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

Dental Scaling Without Anesthesia??????

The following is a reprint of a statement provided by the American Veterinary Dental Council:

In the United States and Canada, only licensed veterinarians can practice veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine includes veterinary surgery, medicine and dentistry. Anyone providing dental services other than a licensed veterinarian, or a supervised and trained veterinary technician, is practicing veterinary medicine without a license and is subject to criminal charges.

This page addresses dental scaling procedures performed on pets without anesthesia, often by individuals untrained in veterinary dental techniques. Although the term Anesthesia-Free Dentistry has been used in this context, AVDC prefers to use the more accurate term Non-Professional Dental Scaling (NPDS) to describe this combination.

Owners of pets naturally are concerned when anesthesia is required for their pet. However, performing NPDS on an unanesthetized pet is inappropriate for the following reasons:

1. Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts.

2. Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the sub
gingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health, and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.

3. Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides three important advantages… the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.

4. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed.

Safe use of an anesthetic or sedative in a dog or cat requires evaluation of the general health and size of the patient to determine the appropriate drug and dose, and continual monitoring of the patient.

Veterinarians are trained in all of these procedures. Prescribing or administering anesthetic or sedative drugs by a non-veterinarian can be very dangerous, and is illegal. Although anesthesia will never be 100% risk-free, modern anesthetic and patient evaluation techniques used in veterinary hospitals minimize the risks, and millions of dental scaling procedures are safely performed each year in veterinary hospitals.

For more information on why AVDC does not recomemnd Non-anesthetic (Anesthesia-free) Dentistry, click this link:

To minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedures and to maintain optimal oral health, AVDC recommends daily dental home care from an early age in dogs and cats. This should include brushing or use of other effective techniques to retard accumulation of dental plaque, such as dental diets and chew materials. This, combined with periodic examination of the patient by a veterinarian and with dental scaling under anesthesia when indicated, will optimize life-long oral health for dogs and cats. For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council web site (www.VOHC.org).

For general information on performance of dental procedures on veterinary patients, read the AVDC Position Statement on Veterinary Dental Healthcare Providers.

Great Activities You Can Share With Your Dog

Think back to when you adopted your first dog.  Did you dream of having a perfect, almost cosmic connection with your pet?  Dogs are amazing creatures but we often leave them to languish at home while we work, play and get on with our lives. Guess what?  You can still create that special partnership with your dog and we’re going to show you how.

There is a world full of fun activities you can share with your pet.  No matter what the breed, as long as your dog is healthy enough, the two of you can add excitement and fun to both of your lives.  It’s also the best way to build a lasting bond with your dog

Listed below are just some of the many activities that are out just waiting for you and your dog.


  • Animal Assisted Therapy: Do you have a dog that simply loves people and attention?  There are programs available to certify both you and your dog for therapy work.  Not only will you have the joy of building the human-animal bond yourself but you get to share it with others. For more information check out this link. https://www.redcross.org/pa/harrisburg/local-services/animal-assisted-therapy


  • Tracking: Do you own a highly energetic beagle or one of the other “nose” breeds?  Try tracking. It can be competitive such as events put on by AKC https://www.akc.org/events/tracking/getting_started.cfm or as part of a search and rescue effort https://www.searchdogfoundation.org/.  Either way, tracking allows your dog to use his/her natural ability to find and follow human scent.  It’s outdoors, great exercise and can be both fun and a life-saving activity.


  • Carting: Think carting is just for horses? It can also be a wonderful activity for larger breed dogs, many of whom were actually used for this purpose in the past.  Carting can be either a competitive sport or a fun past time. The choice is yours. https://k9carting.com/


  • Lure Coursing: This is a great sport for Sight Hounds. AKC Lure Coursing events use an artificial stimulant to awaken the natural coursing instinct. It is not dissimilar to track racing but much more fun because it is non-competitive and usually takes place outdoors in a large field.  https://www.apps.akc.org/classic/events/lure_coursing/getting_started.cfmhttps://www.asfa.org/


  • Agility Training: Agility is a fast and very fun activity for all those hyper, athletic Border Collies and other busy breeds.  It is basically a competitive (although you can just do it for fun) obstacle course for dogs and they LOVE IT!  https://dogs.about.com/od/sportsrecreation/a/agility_training.htm


  • Flyball: This is fetch on steroids and another perfect activity for high energy breeds.  Dogs compete in teams of four where they race over four hurdles, catch a tennis ball launched from a box and then race back over the hurdles to their owner again!  https://flyballdogs.com/FAQ.html


  • Dock Dogs: Really…what could be more fun than watching a bunch of crazy, happy Labradors, and other water loving breeds jump as far as they can off the end of a dock and into the water after a dummy?  If one of them is your dog, all the better! Check it out at: https://www.dockdogs.com/.


  • Herding:  It is an amazing thing to see instinct kick in on a dog bred for herding. Who knew all that ankle biting actually had a purpose? If you own a Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Sheltie, or Collie breed you may want to check your area for a nearby club or demonstration  https://bccc.pair.com/getstart.html


  • Earth dogs: In a Lab and Border Collie world it’s nice to know that the terriers and Dachshunds of the world can get their “game on” through Earth dog competitions.  These little guys are born hunters and these competitions celebrate them.  Check them out.  It’s a good time and no-one gets hurt. https://www.akc.org/events/earthdog/index.cfm

  • Hiking/Camping: If you are interested in something that is not group oriented there is always this standby.  It’s great exercise for both of you.

Hopefully we got you thinking about something new to try with your dog. Here’s wishing you both a beautiful and lifelong partnership.

9 Ways to Help Your Pet Live Longer

  • Spay and neuter:

    • Spayed females have a greatly decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer and zero chance of an infected uterus.  The earlier you spay, the greater the benefits.

    • Guess who gets hit by cars??  That’s right…intact males.  The urge to breed is strong and can put your Romeo in harm’s way.   Neutered males don’t develop testicular cancer either.

    • Every puppy that isn’t born makes the chance of a shelter pet finding a new home that much greater.

  • Good dental care makes for a longer life:

    • It’s a fact.  Bacteria from the mouth can harm the heart, kidney and liver.

    • Painful dental disease can lead to weight loss and poor body condition.

    • In people periodontal disease has been linked to poor control of Diabetes.

  • Preventative vaccines save lives:

    • Every year thousands of pets die from diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper which can easily be prevented by a vaccine and let’s not forget Rabies which kills almost without exception.

  • Heartworm disease causes permanent damage to the heart:

    • Preventatives can save your dog or cat from the devastating effects of Heartworm disease.  Congestive heart failure, pulmonary clots with concurrent damage to the lungs, liver enlargement, weight loss and eventual death are all the results of untreated Heartworm disease.

    • In cats, just one or two worms can cause death.

  • Parasites rob your pet of more than just food:

    • Roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of your pet’s intestines.

    • Hookworms can cause anemia and severe diarrhea.  Small puppies can and do perish from Hookworm infestation.

    • Giardia and Coccidia cause diarrhea and poor body condition.

    • Fleas and ticks not only feed on your pet’s blood but also carry dangerous diseases such as Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis.

  • Obesity kills:

    • Excess weight damages joints, the heart, liver and kidneys.  Many diseases such as diabetes are closely correlated to obesity.  Yes Virginia, you can love your pet to death.

  • Yearly blood profiles can spot problems before they become serious:

    • By the time many problems are visible through decreased activity or other behavior changes your pet may be very sick.  They can’t tell you that they don’t feel well but blood work can speak for them.

    • Blood work can catch changes in body systems early in the disease process before major damage has been done. The earlier we treat a disease such as diabetes or kidney failure, the better the chance to extend the quality and length of your pet’s life.

  • Obedience Training  Saves Lives:

  • Having a good “down” on your dog can save them from becoming a “Hit by Car” statistic.

  • Well behaved pets receive better medical care because we can examine them more closely.

  • Good manners make rehoming a pet much easier should the need ever arise.

  • Dogs that bite put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.

Adopt, Don’t Shop!

 

This seems like a pretty straight forward concept: “Adopt, Don’t Shop.” If you take it at it’s most literal sense, it means adopt or rescue your pets, don’t buy them from a store. Seems pretty logical to me. The majority of pet stores, unfortunately, don’t have the best background work on who they’re getting their pets from. Some larger stores cannot even dictate what comes in their door, they just have to take on whatever corporate deems appropriate. Occasionally this means that if you are purchasing a pet from a store, you are inadvertently supporting puppy mills or inexperienced breeders who are not going through the appropriate steps of care for the puppies or their parents. These irresponsible breeders then profit from your purchase and the vicious cycle continues. Instead of appropriately investing these dollars back into the health and well being of their pets, they keep it for themselves. If a breeder is responsible, that is not the case. If you’re adopting a pure bred puppy (or purchasing) you should be able to see the facility where the puppy was bred and meet both parents as well as have access to background information and important medical conditions of both. This is not the case with pet store puppies.

 

There is so much more involved in this phrase than what I’ve just explained. By adopting and not shopping you not only get to rescue a pet, but you get to save the life of another. Every adoption that occurs from rescues and/or shelters makes room for another animal to take it’s place that may have not had a chance. Every year, 3-6 billion pets are euthanized because there simply isn’t room for them in shelters or rescue organizations.

 

You may be asking yourself, but what if I want a puppy or a purebred animal?  Not to worry! Many shelters see purebred dogs all the time and there are also rescue organizations dedicated to specific breeds of dogs! Many shelters will even set you up in a ‘match’ program and with a little patience, they can find a breed or age range you are looking for.  In fact, my purebred monster, Baloo, a Great Pyrenees, was adopted from a rescue organization in Bloomington, IL that only rescues Pyrenees!

 

Another reason some people may shy away from adoption is that you cannot be sure of the animal’s past. Although some animals from rescue situations are slow to warm up, or have some obedience problems, this isn’t the norm. Several dogs from rescue organizations are actually well trained and now basic commands!

 

One of the most gratifying things about adopting is that feeling of saving. You got to save a life. Anyone who has ever adopted a pet can relate to that underlying feeling of gratitude that your new companion has. They seem to know that you saved them.  In the end though, it becomes so much more obvious that they saved you instead.

 

Interested in adopting a pet.  Check out these facilities in our area by clicking on their links below:

 

Humane Society of Scott County

K-9 Kindness

King’s Harvest

Quad City Animal Welfare Center

Rock Island County Animal Shelter

 

 

Ticks and Fleas and Creepy Crawlers!!!!

 

The world is full of creepy, crawly bugs.  They all have a purpose in the eco-system but unfortunately some of them are not so good for our pets.  Below is some more information on one of the more important ones.

 

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. Ticks have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae.  Ticks are also efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks can take several days to complete feeding.

Ticks can also carry a variety of diseases that can cause problems in our 4 legged friends. One of the most common diseases present in our area from tick attachment and feeding is Lyme Disease.

 

Lyme disease

An infected Ixodes tick (deer tick) transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria through the skin when it bites. Most dogs (as well as people) do not even feel the bite, which is why the tick can remain undiscovered.  After the initial bite through the skin, the tick secretes “cement” to anchor to its host where it is difficult to remove. Then, it begins to take in its blood meal 30 minutes later.

 

Amazingly, unlike most other insect bites, the tick’s bite is painless and non-irritating because its saliva contains:
– An anesthetic to numb and reduce pain
– An antihistamine to reduce allergic reaction or itching
– An anticoagulant to enhance blood flow
– An anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling
– An immunosuppressant to help aid in the transmission of pathogens

 

INFECTION DOES NOT HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY

The deer tick is very slow in transmitting the bacteria to dogs – only after the tick is partially engorged – 24 to 48 hours after attaching to the dog. This slow transmission of the disease shows the importance of checking your dog for ticks after being outside, even in your own backyard.

 

Dogs become infected with Lyme disease from the bite of an infected Ixodes tick called “the deer tick.” The tick must be infected with a specific bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi for your dog to get canine Lyme disease. This bacteria is what actually causes canine Lyme disease – the tick is just the transmitter or “vector” for the bacteria.  Dogs don’t get Lyme disease from other dogs or people. Dogs can get Lyme disease anywhere there are infected ticks, such as wildlife area or their own backyards which is why the Lyme vaccination is so important.

 

Assessing the risk for your dog to get Lyme disease is a combination of where you live, your dog’s lifestyle and your dog’s overall health. While many dogs are at risk in their own backyards because of where they live, others may have hunting or travel lifestyles that put them at risk. Understanding the risk in your local area is important.  https://www.dogsandticks.com/map/2012/

 

The breed of your dog is not an important risk factor. Big or small, couch potato or hunting dog, any dog can be at risk. Whenever and wherever dogs come in close contact with ticks – usually wildlife areas where mice and deer live – the risk of exposure to Lyme disease is great 

 

The second important measure is consistent monthly preventatives against ticks. These products are also available at your veterinarian and include Frontline Plus and Nexgard. Ask your veterinarian which product will work best for you.   The bottom line is by staying proactive in your pet’s care and monthly preventative care, you can decrease the risk of severe disease and tick infestation that could affect them their entire life.

Information for this blog was compiled from https://www.lymeinfo.com,  a great source of information for canine Lyme disease. 

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.