Chicago Shimpo
Pet Care A to Z by Atsuko Konishi
From Vaccination, Food, Oral Care, to Peaceful Departure

• Veterinarian Atsuko Konishi gave a lecture about “Pet care A to Z” on September 2 at the Central Park East Apartment’s Club House. It was organized and hosted by the Chicago Japanese Club.

• Konishi was born in Kobe, Japan and moved to Australia after graduating from high school. Animal lover Konishi decided to become a veterinarian and entered Australian high school again to strengthen her English ability. Finally she obtained a license in Melbourne and worked as a veterinarian there.
• She moved to Chicago last year and obtained a license in Illinois. Now she works at the VCA Misener-Holley Animal Hospital in the City of Chicago.

• At the lecture, she spoke about animal diseases and vaccination, pet food, pet care and painless death.


• The first visit of a puppy or kitten to an animal hospital is 6 to 8 weeks after their birth to receive vaccination and health checks. The second visit is 10 to 12 weeks, and the third is 14 to 16 weeks from their birth. The three-time visits would complete their childhood vaccination.

Rabies Control Vaccination

• Rabies vaccination is an absolute necessity in the U.S. It infects humans and cats, and it is no way to be cured. When a rabies dog bites your foot, it takes 6 months for the viruses reach your brain. The symptoms are excessive saliva, voice changes and aggressive behaviors.
• Konishi told a story of a cat whose rabies vaccination was expired. The owner of the cat brought it to her hospital, but it bit the owner before it received a vaccination shot. In this case, veterinarians have to report about such an incident to the state of Illinois, and such a cat is put on quarantine at the cost of the owner.
• Konishi emphasized, “Don’t miss an expiration date for rabies vaccination on any occasion.”

Canine Influenza

• An epidemic of canine influenza H3N2 has been hitting the Chicago area for several years. Recently H3N8 type was founded among greyhound racing dogs in Florida and has been expected to get into Chicago.
• Canine influenza is not fatal but it is easily transmitted from one dog to another through airborne infection. Konishi recommends taking vaccination because animal hotels usually require it when dog owners want to board their pets.

Lyme Disease

• Bacteria cause Lyme disease and infect through ticks, fleas and other sources. It also infects humans. In the case of dogs, the disease is not serious; however, if a human is infected, it causes red skin and sometimes cramps in the nerve system.
• To protect dogs from ticks, FRONTLINE is effective; however, some types of ticks have developed immunity to the product. Dog owners in Chicago tend to use it in spring and summer, but Konishi recommends using it all seasons because ticks may learn how to survive during winter and develop immunity.
• SimpleGuard also protects dogs from many types of ticks and fleas, mosquitoes, flies and fruit flies. It kills ticks and others before they bite dogs.


• Filariasis infects through mosquitoes and imposes burdens on a dog’s heart. “Interceptor Plus” is effective to prevent filariasis, but using it with types of SimpleGuard is more effective. Konishi recommended taking a yearly blood test at a hospital.


• Cats tend to catch respiratory diseases with sneezing and red eyes caused by the cat herpes virus. Humans are not infected, but once cats are infected by the virus, it remains in the nerve system of a cat’s face, causing sneezing and red eyes. This happens especially when cats are stressed from moving or strangers visiting their homes.
• To help reduce cats’ stresses, sprays are available to increase their happy feelings. The same types of sprays and collars are available for dogs.

Cat Leukemia

• Konishi recommends taking the cat leukemia test. It is so called “friendly cat disease”, and infects one cat to another though cats’ saliva and body fluid when they play with each other.
• Once a cat is infected, cat leukemia may obstruct its immune system, affecting feeding procedures and treatments when it gets sick.

Spaying and Neutering

• In the case of cats, their sizes are almost the same, so spaying and neutering surgery are available when they become 4 months to 6 months old.
• Dog sizes vary by dog types, so big dogs need more time to grow than smaller ones. The timing of the surgery depends on their growth condition, but small dogs are around 4 months old, and big dogs are around 6 or 7 months old.
• Dogs and cats need sex hormones to build their muscles and bones, but the surgery would be too late after they developed secretion of male hormones or female hormones because it would cause imbalance of such hormones.
• Female cats see the first period around 7 months old. The surgery increases risk of breast cancer after the first period.

Pet Food

• Konishi says, “Don’t be fooled by pet-food packages.” The best way to find quality food is searching for reliable food makers which have research facilities and quality control sections.
• She says that most veterinarians would recommend Hill’s, Royal Canin, and Purina because you can track down production batches. It’s not unusual to find nutritional inconsistency from one batch to another.

• A website is available for dog meals when your pet is suffering from arthritis, diarrhea or other diseases. The website,, was created by veterinarians and is free.
• Although it is not free, the University of Tennessee’s website provides recipes for a specific pet disease.

Pet Care

• Dogs and cats develop gum diseases, and brushing their teeth helps prevent tartar formation that causes gum diseases.
• She stressed not using toothpastes for humans because xylitol, an ingredient, hurts pets’ organs.

• In the case of cats, you can put cat-toothpaste around your cat’s mouth. The paste is delicious flavor for cats, so your cat gradually gets used it. If it is difficult to use a brush, you can use a piece of gauze or used stocking which is sopped in a watered tuna can. You can lure it with tuna flavor and wipe its teeth with a piece of gauze or stocking while it is enjoying tuna flavor. A key is not to offend your cat.

• A toothache is intolerable, so it affects pets’ behaviors. Konishi recommend taking an x-ray, scaling and cleaning once a year.

• Dogs, which have hair around ears or drooping ears, tend to have ear diseases, so cleaning the ears should not be overlooked.
• Konishi advises not to use a cleaner if you don’t know about the ingredients. She says that some cleaners contain steroids.
• “When you use a bottle of solution, don’t pour the solution directly into the dog’s ear. Use a piece of cotton, put the solution on it and squeeze it on the dog’s ear,” she said.

• There are dogs which don’t like cleaning their ears. When they get ear diseases, Konisi prescribes a tranquilizer and tells the pet owner to return to her hospital the next day. “There are long lasting medicines, which work for about 70 days, but once side effects occur, you can do nothing,” she warned.


• “Euthanasia is a very difficult decision, but when your pet is suffering and no recovery is expected, peaceful death is one of treatments for your pet,” Konishi said.
• When a pet owner makes a decision, VCA hospital sincerely takes care of his or her wish and helps the pets’ peaceful departure.

Veterinarian Atsuko Konishi