Environmental Enrichment for Pet Birds

The Veterinary College at Texas A&M University has put out some very helpful tips on how to provide your pet birds with environmental enrichment and mental stimulation.

They report that birds are happiest when given many different forms of enrichment.  Not surprising given their intelligence, curiosity, and sociability!

Here are a few tips, but be sure to read the full story for more ideas for your own bird!

  • Besides regular toys, birds also appreciate objects that provide visual and auditory stimulation like mirrors, music, bells, and rattles.
  • Birds are sensitive to the texture of objects; some prefer plastic, while some prefer wood or paper.
  • Birds are color-oriented and may prefer certain colored toys over others (some dislike red!).
  • Be sure to choose toys that are lead-free and made from safe forms of plastic. Be careful of toys with string as these can harm a bird.
  • Household objects can also be used as bird toys, such as paper towel rolls and popsicle sticks.
  • Place your bird’s cage in an area where the outside is visible through a window.
  • Lots of interaction with you (and even other animals in the home) is a key form of stimulation and enrichment for birds. Pay plenty of attention to your feathered friend.  You can even teach it some tricks!

Interested in learning more?  Check out this Avian Enrichment blog from the Association of Avian Veterinarians!

 

New Study Proves Cats are Strongly Attached to their Human Caregivers

A new research study published in the journal Current Biology has come to a conclusion that cat owners have known all along—cats form strong emotional bonds with their humans!

The authors point out that although studies on canine behavior and cognition far outnumber those on feline behavior and cognition, the research that does exist shows that cats form social bonds with humans and other animals–and the bonds they form with their human caregivers are especially strong.

The researchers in this study observed how kittens in the 3-8 month age range behaved with their owners, then during a brief separation, and finally when they were reunited with their owners.

The kittens were first evaluated and divided into two attachment styles:  securely attached and insecurely attached.  Then a portion were enrolled in socialization training with their owners.  The researchers found that their attachment styles were already strongly developed and did not change much after training.

During the separation/reunion component of the study, the kittens showed roughly the same rates of attachment to their people as both dogs and children.  Around 66% were securely attached and 34% were insecurely attached.  (Dogs are 58%–42% and children are 65%–35%)

How do cats show secure vs. insecure attachment? All the cats showed distress during the separation phase of the experiment (lots of meowing!) but the securely attached cats showed reduced stress when the caregivers returned.  The insecurely attached cats remained at higher levels of stress when their humans returned.

Click HERE to watch a video of some of the cats and owners observed by the researchers.  You can see how the cats’ reunion behaviors differ based on their attachment styles.

 

New UK Animal Welfare Report Shows Sharp Decline in Pet Vaccinations

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a UK charity that runs hospitals which provide free and low-cost veterinary care.  Each year they produce a report on animal well-being known as the PAW Report.

The latest PAW Report (click HERE for the full text) has been getting a lot of attention because it has found that the rate of pet vaccinations in the UK is on a sharp decline.

The PDSA estimates that over 7 million UK pets are at risk for disease because of lack of vaccination, including very young pets that are the most vulnerable.

The number of primary vaccinations received by young pets has dropped from 84% in 2016 to 66% in 2019, an 18% decrease.  32% of pets in the UK are not receiving their booster shots.

Reasons for not vaccinating cited by pet owners include:

  • Too expensive
  • Pets don’t encounter other animals
  • It’s unnecessary
  • Going to the vet is stressful for pets

The report’s authors note that the decline in pet vaccinations mirrors the decline in child vaccinations.  Many people who are reluctant to vaccinate kids and pets show skepticism about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

According to PDSA veterinarians, “Vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases. If people don’t vaccinate, we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable, diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”

If you have questions or concerns about vaccinations for your dogs, cats, and other animals, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.  You can also check out the Vaccinations page of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website for lots of helpful information.

 

The Health Risks of Too Much Topical Flea and Tick Medication in Pets

As responsible pet parents, we want to do what’s best for our dogs and cats, including protecting them from harmful parasites like fleas and ticks.

But did you know that it’s possible to “overdose” your pets on too much topical flea and tick medication?  Veterinarians have seen many cases of pet poisoning caused by the over-application of these meds. We’ve even seen a few of these cases here at FACE.

What can you do to ensure that your pet gets the right amount—and the right type—of topical flea and tick medication?  Here’s what the experts say.

According to veterinary toxicology experts, most topical flea and tick treatments contain plant-derived insecticidal drugs known as pyrethrins (natural) or pyrethroids (synthetic).  Pyrethrin acts as a neurotoxin.

Over-application of pyrethrins/pyrethroids can cause serious adverse reactions in dogs and cats.  The Animal Poison Control Center lists these common symptoms of poisoning:

  • Profuse drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing

The effects can be life-threatening if left untreated.  Be sure to read and carefully follow all dosage information listed on the package and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions.

Treatment for pyrethrin poisoning includes immediate removal of the product by bathing and emergency veterinary care.

One other important point to remember:  cats are very sensitive to pyrethrin, and spot treatments made for dogs should never be used on cats.  Canine treatments contain more of the drug than cats can safely metabolize.

Be sure to always use flea and tick medications made exclusively for cats if you choose to treat your cat.  This is especially important if you have dogs in the home and treat them with canine meds.

A little prevention can go a long way in keeping your pets both safe and protected!

 

Meet FACE Animaltarian Award Winner Loving Hands Veterinary Services

Saying good-bye to our treasured animal companions is the hardest thing we have to do as pet parents.

Dr. Tiffany Palozzi and Dr. Stephanie Schneider are the pair behind Loving Hands Veterinary Services.  They provide caring, in-home euthanasia services for beloved pets when it is time to cross the rainbow bridge.

Our final Animaltarian Award recipient Loving Hands is a long-time supporter of FACE’s mission to end economic euthanasia.

The company participates in our In-Memory Program, providing a donation when their patients pass on, which in turn helps to give the gift of life to a future pet in need.

Dr. Palozzi and her family are also frequent volunteers at FACE’s fundraising events, always willing to give their time and support to help us save pets.

Thank you to Loving Hands for all you do to help pets and their people!