Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Get You in the Holiday Spirit....

Here is a Holiday slide show I created for our hospital web site. It is a collection of photos, some of our clients pets mixed with other assorted Holiday photos. The music are two classics, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams and A Christmas Song by Nat King Cole.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Traveling with Your Pet

As it is the holiday season and there is a great deal of traveling being done, here are some tips about traveling with your pet(s). It is best to have all your "i's" dotted and your "t's" crossed so you do not have any surprises. This information, provided by the American Veterinary medical Association (AVMA) will help make you a well-prepared traveler and help minimize any stress.

Traveling with Your Pet
What should I think about when deciding to travel with my pet?
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable with travel
    • Some pets cannot handle travel because of illness, injury, age or temperament.
    • If your pet is not good with travel, you should consider a reliable pet-sitter or talk to your veterinarian about boarding facilities in your area.
  • Make sure your pet has identification tags with up-to-date information.
  • Having your pet implanted with a microchip can improve your chances of getting your pet back if it becomes lost. The microchip must be registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number. A tag is included when you have a microchip that has the microchip number and a mobile contact of the owner, so if the pet is found, they can use the tag to determine ownership without having to contact a veterinarian. Contact the microchip company for a replacement tag if you've lost yours, and for information on how to update your personal information when traveling.
  • If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate is required. The health certificate must be signed by a veterinarian after your pet has been examined and found to be free of disease. Your pet's vaccinations must be up to date in order for the health certificate to be completed.
  • Make sure that your pet is allowed where you are staying. Some accommodations will allow pets and some will not, so check in advance. Also, when traveling, you should bring a portable kennel with you if you have to leave your pet unattended.
    • Staying with Friends or Family: Inform your host that your pet will be coming along and make sure that your pet is a welcomed guest as well.
    • Staying in a Hotel or Motel: Stay at a pet friendly place. Some hotels and motels only accept small pets or pets under a certain weight; when making a reservation, make sure you inquire about the terms of their pet policy. Try to minimize the amount of time your pet will be alone in the room. When leaving your pet alone in the room, inform the front desk that your pet is being left alone in the room and place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Make sure the hotel/motel knows how they can contact you if there are any problems.
    • Staying at a Park, Campground or Marina: Make sure these places are pet friendly, clean up after your pet and always keep your pet on a leash.
Whom should I contact as I am considering travel arrangements?
  • Your veterinarian
  • The airline or travel company
  • The accommodations: hotel, motel, park, camping ground or marina
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Inspection Service, Veterinary Services: or 800-545-USDA (8732) and press #2 for State Regulations
  • Foreign Consulate or Regulatory Agency (if traveling to another country)
  • If you are traveling to another country (or even Hawaii), there may be quarantine or other health requirements
  • If traveling out of the continental United States, you should contact these agencies at least 4 weeks in advance

What should I bring with me on my trip?
  • Your veterinarian's contact information
  • List of Veterinarians and 24 hour Emergency Hospitals along the way and close to your destination. To find a listing of Veterinarians & Pet Emergency Hospitals in the United States, contact:
·         AVMA Search
·         State VMA
    • Current color photo of your pet
    • ID tag should include:
      • Owner's name, current home address and home phone number
    • Travel ID tag should include:
      • Owner's local contact phone number and address
      • Contact information for your accommodations (hotel, campground etc)
    • The microchip registration should be updated with your current contact information including a cell phone number.
  • Medical Records
    • Current copies of your pet's medical records including pre-existing conditions and medications (especially when re-locating or traveling out of the country). For travel within the United States, a brief summary of medical conditions would be sufficient.
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate)
    • Proof of vaccinations (Proof of rabies vaccination required) and other illnesses
    • Requires an examination by a licensed and accredited veterinarian to make sure the animal is not showing signs of disease.
  • Acclimation certificate for air travel
    • This is only required by some airlines, so check to see if your airline requires this.
  • Items for your pet
    • Prescribed medications (adequate supply for entire duration of trip and several days' surplus supply, just in case)
    • Collar, leash, harness
    • Crate
    • Bed/blankets
    • Toys
    • Food and cool, fresh water
    • Food and water dishes
  • First Aid Kit for your pet*For more information on Pet First Aid and First Aid Kits, please go to the AVMA Pet First Aid Site
Where do I get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and acclimation certificate, if needed?
Many states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, accredited veterinarian when traveling. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date for a health certificate to be issued. As part of the exam, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease and prescribe heartworm preventative medication. When you return home, your veterinarian may recommend a follow-up examination to make sure that your pet did not pick up any diseases or parasites while traveling.
You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian. If your veterinarian is not federally accredited, you will need to find an accredited veterinarian in your area, by contacting your USDA Area Office.
Can I bring my pet out of the country with me?
Yes, but keep in mind that you have to follow both the United States regulations as well as the regulations in the other country to which you are traveling. You should contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks of disease to your pet and have your pet vaccinated appropriately based on the risks. Some countries (and Hawaii) require quarantine of your pet upon arrival, Knowing the requirements before you travel helps you decide if you are going to take your pet or leave it at home, and prepares you for what to expect if you do take your pet with you.

Can I bring my pet camping?
Yes. The same rules apply when taking your pet camping. Talk to your veterinarian about flea, tick and heartworm prevention as well as specific risks associated with camping outdoors. (such as leptospirosis and other diseases).
Keep your pet on a leash and in your sight; and be considerate of other campers. Clean up after your pet.
Being outside, your pet can be exposed to many different wild animals like skunks, raccoons, snakes and other animals that can injure your pet or expose them to disease. Do not let your pet chase or come into contact with wildlife—it can be dangerous for both your pet and the wild animal.

Forms of Travel
Traveling by Plane
What can I do to prepare my pet for air travel?
  • Check with airlines because they may have restrictions on breed and size.
  • Most airlines also require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) issued within 10 days of travel.
  • Federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks old and they should be weaned at least 5 days before flying.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about feeding schedules. It is usually recommended that pets fly on an empty or nearly empty stomach. The pet's age, dietary needs and size, and the time and distance of the flight should all be taken into consideration.

What is the best way to choose flights appropriate for my pet?
  • Reservations should be made for you and your pet at the same time because airlines often limit how many pets are allowed on each flight.
  • Try to book a non-stop flight and avoid plane changes when possible.
  • When possible, avoid flying during busy holidays.
  • In warm weather, choose early morning or late evening flights.
  • In colder weather, choose mid-day flights.
  • Reconfirm flight arrangements the day before you leave to minimize the chance of unexpected changes.

What should I do on the day of the flight?
  • Arrive to the airport early so you have time to exercise your pet.
  • If your pet will be in the cabin, check in as late as possible to reduce the time your pet will have to wait in the terminal.
  • Place your pet in its crate and pick it up as soon as you arrive at your destination.
  • Notify the flight attendant that your pet is in cargo hold.

What is an acclimation certificate?
  • This is a form from your veterinarian that will waive the low temperature Federal regulation as stated in the Animal Welfare Act.
  • If the airline cannot guarantee that the animal will not be in temperatures lower than 45°F (7.2°C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is moved between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when the pet is in a holding facility, and you don't have an acclimation certificate, the airline will not let your pet fly.
  • Airlines cannot ship animals if temperatures will be higher than 85° F (29.5 C) for more than four consecutive hours while in animal holding areas of airport terminals or for more than 45 minutes while transferring the animal between the aircraft and the animal holding area, under any circumstances.
Do I need to get an acclimation certificate?
  • Some airlines will require an acclimation certificate in order to let your pet travel.
  • Acclimation certificates are written at the discretion of the veterinarian, and are based on the veterinarian's assessment of the pet's health.
  • There are no acclimation certificates that allow pets to be shipped when conditions are above 85°F (29.5°C).

Should I tranquilize or sedate my pet for long flights?
It is recommended that you DO NOT give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Short-nosed dogs and cats sometimes have even more difficulty with travel. Airlines may require a signed statement that your pet has not been tranquilized prior to flying.

What are crates approved for air travel?
It is best to purchase an approved crate prior to travel (at the airline or local pet store) so you have time to let your pet get used to the crate and be comfortable. If your pet is small and can fit comfortably in an airline approved carrier, your pet may be able to travel with you in the cabin.

Approved crates should:
  • Be large enough for your pet to stand (without touching the top of the cage), turn around and lie down
  • Be strong and free of interior protrusions, with handles or grips
  • Have a leak-proof bottom with plenty of absorbent material
  • Be ventilated on opposite sides, with exterior knobs and rims that will not block airflow
  • Be clearly labeled with owners name, home address and phone number, destination contact information and a sign stating "Live Animals" with arrows showing which way is upright.

Traveling by Boat
How do I prepare my pet for traveling in my boat?
  • For personal boats, take time to allow your pet to become familiar with your boat.
  • Provide a ramp for your pet to easily get on and off the boat, or carry your pet on and off the boat.
  • Call ahead to make sure the marina or park is pet friendly.

What items should I bring with me to keep my pet safe?
  • Your pet should wear a proper-fitting personal flotation device (a life jacket) at all times to keep your pet safe in and around water, even if they know how to swim.
  • Applying sunscreen prevents sunburn to your pet, especially pets with light skin and short or thin haircoats. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a non-toxic, non-skin irritating sunscreen for your pets.
  • Provide non-slip bathroom rugs to assist your pet from sliding on the wet boat and from burning their paws.
  • You should have your pet in a carrier, or on a harness or leash to prevent them from jumping or falling overboard.

How will my pet go to the bathroom when on a boat?
You can train your dog to use a piece of astroturf, a box of sod or newspaper. For cats and other small animals that use litter boxes, make sure there is a covered litterbox secured to the floor inside the boat.

What should I do to prepare when traveling on a cruise with my pet?
  • For public boats, check with the boating company to find out their requirements and restrictions.
  • Most boating companies will require you to provide a regulation carrier and a leash for dogs.
  • You will also need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and possibly a travel form, depending on the areas that you will be visiting.

What are some other things to think about when traveling by boat?
  • When traveling by boat, your pet should have exercise before boarding and when you make stops.
  • When traveling to foreign countries, you will need an International Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate).
  • You may also need a permit and have to fill out a form
  • Some pets get motion sicknesses on boats. If your pet becomes motion sick in the car, it will likely be sick on a boat. Talk to your veterinarian about alternate traveling suggestions or medications.

Traveling by Car
What can I do to prepare my pet for traveling in a car?
  • If your pet does not ride well in a car, consider leaving your pet at home, with friends or family, or in a boarding facility.
  • If you don't often take your pet in the car, start with short trips to "fun" destinations (such as a dog-friendly park or play area) to help your pet get used to riding in a car.
  • If your pet gets car sick, talk to your veterinarian about alternate traveling suggestions or medications to keep them comfortable.

What should I do to keep my pet safe and healthy?
  • Make frequent stops (about every 2-3 hours) to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise.
  • Properly restrain your pet in the car to prevent injury to your pets, you and to other drivers.
  • Do not let your pet ride in the back of a truck. If your pet must ride in the truck bed, they should be confined in a protective kennel that is secured to the truck to prevent injury. Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside the window. Dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears and nose and cause injury or infection.
  • Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver's lap or near the driver's feet. Small pets should be confined in crates or in travel-safe dog beds, and larger pets should be appropriately restrained with harnesses attached to the car's seat belts.
  • Cats should be transported in carriers.
  • Providing a familiar blanket and/or safe toy can help make your pet more comfortable during the trip.

Traveling by Train or Bus
Can my pet travel with me on a train or bus?
Most states restrict the travel of pets on trains or buses. Exceptions are made for guide or service dogs. Check with your carrier to find out if your pet can come with you and what rules and regulations apply.
Other Resources for Pet Owners
This article was excerpted from materials provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Visit the website for more information.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"You Doctor....You Fix." A Strange Experience.

On Saturdays we are open from 8 AM until 2 PM, although we never get out on time as the day is usually pretty hectic with all types of emergencies. But one Saturday was very different as we had a very unusual emergency situation.

It was mid-summer, quite a few years ago and it was probably about 3 PM, after a typical grueling Saturday. We had just finished up with our last case, were in the back part of the hospital in the process of going through the end of the day shutdown, when I was paged by one of our receptionists. "Dr. Sakas, could you please come up here right now?" There was something in her voice that seemed quite unusual and the fact that she wanted me to come up to the reception area had me concerned with all kinds of thoughts running through my head.

When I got to the reception area of the hospital there were two men standing there. One man had on a tee shirt, shorts and a pair of sandals. The other man had only a pair of skimpy Speedos and a hat, the type that bicyclists would wear with the bill flipped up (now they all wear helmets). Both men had very foul body odor, to the point of being nauseating. I noticed the man in the Speedos had no shoes on his feet and that there was a gaping hole in his right foot that was bleeding. The blood was beginning to pool on the tile floor of the hospital. I was absolutely aghast and the receptionists were behind the desk horrified by the whole scene.

I then asked the men what was going on and what they wanted. In a thick Eastern European type accent, the non-bleeding man, acted as the spokesman and began to say, as he pointed to his friend's foot, "You Doctor? You fix!" I was absolutely flabbergasted and for one of the few times in my life was totally speechless. He then became more insistent, "You Doctor.....You fix." I finally found my voice and said that I was an animal doctor and that I did not take care of people. He then continued, "You Doctor, yes? Then you fix." I tried again to explain that I could not work on people as I was not trained to do so and it was also against the law for me to do so. He became agitated and said "You fix." He began to make a gesture like someone suturing a wound or so it seemed. He was not getting it and I kept trying to explain. Strangely, the more I argued with him, the more I began to sound like them, despite my thirteen years of college, saying "I animal doctor, I fix dogs, cats, birds, no people, not legal, I lose license if I fix friend." All the while the man with the hole in his foot is calmly standing there bleeding while the pool of blood is getting bigger. We got a towel for him in the hopes of stemming some of the bleeding. In my heart I wanted to help, but I knew I could not.

I then said, "There is place down street", and I pointed north on Milwaukee Ave. "It like emergency room, it for people, they fix friend there." ( I couldn't believe how I was talking). I was trying to direct them to an immediate care facility which was a few blocks north, a place I would refer to as a "Doc in the Box" (which no longer exists there). The staff was pretty amused hearing me talk in my halting English and seeing me so flummoxed by the whole situation, as I am generally cool and under control. The harder I tried to explain what the place was and how to get there, the more confused he seemed. All the while the bleeding man is silently standing there, bleeding.

I finally had a blaze of inspiration. I told them that I had an idea that could help them out. I went to one of the phones at the reception desk and began dialing the Niles Police Department.  I then told them, "I am calling police, they help take you there." Suddenly the bleeding man got a look of utter horror on his face and yelled, "Police?????" They both turned to look at each other and began running out of the hospital leaving a trail of blood behind them. By this time a Niles policeman came to the phone and I began rapidly relating the story to him. As I was looking out our front windows I saw them driving out of our parking lot, onto Milwaukee Ave. and heading south. I was TOTALLY shocked because I could not believe who was driving....the man with the hole in his right foot (which obviously he was using to access the pedals)! I described the men and the car to the officer, but they were speeding away. He said he did not think they could catch them. So I never ever found out what happened to those men.

You just never know who or what will walk in the door! But every once in a while at the end of a Saturday and I am walking up front as I am leaving the hospital I visualize those two men standing there, one calmly bleeding while the other is insisting, "You Doctor....You fix!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets During the Holidays

With the holidays coming this is an article which is very pertinent.

Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets during the Holidays
Peter S. Sakas DVM, MS
Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
7278.N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
(847) 647-9325 FAX (847) 647-8498
The holidays are joyous and active times for people and their pets. Our pets partake in many of the seasonal festivities with us which makes the holidays that much more special. However, many of the decorations and objects we have around the household during the holidays may be dangerous to our pets. By taking a few precautions, we can make this wonderful time of year a safe one for our pets.

Holiday Food/Cooking

Food is a very important aspect of our holiday celebrations as many human waistlines can attest. Unfortunately, many of these foods can cause serious problems in our pets and as any veterinarian will tell you, this is the time of year that we see numerous gastrointestinal problems in pets.
Food Preparation -The preparation of food can be a problem, especially for pet birds. Birds have a very effective respiratory tract and coupled with their relatively small size are susceptible to toxic elements in the air. During cooking if food burns or smoke is produced, any birds nearby the kitchen could be at risk of fatal smoke inhalation. If non-stick cookware is used there is another risk for pet birds. Under normal cooking conditions, the cookware is safe but if polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coated products (such as Teflon, Silverstone, and Supra) are overheated (over 530 degrees F), they can emit toxic fumes which are fatal to birds. PTFE coated drip pans achieve high temperatures under normal usage so they should not be used around birds at all. If your bird has been exposed to smoke or fumes get them to an area of good ventilation and seek veterinary care.
Holiday Food/Leftovers -Avoid the temptation to feed your pets leftovers from your holiday meals. Many of these foods are rich; especially those that are high in fat, and can often cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances in pets which could prove fatal. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is a very common disease of dogs and is frequently caused by the eating of table scraps. The pancreas plays a role in digestion of food but when an animal eats a rich or fatty meal, the pancreas is 'overstimulated' and the organ oversecretes enzymes leading to inflammation of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting and abdominal pain, sometimes quite severe. The condition is very uncomfortable for the pet and sometimes can be fatal. If you notice these type of symptoms seek veterinary care.
Be cautious with any bones provided to your pet. Sharp bones, especially from chicken or turkey, may become lodged in the mouth or throat of your pet. If the bones move further into the digestive tract, there is a risk that the bones could perforate the stomach or intestines. This situation may require surgical removal and if they do not receive veterinary attention, they may die. Provide your .pet with commercial chew toys to avoid any potential problems.
Be cautious with guacamole around pet birds. Most bird owners know that avocado is extremely toxic for birds and severe reactions can lead to death. However, some people forget that avocado is the key ingredient in guacamole. When you are having holiday parties and with all kinds of appetizers available, such as chips and dips, be careful if there is guacamole around with your pet birds present. They may decide to sample some of the dip, or an unknowing houseguest may innocently provide a taste of the dip to one of the birds with potentially tragic results.
Chocolate - Providing a piece of chocolate to a pet may seem like an act of kindness but there is a risk that this treat could have serious consequences. Chocolate may be fatal to your pet, especially dogs, because they are sensitive to theobromine, a compound in chocolate. Dark chocolate has the highest levels of theobromine. It may cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart irregularities, muscle tremors, seizures and coma, sometimes with fatal results. Cats are rarely poisoned due to their more 'discriminating' habits. Keep those chocolate goodies out of the reach of your dog. If your dog accidentally eats some chocolate, seek veterinary care immediately.

The Christmas Tree

Decorations go up once a year and for a brief period of time. Your pets will be very interested in new and unusual objects scattered around the house believing that these are special 'toys' for their own use. Often these playthings end up lodged in the intestinal tract causing a blockage. Many dangers lurk on the Christmas tree. Overzealous dogs or cats have felled numerous wonderfully decorated trees. Support the tree securely with a sturdy stand and wires.

The Tree -There are several factors to consider with the tree. The trunk of a live tree is often coated with chemicals, such as fertilizer or insecticide. When the tree is placed in the stand and watered, the chemicals from the trunk contaminate the water. If your bird, dog or cat drinks it, they may become sick. The needles begin to fall out as the tree ages and dries. The needles are not poisonous but are very sharp, can puncture the skin and produce abscesses. If your pet tries to eat them, the needles can cut the tongue, lips and gums. If swallowed they are relatively undigestible and can actually pierce the lining of the stomach and intestines or cause a blockage.
The branches from artificial trees can be easily pulled out. The artificial needles can be sharp and are always non-digestible. If you pet chews on the branches, they might take in some of the needles. Just like the needles from the live tree, they can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding and blockage.
Lights -The lights pose many dangers. They often get very hot after being on for a while and could burn your pet if they are touched. For some strange reason pets seem attracted to wires and like to chew on them. So keep a watch on your pets for this type of activity and check the lower strings of lights for evidence of chewing. You might want to ‘pet proof’ the tree by keeping objects, such as lights and ornaments, at heights that your pets cannot reach. If you want lights all over the tree, then string them on the lower branches, but place them away from the tip of the branches. The pets will have a more difficult time reaching them if they are placed on the inner portion of the branches.
Electrical Cords -Electrical cords often seem delectable to many pets, especially cats and young puppies. Chewed cords can cause severe burns and sometimes fatal, electrical shocks. If your pet seems overly interested in electrical cords, string or tape them in a position that is inaccessible to your pet. If that does not work you can cover the cords with hot pepper sauce or use bitter tasting commercial products sold in most pet stores.
Ornaments -Avoid using glass ornaments around pets. They are fragile, break easily and the shattered pieces are sharp. If any of the pieces are swallowed, the glass can puncture the intestines, which could lead to peritonitis and possibly death. Ornament hooks are also very sharp. They can be picked up and swallowed, resulting in gastrointestinal problems such as obstructions and punctures.
Be cautious with 'edible' type ornaments. Sometimes the store-bought varieties may not be edible and contain hardening agents/preservatives that could be toxic. If you make your own edible ornaments, your pet may try to eat them. They may knock over the tree trying to get a string of homemade popcorn or a gingerbread ornament.
The safest ornaments are one-piece, non-breakable and made of non-toxic material. They should be too big to swallow. Also, have them out of the reach of curious beaks, mouths and paws.
Tinsel -One of the most dangerous materials to put on a Christmas tree is tinsel. Animals are attracted to its bright finish and flexibility. Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and if you have a cat, it is recommended that you do not use tinsel on your tree. If your pet eats tinsel, there is a good chance that it will become wrapped around the tongue. As the pet struggles to remove it, the tinsel gets stretched out and wraps even tighter. It can cut sensitive tissues in the mouth and stop the circulation of blood to the tongue. If a strand is swallowed it can bunch up and block the intestine. If this occurs, surgery is usually required to remove it. The best advice is, if you have pets, do not place tinsel on your tree. You may lose the aesthetics of the icicle effect, but your pets will be much safer.

Holiday Decorations/Packages

Many people place decorations throughout the house including lights, evergreen branches, holiday knickknacks and other assorted objects to provide a festive environment. We have discussed some of these dangers previously. Lit candles can burn a curious pet or could be knocked over and start a fire. Centerpieces of dangling streamers and feather fronds are enticing to the curious pet. If chewed and swallowed, these materials can cause an intestinal blockage. Icicles and tinsel draped on a mantle are as dangerous as tinsel on a tree. Monitor your pets and watch out for any evidence of chewing on these objects.

Wrapped presents can pose a hazard to pets. They are attracted to the decorative bows, ribbons and other frills placed on the packages. If your pet would chew and swallow these materials, there is a risk of intestinal blockage. Food packages wrapped as gifts and left under a tree can entice a hungry animal. With their keen sense of smell they can sniff these out and decide to have a feast. Exercise caution with these types of presents around pets, especially dogs.
Poisonous Plants
Many homes are decorated each year during the holiday season with poinsettias and mistletoe. These plants do represent the season; unfortunately they are toxic for our pets and represent a problem for curious dogs, cats and birds. Poinsettias produce a milky sap that is irritating to the skin and eyes on contact and to the gastrointestinal tract if eaten. It may cause irritation and blistering of the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach. Intake of large amounts of mistletoe may cause nausea, vomiting and gastroenteritis. Make sure that these plants are kept out of the reach of your pets. If you do catch you pet eating a poinsettia or a few loose mistletoe berries, seek veterinary care immediately.
Relieve Pet Stress during the Holidays
The holidays are stressful times for all of us. The commotion in decorating, purchasing gifts and entertaining friends/relatives can be overwhelming to many people. Our homes can be filled with people, especially young children. Many pets, even if not aggressive or territorial, are stressed by the increased numbers of strangers 'intruding' in their domain. The high activity level of children can be a new and stressful experience for many pets unaccustomed to this behavior. Birds can become especially upset during the holidays, particularly the larger varieties of birds. Routine is very important to birds and if that routine changes, they can become frustrated and engage in abnormal behavior. These types of behavior include, aggressiveness, screaming, biting or development of vices such as the picking off or chewing of their own feathers in frustration, which if allowed to continue can become a habit.
If possible, try to provide your pets with a consistent level of interaction with you so they do not feel left out. This is especially important with parrots. Try not to let the pandemonium of the holidays lead to stress in your pets. If you feel that your pets are uncomfortable around new people, it may be best to separate them from the holiday activity. Provide your pets with an area where they can 'get away from it all' and be alone. Cats may enjoy an intricate 'kitty condo' set up or even a cardboard box or paper bags in which to hide. For pet birds that are nervous, you might have to place the cage in a quiet room or, if that is impossible, partially or completely cover the cage so that the bird has the ability to 'hide.' Make sure that your young guests understand that they must let the animals rest when they are put in their area of 'refuge.
I hope that this discussion will assist you in keeping your home safe for your pets during the holidays. During all the activity, we must not forget the welfare of our pets and our responsibility to keep them free of danger. If you practice the proper preventative measures, the holiday season for your pet will be as happy as it is for you and your family.

The preceding discussion was garnered from several excellent sources including:
Your Healthy Pet by Amy Marder, VMD
A Dog for All Seasons by Jane Leon, DVM

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Eyewitness Account of the Release of Bald Eagles at Starved Rock Park Today!

Just got home from the release of the juvenile bald eagles at Starved Rock. I am not much for guesstimating crowds but I would imagine there were close to seven hundred people there, plus or minus a couple hundred.

It began with some presentations by Dawn Keller (who told the whole story about the bald eagle rescue and rehabilitation), the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Marc Miller (the top dog) and a number of education birds from Flint Creek were brought out one at a time and discussed. It was a great photo op for the assembled people as well as an education as they learned about the different birds and how they ended up at Flint Creek.

Then it was time for the release. The crowd went to the shore of the Illinois River across from Plum Island. Plum Island is an island in the middle of the Illinois River where the bald eagles congregate during the late fall/winter. This is because there is a dam just a bit further down the river and the river does not freeze in that area so they can essentially get fish all winter (or so I was told...makes sense). They picked this particular time for the release because this was when the bald eagles start congregating. (I do hope I related the details can do further fact checking at the Flint Creek web site.)

Anyway, Dawn, her husband Phil, some Flint Creek volunteers and some media people (even an AP videographer was there) took some boats to the island. There the birds were taken off the boats in their carriers and placed on the beach. Dawn took the first one out and then released him to resounding applause and cheering from the assembled multitude lining the opposite river bank. The eaglet took flight and suddenly turned and looked like he was going to fly over the river to where the people were watching and several exclaimed that he was going to do a flyover. Unfortunately, he then turned abruptly and skirted the shore of the island and landed on the riverbank several hundred yards up river. He began rooting around on the ground and then eventually walked deeper into the island and we lost sight of him.

The other male eaglet was released, took flight and immediately turned and went back over the central portion of the island and was almost instantly out of sight...a bit more modest apparently. The crowd was very excited by this amazing experience.

Following the release everyone returned and were treated to a meet and greet with the education birds. Dawn then brought out "Journey," a hawk that was caught in the front of a freight train from Canada, until it was discovered in a rail yard in Franklin Park. Journey is now an education bird for Flint Creek.

In addition to being a wonderful experience this was also a fundraiser for Flint Creek to help cover expenses (it cost $20,000) to build the flight chamber for the eagles which was 100 feet long. Feel free to donate to Flint Creek. Contact them at or for further details: visit or call (888)FLINTCREEK

I took a video of the releases which I will edit so watch for it. But I have to let you know, Phil is a professional photographer so keep checking the Flint Creek site for his photos and the video they took. Mine will be a pale imitation of theirs but as it is from a different perspective it may turn out pretty good. I hope to have it up by Monday.

Also a great big shout out to the clients/friends of Niles Animal Hospital who turned out in large numbers for this event. It did my heart good to see such stalwart support and I know Dawn/Phil were very thankful as well. It was a outstanding experience for all who participated today!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reminder About the Bald Eagle Release

Just a reminder about the release of the two bald eaglets on Saturday. It looks like it will be a glorious day in the 50s and sunny, if the weather forecast holds. So despite the less than ideal weather over the last few days, it will break so there will be perfect weather for the release.....fittingly so.

Come experience this special event and also  help support Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation and the wonderful work that they do.

Details about the event once again......

Witness the release of two bald eaglets back to the wild. These were the birds from Batavia, whose nest had blown down in high winds and although the nest was replaced the parents did not return to care for them. They were then raised in captivity at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. This event is the culmination of a concerted effort to provide for them with a wonderful resolution. They are now ready to be set free!

The release will be held at Starved Rock State Park, Saturday, November 12th from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. There will be a minimum suggested tax-deductible donation of $10 per person, to help Flint Creek Wildlife defray the cost of raising these eaglets and building their flight chamber.

For further details:
visit or call (888)FLINTCREEK

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bald Eagle Shot Last Week at Starved Rock Park

Below is a story that ran in the Chicago Tribune last week. Some idiot took a pot shot at a immature bald eagle, supposedly mistaking it for a Red Tailed Hawk (immature bald eagles are brown as pictured to the left). That is the actual photo of the eagle which is expected to recover.

Hopefully, someone will rat on this person and turn them in for doing something so stupid. He could face a stiff fine and jail time as mentioned below.

Remember, from a previous posting on this blog (check it for details), the bald eagle release on November 12th at Starved Rock Park will be held as scheduled. Please try to come out and support the effort.

A juvenile bald eagle found shot in the wing along the Illinois River west of Starved Rock State Park may have been shot by a bored duck hunter who decided to take a "pot shot" at it, according to one theory posed by conservation police.
Investigators are hoping a $1,000 reward may lead to an arrest.
"Why anyone would shoot at an eagle is beyond me," said Illinois conservation police Sgt. Hank Frazier, adding that his department has no suspects. "They're very big birds. There'd be no way you can mistake that."
Shooting an eagle is a federal crime punishable with up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
The bird, which has undergone surgery, is expected to recover.
"He's doing very well," Robert Harms, a veterinarian at Countryside Animal Clinic in nearby Streator, said Wednesday. "He's bright, strong, alert. Starting to be a little more aggressive today, which is good."
A barge captain spotted the eagle struggling to fly along the river near Hennepin on Sunday. Conservation police recovered the bird and brought it to the clinic.
Harms said shotgun pellets had fractured the ulna, a long bone in the wing, and that he'd inserted a pin in the bone.
The eagle will be transferred to the Hoo Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Durand, northwest of Rockford, possibly on Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources asks anyone with information on the shooting to call its poacher hotline at 877-236-7529.