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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV1)?

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV 1) is the virus that causes fever blisters or cold sores in humans. More than 80% of the human population are infected with this virus. Many people do not know that they are infected and may not ever have fever blisters/cold sores. HSV1 is for life- once a person is infected they remain so for life. When HSV1 is not active and replicating it lies dormant in your trigeminal nerve- one of the nerves that supplies your face. The virus is shed in fluid from fever blisters and also saliva- you don’t have to have fever blisters to be shedding the virus!! People most commonly shed the virus when they are immunocompromised, for example when sick or stressed.

Is HSV1 fatal if untreated?

HSV 1 is readily passed onto marmosets and is fatal if untreated! Marmosets catch HSV 1 from contact with saliva from a person that is shedding the virus or from people with fever blisters. Kissing your pet, allowing them to take food form your mouth or giving them access to anything you have had in your mouth is the most common way of transmitting the virus!! Once your pet is infected the disease is rapidly fatal if left untreated. Only about 30-50% of animals that are treated will survive. The treatment is still in the experimental stages and extremely costly!!

How to minimise the chance of your pet being infected by HSV 1?

Do not kiss your pet! Do not allow your pet to take food from your mouth or have any contact with items you have had in your mouth. If you have fever blisters/cold sores – do not have any contact with your pet. If you are suffering from a cold or feel unwell- do not have any contact with your pet. Make sure you wash your hands before handling any food for your pet.  Children often shed HSV1 in saliva without any fever blisters.

What signs may alert you that your pet has HSV 1?

The most common initial signs are: Decreased appetite, dull, lethargic, quiet or just not quite itself, diarrhoea  and high fever. As the disease progresses you may also see red, swollen lips or white blisters on inside of gums–fever blisters, seizures, droopy face and unable to blink properly.

What should you do if you suspect your pet may be infected by HSV 1?

Take him/her straight to your veterinary clinic! –This disease is life-threatening and a few hours can make the difference between life and death. Advise the Vet you are concerned about HSV 1 infection. Tell the vet if you kiss your pet, feed it from your mouth or if any member of the family have recently been ill or had fever blisters. Information from the Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital, www.birdandexotic.co.za

How do I feed my green iguana?

There are a large number of foods that can be fed to an iguana. As with people, some foods are really healthy and good to eat as a staple food, some are good in smaller amounts, and others should only be eaten on occasion as a treat. Read more

How frequently should we be vaccinating dogs and cats (in South Africa)?

Historically, annual vaccination had been recommended. There were two reasons. The most important was that vaccine manufacturers had proof that the core vaccines provided immunity for at least a year. The second reason used to justify annual vaccination was that pets benefit from an annual health check – usually given at the time of vaccination. This check facilitates the early detection of heart disease, renal disease and tumours and is an ideal opportunity to remind owners about parasite control, discuss management of skin disease, neutering and the like. There are challenge studies showing that some canine and feline core vaccines can protect the majority of vaccinated animals for 3 years. The efficacy of vaccines is likely to differ between manufacturers. What is also stressed again and again is that there cannot be a universally applicable vaccination policy. Rather, the protocol should be adapted for each particular individual’s situation.

What is constipation?

Constipation is the infrequent or difficult passage of faeces. There can be various causes for constipation. Dietary, behavioural, environmental and medically related causes may result in your pet becoming constipated. Read more about constipation in dogs and cats.

What is FIV and FELV?

 Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV) belong to a family of viruses called retroviruses. All retroviruses (including the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) produce an enzyme which allows them to insert a part of their own genetic material into that of the cells they have infected. Read More

What are "Hot Spots"?

Pyotraumatic dermatitis commonly known as "Hot Spots" are bacterial infections of the skin associated with inflammation. It can be extremely uncomfortable for the animal. Read More

What is canine parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that spreads easily from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faeces. Dogs become infected through oral contact with canine parvovirus in faeces, infected soil or fomites (object / substance capable of carrying infectious organisms). Read More

What is Spirocercosis?

Spirocerca lupi is a potentially lethal parasitic worm that lives in nodules within the oesophagus of dogs. The worms can survive in these nodules for up to 2 years, laying eggs through a small opening in the nodule which are swallowed and passed out in the faeces. Read More

Why should I sterilize my pet?

The best advice is to sterilize your pet. This ensures no unwanted puppies or kittens, no complications with pregnancy and the birth of the young, no females on heat to roam the neighbourhood to cause fights amongst the males it helps keep your pets at home and healthy. Generally females are sterilized from the age 6 months, males can be done a bit later up to the age of 9 months. Read more

How often should you visit your vet?

This depends on your vets vaccine protocol and recommendations but generally annual health checks are advisable.

What must I look out for when buying a puppy?

One of the saddest things in private practice is witnessing the joy and delight of a new puppy turn to sorrow when, a few days after its purchase; it succumbs to a horrible disease like parvo virus or distemper. What makes it especially sad is that these diseases are preventable with correct vaccination. Read more about the signs and tips for purchasing a new puppy.

Will spraying my parrot with water avoid him from picking at his feathers?

Yes - increase humidity by allowing birds into the bathroom while showering, especially in the dry Highveld winters. Also mist spray daily with decalcified water (ensure the environment is warm). Misting just before leaving keeps the birds busy for the first half hour after the owner has left, and reduces allergen load on the feathers.

Does a poor diet contribute to picking?

Correct dietary deficiencies can help with minimising picking. Converting the bird to a complete pelleted diet, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables, is recommended.

Can everyday household products, cause problems for my parrot?

Eliminate broad allergic irritants from the environment (cigarette smoke, perfumes, incense, cleaning products, wash hands before handling birds as oily residues from hand creams etc can initiate picking). Remove birds from the kitchen as aerosolised oil droplets and overheated Teflon can be harmful.

How much sunlight must my parrot get a day?

Ensure daily access to direct sunlight, unfiltered by a glass window (15 minutes at least).

Does sleep deprivation cause stress, that can lead to picking?

Ensure birds are getting enough sleep – they need at least 10 hours darkness per night. Remember that birds often wake at the crack of dawn, and will stay awake till the whole family has gone to bed if kept in the family room.

Must I reprimand my parrot if I catch him picking?

Ignore picking behaviour (prevent reinforcement of behaviour), reward the bird for alternative behaviours.

Must my parrots wounds heal by themselves?

Treat all wounds (never apply oil based products or products containing corticosteroids).

Is it wise to keep a record of my parrots picking habit?

Keep daily records – amount of picking, time of day, food eaten that  day, activities surrounding picking.

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