Patología y medicina en reptiles. Patology and medicine of the reptils.
En pocos días hemos sido testigos de dos hallazgos radiológicos en sendas tortugas sulcatas
( Geochelone sulcata o tortuga de espolones africana ) que acudieron a la consulta de especialidad de exóticos reptiles por diversos motivos:
-La primera un macho de unos 6 kg de peso con presencia de un prolapso peneano de fácil reposición.
-La segunda, otro macho juvenil, este de 19 kg de peso, con problemas respiratorios de vías altas.
Como podemos comprobar en las imágenes radiológicas, ambas presentaban en su intestino estructuras metálicas: Una con restos de una pinza de colgar la ropa y algunos clavos y la otra dos perdigones de plomo y una pequeña estructura metálica anular, además de algunas piedras y otras estructuras de moderada radiodensidad, pudiendo causar con mucha probabilidad en los dos animales una obstrucción intestinal.
La pregunta en estos casos es qué alimentación están llevando estos reptiles y cuál es la correcta, por lo que se ha de tener en cuenta el posible desconocimiento por parte de sus propietarios de una correcta y completa alimentación, habiendo en estos casos un déficit de calcio, minerales y fibra vegetal, en animales de rápido crecimiento como estos y la posibilidad de que puedan ingerir cualquier cosa que los animales confundan en sus jardines o terrarios.
Las causas de esta -pica- o desorden que conlleva a la ingestión de cualquier cosa a su alcance puede radicar como hemos dicho en desequilibrios alimentarios como a la presencia de parásitos intestinales, meteorismo u otras alteraciones intestinales.
El tratamiento va encaminado a la corrección del problema alimentario, rediseñar el terrario, así como tratar la posible obstrucción intestinal con laxantes o incluso con cirugía.
Suerte la de ésta conejita de pocas semanas al ser encontrada en el campo por una persona amante de los animales que le ha salvado la vida, evitando ser devorada por otros animales o morir atropellada.
Con la pata rota y gangrenada hasta el talón y una trementa herida en la pierna, no ha habido más remedio que quitar esa parte de la extremidad y curarle con sutura la otra herida.
Después de varios días de curas, antibióticos y dulces cuidados nuestros como por su nuevo propietario, esta conejita vuelve a la disfrutar de la vida.
Procedente de Bedlington, localidad del norte de inglaterra, es llamado también Rothbury terrier, siendo muy similar al canicheo poodle mediano pero algo más grande, alargado y robusto y con un carácter más dinámico e intrépido que aquel aunque igual de afectuoso con sus dueños o niños.
-Utilizado en sus orígenes como perro de caza (conejo, nutria…) y defensa contra ratas, zorros, tejones, hurones... de la campiña inglesa o incluso en carreras de perros u otras actividades deportivas.
-Actualmente se les ve más como animal de compañía y belleza-competición o trabajo-agilityasemejándose tras sesiones de peluquería a » borreguitos u ovejitas»
Su altura a los hombros no supera los 40 cm y no pesan más de 10 kg.
Su pelate tiende a ser rizado y de colores claros ( gris con blanco)
Como todos los perros de raza pequeña son longevos,superando una vida media de 13 años, teniendo tendencia a padecer problemas hepáticos, urinarios y demencia senil.
Quién no ha tomado nunca de la calle o del campo a un animal herido, desviado de su grupo, perdido o abandonado...y se ha preocupado por él, llevándolo al veterinario o a alguno de nuestros centros de recuperación de animales silvestres.
Aparte de los clásicos animales considerados como mascotas ( perro, gato, caballo, canario, hurón, conejo, iguana..), siempre tienen lugar en el corazón y en los hogares de algunas personas algunos de estos animales.. como gorriones, golondrinas, buhos, salamanquesas, gaviotas…y en este caso un pichón de tordo o zorzal común.
Muchas veces estas aves vienen como consecuencia de accidentes, choques con alambradas o cables eléctricos o porque nuestro gato lo ha cazado o por simple casualidad lo hemos encontrado…
La mayoría de las veces vienen heridos o con fracturas en alas o extremidades y aunque estamos a tiempo de salvarle la vida y estas especies tiene prohibida por ley su tenencia intentamos hacer por ellos lo que podemos, para después liberarlos sanos o llevarlos a esos centros de recuperación disponibles por la Comunidad Valenciana donde terminarán de tratarlos y recuperarlos.
Aún así y conocedores de ello muchas personas como particulares deciden adoptarlos como mascota, sobre todo a los que no tendrían un futuro libres en su hábitat por su limitación o permanecer con cicatrices o con invalidez permanente…
Siempre es de agradecer que haya personas preocupadas por esta labor desinteresada en cuidarlos y darles de comer además de nuestra colaboración profesional veterinaria también altruista para con nuestros clientes, siempre procurando dentro de sus posibilidades la reinserción posterior en su habitat natural momentos que son altamente gratificantes.
En este caso damos a conocer un poco a cerca de este ave, el zorzal común o tordo, muy presente en Alicante aunque cada vez menos, animal de carácter dócil con un manejo adecuado, fácil de mantener y que puede tener una esperanza de vida de 5 años en cautiverio, medir unos 25 cm de largo y pesar 100 grs. Se puede alimentar a base de piensos compuestos, aunque prefieren gusanos, caracoles, fruta….
17:59:27 como les contaba el conejo con maloclusion de todos los molares, tenia todos los cuidados y los mejores, la jaula se limpiaba integramente todos los dias, la comida se le ponia fresc: tanto el alimento balanceado, como la alfalfa como la fruta, varias veces al dia se le ponia fresca y era renovada, al igual que el agua, y practicamente cada 15 dias era control en el veterinaria, sin embargo tuvo esos problemas en todos los molares, porque segun los veterinarios era una raza creada geneticamente para carne, no para vivir largo tiempo(neozelandes y californiano)…yo lo que quisiera saber es si teniendo todos estos cuidados, todas las razas son geneticamente propensas a eso, o hay razas que con los cuidados estos, tienen menos probabilidades de desarrollar maloclusion de molares????? . . . . . . . . . . . . su respuesta en conejos.vetjg.es
** No esta mal la idea de ayudar a los más necesitados. ** Hagamos un propósito: Comprar los regalos de Navidad a pequeñas
empresas y autónomos.
La vecina que vende por catálogo, el artesano que hace bisutería, la
amiga que tiene una tienda en el barrio, el pastelero de los mantecados
artesanos, el chico que tiene el tenderete en el mercaillo, la ferretería
de toda la vida al lado de casa…
Hagamos que nuestro dinero llegue a personas comunes y no a
grandes multinacionales. Así, más personas tendrán una mejor Navidad.
Si te parece una buena propuesta, reenvíalo.
Apoyemos a nuestra gente, apoyemos el pequeño comercio. Es el verdadero motor de la economía española. ¿es que nadie se dá cuenta?
Aquí os dejo la ficha por si hay algún interesado, con sus datos biológicos del Dragón de agua del sureste asiático…Exótico reptil que nunca se debe de confundir con la iguana común, que aunque tengan cierto parecido externo, son de hábitos, procedencia y características totalmente diferentes.
Este animal acudió a consulta con la enfermedad ósea metabólica, desnutrición, fracturas óseas…todo ello por un mal manejo en cuanto a su alimentación y cuidados por parte del propietario ( se mantenía casi como un herbívoro cuando como podeis leer es omnívoro….).
CITES: Apéndice II
Especie: Physignatus cocincinus
Nombre común: Dragón chino acuático o dragón verde.
Arbóreo tropical del sudeste asiático. ( Vietnam, Thailandia…)
Omnívoro. Dieta a base de carne, insectos o pequeños vertebrados o roedores y algún vegetal tipo hoja o fruta.
Peso: Al nacimiento: 5-7 grs Adulto: hasta los 1,2 kg Longevidad: 10 – 15 años
Longitud: hasta 1 metro los machos y 60-80-90 cm las hembras ( 2/3 corresponden a la cola).
DATOS ANATÓMICOS: Se puede confundir en aspecto con una iguana, pero son de hábitos, dieta y crecimiento diferentes.
– Macho presenta poros femorales bien desarrollados
– Madurez sexual: Desde los 2 años o la hembra pese más de 250 grs
– Puesta: 6-15 huevos de unos 2,5 cm.
– Incubación: 60-75 días a 25-31 º C Humedad: 80-90 % MANTENIMIENTO:
-Temperatura: Rango de 28 a 35 ºC Humedad: > 80%
-Terrario: mínimo para un individuo: 1,5*0,8*1,5 m. Recipiente grande con agua y ramas sobre ella. Ventilación e higiene frecuente.
Pueden sufrir quemaduras por contacto con los calefactores ( hay que tener un mínimo de distancia al lugar donde reposan). La luz es fundamental para su crecimiento correcto, bien la luz solar como la ultravioleta por lámparas especiales, más en animales jóvenes ( 10 horas en verano, 4 horas en invierno mínimo).
Aunque pueden mostrar agresividad, suelen ser tímidos y se caracterizan por su capacidad -escapista- además de ser ágiles y buenos saltadores y nadadores o buceadores.
PATOLOGÍAS MÁS FRECUENTES:
Osteodistrofia durante el crecimiento. Respiratórias, cutáneas ( quemaduras, abscesos) y posibles obstrucciones digestivas.
Como sabemos existen multitud de especies de camaleón exóticas que son mantenidas como animales domésticos, animales atractivos por su variedad de colores, su docilidad y sus fáciles condiciones de manejo. Pero mucha gente no sabe que tenemos nuestro propio camaleón, autóctono de la Península Ibérica. Aquí os dejo algunos datos de él para conocerlo un poco más, el Camaleón común (Chamaeleo chamaeleo).
Especie: Camaleón común
CITES: Apendice II. Anexo A. Protegida con varias normativas europeas. Prohibido su cautiverio
Nombre común: Chamaeleo chamaeleo
Distribución: Presente en todas las provincias costeras, cerca de playas de Andalucía, extendiéndose a otras zonas contiguas como Levante. Especie en periodo de expansión debido y gracias al control en el uso de pesticidas contra los insectos de los que se alimentan. Se han contado hasta un número de 10-25 animales / hectárea, habitando zonas arbóreas próximas a pinares, dunas de playa, huertos y jardines y zonas de cultivo de olivos y almendros o en matorrales como el tomillo y romero.
Alimentación: Diurno. Insectívoro, sobre todo insectos que habitan en árboles, insectos voladores principalmente: moscas, saltamontes, palomillas. Activo todo el año, salvo en meses muy fríos en los que se aletarga.
Peso: hasta 120 grs macho, 60 grs hembra
Longevidad: 5-8 y hasta 12 años
Longitud: Macho hasta 40 cm incluyendo la cola, que suele medir lo mismo que la longitud ventral. 20-30 cm la hembra
DATOS ANATÓMICOS: Colores variables según estado fisiológico y temperatura, pero principalmente colores grises o marrones con un moteado negro u oscuro característico y tonos verdosos en época reproductora. Ojos desarrollados.
DATOS REPRODUCTIVOS Macho con borde occipital y cabeza algo más desarrolladas, prominencia hemipenes en ventral cola.
Madurez sexual: A los 5-8 meses de edad y dependiendo del tamaño. Un solo ciclo reproductor al año. Un macho se suele aparear con varias hembras sucesivamente. Celo en agosto.
Puesta: Ovípara. 5-40 huevos, dependiendo del tamaño de la hembra, 25 días post monta, en huecos de los árboles cubiertos de hojas secas o enterrados en arena
Incubación: 7 a 8 meses a 25º C o hasta 12 meses a menos temperatura.
Temperatura: 18-20ºC noche y 25-28-35ºC día. Humedad: 50-90%
Terrario: Aunque están muy protegidos, si alguien los tiene en cautividad, requieren rociar o nebulizar el terrario para que beban de 1 a 3 veces al día. Un tronco y ramas donde subirse. Sustrato papel o similar para recoger excrementos. Esta especie sí suele bajar al suelo.
La luz solar es la ideal. Importante la iluminación ultravioleta, sobre todo en jóvenes.
COMPORTAMIENTO: Muy tímidos y huidizos. Tienen posturas de amenaza y defensa abriendo la boca y produciendo bufidos característicos. Son más gregarios en invierno y territoriales en época estival. Sus depredadores son las culebras, algunas rapaces y roedores y los gatos ¡¡.
PATOLOGÍAS MÁS FRECUENTES: Parásitos intestinales, protozoarios principalmente. Problemas cutáneos, osteopatía metabóĺica, retención de huevos, prolapsos cloacales.
Hoy, día de San Antonio, patrón de los animales, nuestra empresa JG cumple 23 años. Empezamos nuestra andadura profesional allá por el año 1989, cuando por ejemplo hacer una radiografía a un perro o gato era todo un reto.
Los problemas respiratorios en los reptiles en general pueden ser muy variados tanto de vías altas (rinitis, conjuntivitis, etc.) como de vías bajas ( bronquitis, neumonías, etc.) y tener un origen infeccioso o no infeccioso, pero la mayoría de las veces es por un mal manejo, sobre todo por permanecer a temperaturas demasiado bajas. Debemos recordar que las tortugas acuáticas son casi todas tropicales y su temperatura óptima ronda más de los 22ºC, no estando adaptadas a nuestras temperaturas ambientales en nuestras latitudes. El tratamiento y el pronóstico por tanto cambia de un procoso a otro. A parte de los síntomas clínicos ( ruidos respiratorios, descargas mucosas, alteración en la flotabilidad en las acuáticas ), muchas veces necesitamos la realización de radiografías para valorar la extensión del proceso.
La aparación de manchas tanto en el caparazón (parte superior) como en el plastrón ( parte inferior ) de los quelonios o tortugas abre muchas posibilidades en cuanto a las posibles causas. Solamente con la experiencia o el manejo clínico de estos reptiles sabremos diagnosticar el problema para un correcto tratamiento. En este caso nos remiten a nuestro hospital una Trachemys scripta scripta con problemas de dermatitis ulcerativa de plastrón. Remitió correctamente con antibióticos específicos así como con un correcto manejo de la higiene del agua del terrario.
Gerbils are clean animals that are relatively odourless with a natural curiosity and easy to handle.
They are very friendly and will climb onto your hand without any problem to take food even though you don’t have to handle them too much.
Their livers are mainly nocturnal but they do leave their nests if they hear a noise that worries them.
Gerbils are able to retain water but this does not mean that you do not have to give them water on a regular basis.
An important factor in caring for gerbils is the temperature they are kept at. Although they can survive at 30C, the ideal ambient temperature for them is between 17-22C with a humidity level of not more than 50% otherwise their fur will turn greasy.
They are able to live together, especially if they have been brought up together but they are known to fight and females are more aggressive than males.
It is advised to house gerbils in either metal cages or fish tank-style containers that have plenty of ventilation. If a metal cage is to be used make sure the space between the bars is not too wide because gerbils are very agile and can squeeze through small gaps.
The flooring of the cage should be of an earthy-type material because gerbils like to burrow and their nest should ideally be made of paper. Avoid using materials with artificial fibres as these can be ingested and cause respiratory or digestive problems.
The use of sand is also not recommended as this can cause abrasions to the animals face.
Feeding gerbils is straight forward. You can use a mix of seeds that contain protein granules and the diet can be supplemented with fresh vegetables.
Gerbils also like oily seeds such as sunflower as well as dried fruits which can be given as treats rather than as part of their regular diet because this could cause osteoporosis if their calcium intake levels drop, which in turn could lead to bone fractures or deformities.
Dogs were domesticated from the gray wolf about 15,000 years ago
Evolution and domestication
Dogs were domesticated from the gray wolf about 15,000 years ago. They perform many roles for people such as hunting, herding, protection, assisting police, companionship, and, more recently to assist handicapped people.
In 2001 there were an estimated 400 million dogs in the world. Over the 15,000 years the dog has been domesticated, the dog has developed into hundreds of different types through selective breeding by humans and shows more behavioural and morphological variation than any other land mammal.
Dog is the commonly used term that refers to members of the Canis lupus, or «true dogs», including the wolf, coyote (canis latrans) and the jackal (canis aureus) whose main representative is the Golden Jackal, the dingo (canis dingo) and the domestic dog (canis familiaris). Wolves in North America or Eurasia appeared when the two continents were connected by the Bering Strait and from there spread to the American continents, Europe and Asia eventually reaching the south of India, Arabia and northern Mexico. There is evidence that the jackals originated in North Africa and from there spread to the south and west, reaching the Malaysian peninsula as well as India and Arabia, where they coexist with wolves. The coyote is isolated geographically from the jackals, but not the wolves and only inhabit the Americas. Consisting of a single species that originated recently (about 500,000 years ago) and was formed from a few packs of wolves that were left behind after the last Ice Age. The dingo is the Australian representative of the genus Canis, although there is evidence that in fact it was a feral dog, which reached the Australian continent from Asia, alongside the first natives. This genre would originate from a subspecies of the wolf called Canis lupus pallipes. There are several theories about the origin of the domestic dog the most accepted being that they are the direct descendants of the wolf. However the influence of other species in the evolution of the domestic dog may be considered more than a suspicion, at least in some breeds. You can see in the enormous genetic variability present in today’s domestic dog, for example the differences between the Chihuahua and the St. Bernard, that there can only have been a multifaceted origin or it was at least heavily influenced by other species.
Wolves and their dog descendants would have received significant benefits from living in human camps…more safety, more reliable food, lesser caloric needs, and more chance to breed. Humans would also have benefited enormously from the dogs associated with their camps. For instance, dogs would have improved sanitation by cleaning up food scraps. They would have alerted the camp to the presence of predators or strangers, using their acute hearing to provide an early warning. Anthropologists believe the most significant benefit would have been the use of dogs’ sensitive sense of smell to assist with the hunt. The relationship between the presence of a dog and success in the hunt is often mentioned as a primary reason for the domestication of the wolf. The dog was our first pet, as manifested by the numerous rock paintings found in various latitudes showing hunting scenes. The first two contributions to man’s way of life were: the aforementioned cooperation in hunting and the protection of the camps. At this point arose the need for two types of dogs.
One light, brave, with good sense of smell, obedient and with the aptitude to race… the Canis familiaris leinieri, ancestor of the hound. Another, heavier, stronger, good hearing, which would correspond with the modern guard dogs whose ancestry is Canis familiaris inostranzewi. This was soon followed by the domestication of sheep, which required a Shepherd type dog. The shepherd dog needed to be lightweight, extremely intelligent, and above all to have lost the instinct of aggressiveness towards cattle and sheep… their ancestor was the Canis familiaris metris-optimae.
Independently, in the northernmost regions the Canis familiaris palustris formed which evolved into the modern sled dogs. In modern times the most widespread form of interspecies bonding occurs between humans and dogs and the keeping of dogs as companions. In the 1950s and 1960s, dogs were kept outside more often than they tend to be today being primarily used as a guard, children’s playmate, or walking companion.
Since then there have been huge changes in the role of the pet dog, such as the increased role of dogs in the emotional support of their owners. People and dogs have become more and more integrated in each other’s lives, to the point where pet dogs actively shape the way a family and home are experienced.
In the wild the golden brown-red colour develops with dense, short hair. The domestic hamster descended from three siblings, one male and two females located in Syria in 1931. There are many different species of hamsters throughout the world and most The hamster as a pet hamsters inhabit semi-desert areas where they live in burrows. These burrows consist of many tunnels and separate chambers including chambers where the hamster will store food and sleep. Hamsters are nocturnal, sleeping during the hot days and waking in the cooler evenings. They have very poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing. Most species of hamsters have expandable cheek pouches in which they can carry food and bedding back to their burrow where they will store food. The word ‘hamster’ comes from the German word ‘hamstern’ which means ‘to hoard’.
There are a huge variety of cage styles and sizes and which one to choose can be confusing. Make sure you choose one that is appropriate for the size of hamster you are choosing as well as one that is easy to clean. Also make sure you have cage accessories such as bedding, an exercise wheel, and a cozy sleep hut picked out. A variety of products made out of cotton or similar materials are marketed as nesting material. However, there are potential problems with using some of these products. Many commercial nesting materials are actually made up of very small threads or fibres. These threads can sometimes get wound around little hamster toes and cause injuries. Also, if your hamster eats some of these bedding, the fibres may not be digestible. While the risks are small, there are easier alternatives. Simply use undyed and unscented toilet paper, facial tissue, or soft paper towels. You can shred these a bit but you can let your hamster finish shredding them and crafting them into a soft cozy nest.
A good exercise wheel will help keep your hamster healthy. In the wild, hamsters would travel miles every night in search of food, and some hamsters in captivity have been reported to run up to 8 km per night on their exercise wheels. Hamsters need lots of exercise and most pet hamsters love to use exercise wheels. The best kind of hamster wheel has a solid surface that either attaches to the side of the cage or is free standing. The common wire wheel that looks like a ladder wrapped into a circle with side bars for support is not the best choice as it can cause injuries. Hamsters need to be able to chew. For chewing, a variety of wood structures and toys will help keep your hamster’s teeth in shape. Hamsters also tend to like playing with tubes and tunnels and things they can climb on.
Excessive cleaning of the cage can cause stress to the animals as it alters the territorial markings. The cage should be cleaned weekly by removing the hamster from the cage and throwing away old bedding and food. However, your pet will appreciate it if some of its old bedding is placed in the clean cage along with the fresh bedding.
Your pet hamster requires a fairly regular diet consisting of proteins, vitamins and minerals. Your pet will be quite happy to be fed about once a day, usually in the early evening, when it is starting to wake up.
Recommended 5-10 grams a day with a 16-24% protein, 60-65% carbohydrate, 5-7% fat. It is recommended to supplement the diet with seeds, grains, fruit and vegetables to provide variety without unbalancing the intake of nutrients. Hamsters need a regular supply of fresh water. You should either provide a water bowl filled with fresh water daily, or you can use a small animal water bottle.
The most important thing you need to know is that hamsters are nearsighted and have very limited view. Hamsters only bite if scared or uncomfortable. You can move them with your hands or if they are aggressive with a container (empty and clean). Be careful when you pick up a hamster that is asleep, to wake up abruptly can cause them to bite.
Hamsters have poor eyesight; they are nearsighted and colorblind. However, they have an acute sense of smell and can hear extremely well. Hamsters can use their sense of smell to detect gender, locate food, and detect pheromones. They are also particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises and can hear and communicate in the ultrasonic range. One characteristic of rodents that is highly visible in hamsters is their sharp incisors. They have two pairs in the front of their mouths and these incisors never stop growing and thus must be regularly worn down. Hamsters carry food in their spacious cheek pouches to their underground storage chambers. When full, their cheeks can make their heads double (or even triple) in size. Have an odoriferous gland that serves for marking territory, individual identification and possibly sexual attraction.
General data on the golden hamster
Average life: 2-3 years Body length: 9-18 (as races) Adult female weight: 90-180g Adult male weight: 80-140g Birth weight: 1.5-3g Daily water intake: 12-30ml Daily food consumption: 10-15g Breeding: Hamsters become fertile at different ages depending on their species, but this can be from one month to three months of age. The female’s reproductive life only lasts about 18 months, but male hamsters remain fertile much longer. Females are in heat approximately every four days, indicated by a reddening of genital areas.
Hamsters are seasonal breeders. Breeding season is from April to October in the northern hemisphere, with two to five litters of 1 to 13 young being born after a gestation period of 16 to 23 days. Golden hamster females are also very aggressive toward male hamsters and must be separated immediately after breeding in order to prevent an attack. Female hamsters are also particularly sensitive to disturbances while giving birth and may even eat her own young if she thinks they are in danger, although sometimes she is just carrying the pups in her cheek pouches. Hamsters are born hairless and blind in a nest that the mother will have prepared in advance. After one week they begin to explore outside the nest. They are completely weaned after three weeks, or four for Roborovski hamsters.
Do you really know you when your dog is sick? Many times, our pets may show behavioural changes indicative of suffering. The owner is the only one that can detect the symptoms and will be of vital importance when it comes to communicating these to the vet.
When you get home and do not get the usual greeting or your dog does not respond in the normal manner when invited for his daily walk, he may be suffering or incubating an illness. If his appetite is not normal it can often be caused by gastritis. This can happen quite regularly (every 1 or 2 weeks) especially if fed leftovers. This type of feeding can cause a sudden change in pH or a drastic increase of gastric acids. In these cases, simply fasting the dog for 24 hours will often bring him back to normal. Nausea can manifest itself by excessive licking or salivation, the ingestion of grass or weeds. Excessive thirst is also indicative of a gastro-intestinal or sometimes urinary problems. Excessive scratching of the anal area may indicate an alteration in anal glands or a parasitic intestinal worms. Frequent shaking of the head could indicate an outer ear infection. Excessive scratching of the skin may indicate the presence of fleas, especially if the scratching happens in the posterior third. In addition to behavioural changes you should take note of the frequency and colour of the stools and urine. In neutered bitches the regularity and strength of periods can also be of importance. Respiratory symptoms such as coughing should be monitored and noted if it occurs during exertion or rest, at night or during the day… the vet will probably ask these questions. Certain breeds are more prone than others to particular diseases, common (but not exhaustive) are: Setters and Greyhounds – Distemper virus. Rottweilers – Parvovirus. West Highland Terrier – obstruction of the cardia. Shar-Pei – Entropion Dachshunds – spinal problems. Golden Retrievers – intestinal disease. Chow-Chow – moist dermatitis. Boxers – skin tumours. Pekinese – ocular prolapse. Yorkshire Terrier – liver disease and dental problems. German Shepherd – hip dysplasia. Doberman – cervical spine problems. Dogue de Bordeaux – demodectic mange. Poodle – heart disease. Collie – eye problems. Bulldog – respiratory problems. Age is another factor to take into account when it comes to certain illnesses. From one year of age it is almost impossible for a dog to have parvovirus, from 7 years onwards it is more common to encounter heart disease, osteoarthritis, cataracts, etc, and from age 10 a fairly frequent occurrence are mammary tumours, skin tumours, spleen tumours, etc.
Because our dogs cannot speak, it is up to the owner, or the person who best knows the dogs habits and spends most time with them to act as a spokesperson when visiting the veterinary. The more detailed your information is the more accurate the diagnosis by the veterinarian will be. It can make a big difference. Here is a list of the data that the animal owner should provide to the vet when your pet gets sick (which constitute the so-called medical history).
Where did you get your pet: shop, breeder, rescue home, found? Habitat and care
Where do you reside: city or countryside?
Which family member is most familiar with the pet?
What is the regular food?
How often do you batheyour pet? Which shampoo do you use?
Do you have other animals?
What kind? Have they been sick?
Where do you walk normally? Who walks the dog? How many times a day? Health status
Are the vaccinations complete and up to date?
Against which diseases?
Is the treatment against internal and external parasites up to date? Which products are being used?
When was the last time you visited a vet? Which tests were performed?
What was the last date of a blood test?
Has the animal had any surgery?
Has the animal been sick before? What medications do you give? Present illness
What do you attribute it to?
If you are able to answer all of these questions when your pet becomes ill, it would be a great aid to a vet’s diagnosis
Rabbits are mammals which belong to the Lagomorph order that also includes hares and pikas (Lagomorph means ‘hare-shaped’)
Rabbits are mammals which belong to the Lagomorph order that also includes hares and pikas (Lagomorph means ‘hare-shaped’). They are similar to rodents in that they have incisor teeth that continually grow. The rabbit species widely kept as a pet is Oryctolagus cuniculus and within this species various breeds have been developed by enhancing different characteristics through selective breeding such as Dwarf rabbits, giant breed rabbits, lop-eared and long-haired varieties like Angora.
Description of the species and maintenance
In the wild the rabbit is a sociable and territorial animal, living in large groups within complete burrow systems known as warrens that they have dug.
Rabbits rarely face danger when threatened but use their speed and agility to escape and dart down into their warren to escape harm. Within the group the rabbits have a dominance hierarchy with the most dominant male having mating rights with the females. The rabbit is mostly nocturnal, nesting in the warrens throughout the day and emerging at dusk to forage for food until the morning. Rabbits are herbivores (plant eating) and have a high reproduction rate. They have long ears, powerful hind legs with long feet and a short, furry, upturned tail. The ideal temperature range for development is between 16-21 º C. If you keep them outdoors they must be protected from the elements, extreme temperatures and predators.
Optimal size of the cage would be 0.3 m2 per kilogram of body weight. Ideally made of galvanized steel. The size of the mesh for the floor should be 1 x 2.5cm, which allows the passage of feces into the tray and poses no risk of injury to the legs and paws.
As a general rule the cage should be at least four times the length of the fully grown rabbit when stretched out and high enough to allow the rabbit to stand on its hind legs without its ears touching the roof.
A padded area should be provided to allow a rest from the mesh. Rabbits tend to defecate in a corner of the cage, making this the ideal area for the litter box. Change the material of the litter box about twice a week. Do not place absorbent material that can be eaten as this can cause intestinal disorders.
Rabbits are playful and enjoy running and jumping and so will also need a safe exercise area with plenty of room that allows them to do this for one or two hours daily.
They need plenty of toys to chew to combat boredom: ideal materials are straw baskets, boxes or cardboard tubes, paper bags, hard plastic, wood, balls with bells inside … etc.
Rabbits should be fed a basic rabbit mix and ample hay (vital for their digestive system) daily along with fruit and vegetables or plants and flowers.
The best fodder we can give our rabbits is a good quality hay. A good hay is made up of a variety of plants, has a pleasant smell and is not moldy or discolored. The hay should be placed in a special fence to enable the rabbits to forage. The concentrated food should be given in small quantities so not to cause digestive problems.
This should be high-energy foods, rich in carbohydrates such as cereals. Never feed any amount greater than 10g per kg of weight of your pet per day and always crushed. There are also rabbit pellets available in stores. These are compressed food pellets designed to meet a rabbit’s nutritional requirements. Never feed more than 40g per kg of this mixture per day. Same as with other pets, a diet based only on this can be very monotonous and therefore it should only be included as a component of the diet. Green foods can constitute 45% of the diet but you should get your animal used to it gradually increasing the amount daily until you reach the desired quantity. NEVER suddenly change the diet of your rabbit or suddenly introduce a new food. Green food can consist of clover (no more than 20% of green fodder), alfalfa, dandelion, carrots, pears and apples (peeled) … also herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary or mint. Green food should never be left in the cage for longer than three hours. Don’t forget that our little friends love to crunch, they love branches… Birch, Beech, Alder, Poplar, Willow, Hazelnut, Apple and Pear trees are all suitable. Let us never forget that any forage, branch or item that we use in our animal feed must be free of pesticide residues, heavy metals or other hazardous substances. Always give them their food at room temperature, never cold.
Rabbits are very curious animals, actively exploring their environment and especially during their first year of life will gnaw and dig wherever they can. Peak activity hours occur at dawn and dusk and they often nap during the day.
Rabbits mark their territory with colourless, odourless drops which are produced by glands on the chin. If they are not neutered they may also mark their territory with urine and even faeces. Pay special attention when you let them loose in your home as they can get on furniture (long jump and even turn 180º in the air). They also like to pick up and throw small objects using their nose and mouth and love to chew. Two rabbits kept together create their own hierarchy and bonds… even mutual groom. Sleeping in many cases closely together. A rabbit may show dominance over any member of the family, although the way usual for them, differs from that we normally know. The behaviour of a rabbit with cats, dogs and ferrets differs in many cases. It is necessary to study the conditions under which they live together to identify possible risks to the rabbit. In many cases (especially ferrets) rabbits show a fear of the smell of these other pets making it impossible to cohabitate. Another aspect to consider is that rabbits although not outrageously noisy are able to vocalise. A low hum emitted by an intact male rabbit circling the owner may be a prelude to an attempted intercourse with the owner’s foot. A rabbit satisfied with a petting session can grind its teeth. However, the reluctance to grind teeth together can indicate pain. When they are wounded or frightened they can emit a high-pitched sound, as well as kick to warn of danger. The rabbit licks its front legs to wipe its face and ears and with the tongue cleans all the hair that can mould every three months. Frequent brushing and oral administration of a laxative (malt) during these periods may serve to prevent he formation of fur balls.
Just as we teach dogs and cats we can teach desired behaviour to rabbits by awarding them with treats. Keep in mind that the character may alter with hormonal changes during their season. It is possible that they show aggressiveness towards their owners and have an increase in destructiveness towards objects in the house. Males mark their territory with greater intensity.
Normal body temperature from the third week of life: from 38.5 to 39.3 º C (40 º C)
Humidity: Humidity in a reptile’s enclosure is important at all times. It can influence appetite and shedding. Each species has its own level but most are like the tropical species and prefer a humidity level between 65-90%. To humidify your terrarium, vivarium or reptiles’ habitat and maintaining the correct level of humidity in the reptiles’ enclosure can be achieved by some simple arrangements within the pets’ home.
For snakes or large lizards a good and effective source of humidity can be created by using a tub or a shallow ground pond that has a large surface area. Humidity in a terrarium or vivarium can be created by having a full container of water placed upon the roof. This reservoir of water will be used to create a large amount of humidity for the reptiles’ enclosure. Pierce the bottom of the container with a very small hole and direct the water drops onto your selected area within the terrarium, vivarium and reptile enclosures. The flow of the water droplets should not create any large wet spots on the reptile enclosure’s floor. Position on the floor of the reptiles’ habitat, terrarium or vivarium a suitable escape or hide container filled with any natural water-retaining material. Allow the retaining material to evaporate dry of moisture and then add more water. This will create humidity within a small area that your pet can retreat into.
VENTILATION: Vents that allow exchange of air over time without creating a wind tunnel are recommended. Reptiles have fairly low metabolic rates so as long as the air is replaced over time they seem to cope quite well. Also, the doors themselves let air in so they inadvertently become part of the ventilation system.
TERRARIUMS: Can be designed to your individual taste and be made of all sorts of different materials such as acrylic, glass, wood, aluminum etc. (acrylics have better solar light transmittance than glass).
The decor is very important – use branches, abrasives to promote shedding, shelters, waterfalls, streams, mirrors, dolls (to prevent aggression and self-mutilation), insects or moving objects to avoid boredom. Snakes like to be in a group, iguanas like tactile contact at night, auditory stimuli as well as hygiene and cleanliness. For your pet to adjust to its new environment it is advisable to create their terrarium as closely to their natural habitat as possible.
BASE: Preferred materials are newspaper, artificial grass, peat, compost, bark or gravel and stones of a size that cannot be swallowed.
DIET/NUTRITION: Variations in temperature play a key role in the metabolism of reptiles. This is a result of their ectothermic nature and their dependency on environmental temperatures. A reptile’s metabolic rate determines the amount of food that it requires to live and move about. It is this dependency on environmental temperatures rather than an internal metabolism that creates a problem for most owners of captive reptiles. If a captive reptile is kept at sub-optimal temperatures and fed too much it may cause anorexia due to the reptile’s lack of activity caused by the cooler temperatures and lowered metabolic rate, which cause improper digestion while being maintained on a constant diet. The same is also true for reptiles that are kept under conditions that are too warm and are under fed. These reptiles will continue to increase in movement as their metabolic rate increases and continue to burn energy faster than it is being supplied. Illness, reproduction and growth may also equally effect metabolism.
The frequency of feeding depends greatly on the metabolic rate, as mentioned earlier. Active species, like garter snakes, will require more frequent feedings than will less active species, like boa constrictors. The nutritional qualities of the foods being offered will also play a role in the required frequency of feeding. For example: Garter snakes and Racers may be fed once weekly, larger Lizards like the Gila monster and the Savannah monitor should be fed once or twice a week, whereas some species of Aquatic Turtles, while they may present the appearance of a slow metabolic rate, actually have a higher rate and require feeding on a daily basis. There are four basic food preferences among the countless species of reptiles. A carnivorous diet consists of meats, an insectivorous diet consists of insects, a herbivorous diet consists of plant matter and an omnivorous diet may consist of a combination of the other three groups. While each species has its own unique dietary requirements, its preference for specific food items is largely based on its natural geographic location and the types of food items that are readily available in that location. These four basic diets may be broken down into two separate groups. Those, which consist of animal proteins and those that consist of plant proteins. In general, herbivores must have 80% of vegetable + fruit (60-80% salad vegetables and 10-15% fruit, 10% or once a week animal protein which can be dog food and another 10% of rabbit feed (alfalfa), plus three times a week additional vitamin supplements.
64% of all Spanish households own pets. Reptiles represent a total of 4% with demand increasing steadily.
About 64% of all Spanish households own pets. Reptiles represent a total of 4% with demand increasing steadily, especially for the more exotic and rare species (there are more than 8,100 species of reptiles). This makes customers more demanding in terms of ownership, maintenance and for veterinary expertise. Vets must be increasingly aware of all aspects of keeping and maintaining the different species.
This means we not only have to know about their condition and medicine but also their management, biology, physiology, legal requirements and regulations (CITES) and everything to do with their world which is tremendously variable. 90% of disease in reptiles are due to mismanagement at the place of origin or by the owner.
The variety of reptile pets assisted in our clinic is: Turtle: 50% (40% land and 10% freshwater) Lizards: 40% (30% Iguanas, Chameleons 3%, 7% other Lizards (Dragons, Geckos ….) Snakes: 10% snakes (especially Pythons and Boas) Crocodiles: 0.1%
In this article we will try and introduce the world of reptiles to you, albeit in a very concise and practical manner with emphasis on the most popular species.
HERPETOLOGY: the study of reptiles.
The Greek HERPETON: Reptile meaning: animal that creeps or crawls.
The fundamental characteristic of reptiles is that the animals have a body temperature
which is variable and dependent on external heat sources (wrongly called ‘cold-blooded’).
Before citing the most common species, it is important to briefly stress upon the most important points before purchasing and owning a reptile… which is how to have and design the best terrarium for them so to avoid as many pathologies as possible.
Faced with a huge choice, the decision factors besides the price should be knowledge about their requirements with regards to temperature and living space, what adult size they reach and their temperament. Look out for: how the animal presents itself at the time of acquisition: their colouring is very important if they are ill… the colour is off, the eyes should be bright and clean, not watery, closed or sunk.
Ask if the animal has eaten before you buy, check the tail and legs to see if there are any obvious signs of mineral deficiencies. As with any pet you need to decide before purchasing what you are looking for and what fits in with your live style. For example you buy a very nice and small iguana one day which as a fully grown adult will be up to two feet long and weigh eight kilos and has a life expectancy of some 30 plus years. There are some turtles that bite, some that are very dirty and require water filters and a lengthier cleaning regime, as well as a whole host of different situations that one must be aware of in advance, as each species has unique needs and very different characteristics. Mismanagement of one or more of the following factors will determine if a reptile is best suited or not.
TEMPERATURE: is the main factor to control because all of the animal’s vital functions are dependant on it, such as immunity, wound healing, drug response, motor activity, neurological, reproductive, feeding, grasping capacity, digestion and enzyme activity (for example at 28° C it will take a snake five days to digest a rabbit and at 18º C 15 days. Reptiles have no temperature control so if kept too cold all functions such as digestion and nutrient absorption will slow down causing deficiencies or digestive fermentations and also predispose to immunosuppression, increasing susceptibility to infections and diseases of all types.
There should be hot and cold zones within the terrarium thus allowing the animal to choose and achieve its optimal body temperature (TCO). It is important to avoid hypothermia and heat stroke as they are very sensitive to the slightest increase of the critical points (max. temp/ min. temp), especially the tropical or non native. Each species has its own TCO which we need to be aware of and know how to adjust, we must also know which species hibernates or not. TCO (optimal body temperature) is normally between 26-29º C and TOP (optimal preferred zone) between 22 to 32º C depending on the species. Nightime temperatures are usually less, ranging between 20-24º C. All of the guidelines are dependant on the nutritional and health status of the animal, sick animals often require an increase over baseline. There are various heaters available such as stone heaters, special spot lamps, heated blankets etc. which always need to be at a distance to the animal or covered to avoid burning. Additional thermostats are also useful for extra safety. Bulbs (incandescent lamps between 25-60W for a volume of 30 litres) are placed at the top mostly for heating the area of branches (for tree species), in general the heaters should only cover half or a max. of threequarters of the total area, allowing space for cold spots. It is not advisable that the temperature is uniform and it’s best to control each area with a separate thermometer. Blankets are good for quarantine, but not for aquaterrariums. Keeping your home at a constant temperature of 22-25ºC is also helpful.
LIGHT: influences appetite, synthesis of vitamin D3 and calcium absorption, particularly in lizards and UVA rays (320-400nm) influence the behavior and psyche. Minimum photoperiod from nine hours daily, except for nocturnal species. In summertime 12-14 hours in light and 10-12 in darkness is advisable whereas in winter the light hours should shorten to eigh-nine hours.
Recommended lights are neon or fluorescent lamps or better still direct sunlight, however the conventional fluorescent bulb is not sufficient and UVB lamps, the most similar to the sun are expensive and must be renewed every 9-12 months to ensure their effectiveness.
Even though your dog may be slowing down a little, there’s no reason why the later years in life shouldn’t be some of the most rewarding. After all, he’s wiser as well as older. With regular veterinary attention, daily care and proper nutrition, your senior dog can still experience a very happy, healthy life. Dogs are often older than we think they are, especially when we’ve had them as puppies as time flies by and we have always been used to their energetic behaviour.
There is a wide breed variation in what constitutes older age as generally speaking, small dogs live the longest, while large and giant breeds have relatively short lifespans (a Great Dane is considered ‘old’ at six). In addition to a dog’s breed, specific lifestyle factors affect how long a particular dog will live, such as diet, exercise and medical history. As the owner of an older dog it is important to recognise tell-tale signs of illness so you can seek prompt veterinary attention. Many diseases have slow, progressive signs that are easy to put down to ‘old age’ but in fact may be very treatable. Certain changes will occur in your dog’s body as he gets older. Important bodily functions, normally taken for granted, may start to slow down or malfunction. Just like humans, the senses eventually start to deteriorate, leading to impaired vision, hearing, taste and smell. Older dogs are also prone to a number of medical conditions, the signs of which can be subtle and that we, as owners, should be on the lookout for as many are treatable.
In the same way human medicine has lengthened life expectancy, this is also ensured in veterinary medicine. Today’s available diagnostics and treatments have enabled us to prolong the life of your pet as much as possible whilst maintaining their quality of life. Diseases that are frequently diagnosed in this age group of dogs include:
■ Osteoarthritis is common in older dogs causing reduced energy levels, lameness, stiffness or difficulty getting up, or lameness/stiffness after a walk and reluctance to exercise.
■ Dental diseases – tooth and gum conditions are common in older dogs; look out for food being dropped, excessive salivation, pawing at the mouth, smelly breath or difficulty chewing food. Swellings below the eye may be signs of tooth root abscesses and need veterinary attention. .
■ Kidney problems can cause excessive thirst and frequent or uncontrolled urination. Drinking and urinating more can also indicate other problems such as diabetes and various other hormonal conditions.
■ Heart and respiratory conditions can cause reluctance to exercise, coughing, trouble breathing and lethargy.
■ Cancers, the type of which will dictate the signs but any unexplained weight loss, or growths, warts or skin lumps should be investigated.
■ Cognitive behavioural dysfunction, a syndrome which can cause signs consistent with senility including disorientation, pacing and inappropriate vocalisation.
■ Cataracts can be a problem in older dogs, but a hazy, bluish appearance to the eyes can be normal (a condition called nuclear sclerosis). Your vet will be able to distinguish between the two. If you notice any of the above signs, or any other signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss or weight gain or reluctance to exercise contact your vet.
The recommendations we can offer owners of older dogs are described in our following senior plan:
1 – Nutrition: feed older pets with foods low in salt and fat (light complete foods) that are especially formulated for them. Supplement their diet with a Chondroitin Sulfate compound to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis as much as possible.
2 – Periodic check-ups: a clinical review conducted annually is recommended. This consists of blood tests, two Xrays, Ultrasound and an Electrocardiogram for a detailed study of how the Circulatory, Digestive, Respiratory, Endocrine, Renal, Reproductive, and Locomotion systems are functioning. These check-ups are cheap, fast and provide essential information that enables us to control our senior patient.
3 – Hygiene: give special care and attention to the health of eyes, ears, anal glands etc with emphasis to the mouth, which should not have bad breath, gingivitis or periodontitis present. These oral infections, once present, can shorten the lifespan of your pet considerably due to their effect on the heart.
4 – Medications: we recommend the use of products such as Karsivan for all our senior patients, these enable more oxygen to reach the vital organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. In addition to Heart failure, Periodontitis, Arthritis, Nephrotic Syndrome and many others diseases it is now more common to find tumours or cancer in our senior patients.
Over the years, the chances of our dogs having a tumour have increased. The types of tumours
vary from the less harmful such as warts to the most damaging Lymphomas. In bitches, mammary tumours refer directly to their reproductive life and can affect 50% of all bitches over the age of 7.
The veterinary expert knows how to look for any evidence of tumours in senior patients and in addition we have now at our disposal series of diagnostic tools that will facilitate their early detection.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Cats and other feline species are the definitive hosts, ie. the parasite develops in the cat. However, the infection can develop in several animal species including man.
Toxoplasmosis is an illness that is arousing a growing amount of interest in society. Many clients who come to our hospital are worried about the possible transmission of this disease.
Toxoplasmosis is defined as a zoonosis, this means it is a disease shared by animals and humans and can be transmitted from animals to humans. With this article I will try to break some of the myths created about this disease and provide prevention measures and hygiene tips to minimize the possibility of transmitting the disease to humans.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Cats and other feline species are the definitive hosts, ie. the parasite develops in the cat. However, the infection can develop in several animal species including man.
In humans, most infections are asymptomatic, causing no disease. Maybe one in 10 people will demonstrate mild flu-like symptoms. These can go totally unnoticed if no specific clinical examinations are performed. People when infected, develop immunity, therefore re-infection does not occur. Animals are infected by eating infected meat, by ingestion of faeces of a cat that has itself recently been infected or by transmission from mother to fetus. Although cats are often blamed for spreading toxoplasmosis, contact with raw meat is a more significant source of human infections in many countries and fecal contamination of hands is a greater risk factor. According to some studies, around half the world’s population has been infected with toxoplasma at some point in their lives.
Cats excrete the pathogen in their faeces for a number of weeks after contracting the disease, generally by eating an infected rodent. Even then, cat faeces are not generally contagious for the first day or two after excretion, after which the cyst ‘ripens’ and becomes potentially pathogenic.
Studies have shown that only about 2% of cats are shedding oocysts at any one time and that oocyst shedding does not recur even after repeated exposure to the parasite. The greatest risks are to people with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or pregnant women.
In pregnant women the parasite can cross the placenta and infect the fetus, causing abortions or congenital malformations that may develop even several years after birth. If the woman is infected before six months of pregnancy there are no risks to the mother or the fetus due to the development of antibodies. A simple blood test can determine whether the mother has been exposed to the parasite and whether the infection has occurred recently. In the latter case, your doctor will provide a drug that will greatly reduce the risk of infection to the fetus. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, check with your doctor. In AIDS patients or people receiving treatment with certain drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy the infection can progress to a severe form of the disease.
Recommendations and appropriate measures to prevent toxoplasma infection: These recommendations are valid for the general population, for pregnant women or immune compromised patients in particular. Wear gloves when handling raw meats. Wash hands and instruments with soap and water after handling meat products. The freezing process of 3-5 days or cooking meats and vegetables over the 66 ° C completely destroyed the parasites.
Wash fresh produce before consumption.
Boil water if canalisation system is non existent.
Use gloves when gardening or working with soil. In the soil the parasites can remain infectious for many months.
Do not feed cats raw meat.
It is advisable to rinse out the cat litter box, especially if they are roaming free. If you are pregnant or immune compromised, delegate the job to another person.
In conclusion, it is important to note that from the epidemic or statistical point of view the vast majority of human infections are not associated to cats. Therefore living with your pets does not significantly increase the risk of infection. Especially not when your pet is housekept and fed only on commercial feed or thoroughly cooked homemade food. Without doubt, the greatest risk of infection in developed countries is the handling of raw meat, ingestion of poorly cooked meats and vegetables and the lack of appropriate hygiene measures when handling soil or doing yard work.
Up to 30% of our animals are carriers of various parasites, including several types of worms round (nematodes) and flatworms (tapeworms), most of them transmitable to humans
According to various studies and depending on the area you live in (city or rural area), up to 30% of our animals are carriers of various parasites, including several types of worms round (nematodes) and flatworms (tapeworms), most of them transmitable to humans.
Deworming should be performed both in puppies and adult animals as well as pregnant bitches/cats (as they can often transmit these parasites to their offspring).
It is therefore important to check our animals and set up a regular routine of at least four times a year. Just a simple protocol and some hy-gienic measures to prevent transmission: Apart from collecting pet droppings and disposing of them appropriately it is essential to prevent the reproduction of these parasites by avoiding the feeding of raw meat. Try and restrict contact with wild animals (rodents and insects such as flies, cockroaches, etc.) and access to fields or gardens where children play.
Recent European guidelines use a philosophy more geared towards individual risks for each animal. These guidelines recommend that if regular deworming is used, animals should be treated at least four times a year, with no more than three months between
each treatment. This is based on some research indicating that dropping treatment to three-four times per year had no effect on parasite levels. This approach is more conservative (in terms of the number of treatments) and probably has less of an impact on the development of resistance, but it requires more organisation and thought. If used properly, it’s probably a good approach.
There really can’t be a ‘one program fits all’ approach that properly addresses the risks for all pets (and people) in all regions. Tailoring the deworming strategy to your pet, based on your pet’s and your family’s risk, is the logical approach.
Regardless of the chosen approach, regular fecal testing is a good (and underused) way to assess what’s going on with parasites in your pet, and to identify treatment failure or the emergence of drug resistance.
Monthly heartworm prevention has an impact on what you do as well, since typical heartworm preventives are also effective against roundworms and hookworms, the main parasites targeted by routine deworming. If you are in a region where heartworm is present, monthly treatment during the heartworm season is indicated, and the main decision that needs to be made is what to do the rest of the year (where heartworm isn’t a risk year-round).
MRI is a modern diagnostic tool which was first used in human medicine in the 80s.
What is an MRI scanner?
It is a modern diagnostic tool which was first used in human medicine in the 80s. It obtains anatomical images of any part of the animal in any plain (Sagittal, Coronal and Transverse), thus detecting any size lesions present.
How does an MRI scanner work?
It works on the simple principle of hydrogen atoms in the tissues, as most tissues contain water. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen therefore all tissues will give an MRI signal, the signal will be determined by the water content of the tissue.
How dangerous is the resonance? MRI is totally harmless for the patient, the operator and the environment and unlike x-ray and CT does not emit ionising radiation, but radio waves.
The only contraindication for MRI studies is the presence of metal objects in the animal’s body, which may discourage the study or limit the area that can be studied.
Can you do an MRI in all animals?
All species of animals can be studied by resonance, regardless of weight or age, although our hospital serves pets only, ie dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and small mammals. Because it is a completely non-invasive technique it has numerous advantages over other diagnostic techniques.
The resonance is capable of differentiating blood vessels and nerves within an anatomic region and so makes it essential to detect numerous disorders.
When is an MRI necessary?
An MRI is recommended in the study of any organ or diseased tissue, being especially useful in the study of soft tissue since they are the most difficult to diagnose, as they do not appear on x-rays or CAT scans.
Typical systems studied by resonance are the nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) and the musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons and joints like the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow etc.).
It can also prove extremely useful in diagnosing many diseases of other systems for example:
With one study depending on the size of the animal we can produce images of all structures present in the area being tested. Giving us a whole body image with small patients or images of full head, chest, abdominal or pelvic region etc.
MRI scans provide cross-sectional imaging in any plain with no superimposition of overlying structures. The soft tissue detail and resolution is extremely good allowing observation of lesions (which are easily distinguishable from healthy tissue), and their relationship to adjacent structures (lymph, lymph vessels, arteries, veins, nerves, etc…), assisting the veterinarian in making decisions such as: assessing the infiltration of the injury, the extent of an inflammation or the degree of malignancy, age of an injury and etc.
How much does an MRI cost?
The price is variable, as it depends on the area of the study, duration of the study, the severity of injuries, the size of the animal and so on.
Do you have to anesthetise the patient?
Pets need to be sedated during the scan. With the vet MRI scanner it is easy to monitor the animal during the scan as they are easily accessible, therefore reducing any risks for the patient.
How long does the test take?
It depends on the areas studied, the protocols and sequences used … usually taking an average of 30 minutes per patient.
When do I get the results?
While the vet gets the results immediately, you need a detailed study of medical images
obtained by our specialist, so we normally advise you of the results the next day.
When is it necessary to use contrast in an MRI and is it dangerous?
The contrasts are often necessary in order to highlight the pathological tissues in MRI.
According to our experience and to modern publications, the possibility of allergic reactions to the contrast is remote.
How to interpret an MRI?
The interpretation of resonance images is a rather difficult task for the veterinary surgeon, due to its great complexity, requiring specialised training at universities and international conferences.
How is this MRI different to others on the market?
An MRI diagnostic image should be of high quality and capable of dealing with modern
DICOM software. This does not come with most devices on the market, as they have been manufactured for diagnosis in human medicine and are usually second hand ie where obsolete many years ago.
A health card where vaccinations, info about worming, weight and temperature as well as notes on operations performed on the ferret (ie. sterilization, microchip implant …. etc) are recorded at each visit to the vet. This information can be of great help in the event that during a journey or move the ferret suffers an illness. Additionally it will give the regular vet more control over the health of your ferret.
Food. Ferrets have unique feeding requirements, which are now finally being addressed by commercial pet food manufacturers, though with varying success. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, and food passes through the digestive system of a ferret very quickly. They also lack the ability to derive nutrition from plant matter. For this reason, a ferret diet must be high in animal protein, high in fat, and low in fibre. All foods, including foods intended solely for ferrets, are not created equally, so be careful what you are feeding your ferret. Have food available at all times. Ferrets have a quick metabolism along with a short digestive system, so need to eat frequently (usually every 3-4 hours). It is best to have food available constantly. Most ferrets will eat only enough to meet their needs, and will not become obese if allowed constant access to good quality food.
Basic requirements for a ferret diet:
■ High in protein – 30-40 percent on the label nutrition analysis
■ Protein must be high quality, highly digestible, and be animal-based (not plantbased)
■ High in fat (at least 20 percent, perhaps up to 30 percent on the label analysis)
■ Very low in carbohydrates and fibre (less than 3 percent fibre).
This diet can be supplemented with many «goodies» like butter, cooked quails eggs, raisins (not excessively) apple, pear, melon or chicken porridge for babies however always in low quantities. Never give foods rich in sugar, salt or spices. Raw meat it is very desirable but can be a source of parasites. Beware of vitamin supplements as they are very sensitive to excess vitamin A. The main component of the diet must be dry food. Wet food often has inadequate protein levels and doesn’t prevent tartar build up on the teeth.
Water should be changed daily and provided freely. It is recommended to accustom them to drink from a nipple drinker as they like to play with water and throw around any bowl that we place in their habitat. If you use a bowl, make sure it is heavy. The administration of any medication in the drinking water must be under the strict supervision of a veterinarian.
Ferrets should not spend most of their time locked in a confined space. However, maintaining a ferret loose in the house requires constant monitoring. The ideal bedroom for a ferret has to be 100 cm long by 60 cm wide and 60 high. Best is a wire mesh cage on a
metal frame in which place a box with good material for the nest such as an old shirt or towel. Most ferrets are very well
adapted to a kind of hammock hanging halfway up the cage, allowing them to climb up and down continuously, which also
gets them to exercise. Provide the same type of litter tray used for cats. However we must be patient as with ferrets it is perfectly normal to go in any corner and not the box supplied for this purpose. We must change the litter every few days to prevent the strong odour.
It is not recommended to wash them too often, because it stimulates the secretion of the sebaceous glands (which produce musk to care for hair) and therefore odour. Ferrets should not need bathing more than once a month or less frequent if they have skin problems due to excessive dryness. There are specific shampoos available or you can use shampoo for cats. Nails need to be trimmed regularly.
The ears must be checked and cleaned usually no more than once every month or month and a half. To clean the ears you can use products for cats or cotton with baby oil.
According to owners they are loving, intelligent and inquisitive animals. Once they have established trust with their owners they are playful and very affectionate. Ferrets do not become less playful with age like other species; they will always be looking for someone to play with.
Simulated fights and chases are the most common form of entertainment … conducting a so-called «war dance»… arch, walk back and open their mouths, thereby encouraging the game. They are extremely curious and hyperactive. But it also has its drawbacks; they tend to chew soft or elastic objects. They like to hide things, sometimes bite, and considering their size can cause significant injuries. They are nervous animals, so mixing children and ferrets usually results in a child bitten and a deranged ferret.They can get along with dogs and cats, although we must always be present to avoid any surprises. You can keep a couple of ferrets together without any problems especially if they have grown up together.
We recommend worming every three months to prevent possible infestation with parasites, especially if they live with other pets or have access to a garden. Please contact your vet if you have any questions.
If your ferret has fleas, consult your veterinarian before using a flea shampoo. Your vet will recommend the best program of treatment for fleas for your household, including a ferret safe flea shampoo.
Most frequent diseases
The list below is a short summary of the most common diseases that can affect ferrets. You can vaccinate against some of them others can be treated successfully. The most important thing is to act quickly and consult an experienced veterinarian. Anaemia induced by oestrogens: in females spayed and not covered. Canine distemper: fatal viral disease of results in most cases.
Influenza: similar to human influenza is spread ferret to human and vice versa. Rabies: deadly virus, preventative vaccine is essential.
Heartworm: affects the function of the heart. Obstruction by foreign bodies: very common in ferrets because of its exploratory character and its liking for taking all objects in to the mouth. Skin neoplasms: frequent presentation in advanced age, any changes in size and texture of the skin should be consulted with your veterinarian.
Posterior paralysis syndrome: multi factorial disease that requires a more in-depth study of the ferret. Lymphoma: along with Insulinoma are the most common tumours in ferrets.
Rabies and distemper are the most important diseases in ferrets. Ask your vet about immunisation schedules in ferrets.
A complete check up by your vet should be performed at least once a year including weight control, a complete blood test, radiography is of great help for the early diagnosis of many illnesses that can be present without external symptoms. These tests are performed with minimal stress under anaesthesia with isoflurane gas.
For any female ferret not used for breeding sterilization is recommended. The removal of anal glands in both sexes is also well advised
to mitigate as much as possible the smell of our ferrets.
How to tell if they are ill?
Loss of appetite, loss of desire to play, loss of mobility in the back legs and any symptoms that do not fit in with their usual behaviour should make us suspect that the ferret may be suffering from a disease and a consultation with the veterinarian is required
Canine leishmaniosis is an insidious disease usually occurring in hotter climates and is often not familiar to people coming from colder locations. However, it is a severe disease (often fatal), so if you bring a dog to Spain (even just for a holiday) or intend to buy a dog,
there are measures you should take to help protect your dog.
Transmission of leishmaniosis?
By far the most common method of a dog catching leishmaniosis is by transmission from the bite(s) of the blood sucking female sand fly. These sand flies can bite an infected animal and carry the disease, when the sand fly then bites another animal the parasite is transmitted. The name ‘sand fly’ implies a beach type location, but this is not so, they will be found predominantly in the countryside, rural greenlands and gardens. These types of insects are most active from May to October between the times of sunset to sunrise, so these should be considered the most dangerous periods.
Indications of canine leishmaniosis
Typically there are a wide range of symptoms indicating the disease. Hair loss and poor condition, especially in the muzzle and eye areas, but progressively spreading to the rest of the body. Skin will become dry. Ulcers and general skin sores may develop particularly around the head and legs. Weight loss can become very severe, with the appearance of malnutrition, even though appetite for food is good. All conditions are progressive and later indications may also appear including the dogs claws becoming very long and twisted.
An experienced vet in an endemic area will recognize the visual indications, however diagnostic confirmation is required. Bone marrow or
lymph sample may be examined microscopically, blood analysis will identify antibodies or DNA markers of the parasite present in the blood.
Treatments for an infected dog
In clinical terms, there is presently no cure for this disease. However, if a dog is diagnosed in the early stages, there is reasonable expectation that the disease can be successfully controlled. Once infected, a dog will probably carry the parasite for life, although once properlytreated any remaining parasitic levels should be extremely low and there will always be a chance of relapse. It is important the treatment and regular
supervision is undertaken by a qualified vet as initial treatment can take weeks and needs to be closely monitored.
As the female sand fly usually bites between dusk and dawn and also habitats dark areas around litter and rubbish, avoid taking dogs for walks at these times and places. ‘House’ dogs are safer and at reduced risk, but screens and nets will provide added protection where windows and doors are left open. Periodically spraying of anti-mosquito products around your dogs bed/sleeping area will also help. The use of Scalibor collars releases an active ingredient onto the dog’s skin which will last for up to six months and tests have shown an 80-90% increase in protection from sand fly bites. Ex-spot can also be applied (once a month). Importantly, keep a good hygienic environment for your dog, avoid plants, flowers and rubbish in the areas your dog frequents. Maintain an optimal immune system in your dog: It can be confidently assumed that 100% of dogs in our area have been bitten by sand flies, but only a few will carry the transmittable parasite, this is
due to most dogs having resisted the disease in their immune system. The immune system is reinforced with good ‘premium’ nutritional foods with a good balance of protein, fat, vitamins and trace elements allows our dog’s defence system to deal with this and other diseases. Keeping your dog free from internal (worms, tapeworms) and other external parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, etc) will also ensure your dogs immune system is in the best state to deal with diseases.
Early diagnosis: The period of incubation of the parasite is very long (months or years), so many dogs that have not manifested symptoms
can still be incubating and transmitting the disease. Therefore it is recommended that a blood test with a good immunosorbent assay (ELISA) be performed every 6-8 months. Blood tests for detection of antibodies in all dogs, even if apparently healthy, are important, because if diagnosed in early or initial stages your dog could be properly treated and live a full happy/healthy life.
Classically it has been said that having a dog or cat for company, offering their loyalty, love and trust to the family, improves your lifestyle. But now this concept of companion pets goes further. There is evidence to suggest that pets are a fundamental support for people living alone
or for single parents; a situation that is becoming more common. In some cases, the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support another human could offer. Several studies recommend pets for children and adults with psychological problems, elderly people and many other groups of people. Stroking the coats of cats and dogs has relaxing effects on humans. Pet ownership can teach us responsibility as we must provide the animals with veterinary care, food, walks and satisfy their physiological needs, etc. A dog, for example, improves our sociability as we need to leave the house to take him for walks, which in turn tears us away from the TV, computer or work, encouraging us to make friends with other dog owners. Our pets also invite us to play; both children and adults alike, bringing smiles to our faces and encouraging laughter – which in turn keeps us feeling young. Rare is the psychologist who fails to give this advice to his patient… «Buy your child a dog, a cat, a bird or an aquarium.» There are numerous foundations with the slogan «pets benefit your health.» Scientific research testifies to this ‘pet ower’ and budgies, gerbils, rabbits, cats, dogs and fish all have their part to play. Contact with animals can
bring real physiological and psychological benefits: reducing stress, helping to prevent illness and allergies, lowering blood pressure and aiding recovery. In short, it is highly recommended to have a pet. You must however always try to find one that best suits your lifestyle.
Before bringing a pet into your life ask yourself the following questions:
■ Why do you want a pet?
■ Do you have time for a pet?
■ Can you afford a pet?
■ Are you prepared to deal with any special problems the animal may cause?
■ Can you have a pet where you live?
■ Is it the right time for you to get a pet?
■ Are your living arrangements suited to the animal you have in mind?
■ Who will care for your animal if you have to be away or die?
■ Are you able and prepared to care for and keep the animal for the rest of his life?
No one wants to see an animal end up in a shelter or abandoned, or being abused and neglected. So before anyone rushes off to get a pet, all
the above questions should be answered as truthfully as possible. The next step is to carefully choose the type of pet most suited to the individual, and match up the right animal to the right owner. People wanting more security in their home has played a huge part in the popularity of guard dogs. And although very effective for this purpose, the downside of this trend has been the increase of pit-bulls or
rottweilers taught to frighten people. It is now fashionable to have ‘aggressive dogs’. Bites from dogs whose owners have not obtained a ‘guard dog licence’ are becoming frequent. It is also not uncommon is to find a neighbour who hates dogs and complains they leave
fur in communal areas, bark at night or that the elevator smells of dog. These people are precisely those who could most benefit from owning a pet! The benefits of pet ownership to society are far greater than the problems it may cause – as this society is degenerating due to major stress which is often curable with owning a pet. So you know, own a pet and see society change!
There is no doubt that maintaining the correct hygiene in our pets has a direct impact on their health and the health of the people living with them. I often hear in our clinic statements like «my dog smells doggy” or «my dog has bad breath». Many people are satisfied with the theory that dogs have to be like that to be natural… not so! 90% of dogs with these odours probably have full anal glands or have dental plaque.
Many dogs have been bathed infrequently (because the owner was told washing is bad for the skin or coat), perhaps the ears have never been
cleaned. Some owners may not worry about such problems, but it has been demonstrated that dogs with bad hygiene are more likely to have external parasites and can suffer from numerous diseases. Keeping a dog healthy is very much the job of the owner. While it is necessary to
take your dog for regular checkups at the veterinarian, you also need to take care of the simple things at home so your dog will not end up with more serious problems. Follow this 10 point regime to keep your dog in perfect condition.
1-BATH: With warm water every 15 days, using special shampoos for dogs (anti-parasite shampoos are recommended). But, if your dog gets
dirty wash as and when necessary! In the summer you can cool them off daily with water, no shampoo necessary.
2-GROOMING: Brush daily using a brush best suited for your dog’s hair type. Brushing stimulates the skin and keeps it healthy. It prevents matting of your dog’s coat and removes excess hair. Long and thick hair needs brushes with bristles far apart, while short hair needs to be groomed with short and hard bristles. Wire brushes and slicker brushes remove dead skin along with excess hair, and are suitable for medium to long hair. Bristle brushes work on all coat types. Rakes remove severe tangles. Rubber curry combs massage your dog’s skin along with removing dead hair.
3-EARS: You should check for any unusual odours, redness, or inflammation weekly. Should your dog have any of these symptoms, contact your vet and set up an appointment. To clean use an animal approved ear solution which will dissolve the cerumen that accumulates in the outer ear? Be careful to not clean too deeply into your dog’s ear canal.
4-EYES: Use special wipes daily, using them on the eyelids will keep them in optimal condition, also a special eye cleansing solution can be applied monthly. Always keep eyes free of hair by combing frequently or by tying the hair back with a ribbon. Continuous irritation by the hair can commonly cause keratitis and conjunctivitis.
5-MOUTH: Brush your pet’s teeth weekly, especially if fed soft foods, thus avoiding a scale deposit, which when present, has to be cleaned by ultrasound. More convenient than the brush is the frequent use of anti-tartar tablets. Do not ignore the build up of tartar , as it may cause serious gum disease and mouth infections. It can also cause a related problem with the heart (endocarditis). Brush and wash the hair surrounding the mouth regularly so that it is not always wet with saliva, which can be a source of unpleasant odours.
6-CLAWS: Trim nails monthly, if left unattended deformations of the fingers could result. Dogs are typically averse to having their paws
handled so they do not appreciate their nails being cut. When trimming you need to be extremely careful, this is because if you cut the nails even slightly shorter than required it will be painful for your pet. Ask your veterinarian to show you how.
7-PADS: If your dog walks a lot on asphalt or in the country, you may need to use a liquid protector for their pads which helps prevent ulcer formation.
8-ANAL GLANDS: Should be checked monthly. Ask your vet to teach you.
9-ANUS: Always keep free of hair and use special wipes to keep clean.
10–GENITAL AREAS: Keep the area clean with special wipes. If, despite the above, your dog is still smelly the chances are he/she has poor nutrition of the skin, in which case a visit to the vet would be advisable. He may suggest a slight diet change or an anti-seborrhoeic shampoo/moisturizer combination. The use of deodorants, colognes and cosmetics should not be abused, as it can alter the colour and lustre of the coat. Rather than mask any smells, you are better advised to prevent them by keeping your pet clean.
If you have a cat at home, you have the obligation of providing it with everything it needs to develop good health and hygiene. Just 10 minutes a day is enough to keep your cat in good condition, as it is an easy and inexpensive pet to maintain. So, here are the essential tools:
1 – Litter tray: with a roof if desired, and with cat litter (clumping litter is more hygienic and comfortable to use). A deodorising agent can be added or deodorised cat litter is available. The litter tray should be plastic to facilitate cleaning.
2 – Scratching post: cats like to scratch; so providing them with a suitable scratching post will allow them to display this behaviour without having to resort to your sofa! The best type is made of rope. Additionally you should cut your cats claws from time to time with special clippers. Ask your vet to show you how.
3 – Food and water bowls: should be plastic or metal and separate (double feeders are not recommended due to difficult cleaning). Complete dry food is preferable (although canned cat food is more palatable) as cats eat several times a day.
4 – Bedding: to get your cat used to sleeping in your home, place soft bedding in an enclosed/igloo type basket which are available commercially. Cats also like to climb and hide inside things, so providing shelves, climbing frames and cardboard boxes keep your cat
5 – Malt oil: is recommended to prevent formation of hairballs in the digestive tract. Cats are constantly grooming and simultaneously ingesting air. Cats love to eat grass, an action that makes it possible to eliminate the hairs ingested, however the weekly supply of malt oil makes this unnecessary.
6 – Brushes: should have soft plastic spikes and be used daily, thereby stimulating the renewal of dead hair and preventing the formation of uncomfortable knots.
7 – Toys: are very important to keep the cats senses in top condition (sight, hearing, smell and touch) and their nervous system requires continuous stimulation. Remember that cats have developed as effective nocturnal predators, and will naturally spend up to half of their time
engaged in hunting activity. If they are not hunting, this activity needs to be replaced by other forms of exercise and mental stimulation. The best way to use up your cat’s energy is to play with him. There are lots of cat toys available in pet shops or they can be made very cheaply from ping pong balls, string or old plastic bottles. The things that make toys interesting for cats are novelty and movement. A toy that doesn’t
move and which has been on the floor for a week will not entertain your cat! So change toys regularly and actively play with them to make them interesting. Hanging toys up so that they swing in the breeze or move with a door will also make them more interesting.
■ It is important to worm your cat every two or three months. Your cat should also receive two annual vaccinations which protect against calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, chlamydia, and the feline leukaemia virus. Even if your cat does not go out on the street, owners constantly introduce viruses and bacteria into the home. Finally, your cat should also receive a monthly treatment of external parasites.
Cats can be bathed monthly with specifically designed shampoos. If you opt for premium or high end range of complete foods which provide all the nutrients required there is no need to add vitamins or medicines to the daily feed. However, long haired cats appreciate the occasional
addition of a few drops of oil rich in fatty acids, which will strengthen their skin and fur. Vets are noticing an increase in the number of cats with sand or stones in their urine, mainly due to poor nutrition.
Did you know…
Neutering has multiple benefits for both male and female cats. Males will be less inclined to fight, roam and spray, thus lessening the risk of catching diseases spread through bites. Females won’t have to endure the painful mating process, will be less likely to contract diseases that are spread through bites or reproductive activity and, of course, there will be fewer unwanted kittens. Unneutered female cats are at greater risk of developing mammary cancer.
How to tell if your bird is sick
Most bird diseases need urgent attention by the veterinary. Birds are true masters at hiding any symptoms of disease (by nature they do not show signs of weakness to potential predators). Often birds are already in critical condition when presented to the veterinary. Typically, the client informs us that his parrot has been sick since the previous day, examination and diagnosis often indicates that the sickness has been developing for several weeks. It is therefore important to monitor your bird daily and be suspicious of any behavioural changes such as not playing, poor social interaction, vocalizing or change of feeding habits as well as more obvious physical changes including change of stools and respiratory or eye secretions. A simple telephone call to your veterinary can often resolve problems and answer owners concerns, but always be safe and consult your veterinary at any early indication of problems.
At least once a year, your parrot should be checked by a veterinary. Checks may include: Weighing for record logging and prevention of obesity. Beak filing and nail clipping (if required). Legs and feet checked for calluses which are filed if necessary. Skin and feather condition, natural openings and mucous membranes. Blood tests including uric acid, liver enzymes, glucose, red and white blood cell count. Analysis
of faeces allows the veterinary to determine digestion of carbohydrates and fats and also provide an indication of any intestinal parasites.
A radiograph or an endoscopy may also be required to explore their air sacs, abdomen etc, and to see the target organs of certain diseases. In certain cases (especially where there is discharge or regurgitation has been reported), a veterinary may also take samples (pharynx, nostrils or ears) in order to determine any bacterial and fungal flora conditions in these organs.
Visiting the vet
When you take your parrot to a veterinary you should cover the cage with a towel to avoid your bird any stress. If the usual cage is too large, use a cardboard box with adequate ventilation. You should bring samples of fresh faeces. It is recommended that the owner himself brings
the bird and explains any condition. However, it is also advisable that the owner should not remain with the bird during examination, this prevents these ‘sociable’ and ‘trusting’ birds from associating the veterinary drama with the owner.
There are about 7000 reptile species in the world which are divided into the following categories:Cocodrilya, Rhynchocephalia, Chelonia and Squamata
There are about 7000 reptile species in the world which are divided into the following categories:
Squamata (lizards, snakes and Amfisbenidos).
Cocodrilya: covers 28 species in that family that includes 4 sub-families: alligator, crocodile, gharial, alligator. As the Caiman crocodile or little Cayman from South America only grows up to 2 meters it is the most popular species to keep as a pet. In general they are easy to breed but require huge terrariums and extreme handling. In captivity they usually feed every 3-7 days. They are very resistant to disease but if kept in overcrowded conditions and mismanaged they may show signs of septicemia, mycoplasmosis, chlamydia, fungal, virus and severe coccidiosis.
Rhynchocephalia: Therhynchocephalia also known as «beak headed» reptiles were once more common throughout the globe. Now though there is only one surviving family, the sphenodontidae. And of it, only one surviving genus: Sphenodon. The Tuatara (spiny back). Tuataras only live on the islands of New Zealand. Sphenodon punctatus has a gray or olive color and is spotted to varying degrees over the body. They have large heads compared to their bodies and can grow to a total of 60 centimeters.
Chelonia: Chelonia or Turtle (for all marine and inland aquatic and semiaquatic) and Tortoise (for land). There are 2 suborders with about 300 species divided between 13 families.
■ Cryptodira: S vertical retractable neck. (10 families)
■ Pleurodira: neck retracts horizontally or snake-like. (3 families)
In general these are the most common types seen in the clinic, not including endangered sea turtles.
Land Turtles: All in the Testudinidae family: One difference to water turtles is that the skin is thicker, elephant-like. The most frequent visitors to the clinic are the genus Testudo, or Testudo graeca (or tortoise) and Testudo hermanni (or Mediterranean Tortoise) They are very similar and only differ by the presence of bone spurs at the back of the leg and the flow scale which is unique (double in Hermanni). The caudal fins are wider and the Mediterranean has hard scales at the end of the tail. The T.mora is not from Greece but North Africa, Western Asia and Southern Spain (more numerous in Almeria, Murcia and Doñana), with several subspecies.
The T. Mediterranean is spread throughout the Balkans, Italy, northeastern Spain and the Balearics. They are easy to raise and maintain in simple terrariums but massive exploitation has resulted in their protection by the CITES convention. They are herbivorous, the only European phytophagous and will quite happily accept a good steak. They require a temperature of between 20-27 º C (although they can accept from 15 to 33 º C) and 30-50% humidity. They also need a sunny terrarium with shelters and should be left to hibernate from October to April. Sexual maturity is between 8-10years of age in males and 10-14 years in the females. The age can be determined by the weight/ size index (Jackson) or roughly by counting the growth rings of the shell. They grow to 30 cm and live between 50-80 years. Illnesses: sensitive to rhinitisand respiratory infections, so give special attention to the lower temperature range. 38% of turtles in general can carry Salmonella as a potential source of zoonoses.
Semi-aquatic Turtles: The Emydidae family is the most common and includes freshwater turtles of the genera Trachemys, Mauremys, Emys, Terrapene (or box turtle), amongst others Graptemys, Chrysemys, Dermatemys The freshwater turtles include the Trachemys, Trachemys scripta elegans (or redeared) and Trachemys scripta scripta (or yellow plastron) and Trachemys scripta troosti as well as another 14 subspecies and they originate from the Southeast USA. Their ideal habitat is near lakes, rivers and thick vegetation zones. They require a temperature of betywen 22 to 32C and 60-80-90% humidity. And hibernate below 20 degrees and preferably in the water. They weigh 5grs at birth and grow to 20-30 cm, (10-23 male, 17-28 female), Adult weight is 1kg in males, 1.5kg in females. They darken with age and live to be 30-45 years.
Living requirements: Aquaterrarium resembling a pond or lake at least five times the length of the tortoise and the depth greater than the width, in proportion threequarters water (50-70cm deep) plus one quarter earth (sand, ornaments.) separated by a ramp to climb, as well as a water filter, thermometers and pond plants. They are true omnivorous scavengers with a high requirement for additional vitamins and minerals. In captivity they can be given meat, fish, lettuce, apple slices and spinach. They need to eat one-fifth of their body weight daily and it is advisable to avoid excess prawns. Compared to other turtles they have a short digestive transit (1-2 days if the temperature is optimum). Sexual maturity is between 3-5 years (when they are about 16-19 cm) and they breed from May to July and lay eggs from the age of 5. Females lay between 4-6 eggs that are buried in the sand and hatch after 8-12 weeks. Ilnesses: hypovitaminosis A, otic abscess, ulcerative skin disease.
Terrapins or Boxturtles: Terrapins are cold-blooded reptiles with a tough skin, they breathe through their lungs. Out of 350 turtle species throughout the world, only one species of terrapin exists, which is further divided into 7 subspecies. Terrapins stay mostly in water and generally come out on land only to lay eggs and bask under the sun. The adult females lay eggs annually between April and July. During winter, they go into hibernation, and are active only when the weather is warm. These are the kind that are normally keeps as pets. The box turtle is the most common of all pet terrapins. They are very small (about six inches long) and thus easy to handle as pets. The male terrapins have longer tails than the female ones. They are omnivores and generally live close to the
places where they were born. They like to be out in the early morning and late afternoon
and they hibernate in winters.
Living requirements: ‘Terrapinarium’, a transparent water container made of glass. It should be roomy and the size should be bigger than a normal fish aquarium as terrapins grow at a high speed. An aquarium heater with thermostat to maintain the temperature at between 23.8 to 26.6°C is required. They often come out of water to get themselves dried or to sunbathe, hence an easy to climb and elevated dry place (island) of flat stone or rock should be provided. They can remain without water for sometime in the moderate sunlight or in the shade but not directly in hot sun. They are omnivorous, and so eat meat that includes fish, crayfish, earthworms, turkey, and chicken. Also, they eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. Illnesses: Terrapin health is largely related to its surroundings and feed. With incorrect keeping they may suffer from: sores of the oral-cavity, ear infections and severe respiratory infections. Blindness is another common ailment caused by the lack of vitamin D, which they absorb from the sunlight.
In addition to classic corn seeds, wheat, sunflower, etc., fruits and vegetables are a daily requirement. Raw carrot, apple, pear are good examples (try grated carrot so as to accustom the bird for the first days). Sinusitis and other diseases are very common and often brought about by a seed only diet. Seed only diets are deficient in many vitamins, especially vitamin A.
Encourage your bird to ‘work for its dinner’ by placing seeds in wire mesh or netting, this helps imitate the effort and behavior required in nature. It is preferable to obtain seed mixture which is supplied from a closed container, bulk seeds from shops can be manhandled by the public and can become a vehicle for infectious agents. Once a week, offer the bird dried fruits and for a special monthly treat try honey or fruit sticks. Weight control is important and Parrots often show signs of obesity, especially if overfed the fattier sunflower seeds or peanuts or given too many treats. A bird should not be given cheese, macaroni, pizza, hamburger and numerous human food… it will shorten its life. Chocolate must always be avoided, a small piece of chocolate can be fatal within minutes. Other foods such as avocado and onions are also too toxic for a birds system.
There are commercial feeds such as croquettes that contain many nutrients and food groups your parrot needs and enjoys, but always ensure that these are supplemented with daily fruit.
Drinking water should be changed daily and always kept clean. Do not medicate the water with vitamins or antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Drink containers should be placed away from the perch so as to avoid contamination from excrement. From time to time offer your bird fruit juice (not citrus) either on
a spoon or with a syringe as an extra source of vitamins, your bird will probably see this as a game. Plumage should be kept clean and hygienic by allowing the bird to bathe. Access to a water filled bathing tub should be provided for 20 minutes every day (even in winter). Secondary wing feathers can be cut in order to prevent flight and is a common practice for parrots that spend a lot of time outside of the cage. However, this is not recommended as one of the beauties of these animals is to see them fly.
Health and veterinary requirements:
When a bird is first acquired, it is necessary to have it de-wormed and for your veterinarian to perform a stool test on the bird. This test needs regular repeating if your bird is housed with other birds, or even if other birds are nearby or around the house (eg sparrows). Anti-parasitic sprays are also recommended where birds mix with others. If not exposed to other birds, you do not need to de-worm or spray so regularly. Vaccinations are not normally necessary unless there is an epidemic in the area.
Parrots can transmit numerous diseases to humans. Common allergic reactions to feathers can affect humans, however more serious conditions such as ornithosis/chlamydiosis can also be transmitted. Newly acquired birds should be blood tested in order to establish any presence or incubation of such diseases.
Basic hygiene, such as washing hands after handling the cage or the bird needs to be adopted, as should the avoidance of mouth contact with the bird (especially the beak). It is very common for bird owners to allow ‘kissing’, but this really should be avoided. Faeces and urine are mixed in the cloaca and are expelled together. The stool colour may vary in the same animal, this being dependant on the amount and type of fruit eaten. Stools should be removed from the cage daily as microorganisms grow on them which are dangerous not only to the bird, but also to the health of people living in the household. It is essential to use an absorbent cage liner (cat-litter is toxic and to be avoided) the most recommended type of liner is plant based.
This family of exotic birds includes, naturally the True Parrot, but also within this group we have parakeets, macaws, lovebirds, etc.
These kinds of birds are becoming increasingly popular as household pets, to some extend taking preference over cats and dogs. Much of the
popularity for birds can be attributed to the low
The Parrot (psittacines).
This family of exotic birds includes, naturally the True Parrot, but also within this group we have parakeets, macaws, lovebirds, etc.
These kinds of birds are becoming increasingly popular as household pets, to some extend taking preference over cats and dogs. Much of the
popularity for birds can be attributed to the low maintenance and lesser attention required from owners, however there are minimum requirements owners of these pets should know. The best way to care for any parrot is to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible. 90% of diseases are due to poor care by their owners, especially in terms of food and psychological conditions to which caged birds are subjected to.
When purchasing a parrot it is important to obtain a detailed invoice from an accredited breeder/importer. This invoice needs to quote the ‘CITES’ (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species) number of the bird and the documentation should be retained for the life of the bird. The ‘CITES’ number is a unique code for each individual bird and is proof the bird has been legally obtained in accordance with international law which governs this protected species. Any bird that does not have a ‘CITES’ identification is illegal and may be seized by the authorities at any time. Although the bird should be fitted with an identification ring, it is highly recommended that a microchip is implanted for added security.
Is it male or female? Visual examination tells us little about the sex of a parrot. Two methods are available for determining the sex, firstly a DNA test can be performed, alternatively an endoscope can be employed to show the internal genitalia. An endoscopic examination will also indicate the maturity of the bird. Sexual maturity is usually reached at 3-4 years.
Typically large parrots live for many decades. Birds receiving a good diet and care can reach 40-50 years of age or more. Smaller parrots such as budgies, lovebirds, etc, can reach 20 years.
Parrots are often ‘one owner pets’ which can be seen in its acceptance, or not, of holding and touching. If you are not paying enough attention they may enter a phase of boredom and depression that can accelerate the emergence of diseases and behavioural problems, including pecking or selfmutilation. Sometimes a parrot develops such a strong bond with an owner that an absolute dependency is established. In such cases the absence or lack of attention from an owner can prevent a bird from eating or drinking and may result in days of self-starvation, feather pulling and continuous vocalization. Parrots are a sociable species and if an owner cannot give adequate time or attention a partner bird may be a good alternative. Do they talk? In general, all parrots have the ability to imitate human (and other) sounds. It all depends on the bird’s location and environment. A parrot can imitate a bark or a meow if living with a dog or cat. Teaching a parrot to talk requires patience, but it is not impossible.
In a domestic habitat
The cage should be large enough so that the bird can fully extend its wings without restriction. Do not place the cage where there is too much sun or drafts. Avoid heating and air conditioning. Never place it in the kitchen or where toxic fumes are emitted, they are quite sensitive to tobacco smoke. Furnish the cage with branches or leaves so as to provide some replication of a natural environment.
It is advisable to allow the bird out of the cage several times a day, again this is more natural than being in a cage all day and avoids behavioural problems such as depression or pecking. Do not allow a bird to chew or pick metallic objects or ornaments which might
contain lead, zinc or other heavy metals which are a common cause of poisoning. It’s highly beneficial for a bird to ‘take the sun’ a few minutes a day, but always direct sunlight in measured quantity… not through glass! Provide perches or poles of sufficient thickness and size in relation to the feet, do not use thin perches and poles. Commercial perches are available which are made of rough material which helps
prevent calluses of the feet. Never use chains to tie the legs, these are the cause of frequent fractures. Harnesses (as for cats and dogs) are available to assist in handling, but harnesses should not be left on permanently or whilst the bird is unattended. A thick ‘limestone’, secured
in the cage is a must and will help maintain a healthy beak and prevent overgrowth. The beak does contain nerve endings which extend practically to the tip of the beak, therefore a beak should only be trimmed by someone experienced in doing so, otherwise the bird could be subjected to great pain. As well as a tool for picking and dealing with its food, the beak (and tongue) is used by a parrot as a method of greeting. Equip your bird’s cage with ‘safe’ toys and gadgets: ropes, bells, mirrors etc, to prevent boredom. They need things they can ‘chop and destroy’ which they do naturally (eg hardwood and rope). Reposition toys once a month, this prevents the stereotypical repetitive movements often exhibited by caged birds.
Owning a snake as a pet obviously depends on the species (venomous or non-venomous), the size to which the reptile is expected to grow and the repercussions in terms of its feeding and maintenance.
It must be remembered that snakes are carnivorous and the bigger they get the harder they are to handle especially if you have other pets or small children in the home.
Apart from a few people who have a special interest in venomous snakes, the majority of pet snakes are pythons or non-venomous small snakes.
When it comes to pythons these can be broken down into types such as the Royal Python, the most docile, smallest and easiest to handle up to the largest piones molurus and the python reticulates which can grow to sizes in excess of five metres-long.
The last two groups vary in their level of aggressiveness and in the way they can be handled. These larger snakes are not always docile and they do have a painful bite and the power to constrict which they trend to do when they are handled.
Carnivorous reptiles, as their name indicates, have high protein diets. Their feed should live so that they maintain their hunting instincts. They can also be taught to eat meat that has been previously frozen.
The needs of each snake depend entirely on its size and feeding a 25 kilogramme python is far removed from feeding a 15 gram turtle.
Each snake has different requirements so varying the diet between live feed, tinned meat, dried food, pieces of liver, meat, fish and eggs is necessary.
Do not forget that the best food is the type they would find in their natural habitat such as all types of insects (worms and beetles) as well as seafood such as prawns.