Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Off Leash Dog Attacks



Dog Attacks - When your Dog is on Leash and the Attacker is Off
Preventing Dog Bites - What to Tell the Kids
Have a Safety Plan for Tornadoes
Fleas and Ticks are Back



Dog Attacks - When your Dog is on Leash and the Attacker is Off

Today a dog off leash rushed up to me and my on leash dog as we walked down the street. The dog was staring and not aggressing but it was unsettling to not know how this was going to play out.  The dog ran off his/her property to go after  us.  Many of my clients as about this scary situation so here is some help for you.

One of the scariest situations to be in where dogs are concerned is having a large breed dog barreling down the street aiming right for your dog who is innocently walking along side you on leash.  Yikes! Now what do you do? You have to act quick but what should one do first to protect your dog and yourself.

Here is a guide to get you through this awful situation. There is not one way - fixes it all answer so use this information and apply it to your situation as best you can. If you are not clear on what to try - call my office. We have guided many clients through this and as a service to public health and safety I extend this offer to you. I myself have been in this situation and it is really scary. 

1. Know your neighborhood. If you have a dog nearby who is constantly running the fence barking, lunging, jumping up or on the fence that dog is really out to get yours. The gate may be open one day, or the dog may get enough gumption to jump or scale the fence. Too many backyard fences are too short to hold a dog in. I have seen many dogs scale a 6 foot privacy fence. Avoid at all costs walking past this yard. Go different routes. Don't tempt fate. If that is not possible - tell the neighbor that you need them to keep their dog up at the times you are walking your dog. Speak up for what you and your dog need to be safe. This dog is also not having fun - it is aggressing because it  does not want this dog around. Happy dogs don't do this!!! 

2. For loose dogs - get a bush, parked car, garbage can or some way to be out of the sight of the off leash dog. Move quickly without running! Running will entice the loose dog to chase. If the dog starts heading to you stomp your foot harshly, yell in a deep gruff voice "Go" and holler "Get your dog inside!!!!!!!!!"  Make a ruckus to get others out to help and call the dog away. After you have your dog home call the animal control and make a formal complaint if this dog is chronically off leash. All communities have leash laws. They are for public safety. Follow up and be something has been done. It may be the one time this has happened and a remorseful, apologetic owner will be more watchful of their dog. If the owner does not seem to care, make them be responsible to their pet and to the laws.

3. Use a protective tool. This is something that will protect you from a dog lunging and biting at your or your dog if you know the owner of the problem dog is not going to do anything and the law cannot extend enforcement completely. Spray Shield by Premier is a compressed water /citronella spray that will shoot out and confuse an attacking dog giving you time to get away and be safe. You can order this online. Baseball bats or big sticks are not safe or as effective. When you hit the attacking dog, they will likely redirect the aggression on you due to the pain. Or if you drop the stick or hit your own dog, the other dog will be more confident and attack more. An umbrella that you can quickly snap open and use a shield is also very effective. You don't want to hit the dog - use it as a shield.

4. Do not turn your back on this dog. Walk backwards to get away. If you turn away from the dog, many use this as an opportunity to attack.

5. Always wear solid shoes when walking your dog!!!! I have seen many more injuries to people and their dogs in these situations because they were wearing flip flops that slipped off, or were tripped over. Sneakers, boots, or other solid shoes only when walking dogs.

If you do have a caring neighbor with a dog that is aggressing - seek help for this situation from a veterinarian or certified trainer who has experience working with these dogs. Some attacker dogs can learn to be better, and safety can be set up. The "cure" depends on the owners, dogs and environment involved. Please see my website, blog and YouTube videos for behavior help or schedule a consult.


Preventing Dog Bites - What to Tell the Kids

Children under the age of 6 are the highest number of dog bite victims reported in the United States. Many of these bites can be avoided if children and parents are taught how to approach and behave themselves around dogs. Here are a few facts about dog bites that may surprise you:

The majority of dog bites are from your own dog or a friend or neighbors dog.

Most dog bites happen around the dog's food, toys, or bed when the dog is not looking at, barking or moving around these items. In other words the dog is eating or playing and the human reaches in and touches or takes the item away.

Many bites happen when the dog is sleeping and a person pets or hugs the sleeping dog startling it awake.

Reaching to a dog that is hiding, crouched or cowering avoiding being grabbed by the collar or body. 

Almost all dog bites to children happen where there is not an adult in the room or area with the child.

Stray dogs do cause injury but at a far less rate ( less than 25% of all bites) than known dogs.

Dogs on leash or behind a fence  account for the lowest amount of bites - 5% or less.

So, what does all this mean? It means we humans do not understand when the dog is telling us that they are stressed, threatened, or unsure of what to do. When we do not listen to the warning of cowering, growling, snarling, snapping the dog is left to use the highest form of aggressing - a bite to make us understand STAY AWAY!!!!!  We think it came out of the blue but there was warning.  We just did not understand it. And we think what we were doing was not a problem but the dog does. What matters is what the dog understands. If the dog feels it is a threat or is stressed the dog is going to act aggressively. 

What we miss is that there may be other factors going on at that moment making the situation difficult for the dog - is there a lot of noise, people, other dogs, is this dog in pain from arthritis, sick, or did you just harshly scold the dog and now you want to give a big hug? All of that makes a dog scared and scared dogs need to have some time to evaluate if things are good or bad. If they don't get that time, they will use their tools - growling, snarling, or snapping to say STOP. 

Recognizing signs of fear before the dog starts to aggress is important to prevent bites. When you see a dog's tail go down, cower, ears back, start barking in a bossy tone, or growl stop whatever you are doing. Take note what is going on. Are you reaching for the dog, are you pulling on a collar, are you staring at your dog? I cannot cover all the solutions but the best thing is to first avoid these triggers or circumstances. If you have to get your dog to move, teach the dog come. If you are having a bunch of people over, put the dog in another area. Use a drag line on the collar to move your dog safely.

Now, about those stray dogs. At a recent school presentation about 90% of the kids had seen dogs roaming off leash and all of those kids were scared of those dogs. Even when it was a dog they knew the kids were leery as they should be. A dog acts very differently off leash than on. So, if you just let your dog out the door please stop. It is very frightening to the children as well as other walkers and people in your area.

What to do when you see a dog off leash?  Be a tree - stop - stand straight with your arms at your sides and look down at your feet (your roots). Wait until the dog is at least 40 feet away before you move. Then call the police or animal control and report the loose dog. We have leash laws that protect our pets from getting hit by a car and protect us from being chased or lunged at by a dog. 


Have a Safety Plan for Tornadoes

Dog emerges from the rubble of Oklahoma

Did you see the video? The one of the black schnauzer that was reached his little head out from the rubble as the owner was being interviewed about surviving the tornado. Her little schnauzer dog Bowsie was shaken but walking and okay as he struggled to get out of the rubble with the help of the television crew. Both dog and owner we reunited and the look of relief and gratitude was all over the woman's face.

After seeing this video I realized how this demonstrated the benefits of having a plan. Despite the destruction, the woman and her dog were safe because they had some protection in the best place in the house. As she said "I went into the bathroom with my little dog. This was the game plan all through the years - go in the bathroom." So, do you have a plan? Do you practice this plan with your pets and yourself? I noticed the dog was wearing his collar. This is so important!!!!!  Many pets that have survived tornadoes and hurricanes did not have collars or microchips increasing the anxiety and pain of owners searching. I have a hunch this was also part of "the plan" as she said. Be sure Bowsie has his collar on. I want him back. 

So what is a good disaster plan? One that is simple, easy to do and everyone in the home knows what to do. We live in the tornado belt - so what is the best place in your home for tornadoes? Be sure there is space for you and your pets. Then practice in a fun way calling your dog or cat to the bath room. Toss treats in there  and praise them. Call them in there when you brush your teeth. If it is the basement, toss a toy down the stairs so they go down and come up and make a game of it. This way when you need to move fast they will too.  

Keep the collar or harness on your dog or cat. Put your cell phone number on an id tag. Train your dog or cat to go into a carrier easily. Keep the carrier out and toss food kibble in there for them to go in as you point. Make it fun - like a game. A carrier can be very protective in a storm. If your dog hates the carrier see my video which shows how to train an adult dog to like the crate.  

I know this takes time, but what if you are like that woman in the video looking for your pet. If that little dog was loose in the house, it is very likely he would have been blown away (literally in a 200 mile per hour wind) and have died. What would be the difference in this woman's life? I think she would have been heartbroken for a long time. Her plan made her life better, Bowsie's life better and saved those first responders from trying to locate the her and finding shelter that is not there for the dog. 

Have a plan, practice it and hopefully you will never need to use it.


Fleas and Ticks are Back


How did my pet get fleas? Fleas hop onto your pet as the pet passes by. The fleas can jump from other dogs or cats. Fleas can also jump onto your pet when he or she is in a home with fleas or walking in the grass, where the flea jumped off a stray animal or wildlife.

My indoor pet never goes outside. My pet can't get fleas, right? Wrong. Pets who never go outside can get fleas. How can they get fleas? Fleas can hitch a ride on your pant legs. Once inside the flea can jump onto your pet.

How do I get rid of fleas? You must treat your pet and your house for fleas. Frontline, Revolution, Comfortis and Advantage are some of the products that will kill fleas on your pet. You can use a house treatment spray to treat the house. Use a spray that has an IGR in it. We carry Siphotrol at our clinic. It is very safe for pets.

How do I prevent fleas? Use a flea prevention product such as Frontline, Revolution, Advantage or Comfortis on your pet every month. Use flea prevention all year long. During the winter, fleas can still live in basements and crawl spaces under houses. Some flea products work better than others. Only use flea medications on the type of animal listed on the label. Don't use dog medication on a cat or cat medication on a dog. This can cause them to get very sick and possibly die. Please call us if you are using a flea prevention medication and are still having problems with fleas.

Can fleas get my pet sick? Yes. Fleas drink your pet's blood which can cause anemia. Fleas also carry baby Tapeworms which your pet can get when he or she eats the flea. Fleas also cause several other illnesses.

Want more info about fleas? Check out our Fleas!!! article.


How did my pet get ticks? Ticks climb onto your pet's fur. Ticks are often found in bushes and grasses. Ticks can also crawl from one animal to another.

My indoor pet never goes outside. My pet can't get ticks, right? Wrong. Ticks can come into the house on your clothing and shoes.

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

How do I prevent ticks? Use a tick prevention product such as Frontline or Advantix on your pet every month. Some tick products work better than others. Only use tick medications on the type of animal listed on the label. Don't use dog medication on a cat or cat medication on a dog. This can cause them to get very sick and possibly die. Please call us if you are using a tick prevention medication and are still having problems with ticks. Keep ticks out of your yard by making it unfriendly to ticks. See our Terrible Ticks article for more information.

Can ticks get my pet sick? Yes. Ticks can give your pet several diseases including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tick Paralysis.

Want more info about ticks? Check out our Terrible Ticks article.



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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