Thursday, June 8, 2017
The respiratory illness commonly known as “heaves” or “broken wind” was, until recently, referred to as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the medical community. It has been renamed Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) to indicate that it is not the same condition as the COPD found in humans. Affecting mostly older horses, heaves arises when lung cells react to allergens by swelling and thickening air passage linings and increasing mucus secretions. If thickened airways trap enough bacteria, the horse could develop pneumonia or other respiratory infections.
RAO is an episodic disease triggered by exposure to
- moldy, dusty or poorly-cured feed
- long-term confinement to a stable environment
- inadequate or absent stable ventilation
The exact cause of the disease is not known, but research suggests that the characteristic inflammation of the small airways results from an allergic response to dust, mold, or other trigger factors.
Symptoms of RAO include:
- nasal discharge
- chronic coughing which may or may not produce mucous
- flared nostrils in the resting state
- labored breathing with elevated respiratory rate
- exercise avoidance
- increased abdominal movement during breathing
RAO is diagnosed through history (especially of recurrent coughing episodes), physical examination, and blood work. In particularly difficult or ongoing cases, successful diagnosis may include radiography, endoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and pulmonary function testing.
Commonly, treatment of Heaves requires management and changes in diet and environment; a clinician may also prescribe medications. The main goal is to reduce a horse's exposure to organic dust. Hay should be thoroughly soaked or replaced with a dust-free source of fiber, and horses should be kept outdoors as much as possible. Horses with RAO often improve dramatically when removed entirely from an indoor barn or stable environment. Dusty riding rings can also trigger episodes and should be avoided. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation, and bronchodilators may be given to relieve spasms in the airways. Properly managed, horses with RAO can lead normal lives; but they may remain permanently sensitive to various trigger factors.
Researchers are only just beginning to understand how equine allergies work and how they differ from those occurring in other species. The hope is that someday even the most sever equine allergy will be fully treatable, and a thing of the past.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
It's frustrating: lumps, hives and excessive scratching and distress. It's a difficult business diagnosing the cause of your horse's skin allergies.
It may take months or years of exposure to develop. And there doesn't seem to be any link between breed, gender or age.
Understanding the symptoms, causes and treatments can help identify whether your horse does, indeed, have an allergy.
Horses are surrounded by dust, mold and millions of other microscopic foreign proteins each and every day. Normally, the immune system offers protection, called antibodies, by eliminating them.
Occasionally, the immune response goes amok, to a stimulus or antigen. This response, or hypersensitivity, is also called an allergy.
Allergies can run the gamut from a mild, unpleasant skin reaction to a life-threatening reaction within the cardiovascular or respiratory system. Everything from molds and spores in the air and grain to insect bites can trigger an allergic reaction.
Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Symptoms: Hives, which appear 12 to 14 hours after exposure to the invader. They are areas of swelling that begin as small lumps, generally on the side of the neck, and progress across the shoulders and throat.
At first, they may only be 1/2 inch in diameter but may grow together in the target area. Hives will often indent or pit when a finger is pressed into the swelling.
Horses may appear depressed, have a slight fever, and the areas may or may not itch.
Causes: Hives can appear due to certain types of food, plants, drugs or insect bites.
Just like humans, horses are susceptible to food allergies. And, like humans, it's usually impossible to identify the precise offender.
Certain grains or types of hay with high protein concentrates have been reported to cause hives in horses, though this is not always the case. Horses could also be allergic to feeds that are present in other areas of the barn and not actually being fed to the allergic horse.
Horses may also be allergic to medications, either topical or internal.
The most commonly used drugs in horses implicated in allergies include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as phenylbutazone (bute), Banamine, and procaine penicillin. Allergic reactions have also been observed after administration of tranquilizers such as acepromazine.
Hives have even been reported following equine influenza or tetanus antitoxin vaccination.
Insect bites can cause problems.
The most commonly affected areas include the back, ears, mane, and tail. Itching is a characteristic feature of these types of allergies, and horses will frequently rub their manes and tails until the hair is sparse in these areas. Initially, isolated bumps may appear, followed by larger hives.
Treatment: Most horses simply recover on their own. If the problem is ongoing or recurring, your veterinarian may want to perform an intradermal skin test that can be helpful in identifying the problem.
If you suspect hives to be a result of a food allergy, change the grain and hay ration for at least two weeks. Then slowly reintroduce the original feed. If this stimulates the appearance of hives, you can assume that the feed is the cause of the allergy.
If the specific antigen is identified, hyposensitaization (injections to desensitize the horse to the allergen) may prove beneficial. The process is, however, time consuming, costly and often disappointing.
A variety of medical therapies are available through your veterinarian, with corticosteroids most commonly used. Following oral administration, remission of clinical signs is usually observed over 24 hours. Be aware that steroids may cause laminates, so don't attempt to treat the horse without first consulting your veterinarian.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Dogs are like children. There’s the good–the joy of their arrival, being a part of their day-to-day growth, and the unqualified love that flows in both directions. And there’s the not so good. Like children, dogs need protection from a variety of illnesses.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Want to be make a career of running around with the most beautiful horses? Maybe becoming a bloodstock agent is the job for you. You won't get too dirty and, best of all, this is one of the few jobs with horses that can make you some real money! If you're good at it, of course.
What does a bloodstock agent do?
Research pedigrees, document the results of your research and then travel to check them out. More often than not, your clients will have a specific horse in mind, so you need to find affordable horses that meet their particular needs. You will probably go with your clients to check out the horse(s), or go with them to an auction or stud farm. They'll depend on you and your well-developed expertise.
Traditionally, bloodstock agents have worked in the racing industry, and with thoroughbreds or standardbreds. Nowadays, more and more breeders, owners and riders are using agents.
Where do I begin?
Education, developing an "eye," and salesmanship. You'll need to learn about the most popular theories of horse breeding, like The Female Line, Nicking, and Dosage. Some methods, like Dosage, use a point system that includes complicated mathematical formulas. A degree in genetics may be a bonus, but it isn’t necessary.
There are some courses you can take. Try contacting the registries of the breeds you want to work with, and see if they know of farms that offer bloodstock courses. Many equestrian colleges offer programs or classes in equine genetics.
Next, you need to learn about the breeding of horses in your industry of choice. Get a hold of industry magazines and seek out auction catalogs. Familiarize yourself with main bloodlines and the type of horse they produce, and which crosses work best, etc. Test yourself--pick a horse, estimate the sales price and confirm the actual price paid!
Your clients will rely on your being able to point out what a good horse looks like--it's called "having a good eye." And you can only develop that skill by looking at hundreds of horses. Start with photos, but know that you have to get with the horses to watch how they move, their behaviors with humans and other horses, etc. Contact your local stable for some help. Or better still, volunteer at the stable or a farm or a racetrack. Hone your skills and identify the best--the one that you would recommend to a paying client. And for those of you who are lucky enough to knowing a working bloodstock agent--tag along and offer to assist them!
You will need to be a good salesperson, so excellent writing and communication skills are a must.
How does a bloodstock agent make money?
Most agents charge a mix of fees and commissions, but one standard prevails--the money you make depends on how good you are! Some take a percentage of the price of a horse, others charge additional fees for research or attending a sale. Bloodstock agents trying to match a breeder’s mares with the best choice of stallion may take a commission from the sale price or winnings of an offspring. The business of bloodstock agent is all about getting good references that result not only in repeat business but new clients. And how do you get those good references? By consistently identifying good horses at good prices.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the business contains a huge element of chance. A horse with poor breeding can be a great jumper; a well-bred horse can be slow as molasses. A successful blood stock agent combines learning with solid "horse sense"...pun intended!
Friday, March 24, 2017
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
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.
Monday, February 20, 2017
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 doe...do 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!