Rabies - What You Need To Know

Rabies is a viral infection that is spread through saliva, usually through a bite, but occasionally can be spread through contact with mucous membranes. The virus replicates at the bite wound and then travels up the nerves to the brain. Any mammal can develop rabies. In Minnesota, skunks and bats are the most common wildlife carriers. Rabid animals have the potential to bite and spread virus to humans, livestock, and pets.

There is NO treatment for rabies once clinical signs appear and will result in the death of the infected individual. Clinical signs can vary and can be difficult to interpret as they vary. Some signs can include: staggering, lameness, walking in circles, behavioral changes, paralysis, fearfulness, agitation, depression, lethargy, and even vocalization. Rabid wild animals may attack animals, people, or objects. Rabid nocturnal animals can become active during the daytime hours.

As of September 2017, there have been 24 reported cases of rabies in Minnesota, including: 3 bats, 1 cat, 1 fox, 6 skunks, 1 horse, 1 raccoon. The most common rabies virus carriers in Minnesota are skunks and bats

The best means to prevent the transmission of rabies is to have your pets vaccinated. There are vaccines available for dogs and cats, as well as ferrets and horses. In some instances, livestock may be vaccinated against rabies. Additional things to aid in prevention, include: keeping stray and wild animals away from your pets, do not attract stray or wild animals to your home or yard, do not approach unfamiliar or wild animals, do not keep wild animals as pets, report stray animals or those acting unusual to local animals control, and bat-proof your home. Ensure that you teach small children to stay away from strange animals, do not leave children unattended with animals, and have them ask an adult if they can pet animals that are not their own.

“World Rabies Day (September 28th, 2017) is a sober reminder that throughout the world, an estimated 50,000 people die of rabies each year, mainly as a result of bites from infected dogs,” said Minnesota Department of Health State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Joni Scheftel. “In the United States, a strong public health infrastructure and the availability of rabies vaccines for animals and people have reduced human deaths to 1 to 5 annually. Most of these are from bat strains of the rabies virus.” (MDH, 2017)

What if a bite occurs:

-Wild animal bites a pet:

  • Call your veterinarian to determine if rabies is a concern. They may suggest submitting the wild animal for rabies testing. Dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated or have their rabies vaccine be boostered.

-Bites to humans:

  • Wash bite with soap and water immediately
  • See your physician for evaluation
  • Contact the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) at 651-201-5414 with questions, you may be advised to:
    • Confine and observe the animal for 10 days
    • Submit the animal for rabies testing
    • Receive human rabies vaccine series



Minnesota Department of Health. (2017). News release: Minnesotans encouraged to educate themselves to dangers of the rabies virus during World Rabies Day. [online] Available at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2017/rabies092617.html [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].

Do I Really Need to Brush My Pet’s Teeth?


If you have ever had a toothache or other dental problems, you know that it can be quite painful. This is also true of our pets! The only difference is that our pets cannot tell us when they have pain in their mouths. If your pet doesn’t want to chew hard food, doesn’t want to play with toys, has increased odor from their mouth, they drool excessively, or are just plain grouchy, they may have a serious, painful problem with their mouth! Treating the underlying dental problem will make them pain-free again and you may see their vitality return. We must also remember that pain is not the only problem seen with diseased mouths. Oral infections can cause other medical problems, like heart and kidney disease. We know how important dental care is for human health, but we must remember how important it is for our pets, too.

Periodontal disease, or disease around the teeth, is a very common problem in dogs and cats. When a veterinarian performs a physical examination on your pet, they always do a cursory exam of the mouth. This is when they can determine the level of periodontal disease that may be present. What we must remember, though, is that only the crown of the tooth is visible in the conscious patient. Approximately 60% of the tooth lives below the gum line. Therefore, general anesthesia with the use of full-mouth radiographs (x-rays) is essential to get the entire picture. This procedure is commonly referred to as a dental prophylaxis. During this procedure, the pet’s teeth are carefully cleaned above and below the gum line, the teeth are polished and examined closely for damage, full mouth x-rays are taken, and pocketing of the gums are measured and recorded. This is referred to as a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment, or COHAT. Once all the information is gathered, a diagnosis and any recommended treatment, such as tooth extraction, can be discussed with you and carried out.

Every pet should have a COHAT under anesthesia at some point in their lives. Proper at home care can significantly delay the time of the first dental and extend the elapsed time between cleanings.

What is “At Home Care” and How Do I Introduce Brushing?

At home care consists of daily brushing (at a minimum of 4 times per week) to be effective, but daily is best. If you incorporate brushing your pet’s teeth into your daily routine, it’s easier to remember (e.g. brush their teeth after you brush your own). Brushing aids in the removal of plaque, which is the film of bacteria that covers the tooth surface (that fuzzy feeling on your teeth after you eat or wake up in the morning). Tartar or calculus is a hardened concretion of plaque built up upon itself over time when home dental care is not utilized. It is this tartar that can only be removed under anesthesia with an ultrasonic scaler and why regular vet visits and professional veterinary dental cleanings are so important.

To introduce tooth brushing into your pet’s routine, it is important to take it slow. First, purchase a pet friendly toothpaste (many of these come in poultry, beef, or fish flavors) and decide if a regular toothbrush will work best for you, or an alternative, like a finger brush. Every day for one week, apply a small amount of toothpaste on your finger (NO brush just yet) and have your pet lick it off. Remember to give praise and a tasty treat that you can give just during tooth brushing to allow your pet to associate toothbrushing with something extra special and tasty. During week two, apply toothpaste on the toothbrush and have them lick off the paste. Again, lots of praise and treats are important to make this a positive experience. For week three, you finally put the toothbrush with toothpaste in your pet’s mouth. Unlike in people, you do NOT need to brush the inside of the teeth – no pet will say “ahhh” for you to do that, though we wish they would! Sneaking the brush in the cheek and gently holding the mouth closed works best. Ensure you brush the large chewing teeth (pre-molars and molars), as well as the canine teeth on top and bottom for about 30 seconds total. Don’t forget the treats! If this protocol is followed and your pet responds well, they may even look forward to getting their teeth brushed.

In addition to daily brushing, the use of other dental health products can aid in maintaining a healthy mouth. C.E.T. Chews are rawhide-like chews that contain enzymes to help with bacterial breakdown that lives within plaque. These chews can be used daily as part of your home care plan.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our veterinarians – we are here to help! Remember, a happy mouth equals a happy pet!

Have we recommended a health check screen (blood work) for your pet? Why?

Whether your pet is young and scheduled for surgery, middle aged and enjoying life, or a senior with some struggles, preventative care diagnostics in the form of blood work can make a big difference in their life! Remember, our pets cannot talk to us. Some diseases have symptoms that are obvious while others may go unnoticed by owners and even undetected during a physical examination. Evaluating blood work yearly will not only establish historical trends for a pet, but can help veterinarians identify diseases early. Our goal at Peace of Mind Veterinary Care is to respond early to disease and give your pet the healthiest, happiest life possible!

A health check screen is a recommended annual blood test that evaluates a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry panel with electrolytes (Chem). Our chemistry screening now includes the biomarker SDMA, which can detect the onset of early kidney disease months, even years earlier than traditional screening methods. Traditional kidney screening tests based kidney disease on the levels of creatinine, an enzyme which increases in the blood only after 75% of kidney function has been destroyed. With SDMA, we can detect kidney disease much sooner, when less than 40% of the kidney has lost function, giving us a greater opportunity for effective intervention!

CBC: Complete Blood Count – a CBC evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. It can help identify infection, inflammation, or anemia.

Chem: Blood Chemistry Panel with Electrolytes – a chemistry panel provides information about your pet’s liver, kidneys, pancreas, blood proteins, blood glucose and more.

Call our office today and ask about a preventative health check screening for your pet!

When to Call

We encourage clients to call whenever they feel uncomfortable with their pet's behavior or health. Signs that your pet may not be feeling well include:

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  3. Seizures
  4. Loss of mobility
  5. Unexplained lethargy
  6. Ingestion of foreign materials
  7. Suspicion of toxic exposure
  8. Change in diet or appetite
  9. Increased thirst and/or urination
  10. Change in behavior

If your pet is exhibiting an of these symptoms or if there's an emergency, contact us right away .

During our business hours (8am – 6pm Monday through Friday, 8am – 12pm Saturday), we are available to see urgent cases. If, however, you have an emergency after hours, here are some Emergency facilities that are equipped to help you and your pet.

Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service
4708 Olson Memorial Hwy
Golden Valley, MN (763) 529-6560

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota
1542 7th St W
St. Paul, MN (651) 293-1800

University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center
1365 Gortner Ave
St. Paul, MN (612) 626-8387

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
7717 Flying Cloud Dr.
Eden Prairie, MN 55344 Phone:(952) 942-8272

South Metro Animal Emergency Clinic
14690 Pennock Ave.
Apple Valley, MN (952) 953-3737

Pet Poison Helpline
(800) 213-6680*
*Please be advised there is a per incident fee of $49.00.

The Humane Society