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Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Meet Tara O. our team member of the month for April.
Tara has been at Winrose Animal Hospital since 2016. Tara is actively involved in all of our community events for the Winrose Warriors and Rainbow Buddies Program. She enjoys all the technical skills she gets to use on a day to day basis at Winrose. She has a keen interest in Dental Radiology. In her spare time she enjoys camping with her family, yearly skiing trips and spending time with her dog Trixie! Please take a moment to tell us why you think Tara is so special!
Monday, March 5, 2018

Guinea Pig Nutrition and Dental Health

Time for some guinea pig talk! These fuzzy little guys (or not so fuzzy in the case of skinny pigs) can make great pets and are very endearing.  For those who are new to the world of guinea pigs I wanted to share some information on their ideal diet and their dental health. Dental problems are one of the main concerns we see guinea pigs in the clinic for.


Diet

Diet is an essential component of keeping your pig healthy. Guinea pigs should eat a diet that consists of a combination of fresh Timothy Hay, a well balanced pellet such as Oxbow's Essential Adult Guinea Pig diet, and a mix of fresh greens.  For pigs over 6 month of age we recommend feeding 1/8 to 1/4  cup of pellets per day in addition to unlimited grass hay. Fresh foods should not make up more than 10-15% of the daily food. Changes to the diet should be made gradually as they have very sensitive digestive tracts.  Leafy green veggies such as spinach, turnip greens, parsley and dandelion greens are good options for fresh foods. Leafy greens should be the main component of the fresh foods with other vegetables and fruits being offered in moderation.  These can include things like apple, carrots, cilantro, cucumber and berries.  Some foods to avoid include raw beans, iceberg lettuce, and shelled nuts or seeds, rhubarb and long celery stalks. 

Guinea pigs also require a vitamin C supplement because they do not produce their own vitamin C (just like people). The best way to do this is by giving a 1/4 to 1/2 of a human 100mg vitamin C tablet once daily. 

Keep in mind that hay is essential to keeping your guinea pigs digestive tract working and for keeping the teeth from overgrowing and developing problems.

Dental Health

Guinea pigs have twenty teeth in total. They are all open rooted teeth and this means that are continuously growing. They rely on their food to help wear them down and keep the teeth from overgrowing.   You will see four incisors at the front of the mouth, two on top and two on the bottom. The other teeth are premolars and molars and are difficult to see due to the guinea pigs large cheeks. In the clinic we use a special tool call a speculum to help us to look in the back of the mouth and check the teeth for problems. Sometimes sedation may be required to get a proper look in the mouth. The most common problem we see is the molars and premolars becoming overgrown. This can occur if the pig is born with a malocclusion or if the do not eat a proper diet. The teeth can grow very quickly and if a pig stops eating due to an illness they may also develop overgrown teeth that need to be trimmed.

If teeth grow too long they can rub on the cheeks or tongue causing painful sores and infection. Some pigs may require regular dental checks and tooth trims.  In extreme cases the lower teeth can grow towards the middle of the tongue from both sides, trapping the tongue under the teeth. This requires an emergency tooth trim to free the tongue to allow the guinea pig to eat.
 


this picture shows how overgrown teeth can rub on the tongue and cheeks

Guinea pigs can also develop other dental health problems such as elongated tooth roots, tooth root infections and overgrown incisors. It is important to have your guinea pig checked yearly to ensure their teeth are looking good and to identify any potential problems early on.

A side view of a guinea pigs jaw and teeth on X-ray
I hope this has been a helpful and informative blog post. If you want more information on guinea pig care call or stop by the clinic for our guinea pig care package.
As always thanks for reading!
Dr Ingrid

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Meet Jackie F our Team member of the Month for March

Jackie has been at Winrose since 2017. After many years working in advertising and marketing, Jackie is living her dream of working with animals. She shares her home with her teenaged son, 3 rambunctious dogs, a guinea pig and several fish. Jackie has a special interest in the surgical procedures we do here at Winrose and she can often be found cuddling with many of the various pets we see in the clinic. Please take a moment to tell us why you think Jackie is great employee!


Monday, February 12, 2018
Team Member of the Month February 2018
Meet Tanyss R.
Tanyss has been with Winrose since 2017. She has a special interest in the exotics animal we see in the practice.
She enjoys spending time with her family, watching football, water skiing and has a special interest in Bats. Take a moment to tell us why Tanyss makes your visit so special!
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winter Tips for Exotic Pets


 The long and brutal cold winters here in Winnipeg can take their toll not just on us, but on our pets as well. This blog will address how to help our small and exotic pets get through the winter happy and healthy. 

Temperature: Keep them warm! We tend to see a lot more sickness in our exotics pets in the winter months. Part of this is likely due to the fact that they are exposed to colder temperatures, drafts and dry air. Keep your cage or enclosure away from windows and exterior walls that may be prone to drafts. For birds you can cover the back of the cage with a blanket to help keep heat in and consider adding a heat lamp to provide a warmer area, especially for older or more tropical birds.  For reptiles this is a great time to do an over all evaluation of your enclosure. Make sure you have two working thermometers in the enclosure, one on the hot side and one on the cooler side. Also make sure you have changed your UV light within the last 6 months and have a hygrometer to measure humidity in your enclosure.  When it comes to small mammals you can add a bit of extra bedding to their enclosure so they have the option to snuggle up if they feel the need.

Humidity: In addition to the cold we tend to see humidity drop in the winter. This can have varying effects depending on what kind of exotic pet you have. In general the dry, colder air can make pets more susceptible to respiratory infections. Consider adding a humidifier to the room your pet is kept in if your humidity is reading low. If you aren't sure what the ideal humidity is for your pet give the clinic a call and we can advise you. Many species of birds enjoy being misted with a spray bottle and this can be done daily to help with dry skin.  Reptiles like geckos benefit from the addition of a moist hide box. This is a small container, think small margarine or sour cream  container size, with a hole cut in for a door and sphagnum moss inside. The moss creates a very moist environment inside and the gecko can decide when to go in depending on their needs. 
Nutrition: Our birds and small mammals burn more calories in colder temperatures as they try to maintain their body heat. It is essential to  have them on a balanced diet with the correct amount of calcium and vitamins, especially vitamin A.  Vitamin A is especially important in fighting off and preventing respiratory infections.  Keep in mind that an all seed diet will not have enough Vitamin A for a bird. If you are having trouble getting your bird to eat a well balanced pellet contact us for tips on how to transition from seeds to a pelleted food or for a list of human foods that are high in Vitamin A.  Reptiles and amphibians also need Vitamin A and calcium in their diets. If you aren't sure if you are feeding the ideal food contact us! Reptiles can also enter a state known as brumation during the winter if the temperatures drop too low. This is an adaptation they have developed for life in the wild but when they are living in a house with the ability to control the environment they should not be entering this state. Brumation can make them more prone to illness and if you are seeing a loss of appetite and activity levels you should bring them in for an exam.
http://www.wideopenpets.com/easy-diy-reptile-hides/

Transport to the Clinic:  If your pet is showing signs of sickness in the winter you need to take extra precautions when transporting them to the clinic for their exam. First make sure you warm up your car well before you put your pet inside. Reptiles can be placed into an insultaed container, birds and mammals should have a towel or blanket covering their carriers to limit cold air getting in.  You can use a hot water bottle placed underneath the cage or carrier to provide additional warmth during transport. It is essential that you do not allow your pet to get too cold in transport as this can push an already sick animal into a crisis. 

Thanks for reading the blog today and remember to contact us if you have any concerns
Dr Ingrid