Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Stop the Howling, Whining & Digging





Please Don't Leave Me! When Dogs have Separation Anxiety, Frustration and Fun

Dogs are a true companion animal. They want to be a companion as well as have a companion for themselves. It is somewhat common for young dogs to bark, whimper or howl for a spell when left completely alone. If a dog has had good things happen when you go - say given a rawhide or food puzzle then that dog learns to be independent. If a dog has learned that a crate is a good place by getting fed in a crate or given a special toy when going into the crate, then they settle in the crate well.

If a dog has not had consistent positive use of a crate or area of confinement, then the dog will see this area as a place of banishment and isolation. This can create the frustration of being left and result in pawing, chewing, or busting out of a crate. All the fighting then leads to more anxiety and can escalate into full blown separation anxiety. Now some dogs that get out of the crate may be crafty, and actually having fun escaping from the crate. If your dog is getting out of the crate it is very important to observe and report all the types of damage and disruption you see. Catching your dog on video is extremely important in making the correct diagnosis of Separation anxiety/frustration or fun.

Dogs that are not confined may show signs of soiling in the house, destructive chewing, or " pack ratting" - gathering up all your personal items and pooling them all in their bed. This may be confusing - is the dog having housebreaking problems, bored or what?  It is very important to find a veterinarian trained in animal behavior to help screen for physical problems, normal unruly behaviors or true anxiety problems. If your dog keeps busting out of a crate, stop buying new crates. The crate may be the problem in the case of barrier frustration or there may be triggers that sends your dog into a panic attack and they maybe fighting to get out. The right diagnosis needs to be made, and then the treatment started to help your pet. Dogs that hate their crates may do better out of any crate. You could use a baby gate to block off an area that will prevent destructive chewing but not be as confining. We often see rescue dogs frustrated by crates. Some rescue dogs may have been heavily crated in the first home; some may have spent a long time in a rescue caged for long periods. Others may have never been in a crate before and it is strange and scary.  Dogs can break their teeth, skin the nose and take other hurt to themselves when they are so panicked to get out. They don't take this personal hurt just because they are mad. Call us for a consult if your dog is doing any of this before your dog really hurts themselves.

Now some dogs are bored and rearranging the pillows, gathering up your stuff, or knocking over the garbage for fun. Video is your friend here!  You would be amazed at what your pets are doing when you are gone - have you seen the YouTube video of Hank the mastiff that got in the garbage? Clues that it is not anxiety is the lack of damage - no torn up carpets, dug up flooring by a door or window for example. 



Creaky Old Cats

Older cats do not show the signs of aging in the same way that our pet dogs do. Many would say that a cat does not show signs of aging. In a way this is true - cats are the master at hiding the expected signs of pain or disease.

Many veterinarians consider a cat over the age of 9 to have entered middle age. Many cats live to be well into the teens. Some aging changes such as arthritis in the lumbar spine can begin as young as 9 years old, so it is good to be aware of how you can slow down these changes for your kitty. Other changes include constipation, hairball problems, and weight gain.

Cats are the greatest hiders of disease. They do not cry out in pain, or limp. This is why it is common for many cat owners to miss the subtle signs that a cat is aging and having some early problems. Cats are both the predator and the prey. They hunt animals smaller than themselves to eat but are lunch for larger predators in the wild. So, when a cat is moving more slowly their instinct is to hide or stay quiet to avoid getting eaten. This "wild" behavior is still evident in our house cats today. So when your 10 year old cat is not interacting with the family as much it may be due to some health problem.

Now, many cats do not like to ride in carriers to come in for exams. You can make this easier for your cat as well by keeping the carrier out with the door off. Put some really good canned food in there for a few days in a row. Now your cat has good things associated with the carrier, and will not be as upset about coming in. Feliway is a calming spray for cats available at pet stores and veterinary clinics. You can spray the carrier about 20 minutes before travel to help your cat calm down. A pillow case makes a great alternative carrier too. You can see a great video showing how to do this with Mercy our office cat as the star.

Occasionally cats just behave badly when they are not feeling well. We have had cases of cats that are not using the litter box or fighting with housemates when arthritis was the underlying reason. It may seem strange to us, but for the cat that pain was making it hard to get in and out of the box. Jumping up on perching places may have become difficult so there was competition for other perching places, leading to kitty fighting. So if your cat is behaving badly, please bring them in to a veterinarian who has extra education in cat behavior!

There is much more known about senior cat health and how to help your cat live a better older life. We use only less stressful handling in dogs and cats to make veterinary exams easier on your pet and you. Senior diets, nutritional supplements and vitamins can make a big difference in how your kitty friend is feeling. If your cat has not had a check up in a while, please make an appointment soon. Problems caught early are simpler to treat and less expensive to manage.




Dogs Downtown? You bet!
After the demolition and clean up of the Dotson building on Sale Street in Tuscola, there will be a very vacant spot. In other words, a hole. Typically these vacant areas are detraction to the street unless there is a quick reuse of the property. The best reuse of any property is one that fills a need in the community, improving the lives of the community and can be shared by those outside of town.

I met with Brian Moody and Carly McCrory of TEDI shortly before the Dotson project began. They asked my opinion about using that space as some kind of dog play or park area. As it turns out surveys of the community revealed that a dog park, recreation areas and a place for shoppers at the Tanger mall who also have their pets in tow was greatly desired. As timing would have it, some Hands 4 paws board members had discussed getting interest up for some kind of a dog play area in the future.
So the seeds of creating a dog park/play area have been sewn. Information has been gathered about state regulations, how to run and maintain such a space, planning the use and layout of the space and some of the benefits and drawbacks of such a park. I led a community meeting Tuesday at Jarman Center Senior Living to outline some of these pros and cons. Many good ideas came out, and groups have formed to present an initial plan to our city council. 


Continue reading on Dr. Foote's blog.


Preventing Pet Poisonings

March 18 - 24th is Poison Prevention week. So we wanted to share some common items that can poison pets. If you believe your pet has eaten any of these, please call us at 217-253-3221 or the Animal Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435. Bring any uneaten portion of food, plant, medication, etc to the clinic with you. Also bring any wrappers or bottles with you.

  1. Prescription and non prescription medications and vitamins - Dogs chew on pill bottles because the bottle smells like their owner and makes noises. Dogs and cats will eat the pills because the pills often have a coating that taste good.
  2. People food - Grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, chocolate, macadamia nuts, fatty foods, figs, leeks, rhubarb, tomatoes and sugar free candy are poisonous to pets.
  3. Cleaning products - bleach, laundry detergent, fabric detergent, lysol and other cleaners are toxic to pets.
  4. Household chemicals - paint thinner, antifreeze, moth balls, lighter fluid, liquid potpourri, lead paint and other chemicals are poisonous.
  5. Plants - aloe, amaryllis, lilies, cycads, daffodils, ivy, ferns, palms, morning glory, philodendron, pothos, tulips and many other plants are poisonous. Visit this page for a more complete list of poisonous plants.
  6. Pesticides, Insecticides, Fertilizers - These chemicals are poisonous to pets. Dogs and cats will often eat dead mice or rats. If that mouse or rat that died from mouse poison, then the pet can also die from eating the poisoned animal. 
  7. Batteries - Batteries and pets don't mix. The battery starts to break down and poison's the pet. The battery can also get stuck in your pet's intestines.

Visit the ASPCA's Poison Control website for information about preventing poisonings and what to do when your pet eats something poisonous. 


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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