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Equine: Castration

Equine castration is the most common surgical procedure performed on horses. Not only does it prevent unwanted breeding, but it can also dramatically improve the behavior and management of your horse.


When should equine castration take place?

Equine castration usually takes place in either the spring or autumn months in order to avoid bacteria-carrying flies in the summer and the mud of winter. Traditionally, castration is carried out in a horse’s yearling year, but there is no reason why the procedure cannot be undertaken at other times. However, both testicles must have descended into the scrotum before the castration takes place. If one testicle is undescended, then waiting to castrate is usually the most viable option. However, it is possible to carry out a full castration via laparoscopy to find the retained testicle, although this requires much more surgical intervention and therefore a longer recovery period.

Your equine veterinarian will obtain the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of your horse before performing castration, to ensure that he is in good condition, has been wormed regularly, his vaccinations are up to date and he has not suffered any recent respiratory infection.


Exotic Animal Medicine

There are a wide variety of animals that can be kept as domestic pets. However, while some, like cats, dogs and rabbits 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. However, today, an exotic pet is pretty much any animal that isn’t a cat or dog, although obviously some types of animal are still much more exotic than others.

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.


Heartworm

What is Heartworm?

Heartworm is a serious illness that can cause heart failure, lung disease, organ damage and even death in dogs, cats and ferrets. Heartworm is most prevalent in pets living along the Atlantic Gulf coasts from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico, and in those living alongside the Mississippi and its main tributaries. However it has been found in pets in all of the US States.
 

What causes Heartworm?

Heartworm is caused by parasitic worm larvae that lives inside mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites an animal it transfers some worm larvae into it where the larvae then matures, mates and produces offspring inside its living host. The offspring produced by female adult heartworms is known as microfilariae and lives in the host animals’ blood stream. When a mosquito then bites an infected animal it draws microfilariae into its body where it turns it into infective larvae, beginning the cycle again.

Once an animal has been infected it takes time for the larvae to mature into adults that are capable of reproduction. In dogs this period is usually 6-7 months and in cats and ferrets around 8 months. Adult heartworms look like cooked spaghetti and can range in size from 4-6 inches in males and 10-12 inches in females. The number of worms found in a pet is known as its ‘worm burden’ and this can vary depending on the species of animal and the severity of the infection.
 

Heartworm in Dogs

The lifespan of heartworms within an infected dog is between 5 and 7 years and the average worm burden is 15. However dogs have been seen with worm burdens ranging from 1 to 250.
 

Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs

The severity of the symptoms of heartworm in dogs is dependent on the worm burden of the animal, how long they have been infected and how well their body can cope with the disease. However it is usually broken down into four stages.

Class 1: no visible symptoms or very mild symptoms such as an intermittent cough or wheeze.

Class 2: mild to more moderate symptoms including intermittent coughing and lethargy or breathlessness after light to moderate exercise. At this time some heart and lung changes may be seen on x-rays.

Class 3: symptoms will include frequent or persistent coughing, lethargy and breathlessness after mild activity. Heart and lung changes will definitely be visible on x-rays.

Class 4: this stage is otherwise known as Caval Syndrome and is reached when an infected animal has been left untreated for an extended period of time. At this stage the animal experiences restricted blood flow to the heart caused by a blockage of worms. Heart failure is imminent and emergency surgery to remove the worms is the only course of action. However this comes with its own risks and most dogs with Caval Syndrome do not survive.


The Importance of Pet Grooming

While for many people the concept of grooming your pet conjures up notions of brushes and bows, it is in fact a vital element to their overall health and wellbeing. Regularly grooming your animal allows you to catch any underlying diseases or conditions early, meaning that they will be able to be treated quicker and more efficiently and will therefore be less likely to have any lasting effect on your pet.

However not all animals enjoy the grooming process and many owners find that it is easier to send their pet to a professional groomer on a regular basis instead. If you have a puppy or a kitten then training them to ensure the grooming process is an important part of their learning and will be beneficial to them as they reach maturity.

This is especially true of nail clipping and ear cleaning which require them sitting completely still for the process. Good breeders will often begin grooming their litters as soon as they are old enough to help get them used to the process. Even if you do opt to use a professional pet groomer, there are still a number of regular grooming techniques that you can do at home with your pet to strengthen your bond.

Here are some of the important benefits of pet grooming.


Traveling With Your Pet

Our pets are a beloved part of our family and sometimes this means that they have to travel with us when we undertake long journeys. As a general rule cats seriously dislike traveling and are almost always better off at home in their own environment. Dogs are more amenable to traveling, but there are still a number of considerations to make to ensure that the journey is both safe and comfortable for your pet.


Traveling by Car

The most important thing to remember is to ensure that your pet is not free to roam around the vehicle. Not only could this be distracting for the driver, but your pet will not be protected in the event of a crash. You may have seen dog seat belts being sold in some pet stores. Whilst they have been approved for sale, there is no reliable evidence proving them to be effective in accidents. Instead you should secure your pet in a crate that has been tethered to the car by a seatbelt or other secure method. Ensure that crate is big enough for your pet to change position if they become uncomfortable.
 

  • Do not put animals in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. If the airbag deploys then there is a chance that your pet could be seriously injured.

  • Do not ever leave your pet alone in the car. Animal thieves frequent parking lots and service stations looking for unattended pets to steal. Also leaving an animal alone in a warm car can be fatal. On a day where the outside temperature is 85F, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach 120F in just 10 minutes putting your pet at serious risk.

  • Do not allow your pet to stick his head outside a moving vehicle. Doing so risks injury or sickness by fast-moving air forcing itself into your pets’ lungs.

  • Never transport your pet in the back of an open pick-up truck.

  • Make plenty of bathroom breaks. This will also allow your pet to stretch their legs and have a drink.

  • As a general rule, if you wouldn’t allow your child to do it then do not allow your pet to do it either!


Bringing Your Pet Home

When it comes to bringing a new pet into your home, preparation is crucial in order for them to make a successful transition. It can take days, weeks or even several months for your pet to consider your home its new home. Here are our top tips for helping your new pet settle in.

 

Supplies and equipment

Ensure that you have all of the supplies and equipment that your new pet will need. This includes fundamental items such as a bed, water bowl and food, as well as toys and other items to stimulate their cognitive development and keep them entertained. Remember that your pets’ emotional wellbeing and mental stimulation is just as important as their physical needs.

 

Prepare any other pets in the home

Ensure that any other pets in the home are up to date with their vaccinations. Whilst shelters do their best to treat any viruses, occasionally re-homed pets do bring new diseases with them that could be transmitted to existing pets in the household.

You may also have to introduce existing pets to your new pet gradually until they get used to one another.

 

Register with a Veterinarian

As soon as you bring your pet home you should register with a veterinarian and make an appointment for your pet to have a thorough health check. Ideally this should be done within a week of their arrival. They can advise on the correct vaccination protocol for your pet and ensure that there are no underlying illnesses or concerns.

You should also speak to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet. There are thousands of animals in shelters across the country that are desperate for loving homes. Limiting population growth further by having your pet spayed or neutered is a responsible course of action for any owner.

 

Establish rules and guidelines in advance

Establishing some basic house rules ahead of your pets’ arrival can help create a routine that your pet will quickly adopt as his own. Knowing what to expect will also help him settle in much faster. Assigning specific responsibilities to family members can help them bond with your pet and take ownership of their commitment as a pet owner.

Being consistent with rules for your pet will make training them much easier. For example do not start off by letting your pet sleep on the sofas if this is not a behavior you want to continue in the future.


Pet Obesity

We are constantly being told that obesity levels are increasing and we should act now to ensure our long term health. However this problem does not 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 of 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


How to Bath your Cat and Survive Scratch-Free!

We all know that most cats like water as much as we like receiving a letter from the IRS! While they may spend hours grooming themselves to perfection, there are some circumstances that may mean that it is necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend and this usually makes bathing them unavoidable.

Cat’s can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, hissing, raising their fur and even lashing out at you. However, with some preparation and patience you can bath your cat and survive scratch-free and the secret involves not so much a bath, but a shower instead!
 

Get Organized

Just like bathing a baby; bathing a cat requires everything that you need to be within arm’s reach. You should have:
 

  • A shower or bath with a handheld shower head.

  • Several towels to clean her off and help her dry.

  • Specialist cat shampoo and conditioner. This is available from most good
     

pet stores and your veterinarian will be able to advise if there is a particular sort that would be good for your feline friend. You should never use human shampoo or conditioner as is has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.
 

Pre-bathing Prep

Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-furred breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the shower head at a medium level spray.


General Pet Safety

Keeping your pet safe is the most important part of keeping both you and your pet happy. When you first adopt a pet or new breed of pet — or even better, before you adopt them — be sure to research the basics of your pet. When you finally select a pet, talk to the shelter staff about things you might need to worry about or watch out for. Of course, you can always stop by with your pet to discuss behaviors, concerns, or anything else.

Below we've got some general notes on basic safety tips, whether indoors or outdoors. Remember that traveling —that's more than a quick jog to the park or a ride across town for a play date— may require some extra steps based on the species of your pet. Traveling at any distance can give some pets anxiety, and there's other physical safety factors to consider. Come by and talk to us about what you may need, especially if you're about to travel abroad!


Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
 

Why might my horse be lame?

There are many reasons why a horse can become lame, but some of the most common reasons include:
 

  • Abscesses or bruises in the hoof

  • Back and neck problems

  • Degenerative joint diseases

  • Fractures

  • Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall

  • Ligament injuries

  • Tendon damage