Illustrated Articles


  • Swellings on or around the joints in reptiles can be an indication of uric acid deposits in the area. This condition is referred to as gout. Gout is often painful and may also affect internal organs. Treatment will require medications and sometimes surgery.

  • Sugar gliders are omnivorous in the wild. In the wild they eat the sap and gum of the eucalyptus and acacia tree plus pollen, nectar, manna (a sugar deposit from the sap oozing from wounds on tree branches or trunks), honeydew (sugar secreted by sap-sucking insects) and a wide variety of insects and spiders. Fruit is not a big part of their diet.

  • Taurine is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of all proteins. Taurine is an essential amino acid in the cat. Taurine deficiency will lead to feline taurine retinopathy, a weakening of the muscle cells in the heart, causing a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and may cause digestive disturbances. Taurine was first recognized as a necessary component of the cat's diet in the late 1980's. Since then, all diets that are formulated for cats are supplemented with enough taurine to meet the normal cat's needs. A healthy cat that eats a high-quality cat food that is appropriate to its life stage does not require supplementation. Supplemental taurine is used as a treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in cats. There are isolated occurrences of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Your veterinarian may have preferred supplement manufacturers that he or she will recommend.

  • Toucans and toucanettes have a high moisture diet and a relatively short digestive tract, which make for a very quick transit time of food through their digestive tract. Hemochromatosis, or iron storage disease, in toucans and toucanettes has long been suspected to be related to high dietary iron. Current dietary recommendations are for diets low in iron. In addition to a low-iron containing pellet, toucans and toucanettes should be offered a large variety of diced fruits. Fresh clean water must be available at all times.

  • Tube feeding is important to maintain adequate nutrition and prevent liver problems in cats that are anorexic for at least 2 days. Tube feeding may be needed because of a mechanical problem interfering with ingestion of food or because of a systemic illness that is causing the cat to be anorexic. There are several different options for tube feeding. Naso-esophageal/naso-gastric intubation passes a tube down the nose into the esophagus and sometimes into the stomach. This is only suitable for short term feeding. Placement of an esophageal tube requires sedation or anesthesia as a hole is made through the skin and esophagus to pass the tube through into the esophagus. An esophageal tube can be maintained for weeks to months. A gastrostomy tube requires anesthesia to pass a tube through the skin directly into the stomach. This is beneficial for longer term feeding. A tube must be protected to prevent the cat from pulling it out. The recommended diet is administered in liquid form by a syringe several times a day. Complications are rare with clogging and inadvertent removal most common.

  • Lipomas are fatty tumors that affect a variety of pet birds. These are typically benign fatty growths found under the skin. It is classically considered to have both a nutritional and genetic factor for development.

  • Xanthomas are discrete masses or diffuse, thickened areas of skin that are yellow-orange and dimpled in appearance. They are accumulations of fat and cholesterol and are most commonly found in cockatiels and budgies (and they are more often found in females).

  • Too much vitamin A can lead to poisoning. While somewhat uncommon in North America, vitamin A toxicity is sometimes diagnosed in cats that are fed primarily table scraps. There seems to be considerable variability in how susceptible individual cats are to this problem. It takes a long time for the clinical signs associated with vitamin A toxicity to develop; symptoms do not usually appear until the cat is at least middle-aged.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific feline nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. Determining what diet is best for your cat should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any healthier for the average cat than traditional, commercial preparations.

  • Cat grass can be one of many cereal grains such as oat, wheat, barley, alfalfa, or rye. The grass is planted and cultivated indoors and presented to the cat as a supplement to the existing diet. Eating grass targets a cat’s natural instinct to forage and provides entertainment as well as nutritional and digestive value.