Assisted Living for Seniors with Pets

We’re happy to share a great resource for pet owners and the seniors of our community. has put together a very detailed and informative article/guide regarding the benefits of seniors owning/living with pets. You can read the article here: click here to read the article on

Tinkerbell Hanson’s Life Story, Remembering

We recently said our goodbyes to a dear patient of ours, Tinkerbell. Here is her story, written by her wonderful human, Diana:

Tinkerbell Hanson’s Life Story

To Dr. Wang, Suzanne and the Staff at East Bay Veterinary Hospital,
I wanted to share with you Tinkerbell’s story

I was driving home June 2nd 2017, a Friday night around 5:00 after work, and I usually go over the Altamont pass and take the back roads home through Byron because of Vasco Road traffic. When I got near the bottom of the off ramp (click the link,-121.5857948,467m/data=!3m1!1e3 to see how isolated this area is) in the middle of nowhere I saw a gray tabby in the dry grass just about 10 feet from the road. She was sticking her head up, looking for someone, but then ducked back down. I put my window down and called to her. Cars were coming up behind me so I had to pull away. I felt terrible and thought about the kitty throughout the evening.

The next morning, I woke early and went to visit my dad who had dementia, as I did every morning, who was in a memory care residence in Pleasanton. I left my dad’s around 9:45 am and headed home. I was going to take Vasco home since there is not much traffic on the weekends. At the very last second I remembered the kitty and got back on the freeway and went over the Altamont Pass knowing that it was impossible for that cat to still be at the off ramp. Yes, as you probably guessed she was in the exact same spot! I pulled as much to the side of the off ramp as I could and got out of the car. I went into the dry grass probably filled with snakes! The kitty ran from me a bit but I was eventually able to catch her! Then she got scared and started trying to get out of my grip and I didn’t have anything to put her in to secure her for the drive home. It breaks my heart to say I had to let her go. I knew I would go home and recruit help. I didn’t feel safe being alone there in the snaky grass in the middle of nowhere.

I got home and started asking for help. My sister has a friend in walnut creek that fosters kitties and has rescued many cats. She now has the feral cats living safely in her yard and they are cared for beautifully. My sister calls it a sanctuary and she is right! My sister and the gal named Cricket were at a swim meet for the kids and couldn’t help me at the time I called, but Cricket said she would take the kitty if we caught her.

I messaged my best friend Lori in Dublin and she and her husband Mike dropped everything and met me there at the off ramp. No kitty! Mike went a few feet away from where I had seen the cat and there was a flattened cardboard box. He lifted the box and the cat ran out. Lori ran interference and made sure the cat didn’t come down to the lower road. Together Mike and I tried to catch the cat and the cat ran up the hill to the freeway! The cat was about 6 feet from the traffic zooming by. I closed my eyes and prayed. She then ran under the overpass in the dirt section that runs under it. She was at the top and it was a challenge to get up the hill. Mike was climbing up the grassy, snaky hill under the overpass. Mike managed to carefully get close to the cat and got a hold of her after a few minutes. The kitty seemed to trust him right away. Once he had a hold of her he was petting her and she seemed ok. So I came up the hill with the carrier and finally made my way to them and a motorcycle came by which scared the cat as we were trying to get her in the carrier. She scratched Mike. Thankfully he is ok. We did get the cat inside the carrier.

I loaded her in the car and took her to Cricket in Walnut Creek after picking up my sister Sue. Cricket was so lovely and caring and made a safe and secure spot for the kitty to get settled after a traumatic few days at least. Cricket’s family was so sweet and welcoming about helping this kitty. Cricket said the kitty was dehydrated. I am not surprised by that since it was hot and there is nothing for many miles out in that area.

My sister gave me an update from Cricket that night. This is what Cricket had said, “I just hung out with her in the bathroom and she rubbed up against me and I petted her. She is totally tame.” She also said, “she would start eating then stop and come over to be pet because she was so happy to have attention.” I think that this is the first time in days that the kitty felt safe.

They named her Diana Prince Wonder Woman! Cricket asked me to take the kitty since she had so many feral cats at her house and this kitty was very tame. I had not planned on getting a cat since my cat that I had for over 18 years had passed away not that long before.

My dad with his dementia was my focus. Every morning at 5am I would leave home with coffee and toast with dad’s favorite jelly and get to his facility by 6 am to spend an hour with him before I went to work. It was an important routine since he still responded to me during those visits. I didn’t feel like I could manage having a new cat while my focus was my dad.
But…. I guess it was meant to be.

The journey began. I picked up Tinkerbell in Walnut Creek and renamed her Piper because the way I go home at night takes me by the Byron airport and Piper is a kind of airplane.

I never regretted the choice I made to adopt her.

Shortly after spending time with her I realized that by the way she runs everywhere with a wonderful bounce that she is Tinkerbell!
She adjusted to her new home easily and was affectionate and sweet every moment. She loved every one that she met. When the doorbell rang (most cat owners know that cats hide when the doorbell rings) Tink ran to the front door to greet whoever was visiting. She expected and got attention from the visitors and made herself at home on their lap.

After a few months Tinkerbell had an episode that brought us to East Bay Vet for the first of many times. She was anemic. We met the wonderful Dr. Priest. She was so kind to us (my sister and I) and took us through what was happening and how they were going to help Tinkerbell. I spoke to doctors on each of the shifts and felt so good about the care Tinkerbell was receiving and how well they knew sweet Tinkerbell and each had stories about her. We have had a few evening visits that brought us back to Dr. Priest and each time she was so supportive. The first time was a scary few days. Little did we know then that it was going to be a journey. Tinkerbell has probably seen every doctor (and loved all of them) at the hospital at one time and many specialists across the country know about this mystery kitty.

The evening and overnight Doctor’s, techs and staff played a significant role in this story as well. They are not forgotten by me as I know they spent many evenings and nights with Tinkerbell and caring for her. I knew that she was in great hands and probably loved all the attention she got from them.

I have heard more times than I can count that Tinkerbell had no idea how sick she was and that she had more lives than any cat because of her strong will and love for people.

Over the past several months I heard stories every time Tinkerbell and I came to Encina of the sweet encounters staff had with Tinkerbell, from Tink always being held, meowing at staff as they walked by her cage to give her attention, purring so loud they couldn’t hear her heartbeat and the sweet nicknames that staff had for her. Brianna, during one of Tinkerbell’s overnight stays, went in the back to get Tinkerbell so I could say goodnight before I left. She said that when she went in the back asking for Tinkerbell that Tinkerbell answered her from her cage.  Like, oh that’s me, I am right here.

Even with the many visits we made to Encina there were staff I didn’t recognize but as soon as they saw Tinkerbell they would say, “I know Tinkerbell” or if they saw us in a room would ask if they could say hello to Tinkerbell.
The staff from the front to the back have made me and Tinkerbell feel special over the past year.

Suzanne was always there for us and nothing was ever too much to ask. She was our link to Encina and made sure whatever we needed or asked for we received without hesitation. She greeted us warmly and said nice things to Tinkerbell. She brought Tinkerbell food and water in the room when we were there for appointments because she knew that Tinkerbell was hungry after an hour drive there and hour in the back having tests. Tinkerbell loved to have a snack before we got on the road to head home.

The Hero:
It was Dr. Wang who lead the charge to figure out what was happening to Tinkerbell. She was so patient as we tested, retested, tried this medication and that medication to first try to diagnose the cause of her trouble and try to cure her and then just to keep her stable. It was a balancing act for sure. Dr. Wang called on every resource she had to help Tinkerbell. We had many successes in her treatment and many setbacks but Dr. Wang never gave up trying.

It was a long journey. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate Dr. Wang and everything she did for Tinkerbell. She never gave up or asked me to give up.

But we both knew that one day, as Dr. Wang said, we would not be able to turn things around.

She said that one day it may be “time” and I knew that she would guide me to when that “time” was.

We faced that on Wednesday. A heartbreaking day for me and I am sure for Dr. Wang and the staff at Encina. I could not face being there but I knew that during this time there was no place on earth with as many people who loved Tinkerbell than at Encina. Dr. Wang was so sweet and called me that evening to check on how I was doing. She gave me comfort by telling me that Tinkerbell was held as she passed and that it was peaceful.

My heart was broken and still is over losing Tinkerbell.

She has been such a treasure. I have never, ever met a cat with as much love and charm as Tinkerbell. Thank you for helping me have the past year with Tinkerbell.


Collecting Needed Items for Eagle Scout Project for Local Animal Rescue

Now through 09/01, we’re helping a local Eagle Scout named Karl collect supplies for a local animal rescue (Bay Area Animal Rescue Crew) – check out the list below and consider dropping by with a goodie for animals in need! Our bin is located in the lobby.

NOW OFFERING: Laparoscopic-Assisted Ovariohysterectomy (Spay) by Dr. Nadia Rifat

We’re so excited to offer a less invasive, less painful, way to spay your dog! Keep reading for more information and give us a call at 925 937 5000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nadia Rifat

Why does a dog need to be spayed?
Spaying a dog consists of performing an ovariohysterectomy (OHE). The reasons we spay dogs is to reduce pet overpopulation, reduce the chance of mammary cancer development (must be done at a very young age to gain this benefit), and to prevent a life threatening uterine infection (pyometra). Approximately 25% of intact female dogs by 10 years of age will develop a pyometra.

What are the surgical options for spaying my dog?
The traditional open ovariohysterectomy, or a laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy. The traditional open ovariohysterectomy has been performed for many decades, and when performed by an experienced veterinarian there are rarely any complications and the recovery is typically quick. More recently, laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy surgeries have become another surgical option for medium to large breed dogs. The difference is that the laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy incision is smaller than the open approach because visualization of the organs and surgery is performed through the laparoscope.

What is the benefit of having my dog undergo a laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterctomy vs an open ovariohysterectomy?
Although there are few pain studies to compare laparoscopic procedures to an open traditional surgical approach, the opinion of veterinarians performing laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy procedures is that this approach is less invasive and less painful than the open approach. Dr. Chad Devitt evaluated the laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy versus an open traditional ovariohysterectomy (Duration, complications, stress, and pain of open ovariohysterectomy versus a simple method of laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2005;227:921–927). His conclusion was the laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy procedures caused less surgical pain than the traditional open ovariohysterectomy procedures and may be more appropriate for an outpatient setting.

What are the potential complications of a laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterctomy?
Complications from laparoscopic ovariohysterectomy are rare but can include: hemorrhage, subcutaneous emphysema, iatrogenic perforation of the splenic capsule during trocar placement, inability to complete the procedure requiring conversion to laparotomy, pain, seroma formation, and rarely infection.

How do I schedule my dog for a laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy?
Make a pre-surgical appointment with Dr. Nadia Rifat, who is the surgeon that performs the laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy procedures at Encina Veterinary Hospital. She will perform an examination on your dog and talk to you about the procedure. We will schedule your dog for surgery and submit pre-anesthetic bloodwork to make sure your dog is in good health. If your dog is at risk for a GDV (see information about laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy) that surgery can be scheduled concurrently.

NOW OFFERING: Laparoscopic-Assisted Gastropexy by Dr. Nadia Rifat

Laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy

What is a GDV?
Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) is an acute emergency medical condition characterized by gastric distension and abnormal twisting of the stomach. This causes the stomach to become over distended. have a decreased blood flow, and eventually lead to circulatory shock and death. The lifetime risk for a large or giant breed dog developing GDV is 24% and 21% respectively and their risk of dying of GDV is 7%. Even with appropriate medical and surgical intervention, case fatality rates between 10% and 33% have been reported.

Why do dogs develop a GDV?
No single cause of GDV exists. Reported risk factors for GDV include a familial history of GDV, lean deep chested breeds, older dogs, dogs that eat quickly, dogs that eat from a raised bowl, and dogs that only eat dry food and/or a single large meal, and dogs that have a fearful temperament. Dogs that have had a splenectomy also might be at greater risk for development of a GDV.

Does my dog need a gastropexy?
There are many breeds that are at risk for developing GDV. The most at-risk breed is the Great Dane (40% will develop a GDV). Other breeds that are at risk include Irish Setters, Weimaraners, Standard Poodles, and Rottweilers. In general, this condition can occur in any deep chested large breed dog. Most surgeons agree that a prophylactic gastropexy in patients considered “at risk” for GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus) is a worthwhile procedure.

What is a laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy?
Laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy is a minimally invasive surgery that allows the surgeon to perform the surgery through a smaller incision than the typical surgical approach used to perform a gastropexy. During the laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy, one small incision is made just behind the ribs on the right side of the abdomen. It is through this incision that the laparoscope is introduced into the abdomen and the gastropexy procedure performed. With this surgical technique, there is less pain and the recovery much quicker compared to the typical gastropexy approach with a large incision.

Can there be complications from the gastropexy?
Multiple studies about laparoscopic-assisted gastropexies showed only the following minor complications: temporary skin fold at the side of the of the gastropexy immediately after the surgery (47%), seroma formation at the site of the gastropexy (6%), and iatrogenic perforation of the splenic capsule during trocar placement (12%).

When should I schedule my dog for a laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy?
The timing of the gastropexy does not seem to be critical. The stomach can be successfully attached to the abdominal wall in puppies, without compromising gastrointestinal function, which means the gastropexy can be incorporated into the same procedure as a spay or castration, or when the abdomen is being explored or opened for another reason. Alternatively, it can be performed as an elective procedure.

How do I schedule my dog for a laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy?
Make a pre-surgical appointment with Dr. Nadia Rifat, who is the surgeon that performs the laparoscopic-assisted gastropexies at Encina Veterinary Hospital. She will perform an examination on your dog and talk to you about the procedure. We will schedule your dog for surgery and submit pre-anesthetic bloodwork to make sure your dog is in good health.

call us today at 925 937 5000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nadia Rifat to see if your dog is a good candidate for laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy

Free First Wellness/Annual Veterinary Exam with Dr. Nadia Rifat for New Clients

We’re offering ALL new clients the opportunity of a *FREE* first wellness/annual exam with our newest doctor, Dr. Nadia Rifat!

You can get to know Dr. Rifat by clicking here and reading our blog about her.

Trupanion Pet Insurance: Vet Direct Pay

Trupanion Medical Insurance can pay your veterinary bill in minutes

When your pet gets ill or injured, we want you to be able to focus on the health and well-being of your pet. Medical insurance can help you deal with unexpected veterinary expenses and provide your pet with the best medical care. Trupanion can cover a significant portion of your veterinary bill (up to 90% of eligible costs*) in minutes. With a Trupanion policy, our clients often pay only their part of the bill at checkout and leave the hospital without waiting for claim approvals and reimbursements. You can learn more about Trupanion coverage and direct payments at

Trupanion medical insurance for your pet

*Terms and conditions apply. Please see the policy for complete details at **Trupanion will process the claim according to the terms of the policy. Actual claim payment may be different from the estimate you provided to your client. Trupanion is a registered trademark owned by Trupanion, Inc. Underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company and in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit to review all available pet health insurance products.

February – April 2018: Save $100 Off Dental Cleanings with Wellness Exam at Encina Veterinary Hospital

Dear Clients of Encina Veterinary Hospital.

It is very important that our pets get proper dental care. It is estimated that 85% of our pets will have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease of the supporting tissues surrounding teeth and the main cause of early tooth loss. In the early stages of periodontal disease, food particles combine with bacteria to form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals from saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria will travel under the gums and cause gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. As the bacterial infection progresses the supporting tissue around the teeth become weakened, which leads to tooth loss.

The proper way to address your pet’s dental disease is to have a veterinarian perform a dental cleaning under general anesthesia. While a patient is anesthetized we have a breathing tube in place to provide gas anesthesia and oxygen, have intravenous fluids going into the patient during the entire procedure, have extensive monitoring equipment (EKG, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, capnograph) attached to the patient, and one anesthetist monitoring the patient under the supervision of the veterinarian. This allows the veterinarian to do a full examination of the teeth and supporting structures, and to take x rays of all the teeth to assess the roots and supporting bone. Following the evaluation, the veterinarian will remove the plaque and tartar from the teeth and clean below the gum line. It would not be possible to do this properly without the use of general anesthesia. Unless your pet needs extractions the final step is to polish the teeth.

The benefits of a proper dental cleaning are that the plaque and tartar can be removed from the teeth and below the gum line along with the bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease. It is important to know that gingivitis is reversible, but periodontal disease is not reversible. If you notice your pet has bad breath or their teeth have gingivitis or plaque/tartar it is not too soon to have your pet scheduled for a dental cleaning.

As a way of promoting dental health for our patients we are offering our clients a $100 discount on dental cleanings for each pet that is scheduled during February, March, and April 2018, with Dr. Aengus, Dr. Milauskas, or Dr. Rifat. All you have to do is give us a call at 925-937-5000, schedule your pet’s dental cleaning during the above months, and provide us with the dental cleaning coupon at the time you bring your pet in for the scheduled cleaning. You can find the coupon at the bottom of this email for convenience.

We look forward to seeing you in the coming months as we continue our partnership to provide your pets with the veterinary care they need to remain healthy.

Dr. Peter Nurre
Medical Director

Welcome Dr. Nadia Rifat to Encina Veterinary Hospital!

This month we welcome back Dr. Nadia Rifat to Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek, as another general practice doctor!

Nadia Rifat, DVM
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Education: Bachelor of Science from Purdue University 2007, Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from University of California, Davis 2011

Professional Interests: preventative care, geriatric care, pain management

Personal Interests: anything and everything outdoors, including trail running, backpacking, skiing, and rock climbing; always including her rescue pup, Josie, if possible.

Professional Organizations: AVMA, CVMA, and CAVMRC (California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps).

“Growing up, I was surrounded by a family of medical doctors and nurses, so it was not surprising that I would gravitate towards a career in medicine. My innate love of animals, and learning about the impact of the human animal bond, were what lead me towards a career in veterinary medicine rather than human medicine, a field in which I felt I could help animals and people alike.”

January – February 2018: Save 25% on Comprehensive Lab Panel with Wellness Exam at Encina Veterinary Hospital

Dear Clients of Encina Veterinary Hospital,

Encina Veterinary Hospital prides ourselves on providing the best possible care for our patients, and part of this includes the recommendation that each of our patients have regular wellness examinations, which allows us to detect medical conditions in the early stages. When we detect medical conditions in earlier stages it is more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty, and better success. It is all too often that we diagnose medical conditions in the late stages when our patients are very sick and need more intense treatment.

A wellness evaluation consists of your veterinarian taking a detailed history about your pet, performing a physical examination, and possibly performing diagnostic tests to evaluate for conditions not detected on a physical examination, such as kidney disease. If kidney disease is diagnosed in the early stage it can sometimes be treated by simply changing your pet’s diet. Whereas, if kidney disease is diagnosed in the late stages then treatment might consist of hospitalization with intravenous fluids and other supportive care measures before being discharged on multiple medications and often times a short survival time. This is one example of the value of wellness exams.

As a way of promoting the value of wellness exams we are excited to announce that we are making January and February our Wellness months. During these months (01/01/2018 – 02/28/2018) we are offering our clients a 25% discount on comprehensive laboratory panels that we perform on any of your pets. All that we require is that you have a wellness examination for your pet in the month of January or February and present the wellness laboratory panel coupon at that appointment. You can find the coupon at the bottom of this letter and you are able to either print the email or present the coupon to your doctor’s assistant on your smart phone.

We look forward to seeing you soon with your pets to start the new year thinking about the health and wellness of your furry family members.

Wishing you the best in 2018,
Dr. Peter Nurre
Medical Director