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.

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…

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Presenting problem: Pouch Infection and Mastitis in Sugar Gliders

The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small marsupial native to Australia and New Guinea. Although sugar gliders lack marsupial bones, also known as epipubic bones or pelvic ribs, female gliders or “dams” possess a pouch or marsupium. Like all marsupials, the glider gives birth to a fetus, which completes development inside the pouch…

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Presenting problem: Self-Mutilation in Sugar Gliders

Self-mutilation is sometimes observed in isolated sugar gliders or in situations causing social stress. Improper groupings are common in captivity as pet owners often combine a male with one or two females, without realizing that not all individuals get along…

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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  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  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  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…

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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  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.

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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  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Shelled Egg Palpable

Detecting a shelled egg on physical examination is not necessarily a problem—birds lay eggs everyday! However palpation of a shelled egg is an important clinical finding that can be associated with dystocia. The egg is shelled in a distal part of the oviduct called the uterus or shell gland. Therefore a shelled egg would normally be palpable in either the…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Burns in Snakes and Lizards

Thermal burns are a common injury in snakes and lizards. Companion snakes and lizards may come in contact with poorly protected heat sources or old “hot rocks” that short circuit. Even free-ranging reptiles may be at risk for thermal injuries during grass or forest fires. This presenting problem article “Burns in Snakes and Lizards”, explores a basic understanding of burns in reptiles, then moves onto key points of urgent care as well as general aspects of case management, including patient history, physical examination, differential diagnoses, diagnostics, therapy, and finally prognosis.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Anorexia in Birds

Anorexia may be the only indication of poor health in the critically ill bird and by the time other clinical signs are apparent disease may be quite advanced. This means that all reports of poor appetite in the avian patient must be taken very seriously.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Fever of Unknown Origin in the Ferret

Disseminated idiopathic myofasciitis (DIM) is a severe inflammatory disease that primarily affects skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles as well as surrounding connective tissues. This recently identified disease typically affects young ferrets, less than 18 months of age. The cause of DIM is unknown, but this condition is suspected to be an acquired immune-mediated disease. The onset of DIM is usually acute to subacute, followed by a rapid decline over 12-36 hours. The most prominent clinical signs include a high fever ranging from…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Diarrhea in Birds

Diarrhea may be defined as any change in the consistency or formation of the fecal portion of the dropping. Diarrhea is a common clinical presentation in birds, but it is important to differentiate true diarrhea from changes in other components of the droppings…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dyspnea in Rabbits

It is critical to approach the dyspneic rabbit quietly, carefully, and gently. Many rabbits with respiratory disease are unstable upon presentation, given the stress of their condition compounded by the stress of transport and the strange smells, sights and sounds of the veterinary clinic. In many cases, it is prudent to delay handling the patient. Transfer the rabbit to…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Ferret

Clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease in the ferret can include congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, and non-specific signs of illness, such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Bird

Rhinitis or sinusitis in the bird can include a host of clinical signs including congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, exophthalmos, as well as non-specific signs of illness such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the lower respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Vaccine Reaction in Ferrets

Pet ferrets are routinely vaccinated against canine distemper virus and rabies virus. Anecdotally, hypersensitivity reactions to vaccines are common in the ferret, and can potentially be fatal.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Voice Change in Birds

Change in bird song or loss of voice can be valuable diagnostic clues. When a bird is presented for a change in or loss of voice, this will localize lesions to the…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Neurologic Deficits in Ferrets

Unfortunately, neurologic disease is a common presenting problem in the ferret. Neurologic deficits may include an altered level of consciousness, paresis, ataxia, or even pelvic limb paralysis or collapse.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Regurgitation in Birds

Regurgitation is a non-specific clinical sign, and it is not pathognomonic for any specific problem. Regurgitation can indicate a problem anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract or it may occur secondary to crop stasis caused by systemic illness.

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: Bite Wounds

Bite wounds are not confined to small animal practice. Bite wounds are a common and significant problem in clinical practice, and LafeberVet’s presenting problem article features urgent care tips for this universal problem of veterinary patients. The incidence of bite wounds increases with a history of exposure to the outdoors or to other animals. The owner may even report a fight or interaction that results in a bite wound.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Heatstroke in Exotic Companion Mammals

Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat-related illnesses. In this life-threatening condition, the body is unable to dissipate heat load at a rate that accommodates excessive heat levels.

Begin treatment immediately once heatstroke is suspected. Intensive care is aimed at reducing body temperature while supporting organ function. A variety of techniques can be used to lower core body temperature. Administration of intravenous or intraosseous fluids is a popular internal cooling technique that also serves to support organ function…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Prolapse in Reptiles

Prolapse in reptiles can involve the cloaca, a common receiving chamber for the reproductive, urinary, and gastrointestinal tracts. Prolapses can also originate from the distal gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organ, or urinary bladder—in those species with a bladder like the green iguana and leopard gecko…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Paresis, Paralysis, and Tremors in Sugar Gliders

The sugar glider is a small, nocturnal marsupial native to New Guinea and Australia. Sugar gliders are omnivores that eat arthropods and plant products, such as eucalyptus phloem sap, manna, honeydew, nectar, and pollen in the wild. Although there is little medical information available on sugar gliders in captivity, nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism or metabolic bone disease is recognized as a common problem in this species.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Retained Spectacles in Reptiles

Like other shedding problems, retained spectacles or “eye caps” are a sign of an underlying problem related to patient health or husbandry. If retained spectacles are not removed, they can interfere with vision, damage the eye, and/or serve as a source of infection

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Shell Fractures in Chelonians

Understanding shell fractures
Shell fractures are one of the more common presentations of Chelonia to the private exotic animal practitioner. Shell fractures are frequently caused by vehicular trauma, lawn mowers, predation by dogs and raccoons, or drops from balconies or porches. I have even seen one case in which a person tried to use a tortoise […]

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Aural Abscess in Turtles

The turtle ear is a simple structure that sits caudoventral to the eye covered by a large scale called the tympanic scute. As in many reptiles, the external ear is absent in chelonians. The tympanic membrane sits flush against the skin just underneath the tympanic scute. There is one ossicle, the columella, which crosses the large tympanic cavity to insert medially on the oval window of the cochlea. A narrow Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the oropharynx.

Aural abscesses are well-encapsulated, caseous plugs that slowly develop until it fills the tympanic cavity. The cause of aural abscessation is not completely understood…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Stomatitis in Reptiles

Stomatitis, also known as “mouth rot”, ulcerative stomatitis, necrotic stomatitis, and/or periodontal disease is a common problem in snakes and lizards. Stomatitis is less common in chelonians and crocodilians, and often presents as a stomatitis-rhinitis complex in tortoises. This presenting problem article explores the pertinent anatomy involved, key points of urgent care, as well as tips for case management.

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  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Crop Burn in Birds

Crop burns are commonly caused by thermal injury in young birds and, in rare instances, by ingestion of caustic chemicals in adult birds. Crop burn is generally caused by feeding formula that is too hot (>110ºF or 43.3ºC) or less commonly, contact with a heat lamp or heating pad. Damage typically occurs in the gravity dependent right ventral region of the crop where the weight of the food bolus presses heated material against the skin. This increased thermal exposure can lead to necrosis of the crop wall and skin forming a fistula that can leak food.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Trauma in Ferrets

Ferrets are small, flexible, mischievous, and curious. This combination means that traumatic injury is a common problem, particularly when owners do not supervise their pets or “ferret proof” their living quarters. For instance, reclining chairs have been implicated in the injury and even death of many ferrets. Ferrets may also be accidentally stepped on or become trapped within a confined space. Trauma can result in a constellation of injuries that may affect the head, thorax, abdomen, spine, and limbs.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: The Fluffed and Ruffled Bird

A relaxed, comfortable bird may briefly fluff out its feathers before its plumage again appears flat and sleek. The critically ill bird may exhibit persistently fluffed and ruffled plumage…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

Cloacal prolapse is a serious and potentially life-threatening problem. Prolapses can originate from the cloaca, oviduct or intestinal tract. The cloaca normally prolapses during egg laying or oviposition, and normal retraction of the cloaca may be slowed or absent in an obese hen or one with hypocalcemia. Excessive abdominal contractions caused by an abnormal egg, dystocia, cloacal disease, gastrointestinal disease or chronic mastubatory behavior can also promote prolapse.

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.

Article  Presenting Problem  Video 

Presenting problem: Broken Blood Feather

Why is a broken blood feather an emergency? When the blood feather breaks, the feather shaft acts like a straw making the vessels bleed much longer than they would otherwise due to capillary action. The degree of blood loss can be significant, particularly in small birds. Use this video clip or article with still images to review the basic structure of the blood feather, key points of urgent care as well as follow-up care.