Illustrated Articles

Nutrition

  • Gastrostomy tubes are placed through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach to enable long-term nutrition in dogs that either refuse to eat or are unable to chew and swallow food. A special liquid diet or homemade mixture liquefied with water will be recommended by your veterinarian. Step-by-step instructions are provided. The decision to remove the tube will be determined by your veterinarian.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of man and animals cased by a microscopic protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis. Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a "worm", bacteria, or virus. Giardiasis can be an important cause of diarrhea in animals and humans. However, many cats are infected without developing clinical signs or the diarrhea is treated as 'non-specific'.

  • Hand-raised babies usually make better pets, as they have been completely socialized with humans. Hand-feeding is a job best left for the experienced bird breeder or aviculturist. If you’re considering hand-feeding a baby bird, you should contact your local bird breeder or veterinarian for help. A chick may be removed from the parents any time before weaning, but many suggest leaving the babies with the parents for up to 3 weeks. Precise temperature and humidity is essential for optimum growth of newly hatched birds. Generally, the temperature can be lowered by one degree every 2-3 days as feathering progresses. If you are raising a chick, always monitor your bird for signs of overheating or chilling. Poor growth or poor digestion (delayed crop emptying) may indicate poor health (including presence of gastrointestinal tract infections), improper consistency/mixing of hand feeding formula, improper temperature of formula, or improper environmental temperature and humidity. There are numerous commercially available hand-feeding formulas for baby birds. All food must be prepared fresh for every feeding. Food retained from one feeding to another is an ideal medium for the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. Any food prepared or heated in a microwave oven must be mixed thoroughly to ensure that the food’s temperature is uniform. Food that is too hot may cause severe burns to the crop. Food that is too cold may be rejected by the babies or may slow down digestion. The frequency of feeding for young birds is greater than that of older birds. The best indication of a healthy, growing chick is a good, strong feeding response at every feeding, with the crop emptying between feedings, and the regular production of droppings (feces). Weight gain should be monitored and recorded at the same time each day using a scale that weighs in grams with 1-gram increments to detect subtle increases or decreases. As a bird gets older and develops a full complement of feathers, it should be encouraged to wean off formula and to eat more on its own. Birds should be offered a variety of foods, including formulated pelleted diets, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, at this time to encourage their exploration and experimentation. As this food introduction continues, hand-feeding may be withheld at certain times. All feeding utensils must be cleaned, disinfected, and dried thoroughly between feedings.

  • Guinea pigs are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain diseases. They cannot make their own vitamin C and require supplementation or they may develop scurvy. Guinea pigs get various tumors, particularly skin and mammary tumors. Guinea pigs also get abscesses (accumulations of pus and bacteria) in lymph nodes, skin, muscles, teeth, bones, and internal organs. They are very prone to development of urinary calculi that form in the bladder, kidneys, or ureters which may become lodged, causing a life-threatening obstruction. In addition, guinea pigs often are affected by ringworm and can get fleas and lice. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair or the hair of its cage-mate. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, in which sores develop on the bottom of the feet from pressure, is common in overweight animals housed on wire-bottomed or dirty cages that abrade the feet.

  • A pet hedgehog’s diet should mainly consist of high-quality hedgehog food mixed with high-quality, low-fat cat food. The diet may be supplemented with certain insects, fruits, and vegetables, which are listed in this handout. Foods that should be avoided are also listed. Hedgehogs have a propensity for obesity if their food intake is not monitored or controlled.

  • Infertility in a queen (an intact female cat) is defined as the inability to give birth to live kittens, despite appropriate breeding with a fertile male. This handout provides an outline of common causes of infertility along with how they are diagnosed and, when possible, treated.

  • Feathers insulate to maintain body temperature and protect birds from the elements and play an important role in aerodynamics and flying. Feathers need to be removed or fall out to stimulate new feather growth. Therefore, to keep itself in fine feather, a bird needs to molt each year to get rid of old or damaged feathers. In the wild, molting corresponds with the change of seasons or the changing day length. Other factors influencing the timing of molting include temperature and available nutrition, as well as the bird’s general health and reproductive state. Pet birds are not exposed to seasonal light and daylight length fluctuations in our homes that would mimic seasons. Pet birds’ exposure to varied light cycles may lead to irregular, incomplete, long or short molts.

  • Picky eaters are often created by their humans offering too much variety of food. Cats can become picky eaters for medical reasons that need to be determined by your veterinarian. It is safe for an otherwise healthy cat to not eat for a few days; beyond this however, they can develop a possibly fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis. To decrease pickiness, having food available for only 30 minutes4-5 times a day can be beneficial. Human food should not be used as a diet as it will lead to nutrient deficiencies. Certain foods are okay to mix with cat food to make them more appealing but check with veterinarian before including these in your dog’s diet. Many cats work on their own schedule and prefer to eat very small amounts frequently (grazing).

  • Picky eaters are often created by their humans offering too much variety of food. It is safe for an otherwise healthy dog to not eat for up to a week. To decrease pickiness, having food available for only 15-30 minutes 2-3 times a day can be beneficial. Human food should not be used as a diet as it will lead to nutrient deficiencies. Certain foods are okay to mix with dog food to make them more appealing but check with your veterinarian before including these in your dog’s diet. Many dogs are not programmed to eat every day.

  • Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot be vegetarian. Through evolution, cats have become dependent on the specific forms of nutrients found only in animal tissue. Feeding your cat a proper diet is one of the most important aspects to help keep them at optimal health. It is important to keep in mind that the nutritional requirements and dietary preferences change over the course of the cat's lifetime. Your veterinary health care team can help you make good-quality diet choices and determine the correct number of calories your cat needs in a day.