Vaccine-Preventable Diseases 

Vaccines have been on everyone’s mind over the past year thanks to COVID. One of the most common reasons that people bring their pets to the vet is to receive their vaccines. We are lucky to have a number of safe, effective vaccines for our veterinary patients that have made some diseases much less common than they were prior to vaccines. Do you know what diseases our vaccines are protecting your pets against? These are the most severe diseases that we are preventing with vaccination:

Rabies: Rabies is a virus carried primarily by bats and skunks in Minnesota. Rabies is always fatal for dogs and cats, and nearly always fatal for humans who contract the virus. Pets can get exposed to rabies by being bitten by an infected animal, and pets who are infected with rabies can go on to infect other pets or humans. Remember, bat bites are tiny and aren’t usually visible to the eye. If your pet has been in a room with a bat, assume that they could have been exposed to rabies and call your vet for guidance.

Canine Distemper Virus: Canine distemper virus causes respiratory and neurologic damage, and for many dogs this disease is fatal. Dogs who survive usually have some degree of lifelong neurologic symptoms. Distemper is contagious and is spread through contact with infected dogs or infected wildlife such as raccoons.

Canine Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and immune system damage. This disease is most severe for puppies, and left untreated, parvovirus is often fatal. Parvovirus is very stable in the environment, and puppies can be exposed by walking through an area where an infected dog has shed the virus in its stool or vomit.

Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by an organism shed in the urine of wildlife, such as raccoons and rats. Dogs are exposed through direct contact with urine, which can be as easy as walking through a backyard where a rat has urinated. Leptospirosis causes kidney and liver failure, and infected dogs can spread this disease to their human family. Leptospirosis has become more common in urban areas over the past several years.

Lyme: Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by deer ticks. Lyme disease is prevalent in Minnesota, including in the Twin Cities area. Dogs can develop fever, painful joints, or kidney failure due to infection with Lyme. The Lyme vaccine is currently only available for dogs. While cats can get infected with Lyme, it is very rare compared to dogs.

Feline Panleukopenia Virus (aka “feline distemper”): Feline panleukopenia is caused by feline parvovirus. This disease is highly contagious and often fatal. Panleukopenia causes lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and for most cats, a profoundly low white blood cell count. Infected cats shed the virus in their stool.

Feline Leukemia Virus: Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a contagious infection that can be spread from infected mothers to kittens or through bite wounds or other close contact with infected cats. Cats who develop disease from FeLV infection become sick due to immune system suppression. 

Vaccinations are not benign, but for the majority of pets, the benefits of protecting pets against these diseases far outweigh the risks associated with vaccination. Vaccination recommendations are not uniform for every pet. Your veterinarian is always happy to talk with you about your pet’s specific lifestyle in order to determine their optimum vaccination plan!

Winter Solstice Pet Memorial Ceremony, Tuesday December 21st

December 21st is the winter solstice- the longest night of the year, and also the point at which the days start to lengthen again. At St. Francis, we have chosen to use this significant date as a time to honor the pets that we have loved and lost. People don’t always understand how much the loss of a pet can impact our lives. Particularly throughout the pandemic, many of us spent more time with our pets than with our human friends and family, and our pets’ absence is felt every day after they pass. As part of the community that knew your pet, we want to create a space for you to remember them alongside others who understand your grief.

If you would like to participate, please click this link and fill out the form: 

We will create a hand decorated luminary with the name of your pet(s) who you would like to memorialize. These luminaries will be on display outside of St. Francis at 7 PM on Tuesday, December 21st. We will have a very brief ceremony of readings and invite you to use this time and space to remember the special animals who shared their love, joy, and comfort with you.

We will be outdoors for this ceremony. We will keep the readings very short, but being Minnesota, we expect it to be quite cold. Please don’t feel obligated to stay any longer than is comfortable for you. If temperatures or road conditions are dangerous, we will reschedule for a later date.

If you would like to have a luminary created for your pet(s), please fill out the form at the link above by Tuesday, December 14th. There is no cost to participate in this event.

Staff Highlight: Sarah Welch

Sarah joined the team at St. Francis in March 2012 after graduating from the Minnesota School of Business in December 2011 with an AAS degree in Veterinary Technology. She took a brief hiatus from St. Francis between 2017 and 2019. During this time she worked for a small, rural veterinary practice closer to her home, and also a veterinary ophthalmology specialty practice. But St. Francis is home, and she returned in October of 2019. Sarah is a Certified Veterinary Technician and our Director of Client Services.

She shares her home in the North Metro with her husband Nick and her daughter Brooklin. She also has an extended four-legged family including four horses, Ed, Mia, Magy, and Poky (a miniature horse!); four cats – Spirit, Rocky, Ditch, and HoBeau (a munchkin cat!); and one dog – a wonderful Pit Bull named Carrma.

When she’s not at the clinic, there are only a few other places you may find her. She might be curled up at the lake with a good book, out riding her horse, watching the Minnesota Wild play hockey, or curled up on the couch with Carrma watching a good True Crime Documentary.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

My favorite aspects of veterinary medicine are hospice and palliative care, as well as geriatrics and pain management. I also very much enjoy surgery and anesthesia. My absolute favorite part of veterinary medicine is the communication and education portion where I get to help pets and their people every day!

What do you think is special about St. Francis? 

St. Francis is unlike any practice I have worked for. They truly care for not only their employees but also each pet and pet owner that comes in every day. The level of care drives us to provide exceptional medical care for all of our patients, while also feeling like they are members of our own family. There is nowhere else I’d rather be!

St Francis News

Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite 2021

Thank you to all of our clients in the neighborhood who helped us become a Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite! We are honored to receive positive reviews from our clients. Word-of-mouth means a lot to us as a small business, and we sincerely appreciate it.

Congratulations, Zack Zamora

Veterinary assistant Zack Zamora joined the St Francis team in 2020, and has just enrolled in the Penn Foster program to earn his Certified Veterinary Technician degree! Take a moment to congratulate him on taking the next step towards becoming a vet tech!

Clinic Closures

We will be closed for holidays on the following dates:

Friday, December 24th through Monday, December 27th 

Friday, December 31st (early closure at 3 pm)

Saturday, January 1st

Thank you for your understanding as our staff enjoys a well-deserved break over the holidays!