dogs_snow_small.jpgIt took a little longer than normal, but snow finally arrived! While we’ve been lucky to avoid the coldest temperatures this winter, no doubt we will eventually have some sub-zero temperatures in the forecast too. Here are a few reminders to help your pets stay safe and healthy throughout the winter:

  1. Protect those paws! Paw pads are tough, but very cold temperatures can cause frostbite. In the city, paws also have to contend with salt, sand, and other irritants that can harm the sensitive skin between toes. Boots like Pawz waterproof boots help protect paws from direct contact with sand and salt. Sturdier boots like MuttLuks also provide insulation, but are a little harder for dogs to learn to wear. Waxes or ointments like Musher’s Secret can help prevent ice buildup between toes and also provide some protection against salt and sand.
  2. Shovel a potty patch: Urinating or defecating directly into a deep pile of snow can lead to frostbite on some very sensitive body parts. To prevent this, shovel out a small patch in the yard for your dog to go potty, especially when temperatures drop below zero.
  3. Consider a coat: Some dog breeds are built for cold weather and don’t need any help staying warm. Dogs with thin fur, a lean body type (like greyhounds), or dogs who are very young or very old can all benefit from the extra insulation provided by a coat. 
  4. Monitor the windchill: Dogs’ most sensitive extremities (such as their nose, the tips of their ears, and their tails) are more likely to become frostbitten when it’s windy. Even if air temperature is relatively warm, keep an eye on the windchill and keep walks shorter when the windchills are in dangerous ranges.
  5. Provide a dry, draft-free space: Some pets love to be outside no matter how chilly it gets. But even if your Bernese Mountain Dog would rather be sleeping in a snowbank than in a cozy bed by the fire, make sure he has access to somewhere dry and outside of the wind. Cold becomes more dangerous when animals get wet and unable to get out of the wind.
  6. Keep small animals away from drafty windows: Small mammals (such as rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs) and pet birds are especially sensitive to cold. Stress from being in drafty areas can lead to respiratory infections. Make sure that enclosures are kept in a warm, draft-free part of the house.
  7. Chemicals: Winter means that certain lethal chemicals, such as antifreeze and mouse/rat poisons, are more likely to be nearby. Be sure that these are kept well out of reach of pets.

Photo credit to St. Francis technician Becca Harnack- we hope everyone can find ways to enjoy winter as much as Kai and Drake! 


We continue to practice curbside care in order to protect you and our staff from COVID-19. Given our small space inside St. Francis, we anticipate that we will be curbside for the foreseeable future. We have a few reminders to help make curbside care as smooth as possible:

  • You will receive a curbside history form via email prior to your pet’s appointment. Returning this form before to your pet’s visit helps us to make your appointment as efficient as we can. This form is especially important if your pet is being brought to the clinic by someone who is not the owner.
  • Please wear a mask when interacting with staff. Staff members wear masks and face shields at all times.
  • Dogs must be leashed and cats and small mammals must be in carriers in order to make the transfer into the clinic as safe as possible.
  • Our parking lot can get very busy, especially at the very beginning and end of the day. Please drive slowly and watch carefully for cars and for staff members transferring pets back to their owners.
  • If you’ve called the number on the sign in the parking lot, left a voicemail that you’ve arrived, and have been waiting for 10 minutes or longer, please call again! Technology sometimes fails us and we never intend to keep you waiting long, especially if it is past your appointment time.


We are so grateful for your patience during this time. We know how much you miss being able to come inside and talk with us face-to-face. Our COVID protocols have helped ensure that we can continue to be here for you and your pets throughout the pandemic, and have kept you safe too. If you think there are practices we could change to make your experience better, please let us know!



We are constantly improving and upgrading equipment throughout St. Francis to provide the best care possible to your pet. This month, we welcomed a new patient warming system for our surgical patients called a Bair Hugger. We’ve also upgraded to a new surgical blood pressure and ECG monitor and added a syringe pump, which allows us to precisely administer intravenous injectable medications, including antibiotics and pain control medications. These tools will improve our ability to keep patients pain-free, safe, and cozy while under anesthesia. 


Employee Spotlight: Ellie Elsasser

Each month, we will spotlight one of our team members in order of years of service at St Francis Animal Hospital.

Ellie started bringing her pets to St. Francis in 2012 and joined the St. Francis team as a veterinary assistant in December of 2018. She is currently a 2022 candidate for her DVM degree at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Ellie is especially interested in veterinary dentistry, behavior, and exotic pets. She is passionate about reducing patient fear associated with veterinary visits and is certified in Fear Free and Feline Friendly practices. In her free time, Ellie loves to read, sew, and clicker train her two cats. Her favorite animals to work with are the "spicy" cats because she loves helping them feel less fearful and have a more positive vet experience.

Why did you choose to enter the veterinary profession?

I started with a background in wildlife and conservation biology, interested in disease transmission. Then I began working in a small animal clinic and fell in love with veterinary medicine, applied, and was accepted into vet school. I love the challenge of figuring out what ails patients that cannot speak with us. It is incredibly rewarding to help the patients. Also, I love building relationships with the clients and getting to share in their love for their pet.

Why do you love working at St. Francis?

St. Francis is wonderful because it has a wonderful team. I would trust my pets with any staff member, and I don't say that lightly. Also, the team works hard to make the clients and patients as comfortable as possible during their visits. Finally, I deeply appreciate that St Francis also provides palliative care and is very supportive of clients that are dealing with an aging pet or the loss of a pet. This is an incredibly important and often overlooked aspect of owning a pet.  

Thank you for everything you do to make St. Francis a more fun place to be, Ellie!



Vote for us in the Minnesota Women’s Press! 

We would love to have your vote as your Favorite Animal Hospital in the 2021 Minnesota Women’s Press Readers Recommend Survey! We were honored to be the winner in 2020 and would love to have your vote again this year. Voting is available here through January 31st. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to show your support!


Sportmix Dog and Cat Food Recall

Several lots of Sportmix dog and cat foods have been recalled due to the presence of a toxic mold called aflatoxin. The FDA has an up-to-date list of recalled lot numbers. If your pet has been eating one of the recalled diets, they should be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible for labwork, even if they are not acting ill.


PetDesk App

Did you know that we have an app? PetDesk allows you to access your pet’s vaccine history, schedule and confirm appointments, and submit prescription refill requests. PetDesk also makes it easier for us to communicate with you, which is especially helpful right now when our phones are extra busy! You can download the app at the Apple app store for iPhones or Google Play app store for Android devices.