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


The Flea Life Cycle

We all shudder at the thought of having a flea problem in our home. A basic knowledge of the flea life cycle helps us understand why year-round flea prevention is important to help keep them at bay. Although many generally think of fleas as a problem on the animal, you will see that the majority of the fleas are present in the environment and they wait to hatch until the environmental conditions suit them.

The different stages of flea development
Eggs- Although they are laid on the host dog or cat, they fall off and hatch in the environment. They prefer high humidity and warm temperatures.
Larvae- They hatch in the environment and feed off of flea dirt (excrement). They molt several times before forming a cocoon for pupating.
Pupae- This is the dormant stage for the flea, where they can reside in the environment and wait for the right time to emerge when the conditions (temperature, humidity) are right. They are very difficult to kill in this stage.
Unfed adult flea- A mature flea that is seeking a new host. It can live for months without feeding but is actively seeking a host.
Fed adult flea- This flea can now reproduce and begins to produce eggs within 1-2 days of feeding. An adult female flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day and live for 4 to 6 weeks. A single flea can bite your pet every 5 minutes, meaning that even a single flea can cause severe itchiness and discomfort for a pet that has a flea allergy.

Why does the life cycle matter?
• The flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, which means you may not see fleas on your pet but there may be a significant flea problem. Veterinarians often look for telltale signs of fleas on a pet (flea dirt, rashes on the rear end or groin area) because directly visualizing a live flea is uncommon unless there is a heavy flea load.
• Flea eggs and larvae often develop in dark, humid areas such as under furniture or in between cushions, in carpet, in between hardwood floor boards, and outside under brush piles and bushes. This means that successfully treating the environment may be very difficult because the common sprays and “bug bombs” do not reach the areas where the immature stages of the flea are living. Instead of treating the environment, we often focus on consistently using a monthly flea product on all animals in the household for several months so that the fleas in the environment are killed as they mature and jump on the pet to take a meal. It may also help to vacuum and dispose of the vacuum bags and wash bedding or pillows in hot water. For severe infestations it may be best to consult with a professional pest control company.

Approach to flea control
• Use a flea product year round on all animals in the household. This prevents a flea infestation from setting up in your home over the winter and maturing in spring when the temperatures rise.
• There are many options for flea preventatives that can be tailored to your pets’ lifestyle and preferences. Consult with your veterinarian for the best product for you and your pet.

Marissa Woodall, DVM

Why Does My Pet Need a Rectal Exam?

We’ve all been there before. Bella comes to the vet for a regular checkup or maybe she has another pesky ear infection. Bella is very excited to come and get treats and attention. She is then disappointed to find that she must tolerate a full physical exam. As the friendly veterinarian is performing the part of the exam we usually save for last, you and Bella both wonder if it is really necessary to perform a rectal exam. After all, you are just there for an ear infection! I am here to tell you that it is absolutely necessary and you are not getting your money’s worth out of the physical exam if a rectal is not performed.

– The first thing a veterinarian evaluates on a rectal exam
is the quality of the stool. An owner may describe that there is blood in the stool but a veterinarian will be able to determine if it is actual blood or maybe just red dye from something the pet ingested.
For better or for worse, veterinarians have a lot of experience looking at poop and can learn a lot about your pet’s health by examining it.

– Another thing we evaluate is the anal glands. We can detect
and relieve an anal gland obstruction or treat an abscess. We can also find a tumor of the anal glands or colon early, before your pet shows any signs, which allows for the best outcome in treating these tumors.

– A rectal exam allows us to feel lymph nodes inside the
abdomen (the sublumbar lymph nodes) and helps us diagnose cancers and inflammation or infection that can cause these lymph nodes to enlarge.

– A rectal exam is a must for a pet that has sustained a
trauma such as getting hit by a car because it allows us to feel for pelvic fractures. We can also feel certain bony tumors.

– In male dogs, a rectal exam involves feeling the prostate
for enlargement or pain which may be signs of infection or cancer.

– We can feel the urethra in female dogs via a rectal exam.
This allows us to detect any abnormal thickening or stones lodged in the urethra. Sometimes stones are lodged in a position that overlaps with the pelvis on x-rays and a rectal exam is the easiest way to find them.

– Part of assessing a dog’s neurologic status is checking the anal tone of the dog. Decreased anal tone can be a sign of disease in the spinal cord.

As you can see, while rectal exams aren’t a veterinarian or a pet’s favorite past time, they are vital for assessing the health of your dog and diagnosing disease early in its course.

Alina Kelman, DVM

What’s Up With My Dog’s Breath?

“You have dog breath.” — “Why, thank you!”

The term ‘dog breath’ conjures up a rank sour aroma in our minds, powerfully repelling. This is one of the great injustices in animal health care today. The term ‘dog breath’ unfairly creates the idea that bad breath is an unavoidable truth for our four legged companions, but this is far from the truth!

An overwhelming majority of pet owners do not employ any type of home oral hygiene routine for their cats or dogs. What would happen to your teeth or your breath if you didn’t brush your teeth for a month? Now, what would happen to your mouth if you didn’t brush your teeth for 2 years? 7 years?
10 years? This is what we are subjecting our pets to. ‘Dog breath’ should more appropriately be called ‘lack of appropriate hygiene breath’ or ‘medieval breath.’ Animal dental care has lagged heavily behind animal health care for far too long.

Fresh smelling breath is not the only reason that we should turn our attention toward animal dental hygiene. Research in humans and animals alike is linking dental disease to systemic diseases. Current research provides us with evidence for associations between periodontal disease and systemic diseases (heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease,
etc) and some research has shown improvement in systemic disease following treatment for periodontal disease. Further research is needed to determine the full extent of the relationship.

Hmm, maybe I should start doing something for my pet’s teeth, but does it have to be brushing? What about all of the dental foods, treats, chew toys, water additives, wipes and sprays? As a veterinarian, I get asked this question often. My response is this, if there were a treat, a spray, a water additive, or something that was easier than brushing but just as effective, would we still be brushing our own teeth? Some of these things help, just like carrots and apples are good for our teeth, but there is no replacement for brushing.

How often should I brush my pet’s teeth? Is once or twice a week enough?

Every little bit helps and the more you brush your pet’s teeth the better but consider this, plaque hardens into tartar in 24-36 hours. Daily brushing is the best way to help prevent dental disease from developing and to prolong the interval between regular dental cleanings.

Okay, but who has the time to brush their pet’s teeth everyday? Brushing your pet’s teeth doesn’t need to be as time consuming as brushing your own teeth. You only need to focus on brushing the outside of your pet’s teeth.
The insides of their teeth accumulate tartar at a much slower rate than the outside of their teeth as a result of the action of the upper teeth moving against the outside of the lower teeth and the action of the tongue moving against the insides of the teeth. To brush your pet’s teeth effectively, you need only hold their mouth closed and lift their lip on one side, put the brush against the molars at the back of the mouth and brush in circles to the front of the mouth. Then switch and do the same thing on the other side. The whole process should take about 15 seconds.
That’s 90 minutes a year to give your pet a happier, healthier, longer life!

If you’re still on the fence about this whole brushing thing, consider
this: the cost of a dental procedure can range between a few hundred dollars and several thousand dollars, depending on the rates of the veterinary clinics in your area and the amount of oral surgery (extractions, etc) that your pet requires. Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that every time your pet has a dental procedure, it costs $500 and your pet has a dental procedure yearly (some pets, just like people, need to see the dentist more frequently, some less frequently). Now, let’s estimate that brushing your pet’s teeth daily will extend the interval between dental procedures to a year and a half. That reduces the cost of dental procedures from $500/year to $333.33/year… a savings of $166.67/year. That’s $166.67 for approximately 90 minutes of work. These numbers are very rough estimates and are on the low end of the spectrum, but you get the idea. Some people need to see the dentist every 6 months despite daily brushing and some people do fine for years. The same goes for our pets. My own dog goes about 3 years after a dental cleaning before I notice any ‘dog breath.’ In fact, people that meet my dog often comment, “Wow, her breath doesn’t smell at all.”

One more benefit that can’t be ignored – less frequent anesthesia.
Although anesthesia is far less risky than it once was and the risk of complications is low, reducing the number of times a pet has to go under anesthesia is a nice benefit. This is of particular value for pets with diseases that put them at higher risk for anesthesia, such as heart conditions, kidney disease and liver disease.

What about anesthesia-free dentistry? This is a topic that deserves its own focus, but the bottom line is this: more than 50% of a tooth is below the gum line and anesthesia-free dentistry can only address part of what is above the gum line, leaving significant dental disease unaddressed.
Anesthesia-free dentistry is cosmetic only, with no real health benefit.
For more information on anesthesia-free dentistry (also called non-professional dental scaling) refer to the following website:
http://www.avdc.org/dentalscaling.html

What can I do today to start taking care of my pet’s oral health?
Call your veterinarian and schedule a consult for a dental procedure. If your pet already has significant dental disease, brushing now will cause pain and may make your pet averse to brushing. Have a dental procedure performed by your veterinarian before you start brushing your pet’s teeth so that you are starting with a clean slate.

Renee Hartshorn, DVM

Why does my vet have to do all that bloodwork

Bloodwork that we run here at Encina Veterinary Hospital falls into a few basic categories.

1) The CBC, or Complete Blood Count, measures the number, size, shape, and types of cells that are in the blood. The two main varieties of blood cells are the red blood cells and the white blood cells. The red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. Assessing the red blood cells can tell us about diseases which cause acute or chronic blood loss, dehydration, destruction of red blood cells, or a decrease in production of red blood cells. Assessing the white blood cells tells us about infection, inflammation, clotting, and some cancers.
The veterinarian may also make a blood smear to get a closer look at the shape of cells which can be affected by various diseases or to confirm abnormal findings picked up by the CBC machine. The findings of the CBC are not always specific and must be interpreted in light of other diagnostics but it is a great place to start in order to be able to rule out broad categories of disease.

2) The blood chemistry and electrolytes are another component of basic bloodwork. This tells us about kidney and liver function, metabolic diseases, some cancers, endocrine diseases, gastrointestinal function, toxicities, and more.

“That’s all fine,” you say, “but why does Sadie need her blood checked when she just broke a nail?” Whenever we prescribe certain medications, such as an anti-inflammatory and pain medication in case of a broken nail, we have to keep in mind potential side effects and risks to the patient. Anti-inflammatories used in pets, such as Rimadyl, are generally very safe but can have rare and serious side effects involving the kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. When we prescribe Rimadyl we want to be sure that your pet does not have a condition that makes him or her more susceptible to these side effects so that a broken nail does not turn into kidney failure!

“Ok, but Rover just had bloodwork done a month ago, why are we repeating it?” Great question! Blood cell counts and chemistry can change day to day. If Rover is coming in to us with clinical signs which did not exist at the last visit, he may have significant changes in his bloodwork which will help us to diagnose his new illness.

“But Fluffy has never been sick in her life, why does my wellness appointment include bloodwork?” Our pets can’t tell us how they feel and often put on their bravest face for us, concealing chronic illness.

Annual bloodwork for them is like bloodwork every 7 or so years for us.

Early detection of certain chronic diseases such as kidney disease can help us take measures to slow their progression such as changing the diet of the pet.

Remember, if you have a question about why the veterinarian wants to perform a certain blood test, just ask! We would be happy to explain the reasoning and the risks we would be taking by not performing the bloodwork.

Dr. Alina Kelman

Cats and Hairballs: Normal or Not?

We’ve all heard (and probably have seen) that cats get hairballs which are literal balls of fur that are vomited up. But is this normal?

Yes and no – let us explain.

Cats are known for their grooming habits. It seems that when cats aren’t sleeping or being curious, they’re grooming themselves to perfection. And with all this meticulous grooming, it’s only natural and normal for a cat to occasionally have a hair ball or two every few months. The part when it becomes an issue is when the frequency of hairballs is more frequent then one or two every few months, which can be a symptom of an underlying condition.

One way to reduce the amount of fur your feline friend consumes is using a deshedding tool such as a brush or Furminator. These tools help remove hair that your pet may otherwise eat and vomit later.

If you’re seeking peace of mind an answers, the best thing is a trip to Encina Veterinary Hospital where one of our veterinarians can assess and treat your beloved feline, and get to the root of the problem.

Importance of Wellness Care

It seems less and less pet owners are bringing their pets in for wellness/annual exams and we’re hearing more and more of, “nothing is wrong”. The sad truth is that when something is wrong, it’s a little more difficult to treat because that something that is wrong, has grown and progressed since the “nothing is wrong” days.

Pets aren’t getting the regular care they need and that’s a problem because by the time some pets make it to Encina Veterinary Hospital, they have serious illnesses that could have been prevented with regular, routine veterinary care.

Annual exams, routine blood work, vaccines and dental cleanings all keep your beloved pet healthy and happy, longer. We LOVE celebrating normal and healthy and we think you should too! These routine protocols help prevent heart disease among many, which can lead to premature death for your pet. Chronic diseases and illnesses don’t need to evolve, spread and cause your pet harm if we catch it quickly in an annual exam, versus when pets begin showing signs.

Let us help in keeping your furkid healthy and happy by your side for as long as possible with an annual exam and routine blood work. We’re here for you always, open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Ear Infections in Cats and Dogs

     Ear disease is one of the more common diseases in dogs. Infection of the ear or otitis can occur in the external or middle ear. Clinical signs of ear infections include – head shaking, scratching at the ears, a stinky ear, discharge, swelling or redness of the skin inside the ear. Not all red ears are infected ears, however, if they are left untreated it can become infected.

     The normal ear is a structure made up of cartilage that is lined with skin, hair follicles, sebaceous (sweat glands) and modified ceruminous (wax forming) glands. Normally the skin cells and glandular cells produce wax to trap dirt and debris in the ear canal. The normal ear canal is smooth, light pink, with a pearly appearing tympanic membrane.

     The development of ear infections can be divided into predisposing, primary and perpetuating factors. Predisposing factors include the environment such as moisture and or heat, hair plucking, grooming powders and/or anatomic variation; floppy ears (like cocker spaniels), stenotic or narrow ear canals (like the sharpei), and the number of wax/ glandular cells, and number of hair follicles lining the ear canal. Other predisposing causes include hormonal or autoimmune diseases.

     Primary causes include foreign bodies (foxtails), cancer, ear mites, food/inhaled allergies, endocrine or autoimmune diseases.

     Perpetuating factors – these are causes that make treatment challenging and prone to failure –include bacterial or yeast infections, chronic changes to the structure of the ear from inflammation or deep infection, or inappropriate treatment.

     Determining ear infections begins with an otoscopic examination – to assess the surface of the ear canal and to determine if the ear drum is intact. Next is obtaining a sample of the material in the ear by rolling the exudates (wax) onto a slide. There we look for yeast and/or bacteria or even parasites!

     If bacteria or yeast are seen, we need to clean out the ear wax and debris using a special ear cleaner. In order for a medication to work and adhere to the skin in the ear, we need to start with a clean dry ear. If some infections are very deep we may need to add oral antibiotics and steroids to decrease inflammation.

     Maintenance ear care prevents ear infections from occurring again. Depending on your veterinarian they may recommend routine ear cleanings with an appropriate cleaner and medication. Over cleaning can also predispose our pets to developing ear infections by disrupting the normal microenvironment in the ear. Successful treatment of ear infections require identification of the primary cause (allergies, foreign body, autoimmune, endocrine diseases etc), and choosing the appropriate antibiotic along with regular visual assessment of the ear canal and tympanic membrane by your veterinarian.

Caroline Li, DVM

Why is My Pet Eating Grass and Plants?

     The answer for why many dogs and cats eat grass and other plants is not clear – cut. Some of the more popular theories are that they have a deficiency in diet, need for more fiber, or that it is a natural instinct inherited from ancestors to rid the body of intestinal parasites. Recent research suggests that most pets eat grass when they are not showing signs of illness. In a recent study conducted at UC Davis by Karen Sueda and her colleagues, it was reported that only 9% of dogs appear ill prior to consuming plant material and only 22% were seen vomiting afterward. It also suggested that younger animals tend to eat plants more often and less frequently appeared ill before plant – eating. Younger animals also have an increased likelihood of consuming other non- grass plants.

     If your pet is consuming plant material, it may be normal behavior. If your pet has other signs of illness, please consult your veterinarian. Your pet should have a complete physical exam to rule out any underlying illnesses.

     The following is a short list of some common toxic plants. If you suspect that your pet has consumed these or other toxic plants, please consult a veterinarian immediately:
Oleander
Castor beans
Lillies
Pothos
Cyclamen
Marijuana
Cycad palms (Sago palm)
Azalea/rhododendron
Schefflera
English Ivy
Peace lily
Chrysanthemum
Autumn crocus
Tulip/narcissus bulbs
Amaryllis
Yew

Lacey LaVigna, DVM

Importance of Vaccines

      Vaccinations are an important component of pet healthcare and also play a key role in the control of disease at the national and global level. Vaccines are designed to strengthen an animal’s immune system against a certain disease, to either prevent or minimize the effects of that infection, should the animal later be exposed. They consist of either modified or killed forms of the microorganism. Vaccine guidelines have been created for our pet population and generally consist of “Core” vaccines, which every animal should receive, and Non-Core” vaccines, which are given depending on life style. However, the most important component in vaccine management is consulting with your veterinarian so they can create a vaccination plan specifically tailored to your pet.

      You may have wondered why puppies and kittens receive a series of vaccinations. Young animals have naturally occurring immunity to disease, which they receive from their mothers during pregnancy and while nursing. This natural immunity begins to breakdown over the first few months of life, putting the puppy or kitten at risk for disease. For an animal to mount their own immune response, and for a vaccine to be effective, the naturally occurring immunity must be gone. We don’t know the exact point that any given animal will lose their natural immunity, and be ready to mount their own individual immune response, so a series of vaccines are given to ensure we don’t put a young animal at undue risk for disease, but also are able to impart long term immunity. For this same reason it is important not to exposure your puppies and kittens to animals with uncertain vaccination history, or environments where sick animals may have been, until their vaccine series is completed.

      There are two “Core” vaccinations given to dogs. The first is rabies, which is required by law due to its potential to spread to human beings. The second is DAP, which is a combo vaccine which protects dogs from some very serious viral diseases, including parvovirus and distemper. Several “Non-Core” vaccines for dogs exist which you and your veterinarian can decide upon based on your pets lifestyle and the diseases they may be at risk of contracting.

      “Core” vaccinations for cats include rabies, and the combo vaccine FVRCP, which primary is designed to cover cats for upper respiratory infections. One of the primary “Non-core” vaccines for cats is Feline Leukemia Virus, a life threatening disease which outdoor cats are at risk of contracting.

      Veterinarians would agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks. About 1 in every 200 animals will have an adverse vaccine reaction, but most reactions are very mild. Most vaccine reactions are limited to pain at the injection site, but they can also include facial swelling, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, and in rare causes anaphylaxis and shock. Some cats can also develop cancer at the site of injection years after their vaccination, but this condition is rare (about 1 in 10,000) and modern vaccines put cats at less risk.

      Although there are risks associated with vaccinations, they are an important tool available to your veterinarian to prevent serious and often life threatening disease in your pet. Vaccines are also largely responsible for controlling and even eradicating several of the world’s most serious infectious diseases, in both people and animals. By working with your veterinarian a vaccination plan can be made to minimize risk and keep your pet protected.

Trevor Miller, DVM