Fright Night: Halloween Dangers For Pets

A cat investigating a jack-o-lanternHalloween 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

A man driving with his dog in a convertibleWrapping 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…

How to Manage Seasonal Pet Allergies

A dog squinting its eyesJust like humans, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies that persist throughout the year. Pet allergies usually manifest as itchy or inflamed skin, rather than sneezing and watery eyes that people are prone too. 

Seasonal pet allergies is one of the most common conditions we see in our veterinary practice. Symptoms can be intense and extremely uncomfortable for pets, and can affect their quality of life. 

Allergies cannot be cured, but they can be effectively managed. With knowledge, patience and support from The Bluffs Pet Clinic, you’ll be on the right track to managing seasonal pet allergies in no time.  Continue…

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…

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

A cat rolling over onto its backCats 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

A dog laying on a stair with its best friendDoes 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!

Periodontal Disease in Pets

A dog with a big smileIf your pet’s bad breath drives you away as she tries to snuggle up to you on the couch, you may be thinking it’s time for a dental chew. But bad breath can signify deeper dental problems than a simple treat can fix – namely pet periodontal disease.

The problems with periodontal disease go further than bad breath. With over 85% of pets affected by the time they reach 3 years of age, it’s no surprise that this topic gets a lot of our attention. Also known as dental disease, periodontal disease in pets can cause bleeding gums, tooth loss, and even systemic disease of the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Luckily, periodontal disease is preventable. We know that conscientious pet owners want to do the best they can for their pets. Here’s some information to help you do just that.

How Periodontal Disease Happens

Periodontal disease in pets is the progressive inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth. Here’s how it workds:

  • It starts when bacteria in the mouth form plaque that sticks to the teeth.
  • Minerals in your pet’s saliva then bond with the plaque, causing it to harden into tartar.
  • Bacteria that cling to the plaque and tartar then work their way under your pet’s gum line, causing gum inflammation (gingivitis).
  • If tartar is not controlled, it can progress to periodontitis. When this happens, bacteria destroy the supporting structures of the tooth, including the soft tissues surrounding it, the root, and the bone below.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

Pet owners sometimes have a difficult time noticing the first signs of dental disease. We recommend annual preventive care visits in order to spot the signs of dental disease early and treat small problems before they become advanced.

Signs to look for include:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Red or bleeding gums
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Pain or sensitivity
  • Loss of interest in chew toys
  • Difficulty eating (sometimes looks like messy eating)
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Sudden preference for soft food

It is rare that an animal will actually stop eating from dental disease, but you may notice changes in their interest or comfort while eating.

Treating and Preventing Periodontal Disease

Although dental disease is common, the good news is that it is preventable. Treatment and prevention of dental disease can add years to your pet’s life and help keep them comfortable and healthy. Here’s how we do it:

  • Regular wellness exams, even for seemingly healthy pets
  • Professional dental cleanings as recommended
  • Digital dental x-rays to check for disease under the gum line
  • At home care, including brushing your pet’s teeth daily (we can teach you how!)

If you have any questions about your pet’s health, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Your team at The Bluffs Pet Clinic is ready to help!

An Act Of Love: Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

A cat looking at the cameraIf you are considering adopting a pet, whether an older dog or cat, or a puppy or kitten, you may be wondering about spaying or neutering your pet. The internet, your friends and your family all abound with opinions and anecdotes about these procedures, and it’s easy to consider delaying or forgoing the surgery altogether.

But did you know that, besides preventing unwanted litters of puppies or kittens, there are both health and behavioral benefits to spaying or neutering your pet? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the simple facts.

Spaying or Neutering Your Pet 101

Spaying (for females) and neutering (for males) is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs. In females, the ovaries and uterus are removed; in males, the testicles are removed. Both of these surgical procedures are performed by veterinarians in our hospital while your pet is under general anesthesia. At The Bluffs Pet Clinic, we thoroughly evaluate your pet’s health before, during, and after the procedure and use the most advanced anesthetics and patient monitoring to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort.

What Age to Spay and Neuter

Pets from shelters are often spayed or neutered as young as 8 weeks of age, but we recommend scheduling the procedure no earlier than 6 months of age. For large breed dogs your veterinarian may recommend waiting closer to 12-18 months before spaying or neutering. This is because waiting to spay or neuter your large breed dog until they are closer to 12-18 months has been proven to reduce some orthopedic diseases such as cruciate ligament ruptures and patellar luxations. Waiting to spay or neuter your pet also comes with an increased risk of unwanted hormonal behaviors and pregnancy. Please carefully consider your lifestyle and discuss the pros and cons of delayed spay or neuter with your veterinarian.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

As a partner in the animal welfare and wellness community, we see many reasons and benefits for spaying and neutering. Here are some of the best reasons to do so:

  • Health benefits for your pet – spaying or neutering your pet will reduce the likelihood of them contracting any number of expensive and life threatening conditions, including ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, and mammary gland (breast) cancer. Preventing a pregnancy protects your female pet from difficult births and emergency situations that can result.
  • Behavioral benefits – when your pet is no longer hormonally driven, they (and you) can be spared from behaviors such as wandering, vocalizing, urine marking, and some aggressive behaviors. Indeed, for dogs that start showing signs of aggression at around 12 months of age or older, neutering or spaying should be done at that first sign of aggression. In those pets, spaying and neutering at that time may help reduce the aggressive tendencies. In addition, preventing heat cycles in females decreases a pet’s discomfort and means no blood stains on carpets and furniture.
  • Social benefits – every day in the US, thousands of unwanted pets are born. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between 6 and 8 million pets enter animal shelters each year, and over half of these are euthanized. Many of these are young, healthy pets and the sad fact is that there simply are not enough loving homes to go around. Spaying or neutering your pet is a meaningful way for you to prevent pet overpopulation.

Spaying and Neutering Myths

Unfortunately, there are several untrue myths that continue to gain traction. Females do not need to have one litter of puppies or kittens before they can be spayed. In truth, they don’t gain any behavioral or medical benefits from having a litter, and your female pet won’t miss being a mother. Spaying before even one heat cycle greatly reduces breeding related diseases and helps avoid unwanted puppies or kittens.

Your pet won’t automatically gain weight from being spayed or neutered. These procedures reduce the hormones associated with an intact reproductive system, but experts agree that weight gain is due to too much food and not enough exercise. Only about 10% of the pets that are spayed or neutered will gain weight, requiring a food reduction and/or increase in activity. Make sure your pet has a healthy diet and daily exercise to avoid these issues.

Spaying and neutering represents a one-time investment in your pet’s health. Treating diseases that can result from having an un-spayed or un-neutered pet can cost 10 times as much as the spay or neuter procedure. Although spaying or neutering is a major surgery, the cost is relatively low when you consider the skill, expertise, and medications needed to perform it. If cost is limiting you from spaying or neutering your pet, please call us to discuss options.

We hope you have a better understanding about the spay and neuter procedures and benefits. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at The Bluffs Pet Clinic.

Your Guide To The Purrr-fect Holiday Gifts For Pets

A dog with a treat on its pawsIt’s hard to imagine a holiday season without at least one or two gifts for the four-legged friends in your life! Whether you completed your holiday shopping back in August or are still struggling to figure out what to buy, our ideas for holiday gifts for pets can round out your list.

Wacky Gifts For Pets

One of the best parts of gift giving is coming up with creative ideas to surprise your loved ones. The pet care industry has capitalized on this concept and the amount of interesting, unique, useful, and pawsitively pawsome pet products on the market is simply dazzling. For instance:

Stocking Stuffers

You can pack a lot of health, fun, and deliciousness into a pet’s stocking while still staying within your budget. Try these pet stocking stuffers:

  • Pet toothbrush and toothpaste (also available at The Bluffs Pet Clinic).
  • Homemade pet treats, made right at home with love.
  • Felted cat toys or other small, fuzzy toys for your beloved kitty to play with.
  • A rolled leather leash or other vet-approved leash for your furry friend.

Wardrobe Upgrade

Not every pet enjoys wearing clothes, but some accessories are designed to protect your pet against our Northern Minnesota winters and look super adorable, such as:

Wellness Abounds

Has your pet been in for a wellness exam lately? Are they up-to-date on vaccines and parasite preventives? Could your little guy or gal use a good bath and nail trim with a professional groomer? Wellness gifts such as these may not seem very interesting, but there’s simply no better gift you can give your pet than the gift of good health!

Giving Back

If your pet’s toy box doesn’t have room for more stuffed animals or squeaky bones, consider giving to animals in need this holiday season instead. Consider the following ideas for making your community a better place this holiday season (and all year long):

  • Donate your time, energy, supplies, or money to a local animal shelter or rescue organization
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered to ensure that you don’t contribute to the homeless pet population
  • Adopt or foster a new pet

What’s under the tree for your furry friend this year? We’d love to hear about it during your pet’s next appointment. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact The Bluffs Pet Clinic with any concerns you may have regarding your pet.

Celebrating the Holidays with Pets: Safety, Fun, and Loot!

A puppy sitting in a Christmas basket

For many pet parents, celebrating the holidays with pets is one of the highlights of the season. Pets are like family, and it’s hard to imagine not including them in as many aspects of our revelry as possible.

Whether you are trying to find the perfect gift for Fido or are wondering how to keep Fluffy safe around all those decorations, we’ve got you covered with our simple guidelines for safe and fun holidays with pets.

Avoiding Holiday Mishaps

  • With so much food available during the holiday season, it’s easy for pets to be given (or sneak) food from the table. Unfortunately, many common holiday foods can cause accidental poisoning or a serious inflammatory condition known as pancreatitis. Play it safe and keep table scraps away from pets, and encourage guests to do the same.
  • Many of the decorations that make our homes sparkle during the holiday season pose a risk of serious injury to curious pets. Electric cords can cause entanglement, strangulation, or electric shock if chewed on, and should be tacked high out of reach or bundled and tied together.
  • Christmas trees fascinate pets, but pets incur serious injuries related to trees every year. For your furry friend’s safety, not to mention the preservation of your hard decorating work, securely anchor your tree to prevent it from falling and keep glass or breakable ornaments on the highest branches where pets can’t reach them. Similarly, avoid the use of tinsel and other string-like items, as they can cause choking or intestinal blockage if ingested by pets.
  • Many holiday plants, including mistletoe, English ivy, holly, narcissus, and amaryllis, are toxic to pets and should be kept out of reach. Poinsettia is actually the least toxic of the seasonal plant lot, but should still be kept away from pets since mild stomach upset could occur if eaten.
  • A houseful of guests can overwhelm even the friendliest pet. Provide your pet with a quiet out-of-the-way spot (furnished with water, bedding, and other comforts) to escape the holiday madness.

What’s Under the Tree for Me?

It would be hard to include your four-legged-family members in your holiday celebrations without giving them gifts, but with so many pet products on the market it can be hard to choose just one or two (or more!). Let us help you with a list of our favorite useful, safe, and fun pet gifts:

  • Kong toys are nearly indestructible, and come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties depending on your pet’s preferences and playing style.
  • Environmental enrichment is an important part of your pet’s well-being, and you can provide this for him or her in the form of food puzzlesslow feeder bowls, and DIY pet games.
  • Give your fur friend the gift of health with a new pet toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste in his or her stocking. Or better yet, make an appointment for a professional dental exam and cleaning.
  • A little baggie of homemade dog or cat treats is a wonderful way to show your pet how much you care.
  • Does your pampered pet already have everything he or she needs and wants? Consider donating to a local shelter or rescue organization in your pet’s name, or add to your family by adopting or fostering a homeless pet.

Celebrating Holidays with Pets

In the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the main event of the holidays, it’s easy to overlook our furry friends. Take some time for your pet each day, whether it’s a walk through the ‘hood to check out the holiday lights, a snowy game of fetch, or a laser pointer session by the fire.

Time spent together is a wonderful reminder of the love that surrounds us during the holidays and the rest of the year.

Happy holidays from all of us at The Bluffs Pet Clinic!