A collection of online resources related to nutrition and the feeding of veterinary patients. This list of links come from a variety of sources: academic institutions, industry, government, and professional organizations.
If the gut works, use it. The preferred route for providing nutrition is enteral feeding since this preserves intestinal structure and function. Parenteral nutrition is indicated to prevent malnutrition when patients cannot consume adequate nutrients by oral feeding or tube feeding or when the respiratory tract cannot be protected. Parenteral nutrition is 100% bioavailable since nutrients reach tissue without the variations associated with gastrointestinal digestion.
Lafeber’s Nutrition & Foraging Kits contain trial sizes of Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes, Pellet-Berries and Premium Daily Diet Pellets. Each kit comes in four sizes: parakeet, cockatiel, parrot, macaw/cockatoo.
Providing a bird with good nutrition often has different meanings for clinicians and clients. While the goal is to provide a diet that mimics the diet of that particular species in the wild, in captivity those strategies for feeding parrots are very different.
When Kara Burns, veterinary technician specialist in nutrition, visited Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine during the fall of 2014, her lecture on critical care nutrition made a big impression on the veterinary medical students. This 48-minute presentation explores the basics of nutritional supportive care appropriate for all species before concluding with information on nutritional support of special species like birds, reptiles and exotic companion mammals.
Created with a focus on the bird, LafeberVet’s Nutrition Glossary is an extensive list of vocabulary terms. Listed terms range from nutrients like vitamins and minerals, nutritional strategies ranging from frugivore to fungivore, and related anatomy or physiologic terms like crop and coprodeum, and even nutrition-related diseases like goiter and gout.
Kara Burns, LVT, VTS (Nutrition) is a licensed veterinary technician with master’s degrees in physiology and counseling psychology…
The types of foodstuffs consumed in the wild are often used to classify the nutritional requirements for groups of animals. Usually birds within the Order Psittaciformes are considered to consume plant-based foodstuffs and are classified as florivores. Subdivisions within this category include granivores (budgies and cockatiels), frugivores (many of the macaws), and nectarivores (lorikeets and lories). Yet these artificial lines are sometimes too simplistic, as many psittacine birds cross over a category to consume a larger variety of foodstuffs…
Herbivore nutrition separates animals into two main categories, depending on where food particles are broken down and fermented prior to absorption. The categories are foregut and hindgut fermenters, with the hindgut group being broken down into colonic and cecal fermenters.
The cornerstone of successful aviculture is healthy breeding birds. These birds should be kept in a stress-free environment and provided with optimal nutrition to meet their physiological needs. Sound management techniques are paramount to ensure the birds remain healthy. Proper environmental enrichment is also important for psychological and behavioral well-being.
Dr. Susan Donoghue is a veterinarian and a reptile nutritionist and researcher. She is a past-president of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and was one of the founding members of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition…
John E. Bauer is Professor of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and holder of the Mark L. Morris Professorship of Clinical Nutrition in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University…
After reading label panels, owners often bring questions and concerns to veterinary staff. The pet food label is the primary means by which product information is communicated from the manufacturer or distributor to pet owners, veterinary health care team members, and regulatory officials. Reading and interpreting pet food labels is one method that healthcare team members and pet owners can obtain information about pet foods. However, it is important to remember that pet food labels do not necessarily provide information about…
A clinical trial was conducted with cockatiels to compare a whole-seed balanced diet (Nutri-Berries) with that of a pelleted diet. Blood values, body weight, and other parameters were measured to assess the alternative diet’s clinical effects on birds.
In 1998, an expert committee met to discuss the nutritional needs of companion birds. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and develop nutrient profiles for companion birds, focusing on profiles for formulated feed.
The expert panel developed maintenance guidelines for two broad groups of birds: psittacines and passerines (regardless of size or genus). These conservative, generalized guidelines are extrapolated from the National Research Council requirements for poultry and…
There are various approaches to provide food for the companion parrot. Each nutritional strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages including seed-only diets, pelleted diets, extruded diets, and/or foraging diets.
Nancy A. Irlbeck, M.S., Ph.D is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado…
The gastrointestinal tract acquires and digests food, absorbs nutrients and water, and expels unabsorbed ingesta as feces. Nutritional support of the avian patient with gastrointestinal (GI) disease is challenging. In cats and dogs, it is easy to “rest” the gut, however with their relatively high metabolic rate, this is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in many avian patients. Specific disease conditions increase the difficulty regulating gastrointestinal motility including ingluvitis (crop stasis). …
There are two types of seeds fed to pet birds: oil seeds and non-oil seeds. Oil seeds are a rich source of energy and vitamin E. Oil seeds such as sunflower seeds contain at least 50% fat and are low in calcium. Non-oil seeds such as millet are much lower in fat when compared to oil seeds and the energy present is stored as starch.
Exotic animal veterinarians are well aware of the differences between energy expenditure in small and large species. Larger animals use more energy overall, however when energy expenditure is divided by body weight (kcal/kg/day), large animals use relatively less energy than small animals
Lories and lorikeets live in large flocks in the wild. Depending on the species, lories and lorikeets originate from the southeast Asia archipelago or parts of Australia. These birds will fly from island to island in search of food. Lories and lorikeets will eat coconuts and grapes and they are considered a pest to farmers. The nomadic Rainbow lorikeet follows eucalyptus flowers blooming along the Australian coast. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the conservation status of most lories and lorikeets as “least concern”, although some species are considered vulnerable or “near threatened”. The Red-and-blue lory (Eos histrio), Rimitara lorikeet (Vini kuhlii), and Ultramarine lorikeet (Vini ultramarina) are endangered.
The Eclectus is a native of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and/or the Solomon Islands. This species has also been introduced to Palau. Eclectus parrots have an extremely large range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists their conservation status as “least concern”.
Most conures are found in regions of the Amazon Basin but some species are from the Caribbean islands. Conures are on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list. These species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.
Cockatoos are medium to large-sized parrots with thick, heavy bills that range from 30-70 cm in length. There are 18 species of cockatoos in 6 genera. The most common pet cockatoos are the umbrella, sulphur-crested, lesser sulphur-crested, and Moluccan cockatoo.
Cockatiels originate from the non-coastal regions of Australia. The free-ranging population is very large, and the IUCN lists this species’ conservation status of “least concern”. Cockatiels probably represent the smallest of the cockatoos, although there is some controversy surrounding this classification. Cockatiels are common as aviary birds and they make excellent pets.
Originating from the Canary Islands, the canary’s song captured the attention of Europeans, who started importing these birds in the late 1500’s. Although breeding for desirable traits has produced many variations, the wild canary is a small, green bird. Free-ranging populations are strong and are found in a wide variety of habitats, which is why the canary was placed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List category of “Least Concern”.
African grey parrots are among the most familiar of all parrots. Originating from central Africa, many African cities now have feral populations. The Timneh grey parrot is localized to the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Habitats for grey parrots include savannahs, coastal mangroves, woodland and edges of forest clearings. African greys are listed under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II, which means these species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated…
Macaws are found in a variety of habitats throughout large areas of the Amazon Basin, such as gallery forests and mangrove swamps. Most macaws are listed on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I, however the blue and gold, green-winged, Hahn’s, noble, red-bellied, severe and yellow-collared macaws are listed on CITES Appendix II. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction globally, and commercial trade is prohibited and importation/exportation for scientific research requires special permits. Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.
Little is known about the nutritional requirements of companion bird species. Dietary recommendations for pet birds are extrapolated from domestic poultry nutritional requirements; however these parameters are generally calculated to minimize cost while maximizing meat and egg production.
Although patient history is important in all species, improper diet and substandard housing are often major contributors to illness in non-traditional pets. This means that a detailed and accurate history is often one of the most critical diagnostic tools for the exotic animal patient. This review focuses on birds, reptiles, and small exotic companion mammals, beginning with the signalment and presenting complaint, before moving onto the environmental history, dietary history, and of course the medical history.
All raptors consume a meat-based diet ranging from the specialist diet of the fish-eating osprey (Pandion haliaetus) to a generalist diet that can include insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even carrion. Other than poultry, the exact nutritional requirements of birds are unknown, however the natural raptor diet is always relatively high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. Whole prey diets have a calcium/phosphorus ratio of 1.5:1 as the bird actually consumes the bones as well as the meat…
Did you attend the Lafeber Symposium at the 2015 International Conference on Avian heRpetological and Exotic mammal medicine in Paris? View a recording of this encore, web-based seminar: “Medical Management of Psittacines with Bornavirus Ganglioneuritis (PDD)” by Susan Orosz, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DECZM (Avian). This presentation on avian borna virus contains medium to advanced level content. The novice is encouraged to view the first hour of Dr. Orosz’s presentation “Anatomy & Physiology of the Avian Gastrointestinal Tract: Clinical Applications”, which includes a helpful review of avian gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology.
View the recording of this free, interactive webinar, presented by Neil Forbes, BVetMed DECZM (Avian) FRCVS. Many sick or injured exotic animals are presented in critical condition. More of these patients can be saved by appropriate fluids and nutritional support, than by any single medical or surgical procedure. In practical terms, providing this support is often easier said than done. Dr. Forbes’ presentation serves to demystify some of the challenges encountered; practical solutions for all exotic patients are described and discussed.
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Mini pigs remain a surprisingly common pet, with a resurgence in popularity every few years. Owners typically have a “small animal mindset”, and as such, seek like-minded veterinarians, but lack of training and paucity of resources leads many veterinarians to shy away from these unique pets. This recording of the live, interactive webinar reviews handling and restraint as well as routine veterinary procedures, from physical examination, vaccination, and nutrition to therapeutics such as hoof trim, tusk trim, and deworming protocols.
The mud turtle (Pelusios castaneus) is native to West Africa and its natural habitat consists of aquatic habitat surrounded by dense forest floors or submerged savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this aquatic turtle species in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition are described as well as common problems seen pet turtles.
The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara and in Southern Africa from the Sudan to Ethiopia. Leopard tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrublands, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.
The charming Chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) is native to the rice patty and pond environments of Taiwan and southern China. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this semi-aquatic turtle in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.
Sulcata or African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) are “gentle giants” found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara in Africa. Sulcata tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrubland, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this popular tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for housing as well as nutrition, breeding, and common clinical problems are described.
Providing nutrition to the hospitalized small mammal is a fairly straightforward process. Encourage owners to bring their pet’s “regular” diet to minimize the risk of food refusal or gastrointestinal upset. Also consider keeping the following food items available…
Bearded dragons are omnivores that accept a wide variety of foods. Variety is the key to good nutrition and foods offered should include…
Dr. Kirk Klasing is a Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California at Davis…
This practice of pigeon fancy is generally called “pigeon racing” in North America and “pigeon play” in Europe. The principles of pigeon fancy are intricate and there are a variety of vocabulary terms that seem quite mysterious. There is also a history of resistance to veterinary involvement among many pigeon breeders so it can be intimidating for even experienced avian veterinarians to interact with the pigeon fancier.
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La’Toya Latney is the Service Head of the Exotics Department at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. She completed a Special Species residency at PennVet and an 18-month exotics internship under Heidi Hoefer, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (Avian Practice). La’Toya is a Cornell University undergraduate alum and she received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross […]