Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka speaks about keeping birds as pet and about horse diet.

My pet bird laid an egg; What to know and do?

Unless the bird has been exposed to a male bird before the egg, or eggs, were laid, the egg will not be fertile — in this case, most bird owners remove the egg from the cage and throw it away, and most of the time the birds go back to their normal routines.

If there is a chance that the egg, your pet bird has laid, is fertile and you want to raise the baby bird, you should candle the egg to see if it was indeed fertilised. Candling is a process where a bright light is held behind an egg to illuminate its contents without cracking it open. A bird breeder can determine whether or not the egg is fertilised based on the colour, shape, and opacity of the contents. If you find the egg in your pet’s cage was fertilised, you will need to give it back to the mother for incubation and make a nesting place for her where the egg is kept warm.

How to treat and prevent cat dandruff?

The key to getting rid of dandruff in cats is to soothe and moisturise the skin to prevent further flaking. Medicated shampoos containing soothing ingredients like aloe-vera and natural oils can also help to get rid of dandruff. Cats are very clean animals by nature and they spend a great deal of time grooming themselves. This being the case, it should not be necessary to bathe your cat. If you bathe your cat too often, it could dry out your cat’s skin, causing irritation and flaking. If you do decide to bathe your cat, be sure to use a gentle, cat-friendly shampoo to prevent irritation. Another easy way to prevent dandruff is to feed your cat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Give your cat a small amount of wet food every day to keep its coat glossy and his skin moisturised.

What are the causes of regurgitation in pet birds?

Regurgitation is not vomiting. It is a behavioural display and not a medical symptom. The substance that is produced during regurgitation is expelled from the bird’s crop, and not the stomach. The first thing to understand about regurgitation is that your bird would not be doing it if he or she didn’t feel extremely comfortable and bonded to you.

Regurgitation, as seen in wild birds, demonstrates a high level of affection for a flock-mate. If your bird regurgitates for you, he or she is attempting to let you know that you are loved and respected, as strange as it may seem. Secondly, regurgitation can be triggered by certain actions on your behalf. Pay attention to your bird and you will begin to recognise things that seem to trigger regurgitation in your pet. It could be a certain word or phrase you say to your bird, a certain toy that the two of you play with, or a game that you enjoy, or even something as simple as a scratch on the back of the head.

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For example, some birds regurgitate almost without fail every time their owner pets and rubs them underneath their wings. Different birds will have different things that trigger regurgitation, so owners must gauge their interactions with their pets in order to determine what types of stimulation compels their own pet birds to regurgitate. Once you begin to recognise the things that stimulate your bird to regurgitate, you can do your best to avoid regurgitation, if you so wish, by attempting to eliminate the triggers.

How much hay should my horse be eating?

Just how much hay your horse will need depends on its weight. A full-grown horse should eat about 7 to 8 Kilograms of hay a day. That is 1.5 to 3% of its body weight if it weighs about 450 kilograms. This is a very rough average and horses will require more or less depending on their metabolism, workload, time of year, and what else they may be eating. Having small amounts of hay available frequently mimics the natural grazing instincts and is healthiest for your horse’s mind and body. So try not to feed your horse a full day’s worth in one meal. For the healthiest digestive system, it is best to have hay available all the times. Most horses are self-regulating. There are some that will need their hay diet restricted to prevent obesity.

How to give first aid for horse eye injuries and infections?

If your horse has an eye injury or infection: You should have salt or saline solution in your horse’s first aid kit. Clean up the area very gently with a saline solution. If you don’t have one on hand (like the saline solution for contact lens wearers) you can make some yourself. The ratio is about 1/4 tsp of table salt to a cup of boiled and cooled to lukewarm water. It should taste like tears. Put a fly mask on the horse to keep flies off of the eye area. If possible keep your horse in subdued light, such as his stall, until the veterinarian arrives. When working with a horse with an eye problem, be aware that he may have obscured vision. Talk gently so you don’t surprise him if you walk up on a ‘blind side.’

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What are the risk that my pet bird can contract avian flu?

There are two factors which could cause the risk of infection to come into play: Make sure that you always wash your hands before and after handling your bird, to protect the health of both you and your pet. If you fall ill, ask a friend or family member to come and tend to your bird until you get better. With proper hygiene and common sense, you should be able to prevent many major illnesses from popping up around your household — including avian flu. Maintaining high standards of health awareness will help you and your bird.

What is your opinion of people who keep pet birds?

I have a very low opinion of people who want to imprison a living being just because it makes them look good. A bird is not a companion, and to take wild birds out of their homes and put them for years in unnatural surroundings is mean and selfish.

Why don’t you just let the bird fly away. It seems so appalling, insensitive and tasteless to keep birds in a human home for no reason. Ecologically, it is extremely destructive. Many of these species are endangered because of the pet trade, and the plants and insects that depend on them are also out of balance.

The only reason why I answer questions on how to keep birds is because so many people keep them without any knowledge at all.

What is feline asthma?

Much like human asthma, feline asthma is an allergen-caused upper respiratory condition that causes distressed breathing.

It is also called bronchitis or feline bronchial disease. Bronchial spasms cause the individual bronchi to constrict or tighten, and the resultant swelling of surrounding tissues puts the cat into a full-blown asthma attack. Again, these are many of the same allergens responsible for human asthma attacks:

  • Smoke • Mildew or Mould • Household Chemicals • Dust • Pollens • Cat Litter • Cold, Moist Air.

Early symptoms may be difficult to detect. You may hear a faint wheezing, which is more audible after vigorous exercise. Your cat may seem to tire easily. Laboured breathing may proceed a serious attack.

This can be life-threatening, and a cat, in a full-blown attack, should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Even a cat showing one or two of the early symptoms should be examined.

June 6, 2018

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