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Atopic Dermatitis

We’ve been seeing so many itchy pets this month! Pets develop itchy skin, hair loss, and recurrent ear infections for a variety of reasons, but the most common cause is a disease called atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a heritable condition that causes pets to develop hypersensitivity (also known as an allergy) against normally-benign environmental triggers such as pollens, dust mites, or normal skin flora like yeast or bacteria. Allergic pets can become very miserable if left untreated! Thankfully, we have a wide variety of treatment options available to help us keep atopic patients more comfortable.

  • Topical treatments: Medicated shampoos help to decrease the numbers of yeast and bacteria on the skin, and can also strengthen the skin barrier which makes it more resistant to infection. For pets who are difficult to bathe, there are a number of medicated mousse products that can be applied without needing to rinse them off. We love reaching for topical treatments over oral antibiotics whenever possible because they are less likely to lead to antibiotic resistance, and there are fewer systemic side effects such as GI upset.
  • Fish oil supplementation: Essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oils, reduce skin inflammation, reduce itch, and improve the skin barrier. Fish oils need to be used for 1 to 3 months to reach their full effect. 
  • Diet: While atopic dermatitis is different from a food allergy, some atopic pets have both food and environmental allergies. Feeding a hypoallergenic diet may not eliminate allergy symptoms for these pets, but reducing food allergens can allow other treatments to be more effective. Hypoallergenic diets can either be novel protein diets, such as rabbit- or duck-based foods, or can be made with hydrolyzed proteins. 
  • Antihistamines: Commonly-used antihistamines in veterinary medicine include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and chlorpheniramine. Even though these medications are available over-the-counter, you should always talk with your veterinarian prior to administering any OTC drug to ensure that you’re using the right product at the correct dose! Many human antihistamine products are combined with decongestants, which can be fatal to pets.
  • Immunosuppressant medications: Because atopic dermatitis is caused by an over-exuberant immune system response, using medications that suppress the immune system offers a rapid and powerful means of controlling itch. The most common medications in this group include corticosteroids (such as prednisone) and non-steroid immunosuppressives (such as cyclosporine, or Atopica). 
  • Apoquel and Cytopoint: These relatively new products treat allergies by disrupting the body’s ability to make one of the proteins that transmits the sensation of itch from the skin to the brain. Apoquel is an oral tablet and Cytopoint is an injectable monoclonal antibody. There are relatively few side effects to these medications relative to immunosuppressant medications because they target a much smaller portion of the immune system’s response to allergens. Unfortunately, these products are only labelled for use in dogs (sorry cats!).
  • Treatment of secondary infections: Bacterial and yeast overgrowth are common in pets experiencing an allergy flare-up. While anti-itch medications can be very effective, they usually won’t work in the face of a skin or ear infection. If you are using one of the treatments listed above and your pet is still very itchy, that’s a good sign that your pet might need a vet visit to evaluate whether they might have an infection.
  • Immunotherapy: Veterinary dermatologists have the ability to create allergy “vaccines” that train your pet’s immune system to stop overreacting to normal environmental triggers. We are lucky to have a number of amazing dermatologists in the Twin Cities. Please ask us if you would like a referral.

Atopic dermatitis can be a very frustrating condition to manage. No one likes to watch their pet itch all day! While it does take some dedication, pets with allergies can live very comfortable lives once we find the right combination of treatments to help them. 

How To Clean Ears

Ear cleaning is a great habit to get into if your pet is a regular swimmer, has very hairy ear canals that are prone to waxy buildup, or has skin allergies that lead to ear infections. Cleaning your pet’s ear is a simple procedure that you can do at home as long as you have the right tools. You’ll need an ear cleaning solution, gauze squares or cotton balls, and for most pets, you’ll need a helper to hold your pet while you perform the ear cleaning.

First, make sure you have an ear cleaner labelled for use in pets (please never put water, hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol into your pet’s ear). Ear cleaning can be a messy process, so we recommend doing this outside or in an area that’s easy to clean like a bathroom! Gently hold your pet’s ear flap open and squeeze the ear cleaner into the ear canal. You want to add enough that you can see the cleaner pooling at the brim of the canal. For large dogs, this requires a tablespoon or more of cleaner; small dogs and cats usually need ½ teaspoon or less. Gently massage the base of your pet’s ear to help break up the debris in the ear canal. Allow your pet to shake their head once you’ve finished massaging, and then use gauze or a cotton ball to wipe the cleaner and debris off of the ear flap. We recommend that ear cleaning be done after every time a pet swims, after bathing, and once every 1 to 2 weeks for preventative care in pets who are prone to ear infections. Happy cleaning!

Prescription Refills

If you’d like to request refills of your pet’s medications, we have a few options:

  • Submit our online refill request form
  • Submit your request via the PetDesk app (download at the Apple store here or Google Play store here)
  • Call us at 651-645-2808 and leave a message with your request

Please give us 24 hours notice for refills. We will contact you when your prescription is filled and ready for pickup. Thanks for your understanding!

News Briefs

Upcoming closures: We will be closed on Saturday, July 31st for technical updates. We will also be closed from September 4th through September 6th for Labor Day weekend. Thank you for your understanding!

Minnesota State Fair (August 26th through September 6th): Traffic in our neighborhood increases significantly during the Great Minnesota Get-Together! Remember to give yourself extra time to get to your appointment and try to avoid going past the fairgrounds if you can. Dr. Megan Schommer will be performing surgeries in the MVMA Surgical Suite at the Pet Pavilion on Wednesday, September 1st at 2:00 and 4:00 pm. Stop by and say hello!

Congratulations: Our team members have earned some amazing accomplishments this summer! Veterinary technician Sam has graduated nursing school, and now is both a CVT (Certified Veterinary Technician) and RN (Registered Nurse). It’s rare for an individual to earn and maintain both of these degrees, and Sam plans to continue working in both the animal and human medical fields. Veterinary assistant Carlie was accepted to the Industrial/Organization Psychology graduate program at UMN-Duluth with a scholarship. She’ll be starting in the fall, and while we hate to lose her, we are so excited for her to go on to do amazing things! Send them both a note of congratulations when you have a chance! 

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KaiSmall.jpgSummertime!

Summertime is a great season to be a pet in Minnesota. Long days to play, sunny windowsills for napping, wonderful smells, green grass, and 10,000 lakes to choose from for swimming! However, a lot of the summer activities that are fun for us can be risky for our pets. Pet owners need to take some precautions to make sure that their pets are safe and happy.

Firework noise is very scary for many pets. Please remember to keep pets confined indoors to prevent panicked escapes from the house or yard. Ideally, they should be in an internal room where they can’t hear or feel explosions from fireworks. Make sure they are wearing collars or harnesses with up-to-date ID and that their microchip information is current. And please, don’t bring your pet to fireworks shows! Even extremely social dogs find the noise and smell of fireworks overwhelming. Your pet might not have firework phobia, but exposure to fireworks up close could create one.

If you’re celebrating outside, make sure your pet has ample opportunities to cool off. Many dogs are too excited to socialize and play to notice that they are getting too hot. Give your dog lots of access to fresh water. You can provide a swimming pool or cooling vest to prevent overheating outdoors. Make sure your pet also gets breaks indoors to rest and cool off. 

If you attend a barbecue, ask guests to avoid feeding your pet any goodies to prevent tummy upset. Keep your pet away from the hot grill and coals, and keep tasty foods like grilled meat far out of reach. It’s not uncommon for dogs to ingest entire kabobs, skewer and all, which can lead to a costly emergency clinic visit to retrieve!  Keep fireworks, sparklers, and glow sticks away from your pet. Cats particularly like to chew on glow necklaces and bracelets, and while they are not poisonous, the chemicals inside them can cause oral irritation or GI upset.

Sedative medications can keep your pet calm and safe. If your pet needs sedative medications, contact us well in advance of the holiday to ensure we can get your prescription filled on time. Please remember that we are closed on Saturday, July 3rd and we request 24 hours notice for medication refills! You can call us for prescription refills at 651-645-2808 or submit a refill request online

Preparing Pets for Your Return to Work

Over the past year, pets have gotten used to their people being around much more than they used to. Pets helped to make our quarantine times less lonely, and for many people it was an ideal time to introduce a new pet. As we gradually transition back into pre-pandemic routines, it’s important to keep in mind how these schedule changes are going to impact our pets. Some younger animals have never had to be home alone for extended periods and some older pets have forgotten that they used to have the house to themselves for eight hours a day. Here are some suggestions for making the transition easier on your pets:

  1. Practice: If your pet hasn’t needed to be alone very often, try some practice runs to see how they do. Pets who are anxious about separation will usually start to show signs of anxiety within minutes of being alone. Set up a computer or phone to collect some video of your pets after you leave. Do they settle down for a nap, or are they pacing, panting, vocalizing, or looking for ways to escape? Pets who are anxious when alone need to practice short separations while you teach them healthy ways to cope with their anxiety. For an in-depth training plan, check out Karen Pryor’s article about training a dog to tolerate separation.
  2. Transition gradually: If possible, try to gradually increase the length of separations rather than entering right into full work days away from home. If you have to go right back into full days away, consider having a dog walker, neighbor, or friend stop by mid-day until your pet is accustomed to being alone again.
  3. Crate training: If you have fallen out of the habit of using a crate while you’ve been working from home, get back into it before you need to leave the house regularly. Dogs should think of their crates as comfortable, safe places to rest and be “off duty”. 
  4. Make home friendly: If people have been in the house constantly for months, your pet might be nervous about a quiet home. Leaving on a radio or using specialized pet-calming music such as iCalmPet can help provide background noise to decrease anxiety. A calming pheromone diffuser such as DAP (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) can also provide anxiety relief.
  5. Supplements or medications: Anti-anxiety supplements or medications can help your pet as you train them to tolerate being alone again. These products won’t work without also utilizing training, but for very anxious pets, they can help your training to be more successful. Ask your veterinarian for more information about these options.
  6. Resources: If your pet is experiencing separation anxiety, the following resources might be helpful:

Health Alert: Blue Green Algae

Blue-green algae is a type of cyanobacteria that thrives in Minnesota lakes during hot weather. Blooms of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can be fatal to dogs. We usually don’t see algae blooms until August, but the unseasonably warm temperatures early this summer have created the right conditions for blooms to form. To keep your dog safe, check around lakes carefully for posted signs warning that a lake has blue-green algae prior to letting your dog into the water. Don’t let your dog swim in or drink from water that is pea green or looks like green paint. If your dog begins vomiting, collapses, or has seizures shortly after swimming or drinking lake water, seek veterinary care immediately. If you spot what looks like blue-green algae in a lake, you can report it to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency by calling 651-757-2822 or emailing algae.mpca@state.mn.us

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Guinea Pig Nutrition

Guinea pigs are one of few species (aside from humans) that have a dietary requirement for vitamin C. The average healthy guinea pig needs about 20 to 30 mg of vitamin C in their diet per day, and sick guinea pigs may need up to 50 mg of vitamin C daily. Without enough vitamin C, guinea pigs can develop scurvy, which can cause swollen, painful joints, poor quality fur, lethargy, and dental disease. The most reliable way to ensure your guinea pig is getting enough vitamin C is to offer a vitamin C supplement such as Oxbow’s Vitamin C tabs. Guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C, but within about 90 days of being milled, there is very little active vitamin C left. Water supplements are also available, but they are inactive within about 24 hours of being added to water, so be sure to replace the water daily if you choose this option. Fresh vegetables are a great source of vitamin C as well, but you do have to be diligent to ensure your guinea pig is eating the right types and amounts of vegetables to fulfill their daily needs. Visit Veterinary Partner for an excellent table of fresh vegetables and fruits alongside their vitamin C content.

IMG_0113.jpgWelcome Back!

Starting on Tuesday, June 1st, we will begin allowing clients back into our building. While we wish we could go right back to the way things were prior to COVID, we are still in a pandemic and need to continue to take precautions to limit spread of the virus. We have developed protocols to keep our interactions as safe as possible for you, for our staff, and for our patients. Here is what you can expect when you come into St. Francis for your visit:

  • Masks are required for staff and clients for all interactions, indoors and outdoors. Not all staff or clients are able to be vaccinated, and masking is the best way to ensure safety when we are in close contact.
  • Anyone who is showing signs of illness, is infected with COVID, or is currently quarantined due to COVID exposure should reschedule their pet’s visit or ask someone else to bring their pet in.
  • Anyone who wishes to remain curbside for their visits is welcome to do so! Please indicate your preference when you schedule your visit or when you check in with the concierge.
  • ONE client will be allowed in the exam room per visit for doctor’s appointments. TWO clients are allowed in the room for euthanasia appointments.
  • Technician appointments, medication pick ups, and food pick ups will remain curbside.
  • When you arrive for an appointment, please park in a numbered spot and call the number for appointments (763-280-4031). This number calls our concierge desk. The concierge will answer the phone to get your pet checked in. If you are sent to voicemail, leave a message stating your name, your pet’s name, and the number we should call you back. The concierge will call you as soon as they are available to get you checked in.
  • When your exam room is ready, a staff member will escort you and your pet into the building and directly to your room. Please ensure that your dog is wearing a well-fitted collar and leash. Dogs will have a second slip lead placed for their safety. Cats and small mammals should be in secure carriers.
  • Your pet will be examined in the room with you (hooray!). Once we’ve finished in the exam room, your pet will move to the treatment area for any necessary treatments or diagnostic tests, and we will ask you to wait in your car. Please avoid mingling in the lobby area or hallways in order to limit contact with other clients. Your pet will be returned to you in your car as soon as their procedures are finished, and then staff will collect payment over the phone. 
  • Staff will thoroughly clean and disinfect the exam rooms between each client. Every exam room has its own air purifier.
  • Starting June 1st, all St. Francis Integrative Services appointments will return to our Integrative Services location at 1235 Larpenteur Ave W. We will allow one person to enter the building for each appointment, and we ask that you wear a mask for the duration of your visit.

We are proud that we have been able to stay open throughout the entire pandemic. We are grateful to everyone who has helped us keep our staff and their families safe, and we pledge to do everything we can to keep you safe as well. Thank you for your understanding of our protocols. We are so looking forward to welcoming you back inside!

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by a bacteria shed in the urine of wildlife. In our area, the main sources of exposure are raccoons and rats. Dogs become infected when they ingest contaminated water or soil. Signs of leptospirosis include lethargy, increased drinking and urination, fever, and poor appetite. In severe cases, leptospirosis can cause organ failure and death. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning that humans can acquire the disease from infected animals. Incidence of leptospirosis is increasing in recent years, and we are seeing greater exposure in urban dogs than we used to. In addition, small breed dogs (15 pounds and under) are now the most likely types of dogs to contract leptospirosis. Because raccoons and rats are ubiquitous, even in our backyards and parks, almost all dogs are at risk of being exposed. We strongly recommend vaccinating dogs for leptospirosis. If you have questions about this disease or vaccination, please ask your veterinarian for more information!

C32A9C30 B790 4DC8 A159 1FDCD7427EF5smRHDV Update

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus, or RHDV, is a highly contagious, extremely severe viral disease of rabbits. It began spreading amongst domestic and wild rabbit populations in the southwestern US in 2020 and has been gradually moving north. Last week, a case of RHDV was confirmed in western South Dakota. Officials believe this is an isolated incident due to spread via humans, and do not believe the virus is actively spreading within South Dakota. Regardless, rabbit owners should be cautious about allowing their rabbits to be outdoors. Owners should also be very careful after visiting states in which RHDV is present, as you can bring the virus home to your rabbit on your clothing or shoes. While there is a vaccine available for this disease, it has not yet been approved for use in Minnesota. We will monitor this situation closely and provide updates as new information becomes available.

Clinic News

Welcome Dr. Vici Ribeiro!

Dr. Vici is a 2002 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She will be joining us this summer to provide temporary coverage. Her favorite part of being a veterinarian is teaching clients about the physiology and anatomy of their pets, prevention and treatment of dental disease and obesity, and guiding them through difficult decisions about their beloved pets. She has been a relief veterinarian for over 12 years, which means that she provides her professional services to clinics when the staff doctors are gone on vacation or are on leave.  Dr. Vici considers it an incredible privilege, as well as a learning opportunity, to be invited to fill in for the regular staff. Her time outside of work is spent with Gertie, a rambunctious 7-year old Pit Bull Terrier, and Lenny, the most-naughty-of-all, a 6-year old domestic shorthair cat.  She loves to garden, tending her new pollinator habitat as well as many specimen plants and trees. 

Please help us give Dr. Vici a warm St. Francis welcome this summer!

Summer Closures

St. Francis will be closed for the following dates this summer:

  • May 29th through the 31st (Memorial Day weekend)
  • July 3rd
  • September 4th through the 6th (Labor Day weekend)

These breaks give our team some much-needed time to rest, spend time with family, and enjoy our beautiful Minnesota summer weather. Thank you for your understanding!

IMG 6386smHappy spring! COVID safety recommendations are ever-changing, and we are working hard to continue changing with them. We are thrilled that vaccination is now widely available and that our local case rates are on the decline. Our goal is to begin letting clients into the clinic again as soon as we can safely do so. In order to mindfully plan for working face-to-face with you, we need some time to develop new protocols, re-train staff, and restructure our appointment flow in a way that keeps both our clients and staff safe. Currently, we anticipate the following updates to protocols for our next phase:

  • If you prefer to remain curbside for your visits, you are welcome to do so! Let us know when scheduling your visit if you would like to remain curbside.
  • Technician appointments, medication pick-ups, and food pick-ups will remain curbside.
  • We will allow one person per visit into the clinic for appointments. Throughout the pandemic, we have allowed two people into the clinic during humane euthanasia visits, and we will continue to do so.
  • When your exam room is ready, a staff member will meet you at your vehicle and escort you and your pet directly to your room. Our front door will be locked so that we can carefully control the flow of people into our building.  We ask that you continue to have your dog on a leash with an appropriately-fitting harness or collar. We will still utilize a second leash for safe transfer into the building. Cats and small mammals should be transported in a secure carrier.
  • Exam rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized in between every client. Every room has its own air purifier. 
  • We will continue to require masks for staff and clients during interactions at St. Francis. We work in very close contact and our building is a small physical space where maintaining six feet of distance is not always possible. Masking protects our staff members and clients who cannot be vaccinated, and we remain committed to doing everything we can to protect the health of our community.
  • Starting June 1st, all St Francis Integrative Services appointments will return to our Integrative Services location at 1235 Larpenteur Ave W.  We will allow one person to enter the building for each appointment, and we ask that you wear a mask for the duration of the visit.  

We have missed seeing you all in the building and are very excited to be able to see you in-person again soon! Keep a close eye on our newsletter and social media for updates!

IMG_7910sm.jpgCreating a Fear Free Vet Visit for Cats

At St. Francis, we are dedicated to the practice of Fear Free techniques. Fear Free is an approach to animal handling that aims to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in the clinic. This means that our veterinarians and staff use specific techniques and tools that help pets have happier vet visits. For cats, a fear-free visit actually starts at home. You can help your cat (and us!) have better trips to the clinic through good preparation.

First, make sure your cat has a carrier that helps them feel safe and secure. Cats like enough room to turn around, but not so much space that they can slide around or feel exposed. The walls of the carrier should be mostly opaque and should have at least two openings to make it easier to get your kitty out. Many cats like to stay inside their carriers for their exams, so we especially like carriers with easy-to-remove top halves (large snaps are easy to open- screws and zip ties are not!). A soft blanket or bed makes the carrier even more comfortable. This video has more detailed information about how to choose a good cat carrier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RGY5oSKVfo

Next, your cat should be very familiar and comfortable with their carrier. If the only time your kitty sees the carrier is once a year for a vet visit, you’ll find that your cat will disappear as soon as the carrier comes out! Keep the carrier out in your home all the time. Many cats will use their carriers as beds if they are accessible. Occasionally tossing some catnip or treats into the carrier will further help your cat associate it with positive emotions. As you are preparing to leave for the vet clinic, using a spray-on pheromone like Feliway helps to reduce anxiety in the carrier and during travel.

When you are on your way to the clinic, place your cat in the carrier and cover the carrier with a towel to prevent your pet from seeing scary things like dogs or other cats. Holding the carrier by the bottom rather than the handle is much more comfortable for your cat because it prevents the carrier from swinging around. We will use Fear Free techniques during the exam, such as examining your cat inside their carrier when possible, tempting your cat to come out of the carrier voluntarily with treats, and using Feliway-infused towels to reduce anxiety in the exam room.

When you return home, if you have other pets at home, reintroduce your cat slowly and carefully. Your cat may smell strange, especially if they were sedated or under anesthesia, and reintroduction to other cats can sometimes be difficult. Pheromones like Feliway can help smooth out reintroduction. Keep your cat inside their carrier in a separate room for a short period prior to reintroducing them.

Some cats will struggle with fear of the vet no matter how much preparation you do. Know that there are medication options available to help calm your kitty for car rides and vet visits. Please don’t hesitate to ask your veterinary team for help! Even though a vet visit isn’t most cats’ favorite activity, we love that we can make almost every cat feel comfortable when they visit St. Francis.

Thank you

Minnesota Women’s Press Readers Recommend 2021 Winner

Thank you to our clients for voting for us in the Minnesota Women’s Press Readers Recommend poll! We were honored to receive the recommendation for Favorite Animal Hospital. We were also thrilled that our practice owner, Dr. Jennifer Blair, was the winner of the Favorite Business Leader category. We know that Dr. Blair has created a special place in St. Francis, and it means so much that our clients recognize the hard work that she has put into our community. Thank you for this amazing honor!

Support Small Business: Shop Local

By Dr. Jennifer Blair

In celebration of National Small Business Week, May 2nd - 8th, we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to support small businesses by shopping at St Francis Animal Hospital for all of your pets’ health care needs.

Did you know? Veterinary practices are being purchased by large corporate entities at a surprising pace. St Francis Animal Hospital is proud to still be a locally owned neighborhood practice. We love being part of your community and part of your families, and we are passionate about providing individualized care for each of your pets. When you shop local, you help to keep locally-owned businesses like ours in our neighborhood.

Many pet owners assume that it is less expensive to purchase their pets’ medications through large companies like Chewy, PetMeds, or Costco. However, it is often considerably less expensive to buy your pets’ medications at St Francis. We work directly with the manufacturers to bring you the best pricing and instant rebates. For example, when you purchase 12 Heartgard Plus and 12 Nexgard or Frontline Gold, you’ll receive a $75 Instant Rebate or when you purchase 6 Heartgard Plus and 6 Nexgard or Frontline Gold, you’ll receive a $35 Rebate. Many other rebate offers exist to allow us to tailor your savings to your pets’ needs.

Even without rebates, many of our medications are less expensive at St Francis than they would be at these other companies. With so many counterfeit, mislabeled, or expired products being distributed online and in pet stores, our goal is to be able to provide you with reputable products at an affordable price. Surprisingly, even some human medications used for pets are more affordable at your local veterinary practice than at human pharmacies. To further reduce your costs, ask us about generic options or 90-day supplies of your pets’ medications.

Shopping locally is beneficial to everyone. Your support allows us to invest in our employees, providing them with educational opportunities and improved wages and benefits. It allows us to expand our team and to invest in new equipment and services to provide the best care for you and your loved ones. St Francis also gives back to the community, supporting local students, school fundraisers, pet rescues and other non-profit organizations. Supporting local small business is truly a win-win for everyone.

If you have any questions or would like to order your pets’ food or medications, please reach out to us at (651) 645-2808, group@stfrancisabh.com, or via PetDesk.

Thank you so much for partnering with us to provide the best care for your pets. We are so honored to be in this community and to have been a part of your families for nearly 30 years!

Pocket Pet Handling

It’s tough being a tiny animal in a big world. Many pocket pets, including hamsters, rats, and mice, are very fearful of being picked up. When we choose to share our homes with prey species like these, it is our responsibility to teach them that they can trust us so that they find activities like handling and petting enjoyable rather than scary. If you’ve found yourself with a fearful pet rodent, you may need to be patient with them, but with the right techniques, you can gently teach them to trust you. We recommend following techniques based on positive reinforcement. Visit https://www.joinrats.com/ for an excellent list of videos and articles that can walk you through the process (this website is designed for rats, but the techniques can be adapted for most pocket pets). hamster.jpg

IMG 2801Spring Dog Safety Reminders

After a few false starts, we can safely say that spring has arrived in the Twin Cities! Everyone is eager to get outside now that we have warmer temperatures and longer days. We see a lot of the same illnesses and injuries spike each spring and hope we can help you prevent some of these common problems:

Dog park fights: Spring is a time when many dogs venture out to the dog park for the first time in several months. Dogs might need some time to re-learn their social skills. Introducing a nervous dog into a group of rowdy playmates is a recipe for fights and injuries. If your dog is feeling uneasy about socializing, visit the park at off-peak times like early in the morning. It might be tempting to keep your dog on-leash in the off-leash park if you aren’t sure how he will react to other dogs, but being on a leash while other dogs are off-leash can make your dog more nervous. Being on a leash disrupts your dog’s ability to greet other dogs freely and can increase anxiety, fearful behavior, and fights. Remember, just like not all people enjoy socializing with a lot of strangers at once, not all dogs enjoy it either- dog parks are overstimulating for many dogs and it’s perfectly fine to stick to playtime with familiar friends.

GI upset: After the snow melt, a lot of old food, rotten plants, and other goodies appear in backyards and along sidewalks. Dogs are not very discerning and will happily consume these rotten treasures, leading to symptoms similar to food poisoning. Before you let your dog free roam in your backyard, do a thorough search for anything rotten that’s been uncovered and dispose of it.

Parasites: As soon as temperatures get above freezing, disease-causing parasites are back out in full force. We have already removed ticks from a few patients at St. Francis this spring! Dogs who visit dog parks are more likely to be exposed to parasites, and especially intestinal parasites such as hookworms (a recent study found intestinal parasites in 87% of midwest dog parks!). Make sure your pet is taking their monthly preventatives to protect against fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. 

Springtime Means Baby Wildlife

Our friends at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota have already started receiving baby wildlife in their nurseries. Grey squirrels, chipmunks, and cottontail rabbits are the first species to have their babies in the spring, with songbirds and waterfowl not far behind. We are lucky to have the WRC in our own backyard! They are located just off of Highway 36 and Dale Street. The WRC is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day and can accept wildlife for care any time during their operating hours. Our pet dogs and cats are often the first ones to spot baby animals in our yards, so it’s good to know what to do if your pet finds or injures a baby animal. Babies that are bleeding or obviously injured should be brought in. Any baby wildlife that has been handled by a cat should be brought in to the WRC for evaluation, even if you don’t see any obvious wounds. Cat bites can be very dangerous and are prone to getting infected, and the baby should be evaluated by a veterinarian. If your dog uncovers a nest of bunnies on the ground and the babies are uninjured, the WRC recommends to “put them back in the nest and cover them with the nest material. Take a laundry basket and a couple tent stakes, and anytime you let your dog out into the yard, simply put the laundry basket over the nest like a protective dome. Stake it to the ground so the dog cannot push it off the nest. Incredibly simple! This will allow you and your dog to enjoy your yard all day long. Just remember to uncover the nest when you bring your dog inside.” For more information about how to help orphaned wildlife, visit https://wrcmn.org/helping-orphaned-animals

COVID Update

We’ve been practicing curbside care for over one year in our efforts to protect our staff and clients from COVID-19. We know that you are eager to be able to come inside with your pets, and we miss having you inside too! We are very grateful that vaccines are becoming more widely available and hopeful that vaccination within our community will decrease the numbers of local COVID cases soon. As of the end of March, we are unfortunately seeing a rise in case numbers in Minnesota. Because of our small space within our clinic and our inability to socially distance from clients within our exam rooms, we anticipate that we’ll be continuing curbside care for the foreseeable future. We are frequently reassessing our protocols in light of case numbers within our area, and will be sure to keep everyone updated as our protocols change. If you are curious to know what your pets have been up to while you’ve been waiting for them in your car, check out the slideshow we made of our last year inside St. Francis: https://youtu.be/xPlh7nP5nHE

How to Contact Us

We continue to experience a dramatic increase in our phone volume compared to pre-COVID times. What are the best ways to get through to us? We have a number of options depending on your needs:

  • To talk to someone about an urgent matter, please call our main phone line at 651-645-2808 and enter our phone queue to talk to a staff member. This is the best way to get a response from some as quickly as possible, or to have an emergency situation triaged, 
  • If you need to schedule a wellness exam, non-urgent medical exam, or procedure, you can
  • If you need a prescription refill, you can
  • If you have a general question for your pet’s medical team, an update on how your pet is doing, or a response to a question from us, you can 
    • email us at group@stfrancisabh.com 
    • Call our main phone line at 651-645-2808 and leave us a voicemail. A staff member will call you back with a response.

We check all of these communication services as often as possible and triage urgent messages and calls ahead of non-urgent messages and calls. If you have been expecting a response but haven’t heard from us within 3 business days, please reach out again. Thank you for your understanding!

IMG_4450small.jpgPet Dental Health Month

February is Pet Dental Health Month! Of course, we think that you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health every month, but February is a great time to assess your routines and make sure that you are giving your pets the dental care that they need to stay healthy!

On a daily basis, we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It takes about 24 hours for plaque (which is soft and easily removed from the teeth) to harden into tartar (which is hard and firmly attached to the teeth). If you are only brushing once every week or two, there is plenty of time in between those brushing sessions for tartar buildup to occur. Tooth brushing can be a scary experience for pets if you rush into it, so be sure to take some time to teach your pet that tooth brushing is pleasant. If you aren’t sure how to brush your pet’s teeth, Dr. Lewis and her Australian shepherd Tig made a great instructional video! Watch their video here.

Chewing is the next best thing to brushing for at-home dental care. Short, frequent chew sessions (five minutes a day) are better than infrequent long chew sessions for preventing tartar buildup. Chew items should be soft enough that you can make an indent into it with your thumbnail- any harder and they could potentially fracture teeth. You can find a great list of products that have been shown to prevent plaque and tartar buildup at the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Pets should have a thorough evaluation of their teeth and gums at their annual exams. Your veterinarian will carefully examine for broken teeth, loose teeth, gingivitis, missing teeth, and oral masses. When we start to see signs of dental disease, we will recommend a full oral evaluation under anesthesia. Just like when you visit the dentist, your pet will have a full scaling and polishing to remove tartar, dental x-rays to look for abnormalities under the gumline such as impacted or abscessed teeth, and a thorough oral exam to look for masses or other structures that are impossible to see in the awake patient. We learn so much about a pet’s health during dental procedures!

Dental care is important for all pets, but especially for very small breeds, brachycephalic (short-nosed) pets like pugs and Persian cats, and for individuals who build up tartar quickly. Some pets need dental cleanings as often as every six months to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s dental care, please ask your veterinarian or veterinary technicians for help! We are passionate about dental health!

 

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HAY IS ESSENTIAL

Not all species need tooth brushing for their dental health. Dental care for rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas is all about hay! Hay forms the foundation of a healthy diet for rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. These species rely on fiber to ensure that their GI tracts function properly and also have teeth designed for constantly grinding on rough plant fibers. Without hay, their gut bacteria become unhealthy, their teeth can become elongated, and they can develop diseases that are difficult and costly to manage. If you’ve found yourself with a pocket pet that doesn’t care for hay, get creative! Offer a variety of grass hays, including Timothy hay, orchard grass, and oat hay. Individuals can have preferences for different tastes and textures. Put hay up in a hay manger, down in a hay box, or tucked inside cardboard tubes. Many rabbits like having a big pile of hay next to or inside their litterbox. Hold off on offering pellets until later in the day to encourage your pet to eat his hay first. Don’t let your pet make the choice to avoid hay- it’s for his own good!

 

SATURDAY: IMPORTANT CHANGES

Beginning Saturday, March 6th, we will be adjusting how we operate on Saturdays to accommodate the growing staffing challenges facing the veterinary industry.  We will be closed to business on Saturdays with the following exceptions:

We will continue to schedule wellness examinations and vaccine appointments from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm.  These visits must be scheduled in advance.  

We will be available for medication and food pickups from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm.  Please request all medication refills at least 24 hours in advance.  With our small team on Saturdays, we will be unable to accommodate same-day refill requests.

We will not have a client services team answering our main phone line on Saturdays.  Voicemails, PetDesk requests, and emails will be retrieved on the next business day.  

Thank you so much for all of your understanding and support as we’ve traversed the challenging roads of this past year.  We are confident that these changes will allow us to continue to provide exceptional care for your loved ones while also fostering the health and well-being of our veterinary team.

 

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EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: HEATHER ANDERSON

Heather joined our team in February of 2019. She has two kitties named Silly and Louie and a pit bull/chihuahua cross named Walter. Heather has been married for over 26 years and is a mom to Thomas, who is a Seabee in the Navy, Ethan, who is training to be a Green Beret in the Army, and Emma, who is still in high school. Heather and her family love traveling, especially up to the North Shore. Heather has an amazing sense of humor and never passes up an opportunity to snuggle an especially adorable pet!

What do you love about veterinary medicine?

Pets calm you down. They are always there for you. I wanted to be able to help them any way I could, which led to me becoming a CVT. It’s amazing being able to do so many things in one day. Talking to owners, cuddling puppies/kittens (I am allergic to bunnies and guinea pigs), collecting samples, taking x-rays, monitoring during anesthesia, cleaning teeth, holding a scared animal, just to name a few. When I'm stressed, I just need to turn around and there's an animal to calm me down with just a pet.  Who can ask for more?!

What do you love about working at St. Francis?

St. Francis has taken me in and given me a family. We care about each other and work as a great team. What first drew me was their doggedness to adhere to Fear Free approaches.  As pet owners, we all know that our pets’ stress and fear is a big concern. We work hard at keeping that stress to a minimum.  

Take a moment to say thanks to Heather for her compassionate care the next time you get a chance to talk with her!

StFrancis MikePeterson 015smallSt. Francis Animal Hospital is thrilled to welcome Dr. Michael Petersen to our team! Dr. Petersen received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. He began his career serving rescue pets with MARS Veterinary Services in Brooklyn Park. He transitioned to Diamond Lake Animal Hospital in Minneapolis, where he has been a lead veterinarian for nearly eight years. Dr. Petersen is especially passionate about surgery, dentistry, and ultrasonography, and is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. He is a respected voice in our local veterinary community, and we are excited to be able to offer his skills to our clients and patients.
 
Outside of the clinic, Mike spends most of his time at home with his wife, Erin, and three children, Hazel, Ivy and Jasper. He shares this home with two amazing feline family members, Cocoa (pictured) and Luna, as well as a number of fish. In his spare time, Mike enjoys playing ultimate frisbee competitively, as well as disc golf. Drag’n Thrust, his ultimate frisbee team, won the US National Title in 2013 and 2014 and went on to win the World Title in 2014! 
 
“We have known Mike since he graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012.  Throughout the years, he has become very well-respected within the veterinary community, first working with rescue pets, then dedicating nearly eight years to an independently-owned veterinary practice in South Minneapolis.  He is known for the outstanding care that he provides to his patients; his thorough communication and collaboration with his clients; his expertise in surgery, dentistry, and ultrasonography; and the active role he takes in advancing veterinary care in Minnesota.  We are honored to have Dr. Petersen at St Francis.  He is a wonderful addition to our team of exceptional doctors.”  - Dr. Jennifer Blair
 
Why do you love being a veterinarian?
I came about the realization I wanted to be a vet more slowly than most. I had finished my undergraduate degree in Biology without a firm plan, and found my way into the pet industry, and realized that I wanted more challenges, more interesting work, and above all, more ability to help. I have always had an inquisitive mind, and love the diagnostic challenges that come along with the job. Above all, I love seeing the bonds grow between pet parents and their furry kids. The relationships built between myself, your pet and you are why I love what I do.
 
Why are you excited to join St. Francis Animal Hospital?
I am very excited to join such a knowledgeable, compassionate and professional team at St. Francis. It's so important to me, not only to provide the best care I can for my patients, but develop lasting relationships with their families. This is what really makes the work worthwhile. In the brief time I have gotten to know the staff, I have been very impressed with everyone working here. I will love having such a great team of doctors and staff with so much experience to make sure that all my patients receive the best care possible. I'm also excited to meet all of you and your furry friends!
 
 
Thank you to everyone for giving Dr. Petersen a warm welcome to our community! You can book appointments and surgical/dental procedures with Dr. Petersen beginning on February 22nd.

WINTER WEATHER PRECAUTIONS FOR PETS

 

dogs_snow_small.jpgIt took a little longer than normal, but snow finally arrived! While we’ve been lucky to avoid the coldest temperatures this winter, no doubt we will eventually have some sub-zero temperatures in the forecast too. Here are a few reminders to help your pets stay safe and healthy throughout the winter:

  1. Protect those paws! Paw pads are tough, but very cold temperatures can cause frostbite. In the city, paws also have to contend with salt, sand, and other irritants that can harm the sensitive skin between toes. Boots like Pawz waterproof boots help protect paws from direct contact with sand and salt. Sturdier boots like MuttLuks also provide insulation, but are a little harder for dogs to learn to wear. Waxes or ointments like Musher’s Secret can help prevent ice buildup between toes and also provide some protection against salt and sand.
  2. Shovel a potty patch: Urinating or defecating directly into a deep pile of snow can lead to frostbite on some very sensitive body parts. To prevent this, shovel out a small patch in the yard for your dog to go potty, especially when temperatures drop below zero.
  3. Consider a coat: Some dog breeds are built for cold weather and don’t need any help staying warm. Dogs with thin fur, a lean body type (like greyhounds), or dogs who are very young or very old can all benefit from the extra insulation provided by a coat. 
  4. Monitor the windchill: Dogs’ most sensitive extremities (such as their nose, the tips of their ears, and their tails) are more likely to become frostbitten when it’s windy. Even if air temperature is relatively warm, keep an eye on the windchill and keep walks shorter when the windchills are in dangerous ranges.
  5. Provide a dry, draft-free space: Some pets love to be outside no matter how chilly it gets. But even if your Bernese Mountain Dog would rather be sleeping in a snowbank than in a cozy bed by the fire, make sure he has access to somewhere dry and outside of the wind. Cold becomes more dangerous when animals get wet and unable to get out of the wind.
  6. Keep small animals away from drafty windows: Small mammals (such as rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs) and pet birds are especially sensitive to cold. Stress from being in drafty areas can lead to respiratory infections. Make sure that enclosures are kept in a warm, draft-free part of the house.
  7. Chemicals: Winter means that certain lethal chemicals, such as antifreeze and mouse/rat poisons, are more likely to be nearby. Be sure that these are kept well out of reach of pets.

Photo credit to St. Francis technician Becca Harnack- we hope everyone can find ways to enjoy winter as much as Kai and Drake! 

CURBSIDE PROTOCOLS

We continue to practice curbside care in order to protect you and our staff from COVID-19. Given our small space inside St. Francis, we anticipate that we will be curbside for the foreseeable future. We have a few reminders to help make curbside care as smooth as possible:

  • You will receive a curbside history form via email prior to your pet’s appointment. Returning this form before to your pet’s visit helps us to make your appointment as efficient as we can. This form is especially important if your pet is being brought to the clinic by someone who is not the owner.
  • Please wear a mask when interacting with staff. Staff members wear masks and face shields at all times.
  • Dogs must be leashed and cats and small mammals must be in carriers in order to make the transfer into the clinic as safe as possible.
  • Our parking lot can get very busy, especially at the very beginning and end of the day. Please drive slowly and watch carefully for cars and for staff members transferring pets back to their owners.
  • If you’ve called the number on the sign in the parking lot, left a voicemail that you’ve arrived, and have been waiting for 10 minutes or longer, please call again! Technology sometimes fails us and we never intend to keep you waiting long, especially if it is past your appointment time.

 

We are so grateful for your patience during this time. We know how much you miss being able to come inside and talk with us face-to-face. Our COVID protocols have helped ensure that we can continue to be here for you and your pets throughout the pandemic, and have kept you safe too. If you think there are practices we could change to make your experience better, please let us know!

 

CLINIC UPDATES

We are constantly improving and upgrading equipment throughout St. Francis to provide the best care possible to your pet. This month, we welcomed a new patient warming system for our surgical patients called a Bair Hugger. We’ve also upgraded to a new surgical blood pressure and ECG monitor and added a syringe pump, which allows us to precisely administer intravenous injectable medications, including antibiotics and pain control medications. These tools will improve our ability to keep patients pain-free, safe, and cozy while under anesthesia. 

 

Employee Spotlight: Ellie Elsasser

Each month, we will spotlight one of our team members in order of years of service at St Francis Animal Hospital.

Ellie started bringing her pets to St. Francis in 2012 and joined the St. Francis team as a veterinary assistant in December of 2018. She is currently a 2022 candidate for her DVM degree at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Ellie is especially interested in veterinary dentistry, behavior, and exotic pets. She is passionate about reducing patient fear associated with veterinary visits and is certified in Fear Free and Feline Friendly practices. In her free time, Ellie loves to read, sew, and clicker train her two cats. Her favorite animals to work with are the "spicy" cats because she loves helping them feel less fearful and have a more positive vet experience.

Why did you choose to enter the veterinary profession?

I started with a background in wildlife and conservation biology, interested in disease transmission. Then I began working in a small animal clinic and fell in love with veterinary medicine, applied, and was accepted into vet school. I love the challenge of figuring out what ails patients that cannot speak with us. It is incredibly rewarding to help the patients. Also, I love building relationships with the clients and getting to share in their love for their pet.

Why do you love working at St. Francis?

St. Francis is wonderful because it has a wonderful team. I would trust my pets with any staff member, and I don't say that lightly. Also, the team works hard to make the clients and patients as comfortable as possible during their visits. Finally, I deeply appreciate that St Francis also provides palliative care and is very supportive of clients that are dealing with an aging pet or the loss of a pet. This is an incredibly important and often overlooked aspect of owning a pet.  

Thank you for everything you do to make St. Francis a more fun place to be, Ellie!

 

NEWS BRIEFS

Vote for us in the Minnesota Women’s Press! 

We would love to have your vote as your Favorite Animal Hospital in the 2021 Minnesota Women’s Press Readers Recommend Survey! We were honored to be the winner in 2020 and would love to have your vote again this year. Voting is available here through January 31st. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to show your support!

 

Sportmix Dog and Cat Food Recall

Several lots of Sportmix dog and cat foods have been recalled due to the presence of a toxic mold called aflatoxin. The FDA has an up-to-date list of recalled lot numbers. If your pet has been eating one of the recalled diets, they should be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible for labwork, even if they are not acting ill.

 

PetDesk App

Did you know that we have an app? PetDesk allows you to access your pet’s vaccine history, schedule and confirm appointments, and submit prescription refill requests. PetDesk also makes it easier for us to communicate with you, which is especially helpful right now when our phones are extra busy! You can download the app at the Apple app store for iPhones or Google Play app store for Android devices. 

Dr. Stefan Knep: Farewell Wishes

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As you know, this is Dr. Stefan Knep’s final week at St Francis Animal Hospital; his last day will be December 28th.  We have been so fortunate to have him on our team for over fifteen years.  He has provided exceptional care to his patients and clients, offering his skill, knowledge, and compassion with many sprinkles of good humor along the way.  He has been a leader and an advocate, a confidant and a friend, but most of all, he has been a trusted family member to each of us.  It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye, but we are excited for him as he begins this new chapter of his career.

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To all the wonderful patients and their owners at St. Francis Animal Hospital!

I have been a part of St. Francis Animal Hospital for the last 15 years and I have truly loved my time serving this community as part of an outstanding team.

So it is not easy for me to announce that I will be leaving St. Francis Animal Hospital at the end of December.  I will be joining the team at Camden Pet Hospital in North Minneapolis.

I want to thank all of you for trusting me with the care of your beloved, furry family members over all these years.  I so appreciate the bonds and friendships we formed during this time.  I feel honored that you allowed me to get to know you, your families and your pets.  You let me become a part of your life.  The knowledge that I contributed a little to the well being of your pets is one of the most satisfying personal and professional experiences that I could have ever imagined.

I also want to thank my incredible friends and colleagues at St. Francis.  Being part of this team has been an experience that I will treasure forever.  I know the doctors, technicians and assistants at the clinic will continue to provide exceptional care to all patients and will allow for a seamless transition of service.

So, enjoy life, love your animals, maybe even take up motorcycling (remember, dogs enjoy the superior squirrel hunting abilities that riding in a sidecar offers)…., follow soccer (no it is not boring).  I will do my best to stay in contact with the St. Francis community.

Dr. Stefan Knep

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I know that there has been so much uncertainty and change throughout this year in your own lives, your personal careers, your kids’ day care and schools, and in the businesses that you care about.  This has been a challenging time.  In the midst of all of this uncertainty, I want to take this opportunity to assure each of you that our St Francis team has an unwavering commitment to continue to provide the exceptional care that you have known and loved throughout the years.  We have an excellent team of doctors, technicians, and assistants to continue the care of your loved ones in Dr. Knep’s absence.

For those who wish to continue care with Dr. Knep, he will begin seeing patients on January 11th at Camden Pet Hospital in north Minneapolis.

Camden Pet Hospital

1405 44th Ave N

Minneapolis MN 55412

(612) 522-4374

CONGRATULATIONS: DR. JESSICA LEWIS AND DR. MEGAN SCHOMMER

MS and JJL Intro Collage

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jessica Lewis, our new Medical Director, and Dr. Megan Schommer, our new Communications Director. These two individuals are not only knowledgeable and skilled veterinarians, but they are also exceptional leaders who will use their talents to build upon the tradition of excellence that St. Francis has known for so many years.

Medical Director: Dr. Jessica Lewis

As the Medical Director, Dr. Lewis will review and revise medical protocols; lead patient care rounds, doctor’s meetings, and staff meetings; evaluate new medications and products; develop new patient care programs; and assist in creating client education handouts, videos, and articles. In addition, she will serve as our Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety Officer. As one of Jessica’s first projects, she created a video to share with you about what to expect for your curbside appointment at St Francis. To watch our video, St Francis: What To Expect With Curbside Care, please visit our new YouTube channel at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1sZEtXALYTYCrZg0wUG2qA/featured . We welcome your ideas for future videos!

Communications Director: Dr. Megan Schommer

As the Communications Director, Dr. Schommer will revise and maintain our website; assist in the management of our social media channels; create and send our monthly newsletters; assist in the management of our communications platforms; revise and create client education handouts and articles; assist in marketing and public relations; and plan client education events, charitable events, and community outreach activities. As one of Megan’s first projects, she brings to St Francis the Winter Solstice Pet Memorial Event. Please see below for additional information about this event.

WINTER SOLSTICE PET MEMORIAL EVENT: DECEMBER 21ST, 7:30 PM

Holidays can be challenging when we are grieving the loss of a beloved pet. We understand how important it is to hold space for memories of pets who are no longer with us, and as part of the community that cared for your pet, we would like to help honor them. On the evening of the Winter Solstice, December 21st, we will be holding a short virtual ceremony via Zoom where we will share some thoughts, readings, and reflections on pet loss and grief. Grieving the loss of a pet can be extremely isolating, and we hope that gathering together, even virtually, will create a sense of community and belonging alongside people who understand the gravity of your loss.

Please join us for our Winter Solstice Pet Memorial Event on December 21 st at 7:30 pm via Zoom. If you would like to attend, please email us at group@stfrancisabh.com and we will respond with an invitation to the Zoom event.

CAUSE FOR PAWS HOLIDAY FUNDRAISER

Our holiday fundraiser to benefit Cause for Paws has begun and will continue through the end of the year.

The donations made will go directly to help provide preventative and medical care to the cats and kittens of Cause for Paws.

Due to COVID-19, we are currently operating curbside and won't be able to have you stop in to make a donation. Donations can be made when you are here for a curbside care appointment or medication pick up or you may call us at 651-645-2808. For your donation of any amount, we will place an ornament on our lobby tree. If you'd like a note or a memorial written on the ornament, we can do so for you.

Cause For Paws is a small, all-volunteer Minnesota nonprofit 501(c)(3) group founded in 1998. Their main focus is to find loving permanent homes for stray and abandoned cats and kittens. All cats in their care are fostered in volunteers’ homes. Their work is funded entirely by donations. To learn more, please visit: https://www.causeforpawsmn.org/ .

Please help us fill our tree with ornaments and provide care for the cats of Cause for Paws!

COVID-19 UPDATE

With the extraordinary number of positive COVID-19 cases, we are working even more diligently to keep our clients and our team as safe and healthy as possible. If you have an appointment at St Francis, please help us by following these guidelines.

  • If you or anyone in your family is ill, has been ill, or has been around anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days, please alert us. We will ask that you reschedule any routine non-critical visits. If your pet is sick, we would prefer for you to ask someone else to bring your pet for the visit. Regardless, we need to know the status of your household so that we can use additional personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling pets from COVID-19 positive homes.
  • We ask that everyone wear a mask when interacting with our team members, even if you are in your car or standing outside. We will commit to wearing a mask and a shield at all times.
  • We have an ongoing struggle with the volume of phone calls. For non-urgent updates, questions, appointment requests, or refill requests, please reach out to us via email at group@stfrancisabh.com or PetDesk or consider leaving a voicemail at (651) 645-2808. Team members working offsite are able to manage these modes of correspondence, leaving the phone call queue available for those who have urgent or immediate needs.

Under the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we are being very careful to keep COVID-19 out of the workplace so that we can continue to be here to care for your pets. Any team member showing any signs of illness is asked to stay home and obtain a negative COVID test before returning to St Francis. This can lead to unexpected staffing issues. In the unlikely event that we need to reschedule appointments, we ask for your kindness, understanding, and patience as we work with you to find alternative appointment times.

As always, thank you for all of your understanding, your kind words, and your generosity throughout this year. We are so grateful for you and so honored to have worked side by side with you throughout the ups and downs of this pandemic.

NEWS BRIEFS

Women’s Press: Reader’s Recommend Survey

Please take a moment to vote for us for Favorite Animal Hospital in the Minnesota Women’s Press 2021 Readers Recommend Survey: http://tinyurl.com/MWP2021ReadersRecommend . Voting ends on January 31st .

Holiday Hours

We have provided our team with important time off with their families for the holidays. If your pet has an emergency during this time, please contact the Animal Emergency & Referral Center (651-501-3766), University of Minnesota Small Animal Hospital (612-626-8387), Blue Pearl Arden Hills (763-754-5000), or Como Park After Hours (651-487-3255)

December 24th: Open: 8-12:30 pm

December 25th - 27th: Closed

December 31st: Open 8-3:00 pm

January 1st - 3rd: Closed

Stay Tuned: Dr. Kate French and Dr. Mike Petersen

Stay tuned for introductions of our new veterinarians! Dr. Kate French will provide temporary coverage on Mondays and Tuesdays in January and February. Dr. Mike Petersen will start full-time on February 22nd . As always, St Francis has added exceptional talent to our team to provide you with the very best care for your loved ones. We are excited for you to meet them!