Archives for April 2012

Pet Insurance 101

As you may know, we’re BIG fans of pet insurance here at Encina, but we’re the biggest fan of Trupanion. We make it a point to talk about pet insurance with every person who comes through the door because we know how hard it can be to come up with a large lump sum of money to treat, care or even save the life of your pet, and we don’t want anyone to not be able to help their beloved furkid.

Here’s why we love Trupanion and what you should know:

Trupanion allows you to choose how much you would like to pay a month and how much of a deductible you would like.
     Example: Sally finds it easier to pay $56/month for her dog Rover, and has a deductible of $250 while John finds it harder for month to month payments so his monthly payment is only $35 with a deductible of $750.

Trupanion pays up to 90% of the bill back to you
     Here is a real claim from Trupanion:

Harmony the 5-year-old mixed-breed dog recently experienced some serious health complications. She was rushed to the emergency vet for lymphocytic/plasmacytic gastroenteritis, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Secondary issues with this condition were septicemia and bacterimia which are conditions in which the bloodstream becomes infected by bacteria and can be life-threatening.

Harmony was at the clinic for 6 days receiving surgery, medications, fluids, and regular monitoring. Harmony was released and we are wishing her a quick recovery.

Costs can quickly add up in an emergency situation as you will see below. It’s fortunate that Harmony’s owner had her insured so that she could take care of all the necessary veterinary treatment without cost concerns.

     Total claim amount: $12,216.99
     Deductible applied: $500.00
     Exam fees: -$149.00
     10% co-insurance: -$1159.80
     Trupanion repaid: $10,411.19

Trupanion allows you to add on extra services
     Reward for a lost pet, boarding for your pet should you be hospitalized, acupuncture, physical therapy, feline kidney transplants and more are available through Trupanion

NO LIMITS!!!
     Other pet insurances may give you a yearly or lifetime limit of how much they will pay out, but Trupanion doesn’t! If you’re unlucky enough to have a dog who eats everything or a cat with a chronic illness, you may find that other pet insurances will say, “ok we’ll cover you but only up until we have spent $5000; after that, you’re on your own!” but that is not the case with Trupanion.

In the end, we feel that Trupanion is a simple plan that gives you the ability to customize it to your financial needs and your pet’s medical needs as well. We like the flexibility they give customers and we love that 90% coverage! If you’re interested in more information, be sure to let us know next time you are in.

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Pet Insurance 101
Pet Insurance 101 graphic created by Trupanion.

Top 10 Household Pet Toxins According to the ASPCA

We generally think our home is much safer for our pets compared to the outdoors where they face loud noises, speeding cars and not so friendly people. But what if danger crept inside to your home? In 2011, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center answered nearly 170,000 phone calls from pet owners concerned with what their pet just got into. According to ASPCA, here are the top 10 household toxins pet owners called in about and why they pose a danger to your pets:

1. Prescription Human Medications Nearly 14% of all calls last year to the ASPCA’s poison hotline were concerning prescription human medications. While most of the culprits were dogs, cats are known to knock a bottle or two over to play with. The most common medications reported were cardiac or ADHD medications which can both lead to an increased and dangerous heart beat in pets. To be safe, keep your medications up high in a cabinet where pets wont be able to get to them.

2. Insecticides With over 17,000 calls to the ASPCA in 2011, insecticides were quite the consumable item. While you may purchase products that are designed to kill the bugs in your garden or keep that pesky ant problem controlled, you didn’t think your furry friend would try to eat it! It’s important to remember that these are poisons that are typically designed to kill one thing or another. IF you’re concerned with your pet getting into these, store them away from where your pet can get to them or look for a pet-friendly and natural insecticide to use instead.

3. Over-The-Counter Human Medications Medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen can literally kill your pet. These medications were not designed with your pet’s metabolism in mind and it’s important that we keep them away from our pets. You can read more about common household medications in our blog from last month, Self Medicating Pets At Home: A Big “No-No!”.

4. People Food The ASPCA received over 7,600 calls on chocolate alone in 2011. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and even seizures when ingested by pets. The second most common food reported was xylitol (a sugar substitute often found in sugarless gum and Tic Tacs); Xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs and can send them into acute (sudden) liver failure.

5. Random Household Products Pets get into things and places we never imagined they would! Some of the calls the ASPCA took in 2011 included reports of fire logs and paint. If your pet is overly curious or enjoys tearing up just about anything, consider confining him or her to a safe room or space while you are unable to keep an eye on him or her to help reduce the chance of them injuring themselves (and destroying your stuff!).

6. Veterinary Medications Over the years, giving your pet a medication or two has gotten easier, thanks to flavoring! With medications flavored to chicken, beef, salmon and more, it’s easy to see why our pets love to eat them. Pet medications are safe when they are given at a specific dosage, but too much of something can be fatal. Like other medications, keep these away from your pet’s reach to avoid any mishaps.

7. Rodenticides Rat bait consumption is no joke (see out blog on Peanut the Miracle Cat to read about a patient of ours who beat the odds after ingesting rat bait). Often times, ingestion of rat bait by cats or dogs, can lead to internal bleeding, kidney failure, seizures and death. Never underestimate your pet and where they can and can’t get into; we suggest you try using a rat trap instead of rat bait to help protect your pets.

8. Plants While your plants are beautiful, they can also be deadly to pets. Lilies can cause liver failure and even death in cats, while aloe plants can cause your dog to have diarrhea and vomiting which can lead to dehydration. We suggest you cross check your plant collection with the ASPCA database to see what is safe and what isn’t for your pets: ASPCA Toxic and Non Toxic Plants

9. Lawn and Garden Products That spray you purchased to help your roses stay healthy and bloom all year long, may be laced with ingredients that are not safe for pets. Some fertilizers contain dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal – all of which are very attractive to pets. Do some research when purchasing lawn and garden products to see if they are safe for your pets, before you bring home danger for your pets.

10. Automotive Products Anti-freeze and brake fluid can be life-threatening for pets if ingested. However the ASPCA is happy to report that because more and more pet owners are keeping their pets indoors, the number of animals exposed to these hazards has dropped!

If you have any reason to believe your pet may have ingested something toxic or alarming, please give us a call at (925) 937-5000; we are open 24 hours, 7 days a week (including holidays and weekends)

“Miracle Maggie”

On February 23rd, the world dimmed a little bit and a new star was created in the sky. Maggie, a long time patient of ours, was returned to heaven. We often find that we get attached to many of our patients because so many of them come in so often for their advanced diseases or health conditions, and Maggie was no different. Maggie burrowed her way into all of our hearts and when she passed, we all felt the loss. While we smile knowing that Maggie is healthy and happy, frolicking in the pastures near Rainbow Bridge, we frown because we no longer have her here with us or expect to see her soon.

Her furparents put together a beautiful video dedicated to the celebration that was Maggie. And even if you never met Maggie, we hope you take a moment to remember the wonderful times you’ve had with your furkids who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are now another star in the sky shining over us:


A special heartfelt thanks to the doctors and staff at Encina Veterinary Hospital, most especially, to Dr. Stephen Atwater. It is due to Dr. Atwater’s exceptional skills as an oncology specialist that “Miracle Maggie” became one of the most famous patients in Contra Costa County. An additional thanks to Drs. Peter Nurre and Jenifer Wang for their expertise in internal medicine and for helping greatly enhance Maggie’s quality of life in here final years.