Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wild Baby Birds – How Can You Help? by Dr. Dana Lewis

It's bound to happen if you're out and about. You are going to find a baby bird in a low branch or on the ground. Wondering what can be done when you find one or more is a question veterinarians often get every Spring. Many baby birds are thought to be abandoned when someone finds them in their yard, but the truth is few young birds just fall from their nest unless a storm has occurred.

If you find a young bird and it is injured, seek medical care immediately from a veterinarian who sees birds. If it is uninjured, you will need to determine whether or not it is really an orphaned bird. The best way is to determine if it is a nestling or a fledgling. Most young birds that are found are really just young fledglings that can't fly well yet. Many people don't realize that when birds leave the nest they jump and glide between tree branches while learning the basics of flying. In order to determine whether the bird is a nestling or a fledgling allow the baby bird to perch on your finger. If it is able to grip your finger firmly then it is a fledgling. The best thing to do in this case is to place it in a nearby tree or shrub and leave it alone. The parents will continue to care for it and feed it.

If the bird is not able to cling to your finger, then it’s a nestling. Try to locate the nest. Most of the time, the nest will be close by and well hidden. Place the bird back in the nest. If the nest cannot be found or is too high for you to safely reach it, make a temporary nest (example- a berry container with tissues inside it) and attach it to a nearby tree or in a shrub to protect it from predators. Place the young bird in the basket and leave it alone. The parents will take care of it once you leave. It is a myth that once you touch a baby bird the adult birds will abandon it.

Should you attempt to hand-feed nestling birds that you have found? Young birds are fed by their parents about every 20 minutes during daylight hours. Most people are not able to provide this much time and effort in raising young birds. You also need to have some education in what is the proper diet to feed nestlings, and then as they grow their diets often change. Never force water or other liquids down their throats; you will actually drown the bird. The adults do not bring water to the nest. Water comes from the insects or fruit they eat. Instead, contact your local veterinarian or call your nearest wildlife rehabilitator. You can find them on the internet. Also you usually have to be licensed to hold wild birds and other wildlife in captivity.

Written by Dr. Dana Lewis

Read more or contact Dr. Dana:
Dana Lewis, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Raleigh, North Carolina  |

Dr. Dana assists families with Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle, as well as Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cat Scratch Disease, by Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne

Cat claw
Photo by Monique Jamieson
(Click to see original on Flickr)
Cat scratch Disease, also commonly called cat scratch fever, is a disease in humans caused by the bacteria, Bartonella henselae. It is typically spread to humans via a scratch or bite from a cat or kitten, hence the name. Cats show no symptoms of disease, and usually it is a self-limiting infection in people.
The bacteria is spread to cats by fleas and is found in the flea feces, therefore cats that are infested with fleas are more likely to carry the disease. It has been estimated that around 40% of cats have carried the bacteria at some point. Cats scratch themselves and the contaminated flea feces, or “flea dirt,” gets under the cats claws. The bacteria can also be found in the cat’s saliva. When an infected cat scratches or bites a person it can therefore inoculate the person with the bacteria. It has been found that kittens seem to spread the disease more. Since cats do not show any symptoms, you cannot tell which cats carry the disease.

Most people that have the infection have been scratched or bitten by a cat. This often includes children. A papule or pustule may develop at the site of the scratch. Symptoms can take 1-2 weeks or sometimes longer to occur. Typical symptoms include swollen lymph nodes near the site of the wound, usually in the arm, or neck. Some people will experience fever, fatigue, headache, or drainage of the swollen lymph node. Infections are usually self-limiting, meaning it will go away without treatment, and antibiotics are often not recommended. Occasionally other forms with more serious symptoms can occur but these are rare. Immuno-compromised people are more likely to have complications.

There are several ways to avoid catching cat scratch disease. Good flea control for your personal cats (and all pets for that matter) is most important, especially if they go outdoors at all. Avoiding rough play with cats and kittens is also important, because this is usually when bites and scratches occur. Always wash any cat bite or scratch well with warm soapy water and do not let a cat lick any open wounds you may have. Keep your cat’s claws trimmed well. If you develop any of the listed symptoms, contact your doctor.

Written by:
Jennifer Hawthorne, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and In-Home Euthanasia

Dr. Jennifer helps families in the Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Iredell counties including Charlotte, Concord, Kannapolis, Huntersville, Mooresville and more. Click here to read Dr. Jennifer's biography.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dr. Dawnetta visits Gateway Pet Guardians 5K-9 event!

Within the last year, several people mentioned the Gateway Pet Guardians organization to me in conversation… a client at the vet clinic, a veterinarian friend of mine, a friend from church – all of them said the same thing… these are WONDERFUL people doing WONDERFUL things for stray dogs in our area. I checked them out online ( and was pleased to see that they had an upcoming fundraiser called the 5K-9. I signed up to host a Lap of Love booth, and looked forward to an early Saturday morning.  March 30th rolled around, and boy was it cold as I arrived at 7am to set things up!

(I arrived early and found a spot RIGHT next to all of the adorable adoptable puppies!!!)

Last year in March, it was in the 70s for their event – but this year, it was foggy and the temps stayed in the upper 30s / lower 40s all morning… but that didn’t stop the GPG staff and all of their supporters from having a great run and a great event!

There were lots of friendly faces (canine and human!) at the event. I spoke to a few people who loved the idea of our in-home hospice and euthanasia services, and wished they had known about Lap of Love sooner. I spoke to many people about the benefits of a peaceful in-home goodbye. And I was able to hear many stories about beloved pets who still hold a warm place in their family’s heart. As we spoke, many dogs sat patiently for their owners to give them a treat from my table… but a few jumped right up and helped themselves when their people didn’t take the hint quickly enough! The runners / walkers had a great time, and everyone stuck around for canine kissing contest and tail wagging competition!

All in all, it was a successful day (despite the cold), and Lap of Love will definitely be back next year to support this amazing organization!

Written by:
Dr. Dawnetta Woodruff
Click here for Dr. Dawnetta's Bio and Contact information
Dr. Dawnetta assists families with in home hospice and euthanasia in Missouri & Illinois areas including:
  • MISSOURI - Serving St Louis and portions of the St Louis Metro: South County / Fenton / Chesterfield / Kirkwood / Webster Groves / Town & Country / Ellisville 
  • ILLINOIS - Serving Monroe County and portions of Randolph & St Clair counties: Waterloo / Columbia / Smithton / Millstadt / Belleville / Fairview Heights / O'Fallon

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beginner’s Guide to a Happy Frog, by Dr. Cook

Did You Know?
  • There are over 4600 species of amphibians: 4100 of these species are frogs.
  • Frogs are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica.
  • Frogs can live in a huge variety of habitats: from lakes to rain forests to almost any backyard. Some species can even survive in the desert.
  • Amphibian bodies need a lot of water to function but they don’t actively drink. They get the moisture they need through their skin.
  • Frogs can breathe through their skin.
Frogs in Captivity

Basic Frog Care:

WATER: All frogs require the presence of fresh water, or at least dampness. Pay very careful attention to water quality in your tank. Keep water very clean and check pH often. Aquatic species should have at least two water filter devices.

REFUGE: Providing some sort of a “hiding place” is ideal. This can be plants, rocks or other objects. Live plants are good, but make sure they are not toxic to your particular species of frog.

TEMPERATURE: Frogs can’t regulate their own body temperature, which means that their body temperature depends on their environment. The proper temperature of the enclosure will vary due to species.

FEEDING: Different species will eat different things. Most frogs eat live small invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, or spiders. The larger frogs may eat small vertebrates such as young rodents are newly hatched baby birds. Some frogs may even eat other frogs. Most live foods can be obtained from pet shops.

HOUSING: Housing must be secure! Make sure your frog can’t escape, because a frog can’t survive long once outside of the enclosure. Select an enclosure that is appropriate for the species you have. There are many different types of environments for frogs:
  1. Aquatic (mostly water) 
  2. Semi- aquatic (half water/half land)  
  3. Terrestrial (all land with some kind of water dish) 
  4. Arboreal (tall tanks full of plants or branches for climbing species).
Purchasing a Frog:

There are many places you can acquire a frog. Before you get one, be sure you do you research first. Certain species can be very time consuming, expensive or difficult to care for.

Choosing a Frog:

• It is best to start with a frog that is hardy and relatively low-maintenance. You can upgrade later with experience.

• Avoid rare or endangered species.

• Good starter frogs include:
  • Fire-bellied Toads: these small semi-aquatic frogs (2-4 inches) are relatively cheap and hardy and will eat almost any insect small enough for them to swallow.
  • True Toads: such as the American Toad, the Southern Toad and Woodhouse’s Toad are inexpensive, easy to find, and very hardy. Most are terrestrial and easy to feed.
  • White’s Tree Frogs: This small exotic tree frog is widely available and easy to care for. When stressed, it can extrude a toxin from its skin that should not be handled with bare hands. 
Written by Dr. Cook

Read more or contact Dr. Cook: 
Jennifer Cook, DVM DABVP
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Knoxville, Tennessee  |
Click here for Dr. Cook's Biography