Friday, March 24, 2017

Building a Strong Connection with your Parrot

Developing a great connection with your parrot starts the first day you bring her home. Behavioral problems of all kinds can be avoided by having a keen eye, creating an exciting environment, and demonstrating respect. 

Fundamentals of Parrot Partnering

 You need room to move--so does a parrot.  Remember:  your friend has to spend many hours in her cage.  Be sure to provide lots of toys, but not so many as to crowd the cage.  Rotate the playthings every week or two and be sure to check the playground daily to ensure safety (no sharp edges or small pieces). 

Your parrot likes a change of environment as much as you do--release her from her cage as often and for as long as you can.  And remember, studies show that parrots form pair bonds; in essence you are her mate.  Think about a perch in every room so your parrot can always be with you. For smaller birds, an untreated wicker basket and for larger birds a tree branch or piece of PVC piping. 

 A parrot’s diet ought to consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, pellets, and seeds. A balanced diet with lots of fresh food is very important.  There is much information on the internet about appropriate percentages for each species. Feeding can also contribute to environment--concealing food in toys or under various items makes her work for her food, and is a great source of entertainment. 

Toys and Games
 Toys are an important part of any parrot’s life. Toys are a form of environmental enhancement, used to maintain captive animals’ health in zoos and breeding programs as well as in homes. The fact is that parrots in our homes don't have much to do.  No foraging, no avian interaction, no offspring rearing, etc.  They need something to stimulate their minds and their bodies, and toys provide that. Puzzle toys are great for developing problem-solving skills. Rope toys are great for hanging on and gaining good balance.

You should be part of the entertainment.  Fetch, hide and seek, shape/color identification--interactive games are as important with parrots as they are with small children. They help create a strong bond between you both and promote intellectual development.

 Parrots are extremely intelligent.  A wonderful way to get them to use their intelligence is by spending time every day in training.  Clicker training is a great way to train your birds to do both fun and necessary behaviors. The parrot learns to repeat the behavior he was doing when he heard the click, and, thereby, can learn to do many tasks on cue.  The internet has many sites that explain clicker training.

Parrots live in neat little pairs. This is why most parrots have a favorite person even if they are tended by all family members.   Some species are more likely than others to prefer one person. Within these pairs, each parrot is more or less equal. Parrots do not use force to dominate one another. When we try to use force with our parrots, we get one of two results--either the parrot retreats from us, or it fights back and we get bitten. Neither is the result that we want.  What we do want is a parrot who respects us and enjoys our company.   

Parrots enrich our lives and it is up to us to be the best companions we can be for them.  It can be a challenge, but the end result is a rewarding partnership between parrot and person.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 23rd is National Puppy Day

National Puppy Day seeks to celebrate the unconditional love that puppies bring to people's lives.  Held each year on March 23 and celebrating its 11th year, it is the inspiration of lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, who also created National Dog Day and National Cat Day.  The goal, says the National Puppy Day website, is "to help save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills."

National Puppy Day Facts & Quotes
  • There are approximately 500-600 million dogs, including strays, throughout the world.
  • In the USA, it is estimated that 2.11 million puppies are sold from puppy mills.
  • Puppies Behind Bars is a training program that helps inmates to raise service dogs in prisons.
  • Puppy mills are commercial dog-breeding organizations that focus on profit, while ignoring the health and welfare of the animals. 3 million puppies are killed in puppy mills because they are too full and not enough have found homes.
  • “I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person.” ― Bill Murray
Don't Take A Puppy For Granted
  • Having a puppy is like having a baby or child. They need your time, attention and effort. 
  • Socialization is the key to a happy puppy and, ultimately, a balanced dog. They need to ply with other dogs.  They need to be comfortable around people other than you. 
  • Spay or neuter your pet. Let's break the cycle of "throwaway" dogs.
National Puppy Day Top Events and Things to Do
  • Visit an animal shelter and adopt a puppy in need. Most cities have a local shelter where you can visit and adopt a pet in the same day. Remember to spay or neuter your pet in order to control the stray dog population.
  • Spread awareness by using the hashtags #nationalpuppyday and #puppyday on social media and also share pictures of your dog or pictures of dogs you like.
  • Share a picture of your puppy (or dog as a puppy) on Facebook.
  • Donate your time or money to a local animal shelter or an organization that supports stray animals. There is always a need for help walking, feeding, playing with and cleaning up after the animals. You can also make a financial donation to organizations such as ASPCA and the Humane Society.

And remember...puppies grow up.  Too many dogs are surrendered once they've outgrown the cute stage.

If you're ready for a puppy, there's one waiting for you.   On National Puppy Day, drop by your local shelter and find a new friend.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Vet Team Fatigue

If members of a vet team are suffering from burnout, there’s no doubt it will affect efficiency, success and profitability of a practice.  That’s why it’s essential for practice owners or managers to take steps to handle stressful situations.
Consider your veterinary practice:
  • Are you providing continuing education for your staff to inspire new knowledge?
  • Are you giving them adequate daily let-up in the form of breaks and time away from work?
  • Are you providing benefits, such as health insurance, so staff can seek out professional care?
Think about appointing someone on the team to oversee individual workloads and determine if each employee has the tools necessary for success.
And keep those communication lines open, regardless of the topic. Disturbance in the practice should always be discussed and worthy of an action plan.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) took a look at whether team effectiveness could reduce burnout and improve job satisfaction among veterinary teams.
The study found that “all veterinary team members, not only veterinarians, were at risk of burnout and that elements relating to team effectiveness contributed to or detracted from an individual’s level of burnout. The serious organizational and individual repercussions of burnout suggest a need for the veterinary profession to consider and address contributing factors. Individual practices can begin by evaluating the overall function of the veterinary team.”
Suggestions for improving team effectiveness
Based on this study and prior studies that included both  human and veterinary medicine, the authors came up with suggestions for animal hospitals to improve team effectiveness, thereby preventing burnout and job dissatisfaction.
  1. Increase individual engagement
“Increasing work engagement may prevent and alleviate burnout by enhancing an individual employee’s energy, vigor, and resilience,” researchers wrote. They also reported that respondents’ job satisfaction levels appeared to be tied to how engaged they felt with their position.
Suggestions for increasing work engagement included:
Acknowledging an individual’s contributions to the functioning of the hospital, and making them feel like integral team members.
Encouraging team members to further develop their skills and knowledge.
Empowering team members through means such as “support and guidance, access to information about organizational activities and decisions, resources to complete their jobs in a meaningful fashion, and opportunities to grow and develop.”
  1. Build a better coordinated team environment
The authors wrote that a coordinated team environment promotes increased professional efficacy.
Suggestions for building a better coordinated team environment:
Regularly evaluate internal communications to ensure all team members have the latest information.
Give team members the opportunity to provide suggestions aimed at improving patient and client service.
Recognize team members’ contributions and provide them with career and knowledge development opportunities.
  1. Avoid team toxicity
Working in a hospital with a toxic team environment can lead to staff fatigue, greater turnover rates, lack of respect, distrust of management, and job dissatisfaction.
Suggestions for removing toxicity from team environments:
Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for incivility.
Facilitating information sharing to build respect and trust.
Improving human resource management practices to recruit and retain qualified workers.
Avoiding work overload by considering current staffing levels and individual workloads.
Identifying and resolving conflicts efficiently, and ensuring that all employees are treated equally and fairly.

There continues to be a shortage of credentialed veterinary technicians; finding qualified staff is a major complaint of practices.  Attracting and retaining qualified individuals may be directly linked to implementing steps to combat veterinary team burnout.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pygmy Goat Health--Part I

Pygmy goats are cute and cuddly and provide us with many valuable services. For example, they keep the vegetation on your property cut, they produce natural fertilizers that you can use for your garden, and they also help control populations of fleas and ticks on your property.
Raising pygmy goats is funny and enjoyable. This is an African goat breed that, in its homeland it is raised for meat production.  An adult pygmy goat weighs about 75 pounds and stand about 16 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder. They are very friendly in nature and lovable. Pygmy wethers (castrated goats) make far better pets than does and bucks. Wethers also don’t give off that musky billy goat odor. Pygmy does reach maturity quickly.  They can get pregnant as young as 3 months. For the first year, keep bucks separated from the does to avoiding unwanted pregnancy.  Pygmy does can give birth to triplets, even quadruplets.

They can survive for about 10 to 12 years. Pygmy goats are like other available goat breeds, except for their size. Their basic needs are almost the same like other goats.

It's important to note that pygmy goats, like all goats, are herd animals.  If you're thinking about 1 goat--you're thinking about 2 goats.  You don't want a lonely, depressed little buck or you? 
The environment in which your pygmy goat is kept is key to good health.  Having said that, things can go wrong: anything from accidents to the presence of disease. Nothing can be completely predicted but everything can be prevented from deteriorating further with timely action. Never adopt the attitude of “Let’s wait and see what happens.” The sooner help is sought, the greater the chances of recovery. This particularly applies to sick animals requiring veterinary assistance.

No one knows your animals better than you, and regular observation is the best defense.  If you know what is considered normal behavior, you'll quickly recognize what is not.  Your powers of  observation can be boosted with knowledge of normal values.

Normal Values
v  Body Temperature 102-103 Fahrenheit
§  Body Temperature is taken via the anus by gently inserting a lubricated thermometer, and leaving it in place for one minute.   A digital thermometer is far easier to read and to handle. Available from any agricultural merchants.
v  Heart Rate 70 – 95 beats per minute
§  Heart Rate can be assessed by placing the hands just below the elbows and on either side of the goat’s chest. The use of a stethoscope is more accurate and can be purchased for a nominal fee.
v  Respiration rate 10 – 30 breaths per minute
§  Respiration Rate can be determined by observing the movements of the chest and the flanks.

v  Rumen movement 1 -1.5 per minute
§  Rumen Movement is the toughest to assess; a vet is best for this.  A rough guide can be sought by pressing your fist into the rumen between the end of the rib cage and the pelvic bone on the left hand side of the goat.

This is the first in an ongoing series.
Future articles will include tips on feeding, housing, health matters, etc.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Animal Cruelty

Here at Diagnostic Imaging Systems, we've made it our goal to help veterinarians and their teams provide the greatest care possible.  DIS products are specifically designed and engineered to match equine, mixed, or small animal practice requirements.

We know that you enjoy reading our blogs.  Sometimes you'll find information for both the professional and the layperson, the business owner and the pet caretaker.  Other times, we'll provide something to tickle your funny bone.  But there can be a dark side to the lives of the creatures that share our planet.  The big picture name:  Animal Cruelty.

Animal abuse statistics show a grave and depressing scenario when it comes to suffering of animals at the hands of man.  It is a pity that animals we keep as companions are often domesticated and confined to small spaces, denying them of their natural habitat and animal freedom.

Are You Aware That
-Puppy mills are large-scale commercial operations that prioritize profit over health.  Many dogs are plagued with illnesses like kidney or heart disease as a result of the living conditions
-Thousands of greyhounds die each year—some in the name of “selective breeding”—before they ever get near a racetrack. Many dogs do not make it to the supposed “retirement” age of 4 or 5.
-Due to genetic manipulation, 90% of broiler chickens (chickens bred specifically for meat production) have trouble walking.
-Dog fighting became prevalent in the US after the Civil War, with professional "pits" (thus the name "pit bulls") proliferating in the 1860s. The practice was source of entertainment for police officers and firemen.  Today dog fighting has been reported in urban, suburban, and rural settings every region of the US.   
-It’s been estimated that there are 900 to 2,000 new cases every year of animal hoarding in the US; with an estimated 250,000 animals suffering through the ordeal.
-Over 115 million animals – mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, among others – are killed in laboratory experiments worldwide for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing every year.
-Every major circus that uses animals has been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set by the United States Animal Welfare (AWA).  UPDATE:  RIngling Bros Circus has announced it will be closing due to decline of interest and animal rights (chiefly elephant) activism.
-Most rodeo events rely on creating a stressful environment for the domesticated and often docile animals involved. Participants rely on harsh handling practices (i.e. twisting calves’ tails or painful electric shocks) to make animals perform.
-The exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US and while some wild pets are bred in captivity, many are taken from their native habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes a number to die prematurely.
There has never been a documented report of a man, woman or child has ever been killed or harmed while trying to protect animals' rights and save an animal from abuse.
The shocking number of animal cruelty cases reported every day is just the tip of the iceberg; most cases are never reported. Unlike violent crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. However, we can use the information that is available to try to understand and prevent cases of abuse.

1 American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
2 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
3 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
4 Human Society International.

5 Born Free USA. "Get The Facts: Specific Circus Fact Sheets." 

Friday, February 10, 2017

National Love Your Pet Day

We don't know how it started.  We don't know when it started.  On February 20th, pet lovers everywhere observe National Love Your Pet Day.  This unofficial holiday is an excuse (as if you need one) to give extra attention to your pets.  It's a great day to focus on that special connection between animals and humans.

Did you know that most households in the United States have at least one pet?  In the United States, dogs edge out cats, but only just.  And our choices aren't limited to furry friends; thinks about all of those friends and family members who partner up with fish, reptiles, birds and yes...rodents!  Whatever your choice, we suggest you spend a little extra time with them.  According to the National Center for Health Research, you'll reap the benefits of
  • a healthier heart
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced stress
  • more exercise
  • less depression
  • significant impact on allergies and asthma
  • social support and social interactions with other people
And then there's the love.

How To Celebrate

Step On It

Take your dog for a walk. It allows you and them to get plenty of exercise and it's a great way to show your appreciation.  Don't forget to bring some water for the two of you and, for safety's sake, always keep your dog on a leash except where free run is allowed.   


Give them a special treat. Choose something from a pet store, or make it personal and create it yourself. There's all kinds of ideas for different pets. You can attach a special bird treat to the side of their cage or give your rabbit their favorite vegetable. If your pet is on a special diet, make sure that it's acceptable.


Make them or buy them.  You know they love them.  Have a paper towel cardboard roll?  Perfect for a mouse. Bell & String?  Purrrr....Word of advice?  No Shoes!!!


Give them a bath filled with love. No animal (except for cats) hates baths. Make them feel clean and comfortable with this method. Dogs love a follow-up brushing.


Let a rodent out of its cage for a longer time. Much like us, a mouse or hamster wants (and needs) to explore new environments and surroundings. 

Quality Time

Every pet, and we mean every pet, wants some special attention.  You don't need to spend every minute of the day, but a little extra time let's 'em know that you love 'em.

Cuddle Up

Let your pet sleep alongside you. Whether it's your bed or on the floor, your pet will sigh, purr or squawk with love. 

Surprise your pet pal on February 20th with a little something special.  It's National Love Your Pet Day! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Vet Tech Tips

Skilled Professional?  Newbie?  Read on to discover some thoughts on what makes for a great Vet Tech. 

Be Creative
It is easy to look at a supplied list and use it as a treatment outline.  A talented  Tech goes beyond the checklist! 
  • Meds--Why has the medication been prescribed? Think about what you are administering and what the patient has previously been prescribed.   Is there a possibility of an interaction?  Any side effects?  Can you group meds or must they be given separately and/or at specific intervals?  What should be expected from the treatment? 
  • Quality of care--A hospital visit or stay is scary; you can help your patient cope with the stress. Is their treatment area clean and soothing?  Is their bedding fresh and dry?  Don't rely on your vision alone.  Let your fingers do the walking through the towels, padding, etc.  Is there water available?  Have they been fed?  Are they allowed either? A gentle word or loving scratch under the chin will go a long way to your patient's comfort.
Checklists are OK, but don't stop there.  Think, Tech, Think...and provide the expert care that your patient deserves.

Predict, Plan, Prepare  
Show your vet and the entire practice team your value by anticipating both the needs of the patient and the needs of the team.    A wise Vet Tech thinks critically, analyzes all the data and, just maybe, listens at the examination room door.  Always consider the practice's rules, both the vet's and client's needs,  and the goal to provide the very best care. 
Think proactive not reactive, and you'll be the "Tech guru" at your practice.

Speak, Vet Tech, Speak
Yes, you're skilled in understanding animals...that's why you became a Vet Tech!  It's up to you to be their voice. Monitor their pain and discuss best choices.  Be sure that all of the critical facts have been conveyed to the vet prior to any procedure.  Sometimes it's as simple as watching over the foods they eat or the time they eat. Would an extra fleece pad in their cage help their arthritis?   Listen to the patient, Communicate their needs. 

Never Stop Learning
The world of veterinary medicine is ever-changing and you have to commit yourself to ever-education.  How to do it?  Read Journals like Clinician’s Brief, Veterinary Team Brief, or scientific journals like the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care or the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  Explore continuing education courses.  Your vet will be thrilled to help you in your question for knowledge and your goal to be the Vet Tech who sets the bar of excellence. 

Those who can...Teach!
Make it your goal to share your knowledge and skills.  Not only will you earn the respect and undying faith of the newest member of the team, you'll  revitalize your own career.    
Do you have a tip or trick that will help the Vet Tech community?  Contact Diagnostic Imaging Systems and let us know.