Spring: Is Your Pet Protected?

The sun is out, the snow is melting, and everyone is excited to be outside enjoying springtime. But is your dog or cat adequately protected from the dangers that lurk outside?

National Train Your Dog Month

Written by Sabrina Reed, CVT, Fear-Free Certified, Director of Behavioral Services

Materials courtesy of Family Paws Parent Education: https://www.familypaws.com

Last month, we celebrated National Train Your Dog Month. Sabrina Reed, CVT, our Director of Behavioral Services, has prepared a few tips and resources for you.

Dogs and Children

Training your dog is important. In addition to teaching your dog basic manners, training allows you to create a happy, healthy bond between you and your dog. Keep in mind that this bond may not always come as easily between dogs and young children. Normal child behavior can be scary, overwhelming, or confusing to some dogs. Kate Anders, CPDT-KSA, CBCC, CDBC, of Pretty Good Dog, specializes in the child-dog dynamics and helping families thrive with both children and dogs in the household. She also teaches the Dogs and Storks workshop monthly to help expecting and adopting families with dogs prepare for life with a baby.

National Walk Your Dog Month

Written by Samantha Folger, CVT, Director of Nutritional Services

Now that the holiday season has come and gone, Minnesotans are looking out the window wondering when that ice will melt and longing for the warm days of spring. While some of our furry family members would prefer to skip the winter months by snuggling under the blankets, it's important to still try to encourage walking and exercise, even in these months

Whoever decided that National Walk Your Dog Month should be in January must not have lived in Minnesota. There are a few more challenges with walking your pet in the winter, but it very beneficial for your pet’s health and mental stimulation. It can help in maintaining a healthy weight, encouraging weight loss, decreasing destructive behavior, and strengthening the bond you have with your dog.

Feline Hyperthyroidism

Written by Jessica Lewis, DVM and Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT

Hyperthyroidism is a multisystemic disorder resulting from the excessive production and secretion of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. This is almost always the result of an intrinsic disorder of the thyroid gland itself, either hyperplasia (increased number of thyroid hormone-producing cells), benign tumors (adenomas) or less commonly, malignant tumors (carcinomas) of the thyroid gland. Approximately 20% of cats will only have 1 lobe affected, whereas the other 70-80% have bilateral involvement. Occasionally, animals will have ectopic thyroid tissue in the lower neck or chest that is causing the signs of hyperthyroidism. We have yet to uncover what stimulates this excessive growth or tumor formation within the thyroid gland, but both environment and diet have been implicated.

Anesthesia For Your Pet

Written by Dr. Kevin Roeser

At St. Francis Animal Hospital, we use anesthesia nearly every day during routine and emergency surgeries, dental procedures, and other potentially painful procedures. The goals of anesthesia are fairly universal. We aim for a patient who is unconscious, immobile, and unaware of discomfort, but also for a patient who is breathing well and maintaining normal cardiovascular function, one who is maintaining an appropriate body temperature, and ultimately a patient who will recover swiftly but calmly at the end of the anesthetic episode. Though most veterinary practices perform anesthesia, not all anesthetic episodes are created equal. Our staff goes the extra mile to ensure the safest and most effective anesthetic practices.

Happy Halloween: Beware of Chocolate Toxicity

Most people enjoy chocolate, and not surprisingly, most pets do too! Unfortunately, chocolate can be toxic to pets and can lead to severe clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, ataxia (‘drunkenness’), increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, difficulty breathing, and even death.

The toxic compounds in chocolate are methylxanthines – this includes both theobromine and caffeine. These compounds inhibit cellular receptors, stimulate the central nervous system, and enhance cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility. In addition, the high fat content in chocolate leads to local gastrointestinal irritation (vomiting and diarrhea), and in severe cases, a serious disease called pancreatitis. Clinical signs occur within 12 hours, but most pets will begin exhibiting signs within 1-4 hours of ingestion.

Animal Pain Awareness Month

Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT

Animals experience pain and discomfort just as people do. While it is obvious that a pet who is limping is experiencing pain, often the signs of pain are much more subtle. These signs may include restlessness; gait changes or shifting weight; decreased mobility, activity or play; panting or rapid breathing; difficulty getting up or down; difficulty with stairs; inability to jump; vocalization; behavior changes (aggression, clinginess, attention-seeking, hiding, withdrawal from the family); decreased appetite; excessive licking, chewing or mutilation of a particular area of their body; lack of grooming; change in body posture (hunched, not curled up when sleeping, stiff, neck stretched out); or a change in housetraining or litter box habits. Many of these signs are incorrectly attributed to ‘old age’.

Chronic pain may be due to osteoarthritis, cancer pain, or pain associated with any of the internal organs. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of chronic pain. Managing chronic pain requires a multimodal approach. A multimodal approach uses a combination of medications, supplements, nutrition and other therapies together to achieve pain control while reducing risks of potential adverse effects. Considerations may include the type or source of pain, efficacy of therapy, concurrent medical conditions, safety, route of administration, frequency of administration, cost and the ability to administer the therapy and/or travel for care. We work with you to develop the best treatment plan for you and your loved one.

Feline Inappropriate Urination

Kevin Roeser, DVM and Jennifer Blair, DVM

Inappropriate urination or house soiling can be a challenging issue for cats, their owners, and veterinarians alike. For many cats, the underlying cause of this behavior is multi-faceted, making management more challenging. However, with patience and consistent behavioral modification, most owners can successfully manage this issue long term.

Cats that are exhibiting inappropriate urination should initially have a complete physical examination performed by a veterinarian followed by specific diagnostics that help to exclude an underlying medical cause for the behavior. Recommended diagnostics may include a) a complete urinalysis and culture to rule out infectious or inflammatory causes; b) radiographs (x-rays) +/- an ultrasound to identify stones, masses, or structural abnormalities; and c) baseline blood work to rule out concurrent or underlying diseases.

Feline Tooth Resorption / Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions

Dr. Kevin Roeser

Feline tooth resorption, also known as Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs), cervical line lesions (CLLs), neck lesions, cervical line erosions, and feline caries/”cavities”, are a common dental concern for cats. These lesions begin just below the gum line and progressively invade and destroy the affected tooth. As the tooth structure is damaged, the pulp (nerve and blood supply of the tooth) is exposed. This can result in chronic dental pain – think of it as a major toothache!

It is estimated that well over 50% of all cats will experience this disease at some point in their lives. Tooth resorptive lesions can be found in cats as early as 18-24 months, but most affected cats are middle-aged. Asiatic breeds (Abyssinians, Siamese, and Himalayans) may be predisposed, though all breeds may be affected. The cause of these lesions is yet unknown.

This month, our feature article was inspired by two eighth grade girls, Scarlett Morton and Elsa Yager, Girl Scout Troop #54296, working on their Girl Scout Silver Award Project. The Silver Award Project is a project designed to help the community. They chose to educate our community on blue-green algae, because sadly, Elsa’s family dog, Barney, passed away suddenly last year due to this toxin. Their hope is to spread the awareness of the dangers of this toxin to help save other pets’ lives.

View their project here!

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are bacteria that grow in slow moving or stagnant water such as ponds, lakes, or streams, especially in areas where water is rich in nutrients such as fertilizer. These bacteria are often called algae because of their appearance on the water, but they are not truly algae. These bacteria grow rapidly during the summer months, leading to accumulations along the shores. You cannot always visualize these algal blooms. Sometimes there is a ‘pea soup’ appearance to the water, but affected water can range from clear to blue to even red in color.

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 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.