How To Beat the Heat

Tips for the Cool Pooch

In the last week, I have heard about two (possibly three) separate cases of heat stroke in dogs. With the temperature close to 90 degrees and the “feels-like” temperature in the 100’s, it’s no surprise. While this is perfect pool weather, it’s not always a friendly environment for your dog. So, what exactly is heat stroke and how do you keep your furry friend happy and cool?

It’s All Fun and Games…

It’s all fun and games until someone overheats. But what is heat stroke? Heat stroke can occur when the body temperature rises to 105-107 degrees. This is usually the result of exposure to high environmental temperatures and/or strenuous activity. 

Overheating can exhibit as a dog that is merely seeking a cool environment, laying on the concrete, in the shade or digging in the dirt. You will notice heavy panting and your dog’s gums may be bright red in color or even purple.

As it progresses, the muscles are affected and your dog may walk with a strange gait or appear weak. This can eventually lead to collapse.

Some dogs will vomit or have diarrhea and some problems may not even develop for 3-5 days after the initial incident.

A Little First Aid

If you think your dog might be suffering from heat stroke the first step is to get them out of the heat. I know, common sense, right? Take them inside an air-conditioned building or in front of a fan. A tile or concrete floor will help to cool them as well. Wet their belly and paw pads or even completely wet them with cool, not cold, water. That fan may come in handy again at this point.

Now that you know the potential dangers, how do you make sure your furry family member enjoys the summer weather safely? 

Drink Up

It may seem like common sense, but the most important summer safety tip is to make sure your dog always has access to water. A full bucket in the shade is really all it takes but if you want to take it up a notch there are ways to make water more fun…

Add a few ice cubes to the bucket of water and you have a ready-made toy. It’s the summer version of bobbing for apples! 

Freeze the bucket of water and set the large chunk of ice out for your dog to lick. You can even add treats so there is a special surprise inside or flavor it with a little low sodium chicken or beef broth. Make sure to leave regular water out for drinking.

Everyone Loves a Pool

Dogs love kiddie pools!

Dogs are no exception. Plastic baby pools are easy to come by and relatively cheap. Add a little water and you’ll have a happy pup. Make it even more fun by adding water toys.  

If you already have a pool of your own feel free to share with your pup. Always supervise your dog and make sure he or she can get out when ready. Make sure to rinse them off well when done swimming to get the chlorine out of their fur!

High Fashion

Dogs always look stylish with a pretty bandana. Try wetting or freezing the bandana prior to having your dog sport the look. You can even find specialized cooling cloths or bandanas for dogs that are made specifically for this purpose.

More Than a Bed

Big fluffy dog beds are great in the winter but often a bit warm for summer, even in the cool air-conditioned house. A summer bed is just the thing to keep your furry family member cool and well rested.

Beds that are raised and allow airflow beneath your dog are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Check out Pinterest for some DIY ideas!

Cooling mats are perfect for summer. These are thin mats that contain a special gel that cools on contact. Just make sure your furry friend doesn’t chew on the matt!

Cooling mats are a great way for your pup to keep cool during naps.

Heat stroke is a very serious condition that can lead to death if severe enough or not treated. Always monitor your dog closely during outdoor activity and limit that activity on warmer days. You don’t want a game of fetch to cost your furry fiend his or her life! Pay very close attention to brachycephalic breeds, those are the smushed nosed dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs. They’re much more sensitive to the heat!

If you are concerned your dog may be overheating please call Capitol Illini Veterinary Services at our Chatham or Wabash locations. Oh, and always have a thermometer handy! Knowing the temperature will help us to assess the seriousness.

We’d love to hear your favorite summer fun activities and ways that you and your pooch keep cool. Head over to our Facebook page and let us know. We love pics!!

What’s best for your pet? East meets West!

Dog receiving acupuncture.

The staff and veterinarians at Capitol Illini Veterinary Services in Springfield and Chatham Illinois are passionate about helping pets feel their best! We are continually searching for techniques, medicines, surgery, and other treatments that will help keep our best (furry) friends healthy with the least side effects. Sometimes that requires being on the cutting edge of the latest technology, as is the case with our autologous conditioned plasma system (ACP).  ACP utilizes healing factors in a pet’s own blood, which is specially processed and then used to help regenerate damaged tissues in his or her body. On the other hand, sometimes finding the best tool for the job requires using ancient therapies that have been practiced for millennia, as is the case with acupuncture.  

A brief history

There is substantial evidence dating the practice of acupuncture on humans in China up to 3000 years ago! While it is primarily thought to be a form of ‘eastern medicine,’ recent findings suggest a form of acupuncture was practiced in areas of Europe for a similar period of time. The first recordings of animal acupuncture dates to between 800-1000 years ago, although it likely was practiced before then.

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Simply put, acupuncture is the practice of placing very thin needles into the body to provide therapeutic effects. Acupuncture points are located along channels on the surface of the body. 

Many acupuncture channels and points are associated with specific nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and thick fibrous tissues called fascia. Because of an acupuncture point’s close association with a nerve, it is a powerful way to impact the body’s nervous system. The nervous system regulates all bodily functions.

Until modern times, acupuncture was a blood-letting technique, and was thought to work by moving qi (pronounced “chee”). In the pre-scientific era, this was the best understanding practitioners had of why it worked. However, we know now that acupuncture’s mechanism of action is not mysterious at all! It is a means of affecting the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, endocrine systems, and many other bodily systems. 

Acupuncture is often used in conjunction with conventional testing and treatment. In contrast to many conventional treatments, acupuncture has the unique ability to work with a pet’s innate healing abilities. Rather than introducing a foreign compound (i.e. a medication), acupuncture causes the release of many helpful substances within the body to restore homeostasis or balance.

Several general effects of acupuncture include: decreased pain, increased blood circulation, better oxygenation, enhanced communication between nerves, anti-inflammatory effects, promoting calm and relaxation, improved mobility, and regulation of the immune system. 

Ancient technique with solid evidence

There are bound to be folks who are a little skeptical of acupuncture. However, there is a vast and growing body of evidence showing how effective acupuncture is, as well as helping to elucidate how it works in the body. There are many medical journals dedicated solely to studying acupuncture, as well as the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is funded and directed by the United States Federal government. 

How are the treatments performed?

Acupuncture treatments are intended to be as relaxing and stress-free as possible. We work with each individual pet’s temperament and preferences to provide the optimum treatment. Each session will include a thorough myofascial (or muscular) exam and a neurologic exam if necessary. The first session generally starts with placing a few small needles to help the pet become familiar with the treatment and give the body time to adjust. Subsequent sessions will likely involve treatments directed more at the primary problem. Some pets even get peanut butter or another favorite treat to enjoy while the needles are being placed!

Many pets will not feel the needle at all. Most treatments are started with the smallest needles possible, placed in non-painful locations. However, it is sometimes necessary to treat painful locations. If your pet does feel the needle, it means that area needed to be treated and your pet will likely feel much better after the treatment! 

If you feel your pet might benefit from medical acupuncture, please contact Capitol Illini Veterinary Services to request more information. We are very happy to help!

Capitol Illini’s Online Pharmacy Now Available!

We are proud to offer an online pharmacy to provide you with the convenience of 24/7 online ordering as well as the safety of ordering from a Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacy.  Our Online Pharmacy, operated by VetSource, allows you to order your pet’s medications, preventatives, and even prescription pet foods online and have them shipped directly to your door.
VetSource, in addition to being Better Business Bureau-accredited, is also Vet-VIPPS certified. Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS) undergo a rigorous accreditation process with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Our team will be involved with any necessary refill authorization and medication approvals and will have access to these for your pet’s complete medical records.
In addition to convenience and its affordable pricing, you can rest assured of the quality and safety of these products. Our online pharmacy also provides the following beneficial options:

  • Autoship available: get your animal’s medications delivered to your door automatically
  • RemindMe service available: this service repackages monthly doses so they arrive right at the time they should be administered. 
  • FREE shipping available on many products!

To visit and shop our online pharmacy at any time, simply select the “online pharmacy” option under resources, or click here to start shopping for your four-legged family member! 

Try the Pet Desk App!

Have you tried our app? The PetDesk app, free for both Iphone and Android users, gives you 24/7 access to information about your pet’s care. The Pet Desk app stores your pet’s appointment and vaccination history, allows you to make appointment requests, set reminders, store photos and more! 
For more information about the Pet Desk App and all it’s features, visit or click on our “Pet Desk App” page (under the resources tab) to download today! 

Winter Hazards for Outdoor Dogs

The winter months can pose many risks for our canine companions. Here are a few things to keep our pets safe this season.

Housing:Be sure to provide adequate shelter and warmth for your outdoor dogs. A dog house that is well insulated and large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around is ideal. Anything larger than that makes it difficult to keep your pet warm. For additional warmth, use old blankets for bedding material. Blankets are ideal since they’re easy to remove and wash to maintain a clean and dry environment all winter long. Even dogs that are kept partially outdoors in kennels require protection from cold windy weather. Provide a doghouse or secure a tarp onto a portion of the kennel to create a windbreak.

Hydration:is a must in winter conditions. Dogs cannot eat snow as a source of water so water bowls need to be checked regularly or consider a heated water bowl to maintain a source of unfrozen drinking water.

Exercise:pets that exercise outdoors in the colder weather expend a lot of energy in order to maintain normal body temperatures. If you are planning a hike or some type of outdoor activity in the chilly weather, be sure to bring extra food. Dogs kept outdoors need about 30% more food than they require during the warmer months.

Antifreeze:can leak from car radiators and is very tasty to dogs because of its sweet flavor. Unfortunately, this chemical is also very dangerous and can severely damage kidney function. If your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, please contact Capitol Illini immediately!

Ice:may be pretty, but it’s pretty hard to walk on. Slippery sidewalks are a main source of injury during the harsh winter months. Our older pets that may also have arthritis have more of a difficult time maintaining balance resulting in injuries. Guide your pet to more of a grassy/sandy or gravel area. Booties may also help with traction when venturing outdoors

Grooming:your pet is important even during the winter months. If left unkempt, matting on the fur can easily trap in moisture and leave sores on the skin. Dogs with matted hair are less able to maintain their body temperature. Hair between the toes can pick up snow or ice which can irritate or lacerate the paws. Sidewalks that have salt or de-icing chemicals can cause irritation and inflammation to their paws.

Bring your dog indoors if he is shivering. Pay particular attention to older dogs as well as puppies. Older dogs will have special health considerations to address, especially arthritis. The cold can aggravate arthritic conditions and icy ground poses real dangers. Whenever possible, keep older dogs indoors.