Ringworm is a fungus called dermatophytes. Dermatophtytes means ‘plants that live on the skin’. In the past, because of the circular lesions made by the fungi they were thought to be caused by worms, hence the name ringworm. The fungi live on the surface of the skin and in the skin follicles feeding on dead skin tissue and hair. There are three different types of fungus that can cause ringworm, but the most predominant ones found on dogs and cats is microsporum canis.
The usual symptom is a round hairless lesion. The characteristic “ring” that we see on humans doesn’t always appear as a ring on dogs. This lesion will grow in size and often become irregular in shape. The fungi cause the hair shafts to break off and this results in patches of hair loss. Ringworm are commonly found on the face, ears, tail and paws. The lesions are scaly and may or may not be itchy; often the skin is reddened and inflamed.
Transmission of ringworm can happen by direct contact with another infected animal or person. It can be passed from dogs to cats and vice versa, and from pets to humans and from humans to pets. The fungal spores can live in the environment for a long time and can be found in carpets, bedding, grooming equipment, etc. and can infect your dog when it comes into contact with them. The incubation period is 10-12 days. This means that following exposure to the fungus, about 10-12 days will pass before any lesions occur.
In rare cases ringworm can be spread by contact with infected soil. The fungus can live for months in soil if the nutrients are right.
You can contract ringworm by touching an animal with ringworm. Ringworm can spread while petting or grooming dogs or cats. You can also get ringworm from cows, goats, pigs and horses.
Healthy adult dogs usually have a resistance to ringworm. Young dogs and puppies are more susceptible because their immune system hasn’t fully developed. Many dogs are carriers of ringworm but show no symptoms. They can, however, infect other animals or humans.
To diagnose ringworm your vet will need to do one of the following tests. It is not possible by just looking at the skin to make the diagnosis.
Wood’s Lamp – An ultra violet lamp also known as a black light. Your vet may use this as 50% of microsporum canis will glow under the lamp.
Microscopic diagnosis – Your vet may look at part of the hair or skin from the lesion under a microscope.
Culture – Your vet may decide to take a scraping from the lesion and send it away to the laboratory to see what the culture grows.
If no treatment is carried out, ringworm will run its course in two to four months and the symptoms will resolve themselves. However, treatment is recommended to save your dog from suffering any longer than necessary and to cut down the period of time that they are contagious.
Recommended treatment can consist of one or more – or all – of the following:
- An anti-fungal drug which inhibits fungal reproduction, usually taken over the course of 5-7 days.
- Lime sulphur dip is very often beneficial. The dip, mixed with water, should be given twice a week and can be done at home.
NOTE: Be prepared that Lime sulphur smells very much like rotten eggs or stink bombs. And it will stain clothing and jewellery, and cause temporary yellowing of your dog’s hair.
- Decontaminate the environment. Use bleach mixed at 1:10 on any surface that you can. It will kill 80% of the spores. Vacuum on a daily basis and, if possible, steam clean carpets and furnishings which will kill off a large number of the fungus spores. Wash your dog’s bedding in very hot water and use a bleach solution to clean the dog kennel. If your dog is an indoors dog try to confine him to only one room of the house.
Getting rid of fleas on your dog alone does not treat the overall flea problem. During the flea cycle only about 5% of fleas are actually living on your dog or cat. The other 95% of fleas are living in your house or yard. That is why it is so important to get rid of the fleas and in your house and on your dog at the same time.
Set aside a couple of hours to tackle the flea problem. It is important to treat all of your pets and your home on the same day.
STEP 1 – GET RID OF THE FLEA INFESTATION IN THE HOUSE
The first step is to vacuum. It has already been mentioned that only 5% of the fleas are living on your pet and that the other 95% are living in your house or yard. If you have dogs that live inside or regularly come inside the house you need to get rid of the vast majority of the fleas quickly and easily. You can achieve this by vacuuming them up. The vibrations from vacuuming also stimulates the fleas to emerge from their cocoons and they will be exposed to the insecticide that will later be used. Flea eggs fall randomly wherever your dog or cat goes, but once the eggs hatch they become larvae and have hair like bristles on the outside of their body that enable them to move around. This allows them to move to places they feel most comfortable in. They like to get out of the light and into crevices, so when you vacuum pay lots of attention to places such as near base boards, cracks in floorboards and under furniture, beds and rugs.
STEP 2 – SPRAYING INSECTICIDE FLEA TREATMENT FOR YOUR HOUSE AND BACKYARD
You will need to purchase a flea spray containing IGR (Insect Growth Regulator). It is recommended that you remove any living creature from the house while spraying, including any pet fish or reptiles. After spraying the insecticide try not to vacuum for about a week if possible as the IGR component will have a residual effect.
Fleas can live outside the house in sand and gravel. Spray patios, under decks, verandas, kennels, crevices, along fence lines and anywhere your dog sleeps. It is not usually necessary to spray the entire backyard or areas which are exposed to sunlight as the larvae avoid bright places. The flea spray you use in your house is fine to use in the yard too.
Next wash all of your pets bedding and soft toys. Shake them well and hang them in the sunlight to dry.
STEP 3 – USING A FLEA PRODUCT ON YOUR DOG
The latest treatments are top-spots, which are much safer for both pets and humans. These are applied to the skin, usually between the shoulder blades and disperse through the dog’s coat. Usually applied monthly they include Advantage, Frontline and Revolution. Most top-spot flea treatments can be used on puppies from 8 weeks of age.
Fleas feed on your pet’s blood and make your dog uncomfortable A heavy infestation of fleas can cause your pet to become anaemic and unwell. Flea infestations have been known to kill puppies. Some individual animals are allergic to flea saliva and this causes the pet misery with constant scratching and self-mutilation. The most common allergy dermatitis in cats and dogs is flea allergy. Fleas also spread tapeworm from one animal to another.
If after two weeks you still have a lot of fleas you will need to repeat the 3-STEP treatment again in your house and on your dog. Keep an eye out for tell-tale scratching and act quickly if you suspect even a single flea.
Feline leukemia is a disease which tears at the immune system of the cat, making the cat more susceptible to illness and disease. A cancer of the white blood cells, feline leukemia is actually a virus, which travels between cats. It does not infect dogs, humans, or any other species of animal.
Feline leukemia is transmitted between cats through saliva, mucus, urine, feces and blood. Any mutual grooming, fighting or sharing food and water dishes leaves your cat vulnerable to the devastating effects of feline leukemia.
A “leukemia test” is often performed at a vet’s office to find out whether or not the cat has the feline leukemia virus. There are three different methods to test cats, including blood tests, tear tests, and saliva tests. The earlier feline leukemia is caught, the better chance of survival your pet has.
Just because your cat may have been exposed to the virus, this does not neccesarily mean that the cat will suffer any ill effects. Age plays a factor in illness; very young and very old cats who have been exposed to feline leukemia will most likely develop the full-blown effects of the disease. Weakened immune systems, infections or the presence of other diseases also make it more likely that cats will test positive for feline leukemia. Some cats are immune (or develop immunity) to the virus. A cat that is infected can fight the virus, experience short-lived symptoms, and completely recover.
Symptoms of feline leukemia include: fever, poor appetite, swollen glands in the neck region, lethargy and vomiting.
There are only a small number of treatments available today to treat an infected cat. Some types of cats respond well to traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, although they will continuously face the possibility of relapse. Other, more experimental treatments are now being tested, which involve boosting your cat’s immune system. When considering which treatment option is best for your pet, its best to consider the current condition of your animal and whether or not treatment will be worse than the actual disease. The easiest way to prevent feline leukemia is to have your pet vaccinated against the virus. There are several different vaccinations available today. Your vet can help you decide which preventative treatment is best suited for your cat.
When selecting a pet canary choose a young healthy bird which is bright, alert and bouncy, not one that sits perched with ruffled up feathers. It is only the male that sings; the female will ‘tweet tweet’ or whistle only.
Get the largest cage possible, that allows for room for flight. A pet canary should never have its wings clipped and should be able to fly in the cage for exercise. ‘Flight’ type cages are the best (home-built or commercial) since they are designed to provide room to move. Remember that a long cage is better than a tall narrow one (the height is not all that important). Try to get a cage at least 24 inches long. Watch the spacing between bars – no more than 1/2 inch. Wire cages are best; wood or bamboo cages are too difficult to keep clean. Perches should be well spaced and placed at different heights if possible. They should be of softwood, round of 12-16mm diameter or square with the corners rounded off, and of different sizes so the birds feet are not always in the same position. Place seed and water containers where they will not be fouled by the pet canary’s droppings.
Provide toys, but place them in the cage in such a way as they do not obstruct flight space. A pet canary will enjoy swings, mirrors, bells, and hanging wooden or acrylic toys.
A pet canary must be kept in fresh atmosphere as it is particularly sensitive to foul or polluted air. Inside, you must select a site well away from any gas appliances. The cage must not hang in draught for fear the canary will catch a chill. Direct sunlight is yet another thing to be avoided, especially in the summer. While canaries love sunlight they do not appreciate being left in direct or in a room which is too hot. High temperatures could quite easily force your pet canary in to a false moult in order to maintain an even body temperature, your bird will then shed some of his feathers and will more than likely stop singing. Located outside under the eaves and against the wall could prove to be a suitable place, but only after you have made sure the canary will be safe from stray cats, wild birds and inclement weather. Stray cats can, and often do cause death to caged canaries; also wild birds are quite capable of removing a pet canary without leaving a trace of their visit. Unless your cage is situated in an easterly or north-easterly direction the weather can easily bring harm. If your bird is to be permanently kept outside, a wooden box type cage is most suitable.
Keep the cage spotlessly clean at all times. Wash the food and drink utensils regularly. Disinfect the cage at least every 2 months. Perches should never be washed unless there is another set to take their place. Wet perches cause canaries discomfort. If you have just one set of perches it would be far wiser to take them out and scrape them clean with a sharp knife or similar implement. You may sandpaper the perches but be sure they are not left too smooth , as the smoother the perches the harder the bird has to grip to keep his balance. Wood perches of varied diameter work best (3/8 to 3/4 inches). Do not use sandpaper perch covers. The drinking tube is most effectively cleaned using a small bottle brush. Use brown or clear white paper to cover the floor of the cage. Do not use newspaper as it can be most harmful since there is a risk of the print coming off. When this happens the ink tends to take the moisture out of the canary’s toes and legs.
Buy a good fresh seed mix from a pet shop. A good seed mix will help provide a balanced diet. Blow of the husks daily and change the seed in the dish regularly. Cuttlefish bone provides extra vitamins, and is good for the bird’s beak.
Fresh water must be available at all times. The plastic tube feeder is very convenient but must be kept clean at all times. Give your pet canary a separate suitable dish containing water for a bath about three times a week.
Once a year your pet canary will, under normal conditions, shed all its feathers for a complete new set. It will commence his moult sometime during the late Summer or early Autumn, and will usually take as many as ten weeks to complete the change. During the time the moult is taking place the canary might cease to sing. The annual moult is a natural thing for a bird, but there are several ways you can assist it through this period. You must keep your pet canary out of the sunlight as much as possible, cover it up at night much earlier than you normally would and allow it to get as much rest through the day as it needs by not disturbing it unnecessarily. Feed your pet canary oily seeds such as sunflower, rape and linseed. Give it the opportunity to bathe more often. If you look after your pet canary during the moult you will be well rewarded when it again begins to whistle….. complete with its new set of feathers.
A single pet canary is unlikely to suffer many health problems as most issues are caused by interaction with unhealthy birds. The most common warning signs of potential issues are:
Excessive preening – this could indicate mites, treatable with medication from the vet if diagnosed early enough,
Diarrhoea – the simplest solution being binders such as banana or cheese, or antibiotics from the vet if recurring,
“Runny” beaks – colds are common. Heat and rest usually solve these and if recurring, again this can be medicated by a vet.
While dogs can eat some of the same foods that we humans do, there are many foods which dogs should not eat. Some common foods you may have at home could even kill your pet if ingested in abnormal amounts. The following is a list of foods which should NOT be consumed by your dog.
Grapes and raisins – Can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog.
Onions – Destroys red blood cells and can cause anaemia.
Chocolate – Can cause seizures, coma and death. Baking chocolate is the most dangerous since it is the most concentrated.
Coffee and tea – Drinks containing caffeine can cause seizures, coma and death.
Macadamia nuts – Can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.
Animal fat and fried foods – Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis and diabetes.
Bones – Particularly chicken bones can splinter and damage a dog’s internal organs.
Raw fish – Particularly raw salmon can cause poisoning in dogs.
Tomatoes – Can cause tremors and heart arrhythmia.
Avocados – The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart.
Nutmeg – Can cause tremors, seizures and death.
Apples, cherries, peaches and similar fruit – The seeds of these fruits contain traces of cyanide which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans. Unlike humans, dogs do not know to stop eating at the core/pit and easily ingest them.
Raw eggs – Can cause salmonella poisoning in dogs. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and are not as likely to suffer from food poisoning, but it is still possible.
Salt – Excessive salt intake can cause kidney problems.
Prepared cat food – Although not dangerous, if eaten regularly or in large amounts, can cause obesity and diabetes.
Vegetables – Dogs have shorter digestive tracts than humans and cannot digest most vegetables whole or in large chunks. It is recommended to put the vegetables through a food processor before giving them to your dog.
Dairy products – Use with caution as they are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis, gas and diarrhoea.