5 Things Your Pet Wishes You Knew About Stress

While your dog or cat doesn’t work a 9-to-5 or have to cook dinner, your pet likely does experience stress. Like humans, stress affects each pet differently and can crop up at different points in their lives. If you’re wondering how stress affects your pet’s health, how you can help, or how to recognize signs of stress, we have those answers and more.

1. Signs of Stress in Pets

How will your pet tell you it feels stressed? Cats and dogs demonstrate various symptoms of stress, most obviously avoiding interacting with whatever is stressing it out. They may also be seen hiding, shedding, and panting. Even cats can pant when stressed.

Other signs of stress in animals include:

  • Shaking & shivering
  • Cowering
  • Tail tucking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drooling
  • Accidental urinating
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive grooming
  • Barking and whimpering (dogs)
  • Lip licking (dogs)
  • Excessive and prolonged yawning (dogs)

2. Stress Affects Your Pet’s Physical Health

While stress is a psychological response, it often takes a physical toll on pets. Stress can make your pet lose its appetite or give it an upset stomach, resulting in vomiting or diarrhea.

Stress has a long-term effect on your pet’s health, too. When exposed to a stressor, your cat or dog will experience a fight-or-flight response, otherwise known as the acute stress response. This releases a hormone known as cortisol into your pet’s bloodstream, which redirects blood flow to muscles to help your pet defend itself or flee. Over time, increased levels of cortisol can weaken your pet’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illness or infection.

3. Stress Can Have a Snowball Effect

Once your cat or dog begins to feel stress it can be difficult to calm or distract them and they may start behaving erratically, dangering themselves, other pets, and people. Your pet’s body also tends to have a harder time returning to a normal heart rate and anxiety level with repeated episodes of stress.

Frequent stress can become a chronic problem when a dog or cat starts getting anxious in anticipation of a stressor. For example, a dog may show signs of stress when its owner picks up the car keys, knowing that they will soon be left alone. Behavioral problems like separation anxiety can frequently be attributed to stress and left unaddressed your pet may cause damage to themself or your home.

4. There Are Ways You Can Help Your Pet Better Cope with Stress

Some stressors are temporary, like houseguests or moving, while others aren’t, like having to vacuum your house. Temporary or light stress can usually be solved with counter-conditioning and other behavioral modification techniques, while more severe stress may require a prescription.

Whether severe or mild, you can help your pet deal with stress with some simple techniques like:

  • Exercise and mental stimulation: Taking your dog on a walk burns energy and relieves stress for both of you. (Use puzzle toys on rainy days.) Playing with your cat has the same benefits.
  • Desensitization: Working with a behaviorist and desensitizing your pet to things that cause them stress, like certain people or environments.
  • Avoid the stressor: Minimizing the stressor or giving your pet distance from the trigger. If you have a houseguest, your dog or cat might be happier with a staycation in a bedroom.
  • Compression shirts: ZenPet compression shirts hug your pup in all the right places to help relieve stress.
  • Adaptil, Nurture Calm Collar, and Feliway: Pets have areas in their brains that release calming and comforting chemicals. Adaptil, Nurture Calm Collar, and Feliway interact with these regions of the brain.

5. We’re Here for You and Your Pet

It can be difficult for pet parents when their cats and dogs experience severe or chronic stress. Pet parents may not feel comfortable coming in just for help with their pets’ stress or they don’t know if their pets’ stress is severe enough to be a problem.

We are here to help you and your pet live a happy life together and that requires a holistic view of your pet’s health and behavior. We can answer any questions you may have about your pet’s stress or anxiety and make a referral based on you and your pet’s specific needs and lifestyle.

Don’t Let Stress Take a Toll on Your Pet’s Health

If you’ve wondered why your pet has been shaking, shivering, or not eating, your pet may be suffering from stress. Make an appointment now and get started on a calmer, happier life for you and your furry companion.


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7 Things You Need to Know About Canine Lyme Disease

You don’t want ticks to hitch a ride on your dogs. These pesky pests may make your skin crawl, but they also carry diseases like Lyme disease that can infect you and your dog. Lyme disease is the most common illness spread by ticks and it has a tragic effect on its victims, causing pain, depression, and potentially major damage to organs. As things warm up around Pine City and Grantsburg, we want to remind you of the things every dog owner needs to know about Lyme disease.

 1. Ticks Don’t Just Live in the Woods

While a variety of ticks can spread Lyme disease, the deer tick is the most common culprit. While they are often found in wooded areas where deer hang out, ticks can hide almost anywhere outdoors, including in your yard.

What are some favorite habitats for ticks?

  • Bushes and shrubs
  • Tall grasses
  • Trails and nearby sidewalks
  • Backyard play structures
  • In and around trees
  • Around standing water and streams

2. Lyme Disease is the Result of Bacteria

Bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi are the cause of most Lyme disease cases in North America and are spread through a tick’s saliva. Another bacteria causing the illness, Borrelia mayonii, was discovered in 2013. While B. burgdorferi can found in several endemic areas across the United States, B. mayonii has only been found in the upper Midwest (lucky us!).

3. Not All Regions Are Equally Affected

While you can find cases of Lyme disease all over the U.S. and Canada, Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of occurrences. We’re not alone, though: Minnesota, New England, and northern California also report several thousand cases of Lyme each year.

4. Your Dog Can Hide the Symptoms of Lyme Disease

One of the most frightening aspects of this illness is that the infected can go months without showing any signs or symptoms. Typically, dogs won’t appear symptomatic for the first 2 to 5 months after infection.

When your dog does begin to show symptoms, they often come in the form of:

  • Lethargy
  • Limping and lameness (this can sometimes shift from one leg to another as well as disappear and return)
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore and swollen joints
  • Reluctance to play

Often dog owners have no idea their dogs have Lyme disease. Sometimes they bring them in because their dog stopped eating or is walking oddly, like stepping on thorns.

5. Lyme Disease Causes More than Joint Pain

Stiff, achy joints are often a common and early sign of infection by B. burgdorferi or B. mayonii. But because Lyme disease can go months without detection, the bacteria often spread throughout a dog’s body by the time their owner notices symptoms, potentially damaging the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.

6. People Aren’t Immune to Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a zoonotic illness, which means that the bacteria can be spread from animals to humans. While you cannot catch Lyme disease directly from interacting with your dog, you and your family can become infected by ticks that feed on your dog and then latch on to you.

7. Lyme Disease is Easier to Prevent than Treat

Treatment is most effective when there is an early diagnosis, which can be done with blood tests and urine analysis. From there we prescribe antibiotics like doxycycline to kill the bacteria and may recommend other prescriptions or therapies to help relieve any symptoms.

Prevention is much easier than treatment. A flea and tick preventative can kill any ticks that attach to your dog before they are able to transfer the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease is Painful and Can Be Fatal

When you don’t give Lyme disease a chance to harm your pet, you’re protecting your pet, your wallet, and your family. Don’t let your dog become one of the many pets and animals in our area that becomes infected with Lyme disease. Make an appointment and ask about a prescription for prevention.


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9 Reasons to Care About Your Pet’s Dental Health

Dogs have 42 teeth--that’s 12 more than us! What about cats? They have 30 pearly whites. And one that always surprises people is that bunnies have 24 teeth in addition to the four they’re most famous for. That’s a lot of reasons to care about your pet’s dental health! But they’re not the only reasons you should bring our pet by for regular cleanings and checkups.

9 Reasons to Care About Your Pet’s Dental Health

1. Dogs Get Cavities

Cavities are more rare in dogs than people but they do get cavities. They don’t eat a lot of sugar and the bacteria in your pup’s mouth is very different from ours. The shape of their teeth also makes a huge difference. If you’ve looked into your dog’s mouth, you probably realize why our pointy teeth are called “canines.” Dogs’ are sharper than ours, which leaves less area for bacteria to hang to and cause damage.

Some dogs tend to develop cavities more easily. German Shepherds tend to have more cavities than other breeds.

Dogs’ teeth do get damaged and develop other issues, though.

2. Cats Get Cavities, Too

Cats don’t develop cavities like us. But they do suffer from resorptive lesions. What are resorptive lesions? They’re holes in a cat’s tooth. When a cat’s tooth begins to break down in this way, it’s extremely painful.

3. Dogs and Cats Can Suffer from Gingivitis

That’s right. Both dogs and cats can develop gingivitis. Gingivitis causes your pet’s gums to swell and turn red. Gingivitis causes soreness and can cause your pet to lose her appetite.

Gingivitis in pets requires intervention to be reversed. We can help with that!

4. Periodontal Disease is the Most Common Dental Disease Dogs and Cats Face

Periodontal disease is not just the most common dental disease dogs and cats face, it’s the most common disease.

When gingivitis is left unchecked, your pet can develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is not fun. It is painful for pets and can loosen their teeth and cause them to break off. And the plaque, if left long enough, can even enter your pet’s bloodstream and permanently damage your pet’s vital organs.

5. Bad Breath is Often More Than Just Bad Breath

Bad breath is the most apparent and most common sign of periodontal disease. If your dog or cat’s kisses aren’t so pleasant, it may mean it’s time to bring her by for a dental exam.

6. Puppies and Kittens Need Dental Exams and Cleanings

Just like kids, the foundation for good dental health begins from when those tiny teeth break through the surface of the gums. Puppies and kitties both lose a set of baby teeth, but some of their molars will be permanent. Sometimes their baby teeth don’t fall out as they should. These are called retained deciduous teeth. These little teeth can cause permanent damage.

 Exams ensure your puppy or kitty’s teeth grow in correctly. And cleanings keep your pet’s teeth strong, healthy, and shining bright.

7. Pet Dental Disease Is More Common Than Many Realize

Of course, we think that dental disease is heartbreaking and way too common. Pet dental disease is the leading preventable health issues in pets. In fact, 4 out of 5 dogs and cats will suffer from some dental disease after reaching their fourth year!

8. Pet Dental Exams Matter A Lot

A pet dental exam can mean the difference between life and death. The mouth is the fourth most common place for tumors to appear. When your pet receives a dental exam, we safely look at her mouth to make sure she’s healthy and checks for issues like tumors.

9. The Most Important Reason of All: Dental Health Affects Your Pet’s Lifespan

Yes, that’s right. Proper dental hygiene and regular cleanings can extend your pet’s life by 2, 3, or even 4 years!

You Can Prevent Your Pet from Suffering from Dental Disease

Make an appointment for your pet’s dental exam and cleaning. Don’t worry--we don’t bite! We want to help improve your pet’s breath, keep her teeth clean and strong, and ensure her mouth is healthy. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to lengthen and improve your pet’s life, one dental exam at a time.



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New Pet? How to Get Started on the Right Paw!

Nothing compares to those butterflies as you drive your new pet home for the very first time. You check and re-check the rearview, making sure your new puppy, kitty, bunny, or other pet is riding safely and smoothly. You take corners nice and slow and beginning to brake for red lights and stop signs hundreds of feet before the other cars. This isn’t the only journey you’ll go on with your new pet.

To get you started on the right foot from the time you pick up your best friend onto the adjustment period as he settles into his new home and family, we came up with our favorite tips to get you started on the right paw.

1. The Essentials: Choosing the Right Supplies

Whether you’re increasing your family with a new puppy, kitten, adult dog or cat, guinea pig, rabbit, fish, or another critter, the right supplies will help him settle into his new home in comfort. After you meet and commit to your new pet, research what supplies you’ll need to keep him content day after day and for years to come.

For Dogs, We Suggest

  • Leash Collar with ID tag and harness (especially for little dogs)
  • Poop bags and carrier
  • Treats Food Bowls for water and food
  • Toys A bed A kennel big enough for him to stand up in and turn around
  • Grooming supplies: shampoo, brush, toothbrush & toothpaste, water additives
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Optional: depending on your dog Potty pads A Zendog Compression Shirt Adaptil Baby gate

For Cats, We Recommend

  • Collar with ID tag
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Bed
  • Catnip
  • Litter & litter box
  • Scratching mat
  • Scratching post
  • Toys
  • Carrier
  • Grooming Supplies: brush & shampoo, dental supplies
  • Optional, depending on your cat: Feliway

2. Prepare Your Home: Basic Pet Safety

Bringing home a new pet always comes with a few surprises. Avoid any of those surprises resulting in a trip to the emergency room. Prepare your home by puppy-, kitty-, and pet-proofing it before picking up your new pet.

Pet-Proofing Checklist

  • Tie up loose wires and strings (remember to check blind pulls)
  • Make sure all cleaning supplies, anti-freeze, and other potentially harmful chemicals are locked up and out of paw’s reach
  • Store anything breakable that could be bumped into or could easily fall
  • Clean up the floor to make spotting accidents easier

3. Get Your Plan In Place

Talk to the kids and prepare for your new furry addition by getting a plan in place. Who will join you on the car ride? Where will your resident pet be when the new pet arrives? Who will wake up on night one to take the puppy out every 3 or 4 hours? Will the kitten sleep in a box or crate?

After answering these questions and any others you may have, plan your new pet’s sleep spot and place their bed there. Choose a space that is quiet, dark at night, and far enough away that they won’t keep you up all night.

4. Veterinary Care Is a Must, Don’t Wait to Make Your First Appointment

Establishing veterinary care ASAP is important. In case there is an emergency, we want to have your new pet’s information and know what your pet is like when she’s healthy.

Puppies and kitties also require immunizations. We can help you set up and schedule those.

Other small pets like rabbits and ferrets also benefit from veterinary exams.

You’ll want to get your new pet spayed or neutered and microchipped. We can also answer any questions you may have about your new pet. From diet to behavior, we’re here to help your new pet live a long and happy life.

5. Car Carrier, Ready for Pick Up!

For the ride home, it’s best to have cats, dogs, and small pets in a carrier. This can prevent an accident and protect you, your family, and your new pet in case an accident occurs. This also prevents your pet from escaping as soon as you open the door.

Strap the carrier into the seat with the seatbelt and make sure there’s plenty of airflow through your pet’s carrier.

6. Keep a Watchful Eye as Your Buddy Explores His New Home

Carry your pet inside and open his carrier. Place your small pet in his habitat. For cats and dogs, allow them to come out at his own pace. This can take a couple of minutes with cats. Be patient.

Let your pet explore. Cats and dogs will sniff around and check behind doors and corners. It’s best to limit the area he has to wander. You can increase his exploration range each day.

Be observant and don’t let your new pet out of your sight for the first few days. Puppies and kitties don’t have the best coordination, and they stink at judging height and distance. Adult dogs and cats may feel the need to hide. This is fine as long as you’re aware of their hiding spot. The last thing you want is to lose track of your new cat or dog and accidentally allow them to squeeze out the front door.

7.  Let Your Pet Meet and Greet Everyone in Their Own Time

It’s best to slowly introduce new people and resident pets to your new pet. It can be overwhelming to get used to a new environment and new people can make your pet feel frightened and stressed. As your new pet meets the kids, remind them to go slow and stay calm.

While you may feel the need to show off your new best buddy, make the first 72 hours with your pet about bonding together at home.

As for pet intros, try introducing your resident dog to the new one at a park. This gives them an even playing field and room to come together and space to separate if needed.

Cats often need more time to adjust. Keep your new cat in one room, allowing him to sniff your resident cat from the door and vice versa. If the cats seem to be warming up, they’ll be ready to meet within a couple of days.

8. Prepare for Potty Training

Most cats learn to use the litter box quickly and often just need to be shown once where it’s located.

Puppies and some adult dogs, though, take a little more patience and attention. Prepare to take your puppy out every couple of hours. If the puppy pees or poops in the grass, give him a treat and praise!

To avoid accidents while you’re away, crate training does the trick.

9. Play and Train

Prepare to play for hours on end with your new pet. Get to know how your pet like to play and what kind of toys he finds most exciting.

After your puppy has gotten all his immunizations, bring him to the dog park, so he learns social skills and has an outlet for his energy.

Along with house training, you’ll want to look into puppy and adult dog classes to help your new canine friend learn confidence and good behavior habits. This also gets him used to being around other dogs and acclimated to the car.

Right Paw, Left Paw: Your New Pet Will Feel at Home in No Time

Each pet is an individual. Celebrate your unique new best friend and have a blast getting to know each other. If you have any questions or you’re ready to make an appointment for your new pet, please give us a call.



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