Happy New Year!

2022 has been a big year at St. Francis Animal Hospital! We started the year by welcoming Drs. Jessica Lewis and Megan Schommer as new co-owners alongside Dr. Jennifer Blair. We celebrated the addition of new employees, the transition away from curbside care and back to traditional in-clinic visits, and many touching, silly, and sweet moments with our wonderful furred and feathered patients. Our biggest celebration this year was honoring the 30th Anniversary of St. Francis Animal Hospital. What an amazing journey we’ve had serving several generations of pets and people. We ended the year by honoring our beloved departed pets on the Winter Solstice. Thank you to all of our amazing clients who have allowed us into your families and entrusted us with the care of your wonderful pets this year. Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful 2023!

Cause For Paws Fundraiser Update

Thanks to all of our generous donors and St. Francis Animal Hospital’s $500 matching donation, we managed to raise $3,827.14 for Cause for Paws Cat and Kitten Rescue! These funds will be put to good use to help care for many deserving kitties. Thank you!

Evaluating Heart Health on a Physical Exam

When your veterinarian spends a minute or two listening to your pet’s heart during their physical exam, what are they listening for and what might that teach her about your pet’s health?

1)   Heart rate (the number of heartbeats per minute): A normal heart rate for dogs ranges from 80 to 130 beats per minute, and cats range from 120 to 180 beats. Small breed and younger pets generally have higher heart rates, while large breed and older pets tend to have slower heart rates. If a calm, older pet has a very high heart rate, that could indicate a problem such as hyperthyroidism, dehydration, anemia, or recent blood loss. A pet with an unexpectedly low heart rate might indicate metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism or Addison’s disease, toxin exposure, heart muscle disease, or hypothermia.

2)   Heart rhythm: The classic “lub-dub, lub-dub” of a normal heartbeat is similar in pets as in humans. Heart rhythm abnormalities can be a sign of problems with the electrical systems of the heart. A veterinary cardiologist can use an electrocardiogram (ECG) to help determine the underlying cause of an arrhythmia. Some heart problems cause intermittent arrhythmias that can be difficult to catch during a short ECG, so some pets might need to wear a special monitor that records an ECG continuously over the course of several days. Treatment for heart arrhythmias varies depending on the cause, but can range from benign neglect to medication to pacemakers.

3)   Heart murmurs: A heart murmur is an abnormal sound heard during a heartbeat. Usually, this is a “whoosh”-type sound, and it means that at some point during the cycle of the heart’s contraction, there is turbulent blood flow through the heart. In very young pets, murmurs can be normal and usually resolve as pets grow. Congenital heart murmurs can be caused by heart defects such as abnormal vessels or incomplete developments of the chambers of the heart. Older pets can develop murmurs due to leakage of the heart valves as they weaken with age or due to heart muscle diseases. Dehydration and anemia can also cause turbulent blood flow- these types of murmurs usually resolve once the underlying cause is corrected. To fully assess the cause of a heart murmur, your veterinarian might recommend an ultrasound of the heart (an echocardiogram). Once the cause is identified, your veterinarian can decide if your pet’s murmur requires treatment or if it can simply be monitored at each annual exam.

Employee Spotlight

Laurel is one of our veterinary technicians. Their love of animals is always at the forefront of everything they do and they can be found making friends with every animal they meet when they are out and about. They currently have two cats (Finn and Otter), a hedgehog (Holly), a bearded dragon (Jasper), and a ball python (Rorschach). Their free time is spent trying to get the best possible photos of them all, and usually annoying them in the process. They are also a huge nerd and they love books, games, and reading obscure Wikipedia articles. They are in their final semester of a veterinary technician degree and for Laurel, being in vet med is a dream come true!

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

I love the fast paced work and energy of working in a veterinary clinic. No two days are the same and every animal has unique needs. The challenge of working with my hands and helping animals in such a practical way is so fulfilling. I especially love winning over the animals that are shy or frightened and showing them that the vet is not necessarily a scary place.

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

St Francis is so special as a clinic and community. The team here is dedicated not just to the pets and clients but to each other. This is a place where the animals come first and everyone strives to make our corner of the world a little better. St Francis is also committed to diversity and inclusion and it makes a difference. It’s such a welcoming place to be!

Animal Emergency and Referral Center- Oakdale Has Moved!

The Oakdale location of the Animal Emergency and Referral Center (AERC) has moved into their new facility. Dubbed the “Red Building”, their new building is located at 1160 Helmo Avenue N,  just across the street from their previous location. Curbside care has been discontinued, and all of their services (emergency and specialty services) are seeing appointments in the Red Building. In Spring 2023, they plan to open an Urgent Care clinic in their older building.