National Immunization Awareness Month: All About Pet Vaccines

Pet vaccines help a puppy play outdoors.

Thanks to significant advances in veterinary science and an increased understanding of animal behavior and welfare principles, pets are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Part of their continued wellness is the prevention of communicable diseases through improved hygiene, preventive care, and of course, pet vaccines.

Knowing which vaccines your pet needs―and when―is an important part of pet ownership. At The Bluffs Pet Clinic, we take your pet’s preventive care seriously.  We aim to help you determine which pet vaccines your pet needs and when they need them.

Continue…

Pet Safety in the Great Outdoors

Dog and hiker in stream.

Nice weather is finally arriving in the great state of Minnesota, and at The Bluffs Pet Clinic we are excited to venture outdoors with our four-legged friends. As we head out hiking, swimming, camping, and otherwise enjoying nature, though, it is important to keep pet safety in mind. 

Great Dangers in the Great Outdoors

When considering the outdoors with our pets, there are many wonderful things to enjoy. Long nature walks, fishing excursions, and cookouts with friends are the things memories are made of.

Continue…

Plan for an Emergency, Ensure Pet Safety

Pet safety in Red Wing.

Blizzards, fires, tornadoes, and floods are all things we experience here in Minnesota.   While rare, natural disasters aren’t impossible, and planning for the worst is part of an effective defense. In other words, by imagining terrible scenarios, you can prepare for them. 

Upholding pet safety is a day-to-day occurrence, and must remain a high priority in the face of life-threatening circumstances.

Continue…

Don’t Eat That! Pet Poison Prevention Tips To Keep Your Pets Healthy and Happy

Two dogs look up at their owner as she washes dishes.

It is impossible to watch your pet every second of the day, and sometimes our furry family members can get into food, plants, or household items that could be dangerous to their health. 

The team at The Bluffs Pet Clinic wants to help you understand more about what is considered toxic for your animals so you can master pet poison prevention in your home and avoid an unfortunate accident.

Continue…

Fright Night: Halloween Dangers For Pets

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for humans, and if the cute internet pictures are accurate, it’s popular with pets as well. But even though pets in costume look cute and funny, Halloween can actually be a frightful holiday for companion animals. Certain Halloween dangers for pets can even lead to scary pet emergencies.

But, fear not! With some preparation and planning, as well as awareness, you can make sure your pet stays safe, secure, and happy on Halloween.

Cozy and Safe

Some pets would love to answer the door with you all night long or go along on the trick-or-treating rounds. But if your pet is at all reluctant or anxious, do yourself (and them) a favor and let them sit this one out. 

Continue…

Savvy Pet Traveler: The Ultimate To-Do List for Traveling with Your Pet

Wrapping up the summer months with a family vacation is something we all aspire to. And, adding a furry pal to the mix makes it even better, right?!? 

Traveling with your pet has many perks. First, it is an opportunity to bond with your pet, and it is a way to show off your adorbs buddy to the rest of the pet-appreciating world. And don’t forget about all of those cute Instagram pics!

Yet, taking to the road with a pet has a lot of extra considerations. To take the guesswork out of traveling with your pet, your team at The Bluffs Pet Clinic is here to help you make your list of must-haves and to set you off an amazing journey for you and your pet. Continue…

Ready for Single Digits? Prepare with Our Winter Pet Safety Guide

Animals are highly adaptable, but that doesn’t mean Chihuahuas can handle sub-zero temperatures or that huskies thrive in the desert. Each pet acclimates to environmental changes in different ways, but sometimes, they need our help to survive seasonal extremes. Without a proactive approach to winter pet safety, the animals we love may face deadly hazards.

Mild to Wild

Pets adapt to seasonal shifts in temperature and humidity via their coats, which thicken during the fall. Although a great defense against the cold, wet, and windy weather, thicker coats do not replace the vital need for shelter.

Serious Risks

Exposed animals are at risk for hypothermia and frostbite. Because they react to cold through shivering and depressed breathing, indoor-outdoor pets must have access to weatherproof shelter, unfrozen water, and food to help replace spent calories.

Older and Younger

Pets in good physical health face better odds when it comes to winter pet safety. Puppies or kittens, as well as senior pets, are known to lose body heat more quickly because they have less insulating body fat and muscle mass and a weak shivering response. To compensate, many pet owners add more high-value nutrition during the winter months.

However, your best bet for protection is to simply keep these pets inside and comfortable. Keep them away from cold drafts, wet conditions, and make sure they’re warm at all times. Exposure to bitter cold can decrease a pet’s disease resistance, resulting in new or worsening cases of pneumonia or osteoarthritis.

Speaking of Their Coats…

While their coats are at peak thickness, don’t forget to brush them out. A clean, mat-free, fluffy coat offers superior protection from the elements. Plus, distributing the skin’s natural oils throughout the body can help ward off dry, itchy skin. Insulating sweaters, vests, and jackets are game changers when it comes to keeping up with daily outdoor exercise.

Other Elements of Winter Pet Safety

Depending on your pet’s species, breed, age, and lifestyle, the following winter pet safety tips may come in handy:

  • Shovel out a specific spot for your dog to go to the bathroom during severe weather.
  • Be aware of antifreeze risks. Clean up any leaks or spills immediately, and do not allow your pet to drink from puddles.
  • Cleaning up your pet’s feet after being outside reduces the effects of salt, chemical deicers, ice, and snow pack. Be sure to trim the hairs between the paw pads to minimize ice balls. A pair of booties can make all the difference.
  • Keep your dog on leash. Their sense of smell is impaired by snow, and they can get lost more easily. Microchip your pet and update your contact information if necessary.
  • Do not leave your cat or dog inside your car during the winter.
  • Bang on the hood of your car before turning the key. Cats are known to crawl up next to the engine block to stay warm.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces can present fire hazards. Supervision is always required.

Please contact us with additional questions or concerns about winter pet safety. Our veterinarians and staff members are always here for you and your pet. Stay warm!

The Great Escape: The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

The thought of a pet escaping the home or yard isn’t something pleasant to consider. However, it’s estimated that one in three pets will go missing at some point in their lives. Even with the best of precautions, a curious cat or canine can easily slip through an open door, gate, or window.

That’s why microchipping your pet is one of the best defenses you have in avoiding a missing pet tragedy. The team at The Bluffs encourages all pet owners to consider this effective and permanent form of identification.

Microchipping Your Pet for Added Peace of Mind

A microchip might sound a bit high tech, but it isn’t an elaborate tracking system. Rather, a microchip is simply a tiny radio frequency transponder no bigger than a grain of rice. Unlike GPS, the transponder does not require a battery but emits a radio frequency signal only when it’s picked up by a specific type of scanner used to read microchips.

Microchips are also covered in a bio-capsule that’s safe and compatible for implantation under the skin. Typically, microchipping occurs during a pet’s spay or neuter surgery. The implantation itself is fast, does not require anesthesia, and is mostly painless – about the equivalent of receiving a vaccine shot.

Once implanted, newer microchips are designed to bond with the surrounding tissues, usually between the shoulder blades or the “scruff” of the neck. After this procedure, your pet will have a unique identification number for life, and you will be given the paperwork to register your pet with a registry that tracks these numbers and manages your contact information.

We also want to stress the importance of maintaining up-to-date information with the registry throughout your pet’s life, since accurate information is essential for reuniting with a missing pet.

While there’s not a 100% guarantee that any pet who goes missing will find his or her way back home, microchips are the safest, most effective choice since they cannot be removed or break off like ID tags.

Preventing an Escape

To prevent a missing pet scare, your friends at The Bluffs recommend:

  • Providing obedience training to canine pets, teaching important commands such as “stay” and “here”
  • Installing pet proof perimeter fencing around the home
  • Keeping your pet on a leash at all times when out on walks or away from the yard
  • Maintaining current photos of your pet should he or she become lost (for missing pet posters and online notices)
  • Putting your pet in a secure room during holiday gatherings or parties, when doors can accidentally be left open
  • Using a secure carrier or crate when traveling with your pet

If you would like more information on the benefits of microchipping, we’re happy to answer your questions.

Protecting Your Pal From Common Tick Diseases in Pets

What’s small, has eight legs, and feeds off the blood of humans and animals?

You got it, ticks. These tiny parasites are not only gross, but they can also spread disease to both people and pets. Thanks to an increase in the geographical distribution of ticks throughout the country, tick diseases in pets are being diagnosed with greater frequency in recent years.

Tick-borne illnesses in pets can cause big problems, and may even be life-threatening in some cases, making knowledge of these illnesses an important part of responsible pet ownership.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most well-known of the tick diseases in pets, and is transmitted by the Brown Deer Tick. The tick must be attached to the host for more than 48 hours in order to pass along the Lyme disease bacteria, and symptoms (if any) tend to pop up about 2-5 months after the tick bite.

Signs your pet may have Lyme disease include fever, joint pain/swelling, limping, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to detect, and can cause recurring health problems. Your veterinarian can help you to determine if your pet is a good candidate for the Lyme disease vaccine.

Other Tick Diseases in Pets

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever – Unlike its name, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not limited to the western United States. The disease, which is carried by the American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, and Brown Deer Tick, has been found throughout North, South, and Central America. Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, and loss of appetite.
  • Ehrlichiosis – The Brown Dog Tick is the most common carrier of ehrlichiosis, which can cause fever, respiratory distress, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and bleeding disorders.
  • Babesiosis – The signs of babesiosis infection include fever, dark urine, weakness, depression, swollen lymph nodes, and sudden collapse.
  • Anaplasmosis – Fever, joint pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite may accompany an anaplasmosis infection.

Year-Round Protection

It can be tempting to skip your pet’s monthly parasite preventive during the colder months, but any lapse in protection puts your pet at risk. Ticks can be brought into Minnesota at any time of the year via tourism, and a few unseasonably warm days may be all that’s needed to bring hibernating tick nymphs out of hiding. It’s also important to note that Lyme disease-carrying ticks remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing.

In addition to a monthly parasite prevention protocol, be sure to check your pet for ticks each time they come in from outside. If you find a tick, remove it by grasping the head with a pair of tweezers and pulling straight out, being careful not to squeeze. Drown the tick in rubbing alcohol or flush it down the toilet to dispose of it.

If you have further questions about tick diseases in pets, or need to make an appointment for your furry friend, don’t hesitate to contact your partners in pet care at The Bluffs Pet Clinic.

Thanks to an increase in the geographical distribution of ticks throughout the country, tick diseases in pets are being diagnosed with greater frequency in recent years.

A Gentle Approach to Pet Care: Announcing Our Fear Free Certification

Recently, The Bluffs Pet Clinic acquired our Fear Free certification, and we’re both excited and proud to tell you more about what this means for our clinic and how it helps your pet!

For many pet owners, something about taking your pet to the vet (especially the family cat) that evokes trepidation. You may have lucked out with the most friendly, fearless dog or cat around, but for many pets, the sites, smells, and overall bustle of an office visit can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, the veterinary community has taken notice of this and endeavored to adapt and overcome the many obstacles of the traditional clinic environment and create and atmosphere that pets respond to and enjoy, ultimately making your pet’s visit more enjoyable and productive. 

What is a Fear Free Certification?

Based on the findings of veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear Free program responds to the emotional wellbeing of pet patients. Studies from Bayer Veterinary Healthcare in 2014 found that 37 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners reported their pets were afraid of going to the vet.

What’s alarming about these statistics is that for many pet owners, their pets do not receive preventive care, which is necessary to maintain good health. In some cases, this may also mean a disease or other condition goes untreated.

For these reasons, Fear Free was developed as an educational initiative for pet owners and veterinarians to encourage a calmer, more relaxing, and ultimately successful experience with veterinary visits.

Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of veterinarians and animal behaviorists, the Fear Free Program teaches the following skills:

  • Gentle handling techniques
  • Recognizing subtle cues of anxiety and stress
  • Creating positive association with examinations
  • Creating a calm environment

The Advantages of a Fear Free Practice

For us, our commitment to a Fear Free practice goes far beyond the required coursework. It’s our goal to partner with all pet owners to identify stressors that prevent their pets from having a positive experience and work toward creating a successful one.

Some of our low-stress, comforting techniques include:

  • Quiet areas
  • Pheromone use, which can calm cats and dogs
  • Gentle restraint (when needed)
  • Soothing, calm exam rooms
  • Toys, treats, and plenty of attention to encourage positive association

Along with our Fear Free certification, we’re also a Cat Friendly Practice!

Is Your Pet Anxious?

We know it’s tough to witness a beloved pet in distress. However, annual and follow-up care is critical to your pet’s health, quality of life, and longevity. There are many ways we can help you prepare for your next visit with us. At-home behavior modifications and reward-based training can do wonders!

If you’d like to learn more about our Fear Free certification and our approach to holistic veterinary care, we welcome your call! Emotional wellness matters, and we’re here to make you and your sweet pet as comfortable as possible.