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Equine: Endoscopy

When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside the body. One of the procedures that is being used in humans as well as animals, including horses, is called an endoscopy.

An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract as well as parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts in order to help veterinarians make accurate diagnoses and recommendations for treatment on a wide range of health problems.
 

Types of Endoscopy

There are two main types of endoscopies available in the equine veterinary field. They are:
 

Fiberoptic Endoscope

This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or through a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
 

Video Endoscope

This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.


Euthanasia

Our pets are beloved members of our family and seeing them unwell can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
 

How do I know if it is the right time to consider euthanasia?

Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look for that would indicate that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life. If you notice these, it would then be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action.
These signs include:

  • Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing

  • Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)

  • Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss

  • Inability to stand or move around

  • Disinterest in food or eating

  • Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves

  • No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity

  • Zest for life is non-existent
     

While euthanasia is never an easy decision to make, a small benefit is that it allows family members the time to say their final goodbyes. This opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets helps to ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.

Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter into their final journey. However, while this is a personal decision, it is not recommended that young children be present during this time.


Homeopathy for Animals

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that by using the correct natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.

The underlying principle is that the same substance that causes symptoms when given in a large dose, could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is to find the remedy that best matches the symptoms.

Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
 

Is homeopathy safe for my pet?

While omeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets, your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.

Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications in, and practicing the principles.
 

What conditions can homeopathic remedies help to treat?

Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
 

  • Digestive and endocrine diseases

  • Fleas, skin and coat disorders

  • Heart and kidney diseases

  • Bone and joint disorders

  • Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems

  • Immune system disorders

  • Respiratory disease

  • Mood and behavior problems

  • Reproductive system problems

  • Viruses and acute infections

  • Healing and recovery


How to Stay Safe and Have Fun When Kids and Pets Play

Letting children, particularly young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The main concern is for the safety of the child as it is more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. However, kids can injure pets too, and not just that, children can antagonize a pet to the point where the animal will act out.

This is mostly due to a couple of factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are in pain. As a parent, you will need to step in and fill this fundamental gap in order for your child and your pet to be able to better understand each other.


Ensure new pets like kids

Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, be sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets, but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a new pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more stressed, and therefore more likely to hurt someone.


Exotic Animal Medicine

There are a wide variety of animals that can be kept as domestic pets. While some, like cats and dogs, are fairly common, others are much less popular. In the past, an exotic animal was a species that was considered to be ‘wild’ in nature and not usually kept as a pet, but today, an exotic pet is pretty much any animal that isn’t a cat or dog, and are more commonly kept as pets than ever before.

The following animals tend to be classified as exotic animals and represent some of the more unusual pets in need of specialist veterinary care:

Amphibians - this includes frogs, newts, toads, and even salamanders.

Birds – including budgies, parrots, and birds of prey.

Crabs – in particular hermit and fiddler crabs.

Farm animals – including goats, llamas, and pigs.

Ferrets

Insects and millipedes
– including cockroaches, stick insects, praying mantis and even ants.

Rabbits

Reptiles
– such as lizards (including dragons, geckos, and chameleons), snakes, tortoises, and turtles.

Rodents – there are a huge number of animals classed as rodents including chinchillas, hamsters, rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

Scorpions - in particular the emperor scorpion.

Spiders – the tarantula is the most commonly kept pet spider in the world.


Pet Obesity

We are constantly being told that obesity levels are increasing worldwide and that we should act now in order to ensure our long term health. However, this problem doesn't just affect humans. A shocking statistic from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
(Source: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2015)

Just like humans, pets who are overweight are at increased risk for a number of health problems including but not limited to:
 

  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury

  • Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years

  • Heart and respiratory disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Varying forms of cancer


Seasonal Care

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a state with relatively consistent weather and temperatures and just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.


Winter

  • If your pet usually likes to spend most of its time outdoors, be sure to bring them inside as the temperatures in your area begin to fall. If circumstances mean that your pet has to be kept outdoors, make sure that they are as warm and comfortable as possible by providing them with a dry and draft-free shelter with plenty of extra blankets. You should also regularly check their water supply to ensure that it hasn’t frozen.

 

  • If the ground is covered with snow, ice or is extremely cold, you may want to consider purchasing animal booties which are widely available from most pet stores.

 

  • Be prepared to see a change in your pet's eating habits as well. Outdoor pets tend to require extra food since they will burn extra food to help keep them warm. While indoor pets are likely to eat far less as they conserve energy by sleeping more.

 

  • Be sure to keep your pets away from antifreeze. Unfortunately, while it smells and tastes delicious to cats and dogs, even the smallest sip can be deadly. Keep pets out of garages and outbuildings and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen. Speak to your neighbors about the dangers of antifreeze ingestion and ask them to ensure that any antifreeze they have is securely stored and that they too clean up any spillages that may occur. If your pet acts as if they are drunk or begins to convulse, take them to a vet immediately.

 

  • Check under the hood of your car before starting the engine. Many cats like to sneak under the hood of a vehicle once you have gone inside to keep warm by the engine. If you are unable to open the hood, then a firm tap on it should be sufficient to wake any sleeping cat.
  • Ensure that rabbit hutches are brought inside. If this isn’t possible, put extra newspapers in the hutch for better insulation. Again, check their water source regularly to ensure that it isn’t frozen.

Microchipping

Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our pets safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that does happen, we can be better prepared. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
 

Why should I microchip my pet?

 

Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected under your pet’s skin. Once inserted, it is impossible to locate exactly where they are, which makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent. 

Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. While having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who is registered with the microchip provider.


How to Adopt a New Pet

The addition of a new pet can be very exciting! However, knowing where to find your new companion and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in making your decision.
 

Things to keep in mind

Adopting a new pet is a big decision that shouldn’t be done impulsively. Pets require time, effort, and money to be cared for and loved just like any other member of the family. Do you have a yard large enough for a goat to live comfortably? Do you have time to walk your dog more than once a day, every day? Do you have enough money to regularly buy fresh litter for your cat?

Only consider adopting a new pet once you feel confident in your ability to care for them. This includes caring for your children’s pets. Children will naturally want to participate in all the fun aspects of pet care but may have trouble consistently remembering or wanting to do the dirty work. If you won’t be able to care for your pet when your kids can’t, your pet will be the one that’s left neglected.

But we understand that sometimes life can change! If you feel that you can no longer care for your pet, contact the shelter or organization you adopted the animal from, or feel free to come in and talk to us about potential options. There are plenty of choices if you need to rehome your pet so abandonment should never have to be one.


Basic Pet Bird Care

They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or be refreshed on.

To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
 

Habitat

It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2-3 perches for her to fly between as well as room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.

When choosing a cage, find one with bars that have a powder-coated finish which is easier to clean and shouldn’t rust and with bars that are close enough together to prevent her from getting her head stuck between them. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.

You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other cage lining paper. These are the most sterile and easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings can easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
 

Nutrition

A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.


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