Archives for June 2011

The 2011 ACVIM Conference

Dr. Adamo, during his presentation in Denver

Earlier this month, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine hosted its annual conference in Denver, which brought specialty veterinarians from around the globe together in one place for a meeting of the veterinary minds. We would like to congratulate our very own neurologist Dr. Filippo Adamo for his contribution to the conference, as he presented on “Recent Developments in the Surgical Treatment of Caudal Cervical Spondylomelopathy in Dogs.” What does that mean in plain English, you may wonder? Basically, Dr. Adamo has developed a surgical technique in which he uses an artifical disc of his own design to treat various neurological conditions of the spine, most notably Wobbler’s Syndrome. Dr. Adamo is originally from Italy, and has been with EVH for nearly two years, seeing neurological cases every Monday and Thursday.

Part of Dr. Adamo's Presentation

Other veterinarians from Encina also attended the conference, including Dr. Jenifer Wang and Dr. Stephen Atwater. Continuing education is a requirement for the job of veterinarian, but at Encina we pride ourselves as being on top of current trends in veterinary medicine. Thus, we often take advantage of conferences such as ACVIM to provide our docs with new perspectives.

For more information regarding the ACVIM Conference, please visit their website by clicking here

An interesting article regarding the conference is found here

For more information about Dr. Adamo’s work, and access to his published research, please visit his website

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Adamo, please call us at (925)937-5000, he is available to see appointments between 10a and 5p Mondays and Thursdays.

Update on Ice Bear, One Cool Cat

Excited to be home at last!

We received an update from Ice Bear’s parents, along with some recovery pictures, enjoy:

“He is doing extremely well. Stitches out, and now he gets to go outside. He doesn’t seem to wander much yet, just content to hang close. That’s fine by us.”

Dreaming of the days when he can go back outside...

Stitches out, stockingnette off!

Lazing in the grass at last (under supervision)!

Bee-Ware of Insect Stings and Bites This Summer!

Happy summer! This morning at 10:16a the season officially changed, and we here at Encina welcome the longer days and warmer weather (though today is a little too hot for our taste)! Another hallmark of summer, for veterinarians and staff at least, is the influx of emergency cases we see that involve an unfortunate meeting between a pet and an insect that can result in an allergic reaction like the one you see above. Meet Samson, a gregarious boxer that normally resembles the handsome picture you see towards the left. A bee sting yesterday rendered him a little, shall we say…swollen, still good looking but definitely not his normal stunning self. Just as some people are allergic to bees and others are not, such is the case in pets. Symptoms may range from mild redness, swelling, and itching, to vomiting, difficulty breathing, collapse, and even death. We often get calls from worried owners about their pets having swollen faces, and it is our recommendation to have these animals come in for a visit because facial swelling can precede life-threatening airway obstruction. Most minor to moderate reactions typically require an examination by a veterinarian and two injections, an antihistamine and a steroid, which combat the swelling and discomfort.

Look at the Swelling Surrounding Samson's Eyes and Muzzle!

Avoiding bees and other bugs may seem to be nearly impossible, but keeping your pet out of clovers and blooming, ground-covering plants is a good idea this time of year. Remove any hives from your yard (we recommend calling a professional to do so), bees typically build hives under awnings and in trees while wasps nest on the ground. It is not advisable to apply insect repellent to your pet, as the ingredients may not be safe for animal use. Please call us at (925)937-5000 if you suspect that your pet is having a reaction to an insect sting or bite, we are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

For further information, please visit UC Davis’ webpage on the topic by clicking here

Miracle Maggie

Maggie, Politely Asking For Breakfast

One of the most famous patients at Encina is Maggie Della Valle, who has been seeing Dr. Atwater for over 13 years. Though her parents stand out as kind and caring owners, and her sweet countenance makes exams a pleasure, it is Maggie’s medical history that is the cause of her notoriety around the hospital. Maggie was diagnosed with lymphoma at age 3, after her family noticed a mass near her rectum. She was treated with a chemotherapy protocol that typically yields median remission time of 10 months, and a median survival time of 14 months. Although she has come out of remission one time since her original treatment, after two total rounds of chemo she is currently considered to be in complete remission, at the age of 16! As Dr. Atwater says, it is “extremely rare for any dog to survive as long as she has with her disease,” and that she is essentially “cured of her disease, although the word cured is not a certainty, the length of time that the cancer does not appear to have recurred would be considered a cure by some definitions of the word in veterinary medicine.”

View From the Bowl

Maggie and her brother are personal friends of mine, and, trust me, her moxie is definitely still evident! Maggie enjoys eating as much as any Labrador I’ve ever met, and patiently waits for her snack of Charlee Bears treats and boiled chicken at 9pm each evening. We at Encina would like to applaud Maggie for beating the odds, and for disproving the theory that the good always die young.

Kenji and Maggie Hanging Out At Home

The Pets of Encina…

Thanks to our fabulous in-hospital photographer Julia, we have acquired some very cute photos of our staff and their pets. Perhaps we are biased, but we feel that our animals are definitely calendar-worthy (pet agents, feel free to contact us if you see the model potential below).

Chewabacca, Julia's German Shepherd, is Always Ready For His Close-Up

Shannon and Her English Setter Jenna

Melina's Kitten Chum Chum Has Serious Cattitude

A Foxtail Tale With a Happy Ending

Ice Bear Fashionably Recovering

You may recall a blog post from last month regarding foxtails, one of summer’s most common veterinary snafus. We recently had a peculiar case in which a foxtail ended up in a very unlikely place. Dr. Nurre recounts the tale of Ice Bear’s illness and recovery (warning, some of the pictures are graphic):

“We recently had a cat, Ice Bear, referred to our hospital with a week long history of not wanting to eat , slight cough, and being very lethargic.  His signs were vague and could have been caused by many different underlying medical conditions.  The referring veterinarian had done bloodwork and taken radiographs of the Ice Bear’s entire body.  There was a subtle abnormality seen radiographically in one of the cat’s lung lobes.

After I examined Ice Bear it was apparent that he was feeling very sick.  I recommended using ultrasound to visualize Ice Bear’s internal organs.  The owner consented.  First, we ultrasounded Ice Bear’s abdomen which looked normal.  Then we ultrasounded his chest.  Ultrasound evaluation of his heart looked normal.  No leaky heart valves, contractility [the ability of the heart to contract] appeared normal, and no evidence of heart chamber enlargement.

Around the heart and lungs I could see a large amount of fluid which was very abnormal.
Using ultrasound guidance I passed a needle into his chest (careful not to hit his heart or lungs) and extracted some of this fluid.  The fluid analysis confirmed it was pus.  Then the question was what caused the pus to build up in the chest?  With ultrasound I could see in the left caudal  lung lobe an unusual structure that resembled a foxtail.

The red arrow on the ultrasound image indicates the location of the foxtails within the lung

I discussed with the owner that if this was a foxtail we would need to remove it to give Ice Bear a chance to survive.  The surgery was risky, but our board-certified surgeon, Dr. Carl Koehler, did a great job.  He successfully removed the 2 foxtails and lung lobe, because it was so diseased, and flushed the pus from the chest.  Ice bear recovered well and went home  the following day eating and acting quite normal. ”

The Foxtails Embedded in the Lung

The Troublesome Pair of Foxtails Following Removal

Congratulations to Ice Bear on a successful recovery! If you suspect that your pet has inhaled a foxtail, or if you notice swollen lumps or bumps on your pet that popped up quickly, call us 24 hours a day at (925)937-5000.

Encina Celebrates the Sporting Dogs, Meet Maximillian!

Ready For Action

Can you see the smile on his face?

Max Strikes a Pose

The handsome and lanky gentleman you see in the pictures above is Maximilian Von Reifschneider, one our patients that has double duty as a loving family pet and as a sporting dog. Max is a German Shorthaired Pointer, or GSP as we call them in the veterinary world. Pointers belong to a group identified by the AKC as Sporting Dogs, a group that also includes spaniels, retrievers, and setters. The group gets its name as a result of the fact that these dogs have been bred for centuries to have “remarkable instincts in the water and woods, and many of these breeds actively continue to participate in hunting and other field activities.” Sporting dogs have lots of energy, and require regular exercise, so anyone considering ownership of a dog like Max needs to realize this. Max has had lots of specialty training all over Northern California to help him become an excellent hunting companion, in fact he has been working on his craft since puppydom. I have had the pleasure of watching Maximilian grow up from a ridiculously cute puppy into the muscular young man he is today, and my respect for his breed also expands as I learn about the special bond between hunter and bird dog. Pointers like Max are especially intelligent and keen on working, without being skittish around people (Max is especially fond of his girlfriends at EVH), and make great pets for active families. If you are interested in learning more about pointers or sporting breeds, please see the AKC website at:, or e-mail me at

Help! I'm Lost! Do You Know Me?

Hullo there! I am a cute mixed breed small male dog that was found going for a solo jog along Port Chicago Highway in Concord yesterday. I have not been neutered, and I was pretty dirty when I was found but I have cleaned up nicely. If you know where I live, please e-mail