Animal Information


  • RAW DIETS

    There are an increasing number of pet owners considering ‘raw feeding’ for their pets. The intent of this article is not to bias the reader for or against raw feeding, but rather to state the potential hazards that one should be aware of when considering this diet in order to make an informed decision. 

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  • NOISE PHOBIA

    If your cat hides during a storm, or your dog salivates and paces when there are fireworks; it may be showing symptoms of distress or noise phobia. There are a range of symptoms from mild to severe; and often it co-exists with other anxiety disorders (e.g. separation anxiety). Herding breeds are more often affected but any breed may suffer from this condition. The earlier noise aversion is addressed the better, as it often progresses in severity. Treatment is multifaceted – including physical, environmental and behavioural modification as well as medication.

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  • FREQUENT PET EMERGENCIES

    Here is a brief list on the most common pet emergencies we see. Phone the vet for advice on what first aid can be given. Take care with painful pets as they may bite, using a thick blanket is helpful for handling painful pets.

    • Trauma: road traffic accidents and bite wounds
    • Severe vomiting and diarrhoea
    • Difficulty breathing (dyspnoea)
    • Poisonings and envenomation
    • Seizures
    • Urination problems

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  • HOW DO I TREAT MY PET'S WOUNDS?

    • Apply pressure for 5 minutes if there is active bleeding
    • ‘First do no harm’: many products advertised to disinfect wounds can harm healthy tissue. A thorough flush of the wound with plain water alone is effective in reducing the obvious dirt. It is FAR better to flush a wound with water than spray purple spray all over the wound while leaving the contaminants in the wound.
    • Trim away matted hair if the pet allows and flush again.
    • Apply a light dressing after drying the wound to keep the wound clean until veterinary care can be sought. Ensure the bandage is not too tight (you should be able to slide a finger under.)
    • There are several stages to wound healing, the aim of wound treatment is to help the wound progress through the stages without delays.
      Delays can be caused by:
      Excessive movement
      Contamination and infection
      Inappropriate topical treatment
      Patient factors (e.g. immunosuppression, age, illness) etc.
    • Minor wounds and scrapes will heal in most healthy pets without the need for antibiotics if appropriate wound care is given. Veterinary attention is necessary for all deep, or extensive wounds, and additionally in cases where the pet has other health concerns (e.g. diabetic patients). If in doubt; seek veterinary attention! A dog bite wound can seem minor (tiny puncture) but have extensive damage underneath—‘iceberg effect’. Bite wounds in cats often leave very small wounds, barely visible underneath the fur, but can become very large abscesses due to infection in the wound if not cleaned properly. 
    • Do not leave dressings on for more than 2 days (unless instructed differently by your vet.) It is ideal to clean wounds daily. 

      Contact your vet if you are not sure what to do and before giving any medication. 

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  • DENTAL DISEASE: FACT AND FICTION

    FACT : Most dogs and cats over the age of 4 years have a level of dental disease

    FICTION: “Bones are ideal to keep teeth clean”.....they are not.

    • Bones break teeth
    • They get stuck (between teeth, and in the gut)
    • Bones can cause painful constipation

    FACT: Brushing teeth is the best method to prevent and control dental disease.                                                    If your pet already suffers from severe periodontal disease it is best to first have the teeth professionally scaled and polished, or else brushing will be as effective as ‘sweeping a beach’, as calculus is similar to concrete covering the teeth.

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  • AFRICAN HORSE SICKNESS

    African Horse Sickness (AHS) is a viral disease that causes severe respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms (and frequently death). The disease is transmitted by midges; hence the recommendation is to ensure all horses in the infected zone are vaccinated before the ‘midge season’; that is before 31 October each year. 

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  • DISTEMEPER (HONDESIEKTE)

    Canine Distemper (Hondesiekte)

    The disease, caused by a Paramyxovirus is highly contagious and potentially lethal. It causes severe illness in dogs by attacking multiple body systems, resulting in a widespread infection that is difficult to treat.

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  • PARVOVIRUS INFECTION (KATGRIEP)

    The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. Cats are not affected by this virus. 

     

     

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  • INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE (IVDD)

    INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE (IVDD)

    IVDD is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column bulge or burst into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, or even paralysis.

     

    Dog breeds that are predisposed to IVDD include Dachshund, Beagle, Basset Hound, and Shih Tzu, however cases of IVDD have been spotted in Jack Russell as well as mixed breeds.

     Symptoms

    Dogs would usually present with sudden weakness or lameness of the hind legs, anxiousness, back pain, unwillingness to eat and climb stairs and sometimes loss of bladder and bowel control. We recommend taking your pet to the vet as soon as any of these symptoms surface since prompt treatment is required for the best chance of recovery.

    How will the vet confirm IVDD?

    The vet will do a physical and neurological exam – feeling the back, testing the front and hind legs for reflexes, etc. This will determine the degree of spinal column damage. The vet might also need to take an x-ray of the back and possibly do a myelogram (contrast medium is put into the space between the vertebral column and the spinal cord). This will determine the exact location of the lesion for surgical repair as well as the extent of the damage to the spinal cord.

    Treatment

    Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment can range from conservative to surgical. Conservative care includes very strict confinement for 2-6 weeks and medicinal treatments such as steroids or anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and nutraceuticals such as Chondrofocus to reduce pain and the swelling of the spinal cord. After a period of resting, your pet is allowed to gradually return to normal activity

     

    If the damage is too severe, emergency surgery is needed to open up the space. This is done by removing a portion of the bony vertebrae over the spinal cord and the disc material. Dogs that undergo surgery soon after diagnosis have a better chance of recovery. Even after surgery, however, the dog may not recover fully.

    Management

    Dogs will be treated with anti-inflammatories, nutraceuticals and muscle relaxants and will receive physiotherapy. Owners might need to assist with the toilet routine for a while. In dogs that lose sensation in the limbs, recovery can occur up to two months after the incident. Dogs that do not regain the function of their hind legs can maintain a high quality of life using a cart and the owners assisting with emptying the bladder.

    Prevention

    It is recommended to keep your dog at a lower weight; this will reduce stress on the neck and back.

    Using a harness when walking will also reduce stress on the neck

    Prevent your dog from jumping on and off furniture by building ramps

    Give prophylactic nutraceuticals such as Chondrofocus containing Resveratrol, Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables, MSM and Vit E and C.

    Do not give supplements containing Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine as this might have a negative effect on the disc composition

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  • STOP FLEAS IN THEIR TRACKS.

    STOP FLEAS IN THEIR TRACKS.

    Nothing beats the feeling of coming home after a long day and being welcomed by your pet! You fall to the ground and rub his belly as barks of joy fill your home. It’s a beautiful moment - until you spot a flea or a sneaky little tick hiding behind his ear!

    Don’t worry, though, we have all the inside info: What they are, what they do, and - most importantly - how to stop them.

    Meet the pests

    FLEAS:

    Fleas are one of the most common pests on your pet. Fleas can jump 30 000 times in a row without stopping and can jump over 150 times their own size which is like you jumping the length of a football field. The scary thing about fleas is that just one flea can become 1,000 on your pet in only 21 days. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is very common and causes severe itchiness.

    Helpful fact: fleas attract tapeworms, so animals with fleas need to be dewormed as well.

    TICKS:

    Ticks are the daredevils of the pest kingdom. They don’t jump or fly at all but instead, they crawl up low bushes or grass to find a host. Then they stretch out their front legs to grab hold of a passing animal or human. Sometimes, they even free-fall onto a passing host. Ticks cause Babesiosis (Biliary) and Ehrlichia (Tick bite fever) which causes severe anaemia and can be fatal.

    Helpful fact: Ticks require 24 – 48 hours of feeding before they transmit infection, so prompt removal is crucial.

    MITES:

    Mites are the ninjas of the pest kingdom. Most mites are so small you need a microscope to see them. Mites feed on dead human skin and pet dander.

    Sarcoptes mites cause severe itchiness and can be transmitted to humans, Otodectes mites cause ear infections, and Demodex mites cause marked hair loss and thickening of the skin, also known as “Brandsiek”.

    Helpful fact: There are about 10 000 house-dust mites in an average bed, so be sure to change your bedding regularly.

     

    Treatments

    The one thing that all pests have in common is that they’re much easier prevented than treated. BRAVECTO is one of the many products designed to prevent diseases transmitted by fleas, ticks and mites.  

    WHAT IS BRAVECTO?

    BRAVECTO is a yummy, palatable tablet given to your dog once every 12 weeks. It is best absorbed when given with food. And don’t worry, it’s a small, chewy tablet - your pet will think it’s a treat.

    HOW DOES IT WORK?

    Bravecto contains an active ingredient called Fluralaner which is absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream and deposited in the fat layer under the skin. When a tick or flea bites, the active ingredient is ingested, and the parasite dies within hours. The product kills adults, larvae and eggs – a very important aspect in tick and flea prevention.

    IS IT SAFE?

    Make sure your pet passes the criteria before you feed them Bravecto:

    • Older than 8 weeks
    • Weighs more than 2kg
    • Not prone to Epilepsy

    Helpful tip: Bravecto is safe for pregnant and lactating animals as well.

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  • DEWORMER FOR THE EVERYDAY FARMER

    DEWORMER FOR THE EVERYDAY FARMER

    Nem-A-Rid 3.75% oral dewormer for the everyday farmer

    Indications of Nem-A-Rid 3.75%

    Nem-A-Rid oral drenching dewormer can be used as follow:

    Sheep and goats: Target Roundworms and Liver fluke as well as Nasal worm.

    Cattle: Target Roundworm and Liver fluke.

    Disadvantages of Endoparasites

    Roundworm and Liver fluke is a consistent problem in commercial and communal farming areas and especially where farming is done in wet areas it can become a serious problem. The nasal worm has a lower incidence but can cause deaths from severe irritation and blocking in the nasal cavities. Cattle, sheep and goats are debilitated by the internal parasites and can be killed by them and they also reduce overall resistance to other diseases.

    Benefits from Nem-A-Rid

    The farmer will benefit from two active ingredients. The Levamisole is short acting and the Rafoxanide has a medium duration(3-4weeks) on Roundworms and Nasal worm, thus benefit from two ways to kill the worms but also in a duration of protecting. Rafoxanide target all the bloodsucking roundworms which are the most debilitating of roundworms.

    Rafoxanide prevents myiasis (flystrike-Nasal worm).

    Rafoxanide is effective against both Liver flukes seen in sheep and cattle. It's effective also against adult and immature (6weeks) stages of the flukes.

    Levamisole is effective against all adult roundworms and some of the immature stages. It also has an immune stimulant effect on debilitated/sick animals.

    Strategic use of Nem-A-Rid

    Sheep and Goats:

    December/January in a normal rain season for Roundworm and Nasal worm.  Liver fluke -May-July

    Cattle:

    Calves when weaned (April-July) and pasture backgrounded where both roundworm and liver fluke has an effect on these animals. Older cattle can also be dewormed in June for Liver fluke.

     

    Best to use the product in conjunction with Faecal analysis at your veterinarian.

     

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  • STERILISATION OF PETS

    STERILISATION OF PETS

    What is spaying and neutering of dogs and cats? It is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs.

    Why is it necessary?

    Every year thousands of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens are needlessly destroyed. The good news is that every pet owner can make a difference. By having your dog or cat surgically sterilised, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens and you will enhance your pet’s health and quality of life.

    What are the benefits of spaying and neutering?

    Both operations lead to the improved long-term health, prevent unwanted litters and eliminate many behaviour problems associated with the mating instinct.

     

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  • VACCINATION

    VACCINATION

    WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VACCINATION

    Vaccinations protect your pet from several highly contagious diseases such as canine distemper, parvovirus infection and respiratory tract infections. It also protects against transmissible diseases such as rabies that also pose a risk to humans. Vaccination will not cure a pet that is already sick. Only healthy pets should be vaccinated. A veterinarian or a veterinary nurse administers vaccines.

    Are there any risks?

    The majority of pets experience no adverse effects following vaccination. A small number of animals may become feverish and have a reduced appetite or develop urticaria (raised areas on the skin). These reactions are mild and of short duration. In extremely rare cases, an animal may experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Such an animal can be treated successfully if attended to immediately. The possibility of such an event occurring does not justify considering not to vaccinate your pets, however, as that will leave them susceptible to a range of life-threatening infectious diseases.

    Against what diseases should I have my pet vaccinated?

    Vaccines used for the protection of pets are currently divided into core vaccines and non- core vaccines. The former are vaccines that should be given to all pets in all regions because they protect against diseases that are widespread and have serious effects. Non- core vaccines are only given strategically when a particular disease is prevalent in an area or when circumstances predispose to the appearance of the disease. Non-core vaccines are only administered after discussion with your veterinarian to evaluate the risks.

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  • FEATHER PLUCKING

    FEATHER PLUCKING

    OWNERS OF FEATHER PICKING PARROTS SHOULD DO THE FOLLOWING AT HOME:

    • Increase humidity by allowing birds into the bathroom while showering, especially in the dry Highveld winters. Also, mist spray daily with decalcified water (ensure the environment is warm). Misting just before leaving keeps the birds busy for the first half hour after the owner has left, and reduces allergen load on the feathers. 

    • Correct dietary deficiencies. Converting the bird to a complete pelleted diet, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables, is recommended. 

    • Eliminate broad allergic irritants from the environment (cigarette smoke, perfumes, incense, and cleaning products, wash hands before handling birds as oily residues from hand creams etc can initiate picking). Remove birds from the kitchen as aerosolised oil droplets and overheated Teflon can be harmful. 

    • Ensure daily access to direct sunlight, unfiltered by a glass window (5 minutes at least). 

    • Ensure birds are getting enough sleep – they need at least 10 hours of darkness per night. Remember that birds often wake at the crack of dawn, and will stay awake till the whole family has gone to bed if kept in the family room. 

    • Ignore picking behaviour (prevent reinforcement of behaviour), reward the bird for alternative behaviours. 

    • Treat all wounds (never apply oil based products or products containing corticosteroids) 

    • Keep daily records – the amount of picking, time of day, food eaten that day, activities surrounding picking. 


     

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  • HEALTHCARE OF WILDLIFE

    HEALTHCARE OF WILDLIFE

    Dr J A Pretorius (BVSc, MMedVet (Fer)) Extracts from postgraduate degree seminars

    HEALTHCARE OF INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS

    The care of orphaned or injured wildlife is very specialized and should not be attempted by any layperson. Hand-reared wildlife often becomes very aggressive and several people have been injured or killed by “pet” wildlife. There is also legislation against keeping wildlife as pets in South Africa and a permit must be issued by Nature Conservation of the relevant province. They are however very strict on this and animals should rather be referred to registered rehabilitation facilities for wildlife. The aim of these facilities is to reintroduce these animals back into the wild if possible. If a game farm owner, however, has the relevant permits and wish to continue the treatment or rearing of an animal, it is advised to consult with a veterinarian with wildlife experience as each species has very specific needs.

    Treating wild animals often is problematic especially in the case of ungulates. Keeping them in holding facilities is very stressful and often the animals die rather of the associated stress than the original problem, injury or disease. Animals in holding facilities for quarantine purposes or before an auction need special attention and again it is advised to have an experienced veterinarian involved with the whole process. Before animals are off-loaded into the pens, they need to be treated for internal and external parasites, as well as long-acting antibiotics and tranquillisers. Without these treatments, animals will lose condition and easily become ill. Pneumonia is often a problem in dusty pens.

    HEALTHCARE OF POPULATIONS

    Wildlife is often reservoir hosts of diseases that can affect domestic animals. The disease can be fatal or have serious economic effects on the farmer and the country as a whole. This resulted that several diseases carried by wildlife have been classed as either controlled or notifiable diseases in South Africa. Certain diseases can spread from domestic animals to wildlife and also need to be controlled.

    An example is a buffalo that before they can be moved from a farm or reserve, they need to be tested for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), corridor disease, brucellosis and tuberculosis. Buffalo are reservoir hosts for FMD and corridor disease, whereas they can be infected with brucellosis and tuberculosis, transmitted from cattle. Warthogs are the reservoir hosts for African swine fever (ASF) and this is also a controlled disease which prevents the movement of any warthog or warthog product without veterinary permits and not at all from ASF areas to the ASF-free areas.

     

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  • BIRD HUSBANDRY

    PROPER DIET

    There are many avian species that are successfully kept as pets around the world, with the parrot and canary families being particularly popular. A critical component of good husbandry is the feeding of an appropriate diet to your bird.

    The following points will help you make the right choices:

    Do not perpetuate the myth that birds of the parrot family can survive on seeds alone. Many parrots will feed on seed only despite a variety of foods being offered, but a seed is very high in fat and low in many nutrients that your parrot really needs. We all know children who would eat sweets only despite a balanced diet being available! Commercially produced pellets are recommended, as these provide a better-balanced diet for birds of the parrot family. It is advisable to supplement fresh vegetables, a little fruit as a treat, a little seed and some nuts. A small amount of pasta, cheese or whole wheat bread can also be given.

    Chocolates and caffeine should be avoided completely, as should avocado and the seeds of the most commercially available fruit. Birds would never drink milk in the wild, and dairy products with high lactose levels will cause diarrhoea. These should be avoided. Cheese and yoghurt in moderation can be beneficial, by providing a good source of calcium.

    Sprouted seeds have a lower oil content and provide better nutrition for a bird than dry seeds. Seeds should be rinsed in fresh water and soaked overnight before being placed under a lamp, with paper towelling to keep them moist. The seeds should sprout within a couple of days, after which they can be rinsed and stored in the refrigerator.

    PROPER WING CLIPPING

    Wing clipping is the process of removing feathers on either one or both wings to hinder the bird’s ability to fly. This can be dangerous as it leads to a loss of control in flight, which could result in injuries to the wings or sternum of the bird during a crash landing. For this reason, some veterinarians prefer clipping both wings to allow for better control during flight, but a lighter bird may still be able to fly. It is very important that you do NOT just cut across the primary feathers, as this may cause feather plucking. It is recommended that you speak to your veterinarian who can recommend the most appropriate form of clipping for the type of bird that you keep.

     

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