Ready for the Holidays?

Unfortunately, emergency medicine and critical care don’t stop for the holiday season, so we are just sending a little reminder to make sure that your cupboard contains enough EmerAid for any crisis over the holidays.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Critical Care Techniques for Avian Wildlife Emergencies

Dr. Heather Barron presented this webinar on avian critical care. View a recording of the live, interactive event, then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. The goal of wildlife medicine is always eventual release and therefore triage of avian wildlife may vary based on case load, regulations, and the presenting situation. Dr. Barron examines the guidelines used to set triage policy and the reasons a bird may not be releasable or have a good quality of life in captivity. She then discusses practical measures intended to alleviate suffering and improve the odds of patient survival, such as fluid support, analgesia, evaluation of blood volume, and transfusion. This presentation concludes with a brief discussion on assessing life and euthanasia.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Reproductive Disease in Reptiles

Reptile reproduction can be a confusing topic due to the variety of normal reproductive strategies found throughout different reptile species. Nevertheless it important to understand normal reproductive processes to correctly approach some commonly seen problems. The recording of this R.A.C.E.-approved, web-based seminar discusses normal reproductive strategies of reptiles, including important reproductive anatomy and physiology. Three clinically important conditions, pre-ovulatory or follicular stasis, post-ovulatory dystocia, and cloacal prolapse, are also explored in detail.

Article 

Central Venous Catheter Placement in Chelonians

Long-term vascular access is difficult to obtain and maintain in chelonians. Fortunately, central venous catheters provide flexibility and length to avoid catheter dislodgement. Central lines are an effective tool that allow serial blood measurements and can be used for anesthesia administration, intravenous drug delivery, blood product transfusions, and continuous fluid therapy or continuous rate infusions.This photo tutorial article describes this simple technique step-by-step.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Emergency and Critical Care of Rabbits

This free, R.A.C.E.-approved continuing education webinar, Emergency and Critical Care of Rabbits, was presented by Charly Pignon, DVM, DECZM (Small Mammal) on November 7, 2018. Lecture topics of this webinar recording include emergency triage, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, analgesia, fluid therapy, and critical care nutrition.

Quiz 

Emergency and Critical Care in Rabbits Post Test

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Pour les vétérinaires. Par les vétérinaires.

Le site Lafervet.com est conçu pour une utilisation par les vétérinaires. Il est ouvert aux vétérinaires diplômés, aux techniciens vétérinaires diplômés, aux […]

Pignon Webinar Abstract

The presenter, Charly Pignon, is getting ready to welcome you to this live interactive continuing education event. The webinar will begin at 1 pm EST (New York). Visit the webinar page for more information or read the abstract below.

Article 

Monitoring Vital Signs in Exotic Animal Species

Even the most steadfast and seasoned veterinary anesthetist can find themselves intimidated by exotic animal patients. Standard veterinary anesthesia monitors are not designed to read the extremely high (or extremely low) heart rates and respiratory rates of some exotic animal patients. Despite these challenges, valuable information can be gathered from monitoring tools as well as hands-on techniques. Essential vital signs, such as heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and depth, body temperature, and mucous membrane color should all be evaluated.

Article 

Electrocardiography in Exotic Animal Species

Electrocardiography can be used to detect and diagnose arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities, particularly during long-term anesthesia. How are leads attached to exotic animal patients? And what is the normal appearance of normal electrocardiogram tracings in birds or reptiles?

Article 

Pulse Oximetry in Exotic Animal Species

Heart rate and oxygenation should ideally be monitored during every anesthetic event. Patient size can limit the accuracy of pulse oximetry readings in exotic companion mammals and this technique has not been validated in birds or reptiles, however trends during the course of anesthesia can still provide useful clues to patient clinical status.

Article  Quiz 

Dystocia in Guinea Pigs

Dystocia is defined as the inability of a sow to deliver her litter normally. In breeding colonies, maternal mortality and loss of the pup is an important and common problem in the guinea pig. This review article discusses the pathogenesis of disease, gestation and parturition, important differential diagnoses, diagnostics, therapy, prognosis, neonatal care, and prevention. There is also a brief quiz to reinforce learning.

Article  Teaching Module 

Emergency and Critical Care Teaching Module

This learning aid is designed to assist the participant in meeting the needs of VECCS-certified facility. The basics of emergency medicine and critical care universal, however veterinarians face a unique set of challenges when caring for birds, exotic companion mammals, and reptiles. Level 1 of this teaching module reviews the basics of exotic animal critical care. To learn more in Level 2, review the key points on critical care or supportive care for each taxonomic group: birds, exotic companion mammals, and reptiles. Each summary page includes a brief quiz that tests your knowledge and reinforces fundamental principles. Delve deeper into critical care of exotic animal patients in Level 3 by browsing pertinent exotic animal content on LafeberVet.

Article 

Poisonings in the Avian Patient

Poisonings are relatively uncommon in companion bird emergency medicine, but these conditions do occur and can involve a wide assortment of toxins. In principal, treatment in birds is the same as for other animals. First, stabilize the patient presented with abnormal clinical signs. Establish an airway, initiate respiration, and address cardiovascular needs.

Article 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Exotic Animals

There is little empirical information available on cardiopulmonary resuscitation in most exotic animals. Fortunately, the basic principles of CPR are the same for all species, however there are important species-specific considerations. This review article explores techniques for establishing airway control, ventilation and cardiac compression recommendations as well as considerations for emergency drug selection.

Article 

Reptile Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Reptiles lack an epiglottis and the glottis is ready visualized, making intubation readily accomplished in most species. If the glottal folds are closed, apply topical lidocaine to facilitate intubation. The tracheal rings are complete in reptiles. Use of an inflated, cuffed endotracheal tube can lead to pressure necrosis because there is no elastic ligament to accommodate tracheal expansion. Always select an uncuffed endotracheal tube in small reptiles and never inflate a cuff in large reptiles …

Article 

Exotic Companion Mammal Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Although the principles of emergency medicine critical care are universal for all species, this approach must be balanced with an understanding of the unique aspects of small mammal medicine. Use this summary page to review the basic approach to the exotic companion mammal patient and select additional links to supplement your knowledge base.

Article 

Avian Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Although the principles of emergency medicine critical care are universal for all species, this approach must be balanced with an understanding of the unique aspects of avian medicine. Use this summary page to review the basic approach to the avian patient and select additional links to supplement your knowledge base.

Article 

Analgesia and Sedation in Exotic Companion Mammals

The approach to analgesia and sedation in exotic companion mammals faces special challenges, including small patient size and unique features of the prey species mentality. Recognition of pain is more difficult in rabbits and rodents because many small mammals are very good at hiding the signs of pain commonly observed in predator species. Instead pain in a rabbit or rodent is often inferred from the patient’s clinical condition as well as the absence of normal behaviors. The diagnostic and therapeutic plan frequently requires some form of chemical restraint in exotic mammal medicine. When compared to general anesthesia, sedation is a safer option for the debilitated or critically ill small mammal.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Avian Respiratory Anatomy, Physiology & Diseases: An Overview

This live webinar event was presented by James Morrisey, DVM, DABVP (AvianPractice). View a recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved web-based seminar, then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. The avian respiratory system has several unique and fascinating adaptations for flight that are important to clinicians. This webinar overviews the anatomy and physiology of the avian respiratory tract. Clinical correlates are pointed out as the presenter goes through anatomy and physiology. Clinical signs of respiratory disease in birds are then discussed along with how the clinician can use these signs to anatomically locate the origin of the problem to the upper respiratory tract, the major airways, the pulmonary parenchyma, and/or the coelomic cavity.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting Problem: Dyspnea in Ferrets

This presenting problem article reviews the basic approach to the dyspneic ferret beginning with clinical signs of the dyspneic ferret, key points of urgent care, as well as case management. This latter section reviews tips on taking the history, performing the physical exam, important differential diagnoses, as well as the diagnostic/therapeutic approach.

Quiz 

Five Common Reptile Emergencies Post Test

The Five Common Reptile Emergencies webinar was reviewed and approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) program for 1 hour of continuing education, in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval…

Quiz 

Quality Exotic Small Mammal Anesthesia Post Test

Quality Exotic Small Mammal Anesthesia was reviewed and approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) program for 1 hour of continuing education, in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval….

Article  Webinar 

Five Common Reptile Emergencies

View a recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved web-based seminar presented by Eric Klaphake, DVM, DACZM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DABVP (Reptile & Amphibian), then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. This webinar explores five common reptile clinical presentations in detail: trauma, gastrointestinal foreign body, neurological deficits, respiratory difficulty, and reproductive problems.

Article 

Esophagostomy Tube Placement in Birds

Placement of an enteral feeding tube is a recognized method of supportive care, and the esophagostomy tube is an accepted route that is generally well tolerated by avian patients and relatively easy to place. In clinical patients, esophagostomy tube placement has been described in psittacine birds, raptors, and ostriches.

Esophagostomy tube placement is indicated in cases of severe beak trauma or disease, as well as diseases of the oral cavity or proximal esophagus, such as abscesses and neoplasia. Esophagostomy tubes may also be used to…

How Did We Get Off the Goo?

Many people have been curious about the way we at International Bird Rescue were able to clean the birds affected by the San Francisco Bay Mystery Goo Spill in January 2015.

Article 

External Coaptation in Birds: Bandages and Splints

Traumatic orthopedic injuries are relatively common in the avian patient. Although bird bones are strong when intact, they tend to shatter on impact as the cortices are thin and brittle. A lack of abundant soft tissue coverage often leads to open fractures…

Article 

Behavior Essentials: Clinical Approach to the Rabbit

The approach to a prey species like the rabbit often calls for a profound paradigm shift for clinicians used to dealing only with cats and dogs. Rabbits can stress very easily in a clinical setting and the challenge of managing a small mammal like the rabbit increases exponentially when they are presented for illness or injury.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Head Tilt and Rolling in Rabbits

Head tilt or torticollis, also known as “wry neck” and uncontrolled or episodic rolling are common presentations in the pet rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). There are two common causes of head tilt or torticollis and rolling in the rabbit…

Article  Video  Webinar 

Quality Exotic Small Mammal Anesthesia

Exotic small mammals can be challenging to safely induce, maintain and recover from general anesthesia. View the recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved webinar, which explores clinical anesthesia in exotic companion mammals from patient assessment and anesthetic induction to monitoring and recovery. The use of common premedications, induction agents, maintenance drugs, and post-operative analgesics will be compared and contrasted in exotic companion mammals. Multimodal anesthetic techniques, such as epidural anesthesia and constant rate infusions, will also be discussed. After reviewing the recording, take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit.

Form-Questionnaire 

Surgical Safety Checklist

The Vets Now Surgical Safety Checklist includes a list of safety issues that should be read aloud, with both the veterinarian and veterinary nurse or veterinary technician present. This checklist is divided into three categories: induction of anesthesia, before the skin incision, and before the patient leaves the operating room…

Article  Video  Webinar 

Nutritional Support to the Critical Exotic Patient

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.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: “Red Leg” in Frogs

Red leg syndrome, also known as “pink belly disease” or bacterial dermatosepticemia, is one of the most common clinical conditions of captive frogs. Associated with peracute to acute bacterial septicemia, red leg is generally a disease of captive animals although the condition has also been implicated in rare mass mortalities of wild amphibians. This presenting problem article reviews clinical findings in red leg syndrome, pathogenesis of disease, as well as key points of urgent care and prognosis. The basics of case management are then reviewed: differential diagnoses, diagnostics, treatment, prevention and control.

Article 

Rabbit GI Case Challenge Discussion

Gastric dilatation or “bloat” and gastrointestinal obstruction is an acute and life-threatening condition of pet rabbits commonly caused by an obstruction with pellets of compressed hair. The discussion portion of this Case Challenge reviews onset, clinical signs, and diagnostic test results of obstructive and non-obstructive gastrointestinal disease. This condition is considered a surgical emergency and key points of urgent care strive to stabilize the patient through analgesia, decompression when indicated, and supportive care. Surgery is discussed as well as recommendations for patients that cannot go to surgery due to clinical or financial constraints. Follow-up care as well as homecare recommendations, disease prevention, and prognosis are also explored.

Article  Case Study  Slideshow 

Case Challenge: A 5-Year-Old Rabbit With Anorexia and Lethargy

A 5-year old female spayed lop rabbit presents with a history of acute anorexia (<24 hours) and lethargy. Use history, physical examination findings, laboratory results and survey radiographs to solve this case challenge.

Article 

A Guide to Esophagostomy Tube Placement in Chelonians

The use of esophagostomy tubes (E-tubes) allows administration of oral medications and critical care nutrition to turtles and tortoises while minimizing stress and the risk of esophageal trauma associated with repeated rigid gavage tube feeding. Esophagostomy tubes are very well tolerated in chelonians and the patient can even eat normally with the tube in place. Patients can be medicated and fed on an outpatient basis, and once fully recovered, the E-tube is easily removed in the veterinary clinic.

Article 

Exotic ICU: Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals

Released for National Veterinary Technician Week 2014, Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals is part of an Exotic ICU series providing advice on the management of small exotic companion mammals in a critical care setting. Specific recommendations on caging, medicating, feeding, and monitoring the critical small mammal are explored as well as important potential sequelae to the stress of hospitalization.

Article 

Exotic ICU: Nursing Care For the Avian Patient

It is 10 p.m. in your veterinary emergency hospital and a dreaded call comes in. A panicked owner is in tears because their beloved pet is in crisis. In most cases, your team will quickly gather supplies and move swiftly to prepare for the emergent patient. This patient may strike fear in many veterinary professionals, however, because it is the dreaded avian patient presenting to a general veterinary practice.

Released for National Veterinary Technician Week 2014, Tips and Tricks for the Avian Patient is part of an Exotic ICU series that provides advice on the management of birds in a critical care setting.

Article  Video 

Wing Wrap Placement in Birds

Wing injuries may present as a wing droop or an inability to fly. The figure-of-eight bandage, or wing wrap, is the standard method for stabilizing the wing short-term. See the NEW and improved version of LafeberVet’s wing wrap placement video clip.

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 

Band Removal in Birds

Leg bands are sometimes used for identification of birds. Band removal is indicated as a medical treatment when the band is associated with tissue swelling due to trauma or a build up of keratin. Prophylactic band removal is recommended by some veterinarians because of the danger of the band catching on wire or toys. There is some controversy, however, as to whether bands truly pose a significant risk. Most clinicians agree that closed bands pose less risk of injury compared to…

Article 

Reproductive Emergencies in Birds

Reproductive emergencies are most commonly seen in small psittacine birds like the cockatiel, lovebird and budgerigar parakeet. This article reviews conditions commonly seen on an emergency basis such as dystocia, egg yolk peritonitis, cloacal or oviductal prolapse, and/or chronic egg laying. Pertinent anatomy and physiology as well as case management, including the reproductive history, physical examination, diagnostic imaging, and behavioral modification techniques are also discussed.

Article 

Urethral Obstruction in the Ferret

Although the overall incidence of urethral obstruction is probably low, this condition is an important reason for emergency presentation of the male ferret. n the United States, urethral obstruction is most frequently caused by…

Article 

Urolithiasis in Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents

Urolithiasis is characterized by single or multiple calculi throughout the urinary tract or by the presence of sandy material within the bladder and urethra. Uroliths are fortunately more of a historical disease in the ferret, while calculi are still an important problem in rabbits and rodents.

Article 

Antimicrobial Therapy and Dysbiosis in Rabbits

Antibiotic therapy is a challenge in rabbits. The rabbit digestive system depends upon a healthy population of microbes to function properly. In normal circumstances, normal commensal bacteria completely overwhelm the small numbers of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria present and keep them safely in check. Certain antibiotics, particularly when given by the oral route, however, have the potential to disturb this crucial balance by killing off the commensal bacteria…

Article 

Emergency Drug Therapy in Birds

One of the most valuable items in avian practice is a reliable formulary. Although pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data is slowly growing, the vast majority of drug doses in companion parrot medicine rely on extrapolation and/or clinical experience. It is crucial that the clinician have access to this wide range of information and experience.

Article 

Nutritional Management of Gastrointestinal Disease in the Bird

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). …

Article 

Nutritional Management of Renal Disease in Birds

There are a number of potential nutritional problems that can promote renal disease. Excess dietary protein, excess dietary calcium, hypovitaminosis A, or hypervitaminosis D may lead to nephritis or other degenerative renal changes…

Article 

Nutritional Management of Liver Disease in Birds

In mammals, chronic liver disease is often associated with decreased intake of food, mainly due to anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, as well as taste abnormalities, and the same appears to be true for the avian patient. Chronic liver disease may also lead to maldigestion and malabsorption, as well as metabolic abnormalities such as increased protein and lipid catabolism, glucose intolerance, depletion of hepatic glycogen stores, and decreased glucose oxidation. Therefore chronic liver disease may lead to significant malnutrition and weight loss, particularly in patients with severe hepatic dysfunction…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Oropharyngeal Plaques in Birds

Oropharyngeal lesions tend to be asymptomatic until lesions are quite advanced. Clinical signs associated with oropharyngeal disease vary, but may include anorexia, dysphagia, drooling, halitosis, head or food flicking and rubbing the beak. Diffuse disease or large focal lesions or diffuse disease can obstruct the choanal slit and/or glottis leading to wheezing, open-mouth breathing, dyspnea or in extreme cases suffocation…

Article 

Analgesia in Small Mammals

As in other species, to manage pain successfully, one must know when pain might occur. Several common medical disorders can result in acute pain such as otitis, conjunctivitis, and acute gastrointestinal disease. Chronic pain can arise from conditions such as arthritis, which commonly develops in older…

Article 

Emergency Equipment Checklist

Looking for an emergency equipment checklist? Review general recommendations for preparing yourself, your staff, and your practice to special species.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs tend to be shy, sweet-natured creatures. Guinea pigs are prey species. Their survival depends on the ability to be alert and respond quickly, and they possess acute senses of smell and hearing. Approach guinea pigs in a calm, quiet manner…

Article 

Assessing the Sick Rabbit

Rabbits are prey species. Their survival depends on the ability to be alert and respond quickly, and they possess acute senses of smell and hearing. Approach rabbits in a calm, quiet manner. Stressed or critically ill rabbits may not tolerate prolonged handling. Evaluation and treatment may need to proceed slowly in stages.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Diarrhea in the Ferret

Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints. Important causes of diarrhea in young ferrets include coccidiosis and rotavirus. Ferrets of all ages may be afflicted with Helicobacter gastritis, ferret enteric coronavirus, and stress-induced diarrhea while middle-aged to older ferrets may suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma. Although signalment, history, and physical exam findings may be sufficient to reach a tentative diagnosis, additional diagnostics may include cytology such as fecal parasite testing, and imaging. Treatment will vary with the specific condition identified but frequently includes…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Anorexia, Lethargy, and/or Scant Feces in Rabbits

Lethargy, total or partial anorexia, a reduction in fecal output, or scant fecal size can all indicate critical illness in rabbits. Problems that slow the gut are often uncomfortable, however rabbits tend to mask pain and discomfort, especially when frightened. Signs of fear and pain in the rabbit can include…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Small Mammal

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…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Snake

Depending on their age and size, snakes may be fed multiple times in one week or every 2 to 4 weeks. If nutritional support is truly needed, then assisted feeding is indicated in the hospitalized snake. Tube feeding is commonly performed in critically ill snakes after fluid therapy and supplemental heat is provided.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Lizard

Exotic animal medicine requires a delicate balance between medical concepts true for all living creatures (“one medicine”) and species-specific information and this is true for lizards.

Lizard behavior varies with the species, however the normal lizard tends to be alert, responsive, and curious. Some species, like the bearded dragon and leopard gecko tend to be particularly active and animated while most chameleons are more…

Article 

Assessing the Sick Chelonian

The lethargic, weak chelonian may exhibit a lack of carpal or truncal lift. It may sit flat on the exam table instead of lifting up on all four feet, and it may not be able to retract its head into the shell with the expected degree of strength. It can be challenging to…

Article 

Online Resources: Emergency and Critical Care

A collection of online resources related to emergency medicine and critical care. This list of links come from a variety of academic institutions and professional organizations.

Article 

Recommended References for Emergency and Critical Care

In September 2017, LafeberVet sent out a brief poll soliciting recommendations for use in emergency and critical care settings. The results are listed here. A collection of textbooks and periodical journals for further study of veterinary emergency medicine and critical care are also listed.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Abnormal Urine in Rabbits

Abnormal urine in the rabbit typically appears white and chalky or pigmented. These changes can be related to the unique metabolism of calcium in the rabbit. Rabbits absorb nearly all calcium ingested; therefore blood levels vary substantially with the calcium content of the diet…

Article 

Pain Management in Birds

This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Avian Analgesia” authored by avian veterinarian, Dr. Michelle Hawkins.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Critical Care Nutrition

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.

Article 

Pancreatic Beta Cell Tumors in the Ferret

There is no cure for insulinoma. If the ferret lives long enough, eventually it will reach a point where clinical signs cannot be controlled and euthanasia will need to be selected to address quality of life issues.

Article 

Enterocolitis in Hamsters

Diarrhea is the most common problem in pet hamsters. In a recent survey of two large American commercial breeding facilities, approximately 3% of shipped hamsters develop diarrhea. Diarrhea caused by enterocolitis can occur in hamsters of any age or breed and is commonly known as “wet-tail”. Clinical signs in weanlings usually include diarrhea, anorexia, ruffled hair, dehydration, weight loss, and death. The mortality rate is often highest in…

Article 

Raptor Ophthalmology: Ocular Lesions

The large size of the raptor eye and its relative lack of orbital protection superiorly and laterally means any form of head trauma frequently involves the eye and its associated structures. In one report, ocular injuries were most commonly caused by vehicular collision, gunshot and leghold traps. The most common clinical finding in birds of prey presented for medical attention is hyphema. Trauma may also lead to…

Article 

Air Sac Cannula Placement in Birds

Air sac cannulas are routinely used to ventilate birds by a route other than endotracheal intubation. Air sac tubes are used for oxygenation and anesthesia, especially during surgery of the head or trachea where tracheal intubation would be cumbersome. In addition, air sac cannulas provide a means to medicate air sacs directly, and they are also used to aid dyspneic birds with tracheosyringeal obstruction from foreign bodies, granulomas, or tumors.

Article 

Trauma in Avian Patients

Head trauma may occur when a bird flies into an object such as a window or ceiling fan, or when falls occur secondary to an improper wing trim, neurologic disease, or severe weakness. Evaluate the bird for evidence of head trauma such as blood in the choanal slit, ears, or nares. Gently palpate the skull. A fracture of pneumatic skull bone can allow air to escape creating emphysema. The pupillary light response (PLR) should also be evaluated, although PLR may be absent in birds with a normal reflex path due to avian anatomic differences. Perform a fundic exam, particularly in…

Article 

Fluid Administration in Exotic Companion Mammals

The principles of fluid therapy are basically the same in exotic companion mammals as in other species. The biggest difference is that changes can occur very rapidly in these tiny patients. For instance, fluids should almost always be warmed or your patient will cool down quickly. Intraosseous or intravenous fluids can be heated with…

Article 

Gastrointestinal Disease in the Ferret

The ferret is a carnivore with a short, simple gastrointestinal tract and a relatively rapid gastrointestinal transit time. Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Respiratory Disease in Snakes

Respiratory tract disease is common in captive snakes. Pneumonia and/or tracheitis are typically caused by opportunistic Gram-negative bacterial infections that are allowed to take hold due to poor husbandry practices. Disease is often unapparent to the owner until the problem is quite advanced and open-mouth breathing is observed. This presenting problem article explores key points of urgent care as well as general principles of case management.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dysecdysis in Reptiles

Primarily a disease of captive reptiles, dysecdysis is sporadically seen in free-ranging reptiles. Among captive reptiles, difficult sheds are most common in those with a complete shedding cycle: snakes and some geckos such as the leopard gecko and African fat-tailed gecko. Some skinks with relatively tiny digits, are prone to retaining shed skin on the digits.

Article 

Diseases of the Rabbit Respiratory Tract

Rhinitis or sinusitis, sometimes called “snuffles” in laymen’s terms, is usually characterized by unilateral or bilateral, mucopurulent nasal discharge, sneezing, and congestion. A subtle sign of upper respiratory tract disease can be discharge matted on the paws or the medial aspect of the forelimbs. Discharge may collect here as the rabbit fastidiously cleans its face with its forepaws. In the early stages of disease, discharge may not be evident on the nose or even on the paws, however close examination of…

Article 

Assessing the Sick Ferret

The average small animal veterinarian may easily become comfortable with ferrets. Ferrets are hardy and relatively stoic, and as members of the order Carnivora, ferrets are predator species that approach the world in a manner similar to cats and dogs. A relatively small number of medical problems are seen very commonly in ferrets. Careful study of these conditions and attention to the unique aspects of ferret anatomy and behavior will prepare the veterinarian for basic emergency care of the ferret.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Snake

Snake behavior will vary with the species, however the normal snake tends to be alert, responsive, and curious. Frequent tongue flicking is a sensory gathering behavior used to deliver scents to the vomeronasal organ. The normal snake is generally active, often coiling or twining its body. This is particularly true for smaller species. Signs of aggression in the snake may include…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Turtle or Tortoise

Turtles and tortoises display a variety of dietary strategies ranging from the complete herbivory seen in many tortoises to the strict carnivory displayed in aquatic species like the snapping turtle. There are also many chelonians, such as the Eastern box turtle, that may be considered opportunistic omnivores. This review article, critiqued by reptile nutritionist, Susan Donoghue, discusses clinical concerns related to feeding the hospitalized turtle or tortoise. Topics covered range from recognizing true anorexia to food items to avoid. Practical technical concerns related to nutritional support such as tube feeding and daily caloric requirements are also discussed.

Article 

Abdominocentesis in Birds

Abdominocentesis or coelomocentesis may be indicated for the accumulation of fluid within one or more of the peritoneal cavities. Peritoneal fluid can accumulate with a variety of diseases, including chronic liver disease, amyloidosis in waterfowl, iron storage disease in mynah birds and toucans, coelomic tumors in budgerigar parakeets, viral infections like Marek’s disease (resulting in cardiac tumors), peritonitis, congestive heart failure, ovarian cysts, and trauma. This article reviews the potential complications of this clinical technique, the equipment needed, sample handling, and cytodiagnosis.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Diarrhea in Chelonians

If you see reptiles in your clinical practice, you will encounter diarrhea in tortoises, and less commonly turtles. This paper describes the basics of case management beginning with anamnesis, continuing with information on the examination, tests and potential treatments and concluding with client education.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Beak Trauma

Beak trauma is a common problem in the companion parrot. Beak injury most often occurs secondary to bird bites and other forms of aggression. Other potential causes include damage from inappropriate caging or toys and iatrogenic damage during…

Article  Presenting Problem  Quiz 

Presenting problem: Cardiac Dysrhythmia in the Ferret

Have you ausculted an arrhythmia in a ferret. Now what? Cardiac dysrhythmias can encompass a wide range of clinical syndromes that vary in significance and signs.

Do you consider ferret arrhythmias a cinch? Take our quiz to confirm you’re ready to auscult in a pinch!

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dyspnea in Rats

Unfortunately respiratory disease is common in pet rats. Although most cases of respiratory disease in the rat are multifactorial, the most significant and serious bacterial pathogen is Mycoplasma pulmonis. Institute medical therapy as soon as possible in rats with respiratory disease since this improves…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Urethral Obstruction in the Ferret

Urethral obstruction is an important reason for emergency presentation of the male ferret. If not corrected, obstruction can result in severe metabolic disturbances, coma, and death.

Signs of complete urethral obstruction are usually not very subtle. Ferrets may strain violently or cry when attempting to urinate. Owners may misinterpret the straining observed as “constipation”, and tenesmus may even lead to diarrhea in some cases. Occasionally, a ferret with blockage will present for lethargy, weakness, anorexia, and even collapse without obvious signs of dysuria although the urinary bladder will be…

Article 

Pain Management in Small Mammals

This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Analgesia in Small Mammals” authored by veterinary anesthesiologist, Dr. Paul Flecknell.

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Lizard

Fasting may be expected in lizards during certain times of the year. Many gravid females eat less or go off feed entirely due to the large number of eggs filling the coelom. Some species also fast for weeks or months as an adaptation to excess heat or cold, drought, or lack of food. This dormancy in reptiles is called…