How to tell if Your Pet Bird is Sick

The practice of keeping a pet bird has been around for centuries. People the world over have brought birds into their homes to enjoy their lovely colors or perhaps, as with canaries, to revel in their beautiful songs or maybe just for companionship.  We humans have benefited from birds in many ways. The key as an owner is to make sure our birds benefit as well.

Pet Bird ownership can be quite challenging. They can suffer from boredom, too little or too much food. Maybe it’s just the wrong foods. They are affected by stress, loneliness, allergies, arthritis, injuries, respiratory problems and more. The list is almost endless. On top of that, birds often mask their illnesses and often, by the time we notice things aren’t right, they are already very sick. New owners quickly learn that caring for a pet bird is not as easy as it seemed at first glance.

Below is a list of signs indicating that you need to call your veterinarian:

  • Huddled

  • Sitting low on the perch

  • Sitting on the bottom of the cage

  • Hanging onto the side of the cage with his beak instead of sitting on a perch

  • Head tucked under wing and standing on two feet

  • Puffed up feathers (consistently)

  • Weakness

  • Losing balance, teetering, or falling off of perch

  • Lumps or swelling of any portion of the body

  • Picking at his feathers or body

  • Trembling

  • Not preening

  • Harassed by other birds

  • Eyes dull, sunken, or abnormal color

  • Walking in circles

  • Unusual smell  or change of color or consistency of bird or droppings

  • Drooped or elevated wing(s)

  • Not eating or eating much less

  • decreased singing/talking

  • less interested in interaction with you

  • Discharge from eyes or nares ( nostrils)

  • Change in the appearance of the beak

  • Squinting of eyes

  • Bloody stool or blood anywhere

 

 

Amazing Facts about Animal Anesthesia!!

e-collar dog

Anesthesia scares lots of people but in fact is safe and has a long and very cool history.  Check it out!

  • The truth is we have been trying to find ways to ease pain for a really long time but we have not always been very good at it.

  • Anesthesia for animals didn’t happen as fast as it did for people because it was thought that putting an animal under was painful. So they just restrained them instead. Bad idea.

  • Opium was a popular drug in early anesthesia because of its numbing properties. It has many properties that make it useful in medicine and is still employed today.

  •  During World War II many Jews escaped from the Nazis through the use of rabbit blood soaked rags with a cocaine top dressing. The dogs noses were numbed which dulled their sense of smell and their brains were addled enough to make them lose focus. Pretty smart and harmless to the dogs.

  • Spinal blocks were discovered by accident. In 1885 a doctor studying neurological problems accidently injected cocaine into a dog’s spine. The great news came when he saw that the neural block reversed on its own over time. Ask any mother who had an epidural during delivery how great a discovery this was.

  • The really worst idea for surgical analgesia was a sock to the jaw which made the patient unconscious and a hopefully very rapid surgery. Yes they actually did this

  • The man who popularized inhalant anesthesia was unable to patent his method and died penniless and bitter

  • In animals we need to look at age, size and weight, Sex (some boys need more), species (VERY important), Physical health and condition, pre surgical drugs that have been administered and the type of procedure to be performed. An overweight animal has a much greater risk of complications. Yet another reason not to feed table scraps.

  • Anesthesia free procedures were performed up into the 20th century. Ether was around but was not widely used. Think about how very painful surgery that must have been. Something to remember when someone tries to sell you on the idea of anesthesia free procedures. Dentals are surgical procedures.

  • In 1733, Rev. Stephan Hales developed invasive blood pressure measurements by introducing glass pipes into the femoral arteries of horses.

  • Anesthesia also produces amnesia and that’s always a good thing when you’re having surgery.

  • One of the hardest things we do after surgery is to determine if an animal is in pain or dysphoric. Dysphoria is a state of unease which causes vocalization and restlessness.  It can be caused by the surgical drugs we use. Unlike people animals can’t tell us how they are feeling so we monitor our surgical patients closely to minimize any discomfort.

  • It is possible to have an aware anesthesia where you can’t move but  it’s not at all common.  Thank goodness!

  • This is for the redheads out there. You really don’t need more anesthesia. That’s a myth.

Spring Pet Safety Checklist

camp canine 05-07-11 004

  • Dispose of antifreeze safely:

    • Even so-called pet safe antifreeze can be toxic to your pet.

    • Ethylene Glycol ingestion causes incoordination, disorientation and lethargy progressing to vomiting, kidney failure and death.

    • Treatment must begin as soon as possible. Call your veterinarian. Early intervention and treatment is imperative to a good outcome.

    • For more information:

  • Check your yard for hazards hidden in the snow over the winter:e-collar dog

    • As the snow melts do a safety walk through your yard. You never know what may have been dropped or thrown over the fence. This small precaution can keep your pet safe from injury and poisoning.

  • Spring cleaning products:

    • Spring clean-up often involves chemicals that can be caustic to the sensitive tissues of the eyes, mouth and paw pads. Others may be toxic if ingested. Remember to keep cleaning materials and rags safely out of the way.

  • Fleas and ticks and spiders and bees – Oh My!!!tick

    • With spring so come all of Mother Nature’s creeping, crawling and flying creatures. Make sure your pets are up to date on both flea and tick preventatives.

    • A sudden swelling of the face and muzzle and/or bumps under the hair can be an indicator of an allergic reaction to bee or spider bites. These can become severe and require treatment by a veterinarian.

  • Parasites like spring too:

    • Parasites of all types appear with increasing temperatures. Make sure your pet is current on their intestinal and heartworm tests.flea-1

    • Remember the mosquitos that carry heartworm become active in temperatures as low as 50 degrees. It’s just one pill a month and parasites are so much easier to prevent than treat.

  • Protect against diseases such as Lyme, Leptospirosis , Canine Parvovirus and others

    • Lyme disease is carried by ticks so small they often go unnoticed. The larger Brown Dog Ticks can spread the disease as well. Lyme disease can cause inflammation of joints, lameness, lethargy, loss of appetite as well as damage to the kidneys and other organs.Rooms

    • Leptospirosis is transmitted through urine and is spread through the water and other warm, moist environments. The disease can cause joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, jaundice, vomiting and other symptoms. Most importantly, Leptospirosis can be shared with you.

    • Canine Parvovirus is incredibly hardy and able to survive long periods in the environment. Parvovirus causes, lethargy, severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, rapid dehydration and if left untreated death.

    • They are all preventable. VACCINATE.

  • The doors we open to let spring in also let pets out:

    • Get your pet microchipped. You will be happy you did because unlike collars, microchips can’t be lost. They have helped reunite many pets and owners over great distances and time.

  • Spring is gardening time.Kemo and Pyra Phaedra jones Mcnamara Wlochal

    • Many of the spring bulbs we plant in our gardens are toxic to pets.

    • The same goes for fertilizers and herbicides. Please use care around children and pets.

    • For a complete list of Toxic plants go to:

      • https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants

 

Caring For Niabi’s Older Animals – reprinted from the Quad City Times

The following is a reprint from a Quad City Times article written by Barb Ickes.  Doctor Lauren Hughes of Animal Family Veterinary Care Center also cares for The Niabi Zoo animals.  Most of our clients have an active interest in the zoo so we wanted to make sure you all had a chance to read the article.

 

COAL VALLEY — The zookeepers at Niabi hope to soften the blow.

Death may not be imminent, but it will come. And it is time to prepare.

Several of Niabi Zoo’s residents would be in nursing homes by now if such an option existed. It doesn’t, so the keepers are doing their best to make their seniors comfortable and content as age and nature conspire against them.

Growing old is not much different for animals from the way it is for humans. The process spares no breed.mufasa

Mufasa, a lion born at Niabi, will be 21 years old this year. His life expectancy in the wild would have expired six or seven years ago. His large, keen eyes are fogging with cataracts, and his appetite is waning. He moves more slowly than before, and he shows little interest in going outdoors.

Carnivore keeper Jessica Lench Porter is Mufasa’s primary keeper, but her position requires more than doling out doses of high-protein horse meat and daily medications.

One of the most valuable skills Porter and the other keepers have to offer their geriatric menagerie is knowing them well enough to recognize a natural decline.

For Mufasa and several others, the decline has begun.

‘Mufasa is an icon here’

Niabi’s two female lions, Savanna and Nala, are about half Mufasa’s age.

One has been spayed, and the other is on birth control. Although the nearly 21-year-old male remains capable of fathering their cubs, he lacks the paperwork to prove he would be a good candidate.

“Part of his genetics are unknown,” zoo Director Marc Heinzman said. “We don’t want to accidentally interbreed.”

Mufasa did, in fact, sire two cubs. One had to be put down after it was seriously injured in an enclosure-door malfunction, and the other died of natural causes. It is impossible, zoo officials said, to know whether genetics played a role in the latter fatality. Heinzman said the pregnancy occurred before he was zoo director, and he does not know why it was permitted.

But the point is moot now, anyway.

Mufasa lives separately from the two females that occupy Niabi’s main lion exhibit. He has been bunking for two years with the jaguar and leopards that live in the large cat area. All three lions were moved there in 2012, when work was being done on the lion exhibit. Although Savanna and Nala have been returned to the lion house, he is not going back.

Some controversy has surrounded the decision to keep Mufasa sequestered from the other lions. Members of the public have complained that he should remain with the pride because of lions’ social nature.

But it is best, keepers say, for Mufasa to live out his life right where he is. His eyesight is too poor to hope that he could manage the transition.

“He wouldn’t know his surroundings,” Porter said. “We’re not going to set him up to fail.”

As it is, Mufasa is experiencing enough failures. He has become increasingly stubborn and less motivated by food. His usual daily feeding of nine pounds of raw meat has been reduced to seven pounds, and he often leaves some behind.

All four of his thumb-sized canine teeth are chipped from wear, and the last time he was sedated for a medical procedure, it took him days to recover.

“In the wild, he’d have been kicked out of the pride because of his age,” Porter said. “The best thing we can do is look out for him.”

To give proper care, the keeper continues old training routines that keep Mufasa in a cooperative spirit. With daily reminders of what is expected of him, the old male usually complies when Porter makes her demands.

“If I can get him to stand up, I can see his underside,” she said. “He can present both sides, and he can follow the command to open his mouth, so we can see his teeth.

“But it’s also very important that I know what’s going on with him in other ways. I need to know, for instance, if he’s favoring one side when he chews his food. I need to spot any changes in him.”

Niabi’s house veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Hughes, said the keepers are her “eyes and ears” when she is not on the grounds.

“Because they work with the collection every day, they are able to see sudden changes in normal behavior, which can include a decreased appetite, loss of body condition or even something as simple as not coming out of their hiding places or dens as frequently,” she said. “Although these changes may all seem subtle, we have actually been able to catch illnesses very early in several animals in the collection due to their keen observations.”

Porter also can spot personality quirks.

In Mufasa’s case, he finds a bellowing territory call to be necessary throughout the day. A once-or-twice-a-day call is sufficient for most male lions, but Mufasa throws back his mane and produces a chest-vibrating series of roars at least once an hour.

The scale that he agreeably steps onto every two weeks shows he is down 38 pounds from his maximum weight of 410.

“He still has good body condition,” Porter said. “He’s giving us no reason to euthanize him. He’s just in that geriatric stage. Mufasa is an icon here. People come just to see him.

“The day will come when he isn’t here. In the meantime, he’s in the only place he’s ever known. He knows what to expect from me, and he is well fed and cared for. I’ve been here for 13 years, and you obviously form an attachment, but you also have to keep a distance.

“Old age comes to wild animals just like it does for people. You accept it.”

Jackson the jaguar

Although Mufasa has a good track record of cooperating in the care-critical task of bimonthly weigh-ins, one of his enclosure mates has his own ideas.jackson the jag

Sometimes, when Porter pushes the big-cat scale into his enclosure, Jackson the jaguar takes off with it. If someone told him the four-foot-long metal scale is not a toy, Jackson wasn’t listening.

Turning 20 this year, the jet-black jag also is well beyond his prime. Big cats in the wild are lucky to survive into their early-to-mid-teens, Porter said.

“At the end of December, tests showed he’s in early kidney failure,” she said. “His appetite also is diminishing. These are things we want people to know. Instead of reacting when we have a death, we want the public to know what’s going on.”

For now, Jackson is holding his own.

“He’s definitely still got it,” Porter said. “He’s still agile. He’s not one to pace. He’s a stalker. He sits there and thinks things through.”

He also has his quirks, including a fascination with his medicine-ball-like toy, which is made of tightly wound fire hose.

“That’s one of his favorite things,” she said. “He drags it everywhere.”

He also sucks on his tail.

“I’m not alarmed by it, because he’s done it for at least 10 years,” she said. “I have no idea why.

“We can’t convey enough how important it is that we know their behaviors, so they don’t suffer in any way. I think of it this way: If you’re getting older, and your eyesight is going, kidneys failing and appetite diminishing, don’t you want care?

“We have all these bottles with different scents — even some spices and extracts. We hide these things in their enclosures, changing up smells and toys. Mental stimulation is hugely important to quality of life, and people forget to apply that to animals, too.

“We want the end of their lives to be comfortable.”

Two tamarins

Even though their enclosure is small, cotton-top tamarins Eddie and Goose are not easy to spot.

Among the smallest of all primates, the two are similar in size to squirrels. Frequently spending their time side-by-size in their new exhibit in the zoo’s main entrance, they are easily dwarfed by their roommate, a two-toed sloth.

Now in their golden years, the tamarins are empty-nesters.

The life expectancy for tamarins in the wild is 13. Eddie will be 14 this year, and Goose will turn 13.

“They’ve had many babies,” Porter said. “They’ve been here most of their lives.”

The tiny primates are new charges for Porter, who is learning to care for and train the pair.

“I’m not 100 percent confident with primates, so I don’t hand-feed them,” she said as she slipped through a small door and into their enclosure last week. “Training them to go into a crate is important, so they don’t have to be captured.

“Also, with these guys being geriatric, we need them to get on a scale.”

The two, especially Eddie, are showing no signs of letting up on their food motivation.

As Porter entered their enclosure with a plastic cup of meal worms, Eddie made his move. The tamarins have been trained to expect their food after touching a “target.” In their case, the target is a wand-sized stick with a green bulb at one end. When they touch the bulb, Porter blows on a small whistle, and they are permitted to reach in for a meal worm.

In his excitement, Eddie emits frequent bird-like chirps and reaches repeatedly for the target.

“They really like insects,” Porter said. “They’re easy for them to eat, too. We have to cook some of their food to make it easier. We soften the potatoes that are added to their Primate Diet food.”

After spending decades with big cats and Niabi’s now-relocated elephants, Porter said she is enjoying the challenge of learning more about the petite primates.

“You definitely get their personalities,” she said. “They have a very complex vocalization system. They have an ear-piercing alarm call. I was doing an educational tour in this room recently, and I got out one of the snakes. The tamarins screamed their heads off.”

The ongoing training with Eddie and Goose, along with close and frequent observation, make it possible for them to survive several more years. But their continued longevity is not guaranteed.

“If you come one day and enjoy seeing them, and they’re not here on the next visit, you have to understand: They’re getting up there,” Porter said. “We have to face it

From the zoo’s vet

Dr. Lauren Hughes is the house veterinarian at Niabi Zoo. She explained:Lauren BIO pic 2

“In regards to the senior animals in our collection: It is a testament to the hard work and care of the zoo staff that their longevity is even an issue, and as frustrating as this may be, it is a great issue to have.

“Due to the high quality of care for these animals, they are well outliving their expected survival rates in the wild. That being said, this presents a new series of challenges similar to those that people face with their domestic pets.

“For example, renal disease is one of the most common diseases of geriatric felines. The same holds true for exotic felines in zoo collections.

“In a domestic setting, we can manage these animals by changing their diets, modifying their care plans to include extra means of hydration like fluids under the skin, and monitoring their blood pressure. In a zoo collection, all of these options are not always possible due to safety reasons with these large, apex predators.

“Their diets are already optimized to the highest protein possible, and there isn’t always an ability to administer fluids or monitor blood pressure without compromising staff safety or using sedatives, which isn’t always the safest option for the animal in question or their underlying illnesses.

10 reasons Why Your Pet Should be on Flea Prevention

 

We love creatures of every different type at our clinic!  We love the barkers, the meowers, the squawkers, the rodents and the bunnies and the snakes and the lizards.  That said, there is one creature that we all hate. The flea!  Unfortunately, we have been seeing way too much of Ctenocephalides canis and felis lately.  Yes it’s spring and THEY”RE BACK!   It’s time to get your pet on parasite preventatives if they are not already on it.

 

  1. Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.   When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.

  2. Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your children.  Everybody gets itchy.

  3. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.    Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”

  4. Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague.  This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.

  5. Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:

    a.  Exposure to rat fleas or feces

    b.  Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats

7.   Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.

 8.  Fleas can transmit hemoplasmas, a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.

 9.  Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home. 

 10. Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.

Birds and Biting

 

 

Ask any bird owner and they will probably tell you that the most serious bird behavior problem is biting This is especially true with the larger birds whose strong jaw and hooked bills can inflict considerable damage and pain.  Most biting behaviors can be classified as fear, aggression, territorial, conditioned or mate related.

Fear Biters:

When most birds were wild caught, fear biting was a bigger problem.  Today, most birds are raised in captivity.  However, birds that have been raised with little human interaction in captivity will still have fear problems.  Finally, even birds that are hand reared and more acclimated to human beings can still develop fear related behaviors.  Some, such as African Grays, seem to be naturally more cautious and fearful around humans.

Fear biters can be recognized by their attachment to the cage.  They are unwilling to leave that safe environment and when approached, may run away from or scoot past your hand.  They get very stressed when handled and may squawk, fight, and even pant.  Excessive wing trims and the inevitable clumsiness and falls that accompany them are a good way to create a fear biter.  Careful trims and lots of treats and patient handling can sometimes help a fear biter become more social.

Conditioned Biters:

Birds are highly intelligent and will learn to manipulate their owner quickly.  An owner who withdraws their hand the first time a bird offers to bite will condition the animal to bite to get their way.  Not surprisingly, the bigger the bird, the more common the problem seems to be. As with many other species of animals, if you don’t appear to be in control, birds will be more than happy to take over.

Conditioned biters need to have their wings trimmed both figuratively and literally. In addition, they should never be allowed to ride on the owners shoulder.  One way to prevent this behavior is to place a towel on the shoulder and use that to safely remove the bird if needed.  If you are too afraid to offer a hand, than gloves or a perch should be used to practice step up without biting.  Do not hit the bird on the beak.  Instead, redirect biting behavior by giving another command which can be rewarded when obeyed.  If the owner is unable to establish control, the bird may have to be rehomed.

Territorial Biters:

These are the birds that defend their cage by biting.  Territorial aggression should occur only when the bird is in or on the cage.  Consistent training and handling are an important step in curing this type of biting.  More time spent with the owner and less time in the cage will help as well.  Use of a separate cage for night time sleeping and daytime play can also be helpful.

Bonded Biters:

Many birds bond closely with one person in the family.  They may consider this person to be their mate and behave aggressively if they feel other family members are competing for “their” person.  Again, training and consistent handling by all family members will help to decrease bond related biting.  Unpleasant jobs should be done by the favorite and treats doled out by others. Again, these birds should be kept off the shoulder. Play is good but too much cuddling can be misinterpreted.

Grumpy Biters:

Just like us, birds need to get a good night’s rest.  A bird kept up late watching television, could turn into a tired, grumpy biter.  Birds need to have at least 10 hours a day in a dark, quiet room. Owners need to keep that in mind when deciding where to place their bird’s cage.

Remember, if the biting is extreme, use gloves, perches or towels. Also, changing established negative behaviors requires plenty of time, patience, confidence and consistency on the part of the handler.  In the worst cases, where the owner is unable to establish a safe relationship, a new home may be the best choice for everyone.

An Ounce of Prevention…

 

 

I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with the entire collection of animals on grounds at Niabi Zoo as well as their dedicated zookeepers and staff at least once a week.   Even though this part of my life is “scheduled,” I never know what my day will entail.   It’s the constant variety of daily tasks in zoological medicine that makes it that much more interesting for me:  the never ending challenge of diagnosis, developing treatment plans, and, most importantly, annual wellness and preventative medicine.  Preventative medical care and annual wellness screening is one of the most overlooked areas of zoological medicine in the public eye.  Not only is preventative medicine essential for the animal’s health and well being, it is also necessary for the safety of the staff and the visiting public.  However, depending on the animal we’re working on in the collection, this may be a challenge.

What does preventative medicine in a zoo entail?

Preventative medicine examinations performed on zoo patients are very similar to those performed on your own four legged friends, and equally important.  Much like our own four legged friends, obesity can affect animals in captivity, so accurate weight logs and body condition assessments are kept by keeper staff and the veterinarian. Many of the animals in Niabi Zoo’s collection are trained with positive reinforcement and operant condition to willing stand or sit on a scale on command to maintain accurate records of their weights. Any major changes can then be reported to the veterinary staff and further measures can be taken. This may seem like a small detail of an exam, but the zookeepers are the eyes and ears of the veterinary department and work tirelessly to help prevent disease outbreaks and illness in the animals they oversee.

Another important area annually assessed is the animal’s mouth. Dental disease is one of the most common pet health problems diagnosed at Animal Family and is also common in zoo collections due to some undesired, stereotypical behaviors. The challenge in a zoological collection is that the animal’s mouth can also be it’s most dangerous weapon! Some of these animals require sedation to have their teeth examined.  Other animals are trained with hand signals and will hold open their mouth open on command for visual examination.  Just like in dogs and cats, the veterinarian looks for tartar, gingivitis, signs of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, or missing teeth, and develops a treatment plan accordingly.

Fecal examination and intestinal parasite screening is one of the most frequent tests performed at Niabi Zoo.  There are several intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms are considered zoonotic, meaning they can pass from animals to people and cause disease. Not only is it important to screen fecals for the health of the animal, but we also screen for the public’s health! The Centers for Disease Control estimates that almost  14% of the population of the United States is infected with roundworms!  If any animal comes back positive, a deworming treatment is developed.  The zoo animals are on similar monthly, year round prevention products like Frontline and Heartgard for treatment of intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.  

Speaking of heartworm and tick-borne disease,  the very same test 4DX Snap Test and Blood Parasite Screen  that is recommended for your domestic animal is used on several animals at Niabi Zoo! Prevention of heartworm disease is key in a zoological collection, especially since the disease can be life threatening and extremely expensive to treat.  Due to the importance of conservation in a zoo collection, a life lost due to heartworm disease could mean a drastic blow to a genetic line under conservation.

Last, but not least, the animals at Niabi Zoo also undergo an annual vaccination routine, which is extremely important due to the exposure of these animals to wildlife and the public. Animals in the collection are routinely vaccinated for Rabies and Distemper annually since their risk of exposure is so high. These vaccines can be done every three years in our domestic dogs and cats.

The bottom line is preventative medicine is the most important medicine and can save your animal from having to suffer from illness long term. For some of our pets and the zoo collection, this means every year we need to make a thorough assessment, nose to tail, to keep our animals as healthy as possible.

 

Is Your Pet Ready for Spring

  • Is your pet current on vaccines? 

    • Dogs: Rabies, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and if there is a concern, Bordetella and Lyme.

    • Cats: Rabies, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici virus, Panleukopenia and where there is a concern, Feline Leukemia.

    • Exotics: Rabies and other vaccines recommended by your veterinarian.

  • Has your pet had their Heartworm or Feline leukemia Tests.

  • Are your pet’s current on their parasite testing and protection?

    • Dogs: Intestinal and Heartworm prevention

    • Cats: Intestinal and yes, Heartworm prevention

    • Exotics: Absolutely, intestinal parasite prevention

  • Has your pet been spayed or neutered?

    • Spring is the time for love and that cute kitten or puppy you got around Christmas is ready for reproduction.  Are you?

  • Have you cleaned up the rodenticide that you put out last fall? 

    • You may have forgotten about any poisons you put out in the fall but rest assured your pet will find them. 

    • Accidental poisoning is a common and preventable year round problem

  • Properly dispose of antifreeze when you drain your radiator.

    • This deadly poison takes lives every spring.

  • Once the snow melts check your yard for items that could be hazardous to your pet.

    • Glass, nails and other items can become buried in the snow and forgotten.  Be sure to do a sweep of your yard every spring.

  • Mend your fences.

    • Fences can be damaged over the winter and it may not be visible until the snow melts.  Check gate latches as well.

  • Did your pet slow down over the winter?  Spring is a great time to work on getting winter weight off.  The great news is it works for both of you.

    • Start any exercise program slowly and watch your pet for signs of arthritis or injuries that may go unnoticed during the sedentary winter months.

  • Don’t forget the leash!  Everybody has cabin fever by the end of winter.  Make sure your pet is safely under leash and not able to follow the urge to wander.

Animals in the Service

 

 

 

In honor of all the military related festivities in the month of November, like the USMC 238th Birthday and Veteran’s Day, I felt it only appropriate to discuss some of the unique ways animals have also helped to preserve our nation’s freedom. We are all familiar with many a battle on horseback in our nation’s history, but did you know horses and canines are not the only animals who help our brave men and women?  Listed below are some of their unique roles today.

Dolphins and the U.S. Navy

Dolphins have been serving in the U.S. Navy for more than 40 years as part of the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, and they were used during the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. These highly intelligent animals are trained to detect, locate and mark mines — not to mention suspicious swimmers and divers.

What happens if a dolphin finds an intruder? The dolphin touches a sensor on a boat to alert its handler, and the handler then places a strobe light or noisemaker on the dolphin’s nose. The dolphin is trained to swim to the intruder, bump him or her from behind to knock the device off its nose and swim away while military personnel take over.

Sea Lions

Trained sea lions, another part of the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, locate and tag mines just like dolphins, but that’s not all these “Navy Seals” do — they also cuff underwater intruders. The sea lions carry a spring clamp in their mouths that can be attached to a swimmer or diver by simply pressing it against the person’s leg. In fact, the sea lions are so fast that the clamp is on before the swimmer is even aware of it. Once a person is clamped, sailors aboard ships can pull the swimmer out of the water by the rope attached to the clamp.

These specially trained sea lions, part of the Navy’s Shallow Water Intruder Detection System, patrol Navy bases and were even deployed to protect ships from terrorists in the Persian Gulf.

Honeybees

Honeybees are natural-born sniffers with antennae able to sense pollen in the wind and track it down to specific flowers, so bees are now being trained to recognize the scents of bomb ingredients. When the bees pick up a suspicious odor with their antennae, they flick their proboscises — a tubular feeding organ than extends from their mouths.  Watch them in action at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T7d0bze4kM

A honeybee bomb-detection unit would look like a simple box stationed outside airport security. Inside the box, bees would be strapped into tubes and exposed to puffs of air where they could constantly check for the faint scent of a bomb. A video camera linked to pattern-recognition software would alert authorities when the bees started waving their proboscises in unison.

Pigeons

Homing pigeons were widely used by both American and British forces during World War II. The U.S. Army had an entire Pigeon Breeding and Training Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J., where the pigeons were trained to carry small capsules containing messages, maps, photographs and cameras. Military historians claim that more than 90 percent of all pigeon-carried messages sent by the U.S. Army during the war were received.

The birds even participated in the D-Day invasion because troops operated under radio silence. The pigeons sent information about German positions on Normandy beaches and reported back on the success of the mission. In fact, homing pigeons played such an important military role that 32 were awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest award for animal valor. Recipients of the medal include the U.S. Army Pigeon Service’s bird, G.I. Joe, and the Irish pigeon known as Paddy.

As you can see, a wide variety of creatures have participated in military efforts and are active in service today.  My sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the brave men, women, and animals who selflessly protect our nation’s freedom.

Majority of information for blog came from https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-ways-animals-have-served-the-military/in-the-army-now

 

 

Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet… please don’t let Scruffy steal chocolate treats! (and a few other Halloween safety tips)

 

  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays BY FAR! Who doesn’t love an excuse to slightly over indulge on lovely chocolate and sweet treats, especially anything with peanut butter (Reese’s are my true weakness)!  As much fun as the chocolate can be for us, it is extremely dangerous for our pets and the calls to animal poison control centers increase for chocolate ingestion now more than any other time of year!  Listed below are several other potential dangers for your pets during All Hallows Eve. If we become more informed about all of the potential issues, this can save major headaches (and cash money) over the holiday season.

Pick Your Poison:

Chocolate.   Everybody’s favorite, and the one that typically leads to the most calls to veterinarians this time of year. As many of you know, chocolate is problematic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic, and the smaller the quantity necessary to see effects. For pets with pre-existing heart disease or seizure conditions, the concern is even higher, as these are two of the big ‘target organs’ for the toxic effects of chocolate.

Raisin toxicity. Known to be a problem for some dogs (and possibly some cats), raisins may be found in your child’s candy bag as part of certain chocolate bars, or on their own from well-intentioned neighbors trying to provide healthier Halloween treats. We don’t know which pets will be sensitive to the toxic effects of raisins, nor the number of raisins that must be ingested before problems are seen. It’s best to play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent all of your pets from ingesting any quantity of raisins. (Grapes and currants have the same toxic potential as raisins, and so should be similarly avoided.)

The actual treats in your kid’s Halloween bounty aren’t the only potential problem for your pets either. Candy wrappers that are eaten by your pet can also lead to digestive system inflammation and/or obstruction, resulting in episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as an unplanned trip to the veterinarian, and possibly the surgery table. Keep candy well out of reach of all your pets. Hang your children’s candy bag high-up on a wall hook or coat rack, and don’t leave the trick-or-treat candy you are planning on distributing sitting out on the coffee table while waiting for the neighborhood kids to start arriving.

It’s bird, it’s a plane…it’s UNDERDOG!:

I don’t know about you all, but I love any chance for an embarrassing photo opportunity for my pet. Case in point…my little Underdog and her look of disgust below.  When it comes to costumes for our furry friends, keep these tips in mind:

  • Avoid loose pieces of fabric and dangling small objects (such as bells). Pets may be tempted to chew off such objects. And if swallowed, you could be looking at a veterinary bill in excess of $1,500 to have it removed from their stomach or intestines since many of these objects will not pass on their own.
  • Avoid masks on pets. Masks can obstruct your pet’s vision and/or their ability to breathe. If your pet can’t see well they’re at greater risk of traumatic injuries – such as broken bones from stepping in holes or falling off curbs, as well as from being struck by a passing car. Broken bones require expensive surgeries to repair, and hit-by-car injuries can result in prolonged intensive care hospital stays and/or death.
  • If you plan on taking your pet with you around the neighborhood for your night of Halloween fun, be sure to include some reflective or self-illuminating material on your pet’s costume. The earlier it gets dark out, the less visibility cars have overall so anything you can do to increase your pet’s visibility to passing cars will help to ensure that they won’t wind up getting hit by one of them. Also consider putting a flashing light on their collar for nighttime walks, at Halloween and throughout the year.

Leashes save lives!

While we’re on the topic of trick or treating, for pets that will join you around the neighborhood, keep them on a leash the whole time. A leash will not only keep your pet from darting in front of a passing car, but it will also help you prevent them from eating dropped candy which could be potentially toxic.  Leashes also prevent dog fights and keep spooked dogs from running off. Little children in costumes can set up a potentially terrifying situation for some of our more anxious pets. Importantly, don’t let a young child be the only one holding on to your pet’s leash during the walk. This is good advice throughout the year, but even more so on Halloween when passing trick-or-treaters are an additional factor that can cause pets to slip their collars or pull away from their leash.

Keep your cats inside on and around Halloween. Aside from all the normal dangers that outdoor cats face daily, Halloween (and the even more dangerous ‘Mischief Night’ that precedes it) potentially carries with it the additional dangers of twisted kids (and sadly, adults too) intentionally traumatizing, mutilating, or otherwise torturing cats on these nights, especially black cats. Though such incidences sadly occur throughout the year, there may be an increased risk associated with this holiday. Don’t take the chance – keep ‘em inside.

The constantly opening doors associated with gobs of tiny trick-or-treaters also pose a significant danger to pets. Pets with access to opening doors may take advantage of the opportunity to bolt out of the house, not only putting them in danger of the typical outdoor hazards unrestrained pets face, but also of having a paw, tail, or other part of their body caught in the door as they make their escape. Such traumatic events can cause injuries significant enough to warrant an expensive orthopedic surgery or a prolonged hospital stay. Confine your pets to a ‘safe area’ of the house to prevent their access to open doors. Use pet crates, baby gates, or closed doors to do so. Providing them with food, water, litter boxes, and anything else that will be necessary to minimize their stress (perhaps an interactive food toy or a turned on television or radio) will also help to decrease the likelihood of destructive behaviors or loud barking.

With a little effort, our pets have the potential to have just as much fun as their people this Halloween season. As long as we take the necessary precautions to keep our pets safe, there’s no reason we all

 have a HOWLING good time!  Happy Haunting everyone!