April 29, 2010

Avian Aspergillosis: Respiratory Tract Infections in Birds

Filed under: Pet Birds,pet health,Pet Symptoms,pets,respiratory infections — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:52 pm

Bird owners are probably aware that respiratory tract infections are quite common in pet birds, especially Aspergillosis.This condition is caused by a fungal infection in the bird’s airways and the subsequent illness can be quite serious.Depending on the type of infection, Aspergillosis in birds can be associated with a variety of symptoms.Generally speaking, there are two forms of Aspergillosis in birds: acute and chronic.

Avian Aspergillosis Acute bird aspergillosis is more often seen in young or recently imported birds and the symptoms tend to last only a short while despite being more severe.The main symptoms of the acute form of this respiratory tract infection include lack of appetite, breathing problems, and possibly death.In fact, left untreated, aspergillosis in birds causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and the bird’s lungs may become congested with white mucus.On the other hand, chronic aspergillosis in birds is more common in older, captive birds.The infection may develop over a long period of time with several symptoms becoming apparent over the course of the illness.Listlessness, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, and breathing difficulties are the main symptoms of the chronic form of this bird respiratory tract infection; moreover, some of the symptoms may become permanent.Bone changes may occur and the upper respiratory tract may become misshapen.Chronic aspergillosis can also spread to the nervous system which causes tremors, loss of coordination, and in severe cases paralysis.

Avian aspergillosis is caused by fungal contamination of food or water sources in addition to nest boxes, incubators, and ventilated regions. This particular bird respiratory tract infection may also have a variety of environmental causes but when it’s caught early it can be treated therefore any time you notice respiratory tract issues in your bird, visit a veterinarian immediately.

A Guide to Adopting Adult Dogs

Filed under: adopting adult dogs,adopting older dogs — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:19 am

adult dogs for adoptionDid you know that only about 25% of dogs in shelters end up getting adopted? This means that a staggering number of dogs are euthanized each year. When adult dogs are adopted, they pose special problems. First of all, the dog may come from a loving family and while he may not have any behavioral problems, adjusting to a new family can be difficult because he misses his old family. Secondly, many dogs adopted from shelters come from difficult backgrounds: they may have been homeless or abused and are not used to being loved. In the latter case, adopted dogs may demonstrate some behavioral problems.

It really takes a special person to adopt an adult dog because most of us are attracted to puppies. But if you’ve decided to adopt an adult dog, here are some tips for the first few weeks at home.

  • Show your new pet around. Make your new companion feel more comfortable by showing him where to find water, food, and his bed. If you plan to keep your new pet indoors, take him outside on frequent intervals so he knows where to toilet. Expect a quick but necessary period of house training where some mistakes will happen.
  • Give him time to adjust. Your new pet will need some time to adjust to his new surroundings. Be patient with barking or other behavioral problems until he’s had a few weeks to get comfortable.
  • Spend quality time with your dog. Showing your dog lots of love in the beginning is important for building a trusting relationship. Especially in the first few weeks you want to give your dog lots of time and attention.

Make consistent rules. In the beginning, frequently reward your pet for good behavior and always stick to a consistent set of rules. While some people feel punishment may be necessary, studies actually show that reward is much more effective.

April 28, 2010

Why Does my Cat have Hairballs?

Filed under: cat hairballs,hairballs,ingested hair,undigested hair — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:24 am

Why do cats cough up hairballsAnybody who has ever had a pet cat can probably tell you something about hairballs. Often a regular part of your cat’s life, hairballs are bits of undigested hair that get caught in the stomach or small intestine of your cat. During grooming you cat can ingest a lot of hair and this hair can interrupt digestion and cause some discomfort.

Cats clean themselves by licking their coats and because a cat’s tongue has a rough texture hair can become caught in these papillae and is then ingested. In many cases, your cat will be unable to spit out the hair causing this loose fur to be swallowed. Eventually a hair ball is formed and your cat will try to get it out by gagging, vomiting, or retching.

Moreover, hairballs can have serious implications for digestive health. Indeed, cats with hairballs often display various symptoms of digestive problems.

  • Coughing, retching, or gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Weight loss

If you suspect your cat has a hairball, don’t worry. Most of the time hairballs are a natural part of a cat’s life. While these hairballs may cause discomfort, they are usually harmless. Still, more serious complications can occur if the hairball becomes especially large or dense. Hairballs have the potential for blocking the intestinal tract and may need to be removed surgically.

One of the best ways to deal with hairballs is to prevent them. Regular grooming, especially brushing, helps to keep the problems associated with hairballs at bay. When you regularly brush your cat you remove loose hair and prevent it from being ingested when you cat grooms itself. Plus, there is a great side benefit of brushing: it keeps hair off your carpet and furniture!

April 27, 2010

My Pet is Shedding Everywhere!

Filed under: animal shedding,cat hair,control cat shedding,dog hair — Tags: — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:03 am

canine healthy coats Dogs and cats shed, this is a fact of life. As the summer weather draws nearer, your pet will shed even more than usual so they can get rid of their heavy winter coat. While shedding can be a major pain in the you know what, it is important for pets so they don’t overheat in the summer. Nevertheless, there are some preventative steps a pet owner can take to reduce the inconvenience associated with shedding.

First of all, there are some commercial shedding products that reduce the amount your dog or cat sheds. Shedding supplements keep your pet comfortable while also preventing hair from building up around your house. Moreover, these commercial shedding supplements improve the quality and condition of your pet’s skin and coat without interrupting natural seasonal shedding.

Hairy DogIn addition to shedding supplements, grooming is an important aspect of controlling shedding. Especially for cats and dogs with long hair, you need to brush them at least once a week. During the late spring you may even want to brush more to remove hair as it sheds rather than letting the hair disperse over your carpets, furniture, and upholstery. Certain shedding tools were designed specifically to collect your pet’s hair when you brush but there are also shedding tools that are designed to remove hair from furniture and carpets.

Finally, regular maintenance around the house can help you to keep shedding under control. Vacuum and sweep more regularly during shedding season so the problem doesn’t get out of control. Also, upholstery covers can protect your furniture and they make it easier to clean up after a pet that is shedding.

Remember, shedding is a natural part of your pet’s life. When the weather becomes colder they actually grow a fuller coat to protect them from harsh winters but as summer comes around this coat is no longer needed and shedding results!

April 26, 2010

Cat First Aid Tips

Filed under: cat first aid tips,first aid for cats — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:23 am

cat first aidJust like humans, cats will sometimes injure themselves and we may need to perform first aid. Actually, cat first aid might be slightly more useful as cats can be mischievous little devils and tend to get themselves into more trouble. While this article is not a comprehensive introduction to first aid, consider getting some professional advice if you’re interested in developing your cat first aid skills, I will introduce some tips to help you with caring for a cat that has been recently injured.

  1. If you don’t know what to do see a vet immediately. When your cat has been injured, you probably don’t have time to figure out how to help them. So, if you don’t have the information, you need to take your cat to the vet to prevent further pain or injury.
  2. Protect yourself against scratches or bites. Injured cats may lash out because they are anxious and in a lot of pain. feline cuts and woundsIn this case, it is beneficial to wrap your cat in a soft towel, leaving only the injured area exposed, so you can conduct cat first aid without risk of injury to yourself. Remember to be gentle!
  3. If your cat breaks a leg and the bone is exposed you need to cover the affected area with a sterile bandage or gauze and possible apply a splint so your cat is stabilized for the trip to the vet. Never attempt to set the bone unless you are trained to do so.
  4. Always wear gloves when you’re handling a bit wound. Other animals might have rabies and you don’t want to expose yourself.
  5. Never remove sharp objects that are piercing your cat’s skin. Sometimes these objects are blocking a severed blood vessel and removing them can lead to severe and possibly deadly bleeding.

While performing cat first aid at home may be necessary in extreme situations, it’s always best to let trained professionals care for your pets. Use cat first aid to handle serious problems before making a trip to the vet.

April 23, 2010

Rabbits as Pets

Filed under: bunny as pets,pet bunny,pet rabbit,rabbit as pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:23 am

Rabbit as PetsRabbits are among the most common pets in North America. We think they’re cute and cuddly and even though they may not be as loyal or affectionate as cats and dogs, we still love them. Caring for a rabbit is somewhat different than caring for cats or dogs and this article will outline some of the necessities of rabbit care.

  1. Rabbits should live in a cage for several reasons. First of all, rabbits are timid but very fast creatures and they can be very difficult to collect if they happen to get away from you. I’m reminded of a neighbor whose pet rabbit escaped into the neighborhood and wrought havoc on local gardens. It took several weeks for the owner to finally catch her again. A 3 foot by 3 foot cage is sufficient for an average sized rabbit and it provides a comfortable living environment. In addition to their difficulty to catch, rabbits are basically impossible to house train. Giving a rabbit free run of the house will inevitably result in you constantly cleaning up rabbit pellets.
  2. Rabbits need a solid diet including alfalfa pellets, hay, and green vegetables. Alfalfa pellets provide many of the nutrients that your rabbit needs to survive while green vegetables and hay improve digestion. On occasion you can treat your rabbit with some fruits like banana or apple, but not too often because fruits are high in sugar.
  3. Rabbit proof a room so your bunny can exercise. You cannot leave a rabbit in a small cage all the time. They like to run and stretch so try to have a room or area in your yard that is safe for your rabbit to exercise.
  4. Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing so they tend to chew a lot. You can buy some rabbit chew toys or just give them some cardboard, toilet paper rolls, or branches from fruit trees.

Finally, rabbits need love just like all pets. They are social animals and even though they may not be as affectionate as dogs or cats, they still appreciate affection.

April 22, 2010

Can Pets get Swine Flu?

Filed under: flu virus,h1n1 virus,pets and swine flu,swine flu — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:08 am

Most commonly known as swine flu, the H1N1 virus has been dominating the health headlines over the past year. This flu virus was responsible for a pandemic in 2009 and it’s no surprise that pet owners around the world are concerned for the safety of their beloved animals. Early strains of the virus first affected humans as far back as 1918 when it was also associated with a pandemic.

Recent evidence suggests that cats and maybe even dogs are also susceptible to swine flu. Although very few cases have been reported, there are some visible symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your pet may be suffering from the flu. Clearly, the most obvious symptoms are going to be flu-like.

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Cough
  • Runny nose

Still, there are a variety of illnesses, namely upper respiratory tract infections that can cause similar symptoms so it is incredibly difficult to determine if a cat is suffering from H1N1. There have been some high risk behaviors that researches have identified as putting your cat at risk of contracting the virus.

  • Close contact with infected individuals
  • Extensive contact with ill pets or humans
  • Access to environments that may be contaminated with the virus

Basically, as is the case with humans, it is important to ensure a germ free environment for your cat. If you have had sick visitors in your home you should disinfect surfaces like door knobs to prevent the spread of the virus. Try to observe the same vigilance for your cat as you would yourself. At the moment, there is no pet vaccine for the H1N1 virus so treatment is usually symptomatic. It’s always recommended to visit a veterinarian if you suspect your cat may be suffering from a serious illness.

April 21, 2010

Understanding Seizures in Dogs

Filed under: dog seizures — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:25 am

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but one of the most commonly seen health problems in dogs are seizures. Seizures can be very frightening because we usually associate them with more serious health problems, which may or may not be the case. It may even be difficult to recognize your dog is suffering from seizures but there are some common signs that should help.

Some of the signs of dog seizures include

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid and uncontrolled muscular contractions
  • Changes in mental awareness
  • Involuntary urination or defecation
  • Behavioral changes

Generally a dog’s seizure will have three phases:

    1. Aura
    2. Ictal phase
    3. Post-ictal phase

During the first phase of dog seizure, the aura, your dog will demonstrate strange behavior. He may try to hide or become restless, nervous, whiny, or confused. This phase may last just a few seconds or up to a couple of hours. The ictal phase of dog seizures is when muscle contractions begin. Your dog may fall on its side and appear paralyzed but his body will probably be shaking. Finally, the post-ictal phase of seizure is characterized by disorientation and confusion as well as some physical signs such as temporary blindness.

It’s important to remember that your dog is feeling no pain during a seizure and as an owner you should try to prevent your dog from falling and being injured. The main problem with seizures is that it is very difficult to diagnose their cause. Nevertheless, you should always visit your veterinarian if your dog suffers a seizure. Dog seizures may be caused by dehydration, epilepsy, brain tumors or any number of other serious conditions. Your veterinarian will need to take a full history in order to treat the underlying causes of the seizures.

April 20, 2010

Taking In an Abused Animal

canine stressOne of the kindest things an animal lover can do is to take in an abused animal but there are obvious challenges that arise in these situations. Neglected or physically or emotionally abused animals often have a number of social and behavioral problems that can be difficult to overcome. When you take in an abused pet, you are responsible for showing that animal enough love and support so it can live a happy and fulfilled life.

Abused animals have serious issues with trust and can be socially withdrawn, lethargic, and even aggressive. When they are exposed to new environments they are reluctant to explore and demonstrate a wide range of behavioral issues from inappropriate toileting to barking and whining. If you’ve decided to take care of an abused animal you should prepare yourself for a long road to recovery. While you may be able to instill trust in your pet within a few weeks, it could take months or even longer to put your abused pet at ease with other humans and animals.

Indeed, caring for an abused animal requires a lot of patience and you have to be ready to accept your pet as it is. Always avoid situations that would cause fear or anxiety for your animal and never use punishment as a behavioral deterrent. abused animalsThe fact that positive reinforcement is much more effective for behavioral modification notwithstanding, an animal that is continually punished is unlikely to rehabilitate. Always make love and support your first approach so that your new pet will bond with you more quickly.

Finally, remember to stay focused. As already mentioned, you have to have a lot of patience to rehabilitate an abused animal and they’re not going to get better on your terms. Try to put your pet at ease in stressful situations, feed them and exercise them properly, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy pet.

April 19, 2010

Should I get Pet Health Insurance?

Despite the fact that health insurance for pets is nothing new, many pet owners have yet to invest in insurance for their pets. Nevertheless, over the past several years pet health insurance has advanced quite a lot. Insurance policies for pets cover a comprehensive list of illnesses and the level of care delivered to pets has improved as well.

pet health care insurancePet health insurance plans are much the same as human health insurance. You pay monthly or yearly premiums and have a set deductible and you agree to which illnesses will and will not be covered. In order to acquire health insurance for your dog, cat, or other pet, your pet most likely will have to undergo a medical exam to check for pre-existing health conditions. For the most part, pet health insurance premiums are determined by the age of your pet, the health of your pet, and the general lifestyle of your pet.

Today’s pet insurance companies will start insuring dogs and cats at around 6 to 8 weeks of age. In most cases, older animals may not be able to get health insurance so it’s always best to start when your pet is young. Before choosing your pet health insurance company, do your research first. Compare benefits, deductibles, and the illnesses covered by various insurance plans and pick one that suits your pet, your budget, and your lifestyle best. Also, make sure to select a respected company as pet insurance scams appear to be on the rise.

Caring for the health of your beloved pet is your primary responsibility as a pet owner. Health insurance provides you with an alternative to costly veterinary bills in the event that your pet becomes suddenly ill. With pet health insurance you’ll rest easy knowing your pet is covered in an emergency.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.