Archive for August, 2011

Coincidence? or Alignment of the Stars?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

So  aside from some crazy wind overnight and alot of rain…my house­hold made it through the week­end hur­ri­cane unscathed…I hope you did too.

Today’s topic is the weird occur­ance of mul­ti­ple ani­mals com­ing in with sim­i­lar prob­lems in a day. This is a phe­nom­e­non that has puzzeled many a vet. I have many exam­ples of this. The lat­est is my run of eye issues. Last week, I saw three eye appoint­ments. Two were on one day–both were birds with right eye issues. Very weird. Today is con­tin­u­ing the trend as I have a bunny with eye dis­charge com­ing in. Prior to this I have gone weeks with­out eye issues. How­ever, last week I had two birds sched­uled for “check wing”  on the same day. Both were said to be hold­ing the wing funny–neither had bro­ken wings.  My col­league had a day of see­ing many large breed dogs–mostly Ger­man Shep­ards. Once, there was a week where two fer­rets were diag­nosed with diabetes–that is like being struck by light­en­ing twice.  And the list goes on. I can’t help but won­der if this hap­pens in human med­i­cine too. Does a gen­eral prac­ti­tioner all of a sud­den of have two or three appoint­ments on peo­ple com­ing in with infected cut on fin­ger? Now of course I would not count flu sea­son vis­its as that is an obvi­ous trend (and sea­sonal epi­demic) but it is fun to spec­u­late.
So for now, I will prob­a­bly chalk it up to the cycle of the moon, or align­ment of the stars until this phe­nom­e­non is fully exam­ined, researched and writ­ten in a sci­en­tific, peer reviewed journal.

Don’t Forget the Pets!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

So with all of the hula­baloo about Irene and the storm we will be get­ting, it is a good idea to make sure exotic pets are ready as well. Things to keep in mind if you own an exotic pet:

1) Many can­not han­dle extremes of tem­per­a­ture. Fer­rets, rab­bits, and rodents (guinea pigs and chin­chillas) are prone to heat stress. If you lose power and the tem­per­a­ture starts to climb above 75 degrees faren­heit, I highly rec­om­mend board­ing your pets, or bring­ing these guys some­where that is air conditioned.

2) Loss of power could mean loss of heat­ing for rep­tiles. Since it is the sum­mer this may not be as bad as it is in the win­ter for the herps. How­ever, most need a hot bask­ing area of at least 95 degrees. Addi­tional heat­ing can be pro­vided by pur­chas­ing the Ther­ma­care hot patches sold in the drug store (for back aches, etc)–once opened, they heat up and stay warm for hours. But make sure you have a towel sep­a­rat­ing the rep­tile from direct con­tact and make sure it is not get­ting too hot so as to cause burns. This can also be used for sugar glid­ers (joeys) that still need addi­tional heat.

3) Water needs: Don’t for­get to pur­chase addi­tional water for your pet’s con­sump­tion and for wash­ing their dishes. It is crit­i­cal, espe­cially for birds, to main­tain good san­i­ta­tion of food and water bowls to pre­vent illness.

3) Sub­strate and food: Now is a good time to stock up on bed­ding and food in case the stores are closed or ran­sacked over the next few days. Shred­ded news­pa­per, paper tow­els, and white paper can be used as sub­strate in a pinch if you run low.

4) Light­ing out­ages: Try to use flash­lights if pos­si­ble, espe­cially if you have birds. Birds are very sen­si­tive to any­thing in the air so scented can­dles are a def­i­nite no-no.

So I hope every­one stays safe this week­end and the storm decides to shift off over the ocean. I will post next week…if I have power ;)

Bird Talk

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I thought I would wax on about birds for a bit. Birds are one of the most pop­u­lar pets to own after cats and dogs. This includes every­thing from canaries/finches, bud­gies, cock­atiels, lories, eclec­tus par­rots, African greys, ama­zons, and macaws. And of course an occa­sional pet chicken or quail. What many bird own­ers do not real­ize is what can be done to extend the life and health of their bird. I highly rec­om­mend doing some research about the type of bird you have or plan to have since this could impact how you set up the cage, type of food you feed, and the type of enrich­ment you need to pro­vide. I also highly rec­om­mend that you talk to your vet to help you weed through all of the infor­ma­tion pro­vided by breed­ers, web­sites, and books to make sure every­thing is pro­vid­ing a con­sis­tant mes­sage in tak­ing care of your feath­ered friend.

From a vet­eri­nary per­spec­tive, there is a lot of pre­ven­tive med­ical care options as well as diag­nos­tics for an ill bird these days. It is some­times hard to know that a bird is sick because they hide it so well. In the wild, if birds do not hide signs of ill­ness, they will be eaten by oth­ers or picked on by the rest of the flock. So their innate nature makes it hard to know that some­thing is going on. Often, by the time they make it obvi­ous, they are so sick that aggres­sive med­ical treat­ment is needed–and some­times it can be too late.  A yearly phys­i­cal exam (and twice per year exam on senior birds) is very help­ful in mon­i­tor­ing their weight, check­ing for heart dis­ease (lis­ten­ing for murm­ers), catch­ing res­pi­ra­tory infec­tions early on, look­ing for gas­troin­testi­nal infec­tions before they are clin­i­cal and mon­i­tor­ing the birds nutri­tional sta­tus and organ health. Blood­work that can be per­formed on a rou­tine basis includes com­plete blood counts (CBC) and chem­istry pan­els. For new birds to a house­hold, I highly rec­om­mend psi­ta­co­sis test­ing, and con­sider psitacine beak and feather dis­ease (PBFD) testing.

Now what if your bird is sick? I often hear of peo­ple being afraid to take the bird out of the house because the stress of travel and a new place may kill it. I find that this is rarely the case. If the pet goes with­out med­ical treat­ment, there is very lit­tle chance of the bird get­ting bet­ter so I have to rec­om­mend that we attempt to help it. Diag­nos­tics like blood­work, radi­ographs (x-rays), fecal test­ing can help to fig­ure out what is wrong with the pet. I also often have peo­ple tell me that even if their bird is sick,what can I really do for it? Well there are options for treat­ments as well. Fluid sup­port, antibi­otics, pain med­ica­tions, nutri­tional sup­port, heart med­ica­tions, hor­monal con­trol for chronic egg lay­ers, sur­gi­cal treat­ment for wounds and tumor removals, med­ica­tions to sup­port birds with liver dis­ease, kid­ney dis­ease, and other chronic ill­nesses. Some­times you have to get a bit cre­ative in the treat­ment plan at home and real­ize that their will be more phys­i­cal hands on time with the bird. But this can be well worth it if it pro­vides an improved qual­ity of life and extends the health of your pet. When peo­ple ask me if it is worth doing some of these treatments–there is no sim­ple answer. First, you just don’t know until you try. I have seen some amaz­ing turn arounds in the health of the bird. Some­times the med­ical plan doesn’t help and you need to reassess and decide where do you go next. The plan needs to be tai­lored to the indi­vid­ual pet and owner, and that may mean all treat­ments are done in the hos­pi­tal or it may mean the owner is pro­vid­ing most of the care at home. It may mean sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tion, or it may mean the owner feels that euthana­sia is in the best inter­est of the pet so it doesn’t suf­fer through a dif­fi­cult ill­ness. I always like to pro­vide options for peo­ple. I feel if a client has options and can help in the deci­sion process, then they are empow­ered and they have some con­trol the med­ical care of their pet. But to have options, we need to start with an exam and some­times diag­nos­tics. So please do not for­get to uti­lize your avian vet if you are con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing a bird or cre­at­ing a well­ness plan for your feath­ered friend.

Getting Personal

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Although I feel very blessed in every­thing I have in my life and I never want to take it for granted, I feel  a need to gripe about my tough week. It started off easy enough…Sunday morn­ing my hus­band, son and I went out early to do our gro­cery shop­ping. We splurged and bought some yummy cuts of steak, fresh deli and cheeses, and we had our meals planned for the next cou­ple of weeks. In the mid­dle of the day, I went put ice in my cup and water came pour­ing out of the ice dis­penser. This seemed like a bad thing. Once I opened the freezer, I could tell it was too warm and food was thaw­ing. So my hus­band and I shuf­fled things around, put some things in the fridge to fin­ish thaw­ing that we will cook and brought some items to our old fridge in the base­ment. I don’t use this fridge much since I didn’t trust that it could keep things as cold as they should be, but we fig­ured we may as well try. That night we were able to pur­chase a fridge but it had to be ordered so we are hop­ing to get it tomor­row. In the mean­time, I was hop­ing the com­pres­sor in the fridge would hold out while I fig­ured out where to move more things. I was not so lucky. On Mon­day morn­ing, I woke up to a warm fridge and had to many items includ­ing the deli and a roast. some items on the bot­tom shelves were still cold so this went into the freezer in our base­ment which appar­ently is act­ing like a refrig­er­a­tor. My neigh­bor was kind enough to let me use her freezer as well. So now I am pissed because I have no milk for my son or for my cof­fee. For­tu­nately My son was going to day­care and made it in time for break­fast so he could have milk. Sadly, I had to go to work with­out my cof­fee and had to wait until I could buy some milk to have a proper cup. That night, my awe­some hus­band bought a mini-fridge so that I don’t have to run up and down a flight of stairs every­time my son needs some­thing. How­ever, the fridge deliv­ery can­not come soon enough.
Now my I phone is cracked. My adorable, smart , mel­low two year old-who is always so good with my phone and hardly ever gets into trouble–had a very small tantrum which con­sisted of him tak­ing my phone and throw­ing it to the ground. The sharp smack­ing sound that could be heard when it landed, glass side down, was omi­nous. When I turned it over, I could see the web of cracks along the top half of the glass. Although it has not fully pen­e­trated all of the way through and it still actu­ally works (includ­ing the touch screen!) it is very sad to look at and each day I think the cracks are get­ting worse. We are going to see if we can keep this guy going until the next gen­er­a­tion comes out next month but I think we will have to put my phone’s card into an older model that my hus­band has (that doesn’t hold its charge). On a bright note, my son can now say “it’s bro­ken” and I think he under­stands what this means. I try not to whine too much on a daily basis because I am very grate­ful for every­thing I have–but some­times it helps just to vent. Once vented, I will find ways to find humor in this sit­u­a­tion and then move on. So thank you for bear­ing with me!

Rainbow Bridge

Friday, August 12th, 2011

So I have got­ten behind a bit in my blog­ging. It has been an extremely tough cou­ple of weeks and when the tough gets going, they stop blog­ging.  Now that things are set­tling down, I will be able to focus my thoughts.

The tough­est case I have had for a while occurred over the past few weeks. A fer­ret patient of mine has been in more recently for com­pli­ca­tions with his med­ical con­di­tions. This won­der­ful lit­tle guy is 9 years old (amaz­ing age for a fer­ret) and has a his­tory of adrenal dis­ease, insuli­noma, and car­diac dis­ease. For those not famil­iar with fer­rets, they are very prone to mul­ti­ple dis­eases that need jug­gling. He has been on an array of med­ica­tions to help is blood sugar and heart con­di­tion. Recent blood checks showed that his blood sugar level was drop­ping and he needed to go up on some meds. Just as we were sta­bi­liz­ing this, he went into con­ges­tive heart fail­ure. Over the course of 7 days, he was in and out of emer­gency clin­ics to have fluid removed from his chest, ultra­sounds to eval­u­ate his heart, and in need of med­ica­tion changes. He had one good week­end with his fam­ily before he decom­pen­sated again and his mom had to make an extremely dif­fi­cult deci­sion. Because he was strug­gling to breath and his heart could not func­tion well enough with addi­tional med­ica­tions and even oxy­gen sup­port was not help­ing him, she had to let him go. He was euth­a­nized 3 days short of his 10th birth­day.  It was a very dif­fi­cult time for his mom and it was a loss felt by three dif­fer­ent vet­eri­nary clin­ics and mul­ti­ple vets that were part of his care dur­ing his senior life. He was a remark­able fer­ret that had an incred­i­ble bond with his mom and was always so easy­go­ing and for­giv­ing no mat­ter what we asked of him. I know I will miss him so I can only imag­ine how tough the loss is for his mom. In times like these, dur­ing the dif­fi­cult loss of a pet, it helps to think that they are wait­ing for us over the Rain­bow Bridge. No mat­ter what your faith is, this poem based on a Norse leg­end explains how our pets that we are close to are wait­ing for us and we will see them again one day. While they are wait­ing to cross the rain­bow bridge with us into heaven, they are alle­vi­ated of all of there ills and pains. If any fer­ret deserved to be at the foot of the Rain­bow Bridge, it would be this amaz­ing fer­ret that pro­vided years of com­pan­ion­ship and joy and showed a spirit and will to live that was heroic.