Educational Articles

Nutrition

  • Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving. This is due both to heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and to increased research into birds' different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Different species of birds often require different foods. Poor nutrition is a common reason for many health problems in birds.

  • Pet owners may not realize that caffeine can be harmful to their pets. They also may not know that many foods and drinks in their cupboards contain caffeine. This particular chemical can be toxic for both cats and dogs.

  • Nutrition is commonly neglected with pet birds. Pet canaries should be fed a well-balanced and varied diet at all times. Several types of commercially formulated pelleted diets in various colors, shapes, and sizes have been developed to meet all birds' nutritional needs.

  • Chinchillas require a high fiber diet and should be offered grass hay (such as Timothy hay or other low calcium hays such as orchard grass, oat hay, or meadow hay) free choice (available 24 hours a day). Hay should be the main component of their diet. Fresh clean water must be available at all times.

  • Turtles commonly suffer from vitamin A deficiency, respiratory diseases, abscesses, shell infections and fractures, and parasites. Vitamin A deficiency occurs as a result of feeding turtles an inappropriate diet. Symptoms include a lack of appetite, lethargy, swelling of the eyelids, swelling of the ear, kidney failure, and respiratory infections. Respiratory tract infections are most often caused by bacteria. Abscesses are treated surgically. Shell infections can be challenging to treat. Gastrointestinal parasites are treated with appropriate deworming medications. Seek immediate veterinary care if there is any deviation from normal in your pet turtle.

  • There are several problems that can occur in aquatic turtles. Cystic calculi occur in turtles when minerals from the diet form crystals in the urine, which stick together and form stones, often resulting from improper nutrition and/or dehydration. A prolapse occurs when an organ protrudes from the vent. Regardless of the tissue or organ prolapsed, all can become traumatized, become dried out, or suffer from compromised blood flow and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. If you notice that your turtle's shell is growing irregularly, it may be a sign of malnutrition or metabolic bone disease. Any turtle whose shell is abnormal should be checked by a veterinarian so that appropriate treatment can be initiated. Although shell fractures can be serious, the shell is bone and often can be repaired. Any trauma to the shell should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian immediately. Green algae growing on the outside of the shell occurs commonly and can be cleaned off with periodic brushing of the shell with disinfectant cleaners. The skin of turtles periodically sheds off in pieces. In the water, shed skin appears as a whitish, "fuzzy" substance. Although turtles are certainly not the only reptiles that can carry Salmonella, most turtles carry the infection asymptomatically. Wash your hands thoroughly with disinfectant soap every time after handling, cleaning, or feeding your reptile or its cage items to help minimize risks of contracting salmonellosis. Most veterinarians feel it is best to try to prevent captive red-eared sliders from hibernating. Dystocia occurs the female turtle is unable to pass her eggs, is a common problem in reptiles, and can be life-threatening. A turtle with dystocia typically does not eat and rapidly becomes sick, lethargic, or unresponsive and should be seen by a veterinarian familiar with reptiles immediately.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific canine nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. There is a potential link between heart disease and diet. Determining which type of diet is best for your dog should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any better for the average, healthy dog than are traditional, commercial preparations.

  • This handout discusses the causes and potential treatments for excess gas (flatus or flatulence) in dogs. Factors such as diet, speed of eating, exercise and foods to avoid are highlighted.

  • Periodontal disease is the most common problem affecting dogs of all age groups. The importance of daily dental home care cannot be overemphasized. Nutrition can contribute to preventing periodontal disease and gingivitis.

  • This article reviews the benefits and disadvantages of semi-moist, dry, and canned cat foods. Semi-moist foods are not generally recommended as a sole diet due to their high sugar and sodium content, as well as the addition of artificial colors, preservatives, and flavor enhancers. Dry food, or kibble, is easy to portion control and can be fed in puzzle toys. Canned food is a good option but more expensive than kibble and may contribute to periodontal disease. Feeding a combination of canned and dry daily is recommended.