Is Your Reptile Stressed?
June 11, 2014
Most pet owners understand that animals undergo emotional stress just like human beings. The only problem with understanding animal stress is the lack of communication. If we could talk to pets, what would they say? We can take a guess with dog and cats, because they’re highly domesticated. But with less domesticated animals like reptiles, we have to be especially attentive and observant towards certain behaviors that indicate stress.
What are some signs that my reptile is stress and what causes them?
There are a variety of signs that may indicate that your reptile is stressed.
The top indicator of stress in is the loss of appetite, sometimes leading to full-blown anorexia. We all know that reptiles are food freaks – just like most other pets – and when they’re passing up food, it usually points to a problem. Any number of things could cause this, from a cold cage to rough handling by their owner. If this continues for a long period of time, you would be well-advised to consult your veterinarian.
In lizards, a dropped tail can be another sign of stress. Lizards respond this way in the wild when a predator is about to catch them. It’s a survival mechanism. In captivity, lizards will do this when they are being handled too roughly or feel threatened by another animal in the house (like a prowling cat). Don’t fret. The tail will grow back. No harm done!
If your reptile displays energy abnormalities – such as being hyperactive or lethargic – this can also be a symptom of chronic stress. Reptiles often respond in this way when they do not get enough exercise or are unable to properly simulate hunting activities. Purchasing a larger habitat for your reptile and paying attention to their predatory needs can quell these behaviors.
Reptiles suffering from chronic stress may also show a change of color (skin dulling beyond that associated with normal shedding) and increased hostility. This is especially the case for iguanas.
What are the consequences of reptile stress?
Stress not only makes your reptile extremely unhappy, but it also makes them susceptible to a number of different illnesses. It’s important to detect signs of stress early before something goes wrong.
Stress can lead to malnutrition, insomnia, perpetual insecurity, and a repressed immune system. The suppressed immune system can lead to a number of major illnesses and even death.
Remember that reptiles have surprisingly complex emotional lives. Be sure to respect their living space. Provide a comfortable living temperature and humidity for the particular species that you own, a good cage size, and regular feeding times to reduce stress.
If you’re concerned about your reptile’s health, contact your vet as soon as possible.
The Busy Bird-Owner’s Guide to Purchasing a Bird Cage
May 23, 2014
Considering that the majority of your feathered friend’s life will be spent in this barred
home, it’s important that you find the best and coziest cage possible for them. However,
searching for the perfect cage can be anything but easy! There are many factors to consider and keep track of. Luckily, our guide gives you an outline to cite during your search. It’s time to find the perfect home for your feathered friend!
This is the first and most important step in your bird age search, because it will determine many of the other factors that will go into the selection process. You could purchase the largest, most finely crafted bird cage on the market and still render it completely useless if you don’t have a safe place to put it. Birds must be kept away from areas susceptible to extreme temperatures, such as windows that are drafty or exposed to a lot of direct sunlight. Also remember that your kitchen is no place for a bird. Many of the foods commonly kept in most kitchens can be damaging to a bird’s health and the cleaning chemicals – particularly those used in self-cleaning ovens – can be deadly. Don’t place them in an isolated space, as they require regular stimulation and social interaction to remain happy and healthy. A living room or frequently used bedroom is a great space for a bird, depending on how noisy the breed is.
Once you have determined where you want to put the cage, it’s time to figure out what size the cage should be. Obviously, the cage needs to fit within the area you have designated for it. However, you also must keep in mind what type of bird you have and bird size. You should select the largest cage possible to fit both your bird breed and designated area of the home. Try to give your bird at least two wingspan’s worth of room to move both horizontally and vertically. The spacing of the bars on the cage is also an important factor to consider. Get bars that are too large for your bird and the chance of injury and escape goes up dramatically. Be sensible and consider if you would enjoy living in a room where you couldn’t even stretch out fully. This will give you a better idea of what size cage to choose.
There are many different cage styles out there, but only some are the right choice for most birds. Though vintage cages made of wood or wicker may look beautiful, they’re the most difficult to clean and the least hygienic overall. There is a reason that these cages have been replaced and left as decorations for hallway tables and gardens. They’re a bad option for birds. Stick with sanitary metal. Cages that have only vertical bars may look lovely, but your bird will have no safe place to climb and exercise. This will lead to having a very unhappy feathered friend. Studies have shown that rectangular cages are the best options, providing more room and areas for the bird to climb on the corners.
For larger birds that will need to come out of the cage regularly for exercise, consider purchasing a cage with a Playtop. Playtops are little perched spaces on top of the cage that have separate food dishes and toy hangers to keep your pet entertained for hours!
Also consider getting a cage with many adjustable perches, so your bird can have many places to rest and climb. This will add a little variety to their cage life.
Never select a cage purely on aesthetic. After all, this will be where your bird will be spending most of his or her time. Be the best realtor for your pet that you can be!
Ferret Health Issues
February 3, 2014
Common ferret health Issues and related medical conditions you are most likely to encounter.
Some basic knowledge of the more common medial conditions is essential for anyone looking to purchase or someone who already has a ferret as a pet. You should have some understanding of what causes these, what they might look like and of course, how to treat or better yet prevent them. There are quite a few ferret diseases and conditions that ferrets are susceptible to but this does not necessarily mean that your ferret will get any of them. It is just part of being a good ferret owner by knowing what they are and are familiar with them…just in case.
It is a good idea to take your ferret to the veterinarian regularly. For a young ferret that might be once a year, for older ferrets it might be every 6 months. Most diseases common to ferrets are treatable if caught early enough.
Many of these conditions can be split into those most common in young ferrets like congenital diseases such as deafness, cataracts, tooth problems like periodontal disease and fractured canines, or an infectious disease like distemper or blockages from such common activities like eating foreign materials and those affecting both young and old like colds, flu and heartworm disease and those linked to older ferrets like cancer, adrenal disease and inflammation (chronic).
Here is a clearer description of some of the different medical conditions that you may encounter owning a pet such as a ferret.
Adrenal Gland Disease
A common disease affecting middle age to older ferrets. Most ferrets develop this condition when the adrenal glands are damaged by the overproduction or underproduction of certain steroids from various causes, including stress and cancer tumors. Other causes may include adrenal tumors and hyperadrenocorticism, a condition characterized by the elevated concentration of the hormone cortisol. In ferrets, hyperadrenocorticism has been linked to the excessive use of sex steroids as a medical treatment.
Symptoms are Hair loss ( usually involves the tail and/or the pelvic region - may involve the entire back half of the ferret ), Swollen vulva in females ( mucus discharge usually present ), Straining to or unable to urinate in males (THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CONDITION !!! ), Weight loss, Pot-belly appearance, Scratching a lot ( pruritus ).
Treatments include surgical removal of the diseased adrenal gland is the most common and most effective treatment at present and/or the veterinarian may also recommend administering medication that suppress certain hormones, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone. A hormone therapy with a new human drug ( LUPRON ) has been utilized with success over the last 2 years.
Rabies in ferrets is rare but canine distemper is not and it is almost 100% fatal in ferrets within 12 to 42 days after exposure. A ferret could experience either sudden death or in many cases it will progress over 2 weeks. You can bring this to your ferret on your hands, clothes and shoes. It is also extremely contagious. Once a ferret gets the disease, euthanasia is recommended to prevent the spread of the disease to other animals and end the poor animal's suffering.
The signs of canine distemper include:
• Loss of appetite – normally 6-8 days after exposure to the virus
• Crustiness/ discharge around the eyes (, foul-smelling yellow or green sticky eye discharge, swollen eyelids)
• Green or yellow nasal discharge
• Thick brown crusts that form on the eyes, nose, lips and chin
• Rash around the chin and around belly
• Swelling of lips and chin
• Soles/pads on feet might thicken
• Difficulty breathing
• Seizures and/or convulsions
• Severe lethargy
• In the later stages
o The ferret might enter a coma
o A thickening and hardening of the paw pads
Since canine distemper is an airborne virus, ferrets can become infected even if they don't leave the house by inhaling the virus from your skin or clothing. Because the incubation period for canine distemper can be as long as 10 days, always isolate any new dogs or ferrets brought into your household for 14 days unless immunity to canine distemper can be ascertained.
This disease can be prevented!
It is a good idea to get your ferret its first vaccine at 6-8 weeks of age. In 3 months a follow up shot. Ongoing, every year (at annual check-up) they should receive shots.
There is some controversy about this vaccine. In the USA there have been cases where ferrets went into anaphylactic shock after the vaccine was given. This could be because there are two types of canine distemper vaccine, one is the correct one for ferrets and the other is definitely not for ferrets. Make sure you confirm with your vet to be 100% sure they use the right one.
If you are purchasing a new ferret make sure to ask and get documentation of what shots it has had. Many times a pet shop will only give the first shot or none at all.
Cold and Allergies
Ferrets are vulnerable to colds and flu's because they have very weak immune systems and can catch them from humans, other animals, or like us airborne germs. Many ferrets can also suffer from allergies. If anyone in the home has a cold, influenza or virus keep them away from your ferret and make sure you wash your hands before handling them. If your ferret catches one of these then it is wise to separate them from other ferrets. Obviously, they could get infected and then the other ferrets can pass it back to the original carrier thereby creating a vicious cycle.
The symptoms of a ferret cold/flu include:
· Watery eyes
· Runny nose (you can wipe it with a tissue to help ferret breathe and swallow)
· Excess discharge form his nose
· Raised body temperature
· Loss of appetite
The treatments for a ferret cold/flu are:
· Running a cool mist humidifier near his cage or Placing your ferret in a travel cage inside a steamy bathroom
· Lots of rest
· Loving attention
Make sure your ferret is drinking plenty of water because dehydration is not good for a ferret. If the cold lasts more than 3 days with no improvement, if the ferret gets worse, the sneezing and runny nose (especially if discharge is not clear) is too excessive or your ferret is off his food more than usual, you should visit to the veterinarian for antibiotics.
Affects all ages of ferrets. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and affects both inside and outside ferrets. Although heartworms are parasites and not a disease, they affect the heart adversely and can be fatal if not treated. The number of heartworm cases seen each year in ferrets is increasing, especially in the southern states. Ask your veterinarian about heartworm preventive medicine, especially if your ferret spends any time outdoors.
Because the heartworm(s) disturbs the normal function of the ferret's heart and circulatory system, these are some symptoms which may be present:
• A Rapid heart beat
• Difficulty Breathing (Dyspnea)
• A Loss of appetite
• Weight loss and muscle wasting
• Fluid accumulation in the abdomen or chest
• Rapid Breathing
• Rales or crackles (clicking, rattling, or crackling noises heard during inhalation)Symptoms
This is not an easy disease to diagnose. However, the heartworm antigen test, which detects adult heartworm skin in the animal's blood, appears to be the most useful. An echocardiogram can produce a picture of the ferret's heart and help identify any heartworms, too.
The treatment should be focused on killing off the worms, followed by treatment to increase lung function. This is normally done with an anti-parasite and prednisone medication combo. Worm-killing therapy carries the risk of complications from drug toxicity and worm emboli (a blocking of blood vessel). However, treatment with long-term anti-parasite medication and prednisone kills off the heartworms more slowly, making the chances of worm emboli less likely.
Only one drug has been used with continued success ( IMMITICIDE )
It is important to restrict the animal's activity for at least four to six weeks once the treatment has begun.
Insulinomas is a very common disease in ferrets typically over 2 years of age. This condition results from tumor cells within the pancreas secreting excess amounts of insulin, thereby creating a glucose deficiency in the patient..
Some symptoms which may be present:
· Gradual onset of weakness and/or weakness in the back legs
· Excess salivation
· Unexplained weight loss
· Increased sleeping or decreased ability to rouse from sleep
· Acute episodes of collapse that may progress to seizures decreased activity
· Sometimes pawing the mouth
Routinely, ferrets with insulinoma are treated with corticosteroids.
A preferred treatment involves abdominal exploratory surgeries which examines the pancreas for evidence of a tumor/cancerous nodules and then remove the cancerous tissue. For the remainder of the ferret’s life medical therapy is usually required to maintain proper glucose levels.
When it is not economically feasible, drug therapy may be prescribed as the treatment. There are two drugs recommended for this therapy, Prednisolone which increases glucose production by the ferret and Proglycem which is an insulin blocking drug.
Intestinal Disorders and Blockages
Most times these disorders are caused by the ferret ingesting foreign objects. Hairballs are most common in the older ferrets. Signs of foreign object ingestion include loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy teeth clenching and/or grinding, and sometimes vomiting.
X-rays are usually sufficient in diagnosing the foreign object(s) in the ferret's stomach. Although there are times an endoscopy may be needed.
Soft foreign objects in the stomach, and foreign objects that are not blocking the intestine, sometimes can be passed through the ferret's stool using laxatives. Surgery is usually necessary if the digestive tract is blocked. However, ferrets usually recover well from this type of surgery.
Like many mammals, ferrets can carry any number of parasites, either internal and external that can then be passed on to animals and even humans. Mites and Ringworm are contagious, but an indoor well taken care of ferret shouldn’t get these any way. Ferrets can also carry giardia, which is a parasitic intestinal infection. This is the same giardia that humans and many other pets get. So you should consider this contagion could pass between household residents.
Choosing a Fish Tank Filter
September 16, 2013
The fish tank filter or filtration system is the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy environment and healthy fish. A recent article in Aquarium Fish Magazine estimates that more than 80 percent of all fish health problems in aquariums are directly linked to improper or inadequate filtration.
There are several types of filters used by today's hobbyists. An undergravel fish tank filter is the very least a tank needs to stay healthy.
THE UNDERGRAVEL FILTER:
An undergravel filter is a slotted plate situated inside the aquarium on the bottom glass under the aquarium gravel. Air bubbles or power heads are used to pull water down through the gravel and up through the lift tubes.
During this process, large particles are trapped in the gravel so that they are not suspended in the water - mechanical filtration. Additionally, nitrifying bacteria live on the surfaces of the individual gravel grains and "processes" the water as it goes by, converting ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate - biological filtration.
An undergravel filter plate should cover the entire bottom of the tank, and the gravel bed should be 2 to 3 inches thick. Gravel should have an average diameter of 3 millimeters (1/8 inch) to ensure lots of surface area for bacteria to grow on while providing enough space among the pieces to permit good water flow with minimal clogging. Water flow through the filter should be between 0.5 and 1.5 gallons per minute for each square foot of aquarium bottom area.
Should the undergravel filter bed become partially clogged with particulates, the water will channel around those areas and reduce nitrifying (biological cleansing) activity - the process of converting ammonia to nitrite to nitrate.
The result will be rising concentrations of ammonia. Meanwhile, without oxygenated water passing through some areas of the gravel, anaerobic regions (areas with minimal amounts of oxygen) will develop and become inhabited by undesirable bacteria (e.g., heterotrophic bacteria that produce deadly hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs). If the gravel bed becomes totally clogged, the nitrifying bacteria (beneficial bacteria) will die and heterotrophic bacteria (undesirable bacteria) will take their place.
There are two ways to deal with this problem. One is to use a hydro-cleaning device, sometimes known as a gravel "vacuum." When siphoning water from the tank, the gravel is churned about in the large end of the siphon hose and the particulate matter is removed while the gravel remains in the tank.
The other method is to use efficient mechanical filtration to remove most of the solid material before it settles into the undergravel fish tank filter. Some people add a tank-mounted filter (below) as a supplemental mechanical filter to pull particulates from the water rather than have all of them drop to the bottom of the tank and begin to clog the gravel.
An undergravel filter is the least expensive and most common of all filters. It requires a filter plate and a pump or power-heads. Power heads usually give the undergravel filter a boost in that they move the water through the filter with the most speed and agitation.
TANK-MOUNT POWER FILTERS:
Tank mounted filters usually hang on the outside of the tank. They pull water out of the tank and let it trickle back into the tank. During the process, the water is passed through at least one and usually two filter pad inserts. The first traps any large debris that may be floating in the tank. The other allows nitrifying bacteria to grow on its surface so that biological filtration can also occur as the water trickles through.
The water pours back into the tank, dropping through a small amount of air space like a mini waterfall, which agitates the surface of the water and enhances the oxygenation of the tank.
It is very important to keep the mechanical filter pad clean. If it gets clogged, the water will bypass that pad and hit the biological filter pad full of particulates that will also soon clog the second insert. However, it is equally important that you not continually disturb the second or biological pad. Too fastidious a cleaning or using chlorinated water to wash the second pad can destroy the beneficial bacteria that are cleaning the tank.
Tank-mounted filters are a very good supplemental fish tank filter. They are not as expensive as most canister or wet/dry filters (below). Adding a tank-mounted filter to you existing tank will enhance the water quality because it will provide more filtration. More and better filtration will allow you to keep more fish in the same tank.
Another type of filter is the wet/dry filter.
THE CANISTER FILTER:
Canister Filters are one of the most popular and best types of fish tank filters. They provide all three types of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration for larger tanks or tanks with lots of fish, but they take up less room than wet/dry filters (below). Some are so good at particulate filtering that they can actually be called a water polishing filters.
Depending on the model, they will contain one, two, or three media baskets. The idea is to push the water through the baskets, pulling pollutants out of the water as it passes through the media held in the basket. Canister filters take a little more work to set up (although they are getting more sophisticated every day), but their capacity and filtering ability are much better than power filters. Media needs to be changed or cleaned. Most have convenient snap-closures and some have quick disconnect hoses to make maintenance of the filter easy. Some are self-priming to make re-starting a breeze. They can be used for freshwater, saltwater, and cichlid tanks.
THE WET/DRY FILTER:
Wet Dry fish tank filters (also known as trickle filters) work on the same principle as undergravel filters, but implement the concept differently. The trickle filter's biological filtering bed is outside of the tank.
Aquarium water enters at the top of the filter column and trickles downward through the medium (e.g., stone, specially designed plastic media, fiber materials, etc.), which is not submerged, thereby collecting oxygen in the process. The nitrifying bacteria inhabit the surface of the medium and process (clean) the water as it trickles by. The water then collects at the bottom of the filter column and is pumped back to the tank.
This design provides for efficient nitrification, as well as good aeration (oxygenation) of the water. Some of the better commercial trickle filter designs incorporate drawers for mechanical filtering media and GAC (high quality granular activated carbon) so that the entire filtration system is built into one unit.
Trickle filters are particularly well suited for marine aquariums, where dissolved oxygen levels are low, and for freshwater aquariums that use a soil substrate for plantings, making undergravel filtration impossible. Unlike the undergravel filter, clogging is not a problem with trickle filters.
For best operation, the volume of the trickle column should equal about 8 to 10 percent of the tank volume. The water flow rate should be 4 to 5 times the tank volume per hour. For the most efficient nitrification, the filter surface area should be designed to yield 0.5 to 1.5 gallons per minute per square foot.
Both undergravel and trickle filters are sensitive to power failures. If the filter ceases to operate for more than 24 hours, halting the flow of water through the biological medium, the nitrifying bacteria will begin to die. Once water flow begins again, conditions will be similar to starting a biological filter in a new setup. In fact, conditions could be worse than a new system, as the dead and putrefying bacteria could poison the tank with a fast load of ammonia upon the re-start of the tank.
If only mechanical filtration is used, large particulates may be trapped in the mechanical filter medium, but there will be minimal biological filtration from the nitrifying bacteria in the mechanical filtering medium. Dissolved organic carbon such as fish waste and plant degradation will not be removed from the water and toxins can build up.
This limited amount of biological filtration will be very sensitive to changes in fish load (i.e., adding more fish or fish growth), changes in feeding rates, and even variations in water temperature. Nitrifying bacteria will have no surface to which to cling except in the mechanical filter medium. Moreover, scrupulous cleaning of the mechanical medium will wash away most of the nitrifying bacteria, leading to high ammonia levels in the water.
Adding a layer of Activated Carbon for chemical filtration of organic waste will not change the fact that there is no effective and reliable method for removing nitrogenous wastes. Carbon is used to remove impurities such as chlorine, not ammonia or its byproducts.
In a setup with only an undergravel filter, there is practically no chemical filtration for dissolved organ compounds. In addition, without an efficient mechanical filter, the nitrification bed will eventually clog with particulates. Nitrification will be reduced and life in the tank will decline.
In contrast, a filtering system comprised of all three components (mechanical, chemical and biological) provides all requirements for maintaining a healthy aquarium.
A typical wet dry filter does all three of these things. If cost is a consideration, an efficient setup consists of one outside power filter - either a hang-on-the-back unit or a canister - with separate compartments for mechanical media, GAC and ion exchange resin. It is important that the filter is large enough to accommodate the appropriate amount of filtering material.
An alternative setup uses two independent filter units. An outside power filter that contains mechanical media and activated carbon to remove particulates and dissolved organic compounds is run in conjunction with an undergravel filter.
Although a complete filtration system will cost a little more in the beginning, you save in the long run by avoiding the costs of replacement fish for those that died and medications for fish that become ill. More importantly, your fish will thrive and your aquarium will be more enjoyable. A properly filtered aquarium requires less maintenance than one with incomplete or inadequate filtration.
No filtration system, however, can keep aquarium water as clean and healthful as it was from the tap. Over time, the water quality deteriorates. Therefore, periodic water changes of 20 percent of the aquarium water are a necessary part of your total filtration system. A conscientious hobbyist can achieve the necessary good water quality with a minimal amount of effort and a good filtering design.
The Best Cat Food For a Healthy Feline
March 16, 2013
With all the different cat food brands being sold today, it is difficult to determine what is the best one for your cat. Certainly, it is important to find a product that your cat will love and one that is good for his health. In order to do that, you need to ensure that the cat food you purchase contains all the necessary ingredients that your feline needs. Read on to discover what is the best cat food for cats that will keep them healthy and allow them to live a long life.
Although Whiskas, Purina, and Friskies are popular cat food brands around the world, none of these are considered the best cat food in the market. In fact, among the different brands, these often end up at the bottom of the list. Time and time again, many cat owners consider Science Diet at the top of the list for their loved cats. Eukanuba, Evo Weight Management, and Innova also land top spots when it comes to the best dry and wet cat food. But of course, we are here to talk about the best, so we will discuss why the Science Diet dry and wet cat foods are the best for cats.
Science Diet Mature Indoor is a dry version, which is considered the best cat food available. The wet food version is the Science Diet Adult Optimal Care. It’s considered the best for cats is because it promotes health in cats, ensuring that they receive a balanced diet for them to live a long, healthy life. In addition, the company itself has great environmental practices and policies. They make sure to give back to society through a shelter program for pets that they developed for the purpose of feeding homeless pets around the country.
If you want to ensure that your cat receives the best cat food and a healthy balanced diet, then you may want to consider the Science Diet brand. Feed your feline a mixture of wet and dry food so that he can receive nutrients offered in both types. Wet food consists of meat, while dry food is usually made of plants, so it would be ideal to give your cat a mixture of both.
Choosing the best cat food for your feline friend is important, as you want to make sure that he receives proper nutrition. With a healthy balanced diet, you will feel more at peace knowing that your cat will live longer. Always check to see the ingredients of the cat food you purchase to ensure that it contains all the vitamins and minerals your cat requires. Cats that are healthy will not only feel good, but also you will notice them looking better with their shiny coats, bright eyes, and endless energy.