Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

Calm During Thunderstorms


It’s early spring in Minnesota, which means that it will soon be thunderstorm season. As adults, we have the advantage of knowing that most thunderstorms just make a lot of noise and will soon pass. Since dogs and cats have no way of knowing that, they often become extremely frightened at the first sign of a storm. Having empathy for your pet is important, but offering too much comfort can reinforce her anxiety. Your pet can pick up your own nervousness, so be sure to take a matter-of-fact approach to the storm as you wait it out with your pet.

Provide a Safe Place for Your Pet to Retreat
You know your pet’s personality best. Some dogs and cats prefer to stay right by their owner’s side while others will run for a hiding place as soon as they hear thunder. If your pet falls into the latter category, prepare him a safe place indoors where he can retreat until the storm has passed. It can be a crate for dogs, a bathroom closet, the corner of a bedroom, or any quiet place where he feels safe. If you think your pet will feel trapped and become more anxious in a closet or bedroom, be sure to leave the door open just a crack.

Other At-Home Solutions
Soothing music, background noise from the television, or even the hum of a washing machine can drown out the noise from the storm and make your pet feel more at ease. If your pet stays close to you, try playing with her as you normally would. Toss a tennis ball for your dog or get your cat to chase some string to distract her from the anxiety she feels.

Thunder vests are another possible solution for your pet’s anxiety. They fit snugly on the body and target pressure points that calm the nerves. It’s similar to swaddling a crying baby. Thunder vests can help in other anxiety-provoking situations as well, such as fireworks and visiting the veterinarian.

Condition Your Pet to Accept the Noise
You may be able to train your pet to tolerate thunderstorms by conditioning him to the noise. Search online or at a local store for a compact disc that plays thunderstorm sounds. On the first day, play the sounds at a very low volume and go about your normal activities. If your dog or cat shows fearful behavior, re-direct him to a pleasant activity but otherwise don’t give the behavior any attention. Increase the volume of the CD each day until it approaches that of a real thunderstorm.

We Can Help in Cases of Severe Anxiety
Some pets won’t respond to any of these methods to reduce anxiety and may need medication to cope with storms. We encourage you to schedule an appointment at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo to discuss your concerns. We can prescribe anti-anxiety medications if your pet needs it or help you come up with other solutions.


Image credit: sadetgr / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Top 5 Poisonous Household Items

Poisonous to Your Pet

In 1961, Congress designated the third week in March as Poison Prevention Week. The veterinary industry recognized this event as well. This year, Pet Poison Prevention week takes place from Sunday, March 19 to Saturday, March 25. In recognition of this event, the Pet Poison Helpline would like pet owners to know about the most toxic items around their homes for dogs and cats. The organization studied its list of calls and came up with the following:

Human Medications: A whopping 43 percent of calls the Pet Poison Helpline receives each year concern pets that have consumed medications meant for humans. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Anti-depressants led the list, followed by non-prescription drugs containing acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

Human Foods: Next on the list are foods that are safe for humans but can be toxic or deadly for pets. The top offenders include dark chocolate, the artificial sweetener Xylitol, raisins, grapes, table salt, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and dough with a yeast base. Dark chocolate contains large amounts of the ingredient theobromine, which is a close relative of caffeine and can be deadly to such small bodies. You can find Xylitol in sugarless candy and gum. Unfortunately, it’s toxic to dogs and cats even in very small amounts. The other foods can all cause kidney failure.

Insecticides: Insect-repelling products such as granules, sprays, and insect bait stations, can be poisonous to household pets. Organophosphates, found in products to help people care for rose petals, is especially toxic and even life-threatening in some cases.

Rodenticides: Rat and mouse poisons contain several active ingredients that can be toxic to dogs and cats. Ingesting a rodenticide product can produce symptoms such as brain swelling, seizures, kidney failure, and uncontrolled bleeding. Your pet could also become poisoned by eating a dead rodent with poison in its system.

Dietary Vitamins and Supplements: Some vitamins are more toxic to pets than others, including alpha-lipoic acid, iron, and Vitamin D. One thing many pet owners don’t realize is that some sugar-free vitamins and supplements contain Xylitol.

The above items are just five of the hundreds of potential poisonous items your pet could consume. Please click here to see the Pet Poison Helpline’s complete list.

Contact Information in Case of an Emergency

During regular business hours, please contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo immediately at 651-770-3250 if you think your pet ingested something poisonous. Options for after-hours emergency care include:

  • After Hours Veterinary Care, St. Paul, 24-hour availability: 651-487-1941
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center, Oakdale, 651-501-3766
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center, St. Paul, 651-293-1800
  • Pet Poison Helpline, 1-800-213-6680

Image credit:  adogslifephoto | iStock/Getty Images Plus

At-Home and Professional Dental Care Essential for Your Pet’s Good Health

Alarmed at the fact that nearly 80 percent of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started National Pet Dental Health Month several years ago. Even more startling than four out of five companion animals having periodontal disease is that most develop it before they reach age three. The AMVA started this campaign in hopes of raising awareness of the importance of everyday dental care at home and annual check-ups and cleanings by a veterinarian.

What to Expect at Your Pet’s Oral Exam and Cleaning 
Our veterinarians examine the following at each appointment:

- Face and head for signs of discharge or swelling
- Gums and outside tooth surfaces for plaque and tartar
- Strength of your pet’s bite
- Tongue and inner surfaces of the gums and teeth
- Condition of the salivary glands and lymph nodes

If you choose to have us clean your pet’s teeth, we first provide him with anesthesia to ensure cooperation. After taking X-rays of his teeth and bones, the next step is to flush his mouth with a solution that kills bacteria. We then user a professional scaler to eliminate calculus above and below the gum line. After completing that, we polish your pet’s teeth and check the gums and individual teeth for any signs of disease. Lastly, we flush his mouth again with an anti-bacterial agent and record any abnormalities. If we discover any, we develop a plan for follow-up treatment.

Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth at Home
Dental exams and cleanings are normally only once a year, so what you do at home between appointments is vital. If you don’t brush your pet’s teeth now, start slowly with a step-by-step process. Approach her at a time when she’s relaxed and allow her to sniff a dab of toothpaste from your finger or a small toothbrush. The next day, put the brush in her mouth but don’t move it. After that, put a tiny amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush and place it in her mouth. 

The idea is to progress gradually until you have added one new step each day. Eventually, you want to work your way up to a two-minute brushing session every day. It’s fine to give dogs a daily dental chew, but they should not take the place of routine toothbrushing. Even the most resistant pets can come to accept oral healthcare at home if you’re calm, consistent, and offer a lot of praise.

When to Schedule an Immediate Oral Evaluation
Please schedule an appointment with Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms:

Persistent bad breath
- Brown or yellow staining on the teeth
- Excess drooling
- Refusal or reluctance to eat
- Eating slowly or much less than usual

Any of these symptoms could indicate gum disease. You may be able to save your pet’s teeth and prevent further progression of any problems by requesting a prompt evaluation

Photo Credit: SariJuuinen | iStock/Gettyimages plus 

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)