Welcome, Dr. Jessica Lewis

We are excited to announce the addition of our new doctor, Dr. Jessica Lewis, on Tuesday, May 29th. Dr. Lewis joined St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital 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) at the University of Minnesota. She completed a one month externship at St Francis during her clinical rotations and is elated to finally officially join the team as a veterinarian.

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. Jessica is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV), and Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). 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 have watched Jessica learn and grow over the past 7 years. We work with a lot of students, and she is one of the more dedicated, compassionate, and intelligent individuals that I have ever worked with. She has excellent communication skills and a solid knowledge base. Most importantly, she truly cares. She cares about each of her patients as if they were her own pet, and she cares about the people who care for each of these furred or feathered loved ones. I feel comfortable stepping back knowing that I have someone so incredible filling my shoes. She rounds out our group of exceptional doctors at St Francis.” - Dr. Jennifer Blair

With the addition of Dr. Lewis, Dr. Jennifer Blair will have greater availability at St Francis Integrative Services. We are able to schedule acupuncture appointments as well as consultations for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) (i.e. herbal therapy, Tui-na), hospice/palliative care, pain management, and chronic medical cases or second opinions in this space. She will work closely with your primary veterinarian in managing your pet’s overall care. In addition, she will continue to see a limited number of appointments in the general practice on Fridays by request only. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Dr. Blair at either facility, please call (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed support and excitement for these big changes at St Francis. We are so excited to be able to offer such an array of services at St Francis and to continue to be at the forefront of providing the very best care for all of our patients. If you have any feedback for us during this transition, please reach out to us at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

Springtime and Allergy Season

We all love the green leaves, grass, and new flowers blooming, but for those of us with allergies, this can also be a challenging time. That is true for dogs too.

While allergies are common, it is important to rule out other causes of itchiness first. Dogs suffering from external parasites (fleas, mites), fungal or bacterial infections, food allergy, contact dermatitis, or autoimmune disease may exhibit similar signs to those with environmental allergies (atopy). However, these conditions will require different or additional therapy to manage. Once we know your pet has allergies, we have great tools to help.


Apoquel (oclacitanib) is a specific type of medication called a janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. It is not a steroid or antihistamine. It is in a different category of medications which blocks allergic itch at the source. Due to its specificity, it has fewer side effects compared with some other therapies. This medication cannot be used in dogs younger than 12 months of age. Click here to learn more about Apoquel.


Cytopoint, previously known as Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic (CADI), is a monoclonal antibody therapy. This antibody targets and neutralizes the specific molecule (interleukin IL-31) that causes itching in allergic dogs. It begins working within 24 hours and can deliver up to 4-8 weeks of relief. Because is it highly targeted to a specific cytokine, it has minimal impact on other immune functions. It is safe for all ages. Click here to learn more about Cytopoint.


Nexgard (afoxolaner) is a chewable flea and tick preventative. In addition to the prevention of fleas and ticks, it has been shown to be efficacious in the prevention and treatment of mites including Sarcoptes and Demodex. For allergic dogs, the bite of one flea or mite can cause severe itching. Use Nexgard to control itching exacerbated by external parasites. Click here to learn more about Nexgard.


Convenia (cefovecin) is a long-acting antibiotic injection. It is administered in the clinic and is effective for two weeks. For severe infections, it may need to be repeated. If you have a dog with recurrent bacterial skin infections and you’ve been struggling to give the complete course of antibiotics, this is an excellent alternative. Click here to learn more about Convenia.

In addition, our allergy patients can also benefit from antihistamines (diphenhydramine or hydroxyzine), shampoos, topical conditioners, leave-in mousse, or Dermoscent, a natural skin barrier. Acupuncture or herbal therapy may also be beneficial in certain cases. Treatments are tailored to the individual patient.

If you have an itchy dog, consult your veterinarian today about the best choice of therapy. To schedule an appointment, you may reach us at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

If you have an itchy dog, consult your veterinarian today about the best choice of therapy. To schedule an appointment, you may reach us at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

Bathing Your Bird

Healthy feathers are important for flight, insulation, and warmth. Birds also use their feathers for courting, warning others of danger, and camouflaging when predators are near. Infrequent bathing can lead to dry itchy skin, dusty or greasy feathers, feather plucking or self-mutilation, and even respiratory issues. Many of our parrots originated from rain forests, yet some of our pet birds dislike baths. Bathing is an important part of your bird’s daily routine, and with a gentle approach, you will be able to teach your bird how to enjoy this activity.

To teach your bird to enjoy misting, choose a neutral place in the house to work on bathing. Don’t corner your bird in the cage and start squirting water - as you can imagine, this would be terrifying.

Use clean, fresh water for bathing. It can be room temperature to warm, but be cautious about extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Bathing does not necessarily mean a full shower with complete soaking of your bird. While this is important to do occasionally, it is more important that your bird receive just a light misting of water every day. This is enough to encourage preening and keep the feathers healthy. Purchase a small water bottle that can provide a light mist of water. Some birds love to be squirted directly while others need to be gently introduced to this method. Start by squirting upwards so that the mist falls lightly over your bird or just to the side of your bird. Make bath time fun by talking to your bird, exclaiming “It’s bath time!”

Some birds really do enjoy a drenching bath or prefer to shower with their owners. It is important that you dry your bird and provide a warm environment after these types of baths, especially if it is cold. Work with your parrot to make toweling a safe and fun experience

You may also try other options – some birds like to bathe on their own. You may offer a water bowl at the bottom of the cage or access to the sink with a running faucet. Some parrots will bathe in a dish filled with soaked leafy greens such as collard, kale, or turnip greens. Be creative and explore what your bird likes. With these tips and a calm, gentle approach, you can teach your bird to enjoy bath time.

News Briefs

Dental Health

In lieu of Dental Health Month in February, we are offering year-round savings for your pet’s dental care. If you schedule a dental procedure within 30 days of receiving a dental estimate, you will receive $30 off the dental procedure.

Kelly Wessels, CVT

Congratulations to Kelly for celebrating her 15 Year Anniversary at St Francis. Kelly wears many hats -- she is our Senior Veterinary Technician, Technician Supervisor, Inventory Manager, and Radiation Safety Officer. Congratulations, Kelly!

New Team Members

Please welcome our newest team members: Veterinary Technicians, Chelsea Kovar, CVT and Amelia Jordan, CVT, and Veterinary Assistants, Baylee May and Amanda Mallek. You will love working with each of them – they are great additions to the team.