Over-the-Counter Flea & Tick

Over-the-Counter Flea & Tick

There are so many different flea & tick products on the market currently with a wide variety of active ingredients. Some would assume that if they are marketed for pets, they would be safe for all pets. This is not necessarily true. Cats are much more sensitive than dogs and can have severe reactions to canine flea & tick products. Patients with chronic medical conditions, such as seizures, can also respond differently to medications.

Store Brand vs Prescription

We carry Bravecto, Credelio, & Seresto for dogs.

There are numerous benefits of using prescription flea & tick prevention from your veterinarian. Most prescription medications are more effective than over-the-counter treatments. Your pet’s veterinarian can recommend the right product based on their lifestyle and medical conditions. When you purchase through your veterinarian, the product is recorded in your pet’s medical records. Having accurate record of what was administered and when is valuable since most companies offer guarantees on their products. Also, drug companies often offer better rebates when buying through a veterinarian.

Unfortunately, when buying products through untrusted online sources, consumers risk receiving counterfeit products. The counterfeit products have little to none of the desired effect, which can leave your pet exposed to serious diseases. When shopping online, be sure to purchase only from trusted sources and inspect the product closely upon arrival.

We carry Revolution Plus & Seresto for cats.


Topical medications & collars are popular amongst flea & tick products. Some contain Permethrins, Organophosphates, or Amitraz as the active ingredient. All of these are extremely toxic to cats. Any medication containing permethrins should never be applied to cats. Also, cats should be kept away from dogs who have been treated for at least 72 hours to avoid accidental contact. Exposure can affect a cat’s nervous system and cause severe illness.

Symptoms include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors, shaking, or twitching
  • Ataxic- uncoordinated, acting “drunk”
  • Hypersensitive to touch
  • If left untreated, can results in death

Correct Dosing & Route of Administration

When used inappropriately, any medication can be toxic to the patient. Most products are dosed based on the patient’s weight. Pets who inadvertently ingest a topical medication or collar can become extremely ill. Toxicity can affect the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and/or cardiac function with symptoms including:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxic- uncoordinated, acting “drunk”
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low or high blood pressure

Natural Remedies

Some prefer a more natural approach to flea & tick prevention. Although not nearly as effective, holistic remedies can work for pets with minimal exposure. There are products available that have peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood, and other essential oils as their main ingredient which claim to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Please be aware that some oils, for example Tea Tree Oil, can also be toxic to pets. Read more about toxic oils on our blog “Essential Oils & Diffusers”.

Key Points

Here is a list of key points to take away from this blog.

  • Never use dog products on cats.
  • Use products only as directed on the label.
  • Monitor your pets after use.
  • Report any adverse reactions to the company.
  • Use the appropriate dose for your pet’s weight.
  • Consult a veterinarian before product use in pets with chronic medical conditions.
  • Most prescription medications are more effective than over-the-counter treatments.
  • If your pet is having a reaction to a flea & tick medication:
    • If the product is a collar, remove it immediately.
    • Have the packaging available.
    • Call the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680.
Coyotes, Wolves, & Bears

Coyotes, Wolves, & Bears

As we continue to develop wild territory into human habitat, it is no wonder that instances of confrontation with predators are on the rise. Predators have become more accustomed to living in close proximity to humans which can be dangerous for both parties. Spring is the time of year we see an increase in attacks by coyotes and wolves on domestic pets. January through April is breeding and whelping season for these predators. They tend to be more aggressive, defensive, territorial and hungry. They aren’t picky when it comes to their prey. Fluffy bunny vs fluffy Pomeranian, squirrel or Shih Tzu; food is food.

Bears can also be dangerous this time of year. They are waking up from winter hibernation and emerging from their dens. They can be groggy, grumpy, and hungry. A dog is no match for the large, powerful claws of a bear. Given the bear’s disoriented, post-hibernation state, they may not run away but rather stand their ground. Mama bears may also have cubs to protect; never come between a mama and her cub.

Here are some tips on how to protect your pet from predator attacks:


Monitor pets when they are outside; do not leave them outside by themselves. Keep pets on a leash when walking, especially in wooded areas. Bring outdoor cats in at night. Avoid the twilight hours since predators are more active at these times. Know the area you are walking in. Check for sign such as tracks or scat.

Protective Gear

The need for protective gear is an unfortunate reality for some situations. If you search the internet you will find multiple products available.

  • Kevlar neck collar with spikes
  • Puncture resistant Kevlar vest
  • Spiked collars
  • Dog Horn
  • Ultrasonic Devices
  • Pepper Spray


Having a fenced in yard can protect your pet from many dangers. Unfortunately, predators can be very determined when hungry and will climb or dig their way in. It is recommended that fences be at least 6 foot tall, buried 18 inches in the ground, and even have rollers at top.



Predators often attack in the dark. Keeping your yard well-lit can help deter predators from getting too close. Motion detecting lights are helpful to scare off unsuspecting wildlife.

Food sources

Eliminate all sources of food. Do not feed deer, squirrels, and rabbits. Attracting the prey will attract the predators. Remove all garbage or keep it in animal proof containers. Cover compost piles. Do not leave out dog or cat food. Clean your grill. Remove any roadkill near your property. Remove excess fruit from fruit trees.

Yard Care

Remove their hiding spots by keeping your yard clean, trees and shrubs trimmed, and having an obvious barrier from woods to lawn. Cleaning up your yard and removing the pet feces will reduce the scent that can attract predators.


Females in heat

Females are especially at risk during their heat cycle. They emit scent and pheromones that draw willing males for miles. Be sure to keep a watchful eye during this time. If not planning to breed, have the female spayed to eliminate the heat cycle.


There has been much debate in the use of bells on hunting dogs. Some hunters believe that it deters predators while others argue that it acts as a “dinner bell” attracting them. Use whistles, horns, or other non-natural noise makers to let predators know that humans and not wild canines are present.

Other Important Things to Note:

  • Vaccines- Keep pets up to date on vaccines. Wild animals carry preventable diseases such as Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, and Leptospirosis.
  • Don’t Run- It is important that you do not try to run away. This activates the predator instinct to chase. Instead, back away slowly, yell or make loud noises, wave your arms, and throw things at it.
  • Spread the Word- Share sightings and information with your friends & neighbors so they can be vigilant for their own pets and follow the deterrent recommendations as well.
  • DNR- Report nuisance or strange acting animals to the Department of Natural Resources. They are responsible for keeping track of the level of conflict and managing the species. They use the data to create or change laws and regulations regarding hunting and trapping.

DNR website statement on Coyotes:

The DNR does not trap, shoot, or relocate coyotes; it is the responsibility of the landowner.

DNR website statement on Wolves:

Wolves in Minnesota can only be killed in defense of human life. Only agents of the government are authorized to take wolves if pets or livestock are threatened, attacked or killed. Protect evidence and report depredation incidents to a DNR or conservation officer.

DNR website statement on Bears:

Bears are common in Northeast Minnesota, but the DNR asks you to report any sighting in the South and West portions of the state to track movement (see map on website).

To report wildlife issues please contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Wildlife office in Bemidji at 218-308-2339.

Importance of Heartworm & Tick Disease Testing

Importance of Heartworm & Tick Disease Testing

At your dog’s annual exam, the veterinary staff will discuss which vaccines and tests your pet should receive. One of the options we offer is the Idexx 4Dx test which screens for heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. To help make your decision easier, here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the test.

What’s involved and how does the test work?

Just a few drops of blood are needed to run this test. It takes about 10 minutes to get results. The test detects antibodies in the patient’s blood to tick diseases. Antibodies are the immune system’s response to the presence of antigens, which are anything foreign to the body including diseases. A positive result on the test means the patient has been exposed to the tick disease, not necessarily that the patient currently has the disease. Further testing may be necessary to determine if the patient needs treatment. Each patient’s immune system is unique, meaning the amount of time the antibodies are present can vary.

For the heartworm part of the test, the antigens are what is detected. A positive result for heartworm then means the patient currently has a heartworm infection. More testing is required to determine the severity of the infection and the treatment needed.

Why run a 4dx test yearly?

Most companies that make Lyme vaccines, heartworm preventives, and flea/tick preventives have guarantees associated with their products. For example, if your pet becomes infected with Lyme disease while using their product or after being fully vaccinated, they will cover the cost of testing and treatment. There are requirements to qualify for the coverage, including proof that the patient was negative before starting the product or getting the vaccine. Also, having a negative test as a base line to compare to when a patient is ill can help determine the diagnostics needed as well as the course of treatment. For both reasons, yearly testing can be financially beneficial to clients.

My dog has already been positive, should I still test?

If your pet has tested positive for a tick disease in the past, they may continue to test positive for a period of time due to residual antibodies. That period of time varies depending on the disease and your pet’s immune response. It will be helpful to know when the patient is negative, meaning the residual antibodies are gone. The next time the patient tests positive, it will be clear that it is a new infection.

There are more specific tests that can measure the number of antigens in the patient. For example, a Lyme C6 gives you a quantitative number which determines whether the patient is fighting a current infection vs presence of residual antibodies.

Additionally, if they were positive for one disease it is still useful to test for the other three diseases. Given the high density of ticks in our area, we see patients with concurrent infections of more than one tick disease. The tick diseases also share some symptoms, so the test will determine which one the patient is fighting.  

My pet is already on heartworm or flea & tick meds, why do I need to test?

Unfortunately, no product has 100% efficacy. There is still a chance, though a very small one, that your pet could contract a tick disease while on tick preventives or heartworm disease on heartworm preventives. Also, if your pet travels with you to the southern United States, it may be exposed to a species of heartworm that is resistant to an active ingredient in some heartworm preventives. Therefore, it is best practice to test even if your pet is on year-round prevention.

If you have any questions, the staff at Northern Veterinary Clinic is here to answer them. Your pet’s annual exam is a perfect time to address any issues and concerns. Give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment.

Office Dog Blog: Tips for Finding Your Tennis Ball in the Snow

Office Dog Blog: Tips for Finding Your Tennis Ball in the Snow

Having had some experience with this myself, I thought I might share some of my pro tips for how to find your tennis ball when it gets lost in the snow. These helpful tips can also be applied to any variety of lost toys in the winter months.


If you lose your ball in the deep snow while playing fetch, sniff around in a zig zag pattern until you find the general area where the ball went into the snowy abyss. Once found, vigorously paw at the area and push down into the snow to help dislodge the ball. It also helps to stick your nose directly into the snow and take a big sniff to make sure you are still on the right track.


When playing with your hooman, make sure you turn and run before they throw the ball, this may affect your ability to see which direction the ball even went, but it should help you get to the ball before it has actually landed. Very high-pitched whining encourages them to throw it even quicker.


Give up.


The next day, remember where your ball might have been and start your search again! Repeat step #1 for a while, if no luck, skip to step #3. Do not waste your time on this anymore and move on to more rewarding activities such as eating poopsicles or telling your hooman to throw a different ball.

Greeting a Dog

Greeting a Dog

As dog lovers, we love to meet and say “Hello” to every dog we see. However, we often unknowingly greet dogs the wrong way. We habitually set dogs up for failure with our over-excited, over-bearing, rude (in doggy etiquette) greetings. Greeting the proper way can help with most behavior issues dogs have when it comes to meeting new people or even old friends. Read on to learn how to help with jumping, excited/submissive urination, and fear or anxiety with people.


This is one of the most common, obvious, and annoying behavioral issues dogs demonstrate when it comes to greeting. One simple way to help this behavior for both owners and strangers is to ignore the excitement. Not the dog, the excited behavior. This is not meant to hurt their feelings, but to make sure it is understood they will not get attention or affection using excitement and invading our personal space. Uncontrolled excitement can also lead anxiety and frustration. We should be quiet and calm when approaching dogs that are excited. Wait until the dog has calmed down, then give affection in a calm manner, with little to no talking. Think of when two polite and well-behaved dogs meet each other. They approach and sniff each other quietly with no jumping or noise until they mutually agree to move on, socialize, or give cues to play.


Some dogs urinate when greeted. There are different causes for this including excessive excitement, fear, or submission. Fortunately, the best way to prevent this from happening is the same no matter what the cause; don’t talk to them and don’t initiate eye contact. Ignore the excitement or fear behavior until they are more comfortable. When you do approach or give attention, do it calmly to avoid sending them right back into the undesirable state. This simple step will go a long way in preventing unwanted urination when greeting.

Fear & Anxiety

A happy-go-lucky dog may jump on you. On the other hand, fearful dogs may run the opposite way, cower, bark, shut down in fear, or even show fear aggression as a response.  As much as we may want to talk to and pet them to show we mean no harm, this is often too much pressure for fearful dogs. They want time and space, and to not feel pressure to be touched. Not all fearful dogs will walk away when they don’t want to be approached. Some will shut down and freeze even if they are physically able to move away. If we approach or talk to a dog in this state they may urinate, growl, bark, or snap/bite. This is clear communication they are not ready to be touched and these signals are often ignored.

Greeting with too much exuberance causes the dog to jump up.
Greet calmly, while ignoring the dog and not making eye contact.

A greeting with a dog should feel quiet and relaxed. Humans often encourage inappropriate behavior, many times unknowingly. The goal is to promote the correct behavior and set them up to succeed. This helps dogs understand what is expected of them in any situation, whether they are meeting a dog lover or someone who is unsure about or has a fear of dogs. It is our responsibility to be in control of our own dogs. By learning a little bit about canine communication and helping other humans recognize their cues, we help promote well behaved doggy citizens.

Common Eye Conditions

Common Eye Conditions

In veterinary medicine we see many different eye conditions. Here is a list with a summary of what each one involves.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal Ulcer

A scratch on the cornea is commonly referred to as a corneal ulcer. There are numerous causes from cat scratches, foreign items stuck under the third eyelid, to being hit or poked in the eye with an object. To determine if the cornea is scratched, we numb the eye with Proparacaine, then add fluorescein stain to the eye. A defect in the cornea will collect the stain and glow green making it easier to locate. A minor ulcer can be healed with antibiotic eye drops. More severe cases may need harvest serum which is derived from the patients own blood. The cells in the serum help to heal the cornea faster. A grid keratotomy, a procedure to remove inappropriately healing corneal tissue to allow it to heal properly, may also be needed. Ulcers tend to develop and worsen quickly and should be addressed promptly.

Fluorescein Stain

“Cherry Eye”

Cherry Eye

“Cherry Eye” is a term used for a prolapsed third eyelid or nictitating membrane. The third eyelid is located on the inner corner of each eye. It serves as an additional layer of protection and the accompanying gland provides about 50% of the eye’s lubrication. Mild cases are characterized by small, pink tissue that comes and goes occasionally while severe cases may cover a large portion of the eye consistently. Treatment usually requires surgical repair. If the gland is damaged beyond repair it will need to be removed, which can lead it a condition called “dry eye”.

Entropion & Ectropion

Entropion refers to a defect in the eyelid where it is turned inward, causing the hair and lashes to rub against the eyeball. Patients with this condition can often have non-healing corneal ulcers given the constant irritation. Ectropion is the opposite condition where the eyelid is turned outward causing a gap between the eyeball and eyelid. Patients can easily collect foreign objects in this gap or get the eyelid caught on things (barbwire, toenails, etc). Both conditions require surgical repair.

“Dry Eye”

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), commonly referred to as “Dry Eye”, is an inflammatory condition that causes inadequate tear production. Tears are important to lubricate the eyes and flush away debris. Some causes include immune diseases, canine distemper, hypothyroidism, or side effects of medications. Treatment includes lubricating the eyes and addressing the underlying cause. If left untreated the irritation can lead to painful, non-healing ulcers.

Nuclear Sclerosis

Nuclear sclerosis refers to the condition where the lens inside the eye hardens. The lens is supposed to be clear allowing light in. When hardened is become cloudy or opaque. The pet is not blind, but has slightly diminished site, especially in low light. There is no treatment or prevention for this condition.


A cataract is an opacity or imperfection of the lens that obscures vision. It can vary from a small portion to the entire lens. The condition can be hereditary or brought on by diseases such as diabetes or overexposure to UV light. Drops can be prescribed to delay progression and surgery can be done to replace the lens.


A tonopen measures intra-ocular pressure

The eyeball is filled with fluid called aqueous humor. This nutrient and oxygen rich fluid supports the eye structures. The intra-ocular pressure (IOP) remains constant if the production and drainage are equal. If the drainage is inadequate, the excess fluid causes the IOP to increase, this condition is called Glaucoma. Inflammation, dislocation or damage of the lens, tumors, or intra-ocular bleeding can be causes. Increased pressure causes damage to the structures of the eye. Treatment of the underlying condition is key as well as pain control and medications that decrease fluid production and promote drainage. Severe cases may require the eye to be removed, also called enucleation.

Eye Enucleation

If you pet is having eye issues, please call us at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment.