Health Resources

Ensuring your pet’s health and overall well-being is a daily responsibility. That’s why we are committed to providing you with the knowledge you need to keep them safe and sound between visits. Browse through our list of common issues to learn more about how to care for your pet and visit our blog regularly for updates on all of the latest developments in veterinary care. We have also included links to many of our refering veterinary specialty centers. And of course, we’re always here to take your call.


Clients often ask if chocolate can kill their pet. Chocolate can be lethal to pets, however, the type and amount of chocolate your pet consumes is an important factor. Why is chocolate toxic to dogs? Chocolate contains a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine. In sufficient quantities, this stimulant is poisonous to dogs. This can be compared to human alcohol consumption. It takes about 100-150 mg per kg of theobromine for chocolate toxicity to occur. On average, milk chocolate contains about 44 mg of theobromine per ounce, semisweet chocolate contains about 150 mg/oz, and baker's chocolate contains about 390 mg/oz. That equals approximately 1 ounce per pound of body weight for milk chocolate, 1 oz per 3 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate, and 1oz per 9 pounds of baker's chocolate. Therefore where 2 oz of baker's chocolate could be lethal to a 15 pound animal, 2 oz of milk chocolate may only cause oz of milk chocolate may only cause digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting.

That is not to say it is ok to give your dog a few M & Ms now and then, because pets should never have candy as a treat, but if your dog accidentallyt if your dog accidentally eats a few M & Ms they will not die.  Chocolate toxicity is characterized by extreme hyperactivity, restlessness, increased urination, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your pet has fallen victim to chocolate toxicity, contact your veterinarian immediately!

If you should find a bat in your home, do not attempt to remove it on your own. If you do contain it, do not release it. Call the  Sangamon County Animal Control at (217) 535-3065 so that it can be tested for rabies. Contact your veterinarian and let them know that your pet(s) were exposed to a bat, even if you are unsure if they came into contact with it. Also, please be sure to keep your pet(s) updated on their vaccines to ensure unnecessary procedures do not have to be taken.?

Puppies are vaccinated every 3-4 weeks. They receive their first set of vaccines at six-weeks old, and then nine weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks old.  Kittens are vaccinated starting at seven weeks of age, and then at nine weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks old.

Each vaccine protects against a specific virus that is known to be potentially dangerous, and lethal to domesticated pets. Even if the vaccine is not required by local laws, it is best to keep your pet current on all of their vaccines to keep them healthy.
Dog Vaccines
Distemper- Canine Distemper is a disease that spreads through the air or by contact with infected bodily fluids. The disease can also be spread if a dog eats or drinks from the same bowl as a dog infected with the virus. The disease affects dogs by attacking their nervous and immune systems. Symptoms of distemper include dullness and redness of the eyes, discharge from the nose, cough, shivering, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, thickened foot pads, and loss of appetite. While there is no real treatment or cure for the distemper virus, your dog can be vaccinated against the virus.

Hepatitis- This is a disease of the liver that is caused by a virus. In Canines, hepatitis is caused by the virus CAV-1. Like many viruses, CAV-1 first localizes and replicates in the lymph nodes and then spreads into the bloodstream. Once in the blood, CAV-1 attacks several organs, most notably the liver, eyes, and kidneys. Once a dog is infected, there is no treatment or cure that will destroy the CAV-1 virus. Symptoms of both CAV-1 hepatitis and hepatitis of unknown origin can include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, jaundice, depression and weakness.

Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a bacterium called Leptospira which in the past has been found in our local water supply. Leptospirosis is spread mainly by contact with water or soil contaminated by the urine, or blood of infected animals such as rodents or birds. Pets can also contract leptospirosis from swimming in infected ponds or lakes. Chlorinated water, such as that in swimming pools or municipal drinking water, has not been shown to transmit leptospirosis. Symptoms include fever, tenderness of touch, shivering, and rapid dehydration. Severely infected dogs may experience hypothermia. Leptospirosis attacks kidney and liver functions.

Parainfluenza -The parainfluenza virus causes upper and lower respiratory infections. It is also known as a type of kennel cough. Canine parvovirus (CPV) is anintestinal disease with rapid onset and varying degrees of illness. It most commonly affects puppies with mild to severe illness, but can also affect dogs with low immune systems. It can be fatal.Canine parvovirus is transmitted from one dog to another through feces or from objects contaminated by feces. It can be carried on a dog's hair and feet, as well as on contaminated cages, shoes, and other objects. Because food and water dishes, cages, bedding, litter boxes, rugs, and soil can become contaminated with the virus, the dog's environment can become a reservoir for infection. Symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominalpain, and severe bloody diarrhea.

Parvo - Parvo is a viral disease that attacks the intestinal tract and immune system. It can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with the vomit or diarrhea from an infected dog. The Parvovirus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, dehydration, high fever and sudden death. The Parvovirus is difficult to kill and is shed in large numbers by infected dogs. One ounce of feces can carry millions of particles of the virus. This means a fly can land in an infected area then land in your yard and infect that space. Parvo is often fatal and strikes suddenly causing your pet to become extremely ill. Without treatment,  the animal often dies within a few days.

Bordetella - Also known as kennel cough, Bordetella is a bacterial illness that is most common among dogs that congregate in places such  shows, kennels, grooming facilities, parks or other places frequented by large numbers of dogs. It is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system characterized by severe coughing and gagging. It is a very contagious airborne disease. Treatment consists of antibiotics and cough suppressants. Most dogs respond quickly to therapy, but some develop a chronic cough syndrome that may last for months.

Lyme Disease- Lyme disease, or borreliosis, is transmitted through the bite of a tick. Lyme disease can affect many organs, which allows it to produce a wide variety of symptoms that mimic other diseases.The most common symptom in dogs is a reoccurring lameness that may shift from leg to leg. Most commonly, it is a front leg that is effected and the lymph node on the shoulder of that leg may be enlarged. Many dogs with lyme disease become lethargic and run a fever. When the disease is missed or miss-diagnosed, the bacteria can spread to the heart, the kidneys or in some cases, the nervous system.

Cat Vaccines/Diseases

Distemper- Feline Distemper, or Panleukopenia, is a severe, highly-contagious viral disease. The virus invades rapidly growing cells such as those of the digestive system, bone marrow, lymph tissue, and the developing nervous system. Common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, low white blood cell count, and seizures.

Feline Leukemia - Feline Leukemia (FeLV), also known as feline lymphosarcoma, is a viral disease. It is one of the most serious diseases affecting domestic cats. FeLV is usually transmitted between infected cats by the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions. Symptoms include enlargement of the lymph nodes, depression, emaciation, and frequent, diarrhea. There is no known treatment and the outcome is usually fatal.

FIV - Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes an infectious disease in domestic cats which is similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV infection). This disease is also known as feline AIDS. It attacks and weakens the immune system, making the animal susceptible to infections and diseases that don't affect healthy cats. There is no a cure or a vaccine for FIV. Though eventually fatal, an FIV-positive cat can live for many years without any signs of illness. Older cats and outdoor cats are more susceptible to the disease. Aggressive male cats are also high risk. FIV is primarily transmitted through deep penetrating bite wounds or contact with contaminated blood. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her kittens during gestation.

Rabies primarily attacks the nervous system and causes encephalitis. The virus is transmitted in saliva from the bite of an infected animal. Bats are the most common carrier. The incubation period prior to clinical signs is extremely variable, but is usually two-to-eight weeks. The virus will begin shedding in saliva a short time before clinical signs develop, usually less than 10 days. There are three phases during the course: prodromal, furious, and paralytic. Death occurs three to seven days from the onset of signs. The prodomal stage lasts two-to-three days. The signs can include behavioral changes, fever, slow eye reflexes, and chewing at the bitesite. The furious stage lasts two-to-four days. During this stage, signs of erratic behavior may include irritability, restlessness, barking, aggression, vicious attacks on inanimate objects, and unexplained roaming. Disorientation and seizures may also develop.The paralytic stage lasts two-to-four days, during which signs of paralysis develop, usually beginning in the limb that was bitten. Paralysis of the throat and face cause a change in the bark, drooling with typical foaming at the mouth, and a dropped jaw. These signs are followed by depression, coma, and death from respiratory paralysis. Once clinical signs develop, there is no treatment.

If caught in time, heartworm disease can be treated. It is, however, extremely costly and very strenuous on the animal.  The best way to avoid heartworm disease is to give your pet monthly heartworm preventative such as Interceptor, Sentinel, or Heartgard, all of which are available at Brewer Animal Hospital.  Before your pet can be started on heartworm prevention, a blood test is required to make sure that your pet is not already infected with microfilaria. The blood test is required annually to keep your pet on heartworm prevention (every other year if your pet is kept on heartworm prevention through the winter months). In Central Illinois, where mosquitoes do not pose a threat after mid-autumn, you do not need to keep your pet on year-round heartworm prevention. However, it is a good idea to continue heartworm prevention through the winter months in case we experience unseasonably warm temperatures during which mosquitoes can thrive. Although cats are also at risk for heartworm, we generally only treat dogs with heartworm prevention. For outdoor cats, we will suggest annual testing and keeping them on a heartworm prevention. We suggest getting your pet tested for heartworm disease starting in April and no later than the beginning of July, as it takes at least six months for the microfilaria to show up on a heartworm test.

As soon as the weather warms up those pesky fleas begin invading our pet's lives! The best way to guard against fleas, and to treat existing fleas on your pe,t is by using a topical flea ointment such as Frontline Plus or Advantage. Frontline Plus treats fleas and ticks and is waterproof. Advantage treats fleas and is water resistant. Both are easy to apply. Simply locate the base of your pet's head between the shoulder blades, part the fur, and apply directly to the skin. One treatment is good for 30 days. Certain heartworm products, such as Sentinel, also treat fleas.  If you are battling a flea infestation in your home, make sure to vacuum all infested areas thoroughly, and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately afterward. If you use a an area treatment spray, or a flea bomb, please remember to keep pets and children out of the area for several hours afterward. Topical flea treatments are very good at controlling the flea population in your home as well.  If you suspect that your pet has fleas because they are scratching or chewing their paws, but you can't actually see any fleas on them, it may be symptoms of allergies, or another skin irritation rather than fleas. If this occurs, call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment so that your pet can be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly.


Dogs that participate in outdoors sporting activities such as hunting, fishing, or camping are very likely to come into contact with ticks. Dogs that live in heavily-wooded areas, or rural areas that contain a vast amount of brush, are also likely to encounter ticks. If you find a tick on your pet, the best thing to do is to slather it in petroleum jelly. This will cause the tick to suffocate and release itself. When you pull a tick off of your pet, make sure to pull it out by it's head. The best prevention to keep ticks off of your pet is by applying a topical ointment such as Frontline Plus to your pet monthly during warm months.  As a general rule of thumb, keep your pet on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention until the second good frost!

Microchips are a wonderful piece of technology, especially for dogs. If your pet is ever lost, the chip can be scanned by local animal control facilities or veterinarian offices. The chip ensures that your pet can be safely returned as long as your contact information is current with the microchip company. There are several brands of microchips on the market, however most companies have a universal system which is read by all scanners.  Getting a microchip is no more painful than getting vaccines. A needle inserts the chip, which is the size of a grain of rice, into the nape of their neck. For more information, or to set up an appointment to get your pet microchipped, contact us today.


Lilies such as Day Lilies and Easter Lilies can be especially, even deadly, toxic to cats.  Please click the link below for important information on lily toxicity.

ASPCA Lily Page

971 Clocktower Drive  |  Springfield, IL 62704  |  217-787-9730