is negative, we will do a series of two dewormings three weeks apart. If the test result is positive, additional dewormings may be needed. In either case, we like to see two negative fecal samples before we are satisfied that your pet is parasite-free.

We generally recommend that adult dogs and cats have fecal samples tested once a year, and deworming be done four times a year on pets belonging to immunocompromised individuals. Using the AAVP/CDC protocol as a guideline, your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best parasite prevention plan for your individual pet.

Adults and children can be accidentally infected with roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm, which are common parasites of dogs and cats. It is estimated that 10,000 children in the United States are infected annually with roundworm. People are exposed when they work or play in contaminated soil (garden or sandbox) and then accidentally put dirty hands in their mouth. Sometimes fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground are contaminated.

Besides deworming your pet regularly, and washing your hands often, there are other measures you can take to decrease exposure to intestinal parasites:

  • Clean up after your dog! Don’t leave feces in our parks or parkways, or in your yard. Daily maintenance is best!
  • Control fleas! Fleas spread tapeworm.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Do not allow children to go barefoot or sit on playgrounds or beaches where they are exposed to pet feces. Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin and cause serious inflammation.
  • Clean cat boxes daily and wash hands afterward.
  • Treat your dog (and cat, if s/he goes outdoors) year round with a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites – Ask your veterinarian which is the best product for your pet!

If you or your child experience symptoms including fever, malaise, cough, rash, wheezing, appetite loss, or weight loss, consult your doctor immediately. The majority of intestinal parasite cases in humans are asymptomatic; however they can also affect the eye, skin, or nervous system.

10 steps to calm dogs afraid of thunder, lightning storms

By Patty Khuly VMD, Special for USA TODAY (updated 6/10/2010)

It's the same thing every year. The summer storms ... they stress our dogs unduly. We vets call it "storm phobia." You call it your worst nightmare. (The howling, the hiding, the destruction!)

Either way, we all want the same thing: a calmer dog that doesn't have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.

And it's not just their psyche (and ours!) at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences.

So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia? Here are my suggestions:

1. Handle it early on in your dog's life

Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn't absolutely freak doesn't mean he's not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It's time to take action — NOW.

2. Don't heed advice to let her "sweat it out" or not to "baby" her.

I've heard many pet owners explain that they don't offer any consolation to their pets because they don't want to reinforce the "negative behavior" brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to "buck up and get strong." Fears like this are irrational (after all, she's safe indoors). Your dog won't get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it'll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.

3. Offer treats, cuddlings and other good stuff when storms happen.

This method is best employed before the phobia sets in –– as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?

4. Let him hide — in a crate.

Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear.

5. Get him away from the noise, and compete with it.

Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that's enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music?

6. Counter the effects of electromagnetism.

Though it may sound like voodoo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available "Storm Defender" cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum foil between the box-spring and mattress.

7. Desensitize him.

Sometimes it's possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it's not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.

8. Ask your veterinarian about drugs.

Sure, there's nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that's the case, talk to your vet about it –– please. There are plenty of new approaches to drugs that don't result in a zonked-out dog, so please ask!

9. Natural therapies can work.

For severe sufferers, there's no doubt it'll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or "Dog Appeasing Pheromone" (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.

10. Consider seeing a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian, and, if you've gone as far as you can with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas –– perhaps a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Treating Pain In Your Dog:

Keeping Your Best Friend Active, Safe, And Pain Free

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) help control inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body that cause inflammation. These pain relievers are used sometimes for acute pain, for example following surgery or an injury, or for chronic pain like arthritis. The NSAID medications that we use at Family Pet are:

  • RIMADYL (carprofen)
  • METACAM (meloxicam)
  • PREVICOX (firocoxib)
  • ZUBRIN (tepoxalin)

* Duralactin, a non-NSAID anti-inflammatory pain reliever, is sometimes used along with these (or used instead in patients with liver or kidney problems.) Similarly used are other non-NSAID pain relievers like tramadol and amantadine, which can be used in addition to NSAIDs.

What should you watch for?

Most NSAID side effects are mild, but some can be serious including kidney and liver damage, and gastrointestinal ulcers. Watch your dog carefully for:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy, depression, changes in behavior
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or black tar-colored stool
  • Yellowing of gums, skin, or the whites of the eyes
  • Increased thirst and/or urination
  • NOTE: Some NSAIDs come in a chewable form, which makes them easy to administer but also tempting for your dog to eat. Be careful to not leave the bottle where your pet can reach it! NSAID overdose is a common toxicity!

What you should think about before giving your dog an NSAID:

  • Never give aspirin or corticosteroids (like prednisone or Temaril-P) along with an NSAID.
  • In dogs with kidney, liver, heart and intestinal problems, NSAIDs are rarely used. When prescribed, their use should be approached cautiously.
  • Don’t assume an NSAID for one dog is safe to give to another dog. Always consult your veterinarian before using any medication in your pet.
  • Never give the prescribed NSAID if your dog is dehydrated (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)
  • Never switch from one NSAID to another without consulting your veterinarian, and NEVER give one along with any other.

Long-term NSAID use

  • When your veterinarian prescribes the chronic use of an NSAID, blood tests will be required first to check organ function (CBC/Chemistry.) Recheck blood work will be needed 2-4 weeks later to look for immediate side effects, and again every 4-6 months to check for long-term cumulative effects

Complementary treatment options include:

  • Weight loss in an overweight dog. Maintaining lean body weight is key
  • j/d diet (Hill’s brand veterinary prescription food)
  • Dietary supplements such as Cosequin, Adequan, omega-3 fatty acids
  • Physical therapy, including laser therapy and underwater treadmill
  • Acupuncture and chiropractic medicine
  • Stem-cell and Gel Core Matrix – Newly available therapies intended to improve arthritic joints. They require 1-2 anesthetic procedures and range in price from $600 to $2500, but may be worth investigating for your pet.

While these treatment options are targeted to dogs, many of them can apply to cats. Studies have shown that up to 90% of cats over the age of 10 have arthritis. Our feline friends do not show us overt signs of arthritis like our canine companions do, but if you notice that your cat is jumping less, grooming less, hiding, or walking differently, please ask your veterinarian which of these therapies might be appropriate.


Medical Considerations: By removing the source of the male hormone (testosterone) from the body, we reduce the incidence of prostate disease and tumors involving the anal area and tail gland. As male dogs age, the prostate enlarges which can lead to constipation due to pressure on the colon, and bladder infections due to irritation from the prostate. We recommend that puppies be neutered at five to six months of age. If the puppy is to be shown or used for breeding, it should still be neutered at five or six years old.

Behavioral Considerations: As male dogs reach puberty, various secondary characteristics and behavioral changes can be observed. Some of these include undesirable aggression toward people and/or other dogs (especially male dogs), leash pulling, and humping behavior. An intact male dog may also have a tendency to “mark his territory” or urinate in inappropriate places. If such behavior is allowed to continue as dogs age, the behavior becomes learned and our chances of eliminating such behavior by neutering are greatly reduced. We recommend that non-breeding males be neutered as early as five months of age to eliminate such unwanted behavior.

Male dogs have been known to wander many miles from their neighborhoods, led instinctively by their attraction to female dogs in heat. Neutered dogs show a reduced desire to roam. Keeping these dogs at home helps to ensure their safety as well as helping to eliminate unwanted pregnancies.


Medical Considerations: Current research shows that if you spay your dog prior to her first heat, at six months old, we can virtually eliminate breast cancer in her lifetime. If we spay her after her first heat, we can reduce her incidence of breast cancer by 92%

Breast tumors affect middle-aged to older dogs; they appear in benign and malignant forms. The benign form can be stationary in one or several breasts without changing for many years. Cancer cells from the malignant form, however, can move rapidly to the chest cavity where tumors can grow unnoticed in the lungs. There is no way to tell if a tumor is benign or malignant without surgically removing the mass and sending it to a pathologist for diagnosis. We strongly urge you to spay all non-breeding female dogs early to help prevent this form of cancer.

When a dog is spayed, a complete ovariohysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus) is performed. The benefit of the procedure is to stop the effects of the female hormones on the breasts and to eliminate all chances of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and uterine infections. Elderly female dogs are prone to uterine infections. Patients affected with uterine infections become weak, debilitated, and often toxic. Surgery must be performed at this stage to cure the problem and these patients are at an increased anesthetic risk. It is always advantageous to spay a dog prior to the onset of problems.

Behavioral Considerations: During heat cycles, female dogs are more apt to wander away from home in search of a mate. Without the hormonal influence, females are less likely to roam and have unwanted pregnancies. If you choose to breed your dog, she should be spayed, regardless of age, at the completion of her breeding years.

Occasionally female dogs will have an increased chance of urinary dribbling after being spayed. This problem is relatively rare and very treatable. The benefits of spaying the dog well outweigh the risk of this potential problem.

In Conclusion:

Myths that spaying or neutering will change your dog’s personality or create a fat, lazy dog should be ignored. It is our responsibility as pet owners to keep our dogs active and trim.

Please don’t hesitate to discuss any questions or concerns about these procedures with one of our doctors.


As a puppy owner, you should be aware of some very important things so that your new puppy will get a good start toward a healthy life.

First, puppies should receive a complete physical exam to rule out congenital problems such as hernias, heart murmurs, and retained testicles. Other less apparent problems may not reveal themselves until after your puppy has had a chance to grow, therefore we recommend a complete physical when you first purchase or adopt your puppy, then every three to four weeks when each booster vaccination is given

Until the age of four to five months, a puppy’s immune system is very underdeveloped. This is the reason that viruses are extremely common in young puppies. Some viruses may incubate for as long as three to four weeks before noticeable clinical problems occur. Therefore, we recommend minimal exposure to other dogs and puppies and to avoid parks, pet supply stores, and daycare facilities until one week after your puppy’s final booster vaccination. Nevertheless, 9-16 weeks of age is also an important socialization period, so it’s acceptable for your puppy to play with other dogs that you know are healthy, and to attend puppy classes after the first vaccinations are given (at approximately 9 weeks of age.) Because disease can still be transmitted, always watch your puppy closely for symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, listlessness, or vomiting and diarrhea. Please call us immediately if these signs develop

When a puppy consumes its mother’s first milk, it receives immunity to some of the common diseases we’re concerned about. This immunity is temporary and slowly fades away over the first four to five months of life. As we vaccinate the puppy, we slowly help it build its own immunity. Our goal is to give a vaccination every three to four weeks until the maternal protection is completely gone, so we give the puppy its final booster when it can make its own strong immune response.

Depending on the age of the puppy when you first bring it in and what vaccinations it has received previously, we will help design the perfect vaccination program for your puppy. The last vaccine is generally given at or after 16 weeks of age.

Your puppy may have already been “dewormed”; however, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Association of Parasitologists recommend a practice called “strategic deworming”. This entails deworming a puppy every two weeks until the puppy is three months of age, then monthly until the puppy is six months of age. Since no one medication will be effective against all the different intestinal parasites (i.e. roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and Giardia), it is still important to check fecal samples. Intestinal parasites lay eggs which pass into the feces and these eggs are shed at variable times. Therefore, we recommend at least two clean (no parasites seen) samples to establish that there are no parasites inhabiting the intestines.

arasites inhabiting the intestines. We check your puppy each time we do a physical exam for ear mites, fleas, and other external parasites if indicated. This is necessary because occasionally the infestation is so minimal at the time of the initial exam that these parasites may not reveal themselves in the typical manner. We recommend you watch your puppy closely for excessive scratching and call us if you notice any areas of hair loss.

Finally, there are many excellent training programs available in the Chicago area. Please use the enclosed handout of recommended trainers to find the trainer with the same teaching philosophy as yours. We are anxious to hear your thoughts and can point you in the direction of the appropriate trainer

We welcome you to our practice and want to take this opportunity to ensure you that nothing is more important to us than the health and quality of life of your new puppy.

Do you have questions about…

  • Microchips, tattoos, or tags
  • Optional vaccines (Bordetella, Corona, Lyme Disease)
  • Heartworm disease (handout enclosed)
  • Flea control (handout enclosed)
  • Dental care (brushing, t/d food, CET chews)
  • Feeding amounts (handout on ideal body weight enclosed)
  • Housebreaking / crate training
  • Biting/chewing problems
  • Exercise, leash walking
  • Positive reinforcement trainers (listed on service handout)
  • Introduction of a new baby or pet into the home
  • Nail trimming / grooming
  • Zoonosis (disease or parasites spread from animals to humans)


For the past 15 years, during all feline annual examinations, we have discussed Vaccination Associated Sarcomas (also called Injection Site Sarcomas) and our attempts to reduce their incidence. Since the emergence of these tumors, vaccination studies have been ongoing and recommendations continue to change. We want to ensure that all of our cat owners understand the most recent recommendations.

The facts:

  1. One to three tumors per 10,000 vaccines administered will affect our feline patients. Usually a Rabies or Feline Leukemia vaccine, containing an aluminum adjuvant, will stimulate a malignant tumor called a fibrosarcoma right at the injection site. It starts as a small lump, called a granuloma. Depending on the cat’s immune system, the lump may disappear within three to four weeks, or it may continue to increase in size, transforming into a malignant fibrosarcoma. Once the tumor forms, it is extremely aggressive locally and very difficult to completely surgically remove. Multiple types of chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy, have been tried post-surgically to prevent recurrence, with variable success.
  2. IT IS REQUIRED BY LAW, as well as an important preventative measure, to continue to vaccinate against the Rabies virus. Not only is Rabies fatal to cats, it is fatal to humans and readily contagious through exposure to infected saliva. Multiple occurrences of bats getting into people’s homes and high-rise apartments are reported yearly in Chicago. The state of Illinois may elect to quarantine an unvaccinated cat for up to six months if exposed to a bat.
  3. Keeping the above information in mind, we feel uncomfortable discontinuing any Rabies inoculation, even in strictly indoor cats. Oz Animal Hospital has been using, exclusively, the Purevax Rabies Vaccine (manufactured by Merial) for cats. It is the only rabies vaccine made that does NOT have adjuvants or liquid fillers, so it virtually eliminates injection site inflammation that could lead to a vaccine sarcoma. It is still licensed for only a one year duration, although it may be just a matter of time before a longer duration approval will be achieved. Researchers on the Vaccine Sarcoma Task Force have proven this to be the safest Rabies vaccine available.
  4. All Feline Leukemia vaccines should be discontinued unless there is absolute concern that your cat may be directly exposed to another cat, especially a stray. This includes indoor-outdoor cats, as well as cats that live in garden-level apartments and spend time in ground-floor windows with screens that may allow saliva from a stray cat to pass through. When this vaccine is necessary, it is a yearly vaccine after the initial two boosters.
  5. The FVRCP vaccine, protecting against Distemper and upper respiratory viruses, is a three-year vaccine at Family Pet (as recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.)The vaccine we use is a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine that has no adjuvant and therefore little chance of causing inflammation and subsequent Vaccination Associated Sarcomas.
  6. The Rabies vaccine should be injected subcutaneously as low as possible in the right hindlimb and the Feline Leukemia vaccine (if absolutely necessary) should be given similarly but in the left hindlimb. The FVRCP vaccine should be placed as low as possible on the right shoulder. The thought behind this protocol is that if a tumor should develop it will be easier to treat surgically when located on a limb than in the shoulder-blade area. In addition, all of our vaccines are given from single-dose vials instead of ten-dose tanks, to eliminate the risk of adjuvant settling to the bottom of the vial and having a higher concentration in the last two to three doses.
  7. To monitor your cat, run your hands over the area(s) where the vaccine(s) were given. Check weekly for lumps (a hard, knot-like structure) in or just under the skin. Generally, lumps are firm and not easily missed. They will usually be nonpainful and about the size of a marble when first discovered. A lump may form YEARS after vaccination, and any lump found should be examined ASAP. Local lumps that develop at the site of the vaccine usually resolve without treatment in 2-4 weeks. Those that persist longer than 6 weeks should be biopsied. These masses are always biopsied prior to surgical removal.
  8. A vaccination titer refers to a blood test that measures antibody protection produced in response to the last vaccine given. In other words, does your pet still have protection from the last vaccination given? Does s/he really need this vaccine? These titers are easy to obtain with a blood sample, and are reasonably priced. Currently we are recommending measuring vaccine titers instead of automatically vaccinating any patient with a chronic illness, history of previous vaccine reactions, or immune disorder, as well as our geriatric patients. If the titer comes back “protective”, then the patient does not need the vaccine this year and the titer should be rechecked in one year. If the titer is not “protective”, giving the vaccine may be recommended, depending on the patient’s health and the risk factors as discussed with your veterinarian. The exception to this is the Rabies vaccine; this vaccination is regulated by law in our state, and the choice whether or not to give it is out of our hands.
  9. Be assured that the doctors at Oz Animal Hospital will keep apprised of all changes in vaccinations and Vaccination Associated Sarcoma treatment based on ongoing research by our universities. Our mission at Oz Animal Hospital has always been and will always be your pet’s health. Due to vaccinations, we rarely see Feline Panleukopenia or Rabies and have seen a great reduction in cats with Feline Leukemia Virus. We have worked hard to update our facility on an ongoing basis to provide state of the art diagnostics and treatment modalities. Yet there is nothing that replaces a physical examination for early detection of problems prior to our pets displaying signs of illness. We strongly encourage all of our clients to continue to make a yearly or twice-yearly examination appointment; a time to check all systems and educate you on the most current thoughts in our field that may be life-saving for your pet. Please call our office if you have any questions concerning this information.


Environmental enrichment is a new area of interest to many animal behaviorists. By trying to mimic cats’ natural behaviors in our home environments, we can help them live healthier, happier lives.

How would your cat spend his or her day in the wild?

How would your cat spend his or her day in the wild?

Sleeping/Resting (62%, ~15 hours/day): This comes as no surprise to those of us with cats!! Cats often feel most vulnerable while they are sleeping so it is important that they have several areas that they feel safe and secure. Owners should have various places in out of the way locations for rest/sleep within their house, including cat beds (or even simple blankets/towels), perches, boxes, rugs, chairs, cat hammocks and “condos”. Putting these structures near windows so your cat can watch the world go by is a great option. It is also important to try not to disturb cats while they are resting.

Grooming (15%, almost 4 hours/day):This is as much about social interaction as it is about keeping clean. Indoor cats often rely on companion cats or on cat owners to fulfill this need. Cats tend to groom each other on the head and neck, so we should be concentrating on those areas. Always be careful, however, as some cats are intolerant of petting.

Hunting (15%, almost 4 hours/day):Since we usually provide all of our cats’ food to them in a tidy dish, they have few opportunities to hunt. Cat food can be placed in puzzle toys or in hidden bowls around the house. The “Deli-Dome” Feeding System is a great product for this purpose. The more your cat needs to move to get to his/her food, the better - This helps both with exercise and with the internal desire to hunt. Different sizes and shapes of food and water bowls can make the hunting activity more interesting, and many cats like to eat and drink in varied locations

Add cat-safe grasses and plants to your home for your cat to eat.

You can also provide your cat different things to chew on like small rawhides, bully sticks, dried fish, and beef jerky. You may have to soak these in a bit of water, chicken broth or clam juice to encourage your cat to chew on them.

Traveling (3%, just under 1 hour/day): Providing lots of climbing opportunities can help with this need, including stairs, ramps and structures with perching places.

Play: In our domesticated cats, playful activity can fill the roles that both hunting and traveling fulfill in the wild. When choosing toys, remember that your cat has an inherent need for auditory and olfactory stimulation. Many toy options mimic natural behaviors, and most cats like toys that do something – like squeak, chirp, jitter, swing or vibrate. “Panic Mouse” interactive cat toys (www.panicmouseinc.com) mimic hunting behavior. A laser pointer is a great trick, but be careful to never aim the beam directly at your cat! One favorite for auditory stimulation is a ping pong ball in the bathtub. Olfactory stimulation can be achieved with catnip – Not all cats like the same type of catnip, so try different types/smells, and remember that it loses its smell over time. Try putting away special toys when your cat is not playing with them so that s/he maintains interest in them.

“Trick training” allows your cat to use mental energy. For more information, see “Clicker Training for Cats” (www.clickertraining.com), along with Doris Dingle’s “Crafty Cat Activity Book” and “Show Biz Tricks for Cats” (both available on Amazon.com.)

You can also consider cat videos such as “Video Catnip” for your cat to watch while you are away.

Scratching: Scratching is a normal and important function for cats. The main things to remember for managing scratching behavior are:

  1. Make the area that you want to your cat to scratch desirable. Sprinkle the substrate with catnip and put it in a favorite location of your cat.
  2. Make the unacceptable area undesirable to your cat. Sticky Paws (www.stickypaws.com ) is a double-sided tape that is easy to apply and remove. It can be used anywhere you don’t want your cat to go as well (countertops, furniture, etc.). Aluminum foil is another good trick.
  3. Check out Pavlov’s Cat (www.goodpetstuff.com) – an interactive treat and food dispenser for cats. When a cat scratches the post, the device rotates and the food is dispensed.

Other useful resources: The Ohio State School of Veterinary Medicine provides a great resource for indoor cats, with lots of information on environmental enrichment: www.vet.ohio-state.edu


“The Cat’s House” and “Cats Into Everything”, both by Bob Walker, available on Amazon.com

“Environmental Enrichment of Indoor Cats”; Terry Marie Curtis, DVM, MS, DACVB Compendium, February 2007 
“Environmental Enrichment for Cats” Behavior Clinic, University of Pennsylvania.


Although most pet owners are well aware of the risks of heartworm disease in their dogs, it is less commonly understood how the disease affects cats. And while our dogs are routinely tested annually and are on monthly preventatives, many people do not realize that preventatives are also available for cats.

This handout should help you, as a cat owner, understand feline heartworm disease so you can make the most informed decision regarding heartworm testing and prevention for your feline friends.

Which cats are affected? Heartworm disease in cats has the same geographical distribution as in dogs, but cats are less frequently infected. Male cats are more often infected than females and generally have more worms. Because heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, cats who go outdoors are at a higher risk for exposure. Indoor cats are also at risk, however: one study showed that 30% of infected cats were strictly indoors. All ages have been shown to have the disease.

How do cats get Heartworm Disease? The disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, which injects microscopic larvae into the cat’s bloodstream. These larvae grow and change over a period of months and then, as adult worms, reside in the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries. And although cats are less easily infected than dogs, it can take only one worm to cause serious problems. In fact, most cats with heartworm disease are infected with six or fewer worms.

How would I know if my cat has the disease? Unfortunately, the symptoms of heartworm disease in cats are often non-specific. Some cats suffer from chronic vomiting. Others may have respiratory problems, especially coughing, which is often mistaken for asthma. Some cats may become seriously ill, very suddenly showing symptoms such as respiratory distress, collapse, seizing, and/or spitting up blood. In some instances, the cat dies without any warning.

How is it diagnosed? No one test is 100 percent accurate for feline heartworm disease, so we do not routinely test cats every year like we do dogs. If heartworm infection is suspected, we rely on results from two tests (an antigen test, which checks for the presence of proteins from the heartworm itself, and an antibody test, which checks for the cat’s immune system response to heartworms) to help us make the diagnosis. Even these two tests combined are not a perfect screen for heartworm disease. Sometimes the suspicion of heartworm disease needs to be confirmed, or the degree of the disease assessed, with such tools as radiographs or ultrasound.

How is it treated? Unfortunately, the known treatments for feline heartworm disease carry high risks and are not recommended. What we do is support the cat with symptomatic care (for example, by using steroids to help with the secondary effects on the lungs) while the cat’s own immune system works to clear the body of the worms. Fortunately, heartworms in cats have a much shorter lifespan (only 2-3 years) than in dogs.

Can my cat be protected? Yes! Both oral and topical feline heartworm preventives are available by prescription from your veterinarian. We recommend all indoor/outdoor cats, and cats that travel to wooded areas or warm winter vacation spots, be protected with medication. Your cat does NOT need to be blood tested first. However, the dosage for cats is very different from the dog dosage, so don’t use your dog’s medication on your cat!

Please discuss with your doctor whether your cat needs to be on heartworm preventative.


We feel it is critically important for you, as a cat owner, to understand some simple facts about Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline AIDS), so that you may protect your cat from exposure since both of these viruses are fatal.

Feline Leukemia Virus is spread through the saliva from a cat harboring the virus. It must be spread by direct contact because when the virus hits the air, it can only live for 30-60 seconds before it will be inactivated. The virus can be passed from one cat to another by grooming, eating together, touching noses, or spitting at each other in a fight or through a window screen. Once this exposure has occurred, each cat will respond to the virus based on its own immune capabilities. Twenty-eight percent of the cat population has a strong enough immune system to allows the cat to eliminate the virus from its body. Another 30% of the cat population is unable to do this and can succumb to degenerative diseases that will kill the cat within its first one to three years of life. The last 42% of the population is able to build some immunity, but unable to eliminate the virus completely. These cats harbor the virus in their bone marrow, so that if we run a blood test looking for the virus, it will not be found. This is called a latent infection. Of this 42%, most will be able to eliminate the virus within 6-12 months; however, 10% of exposed cats will persistently carry the virus latent. If a latently infected cat gets stressed for any reason, they may start shedding the virus. During this time a blood test would be positive for the infection.

Latent carriers are a medical challenge. Our current recommendation is to test all cats for FeLV. If a kitten is tested when it is less than 12 weeks old, its immune system is so underdeveloped that it might test negative. Therefore they should be retested after 12 weeks of age. Stray cats should be tested initially, and again three months later. The incubation time for the virus can be as long as three months, so the test should be repeated in case they were just recently exposed to the disease. If we get a negative test result at the appropriate time for a kitten or cat and it remains healthy, we may never recommend testing the cat again. If the cat is often sick with colds, infections, or other medical problems, we may test this cat multiple times in an attempt to reveal the cat as a latent carrier.

A vaccine for FeLV is available. However, due to an increased risk of vaccine-induced tumors associated with this particular vaccine, we only recommend vaccinating cats who go outdoors and have a high likelihood of exposure to the virus via contact with stray cats.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is also a contact virus shed through the saliva. The difference is that when FIV leaves the body and touches the air, it is inactivated immediately, not in 30-60 seconds. The way cats give the virus to other cats is by biting them and actually depositing the virus into the tissue of the other cats. FIV is very similar to the human immunodeficiency virus in that it has a long incubation period of five to seven years and it may take this long for it to be detected. It affects the immune system in the same way, making the cat more susceptible to infections. Eliminating possible exposure to other cats and keeping them from fighting is the best protection. This virus will NOT infect humans!

These concepts may seem complicated. Please feel free to ask us any questions concerning these viruses. It is very important to us that you understand how to protect your cat from possible exposure. We want your cat to live a long and healthy virus-free life.


Assessing your cat’s risk: If any of the cats in your house go outdoors, or if they have contact with other animals who are exposed to fleas, you should consider protecting them from contracting fleas. If your cat spends a significant amount of time outdoors where it is exposed to mosquitoes, you should also consider protecting it from contracting heartworm disease, which is spread by mosquitoes

Fleas: In downtown Chicago, we start to see fleas in June. All over our environment, fleas begin to breed and thousands of their young will establish residency on our pets. The eggs are laid on the animal, but they fall off into our homes and yards and hatch three weeks later. Imagine how rapidly a flea problem occurs when an adult female can lay up to 18 eggs at a time.

The best way to deal with fleas is to prevent them. Start prevention in June and continue these measures until the temperature falls below 32 degrees F, usually late-November or December. The flea population peaks during October and November.

Mosquitoes: In Chicago, mosquitoes start to appear around the same time as fleas. Our recommended Heartworm preventative drugs kill the parasite that causes Heartworm Disease, but not the mosquitoes that carry that parasite. DO NOT use human mosquito repellent products on your pets!

The following products have been determined by the doctors at Family Pet to be the safest and most effective options for preventing fleas and, if necessary, heartworm and intestinal parasites in your cat:


  • Topical flea preventive
  • Applied once monthly to the skin along the pet’s back
  • Remains effective even after a shampoo treatment (do not over bathe).
  • Kills 98-100% OF EXISTING FLEAS ON PETS WITHIN 12 HRS. Reinfesting fleas are killed within 2 hours. Larval flea stages in the pet’s surroundings are killed following contact with treated pet.
  • Main active ingredient: Imidacloprid, which binds with the oils in the pet’s skin and spreads across the whole body, paralyzing any fleas that come in contact with it and killing them before they can lay eggs.
  • Age limitations: for felines aged 8 weeks and older.
  • Product-of-choice for cats who need protection against fleas only. Advantage is the only product of its kind that’s completely non-toxic to mammals.


  • Topical flea & heartworm preventive, plus treats and controls hookworm and roundworm intestinal parasites
  • Applied once monthly to the skin along the pet’s back
  • Age limitations: For felines 8 weeks of age or older.
  • KILLS EXISTING FLEAS on pets within 36 HRS, and no viable fleas hatch from eggs after the first administration.
  • PREVENTS DEVELOPMENT of ADULT HEARTWORMS when administered monthly year round or seasonally June-February.
  • One dose will treat any active HOOKWORM or ROUNDWORM infestation
  • Active ingredient: selamectin, which kills parasites via cat’s bloodstream and redistribution to skin and other tissues
  • Product-of-choice for medically eligible indoor/outdoor cats who need protection against parasites.

SHAMPOOS: Cleans the skin and kills the adult fleas on the pet with a ONE DAY residual effect. Ask your veterinarian which specific shampoo s/he recommends for your pet.

HOUSE SPRAY: When using the new generation of flea treatments, house (premise) sprays are recommended only in cases of heavy flea infestation. Ask your veterinarian what type of spray we currently carry, or if s/he recommends you call an exterminator to assist you with flea control.


FLEA COLLARS: Given the number and variety of safe, effective alternatives, our doctors cannot in good medical conscience recommend any commercially available flea collars to our clients.

FOGGERS/BOMBS: If the flea infestation is so great that it requires more than topical animal treatment plus a premise spray, we recommend calling an exterminator as a safer and more effective alternative to any commercially available flea fogger or bomb.

FLEA DIPS: Not only are these extremely toxic to your pet, they are entirely unnecessary given the modern alternatives available.

GARLIC: No evidence, experimental or otherwise, exists as to the efficacy of garlic in flea treatment/prevention.


When your pet actually has fleas you must choose a type of control for the animal and the home. Additional measures are vacuuming weekly (throw away the bag), washing hard floors with a pine cleaner weekly, and washing linens weekly

The safety and efficacy of the products carried by our hospital has improved greatly over the past few years, while those products available at pet and grocery stores may be outdated. Please choose wisely when it’s time to treat your pet for fleas & ticks, which are a nuisance to all of us. Besides causing skin rashes and discomfort, fleas can transmit tapeworms. Ask us how to outline the safest and most practical prevention program to start prior to flea & mosquito season.

Coping With Cat Elemination Problems

By: Rhonda Schulman '94, University of California; A. Michele Trammel '93, University of Pennsylvania 
Dr. Karen Overall, Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Litterbox avoidance is one of the most frequent feline behavioral problems. Any cat, regardless of age, sex, breed or neutered status, may develop a problem with elimination habits. These cats are not acting "spitefully"; rather, they are demonstrating a dissatisfaction with the current litterbox situation.

When a problem of this nature first arises, owners should consult with their veterinarian to explore the possibility that this behavior is related to a medical condition. It is important to rule out and treat urinary tract infections, partial blockages, kidney disease, and more chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

Daily removal of waste products from the litterbox is required. Owners should have one more litterbox than the number of cats (up to seven boxes), distributed throughout the house, giving the cats a choice of location. Owners should reinforce the cat by taking her to the litterbox and praising her if she scratches or uses the box. While it is difficult to actually catch the cat in the act, if owners do so, they should frighten the cat with a loud noise. A foghorn or a thrown tin of pennies is often sufficient to startle the cat into aborting the action. Punishment should only be administered within the first 30-60 seconds of the initiation of the behavior. Initiation includes any sniffing, scratching, and circling the cat might do. NEVER punish a cat after the fact; she will not make the appropriate connection and may come to fear the owner.

Substrate preference is the most common elimination behavior problem in cats. Many of these cats prefer carpeting and other soft surfaces. Non-deodorant, dusty litters are preferable for many of these cats. Clay litters, sand, nonscented sawdust, and the newer type of recyclable litters are often accepted by cats that reject other types of litters. Other modifications include experimenting with litter depth, presence or absence of box liners, and covered versus open boxes.

Some cats only urinate or defecate in certain spots outside of the litterbox. These cats exhibit a location preference. These spots must be made unattractive to the cat. Many cats dislike the feel of plastic. Covering the soiled areas with heavy gauge plastic after cleaning them with enzymatic cleaners may discourage the cat from returning to that locale. Certain scents, such as deodorant soap and cedar wood, are also distasteful to many cats. Placing a bar of soap or wood chips on the cat's preferred spot may also deter her usage of that area. If none of these efforts are successful, the owner may have to resort to moving a litterbox to the cat's preferred spot. After the cat begins to use the box again, the owner can gradually (an inch a day) move the box back to a more desirable location.

A more drastic measure that can be implemented for any of these problems is isolating the cat. For several days, the cat should be kept alone in a small room with a litterbox, food, and water. This should break the habit of eliminating in inappropriate areas. Slowly expand the area to which the cat has free range, supervising constantly at first, and use negative reinforcement, as previously described, as necessary. Elimination problems can also include spraying. This is a territorial behavior in which the cat adopts a standing, not squatting, posture, and often with tail wagging, "sprays" urine onto vertical surfaces. Any cat - male or female, neutered or intact - may spray. Unfortunately, the environmental modifications described above do not tend to resolve this problem. Pharmacological intervention is generally required, and concerned owners should consult their veterinarians.


By Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, courtesy of information from 
Dr. D.B. McKeown and Dr. U.A. Leuscher. Ontario Veterinary College, Canada

Cats that are house-soiling with urine may be dIfferentiated from those that are spraying by the amount of urine that is released. A spraying cat eliminates small amounts of urine at a time, usually on vertical objects, whereas a housesoiling cat tends to empty his bladder, resulting in a large puddle or wet spot.

Cats may stop using their litterbox for a variety of reasons. They may have developed an aversion to the litter or the pan, they may be under some environmental stress, or they may have some disease. Environmental stresses, while not common causes of house-soiling, can be difficult to deal with. Moving, a new animal or person, or separation anxiety may cause house-soiling. If the cat is urinating on a person's clothing or bed, the cat often feels some frustration related to that person. For example, the cat may be very dependent on that person, and the person's schedule changes so they are spending less time with the cat. Urinating on personal items usually starts several days to 1 week after the event. As stresses are cumulative, it may be that some combination of the above causes is responsible for your cat's loss of house-training.

Disease may also cause the cat to lose house-training. Anything which causes the cat to drink excessively will also increase the number of times it has to urinate, which can lead to "mistakes" around the house. Gastrointestinal diseases and nervous system disturbances may also cause the problem. The most common, disease-related cause of loss of house-training is urinary tract infection or subclinical cystitis. For this reason, your first step when the cat starts house-soiling should be to have it examined by your veterinarian.



Make certain that your cat does not have a disease which is causing him to soil in the house.


  • TOO CLEAN - Cats hate the smell of soap. Rinse the box with hot water, but do not wash it.
  • TOO DIRTY - Scoop the litter daily, and change it twice a week
  • CHANGE THE TYPE OF LITTER. Cats tend to avoid deodorant litter or litter containing chlorophyll. You might try mixing sand 50:50 with the litter- Cats have desert ancestors, and sand seems to be a preferred substrate for elimination.
  • NOT ENOUGH LITTER IN PAN - Cats generally like about 2" of litter.
  • LOCATION OF LITTER PAN - Put it where the cat is soiling, then gradually move it to a more desirable location
  • CHANGE THE TYPE OF PAN to one with high sides, closed in, etc.
  • BUILD A FRAME around the pan so the cat can jump in easily.
  • NEVER punish the cat when it is in or near the litter pan - this will cause the cat to associate the pan with unpleasant experiences and avoid it.


Clean the areas where the cat has urinated or defecated. The smell of previous messes will stimulate the cat to eliminate in that location again. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell, so it is impossible to eliminate the odor totally. Therefore, you must neutralize it. Compounds to use include Odorban, Odomil, Nature's Miracte, etc.

  • CARPET - After cleaning, odor neutralize and perhaps attempt masking residual odors with citrus scent.
  • TILE - Wash the area with a strong soap like Pine-Sol. Mix up a solution of 1 part Pine-Sol and 4 parts water. Wash the area with the Pine-So! & water mixture every 4 days for 1 month.
  • SHOWER OR TUB – leave 2” of water in the bottom of the tub
  • FLOWERPOTS - use pure blood meal, mothballs, or upside-down mousetraps to keep the cat away


If the cat is urinating on clothes or bedding, keep the cat out of the bedroom. You might also try putting a burglar alarm or mousetrap on the bed to scare the cat away when it jumps up. By keeping the cat out of the room for a few weeks, it may stop soiling.

If other changes have been made in the environment, the ideal solution is to change things back to the way they were before the cat started soiling. We realize that in many cases this is not possible. If so, try spending more time with the cat. We may also want to have your veterinarian prescribe some medication to reduce any anxiety your cat may be feeling. Medication, however, will not solve the problem, and may prolong the treatment by reducing your cat’s ability to learn. To eliminate the problem, you must determine what is bothering the cat, and deal with the cause.


Confine the cat to a small room (the bathroom is ideal) for 1-2 weeks. Put the cat's litter pan, food and water and toys, along with his bed in the room with him. This will mean that the cat has no opportunity to go anyplace other than his litter box, located in the confinement area: Once he is consistently using the box, you can gradually allow access to the rest of the house.

When you start training, place a small amount of soiled material in the box. The odor will attract the cat to use the litter. When you move the pan out of the bathroom, make sure it is in a quiet, accessible location. You may wish to put a litter pan on each floor of your house.

The above techniques work well, but they require a commitment from you if they are to be effective. We are here to help you in whatever way we can, so please call us if you have any problems or questions.

Deworming Of Cats And Dogs

Almost all puppies and kittens are born with intestinal parasites. Breeders typically deworm puppies and kittens every two weeks until they are adopted. Once your pet arrives at Family Pet, we will do a fecal test to check for specific parasites. Since parasite eggs are only shed intermittently, they will not always show up in a fecal sample – So if the test result is negative, we will do a series of two dewormings three weeks apart. If the test result is positive, additional dewormings may be needed. In either case, we like to see two negative fecal samples before we are satisfied that your pet is parasite-free

We generally recommend that adult dogs and cats have fecal samples tested once a year, and deworming be done four times a year on pets belonging to immunocompromised individuals. Using the AAVP/CDC protocol as a guideline, your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best parasite prevention plan for your individual pet.

Adults and children can be accidentally infected with roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm, which are common parasites of dogs and cats. It is estimated that 10,000 children in the United States are infected annually with roundworm. People are exposed when they work or play in contaminated soil (garden or sandbox) and then accidentally put dirty hands in their mouth. Sometimes fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground are contaminated.

Besides deworming your pet regularly, and washing your hands often, there are other measures you can take to decrease exposure to intestinal parasites:

  • Clean up after your dog! Don’t leave feces in our parks or parkways, or in your yard. Daily maintenance is best!
  • Control fleas! Fleas spread tapeworm.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Do not allow children to go barefoot or sit on playgrounds or beaches where they are exposed to pet feces. Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin and cause serious inflammation.
  • Clean cat boxes daily and wash hands afterward.
  • Treat your dog (and cat, if s/he goes outdoors) year round with a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites – Ask your veterinarian which is the best product for your pet!

If you or your child experience symptoms including fever, malaise, cough, rash, wheezing, appetite loss, or weight loss, consult your doctor immediately. The majority of intestinal parasite cases in humans are asymptomatic; however they can also affect the eye, skin, or nervous system.


What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It is not a new disease, having first been discovered in 1908. Since its discovery, Toxoplasmosis has been found in virtually all warm-blooded animals including most pets, livestock and people. Nearly one-third of all adults in the U.S. and in Europe have antibodies in Toxoplasma, which means they have been exposed to the parasite.

How do people become infected with Toxoplasmosis?

There are 3 principal ways Toxoplasmosis is transmitted:

  1. Ingestion of infectious oocysts (pronounced o-o-cysts) from dirt in which cats have defecated or by ingestion of infective oocysts in food or water contaminated with feline feces.
  2. Consumption of undercooked or raw meat from animals with tissue cysts.
  3. Directly from pregnant mother to unborn child when the mother becomes infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy.

Pigs, sheep, goats and poultry are sources of meat commonly infected with Toxoplasma. Toxoplasma in meat can be killed by cooking at 152°F (66°C) or higher or freezing for a day in a household freezer. Cats are the definitive host for the production of the infectious and resistant Toxoplasma oocysts. The oocyst, released from the intestine of cats in their feces, is very hardy and can survive freezing-even several months of extreme heat and dehydration. Moreover, oocysts can be carried long distances in wind and water.

Dangers of Toxoplasmosis in people...

There are two populations at high risk for disease with Toxoplasma: pregnant mothers and immuno-deficient individuals. In the United States it is estimated that approximately 3,000 children are born infected with Toxoplasmosis every year. Although the majority of infected infants show no symptoms of Toxoplasmosis at birth, many are likely to develop signs of infection later in life.

Children congenitally infected with Toxoplasma may suffer from loss of vision, mental retardation, loss of hearing, and death in severe cases. Ideally, women who have frequent contact with cats should be serologically tested for Toxoplasma gondii before becoming pregnant, because if they are already seropositive, they are not at risk of acquiring a primary infection.

Usually, people suffering from both Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Toxoplasmosis have been exposed to the Toxoplasma parasite earlier in life, and the HIV infection simply allowed the Toxoplasma parasite to grow unchecked. These patients develop neurologic diseases and can experience convulsions, paralysis, coma or possibly die from Toxoplasmosis even after treatment is administered.

Follow these easy steps to prevent exposure to Toxoplasma:

  • Change litter daily before Toxoplasma oocysts can "ripen" and become infectious (Stage F). Dispose of used litter safely, preferably in a sealed plastic bag. If pregnant or immune compromised, avoid changing the litter box or use rubber gloves when doing so.
  • Wash vegetables thoroughly before eating, especially those grown in backyard gardens. Boil water from ponds and streams when camping/hiking.
  • Cover sand boxes when not in use to discourage cats from defecating in them.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after working with soil or after handling raw or undercooked meat.
  • Cutting boards, knives, sinks and counters should be washed well and disinfected after cutting meats.
  • When cooking, avoid tasting meat before it is fully cooked.
  • Cook meat thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches 152°F (66°C) in a conventional oven. Also, be aware that microwaving is not a sure way to kill Toxoplasma in meat.

How do cats become infected with Toxoplasma?

Although cats can be infected by the same means as people, the most likely sources of Toxoplasma in cats are from eating infected mice, birds, and other small animals

For indoor cats, the most likely source is uncooked meat scraps. When a cat is exposed to Toxoplasma through the consumption of infected meat or tissues, they can excrete millions of Toxoplasma oocysts in their feces each day. This release of oocysts can continue for up to two weeks.

Oocysts in feces become infectious (reach Stage F) after one or two days. Since most cats do not leave feces on their fur for two days, it is unlikely that humans become infected from direct contact with cats themselves. Because cats usually exhibit no signs of illness while passing oocysts, it is difficult to determine when a particular cat's feces may be infectious to people or other mammals. Most adult cats will not pass oocysts ever again after recovering from an initial exposure to Toxoplasma; but again, regardless of when Toxoplasma oocysts were initially passed through the cat's feces, the oocysts themselves can remain infectious and persist in the environment for months.

Can Toxoplasmosis make my cat sick?

Although cats infects with Toxoplasma rarely show symptoms of Toxoplasmosis, there have been cases in cats associating Toxoplasmosis with pneumonia, liver damage, and loss of vision. Why some cats show symptoms and other cats do not is not known. Concurrent infection with other diseases (feline leukemia, FIV) can aggravate Toxoplasmosis in cats. Treatment can be effective if the disease is diagnosed early. A blood test for Toxoplasma antibodies helps in diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in sick cats.

To help prevent Toxoplasma infection in cats, follow these steps:

  • Do not allow cats to hunt rodents and birds-keep pets indoors.
  • Feed cats only cooked meat or processed food from commercial sources.
  • At present there is no vaccine for Toxoplasmosis in cats. Efforts are, however, underway to market a vaccine to prevent Toxoplasma oocyst shedding by cats.

** This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about Toxoplasmosis and pets.

For questions about Toxoplasmosis in humans, consult your family physician!


As a kitten owner, you should be aware of some important things so that your kitten will get a good start toward a healthy life

First, kittens should receive a complete physical exam to rule out congenital problems such as hernias, heart murmurs, and retained testicles. Other less apparent problems may not reveal themselves until after your kitten has had a chance to grow, therefore we recommend a complete physical when you first purchase or adopt your kitten, then every three to four weeks when each booster vaccination is given

Until about four months of age, your kitten has a very underdeveloped immune system; this is the reason that viruses – especially upper respiratory viruses - are extremely common in young kittens. These airborne viruses may incubate inside the kitten’s body for as long as three to four weeks before noticeable clinical problems occur. Watch your kitten closely for symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, listlessness, or reduced appetite. Please call us immediately if any of these signs develop. Treatment is generally simple. Since we cannot prevent these cold-type symptoms, the best we can do is watch for signs, begin therapy as soon as possible, and follow recommended vaccination programs.

When a kitten consumes its mother’s first milk, it receives immunity to some of the common diseases we’re concerned about. This immunity is temporary and slowly fades away over the first four months of life. Furthermore, if a kitten is born to a stray cat, the stray may never have been vaccinated and may not have strong immunity to pass on to her kittens. As we vaccinate the kitten, we slowly help it build its own immunity. Our goal is to give a vaccination every three to four weeks until the maternal protection is completely gone, so we give the kitten its final booster when it can make its own strong immune response.

Depending on the age of the kitten when you first bring it in and what vaccinations it has received prior to that time, we will design the perfect vaccination program for your kitten. The last vaccine is generally given at or after 16 weeks of age.

Your kitten may have already been “dewormed”; however, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Association of Parasitologists recommend further deworming. Since no one medication will be effective against all the different intestinal parasites (i.e. roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and Giardia), it is still important to check fecal samples. Intestinal parasites lay eggs which pass into the feces and these eggs are shed at variable times. Therefore, we recommend at least two clean (no parasites seen) samples to establish that there are no parasites inhabiting the intestines.

We check your kitten each time we do a physical exam for ear mites, fleas, and other external parasites if indicated. This is necessary because occasionally the infestation is so minimal at the time of the initial exam that these parasites may not reveal themselves in the typical manner. We recommend you watch your kitten closely for excessive scratching and call us if you notice any areas of hair loss.

Your kitten may have tested negative for Feline Leukemia Virus. If your kitten is younger than 12 weeks old, its immune system is still immature and the possibility exists that it may be incubating the virus. Our current recommendation is to wait until your kitten is older than 12 weeks before doing the initial test if this is the only cat in the house, or to test twice – once before taking your kitten into your home and again after 12 weeks of age.

We also recommend that your kitten or new cat be tested three months after being adopted to allow for the average incubation time of the virus. This test is in addition to the initial feline leukemia test.

We welcome you to our practice and want to take this opportunity to ensure you that nothing is more important to us than the health and quality of life of your new kitten.

Do you have questions about…

  • Microchips and tags
  • Heartworm disease (handout enclosed)
  • Dental care (brushing, t/d food, CET chews)
  • Feeding amounts (meals vs. free-choice)
  • Biting (aggressive play) behavior
  • Scratching / marking behavior
  • Introduction of a new baby or pet into the home
  • Nail trimming / grooming
  • Zoonosis (disease or parasites spread from animals to humans)
  • Vaccine sarcomas (handout enclosed)