Guinea pigs develop dietary preferences early in life and do not adapt readily to changes in type, appearance, or presentation of their food or water. The optimum diet for a guinea pig should contain guinea pig pellets, grass hay and supplemented with fresh vegetables. Guinea pigs are completely herbivorous and enjoy a variety of leafy greens. All fresh vegetables should only be left in the cage for a few hours and only a small amount of fruits should be offered. Good quality hay should be available at all times and pellets can be given free choice as well. Guinea pigs require a dietary source of Vitamin C and should be offered in the way of green leafy vegetables (kale, parsley, beet greens, chicory, spinach), red and green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes or small amount of kiwi and oranges. Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you have questions about your guinea pig’s diet.
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Neutering is a sterile surgical procedure that involves removing both testicles from a male pet. Spaying refers to the operation where the ovaries and uterine horns are surgically removed from a female pet. It is recommended to spay and neuter your pets between 5 and 8 months of age, before they reach sexual maturity. This is for both medical and behavioral reasons. The only reason not to spay or neuter is if you are going to breed or show your pet.
For male pets, there are several medical reasons for neutering. The first is to eliminate the risk for testicular cancer, which is the 2nd most common cancer in unneutered male dogs. If the testicles are removed, they can’t get cancer there. Neutering reduces the risk for prostate cancer and prostatitis, and reduces the risks of diseases associated with hormones such as testosterone. As for behavior- there will be a decrease in the need for roaming as your dog will not have the urge to reproduce, as well as decreased aggression. It also decreases the urge to “mark” their territory, so inappropriate urination is less likely to be an issue.
There are medical and behavioral advantages to spaying your female pets as well. Medical reasons include the eliminating the possibility of false pregnancy, uterine infections known as pyometras, decreasing the risk of breast cancer and eliminating the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer. As with males, behavioral benefits include reduced aggression and other undesirable behaviors such as inappropriate elimination.
There are serious medical complications and behavioral issues that can arise from not spaying and neutering your pets, as outlined above. In addition to these, you will be preventing the risk of unplanned pregnancies. If you take away the urge to reproduce, they will be much more suitable as pets because they will no longer have to answer the “call of the wild.”
Have you ever thought about owning a pet reptile? Many people think the reptiles that are kept as pets are ‘cool’ to own and sometimes after seeing one up close or handling one people get their hearts set on owning one too. Some of the more common pet reptiles that people keep are turtles, tortoises, non-poisonous snakes, green iguanas, chameleons, and various other lizards.
I too am a reptile enthusiast and although I am not a veterinary specialist in the exotics world, I am hobbyist. I want you to know that the single biggest ‘mistake’ people make when it comes to reptiles is not learning enough about which ever particular species they desire before acquiring it. Husbandry issues are the leading cause of illness and injury in pet reptiles. There are multiple websites where one can learn about how to care for a reptile but some of these sites are just a person’s opinion and perhaps not factual. The best place to learn is from your veterinarian. If your veterinarian does not take care of reptiles they certainly can guide you towards one who does or one who is a hobbyist like myself who would be more than happy to guide you. If you want your reptile to do well and thrive then you must know how to care for it.
Some simple facts: green iguanas will turn brown and stop being green if they are not kept at the correct temperature. Turtles will stop eating if humidity is wrong. Snakes will sometimes sit so close to heat sources that they will burn their own skin before moving away. Most reptiles can have zoonotic diseases – meaning a disease that is contagious to people! Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you are thinking about owning a reptile or if you have questions about reptile care.
A lot of dogs are adopted at the age of 6-8 weeks. They then go into a dog free environment to avoid infectious diseases, due to a weak immune system, until they are fully vaccinated. However, 6-16 weeks of age prove to be one of the most important socialization periods for young dogs. This is the time when they learn to interact with other dogs and learn how to act in a pack. Therefore if they are not socialized during this period of time, they may not know the dos and don’ts associated with pack like behavior.
So, how do you go about solving this? Puppies should still interact with healthy dogs during the most important socialization period in their lives. However, this does not mean to take them to dog parks and to pet stores. The interaction periods should occur during a controlled environment with only healthy fully vaccinated dogs.
If you are about to add a new puppy or kitten to your household make sure to acquire documentation of vaccination status and previous veterinary care so that you may continue your pet’s care seamlessly. Potentially dangerous, disease-causing organisms are part of your new addition’s environment. Puppies and kittens are at the highest risk for exposure to infection because their immune system is not fully developed. Puppies and kittens start their vaccinations between 6-8 weeks of age, and then continue them throughout their life. Most of the viruses your pet will be vaccinated against cause infections that are fatal such as Rabies and feline leukemia virus for kittens, and Rabies, Distemper virus, and Parvoviral enteritis for puppies. In addition, taking your pet to “get its shots” on a regular basis is one of the easiest, most important ways you can protect your pet’s good health, because it also ensures that your veterinarian has the chance to examine your pet regularly to detect any problems before they become serious threats.
The kids have been begging for months. You’re thinking about finally giving in. After all, who can resist the image of a fuzzy new puppy or kitten under the tree? As excited as your children may be, you may want to give it just a little more thought. Here are a few important things to consider:
- The holiday season is typically not the best time of year to get a new pet. New puppies and kittens require a lot of attention in order to ensure that they grow to be healthy, well socialized pets. This is the time of year where most people have the least amount of spare time. Housebreaking a puppy may require spending a lot of time patiently waiting outside, and in many parts of the country, January is not the most pleasant month to do so. Also, the first year of your new pet’s life is likely to be one of the most expensive. You should consider this when taking on this responsibility during a time of year when money is typically tight.
- If you do decide to get a pet, do your research. Talk to a veterinarian about what kind of pet you are looking for. They can help you decide what breeds might be a good fit for your family and which ones might not. Discuss the costs of vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and recommended medications in order to help you to plan for your new addition.
- Be smart about where you obtain your new family member. Humane societies and rescues should be able to tell you a little about each animal’s personality and alert you to any medical conditions in order to ensure a good match. If you purchase your pet from a breeder, make sure to talk with a few references. A good breeder should be knowledgeable regarding his dogs and the breed.
- Be sure to find out the vaccination status and previous veterinary care provided to the pet. Acquire documentation so that you may continue your pet’s care seamlessly.
- Have a veterinarian examine the pet. They may initially appear healthy, only to become sick soon after getting home. The veterinarian can also counsel you as to what additional care is required and discuss issues such as housetraining and nutrition.
- Remember, a pet is a commitment. You cannot return a pet as you might a shirt that doesn’t fit or a tie that’s not your style. Pets are with you for their whole life. If you make a commitment to them, they will reward you with love and loyalty that you’ll remember forever.