American Animal Health Association
VETERINARY EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE
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Have you come across a stray rabbit or bird in your yard, neighborhood or just out and about? Dr. Lee talks this month on what you should do when you find stray wildlife.
Spring is here in Las Vegas, and with the warm weather comes young wildlife. You may come into contact with wildlife that appear to be orphaned or abandoned by their mothers. The best policy if you encounter wildlife is to leave the animals alone unless they are obviously sick or injured. Most of the young animals encountered in the wild are not orphaned or abandoned. Their mother will likely return for the babies once the coast is clear. The most common types of wildlife encountered in Las Vegas are cottontail rabbits and songbirds.
Cottontail rabbits only feed their young at dawn and dusk so the mother is never at the nest during the day and you will likely never see her. A rabbit nest is typically a depression in the ground, lined with grass or fur. If you find a nest, leave the rabbits in the nest. You may place a grid of string or twigs over the nest, and if the string or twigs have been moved after 12-24 hours, then the mother is around and tending to the nest. Also, if the rabbits are warm and hydrated, then the mother has been tending to them. If humans are hovering around the nest, this may cause a mother to stay away and abandon the young, so remember to keep your distance. Young rabbits grow quickly and will leave the nest within two to three weeks. If a small rabbit is seen by a nest, fully furred, with its eyes open, the rabbit is most likely on its own.
Songbird and raptor nestlings may fall out of a nest or be blown out of a nest with strong winds or after a storm. If you find a nestling on the ground without feathers, look around for a nest. If the nest is easily accessible, then place the bird back into the nest. If the nest cannot be reached or found, then place the bird as close to the nest or on a branch in the tree nearby. Birds have a very poor sense of smell. It is a misconception that baby birds will be abandoned once touched by a human. Fledgling birds are young birds with fully developed feathers that are not yet fully flighted. Fledglings may spend a lot of time outside of the nest on branches or on the ground and may be “practicing” flying. The mothers will still tend to and care for these young birds until they have mastered flying.
These are signs that an animal may need the help of a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian:
- The parent is dead
- The animal has been attacked by a predator
- The animal is bleeding or injured
- The animal is emaciated
- The animal is cold or shivering
If you have to chase young wildlife, then it probably does not need to be rescued. If you accidentally remove wildlife from its nest, they can be returned to the nest and the mother will continue care for them as long as they haven’t been absent for more than 36 hours. Wild animals are delicate with very specific dietary and environmental needs and usually fare better with their mothers than with human intervention. Never attempt to rehabilitate wildlife yourself. If a wild animal is injured, sick, or truly orphaned, then a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian should be contacted to care for the animal as these individuals are trained and equipped to provide temporary care and treatment until the animal may be released. Rehabilitating wildlife without a license is illegal. Wild animals also carry diseases which can be transmissible to humans and pets.
You can help to protect young animals by checking for nests before mowing or trimming trees or bushes. Keep pets indoors or on leashes to prevent injury to wildlife. Place caps on chimneys, vents, and window wells to prevent nesting in these areas. Educate children to respect wild animals and observe them from afar.
Dr. Starks talks this month about Avian Bornavirus.
Avian Bornavirus (ABV) is a progressive and often fatal disease that causes neurologic symptoms in birds. It is ubiquitous and approximately 1/3 of companion parrots are infected with the virus. Although prevalence is high, most parrots are asymptomatic carriers and not all of these infected birds will demonstrate signs or become ill. Until recently recognition and diagnosis of ABV in parrots was rare. In 2008, ABV was identified as the causative agent for Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD). PDD, also known as “Macaw Wasting Disease,” is the most prevalent manifestation of disease with parrots showing classic gastrointestinal signs of undigested food in feces, regurgitation, delayed crop emptying, diarrhea, and severe chronic weight loss.
Below are some key points to know about this disease
ABV infection is not limited to parrots. This disease was initially tied to new world parrots like macaws, but has since been recognized in waterfowl, ratites, and raptors.
ABV transmission is not well understood and it is generally accepted that the virus is transmitted through a fecal – oral route. Recent studies suggest that this virus is often spread from parents to chicks, and possibly through eggs. While this is a contagious disease, observation in ABV infected aviaries show that this virus does not spread rapidly throughout a flock. ABV is an RNA virus, and as a general rule, RNA viruses are unstable outside of the host and break down rapidly due to naturally occurring enzymes. This means that if you have a multi bird household with an ABV positive parrot with clinical signs, there is a chance that your other birds can remain free of the disease with appropriate preventative veterinary care and good husbandry.
Because this virus has an affinity for nerve tissue, signs of ABV vary significantly. Any neurologic parrot – those having difficulty perching, walking, flying, or abnormal limb/ head positions should consider testing for ABV. In addition, because ABV is considered to be the cause of PDD, any bird with unresponsive, chronic diarrhea, regurgitation, or ravenous appetite with weight loss should also consider testing. It is important to note that most parrots show very vague forms of the aforementioned signs, and are commonly missed by most owners.
There is no standard treatment for ABV. Most veterinarians use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like meloxicam or celecoxib to reduce neurological signs. Other medications may be used to treat diarrhea, secondary infections, and regurgitation.
Prevention and being proactive is key; ask your breeder or pet store if they have tested their birds for ABV. Quarantine any new birds for 30-45 days in a separate room before introducing them to your current flock. Most importantly, remember to contact your veterinarian for advice or questions concerning ABV.
Presence of Avian Bornavirus RNA and Anti-avian Bornavirus Antibodies in Apparently Healthy Macaws. Siwo R. De Kloet and Gerry M. Dorrestein. Avian Diseases Digest 4(4):e10-e11. 2009.
Proventricular Dilatation Disease in Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) After Infection With a Genotype 2 Avian Bornavirus . Negin Mirhosseini, MS, Patricia L. Gray, DVM, MS, Sharman Hoppes, DVM, Dipl AVBP (Avian), Ian Tizard, BVMS, ACVM (Honorary), H. L. Shivaprasad, BVSc, PhD, ACPV, and Susan Payne, PhD. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery September 2011 : Vol. 25, Issue 3 (Sep 2011), pg(s) 199-204
Vertical Transmission of Avian Bornavirus in Psittaciformes: Avian Bornavirus RNA and Anti-Avian Bornavirus Antibodies in Eggs, Embryos, and Hatchlings Obtained from Infected Sun Conures (Aratinga solstitialis). Anelle Kerski, Arne H. de Kloet, and Siwo R. de Kloet. Avian Diseases Digest 7(3):e9-e10. 2012.
Laser Therapy for Pets
For many years, world-class athletes and thoroughbred race horses have benefitted from laser therapy treatments. Fortunately, this technology is now available for pets.
Infrared laser light from therapy lasers harmlessly penetrates deep into tissues where it is absorbed in the cells, and this energy is converted into chemical, not thermal, energy. In athletic environments, therapy lasers are primarily used to reduce swelling, reduce pain, and speed the healing process. These mechanisms allow veterinarians to successfully treat a wide range of conditions non-invasively and without drugs.
Laser therapy speeds healing, so veterinarians routinely treat injuries with the laser, as well as treating patients immediately after surgery so incisions heal more quickly. Studies indicate that laser-treated wounds heal in a third to a half faster than the time required in normal healing. A single laser treatment is usually all that is required for post-surgical patients to reduce swelling and to speed healing. Skin wounds, abrasions, bite injuries, dermatitis, and burns all respond well to laser therapy.
Acute conditions may require more than a single treatment, but also respond well to laser therapy. Because laser therapy laser can be administered without touching the painful area, veterinarians are able to provide immediate pain relief and edema control to very sensitive tissues.
Laser therapy also reduces inflammation by increasing vasodilation, activating the lymphatic drainage system, and reducing pro-inflammatory mediators. As a result, inflammation, erythema, bruising, and edema are all reduced when treated with laser. This is especially important for conditions where anti-inflammatory medications are risky for the patient because of the patient’s age, liver health, or species. Laser therapy is a drug-free treatment modality that can often replace or enhance other treatment plans recommended by your veterinarian.
A benefit of the more modern, higher-powered therapeutic lasers, like the Companion Therapy Laser, is that adequate dosages of laser energy, or photons, can be painlessly and efficiently delivered to deeper tissues. This is a huge benefit in treating chronic conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, back disease or injury, and degenerative joint diseases. Geriatric patients often suffer from one or more of these painful problems, as well the aches and pains that come naturally with aging. There thousands of reports of pets who were lame an inactive who return to normal, or almost normal function after laser therapy. More chronic and more severe cases may require multiple treatment sessions to fully benefit.
Veterinarians are also using therapeutic lasers to stimulate muscle and acupuncture points painlessly and without needles.
We always had pets growing up, but I honestly could not tell you where a nearby veterinarian was. I’m sure my parents never vaccinated their dogs, much less worried about preventative care. My parents were great care givers and loved our animals, but I think it was the old school attitude that you only saw the vet to euthanize your dog. As a young adult I adopted the same philosophy as my parents. As we started introducing pets into our household with children I choose to become more educated on the benefits of regular veterinary care. It wasn’t until I began working at an animal hospital that I let myself believe in the value of preventative care and saw for myself the benefits and unfortunately the downside of lack of care. I also never thought about the financial benefit of prevenative care until we had our first doggie dental that required multiple extractions, our pocketbook was not happy!
Zoom ahead to 2014 and I am much more proactive about having annual exams, vaccines, wellness checks and especially dentals. I know how icky I feel when my mouth is not clean, I have a cavity or worse, I can only imagine how our little four legged friends must feel. The noticeable benefit is when they pant in my face and I don’t want to drop over from the smell, the hidden benefit is knowning I have done what I can to help extend their life and address any found issues.
In celebration of national pet dental month we want to share a informative webpage with quick videos and information on preventative care and periodontal disease, https://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/February-is-National-Pet-Dental-Health-Month.aspx. We also will be celebrating dental month with a great affordable dental cleaning special. Why not give our staff a call for me details.
Ellen Moyer, Hospital Administrator