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From A Cat’s Perspective

Bringing your cat to the veterinarian can be a very stressful and scary experience -- for both you and your cat. One of the biggest stressors for your cat going to the doctor can be the carrier itself. Not only does the carrier mean that they are leaving the comfort of their own home to go to a potentially scary place, but the actual ride in the carrier can be very frightening. When a carrier is carried from the handle of the carrier, it is very similar to your cat being forced on to a roller coaster they don’t want to ride.

To help to eliminate the stress of the ride for your cat, we recommend carrying your cat’s carrier like you are handling a fragile package -- support the bottom of the carrier with both hands. This helps to eliminate the undulating movements of the carrier, helps to keep the carrier from accidentally bumping into walls and doors, and eliminates the possibility of the bottom falling out or the lid unlatching during carrying.

If you would like to further decrease stress and visual stimulation, you can place a towel over the carrier. Spraying a towel with a pheromone such as Feliway (https://www.feliway.com) at least 10 minutes prior to placing it over or inside the carrier can give added calming effects as well. (Note: Avoid spraying the towel in the vicinity of your cat as the alcohol base can be irritating. Spraying at least 10 minutes before your cat contacts the towel will allow that irritating base to dissipate. However, if you spray the towel more than 4 hours prior to leaving, it may not be as effective.)

The ideal cat carrier is one that has a firm structure (such as a plastic cat carrier) with a top that can easily be removed. Avoid the soft-sided carriers that look like a tent or a duffel bag. These carriers do not provide as much support for your cat. In addition, if your cat is nervous about coming out of the carrier, we prefer to just remove the top of the carrier to begin our examination or procedures. If we can’t easily remove the top, there is no stress-free way for us to bring your cat out of the carrier --- and we guarantee that no one wants to be ‘dumped’ out of a carrier at the veterinary clinic.

Have you ever wondered what your feline friend experiences when you take him or her to the veterinarian? This video created by Lincoln Land Animal Clinic LTD of Jacksonville IL provides a great visualization of what your cat may see, hear and feel during this journey: https://youtu.be/8GVKP8aj-kg.

If you are interested in further desensitizing your cat to the carrier, feel free to contact Sabrina Reed, CVT, our Director of Behavioral Services and Fear Free Certified Professional at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com. For other tips on helping to eliminate fear, stress and anxiety for your dogs and cats prior to their vet visit, please check out https://fearfreehappyhomes.com. Stay tuned for additional information about behavior and training in our future newsletters, social media, and blog posts.

(Credit to Lincoln Land Animal Clinic Ltd of Jacksonville, IL for the creation and authorization to share this video)
Sabrina Reed, CVT, Director of Behavioral Services

The Role of Diet in Your Pet’s Health

Whether you are bringing your pet in for their annual wellness examination, a medical concern, follow up laboratory work, or your puppy’s first visit, the first step that is always taken before heading into the room to see the doctor is to get an updated weight. Why is that? Although there are many reasons, one of the biggest reasons is the important role that proper diet and nutrition play in our pets’ lives.

Remembering to discuss your pet’s diet with the doctor can be difficult, but it is also a fundamental piece of information to ensure that your pet is getting the most comprehensive care. Not only is it important to maintain your pet at a healthy weight, it’s also important to have them on a diet that works the best with their current lifestyle. There are many over-the-counter and prescription diets on the market that are formulated for specific pets.

Feeding your pet the right diet can help manage and regulate many disease processes such as obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, urine crystal and stone formation, liver disease, and many others. There are also diets that help with joint support and skin conditions.

With all the food options available, we do sometimes see food sensitivities with our pets. Some pets develop gastrointestinal upset. However, most pets show signs of a food sensitivity by developing skin problems such as rash, excessive licking or scratching, skin infections, moist dermatitis (i.e. hot spots), or even ear infections. It can be difficult to differentiate between an environmental allergy versus a food allergy which is why it is important to discuss these issues with a veterinarian and determine what may be causing your pet's symptoms. If a food sensitivity is suspected, your veterinarian may recommend a diet trial that requires your pet to be fed a specific food exclusively for 8-12 weeks. It is important during this time that your pet does not have any other treats, table scraps, or any other foods to ingest.

At St. Francis Animal & Bird Hospital we understand that it can be difficult to pick the best diet for your pet, especially with all the marketing that goes along with the major pet food companies. Our staff is happy to help with any questions that you may have. If you have any specific questions about your pet, please contact Samantha Folger, CVT, Director of Nutritional Services at (651) 645-2808. Stay tuned for additional information about your pets’ nutrition in our future newsletters, social media, and blog posts.
Samantha Folger, CVT, Director of Nutritional Services

What's New: Dr. Jessica Lewis & Dr. Jennifer Blair

We are excited to share some upcoming changes at St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital. In May, Jessica Lewis, DVM will officially join our team as a veterinarian. Jessica began her career at St Francis in the spring of 2011 as a veterinary assistant while she was obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. She was promoted to a veterinary technician in 2013 and continued to work at St Francis part-time while earning her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree at the University of Minnesota. In April, she will complete a one-month externship at St Francis and will officially join the team on May 29th.

Jessica’s professional interests include small animal internal medicine, preventative care, nutrition, and anesthesia/pain management. She has completed the Fear Free Certification program and strives to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress related to veterinary visits. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, practicing yoga, and throwing the frisbee for her Australian Shepherd, Tig.

"I knew I wanted to practice at St Francis from the beginning. I’ve been fortunate enough to have these incredible doctors as mentors as I’ve gone through college and veterinary school. The dedication and compassion for our patients and clients truly cannot be found elsewhere. I am unbelievably honored to get to work alongside a team that practices nothing short of exceptional veterinary medicine."
Jessica Lewis, DVM

Starting in June, Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT will transition to providing specialty services full-time at St Francis Integrative Services (SFIS). These services include dry needle acupuncture, aquapuncture, electroacupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbal therapy, Western herbal therapy, Chinese veterinary food therapy, laser therapy, massage therapy, Tui-na, physical medicine, multimodal pain management, palliative care, hospice care and euthanasia. Consultations for any of these services may be scheduled with Dr. Blair at Integrative Services by calling (651) 645-2808. She will also continue to see routine appointments at St Francis on Fridays.

Jennifer’s professional interests include geriatrics, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), hospice/palliative care, and pain management, as well as internal medicine, neurology and urology. She is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA) and a Certified Veterinary Food Therapist (CVFT). This year, she will complete her Certified TCVM Palliative and End-of-Life Practitioner (CTPEP) certification from the Chi Institute.

“I have always loved caring for elderly pets or those pets with complicated chronic disease conditions. In 2015, after practicing for 13 years, I believed I needed additional tools to help my patients. I enrolled in the Chi Institute to learn acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine – and I’ve been learning ever since. It has been so rewarding to provide another level of care for those patients battling chronic pain, mobility issues, chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or other terminal illnesses. I am excited to expand my availability so that I can offer these services to more patients.”
Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT

News Briefs

Pet Project Rescue

Pet Project Rescue will host its 10th Annual Spring Event at the Bauhaus Brew Labs located at 1315 Tyler St NE Minneapolis MN on April 29th from 12-4 pm. To learn more about this event, click here to visit their website. We love supporting Pet Project Rescue – we hope you join the St Francis team for a fun day at Bauhaus Brew Labs!

New Dental Health Program $30 in 30 Days

Dental health for your pet is important year round – not just in February. To promote year round dental care, we have launched a year round program to provide you with dental health savings. If you schedule a dental procedure within 30 days of receiving the dental treatment plan/estimate, you will receive $30 off the procedure.

Zoetis Petcare Rewards

Zoetis will no longer be offering free doses of Revolution. Instead, they are offering a Zoetis Petcare Rewards Program. When you purchase Revolution, Convenia, or Rimadyl, you will earn points towards a rewards card. The points may be combined for all of the pets in your household. To learn more, click here to visit their website.