Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also can carry some hazards for pets. Holiday food needs to be kept away from pets, and pet owners who travel need to either transport their pets safely or find safe accommodations for them at home. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

Poison Risks

Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets: Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.
  • Keep the feast on the table—not under it.  Eating turkey or turkey skin – sometimes even a small amount – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets – including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them.
  • No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods – also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
  • Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it.  A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.
  • Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Precautions for Parties

If you’re hosting a party or overnight visitors, plan ahead to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for everyone.
  • Visitors can upset your pets. Some pets are shy or excitable around new people or in crowds, and Thanksgiving often means many visitors at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. If you know your dog or cat is nervous when people visit your home, put him/her in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
    Learn about dog bite prevention.
    • If any of your guests have compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, some diseases, or medications or treatments that suppress the immune system), make sure they’re aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take extra precautions to protect themselves.
    • If you have exotic pets, remember that some people are uncomfortable around them and that these pets may be more easily stressed by the festivities. Keep exotic pets safely away from the hubbub of the holiday.
  • Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
    Learn more about microchips.
  • Watch your pets around festive decorations. Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. And pine cones, needles and other decorations can cause intestinal blockages or even perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten.

Travel Concerns

Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, take these precautions to safeguard them when traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday or at any other time of the year.
Your pet needs a health certificate from your veterinarian if you’re traveling across state lines or international borders, whether by air or car. Learn the requirements for any states you will visit or pass through, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get the needed certificate within the timeframes required by those states.
Learn more about health certificates.
Never leave pets alone in vehicles, even for a short time, regardless of the weather.
Pets should always be safely restrained in vehicles. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pets if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident; keeps them away from potentially poisonous food or other items you are transporting; prevents them from causing dangerous distractions for the driver; and can prevent small animals from getting trapped in small spaces. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
Learn more about properly restraining pets in vehicles.
Talk with your veterinarian if you’re traveling by air and considering bringing your pet with you. Air travel can put some pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you regarding your own pet’s ability to travel.
Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items. Refer to our Traveling with Your Pet FAQ for a more complete list. 
Are you considering boarding your dog while you travel? Talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from canine flu and other contagious diseases, and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.

Food Safety

Don’t forget to protect your family and loved ones from foodborne illnesses while cooking your Thanksgiving meal. Hand washing, and safe food handling and preparation, are important to make sure your holiday is a happy one. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips for handling, thawing and cooking turkey, as well as saving your leftovers.

More Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween Dangers for Pets

Halloween can be fun and festive for people, but for pets it can also be dangerous. There are many Halloween pet safety hazards that are well-known (such as chocolate toxicity) and some that are not (like xylitol toxicity). Here are some tips to help you ensure that your pet has a happy and safe Halloween.
Things to Watch For on Halloween
Halloween is fun for kids and adults, but it can be scary and stressful for pets.
  •   A constant ringing doorbell & strangely dressed people at the door can be stressful
    for a pet. Some pets may experience diarrhea or even injure themselves if crated/ contained. Consider keeping your pet in a separate quiet room, away from the door, when trick-or-treaters arrive. Strange people in even stranger clothes can frighten some pets.
  •   Strangers in Costume may provoke an otherwise friendly pet into unexpectedly aggressive or fearful behavior.
  •   Pumpkins or candles within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails and frightened cats zipping through the house can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and cause a fire.
  •   Keep your pets indoors. Halloween pranks committed against pets can be vicious, and black cats are particularly at risk. Also, make sure that your pet doesn't run out of your home when you answer the door. In case your pet does escape, make sure it is wearing proper identification. Pets with identification are much more likely to be returned.
  •   Halloween treats are for people, not pets. Be sure to warn children not to share their treats with pets. Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can be hazardous if swallowed and chocolate is poisonous for some types of pets.
    Candy Concerns
     Candies, gum, mints, baked goods and chocolate containing the “sugar-free” sweetener Xylitol are highly toxic, causing rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs and possibly other species (ferrets).
     Chocolate is also toxic to pets. A 50-pound dog would have to eat about 50 ounces of milk
    chocolate (but only 5 ounces of baking chocolate) for a toxic dose, but much smaller amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of chocolate toxicity: tremors, nerv- ousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures and
    death. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian.
     Lollipop sticks and other plastic parts can cause intestinal obstruction and poten- tially rupture the intestines, which is a life-threatening emergency.
    Pet Costumes vs. Safety
    If you dress your pet in a costume, be sure that it doesn't interfere with the pet's ability to breathe, see, hear, move, or bark. Also, consider reflective collars/gear for pets (and people).
    For more information and tips about holiday safety for pets, call or visit your family veterinarian. Remember, your veterinarian is your very best source for advice on keeping your pet safe, healthy, and happy!
    Provided by Chicago Veterinary Medical Association

Halloween Pet Slide Show

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yard Sale Sunday August 23rd at Niles Animal Hospital from 9 AM til 3 PM

Yard Sale Reminder

A reminder about our yard sale. The yard sale will be at Niles Animal Hospital in the parking lot on Sunday August 23rd from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sale will benefit "A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife" a parrot rescue organization in Northbrook.

We will be collecting the materials this week before the yard sale at the hospital. We will be open until 6 PM today and until 2 PM this Saturday before the sale to ease the gathering of materials. We will also be at the sale at 7 AM to also ease drop off of materials if you want to drop materials off in the AM. 
Stop on by to find some treasures and also support a great cause. We would also appreciate any volunteers who would like to help the set up and sale as well.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dr. Sakas Back on National Catholic Radio Monday August 24th at 1 PM CST

Dr. Sakas is Back on National Catholic Radio Monday August 24th

Dr. Sakas will be back on the radio again next Monday.

Dr. Sakas will be on the nationally broadcast radio show, "On Call" hosted by Wendy Wiese, on Relevant Radio, Monday, August 24th from 1-2 PM CST. It can be heard on 950 AM, 930 AM, 1270 AM or accessed through your computer at and listened to online. It is a call in show and Dr. Sakas had been a regular guest on the show in the past. Their phone number for call ins is 1-877-766-3777.

Future dates are being set up....all between 1-2 CST. We will keep providing updates.

If you cannot listen to it live, go to the "On Call" portion of the Relevant Radio website at, where you can hear an archived version of this show. (Typically it is posted a day or two after the broadcast and then kept up for a few months).

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A chicken rescue we were involved in with Robert Grillo from "Free from Harm" a chcicken rescue organization

Backyard chicken rescuer tries to seed compassion for birds

Backyard chicken trend's sad consequence: Abandoned birds.
The orphan chicken came to Robert Grillo in the usual way.
A woman who'd found the injured bird slumped on the side of the road on Chicago's South Side scooped up the chicken, came across Grillo's name online and sent an email. It happens about five times a week to Grillo, a soft-spoken, part-time graphic and Web designer who has a pet white king pigeon named Elba and a chicken run in his backyard.
Grillo rescues chickens, a mission that exposes an unsettling consequence of the popular backyard poultry movement. For a number of reasons, would-be urban and suburban chicken farmers ditch the birds in significant numbers.
But Grillo is attempting to do something more than save a few chickens from a catastrophic end. He's using the rescues as marketing device, trying to foster widespread compassion for an animal he says is largely underappreciated and mistreated.
"Backyard chickens need to be rescued for the same reasons as other animals we care about need to be rescued," Grillo said one recent afternoon in his backyard. The rescued South Side chicken, who Grillo named Rosa for the reddish hue of her feathers, rolled in the dirt in her enclosure.
"They have the same kind of needs," Grillo said. "They have the same capacity to form companionship and lifelong bonds with us." When those bonds are established, he added, humans value the birds differently and care for them more deeply.
"And, that's the vision we're aspiring to," Grillo said, "a different vision for chickens; not just as resources but as animals that actually have tremendous capacity to be loving, affectionate, wonderful companions with us."
Precisely how many chickens are abandoned is unclear. News reports as recently as 2013 said hundreds were being returned each year to individual sanctuaries and rescue centers across the U.S.
In the Chicago area, Cook County animal control reported it receives very few calls to pick up abandoned chickens. A spokesman for DuPage County Animal Care & Control said the office has received five calls this year. But Richard Weiner, CEO of the Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, a parrot rescue nonprofit based in Northbrook, said he gets one to two calls a week from people who want to get rid of a chicken.
Grillo is selective about which chickens he brings to his neat, brown shingle house in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Each month, he said, he receives nearly two dozen calls from various sources for rescues and ends up taking on two or three that are in the most dire need. There was a badly neglected hen a farmer abandoned after the animal stopped laying eggs; a severely injured chicken found in an alley on Chicago's Northwest Side; a rooster that lost its feet and part of a leg to frostbite and gangrene.
In most cases, Grillo arranges for treatment with Dr. Peter Sakas, a veterinarian at Niles Animal Hospital who has been working on birds for 32 years. Once the chicken is on the road to recovery, Grillo often houses the animal in the enclosure behind his back porch for a few days until he places the bird in a compassionate setting.
And, for each rescue, Grillo composes a blog post, including photos and, if possible, video, of the entire experience. That message delivery system is aimed at promoting sympathy for the birds.
Each individual story, he said, is much more effective at creating affection for chickens than video of hundreds of them on a farm.
"It's important," Grillo said, "because reconnection is the key step in overcoming the prejudice, the obstacles that we have, the biases that we have, the reasons these animals are treated the way they are. If we can reconnect with them, that's the first major step to progress in that direction."
Born and raised in Chicago, Grillo came to the work in 2009, when "on an impulse" he adopted three chicks from a teacher friend who had used them in a classroom program.
"It was baptism by fire," Grillo, 50, said, adding that his perceptions of the animals as dirty, mean and stupid changed quickly. The chickens followed him around his place, hopped in his lap and took naps.
"They just bonded with me," said Grillo, who practices a vegan lifestyle. "They became members of the family, like a cat or dog."
The same year he adopted the three chicks, Grillo established Free From Harm, a nonprofit charitable organization that its Web site says promotes "farmed animal rescue, education and advocacy." And, he started rescuing chickens. He estimates that he has saved about 45 of them.
The conventional explanation for why abandonment occurs is that the would-be caretakers were caught up in the popular movement of raising backyard chickens and then became decidedly less enthusiastic after discovering — too late — that the birds require a fairly complicated commitment.
But Jennifer Murtoff, an urban chicken consultant in Oak Park, said the reasons vary. Some chickens wander away; chicken owners move to an area that prohibits the birds; hens stop laying eggs and the owners no longer want to care for the chickens; people mistakenly purchased a rooster.
It's a problem that worked its way up to the governor's mansion. In spring 2014, then-Gov. Pat Quinn welcomed nine chickens to a pen in the home's rose garden. When Quinn left office, the chickens were left behind, and Gov. Bruce Rauner returned the birds to the woman who had provided them.
The solution to the problem of chicken abandonment, Murtoff and others say, is taking a class on raising them before acquiring a bird, or reviewing various websites.
Grillo's efforts also include an online educational component, part of which he uses to cast a critical eye on the commercial poultry industry. It already has a dubious reputation in the U.S.
The Humane Society of the United States reports that "hundreds of millions of chickens" in the egg industry spend their entire lives in extraordinarily harsh, filthy conditions, many packed in spaces so tight they are unable to spread their wings.
"It's a moral race to the bottom," said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society.
At the same time, recent research indicates that the birds are smarter, more social and more complicated than had been thought.
"Our attitudes toward these animals may stem in part from simple lack of understanding," the society stated this year in a report on chickens, "and this has largely led us to disregard their suffering as they are raised for meat and egg production."
The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association disputes those depictions, contending that the animals are raised in spacious, sophisticated, climate-controlled barns where they have 24-hour access to clean water and feed, spokeswoman Gwen Venable said. Chickens also benefit from professional veterinary attention, advances in nutrition and protection from predators and disease, she added.
Against that backdrop, Grillo wages his campaign, one chicken at a time.
Rosa, his latest, is making progress. A couple of days after he retrieved her from the animal hospital, Grillo let the chicken roam his fenced backyard while he sat on a lounge chair.
The bird hopped in Grillo's lap, made herself comfortable and started purring. When he went to place her in the coop, she resisted, climbing up his arm.
"You can't help but be moved by their connection to us," Grillo said, "when we open ourselves up to the possibility."
Twitter @tgregoryreports

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yard Sale at Niles Animal Hospital 8/23/15

Finally, our long awaited yard sale. We will be holding a yard sale at Niles Animal Hospital in the parking lot on Sunday August 23rd from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sale will benefit "A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife" a parrot rescue organization in Northbrook.

So bring your material for the sale to the hospital for donation to the sale. We will be collecting the materials the week before the yard sale at the hospital. We will be open until 4 PM the Saturday before the sale to ease the gathering of materials. We will also be at the sale at 7 AM to also ease drop off of materials.

Stop on by to find some treasures and also support a great cause. We would also appreciate any volunteers who would like to help the set up and sale as well.