When your pet needs veterinary care outside our business hours, please call our office at 217-732-7125, and our answering service will direct your call to our veterinarian that is on call at that time."
In order to allow sufficient time for our patients, we see patients by appointments only unless your pet is experiencing an emergency. Please call us at 217-732-7125 to set up an appointment that is convenient with your schedule. If you are unable to schedule a regular appointment, admitting your pet for the day is also available. Typically we ask you to bring your pet in the morning. We will do the exam, any necessary tests and the requested service during the day. Please bring a stool sample if indicated. When we have completed our examination, we will call to go over your pet’s records and discharge instructions.
So that we may accurately refill your pet’s medications we request as much notice as possible when refills are needed. Best Friends Animal Hospital recognizes there may be times when medications may be obtained from sources other than our hospital. Please be advised we do not recommend purchasing your pet’s prescriptions from unknown online pharmacies. Please talk with us first prior to purchasing your pet’s medications from another source. Also, please be aware that your pet is required by law to be examined at least once during the past year to continue to refill medications.
Payment is required at the time service is rendered. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Care Credit is a service that, if you are approved, will extend you a line of credit for medical expenses. Using Care Credit, your bill can be paid over six months interest-free. Various payment plans are available. We can help you fill out the application, which is typically approved within minutes. This method of extended credit provides you the opportunity pay for services over several months. For more information about CareCredit, please click here.
Pet insurance has become more prevalent and, while it doesn’t cover all your veterinary expenses, can be helpful should your pet have an unexpected injury or illness. Every company is different; it’s a good idea to visit this pet insurance review to compare policies and find the one best suited for you and your pet.
Vaccines are an important part of your dog and cat’s health care. Vaccines keep your pet healthy and prevent serious diseases. We will make sure your pet avoids these serious diseases through annual wellness exams, vaccinations and parasite protection.
Description of Vaccines
Rabies vaccine. The first Rabies shot your pet receives is good for 1 year. Subsequent Rabies vaccinations last either 1 or 3 years. We will discuss the rabies vaccines with you during your pet’s annual wellness exam.
DHPPLV vaccine. This is a “5-way” canine vaccine that vaccinates against canine distemper, parainfluenza, parvovirus, hepatitis and leptospirosis. Distemper and parvovirus are often times fatal, especially in puppies and is why it is boostered multiple times. Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs are then revaccinated yearly.
FVRCP Vaccine. This is a “4-way” feline vaccine that vaccinates against feline distemper (aka panleukopenia), rhinotrachetitis, calici, and chlamydia. Kittens can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult cats are then revaccinated yearly.
Feline Leukemia Vaccine. Feline Leukemia Vaccine is recommended for kittens and cats that are of “high risk,” such as indoor/outdoor cats/kittens.
Lyme Vaccine. Lymes is a disease transmitted by ticks and the vaccine is recommended for dogs and puppies that are considered “high risk.” This includes dogs that spend time outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, such as dog parks, campgrounds, hunting fields/meadows/ponds, and/or dogs that visit Lyme-endemic areas of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic or upper Midwest.
Bordetella. Also known as “kennel cough”. We recommend the intranasal vaccine at 12 weeks then annually thereafter.
Heartworm Prevention. Heartworm disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and if left untreated can be fatal. We recommend your dog and cat be on year round heartworm prevention starting at your puppy’s or kitten’s first visit. Your dog will need to be tested with a simple blood test for heartworm disease on an annual basis.
Flea and Tick Control. We recommend using flea/tick prevention all year around.
The best time to spay or neuter your dog or cat is 4-6 months of age. However, it can be done at most ages.
Yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases. This helps veterinarians detect disease early. In many situations early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This is convenient to do at the time of the annual heartworm test, but can be done at any time of year.
It is recommended your pet be on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered one time per month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). Some of these parasites can be communicated to people! A simple blood test will get your pet started.
Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat you pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. ALL companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm test. When starting heartworm prevention, or if your pet has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform a heartworm test 6 months after starting the prevention to rule out the pre-patent period. The pre-patent period refers to the time in which a dog has early developmental larvae which cannot be detected on a heartworm test, even though your dog is already harboring heartworm infection. If you do not do this it is possible the manufacturer of the products may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.
My pet never goes outside so does it really need heartworm prevention? Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.
Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.
How can I prevent fleas?
It is important to prevent fleas. Not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, fleas are also carriers of disease. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Many medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, fleas can be seen year round in Florida.
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning and how often should this be done?
Dental disease involves more than just bad breath. Approximately 80% of patients that visit us on a daily basis need a professional teeth cleaning. When bacteria irritates the gum line, the gums become inflamed in the early phases of the disease causing gingivitis. Left untreated, this leads to periodontal disease which causes loss of the bone/support structure of the tooth and subsequent tooth loss. In addition, the bacteria is consistently released into the blood stream allowing for systemic infections which can cause organs, such as kidney, liver, and heart to function improperly.
How often your pet needs his/her teeth cleaned varies with many factors. Your pet's teeth and mouth should be examined on a regular basis by a veterinarian. We will keep you informed specifically for your pet how often dental examinations and dental cleanings should be performed.
Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth at home?
Yes. Proper dental care at home is highly recommended to help maintain the oral health of your dog and cat. Home dental care for companion animals should start early, even before the adult teeth erupt. It is best if owners brush their dogs and cats teeth frequently. Although tooth brushing is the best method of preventing plaque, calculus, and bacterial build-up, there are many options for dental home care. Other oral home care options such as dental formulated foods, water additives, and dental treats can be considered and discussed with one of our veterinarians.
How do I know if my pet is in pain?
It can sometimes be difficult to tell! If you are not sure, but suspect your pet may be hurting or is just not acting right, call to have an examination. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping. Some signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, being more tired and having less energy. Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by many problems!
What is kennel cough?
Canine Bordetella is a respiratory disease called Infectious Tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). It is easily transmitted through the air. It is a viral infection complicated by bacteria. Both intranasal and injectable vaccines are available.
What is Lepto?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. It is spread by wildlife (raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats) and domestic animals. It can be passed to people. Canine Lepto has risen dramatically in recent years. Infected animals shed Lepto bacteria in the urine. To prevent Lepto in your dog, discourage your pet from drinking standing water and vaccinate yearly.
Why does my pet need to be admitted several hours before a surgical procedure?
Prior to your pet’s procedure, your pet will receive:
What should I bring for my pet's hospital stay?
You may bring a toy or special item for your pet. We will do our best to make sure belongings stay with your pet; however these items occasionally go missing in the laundry, so we cannot guarantee their return.
Is anesthesia safe for my pet?
At Best Friends Animal Hospital, we take all anesthetic cases very seriously. We thoroughly screen all of our patients to make sure there are no hidden complications by performing exams before every anesthesia and requiring minimum baseline lab testing based on species, breed and age. We utilize multimodal pain management, which reduces post-operative pain and reduces the depth of anesthesia.
All of our patients who undergo procedures have an IV catheter and fluids to help bolster their blood pressure. We use extensive monitoring of our patients under anesthesia, using our ECG, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, temperature and end tidal C02 monitors. One of our medical team is assigned to your pet, from initial exam, through pre-anesthetic medications, anesthesia and post operatively.
When my pet is having surgery, when should I expect an update on my pet?
You will receive a call when your pet is in recovery from the procedure
If there are any abnormalities on pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in case we need to change plans
After surgery, when will my pet be able to go home?
Pets undergoing outpatient procedures will be ready to go by close of business unless noted otherwise during the post-operative phone update.
Answers to common questions after your pet goes home after surgery:
Decreased appetite is very common during illness, or after surgery. There are several things you can try:
Bandage, cast or splint is wet, soiled or off
If the bandage becomes soiled, damp, chewed, or chewed off, please do not re-bandage at home. Duct tape and other items can trap moisture within the cast/bandage causing inflammation of the skin and tissues. In some cases, bandages inappropriately applied at home can even cut off the circulation to the foot. Call us immediately if you have concerns about your pet's bandage. Confine your pet to a single room or similar small area until you can call us and we can advise you to whether the bandage needs to be replaced. After a cast or splint is first removed, it may take 1-2 weeks for your pet to become accustomed to using the leg without the splint.
Constipation, bowel movements
Difficulty having bowel movements can be expected after illness, anesthesia, or surgery. It may take a few days for the gastrointestinal system to return to normal function. Fortunately, it is not vital for your pet to pass a stool on a regular daily basis. Please call if your pet has not passed a stool within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital or appears to be straining to defecate.
Although vocalizing can indicate discomfort, it is usually not a sign of pain (instinctively most pets will not vocalize because in the wild, this would attract predators!). Often, pets vocalize due to the excitement or agitation that they feel on leaving the hospital and returning to their familiar home environment. If crying or whining is mild and intermittent, you may simply monitor the situation. If vocalization persists, please call us for advice. In some cases, a sedative may be prescribed or pain medication may be adjusted.
Diarrhea may be seen after hospitalization. This can be caused by change in diet but is more commonly caused by the stress of being away from home. Certain medications prescribed to your pet may also cause diarrhea. If no blood is noted in the diarrhea, feed your pet a bland diet for 2-3 days to help the digestive tract get back to normal. If the diarrhea is bloody, lasts longer than 12-24 hrs. or if your pet becomes lethargic or vomits, please contact us immediately. You can purchase a nutritionally complete bland food from us available in cans or kibble. Alternatively, you may feed cooked/steamed rice mixed with an equal volume of either low-sodium chicken broth, boiled chicken, chicken baby food or cooked turkey. Very lean, boiled hamburger meat can be substituted as well. Feed small meals every 4-6 hours. We do NOT recommend using any over-the-counter medication to treat the diarrhea. Please call us if there are any questions or problems.
We rely on you to keep the E-collar on your pet. While they may not enjoy it initially, they will enjoy even less having to come back to our office for a recheck visit to repair an incision that has been chewed open. They will need to wear the collar on for an even longer period if this happens! Most pets become accustomed to the collar within one or two days and they can eat, sleep, and drink with it on. We are counting on you: please keep the E-collar on your pet.
Implant or hardware is visible/exposed
Immediately confine your pet to a single room or a cage, call us, and come in so the doctor can recheck the surgery site.
Injury to surgical site
If for any reason you suspect that your pet has reinjured the surgical site, confine your pet and call us immediately for advice.
If you have given your pet all the pain medication prescribed and you feel your pet still has discomfort, please call and we will be happy to discuss refilling the pain medication.
Despite the medications we have prescribed, some pets will still show signs of pain at home, such as restlessness/inability to sleep, poor appetite, lameness or tenderness at the site of surgery. Please confine your pet to limit their activity. Then call us immediately so we can dispense or prescribe additional medication or therapies as necessary to keep your pet comfortable.
This is commonly seen after surgery. It may indicate soreness but is often due to anxiety. Please call and we can help determine whether additional pain medication is advised. We will be happy to recheck your pet for your peace of mind.
Seroma (fluid pocket)
In any healing surgical area, fluid produced during the healing process may accumulate
and form a seroma (fluid pocket). Fortunately, this is not painful and does not impair the
healing process. Eventually, the body will reabsorb the fluid so if the seroma is small, we typically will leave it alone. If it is large, we may remove the fluid with a needle and syringe or even place a drain. If you notice a seroma developing, please call. We may wish to recheck the area to ensure there is no infection.
This is a very common response to physiologic stress after surgery, injury, or any other health abnormality. The amount of shaking or trembling may be dramatic, but it does not imply severe pain, cold, or distress. It may involve the entire body, or just the area of surgery. It is most noticeable in the first 5 to 7 days post-operatively, and typically subsides in 1-2 weeks. If there are signs of pain such as restlessness, lack of appetite, or crying out, please call.
Some pets may urinate less after surgery or may seem to be unable to control urination. This is usually temporary and may be a side effect of medication, anesthesia drugs, or difficulty assuming "the position" to urinate. Please call if your pet has not produced urine for more than 12-24 hours. Many pets initially drink less after returning home, so expect less urination at first.
An episode or two of vomiting is occasionally seen after surgery or anesthesia. If the vomiting continues, blood is noted in the vomitus, or if your pet is not holding down any food or water, call to schedule a recheck of your pet by a veterinarian.