“Dedicated to providing gentle, compassionate care for companion animals”


It’s that time of year again! The days are long, the grills are fired up, and corn on the cob is in season. Unfortunately, many dog owners do not know that corn cobs are actually EXTREMELY dangerous for their pets to ingest. 

Corn cobs seem innocent enough, right? They are all-natural, they LOOK like a chew toy, and dogs often relish the offer of a cob from the picnic table.

However, corn cobs break apart easily when chewed and can be swallowed in large chunks. Since they are hard to digest, the cobs often pass out of the stomach into the intestines intact.  These chunks, made of a tough core and covered in rough kernel hulls, are the perfect shape and texture to cause an intestinal obstruction.  Even more worrisome is the risk of intestinal perforation as the tissues struggle to move the indigestible cob.

Signs of intestinal obstruction can include vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, and appetite loss.  If you suspect your dog has consumed corn cobs (or any other foreign body), please call us immediately and come to the clinic (if it is overnight or after-hours, please proceed straight to an emergency clinic).

It is very important to try and remove the cob before it causes an obstruction. It is also urgent to remove the cob surgically if it is causing an obstruction, before it causes an intestinal perforation and life-threatening infection called septic peritonitis.


You can spot the corn cob in the above radiograph (red arrow). It is still in this dog’s stomach and shows the classic “honeycomb” texture associated with the kernel hulls. This corn cob was successfully removed before it passed into the intestines.

Dogs can be sneaky when they spot an unattended corn cob on the counter, or smell them in the trash. They can also ingest other dangerous objects often present in the summer such as peach pits, pinecones, or discarded bones from a barbecue. When you have finished enjoying your ear of corn or rack of ribs, please discard of the leftovers in a sealed garbage container that is inaccessible to your pet. 

As always, do not hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about your pet’s health and safety. Wishing you and your dog a safe and joyful summer!

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From the family of Brutus:

1. Tell us the basics about Brutus. Age, breed, coloring
2. What is Brutus' adoption story? Where did you get him? How did you know he was right for you?

Brutus is a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix.  He was adopted from the St Cloud Humane Society in March 2015 at an estimated age of 8 yrs old.  I think Golden Retrievers (especially Golden Retriever mixes) make great house pets.  When I noticed Brutus was a Golden Retriever mix, and, he was an older dog I had to go visit him.    



3. What are some of Brutus' favorite things? Toy, place to nap, best friend?

Brutus’ favorite toys are tennis balls.  His best friend is his neighbor Cody.

4. What is your favorite story about Brutus?

When I first met Brutus at the Humane Society he showed very little interest in me as his new pet owner.  We spent time inside in a room, and, outside and he was interested in everything except me.  It wasn’t until I said “well it’s time to go” that he looked at me and started to run between me and the door.  It was as if he was saying “take me with you”.  I could not leave him behind after that.  He has been clinging to my side ever since.

5. Tell us a bit about Brutus' experiences here at AWC

Brutus’ experiences at AWC have been awesome.  I had no idea how sick he was when I adopted him.  I assumed his low energy was due to his age and maybe diet.  Dr Moyer has successfully treated a heart condition, a thyroid condition, and, a digestive issue.  He is a completely different dog and even enjoys some play time now!

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From the Thorstad Family:

Kirby is a beautiful brown tabby, the oldest and the only male of the four. Over fifteen years ago, I adopted Kirby after he’d been live trapped behind a vet clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. I don’t think he had been on the streets for long, I think he just wandered away from his cat family and couldn’t find his way back. Kirby is beautiful, sweet, easy going but none too bright. He is the last of my military kitties, which means before I returned to Minneapolis; he traveled the world with me. As a consequence, whenever he sees a suitcase, he runs and hides. Hiding for Kirby consists of him sticking his head under a bed or a chair, never realizing that the rest of him is still clearly visible – in fact most often his tail is moving back and forth. But as long as his head is hidden so he can’t see you, he thinks he’s totally invisible. This also holds true at the vet, cover his head and he’ll let them do anything to him. Among Kirby’s other unusual quirks, he is a great forecaster of weather. I always know when it’s going to be more than a simple rainstorm when he heads into the hallway and attempts to melt into the floor. Of all my cats, he’s the one that purrs the most often and the loudest. He always seems content and happy, even as other cats are added to the family.

Gabby is the next oldest, and came to me after she wasn’t adapting well to changes in her life. Although Gabby is over 14 years old, she’s only been with me since 2011. Originally she was owned by a woman who married and had children. Gabby was doing well until the birth of their second child. After that she started over-grooming her back. After her first owner determined Gabby’s over-grooming wasn’t physical, she sent out an email looking for a new home for her. I got the email and got Gabby. Gabby’s name fits her as she is a little chatterbox. Although she doesn’t meow, she chirps and trills. She talks when she’s wandering around the house, lying down to take a nap, standing by her food bowl, even in her sleep. She sleeps next to my pillow, and once she’s curled up for the evening, she doesn’t move until morning. When she does move, it’s to wake me up with what is either a recap of her dreams or a scolding for me not getting up fast enough to feed her. Gabby’s favorite activity is to lie on her back in the middle of the hallway, she lets the other cats run back and forth by her over and over, and when they least expect it, she attacks. When she isn’t lying in the hall, she likes to try and convince to turn on the tap for her. Apparently fresh water from the tap cannot be beat and Gabby can be very persuasive.  

Monkey and Sydney are from the same litter and I adopted them from the Animal Wellness Center. I think I was meant to have these two as we all share the same birthday. They are both gray, short haired females and are almost impossible to tell apart. This is even after living with them for over 2 years. The only way I can tell them apart is by the kink in Monkey’s tail. Originally Monkey was named Beijing, but I renamed her after she showed her true love of climbing. Monkey is the friendliest cat I have ever met. As soon as anyone sits down, Monkey climbs into their lap without hesitation. She curls up and immediately starts to purr. My friends are constantly amazed that a cat they’ve never met will immediately jump up and lay down.

As for Sydney, she is much more reserved. She likes to sit and observe the world outside from her window in my office. The shelf in my office spans the full length of the 6 foot window so Sydney can chase birds or squirrels, all the while meowing. Next to Gabby, she is the chattiest cat. She seems to enjoy chatting with squirrels the most and I swear there’s one squirrel that likes to taunt her by sitting on a branch twitching its tail and chattering back at her. They both seem to enjoy conversing with each other.

Monkey and Sydney can be lying together sleeping one minute, chasing each other around the house another minute, or tumbling around together. But at the end of the day, it is with each other that they cuddle up and sleep…recharging their batteries.

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As I announce news of my departure from the Animal Wellness Center, I want to tell you it has been my honor and privilege to provide veterinary care for your cherished pets over the past 29 years. Thanks to your trust, my professional dreams and goals have come true. It has been an amazing journey. I have been, and will continue to be, grateful for each of you and every wet nose, soft paw, and surprise kiss your pets shared with me. I will miss each of you every day. We shared so much joy and laughter watching generations of puppies and kittens grow up and grow old. And we shared the grief and heartache when the time came to release them back to God’s care. I take those memories with me as I enter a new chapter in my life.

I am focusing the rest of my life on helping my profession adopt the philosophy of gentle, low-stress patient care. We are standing on the precipice of creating nationwide fear free veterinary teams and hospitals that embrace the importance of the emotional and psychological well-being of our patients.   I am proud to have been instrumental in Animal Wellness Center’s commitment to becoming one of the first veterinary hospitals in the country to receive certification in Fear Free Veterinary Care and Low Stress Handling.

As I leave, I know you will all continue to receive the same medical excellence and devotion to gentle and compassionate care you have always received at Animal Wellness Center. The staff will be all the familiar faces who know you and your beloved pets so well. So many times over the past 29 years I have wished you could see the devotion and care that my staff brings to each and every patient.  Animal Wellness Center will continue to be a leader in veterinary excellence as part of VCA Animal Hospitals. While you will see some cosmetic changes, know that the doctors and support staff continue to be committed to you and your pet’s physical and emotional health.


Dr. Carolyn Apker

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Tabitha is a beautiful, active tabby kitten who was adopted from a rescue organization when she was just three months old.  She was initially quite healthy, but soon started having problems with discharge from her nose, trouble breathing, and conjunctivitis in her eyes.  Many kittens with a background and symptoms like Tabitha have a viral upper respiratory infection. Unfortunately, Tabitha only improved partially with treatment. She continued to have trouble breathing, especially when she would play with her housemate and friend, Tiger Lily.  

When Tabitha underwent anesthesia to be spayed at the Animal Wellness Center, we looked behind her soft palate and noticed a large benign mass called a nasopharyngeal polyp.  Polyps are a common problem in young cats, and can occur in the back of the nose or inside the ears.  They can cause a range of problems, from trouble breathing to chronic ear infections.  Tabitha's polyp was removed, leaving her nose clear and her breathing easy!  We are so grateful for the ability to help our special friends like Tabitha.

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