Resident Caterpillars Aid in Monarch Butterfly Conservation

monarch caterpillars

We are excited to introduce you to our two monarch caterpillars on display, Logan and Pilsen! This fall, Veterinary Behavior at Illinois and Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois are teaming up to promote the conservation of one of our favorite insects—the monarch butterfly.

monarch butterflyThis captivating insect is not only a beautiful summer guest of Midwestern fields and gardens, it is also an international traveler. Every year several generations of monarchs will reproduce and live their two- to three-month lifespans in the Midwestern U.S. and Canada, and every fall the fifth generation will travel 1,500 miles south to Central Mexico. This migratory generation lives a total of eight to nine months and spends the winter in the pine forests of central Mexico, then travels back to the southern U.S. to reproduce and lay eggs. Their offspring then head further north and the cycle repeats.

While adult monarch butterflies will feed off of various species of flowers, the monarch caterpillar will only eat one type of plant—the milkweed. Unfortunately, habitat loss due to development and agricultural practices in the U.S. has eliminated large tracts of milkweed and resulted in a decline in the monarch butterfly population. Compounding the problem, deforestation has destroyed several of the monarch’s overwintering sites in Mexico, so fewer butterflies make the journey back to the U.S. to reproduce each spring. Our Midwestern population of monarch butterflies is now severely threatened.

Fortunately, there are many ways we can all help the monarch butterflies:

  1. monarch butterfly eggsPlant the monarch’s host plant, the milkweed. The more milkweed available, the more monarchs will reach adulthood. There are several species of milkweed and attractive options for the home garden are the swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, and whorled milkweed.
  2. Plant nectar plants for adult monarch caterpillars. They need plenty of nectar to reproduce and make their long journey south. Favorites of monarchs include Echinacea, Liatris, and Solidago (Goldenrod).
  3. Collect and raise monarch caterpillars indoors. While only 1 in 10 eggs will survive to adulthood outdoors due to predation, 9 in 10 eggs raised indoors will survive to adulthood. To successfully raise monarch caterpillars you will need plenty of milkweed, as these caterpillars are hungry! Monarch Watch offers excellent tips to help you get started rearing monarchs.

If you would like to learn more or are interested in visiting our caterpillars, Logan and Pilsen, please stop by our clinic.

Kelly Ballantyne, DVM, DACVB
Veterinary Behavior at Illinois


dog with leash on pavement

In recent weeks there has been an increased surge of coughing dogs in Chicago. We had been free of suspected flu cases for well over a month here at Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois. But two weeks ago, we had one confirmed case followed immediately by six subsequent cases that were highly suspicious of the canine flu. All of these dogs have had a common history of frequenting day care, boarding facilities, or dog parks. We are still continuing to recommend using caution in these areas to help protect your dog, since there is not yet a vaccine that protects against the effecting H3N2 strain.

Most cases have started with either mild coughing or sneezing, which eventually has progressed to a loud, honking cough. Some pets have a decreased appetite, depression, and fever. If your pet is showing any of these signs, please have your pet examined as soon as possible for time is of the essence to prevent these cases from progressing to life-threatening pneumonia.

Dogs at highest risk of exposure include those that socialize with other dogs by attending day care, boarding or grooming, dog parks, and those that live in high-density enclosed areas, such as high-rise buildings. We recommend owners decrease the risks of exposure by trying to avoid these high-risk areas as much as possible. Canine Influenza Virus can survive 48 hours on hard surfaces and 24 hours on clothing, thus it is very important to also be cautious in elevators, hallways, and places where dogs congregate, like dog relief stations or community dog bowls.

Please call Medical District Veterinary Clinic with any questions at (312) 226-2588.


dog with leash on pavementThe recent canine influenza outbreak in Chicago is caused by a different strain of the virus than was earlier assumed. According to laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin, the outbreak is caused by a virus related to Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses—not the H3N8 strain. Both strains can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Symptoms may be more severe with the H3N2 virus. H3N2 has also caused infection and respiratory illness in cats.

Read more:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Chicago Kennel Cough Outbreak

dog with leash on pavementIn recent weeks we have seen a large number of coughing dogs here in Chicago. Most of the affected dogs have a history of frequenting day care, boarding facilities, and dog parks. At this time I recommend avoiding these facilities to help protect your dog, even if he/she has been vaccinated for “canine cough.”
Why isn’t vaccination sufficient protection? Let me explain a little about canine cough.

“Canine cough” (also called “kennel cough”) is a broad term to describe infectious tracheobronchitis. This highly contagious condition results in inflammation of the trachea and bronchus. Many viruses and bacteria can result in canine cough. Currently the intra-nasal vaccine recommended for dogs here at the Medical District Veterinary Clinic covers the three most common causes of canine cough: Bordetella (bacteria), Parainfluenza (virus), and Adenovirus (virus).

However, early test results from patients in this outbreak point to an underlying culprit of canine influenza (flu). There is a vaccine for canine influenza on the market, but it has not been widely used or recommended because of the low risk of canine influenza.

Most cases start with a mild cough, which eventually progresses to a loud, honking cough. Some pets have decreased appetite, depression, and fever. We have seen a number of dogs develop a secondary pneumonia. If your pet is showing any of these signs, please have your pet seen.

Due to the outbreak I recommend avoiding any direct dog-to-dog contact and vaccinating dogs at high risk, such as those that attend day care, boarding, grooming, or dog parks and dogs that live in high rises. Although the vaccine does not 100% prevent infection, it should reduce the number of affected dogs. The canine influenza virus can survive 48 hours on hard surfaces and 24 hours on clothing, thus it is very important to be cautious in elevators, hallways, and dog relief stations.

Dogs need a booster two to four weeks after the initial vaccination. Dogs are not considered protected until 14 days after the second vaccine. The vaccination lasts one year and must be given annually thereafter. We do not recommend vaccinating dogs that have been infected until at least four weeks after the infection has cleared. Not all dogs may need the vaccine.

Please see this recent article by Dr. Brendan McKiernan, a respiratory specialist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana.

Please call the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois with any questions: 312-226-2588.

ANOTHER REASON TO SMILE: Dental Discount Extended Through March

Dog and tooth brushDue to popular demand,  we will continue to offer a 10% discount (and a 15% discount to all UIC students, faculty and staff) on ALL dental procedures that occur within the months of February AND MARCH! Call us to set up an appointment for your dog or cat today at 312-226-2588!

SMILE! Pet Dental Health Month Means Discounts

Dog and tooth brushA healthy smile means a healthy pet.

We’re celebrating Pet Dental Health Month with a 10% discount on all dental services throughout the month of February.  BonusUIC students, faculty and staff (with current I-cards) will receive a 15% dental discount during this time.

Call for an appointment today.

THE NAUGHT & NICE LIST: Tips for a Happy & Pet-Safe Holiday

dog in reindeer costumeThe holiday season is a feast for the senses — bright lights and candles, mouthwatering treats and shiny, festive decor — which means it’s also filled with potentially hazardous temptations for your furry friends.

So before you extend the holiday cheer to your animal companions, check out our “Naughty and Nice” list for tips on creating a happy and pet-safe holiday.

Naughty (Keep these out paw’s reach)

  • Lilies
  • Poinsettias
  • Tinsel
  • Lit candles
  • Shiny, breakable ornaments
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Macademia nuts
  • Onions
  • Fatty meat, stuffing or gravy
  • Bread or bread dough
  • Snow melt or salt (in case we get any of that white stuff they’re predicting)

Nice (Sure bets for safely sharing the holiday spirit)

  • An active toy
  • A soft, warm pet bed or blanket
  • Lean turkey meat
  • Cat- or dog-specific treats (much safer than people food)
  • Extra play or snuggle time with you

Holiday Hours

We will be:

  • Open from 8-12 pm on 12/24
  • Closed on 12/25
  • Closed on 12/28
  • Open from 8-12 pm on 12/31
  • Closed on 1/1

For emergency service during the holidays, contact VSC at Illinois at 312.226.3641.

Wishing you and your animal companions a healthy and happy holiday season!


Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois Reception DeskWe are honored to have our clinic and new medical director, Dr. Sullivan, featured on the Big Ten Network’s blog, BTN LiveBIG!. Read the article to learn more about Dr. Sullivan and the teaching that happens in our clinic. You’ll also learn about a high-tech feature installed within our surgical suite! View the full article.


Dr. Drew Sullivan, Medical DirectorThe new medical director at the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois brings a great big passion for pets, and for the University of Illinois, too!

Dr. Drew Sullivan earned his undergraduate degree as well as his veterinary degree on the flagship campus in Urbana, and was part of the cheerleading team throughout his years on campus. He joined the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois last fall, and was named to the medical director role in August.

Both he and Dr. Lindsay Seilheimer will continue to deliver high quality and low stress care for pets and their people, assisted by a dedicated team of technicians and receptionists.

Dr. Tom Graves, who formerly directed the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Chicago clinical activities, accepted a position at the end of 2014 to become associate dean at a new college of veterinary medicine in Arizona.


New Extended Hours

What’s important to you is important to us. That’s why we have extended our hours Monday through Thursday to better serve you.

Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois is now open:

Monday – Thursday: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm (NEW! EXTENDED HOURS)
Fridays: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturdays: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

When looking to make an appointment with us please keep in mind these new, extended office hours. We believe that this will help better accommodate your needs by providing more hours in which you can schedule an appointment.

If you have any questions about our NEW office hours please contact us. Once again, thank you for allowing us to serve you.