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.

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Perfect Match: The Most Popular Pet Breeds for You

A dog with an "adopt me" sign around its neck.

It’s not uncommon for pet owners to find themselves drawn to a specific dog or cat breed simply because of looks. Without a doubt, a pet’s appearance goes a long way. Personality, or temperament, age, and activity level are equally as important (if not more) than looks. When deciding on a breed, prospective pet owners must choose wisely. 

You may have your eye on a specific breed, but how do you know if that breed is right for you? The most popular pet breeds have a lot to offer, and we can help you determine compatibility. 

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Grain Free Pet Food: Fact Versus Fiction

We all want to do the best when it comes to feeding our families, and that includes those with four legs. Many of our clientele have been drawn in to the grain free pet food fad, but the truth is that this trend may not be a great one. So how are you to know? Let The Bluffs Pet Clinic help you understand how to make the best diet choices for your pet.

The Potential Problem with Grain Free Pet Food

The popularity of grain free pet food has been on the rise over the last decade or so thanks to the advent of some very heavily and successfully marketed pet food brands. Grain has been deemed a filler ingredient and blamed for a number of health conditions. In reality, very few pet health problems are related to grain and from a nutritional standpoint grain can even be a valuable ingredient when properly utilized. 

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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. 

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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!

Yes or No: The Pet Insurance Question

We all want to do the very best we can to provide health and happiness for our pets. They’re members of the family, after all! And we’re fortunate that in this day and age, we all have access to the very best in advanced medical care for our pets, from puppy or kitten-hood to adulthood and into their senior years. But this advanced care doesn’t come without cost. And with average annual pet care costs topping $1800, taking great care of our pets can put a significant financial strain on many families.

That’s where pet insurance comes in. Just as human health insurance is designed to offset our own health care costs, pet insurance can ease the financial burden of unexpected injury or major illness in our pets. But is it worth it? Here, The Bluffs Pet Clinic lays out the basics so that you can begin to weigh the costs and benefits for your situation.

Pet Insurance 101

Pet insurance is usually designed to help pet owners meet the costs of unplanned injury or illnesses. Some pet insurance plans also cover wellness care, such as dental cleanings, exams, and vaccinations. However, those plans are typically more expensive on a monthly basis.

Unlike human health insurance, most pet insurance companies expect you to pay for veterinary services up front and then submit bills to them for reimbursement.

Leg Work

Selecting a pet insurance company is an individual choice, and so it’s important to do some preliminary research and make a selection based on your needs. Many of our team members have purchased pet insurance for their own pet companions, so if you have questions, give us a call.

When researching, consider comparing the following points:

  • Monthly premiums/ costs
  • Deductible amounts
  • Waiting periods
  • Exclusions
  • Lifetime limits
  • Payout maximums per incident
  • Add on costs
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Age limits

After you’ve looked at these points, call your top three companies and talk to them. Customer service is key, so make sure you like the service provided and that all your questions are answered. Lastly, looking at online reviews from other consumers can be enlightening.

Peace of Mind

Perhaps the biggest benefit of pet insurance is the peace of mind it can afford you. If your pet is critically injured and needs to be hospitalized, or is diagnosed with a major illness such as cancer, pet insurance can allow you to focus on what’s most important – your pet’s care – instead of how you will pay for treatment.

If you have other specific questions about pet insurance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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.

The Link Between Pet Obesity and Exercise

With pet obesity numbers skyrocketing (over half of all cats and dogs!), it’s critical to not only measure precise meal portions, but to keep a daily exercise routine, as well.

Animals love to eat as much as we do. Some like to snack throughout the day – and relish every bite – while others enjoy scarfing down their meals in a single gulp (only to beg for more). Free-feeding doesn’t always result in an overweight pet, but when pets consume more calories than they need on a daily basis, weight gain is guaranteed. With pet obesity numbers skyrocketing (over half of all cats and dogs!), it’s critical to not only measure precise meal portions, but to keep a daily exercise routine, as well.

Connect the Dots

Pet obesity is linked to various illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Because it decreases overall health and wellness, excessive weight affects life expectancy. The good news? It’s 100% preventable!

The Reality

Most pet owners caring for overweight or obese pets perceive their pets as being at a normal weight. Some pet owners may not realize what their pet’s optimal weight is, but this pet weight check guide provides a lot of guidance on the subject. Being able to feel the ribs, see an hourglass figure when looking down at the length of the back, and seeing an obvious tuck of the abdomen are excellent markers for ideal weight.

Counting Calories

The best defense against pet obesity is a two-fold approach. It’s absolutely vital to maintain proper nutrition for your pet’s breed, species, age, and lifestyle. Use this Calorie Counter to ensure your pet’s current weight is commensurate with portion size. Changing your pet’s diet and caloric intake can have surprising results; we’re happy to help you with this.

If you offer snacks, alter your pet’s meal portions. Try raw fruits and fresh veggies (but never raisins/grapes, onions, garlic, and more).

Have Fun!

The second component has to do with daily exercise. If your usual routine borders on the mundane, take your dog to new places to get into an exciting exercise flow. Also, take them wherever you go to keep them moving throughout the day. Many places are becoming “pet-friendly.” Introduce them to new friends and keep them active as much as possible between meals.

Cats who spend most/all of their time indoors can benefit from a “catio” or an enclosed outdoor space. Keep their interests in mind (jumping, chasing, climbing, scratching, etc.) when designing and constructing this enclosure to maximize activity levels.

Reversing Pet Obesity

Pet obesity is preventable, but when it’s recognized, diagnosed, and handled correctly, it’s reversible. Make sure to keep your pet’s routine wellness exams every 6-12 months. If there are any changes to your pet’s weight (even slight ones), we can step in right away to prevent obesity-related problems down the road.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to us at The Bluffs Pet Clinic of Red Wing.