Helpful Articles

Feline Distemper

Feline Distemper, also known as Feline Panleukopenia and FPV, is a highly contagious viral disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. Kittens between 2 and 6 months of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, followed by pregnant and immune-compromised cats. Surviving FPV comes with immunity to any further infections by the virus.

What causes FPV?

The FPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the blood, feces or urine of an infected cat, but can also be spread by fleas that have been feeding on a contaminated cat. Humans can inadvertently pass FPV after handling the equipment used by contaminated cats if they do not follow proper handwashing protocols. The virus can live on surfaces for up to a year and is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with the exception of household bleach.

FPV attacks the blood cells of an infected cat, particularly those in the bone marrow and intestinal tract. If the infected cat is pregnant, the virus will also attack the stem cells of the unborn kitten. FPV makes your pet more vulnerable to other viral and bacterial diseases as well.
 

Symptoms of FPV

The primary symptoms of FPV include but are not limited to:
 

  • Anemia

  • Dehydration

  • Depression

  • Diarrhea (may be blood-stained)

  • High temperature

  • Loss of appetite

  • Rough coat

  • Vomiting
     

Other symptoms include lack of coordination, hiding away from owners, tucking feet away, or resting the chin on the floor for prolonged periods.


Avian Vet Care

As far as pet categorizing goes, birds may be slightly more exotic than other pets, but will still make wonderful companions for people who are looking for an alternative to a furry friend. However, the physiology of a bird is very different to that of a cat or a dog. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you find your feathered friend a veterinarian who has the unique training and experience to be able to understand and manage injuries and health problems that may arise in birds.
 

Services included in avian vet care

As you might expect, the types of services that are usually included in avian vet care are very similar to those offered in standard veterinary offices. Some of the most common include:

  • Routine and comprehensive wellness examinations and assessments

  • Blood panels

  • Imaging tests including digital x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound scans

  • Preventative care

  • Fracture and beak repair

  • Behavioral consultations for undesirable behavior problems such as aggression

  • Diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions, with in-patient care if required

  • Anesthesia/sedation services
     

How to find an experienced avian vet

Locating a veterinarian that specializes in birds may not be as easy as locating a regular vet, but one good resource to consider is the Association of Avian Veterinarians, who maintain a list of vets qualified to help care for pet birds. Additionally, if you know someone who also has pet birds, you could ask them who their vet is and if they would recommend them.


Bringing Your Pet Home

When it comes to bringing a new pet into your home, preparation is crucial in order for them to make a successful transition. It can take days, weeks or even months for your pet to really feel at home. Here are our top tips for helping your new pet settle in.

 

Supplies and equipment

Ensure that you have all of the supplies and equipment your new pet will need. This includes basic supplies such as a bed, water bowl, and food, as well as toys and other items to stimulate their cognitive development and keep them entertained. Remember, your pet's emotional wellbeing and mental stimulation is just as important as their physical needs.

 

Prepare any other pets in the home

Ensure that any other pets in the home are up to date with their vaccinations. Whilst shelters do their best to treat any viruses, occasionally adopted pets do bring new diseases with them that could be transmitted to existing pets in the household.

You may also have to introduce existing pets to your new pet gradually until they get used to one another.

 

Register with a Veterinarian

As soon as you bring your pet home you should register with a veterinarian and make an appointment for your pet to have a thorough health check. Ideally, this should be done within a week of their arrival. They will be able to advise you on the correct vaccine schedule for your pet and ensure that there are no underlying illnesses or concerns.

You should also speak to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet if it is not done already. There are thousands of animals in shelters across the United States that are desperate for loving homes. Limiting population growth further by having your pet spayed or neutered is the responsible course of action for any owner.

 

Establish rules and guidelines in advance

Establishing some basic house rules ahead of your pet's arrival can help create a routine that your pet will quickly adopt as his own. Knowing what to expect will also help him settle in much faster. Also, assigning specific responsibilities to family members can help them bond with your pet and take ownership of their commitment as a pet owner.

Being consistent with rules for your pet will make training them much easier. For example, do not start off by letting your pet sleep on the sofas if this is not a behavior you want to continue in the future.


Basic Pet Bird Care

They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or be refreshed on.

To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
 

Habitat

It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2-3 perches for her to fly between as well as room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.

When choosing a cage, find one with bars that have a powder-coated finish which is easier to clean and shouldn’t rust and with bars that are close enough together to prevent her from getting her head stuck between them. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.

You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other cage lining paper. These are the most sterile and easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings can easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
 

Nutrition

A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.


Euthanasia

Our pets are beloved members of our family and seeing them unwell can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
 

How do I know if it is the right time to consider euthanasia?

Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look for that would indicate that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life. If you notice these, it would then be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action.
These signs include:

  • Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing

  • Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)

  • Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss

  • Inability to stand or move around

  • Disinterest in food or eating

  • Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves

  • No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity

  • Zest for life is non-existent
     

While euthanasia is never an easy decision to make, a small benefit is that it allows family members the time to say their final goodbyes. This opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets helps to ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.

Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter into their final journey. However, while this is a personal decision, it is not recommended that young children be present during this time.


Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
 

Why might my horse be lame?

There are many reasons why a horse can become lame,
but some of the most common reasons include:

  • Abscesses or bruises in the hoof

  • Back and neck problems

  • Degenerative joint diseases

  • Fractures

  • Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall

  • Ligament injuries

  • Tendon damage


Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

As a pet owner, you know that unfortunately, fleas are an extremely common and annoying occurrence. You probably also know how important it is to treat your dogs and cats for worms and fleas on a regular basis. However, with 95% of flea and egg larvae living in your environment rather than on your pet, it is equally, if not more important, to treat your home too, otherwise, the infestation will return time and time again.
 

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

It is not uncommon to be able to spot fleas jumping on and off of your pet’s body, but they are very small and very fast. They are flat-bodied, dark brown or black in color (unless they are full of blood in which case they can be a lighter color) and are usually less than an eighth of an inch big. Typical behavioral symptoms that your pet might display include restlessness and chewing, scratching or licking certain parts of their body more often than usual. If you suspect that your pet has fleas, you can check their skin and coat for signs of the fleas themselves or for ‘flea dirt’ which looks like regular dirt but is actually flea feces. If you aren’t sure if it is actual dirt rather than flea dirt, put some on a paper towel and add water. If it is flea dirt, then it will turn a reddish-brown color as it will contain blood that the flea has ingested and then excreted.
 

Finding the right treatment

With so many different flea treatments available on the market, finding the right one can be tricky which is why we have put together this list of some of the best and most effective flea treatments for dogs and cats to get you started. However, discovering which products will work best for you and your pets may require some trial and error.
 

Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats

Frontline® sprays do not contain the potentially toxic insecticides found in many pet store sprays and is a one-stop-shop for any household that has both cats and dogs. It is also safe to use if you have kittens or puppies on your property and is water-resistant, so it is still effective even if you like in an area with high rainfall.
 

Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats

A topical version of Frontline®, this formula will repel fleas and other pests at all life stages for a full 30 days. This helps to prevent re-infestation and keeps your home clear of fleas for a month at a time. Like other Frontline® products, it is free of potentially harmful insecticides and is water-resistant.


Pet Obesity

We are constantly being told that obesity levels are increasing worldwide and that we should act now in order to ensure our long term health. However, this problem doesn't just affect humans. A shocking statistic from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
(Source: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2015)

Just like humans, pets who are overweight are at increased risk for a number of health problems including but not limited to:
 

  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury

  • Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years

  • Heart and respiratory disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Varying forms of cancer


Equine: Dentistry

One of the most important parts of responsible equine ownership is caring for their teeth to ensure they are strong, clean and healthy. This is because oral health can have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of your animal. If left untreated, dental issues can cause problems with the function of the nervous system, muscular balance, cardiovascular health, imbalance of chemicals in the body, digestive system and the structural stability of the head, neck, and tongue. Most equine dental problems begin as mild and treatable occurrences, but can rapidly increase in severity if left untreated, which is why regular check-ups by an experienced and qualified equine dentist are vital.
 

Symptoms of equine dental problems

One of the reasons that regularly scheduled check-ups are important is because many horses don’t display any clear symptoms of dental issues until they develop into major problems or begin to cause them pain. However, many responsible equine owners can tell when their horse just isn’t feeling right. If they are unable to establish what is wrong, then there is a good chance that dental problems may be to blame.

Some of the signs and symptoms of equine dental problems that you can look out for include:
 

  • Tilting the head when eating

  • Head tossing or shaking

  • Excessive saliva

  • Nasal discharge

  • Facial swelling

  • Foul breath

  • Dropping food

  • Stiffness on one side

  • Napping, bucking or rearing

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Grass packing in cheeks

  • Slow to eat

  • Dips feed or hay in drinking water

  • Nervousness or a dislike of being handled
     

In some cases, behavior changes can also be a sign of dental problems. These could be mouthing or chewing the bit, unexplained subtle lameness, resisting bridling or even rearing or bolting.


Equine: Castration

Equine castration is the most common surgical procedure performed on horses. Not only does it prevent unwanted breeding, but it can also dramatically improve the behavior and management of your horse.


When should equine castration take place?

Equine castration usually takes place in either the spring or autumn months in order to avoid bacteria-carrying flies in the summer and the mud of winter. Traditionally, castration is carried out in a horse’s yearling year, but there is no reason why the procedure cannot be undertaken at other times. The only requirement is that both testicles must have descended into the scrotum before the castration takes place. If one testicle is undescended, then waiting to castrate is usually the most viable option. However, it is possible to carry out a full castration via laparoscopy to find the retained testicle, although this does require much more surgical intervention and therefore a longer recovery period.

Your equine veterinarian will first obtain the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of your horse before performing castration. This will ensure that he is in good condition, has been dewormed regularly, his vaccinations are up to date, and he has not suffered any recent respiratory infection.


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