April: Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

As temperatures rise, we will see more and more activity from bugs and creepy crawlies. This means your dog’s risk of contracting preventable illnesses will increase too! Lyme, and several other illnesses, are carried by ticks and spread through their bite. While ticks are out year round, the spring and summer see a significant increase in their numbers. That is why April is a great time to discuss the hazards of Lyme, and ways to protect your pet!

A close up shot of three different tick species resting on a large leaf.

Where Do Dogs Get Lyme?

Lyme Disease in Minnesota is a well known risk for both people and dogs alike. According to The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), there have been over 109 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Sherburne County alone, and 4,189 cases across Minnesota in the first few months of 2024. 

The risk is very present, and those numbers are, unfortunately, expected to rise. Ticks are typically found in environments with heavy vegetation, like forests or grassy areas, like when you go hiking or camping. However, they can also be found in your own back yards. They are also common near bodies of water or in marshy areas.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease and Treatment

If you are worried your pet is getting ill, here are some common symptoms associated with lyme:

  • Limping that starts and stops again
  • Less interest in eating or complete loss of appetite
  • Decreased activity, laying around often
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Painful and swollen joints
  • Fever

Call your veterinarian right away to discuss the symptoms and risk factors your pet has for Lyme, including their exposure to ticks and their symptoms. To diagnose your pet, the veterinarian will want to run lab tests to rule out other illnesses and to confirm the Lyme diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, they will begin a course of antibiotics to fight back against the illness. This can take a month or longer to resolve itself.

Preventing Lyme Disease

The best way to avoid your pet getting sick is to be proactive in protecting them. A reliable tick-preventative product recommended by your veterinarian, as well as vaccination, are the strongest protections for your dog.

Additionally, you can also:

  • Mow your grass, trim bushes, and remove unnecessary brush piles to make your yard less friendly to ticks.
  • Inspect your pet when coming in from outdoor activities. Check their bodies over, including particularly tick-favored spots such as ears, legs, tails, and under their collar. Remove ticks you find immediately, wrapping them in tape or flushing them to dispose of them.

If you do find a tick on you or your pet, be sure to get checked for Lyme disease to be on the safe side. It can take 3 to 4 weeks before symptoms start.

Talk to your veterinarian today about prevention options.

To learn more about Lyme Disease, you can also visit another of our blogs on Lyme disease Prevention.

Pet Poison Prevention Week – Keep Your Pet Safe!

By Katie Meneses

Set outside, a black and white boarder collie sits in a grey wheelbarrow with green handles and a red rimmed tire. In front of the wheelbarrow is a blue watering can with a yellow spout. To the right of the dog is freshly planted flowers in different varieties.

This year, Pet Poison Prevention Week Runs from March 17th to March 23rd. To help you learn more, we have listed some common hazards that come around every year in the springtime. From gardening materials to plants, there are many things to be aware of!


As things warm up, people will start prepping their gardens with various fertilizers. Most only cause mild symptoms, like upset stomachs, but there are some that are toxic and can be fatal if ingested by a pet. Here are a few!

  • Blood Meal – A great organic fertilizer, blood meal can be very upsetting for your pets stomach. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in more severe cases, pancreatitis!
  • Rose and Plant Fertilizers – many plant fertilizers contain a compound known as disulfoton, or other organophosphates. One teaspoon of this chemical can be fatal to a 55lb dog! Symptoms from ingesting this compound include drooling, urination, defecation, seizures, difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, and more.
  • Iron – Iron is a common additive to fertilizers. Iron can lead to toxicity in your pets! Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, shock, elevated heart rate, panting, and tremors.

Common Poisonous Plants

There are hundreds of poisonous plants out there, both inside and outside of the home. With more than 700+ plants out there that are a threat, it can be important to be aware of some of the common ones.

  1. Autumn Crocus
  2. Azalea
  3. Aloe
  4. Hyacinth
  5. Lilies
  6. Oleander
  7. Bird of Paradise flowers
  8. Daffodils
  9. Sago Palm
  10. Tulips
A list of plants that are toxic and are not toxic to pets, provided by the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center. Toxic plants include Lilies, Sago Palm, Azaleas, English Ivy, Poinsettia, Daffodils, Holly, Peonies, and Elephant Ears.  Non-toxic plants include Orchids, Spider Plants, Petunias, African Violets, Swedish Ivy, Achira, Sunflowers, Autumn Olive, Blue Echeveria, and Boston Fern. A picture of each plant is provided under their name in the list.

Household Cleaners

With warmer weather comes spring cleaning! As you start opening up your home and deep cleaning, it can be important to protect your pets from possible hazards caused by common cleaners at your home. Some products lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritation. More severe cases may show skin burns/lesions in their mouth, face, or body. It’s important to keep household cleaners out of their reach.

  • Drain Cleaner
  • Concentrated dishwashing chemicals
  • Lime-removal products
  • Oven cleaners
  • Grill cleaners
  • Concentrated toilet cleaners
  • Bleach

This list is just a small collection of common hazards to watch out for with the warmer weather. For more information on toxins and poisons that can harm your pet, visit the Pet Poison Hotline. You can also learn about toxins in some of our other blog posts! Check out our blog on Lily Toxicity.

Fruits and Veggies that Double as Dog Treats!

By Katie Meneses

When picking up treats for your pet, it can be easy to forget that there are healthy options that you can give not just your pet, but yourself too! There are many foods that you and I eat, that are perfectly safe for your canine companions too. Here is a list of healthy fruits and vegetables to treat your dog with, as well as a few yummy recipes for homemade dog treats!


Apples are a great treat for your dog. They are full of vitamins A and C, and are a good source of fiber too! Low in protein and fats, they are especially good for senior dogs. Just remember to remove the seeds and core before giving it to your dog. Here is an easy recipe for making baked apple chips for your dog!


Dogs can have bananas, though they should be fed in moderation. Banana’s are very sugar, so they should be used as a special treat, rather than becoming a part of your dogs everyday diet. That being said, they are also rich in  potassium, vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper, making them a great source of nutrients for your pet. Here is a recipe for making your own banana and peanut butter dog treats, right at home!


Blueberries are a superfood for humans and pets alike! They are full of nutrients that can benefit your pup. If you want to teach a new trick, or even just train your dog to catch food in the air, than blueberries are a great option as a treat. You can mix them with a plain yogurt, or make this easy dog biscuit recipe!


Cucumbers are a great snack for your dog, but especially those that are trying to lose weight. Not only are they a great source of hydration for your dog, but they have little to no carbohydrates or fat. Plus, they are full of vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin. They are a great snack for your dog, and can be frozen for a fun enrichment snack!


Pumpkin is very healthy for dogs, containing antioxidants and helping dogs with easily upset stomachs. If you are buying canned pumpkin, make sure you check that it is 100% pure pumpkin. Alternatively, you can roast pumpkins in your oven and peel it, for a delicious treat for your dog. Here are some great pumpkin treat recipes for your dog too!

A female presenting person stands in the background, her hand extended forward with a piece of chopped carrot offered as a dog treat. To her left is a black countertop with a sink. Resting next to the sink is a small hand strainer filled with chopped carrots. On her right is a small Jack Russel, sniffing at the carrot in her hand.


Yes, dogs can eat carrots! Carrots are a great, low-calorie snack that can help your dog feel fuller, longer! It is a great vegetable to add to your dogs daily food to help with weight loss plans as well. Carrots are high in fiber and beta-carotene, and they are great for your dogs teeth too! They are a great crunchy treat to provide your dog.

Unsafe Foods

This list is a small sampling of the many possible healthy treats you can give your dog right from your own kitchen. The most important thing to do before giving your pet a new human food as a treat, is to make sure it’s safe. While they may eat anything offered to them, there are many foods that are dangerous if ingested by your dog. Some of these foods include:

  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • And many more

Now that you have some ideas to treat your pup, what are you waiting for? Go get some yummy and healthy treats for your dog! For more recipes, check out our blog on summer treats!

Disclaimer: This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice. Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Dental Facts: Oral Health for Life

By Katie Meneses, HR Manager

A short coated brown dog sits in the center of a light blue background. He has a white patch on his chest. He has a dental tooth brush held in between his jaws.

Dental health is important to maintain for humans, but it is just as important for your pets! February Pet Dental Health Month, and it’s for good reason! Dental health directly impacts our pets health and quality of life. Here are just a few dental facts about dental health in our furry companions.

Dental Fact #1 – Dental Disease Causes Chronic Pain in Pets

Dental disease can start very early in your pets life. By age three, most cats and dogs have dental disease to some degree. This illness causes significant levels of inflammation and diseased teeth, meaning your pet is experiencing significant, chronic, life-changing pain. Animals are great at hiding their pain, so you may not even notice it until your veterinarian gives you a diagnosis. Common signs of dental disease includes bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on the teeth, and red, swollen gums. Many pet owners see a “whole new pet” after a dental procedure to treat this disease.

Dental Fact #2 – Homecare is Essential

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth daily is important to promote good oral health and prevent expensive surgeries later on. There are plenty of tasty pet toothpaste flavors to make it easier to brush your pets teeth too, including flavors like beef, chicken, fish, and even peanut butter! You can also use pet foods specially designed to be dental diets, helping to preserve oral health. 

Dental Fact # 3 – X-rays Help with Diagnosis

Sometimes, your pets dental concerns aren’t visible just by examining their teeth. That is why your veterinarian will recommend X-rays. X-rays allow us to see below the gumline of the teeth, all the way to the root of the teeth. This allows us to see exactly what is causing a problem for your pet, and could even help identify problems that weren’t visible by the naked eye alone.

Dental Fact #4 – Dental Illness Can Lead to Other Health Problems

Dental health is important, not just for your pets oral health, but for their entire body. Bacteria from dental disease can get into the bloodstream, affecting organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. This bacteria is commonly associated with heart disease in dogs. It can also cause infections in the liver and kidneys, leading to fever, weight loss, and decreased appetite, making your pack sicker still.

Overall, ZimmVet knows how important dental health is to your pet’s overall health. That is why we offers the Oral Health for Life Program, which offers a 10% discount on dental cleanings within 18-months of your last dental cleaning with us. Talk to our staff to learn more, or go here to read up about dental health on our website.

For more dental facts, you can also visit the American Animal Hospital Association fact-page!

Disclaimer: This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice. Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Three Tricks to Teach Your Dog in January

By Katie Meneses

January is National Train Your Dog Month! With the cold outside, it makes for a great time to teach a new trick to your new puppy, or your dog. Every dog, big or small, old or young, can learn new tricks. Here are a couple tricks, as well as some tips to teach them to your dog.

A hand reaches from the top right of the picture to shake the paw of a dark brown dog. The dog is wearing a pink collar. The background is a blurred forest scene.

Trick 1: Handshake

A classic trick, handshake, is great for beginners. Start by placing a treat in your hand, and closing it into a fist. Then, hold your hand out to your dog, palm up but fist still closed. Your dog should naturally paw at your hand to get to the treat. When they do, immediately open your hand to let them get to the treat, and begin praising them. Repeat this, giving the command “shake”, or your chosen command cue, until your dog starts to understand the command. Then, you can start phasing out the treat, offering it instead after they put their paw in your hand.

Trick 2: Speak and Quiet

A common behavior problem among dogs is excessive barking. One great way to solve this is to teach the “Speak” and “Quiet” commands.

The best place to start is with the “Quiet” command. The first step is to set up a situation that will cause your dog to bark, such as knocking or a doorbell ringing. Once barking, go to the window and look outside briefly to acknowledge their concern. Then, return to your dogs side with a treat or toy and get their attention. Once they stop barking, give them the treat or toy and say “Quiet”, or your command cue of your choice. Repeat this, saying the command when they stop barking, but gradually increasing the time between when they get quiet and when you give the treat. This can take some time to teach, and should be practiced frequently, but briefly each time.

On the other end of this process is teaching the “Speak” command. Begin by encouraging your dog to bark naturally, as with the “Quiet” command. When your dog barks, give your command as “Speak”, or the que word of your choice, in a clear and upbeat voice. Then, praise your dog and give them a treat or toy. Repeat this process until your dog begins to understand.

Once your dog learns the commands separately, you can begin using them together. Practice by starting with the “Speak” command, and getting them to bark a few times before giving them the “Quiet” command.

Trick 3: Back Up

Teaching your dog to back up can be a fun trick to show friends, or a nice way to keep your dog from crowding you in the kitchen, or at the door. This trick does have to start with the stay command first. If your dog knows stay, it will make the new trick easier to train.

To begin, start by commanding your dog to “Stay”. Then, take a few steps away and turn to face them. Begin moving toward your dog. Some dogs will take a few steps back immediately when you approach. If your dog does not back up right away, continue stepping forward until they do, leaning forward slightly. When your dog backs away, you can say the command “Back up”, or your chosen command cue. Follow the command with praise, a treat, or a toy.

Continue to repeat this process until your dog picks up on the command. Most dogs pick up on this command quickly, and just need to practice a few times a day to get this trick under their belt!

Tips for Teaching Tricks

  1. Treats or Toys? – Every dog is different. Some prefer treats as rewards, while other prefer play.
  2. Training Clickers – Many dogs do well when a training clicker is used in the training process. Giving a few clicks, followed by a command, and then a treat, can help lead to quicker training sessions for some dogs.
  3. Positive Reinforcement – It is important to use positive reinforce throughout the training process. Keep your voice happy and upbeat, and never punish a pet for getting a trick wrong.
  4. How often? – Training should be worked into daily life. Make it apart of your routine, spending a few minutes a day revisiting the tricks your pet knows, or beginning to train the new ones. This keeps the training fresh for your dog.
  5. Consistency – the biggest part of training your dog is consistency. You must keep the training the same, especially when addressing problem behaviors. Consistency makes the training process easier throughout the process.

Make the best out of January, and celebrate National Train Your Dog Month by training your dog with some of these new tricks.

For more tips on training your dog, checkout this Hill’s Puppy Obedience Guide. You can also check out one of our blogs, Training Talk: Bringing Home a New Puppy, for some tips specific to puppy training.

Disclaimer: This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice. Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Year in Review: ZimmVets Five Best Blog Posts of 2023

by Katie Meneses, HR Manager

We put out blog posts every month of the year, covering pet topics from veterinary care, to general pet topics. Let’s look back through 2023 at some of our top posts with our Year in Review!

Year in Review Number Five – Why Grooming Your Dog is Important

A golden retriever is shown from his front shoulders up, covered in soap and suds. He has his eyes closed, and arms come in from the left to scrub the soap into his fur on his head and around his ears.

Number five on the list of blogs is Why Grooming Your Dog is Important. This blog covers the different aspects of dog grooming, and why each one is important to your dogs health and general wellbeing. From nail trims, to taking care of their skin and the fur coat they wear, this article covers it all!

Number Four – Leptospirosis: A Risk to Pets and People!

Microscopic image of leptospirosis spiral structure is enhanced for ease of examination. The spiral structure is red, and placed against a green, dynamic background.

Number four, is our article this year about Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis, or Lepto, is an illness that can effect both people and pets alike. This article warns about the ways you can get infected, typically in area’s with high levels of wildlife, and drinking, swimming, or walking through contaminated water and soil. Your dog can also pass it to you directly if they catch it from playing in some mud. This blog does over the symptoms of Lepto, as well as treatment and prevention through vaccination.

Number Three – Canine Influenza

A golden lab is shown from its upper shoulders to its head, laying on a wooden floor. The dog appears lethargic and sickly, and looks into the camera with its head tilted slightly to the side.

Coming in at number three is our blog about canine influenza. Last year, Minnesota had an outbreak of canine influenza, centered primarily around the Twin Cities. We shared important information about how it spreads, as well as the signs and treatments through this blog post. The post also discusses prevention through vaccination, helping to protect your dog from illness.

Number Two – Get Your Dog Ready for Hunting Season

An English pointer is pictures, walking through purple wildflowers with trees in the background. Posing in a point stance, the dog appears to be mid-motion. The dog is white with large brown spots, and smaller brown spots across  it's body. Around the dogs neck is an orange collar with a radio and antenna attached for hunting.

A big part of Minnesotan life is covered in our number two blog for this year, hunting season! Many people have dogs that they train and take out hunting with them every year. This article covers the important steps to take to keep your hunting companion protected and safe. From parasite protection, to vaccination, and exercise, this blog covers all the ways to keep your hunting dog healthy!

Year in Review Number One – Pet Arthritis is Common and Treatable

An brown, elderly Daschunde with a greying face is shown against a bright pink background. The background had red spots, and the dog is outlined in a fuzzy red outline. The front left paw is being lifted by a pair of human hands, coming into frame from the left side and wearing white latex gloves. The hands are massaging the joint on the front left paw, and the joint is highlighted in red to imply pain.

Finally, our number one blog for this year, is Pet Arthritis is Common and Treatable. Arthritis is a very common illness among pets. Cats and dogs alike can suffer from arthritis, starting at early ages. However, we have had new medications released in the last two years, plus pain management and other treatments available. This blog covers it all, from diagnosis to treatments.

Which of these blogs interests you the most? Keep an eye out for more educational blogs from ZimmVet in 2024!

Disclaimer: This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice. Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

New Years Resolutions for Your Pets

By Katie Meneses, HR Manager

A dog lays facing the camera and wearing a head band with the words "Happy New Year" on it's head. Scattered around the dog is fairy lights and some noise makers. The background is sparkling and golden.

Every year, people across the country set New Years resolutions for themselves, from getting healthier, to completing new career goals; However not many people think of making resolutions for their pets too! Use this New Years to make new resolutions about the care of your pet and their health!

A New Year’s Resolution for Your Dog

A great resolution to set for your dog is to take them on longer walks. Walks are the best source of exercise a dog can get. It helps burn off excess energy and keep their bodies healthy. It also gives you the benefit of longer walks too. In fact, longer walks can give your dog a longer life.

A 20-30 minute walk is great for healthy dogs, and shouldn’t be a problem for an already healthy dog. If your pet is obese or has health issues, then do smaller 10-minute walks throughout the day, to help build up their strength. You can also build up the length of the walk over time.

A New Year’s Resolution for Your Cat

Cats are very active creatures, even if they do appear sleepy during the day. Cats are nocturnal creatures, and are always looking for something to entertain themselves. This year, you can make a New Year’s resolution for your cat by finding more ways to enrich their life.

There are many ways to enrich your cat’s life. You can place a bed in front of a sliding glass door, or put up a window cat cot perch. The window should be in front of a tree, or a bird feeder so the cat can watch. Food and toy puzzles are also a great option to keep your cat mentally stimulated, and gain a little exercise Scratching posts and cat trees are also beneficial, giving your pet a place to climb and dig their claws in, instead of doing so on your furniture.

A New Year’s Resolutions for All Pets

There are many New Year’s resolutions that you can set for any type of pet. The first of these is to spend more quality time with your pets. Social animals, like cats and dogs, can benefit greatly from some down time with you, or from some play time.

Another important resolution to make is to keep up with regular wellness checks. Annual and bi-annual  visits are very important for your pets. Talking regularly with your veterinarian can help to catch the early signs of illness. It also gives you a chance to talk about a healthier diet for your pets, and keep up on your pets dental care.

Add one or a few of these resolutions as we enter the new year.

For more idea’s of new habits for yourself and your pet, check out AVMA’s suggestions here. Or, check out another of our blog posts on Improving your Pets Lifespan.

Disclaimer:  This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice.  Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Protect Your Dog’s Paws this Winter!

By Katie Meneses, HR Manager

An image of a dogs paw with snow packed between the toes and paw pads.

Snow is on its way

As winter settles in around us, we are going to see increases in cold weather, snow and ice. It is important to protect your dogs paws when the cold is here. Here are some things to do to protect your dog this winter!

Protect Your Dog From Snow

The first, and perhaps the most obvious hazard your dog will face in the winter is the ice and snow that builds up on the ground. Just like a person’s hands and feet, a dog’s paw pads are sensitive to hot and cold. Walking on top of cold snow can put them at increased risk, and as a result they can develop frostbite and dries out their paw pads.

Check your dogs paws for build up of snow, which can easily get caught between their paw pads and toes. Additionally, keep their feet well groomed, to minimize the amount of extra fur the snow may stick too. Another option you can also purchase products to help protect your dog, such as paw pad balm. Balms can both moisturize and protect your dog’s paws from cold and the build-up of snow between their toes. The image below is a paw with balm applied

An image of a dogs paw with very little snow. The paw pads look bright and moisturized.

Protect Your Dog With Boots

Another option is to purchase dog boots. It is important to purchase the correct size for your dog. They will need time to get used to them too. Once they are used to the boots, they will be safe from snow and the damage it can do to their paws!

If you aren’t able to purchase paw balms or boots for your dog, you can still help protect their feet by washing them off after a walk or time outside in the snow. Removing the cold pieces of snow and ice that build up can make a world of difference.

For more information on things you can do to protect your pets, check out this article by the Animal Humane Society. For idea’s to keep your dog entertained this winter, check out one of ZimmVet’s previous blogs here!

Disclaimer:  This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice.  Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Thanksgiving Safety for Your Pets

By Katie Meneses, HR Manager

Thanksgiving is a mark that the year is almost over, when you get together to have food with your family, enjoy the big game, and relax over a long weekend. Our pets can enjoy the holidays too, especially the foods and family. But, there are risks they face that don’t affect us, especially when it comes to food. Here are risks to your pets health, as well as tips to keep things safe for your pet.

A dog and cat peer over the edge of a table that is full of food. In the center is  turkey, along with a meat platter with olives, candles, and bowls of soup. To the right of the turkey, there is a glimpse of a bowl of corn and mashed potatoes. Behind the turkey is a card that reads "Happy Thanksgiving". The image is placed to emphasize the need for safe practices for your pet.

Dinner and Dessert Dangers for your Pet

There are a lot of delicious foods at every holiday get together. From the Turkey, to the pies, everyone gets excited for dinner. However. our pet can be harmed by eating the same foods we enjoy, as they pose a danger for your pet.

  • Fatty foods like turkey can lead to a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis. The bones, although tasty, are dangerous too. They can cause GI obstruction, oral trauma from sharp shards, or even fracture teeth as the pet chews on them
  • Common cooking ingredients during the holidays are also dangerous to your pet. Dangerous foods include: onions, garlic, raisins, and grapes.
  • Yeast Dough is common in many households that bake bread during the holidays. If ingested, it can lead to painful gas and dangerous bloating in pets.
  • Chocolate is dangerous for your pet, and is often found in desserts during the holidays.
  • Artificial Sweeteners, like Xylitol used in sugar-free baking, are dangerous too. It can be deadly if consumed by cats and dogs.

Safe Foods for Your Pet

While there are dangerous foods during Thanksgiving, there are also some great pet-friendly treats you can give your pets. There are many healthy, safe foods for your pet, including raw fruits and vegetables you can share with your furry friend.

Safe options include:

  • Baby carrots
  • Green beans
  • Apples
  • Chunks of sweet potato
  • Plain pumpkin puree (unsweetened, and not spiced)

Clean Up to Keep it Safe for Your Pet

Make sure to keep the trash far away. The turkey carcass is dangerous for pets. If it is left sitting out on a counter, table, or even in the trash, is a deadly temptation. Make sure to dispose of it, including bags, strings, bones, and packaging, in a secure trash bag, in an outdoor container. Alternatively, make sure it is tucked safely behind a closed and locked door.

Know the Signs

It is important to know the signs that your pet has ingested something dangerous.

 Signs include:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Depression
  • Muscle twitching or seizures
  • Changes in behavior that occur suddenly, such as increased agitation or restlessness

If you notice any of these symptoms, move quickly to help save your pets life. Call an emergency veterinary clinic immediately. You may also choose to call the Pet Poison Hotline (855-764-7661) for assistance.

Prepare for Visitors

The holidays bring family and friends together. If you plan to have a full house Thanksgiving weekend, you will need to prepare to keep your cats and dogs from finding their way through the front door. Gates are a great way to keep your front door separate from your pets as people come and go. Alternatively, you can keep them on a leash, or in another room while the door is open, to prevent daring escapes.

Another precaution is to ensure your pets identity tags and microchip are up-to-date. If they do get out of your home, they are more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t microchipped yet, contact your veterinarian about the simple procedure to get it done.

For more information on food safety for your pet, check out the Pet Poison Hotline for ways to keep your pet safe from toxins. If you plan to go hunting this season, you should also check out tips for keeping your pets safe, and how to Get Your Dog Ready for Hunting Season.

Disclaimer:  This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice.  Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.

Fear Free Visits to the Vet

By Dr. Maria Krenz, DVM – ZimmVet-763-856-4848

Is your pet fear free at the vet?

Veterinary visits are part of keeping your pet healthy, and keeping them fear free is beneficial. With a positive attitude and a little bit of training it can be a better experience for your fluffy friend. Ask your veterinary team to find what works best for your pet. Ask for medication to make visits go smoothly.

A Dalmatian puppy, rolled on his side to allow someone holding a stethoscope to listen to his heart.


One way to help your pet stay fear free is using treats. Round up your pet’s favorite treats and wear your training treat pouch when visiting your veterinarian. A reward of small pieces should be given regularly during your pet’s veterinary visit. Cats may warm up to catnip or a small amount of canned food fed on a spoon during the visit. Talking in a calm voice and having your pet on a comfortable harness, such as the easy walk harness, can help.

Avoid aversive methods such as jerking on the leash, using prong or choke collars, electric collars, yelling or physical punishment. Dogs exposed to these methods are 2.2 times more likely to be aggressive to people outside the home.

Come for Positive visits

Pets should be brought to the veterinary clinic for positive visits. Come to just sit in the lobby for a minute and give treats to your pet. Or practice having your pet sit on the scale while giving treats.  Try to do this at times when it is less busy. Choose a time when there are not a lot of other pets around such as mid-week during the middle of the day. ZimmVet currently has limited lobby space due to the remodel. We recommend waiting until the construction is finished for positive visits.


Medication and sedation are not reserved as a last resort. If your pet is fearful and will not take a treat at your veterinarian’s office, your pet would benefit from additional training along with anti-anxiety medications. There are different options for dogs, orally before the appointment. Dogs commonly benefit from Trazodone, an oral medication, administered 2-3 hours prior to the appointment while cats respond well to gabapentin. Discuss with your veterinarian what will be best for your pet. Pets that have high anxiety levels even with oral medication will benefit from an injectable sedative once they arrive in the clinic. There are natural options include the thundershirt, rescue remedy and pet pheromones such as adaptil and feliway that can help with mild cases of anxiety.

Know Your Pet

If your pet gets worked up around other animals, request to go immediately to an exam room. At ZimmVet we have a side entrance that pet owners can avoid the lobby completely. Slippery floors can scare pets, bring a rubber yoga mat for your pet to sit on while waiting and in the exam room. Some pets are more comfortable on their owner’s laps or on the floor vs exam table. Make sure to voice what works best for your pet.

Safety First for Fear Free

Any pet can scratch and bite. Even pets that are easy going can react when painful and sick. If your pet is too distressed, stopping the appointment and coming back at a later time along with using medication therapy if needed.

For more tips on how to help your pet be fear free, you can check out the fear free website. If you’d like to learn about how fear and anxiety are related to behavior issues, check out our blog post here.

Disclaimer:  This written content is meant to be educational and is not medical advice.  Always consult a veterinarian about medical advice for your pet.