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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!