Archives for February 2012

The Everyday Kennel Staffer and the Extraordinary Ordinary Work

Encina Veterinary Hospital is composed of over 70 employees among multiple teams; Doctors, Interns, Administration, Client Services, Doctor Assistants, Patient Care and Kennel Assistants. Alicia Pickard is one of the team members on the Kennel Assistant team and her wide range of skills and duties are priceless to Encina. Below you will find a piece co-written by Alicia, giving you an insider’s look into the team that is always ready to help in one way or another.

Alicia, a Kennel Assistant at Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek, helps keep a patient calm and still during a bandage change


    As the first kennel assistant to appear each morning at Encina, I’m right on top of my game. I always like to see what’s up for the day first before I begin any task. Once I’ve looked at what the day holds for EVH, I look to the boarders (pets who stay with us for medical boarding while their human is out of town or unable to care for them at the moment) as they are usually the most enthusiastic when asking for some attention and love. First, I feed our medical boarders, supply them with fresh water, clean their kennels and give them clean fresh bedding, dispense and give them their appropriate medications , walk the dogs and spend some time snuggling each of them. Then I make my way to our in house blood donor cats (we have two cats each year who live with us to provide blood to cat patients who may need it and once that year is up, we work VERY hard to find them loving homes that will spoil them silly!). As I take care of one, the other will start talking and purring because I’m the ‘lady who feeds them’ in their eyes. It’s rewarding to be greeted so nicely, even if you know that they’re just in it for the food. Depending on the situation, some boarders may take some extra time if I have to coax or encourage them to either eat or take their medications. This takes patience, a gentle touch and dedication as some pets may be out of their comfort zone while staying with us.

    Once the boarders and blood donor kitties have been taken care of, it’s time to turn on my talents (my favorite part of the day!). For a day, I could be a chef – we make a bland diet of chicken and rice when animals have had medical issues and need to revert to eating something light and easy on the stomach. Chicken is also used to encourage patients to eat their meals and tends to work great. I could be a dog walker; dogs have their own personal needs and sometimes they just need to stretch their legs, enjoy the outdoors, sniff around and have some time to themselves. I’m the person who keeps the treatment room clean; laundry, dirty patient food bowls, tables to floors to the kennels, anything I can reach I can clean. I’m the additional hands for technicians and doctors; count on me for holding a patient during a blood draw, chemotherapy treatment, echocardiograms and ultrasounds, x-rays, nail trims and everything in between. I am also often the person who comforts a pet while getting an injection or any other type of uncomfortable procedure. When I’m not cleaning, cooking, or being an extra set of hands, I help sterilize tools and put together surgical packs for upcoming surgeries. Throughout the day, I find myself utilizing many of my talents to better serve my team and the patients.

    Each day is a little different from the last which keeps me on my toes and ready for anything that the next day brings. The role of the kennel staffer is a broad spectrum of efforts that collected together makes us a strong part of the work force at EVH. I’m happy to be able to always say “yes” when it comes to helping my team!

Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Introducing Hill’s y/d Diet

    As devoted pet owners we know that as our pets’ age, they become more susceptible to illnesses and health conditions. One of the most common diagnoses in older cats is hyperthyroidism; hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland (located in the neck) makes too much thyroid hormone for the body.

   Often times the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are not visible, but over time and as the condition worsens, symptoms become noticeable. The most common symptoms are weight loss, frequent urination, increased thirst and appetite.

   When a cat is suspected of suffering from hyperthyroidism, the veterinarian will first feel the neck of the cat to see if he or she can feel if the thyroid gland is enlarged. Often times, the thyroid becomes inflamed when suffering from hyperthyroidism and swells a bit. Heart rate and blood pressure may also be checked because when a cat suffers from hyperthyroidism, it causes the heart to work faster and harder which can eventually lead to an enlarged heart. After the exam is complete, a blood sample is taken from the cat and sent to the laboratory to analyze the present thyroid hormone.

   Should your cat be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you should know right away that there are options. Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek offers two key options for treatment: medication or a diet change. We know that many pet owners have a difficult time medicating their cat for multiple reasons; this is why we are big fans of feeding Hill’s Prescription diet y/d Feline Thyroid Health brand pet food. It carefully limits the levels of dietary iodine to reduce thyroid hormone production and help restore health without the need for any other therapy.

   Once your feline friend has been prescribed the new y/d diet, you will gradually introduce y/d over a 7 day period by mixing y/d with your cat’s current food, gradually increasing the amount of y/d until only y/d is fed. Once your cat has been eating y/d exclusively for 2 weeks, you will then remove all thyroid medication from his/her life. In the 4th week after starting y/d, your veterinarian at Encina will then perform a recheck to see how the thyroid is doing compared to before the diet change.

   One of our recent patients, Autumn Pumpkin, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and was given numerous medications to manage the condition. This was not only a stressful situation for both the owner and cat, but it was costly as well. 3 weeks after Autumn Pumpkin began the y/d diet, she was completely taken off of all medications and maintains healthy thyroid levels on the y/d diet alone! WAHOO!!!

   The most challenging part about feeding your cat the y/d diet is the fact that you can no longer offer the range of treats and snacks you once did. It’s important your cat eats the y/d diet exclusively to ensure it works. However, Hill’s has been working very hard to come up with ways that cat owners can still spoil their feline friends and developed several recipes for loving cat owners to make hyperthyroid safe snacks!

Click here to download the recipe for Snack Triangles from y/d Canned Food, Gravy from y/d Canned Food and Snack Cookies from y/d Dry Food

Pascal’s Thankful Thanksgiving

    Pascal is a very sweet Bedlington Terrier that has been a patient of mine since 2003. We diagnosed him with copper storage liver disease in 2003 and have treated him with medications and a prescription diet. Copper storage disease is when the liver begins to accumulate an abnormal amount of copper, which in the long run can cause liver cirrhosis and is actually common in Bedlington Terriers, Doberman Pinschers and Labrador Retrievers. Since his diagnosis, Pascal has done well and there has been no evidence that his copper storage liver disease has progressed.

    In late November, just before Thanksgiving, Pascal was rushed to us on an emergency. He was reported to have become acutely very sick and was vomiting, lethargic, and not wanting to eat. On physical examination, he appeared very depressed, dehydrated, had abdominal pain on palpation, and a fever. We hospitalized him and started intravenous fluids, pain medications, gastric protectants, and broad spectrum antibiotics, and of course took a blood sample to analyze to see what exactly was going on inside of Pascal.

    Once his blood work came back, it showed us an elevation of liver enzymes and an elevated white blood cell count. We then preformed an abdominal ultrasound on Pascal which showed one abnormal liver lobe and free fluid in the abdomen. A sample of fluid was taken from his abdomen and after looking at it under the microscope; we saw that it showed evidence of a bacterial infection. Based on these findings, our primary differential was a liver abscess.

    Liver abscesses are rare in dogs. Some potential causes are sepsis (bacterial infection in the blood), trauma to the liver, and diabetes mellitus. Pascal did not appear to have any of these underlying causes. It is possible that his copper storage liver disease predisposed him to a liver abscess but this has never been reported.

    I discussed with Pascal’s owner that this is a very serious condition and without surgical removal of the abscessed portion of his liver, Pascal might die. Pascal’s owners elected to pursue surgery and we were able to isolate the section of the liver that was abscessed (the left medial liver lobe) and remove it successfully. We flushed his abdomen cavity with warm saline (salt water) to remove residual infection that had spread throughout his abdomen.

    Pascal has recovered well from surgery and it is great to see him back to his normal activities. You would never know that just a few months ago Pascal was deathly ill and had major surgery!

                                      Written by Dr. Peter Nurre, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM

Pascal’s owner Judy had some beautiful words for Dr. Nurre that we would like to share with you:

Dear Dr. Nurre,

   I sat down to write you a “thank you” note and I’m finding it very difficult to say what I feel. I don’t have the words to express how much Pascal means to me and then I realized that it’s okay because I think you know.

   Thinking and thinking and thinking – how can I possibly convey the flood of gratitude I feel for your incredibly generous offer to save Pascal’s life. You are in every way extraordinary special; both as a person and as a doctor!

   I normally don’t consider myself to be a lucky person but whenever I think about November of 2011, that’s the word that comes to me – lucky! I’m the luckiest person in the world to have miraculously had the good fortune to have Pascal in your care. This was a thanksgiving I will always remember. We will forever be thankful to you!

   I very best thing I could ever wish for you is that should you ever find yourself in the worst of situations, as I was, one that seems hopeless – the best thing that could happen to you is for there to be someone just like yourself, right there for you, like you were for us!

   The words “thank you” don’t even begin to come close to how grateful we are, but please except them and know that they mean infinitely, so much more.

               Wishing you the very best!
                      Judy and Pascal

Better Safe Than Sorry – Trupanion


Similar to human health insurance, pet insurance provides peace of mind in case the unfortunate should happen with your pet. Its purpose is to help cover the costs of unexpected accidents and illnesses that may occur in the future.

When your insured pet becomes sick or injured, you bring him or her to Encina Veterinary Hospital. You then submit your invoice along with the pet insurance claim form to be reimbursed at a percentage, less your chosen deductible (you can choose your own deductible and even make it $0 if you wish!). Trupanion allows you to customize your own plan (your deductible amount and your monthly subscriber amount too).

Here is an actual testimonial from pet owner with an unlucky pooch …

Calypso the 2-year-old Boxer had some unfortunate luck recently. She had a run in with a porcupine and got to experience the frightening and painful quills. Sadly, one of the quills punctured her lung and caused pneumothorax which is a collapsed lung. Calypso spent time at the emergency veterinary clinic where she had surgery.

She is doing better since the attack and we are very glad that we could be there to help during such a scary time.
     Total claim amount: $7,852.67
     Deductible applied: -$0.00 ($100 deductible already met)
     Exam fees: -$165.00
     Unrelated charges: -$90.05
     10% co-insurance: -$759.76
     Trupanion repaid: $6,837.86

Trupanion Pet Insurance is now offering a FREE 30 Day Trial of Trupanion Pet Insurance with a complete physical exam! For dogs and cats between 8 weeks and 14 years old. Call us today to learn more (925) 937-5000