Hurricane Harvey – How You Can Help

 

We have all heard and seen the stories of devastation coming out of southeastern Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, including the harrowing rescue and relief efforts for lost, abandoned, or displaced pets.  The many organizations that are coordinating massive efforts to rescue, shelter, and assist these animals need your help.

Family Pet Animal Hospital has made financial donations to both the Anti-Cruelty Society (ACS) here in Chicago and the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Houston SPCA).  The Anti-Cruelty Society is working with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and opening their doors to help Houston area animal shelters make space for all the pets stranded by Hurricane Harvey.  The Houston SPCA has been working tirelessly to coordinate and execute disaster rescue, recovery, and relief efforts.

Many of you have been asking, “How can I help?”  Here are a few ways you can help the ongoing efforts:

The Anti-Cruelty Society’s list of ways to help, including donations, fostering, adopting, and volunteering can be found here.

The Houston SPCA is requesting help with volunteering, sheltering, or transporting, but from afar, they are accepting monetary donations and items from their Amazon wish list.

The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team has been on the ground since before Harvey hit and is continuing to rescue and relocate pets in need.  You can text LOVE to 20222 to donate $10 to their Disaster Relief Fund or you can give through their website.

We are incredibly grateful to all the individuals and organizations working around the clock to help those in need.  Our hearts go out to the people and animals affected by this disaster.

 

Sincerely,

All of us at Family Pet Animal Hospital

 

Most Valuable Player of the Month for August 2017 – Amy Wrobel

8/4/17

Amy pictured with Emma Marie and Cuka Moo

 

Amy Wrobel has been named Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for August 2017 by last month’s winner, Casandra Santos.  Amy began her time here at Family Pet in 2013 as a shy, soft-spoken Kennel Assistant with a huge heart.  While she’s still shy, soft-spoken, and gold-hearted, she has grown tremendously in her role as a Veterinary Technician here at our hospital.  Casandra cited Amy’s technical skills, patience in mentoring/training others, affinity for teamwork, and her unwavering patient advocacy as reasons for naming Amy as August’s MVP.  All of us at Family Pet are so appreciative of Amy’s skills, humor, and heart of gold.

 

Question and Answer with Amy

 

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

“I have 2 wonderful dogs. Cuka Moo is a 12 year old Miniature Pincher that I’ve had since she was a pup and she is just the most precious little thing ever. Emma Marie is around 5 years old, my husband and I found her in the street as a malnourished pup, and we just had to keep her since she is such and cuddle bug.”

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

“My Favorite thing about working and Family Pet is the staff. We all work together as a team to ensure that every patient is taken care of with the most love and dedication. Every pet that walks through our doors is treated just like one of our own; we want the best for them and would never settle for anything less. I don’t want to toot our own horn but we do such an amazing job with that.”

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

“I would have to say this moment! I used to be very timid and had very little confidence in myself but being around such a supportive staff and people who are willing to go above and beyond to ensure you succeed has gotten me to where I am today. I’m more confident in my work and put my heart and soul into everything I do, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my managers Tony and Michelle whom have helped with that. They’ve been so patient and kind as well as always willing to lend a hand if I’m in need. They’re both a big part of my success and I just couldn’t be more thankful for the motivation and confidence they’ve instilled in me.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I love cuddling and watching TV with my pups and my husband Adam. Doing Yoga when I can and hanging out with family.”

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

“Know that everything is going to be okay! We want to make sure you’re healthy and strong because we love you and want nothing but the best for you.”

How would you spend one million dollars?

“I would buy my dream home, pay off my remaining school loans, help my mom retire early, donate to charity and put the rest in my savings for a rainy day.”

What is your personal motto or mantra?

“Keep Moving Forward. It was something my dad always told me growing up and when he passed away it just kinda stuck with me. I ended up getting it tattooed on my arm so if I ever get discourage or feel down I can just look at my arm and smile because I know that’s what he’d want me to do.”

Describe yourself in three words.

“Loving, Funny, Shy”

What is your biggest pet peeve?

“Bad manners! It drives me insane!!!”

Do you have a hidden talent?

“I love to sing!!! Not sure if I’m any good at it, but my husband tells me he loves it, and it helps me both relax and calm down when I’m stressed.”

What’s your favorite activity to do with your pet(s)?

“Hiking or anything outdoors with my husband Adam.”

 

Congratulations, Amy!!

Amy will pick next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

 

PREVIOUS MVPS:

Casandra Santos (July 2017)

Michelle Fernandez (June 2017)

Sandy Gerstung (May 2017)

Lilly Lam (April 2017)

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M. (March 2017)

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

MORE ABOUT US:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

Most Valuable Player of the Month for July 2017 – Casandra Santos

7/11/17

Casandra, pictured with Honey

 

 

Casandra Santos was awarded Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for July of 2017 by last month’s winner, Michelle Fernandez.  Casandra joined the Family Pet team as a Client Care Coordinator in 2014. She’s been a critical part of piloting and developing the Doctor’s Assistant (D.A.) position over the last few years.  This past spring, she was promoted to Supervisor to oversee our small team of D.A.s.  Michelle cited Casandra’s professionalism, compassion, intelligence, and drive as reasons for naming Casandra as July’s MVP.  We are incredibly grateful for her talents and dedication.

Question and Answer with Casandra

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

“Yes I have a 12 year old Shiba Inu named Honey.  She is the sweetest and cutest thing in the world and by far the favorite shiba at Family Pet.  She never barks and loves to sleep all day, however she does love to chase birds and she prances like a deer when chasing after toys.    She is an excellent cuddler and has been by my side since she was a tiny puppy.  Honey has truly been there for me through thick and thin and I could not imagine my world without her.”

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

“The people and patients.  I have some of the best coworkers in the world.  Everyone at Family Pet is compassionate, cares about animals and are some of the best in the business.  It is also very hard to have a bad day at Family Pet with our cute clients ready to turn any frown upside down.”

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

“I think I am most proud to lead our Doctor’s Assistant department.  Being given the responsibility to nurture and grow an entirely new department is quite an undertaking and I appreciate the fact that Family Pet acknowledges my skills and trusts in my judgement to get the job done.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I love musicals and live performances and try to make it to the theater at least once a month.  I saw Hamilton when it opened on Broadway and got to meet the entire cast and even have a $10 bill signed by Lin Manuel Miranda (he drew a goatee on Hamilton’s face!).  I also love to play volleyball and have an extensive whisky collection.”

If Family Pet Animal Hospital had a theme song, what would it be?

“’Simply the Best’ – Tina Turner”

What’s the strangest job you’ve had?

“I used to be a mall cop.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“I am currently training for the Chicago Marathon and I run with CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) on Sunday mornings.  After watching an inspirational Samsung commercial featuring an ostrich, our group leader told us, ‘Do what you can’t.’  I have never once considered myself a runner.  In fact, I hate to run but crossing the finish line for a marathon has always been a bucket list item so when the opportunity to raise money for PAWS and participate in the 2017 Chicago Marathon came up, I decided that I too can ‘do what I can’t.’”

“If you would like to help me raise money for PAWS donations can be made by clicking on the link below and putting Casandra Santos in the Donate to Fundraiser box: https://my.pawschicago.org/TEAMPAWSBOAChicago/CasandraSantos

Name three things on your bucket list.

  1. Run a marathon (should be crossed off in October)
  2. See the Northern Lights (let’s hope my upcoming trip to Iceland in November will cross this one off the list).
  3. See or swim with wild dolphins.

Do you have any strange phobias?

“I am scared to walk barefoot on tile.  When I was a child growing up in the Philippines, I cut my foot on a tile bottom of a pool.  Since then, I cannot have my bare feet on tile.”

What is your favorite junk food?

“Hot Cheetos or really any type of chips.”

 

Congratulations, Casandra!

Casandra will pick next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

PREVIOUS MVPS:

Michelle Fernandez (June 2017)

Sandy Gerstung (May 2017)

Lilly Lam (April 2017)

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M. (March 2017)

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

MORE ABOUT US:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

Most Valuable Player of the Month for June 2017 – Michelle Fernandez

Franklin taking a snooze and the late Tabitha, sporting her doggles.

 

6/8/17

Michelle Fernandez was awarded Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for June of 2017 by last month’s winner, Sandy Gerstung.  Many of our longtime clients have seen Michelle’s face around here or at least felt her care of their pets for many, many years.  Back in 1993, Michelle answered the “Help Wanted” sign in Family Pet’s window and she’s been here ever since.  Starting as a Kennel Assistant, her hard work, dedication, and love for animals led her to her current position of Technician and Inventory Manager.  More than anything, she contributes immensely to maintaining the foundation of Family Pet’s “soul.”  She is incredibly committed to our patients, clients, and every member of our team.  She is thoughtful, compassionate, and truly dedicated to her work.  In short, WE LOVE HER!

 

QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH MICHELLE

 

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

“I have 4 cats, Pixel, Sullivan, Willow and Waffles.”

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

“I am so privileged to work at a practice that has such a wonderful group of people to work alongside.  Everyone is so great from the owners of the practice to the kennel employees and what makes it even better is that everyone has the same goal – excellent patient care!!!”

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

“I have worked at Family Pet for many, many years and have had several proud moments of my own as well as having moments of pride for my team mates.  I can’t really distinguish one moment that is the greatest.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy going to the movies, reading and going on vacation to enjoy our wonderful National Parks.”

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

“I would want the patients to know that we have their best interests in mind and are doing our best to help them, whether it be an annual check-up or in a dire situation.  Most of all, I would want them to know that we are here for them and to not be frightened.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

“Telekinesis, how great would it be to move things with your mind?”

How would you spend one million dollars?

“I would purchase a house in Bar Harbor, Maine to be closer to my favorite National Park, Acadia and I would donate some money to an animal care organization.”

If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest and why?

“Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool.  I find him so interesting, not to mention that Tool is absolutely one of my favorite bands.”

What would you choose for your last meal?

“Some type Mexican meal, probably tacos of some sort.”

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

“I once was tricked and ate shark nuggets, it really did taste like dry chicken, I was scarred by this event.”

 

Congratulations, Michelle!  Michelle will get to choose next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

PREVIOUS MVPS:

Sandy Gerstung (May 2017)

Lilly Lam (April 2017)

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M. (March 2017)

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

MORE ABOUT US:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

Why Is My Dog So Itchy?

 

5/23/17

What is causing all that scratching?

 

All the veterinarians and staff at Family Pet Animal Hospital are pet owners and know how hard it is to watch your pet be uncomfortable in his/her own skin, literally! Just like humans, all pets will have an itch they need to scratch from time to time.  However, if your pet is frequently scratching, biting, rubbing, and licking himself/herself, he or she is likely suffering from one of the following problems:

  • Allergies:
    • Contact allergic dermatitis
    • Flea allergic dermatitis
    • Food allergies
  • Infection: Bacterial or Fungal
  • Skin Parasites

Itchy pets can be a frustrating experience for pets, pet owners, and veterinarians alike.  Keep in mind that there are entire books written on each category of issues listed above.  While our feline friends can also be itchy and suffer from similar problems as dogs, this post will focus on dogs in order to limit the scope.  Here, we examine the most common causes and treatments for all that itching and scratching in your dog.

 

Common Types of Allergies

Allergies often manifest as itchy skin with your pet scratching, biting, and licking especially under the paws and tail, conjunctivitis, and/or chronic ear infections.  Allergies can lead to skin infections due to a disruption of the immune system of the skin and the self-trauma caused by all of the licking and scratching.  These infections often manifest as red and flaky skin, scabs, and pimple-like pustules.  (See section below on bacterial and fungal infections for more information.)

It is important to note that most allergies are inherited, and while they can be managed, they cannot be cured.  Here are the most common types of allergies making our dogs itchy, methods of diagnosis, and courses of treatment.

 

Contact Dermatitis – Allergic or Irritant

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can occur when a dog’s skin reacts negatively after making physical contact with an allergen.  While allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis are technically two separate conditions, they are often grouped together because symptoms and treatment are typically quite similar.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a pet becomes hypersensitive to substances in their environment, including substances that are seasonal, such as pollen (from weeds, grasses, and trees), molds, and dusts.  Allergies develop after a period of repeated exposure and sensitization and therefore typically develop between the ages of 1-3 years of age.  Due to the extreme seasons and the myriad of various allergens presented in those seasons, allergies are a common problem in Chicago.  Typically, the worst seasons for contact allergies are spring and fall, but can be a year-round problem.  Pay attention to the time of year and watch for patterns in flair ups of itchy skin.

Veterinary dermatologists can perform intradermal allergy testing (AKA “skin testing”) to determine what specific things in the environment are making your pet itchy.  More importantly, skin testing provides the information needed to custom formulate an allergy injection designed to desensitize your pet to the offending allergen.  Treatment with these custom injections is called allergen specific immunotherapy.

Allergen specific immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option which generally takes 3-12 months to reach maximal effectiveness.  As with people, allergy injections are not effective for every pet.  When allergen specific immunotherapy is successful in controlling allergy symptoms, while it may be possible to extend time in between doses, treatment will be necessary for the lifetime of the pet.

Irritant contact dermatitis

Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis does not require a period of sensitization and can occur from your pet’s first contact with a substance.  Examples of common chemicals and substances that cause irritant contact dermatitis are household cleaning chemicals or detergents, insecticides, poison ivy sap, and road salt.  Certainly, if you can easily identify the offending irritant, eliminate it from your pet’s environment entirely or minimize exposure.

At-home care

If your pet suffers from contact dermatitis, here are some at-home tips to help ease your pets itching that may be utilized in conjunction with additional supportive care treatments recommended by your pet’s veterinarian when necessary.  Ultimately, these are all methods to remove or minimize the irritant or allergen from your pet.

  • Bathing once or twice a week with an oatmeal based shampoo or other product prescribed by your veterinarian for your pet’s condition. Avoid over-lathering, over-fragranced, or drying shampoos, which may exacerbate the problem.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding more frequently. If you’re short on time, you can throw a clean blanket, sheet, or towel over your pet’s bed for the same effect.
  • Use disposable baby wipes to wipe down your pet in between baths to remove the offending allergens.

 

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

Flea allergic dermatitis occurs when a pet develops a hypersensitivity (allergy) to flea bites (specifically flea saliva) and is characterized by severe itching.

Because fleas can survive indoors even during the winter here in Chicago, FAD may be a problem year round.  Typically, veterinarians will diagnose FAD based on the clinical appearance – actually finding fleas, flea dirt, or skin lesions from the flea bites.  For pets with FAD, even a single bite can set off a reaction and a small number of bites can cause severe and prolonged itchiness.  So even though you or your veterinarian may not find a flea or flea dirt on your pet, he or she could still have FAD.

Treatment for flea allergy dermatitis is reducing or eliminating the number of flea bites and can be achieved by a number of products designed for the control of fleas.  Many of the products for flea control recommended by the veterinarians at Family Pet Animal Hospital are combination parasiticides (control various types of parasites such as heartworm, ticks, and/or mites as well as fleas).  Examples of the topical products we use to control fleas are Revolution, Parastar and Parastar Plus.  Bravecto is an oral medication that is effective for 12 weeks against fleas.  Your veterinarian can help you choose the right treatment for your pet based on his/her and your family’s lifestyle.

As with treatment of other causes of itchiness, additional supportive care and medications for secondary skin infections may be recommended by your dog’s veterinarian when needed.

 

Food Allergies

Similarly to humans, dogs and cats may develop hypersensitivities (allergies) to foods.  Symptoms of food allergies are most commonly skin irritation or gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and vomiting.  The most common food allergens in pets are proteins, although virtually any food ingredient can produce an allergic reaction.  While food allergies account for approximately 5-15% of allergies in pets, it is an important possibility to investigate.  Additionally, many dogs can have both food and contact/environmental allergies.

Unfortunately, there is no simple and reliable test to diagnose a food allergy.  Instead, your pet’s veterinarian will recommend a strict food trial where your pet’s diet will be changed to a “novel” or hydrolyzed (broken down into small components) protein for a period of 8 to 12 weeks.  During that time, no other foods, treats, or supplements are to be fed.

The only treatment for food allergies is avoidance of the offending allergen.  Luckily, most pets are successfully treated with a hypoallergenic or other type of specialized diet.

 

Infectious Dermatitis

Infectious dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin caused by various bacterial or fungal (such as yeast) organisms.  Typically, infectious dermatitis does not occur spontaneously – meaning there is usually something else going on with your pet creating conditions for opportunistic organisms to create problems.  In a healthy pet, the skin provides a very effective protective barrier against bacteria and yeast.  However, allergies, damage to the skin (from bite wounds, irritants, parasites, scratching, etc.), autoimmune disease, or immunosuppression caused by certain medications or diseases can all create conditions in the skin that allow yeast and bacterial to invade and cause infections.

Yeast Infections

Malassezia pachydermatitis, which is a type of yeast, is a common culprit of infectious dermatitis.  Infected areas are usually odorous, greasy to the touch, and often affect the ears and/or other areas of the body.   The skin of a dog with a yeast infection can appear red and thickened.  Diagnosis is made via cytology – a sample is taken from the affected area and evaluated under a microscope.  Yeast infections are commonly treated with topical therapy or oral anti-fungal medications.

Bacterial Infections

Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that are widespread and usually harmless.  However, they are opportunistic pathogens that can invade the skin and cause infections when conditions are right.  Diagnosis of staph infections is typically by visual examination and/or cytology.  The infected skin is often appears red and crusty and pimple-like pustules may be present.  Staph, like fungal disease, is generally treated topically with medicated shampoos, sprays, and/or wipes.  Depending on the severity of the infection, a course of oral antibiotics may be prescribed as well.

While yeast and bacterial skin infections are responsive to treatment, the underlying cause – parasites, allergies, skin irritants, or other medical conditions – must be addressed.  Pets with underlying causes of itching will scratch and damage their skin.  The skin is then prone to infection, which causes more itching.  The underlying cause of the itch must be addressed to halt the cycle of scratching and infection.

Ringworm

Ringworm or dermatophytosis is a contagious and zoonotic (can be transmitted to humans) parasitic fungal infection that can cause red and/or darkened skin, poor hair coat, hair loss (alopecia), often in patches, and severe itching.  Unlike Malassezia and Staphylococcus discussed above, ringworm is typically a primary problem.  Treatment of ringworm requires oral or topical anti-fungal medications and environmental cleaning.

 

Skin Parasites

While dogs can get the occasional bite from mosquitoes, biting flies, or other common insects, these types of bites do not frequently cause severe itching.  As discussed previously, fleas, specifically flea saliva, can be the cause of an allergic reaction.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptes scabiei mite

Sarcoptic mange or “scabies” in dogs is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite.  This type of mite burrows into the skin of its host and causes severe itching.  The resulting scratching can cause a loss of fur, red, irritated, and/or crusty or thickened skin.  It should be noted that scabies is highly contagious and zoonotic.

Sarcoptic mange is diagnosed by a skin scraping examined under the microscope.  Unfortunately, it is common not to see the mites when performing a skin scraping because the mites can burrow deep into the skin and it only takes a few mites to cause significant itching.  Therefore, a presumptive diagnosis may be made based on clinical signs and ruling out other potential causes of your pet’s scratching.

Luckily, sarcoptic mange is treatable with a combination of therapies to resolve the infestation.  Your pet’s veterinarian will determine what treatment is right for your pet.

Demodectic Mange

Demodex canis

Demodectic mange is an overgrowth of the Demodex mite and is the most common form of mange in dogs.  All dogs have some of these types of mites on their skin, but a properly-functioning immune system keeps the numbers in check and they cause little to no harm to the dog.  Demodectic mange most often occurs in young dogs with immature immune systems or adult dogs with defective immune systems, which allows the numbers of skin mites to increase rapidly.

Demodectic mange is not contagious and is transmitted from mother to puppy during the first few days of life.  Interestingly, demodectic mange does NOT typically cause severe itching, although it does cause hair loss, generally in patches, especially on the face and around the eyes.

 

French bulldog with Demodex

 

A veterinary technician will examine skin scrapings under a microscope. A higher than normal number of demodex mites confirms the diagnosis.  Your pet’s veterinarian will determine the proper course of treatment, which may include topical and/or oral medications.

 

 

Summary

If your pet’s skin and coat are not in optimal health and he is scratching, biting, licking, rubbing and chewing, it’s probably making both of you crazy.  Be sure to have your pet seen by his veterinarian because he surely is not feeling well.

The process of determining the cause of your pet’s itch may take a good deal of time and multiple visits to your veterinarian or a specialist.  Each category of dermatitis must be evaluated carefully and rule outs made prior to a final diagnosis being reached.  Only then can proper, effective treatment begin.  Resolving these cases often takes time but the rewards are a happy pet, owner, and veterinarian.

 

 

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Why Are We Seeing More Ticks in Chicago?

5/10/17

 

Ticks – Not Just In the Woods Anymore

Experts predict that the tick population and the diseases they carry will continue to be more and more prevalent in our area.  Why?  While more temperate weather has provided conditions for ticks to be active for more months of the year and to grow in their habitats, there’s another big reason.  According to Dr. Susan Little, a veterinary parasitologist at Oklahoma State University, that reason is the increasing mouse population.

Immature black-legged ticks (AKA “deer ticks”), responsible for transmitting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, prefer mice as hosts. (In their adult phase, black-legged ticks prefer deer as hosts, thus their nickname.)  Deforestation and reforestation over the last century created the forest fragmentation we see today.  These fragmented forest areas have significantly less biodiversity and cannot support the larger predators needed to keep the mouse population under control.  Fewer predators lead to more mice and subsequently more ticks.

Why does it matter?

Ticks can carry and transmit a multitude of diseases to our pets and to us, including:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasma

For a more comprehensive list, check out the Center for Disease Control’s website:  https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/

What should we do?

While many tick-borne diseases are treatable and/or manageable if diagnosed, some diseases can be fatal for both pets and humans.  Therefore staying vigilant and protecting your pets and yourself is incredibly important.  Here are some tips:

  • Check frequently. We recommend daily tick checks to limit the time a tick is attached.  Check more frequently if you and/or your pet are traveling through grassy or wooded areas.  Transmission times vary greatly based on the pathogen (15 minutes to 24+ hours).
  • Note the following attachment site preferences:
    • Usually areas of thinner skin
    • American dog ticks prefer the scalp & head
    • Black-legged tick tends to attach on trunk or legs
    • Lonestar tick generally prefers areas below the waist. These ticks are most common in the southern U.S. but have been moving north.  They are present in Illinois and most recently spotted in Chicago as well.
  • Use tick preventives for your pet. Family Pet Animal Hospital carries various effective products for prevention and control including topical and oral products.  While we used to recommend preventives from April through November, due to changing weather patterns and the increase in cases of ticks we’ve seen even in the winter months, our veterinarians now recommend year round preventives for most pets.  Talk to your pet’s veterinarian to determine which preventive is right for your pet and his/her lifestyle.
  • Vaccinate against Lyme, when appropriate.  Discuss the Lyme vaccine with your pet’s veterinarian.  We do vaccinate against Lyme in some of our patients which are at a high risk of exposure.  However, because the Lyme vaccine’s efficacy is not 100% and it provides NO protection for other tick-borne illnesses, the veterinarians at Family Pet Animal Hospital consider preventive measures (vigilant tick checks and prompt removal along with effective oral or topical preventives) to be paramount for protecting your pet.
  • Test annually for common tick-borne illnesses.  As we began to see more cases of these illnesses, Family Pet Animal Hospital changed our canine standards of care for annual wellness checkups to include a 4DX test, which tests for not only heartworm, but also Lyme, Erhlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis.

 

According to Dr. Little, another thing to keep in mind is that ticks typically do not fall from trees.  Instead, ticks typically will crawl onto an animal from grass or ground litter.  From there, they will attach to and crawl up your clothes until they find a good feeding site.  Because ticks want to feed undetected for days or even weeks, they inject an anesthetic into their host that numbs the skin and delays the immune response (such as swelling or itching).  You or your pets are unlikely to feel a tick feeding, so make sure your checks are thorough!

See the additional resources below for more information on ticks, the diseases they carry, and their growing prevalence.

Additional resources:

Start your Dog’s or Cat’s Flea/Tick Preventive Now (includes 2016 Cook County Parasite Prevalence infographic).

Choosing the Right Heartworm, Flea, and Tick Prevention for your Dog

Companion animal Parasite Council – Ticks

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Tickborne Diseases of the United States”

Beyond Lyme:  New Tick-Borne Diseases On the Rise in U.S.https://www.wbez.org/shows/all-things-considered/beyond-lyme-new-tickborne-diseases-on-the-rise-in-us/11ee9d0e-4c0d-450c-84b5-be8bd4f7ebc8

Source:

“Tick-Borne Illnesses Could Be On The Rise In Illinois This Summer.” WBEZ. N.p., 09 May 2017. Web. 09 May 2017.

 

Most Valuable Player of the Month for May 2017 – Sandy Gerstung

5/9/17

This is how Sandy relaxes during her time off. 😉

 

Sandy Gerstung was awarded Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for May 2017 by last month’s winner, Lilly Lam.  Lilly cited Sandy’s unparalleled dedication, timeliness with her responsibilities no matter the circumstance, and her affinity to help those in need.  Since day one when Family Pet opened its doors, Sandy has always been the bookkeeper/accountant, which she did in her free time since she had a full-time position at a local accounting firm.  When she retired from the accounting firm in 2004, she took a full-time position with Family Pet as the Finance/HR Manager.  We are all grateful for her dedication and the way she takes care of all of us in big and small ways.

Question and Answer with Sandy

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

Yes, a cat with attitude named “Chicken.”

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

The feeling that everyone is family – both staff and clients.

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

The day [Family Pet] opened, seeing Rae Ann’s dream become reality.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Travel – be with family and friends

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

They will be given the best care possible.

What’s the strangest job you’ve had?

Working at a carnival on the midway

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be true to yourself

Tell us something about yourself people would be surprised to know.

I traveled in an old converted school bus with an aunt, uncle, cousin and 5 dogs. They did a balancing act and dog show.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

People that do not take responsibility for the actions. Also, bad manners.

What would you choose for your last meal?

French bread and butter

What did you wear to prom?

A yellow formal.

What is your favorite junk food?

Pizza

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oysters

What fortune would you want to get in a fortune cookie?

“Your family and friends will never know sorrow.”

 

Congratulations, Sandy!  Sandy will get to choose next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

PREVIOUS MVPS:

Lilly Lam (April 2017)

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M. (March 2017)

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

MORE ABOUT US:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

 

Most Valuable Player of the Month for April 2017 – Lilly Lam

4/11/17

Lilly’s pups – Milo, Miko, and Mooshu with the MVP milkshake

 

Lilly Lam, one of our Client Care Managers, was named as Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for April 2017 by last month’s winner, Dr. Annika Hoffman.  Dr. Annika cited Lilly’s dedication, efficiency, friendliness, positive attitude, and compassion along with her excellent communication skills as the reasons she awarded Lilly with the MVP honors.  Lilly has blessed Family Pet with her keen eye for detail and high expectations for herself and her team in delivering quality care at our hospital for over six years.  We are incredibly grateful for her talents, enthusiasm, and love of caring for our patients and clients.

Question and Answer with Lilly

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

I have 3 Havanese, all named after Disney characters. Miko (from Pocahontas) is my first born and although I love him to bits and pieces, he is a lemon. Milo (from Atlantis) and Mooshu (from Mulan) are Havanese rescues that I adopted from a group that I actively volunteer for – HALO (Havanese Angel League Organization).

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

The patients, of course!! Our team is pretty darn awesome as well. =)

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

Every day is a new adventure with many proud moments. I would say that the most memorable would be going through the interview process with Jim and Colleen. During my interview, I was so nervous that I started stuttering and nervous giggling. Coming from a finance and business management background, with no other animal health experience other than volunteer work and caring for my own pets, I didn’t think I would get the job. I am thankful/grateful every day, that Jim and Colleen took a chance on me to allow me to become the animal health professional that I am today.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have WAY too many hobbies. First and foremost, my fur-children take up most of my free time. Cross-stitching has been a hobby of mine since I was a little girl. I try to maintain an active lifestyle and hit the gym as much as I can. I’ve also recently taken on rock climbing, snowboarding and self-defense tactical training.

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

I love you guys and just want to help make you happy and healthy!!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Mind control. No explanation needed… =)

How would you spend one million dollars?

I feel that our society focuses too much on materialistic luxuries. I would be happy leading a simple lifestyle. As long as there is a roof over my fur-children, warm clothes, and enough food to get us through, I’d be happy. So if I had an extra million dollars, I would opt to donate everything to organizations in which proceeds go directly towards helping those in need.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, intense, crazy

What’s your favorite activity to do with your pet(s)?

Lounge on the couch. ^_^

What song or movie are you ashamed to admit you absolutely love?

I have no shame in saying this and I’ll gladly scream it to the world: I love any song with Celine Dion in it!!

 

Congratulations, Lilly!  She will pick next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

PREVIOUS MVPS:

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M. (March 2017)

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

MORE ABOUT US:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

Most Valuable Player of the Month for March 2017: Dr. Annika Hoffman

3/7/17

Dr. Annika with Mio, Daphne, and Apollo

Annika Hoffman, D.V.M., was awarded Family Pet Animal Hospital’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for March of 2017 by last month’s winner, Frank Fiacchino.  Frank cited Dr. Annika’s winning smile, professionalism, and enthusiasm for caring for Family Pet’s patients, along with her patience, listening skills, and teamwork as the reasons he awarded her with the MVP honors.  We couldn’t agree more.

Question and Answer with Dr. Annika

Dr. Annika answers our serious and not-so-serious questions.

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

I have 3 pets. Apollo is an almost 7 year old Doberman mix, who my husband and I rescued a month after I started vet school. I also have two 5-year-old Ragdoll cats named Mio and Daphne. They all love to cuddle and snuggle on the couch.

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

The team – it is rare to find a job where you enjoy working with every single colleague!

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

It is humbling to have been given this opportunity to be a part of the staff at Family Pet Animal Hospital; so just being able to say that I work at this amazing hospital makes me proud.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In the city, I like to go to musicals, the symphony, and occasionally the opera. However, my true passion is nature, so whenever given the chance I go to my home-country Sweden and hike, kayak, cross-country ski, swim in the lakes etc. I rarely get to enjoy outdoor activities in the US, but when I do my favorite place is Colorado.

If Family Pet Animal Hospital had a theme song, what would it be?

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (the Toy Story version)

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

As an ER Doc, I would want my patients to know that I am here for them, and I will do whatever is possible to make them feel better.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Fly- having a bird-eyed view is of great benefit in many situations.

If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Dolphin, because they are smart, fun, fast and I would absolutely LOVE to live under water.

Name three things on your bucket list.

  1. Backpack in New Zealand
  2. Scuba dive in Indonesia or close to that area in the pacific or Indian oceans.
  3. Horse-back riding trip in Montana

What would you choose for your last meal?

Boeuf bourguignon or Coq au vin

What song or movie are you ashamed to admit you absolutely love?

“The Police Academy”

What is your favorite junk food?

Deep dish pizza

 

Congratulations, Dr. Annika!  She will pick next month’s MVP, so stay tuned…

 

Previous MVPs:

Frank Fiacchino (February 2017)

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

More about us:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

Start Your Dog’s or Cat’s Flea/Tick Preventive Now

03/4/17

While the veterinarians at Family Pet Animal Hospital recommend year round heartworm preventive (for an explanation on why, click here), we’ve generally recommended preventives for fleas and ticks April through November with caveats based on temperatures.  Because of the higher than average temperatures and bouts of very unseasonably warm weather we’ve had in the last couple of months, we’ve seen patients with fleas and/or ticks or our clients have reported seeing them on their pets or in their homes.  If you have not started your pet on external parasite preventives yet this season, we recommend you go ahead and start now.

External parasites, such as fleas, ticks, or mites, are an annoyance that many pets (and their owners) will experience at some point.  Not only can these parasites cause discomfort and skin problems but they can also carry serious diseases.  Modern preventives make treatment, control, and prevention of many external parasites easy and safe.

FLEAS AND TICKS 101

How does my pet get fleas?

Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid and can be found in areas frequented by other cats and dogs.  Unfortunately, fleas can also thrive in our homes.  In Chicago, fleas are typically a seasonal problem.  However, because fleas can also survive in our homes, if they are not eradicated in the home, problems may persist through times not typically associated with flea infestations (summer).

How do my pet and home become infested with fleas?

Adult fleas spent virtually all their time on their host, feeding, and laying eggs (for females).  Females begin laying eggs within 24 hours of landing on a host.  The eggs fall off of your pet into the environment, hatch into larvae, and burrow into carpets, furniture, bedding, or soil in the outside environment), where they can lay dormant for weeks.  Once they emerge as adults, they will seek a host to begin the cycle again.

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Fleas bite the host and feed off the host’s blood.  You may not recognize that your pet has fleas until the fleas have multiplied to the point that your pet is experiencing visible discomfort – from skin redness and itchiness to open sores and skin infections.  Fleas are no bigger than a sesame seed and are fast movers.  Here are a few ways to check for fleas:

  • If you see a small red or brown, moving speck on your pet, it’s probably a fleaComb your pet’s hair the “wrong” way (back to front) to get a good look at his or her skin.
  • You can find flea combs at pet stores, but any fine-toothed comb will work.
  • Look for red, irritated skin on your dog’s neck, belly, or hindquarters
  • If you see specks of “flea dirt,” the digested blood the flea has excreted, on your pet’s skin or fur, he or she may have fleas.

Should you suspect a flea infestation, contact us to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.  Our doctors and staff will be able to determine if your pet has fleas and proceed with proper treatment.  Additionally, we can make recommendations on how to properly clean your pet’s sleeping quarters and the rest of your home to minimize the risk of re-infestation.

If my pet has fleas, what’s the big deal?

Besides the discomfort it can cause, flea infestations can drain enough blood from your pet to make him or her anemic.  Additionally, fleas also carry tapeworms which can infect your pet if your pet ingests the infected flea(s).

How does my pet get ticks?

Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, brush and undergrowth.  Pets or people who frequent these types of areas are at risk of becoming a tick’s host.  In recent years, we’ve seen a slightly higher frequency of dogs that live in Chicago contracting ticks as well.  Immature ticks feed on small, wild animals.  Adults typically seek larger hosts such as dogs and cats.

What are the dangers of tick bites?

Ticks can not only cause skin irritation and anemia in pets, but are also capable of spreading serious diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (uncommon in the Midwest), Anaplasmosis, and Erlichiosis to your pets.

How do I identify ticks on my pet?  What should I do if I find one or more ticks on my pet?

Ticks can be found anywhere on your pet, but are most commonly found around your pet’s neck, in the ears, between the toes, and in the folds between the legs and body.  These parasites use their tiny sharp teeth to embed themselves firmly into their hosts’ skin and tissue.  An adult tick is roughly 3mm in size and therefore visible to the naked eye.  In their larvae and nymph stages, they are much smaller and may be difficult to identify on your pet.

Ticks feed on the blood of the host and an adult female can ingest up to 100 times her weight in blood.  Typically, pet owners only discover ticks on their pet once the parasite has been feeding and has become engorged.  Prompt removal of ticks on your pet can lessen the chance of disease transmission.  Ticks should be removed properly, with care, to avoid leaving the mouth parts embedded in your pet, which can cause irritation and infection.

If you find ticks on your dog, we strongly recommend consulting with your pet’s veterinarian.  The doctors and staff at Family Pet Animal Hospital can remove ticks appropriately as well as provide recommendations for the appropriate treatment, tick-borne disease screening, and prevention.

What’s the best flea and tick preventive for my pet?

Family Pet Animal Hospital has various effective products for flea and tick prevention and control including monthly topical products and a three-month oral product.  There are many factors to consider when choosing the right preventive(s) for your pet.  The veterinarians at Family Pet Animal Hospital can recommend and appropriate parasite control plan for your pet based on his/her and your family’s lifestyle and needs.

 

Additional resources:

Tick encounter resource center:  www.tickencounter.org

Sources:

“External Parasites.” External Parasites. American Veterinary Medical Association, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.

“How at risk is your pet? View CAPC Parasite Prevalence Maps.” CAPC Vet. Companion Animal Parasite Council, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.