Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Big Boom Bucks


March Mud Madness
Thunderstorm phobia

Animal Pheromones

Antifreeze and Pets
10 Things that can Kill your Pet



The Big Boom - Fear of Thunderstorms and Fireworks 




Does your pet whine or try to hide when it storms or fireworks explode? Is your pet glued to you during storms or fireworks? Does your pet shake or drool when it storms or during fireworks?

What can you do to help your pet?


Attend Dr. Foote's talk about the fear of thunderstorms and fireworks. You will learn about the fear of storms and fireworks and what you can do to help your pet. She will be at Prairieland Feeds in Savoy on Sunday April 17th from 2 - 3 pm.


This talk is open to all pet lovers. Please invite your friends!


Please RSVP by April 16th. You can email us at okawvetstaff@mchsi.com or call us at 217-253-3221.


This is a people only event. Please leave your pets at home.




March Mud Madness


Finally the snow has melted and the days are getting warmer. The birds, squirrels, and of course bunnies are back in full force. So is mud. Ugh! Until the grass really gets growing to fill in all those gaps in your yard and garden we will have to cope with mud. It is possible to maintain your sanity while allowing your dog to enjoy the early smells and sights of spring. It's all about understanding what your dog needs now, and planning for it.

Now that the snow is gone, all the smells in the ground are much more intense and enticing. Your dog likely has its nose to the ground, is digging up dirt, and worse yet eating what is leftover from winter.

Here are some suggestions for coping with muddy paws, faces and bodies. 

  1. Have a towel, baby wipes, treats, and a place to hook the leash onto (door knob is ok) set up for clean up. Have this right by the one door you go in and out of. After you come in, hook the leash on the door and get a few treats out and break them up in your hand. As you rub your pet down, give them a few tidbits. Or you can drop a piece or 2 on the floor to keep them still and rewarded for standing still for clean up. It is really important that you give this reward as they are being rubbed and not fighting you. If they fight, hold the treat away until they settle down, and focus on the treat. Give the treat as you touch the body. 
  2. Trim the hair around the face, paws and legs short for easier cleaning.
  3. Minimize the mud pick up by walking your dog. You can avoid a lot of puddles and mud this way and your dog will have more interesting smells than just from the yard alone.
  4. Put pavers around the perimeter of your fence line. This is the area most dogs always tread down. The pavers will decrease the mud, decrease weeding for you and keep their nails short.

You can rinse your pet down with warm water for the big messes. Use an oatmeal shampoo if you need a big cleanup. Weekly baths are fine for most dogs but check with your veterinarian if your pet has sensitive skin.

Soon we will be past this, and until then have a happy spring!



Fear of Thunderstorms

Many dogs in the Midwest are afraid of thunderstorms. Maybe a dog was left alone during a bad storm and did not know where to go or what to do. It may be genetic, or it may be something that has been increasing over the years. Whatever the cause, thunderstorm phobia is very common and can range from mild to severe.  There is help for your dog. Help is in the form of a plan to teach them to be calm with the help of antianxiety medication as determined by your veterinarian.

Thunderstorms have a lot of signals going on hours before the storm starts. Sensing the change in air pressure, wind speed, smell, humidity, and temperature changes stimulates fear in the dog. They associate these changes with the impeding storm. It is really difficult to mimic these events to train the dog to be calm during them. A dog may learn to be less anxious to the sound of thunder by using a recording, but all the other things cause as much fear as the noise. So the dog may be a little less fearful, but not much by training alone.

When your pet is young do train them to be rewarded for calm, non anxious behavior during a storm. Have a tornado drill on non storm days running into the bathroom, calling your pet in quickly and give them a yummy treat. Teach them to go down the basement stairs on command and reward them. Give them a bed, crate or in the bath tub to lie on and reward them for going there fast and lying calmly. Heavy beat rock music or Egyptian/Indian music is very helpful also. Print out Butterscotch's play list from our website for suggested songs that have helped many dogs.  DAP collars are also helpful to reduce fear. Check out the Thunderstorm checklist to be prepared for storms.

For the dogs that are pacing, panting, drooling, circling, howling, pawing at their owners, climbing on to furniture, hiding under the bed, in the closet, digging out of doors or windows there is help for them. There are different levels of fear, and each level causes some physical pain. The dog may not be completely fearless in storms, but they can be more calm, which is much better for them.

Proper anti anxiety medication (not just tranquilizers) on storm days or through the season are very effective. These medications are not sedatives, although sedatives may be a part of combination treatment in severe cases. Your dog will not be constantly drugged out. A check up and blood check are needed before starting treatment. Many dogs that have been on medications through a storm season needed significantly less meds or even none at all the next season.

A plan to help your pet have a better storm season is possible with the help of a veterinarian and staff offering behavioral help. Okaw Veterinary Clinic offers exams and consults to prepare a thunderstorm plan for your dog.  Helping your dog will also help you. I will be giving a community seminar about thunderstorm fear Sunday April 17th at 2 pm Prairieland Feeds. Sign up for our email list to be contacted about other talks as well as our newsletter featuring a coupon for DAP. Contact Okaw Vet Clinic at 217-253-3221, look at the services we offer or read Dr. Foote's blog for more help.  

Animal Pheromones ? Weird Science or What?

Pheromones are biologically active chemicals. These chemicals are typically produced naturally by one animal to affect another animal, usually of the same species. In simple terms, this is where a mother dog makes a chemical in the skin near her breast. When the puppies absorb this chemical as they start to nurse, the puppies relax and calm down so they nurse better. This pheromone acts on the brain of the puppy to calm them (that is what biologically active means).    

There are lots of types of pheromones in nature for all the different species. In the animal care world, there are different products available now that are pheromone based to help with behavior. There are some that are synthetic (meaning lab created) pheromones that copy the natural product made and some are plant origin products. There is a difference in how effective the synthetic pheromones and the plant based products work.

Feliway and Adaptil are 2 synthetic pheromone products. They work to calm cats (Feliway) or dogs (Adaptil) specifically. There is also a synthetic horse pheromone product made by CEVA. They work directly on the animal?s receptors in their brain to calm them. How much these products will help decrease fear depends on how intense the fear is. The animal will calm down a bit, but if they are very upset they will calm to mildly upset. These products reduce fear, they do not eliminate it. They are not sedatives and can be used other medication. Often I prescribe an antianxiety medication such as Alprazolam along with an Adaptil collar to get the best calming effect without sedation for thunderstorms.

There are other collars, tags and sprays that use Lavender, chamomile or Rosemary and are called pheromone products. Please do not confuse these with the true animal pheromones. There may be a calming effect from these products, but it is much less consistent than Adaptil or Feliway. So some pet owners have tried these products and have been disappointed in the results. If you have tried a pheromone collar for thunderstorm phobia you got from the pet store it is not the Adaptil collar. If you were disappointed in the results, it may be due to the fact it is not the true pheromone that the dog?s brain responds to. Currently the Adaptil collars are only available through veterinarians. The lavender collars usually will not work as well since the animal does not have the receptors in the brain for the lavender product. If the plant based products are working for your pet ? great!  It is very likely there is some kind of calming effect. How it works, and how reliable it is for an animal is not yet known. 

All of these pheromone products last for a specific time. Adaptil spray will last 4 hours on a bandana or in an area. Feliway will last 24 hours sprayed in the room. The collars and diffusers will last a month. It is helpful to mark your calendar to remind you to renew the collars and diffusers.

Pheromones have been around for a long time. Science is beginning to understand how they work, how to make them and produce them in a useful form. Using pheromones combines a natural approach with the science of the brain and behavior. Many benefits to animals and humans have been found with the use of pheromones. 

Check out our newsletter this month. We have a discount coupon for the Adaptil/Feliway products. If you do not receive our e newsletter, go to our website to sign up for it and announcements of upcoming talks and events.



Antifreeze and Pets


You have probably heard that antifreeze is bad for pet but, you may not know why. Antifreeze is often stored in areas that pets hang out in, such as garages and driveways. So pets may chew on bottles stored there. Pets can also drink antifreeze if any is spilled in the garage, driveway or other areas. They will drink antifreeze because it tastes sweet. 


Why is antifreeze toxic? It's the ethylene glycol, that is the problem. Lets use our cat Ranger as an example. Ranger walks outside the clinic and sees a puddle of antifreeze in the street. He drinks from the puddle because it tastes sweet. The ethylene glycol is absorbed in the stomach and enters Ranger's blood. Ranger's liver filters the ethylene glycol out of the blood and transforms it into an alcohol. The alcohol then travels to Ranger's kidneys which filter the the alcohol out of the blood. Alcohol crystals are formed in the kidney, which damage it. The damaged kidneys begin failing and toxins start to build up. Ranger will die soon without treatment.


Without treatment a cat can die by drinking only a teaspoon of ethylene glycol antifreeze. If your pet has gotten into antifreeze bring him or her in to see us. If you are not sure if your pet got into antifreeze, still bring him or her in for an exam. Even a small amount can cause your pet to become very ill. Pets may show symptoms as early as 30 minutes or as late as 12 hours after drinking antifreeze. Symptoms can include: laying around, drinking less, urinating more, not eating, drooling, vomiting, seizures and painful back.


If you see your pet drink antifreeze, call us immediately. We will tell you how to get your pet to vomit and then have you bring him or her in immediately. Further treatment will be given to prevent more poisoning. Your pet may get fluids and kept for observation. When you bring your pet in and suspect he or she has drunk antifreeze many hours ago, we will do a thorough exam, test your pet's urine and do blood work. We test urine to see how the kidneys are working and look for the crystals that are made in the kidney. Blood work checks to see how the liver and kidneys are working and also checks for toxins. We will discuss treatment options and start your pet on medications and IV fluids.


Prevention is best. Keep all antifreeze and other chemicals out of your pet's reach. If you have an antifreeze spill, clean it up and do not allow your pet to be in that area for several hours. After antifreeze dries, it is no longer harmful to your pet.




10 Things that can Kill your Pet


These are not the only things, just the first 10 we wanted you to know about.

  1. Human medications -  Advil/Motrin, Tylenol, and prescription medications.
  2. Pesticide - Rat, mouse, farm products, Boric acid and others.
  3. Cleaning products - lime/scale remover, Lysol, laundry detergent, Windex, etc.
  4. Plants - Afrixan violet, Mother in law tongue, Lilies to name a few. See the Toxic Plants page from ASPCA.
  5. Foods - Macadamia nuts, sugar free candy containing Xylitol, Grapes, raisins to name a few. See the Foods to Avoid page from ASPCA.
  6. Office products - Batteries, paper shredder, rubber bands and other small items that can be swallowed. 
  7. Garbage - Wrapping from chicken and hamburger, netting from roast, tin cans, diapers.
  8. Craft items - Yarn, thread, needles, safety pins.
  9. Garage - Antifreeze, fertilizer, paint thinner and others.
  10. Laundry - panty hose, socks and underwear. 

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


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

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