Archives for May 2011

Annually Awesome

Going to the vet doesn't have to be a hair-raising experience!

Summer is fast approaching, and with a little more daylight, and much better weather, this is a perfect time of the year to bring your dog or cat in to see us for an annual exam (especially if it has been awhile since your pet has seen a vet). Even if your pet’s health is stellar, annual exams are recommended for a myriad of reasons, including:

1) Prevention and early detection are the most cost effective ways to maintain your pet’s health (“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”)

2) Some vaccines must be administered annually, such as bordetella (kennel cough), and lepto, among others. Also, dogs and cats need boosters one year after their last set of puppy or kitten vaccines, and rescued animals need boosters one year after their initial vaccines (usually around one year after adoption, your adoption paperwork should state when they are next due for all vaccines).

3) Pets age much more rapidly than humans, and may experience dramatic shifts in health between exams that should be monitored by a veterinarian.

4) In order for us to legally refill prescriptions, your pet must have been seen by a veterinarian within the last year. This helps us ensure that your pet is on the proper medication at the appropriate dose for their current state of health. Some medications such as antibiotics and steroids may require more frequent check-ups.

5) Yearly screenings (heartworm tests, fecal exams, and other bloodwork) can help diagnose conditions of varied magnitude before your pet has any symptoms. Recently, Dr. Johnson recommended an abdominal ultrasound for a senior boxer during a routine physical. The ultrasound revealed a cancerous mass on the dog’s spleen, and she was able to undergo a life-saving splenectomy the following week.

The above handful of reasons to never become a stranger to Encina are only scratching surface as to why annual exams have become de rigueur in veterinary medicine. Why do we really want you to come in? Because it is our job to enhance the lives of your pets by being guardians of their health. We also enjoy cultivating the relationships that we have with you, our clients. I cannot tell you how many times a conversation with a pet parent about their “baby” has buoyed the spirits of my coworkers or myself. We enjoy bringing you the best veterinary care possible, and the environment at Encina definitely lends itself to providing you just that. Every doctor that gives your pet a once over has the ability to confer immediately with our specialists should they feel they need input on a case. For example, if Dr. Jurewicz (one of our general practice doctors) hears a murmur while listening to your puppy’s heart, she can have Dr. Wang (our Internal Medicine resident) take a listen in the treatment room to confirm her finding, for no additional fee. Conversely, if Dr. Christofferson (another of our general practice doctors) notices that your cat has balance issues, she can easily consult with Dr. Adamo (our neurologist) to see if he notices the same deficits in coordination. In addition to our unique collectivist approach to medicine, our doctors are backed by the latest and greatest surgical and diagnostic tools, such as a digital x-ray machine, ultrasound machines, endoscopy/laparoscopy equipment, and a CT scanner.

We hope to see you around these parts soon! We have appointments available from 8a to 8p Monday-Friday, and from 8a to 12n on Saturdays. Please call (925)937-5000 to set up an annual exam for your pet today. You can e-mail with questions 24 hours a day.

Will You Help Meowwwt?

Glory B, one of the kitties looking for a forever home

Helping animals is an obvious prerogative for anyone in the field of veterinary medicine, but we are always impressed by the lengths some of our fellow professionals go to assist animals and the people attached to them. Such is the case of the doctors and staff at Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital (where I got my start as a kennel tech so many moons ago). One of their elderly clients, Bobbi, passed away recently, leaving seventeen cats behind. Bobbi’s animals were her life, and she provided all of them with love, food, shelter, and veterinary care. Unfortunately, her passing meant that her beloved pets were rendered homeless. The staff at Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital, led by Dr. Louisa Asseo and Kadeth Pozzesi, RVT, has begun an adventure in cat rescue with a mission to find forever homes for all of Bobbi’s cats. Their story touched us all at Encina, especially Christina, our administrative assistant, who launched a plan to ask cat food companies for donations to help Hillcrest feed their charges. Purina, Royal Canin, Iams, and Hill’s Science Diet stepped up to the plate, and through their generosity we were able to procure 400 cans of food for Bobbi’s cats, which weighed in at over 200 pounds! We delivered the food to Kadeth at Hillcrest last week, who was grateful for the donation. Though the food definitely helped their cause, there is still much more to be done for the cats. Many are still in need of homes, and donations of food, money, and time are very much needed and appreciated. We would like to thank the people involved in the rescuing of Bobbi’s cats for being an inspiration, you are all heroes in our book!

Contact Info for Bobbi’s Cats:

Please visit the website for Bobbi’s cats at, and see Gary Bogue’s blog entry on the topic here:

A Pawdicure for a Prince

Walking by his office yesterday, it was hard to escape Big Al’s demanding gaze. A bite of boiled chicken did little to quell his ire towards me, as we are nearly halfway through May and I have not yet indulged our blog readership with photos of the self-proclaimed Prince of Encina. The way the fluorescent lights hit his shiny coat reminded me of a day last summer when I decided to take Alex’s good looks to the next level. Upon finding pink nail polish in an exam room drawer (used as a fur-marking device), I knew that it was time for Big Al to have the spa day he had long deserved. In his office he gracefully lent me each paw, looking down his nose at me like the servant I am to him. After the pawdicure was complete, he graciously posed for our cameras.

Looking This Good is a Full-Time Job

His father, Dr. Nurre, failed to notice the pretty polish, and had to be directed to Alex’s new look. The nail lacquer remained in place until it work off a week or so later, but not before a man stopped the Nurres on a hike to admire their “manly” dog. Noting Big Al’s impressive size, the man complimented Dr. Nurre on his brutish beast, but as his gaze drifted to my handiwork, his tone changed. Some people just don’t understand that Big Al’s handsome style crosses all boundaries of gender and breed.

Pink is Definitely His Color

It’s the Time of the Season…For Foxtails!

Mom Always Says, Don’t Play Ball in the Foxtails!

My casino at Mother’s Day seemed to have a common theme, and that would be the peril of the much-hated player. We found these player in the paws, noses, ears, and throats of several pooches, all of whom were guilty of little more than trying to enjoy a nice play at online casinos österreich with their moms. Needless to say, today seems to be the perfect time to discuss the plant in all of its glory, so that you can consider yourself informed and prepared for this most prickly of threats to your player well-being.

Know Your Dog’s Enemy



The Terrorist of the Plant World



Foxtails are the seed-bearing part of some types of grasses. Their design is such that they can easily work their way into soil in the direction of their pointed end, but cannot be removed simply by being pulled out the same way they went in, as their microscopic barbs prevent backwards movement. This works wonders for the plants in soil, but wreaks havoc on the skin, or in the eyes, ears, throats, and noses of your pet. Once the foxtails have entered the skin or orifice, they continue to burrow inward, riding the vibrations of the animal’s movements.

No Need For A Reconn Mission

Perhaps one of the most annoying characteristics of the foxtail is that it is by no means a hidden danger. Foxtails are found along pathways, hiking trails, in open spaces, or even in your own backyard. Nicholas even found some when he reviewed Newhall Park in a blog last week (see below).

Warning Signs

Some symptoms that indicate that your pet may have a foxtail imbedded are as follows:

Paws: Limping, licking, favoring a certain leg or paw; foxtails “like” to embed themselves in between the toes of dogs and cats walking amongst the weeds.

Ears: Shaking of the head, pawing at the ears, foxtails easily work their way into the ears because head shaking only causes them to move further inward. A chronic ear infection or foreign body reaction may develop if a foxtail enters the ear canal.

Nose: If your pet has ever had a foxtail up his or her nose, you already know the sound of the deep, gutteral sneeze that takes place. Sneezing, blood and/or discharge from the nostrils are all signs that your pet may have inhaled a one of the little buggers. Foxtails may travel from the nose all the way to the lungs or spinal column.

Mouth: Coughing, gagging, disinterest in food, pawing at the mouth.

Body: An inflamed, painful lump may form anywhere on the body as it tries to rid itself of the foxtail.

One of the More Minor Paw Injuries Caused by a Foxtail

How to Prevent Foxtail Tragedy

For dog owners: after every outing inspect your dog for foxtails, particularly the ears, eyes, nose, paws, and mouth. This is also helpful in tracking down ticks as well. Steer clear of areas that are infested with dry weeds, whenever possible. There are hoods that may be purchased online that prevent foxtails from entering the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes:

For outdoor cat owners: cats are not immune to this problem. When your kitty comes in for feeding, take the time to give him or her a once over checking for the unfortunate little weed. It is not uncommon for cats to have foxtails become lodged in their eyes as they are walking through the tall grass.

A Few Words of Advice

Dogs and cats may sneeze at foxtails, but they can cause some serious problems. At Encina we have seen animals with pneumothorax (collapsed lung), dangerous infections that can only be treated with surgery, and animals that have lost eyes as a result of this innocuous looking plant.

If you have foxtails in your yard, clear them out now, before the grasses dry out any further.

If a foxtail is even slightly embedded, do not attempt to remove it on your own, as any pieces left behind may cause serious infection.

Be aware that once a foxtail has embedded, it isn’t going away. Call us at (925)937-5000 if your pet is exhibiting any of the signs mentioned above.

Appetite for Dog beds And Destruction

What the Victim Looked Like Prior to the Carnage

Hints of Disaster

The Perpetrator Amongst The Ruins

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

He May Not Be A Smooth Criminal, But He Definitely is A Cute One

Coming home to a fluff flurry is something many dog owners can relate to. In the case of Oliver, above, it was a bit of a cotton blizzard. “Ollie the Super Dog” was definitely feeling no shame that day when his dad returned, even playfully posing for some crime scene photos. Oliver has been a patient at Encina Veterinary Hospital since puppyhood (last year), and we love his unbreakable spirit. Please e-mail us your pet crime photos to A special thanks to Ollie’s dad Jeff for sharing his photos with us!

A Dog Walk to Remember


I'm Nicholas, Your Guest Dog Blogger...Would That Make Me a Dlogger?

Hello, my name is Nicholas, and I am a pint sized mutt with a big personality. My mom normally writes this blog, but she has been so busy with school these days that I took her on a walk this morning and then told her to relax while I take over. I figured it was the least I could do since she rescued me from a shelter in San Francisco a little over two months ago. My life has been so much better now that I don’t have to worry about where my next bowl of kibble is coming from.

We decided to go to our local hangout, Newhall Park in Concord. I am new to the area, but I really like this place. It has nice pathways to walk on, plenty of trees to mark, and the best entertainment ever…squirrels!! So we arrived in the parking lot, and first things first, mom put my leash and harness on me (in Concord dogs must be leashed – it’s the law). She also got out the training treats she had packed, I overheard her telling my dad that she was going to “work with me on my barking problem,” while we were out on our walk. You see, I get a little too excited sometimes when I see other dogs, and well, I yell at them as they pass by. Sometimes I say bad words to the other dogs, for no reason at all… it’s like I can’t help myself. So once we were all ready, we started on the path around the park.

We left the parking lot and looped around all of the surrounding fields. There are always lots of my squirrel buddies on the shady paths in that part of the park. Mom forgot to grab a free Mutt Mitt from the dispenser near the parking lot, so I politely held it until she was able to bag up near the human bathrooms. There were no other dogs to yell at for the first part of the walk, so Mom called my name every so often and praised me with a treat, and a “good boy!”  every 50 yards or so. This helps Mom to get my attention when I start to see red around other dogs. She learned this trick from Maggie, one of the doctor’s assistants at Encina who knows a lot about training dogs (fun fact: she volunteers her behavioral skills at the shelter where my mom got me).

We stopped and paused at the duck pond so that I could say hi to some of the locals. I managed not to bark at them, but they were a little snobby and tended to waddle away with a brusque “quack” when I leaned in for a sniff. It was a very peaceful place, and there were a lot of humans relaxing on the benches near by. We were at the park for the business of blowing off steam though and had to keep our heart rates up, so we didn’t pause for too long.

After the duck ponds was the off-roading excursion that leads to what I call “The Big Hill.” I have heard my humans refer to it as “Memorial Hill.” Whatever it’s called, it sure is steep for someone of my stature. After a quiet walk surrounded by trees the path forks, and of course Mom didn’t want to go the easy way (neither did I). I usually struggle to walk next to my person like I’m supposed to, but it isn’t hard to slow the pace on the steep gravelly part of the climb.We walked by several dogs and Mom said my name and had me sit for a treat while they passed, which definitely distracted me from barking.

Once you reach the top it is heaven! I love to survey my “kingdom”, I can almost see all the way to my grandparents’ house in Benicia, and I can definitely see my dad’s house in Concord. The wind carries such great smells up there… fresh air, wild animals, and so much more. I want to run and play in the dry grasses, but Mom held me back today because she didn’t want me to get a foxtail stuck in my nose, eyes, or paws (see the bad stuff above in the second picture from the left). She also tried to keep my nose out of the numerous animal holes, but the rat terrier in me found them hard to resist. We took a moment of silence for the veterans of the Vietnam war (Mom said that happened even before she was born, so it must have happened a really long time ago), and started our descent.

Can you see the smile on my face?

The way down is a little slippery for humans, I definitely try to stay out of harm’s way in case my mom falls on the way down (she seems a bit klutzy to me). The best part about going downhill is that the dog park is the next and last stop on the walk. I still have some more training to do before I feel okay around other dogs, but we always stop in the entrance for a drink at the doggy drinking fountain. There are separate parks for big dogs (over 30 pounds) and little dogs (under 30 pounds), to help make sure everyone stays safe. I held in my barks even without treats, and got lots of praise on the way out. One woman even complimented Mom on how good I was, which made her laugh.

All in all, it was a great way to spend an hour of our morning together. I tried to ask for another meal when we got home, but even my cutest face didn’t work (can’t blame a guy for trying). So now that I am done blogging, I think I will take my afternoon nap in the office while Mom gets some work done. See you on our next adventure!

See you on the flip-side, it's nap time!

While You’re Away Your Pets Will Play…But Where?

The weather is warming up (finally) and many of us are beginning to plan for summer vacations. Whether your adventure will have you away from home for one night or several weeks, now is the time to explore your options for petcare so that you can really enjoy that icy cold beverage beachside. We receive a lot of calls this time of year asking for recommendations of petsitters, kennels, and boarding facilities. Admittedly, petcare can be a last minute afterthought, not because we don’t care about our pets, but because we are so accustomed to our routines that we forget that our best buddies on four legs have to stay behind while we travel. Read on for a breakdown of your options, as well as helpful tips for planning the perfect pet stay-cation.

1) Have a family member or friend watch your pets. If you are fortunate enough to have lots of family close by, this can be a great option for petcare while you are out of town. This works especially well when you know a teenager looking to earn some gas money or iTunes giftcards. Make sure to leave a detailed set of directions, as family members may or may not be seasoned petsitters. Also, if there are times during your travels that you may not be reached, please leave a signed consent form for emergency veterinary treatment indicating that your petsitter is allowed to have your pet treated in the case of an emergency at our facility for a specific dollar amount in the event that you are off of the grid. We have a standard form available at our front desk, that can be faxed or mailed to you if needed prior to your trip (also available for pick-up).

2) Hire a petsitter to either stay at your home, or make visits for feedings and TLC. There are lots of petsitting services that are available in our area, has detailed reviews of many of these businesses. Also, we have a list of staff members who petsit available if you call us at (925)937-5000. You can decide based on your pet’s needs whether or not you would like someone to stay in your home. Overnight stays are typically recommended for any animals that are elderly, on medications, or pets with chronic conditions, as well as for pets with separation anxiety. Be sure to communicate with your chosen petsitter your expectations for the routine that will take place while you are away, and again a written list of instructions is always a good idea. Day visits tend to work best for cats, and for dogs with potty-area access. Also, be sure to leave the signed consent form for emergency veterinary treatment mentioned above.

3) Board your pet at a local facility. We have a list of boarding recommendations available at Encina that we can either send to you or give to you over the phone. Boarding facilities can range from swanky boutique pet hotels with webcams to standard kennels with indoor and outdoor runs. This option is great if you are planning a shorter vacation, and for cats and dogs that do well away from home. Each facility may have unique vaccine requirements, so be sure to check with them at least 2-3 weeks prior to leaving to make sure that you have time to catch your animals up on booster shots if needed. Standard vaccines that boarding facilities require are rabies, distemper, and bordetella (kennel cough) for dogs, and rabies and FVRCP (distemper) for cats. 

4) Board your pets at Encina Veterinary Hospital…if he or she will be taking medications during while you are away. We board dogs and cats strictly for medical reasons (bandage changes, medications, physical therapy, etc.). This tends to work well for animals with serious health conditions, and for those that would benefit from 24/7 monitoring. Call and speak to one of our receptionists for scheduling at (925)937-5000. We have a team of kennel technicians dedicated to serving our boarders, overseen by RVTs at all times. Of course, we also have a veterinarian on staff at all times, and a technician responsible for monitoring boarders during the night.

Regardless of which option you choose for petcare while you are away, Encina is open round the clock for any emergency or question that may arise. If you are a client here at EVH, take comfort in knowing that a veterinarian has access to your pet’s medical records at any time day or night, any day of the year. So on behalf of our hospital, we wish you a happy and safe summer!