Parasite Prevention

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; the earlier we can treat your pet for heartworm disease, the better the prognosis. All heartworm medication manufacturers guarantee their product, providing you use the heartworm prevention year-round and are performing yearly heartworm tests.

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 six 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 product manufacturer may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.

No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your pet has heartworm disease.

It is important to prevent fleas because not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, they are also carriers of disease. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas, and can be combined with your pet’s monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it also reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, they can survive year-round in a home.

Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.

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.

It is recommended your pet be on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered one time per month, either by pill or topical application. Depending on the specific product you and our team choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations, including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). A simple blood test will get your pet started.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. It is spread by wildlife (raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats, etc.) and domestic animals. It can also 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.

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: 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: 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: 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: Feline Leukemia Vaccine is recommended for kittens and cats that are of “high risk,” such as indoor/outdoor cats/kittens.

Lyme Disease: It 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: It 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.

Vaccines are an important step of your dog or cat’s health care because they keep your pet healthy and prevent serious diseases. Our veterinarians will ensure that your dog, cat, rabbit, or rodent avoids these serious diseases through annual physical and wellness exams, as well as vaccinations and parasite protection.

The first Rabies shot your pet receives lasts for one year. Subsequent Rabies vaccinations last either one or three years. Our veterinarian will discuss the best vaccination protocol for your pet.

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.

Dental Care

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, which then causes gingivitis. If 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. These infections may cause organs, such as kidney, liver, and heart to function improperly. How often your pet needs his/her teeth cleaned varies based on before many factors. Your pet’s teeth and mouth should be examined on a regular basis by one of our veterinarians. Based on those exams, we will create a dental health care protocol specifically designed for your pet.

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.

Hospital Information

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 to 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.

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.

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.

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.

Medical Questions

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 because it helps with early detection. 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. It is most convenient to do blood work at the time of the annual heartworm test, but it can be done any time of year.

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!