Pet Health Columns

Experts on animal health from the college's clinics in Urbana and Chicago share their knowledge in informative columns written for animal owners. Scan the categories and tags at left for topics that interest you. Subscribe to our weekly Pet Health Columns email.

dog in a taco costume

Remember FEAR Tips to Keep Pets Safe This Halloween

Oct 16, 2017 / Emergency/Critical Care / General Care / Preventive Health / Toxicology / Cats / Dogs

When Halloween comes, adults and kids alike enjoy the chance to dress up and eat more candy than usual. But the American Animal Hospital Association recommends being mindful of pets’ FEAR—food, environment, attire, and recovery—to keep pets safe and happy. Food Many people know that chocolate is toxic for pets. As little as one ounce of baking chocolate...

[Kora the greyhound running]

The Case of the Greyhound That Ran Too Much

Oct 7, 2017 / Emergency/Critical Care / Dogs

Kora Is Recovering from Exertional Rhabdomyolysis It happened on a gorgeous but cool—only 75 degrees F—Saturday afternoon in mid August. Kora, a young retired racing greyhound, was playing and romping around at a three-acre dog park in Chicago when she was afflicted with a rare but life-threatening condition called “exertional rhabdomyolysis.” Dr. Drew Sullivan relates the...

[snake with bite wound]

Your Pet Snake’s Diet: Dead or Alive?

Sep 30, 2017 / General Care / Preventive Health / Reptiles

Feeding live prey has risks In the wild snakes can’t just order carry-in; they have to hunt for their next meal. So it’s not surprising that owners of pet snakes may believe their pets need the thrill of the chase to satisfy natural instincts. However, Dr. Krista Keller, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois...

[a horse gets up from rolling in a field]

Colic Comes in Many Forms

Sep 23, 2017 / Emergency/Critical Care / Horses

With quick attention, a colicky horse often recovers In horses, colic is an ambiguous, potentially dangerous, diagnosis. Dr. Annette McCoy, an equine surgeon at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, says, “Colic is a description for abdominal pain. We use it assuming that the origin of the pain is intestinal, but technically...

[Dr. Krista Keller poses with a pet rabbit]

Brush Up on Dental Problems in Pet Rabbits

Sep 16, 2017 / Dentistry / Rabbits / Small Mammals

Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their lifetime A diet of grass and hay is a real grind for your pet bunny’s teeth. That’s why rabbit teeth have evolved to grow continually, to accommodate the wear and tear of their coarse, fibrous food. According to Dr. Krista Keller, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching...

[the shelter medicine mobile surgical unit at the University of Illinois]

Sorting the Science on Spay and Neuter Surgeries

Sep 11, 2017 / Preventive Health / Small Animal Surgery / Dogs

It’s almost always best to spay and neuter pets By far the most common surgeries performed on dogs in the United States are spay and neuter procedures—collectively called gonadectomies—that remove the reproductive organs to prevent unwanted pregnancies and pet overpopulation. But while these surgeries are common, they are not without controversy. Misconceptions and concerns about...

[cat statue in pet cemetery]

Take Time to Grieve Your Pet

Sep 4, 2017 / Grief Helpline / Birds / Cats / Dogs / Exotics / Horses

National Pet Memorial Day Is September 10 “The death of a pet is one of the few types of loss that may not be appreciated by others as a true cause for grief,” says Gail Hague, client counselor specialist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana. “Individuals who experience this type of...

[Sonny, a French bulldog, in the University of Illinois veterinary hospital]

New Hope for Pets with Brachycephalic Syndrome

Aug 26, 2017 / Advances in Medicine / Small Animal Surgery / Cats / Dogs

Illinois first in U.S. to offer procedure Brachycephalic syndrome: it’s a medical term for a variety of anatomical problems that sometimes obstruct the airways in pugs, bulldogs, and other pets (even cats!) with flat faces. Brachycephalic syndrome is seen in brachycephalic dogs, which are dogs that have been bred for incredibly short noses. (The word...

[surgery using the fluorescent technology to detect cancer cells]

Technology Advances Diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancers in Dogs

Aug 21, 2017 / Advances in Medicine / Cancer Care / Small Animal Surgery / Dogs

This technology monitors for spread of tumors A pet’s cancer diagnosis triggers owners’ emotional strain, confusion, and uncertainty about treatment and financial decisions. Thankfully, with the help of engineers and veterinarians at the University of Illinois, cancer detection and treatment in pets—and people—is advancing at rapid speed. One of the many studies currently taking place...

[pyometra dog photo]

Infection in Dog’s Uterus Is Serious Business

Aug 15, 2017 / Disease / Emergency/Critical Care / Dogs

Pyometra is a veterinary emergency When a middle-aged, intact female dog comes into the clinic with complaints from her owner that she has been depressed and lethargic, one of the first concerns that likely pops into the veterinarian’s mind is a potential pyometra. “A pyometra is a uterine infection, and it is a true veterinary...