Halloween Hazards

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Fright Night is Almost Here!

What’s fun for most of us can be scary or dangerous for our pets.  Here’s a few thoughts to mull over this Halloween.

  • Toxins – many of our exotic pets love to chew.  Chocolate, sugary treats and caffeine are common items this weekend that should be kept out of reach. Keep an eye on that bowl of candy or decorations.  autumn-candy-mix
  • Costumes and Decorations – watch out for flying hazards, novel items to chew or hiding places that your little critter could get stuck in.  String, buttons, toxic bits of dangling costumes or decorations are attractive but could cause serious health issues.  Don’t allow access to anything you aren’t sure is healthy.
  • Activity – stress from the constantly ringing doorbell, loud party noises or exciting decorations that make noise can all result in an unhappy or sick pet.  Make sure your pet has a quiet and calm place to wait out the storm.
  • Pumpkins  – while pumpkins are more of a concern for the active and larger pet (dogs, cats, large bunnies) they can be a tasty treat for others (birds, turtles, tortoises….).  Just make sure no toxic paints or decorations are left on the item to be eaten.  Also, if that pumpkin was carved and set out a few days ago…it’s probably not something you want to eat.  hot-head-pumpkin-
  • Candles – the main concern here is a fire hazard if your frightened pet knocks one over.  It’s never a good idea to leave unattended candles in a house.

Happy Haunting!

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Rabbit Ears

Lop eared rabbits are really prone to ear infections – but why?rabbit-2531800_1280
What is going on with these ears?

Types of ear infections
Otitis external, otitis media and otitis interns – the external ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. This discussion is all about the external or outer ear. In fact, it’s the only part of the ear we can see without more advanced testing.

The outer ear consists of the pinna and the ear canal.  It stops at the eardrum, or tympanic membrane. The middle ear is just on the other side of that thin structure…and hopefully we can’t see into it during a regular ear exam. That would mean your eardrum was ruptured (ouch!).

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In many species the ear canal is broken into two parts – the vertical canal and the horizontal canal. Mainly because part goes up and down while the other is oriented sideways. This doesn’t hold true in rabbits. It’s basically just a slant down to the eardrum. In standard rabbits this canal has cartilage which allows it to maintain its shape – just like in our ears and nose- it’s bendy but holds shape.

In lops, there is cartilage in the outer portion of the canal, but not the inner…so the ear flops over.  Keep in mind that ear canals are designed to help material and debris exit the ear by moving things up and out. Imagine what happens when material starting at the eardrum try’s to get out of a lops’ ear…it hits that right angle bend and comes to a halt.

So what happens?
…debris builds up, bacteria or yeasts get stuck, maybe things get a little moist…and you get an infection.

Sometimes this infection starts in the middle ear and bursts through the ear drum to extend into the outer ear. Sometimes the reverse happens. But we can’t see the ear drum once debris or infection has set up shop. In order to find out more we can try to flush and clean the ear canal under anesthesia or image it using CT scans. X-rays of the skull can provide us with some info but a CT really gives you a great view of what is going on.

Now I know that a CT scan for your bunny may be out of reach financially. But I look forward to when they become cheaper and more common. Already there are researchers studying how to take awake CT scans. This helps both your pocketbook and your bunny since no matter how hard we try to minimize it…there is always some health risks with anesthesia.

So what do we do?
The answer is not clear but the more we look into it, the better our chance of figuring this out.  Right now, there is some thought that prophylactic ear cleaning may be helpful. Products containing tris-EDTA are a good choice. Please be careful what you put in your bun’s ears and check with your rabbit vet. I’ve heard of stories of folks putting bleach in animal ears and I’m sure they wouldn’t have done so if they knew just what pain and damage they were causing.

Which Size Cup?

Which Size Cup?baking-149263_640
During a recent conversation with a client, I recommended she measure the pellets offered and make sure they are no more than 1/4 cup (for a rabbit).  She asked me “which size cup?”.  I was very confused.

Sometimes I feel the most difficult part of the job is communication.  I didn’t know how to respond to the client – finally I suggested a dry measuring cup. She still seemed confused and was happy to learn that measuring cups are standard sizes.  I recommended she go out to a store with kitchen supplies and get a fresh set.

“Whenever You Assume, You Make an Ass out of You and Me.” 
I’ve been told stories, by dog and cat vets, that when asked to bring in the cup used to measure their pet’s food an owner brought in a 7-11 big gulp!  That is, technically, a cup – if you assume cup is referring to the container rather than the measurement.

But really, anything you do for a while becomes natural.  It seems like everybody does the same thing…until you find someone who doesn’t.  Boy that keeps you on your toes.  I shocked my father one year when I asked him for advice on a CPA – I needed some help with my taxes.  He stared at me…”how have you been getting your taxes done?”  I used to do them myself…he asked how I learned.  After a minute, I informed my father that my mother sat me down when I was 15 and told me what to do.  After that, I was responsible for my own taxes.  He never knew…

At least we each learned something that day – she learned how measuring cups work and I learned that some people haven’t been taught how measuring cups work.