BART Fundraising Dog Duathlon on September 13th


There is a people and dog duathlon in New Brighton on September 13 for those of you who like to run (and swim) with your dogs. It is a fundraiser for BART, the Basic Animal Rescue Training organization. BART is a group of volunteers that train first responders in how to take care of animals encountered in emergency situations. Good people, good stuff.

Learn more about the organization here and the duathalon here.

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Dr. Fleming at the Fair

Dr. Pierce Fleming will be moderating the spay and neuter surgery suite on Thursday August 28th at 2:00 pm and 4:00pm. The surgery suite is located in the Pet Center building.  Stop on by and say Hi.

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CIRD, aka Kennel Cough

“Kennel Cough” has been the widely used term for the common cold of dogs. It’s official name is now Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease or CIRD. In the last few months we have seen an increasing number of coughing dogs coming to our clinic. This is apparently a new strain of an upper respiratory virus that has become widespread this winter and spring and one that our vaccines may not prevent. This CIRD appears to be moderately contagious and is primarily spread by exposure to other coughing dogs. Highest exposure risk is where multiple dogs associate with one another like dog parks and kennels.  Typically, there is an incubation time from 5-7 days from exposure to the virus before the onset of the clinical signs of which a dry, hacking cough is the most obvious. In the average dog, the disease runs it’s course in a weeks time. To learn more about this disease, visit this page of

Our staff is always watching for any coughing or unhealthy dogs in our facility but despite our vigilance, dogs may come into our facility incubating the virus and showing no clinical signs until after they have been in the kennel for a couple days. Up to now we have dodged that bullet and kept the virus out our facility. But recently we have learned of a few of cases of coughing dogs who do appear have been exposed to it in our kennel.

We are doing everything in our power to minimize risk to our boarders, day care dogs and canine hospital patients. This includes increased cleaning and disinfecting of the environment, runs, floors, bowls, toys, etc. As soon as any coughing dogs are identified or even suspected they will necessarily be isolated from the other dogs to minimize their risk of exposure. We cannot board or hospitalize any coughing dogs, even if they may have caught that virus in our kennel. The only way we can get rid of this virus from our facility is to keep coughing dogs out of the kennel. We appreciate and regret any hardship this may cause our clients and hope this issue can be resolved very soon. But because so many dogs are now affected by this virus, this CIRD could be around for a while. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. Please call our clinic with any other questions or concerns you may have.

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Drop off sites for unneeded prescription drugs


There was an article in the paper recently regarding drop off sites for prescription drugs. It said Hennepin County collected 7 tons of prescribed medicine last year! That is an amazing figure! We often have our clients ask us what to do with their left over and expired medicine. We can not just throw it away or flush it down the toilet anymore. There are many drop off sites around the city. The closest to us is at the government centers at Ridgedale and Brookdale. Here are instructions and a map of Hennepin County drop off sites. Be sure to do the right thing and get rid of unneeded and expired medicine where it can not harm people, animals or the environment.

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Relief from Cat Allergies?

There is a study here in Minnesota being run on a new medication that is supposed to help people suffering from sensitivities to their cat. This is not an endorsement because the company is new and I don’t know what the medication is. But if you are one of many who love their cats but are allergic to them, this might be worth inquiring about. Check out the CATALYST Study here.

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Nice tribute to an old friend

James Lileks wrote a nice tribute to his old dog in today’s Star Tribune. Find that here.

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Red Lake Reservation Clinic

I helped out At the spay/neuter clinic on the Red Lake reservation this week. I posted some pictures in an album over on our facebook page at

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Recipe for removing skunk odor from your dog

This time of year brings out increased encounters with skunks. Here is an easy recipe for neutralizing the odor. Bring the supplies with you and you can mix it up in a plastic container to use in the field when needed.
1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda and a tablespoon of dish soap. Put on rubber gloves, mix the ingredients and sponge the dog meticulously. It works very well.

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Dr. Rachel Stephensen had her baby!

Dr Stephensen had her baby!

Dr Stephensen had her baby

Malcolm Liam Preston Stephensen
Born Friday, July 19th, 2013 7lbs, 13 oz

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Helpful tips with storms and fireworks anxiety for your pet


How to deal with the problem in the short term.

These may be useful in some cases but should only be given under veterinary supervision. Remember they should be given so they take effect BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in. This is usually at least an hour prior to the event. Sedatives may help the pet sleep through the event or be less aware of the stimuli but do not reduce anxiety. Anti-anxiety drugs may reduce anxiety and panic but may not calm the dog sufficiently. There are also drugs such as some of the antidepressants that can be used on an ongoing basis to try and prevent or reduce the effect of the stimulus should it arise. Then, short term drugs on the day of the fireworks (or storm) may be added to some of these drugs if needed. The dog appeasing pheromone (DAP®) and natural products such as melatonin might also be considered concurrently with other drugs.

Don’t punish your dog when he is scared, it only confirms to him that there is something to be afraid of and will make him worse. In addition, if you are upset or anxious about your pet’s behavior, this will also make your dog more anxious.

Don’t fuss, pet or try to reassure your dog when he is scared since he may regard this as a reward for the behavior he is engaging in at that time, so that with each future exposure the behavior may become increasingly intense. Although it may be difficult, try to ignore any fearful behavior that occurs.

Training devices and commands
Practice training your dog to settle and focus on commands for favored treats and toys. Try and associate this training with a favored location in the house (one where the noise of the fireworks and storm might be less obvious – see below), and use some training cues (e.g. a favored CD, a favored blanket) each time you do the training (so that the command, location and cues help to immediately calm the dog). A head halter can also be used to help control, distract and calm the dog during training. Then at the time of the storm, use your commands, location, cues and head halter to try and calm the dog, while avoiding punishment or reassurance of the fearful response (see above).

Feed your dog a good meal, rich in carbohydrate and with added vitamin B6, a few hours prior to the expected fireworks (or storm). To ensure a good appetite, it may be necessary not to feed him at any other time during the day. However, if your dog is prone to diarrhea when scared or at other times, please consult your veterinarian for advice regarding this strategy.

Make sure that the environment is safe and secure at all times. Even the most placid dog can behave unpredictably when frightened by noise and, should he bolt and escape, he could get injured or lost.

Can I do anything to reduce the impact of the noise and flashes from the fireworks or storms?
When the season begins, try to ensure that your dog can reside in a well-curtained or blacked out room when it starts to go dark. Blacking out the room removes the potentially additional problems of flashing lights, flares etc.

Provide plenty of familiar toys and games that might help to distract the pet.

Try to arrange company for your dog so that he is not abandoned in the room.

Make sure that all the windows and doors are shut so the sound is deadened as much as possible. Try taking your pet to a room or area of the house where the stimuli will be at their mildest and the dog can be most easily distracted. Sometimes nested cardboard boxes or a blanket placed over the cage can greatly mute the sound. Be certain however that there is enough air circulation so that the pet does not overheat.

Try to provide background sounds from the radio or television. Rap or similar music with a lot of constant drum beats does help. It does not necessarily have to be loud as long as there is a constant distracting beat to the music that will prevent him from concentrating on the noises outside. Other background noises and such as a fan running or even “white” noise devices can help to block outdoor noises.

Ignore the noises yourself and try to involve your pet in some form of active game.

Some products and exercises might be useful to further secure or calm the dog. Anxiety wraps, a cape or mat that reduces static, a head halter for control or TTouch therapy may help to calm the dog further.

My friend down the street has a dog that is not scared of loud noises and gets along well with mine. She has offered to lend me her dog for support. Shall I accept?

This may be an excellent strategy. Keeping the two together during the evenings may help. Playing with the non-fearful dog when your own becomes scared may help to encourage him to join in and reduce his fear.

Is there anything else that I can do that is worthwhile?
Don’t just ignore the problem because it only happens intermittently or for a few days each year. Instigate a desensitization program once the season is over so that you ensure your dog loses fear of the situation.

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