Why do we have animals?

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There once was a man. He did not have a dog. He did not have a cat. He did not have a bird or a fish or even a rat. He lived an uncomplicated life.

The man lived in a house that was always clean. There were no muddy footprints on the carpet nor clumps of hair collecting in the corners. There were no bowls to trip over nor containers of pet food clogging up the cupboards. Not even once was there a single shoe chewed up. Not anywhere. Not ever.

The man was completely free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. He could travel. There were no kennels to worry about nor pet sitters to arrange. There were no lists to make of puppy needs nor times to remember for veterinary care. And, best of all, absolutely never, not once, had there ever been two little eyes peering out from under a sofa to unnerve a date he brought home. Continue…

10 Things My Dog Taught Me

 hannah 5

 

  • Today is the only day that counts. camp canine 05-07-11 004

    • The past is already gone and the future isn’t here yet so why ruin the beauty of today. Don’t spend so much time brooding about what’s gone or hasn’t happened yet that you miss the magnificence that is today.
  • Don’t hold grudges.

    • If you’re honest with yourself, there are truly very few things in life worth staying angry about. Forgive and then forget about it.Cooper k9 kindness

  • Food is meant to enjoy.

    • Yes we need to eat healthy food but it can still be enjoyable. Sometimes we get so caught up in what is best for us we forget to add in some of what makes us feel the best.

  • Exercise is important but make sure you have a great time while you’re getting it.

    • Have you ever watched how much fun your dog has playing outside? Don’t forget to put plenty of play into your exercise schedule.agility dog

  • Never be afraid to show someone just how much you love them.

    • Well, OK temper this a little, at least until you really get to know the object of your affection but there is someone special in your life make sure they know it!

  • Play hard, Rest hard!

           When you have fun don’t be afraid to let go and enjoy it for all it’s worth!   After fun, well… after fun there is always time for a good nap in the sun.summertime

  • Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

    • Everybody needs rules but what we don’t need is to make life so hard and so circumscribed that there is no room left to be us. Go ahead and stray off the path of perfection once in a while. It’s OK. Your dog said so.

  • Growing old is really OK.

    • Dogs don’t waste a whole lot of time on their outward appearance. They may be old or missing an eye or maybe even a limb but they know that the most important thing is having friends who love you.10334375_321584181300002_8022760032003261428_n[1]

 

  • Take time to stop and investigate your world.

    • Take the time to really enjoy the world around you. It’s a wonderful place. As a species, we humans spend way too much time rushing and fussing and fixing but not near enough time just enjoying.ball and dog

    • Don’t be afraid to leave your mark on the world.

      Your mark may be your children, your wood carving, your poetry, music or maybe just the way the way you made someone smile. The point is, that it doesn’t really matter. Just don’t be afraid to let the world know that you are here.underdog

10 GOOD Reasons Why Your Next Pet Should Come From a Shelter

puck and santaIn the spirit of giving this holiday season we thought we would remind you why your next pet should come from one of our local shelters.

 

  1. You know what you are getting.

    Unlike a puppy, if you adopt an adult animal, he/she will already have a fully developed personality. In addition, most shelters temperament test their animals before putting them up for adoption so there is little chance of bringing home an unstable animal.

  2. Some animals receive extra training and socialization.singing beagle

    How great is it to get a pet that is already house trained! Even better, if you adopt through an agency that utilizes foster care, your pet may have received some basic obedience training as well. Shelters will generally be willing to help you should problems develop post adoption.

  3. Your new companion wants and appreciates the chance to bond with you.

    Ending up in a shelter is a scary process. Pets may arrive there due to the death of a previous owner, financial difficulties, or simply because they got lost. These are usually great animals who just need a second chance and will be forever grateful to their new owner.singing dog 3

  4. Shelters are a better option than a puppy mill.

    You have no idea about the breeding, or socialization of animals that come from a puppy mill. You may pay a large amount of money for a pet that has spent its entire life in a small kennel with little human contact. When profit is the main motivator, you can be sure that little attention is paid to preventing inherited disorders either

  5. You are saving lives.

    When you adopt a pet from a shelter you are not only saving the pet you bring home but making room for another animal in that facility or foster program as well. It feels pretty singing dog 5good to save one life but it’s even better when it’s two.

  6. You are helping your community. When you adopt from your local humane society the fees you pay help to fund all of their programs. Most shelters also provide community education, patrol for strays and lost pets and ensure animals they adopt out are spayed or neutered.

  7. You will have help finding the right animal for your family.

    Shelters want their placements to work and they will work hard to help you find the right animal for your home environment. Unlike buying from a pet store, you get to know ahead of time if your dog or cats prefers children or other pets.singing dog4

  8. Yes, you can find a purebred animal.

    A surprising number of purebred dogs and cats can be found at your local humane society. Being a purebred does not make them immune from circumstances that can land them in a shelter.

  9. Shelters also have puppies and kittens and ferrets and rabbits and birds .

    If you really love having a baby in the house, shelters usually have young animals up for adoption too. They can also be a great place to find your next rabbit, guinea pig or ferret.

  10. Your pet may already be spayed or neutered.sing along

    Because all shelters are concerned about pet overpopulation, your pet will most likely already be altered. If you adopt an animal that is too young most provide vouchers for later spaying and neutering. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.

Here are links to our local shelters:

Humane Society of Scott County

Quad City Animal Welfare Center

K-9 Kindnessprince and Santa

King’s Harvest

Rock Island County Animal Shelter

Animal Aid

10 Questions for Dr. Lauren Hughes

 

 

1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?

Like a lot of my colleagues, I wanted to become a veterinarian ever since I was a little kid, around 5 years old. It was the idea of what a veterinarian actually was that changed for me over the years. When I was in high school, I got to job shadow through the Interact program and Key Club and got a much better idea of what the job entailed and I fell in love with the career. My work as a zoo keeper at Niabi Zoo solidified my want to work with wildlife and exotic species.

2. What is the best part of your job?

As much as I love the work with the variety of species I see on a daily basis, what I love most about the job is giving back to the community and working with the owners of all these pets. Establishing a relationship with my clients and their family and getting to know them is a lot of fun.

3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?

During my last year of vet school, a large male Rottweiler came into the clinic with a swollen abdomen and we took x-rays, thinking the dog had a twisted stomach. When we began surgery, there was nothing wrong with the stomach at all and everything appear normal within the abdomen. During surgery, the dog’s right hind leg began to swell and he did not recover well from surgery. We ended up having to keep him in the ICU and do several more surgeries and through diagnostic testing and bacterial culture, we discovered that he had flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, and was unfortunately unable to recover. I will probably never see a case like that again in my lifetime.

4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Humane euthanasia is always the most difficult part for me. It is such an emotional time for the owners and I’m a crier anyway, so it doesn’t help the situation. The blessing of working with animals is that we have the ability to alleviate their suffering in cases of severe, incurable disease or when it’s time for them to cross that rainbow bridge, but it’s never a happy experience and doesn’t get any easier.     

 

5. Why become a vet when you could have gone into human medicine and made more money?

Because of the variety of species I work with, every day brings something new and challenging. With the exotic animals that I see, as well as the animals from Niabi Zoo, the database of knowledge in some of these critters is extremely limited and brings about my “MacGyver” skills, trying to find new ways to treat patients that have never been done before as well as diagnose their diseases. More money would be nice, but I think I would get bored. I love what I do, so the money really isn’t a factor to me.

6. We know you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements?

Communication skills, creative thinking, and flexibility. Not every patient presents the same way, even if they have the same disease and not every owner has the same budget so approach do disease treatment and animal management is always different.

7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?

The view of animals in the home has changed significantly over the years. Pets are now much more part of the family than ever before, so the care for them has definitely changed and improved.

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?

Many veterinarians “do everything” still, even though we have specialists. There are so many general practitioners in the veterinary world that act as surgeon, dentist, nutritionist, physical therapist, Chiropractor (wink, wink Dr. Meredith), radiologist, and many more. Your role changes so frequently based on your patient and it’s needs. This is much different than practitioners in the human world.

9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?

Holistic medicine is becoming more prominent, as well as animal nutrition. Owners are becoming much more aware of the nutritional needs of their pets and asking a lot more information about appropriate diets.

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, but I’d never want to do vet school again!

Veterinarians Guide to Hedgehogs

We recently added a new pet to our educational animals at the Animal Family.  “Gnomeo” is an African Pygmy Hedgehog.  In spite of his prickly nature, he is not related to porcupines.  Even though Hedgehogs spines are quite sharp, unlike porcupines, their spines do not shed and will not become lodged in the skin. If frightened, a hedgehog will defend itself by rolling into a tiny, prickly ball.  In the wild, they are generally solitary in nature.  They seem to prefer solitude in captivity as well. Although Hedgehogs can be handled with bare hands, gloves are recommended.

As a pet, Hedgehogs are a small, reasonably clean, relatively odor free and non-aggressive. They will vocalize through quiet snorting, whistling or huffing sounds.     If handled on a routine basis from a young age most will become quite friendly.  It is easy to see why we are seeing more of them in practice

The average pet hedgehog can be expected to live from 3-8 years. In captivity Hedgehogs are nocturnal but will emerge during the day. They hibernate in the wild but this is not necessary in captivity and will not occur as long as temperatures are maintained at 75 to 80 F.

Hedgehogs have some unique qualities. They have a unique protein which inhibits the activity of snake venom.  This allows them to attack and eat snakes in the wild. Another unusual hedgehog trait is “anointing”.  If a hedgehog is exposed to a strong smelling substance, they will produce large amounts of saliva which they use to coat their spines.  Nobody knows why they do this but if you find your hedgehog covered in the cat’s fishy food, don’t become alarmed.

Hedgehogs require smooth walled, enclosure with a minimum floor space of 2’ X2’.  They can climb so make any enclosure tall enough so that the animal can’t reach the top with its front feet.  Do not put your Hedgehog in a wire enclosure. Regular cleaning is important if you wish to keep your pet healthy.  Newspaper, about 3” in depth, either shredded or pelleted makes good bedding. Corn cob or alfalfa pellets can also be used.   Do not use any bedding that clumps or any aromatic wood product such as cedar or pine.  Give your hedgehog has a place to hide that is not much larger than he is and easy to disinfect. Plants or rocks can be added as well but should be non toxic and easy to clean.  Provide a shallow pan of water for bathing as well as a sipper bottle. Make sure your hedgehog understands how to drink from his bottle.

Hedgehogs require regular exercise. Either a commercial exercise ball that is suitable for Guinea Pigs or an exercise wheel will work.  If you choose to let your Hedgehog run loose, be careful of carpets and other cloth material which can get caught up in feet as well as anal/genital areas causing injury.

Your hedgehog can be maintained on either low calorie dog or cat food or commercial hedgehog diet (2 -3 Tsp /day).  Make sure to add in small amounts of fruits, veggies (1 tsp) and insects (1 tsp).  Do not feed nuts and grains or milk. Like so many of our exotic pets, low calcium is always a concern as is obesity.  Clean and refill food and water on a daily basis. To prevent your Hedgehog from becoming overweight make sure to check its weight frequently.

Like all exotics, Hedgehogs will mask illness.  Therefore it is important for you to remain vigilant. In general, Hedgehogs are prone to dental disease including oral cancers, Ringworm, obesity and overgrown nails. They can also acquire Leptospirosis, Rabies and Distemper like virus although there are no vaccines available at this time. Mites are the most common external parasite we see in Hedgehogs.  A regular health check with a fecal examination is important to maintaining your hedgehog’s health. 

This is not meant to be an all inclusive guide to Hedgehogs.  We do hope it has answered some questions for you.  Feel free to ask us questions and to come in and meet Mr. Gnomeo.

Davenport Veterinarian’s Guide to Pocket Pets, Part 2

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.

Davenport Veterinarian’s Guide to Pocket Pets – Part 1

Just what exactly is a pocket pet? We use the term to describe small mammals.  These include rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, gerbils, ferrets, sugar gliders, chinchillas and hedgehogs.  Some have been around for years and others such as sugar gliders and hedgehogs are relatively new to pet owners.  Each has its own specific set of needs and health issues and all have become a growing part of veterinary medicine.  We certainly enjoy having them as patients at our clinic.

One of the key differences between the pocket pet owners of today from those of the past is the desire to provide better care for their pets. No longer satisfied with just replacing one pet with another should illness occur, they insist on quality care.  Pocket pets have become near and dear to our hearts, often assuming the same importance as dogs and cats to many owners.  Often one of the biggest hurdles in small mammal ownership is finding a veterinarian who is well versed in the specific requirements of their unusual pet.

Why choose a pocket pet? They can be a great option for those with limited space or a rental situation where larger animals are not allowed.  They are generally housed in a cage and so are much less likely to damage your home or apartment. Even better, the cost of feeding and caring for a little critter is generally about ½ or less than that of a traditional pet.  For the most part, most pocket pets are nonaggressive and will adapt quite well to handling.  They each have individual personalities, are quite playful and generally fun to have around.  Some, such as rats and ferrets, are highly trainable and capable of learning tricks and other complex behaviors.

Like any other pet, small mammals have specific housing, feeding and care needs. Not all of them may be appropriate for young children.  The small size of many pocket pets makes them fragile and particularly susceptible to injury if dropped or handled roughly.  Others, although cute to look at,  require much more detailed care than others.

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.

We will take a closer look at each of the individual pocket pets in upcoming blogs.  So, be sure to check back in.