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