Frequently Asked Questions
Stress Free Veterinary Visits NOW AVAILABLE FOR BIRDS, TOO!
We are proud to be actively implementing low stress protocols at Homosassa Animal & Bird Hospital. From the front door to the back door we try to make your pet's visit to the doctor as positive as possible. There are no loud noises, soft music on the radio, and no strong smells. A strong disinfectant can obliterate your pet's
sense of smell for up to 10 days! None of us wear perfumes, and ALL staff members wear appeasing pheromones on their clothing as well as in the exam rooms. Treat rewards are given frequently to dogs and cats to make the examination and vaccination procedures a positive experience. Dr Hall lets the patient take their own time to get acclimated, and no aggressive handling is used. Cats and dogs are boarded in separate areas of the hospital to keep noise at a minimum.
After attending low stress training at a recent medical conference, we can now make the hospital visit for your bird as stress free as possible. A bird's blood pressure can be elevated up to 300% with the stress of handling. This is not only upsetting, but also risky for the patient. A mild, reversible sedative can be administered to your bird in the exam room, and then reversed after all procedures are completed. This process is safe, better for the patient, and widely used by medical experts. As an added bonus (for the pet), the sedative is amnesic, so they won't have a bad memory of the visit! Think pediatric dentsts and how they handle a child's first visit to the dentist for comparison.
THE PET FOOD DILEMMA
It is a difficult question to answer when asked, "what should I feed my pet". Firstly, veterinarians are trained to address disease or health conditions with prescription diets. Secondly we are trained about what is a complete and balanced diet, but not in specific brands. Thirdly, pet food companies are bought out or merged very often, so things may change drastically for the good OR bad. Also, the pet food market is a BILLION dollar industry, and as such has attracted many entrepreneurs who are looking to cash in without necessarily having the training or background to make safe, balanced diets. A perfect example is the grain-free diet fad. This started a few years ago when humans were jumping on the grain-free, gluten-free craze. Dogs and cats NEED some grains and complex carbohydrates to have a complete diet. There is no scientific data to back up the grain free claim in pets foods. Upon close questioning, a food company representative personally told Dr. Hall the grain-free lines are marketed only because they are market driven.
LET'S THINK ABOUT THAT. GRAIN-FREE DIETS ARE ONLY BEING MARKETED AND SOLD BECAUSE PET OWNERS WERE ASKING FOR THEM; NOT BECAUSE THERE WAS ANY PROOF THEY WERE NEEDED OR REQUIRED FOR PET HEALTH.
IN GENERAL TERMS, GOOD FOOD PRODUCTS ARE PRODUCED BY COMPANIES THAT
1. conduct AAFCO feeding trials and are regularly inspected by the FDA
2. have board certified veterinary nutritionists on staff
3. conduct on-site quality control
4. are larger, name brand companies that can afford the testing and research needed to maintain quality products (ie: not 'boutique stores')
EXAMPLES OF APPROVED DIETS: ROYAL CANIN HILLS PROPLAN IAMS NUTRO EUKANUBA FRISKIES FANCY FEAST SHEBA WHISKAS
EXAMPLES OF FOODS TO AVOID: ORIJEN ACANA ZIGNATURE FUSSIE CAT ESSENCE DIAMOND KIRKLAND NATURAL BALANCE FROMM BLUE BUFFALO
WHY ARE WE SO CONCERNED WITH ONLINE PURCHASE OF MEDICATIONS?
Online pharmacies get product/medicines from many different sources. Some are counterfeit medications; some from other countries such as China may be contaminated or not even what the label indicates. In many cases the manufacturer will not guarantee or warranty any medication NOT purchased through your veterinarian. If you have an adverse reaction to a medication purchased online - will C***Y or P**M*** be there for you? WE will....
BIRD CARE BASICS
No bird cockatiel sized or larger should be feed a seed-based diet. Seeds are of poor nutritional value, high in fats, and will cause deficiencies that can greatly shorten your bird's life expectancy. Birds are very social creatures and should have a MINMUM of four hours interactive time with people. A variety of toys and foraging activities will increase your bird's emotional well-being. A minimum of 4 hours of natural sunlight will help ensure proper levels of Vitamin D and bone density in your bird. Cages, food and water dishes should be cleaned AT LEAST once daily. A physical examination by an avian veterinarian should be performed every year. A very basic rule of thumb is; nothing white & processed should be fed. That is: no white flour, salt, sugar or fats. Good bird diets include; Harrison's, LaFeber, Kaytee, Mazuri, Rowdybush, and Zoopreem. Many you can find at your local pet store. DO NOT buy foods packed in bulk. ALL FOODS SHOULD BE IN A SEALED & EXPIRATION DATED PACKAGE. Fruits & vegetables should be thoroughly washed before offering.
WHAT DOES THAT BLOODWORK MEAN?
CBC=COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT
Measures the major blood cells in the body that are involved in hydration, the ability of the body to fight infection, anemia, the body's ability to clot, and the immune system to respond.
RBC are produced in the bone marrow and carry oxygen from the lungs to the body organs. Reticulocytes are immature RBC that indicate the body's bone marrow response to increased demand.
WBC are made up of 5 different components;
lymphocytes are produced in the lymph nodes, help fight infection, and produce antibodies to protect from inflammation and disease.
neutrophils are the primary infection fighters
monocytes are increased in chronic disease
basophils and eosinophils are increased in allergies or parasitic infections
PLATELETS are constantly produced from the bone marrow and are the primary ingredient in clot formation
PCV (packed cell volume) measures the percentage of blood cells to total blood volume and gives a snapshot of anemia
BIOCHEMISTRY PROFILE measures organ function of the body
ALB=albumin is produced by the liver and keeps fluid in the blood vessels. Low ALB is either a loss from the GI tract, kidneys, or reduced production by the liver.
ALP/ALKP=alkaline phosphatase originates from several tissues in the body (liver, bone, and increased cortisol hormone)
ALT=alanine aminotransferase is a sensitive indicator of liver disease but doesn't specify the cause
AST=asparate aminotransferace elevations may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damages
AMY=AMYLASE (and LIPASE) are produced from the pancreas and GI tract, and aid in fat digestion. Elevations may indict pancreatic disease.
BA= BILE ACIDS are produced in the liver, aid in fat breakdown, and are eliminated in the stool & urine. Elevated BA may indicate liver disease, gall bladder disease, or RBC destruction.
BA is a specific test for liver function, especially in birds and reptiles.
BUN=blood urea nitrogen is produced in the liver and kidneys. BUN is a byproduct of protein digestion. Over 75% of the kidneys must be destroyed before an elevation of BUN occurs. It is of no value in birds.
CALCIUM is produced in the bones, but is influenced by hormonal activity. Increases occur in some cancers, chronic kidney disease, and egg laying in birds. Decreases occur in poor diet or nursing.
CHOLESTEROL is similar as in humans. High cholesterol is much more common in dogs. Increases occur in hormonal birds, high fat diets, and in some predisposed breeds (schnauzers & Amazon parrots)
CORTISOL is a hormone that is measured for Cushing's disease (excess amounts, or Addison's disease (deficient amounts)
CREATININE is produced from waste from muscle tissue and eliminated from the kidneys. Increases are seen in kidney disease.
CK=creatinine kinase is released from muscle tissue damage. Increases are seen after seizures, after capture in birds, and after heart muscle damage.
GLUCOSE is blood sugar and is eliminated in the urine. Increases are from diabetes, or from stress especially in cats. Decreases can be from sepsis or pancreatic cancer.
ELECTROLYTES (NA, CL, K)
NA= sodium is lost in vomiting & diarrhea, kidney disease and Addison's disease
CL-chloride is lost in vomiting and Addison's disease, decreased in dehydration
K =potassium is lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excess urination. Increased in Addison's disease, urinary obstruction, kidney failure or dehydration. High levels can cause a heart attack.
PHOSPHOROUS originates from the bones and are regulated by the hormone PTH that also regulates calcium. It is increased in chronic kidney disease.
Ca & Phos levels are very important in assessing kidney function in reptiles. Normal levels in reptiles should be calcium to phos at 2:1. These levels are inversed in kidney failure Ca & Phos levels are very important in assessing kidney function in reptiles. Normal levels in reptiles should be calcium to phos at 2:1. These levels are inversed in kidney failure
SDMA is a new, sensitive and specific test for very early kidney disease. Elevations in SDMA can occur with as little as 25% kidney damage
spec CPL is a pancreatic specific enzyme test that provides accurate screening for pancreatic function
TP=total protein is made up of ALB and Globulins. Globulins are antibodies that are increased in immune stimulation or dehydration.
TOTAL BILIRUBIN is produced from the bile duct and liver. Increases occur in damage the to bile duct (obstruction, tumor), liver disease, or RBC destruction.
T4=THYROID HORMONE generally regulates metabolism but affects many systems including the skin, eyes, heart, and blood pressure. Dogs are only low, cats are only high, and humans can be either.
UA=urinalysis gives much information such as bladder or kidney infections, glucose as in diabetes, crystals which can form stones (surgical condition), blood which can be from the kidneys, bladder tumor, or inflammation (cystitis), and if the kidneys are working properly to concentrate urine.
URIC ACID is the primary indicator of kidney health in birds and reptiles. It is the end product of protein breakdown in the exotic patient. Elevations in uric acid are usually late in the disease process.