Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

What Do You Need to Know About Dog Bite Prevention?

Take it from us: dogs don’t want to bite, but it happens from time to time, mostly out of fear and misunderstanding. Unfortunately, dog bites are a lose-lose situation for the dog and the human. One in five people that get bitten by a dog needs medical treatment, and dogs that bite often end up in quarantine, and their owners end up responsible for the damages. In order to prevent you or your little one from accidentally becoming one of the 4.5 million Americans that get bitten annually, and to help you recognize when your own dog may bite, we’ve put together some tips to help!

Why Do Dogs Bite?

When we say dogs don’t want to bite, we mean it. Most dog bites are the result of dogs feeling cornered, stressed, startled, or defensive.

Why Do Some Dogs Feel Fearful?

There are many reasons dogs can react with stress and anxiety. Like people, dogs are individuals, so the reasons and their reactions vary. Some may have experienced traumas before being adopted while others just have nervous dispositions. It’s always a good idea to treat all dogs as having the potential to be fearful or anxious, and to always be mindful of their body language.

Identifying Signs of Fear, Anxiety, and Stress in Dogs

Fortunately, many dogs give plenty of warning signs before biting.

While dogs, like people, often respond to stress or fear by escaping the situation, there are times when dogs will feel trapped or cornered. Alternatively,  they may feel motivated to stand their ground. When dogs bite, it’s usually out of fear, so recognizing the signs can help keep you and your family safe.

Dogs express that they’re afraid through their body language. Some of the most recognizable signs include:

  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Hunkering down low
  • A nervous, flicking motion of the tail
  • Lowering their head
  • Averting eye contact and turning away
  • Widening their eyes so you can see their eye whites, also known as "whale eye"
  • Flattening out their ears
  • Curling their lips back and exposing their teeth
  • Darting their eyes, looking around for an escape route
  • Hackling their fur on their back and neck

While these signs do indicate that a dog is afraid, they may not always bite, but it is always a good idea to give a dog that is showing signs of fear or anxiety space. Slowly back away and do not approach a dog that is fearful.

How You Can Help a Nervous Dog

If your dog tends to be nervous and expresses fearful body language, you will want to be patient and work slowly to socialize your dog and build up your pup’s confidence. If you’re not sure how to do this, we recommend that you consult us or potentially a professional dog behaviorist.

How to Avoid Risky Situations that Could Result in a Dog Bite

It’s important to recognize the signs of stress in a dog, but you can also keep yourself and your kids safe by avoiding high-risk situations. Some of these scenarios include:

  • When a dog is eating or asleep
  • When a dog is sick or injured
  • When a dog is guarding or playing with a toy
  • When a dog is growling or barking
  • When a dog is in a fenced-in backyard, with the potential to be backed into a corner
  • When a dog’s owner is not present or did not give you permission to pet the dog

Final Thoughts

Always keep an eye on children as they play around or approach dogs. Well-meaning and curious kids are the most common victims of dog bites that can result in severe injury. Even if your little one knows a dog, don’t leave them unattended.

Remember, fearful dogs can be irrational and unpredictable. Stay safe and aware this National Dog Bite Prevention Week and help take a bite out of dog bites!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Prevention week

AVMA DogBite Infographic

Lyme Disease

Spring has officially reached us in Lake Elmo, which means we all start to get pretty excited at being able to head outdoors without multiple layers of clothing to protect us from the elements. However, there’s one lurking parasite that also has been waiting for spring. Once temperatures hit 40 degrees, ticks are hungry, alert and looking for a meal, one of which possibly may be you or your pet. While ticks may carry a variety of diseases, we’re going to discuss Lyme disease in this article and how to prevent it.

What Causes Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected “deer tick”, otherwise known as a blacklegged tick. These ticks tend to be more prevalent in areas heavily populated by deer and mice. The ticks  become infected when feeding off of a host that is infected, and then the tick transmits the Borrelia burgdorfer bacterium when feeding off of the new host. In order for Lyme disease to be transmitted, the tick must be on the host for 24-48 hours.

What Are Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Once the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium travels through a host’s body, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Lethargy
  • Joint stiffness and swelling
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If you notice these behavioral or physical changes in your pet, please call our Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo veterinary team and we can test your pet for Lyme Disease. Early treatment helps to lower Lyme disease infection’s impact on your pet’s kidneys. If your pet does test positive, an antibiotic which has been proven effective in resolving symptoms may be prescribed.

How Can I Protect My Pets From Lyme Disease

The best ways to protect your pets from Lyme disease are to avoid contact with ticks, use preventive measures, and vaccinate your pets for Lyme disease each year.

Take an inventory of where you live. Look around, and notice any shady, damp areas at ground level. Look toward edges of woods or fences and walls. Ticks like long grass where they can easily attach to a host walking by, as well as places they can hide out of direct sunlight. By keeping your grass mowed and clearing debris from the edges of your lawn, you can help in keeping tick populations down. If you do consider hiring a lawn service company to treat for pests such as rodents and ticks, be sure to inform them about your pets. Follow directions carefully so as not to have your pet exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals.

When walking with your pets, avoid areas where tick populations may be higher, especially such as longer grass and dark, damp areas of the woods. Additionally, avoid areas where deer may congregate, as the likelihood of Lyme-infected ticks is higher.

For your pets, use a flea and tick prevention year-round to help protect your pet. Our Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo veterinarians can help guide you to the best solution for your pet, based on age, overall health and lifestyle. Each tick preventive works a bit differently, whether repelling or killing the ticks. It’s important to note that it’s still imperative that you check your pet over frequently, especially after venturing outside, for ticks that may have attached to your pet. Should you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it instead of your bare hands. Gently remove the tick, and clean the area with a small amount of rubbing alcohol.  Monitor the area for signs of infection, and call us if you notice any swelling, redness, or any of the previously mentioned Lyme Disease symptoms.

We hope you have a fun and adventure-filled spring!

Photo Credit: Enterline Design Services LLC / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Pet Poison Prevention Week

It’s officially Pet Poison Prevention Week! This week, take a moment to see your home through the eyes of your pet, and be aware of potential dangers that lurk in unsuspected places. We’ve commonly discussed seasonal poisoning dangers, and here are few of the most common toxic substances, especially as we officially enter spring this week:

Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medications

It’s so easily to forget about a handbag containing medication being thrown on the back of a chair, or a medication left out on a coffee table. However, these substances can cause kidney failure, liver failure, and serious poisoning in our pets. Always keep human medications stored in their properly labeled containers, up high and out of reach of inquisitive pets. Additionally, never give your pet human medications unless specifically under consultation with our veterinarians.

Spring Cleaning Chemicals

Our pets are incredibly sensitive to the smells in our home. But, did you know that many of the cleaning chemicals we use also present poisoning dangers? As you’re giving your home an extra-good spring cleaning, keep dishwashing products, oven cleaners, drain obstruction chemicals, toilet bowl cleaners, and any counter sprays secured behind a cabinet door out of your pet’s reach. These items can cause skin irritation, tissue damage or even be fatal to your unsuspecting pet.


None of us want to share our home with unwanted rodents. Mouse and rat poisons are good at their job - killing unwelcome pests; however, these same toxic chemicals can be fatal to your dog or cat, too. When ingested, your pet will need immediate treatment. It’s important to be educated on the impact of these toxins, and pet-proof your home with other, less lethal, options. For example, ultrasonic repellents or scent repellents have proven both effective and safer.

Garden Preparation

In our Lake Elmo area, we go a little crazy at the first signs of spring! However, as you’re preparing to get your lawn and gardens ready, note that cocoa bean mulch and insecticides both present toxic hazards to our pets. Cocoa bean mulch contains a chemical called “theobromine”, which is toxic to dogs when ingested. Insecticides, even when consumed in small amounts, can be life-threatening. Be particularly mindful of bait stations, garden/lawn sprays, or sprinkled granules that may peak the interest of a curious pet. As you’re planning for thriving spring greenery, opt for pet safe pest control instead.

Our pets are quick, and they may ingest a toxic substance without us realizing it immediately. Be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Lethargy
  • Irritation to skin, eyes, mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding
  • Increased thirst
  • Stumbling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

If you note any of the above symptoms, please call Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo immediately at 651.770.3250.

We wish you and your pets a very enjoyable and SAFE spring!

Photo Credit: Zbynek Pospisil / iStock / Getty Images 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)