Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Save your Sanity and Save Money


Thunderstorm Nightmares No More
My House is Not a Litter Box
Who Gets Fluffy
Everything you Wanted to Know about Worms but were Afraid to Ask!
Take a Bite out of Dog Bites
How You Can Help Wild Baby Animals



My House is Not a Litter Box

Does your cat:

- pee outside the litter box?

- poop outside the box?

- pee or poop next to the box?

- cry when getting in or out of the box?


Attend Dr. Foote's talk about helping cats use the litter box. You will learn how to prevent litter box problems. Learn how to help your cat who is peeing and/or pooping outside the box. She will be at Prairieland Feeds in Savoy on Sunday May 22nd from 2 - 3 pm.


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


Please RSVP by May 21st. You can email us at okawvetstaff@mchsi.com or call us at (217) 253-3221.


This talk is for humans only. Please leave your pets at home. 


 Thunderstorm Nightmares No More 

The other night, I awoke to a pant, pant, pant right in my face from Butterscotch our beloved  lab mix. As usual, he was anxious from the lightening and thunder that was booming outside.  I realized that his DAP collar was  due for renewal but at 2 am I was not going to go running off to the clinic to get a new one.  So, rather than going out  in my pj's, I decided to use some of the calming techniques that work for Butter.  These techniques can help your dog too and are worth trying.

Butter wears his DAP collar all the time so he is receiving the benefit of the pheromone before storms.

The collars are very helpful to reduce anxiety in dogs.  DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. This product is the copy cat chemical to the pheromone that the mother dog makes to calm the puppies so they will nurse better.  Adult dogs still have active receptors in their brain for the DAP, so the collars work to help them be more calm.  The collars last a month, so mark on your calendar when you need to renew them.  It can be easy to forget when there is a long stretch without storms as we had. 

Music with a heavy base beat such as hard rock, rap, disco or world music supplies a rhythm that actually calms dogs.  Butterscotch really likes North African/Egyptian belly dance music.  I did not have my cd player ready, but I was able to find a rock station on our bedroom radio that night. He settled down and finally slept within a few minutes of turning on the 80's rock station.  I fell asleep too, thank goodness.  After breakfast, I set up the cd  radio player in the bedroom with the remote on my night stand.  I loaded up 5 cd's of various north african, egyptian, mambo and reggea fusion music, and put the remote in a jar on my night stand.   Two nights later when the wind was howling and lightening flashing brightly,butter was right by my bedside.   That night I  just hit the remote to North African Groove by Putumayo and he settled to sleep within minutes. Much better.

Now you may be wondering how Bella our other dog is coping through this.  Bella fortunately could care less about thunder and lightening.  She is happy to play with her toys, sleeps like a log through it all in her crate and ignores Butterscotch's worry.  This is great.  Occasionally a housemate dog may feed off the fearful dog.  That can be difficult because now you may have two fearful dogs, or one that is nipping or agitating the fearful dog trying to get the afraid dog to play.  This can lead into housemate fighting.  Luckily we do not have that problem.  If your dogs seem to be crabbier with each other in storm season, anxiety over storms may be the cause.

There are antianxiety medications that can be used even on an older dog such as Butter if he gets more agitated and needs that help.  The medications do not sedate, rather calm the mind to learn to self calm.

Other products such as Thundershirts, natural supplements, and distractors such as food puzzles can also help.  There is a great article about fear of thunderstorms on our website.

I will also be giving a presentation about fear of thunderstorms and helping your pet at Prairieland Feeds this Sunday April 17 at 2 pm.

Now Butter has a new collar on, and hopefully we will not have an storms for a few days. When we do, I have more help in place for him and for me!

How does your pet handle thunderstorms?  Are there techniques that you have found helpful? I would love to know. 


My House is Not a Litter Box!

One of the leading complaints from cat owners is when the cat misses the litter box. Cats are so easy to care for because they have their toilet habits conveniently confined to their litter box. Inappropriate elimination is a huge aggravation to the pet owner. There are many reasons why a cat may not use the litter box they were once happy with.

The leading reason is pain- when it hurts to urinate or defecate the cat associates that with the litter box since this is where the pain is occurring. So they avoid what they think is causing the pain, seeking out other places. Infections, arthritis, impacted anal glands, constipation are just some reasons for pain and can only be discovered by a veterinary exam. If your cat is not using the box, get your cat to the veterinarian for a complete check up including urine, stool and possible x-ray tests.

Fear is another reason - does a dog, person, loud noises occur at or near the box scaring the cat?

Cleanliness - cats want to put their urine and stool where it is free of other stool or urine. This is why they hop right in the box as soon as you clean it. If the box is not clean they will go elsewhere. It is a lot like walking in a bathroom when someone did not flush. Ugh! Cats also do not like the strong odor of deodorants, baking soda or other smells.  

Each cat is happiest with their own box. They can share, but they are happier with a box per cat, at least 4 feet away from each other or out of sight from each other. As your cat ages, it is more difficult to climb down to the basement to use the litter box.  Put a box upstairs for the older cat. Some cats do not like the covered boxes; many need a shallow, low sided box. Litter boxes should be 1 ? times the length of the cat. Under the bed storage boxes work well.

Try out various litters - many cats like the plain clay or litters with charcoal best. Some cats may like one type for urine and another for stool.  

Some cats are stressed by the number of cats in the home - there is not enough room for all the cats. Luckily for cats, giving more perches that are high, more planned play time that is active or walking outside on a leash makes more room for all the cats. This decreases the stress about the home and can help.

Medications are available for helping your cat decrease pain, fear or anxiety about the litter box.  These are not sedatives and are used for a while as you follow a behavior therapy plan your veterinarian outlines.

When litter box problems happen, don't wait to get help or advice. The longer the problem goes on no matter what the cause, the longer it will take to correct it.  

Read my blog and come to my Litter Box Happiness seminar to learn more.

Who Gets Fluffy?  Re homing a pet after an owner cannot keep their beloved pet

Whenever you have a pet, it is a good idea to at least think about who will take this pet on in the event you are not able to care for it. When elderly people have pets, this is especially important. It is common for older people to have sudden changes in their health necessitating that someone take over the care of this pet.

Adult pets are the most difficult for a shelter or rescue to find a new home for. People want to adopt a young puppy or kitten more often than an older pet. So, before there is a need, ask your family members or friends if they would be able to take this pet on. Sometimes we assume that a son or daughter will automatically adopt this pet, but that may not be possible. Assuming your veterinarian will be able to home this pet is also not very realistic. Veterinarians can help in the effort, but are not as well networked even as the shelter for finding a new home.

Finding a new home takes time. It may take a month or two depending on the age of this pet, and any health problems this pet may have. Sometimes it does not take as long.

Think of the family members or friends who already know and like this pet. If they cannot take this pet on, they can help broaden the search for a new home. If there is someone identified, be sure that all the family members involved in the senior's care know about it. Put that person's name and contact information somewhere that is easy to find. It is a good idea to make up a list of medications and dates of care so the new owner can keep up with the Pet's health care. If possible, update the Pet's care so the initial cost is not a burden on the new owner.

To make the transition easier on the pet, have the same bed, food, food bowls, time of day of feeding, walking schedule and other routines the same. Dogs especially thrive on routine. Cats need to have the routine maintained also. 

Everything you Wanted to Know about Worms but were Afraid to Ask!

In reviewing our website statistics, we found that the most frequently visited page was the article all about worms! www.okawvetclinic.com has been receiving hits from as far away as China and Russia to read the in-depth article by CVT Rachael Green, found under "pet information" on the Web site. Since there is so much interest in worms, I thought I would cover the top 10 things to know about worms.

1. Most worms are not seen in the stool. When we ask for a stool sample, we run a test to check for worm eggs under the microscope. The adult worm is back in the body where it wants to stay.

2. The two most common worms, hooks and round worms, are commonly found in the soil in parks, playgrounds, and backyards. Eating the soil, which usually happens when eating grass, is a common way for pets to become infected.

3. Worms are easy to treat and prevent using prescription medications, monthly heartworm/intestinal worm preventative.

4. People can get worms, especially the hookworm. Roundworm infection in children can cause blindness. Protecting our pets from worms helps to keep us protected.

5. Fleas infect dogs and cats with tapeworms. The stool test will not always find the tapeworm, so if your pet has had fleas, have your veterinarian treat your pet for tapeworms.

6. Heartworms are in the heart, not the bowels.

7. Cats can also get heartworm, but dogs are the primary pet infected.

8. Missing the monthly doses of heartworm prevention will put your pet at risk for contracting heartworm.

9. Mosquitoes carry heartworm from one dog to another. Your dog does not have to be near another dog to get heartworm, just around mosquitoes.

10. Many pets that are healthy looking are infected with worms, so have your pet's stool checked twice yearly to prevent problems.

These facts reference the most common comments, questions and misunderstandings we hear about concerning worms. To learn more, read the worm article on our web site. Worm infestations do not have to be a scary, horrible problem for you and your pet. The best course of action for both of you is prevention, through regular testing and worming.


Take a Bite out of Dog Bites

May 15-21st is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Here are some tips to help you, your kids, grandkids and pets stay safe.

1. Always ask before petting a dog.

2. Take your dog on walks around the neighborhood, trips to the pet store, trips to friends and other places to expose him or her to new places and people.

3. Take your dog to training classes, dog parks, dog daycare and other places to expose him or her to new dogs.

4. Never leave a child unattended with a dog. Even the friendliest, smallest dogs can bite.

5. Keep your dog vaccinated against Rabies. Rabies vaccines are due every year or three years, depending on which vaccine your pet receives.

6. If your dog seems scared, get him or her out of that situation. Dogs can bite when they are scared. 

7. Never pet a stray dog.

8. Never run away from an unknown dog. Always walk away. Running may trigger a dog to chase and attack.

9. Never corner a dog so it does not have a way to escape. He or she may bite or attack to escape.


Fast Facts

4.7 MILLION people are bit by dogs EVERY year in this country.

Children ages 5 - 9 are most at risk for being bitten, especially boys this age. The second group most at risk are senior citizens.

Most of the bites seen in children were to the head and neck.

Most of the bites seen in adults were to the arms and legs. 



How You Can Help Wild Baby Animals

Published: Apr. 6, 2011  Source: Anne Rivas 
An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/


In springtime wild critters emerge from their winter hideaways and before you know it, baby animal season is here. When you go out to enjoy the warmer weather, you may hear the peeps of baby birds high up in the trees, or the little chirps of baby rabbits hiding in their nests of grass.

But, wait! You see no sign of the mother. You begin to worry about the helpless little ones. You sit on your porch, waiting for the mother to return. After several hours with no sign of the mother, you conclude that these animals must be orphaned. What can you do to save them?

According to Anne Rivas, a veterinary student and co-manager of the Wildlife Medical Clinic at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, approximately half of the "orphaned" animals brought to the wildlife clinic are perfectly healthy. Some of these animals have been removed from their nest to avoid such dangers as the family pet or tree removal. But unfortunately, well-meaning people often "kidnap" baby animals that are being cared for by their parents.

Why don't you see the mother? It's because mothers in the wild instinctively try to protect their nests. That means not drawing attention to the area where the newborns lie. If the mother detects that her nest is being watched by a potential predator (even a human standing at a distance), she will stay away from the nest completely until the coast is clear. If you would like to ensure that the mother visits the nest to feed her babies, it is best to watch from afar (completely out of sight) for 4 to 6 hours. In fact, even without the prospect of danger, mother rabbits normally spend no more than 5 minutes at their nest per day.

If you find a baby animal out of its nest, however, this is a time when you can take action to help the newborn! What to do depends on the age of the animal.

Young birds with feathers are likely fledglings that may be ready to leave the nest even though they are not yet fully able to fly. If the bird is featherless, it needs to go back to its nest as soon as possible.

For baby mammals, age is more difficult to estimate and depends on the species. The most commonly found baby mammal is the wild rabbit. If the rabbit is about the size of a tennis ball, looks just like a miniature form of its adult counterpart, and is able to hop around, then it is old enough to survive on its own.

If the baby animal appears too young to survive on its own, it is very important to remember that any baby animal's best chance for survival is with its mother.

"Even in the best possible scenarios, humans will be nowhere near as proficient in care for these delicate little animals as their mothers will. Survival rates for animals raised in captivity can be significantly lower than those raised in a natural setting," Rivas says.

There is also a risk that the baby animal will "imprint" on humans, meaning that it will no longer have a fear of humans. In order for the animal to have a good chance of being successfully returned to the wild, it needs to maintain a healthy fear of humans to avoid harm to itself and to people. This is particularly true for raccoons, deer, and birds, who may pose a risk if they approach people once they are returned to the wild.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that the mother won't feed a baby that has been touched by human hands. If a baby animal has fallen or been removed from its nest, you can certainly pick up the baby and return it to its nest if possible. If you are unable to find the nest or the nest is no longer intact, you can place the baby in a shallow box with grass and place it near where the baby was found (in a tree for birds, on the ground for baby mammals). Then, out of sight, you can once again monitor the make-shift nest for the mother to return.

Unfortunately, you may also find a baby animal that is injured. According to Rivas, "If the animal appears to have broken a bone, is very cold, is bleeding, or has been attacked by a predator, the baby animal needs medical attention."

There are many wildlife rehabilitators throughout the country who know how to care for an injured baby animal and ready it for release back into the wild once it has healed. To find a wildlife rehabilitator, you can call your state wildlife agency, a local veterinarian, humane societies, Audubon societies, animal control officers, or the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you are unsure whether an animal is old enough to survive on its own or needs medical attention, then it is best to contact a wildlife rehabilitator before removing it from the area where you found it.

"Remember," Rivas stresses, "any baby animal's best chance for survival is with its mother in the wild." If you have any questions about orphaned animals, contact your local veterinarian or visit the website of the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic at vetmed.illinois.edu/wmc/.  

Veterinary Extension/Office of Public Engagement
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

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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