Friday, 5 May 2017

Pet Owners Have to Take the Bad with the Good

Always be Vigilant with your Pets Health

When you've got 13 pets in your life, there are bound to be health issues cropping up from time to time. For ages there'll be nothing, then suddenly everyone needs extra attention.

As we go into the month of May, here are some of the things going on chez Pumpkin Becki.


Felicity has been dreadfully broody, so she hasn't been taking care of herself with regular dust baths, eating, drinking, having grit, so it's been up to us to make sure she's getting out of the coop to eat drink and poop, inspecting her (and the others) for lice, treating with a spot-on type ivermectin (prescribed by our vets) if necessary, plus dusting her manually with diatomaceous earth. This is good, because you pick up each bird and can also get a sense of it's weight and overall condition. It's also important to thoroughly clean the coop with a red mite treatment, as warmer weather and hot. broody hens can cause a population explosion before you know it!

Hetty Orpington Hen
Hetty is such a sweet girl

Hetty is a natural midwife, when someone goes inside the coop to lay, she sits with them until they're done. With Felicity broody, Hetty has also not been looking after herself, but we thought she was midwifing and hadn't realised how bad she was until she began holding her tail was down.

Picking her up you could feel she was lighter than before, she had a few lice too but not in significant numbers. she got a spot-on treatment and a dusting. Then she pooped...well it was more of a squirt than a poop! Bright green bits in a watery white splat. This was NOT NORMAL! The ivermectin should clear up external and internal parasites including most worms, but not all. We'd been dosing the layers pellets with Flubenvet, but with Felicity and Hetty not eating properly, they probably weren't getting their proper dosage. Felicity has now come out of her broody phase and is back to her old fabulous self, but Hetty is suffering. We are now hand feeding her a mixture of growers and layers pellets, plus Verm-X Poultry Zest, softened in apple cider vinegar and water, with a sprinkling of corn for added appeal. The cider vinegar is said to be beneficial to poultry, reducing bacterial infection, and acting as a wormer and digestion aid by reducing the pH level in the chicken's digestive system.

Hetty Orpington Hen being handfed tempting mixture
Hetty being handfed a tempting, mushy mixture
On day one Hetty was silent and disinterested, she had to be encouraged to keep lifting her head up as we carefully syringe fed her. When we put her back on the ground she was very unbalanced and though she now had fluids and food in her we were desperately concerned.

On day two she allowed us to syringe feed her a little, but as I re-mixed the mashy concoction, she started pecking it off the spoon! She took little but often and we were really pleased with how much she managed to consume. We fed her three times over the day and she began standing up for longer and making her sweet little cooing sound again.

On day three she seemed a little brighter still, she had three feeds of her special concoction again, was more active in the run, pecking for her evening corn with the others, but being very submissive to them, and her droppings were definite squirts still.

Day four (today), she only ate a little of her mush this morning, but was keen to drink when she was put back in the run, and she put up a bit more of a struggle to be caught - always a good sign. By lunchtime she was coming out of the run on her own to peck for some scratch treats and beginning to stand up for herself again. Hopefully we've turned the corner, but we still need her poops to improve.

Hetty Orpington Hen being handfed
Action Shot: Omm nom nom nom


Fingers crossed, all is quiet on the hamster front.

Pip Roborovski Hamster awesome whiskers
Pip the Roborovski Hamster has awesome whiskers

Guinea Pigs

Rosie developed a bald patch on her rump last week. I suspect it's lice related, as she is quite reluctant to be touched near it. Alternatively she may be suffering from barbering at the hands (or teeth) of Phoebe or Tilly.

Rosie's bald patch

Barbering is where a guinea pig's hair is pulled out/ chewed off by itself or a cage mate. It shouldn't be treated lightly, and you must establish whether the hair loss is self inflicted or not. If self inflicted it could be the sign of a skin infection or infestation, and that must be dealt with. As with the chickens, it's the right time of year for a population explosion of creepy crawlies, so you must be vigilant for signs such as excessive hair loss, clumps of hair falling out with skin attached, scurf and bald patches. You may even see the lice wiggling around near the skin. they look like tiny fawn-brown...insects (sorry, I gave up trying to find a better description!).

If Phoebe or Tilly are barbering Rosie, it may be because she has long hair that looks a little hay-like (sorry Rosie, I'm not suggesting your hair looks like straw, honest!). If that's the case I may have to cut it shorter, but the patch is very localised, my instinct says it's lice.

I'm treating Rosie in several ways; she, Tilly and Phoebe have all had a spot-on treatment of ivermectin, then about five days later Rosie had a Gorgeous Guineas CocoNeem Melt treatment and a lather, rinse, repeat in Gorgeous Guineas Lice 'n' Easy shampoo. She is due for a follow-up bath one week later.

Rosie also has ongoing earwax issues. I've never known anything like it! Cotton wool buds don't really remove it, it needs emulsifying with something first and then wiping off. The internet suggests a mineral oil, but I also emailed Chrissie at Gorgeous Guineas to see if she has anything in her range to suggest. She doesn't have anything specific, but recommended an off the shelf product Otodex drops, or repeat applications of her CocoNeem Melt over three days.

Rosie is bright in every other respect, eating and drinking well, so if I don't see any improvement, including hair regrowth after all that, she will be going to the vets.

The Moral of this story is:

Always be vigilant with your pets, their health and well-being is your responsibility and yours alone. Changes happen quickly, particularly with 'prey' animals, who tend to hide their symptoms until the very end. Quick action on your part can reduce the chances of long term problems or fatality.

If you've experienced any of this issues too, do let me know in the comments.
Pumpkin Becki xx

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