Article 

Pigeon Anatomy & Physiology: 15 Facts

Although pigeons and doves are a diverse group of birds, they do share some clinically significant anatomy and physiology, including a large, bilobed crop or ingluvies, crop milk production, as well as a vascular plexus found in the subcutis of pigeons. This post also touches on specialized anatomic features unique to fruit pigeons before summarizing some features of the columbid integumentary system, musculoskeletal system, and urogenital tract.

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Procedure Equipment Checklists

Do you have everything? Shared by registered veterinary technician and veterinary technician specialist, Jill Murray of Oklahoma State University, review our collection of procedure equipment checklists. Checklists are used in clinical practice to make preparation for procedures more efficient and more consistent, thereby improving the quality of care. Use these equipment checklists to train students and staff, or simply to jog your memory for procedures performed only sporadically.

Article 

Transfusion Medicine in Birds

Because of a lack of identified blood groups in companion bird species, compatibility for transfusion is based on the use of major and minor cross matches. A major cross match is performed by mixing donor red cells with recipient plasma and a minor cross match uses recipient cells and donor plasma. The appearance of agglutination or cell lysis indicates incompatibility.

Unlike mammals, a single transfusion between different bird species can be safe and efficacious. Transfusions will be most effective if the donor is…

Article 

Avian Hematology and Biochemistry Panels

Although hematology and biochemistry are an important part of the clinical picture in the avian patient, this bloodwork remains just ‘part of the picture’. All too often, when a clinician is unfamiliar with a species, the reaction is often to rely on laboratory results to hang a diagnosis upon. Although we have all been guilty of this, such an approach is inappropriate. For each sick bird, the following diagnostic tools should be applied: complete history, visual examination of the bird and its environment, physical examination, clinical pathology sample collection (blood, feces, swabs, aspirates, etc.), and radiography.

White blood cells are similar to mammalian lines, except that mammalian neutrophils are replaced with heterophils and mammalian platelets are replaced with thromobocytes. There are significant variations in normal differentials among avian species, in particular the total white cell count and…

Article 

Pediatric Avian Medicine: Diagnostic Testing

Regardless of the initial cause of illness or injury, neonatal psittacine birds often develop secondary bacterial and/or fungal infections that can become serious primary problems. These infections are most commonly encountered within the gastrointestinal tract.

Article 

Iron Storage Disease In Birds

Hemochromatosis, “iron overload”, or “iron storage disease” is the excess accumulation of iron within parenchyma, especially in the liver and eventually in the heart and spleen. Elevated iron stores eventually lead to hepatocyte damage and fibrosis.

Article 

Clinical Pathology for Exotic Small Mammals

Small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, are stoic by nature and have evolved to mask their illness to avoid predation. This behavior can create a false sense of security in owners and a clinical challenge for veterinarians. In some cases, an animal that appears clinically normal may in fact have a terminal illness. Use hematology and biochemistry analysis to characterize the true physiological status of these species and aid in disease diagnosis.

Article 

Blood Collection in Sugar Gliders

Blood collection is challenging in sugar gliders. Heavy sedation or general anesthesia, using isoflurane or sevoflurane, is almost always required in clinical practice. The most common sites for blood collection in the glider are the jugular vein and the…

Article 

Blood Collection in Rats and Mice

Blood collection is challenging in rats and mice, and heavy sedation or general anesthesia is almost always required in clinical practice. Increasing patient body temperature to promote vasodilation can also be helpful. Gently warm the rodent by placing its cage on a heating pad set on low or by placing the cage in an incubator set at 39°C (102°F) for 5 to 10 minutes. Monitor the patient carefully…

Article  Quiz 

Lymphoma in the Ferret: An Overview of Diagnosis and Treatment

Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in the domestic ferret. In one large study by Li et al, lymphoma was the third most common neoplasm seen in 574 ferrets after adrenal disease and insulinoma. Although a possible retroviral etiology has been proposed, no virus has yet been identified.

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Venipuncture in Small Mammals

Hematological and serum chemistry tests are considered part of the minimum database, yet collecting blood samples from small mammals can be extremely challenging. This review article reviews the recommended venipuncture site in popular exotic companion mammals including many rodents, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders. Sample collection from peripheral vessels including the cephalic, saphenous, tail, jugular, ear, and submandibular vein is discussed.
Blind venipuncture sites such as the cranial vena cava and femoral vessels are also described. Veterinary health professionals are also acquainted with the potential risks associated with blood collection from these small species, especially those presenting in advanced diseased states. Tips for clinical success are also shared.

Article 

Blood Collection in Chelonians

The left or right jugular vein is the vessel of choice in most chelonians less than 4 kg body weight. The risk of lymph dilution is low with this site. The phlebotomist holds the head and extends the head and neck, while an assistant supports the turtle’s body and holds off the jugular vein at the base of the neck. (With a small chelonian, it may easier to…

Article 

Blood Collection in Lizards

With even the most scrupulous sanitation, lizards frequently sit in or walk through their own droppings. To minimize the risk of needle site contamination with bacteria or uric acid, aseptically prepare the venipuncture site with an antiseptic like alcohol.

Article 

Blood Collection in Snakes

Cardiocentesis is used in snakes of all sizes, although the patient should ideally be greater than 200 grams. Lymph contamination is also less likely with cardiocentesis when compared to caudal tail venipuncture. Based on a study in ball pythons…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Pallor and Anemia in the Ferret

Although the medical approach to anemia is the same as in dogs & cats, some red cell parameters and some differentials differ in the ferret.

The ferret with moderate to severe anemia will exhibit pallor of the mucous membranes, nasal planum and skin. If a clotting disorder exists, petechial, ecchymotic and purpural hemorrhages can also be observed. The owner may complain of lethargy and reduced activity.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Anticoagulant Rodenticide Toxicosis in Free-Living Birds of Prey

Why is this bird bleeding? Anticoagulant rodenticide exposure in birds of prey has been documented in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Anticoagulant rodenticides have been commonly used over the past decades for control of rodent populations and these rodenticides can cause toxicosis in birds of prey via consumption of poisoned prey.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are divided into two categories: first generation rodenticides like warfarin and second generation rodenticides, such as brodifacoum. Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides are more toxic and also have…

Article 

Laboratory Assessment of the Bleeding Exotic Animal Patient

Hemorrhage in the critical patient can occur from a number of reasons. Before a blood sample is collected, carefully weigh the risk to the exotic animal patient against the clinical value of the test results. What will you do with this information? How will it affect your clinical plan? EDTA is the most commonly used anticoagulant in small mammals; lithium heparin is commonly used in birds and reptiles. Whenever possible, make a blood film immediately after venipuncture using fresh blood free of anticoagulant. Most adult small mammal hematocrits range from…

Article  Video 

Blood Collection in Ferrets

All but the weakest ferrets can be challenging to restrain for blood collection. Consider sedation or general anesthesia, particularly if the handler or phlebotomist is relatively inexperienced; however remember that anesthesia can affect ferret hematology.

Use this video clip or article with still images to review equipment needed, and potential venipuncture sites including the jugular vein, cranial vena cava, lateral saphenous vein, and cephalic vein.

Article  Video 

Blood Collection in Rabbits

The rabbit has a relatively short prothrombin time and whole blood quickly clots at room temperature. To minimize the risk of clot formation, it can be helpful to pre-heparinize the needle and syringe by drawing heparin into the needle and expelling the excess from the hub. The total volume of blood that can be safely collected typically ranges from 0.5% to 1.0% body weight. Collect smaller volumes from geriatric patients or those suspected to have anemia or hypoproteinemia.

Use this video clip or article with still images to review equipment needed, and potential venipuncture sites including the jugular vein, lateral saphenous vein, and ear vessels.

Article  Presenting Problem  Video 

Presenting problem: Hemorrhage in Birds

When a bird is presented for bleeding as with a broken blood feather, it is important to distinguish between frank hemorrhage and blood on the cage or bird without active bleeding. This brief presenting problem article on hemorrhage in birds reviews the key points of urgent care: Hemorrhage that has stopped is best left undisturbed initially, while active bleeding requires immediate intervention by applying firm, steady pressure.