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


Sue Maki

Sue Maki is the Practice Manager of Animal Wellness Center of Maple Grove.
We are writing to notify you of the emerging outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus in Minnesota, and the preventive measures that VCA Animal Wellness Center is taking to protect your pet.

Minnesota is experiencing an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) caused by the H3N2 strain, and recently positive cases were confirmed in nearby Ramsey and Wright counties.

 Canine influenza is highly contagious and can potentially cause life-threatening pneumonia.  This poses a threat to our pets in Hennepin County because:

  • 1) CIV can spread quickly -- infected dogs shed the virus before they show signs of illness.  Therefore PREVENTION with vaccination is critical!
  • 2) CIV can spread easily – it is a respiratory virus that transmits well in groups of dogs
  • 3) CIV is a relatively new virus in the dog population – which means your dog doesn’t have pre-existing immunity and will likely become ill if exposed to the virus.  

VCA Animal Wellness Center is committed to protecting your pet from CIV. We now carry the vaccine that protects against both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains that are circulating in the dog population.

Starting September 1st, we will require this vaccine for our daycare and boarding guests to protect them from the flu.  However, if you have boarding or daycare plans scheduled, we encourage you to start the vaccine now to build your dog’s immunity.

Does your dog spend time with groups of other dogs, such as in daycare, boarding facilities, dog shows, obedience classes, grooming salons, or dog parks? These are situations where a respiratory virus such as CIV can spread easily. Vaccination against both strains is currently recommended for any dogs that have a lifestyle compatible with exposure to the virus.

If your dog enjoys a social lifestyle as described above and you would like to protect them against CIV, please call our clinic at 763-420-7958 to set up the initial vaccination series (two injections, 3 weeks apart).  The vaccine can be updated once annually thereafter for dogs whose lifestyles continue to need it.

Most dogs that contract influenza will experience a mild respiratory illness, characterized by a moist cough, sneezing and nasal discharge, mild fever, and decreased appetite. Most of these patients will just need good supportive care to recover. However, a subset of these dogs will develop severe respiratory illness that may need hospitalization, intravenous fluids,  antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial pneumonia, nutritional support, and even oxygen support. Canine influenza can be fatal in a small percentage of cases.

Therefore, if you notice a cough or any of the other above symptoms in your dog, please call us right away to schedule an exam.

For more information about canine influenza and the latest outbreak updates, please visit doginfluenza.com or feel free to call us.


Image Credit:  WebSubstance / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Continue reading

We are proud to have Fear Free certified professionals on our team and are dedicated to caring for your pet’s emotional well-being as well as his or her physical well-being. We’d like you to know how we meet that goal. Is your pet showing signs of bad stress and anxiety before arriving at the veterinary office?

Ask us if pre-visit sedation or supplements might take the edge off and keep your pet happy and relaxed. Would your pet be more comfortable waiting in the car rather than the waiting room? Just let us know, and we’ll be glad to accommodate you. You’ll be brought into the exam room a few minutes before your pet will be seen because we’d like the two of you to spend some calm time together. This will allow your pet to explore the room and relax a little first. Special calming chemical signals, known as pheromones, are infused throughout the room. Only dogs and cats can smell them, and they find them relaxing. The music in the room is also specially created for canine and feline stress reduction. We promise to keep our voices low and calm, and to never use force to examine, test, or treat your pet. We’ll use gentle control techniques, innovative tools, and medication when necessary to ensure your pet’s emotional health isn’t sacrificed for the sake of medical care. Unless it’s medically inappropriate, we’ll be giving your pet lots of treats during the visit. This is so he or she starts associating a trip to the veterinarian with good things! That will keep stress levels low. Bringing your pet into the appointment hungry can help this process along! Some pets prefer to be examined up high, on the table, in your lap, in their carrier, or on the floor. We’ll go where we need to go to make your pet comfortable during the exam. We’ll also use specialized distraction techniques to keep your pet focused on good experiences while we perform procedures such as injections that might cause brief stress or pain.

Our Fear Free Commitment to You and Your Pet Questions? Just ask! We want you to be happy, too! Interested in learning more about Fear Free? Visit fearfreepets.com.


Continue reading
Gigi is a 9 year old, fawn and white Great Dane.

I got Gigi from the Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue. I had decided to adopt an older dog since they are harder to place in homes. Turns out she was probably a little younger than they thought, but lucky me - I get her for longer!

 Gigi's favorite toy is probably her Kong filled with treats. I give it to her before I leave for work to help with her separation anxiety. She barely notices that I have left!  She loves to nap anywhere there is sun, and her best friend is definitely my parent's dog, Sammy. 

I don't know if this should be my favorite, but I still think about the porcupine incident!  She saw something in the woods, but since she's pretty old and doesn't move too fast I wasn't too quick to go after her. She's never been able to catch a deer, squirrel, etc, whatever she might be chasing.  All of a sudden I heard a cry and knew it was a porcupine. Poor Gigi came running back to me with quills on her jaw.  I ran her into the nearest animal hospital so they could remove the quills.  Poor girl - it was a rough day for both of us!

I love bringing Gigi into AWC.  She had a rough start to her life before I had her.  It's pretty clear people were not very nice to her, but now she's spoiled as she should be and the staff at AWC make sure she's spoiled when she's there, too. She still gets nervous and will tremble as she sits next to me on the bench. Alyssa is always the first to come over with treats in hand to be sure she knows she doesn't need to be afraid.  Once we're called back to her room, she knows to stop to be weighed. Once in the room, she seems to be a little less nervous and the technicians and vets are so good with her.  They always sit on the floor with her and are so kind and patient. I can't imagine bringing Gigi anywhere else!

Continue reading
Mojo is a Domestic Shorthair. He is 9 years old and all white with amazing eyes like the Mediterranean Sea.  

Our story is the typical Animal Humane Society Cliché- When you rescue an animal from the AHS, they rescue you right back.  I found myself merely making a "quick visit" on my way home from babysitting on a Friday night.  I had an hour before AHS was closing to peruse.  As the facility was closing, a woman had been bit by an animal she wanted to adopt and I was witness to the incident. The woman wanted desperately to take this animal home but AHS needed to keep the animal for quarantine to ensure safety for animal and adopter.  I felt her pain in desire to take her new pal home, but completely knew it was in everyone's true best interest to be safe too!

As I was sitting there waiting for my "interview", I observed as staff was placing small E's on certain kennels. One of them was Mojo's.  I had been in to see Mojo earlier and besides his amazing eyes, it was a volunteer named Mike who said to me, "this little man is pretty special and has been here a long time....Everyone that comes here just goes for the young ones".  My heart sank.   

I know the staff wasn't supposed to tell me the answer to my question, but when I asked if that "E" meant what I thought, she said, "yes". If I left there on that Friday night and came back Saturday, Mojo would not have been there.  

I told the woman interviewing me that I would not be leaving without Mojo the White Cat!  I had never owned a cat and now, I cannot imagine a day without him!!

After adopting at the AHS, I was directed to find a veterinarian familiar with feline's within 10 days for evaluation. I had only lived in Maple Grove for a few years. I inquired with several people and got rave reviews about The Animal Wellness Center. I was blessed to get Mojo in and Dr. Katie Ambrose and the staff at AWC could not have been more welcoming to me and Mojo.  My nerves for being a new cat owner and adoptee of a "middle age" cat were put to ease immediately.  Mojo's AHS write up stated he was a chewer, defecated in places besides litter box and "talked too much". Upon arriving to his new home, he has been nothing but a dream! Uses the litter box without fault, has not ever done damage to his or my items and only yells at me when he has to go in his carrier! He has had the opportunity to stay and the luxury boarding and although the drive is his distain, his stay is very much a pleasure and he loves the staff at AWC!! His first stay, he actually hid up in the tunnel because he wasn't ready to come home!!

Mojo is a simple man. His favorite toy is a $0.38 little bird that I got at Mills Fleet Farm and cannot find anymore. The tail feather's are gone, I have sewn it twice and yet, he will always choose this as his 3a.m. toy hunt.

Mojo was his given name and when I looked it up, I found it to mean "charm or spell"....He certainly is a charm and has placed a spell on me since the moment I laid eyes on him at AHS and found my rescue!

AWC has been the best gift to both Mojo and owner. From check in, Vet Tech's, DVM, scheduling, follow up and check out....I have never had a better care experience for my pet's and owner.  

Continue reading
Meet our family!   Retired racing greyhounds:
  • Nessie - 11 years old, black and white, she had been in a couple of previous homes
  • Johnny - 10 years old, fawn (tan), we've had him since he was 2
  • Wyatt - 5 years old, black, also had him since he was 2
We have had 12 greyhounds over the past 19 years, including several foster dogs that we ended up adopting.  Our Greys have come through Greyhound Pets of America - MN, a local group that takes in retired racing Greys, fosters them, and finds permanent homes for them.  We don't foster any more, and usually have 3-4 permanent dogs at a time.  When we're ready to adopt again, we let the group know what sort of personality we're looking for, and they find a match.  To check out a new greyhound, we take a couple of our current dogs to the adoption appointment and see if they all get along.  With retired racers it only takes an hour or so to see how they connect since they're so used to being around other racing Greys all their lives.  Of course, we have to like them, too!

Wyatt's favorite toy is a knotted rope, which we lovingly call "dental floss".  It's the only toy he likes to chew.  He loves anything that squeaks! Johnny loves to lie in Greg's lap on the sofa in the evening, get petting and then fall asleep. Nessie has her own private sofa in the den that she loves to stretch out on for sleeping. She and Wyatt are best friends and lie close to each other where the sun hits the floor.

We knew Johnny wanted to be part of the family, when during his adoption appointment Greg took him outside for a bathroom break and Johnny peed on Greg's leg. Nessie loves to sneak a kitchen towel off the oven handle and stash it with her toys. Wyatt has taken to thoroughly licking Liz's hands and sometimes her face several times a day, especially when she's not well.  He is sensitive to her moods, and is a real comfort.

We started going to AWC in 1998, back when we had collies, a cat, and our first Greys.  We take our dogs regularly for their nail trims, plus they receive full and excellent care for regular exams, vaccinations, and the occasional illness or injury  The staff know us well and many of them lavish attention on the dogs (thanks, folks!).  We know most of the staff, including veterinary, boarding and grooming.  Wyatt sums it up best by getting super-excited to see everyone there - humans and pets - and enjoys making new friends every visit.  Other clients and their pets that come in while we're there are friendly and we enjoy our mutual time there.  We regularly recommend AWC to other people - the clinic is an unusually good, knowledgeable, thorough, compassionate, and clean, with a full range of services.

Continue reading