Which Size Cup?

Which Size Cup?baking-149263_640
During a recent conversation with a client, I recommended she measure the pellets offered and make sure they are no more than 1/4 cup (for a rabbit).  She asked me “which size cup?”.  I was very confused.

Sometimes I feel the most difficult part of the job is communication.  I didn’t know how to respond to the client – finally I suggested a dry measuring cup. She still seemed confused and was happy to learn that measuring cups are standard sizes.  I recommended she go out to a store with kitchen supplies and get a fresh set.

“Whenever You Assume, You Make an Ass out of You and Me.” 
I’ve been told stories, by dog and cat vets, that when asked to bring in the cup used to measure their pet’s food an owner brought in a 7-11 big gulp!  That is, technically, a cup – if you assume cup is referring to the container rather than the measurement.

But really, anything you do for a while becomes natural.  It seems like everybody does the same thing…until you find someone who doesn’t.  Boy that keeps you on your toes.  I shocked my father one year when I asked him for advice on a CPA – I needed some help with my taxes.  He stared at me…”how have you been getting your taxes done?”  I used to do them myself…he asked how I learned.  After a minute, I informed my father that my mother sat me down when I was 15 and told me what to do.  After that, I was responsible for my own taxes.  He never knew…

At least we each learned something that day – she learned how measuring cups work and I learned that some people haven’t been taught how measuring cups work.

Bands…What Are They Good For?

Can a Band on a Pet Bird be Good?


Sure – there are some times when a band is very useful

  1. International Travel may require unique identification and some birds are too small for microchips.
  2. Identification in a breeding situation ensures that birds are not mixed up – which is especially important if there are subtle health issues.
  3. A band, if the number is known, is a way to prove the bird belongs to you.

So Why is a Band ever Bad?
When it is unnecessary.

  1. Larger birds can be microchipped.
  2. Birds that have left a group situation no longer need their bands.
  3. Since there is no central database for bands they cannot be used to track down an owner.

Why Should You Remove a Band?
The main reason – to prevent injury.  We see birds who damage or break their legs because the band got caught on something.  They can irritate or annoy birds causing them to bite at the band.  If the leg is injured it may be difficult or impossible to remove the band without causing further injury.

Jackie’s Band Problem
Here is Jackie – a cockatiel.  She came in for an injured leg.  You can see that the skin of her leg has swollen around the band:

Luckily we were able to remove the band and with supportive care the leg has healed well…if a little different from her other leg!

It could have been much worse – the pressure can cause damage to the bone.  In Jackie’s case, she didn’t need surgery to repair the leg since there was no exposed bone and she still had good blood flow to all the digits.  Her smallest toe was damaged – it is likely permanently pushed forward due to the swelling.  Maybe it too will heal with time.

Gut Stasis AND Kidney Infection

oscarMeet Oscar
Oscar was a patient of mine who came in because he had some mild abnormalities – soft droppings, decreased interest in hay and some possible weight loss.  His owner had started Critical Care before bringing him in.  On exam he was definitely thin and his abdomen felt soft and doughy.

We took an xray of Oscar and found a ton of gas in the intestines!  Definitely gut stasis.  His blood work was normal and we started Oscar on various medications.  When he returned for his followup appointment, he wasn’t back to normal – more weight loss, still not eating well…Xrays showed improvements but not what we wanted to see so back onto treatments he went.

But Wait, There’s More
We saw Oscar for other issues 2 months later – but the xray still showed gas!  Since Oscar’s blood work was even better than previously we moved on to the next step.

We found Oscar’s problem – both kidneys showed changes consistent with pyelonephritis (kidney infection).  We put Oscar on 6 weeks of heavy duty antibiotics and his kidneys improved.  There were no further episodes of weight loss or appetite changes.

How Can That Be?
Most of the time we aren’t able to identify the cause of gut stasis in rabbits and rodents like Oscar.  Pain, fear and stress are common causes that may be already gone by the time we see our patients.  Trying to figure out why the gut is slowing down is why we want to run tests like xrays and blood work.  Basically – what is going on inside and is there anything else we need to worry about…

Some diseases, like pyelonephritis, are hidden.  They don’t show up on xrays and they don’t make changes in the blood work until they’ve caused serious damage to organs.  That’s where advanced imaging such as ultrasounds, CT scans and even MRIs can make all the difference.

But, just like with Oscar, we don’t start there!  Oscar didn’t get better as fast as he should have and he had the gut stasis return.  At that point we could tell something wasn’t right – we were able to investigate further and find his hidden problem.