Archives for October 2012

Indroducing Monthly Paid Wellness Plans at Encina Veterinary Hospital

        Encina Veterinary Hospital is proud to now offer Monthly Paid Wellness Plans for both cats and dogs. We believe that with a Basic or Deluxe Wellness Plan from Encina Veterinary Hospital and your veterinarians recommendations, we can work together to ensure that your pet enjoys a long and happy life with you.

        Our four keys to a happy and healthy pet:
            Comprehensive physical examination
            Protecting your pet against preventable diseases by measuring their immune status and if needed, administering the appropriate vaccinations
            Regular diagnostic testing to ensure your pet’s body systems are functioning optimally and to compare test results over time
            Internal and external parasite screening and prevention

The Wellness Plans at Encina Veterinary Hospital offer these services in the convenient packages that ensure your pet gets the care they need and you get the peace of mind you deserve.

        Wellness Plans at Encina Veterinary Hospital feature:
            Customized services for both dogs and cats based on their age
            Basic and Deluxe plans are available
            Services can be used throughout the plan year, and fees for services can be paid on a monthly basis instead of one lump sum

Do you have a Trupanion Pet Insurance Policy? If so, you’re half way to our Platinum Paw Club! The Platinum Paw Club is an exclusive club designed to reward pet owners who have chosen to protect their pet’s health with a Basic or Deluxe Wellness Plan at Encina Veterinary Hospital and with a Trupanion Pet Insurance Policy which covers unexpected illnesses or injuries. We at Encina want to reward and celebrate your devotion to your pets!

Our wellness plans start as low as less than $16/month, depending on your pet and their age. If you would like more information on our plans, please give us a call and ask for a Doctor’s Assistant: (925) 937-5000

Beyond Separation Anxiety: Part 1, Boredom

     In the United States approximately 20% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. This is a behavior problem in which dogs shows signs of stress when the owner or favorite person is NOT present. Signs of stress can include panting, pacing, salivating, destruction (especially of the door the owner exited through), urination/defecation, vocalization (barking, whining), and sometimes even escape in which they may injure themselves.
     The one key diagnostic tool to make a diagnosis of separation anxiety is videotaping the dog home alone, as long as it is safe to do so. With the development of technology videotaping is easier than ever and if you do not have a phone/camera that records video or a video camera chances are you know someone that does. You can even set up a live webcam so that you can video tape and return before the dog destroys anything or injures themselves.
    Usually the behaviors associated with separation anxiety begin within the first 10 minutes of the owner leaving the house, so only 15 minutes or so of videotaping is usually necessary. During this series of blogs we will discuss different causes of behaviors associated with the signs of separation anxiety. Many of the root causes of these behaviors are not at all associated with anxiety and require very different treatment plans from that of anxiety. That is why correct diagnosis is essential.
    One cause for this already discussed in a previous blog is aggression. Dogs with territorial aggression vocalize in response to their triggers (people, dogs) passing by and approaching the house. They may even become destructive, chewing and scratching door frames or window sills during the aggressive episodes. Please see blog on my aggression for more detail.

    We will start in this article by discussing boredom or play/exploratory behavior as a cause of destruction when home alone. I commonly think of these causes when dogs younger than 1 year of age present to me for separation anxiety. On video tape these dogs are calm, but destructive (usually not to the door the owner exited through). These dogs should be left in “dog-proofed” areas where they cannot get to items to destroy. In these cases we also need to increase enrichment, and mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation. Ways to accomplish this when the owners are gone include taking the dog to doggie daycare (I recommend interviewing first before enrolling your dog), hiring a dog walker, and leaving the dog home with long lasting treats that he/she can safely eat (bully sticks, food dispensing toys, frozen peanut butter Kongs, everlasting treat balls). Long lasting treats and toys can be rotated so that they retain the dog’s interest. Make sure to try the treats/ toys when you are home initially to make sure your dog consumes them in a safe manner. For recipes to make the Kong more enticing visit the website: When the owner is home engaging the dog in positive reinforcement training, agility or other fun class (see the website:, walks, and using a bike springer to attach the dog’s leash to your bike (see the website: should help to tire the dog out so that destructive behaviors are less likely to be performed when left alone.

How do you enrich your dog’s life? Leave me a comment with your great ideas!

Meredith Stepita, DVM, DACVB (Veterinary Behaviorist)

Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

The spleen is an oblong organ – some would say it is tongue-shaped – seated just below the stomach. While one can live perfectly well without a spleen, the spleen does provide some helpful services to the body. Some of these functions include providing stored blood in times of acute hemorrhage, filters out infected cells, and breaks down old red blood cells.

Hemangiosarcomas are a type of malignant cancer most often found in the blood vessels of the spleen in dogs. It is also found in the liver and is actually the most common tumor found in the heart of dogs. These tumors also present themselves on the skin of a dog and may look like small red moles. Hemangiosarcomas also occur in cats, though very rare. This cancer is often found in German Shepherd Dogs and Golden Retrievers. This cancer is equivalent to Angiosarcomas in humans.

Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma:
     • Usually the patient is suddenly weak.
     • The patient may be obviously cold.
     • The gums will be pale in color.
     • If the bleed stops on its own, the patient will be dramatically better
the next day or even a few hours later.

Unfortunately, this particular cancer is very aggressive. Most commonly when the hemangiosarcoma is attached to the splee, unless the spleen is surgically removed by an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Carl Koehler (ACVS) of Encina Veterinary Hospital, the pet will eventually pass away due to significant bleeding. Along with a splenectomy (removal of the spleen), chemotherapy is also typically suggested for the best possible outcome and longest life expectancy in this situation.

Jared Jaffey, DVM

Importance of Pre Anesthetic Blood Work for Pets

Pre-anesthetic blood work is essential in any animal undergoing anesthesia. If you could go to Las Vegas, sit at a poker table and know what the dealers cards were, wouldn’t you? Anesthetic procedures are a gamble albeit the risks of complications are greater on the car ride to the hospital and not the anesthesia itself.

Having blood work done on your pet allows your veterinarian to see the dealer’s cards and increase your pet’s odds of having a complication free procedure. When pets are young, they can have congenital problems associated with their liver or kidneys that can alter how their body handles the anesthetic drugs. These issues often show no symptoms or signs for some time, which leads us to believe your pet is healthy and problem free. Truth is, we don’t know until we analyze the blood work and get a break down of what is going on inside of your pet. Often times, the blood work comes back normal and we are able to celebrate normal!

When we analyze pre-anesthetic blood work at Encina Veterinary Hospital, we are looking at the following values:
     – BUN, CREATININE, and PHOSPHORUS (related to Kidney function)
     – ALT, ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE, and BILIRUBIN (related to Liver function)
     – AMYLASE and LIPASE (related to Pancreas function)
     – TOTAL PROTEIN and GLOBULIN (related to the immune system and dehydration)
     – ELECTROLYTES (related to endocrine diseases, kidney function, and dehydration)
We often analyze other values, depending on the blood panel ran and what the needs of the pet are.

In adult and senior animals, issues such as organ dysfunction associated with old age changes or disease that decreases their ability to break down and excrete anesthetic drugs may arise, which makes pre-anestheic blood work even more essential. In addition to this, if their RBC (red blood cell) count is low, it makes it difficult for your pet to get enough oxygen (because these cells transport and distribute oxygen all throughout your pet’s body) and there are many complications that can arise including cardiac arrest.

It is important to know that many pets can have mild to moderate levels of organ dysfunction or anemia without actually appearing sick. Blood work that doesn’t come back normal doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet may not have the procedure done as expected; it may mean that your veterinarian may use a different drug that better fits your pet and their individual needs. Some times however, blood work tells us that the procedure is not able to be done at this moment for one reason or another. In times like this, your veterinarian will work closely with you and your pet in order to get him or her healthier.

Jared Jaffey, DVM