Protecting Your Pal From Common Tick Diseases in Pets

A person who just pulled a tick off a dog.

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 4-8 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.

The Right Winter Gear for Pets Makes All the Difference

A chihuahua wearing a sweater.

Between sweaters, vests, booties, and parkas, there’s simply no shortage of excellent winter gear for pet options out there. Now, your pet may have a different opinion on the subject, but once they feel the warmth and comfort, they’ll want to wear it all season long. 

Aren’t They Born For It?


Recommendations for Protecting Your Pets From Fleas & Ticks

Three dogs out in the grass

Spring has finally returned, but, unfortunately, that means that so have the fleas and ticks. As flea and tick treatments are always evolving, our own Dr. Darlene Cook, DVM, CVA wanted to share with you her current recommendations for flea and tick prevention for your pets. While we do recommend your pets be on monthly preventatives year-round, Doctor Cook also includes some recommendations for those who use spring through autumn prevention.


Intestinal Parasites in Pets: What You Need to Know

A dog being petted by their humanOn July 6, 1885, French biologist Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccination against a zoonotic disease – that is, a disease that can be spread between humans and animals. Each year World Zoonoses Day is celebrated as a way to commemorate this historic event, and raise awareness about the risks of zoonotic diseases.

Intestinal parasites is another example of an organism that can be passed from our furry friends to us, and can wreak havoc on the health and well being of pets and people. In honor of World Zoonoses Day, we would like to highlight the very common problem of intestinal parasites in pets, and what pet owners can do to protect their two and four-legged family members. Continue…

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

A dog licking its paws in the snowAnimals 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!

Hiking and Hunting with Pets

Before you pack a bag for the day and head out to the trail, be sure to brush up on these tips for hunting and hiking with pets.

The weather is cooling down and it’s the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors with your favorite furry friend. Before you pack a bag for the day and head out to the trail, be sure to brush up on these tips for hunting and hiking with pets.

Bring More Water than You Think You Need

Whether you’re going out for a quick hike or planning to spend the day hunting pheasant, water is absolutely essential for both you and your pet. Dehydration is still a risk for both humans and animals even as the weather cools down.

Pack a collapsible dog bowl for your pet and give them some water anytime you take some for yourself. You should also do your best to keep your pet from drinking from puddles or other standing water that might have dangerous bacteria.

Pack a First-Aid Kit

Even if you and your pet are in great physical condition, you should always pack a first-aid kit so you have what you need in case of an emergency. Include some bandages and adhesive tape. It is also a good idea to have an ice pack and an emergency blanket.

Know the Laws

Avoid a run-in with a park ranger by taking the time to research your hiking or hunting area before you go. Most U.S. National Parks do not allow dogs and many other areas have pretty specific leash laws. Other hiking trails that allow pets have designated areas where they can be off leash. Any pets that go hiking or hunting should respond well to voice commands.

Remember You Are Hiking with Pets

As long as you properly prepare, hunting or hiking with pets can be a fun, active activity that helps you enjoy the natural beauty around you. Whenever you go hiking or hunting, be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Bring your phone so you can call for help if you need it. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable hiking boots and consider getting boots for your furry friend to protect his or her paws.

Before you leave your house, check the weather so you know what kind of clothes to wear. If the weather will be extremely warm or really cold, pack some extras for your pet, too. You should always put an orange reflective vest and a collar on your pet if you are bringing them hunting.

Schedule an appointment at The Bluffs Pet Clinic of Red Wing to make sure your pet is ready for hunting and hiking season. Whether you need a general wellness check or want to get a flea and tick preventive, our veterinary team will help you prepare your pet for the trails. We want you to have fun and be safe. Call us to learn more or to request a visit with one of our vets.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors With Your Pet

A dog with their humans going for a hike

With our plethora of beautiful lakes and Instagram-worthy natural areas, Minnesotans are no strangers to outdoor summer fun. For many, enjoying the great outdoors with your pet is a no-brainer. After all, Spot doesn’t want to spend all of his time inside when the call of the wild beckons.

From backyard barbecues to boating on the lake, we have all of the pet safety tips and summer care recommendations to ensure that everyone – two and four-legged alike – has the most amazing summer ever.

Lakes, Rivers, and Backyard Pools

Taking caution around water is imperative, even for dogs who have a penchant for swimming. Each year, many pets succumb to accidental drownings. Take care of your pet around water by practicing the following tips:

  • Outfit your pet with a life jacket that is well fitted for his or her size.
  • Avoid rapids – even fast moving shallow water can sweep a pet out of reach in a matter of seconds.
  • Supervise your pet around water and stay close to him or her when in a pool or lake.
  • Make sure your pet likes to swim and is healthy and fit enough to do so (some pets, such as brachycephalic breeds, are not suited for swimming).
  • Install a pool ramp for your pet, and consider fencing off the pool for added safety.
  • Prevent your pet from drinking pool water (because of the chemicals) or drinking from natural pools of water, which can contain parasites that can make your pal very ill.

Backyard Fun

Including your chow hound or curious kitty in any backyard gathering or celebration comes with a few caveats. It’s essential to remember that parties are often distracting, so someone will need to look after your pet while you’re grilling or playing the host. Since escape can happen quickly (all it takes is one gate or door left open), make sure your pet is microchipped and has current tags.

If grilling, remember that grills and coals are HOT, including drippings from the grill. Toxic foods (for fur babies) are commonly found at barbecues, and tend to include xylitol (a common sugar substitute), garlic, onions, alcohol, grapes, raisins, and chocolate. Also be sure to cover trash bins and compost piles securely.

Hitting the Trails

Hiking in Memorial Park or other beautiful nearby areas can be a great way to get in shape and enjoy all that nature has to offer. When with your pet, keep the following in mind:

  • Make certain that all of your pet’s vaccines and parasite controlmedications are current (call us if in doubt).
  • Avoid wildlife and keep your dog close and on a leash if you spot any animals.
  • Be courteous and always pick up after your pet when on the trail.
  • Pet formulated sunscreen (never use your own) is important to protect easy-to-burn noses, ears, and tummies.
  • Once again – keep that cool water flowing for your pal by bringing along plenty of water.

Safely Enjoy the Great Outdoors With Your Pet

Any outdoor summer fun also requires responsible pet parents to be aware of heat-related illnesses. Learn the signs of heatstroke and how to respond to any kind of emergency, be it an animal attack or injury.

For more information and tips on outdoor pet safety, please call your