When checking your pet’s weight, your veterinarian will not only weigh your pet on a scale but also assess the appearance of your pet’s body condition. Body condition is usually evaluated on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being too thin, 9 being obese, and 5 representing the ideal weight. A similar body condition scoring system uses a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being too thin, 3 being ideal, and 5 indicating obesity.
West Nile virus (WNV)is a virus that causes encephalitis (brain inflammation). WNV is usually transmitted to dogs and cats through the bite of an infected mosquito. Some birds, including crows, jays, sparrows, finches, grackles, and robins, are competent reservoirs for the virus (meaning they are able to infect mosquitoes). Some infected birds can shed WNV in their feces and other body fluids. In theory, cats and dogs can become infected through ingestion of (or contact with) an infected bird, but mosquito bites remain the primary route of infection.
Euthanasia is the painless, humane termination of life. There are times when medical science has exhausted all of its capabilities and euthanasia is the only way to prevent an animal from suffering needlessly. However, the decision regarding when to euthanize is fraught with medical, financial, ethical, religious, moral, and sometimes legal considerations. Euthanasia is therefore a medical procedure that needs to be discussed (however painful that discussion may be) and considered fully before a final decision is made.
Companion animals today have the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives than ever before, in part due to the availability of vaccines that can protect pets from deadly infectious diseases. Over the past several decades, the widespread use of vaccines against diseases like rabies has saved the lives of millions of pets and driven some diseases into relative obscurity. Unfortunately, infectious diseases still pose a significant threat to dogs and cats that are unvaccinated; therefore, although vaccine programs have been highly successful, pet owners and veterinarians cannot afford to be complacent about the importance of keeping pets up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats, and up to 30 other species of animals. It is caused by parasitic worms (heartworms) living in the major blood vessels of the lungs and, occasionally, in the heart. These worms are transmitted (as microscopic larvae) through the bite of an infected mosquito. The scientific name for the heartworm parasite is Dirofilaria immitis.
Dogs that spend most of their summer days inside are protected from many warm weather hazards, but only if the temperature inside the home remains within a healthy range. In an effort to reduce energy usage and costs, some pet owners shut off fans and air conditioning when they leave the house in the morning and turn them on when they return later in the day. However, when temperatures outside reach dangerous levels, temperatures inside the house can, too. Being shut inside a hot house can be deadly for your dog. Dogs can’t sweat; they rely heavily on panting to cool themselves off. When the temperature in the environment increases, panting becomes less effective. This means that your dog could be locked inside with minimal options for cooling down.
Our pets share so much of our lives that many of us don’t want to consider traveling without them. Whether you are flying, driving a car, or RVing, sharing a trip with a pet can add richness to the experience. Proper planning can make the travel experience better and less stressful for you and for your pet.
Fleas are blood-feeding parasites that can infest many species of birds and mammals. Although fleas on dogs and cats don’t infest people, fleas may bite people if an area is heavily infested. Flea infestation is one of the most common medical problems veterinarians see, and pets suffer greatly from this condition. Flea bites can trigger severe allergic reactions in some pets. The intense itching caused by flea infestation causes pets to scratch and bite themselves. This can lead to skin wounds, skin infections, and general misery for your pet. Even if your pet is not allergic to flea bites, fleas can transmit serious diseases, such as bartonellosis (the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease” in people), and other parasites, like tapeworms.
Glucocorticoids (primarily cortisol) and mineralocorticoids are two important types of hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids help regulate numerous complex processes in the body and participate in critically important functions.
A radiograph (sometimes called an x-ray) is a type of photograph that reveals the body’s internal organs. The procedure for obtaining a radiograph is called radiography. Radiography is a very useful diagnostic tool for veterinarians because it can help obtain information about almost any organ in the body, including the heart, lungs, and abdominal organs, as well as the bones.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and some other related medications that are used to treat pain and fever in people. Unfortunately, this drug can be extremely toxic (poisonous) to cats and dogs. Acetaminophen toxicity occurs when a cat or dog swallows enough of the drug to cause damaging effects in the body.
Glucocorticoids (primarily cortisol) and mineralocorticoids are two important types of hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Under normal conditions, the brain releases a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that stimulates the adrenal glands to release their hormones. Addison’s disease occurs when the brain doesn’t release adequate amounts of ACTH, or the adrenal glands fail to release their hormones in response to ACTH. The medical term for Addison’s disease is hypoadrenocorticism.
Adrenal gland disease is, unfortunately, a common disease of pet ferrets in the United States. Most affected ferrets are older than 2 years. While the exact cause of this condition has not been determined, it is believed that spaying and neutering ferrets at an early age plays a role. This is problematic because failing to spay females can result in life-threatening illness, while neutering males reduces odor and aggression. Removal of the testes or ovaries removes hormonal influences that appear to affect the adrenal gland. In the absence of these influences, the adrenal glands may overproduce several sex hormones, causing a variety of clinical signs. In some cases, the overactive gland can eventually become cancerous. Genetics may also play a role in the development of adrenal gland disease.
Anesthesia is the use of medication to induce the loss of consciousness, a decreased sense of anxiety, or the loss of sensation of a specific part of the body. General anesthetics are medications that are used to prevent the awareness of painful or stressful procedures. Sedatives are used to calm a patient during a procedure. Local anesthetics are used to achieve decreased sensation in an area of the body where a procedure may induce pain. Birds, reptiles, and small mammals differ from other pets in that their metabolic rates vary from one species to the next and specific precautions need to be taken when administering anesthesia to these animals. Your veterinarian knows that some of these animals eliminate medications at different rates depending upon the size of the animal or its body temperature, thus, doses vary significantly among species. In addition, due to their small size or unique methods of maintaining normal body temperature (thermoregulation), some avian and exotic animals may have difficulty maintaining their body heat under anesthesia; therefore, steps must be taken to keep them at optimal body temperature.
One of the most intelligent birds ever studied, the African grey parrot has an amazing ability to imitate human speech and precisely mimic sounds within the environment (for example, ringtones and doorbells). African grey parrots can be affectionate, entertaining, and rewarding companion animals; however, owners must be knowledgeable and conscientious to fully enjoy the qualities of African grey parrots. These birds prefer a routine schedule and a stable environment within their enclosure, and they require a substantial amount of interactive time with their owners to develop a trusting, enjoyable relationship. Therefore, African greys may not be appropriate for people who work odd hours, travel frequently, or spend a substantial amount of time away from home.
Amazon parrots are highly intelligent, very outgoing, and renowned talkers. They adapt well to captivity, adjusting easily to their cage or aviary (enclosure). However, Amazon parrots require a great deal of mental stimulation. Without the proper attention, social interaction, and toys, Amazon parrots can develop behavioral problems. People who are willing to devote a considerable amount of time to their parrot will have a delightful companion pet for many decades.