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Safety Tips for a Fun Summer with Your Pet

Your pet is part of the family and you naturally care about her safety. You also want to include her in family activities whenever possible over the carefree days of summer. By keeping the following safety tips in mind, your entire family can have a summer to remember.
Swimming Doesn’t Come Naturally to All Dogs
Dog owners can become too relaxed keeping an eye on their dog near water because they assume all dogs possess an innate ability to swim. This simply isn’t true, particularly for dog breeds with small hindquarters and large chests. When bringing your dog to a pool or beach this summer, make sure you’re in the water with him and remain no more than an arm’s length away. If you decide to go boating with your dog, he should have a life jacket just like everyone else in the boat.
Parasite Control During the Summer
Internal and external parasites can be a problem all year long, but they’re especially prevalent in the summer. Fleas can survive long periods without a living host and may burrow in your carpet or furniture until one becomes available. Be sure to vacuum your carpet regularly, wash your pet’s bedding in hot water, and give your pet frequent baths during the summer to minimize fleas.
Ticks are more than just a nuisance because they can transmit serious or deadly diseases. Since they’re attracted to warm areas on your pet’s body such as the skin folds, they can be difficult to see. Be sure to check your pet’s body from head to tail every night, whether she goes outside or not. Ticks can easily get into the house through another pet or on someone’s clothing.
Intestinal worms such as heartworm, roundworm, and hookworm can cause serious illness or death in severe cases. Vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, breathing difficulty, and general lethargy are just some of the indications that your pet could have an intestinal worm. Dr. Barr would be happy to recommend a parasite prevention product based on your pet’s lifestyle factors.
Gardening and Lawn Care
If possible, keep your pet indoors when you’re mowing the grass, applying chemicals, or working in the garden. Chocolate mulch is popular among gardeners, but can be toxic to pets if ingested. Insecticides, snail bait, and slug bait are among the top 10 accidental poisonings for domestic pets. If you set rodent traps outdoors, make sure your pet can’t get at them. Some of these chemicals can cause seizures, tremors, and death. You may want to consider an organic alternative for your lawn and garden products.
No People Food at Picnics
There’s no shortage of opportunity to cook outside in the summer. Your dog or cat would like nothing better than to find scraps of meat on the ground or even grab whatever is cooking on the grill. Food meant for people can be toxic and a choking hazard while your pet could burn himself on a hot grill. Having a pet underfoot is probably not a good idea at these events. If your pet is present, make sure that all guests know he is not to receive any scraps.
In the event of an emergency this summer, please contact our clinic at 763-755-3595. After hours, you may call 763-754-5000.

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April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Dogs and cats get heartworm disease when an infected mosquito bites them. The heartworm then gets inside of their body and can reproduce, which only worsens your pet’s symptoms. The illness is much more prevalent in dogs, but cat owners also need to know about the symptoms so they can prevent and treat it if necessary. Puppies can start on preventive heartworm medication at eight weeks old without any type of testing. At six months of age, a puppy needs to test negative for heartworm infection before a veterinarian can prescribe preventive medication.

Heartworm testing in dogs requires only a simple blood test. Testing is a bit more complicated in cats and requires several blood tests before a veterinarian can make a diagnosis. This testing is typically done at the request of the cat owner when he or she suspects the animal may have contracted heartworm disease.

Previously, it was common practice for pet owners to give preventive heartworm medication from early spring to the first frost of winter. However, the American Heartworm Society now recommends keeping up with treatment all year long. This has the added benefit of killing other parasites that may be inside of the animal.

Signs of Heartworm Infection
Cats and dogs show signs of heartworm infection differently. Because of a cat's smaller body size, it's more likely for heartworm to affect their lungs and make it difficult to breathe. In dogs, heartworms live in the ventricles of the heart and the heart itself. The following are common symptoms of heartworm disease, although some pets show no symptoms at all:

• Lethargy
• Coughing
• Vomiting
• Weight loss
• Fatigue unrelated to exertion
• Loss of appetite

Treatment can be long and painful for an animal infected with heartworm. Fortunately, heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable with the proper medication. We encourage you to speak to the staff at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital for specific recommendations. Your pet's veterinarian takes your pet’s species, age, weight, lifestyle, and several other factors into consideration before recommending one product over another.

Our Heartworm Prevention Products
We offer Sentinel Spectrum, Nexgard, and Bravecto heartworm prevention products at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital. Our staff is happy to instruct you on how to give each of these medications to your pet.

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Flea and Tick Prevention


Flea and Tick Prevention


Minnesota is Heaven for Ticks!

There are three main species of ticks present in Minnesota—Dermacentor (American dog tick), Ixodes (deer tick or blacklegged tick), and Rhipicephalus (brown dog tick). They are commonly found in grassy areas, forests, and trails. A dog can also pick up ticks in a wooded back yard or during a walk in the park. Any dog can be affected— even long hair does not provide protection. Therefore, during spring, summer, and fall months, all dogs should be on an adequate tick preventive product.

Ticks are more than just a nuisance for you and your dog. More importantly to your dog's health, ticks frequently spread diseases. All three kinds of ticks can carry disease, but the biggest culprit in our area is the deer tick. These ticks are so tiny that they can attach to your dog and spread infection before they are even noticed. The two most common tick-borne diseases in the Twin Cities are Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. These diseases can cause some severe illnesses and, in the case of Lyme disease, can be the cause of kidney failure and death. Fortunately, we can screen for each of these diseases and several more with our 4DX Plus Heartworm-tick-borne disease panel. We recommend this test yearly to discover infection early in the disease process before there is long-term illness.

There are many flea and tick products available to the consumer—some are highly recommended and others leave much to be desired. At Foley Blvd Animal Hospital, we do not recommend using any over-the-counter flea and tick treatments. They can be ineffective at best and toxic or harmful to some pets at worst. Our veterinarians will have a specific recommendation of a product that can kill the ticks before they pass on disease.

Please check your dog for ticks daily. You can do this by feeling all over your dog for small lumps on its skin. The ticks can be variably-sized once they begin to feed. Once you determine that the lump you have found is a tick, you can remove it by grasping the base of the head with a tweezers and pulling straight out. For more information about removing ticks, please visit


Fleas are found in almost all parts of the country including here in Minnesota. Signs of fleas include intense itching with red skin and hair loss. Adult fleas can sometimes be seen crawling on the animal. Often the only external sign of the fleas is flea dirt on the coat—more apparent in light-colored animals than on those with dark coats. Flea dirt (actually digested blood) can be distinguished from regular dirt by placing a small piece on a while background and adding water. Flea dirt will begin to dissolve back into a reddish color.

No one wants to deal with fleas in their house, but fortunately there are now many excellent treatment options on the market. Treatment of active flea infestation can be accomplished with several types of products and environmental control. Please keep in mind that all animals in the house need to be treated, or treatment will be ineffective. Our current recommendations include oral medications and topical products, which can be used together to improve results. Our veterinarians will have specific recommendations for your situation.

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Your Pet's Dental Health


Your Pet's Dental Health

Dental disease is one of the most common health issues that we see in veterinary medicine. Not only does dental disease cause pain and bad breath, it can sometimes be the source of other complications throughout the body, or make other disease processes more difficult to manage. Pets have difficulty expressing the degree of discomfort they are experiencing in their mouths. This makes it important for you to have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian yearly to determine any subtle changes in dental health. Here at Foley Blvd Animal Hospital, our experienced veterinarians are adept at determining the state of your pet's teeth and can help you take the best care of your companion's oral cavity. Often some changes in dental care can make a big difference in your pet's quality of life.

The basics of dental disease

- Plaque is the soft white substance that covers the teeth above and below the gums in between brushing. It is made up of a film of bacteria. It can be removed with regular brushing of the teeth.

- If the plaque is allowed to stay on your pet's teeth, it can turn into the brown tartar buildup that you can visibly see. Once the tartar has built up, it can no longer be removed with brushing alone—a professional cleaning is required to remove it.

- As more tartar builds up, the gums become inflamed. Inflammation causes the gums to recede and the bone then loses its strength. The teeth can become loose and the roots can become infected. At that point, the only treatment option is extraction of the diseased teeth.

What to expect from a dental examination

The first step in evaluation is a routine wellness examination. This will give us a full picture of your pet's health. This may include blood work to screen for underlying disease and to determine if there are any concerns that should be addressed if general anesthesia is needed.

Your veterinarian will do a full oral evaluation at the wellness exam. We will be looking at the amount of tartar, gingivitis, and gum recession, and looking for any loose or broken teeth. If your pet is uncooperative or if the mouth is too painful, we may suggest sedation to evaluate and treat the dental disease.

If a professional dental cleaning is recommended for your pet, we will need to use general anesthesia. We will then be able to evaluate each tooth individually for evidence of problems. Each tooth will be probed and cleaned, both above and below the gum line, which is not possible to do without general anesthesia. If there are any indications of periodontal disease or infection, we will take a digital dental x-ray to evaluate the tooth roots and bone.

A professional dental cleaning may be recommended as often as every six months, depending on your dog or cat's teeth. Some breeds, such as Greyhounds, are known for having challenging teeth. Small breed dogs such as poodles, dachsunds, and Schnauzers also experience poor oral health. Some cats have certain issues which are unique to felines and which may cause significant oral pain. Other dogs and cats may need a professional cleaning only once every several years, especially if home care is utilized.

Dental Home Care

The best treatment of a pet's dental disease is prevention. Excellent home care can help avoid the need for cleaning and evaluation under anesthesia. Our friendly and knowledgeable technicians can instruct you on the best ways to care for your pet's teeth at home.

We recommend daily brushing with a soft toothbrush and dog or cat toothpaste. No other products exist which can take the place of brushing the teeth. However, there are some products which can be used in addition to brushing which can also improve your pet's dental health. These include dental chews, treats, water additives, and at-home sealant products. These products serve to minimize the plaque buildup in your pet's mouth.

Here at FBAH we are experienced at assessing and treating dental disease in dogs and cats. When our veterinarians recommend a professional dental cleaning, you can be assured that it is in the best interest of your pet to have its dental health addressed. After a professional cleaning, our experienced technicians will cover home care instructions with you.

Many pet owners find that their pets act more like themselves after their dental care issues have been addressed. Your pet is counting on you to help. Please contact our office if you have any questions, or to schedule an evaluation.

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