Friday, March 29, 2013

Caring for a Pet Rabbit

Easter is almost here, and many people will choose to buy a pet rabbit for the holiday. While there are many reasons to avoid bringing a new pet home for Easter, rabbits can make good pets if they are cared for properly.  If you choose to add a rabbit to your family, the best place to get one is from a shelter or rescue.
Rabbits have some very specific needs and can live between 7 and 10 (or more) years. Here are some rabbit care tips to ensure you and your rabbit have a long and happy life together:

  • Have the proper housing. The minimum cage size for rabbits is 2' X 2' X 4', but they do require exercise time outside of the cage every day. Choose a cage with a solid floor, as wire bottomed cages can cause foot problems for your rabbit.
  • Keep your rabbit inside. Rabbits are very social animals, and often do not do well if isolated outdoors. If you have an outdoor exercise area for your rabbit, don't leave her alone even for a few minutes. Most predators can easily get through or around fencing, and the mere presence of a predator can create panic in your rabbit, causing severe injury or even death.
  • Learn how to handle your rabbit. Always lift your rabbit with both hands. By supporting his chest with one hand and his hing legs with the other hand, you will have less chance of injuring your friend.
  • Always supervise children. Rabbits are fragile animals and can be easily injured if they are not held properly.
  • Choose the right diet. Always have fresh water and grass hay available to your rabbit at all times. Your rabbit's diet should also be supplemented with commercial rabbit pellets, dark leafy greens, and vegetables. Don't feed too many pellets. A full grown rabbit should be fed between 1/8 and 1/4 cup per 5 pounds of body weight, per day. 
  • Provide plenty of exercise and attention. Rabbits should have several hours to romp and play and interact with you outside of the cage. This is a good time to brush your rabbit with a soft-bristled brush to remove excess hair. Be sure to bunny-proof any rooms your rabbit will have access to. Protect electrical cords, or any other object your rabbit might try to chew.
  • Have your rabbit spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering reduces the chance of urine spraying, a behavior the rabbit uses to mark its territory. The procedure can also reduce aggression associated with territory, and lessen chewing behavior.
  • Teach your rabbit to use a litter box. Your rabbit will naturally eliminate in the same area of her cage every time. Once you know which spot your rabbit prefers, you can place a litter box there, lined  with newspaper and filled with grass hay or pelleted newspaper litter. Clean the litter box daily, and your rabbit's cage will stay clean longer. Once your rabbit is regularly using her litter box, and you have bunny-proofed the room, you can leave her cage door open to allow her more space to stretch her legs.
If you have a new pet rabbit, one of the vets here at VACC would be happy to look him over to make sure he is in good health! Just give us a call to make an appointment: (508) 394-3566

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is your Pet in Pain?

There are many causes of pain in pets: injury, arthritis, surgery, and disease can all make your pet uncomfortable. Thankfully, these days veterinarians know more about recognizing and managing pain than ever before. 
 If your pet is not interested in going through her normal daily routine, it could be a sign that she is painful. 
 You know your pet better than anyone else, so if you suspect she is in pain, you are probably right.  Although you are the best person to determine that your pet is painful, your veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the exact cause and to decide the best treatment. Do not give your pet any medications without first consulting with your veterinarian. Human medications like naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen are toxic to pets, and veterinary medications can also be toxic if the wrong dose is given.
The following are some common signs of pain in cats and dogs:

      Pain in Cats
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decreased or no grooming behavior
  • Shallow and rapid respiration
  • Eliminating outside the litter box
  • Hiding for long periods
      Pain in Dogs
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lethargy 
  • Panting excessively while at rest
  • Eliminating inside the house
  • Licking a specific area excessively 
If you suspect your pet is in pain, see your local veterinarian or contact us here at VACC (508) 394 3566.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hops is Toxic to Pets

Home brewed beer is becoming more common.  Unfortunately, this means that incidents of hops toxicity in pets are also on the rise.  Dogs are more likely to eat hops than cats, but it is toxic to both species.  Hops is toxic in all of its forms, including fresh or dried cones, and pellets, but dogs seem to be more likely to eat it after it has been used in the brewing process.  If you or a neighbor grow or brew hops, make sure to keep your dog away from live plants or brewing waste.

Symptoms of hops poisoning include the following:
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid breathing, or panting
  • Racing heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
If you suspect your pet has eaten hops, bring them to VACC or your local veterinarian right away. Be sure to have the number for the Pet Poison Helpline (800.213.6680) in case your pet ingests anything toxic.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adopt a Shelter Dog!

Some people are reluctant to adopt a dog from a shelter due to the perception that many dogs are left there because of behavioral problems. According to a survey published in the winter 2013 issue of Tufts Veterinary Medicine magazine, this just isn't true. Over 800 animal shelters were surveyed by PetHealth, Inc.  Following are the top reasons people give for leaving their dog at a shelter:
  • The owner died, or has health issues that prevent them from caring for the dog
  • A family member was allergic
  • The dog had puppies that the family can't keep
  • The owner brought the dog to the shelter for euthanasia
  • The owner could no longer afford to take care of the dog
  • The family moved, or changed home insurance and was no longer allowed to keep the dog
  • The dog was a stray
  • The owner simply did not want the dog anymore
  • There were too many pets in the family
If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your family, consider giving a shelter dog a second chance. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year because there are just too many for the shelters to handle. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, you are literally saving its life.