Dental Care for Our Smaller Critters

Much like dogs and cats, many smaller critter companions need help maintaining their dental health too. The presence of bacteria after eating, that build plaque and tartar on the teeth, can expose them to periodontal disease and a potential risk to their kidneys, heart and/or liver. They are also prone to experiencing other dental issues that cats or dogs do not suffer from.

For instance, rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas have continuously growing/erupting cheek teeth and incisors (the small ones up front). Hamsters, gerbils and other small rodents have continuously growing teeth as well but only the incisors. These teeth must be worn down or they can cause dental issues like root impaction, reserve crown disease, abscesses and sharp spurs that can cut their cheeks and/or tongue. Misalignment of teeth is common, and many health conditions are secondary to these dental problems.

Common signs of periodontal disease in small animals;

More severe signs are nasal discharge, eye discharge, bulging eyes or discharge under jaw.

Including enough rough fibre by using long stem hays/grasses like Timothy Hay in their diet can help wear down the teeth, as it requires the side-to-side grinding motion that helps control dental growth. Toys like chew blocks, hanging chew charms, grass rings/balls, and sticks (of appropriate wood and size) are great choices to help the balance between tooth growth and tooth wear, and keeps them stimulated and entertained.

Ferrets are true carnivores, like cats, and can benefit from the same dental care, whether you choose toothbrushing, chews or raw meaty bones to work off the plaque and tartar. It is always a good idea to regularly check your pet’s teeth and oral health. Ferrets are prone to breaking their canines by chewing on the cage, exposing them to tooth-root infection.

When it comes to birds’ dental health, they do not have teeth and do not suffer from the resulting diseases. However, much like teeth, beaks can be misaligned, and overgrown, and regular maintenance may be required. To avoid any health issues resulting from an overgrown beak, use chew toys to help wear the beak down and prevent too much growth.

The category of reptiles is so large and covers many different species, so I will briefly touch on a few. Not all reptiles have teeth; turtles and tortoises do not, where as most snakes and lizards do. The common signs of periodontal disease are decreased water or food intake, thickening saliva, yellow plaque or puss, swelling of oral tissue or face (seek veterinary attention). Some snakes and lizards replace their teeth constantly while some take months or years to replace and may require care to avoid damaging them. This would include feeding only the specialized diets these species are meant to eat and nothing too hard that could break their teeth. The most common dental issues these species encounter is mouth rot or ulcerative stomatitis, which is an infection in the gums and mouth caused by small cuts and food stuck in their oral cavity. Snakes and lizards are most vulnerable. If you see food stuck in the oral cavity it is suggested to gently open the mouth, and remove item with a soft, small cotton swab. Keep in mind that the smaller the reptile the more fragile they are.

Bearded Dragons’ dental structures differ from other reptiles as their teeth are directly rooted into their jawbones, and as such they are predisposed to infection and inflammation to the bone. When their teeth are lost/damaged they are not replaced, like chameleons. Best prevention is to regularly clean the teeth. It’s suggested about every other day or at least once a week. Typically done with a dampened cotton swab to rub the plaque off the teeth.

The key to good dental health with small animals and exotics is a proper diet, regular care and the proper toys to limit plaque build up and work off any presence of tartar and of course, check ups with the Veterinarian when needed.

Get a great selfie with your pet this New Year’s Eve!

A new decade is rolling out and there’s no better way to celebrate than spending the night with friends and family. Laugh, play games, eat snacks and take pictures! It’s not easy to get the perfect selfie with another human being; it’s even harder to get a perfect selfie with your pet!

We’ve come up with a few tricks to help you keep your pets attention and get them looking at the camera!

  1. Hold a treat! Grab one of your pet’s favourite treats and hold it in your hand with your phone so they look in the right direction.
  2. Stick a squeaker! Tape a squeaker to the holder on the back of your phone (if you have one) and squeak it just before you take the photo.
  3. Wrap a wire! Attach a wire cat toy to your phone holder (or wrap it on your hand) so it bounces around above your phone to get the big eye stare from your cat; you might even get a cute paw reaching up in your photo!
  4. Play a sound! Choose a sound your pet is interested in and play it through your phone to get their attention
  5. Sneak a selfie! Wait until your pet is asleep and then sneak up slowly, crouch next to them and snap a photo!
  6. Hold tight! If your pet will let you, hold them in position by their collar or if they are small enough, pick them right up so they can’t run from the camera!

Have you figured out any tricks to getting the perfect selfie with your pet? Do you have any selfie fails? Share them with us on Facebook!


Avian Care & Nutrition

Buying a pet bird is an exciting experience.  Pet birds range from singers such as canaries, smaller parrots such as parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, and conures, and larger parrots such as cockatoos, amazons, and macaws. Speak with your Global Pet Food Healthy Pet Care Specialist about helping you choose the bird most suitable for you. or your family

One of your first priorities is the selection of the cage and environment.  In general the cage should be large enough for the bird to be comfortable.  However very active small birds such as canaries and finches do best in a longer, shorter cage as they are more mobile and tend to fly from perch to perch.  Parakeets do well in taller or round cages. Cockatiels are active climbers and prefer taller square cages with a few perches or tree branch. The larger parrot species need plenty of room and very large cages.   Don’t forget to have adequate perches and some artificial branches to exercise feet and keep them healthy.  It’s critical to provide birds with toys.  Provide ones that offer your bird different types of activities, both physical and mental, and rotate them regularly.  Most importantly, remember that a clean cage is a healthy cage!

The single most important element for a bird’s health is a fresh supply of water and good nutrition. Your Global Pet Foods Healthy Pet Care Specialist can direct you to the proper food. The best diets have a proper mixture of seeds, grains, and pellets fortified with vitamins and minerals that meet the nutritional needs of the individual species.  Birds generally need additional sources of calcium. Most good diets are calcium fortified but it is recommended to have a cuttlebone or mineral stone to supplement. Feed birds in the morning with fresh food and water in clean bowls.  One of the most fun aspects of pet bird care is sharing human foods and spending mealtime together.  This requires some education and research first but if done correctly adding fresh fruits, vegetables, pasta, beans, and even pizza can be a fun way to add diversity to the bird’s diet and really bond with your new pet.  And yes, they even like chicken.

Article courtesy of Vitakraft Sunseed

It’s a Dog, it’s a Cat…no, it’s a Bird!

If you’re reading this article there’s a good chance that you’re either a pet owner or thinking about becoming one.  It’s well known that pet ownership can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, and promote an overall healthy lifestyle.  While cats and dogs work hard at this every day and deservedly enjoy most of the spotlight we want to take a few minutes to talk about one particular category of heroes – the sometimes humble pet bird.  Many of our feathered friends can talk quite well and they have asked that we remind everyone that they too are looking forward to owning a human someday.    If you’re not ready to have a dog or a cat and you feel that you can manage caring for a bird, we do recommend that you start with sharing part of your life with these fascinating animal companions.

Whether you own a pet (or find yourself being owned by one) there’s no doubting the strong relationship that forms between pets and humans.  This is especially true among pet birds – most notably parrots – who like to remind us they are among the most intelligent of all the creatures in the animal kingdom.  It is this level of intelligence that creates a special kind of companionship.  With all due respect to our four legged companions, most pet birds could walk circles around them in many fields of study.  If you doubt this fact watch a bird that has fresh newspaper placed on the bottom of his cage.  Yes, it will soil the paper as much as a puppy would, but the bird will do so only after reading the really good articles.  While this is purely speculation, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

A significant percentage of parrot owners consider their birds to be children and due in no small part to the birds’ constant efforts to bond and interact with us as members of their flock.  It is this activity that makes them such a rewarding source of enrichment and entertainment.  The end result of this is not pet ownership at all but the inclusion of the bird into the family.

Deciding to add a pet bird to the family should be no small decision.  The selection of every pet should be taken seriously and thought should be given to the amount of time that can be spent with the animal, both short term and long term, and management of the workload that the pet entails.  The good news is that most pet birds are extremely forgiving as a companion pet.  For the most part birds are very affordable to own and care for and don’t require large amounts of our time.  There are certainly exceptions to this but almost certainly there is a species to fit with your “flock.”  When it comes time to choosing a bird, you will most likely be asked lots of questions to make sure that the bird is placed into a family structure that best matches its needs.  Don’t take offense and keep an open mind.  This is a relationship that is going to last many years so a little “compatibility” check may be in order.  Truly the best part of pet bird ownership is the companionship that they provide.  While some birds will learn to talk, there are no guarantees.  Some are very pretty, some are not, and some are, quite frankly, a little bit goofy.  Listen to the advice of people who know and do a little research and you’ll end up with a feathered friend for life.

Article Courtesy of Vitakraft Sunseed