Archives for Snakes

Dr. Google May Be In, But Not Everything You Read Is True

Just because it’s written doesn’t mean it’s true! That goes for what’s written on websites, on Facebook, in magazines, even in literature created by people claiming to be experts about particular subjects. This is particularly relevant when it comes to bird and exotic pet care. When cats and dogs get sick, the first place that most pet owners turn to is their trusted veterinarian. With birds and exotic pets, however, very few pet owners even think to seek out veterinary advice but instead go directly to the Internet or to the local pet store for information.

Find A Good Bird and Exotic Veterinarian

Unfortunately, they are then often given outdated or misinformation which either doesn’t help their pet or which may actually make matters worse. Ultimately, hopefully they eventually seek out care from a licensed veterinarian and veterinary technician trained to treat the species they own. That means actually bringing the pet to an animal hospital for a thorough examination, so that the bird and exotic veterinary professionals can logically determine what tests need to be performed to best diagnose the animal’s problems. It’s not any different from when a person has a medical problem; to be treated correctly, that person must be examined by a medical professional to diagnose the problem and determine a course of treatment.

Seeking Advice from Avian and Exotic Vets

Seeking out advice on-line or from a local store or breeder can be fine for simple issues, but for more serious medical problems, there is nothing like a complete, hands-on physical examination. So, while we love you to email us questions about your pet or ask advice on simple matters on Facebook or other social media sites, we would really be doing you and your pet a disservice if we tried to diagnose your animal’s condition without actually examining him or her. Of course, not everyone is close by enough to the avian and Exotic Veterinary Center to come in for a check-up, so if you are far from us, we encourage you to seek out an exotics-savvy vet in your area to help. There are several great resources on-line that will direct you to vets with training in birds and exotics. Just think, you wouldn’t rely solely on the Internet for diagnosing your own or a family member’s medical condition; why would you for your pet?

Could your pet have parasites? Indoor pets get worms, too!

So often, at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics, we hear owners say that their pets could never have parasites because they don’t go outside. Not true. Many pets – mammals, birds, and reptiles – are never outside their families’ homes, yet they carry parasites in their intestinal tracts and can shed these microscopic parasites in their stool. Once the stool dries up in their cages, small bits of dry stool can blow around the environment to be inhaled by other pets or people or get on the hands of caretakers who clean the cage. Many of these parasites are harmful to people, as well as pets. Furthermore, many of these microscopic parasites resist common disinfectants used to clean cages, so they persist in the animals’ environments and continuously re-infect these pets as they eat in their cages; the infected pets continue to shed these infectious parasites in their stool, and the vicious cycle of re-infection is established. Thus, even if your pet shows none of the common signs of gastrointestinal parasite infection, such as diarrhea, weight loss, or an unkempt appearance, he or she may be infected anyway and could spread these parasites to you and your family. This is particularly an issue if young children who forget to wash their hands are handling these animals. Thus, it is essential that all pets are checked for parasites once you first bring them into your home and at least annually after that. Unfortunately, if an animal has intestinal parasites, they are not always continuously shed into its stool. So, a check of a single stool sample may not actually be a true representation of what’s going on in that pet’s intestines. This is particularly true for reptiles that are so often infected with gastrointestinal parasites that we routinely deworm them with general deworming medications even before we get back the results of their fecal analyses. So, even if your mammal, bird, or reptile is seemingly healthy, it is critical that he or she is checked annually for gastrointestinal parasites, both for their health and your health. Even if they are not obviously affected now with these organisms, if these parasites are left untreated, your pet may eventually lose weight and become ill, and worse yet, so could your family. Deworming is safe, easy, and inexpensive. Why wait for a serious problem to happen if you can prevent it now?

May is National Allergy Month

Terrific Allergy Free Exotic Pets

Achoo! What to do? You want a pet, but you’re allergic. So, what can you do? Get an exotic pet, of course! If you’re allergic, don’t despair. There are still terrific pets available that are allergy friendly. Here are just a few:

1. Reptiles:

If you’re allergic to fur and feathers, you can always resort to scales. Snakes, turtles, tortoises, and lizards of all kinds – all of these pets are non-allergenic but still offer a great deal of fun. Large and small, legged (lizards, turtles, tortoises) or legless (snakes), nocturnal or diurnal (active at night vs. during the day), carnivores or herbivores (meat vs. vegetable eaters), there are so many factors to consider if you’re planning on a reptile. With vibrant colors and varying body types, reptiles are fascinating to look at. What if you want a pet that’s responsive to you? Reptiles are still a great choice. As any reptile owner would tell you, reptiles know their owners – they respond to both their voices and their sight. They are responsive to handling and definitely appear more relaxed in their owners’ hands than in those of a stranger. When cared for properly, with the correct nutrition and environment, many reptiles can live very long lives (some turtles and tortoises can live more than 50 years!). So no need to worry if you’re allergic; there’s a reptile out there that’s just right for you.

2. Birds:

Many people who are allergic to fur are not necessarily allergic to feathers. Note, however, that some species (African gray parrots, cockatoos, and cockatiels) have a powdery white substance (powder down) on their beaks and feathers that can be allergenic to some people. But, if you don’t find yourself sneezing around birds as you do when you encounter a furry creature, then a bird might be right for you. Just as there are a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of reptiles, the same is true for birds. You can choose from small birds that can entertain you with their singing (i.e. canaries) to large birds that can amuse you with their talking (African gray parrots and Amazon parrots). Some birds are known to be cuddly (cockatoos) while others are notorious for clowning around (caiques). Smaller birds (finches, canaries, budgerigars) are generally short-lived, while larger birds (African gray parrots, Amazons, macaws) may live for decades. Whatever bird species you choose, you can be sure that with a bird in your house, you’ll never be bored.

3. Hairless Guinea Pigs:

While not completely hair-free, the hairless guinea pig certainly is much less allergy-inducing than its hairy counterpart. While some people think these little wrinkly rodents are funny looking, they are actually very cute. Guinea pigs make great pets with or without fur, so if you’re not horribly allergic and can stand being exposed to a peach fuzz amount of hair, a guinea pig may be right for you. Hairless guinea pigs are friendly, very responsive, and generally love being with their owners. Other than not needing to be brushed and needing to keep them out of the sun so that they don’t burn, hairless pigs can be cared for the same way that haired pigs are. A heaping portion of hay, a small amount of vegetables, fresh water, and a daily vitamin C supplement, plus lots of attention, and you can keep a guinea pig happy and healthy. Guinea pigs are hardy and affectionate. Unbeknownst to many people, they purr and coo when they’re happy. They can make wonderful companions for nearly any family.

4. Hairless Rats:

Similar to their larger cousins, the hairless guinea pigs, hairless rats have a few sparse patches of fuzzy fur but are, for the most part, hair-free. These little hairless wonders are generally great pets for anyone with an allergy to the dander from saliva that hangs out on long hair, causing people to sneeze. They are as smart as and as endearing as furred rats and make great pets for people who want a low maintenance, short-lived pet. Living on average 2-3 years, hairless rats, like their haired counterparts, love to hang out on their owners’ shoulders, play games, watch TV, and run through mazes and tunnels. They bury, dig, and hide things and will keep their owners endlessly amused. They bond closely to their owners and often to other rats and are excellent for people looking for small, easily cared-for pets.

5. Amphibians:

Not the first type of animals on most people’s lists for pets, frogs and toads can make great pets if you’re more interested in watching than in handling. Like reptiles, amphibians lack any allergy-inducing fur and instead have a thin, delicate skin covering their bodies. From the smallest fire-bellied toads to the largest Pac-man frogs, amphibians come in all sizes and colors and are simply phenomenal to look at. With their large eyes, necks that bulge in and out as they breathe, and shiny, glistening skin, amphibians are great for people that like to study and appreciate the natural behavior of animals. Some are active during the day and others at night. In general, amphibians are not meant to be handled for fear of damaging their sensitive skin or transmitting infectious bacteria to them from our hands. Some also secrete toxins from their skin that can be irritating or poisonous if absorbed by human skin. Many eat insects and require very specific tank set-ups to be healthy. So, if you’re allergic, and you’re the type that enjoys watching nature shows on TV but would prefer seeing the real thing up close, an amphibian may be just the pet for you.

As you can see from this short list of animals, there are many pet options for people with allergies to fur. It’s not the hair that makes the pet, it’s the personality. Besides, as many people say today, bald is beautiful, not just for people, but for pets, as well!