Spring and Easter Pet HazardsSpring is finally here and with it can come some hazards to pets including plants and goodies from Easter.

  • Easter Lilies (and related lily plants) and Daffodils: These plants are common this time of year and, if ingested, are highly toxic to cats. The first signs of ingestion are vomiting and lethargy that can progress to kidney failure (with lily ingestion).

  • Easter Grass: These stringy decorations can lead to linear foreign bodies if ingested, especially in cats and ferrets. Signs may include vomiting, straining to defecate, and painful abdomen. Sometimes the grass can sometimes be visible from the mouth. Be careful not to pull out any visible grass or material as this can lead to further damage.

Seizures can be a scary thing to witness in our beloved pets. To help understand what is going on during a seizure, let’s start by talking about what is a seizure. Typically seizures are caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain. Our brains are comprised of neurons, which are tiny cells that run on electricity. If this electrical current gets disrupted it can cause the body to lose consciousness, control over movement and bowels resulting in a seziure.

Dog in grassThere are different types of seizures. When most people think of seizures they think of a generalized (or grand mal seizure). This is where the pet will lose consciousness, have rapid arm and leg movements, and typically will urinate and defecate. This is the most serious form of a seizure. There are less extreme seizures call partial seizures. These can be mild and may go unnoticed. Some of these clinical signs include tremors, facial twitching, staring into space, light/fly biting, abnormal aggression or rage and even just brief episode of loss of consciousness.

Cluster seizures are more than one seizure within a 24 hour period. It is important to keep track of how many seizures your pet has. Status epilepticus is a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes. There can be serious even life threatening consequences for this type of seizure or recurrent seizures where your pet does not fully recover in between them. During these prolonged seizures, it is possible to have a lack of oxygen to the brain, extremely high body temperature and high blood pressure, any of these things can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Because these are life threatening emergencies, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Though it may seem strange, regurgitation to a mate, person or toy is a normal part of bird reproductive and bonding behavior.

bird harlow Regurgitation is the expulsion of the contents of the crop, a specialized part the esophagus. Regurgitation is usually a normal behavior. A bird that is regurgitating will make a head-bobbing and neck-stretching type of movement. Food will be brought up and deposited on the bird's toys or mate. Such controlled regurgitation usually does not result in staining of the feathers or the beak.

Vomiting, on the other hand, is the expulsion of the contents of the proventriculus, ventriculus (specialized parts of the stomach in birds), or intestine. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting.

Vomiting usually includes a rapid flick of the head, which happens so fast it is often not seen by the owners. Tell-tale signs of vomiting in birds is the flicking of small pieces of ingested food around the cage. A very common complaint is that the feathers on the head are messy and stuck together. Food may become caked on the bird's head giving it a spiky, matted appearance.

Vomiting can occur along with regurgitation and is a serious clinical sign. If you suspect that this behavior is the result of illness and not behavioral causes, a veterinarian should examine your bird.

Encephalitzoon cuniculi is a parasite most often associated with neurologic disease in pet rabbits. It can also have other manifestations including renal and ocular.

Black rabbitWhat are the signs?

The most common signs we see with affected rabbits include head tilt, rolling, and trouble walking (ataxia). The less common manifestations of the disease include a renal form of the disease where your rabbit may have an increase in thirst and/or incontinence, and an ocular form that is most commonly associated with cataracts.

How can my pet get it?

Most rabbits are infected from the urine of infected rabbits. This transmission can occur within six weeks of birth. It is also possible for an infected mother to infect her kits in utero. 

It is important to know that E cuniculi is a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can be infected with this parasite. The people most commonly affected are immunocompromised. Be sure to wash your hands and clean around your rabbit well.

KittenAs Veterinarians, we are more commonly presented with the cutest little kittens afflicted by diarrhea, though constipation can also be a significant problem. Most cat owners are more aware of when their young cat is having bouts of diarrhea because of the mess and smell. Constipation and severe constipation (obstipation) is not usually as obvious, but can be equally as problematic for kittens.

Because cats vary in when they go to the bathroom, determining if a cat is actually constipated can be challenging. Ideally most cats should go once per day, and though the color may vary with the diet, the consistency should be firm but soft.

Monitoring your kitten's bathroom activities, though perhaps the least enjoyable part of caring for your cat, is important to ensure that they are using the litter box regularly. Obstipation/constipation can lead to serious problems such as illness due to absorbing toxins from the colon, and even rectal prolapse.

What are the Causes?

Constipation may have many causes. As kittens transition from nursing to eating kitten food, they may become dehydrated or not have enough fiber in the diet. As young cats further develop, lack of exercise and gaining too much weight may be a contributing factor. Young cats also like chewing on everything and anything, which can contribute to constipation and may even progress to a blockage. So monitoring your kitten's behavior closely to make sure that he or she does not ingest foreign substances is also very important. There are several medical conditions including parasites that can play a role in the kitten becoming constipated.

What are the Signs?

Please note that effective November 27, 2017, we will no longer be utilizing the online pet pharmacy, Vets First Choice.

Our doctors and staff feel that the best means to service our clients and patients is to directly supply medications from our pharmacy. Using this in-house method will ensure that each pet receives the proper care with their prescribed medication, dosage and instructions, which is guaranteed by the manufacturer.

We have made every effort to keep prices competitive and to allow you to take advantage of manufacturer rebates for additional cost savings when available. If there is something your pet needs that we do not carry in-house, we can prepare a written script for you to pick up and use at the pharmacy of your choice.

If you were ordering Hills prescription diets online, we would be happy to order your pet's food directly from Hills for an in-clinic delivery. The cut off time each week is Tuesday by 12:00 pm for a Thursday delivery into the hospital.

We look forward to offering local shopping convenience and peace of mind with your pet's health as our number one priority. Please feel free to call us at (773) 596-1807 if you have questions.

It's official — Animal House of Chicago has been approved by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) as a Cat Friendly Practice – Silver Status!

Animal House of Chicago is an AAFP Cat Friendly PracticeWe recently underwent some major renovations in an effort to achieve this high standard of feline friendliness, including adding brand new cat condos and play area for boarding, as well as exclusive feline waiting area and exam rooms. Learn more about our feline boarding services here.

The staff at Animal House of Chicago operates as a team. We take pride in our staff's veterinary training, knowledge and capabilities, and we want you to have the same confidence as we have. The members of our staff frequently attends or hosts seminars about new medicine and technology; they never want to stop learning. Our veterinary team has been specifically trained in handling all exotic pets with an emphasis on birds. Each individual client and pet has special needs, and our staff will do its best to meet each and every one of those needs.

Tracy de la Navarre, Hospital ManagerTracy de la Navarre has also always loved animals, especially birds. She received her BS degree from Northern Illinois University where she studied Biology and Behavior specializing in birds. She worked for several years for the USDA Quarantine Station for exotic animals as well as managed a Noah's Arc Pet Store specializing in birds. Tracy worked as head veterinary technician at Niles Animal Hospital & Bird Medical Center as well as at Misener-Holley Animal Hospital and Exotic Creatures Care Clinic.


Veterinary Technician Susie with LizardSusie is all about the "Wooja" (the LOVE)! For over 22 years she has taken pride in making sure all animals are not only receiving quality care, but are made to feel as comfortable as possible while in her care. Susie graduated from University of Dayton with a BA degree in Interior Design, but soon realized her calling was to work with animals. She has worked with Dr. Byron and Tracy for over 20 years and along with them is an Animal House of Chicago original team member. Susie wears many hats including Marketing Director, Veterinary Technician, Boarding Coordinator and Receptionist.

When she isn't working, she's spending time with her family or singing. Susie's "animal family" consists of a Yorkie-Poo, a Chi-Weenie, a cat, finches, a Blue & Gold Macaw, and her Amazon Parrot of 22 years.

Veterinary Technician Linda with TurtlesLinda has never met an animal she didn't like! She has been working as a veterinary technician since 2006 after earning her BA degree in Theater from Middlebury College and spending several years on the National Horse Show Circuit. Linda particularly enjoys turtles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. She is the proud mother of many wonderful critters, including a Cavalier, cats, Guinea Pigs, a gerbil, turtles, snakes and birds.

Paige DaviesPaige has loved animals all her life. Before becoming a veterinary technician, she worked at a pet store for three years. She is also currently volunteering at the Shedd Aquarium and plans to do many volunteer programs for wildlife in other countries such as the Bolivian Animal Sanctuary. She has a large family of pets including two Belgian sheepdogs, a kitten, three rats, a bearded dragon, and an eyelash crested gecko.


Veterinary Technician Sara with DogSara has loved animals her entire life and began her career working with them at a family-owned pet store. She earned her certification as a Veterinary Assistant in 2009, and is currently working toward her Veterinary Technician degree. Although Sara loves working with all the animals, she is especially fond of working with rabbits and reptiles. Her pets include 4 dogs, a Blue Tongue Skink, a Map Turtle a Water Dragon, Fire Bellied Toads and Polypterus Fish.


Vet Tech Lauren with DogLauren's love of animals began at a young age while growing up with two Devon Rex cats and pet sitting for neighbors. She found her passion for helping Chicago's pets during her four years at Loyola University Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. She has volunteered with multiple animal shelters and the Humane Society of the United States. She worked at Red Door for two years before becoming interested in veterinary medicine. She shares her home and personal space with three black rescue cats.


Vet Tech Luis Zuniga with macawsGrowing up, Luis always wanted to become a veterinarian or work with animals in some capacity. He has raised birds for the past six years and he has had a pet reptile for as long as he can remember. For three years, he managed a boarding facility that specialized in behavioral issues in dogs and he has used that knowledge to manage his many pets. He aspires to someday become a zoo or aquarium technician. Luis has two dogs, two cats, two macaws, a conure, two snakes, and two fish tanks. WOW!


Vet Tech Jonathon Stasiek with skink reptileJonathon’s love for animals began while running his own “zoo” in his backyard filled with turtles and frogs. Prior to becoming a Veterinary Technician, he was an Animal Care Manager at a pet store for two years. Jonathon is currently working towards a BS in Biology in a pre-veterinary track, hoping to become a Veterinarian one day!

He shares his home with a plethora of reptiles, including a Blue Tongue Skink named, Gilbert, a Russian Tortoise named, Sheldon, a grumpy baby uromastyx named, George, and more!

Veterinary Technician, Jackie, with a feline friendBio coming soon!





receptionist-lucia-dogGrowing up in Texas near a wide variety of animals – whether it was dogs, cats, horses, small mammals, or the frequent roadside turtle relocations – Lucia has always had a great love for animals. As an Air Force veteran taking a turn from learning languages, she now deeply enjoys meeting new and old animal friends every day. Soon, Lucia will be adopting her first reptile, a bearded dragon, after having fallen in love with them at AHOC. She also shares an apartment with her fiancé, tabby cat, and a five-gallon fish tank.


Receptionist Sara Parker with a SnakeSara has always been an animal lover and grew up with cats, dogs, a rat, tadpoles, and anoles. After graduating with a BA in Psychology, she worked at a doggy day care and volunteered at several animal shelters before moving to Chicago, where she shares her home with a cat and two hermit crabs.



Kennel Attendant, Melanie Mateo, with a turtleSince childhood, Melanie has lived around animals and had a passion for learning about them. Throughout high school, she volunteered at Chicago Canine Rescue center, cleaning kennels and walking dogs. She's always loved animals, especially dogs and reptiles. She enjoys observing animal behavior and various forms of communication.

Melanie is currently working on her bachelor's degree in Biology and she hopes to one day work on developing new medication to treat psychological conditions. At home, she has two French Bulldogs, two fishtanks, and a budgie.