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

Print and Save
With one of the most fun, but also NOISY holidays fast approaching, here is a fabulous reference from Dr. Marty Becker.  Print this off today and place it where you can frequently access.  Many times we overlook these very common signs of stress, fear and anxiety in our pets.  
If your pet is one that is bothered by sounds of fireworks or other loud noises, schedule a visit with one of the Animal Wellness Center of Maple Grove veterinarians.  There are many ways that we can help to reduce the stress that your pets feel, whether situational or on a daily basis.
Continue reading
What is Canine Influenza?
  • Canine influenza can be caused by the influenza virus, which has numerous strains. The current outbreak that started in Chicago is caused by H3N2.
  • Canine influenza cannot infect humans or other animals except possibly cats.
How could my dog be exposed?
  • The highest risk of transmission currently is for dogs traveling to the Chicago area, and for dogs participating in sports or shows in which many dogs are brought together from different areas.
  • Dog classes, the dog park, grooming, boarding and day care facilities are all places of potential exposure.
  • Transmission of influenza is by aerosol (droplets in the air) – dogs do not need to touch another dog in order to become infected.
  • The virus can be transmitted on hands and surfaces and can live up to 48 hours on hard surfaces, 24 hours on soft surfaces such as clothing and bedding. Dogs in the same area as an infected dog are highly likely to become infected.
What are the symptoms of Canine Influenza?
  • Coughing, fever over 103, nasal discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing
How long after exposure will by dog get sick?
  • About 20% of dogs will become infected by the virus but will not get sick – just as sometimes humans can overcome the flu without significant illness.
  • Generally, signs of illness will occur 2-4 days after exposure to the virus.
Could my dog die?
  • About 3 to 8 out of a hundred dogs could become sick enough to die from this disease – most dogs will recover well with appropriate medical care.
How long will my dog be contagious?
  • The contagious period is up to 10 days after exposure – dogs will be most contagious before they show any sign of illness.
  • It is safe to consider them not contagious 10 days after they first become ill, or 2 weeks after potential exposure.
Should I vaccinate my dog against this disease?
  • There is no vaccine for this specific strain of influenza. There is a vaccine for a different strain, called H3N8, which is available. Currently, we do not know if this vaccine provides any protection against H3N2, but we do recommend vaccination for dogs at high risk (currently any dog traveling to Chicago or participating in dog shows/trials)
  • We may recommend vaccination with the H3N8 vaccine for our patients at some point, but currently it is not part of our core vaccines.
  • The vaccine is given as 2 doses 2 weeks apart and can be scheduled as a technician appointment so long as the dog has had a wellness examination in the last year.

Informational Links:



What is being done right now:

Due to the contagious nature of CIV, the  Animal Humane Society is doing the following (This information is directly from their website):

  • Animal Humane Society is consulting with a leading expert in shelter medicine, Dr. Sandra Newbury, of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin.
  • AHS is having nasal swab testing done at  the University of Wisconsin to confirm canine influenza infection. A second possible case has been identified and that dog is also undergoing treatment and testing. Animal Humane Society is working with these two families to cover the cost of treatment and care.
  • Effective immediately, AHS is halting dog adoptions and surrenders at the St. Paul facility only until they have confirmed that no animals in their care are infected.
  • All dogs with Kennel Cough or similar symptoms at the St. Paul facility have been isolated and are being tested for canine influenza today. The tests are expected in by 4 p.m. tomorrow, June 19, 2015.
  • Although veterinary staff at AHS do not believe that canine influenza has made its way to the other AHS other shelters, AHS is testing all dogs with Kennel Cough and implementing enhanced protocols across all five locations.
  • Animal Humane Society is reaching out to families of dogs adopted from the St. Paul facility in the last 30 days, urging them to contact their veterinarian if symptoms develop.
  • Dogs in Animal Humane Society’s boarding facilities (Animal House and Now Boarding) do not share staff, facilities, or equipment with the population of adoptable animals.

The Animal Humane Society will be updating their website as new information becomes available. 

Continue reading
Why does your dentist tell you to brush your teeth at least twice a day? It is to break up the thin layer of plaque that forms on teeth quickly even in a healthy mouth. If not broken up with brushing, the plaque starts to accumulate and mineralize into calculus (tartar).  Once mineralized, tartar requires more force to remove, which is why you have your teeth scaled and polished once or twice a year at the dental office.

Take a peek in your dog or cat’s mouth. Many of our patients have some level of periodontal disease, even in young adulthood. Signs of gum infection and pain include bad breath, a bright red gumline, hard yellow tartar accumulation, and even bleeding and gum recession. Without oral care, periodontal disease leads to tooth loss, pain, and possibly serious complications like jaw abscesses or fractures.

Luckily, we are empowered these days as pet owners to take care of our pets’ mouths.  It is recommended to have your dog or cat’s teeth professionally cleaned once annually. This is the only way to get plaque and tartar out from under your pet’s gumline, where it is able to cause rapid progression of infection and bone loss.  However, it is equally important that we don’t forget about our pets’ teeth the other 364 days of the year! 

To prevent tooth loss in between cleanings, we recommend daily brushing with veterinary toothpaste, for the same reason that your dentist recommends daily brushing for your oral health. Dogs and cats build up a plaque layer every day, and that plaque mineralizes into stubborn tartar in LESS than 48 hours. This means that if we are only brushing weekly or monthly, periodontal disease will progress despite our efforts.  It also means that DAILY brushing is the best way to prevent mineralization of plaque and the cascade of periodontal disease that follows.

On a side note, you may have encountered “grooming packages” that offer to brush your dog’s teeth for an additional fee. Please be aware that a single tooth brushing session cannot appreciably reduce dental disease in your pet – pick up some pet toothpaste and a pet-certified toothbrush instead for a much better value.

There are many additional dental products available for our pets. Plaque-fighting products such as water additives, dental chews and toys, and protective gum gels are all excellent additional tools in preventing periodontal disease. If at any time you would like a demonstration of how to brush your pet’s teeth (including tips on introducing it successfully to older or reluctant pets, various toothbrush and toothpaste options, and other helpful hints), please give us a call!

Image credit:  Александр Ермолаев | Thinkstock
Continue reading

Dog Bite Prevention Week just wrapped up, but we're recapping some important points to remember, especially in the upcoming summer months.  


Dog Bites by the Numbers
Continue reading


The idea to adopt a dog is something that crept up on me over a period of time.  I particularly enjoyed when I would enter a business and there was an old dog there who was the unofficial greeter and assistant manager in all matters of customer interaction.  These were usually older, gentle, mellow souls that wanted nothing more than to be near you and maybe an occasional pat on the head.  I must have mentioned my growing interest to my wife, Jane, because one day she came home from work and showed me a flier for a dog needing a home.  “Lincoln” the Labradoodle was 1.5 years old and had been with an older couple since he left the litter. 

The older gentleman had some health setbacks and was now in a wheelchair.  He could no longer manage this 75 pound, high energy dog.  Jane talked to the coworker who was distributing the flier and learned that the couple had been trying, unsuccessfully, to find a home for quite a while and were considering having him put to sleep.  After some discussion about the costs, responsibilities, risks, and rewards of having a dog, we decided to adopt Lincoln. 

There is another interesting, but long story about getting Lincoln from his current home in Illinois to our home in Minnesota, but suffice it to say here, that with the help of some very good friends he came to Minnesota via Missouri after another family adopted him before us and decided not to keep him.

When Lincoln arrived, he was absolutely beautiful.  He could have been on the cover of Labradoodle magazine (if there is such a publication).  He seemed very sad, though.  He was obviously a little shell-shocked from all the changes he had been through in the past weeks.  He arrived at the start of a weekend, with his toys and Scooby Doo blanket, and we did our best to make him feel comfortable in his new home.  I started a walking regimen each morning, which seemed to be a highpoint in his day.  He walked perfectly, with a loose leash, right by my side.

When Monday arrived and we had to go to work, we said goodbye and put him in his kennel.  We would be gone from about 8:00 until noon, home for an hour or so, and then gone from 1:00 to 5:00.  When we returned at noon, we found that he had broken the plastic floor out of his metal kennel, shredded rug underneath, and also his Scooby Doo blanket.  When it came time to leave again, it was difficult to get him back into his kennel.  He wanted to go with us.

Things went downhill from there.  When he thought we were leaving, even if it was just to take the garbage out, he would try to force his way out the door with us.  When we actually did have to leave, it took a long time to get him into his kennel.  We felt terrible each time we left.  We went to see the Veterinarian and explained our situation.  She was wonderful!  She explained that he was exhibiting signs of separation anxiety and provided us with training materials on how to work with him to get past it.  She cautioned that many people would be telling us to get another dog, but that this does not always solve the problem, and we already had our hands full.  She prescribed some medications to try to relax him including Prozac, which takes a while to become effective.

We did all of the training. Stand up and then sit down a hundred times. Stand up, walk to the door, turn around, come back and sit down again a hundred times.  Same thing but this time pick up your keys and put them down.  All of these things had to be repeated over and over to try to desensitize the triggers of his anxiety.  It improved slightly, but not enough.  One day we came home to find that he had broken out of his kennel and destroyed every window blind in the house.  He chewed up rugs, boots, everything he could get his mouth on.  At one point he got into the closet and shredded everything in it. 

I reinforced the kennel so that he could not escape but it was sad to come home at noon and find him lying in a pool of his own drool and near panic.  I continued to walk him 2 to 3 miles at 5:00 every morning before work.  He was almost the perfect dog when we were home, but became a nervous wreck if we left.  We had started spreading our lunch hours out so that one of us would come from noon to 1:00 and the other from 1:00 to 2:00 so that he would be kenneled as little as possible.  We could not leave the house together when we were not working because we did not want to put him through any more stress.  Our lives became committed to caring for our special needs dog.  Over the next three years, he improved somewhat, but was still very upset whenever we left and had to be secured in his kennel whenever we left the house.

Chapter 2

Enter Ryan

Three years later on a cold day in early March, the same coworker who brought Lincoln to our attention, who happens to be the wife of the police chief, told Jane about a puppy that was rescued from the Redwood River.  The Redwood River is a very small, slow-moving river most of the year, but when the snow melts in the Spring, it swells into a very fast moving current with lots of ice and debris in the water.  A citizen called the police to report that someone threw a litter of puppies in the river and the police chief and Officer Ryan responded a little ways downstream to try to find them.

When they spotted the dogs, there were only two left in the swift current.  One was in the water and the other was balanced on a piece of ice.  When we heard the story from the Veterinarian, we were told that Officer Ryan jumped into the river to save them; an incredibly brave act in that frigid water.  When we later spoke to the officer, he humbly told us that he was reaching out to try to grab one of the pups and he fell in, gun, radio, and all.  He managed to reach the one in the water and threw it up onto the shore.  When he turned, the one on the ice was gone and was never seen again.

The chief helped him out of the river and, while the officer went back to the station to change and warm up, he took the remaining pup to the Veterinarian’s office in his patrol car.  He put it under the heater and rubbed it vigorously whenever it went limp several times on the way to the Veterinarian’s office.  The Veterinarian put it under heat lamps and told us that it was hours before the little pup registered a temperature.  Eventually he began to regain consciousness and recovered pretty steadily after they got his body temperature up near normal.  The examination revealed that his tail had been docked and his dew claws removed.  He had to be dewormed because they found that he was full of them.

Jane’s coworker told her that, when puppies are this young, the Vet cannot leave them alone at the veterinary office, so one of the employees or doctors have to take them home with them unless there is a family willing to provide foster care at night and over the weekends.  Jane’s coworker mentioned this to us and we decided to offer to care for the puppy that weekend thinking it was something nice we could do for the Veterinarian and her staff who had been so kind to us and to Lincoln, and also to see how Lincoln would react to having another dog in the house.  


Lincoln was very interested in the new puppy but kept his distance initially.  We fell in love with the little pup and decided to adopt him.  We named him “Ryan” after the policeman who saved him from the river.

We kenneled both dogs when we left and put the kennels near each other.  Almost overnight, Lincoln became calm.  Ryan enticed Lincoln to play with him and, even though he was just a pup, seemed to be leading Lincoln in some ways.  

Screenshot 2015-05-21 12.51.02


Over the next couple months, Lincoln found his smile again.  (Lincoln has a great smile)  Our morning walks now involved two dogs and became more adventurous with some off leash trips into the woods.  The boys really love to be out in the trees, grass, and brush.  Lincoln loves to run into water whenever we encounter it.  Understandably, Ryan is a little less enthusiastic about water.  He keeps a respectful distance from it at all times.

Eventually, we tested a short departure from the house without kenneling the dogs and returned to find no damage whatsoever.  Since then, neither dog has had to be kenneled.  We are able to come and go as we need to without worrying.  Ryan gave us back our freedom.  

Screenshot 2015-05-21 12.51.09

We recently had Ryan DNA tested and learned that he is one half purebred German Shorthair Pointer going back many generations and the other half is a mix of Siberian Husky and something else.  I am pretty sure the “something else” is an angel because his rescue and the effect he has had on our family are both miracles.   


Continue reading