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.

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.”

Meet Dr. Susan Trujillo!

As you may know, Dr. Liz Milauskas will be taking the summer off to spend time with her newborn baby. In her place, we are happy to welcome Dr. Susan Trujillo! Dr. Trujillo has been with Encina Veterinary Hospital on and off for over 7 years.

Dr. Trujillo was born and raised in Castro Valley. She earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University in 1992. After graduating, Dr. Trujillo returned to the Bay Area and began her career – she has yet to practice elsewhere! For 23 years, Dr. Trujillo has been proudly caring for the pets of the Bay Area with a special interest in dentistry and dermatology. During her time away from the hospital, Dr. Trujillo enjoys showing dogs in agility, conformation, rally and obedience; she also enjoys hiking and skiing in the mountains.

While we’re missing Dr. Liz, we’re happy to feature a familiar face around here in her absence – welcome back to Encina Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Trujillo.

EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: November 2014

JT (Patient Care Team)
Nearly 3 years ago, Jen “JT” Tsutsui joined the patient Care team here at Encina Veterinary Hospital. At the time she was looking to expand her horizons and saw Encina as a fit for her.

As a veterinary technician on the patient care team, JT spends most of her time assisting and caring for our patients. Blood draws, sedations, radiographs, chemotherapy, assisting with managing the lab equipment and outpatient services are just a few of the things you can catch her doing day-to-day.

JT says she loves working here because “every day I get to do different things”. She attributes her success to liking the people she works with: “I enjoy working with the doctors and staff”.
She admits her greatest challenge here is also one of things she loves the most – “Keeping up with the busy days can be crazy”.

When she heard she had won this month’s EOM, she says she was “very ecstatic, I was surprised”.

Outside of Encina, you can catch her spending time with her family, especially her two little ones or on the softball fields.
“Let it Go” from the Frozen soundtrack is her go-to song to sing-a-long to.

Should she have the luxury of inviting whomever she wants to a dinner party she says, “All my grandparents who have passed away – a grandparent reunion!”

Employee of the Month for August 2014: Melanie!


Nearly 4 years ago, Melanie Grajeda joined the Doctor’s Assistant team here at Encina Veterinary Hospital. Since then, she’s been non-stop – “filling prescriptions, calculating doses, rooming patients, creating and reviewing estimates and client communication” – are just a few things she manages each and every day.

Before Encina Melanie says, “I hated my job because I was working in a small general practice hospital and after working in emergency for 3 years, I needed something busier!” Well she got her wish! “I LOVE how busy it is, how much I learn every day, all the different cases we see and I really like my coworkers”.

She attributes her success here to her beloved ability to “thrive in a chaotic environment” because she “loves to learn and I am more efficient when it’s busy than when it’s slow because I am just the right amount of crazy”.

Although she loves it here, she does admit there is a challenge: “I am super controlling and neurotic and a little bit obsessive compulsive so I have trouble sharing tasks and knowing when to say ‘enough is enough’”.

Outside of Encina, Melanie admits to being a lady of leisure, to an extent. “I have another job outside of Encina but when I’m free from both, I like to go to A’s games, hang out with friends and explore the city of Oakland.”

If you’re dreaming of a serenade from Melanie, be sure to turn on “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey or anything by Queen as she can’t help but sing along to either.

For her dinner party dreams, Melanie hopes to invite Freddy Mercury, Johnny Cash and her living grandfather.

“I was very surprised!” she says of winning this month’s EOM. “I’m very appreciative and excited about my parking spot!!”

Employee of the Month for June 2014: Krista!

As a Doctor’s Assistant on the Client Care Team, every day for Krista is filled to the max! “rooming patients, putting together estimates and invoices, dispensing medications, answering questions and client concerns, setting up appointments and scheduling surgeries, AND whatever else my doctor needs!” are just some of the tasks she does day in and day out since joining our team in July of 2011.

Nearly 2 years ago when Krista joined us, she says that Allison recruited her, “and I wanted to broaden my experiences in the veterinary field”. She attributes her success here to her “very supportive team” and “team leaders are very encouraging and help whenever needed.”

Although public speaking is hard for her she admits, she appreciates the ability to “learn something new every day” which she says is her favorite part of the job.

“I was surprised!” says Krista about her employee of the month for June. “My efforts don’t go unnoticed and I feel like my contributions are actually appreciated … Everything I have been through recently, everyone here is so helpful, everyone just wants me back to 100%.

Hanging out with friends, family; concerts and baseball games are a few of her favorite things to do when she isn’t here but lately she’s been building and fixing her fence that BB, her dog, continues to break through. “It’s so frustrating!”

Although she has only seen the movie once, she says the Snowman song from Frozen is the catchiest tune around right now that she can’t help but sing along too.

Given the opportunity to host a dinner party she immediately says she would invite Usher, along with Jay Sean and her grandfather who has passed away – “it would be very interesting!” she says with her classic laugh.

Employee of the Month: May 2014

Danielle Quintero, RVT
Patient Care Team

Over 6 years ago, Danielle (aka DQ)walked into Encina Veterinary Hospital and became a crucial part of our team. Her role as a Registered Veterinary Technician plays such an important part in our hospital – both to patients and to collegues.

Each day, DQ tends to our emergency patients as well as those in-patients who need around the clock care in our ICU unit. Inbetween ICU patients and emergency patients, DQ monitors anesthesia and vitals of our patients in surgery.

DQ decided to join the team at Encina 6 years ago for some very practical reasons: close to home, featured emergency and critical veterinary care and of course, we were hiring! She continues to stay and grow with us because she likes the “fast paced, multi tasking team based environment, the way we manage cases and the high quality veterinary medicine we provide.”

She admits the job isn’t always easy, as she can’t “save them all,” but she says her strong work ethic keeps her focused and successful. “I was honored, very shocked,” says DQ when she was told that she had won our Employee of the Month for May.

When DQ is not here at the hospital, she stays busy thanks to her 3 year old son AJ and trips to Monterey Bay’s beach. At home, you can catch her gardening (she’s got some roses she is particularly proud of), home improvement projects and Netflixing her new guilty pleasure Revenge.

DQ says the song that will never fail to make her sing along to is Gloria Gaynor’s, I Will Survive. Should she have a dinner party with 3 people dead or alive, her picks are: her father, Etta James and Chuck Berry – a party focused on her love for music.

Welcome Dr. Liz Milauskas!

We are very excited to announce the return of Dr. Liz Milauskas to Encina Veterinary Hospital as she will join our team of doctors as a full-time general practitioner starting NOW!

Dr. Milauskas was raised in southern California. Unsurprisingly to her friends and family, Dr. Milauskas pursued a career as a veterinarian after completing her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in 1994 from UC Davis. Following graduation, she moved to Dublin, Ireland where she attended veterinary school at University College, Dublin Ireland Upon graduating with a degree in veterinary medicine in 2000 she returned to the United States and began practicing veterinary medicine in Oregon for the next 8 years.

In 2008 to 2009, Dr. Milauskas returned to California and completed an internship at Encina Veterinary Hospital. In addition to completing the internship, Dr. Milauskas studied alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, and has integrated them with traditional veterinary medicine. Since completing a veterinarian acupuncture course at Colorado State University she has become a certified veterinary acupuncturist.

Dr. Milauskas is also certified in Penn Hip, which is a multi-faceted radiographic screening method for canine hip evaluation. This is the ideal way to radiographically evaluate canine hips for dysplasia and there are only a small percentage of veterinarians that are certified to perform this diagnostic test.

Dr. Milauskas is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

On her days away from veterinary medicine she enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her husband, their two Labradors (Kiely and Lily) and their French Bulldog (Max).

Employee of the Month: April 2014

Yesenia Flores
Patient Care Team

Yesenia is a technician and part of the Patient Care Team here at Encina Veterinary Hospital. Her responsibilities include: monitoring anesthesia for any patients in surgery, inpatient care for our hospitalized patients and outpatient care for those patients that drop by for just an hour or so.

Yesenia began here at Encina in July of 2013, when she had heard about us from a veterinarian in Colorado who recommended us to her as a place of employment. “The quality of medicine, a place that was top-notch and utilized their technicians to the fullest potential” was something Yesenia was specifically looking for when she came here – and she found it!

Yesenia attributes her success here in part to the people she works with every day. She says her co-workers are, “very nice, helpful, encourage learning and everyone meshes well together – from the doctors, to the staff up front and the technicians.” Her greatest challenge at work is facing the tough cases – “where we have tried everything and there is nothing more to do. We fall in love with our patients and they pass.”

Outside of Encina, she enjoys spending her time relaxing at home with her critters – including a turtle. Right now she’s got “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from the Frozen soundtrack stuck in her head. And if she were to have 3 people over for dinner – dead or alive – she would pick, “Pancho – my cat who has been lost for the last 2 months and my mom and dad – yes they’re alive, I live with them! I just love them so much.”

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Cat owners often hear of FeLV and FIV but aren’t too sure exactly what they are and how they may affect their beloved fact. We’ve put together this blog to help explain and break down what each of these viruses are and how they can cause great damage to our pets and our lives.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is usually transmitted through grooming and social behaviors – sharing water dishes, food bowls, litterboxes etc. Kittens become infected during either development in mom or when mom starts to groom and nurse her kittens. Saliva and nasal discharge is how this virus is transferred among cats. Cat’s often do not primarily pass away due to FeLV, but they instead acquire an infection or cold that their body cannot fight off and pass away from the infection they acquired, due to their body being unable to fight it off because of FeLV.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) transmission is usually associated with cats that fight over territory and roam outdoors. As the name implies, FIV is similar to the human form of HIV, where the virus primarily attacks the immune system – therefore these cats generally present to the veterinary hospital with signs not directly associated with the virus. Like FeLV, the cat typically acquires an infection or wound that will not heal which leads to the cat’s death.

Both of these feline viral diseases are preventable. While neither of which have a “cure”, cats with these diseases can live relatively normal lives until they become clinically sick and show signs of illness. Usually secondary illnesses are what “unmask” their underlying condition (you may notice your cat sneezing, you bring him or her into the veterinarian and after some blood work is done, it is learned that while your cat is sick [sneezing], the bigger issue is that he or she also suffers from FeLV or FIV).

Approximately 5% of cats can be infected with both FIV and FeLV. Cancer risks increases 6x with FIV, 60x with FeLV and 80x with FeLV and FIV infections. In the United States approximately 2 – 3% of cats are infected with the leukemia virus. Infection rates increase when cats are very young and sick, or have increased exposure to viruses. The age groups commonly affected are cats between 1 to 6 years of age with a median age of 3 years.

Prevention: keeping cats indoors is one way to prevent your cat from exposure. When introducing new cats to the household, temporary segregation is always recommended to reduce residents from becoming exposed to bacterial and viral disease present at shelters. Vaccines are also available to prevent both of these viruses to be picked up by your cat (please continue reading for more information).

Disinfection: both viruses are easily killed by household detergents and do not last in the environment.

Vaccination: Generally FeLV vaccination can be administered to kittens at 8 – 9 weeks of age with a second booster 3 – 4 weeks later. Vaccine booster is administered once yearly. A vaccine is available for FIV cats, however this particular vaccine will yield a positive result on routine testing. Therefore, young kittens that test positive are generally retested at 6 months of age.

In conclusion, these viruses are not a death sentence for your cat and you can prevent your cat from obtaining these viruses. Annual blood work, exams and indoor only cats will help your cat stay healthy, virus free and alive! If you would like to discuss your cat’s health, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Jill Christofferson, Dr. Blythe Jurewicz or Dr. Wendi Aengus today: (925) 937-5000

Caroline Li, DVM