The rabbit moulting season is upon us!

03/29/2019Attention Rabbit owners! 🐰The rabbit moulting season has been non stop this last few months, which means that your rabbit could be ingesting fur each time they groom themselves or their friends. The most common cause of a bloat (gastric dilation) in rabbits is due to a gastrointestinal obstruction such as a trichobezoar, also known as a pellet of compre...

Attention Rabbit owners! 🐰

The rabbit moulting season has been non stop this last few months, which means that your rabbit could be ingesting fur each time they groom themselves or their friends. The most common cause of a bloat (gastric dilation) in rabbits is due to a gastrointestinal obstruction such as a trichobezoar, also known as a pellet of compressed fur. 

When a gastrointestinal blockage occurs, fermentation within the stomach keeps continuing leading to the stomach becoming enlarged/distended with a mix of stomach fluid and gas. If a blockage occurs in the intestines there is now nowhere for the stomach contents to go as rabbits cannot vomit or eructate (burp), which leads to the stomach becoming enlarged or bloated. If this occurs in your rabbit we recommend not to force feed any food, water or medications until a vet has examined and advised whether it is safe to do so.

To diagnose bloat in a rabbit requires abdominal palpation and often radiographs (x-rays) as well as a blood glucose measurement. It is important when your rabbit stops eating to always have a vet palpate the abdomen to rule out the possibility of bloat as symptoms can be quite similar to gut stasis, before treating with any medications. 

If a gastrointestinal blockage is confirmed by your vet then there are two main treatment options that are generally available depending on the severity of the bloat – prompt surgery to relieve the obstruction or medical management with fluid therapy, decompression of the stomach with tubes as well as intensive pain relief (often delivered as a constant rate infusion into your bunnies vein via a catheter). We often utilise a combination of both methods depending on the individual case. We have posted a few of these cases on our facebook page if you would like to have a look.

If you would like further information on bloat in rabbits then please contact one of our clinics. You can also check out the following information sheets by clicking on the below links:

Exotic Medicine for Vet Nurses Education Night

02/14/2019The Unusual Pet Vets Balcatta and Murdoch clinics are proudly hosting a night of educational talks by a number of our staff in Perth on April 16th 2019. A range of topics will be discussed including: - Dr James Haberfield speaking on nutrition for exotics - Dr Kelly Giles speaking on triaging exotics - Dr Maren Beeston speaking on wing and nail clipping -...

The Unusual Pet Vets Balcatta and Murdoch clinics are proudly hosting a night of educational talks by a number of our staff in Perth on April 16th 2019. A range of topics will be discussed including:
Dr James Haberfield speaking on nutrition for exotics
Dr Kelly Giles speaking on triaging exotics
Dr Maren Beeston speaking on wing and nail clipping
Dr Luke Bradley
RVN Ash Smith speaking on handling, restraint and catheter placement in exotics
RVN Jen Sydenham speaking on rabbits with head tilts, floppy bunnies and hospital care

Details of the evening as follows:
– Cost: $5 entry payable at the door with all profits donated to charity.
– Location: Loneragan Lecture Theatre (Murdoch University), 90 South Street, Murdoch 6150 WA
– Time: 7.30pm
– Date: Tuesday April 16th 2019
– Who can attend? The talks are aimed at veterinary nurses however nursing students, other interested people as well as vets and vet students are all welcome to attend
– How do I reserve my place? Places are strictly limited so RSVP is essential. RSVP with your name and how many places you would like to vets@unusualpetvets.com.au

For more information please check out our facebook page

We will also be hosting a similar event for backyard chickens in Melbourne soon so keep your eyes peeled to our social media for more information!

Our oldest surgical patient yet! 70 years old!

01/12/2019Everyone please meet Herbert, a very special patient who was born in the late 1940s, making Herbert 70 years old!!He came in after an accident caused him to break his leg. After being stabilised in hospital he underwent surgery with Dr James and nurse Jess to repair his nasty fracture. The surgery went well and he is heading home to rest up. We wish Herber...

Everyone please meet Herbert, a very special patient who was born in the late 1940s, making Herbert 70 years old!!

He came in after an accident caused him to break his leg. After being stabilised in hospital he underwent surgery with Dr James and nurse Jess to repair his nasty fracture. The surgery went well and he is heading home to rest up. We wish Herbert all the best with his recovery!

 

 

  

Is my Guinea Pig a boy or a girl? Guinea Pig Reproduction 101

10/16/2018Guinea pigs are growing in popularity as pets and we are starting to see more and more of them come through our clinics. They can make fantastic pets and are full of personality, however do require more care than many people think.  We get lots of questions about guinea pig reproduction and desexing so I thought I would cover some of our more frequently a...

Guinea pigs are growing in popularity as pets and we are starting to see more and more of them come through our clinics. They can make fantastic pets and are full of personality, however do require more care than many people think.  We get lots of questions about guinea pig reproduction and desexing so I thought I would cover some of our more frequently asked questions today.

How do I tell the gender of my guinea pig?

We often see cases where guinea pigs have been incorrectly identified as the wrong sex. A common scenario is when someone purchases two guinea pigs and are told they are two males or females. A month or so later they go to check the guinea pigs and find that all of a sudden there is a heap of babies running around! They then bring the guinea pigs in for us to check and we see that they actually had a male and a female that are now proud parents!

The above scenario is all too common and because of this we recommend that you bring any guinea pig that is recently purchased in for a health check and also to confirm their gender. We use a number of techniques to do this depending on their age, some of which include:

When can they start to reproduce?
Guinea pig males should be separated from any females, including their mothers and sisters, by around 4 weeks of age as in some cases they can be reproductively active from then. Most take a bit longer however it is best to be safe.

How many babies can they have?
Most guinea pigs have 2-4 pups (babies) however we have seen up to 12 at times, there are also reports of even larger litters.

 

How long do they take to develop and what do the babies look like?

The average gestation period (time developing inside the mother guinea pig) is around 63-72 days. This is much longer than many other small mammals like rabbits (who average 30-33 days). As their gestation period is much longer guinea pigs come out fully furred and looking like mini-adults (precocial young). They generally take 3-6 weeks to wean completely from their mother but can start eating some solid food from a few days of age.

Should I have my guinea pig de-sexed?

We recommend routine de-sexing (sterilisation) for all guinea pigs unless you are planning to breed them. The reasons are that it helps to prevent the following conditions from occurring:

What is involved in the desexing surgery?

Every vet works a little bit differently but in most cases your guinea pig is dropped off in the morning to the vet clinic and then goes home late in the afternoon that day. During their visit they will have surgery under a full general anaesthetic to remove the main parts of their reproductive tract.

What are some common problems that occur with their pregnancy?

When guinea pig females (sows) reach 6-12 months of age their pelvis generally starts to ‘ossify’ which means that it can no longer separate to allow them to pass their babies if they become pregnant and haven’t been bred before. This doesn’t happen in all cases but when it does we generally need to perform a caesarian to remove the pups (guinea pig babies).

We also see a condition called pregnancy toxaemia in guinea pigs that are fed a sub-optimal diet so it is very important to make sure they are getting what they need.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have clinics in Perth and Melbourne but can also be reached by our website (www.unusualpetvets.com.au) and social media pages.

Common Parasitic and Fungal infections In Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

09/09/2018Common Parasitic and Fungal infections In Birds, Reptiles & AmphibiansImportant tip:Whilst some over-the-counter products can be effective in the treatment of mites, careful application is needed to avoid toxicity or damage to feathers in birds.Mites There are several species of mites that can affect birds.  Some of these ...

Common Parasitic and Fungal infections In Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

Important tip:Whilst some over-the-counter products can be effective in the treatment of mites, careful application is needed to avoid toxicity or damage to feathers in birds.

Mites
There are several species of mites that can affect birds.  Some of these are much more common in poultry species, such as Dermanyssus and Ornithonyssus, whilst Cnemidocoptes, more frequently known as the scaly face and leg mite, is seen in both companion parrots and chickens.
The scaly face mite is most commonly seen in budgies. The mite causes a scaly overgrowth of the bird’s cere (the skin over the top beak) that, if left untreated, can lead to serious beak and nare deformities. However, if treated promptly, these mites can be treated effectively in most cases. If a bird has frequent relapses of scaly mite, the patient’s diet should be checked for vitamin A deficiency and their environment assessed for any stressful factors.
Unlike the scaly face mite, some of the other mites that affect chickens are blood-sucking species. Both Dermanyssus and Ornithonyssuscause anaemia (blood loss) in affected chickens but are rarely the sole problem in the chicken. Some affected chickens have underlying diseases that prevent them from effectively grooming or live in environments with high numbers of these mites. Dermanyssus mites in particular have an unusual lifestyle, where they only feed on the chickens at night and are often missed by day-time examinations.
Effective treatment of poultry mites requires managing the environment and the patient. If you are worried about your bird please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Snakes

Flagellates
In general, flagellates can live in the intestine of snakes without causing any problems. However, there are a few cases where flagellates can cause disease: 1. if they exist in high numbers 2. If aggressive species such as Entamoeba invadensare present.Entamoeba invadensis able to burrow into the intestines of affected snakes, which causes ulcers and haemorrhagic enteritis (intestinal inflammation). The parasite is also able to migrate to the bile duct and cause hepatitis.
In cases where treatment is needed, some medications can be very effective, though fluids and environmental treatment are also often needed.

Mites
The most common mite that affects snakes in Ophionyssus natricis, also know more simply as the snake mite. At low numbers these mites can cause problems with shedding, but high numbers can lead to severe anaemia developing and even the transmission of bacterial infections. The adult mites can be recognized as small black dots most frequently attached to the scales behind the spectacle (eye) or jaw of the affected snake. Treatment involves improving husbandry and treating both the environment and the snake. 

Roundworms
There are a number of different nematodes (roundworms) encountered in Australian snakes: Strongyloidesand Rhabdias are the two that we will be looking at today. Strongyloidesare the more commonly known intestinal worms that can cause inflammation at high numbers, whereas Rhabdiaslives in the respiratory tract. Snakes affected by lungworms can develop severe pneumonia and treatment requires regular fastidious cleaning of the snake’s environment as well as worming medications.

Lizards

Coccidia
Coccidia is a normal organism of the intestines in many lizard species, and is an example of an opportunisticparasite. This means that coccidia often doesn’t cause any disease unless the lizard has a poor immune system, concurrent disease or lives in an environment with poor hygiene (i.e. where the faeces are regularly cleaned and removed). In cases where coccidia does cause disease, typically in bearded dragons with poor hygiene, the affected lizard has stunted growth and is smaller than other dragons of a similar age.

Turtles

Important tip:Ivermectin is toxic to turtles and should never be used.

Fungi
Parasitic infections are generally uncommon in most turtles. Occasionally turtles will develop fungal skin infections, particularly if they live in tanks where the water quality is not ideal. Turtles also require time out of their water, and if warm basking areas are not easily available, fungi will often grow on their shells.

Frogs & Axolotls

Important tip:To keep your frog healthy, first treat the water.

Chytrid
Chytrid fungus or Batrachochytrium dendrobatidisis the cause of a worldwide decline in frog numbers. The fungus can cause a fatal infection of the skin that upsets the normal water and electrolyte balance, causing severe dehydration. Some frogs will develop spots on their skin, unusual posturing (they appear ‘twisted’) and inflammation of their hind limbs. The fungus is highly contagious and if this disease is suspected, aggressive anti-fungal medications are generally started. Whilst Chytrid can affect axolotls, it isn’t as commonly seen.

Saprolegniasis
Saprolegniafungi can cause disease in a wide range of amphibians and fish. Like coccidia in lizards, this fungus is opportunistic, meaning it affects amphibians that are otherwise unwell. It causes white fluffy growths on the skin of infected animals, typically around the mouth and feet. Infection is more common when water quality isn’t ideal.
Once the infection develops, axolotls and frogs can become inappetant and if not treated, can die. The treatment involves correcting husbandry, starting antifungal medications and short, frequent salt water baths.

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