Posts in Category: Exotic pet Doctor
Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?
What you should look for:
- Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
- Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
- What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
- What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
- Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
- Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
- Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
- Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
- Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.
What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:
- Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
- Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
- Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
- Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
- Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
- Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
- If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.
Rabbits belong to the order Lagomorph along with hares and pikas (looks like a big mouse).
However, rabbits are the most similar to horses in that they have continually growing teeth, almost 360 degree vision, one way digestion (they can’t throw up) and a similar diet. However, at an average of 11oo pounds, horses are a little larger.
Rabbits come in many different sizes. The largest rabbit recorded is Darius. He weighed 50 pounds and is 4 feet, 3 inches tall. Columbia River Pygmy rabbits are some of the smallest, barely reaching a pound at adulthood.
Rabbits are very quiet animals which makes them great pets for apartment dwellers but a happy rabbit will sometimes make a lovely humming sound.
A REALLY happy rabbit will “binky”. This behavior involves lots of running, jumping and spinning.
Rabbits generally live 6 – 10 years but we have seen a few 12 year olds at Animal Family. The oldest rabbit recorded according to Guinness was “Do” a Mini-lop who reached the ripe old age of 17.
Did you know that it was rabbits legendary ability to reproduce (in a single year one rabbit can produce over 800 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) is how they became associated with fertility and spring. Yep, that’s where the idea of the Easter Bunny came from.
Rabbits have very fragile skeletons and must be handled gently
Rabbits have two different kinds of poop. The hard little pellets you see in the cage and the softer cecotropes. Cecotropes are rich in nutrients so rabbits actually eat them to capture all the nutrients. Gross but efficient. The regular poop is a great fertilizer for your garden.
Rabbit pregnancies last from 28 – 31 days. The average litter size is 6 – 10 kits
Girl rabbits are called does. Boy rabbits are called Bucks. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can be spayed and neutered.
Rabbits prefer a companion.
Rabbits are very trainable. Not only can they learn to use a litter pan but they can also do other tricks. Some people have rabbit races where bunny athletes compete over jumps.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM9YWm6T_hc
Rabbits like to dig. Even pet rabbits enjoy a safe area to dig and a place to hide.
Rabbits can jump up to 36 inches. Hares can jump even further.
Rabbits have 28 teeth
Rabbits are scary fast. They can reach up to 30-40 mph.
Rabbits also have very fast heart rates. Most we record at Animal family are in the 200-300 range.
Rabbits require grooming.
Rabbits make AWESOME pets. They can be found at shelters, pet stores and from private breeders. Remember, just as you should with any other pet, do your research before you get a bunny.
1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?
Like many people, I have always liked and been fascinated by animals and as a kid I thought I wanted to do “something with animals”. While deciding what major to choose, I decided against veterinary medicine due to the amount of schooling ahead of me. I did not decide that I would make the leap until my third year of undergrad in accountancy.
2. What is the best part of your job?
The people. In the end it really does not have as much to do with the animals as the bond owners have with their pets.
3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?
Pet owners’ hopes should include never making that list. Early on I saw a dog with blastomycosis that has really changed the way I approach that disease. He always comes to mind when I’m asked about interesting cases. “Hunter” that some of you have read about is trying to top him; I hope he does not do so.
4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Seeing patients deal with pain or infection that could be avoided or treated.
5. Why become a vet when you could have just as easily gone into human medicine and made more money?
Honestly, the thought never even crossed my mind back then. Never had the desire to, never thought it would make me happy. And there are a lot of jobs that would have made more financial sense.
6. We know that you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements?
Not one pet has come thru the door without a person, so being able to work with people is important.
And understanding that learning does not stop after vet school – when I think I know enough, it will be in everyone’s best interest that I retire.
7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?
We know more about nutrition, prevention against infections and parasitic infestation, obesity, dental care, behavior and behavioral enrichment; pets sleep in bed, not in the barn; animals are living much longer; we can do diagnostics and procedures that are similar to what is done in human medicine; what hasn’t changed?
8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species?
One of the biggest differences is the availability of specialists and the desire to see specialists. Another is how much insurance has changed the way human docs practice, from the number of patients they see and the amount of time spent with patients, to what procedures will be done, when, and by whom.
9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?
It is not a new horizon, but the use of pet health insurance is likely to rise. If some of the dollar issues can be removed from owners’ decision making processes, there will be the option for better and more advanced care.
Compliance is a major issue in human and veterinary medicine – anything that can be done to make “taking your medicine” easier and to reduce “forgetting” or “being late” with doses will be a welcome advance.
10. If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?
Yes, I think so. I would definitely do some things differently, but in all veterinary medicine is a very satisfying profession.
According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.
Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).
Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.
So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.
- Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
- Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
- Pets and food preparation do not go together.
- Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
- Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
- Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
- Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
- Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
- Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
- Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
- If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
- Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
- Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
- Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets
Last post, we covered some general information on pocket pets. This week we are introducing you to some of the small but mighty critters we see at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center. Of course, this is just an introduction, so, if you’re interested, feel free to facebook us with any questions you may have at Animal Family
Each type of pocket pet has its own requirements. Hamsters are nocturnal and sleep through much of the daylight hours. In addition, many don’t get along well with others of their kind and will need to be housed separately. Hamsters will bite if frightened. Our experience at the clinic has been that the larger Teddy Bear hamsters are generally much easier to handle. Most hamsters live 2 – 3 years. Like all rodents, hamsters can be prone to respiratory and GI troubles. All rodents have teeth which grow continually which causes dental problems when malocclusion is present. Rodents with malocclusions will eventually stop eating if their teeth are not cared for.
Gerbils and mice are both a little friendlier than hamsters although again, in our experience, both will bite if frightened. They are small, fast and agile and can easily slip through your fingers making them a poor choice for small children. They are susceptible to the same health issues as hamsters and have about the same life span. All of the pocket pets which were originally bred to be used as lab animals are especially prone to tumors as well
Rats are extremely smart, gentle and social. Most can be taught to perform tricks and can become quite attached to their owner. Rats generally get along great with each other as well but it is a good idea to house same sex pairs unless you want a lot more rats. Sadly, rats are more prone to develop tumors than any other pocket pet. We don’t see as many dental problems with rats but they can be susceptible to respiratory infections. The average rat lives to 2-3 years of age.
Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets. Nonaggressive and social, they will quickly become accustomed to handling. Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs must receive supplementation of Vitamin C on a daily basis or they become ill. Even though most foods formulated for guinea pigs contain added vitamin C you need to make certain it is fresh or the Vitamin C will degrade. Guinea Pig’s larger size means that they require more room to move around. However, unlike mice and gerbils, guinea pigs are not climbers. They come in a large variety of different coat types and colors. On the down side, guinea pigs have very small lungs for their size and will become quite sick if they contract any respiratory disease. In general guinea pigs live 5 – 6 years.
Rabbits, like guinea pigs also make wonderful pets. Rabbits are not rodents but lagomorphs. They come in a huge number of varieties, coat colors and sizes. Most housetrain easily and will use a cat litter box. In general, females tend to be the most cantankerous but are better behaved if spayed. Unaltered females housed together will fight. In addition, females can develop mammary tumors and reproductive tract disease if left intact. Unaltered males will spray urine to mark territory. They do well on a diet with large amounts of timothy hay and small amounts of rabbit pellets and veggies. They are susceptible to respiratory and dental problems and generally live 5 – 8 years or more.
Ferrets are a Mustelids and the clowns of the pocket pet world. Smart, active, agile and a little stinky, ferrets are endlessly entertaining. They require lots of exercise but can get into trouble if left out unsupervised. Of the small mammals, ferrets are the guys we see the most often for foreign bodies. Unlike the other small pets discussed so far, ferrets need to be vaccinated for distemper and rabies. Not everybody loves ferrets. They are banned in some states while others require that they be registered. Ferrets can be taught to use a litter box and will learn to walk on a leash and halter. They are true carnivores and unable to handle fiber. Fortunately there are several commercial ferret diets available. Although they have a lifespan of 5 -8 years, ferrets are prone to developing adrenal tumors and insulinomas as they mature.
Chinchillas were once used for the fur trade but have recently become popular as pets. They are considered nocturnal but can be active during the daytime. They prefer a diet of hay and pellets with small amounts of fruit, nuts and veggies added in. They are active but enjoy being cuddled and rarely bite. Their housing requirements are similar to a rabbit but their optimal temperature is 50 – 60 degrees. They are very susceptible to heat stroke, and don’t do well in high humidity. They also require access to a dust bath 2 -3 times a week. Common chinchilla problems include dental malocclusions, respiratory and GI disease. They can live 9 -17 years.
Hedgehogs are insectivores. We generally see the African Pygmy Hedgehog in practice. There a few commercial diets available for hedgehogs. They require a diet that is high in protein and low in fat. Dog and cat foods alone are not adequate and will need to be supplemented with mealworms, crickets, fruits and veggies. Don’t feed too much or leave food out all the time or your hedgehog can become obese. Although cute, hedgehogs are solitary and generally not too happy with being held. They require a 20 gallon or larger aquarium or other smooth sided enclosure and 75 – 85 F temperature year round. They don’t like toys but will use exercise wheels if one is provided. Hedgehogs will develop tartar and gingivitis if you don’t take care of their teeth. We also see them for obesity, tumors and fatty liver syndrome.
Sugar Gliders are marsupials. They are nocturnal, highly social animals. Please don’t keep one all by itself. If handled from a young age they can develop a bond with their owners. They are primarily insect eaters but also consume tree sap in the wild. They do not eat foliage or fruit in the wild. A good diet is composed of 50% commercial insectivore diet and 50% “Leadbeaters mixture “(your veterinarian can provide you with the recipe). Diced fruits, worms and crickets can be acceptable treats in captivity. Sugar gliders can be hard to keep healthy in captivity. They suffer from stress related disorders and one of their main health problems is malnutrition. Because they glide they are also susceptible to trauma. Pneumonia, diarrhea and blindness are other problem seen in captive sugar gliders.
One final reminder; just like your dogs and cats, pockets pets need to checked annually for parasites. It is also a good idea to bring them in yearly for an overall health check. Since most exotic pets mask illness, this is one way to help us diagnose any medical problems early enough to treat them. Our aim is to keep them healthier and you happier.
Remember, this is just a quick overview of the world of pocket pets. If you are considering adding one of these charmers to your home, please do your research first. Shelters are already seeing an increase in the number of little critters that are thoughtlessly acquired then just as thoughtlessly discarded. Please don’t add to the problem.