Library Articles

Nutrition

  • Rabbits are herbivores and are considered grazers. Rabbits should have a daily diet of mostly hay, a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit's daily intake. A common cause of obesity and soft stool is over-feeding pellets. Rabbits should be fed and provided with fresh water daily; hay should be available at all times. A pet rabbit’s diet should be supplemented with a variety of leafy green vegetables every day. The high sugar content in fruits (and even carrots) may upset the normal GI tract bacteria if given in excess. Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which means they eat their own feces at night. These fecal pellets are called cecotropes and serve as a rich source of nutrients, specifically protein and vitamins B and K.

  • Once your cat has reached adulthood, their nutrient profile will change from when they were a kitten. Your veterinarian can help you determine what proportion of each nutrient is needed based on your cat's lifestyle and current body condition. It is important to lay a good nutritional foundation to maximize the health and longevity for your cat and reduce the potential for developing obesity.

  • Once your dog reaches adulthood, his nutrient profile changes from when he was a puppy. Your veterinarian can help you determine what proportion of each nutrient is needed based on your dog’s lifestyle and current body condition. Avoid free-feeding and work on a meal schedule. Following these steps can help your dog lead a healthier life and avoid becoming overweight or obese.

  • Adverse food reactions in dogs are either caused by food allergy – an immune response to something ingested or food intolerance – a non-immunological response to something ingested. Signs of food intolerance are usually only digestive in nature. Food intolerance will generally occur on the initial exposure to the food or food additive in contrast to food allergy which requires repeated exposures to develop. Different causes of food intolerance include food poisoning, or inappropriate ingestion of an irritant, reaction to food additives, histamine reactions, lactose intolerance and dietary indiscretion such as eating fat or bones. A dietary history is important in diagnosing these conditions.

  • It is suggested that a selection of various fruits and vegetables be fed to your bird every day. A good source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fresh produce should comprise no more than 15-30% of the diet. Bright yellow, red, and orange vegetables and fruits, including bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, mango, papaya, and cantaloupe, all contain a great deal of vitamin A which is a critical nutrient in a birds’ diet.

  • Gastrostomy tubes are placed percutaneously through the skin directly into the stomach and may be needed for cats who are unable to chew or swallow their food, or for cats with diseases causing anorexia. Special liquid diets or canned diets blended with water are recommended to be given in multiple feedings throughout the day, dependent on the cat’s reason for the tube. Instructions are provided by your veterinarian for tube feeding and tube maintenance. The tube can be removed as early as 14 days after placement once the cat is eating well. Your veterinarian will remove the tube.

  • Gastrostomy tubes are placed through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach to enable long-term nutrition in dogs that either refuse to eat or are unable to chew and swallow food. A special liquid diet or homemade mixture liquefied with water will be recommended by your veterinarian. Step-by-step instructions are provided. The decision to remove the tube will be determined by your veterinarian.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of man and animals cased by a microscopic protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis. Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a "worm", bacteria, or virus. Giardiasis can be an important cause of diarrhea in animals and humans. However, many cats are infected without developing clinical signs or the diarrhea is treated as 'non-specific'.

  • Hand-raised babies usually make better pets, as they have been completely socialized with humans. Hand-feeding is a job best left for the experienced bird breeder or aviculturist. If you’re considering hand-feeding a baby bird, you should contact your local bird breeder or veterinarian for help. A chick may be removed from the parents any time before weaning, but many suggest leaving the babies with the parents for up to 3 weeks. Precise temperature and humidity is essential for optimum growth of newly hatched birds. Generally, the temperature can be lowered by one degree every 2-3 days as feathering progresses. If you are raising a chick, always monitor your bird for signs of overheating or chilling. Poor growth or poor digestion (delayed crop emptying) may indicate poor health (including presence of gastrointestinal tract infections), improper consistency/mixing of hand feeding formula, improper temperature of formula, or improper environmental temperature and humidity. There are numerous commercially available hand-feeding formulas for baby birds. All food must be prepared fresh for every feeding. Food retained from one feeding to another is an ideal medium for the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. Any food prepared or heated in a microwave oven must be mixed thoroughly to ensure that the food’s temperature is uniform. Food that is too hot may cause severe burns to the crop. Food that is too cold may be rejected by the babies or may slow down digestion. The frequency of feeding for young birds is greater than that of older birds. The best indication of a healthy, growing chick is a good, strong feeding response at every feeding, with the crop emptying between feedings, and the regular production of droppings (feces). Weight gain should be monitored and recorded at the same time each day using a scale that weighs in grams with 1-gram increments to detect subtle increases or decreases. As a bird gets older and develops a full complement of feathers, it should be encouraged to wean off formula and to eat more on its own. Birds should be offered a variety of foods, including formulated pelleted diets, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, at this time to encourage their exploration and experimentation. As this food introduction continues, hand-feeding may be withheld at certain times. All feeding utensils must be cleaned, disinfected, and dried thoroughly between feedings.

  • Guinea pigs are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain diseases. They cannot make their own vitamin C and require supplementation or they may develop scurvy. Guinea pigs get various tumors, particularly skin and mammary tumors. Guinea pigs also get abscesses (accumulations of pus and bacteria) in lymph nodes, skin, muscles, teeth, bones, and internal organs. They are very prone to development of urinary calculi that form in the bladder, kidneys, or ureters which may become lodged, causing a life-threatening obstruction. In addition, guinea pigs often are affected by ringworm and can get fleas and lice. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair or the hair of its cage-mate. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, in which sores develop on the bottom of the feet from pressure, is common in overweight animals housed on wire-bottomed or dirty cages that abrade the feet.