ACR&S has just had another wonderful opportunity to assist vet students in learning more about exotic animal medicine. The UW-Madison Vet School’s Wildlife, Exotic, and Zoo Animal Medicine Club (WEZAM) invited us to do another small animal handling lab this past Saturday.
WEZAM is a student-run organization which provides students interested in these topics with opportunities for hands-on experience with non-traditional animal species which they cannot get from their regular classwork. We brought 10 guinea pigs and 10 rabbits to the lab, which was attended by around 20 students, and the students had an extensive examination and handling session.
The guest lecturer at this lab was Dr Paul Gibbons, who is a board certified avian veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Center in Milwaukee. Dr Gibbons also has a strong interest in exotics medicine and has treated a number of our piggies and bunnies. His lectures covered the basics of handling, sexing, and physical exams in guinea pigs and rabbits, and also provided some excellent take-home information on diet and husbandry, and then he guided the students during the handling and examinations.
It’s a real privilege to be invited to be a part of such a great learning experience for these young vets. The students learn so much more from seeing animals of different ages and types, with different health conditions, than they would from practicing on identical young, healthy lab animals. It’s also great to see them learning the ideal standards of husbandry and care from an expert, so that they’ll be able to teach their future clients the best practices for care.
Thanks again to WEZAM and Dr Gibbons for this excellent opportunity, as well as the very kind donation, and we look forward to participating in the 2010 Student American Veterinary Medical Association meeting as well!
The oldest animal in my house is KiWeed, a 26 year old male cockatiel. He was surrendered to me in 2000, before I was really even an official rescue, due to aggression and biting. He had significant damage to the right side of his head, including a misshapen nare and a cataract in his eye, probably due to being attacked by a cat in his youth. He ended up being a funny, pleasant bird, whose primary vice is attacking poking fingers (he has no problems with fingers as long as they are shaped like perches, and he has no problems with being kissed).
KiWeed is pushing the upper end of a normal cockatiel lifespan, so when he gets sick we always expect the worst. On Saturday, when I went in to wake him up, I noticed that his bad eye was watering and he was repeatedly rubbing that side of his face. With Chester’s eye problem fresh on my mind, I rushed KiWeed to the emergency vet, expecting that his old injuries were finally going to cause him to lose his eye or his life. All sorts of probabilities ran through my mind – tumor, infection, traumatic injury, you name it. Three hours and$300 later, we had our diagnosis:
A really big booger.
That’s right, KiWeed had nothing more than a stuffy nose (admittedly, probably due to a tiny fleck of food getting in there) and it was bothering him enough to cause the eye watering and the face rubbing. The vet flushed out the booger with saline, and we went on our merry way with no further difficulties.
Our big white bunny Jasper found his forever home with his new mom and dad, Jeannie & Steve! He has the most wonderful bunny bungalow to play in, lots of gorgeous toys and accessories, and best of all, tons of friends and playtime and attention! Look at this happy bunny sacked out in his condo bed after a hard day of being loved and pampered!
We had some really wonderful news from Jasper’s vet just prior to his adoption. You may recall that on intake, he had incisor malocclusion: the incisors did not meet evenly and as a result, would grow too long without wearing one another down properly. This can be due to a poor diet, but is more often due to genetics and will recur even with a perfect diet. We expected that he would need monthly tooth trims or possibly even incisor extraction. Jasper’s adoptive parents were fully committed to the extra care all of this might entail, but at the pre-adoption vet visit, Dr. Powers found that Jasper’s teeth look absolutely normal! She said she never would have believed he could turn around so fast, and that not only does he not need an extraction, he doesn’t even need tooth trims! He still has some very slight malocclusion but not enough to cause abnormal wear patterns, and she doubts it will ever bother him. Thanks so much to Dr. Powers for rescuing this sweet boy, and to his new mom & dad for providing him with the perfect forever home!
Congratulations to Kiley and Syndey for finding their forever homes! Kiley and Sydney were adopted in late February by their proud new dad, Forest! Forest and his family (especially his mom) had done a ton of research and planning (and built a fabulous 2×4 C&C cage for their piggies), and then fell in love with Kiley and Sydney.
The two girls came home to find their piggie mansion well adorned, with a picture of them waiting inside! The girls were intially pretty scared, but they immediately recognized their new dad, Forest, and warmed to him quickly, earning him the nickname “The Piggie Whisperer”. The two wonderful girls are slowly warming up to everyone in the family with the help of Forest!
Thank you Forest and family for allowing these girls to come and live in your home. They’re lucky to have a “forever” place to live in, and people and family to call their own.
Elmer is one of our earliest rescues. He came into the rescue in early 2003 – his owner had bought him for her son for Christmas 2002, but her son was horribly disappointed that he wasn’t “cuddly enough” and so they decided to get a kitten instead. She reported that she got Elmer from a family friend who had purchased him as a Christmas present in 2001, but this year got a puppy and decided to dump the pig. Twice rejected; what a start to his life!
Elmer turned out to be an absolute darling, with cuddliness in excess, but we could never get anyone to adopt him, even after we bonded him with the lovely young Strawberry. After two years he came off the adoptable roster and became a Sanctuary resident. Strawberry crossed the Rainbow Bridge in May of 2008, and in August we found a new young lady for Elmer – a timid little satin from WI-GPR who eventually gained the name of Amber. It’s a true May-December love affair; Amber is probably less than 18 months old, but Elmer is easily pushing 8 to 9 years. He’s also showing his age – he’s become slower, quieter, and thinner as the years have passed.
Two weeks ago, it looked like Elmer’s time was up. He declined his dinner on Saturday, and by Sunday evening had lost 100 grams (an 8th of his weight!). We stabilized him with subcu fluids and critical care (not much, he fought it tooth and nail), and we got him to the vet Monday morning. They ruled out tooth problems and bladder/kidney stones, the two most obvious culprits. An X-ray did reveal that his kidneys seemed slightly small, so bloodwork had to be done. Unfortunately, with the possibility of kidney problems on the table, we couldn’t give him any pain medication for the three days it took for the bloodwork results to come back. We kept him going with more fluids and feedings, and after a day or two he did start show some interest in lettuce, but we were pretty certain that he was terminal.
The bloodwork came back this past Thursday, and it was mostly unremarkable. There were some elevated liver values, but those are consistent with an animal who hasn’t been eating or drinking. By this past weekend, Elmer has been eating and behaving much more normally, and has put on nearly half of the weight he lost. We’ve had to mark this issue as resolved and he’s moved out of the hospital cage back into his old house with Amber. They seemed very happy to see one another!
So what was wrong with Elmer? My vet has no idea, neither do I. It could have been a simple case of stasis, but percipitated by what? He had no changes in diet or anything in the days leading up to this. His case should stand as a warning that severe, life-threatening illness can arise quickly and for no apparent reason. If I had left Elmer alone for a weekend vacation, as so many owners do, I would not have noticed his decline in health and he would probably have been dead when I got back. Only daily observation and constant vigilance can ensure the health of our fragile little friends. While it’s frustrating to have no diagnosis and no explanation to an illness that initially looked fatal, but I suppose it’s a good endorsement of my care that I can have a piggy get this ill and not lose him!
April’s SAGP starlet is the lovely Misha from the MD rescue Small Angels!
Misha is a beautiful Pink Eyed White peruvian guinea pig with a very sad story. She came to the rescue from a local animal rescue where her (at least) second owner had turned her in because she was moving. This owner found Misha at a yard sale, where she was discarded with an array of other unwanted items!
Misha had a severe urinary tract infection, cysts, and liver damage. Fortunately, the UTI cleared up with antibiotics, but those antibiotics caused her to stop eating and lose weight. Misha relied on the hand feeding of Small Angels fosters in order to recover. Her cysts are being observed, and may need to be removed in the future, causing further financial strain to the rescue (and strain to Misha). The vet is delaying the procedure because of her poor health.
Misha’s liver damage causes her to drink excessively, leading to excessive urination and incontinence. As a result, Misha’s cage has to be cleaned every other day, leading to great expense for the rescue. Misha must be kept partly shaved and have an ointment applied daily to ensure she does not get urine scald.
Despite Misha’s sad story, and poor health, she remains lively, active, and a joy to be around in the rescue-truly one of the pigs that remind rescuers why they began rescuing in the first place, and why this fundraising program exists.
We are especially eager to see support raised for Misha, because she looks so much like our very own Chuck, who was our first piggy and the catalyst for nearly a decade of rescue efforts. We can really appreciate how such a lovely and loving piggy can be such a wonderful inspiration to her rescuers. Please hurry over to Sponsor a Guinea Pig and show your support for Misha and Small Angels!