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Animal Health Care Center

Here are some resources that all pet owners will benefit from. The information found here is to provide pet owners with the tools and knowledge they need to give their pet the very best.

*These resources are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness or condition, and a veterinarian should be consulted prior to starting your pet on any treatment or regiment.

Vaccination Schedule Microchipping Pets, Parasites & Deworming Your MARS Pet's Medical Records
Heartworm Infection Illnesses and Conditions Fleas, Ticks & Mites Find a Vet Clinic in Your Area
Spaying & Neutering      
Return to MARS    

Health Care Articles from PetParents.com

 Microchipping & Your Pet 

Microchipping DogMicrochipping (photo to the left) is the procedure of implanting a very small capsule inMicrochip Capsule your pet, containing  an  identification number just under the skin, between the shoulder blades. The chip is slightly bigger than a grain of rice (photo to the right).

The procedure of implanting a microchip takes only seconds, and feels like any other shot your pet will receive. The average cost of having your pet microchipped is anywhere from $30-$75, however, most rescues include this in the adoption fees for pets.

Microchip Scan

Microchipping provides permanent identification for your pet, in the event they are ever lost or stolen, or escape from your yard, and are turned into a vet clinic, animal control or humane society, rescue, police or fire station. A scanner (photo to the right) is used to read the identification number contained in the chip by passing it over the dog's neck, shoulders and back, much like scanning groceries at the store.

SpayNeuter Banner

Spaying & NeuteringSpayNeuter Surgery 

Spaying and neutering, often referred to as having your pet 'fixed', is a surgical procedure that prevents your pet from reproducing. This procedure usually takes a total of 45 minutes, with only 5-15 minutes of that being the actual surgery. For males, the surgery involves removing the testicles from inside the scrotum, and a section of the tubes that the semen would travel through when exiting the body. For females, the uterus is removed.


Surgery & Your Pet

As a pet owner, you may have concerns about putting your pet through surgery. While having a surgical procedure, your pet will be monitored by veterinary staff throughout the surgery, and afterwards. Some clinics will keep pets overnight after a surgery, or you may be able to bring your pet home with you the evening of the procedure. 


The Truth About Spaying & NeuteringSpayNeuter Poster

Having your pet fixed is important for their health, behavior, and preventing more homeless animals. If you want your child to witness 'the miracle of birth', please consider fostering a pregnant dog from a shelter. There are so many pregnant mommy dogs in shelters already, so please don't add to the number of animals on this planet when ones that are already here need your help!

It is important that pet owners do not transfer their own emotions onto their pet. An animal does not experience surgery the way people do, and there are no emotions associated with a spay or neuter surgery for your pet.  When you take Fluffy to the vet for his surgery, take a couple deep breaths and try to relax. Your pet can sense if you are upset or nervous because of the hormones your body releases when you are nervous, and this reaction can be misinterpreted as your pet experienced distress. Your pet will be given pain medication after their surgery, and will need to be confined to a crate for a few days after the surgery to make sure everything heals properly. Most pet's will sleep quite a bit after the surgery (this is their natural coping mechanism for pain and recovery), but other than that, they will not notice anything is different. If the surgery is done on younger pets around 4 to 6 months of age, they will be acting like themselves within a day of the procedure. Your pet will NOT have any emotional trauma associated with the surgery. 

Now, Guys- We Get It!SpayNeuter Poster- ASPCA  

The subject of having your pet fixed may make you uncomfortable, especially if you are male, and you may be thinking "there is no way I could take away my dog's manhood". But you must realize that a dog's behavior and desire to reproduce is strictly hormonal- a pet does not consider the responsibility of taking on a litter of puppies, nor do they have to start college funds for their offspring. Having your dog fixed does NOT make them any 'less of a man' (unless you consider marking all of your furniture in your house and every car tire on the block manly). You cannot reason with your pet, and explain to them they should not act on the feelings they are having, and the female yellow lab down the street 'does not like him like that'. By having your pet fixed, you are preventing your pet from contributing to the horrible over-population issue, and preventing certain types of cancer in your pet, along with certain behavioral issues. You might think it's funny when your pet latches onto your buddy's leg and goes to town while watching football on a Sunday afternoon, but what happens when your hormone charged dog tackles your neighbor's 3 year old daughter, pins her to the ground, bites the back of her shirt while thrusting his back end on top of her. Not exactly funny, especially when your neighbor calls animal control and the police.  

So, save your pet (and you) the humiliation, and be responsible- have your pet fixed! 

Serious Illnesses

The following information is for educational purposes, and is not intended to diagnose, nor treat, any illness or condition. If there is a health concern with your pet, please consult your veterinarian. When considering adding a pet to your family, we advise that you call different vet clinics within a reasonable driving distance to get an idea of the cost of routine care, vaccinations, flea and tick medications, and regular deworming medications. For routine deworming, you may choose to use an OTC medication from a pet supply stores or Wal-Mart (visit our Pets & Parasites page for more information). Here is a general list of pricing of routine care in the Chicago area (vet clinics were selected randomly to obtain averages).

Routine vaccination (DA2PPv or DHLPPv): $40

Rabies vaccination: $25

Parvo Test (puppies under 6 months): $35

Heartworm Test (puppies/dogs over 6 months): $45

Deworming medications: $15 (excludes tapeworms)

Fecal Test or screening: $25

Parvo is a severe intestinal virus, can progress rapidly and may be fatal. Symptoms include loose, runny stool, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, and dehydration. Canine Parvo virus has an incubation period of 2-14 days. Parvo can be spread by direct, and indirect contact with bodily fluids. Basically, if a puppy with Parvo licks your hand at one animal shelter, and then you visit another shelter, don't wash your hands, and then another puppy licks your hand, they have just been exposed to Parvo. This is a big reason that M.A.R.S. does not allow puppies to run around on the floor at adoption events, and requires adopters to sanitize their hands prior to touching any of the animals. The test for Parvo is done by fecal swab, and takes about 10 minutes to get a result.

Because Parvo is a virus, antibiotics will not treat this illness, however, they may be used to prevent a secondary infection due to the pet's immune system being affected. Supportive care for Parvo includes the administration of fluids, either under the skin (subcutaneously), or by IV. IV is much more direct, and is overall more effective especially in cases where the pet is showing multiple signs and is already dehydrated. The earlier this illness is detected and fluid administration started, the better the chances of survival, so if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior, eating habits, or body condition, please seek veterinary care as quickly as possible so a diagnosis can be made. Parvo is one of the most severe illnesses for puppies under 6 months of age. Even if puppies have received a complete set of 3 'puppy shots', their immunity to certain illnesses is not considered complete until the 4 or 6 month booster shot. The average cost of supportive care for Parvo is $500-$700 at vet clinics that have experience treating this condition, and offer competitive pricing.

Recommendation for Chicago area adopters seeking outstanding care:

Logan Square Animal Hospital

2543 N. Milwaukee Ave
(Between Kedzie & Sacramento)
Chicago, Illinois 60647

(773) 384-1138

M - F: 9a-12p, 2p-7p
Sat: 9a-4p
Sun: 9a-4p by appt. only
Closed all major holidays
Walk-ins welcome

Distemper is a fatal condition that causes respiratory symptoms, followed by neurological issues, such as seizures. Distemper has an incubation period of 21 days. Distemper is spread in the air. If new puppies are brought into a shelter without being quarantined away from other puppies, and they are coughing, any animals in that room have just been exposed to the respiratory infection. There is no diagnostic test for Distemper currently, but it can be confirmed by autopsy. Distemper is usually diagnosed by its symptoms.

Heartworm Infection occurs when a dog is bitten by a flea or mosquito carrying the infection. Heartworms take between 6 and 7 months to be detected, so puppies are started on Heartworm prevention before 6 months to make sure that they are safe from this infection. Heartworm testing is done with a blood sample, and results are obtained in about 10 minutes.

If a dog is positive for Heartworms, it is treated with a series of two very painful injections of Ivermectin (pesticide) that will kill the worms. Please take care of your furry friend and keep them on Heartworm prevention year round! The treatment for this condition is VERY painful, and VERY expensive, and completely PREVENTABLE!