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.

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Recommendations for Protecting Your Pets From Fleas & Ticks

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.

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Senior Pet Wellness: Keeping Your Pet Vibrant and Healthy Through the Years

As a pet ages, they are more susceptible to certain conditions and diseases, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, with proper veterinary care, good nutrition, ample exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight, many pets live out their Golden Years with excellent health. 

Treating your older pet requires a big measure of preventive care. This includes diagnostic and lab testing and more frequent examinations. Your friends at The Bluffs Pet Clinic want to help you keep your older four-legged friends going strong through senior pet wellness care. Continue…

The Nitty and the Gritty: Why Cat Wellness Exams Are So Important

Cats have earned their reputations as low-maintenance pets. But just because they don’t require daily walks or basic obedience training doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from routine veterinary care. Cats have evolved to mask any signs of weakness, meaning that chronic illness or injury can go undetected – and untreated  – sometimes until it’s too late. However, when an owner maintains annual cat wellness exams, their feline is given a better chance for a longer, healthier life.

The Forest Through the Trees

When it comes to routine veterinary care, cats have two strikes against them. First of all, they generally detest travel, the possibility of unwanted encounters, and the prodding hands of strangers. Perhaps more worrisome is that a majority of cat owners erroneously perceive their cats are healthy when they could benefit from medical intervention.

An Ounce of Prevention

Disease prevention is the forefront of cat wellness exams. Not only do cats need vaccinations, parasite prevention, and dental care throughout their lives, regular exams are important for getting in front of developing illnesses. Sometimes health conditions are related to age, but cats can suffer from various illnesses without proactive, preventive care.

The Schedule

Young and adult cats should be seen once a year for comprehensive wellness examinations. Once they turn about 9 years old, we refer to them as senior cats, and recommend exams every six months. We also recommend senior screening blood work and a urinalysis to screen for early disease, such as kidney, liver or thyroid disease just to name a few.   Seeing them more often can help toward sustaining high quality of life, decreasing pain, and supporting age-appropriate nutrition. Adhering to this schedule may slow down the aging process and keep them in great shape.

Shifting Approach to Cat Wellness

Previously, pets were seen by veterinarians only when they got sick or injured. We are always here to treat pet emergencies at The Bluffs Pet Clinic of Red Wing, but many illnesses that bring cats in are entirely preventable. When we see them on a regular basis, we can work together to address all of a cat’s unique needs – long before they get out of control.

Getting to Know You

An important aspect of cat wellness care is that our staff at the hospital are fear-free certified which hinges on building relationships with the owners. When we’re able to communicate effectively, cats have the chance to get the best care possible. We are happy to address your questions and concerns, and encourage you to take notes at home about your cat’s behavior patterns.

At your cat’s routine exam, we’ll pay close attention to the following:

  • Nose-to-tail physical health, with a special focus on weight management
  • Appearance of the coat, skin, ears, eyes, and teeth
  • Diagnostics, such as parasite/disease screening
  • Individualized vaccinations and parasite prevention medication
  • Nutrition and exercise
  • Heart rate
  • Abdominal palpation
  • Behavioral consultation

Quality of Life

We always look forward to meeting new feline patients and strive to build trust with their owners in order to deliver excellent veterinary care that all cats deserve. If you have any questions or concerns regarding cat wellness and lifelong health, please let us know.

A Fresh Perspective: Understanding Anxiety in Pets

Does your dog cower at the first sounds of a thunderstorm? Or, have you ever woken up in the morning to discover that your kitty has urinated on your bed or shoes, instead of in the litter box?

If so, you may be scratching your head in confusion, or even tearing out your hair in frustration. But whatever your reaction, chances are your pet is experiencing anxiety.

Addressing fear and anxiety in pets is a complicated problem. These feelings, whatever their cause, often manifest themselves in undesirable behaviors of all kinds. But before you take drastic measures, know that there are steps you can take to alleviate your sweet pet’s fear and help her improve her anxious behaviors.

Signs of Anxiety in Pets

Anxiety in pets is common, and some of the most common signs are:

  • Trying to escape – frantic scratching at doors and windows and digging under fences
  • Destructive behavior like chewing furniture
  • House soiling
  • Coprophagia
  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Vocalization
  • Excessive panting or drooling

Remember that thunderstorm example? Causes of anxiety in pets may not make sense to you, and may have a wide range of causes. Often, changes in a pet’s routine may cause anxiety. A few common causes of anxiety in pets are:

  • Moving homes
  • A new baby in the house
  • A new pet in the house
  • Loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms
  • Traveling in the car
  • Separation from you

How to Help Your Pet

As conscientious pet owners, we want to help our pets to feel better. Here are a few things you can do:

Rule out medical problems – Sometimes, anxious or undesirable behavior can be the result of an illness or injury that has gone undetected by the pet owner. Schedule an appointment to rule out any medical problems in your pet. For example, inappropriate urination in cats often is the result of a urinary tract infection or bladder stones.

Form a plan – We can work with you to discuss your pet’s anxiety and form a plan to address it. Behavior modification training is one approach, as is anxiety reducing medication. These two modalities are often used in conjunction to address anxiety in pets.

Seek professional guidance – Behavior issues are complex. To make matters worse, sometimes medical problems cause behavioral habits, which need to be addressed on many levels. We often work with certified professional trainers or veterinary behaviorists to address pet anxiety problems. This team approach can be a great support for you, and teach you how to help your pet best. Ask us for a referral.

Patience and positivity – Behavior problems stemming from anxiety in pets can be frustrating. Remember that your pet should never be scolded or punished for anxiety related behaviors. This will only make these behaviors worse and more difficult to treat. Further, “desensitization” by repeatedly exposing your pet to the object of their fear can make things worse if not done carefully with lots of positive reinforcement and should not be attempted without professional help. Be patient and positive. Call us with any concerns you may have.

We hope we’ve given you some insight into the complex world of anxiety in pets. Please give us a call or schedule an appointment if you feel your pet could benefit from addressing these issues. At The Bluffs Pet Clinic of Red Wing, we’re here to help!

Four-Legged Rejuvenation: The Benefits of Tui Na for Pets

Who among us can deny the pleasure and benefits of a good massage? Whether you have sore muscles, are recovering from an injury, or simply enjoy a little bit of stress relief from time to time, a good massage can certainly hit the spot.

It probably comes as no surprise that massage can have many of the same benefits for pets as it does for people, and that more pet owners are turning to massage as a way to help ease pain and promote healing in their fur babies.

If you’ve ever considered booking a massage for Fido or Fluffy, we invite you to consider Tui-Na, a form of traditional Chinese massage therapy. Tui-Na for pets is growing in popularity as a non-invasive, drug-free way to speed healing and increase well-being (and the pets seem to enjoy it as well).

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How to check over your pet at home

Examining your pet at home is a good way to catch problems early. This should not be used to replace your doctor visit, however, as your veterinarian has additional resources and training to evaluate your pet.  Here are some tips to assist you in checking your pet over.

Starting at your pet’s head, check the eyes for any discharge, cloudiness, sensitivity or loss of vision.

Next, lift up the ear flaps, smell the ears and look for debris or what may appear as dirt in the ears or redness on the ear flaps or outer ear. Normal ears should be clean and free of odor, with no redness.

Lift the lips and check for tartar on all the teeth. There should not be an offensive odor from the mouth. Are the gums red? Any discharge coming from the teeth?

Feel under the neck for any swelling.

Then check over their skin from head to tail and feel the skin as well as look for anything abnormal such as lumps, hairloss, dander, redness, scabs etc.

Next, you will check their legs. Start at the feet-check their toe nails and look for anything hidden between the pads, any redness between the toes on the top or underside. Note any swelling or pain as you handle the feet and limbs.

Next, lift up the tail and look underneath. Is there any stool present or evidence of diarrhea? Any swelling around the butt?

Finally, evaluate your pet’s weight. They should have a nice hour-glass figure when looking from the top down and a nice tuck in their abdomen when looking at the side view. Their hips, shoulders and bones in the spine should not be prominent.

Make sure to bring your pet in to have a veterinarian check them over at least once a year, and more frequently as indicated if there are any problems.