General News

Top Tips to Ensure Your Pet Is Healthy

dog dental exam

Illinois Healthy Pet Week is April 8-14, 2018

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As part of Healthy Pet Week in Illinois, the College of Veterinary Medicine wants to help you keep your pet in tip-top shape.

Get a leg up (or four) with this list of common health issues in dogs and cats. If you notice any issues that may describe your pet, please contact your local veterinarian for a check-up.

Heartworm Prevention

Mosquito season is approaching again, and that means a higher risk of heartworm occurring due to bites. Signs of heartworm can be tough to spot—cats show no discernible symptoms, while dogs tire easily and may cough. If left untreated, your pet could die. Make sure your pet is on a year-round preventive medication, and arrange for a heartworm test at an annual check-up.

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[callout title=”About Illinois Healthy Pet Week“]

Last June, the Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution to designate Healthy Pet Week throughout the state, occurring April 8-14, 2018. The bill is in support of AVMA and the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association recommendations for pets to visit a veterinarian annually for:

  • Physical exam
  • Vaccinations
  • Heartworm testing
  • Fecal parasite exams
  • Dental evaluation
  • And other preventative care as needed

The state encourages pet owners to have annual exams performed if they have not yet done so in order to enhance and extend their pet’s quality of life.



Protect the Pearly Whites

dog chewing toothbrush

If you notice your pet has unusually bad breath or yellower-looking teeth than normal, it may be a sign of dental disease. This can affect not only your pet’s teeth and gums, but their heart and lungs as well—not something to mess around with!


Muscles and Bones and Joints, Oh My!


Did you know that arthritis is as common in cats as it is in people—and just as painful? Or that a dog’s skeleton has more than 300 bones, all of which can be affected by infection or even nutrition? It’s important to keep an eye out for any limps or strange movements, and to get your pet checked if you spot anything.


Tummy Talk

cat with yarn

An upset stomach is no fun for anyone. Pets can experience a variety of gastrointestinal problems similar to humans, such as irritable bowel syndrome or pancreatitis. Their stomach problems could be due to more than just disagreeable food. A healthy digestive tract is key to a long, comfortable life!


Sensitive Skin

dermatology exam

Just as we take good care of our own skin, our pets deserve the same. It can be easy to overlook a small rash, bump, or bald spot, but better to be safe than sorry! Regular veterinary and grooming appointments can ensure your furry friend is in top-notch shape.


Smart Snacking

dog in underwater treadmill

What may seem like a tiny treat could be much more—one ounce of cheddar cheese fed to a 20-pound dog is the caloric equivalent of almost two hamburgers to humans! For a small cat, two slices of cheese can add up to 125% of its daily caloric intake. Pet obesity can have a number of implications, but most importantly will decrease pets’ quality of life. Snack smart!


Kidney Health

catSigns of kidney disease can be difficult to recognize in pets. 75% of kidney function is often lost before signs of serious illness can be spotted! Plus, certain breeds are prone to kidney failure. Talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet is at risk, and get your pet checked early and often.


Strange Behavior?

dog OCD

Is your pet acting weird and you just can’t put a finger on it? A lot of times, strange behavior can point to an underlying problem—and that’s the way your pet is communicating to you! Or, perhaps your pet may just require some extra love and attention. Either way, try not to ignore the signs.


Tick and Flea Prevention

dog scratching in backyard

In springtime, ticks and fleas become more abundant. A tiny tick bite can spread a multitude of diseases, not only Lyme. Tiredness and loss of appetite can often be indicators. Flea bites can result in skin infections, tapeworms, or even anemia, if left untreated. Talk to your veterinarian about the best prevention option for you.


A Healthier YOU, Too!

dog walking

Pets provide a number of health benefits to their human owners. Studies have shown that living with a pet can decrease depression by increasing levels of oxytocin in the brain.  Your furry friend is also helping lower your heart rate and blood pressure, while aiding in your exercise regimen with daily walks! The love is real.


Want to stay informed? Subscribe to our weekly Pet Health Columns email where experts on animal health from the college’s veterinary clinics in Urbana and Chicago share their knowledge.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is an Associate Member of the Partners for Healthy Pets initiative led by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Learn more at

—Emily Luce