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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rats are great pets, but

I've had rats and kids for 4 years now, and no problems have ever cropped up between them, so I was surprised to find an article warning about the risks of kids having rats.  Basically a pediatrician in Montreal is advocating for banning rats from being sold because they can carry a bacterium in there mouths that cause a serious illness.  He's worried about rat bite fever, a zoonoses (transmissible to humans from animals) caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis, transmitted from rat bites or mouth to mouth contact with your pet (yes, kissing). 
The disease sounds ugly, but the transmission sounds rare, and a ferret can also spread it.  My rats were well socialized when young, and have never even offered to bite, and I don't recommend kissing animals.  I've also always advocated for washing after handling any animals, especially the smaller "exotics", anyhow.     Zoonoses exist in ALL animals, it is far better to find out what is out there and educate yourself on how to decrease your risk.  Especially now, when hantavirus (from mice), west nile virus (from birds), etc are all in the news. 
Final word?  Have your pets seen by your vet, ask questions about what they can carry and what you can do to decrease the risks, and follow through with good hygiene anytime dealing with pets.
Have a great weekend. jec

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter lilies, bunnies, and other thoughts

Easter is just around the corner, this weekend.  I believe a few tips from the pet perspective are in order.

Lilies (all parts) are toxic to pets, even just a little nip can result in an emergency visit to the vet for kidney failure.  Please keep them behind glass doors or just out of the house if you  have an inquisitive or new pet.

Easter bunnies, and other live animals, are cute and wonderful - - - in the petting zoo, in the movies, or in a picture.  Please don't buy a real, live animal unless you're ready for all the work they require.  Bunnies are wonderful pets, but need litter, litter boxes, hay, proper housing and food, and lots of attention.  They can live up to a decade (or longer), and some varieties get large.  Be sure you're in for the long haul, too many end up at the shelter.  This goes for all the other cute baby animals too, chicks, etc.  They are living creatures who need the basic requirements of life to flourish.  A stuffed toy, a visit to the zoo, volunteering at the shelter, helping the neighbor, are all much better alternatives if you're not ready yet.

Holidays also mean visitors, don't forget to let the pets have a quiet space to themselves.  This will decrease their stress with all the goings-on, and allow you to pay attention to your guests.  Rich foods, even just plain human food is rich to pets, can cause an upset stomach or worse.  Trauma from accidental foot steps, bites from over-stimulation, etc all can be avoided with a little forethought.

Hope you have a great and safe holiday.
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jec