Small Animal and
Exotic Services

Benchmark Animal Hospital offers comprehensive companion animal services.
We offer plans customized for your needs to ensure the overall health of your pets and minimize emergency situations.
Preventative Healthcare services include wellness examinations, vaccinations, intestinal parasite control, are also avaiable heartworm testing, dentistry, and microchipping. Canine reproduction services are also avaiable.

Canine Vaccinations-
Yearly examinations and annual vaccines are recommended for all animals. Vaccines are meant to minimize the severity of illnesses or disease in all animals. As is the case with any type of care when it comes to your pet, it’s always best to consult the veterinarian about vaccines and how often to receive vaccines. Although there is discussion about vaccinating against distemper, parvovirus, and leptospirosis every three years, we still recommend vaccinating against these diseases every year if you live in a rural area where pets are most likely exposed to these diseases. Protection is best if vaccines are given on a yearly basis. A pet must be current on rabies vaccine before a 3 year rabies vaccine can be administered. Bordetella and influenza vaccines are strongly encouraged for dogs that frequently come into contact with other dogs, such as those who go to a groomer or boarding kennel. Lyme vaccine is recommended for dogs that are exposed to ticks.

Feline Vaccinations-
Yearly examinations and annual vaccines are recommended for all small animals. Benchmark Animal Hospital recommends vaccinations against rabies, feline distemper, rhinotracheitis, and chlamydia every year. A three year rabies vaccine is not recognized for cats.Depending on the lifestyle of your feline friend, feline leukemia and FIV testing may be recommended. If your cat spends time outdoors, vaccinating for leukemiis also strongly recommended.

 **Heartworm and flea prevention is recommended year round**

Intestinal Parasite Control-
Intestinal parasites are life forms that live in the intestinal tract of other living beings (the host). The parasites may injure the lining of the intestinal tract as they sap the nutrients from the host’s tissues or the intestinal contents. This weakens the host from tissue injury, diarrhea, blood loss, loss of vital nutrients, dehydration, and shock. If the parasite is allowed to flourish without interruption, the host may become weakened enough to die.Parasites are diagnosed through examination of your pet’s feces and laboratory testing.There are many products available for intestinal parasite control. Depending on the lifestyle of your canine or feline friend, we can help you with a comprehensive plan to minimize the parasites in your environment. Keeping your pet(s) on a comprehensive parasite control program is not only good for the animals in the household, but also the people!

Ascariasis (Roundworm Infection): Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. Pets become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs or larvae (immature worms) found in contaminated soil or feces or by eating infected rodents, birds, and certain insects.Puppies and kittens are commonly infected by the mother while still in the uterus. Swallowed larvae travel through the body to the intestine, where they develop into mature worms. There, adult females deposit eggs, which pass with the stool and develop into infective larvae.Adult roundworms are described as looking like spaghetti noodles.
Human infection with roundworm larvae (not adults) is possible but does not occur frequently if good hygiene is practiced. Children should be taught the importance of cleanliness when playing with animals, especially litters of puppies and kittens. The best insurance against human infection is keeping your pet free from roundworms by regular stool examination and treatment if necessary.

Ancylostomiasis (Hookworm Infection): Hookworms are relatively common intestinal parasites of dogs, cats, and other animals. Adult worms live in the small intestine, and their eggs pass out with the stool.Animals become infected with hookworms by eating infective eggs or larvae, penetration of the skin or footpads by larvae, or transmission of larvae from the mother while the fetus is still in the uterus. The time from consumption of infective larvae to the appearance of eggs in the stool is 15 to 26 days.Hookworms are one of the most serious intestinal parasites, as they feed on the blood of their host animal and can cause severe anemia (low red blood cells). In young, weak, or malnourished animals, hookworms can cause sudden collapse and death. Older, more resistant dogs may suffer a slow, progressive, wasting disease. Weight loss, diarrhea, and tarry or bloody stools frequently occur in animals with hookworms.Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin and cause a skin disorder known as cutaneous larval migrans or creeping eruption. This infection is not common, but anyone who develops a skin rash after being in contact with a pet with hookworms should consult a physician.

Trichuriasis (Whipworm infection): The whipworm is a small, thin worm that lives in the large intestine and cecum. The cecum is a blind pouch located between the small and large intestine; it resembles the human appendix.The whipworm is difficult to see in the stool because of its very small size.
Whipworms can cause diarrhea, bloody feces, and poor general health. Massive rectal bleeding occasionally occurs. Diagnosis is by microscopic examination of the feces. Sometimes several samples must be examined before the worm eggs are found. It takes about 3 to 4 months after infection until eggs are passed in an infected pet’s stool.

Taenia (Tapeworm Infection): There are different kinds of tapeworms, but the most common tapeworm diagnosed is the tapeworm transmitted by swallowing a tiny infected flea. Fleas can carry the tapeworm’s larvae. If your pet swallows the flea while grooming, an adult tapeworm can begin to grow inside.
The tapeworm is a parasite found in the intestines of dogs and cats. It consists of a head and a long flat body made up of segments. Segments are passed in the animal’s feces, leaving the head still attached to the animal’s intestinal lining, where it produces new segments.Tapeworm infection may not cause noticeable illness in your pet, or it may produce digestive upsets, poor appetite, poor haircoat and skin, weight loss, and vague signs of abdominal discomfort. Tapeworm infection is diagnosed by finding the segments in your pet’s feces, in its bed, or clinging to the hair around the anus. The eggs may or may not be found on microscopic examination of the feces. When first passed, segments are yellowish to white and about 1/4 inch long, and may expand and contract. When dry, the segments resemble cucumber seeds or grains of rice.Tapeworms are not passed directly from pet to pet but require an intermediate host in which to develop. Common intermediate hosts are fleas and small animals, such as mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits.

Coccidiosis (protozoan infection): Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract caused by microscopic organisms called Coccidia. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces. It is most severe in young or weak animals and often causes bloody diarrhea. The disease is not a threat to people.

Heartworm Disease-
Heartworm disease is spread to our canine pets by mosquitos and it is spreading to new regions of the country each year. Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms.The fact is that heartworm disease has now been diagnosed in all 50 states. Heartworm disease is caused by the heartworm,Dirofilaria immitis. This parasite lives in the right side of the dog’s heart and the nearby large vessels (pulmonary arteries). The female worm produces large numbers of microscopic, immature heartworms that circulate in the blood. These immature worms (microfilariae) are taken up with the blood by a mosquito feeding on an infected dog. After living in the mosquito for 10-14 days, the microfilariae can then infect another dog that the mosquito feeds on. The feeding mosquito deposits infective microfilariae into the skin of another dog, and these enter the body through the mosquito bite wound. The microfilariae eventually travel to heart where they develop into adult heartworms. The adult heartworms produce new microfilariae within 3 months. It takes at least 190 days from the time the dog is bitten by an infected mosquito until the dog becomes a new source of infective microfilariae.Failure to treat heartworm disease may result in heart failure and/or serious disease of the liver and kidneys.

Heartworm Testing-
An in-house heartworm test requires one drop of blood and 10 minutes of time to get results. We recommend yearly testing for heartworms in dogs because heartworm disease is becoming more common in many parts of the United States. Because of human travel with pets and the mosquito population in our area, pets in southern Illinois are exposed to heartworm transmission throughout the year.Most cases of heartworm disease are diagnosed by finding the microfilariae (baby heartworms) in the blood. Sometimes, however, no microfilariae are found in the blood. These cases are diagnosed by a combination of blood tests and chest radiographs (x-rays).

Dogs: Annual testing is strongly recommended, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. Without a heartworm test, you won’t know your dog needs treatment.

Cats:Heartworm infection in cats is harder to detect than in dogs because cats are much less likely than dogs to have adult heartworms. We do not have a heartworm test for cats and there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats. Using a heartworm prevention in cats is critical.

Laboratory Services-
Benchmark Animal Hospital has an in-house laboratory which allows us to perform various routine diagnostics. These diagnostics include but are not limited to urinalysis, internal parasite screenings, ear cytology, complete blood counts, serum chemistry profiles and cytology of fine needle aspirations.We also partner with several referral laboratories to offer specialized testing for allergies, endocrine diseases, hormone levels, fungal and bacterial cultures, and to monitor for therapeutic levels of medications.

General Surgery-
We offers a wide variety of surgical procedures for small animals. All patients are carefully screened for safety and anesthetics are specifically tailored to your pet. Intensive care after surgery and full blood testing is available for your pet. Some of our surgical procedures include, but are not limited to spays, neuters, dental cleaning and extractions, lump removals, exploratory surgery, caesarians, bone fracture repairs, and cranial cruciate ligament repairs. Small animal surgeries and dental procedures are performed Monday-Friday mornings. Patients should arrive at our clinic between 7:45-8:30am the morning of surgery and can be picked up between 4:00-5:00pm the same day. Routine feline surgeries are kept overnight to allow them to recover from anesthesia in a quiet environment. These patients may be picked up any time the following day. Please remember to withhold food and water after midnight the night before surgery. This is important to ensure that there will be no vomiting while under sedation.

Dental Procedures-
Healthy teeth are very important to your pet’s overall health. Pets that have problems with their teeth and gums are prone to suffer serious heart, liver and kidney problems as they age. our dental services that include teeth cleaning, polishing and surgical extractions.All patients are carefully screened for safety and anesthetics are specifically tailored to their needs.

Digital Radiology-
Radiology is another quality diagnostic tool we use to diagnose muscular-skeletal, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary system problems and diseases. Benchmark Animal Hospital has the ability to use digital radiology to produce a much clearer, more detailed image that we can view immediately. Digital radiographs can be emailed or saved to a disk and given to you as part of your personal medical records for your pet. Images can also be shared quickly via email to specialists when a second opinion is desired.

Thousands of pets are lost yearly and are never reunited with their owners. Microchipping is considered permanent identification for animals that lasts a lifetime.