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Archive for November 2013

Lizards for Beginners

leopard gecko

Lizards make great pets because they don’t cause allergic reactions in people who are generally allergic to dogs and cats. For first time lizard owners knowing what type of lizard to choose and how to choose the lizard makes all the difference.

Captive bred lizards make the best pets because they are generally healthy, less skittish and easier to handle than wild lizards. Wild lizards tend to carry parasites and be less healthy because of the stress associated with capture, transport and captive conditions. These components make wild lizards more susceptible to illnesses.

Buying captive bred lizards helps to maintain the wild populations. Before buying a lizard research the type of lizard you are going to buy. You’ll want to know how big the lizard will grow, how long it will live and if the lizard carries salmonella. Some lizards can grow to be 5-6 feet long and live a very long time. If the lizard does carry salmonella you’ll want to know what the risks are associated with salmonella and how to reduce the harm it can cause you.

While the initial purchase of the lizard can be relatively inexpensive, the equipment can cost many times more than the actual lizard. Once you have decided on the breed of lizard you want make sure you buy the right equipment and have it all set up and ready for the lizard to come home. This can reduce the stress on the lizard.

The best breed of lizard for a first time owner are: Leopard Geckos, Crested Geckos, Fat Tailed Geckos, Bearded Dragons, Blue Tongued Skins, and Green Anoles. The last thing you’ll want to know before buying the lizard is the health and conditions it has been living in. Overcrowding can cause illness and weakness in smaller lizard breeds.

Here are a list of pointers to help you find a healthy lizard:

1) Look all over the body to make sure the lizard isn’t emaciated or too skinny. Their hips and tails will tell you if they’re too skinny. Lizards should be well fleshed. Snakes should have round bodies, their backbone shouldn’t be visible. Turtles should have ample flesh between their neck and front legs.

2)  Look at the skin for wrinkles or dullness, these can indicate dehydration. Skin should be supple and wrinkle free and not be bitten or scratched. Their bellies should be smooth and not burnt. Turtles should have hard shells with no defects. Turtles with soft shells or defected shells may be seriously ill.

3)  Check for cleanliness, there should be no fecal matter on its belly or back.

4)  Check vent for dried feces or urates. If these are caked on the vent could be a sign of illness or parasites.

5)  Check eyes, they should be clean and free of discharge or mucous. Swollen eyes indicate serious illness, especially in turtles.

6)  Watch for runny noses or mucous around nostrils. In some species a salty discharge is normal.

7)  Check mouth for pale pink or grayish color and possible yellow, white or green patches. These al indicate signs of illness or mouth rot. Also be wary of stringy or ropy looking saliva. Mouths should be a healthy pink and smooth.

8)  Check head for swelling and symmetry. The presence of the asymmetry or swelling can indicate illness or infection.

9)  Check for mites, pay close attention to the head, belly and neck for tiny moving specks that can be black, dark brown, reddish brown, or orange in color.

10)  Ask to handle the lizard. Check for strength. Docile and limp means animal is probably ill. Handle a variety to get used to the muscle tone. Weakness or shakiness are signs of illness as are twitches or tremors.

11)  Assess reptiles behavior for alertness, brightness and responsiveness. Healthy reptiles resist capture and initially fight being held. Tame reptiles are easier to hold, but should still be responsive and bright.

12)  Look for signs of respiratory disease which includes discharge from the eyes and nose or open mouth breathing. Listen for clicking or wheezing.

Allergy Friendly Pets

Allergy Friendly cats

Allergy Friendly Cats

 

While there is no such thing as an allergy free pet there are animals that are considered to be hypoallergenic or allergy friendly. These animals usually shed less or produce less dander because of the nature of their fur, or the fact that they don’t have any.

One way to reduce allergies to pets with hair is to remove all carpet and replace it with tile or hard wood floors. Carpets cling to pet hair and trap dander which cause allergic reactions because larger pets usually have access to all rooms in the house.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America allergies are cause by super sensitive immune systems that are more averse to harmless proteins in pet hair, urine and saliva. These proteins are what we know as allergens.

The most allergy friendly pets are ones that are in cages or aquariums because their access to the house is limited and the animals tend to be hairless. Goldfish make the best allergy friendly pets because their environment is aquatic and isn’t in constant contact with the allergy sufferer. Lizards are another pet that are allergy friendly because they don’t have hair and tend to be low maintenance.

If you insist on a pet with hair there are hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, chinchillas, and rats which are contained in their own cage and produce next to no allergic reactions. Out of these animals the hamster is the most common house pet. However, should you insist on a larger pet with hair here are a few suggestions.

Dogs

Standard Poodles and Bischon Frise  are considered hypoallergenic because their small curly hair makes it harder for dander to escape. ALso their frequent grooming means they shed less dander in the home.

Portugese Water Dogs are robust and require regular maintenance which again results in less hair and dander in the house.

Kerry Blue Terriors and American Labradoodle shed less than other breeds of dog. The American Labradoodle is different from the Australian Labradoodle because in Australia they breed the dog in order to reduce the quarrantine period of imported dogs.

In order to decrease dander in your home make sure that you keep your dog’s skin hydrated, much like you would with your own scalp to decrease the chances of producing dandruff.

Cats

Sphynx Cats are hairless cats that don’t shed which means no dander in carpets or hair on your furniture or clothes.

Devon Rex Cats have a rippling brown skin covered in down fur which is shed less frequently than other breeds and makes it less irritating and more allergy friendly.

However, with cats you have to remember that they are in close contact with their owners and that means you will still be exposed to the proteins that produce allergic reactions because cats groom themselves often by nature. It is the cats’ saliva that is most irritating because of the proteins it contains.

If you have a loved one in the house who suffers from allergies it can be hard to choose a pet, but always talk with your doctor and veterinarian before choosing a pet. Being well informed goes a long way for you and your family.

 

Hamster Health

hamsterHamsters are great pets because they are small, cute and easily cared for. But how much do we know about keeping hamsters healthy? Like rabbits and other small creatures that are low on the food chain their illness can go unnoticed to keep them safe from their predators. Meaning your little pet may be sick for a while and you not notice until it is quite serious and most likely too late to do anything about it.

To keep you hamster healthy you need to provide it with a clean cage and a variety of food that boosts their health. In the wild hamsters eat seeds, roots, fruits and bugs. Each of these foods have the required nutrition in them that ensures good health for your fury friend.

Your hamster needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. There are a variety of commercial brands of hamster food, but many of them contain sugars which are not good for your pet. Experts suggest that you feed your hamster a mixture of canary seeds with their commercial food and give them hard boiled eggs as a treat, dog biscuit or cat treat, monkey chow and yeast. Each of these foods have the required nutrients that make hamsters healthy. The hard boiled egg should be removed from the cage within 24 hours to stop your friend from eating a rotten egg.

Some of the foods listed above help hamsters to grind down their teeth, which they would do naturally in the wild by eating certain roots and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are great treats but make sure that you don’t feed to much lettuce to your hamster or that will give him diarrhea. Did you know you can even feed hamsters meat? Little bits of beef or mutton is okay, but never pork because it is too fatty for the little guys.

Never worry that you are over feeding your hamster. They instinctually know what their bodies need and how much to eat. Being a natural food hoarder means that if you keep their bowl full they won’t feel the need to eat more than they should. With these tips you should have a healthy happy hamster.

Pet Vaccination Schedules

cat and dogWhen you prepare to travel to distant countries you make sure that your vaccinations are in order before you board the plane. Pets are no different, your fury friend needs different types of vaccinations that fit their lifestyle. Pets as young as six weeks old can receive many of the vaccinations.

You need to examine the lifestyle your pet has, whether your friend is at home with you more, or spends time at the kennel more. With these criteria you can decide on a vaccination schedule that fits your pets needs. Talk to your vet about what schedule best suits your pet.

Vaccinations are broken into two categories, core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccinations for dogs include: Rabies 1-3 year, Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus. These are considered core because these diseases damage the dog’s internal systems and are spread through contact with infected animals.

Non-core vaccinations for dogs include: Parainfluenza, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Lyme Disease, Leptospirosis and Canine Influenza. These are not considered important because these are spread by close contact with an infected dog, but do not have the system damaging effects of the previous diseases.

Core vaccinations for cats include: Rabies, Feline Distemper, Feline Herpesvirus and Calicivirus. These diseases are spread by close contact with an infected cat and cause internal damage.

Non-core vaccinations for cats include: Feline Leukemia Virus and Bordetella. Cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus before given the vaccination. Again, these illnesses are caused by continual close contact with an infected cat.

Some of these vaccinations have to be given twice a year. Nothing is sadder than a sick pet, make sure you track your pets vaccinations year to year so that you don’t miss any.

Image from http://blogs.transparent.com/polish/your-pet-your-friend-forever/