National Bird Day, celebrated each January, brings awareness of the importance of wild birds the world over and wild bird conservation. It has evolved into raising awareness about birds kept in captivity as well, including, presumably, the birds we keep in our homes! January is the month to recognize the importance of adopting rescued birds.
If you’ve been thinking about adding a bird to your family, now is a great time to consider a rescue. Many people don’t realize that it’s not just cats and dogs that need homes – there are thousands of abandoned birds around the world that are homeless. Many birds end up in in the hands of rescue organizations after new owners, unaware of the care needed, find that it is more work than they initially thought. These rescue organizations work tirelessly to find these beautiful birds forever homes.
Birds can make excellent pets and companions, but research is important before getting one. You need to know what is required to make the commitment! Rescue organizations can answer many of your questions, but do your own research using on-line resources, your local library, or bookstore. Visit your veterinarian for recommendations and find out if your veterinary practice offers bird care – if not, your veterinarian can recommend a practice that does.
Here are some points to consider when thinking about adoption:
- Birds can have surprisingly long lifespans. Small bird species can live for up to 30 years while large parrots can live well into their 70s! Find out the lifespan of the kind of bird that interests you. A pet bird is a long-term commitment.
- Normal bird behavior may be different than what you expect! For example, birds in the wild will scream to communicate with one other. Knowing how to respond (or more accurately, how NOT to respond!) if your bird screams is important.
- The daily requirements of a pet bird go beyond the simple provision of food and water each day! Each species of bird has its own unique requirements.
- Birds have a social structure that needs to be understood before acquiring a bird.
- Birds need veterinary care just as any other pet – you will need to budget accordingly. Find out how often the bird will need to see a veterinarian for preventive health care.
Once you have done your research and decide on a bird that will fit your lifestyle, contact rescue organizations in your area and meet a few birds before making a commitment to one. Consider adoption instead of purchasing a bird from a pet store – there are many birds already in need of a forever home. Before you commit to adopting a bird, check with the rescue organization to see if you can have your veterinarian check the bird over and ensure there are no unexpected health issues.
Even if you are not interested in adding a bird to your family, you can celebrate National Bird Day by learning about wild birds and the conservation efforts being made to sustain the world’s bird populations. Whether in the outdoors or in our homes, birds are important, and our world would not be the same without them.
Most of us don’t think twice about brushing our teeth a couple of times a day or going to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months or so. We try to brush our pet’s teeth every day, but do we take our pets to the veterinarian for regular check-ups or periodic cleanings? Plaque and tartar can build up just as easily on your pet’s teeth if dental care isn’t a part of your daily routine or your pet doesn’t have regular veterinary care. Serious dental disease can result and impact more than just your pet’s teeth and gums.
It’s not just “bad breath” that you are combatting when your pet has a check-up and cleaning. Dental disease – or periodontal disease – is a serious health condition. Periodontal disease is the result of plaque and tartar build-up under the gums. Because plaque contains millions of bacteria, plaque and tartar build-up cause inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. It can cause eroded gums, broken teeth, severe pain, and even bone loss to the jaw.
Bacteria under the gum line can affect other areas of your pet’s body too. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.
You can help prevent periodontal disease by using dental products recommended by your veterinarian or products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance. These products have been proven to slow the development of plaque and/or tartar in pets and include diets, rawhide chews, edible treats, water additives, wipes, oral sprays, and toothpastes. Be cautious of products that make claims of whitening teeth if there is no VOHC seal.
Avoid giving your dog or cat products that are too hard – hard bones can break or chip teeth – dental treats and toy bones should bend.
If you don’t know how to brush your dog’s teeth, ask your veterinary health team for help. They can advise you on how to hold your pet and position the toothbrush, and give you tips for a successful, stress-free brushing session!
Daily brushing, treats, and water additives can help keep periodontal disease at bay, but a yearly exam by your veterinarian is important. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s gums and teeth, look for signs of inflammation and infection, and may recommend a cleaning or tooth extraction if periodontal disease is present.
Regular wellness checks with your veterinarian and daily brushing will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!
Not just dogs and cats need forever homes. Rabbits do too, and can often be found in animal shelters and rescues.
Rabbits can make great pets and companions, but as with any pet, there are factors to consider before bringing one into your home. It’s important to do your research to determine if a rabbit would make a good addition to your family. It’s also important to find out if your veterinarian treats rabbits; if not, ask your veterinarian for a referral to one who does. You want to make sure your new hoppy furball has access to any medical care needed!
Here are some factors to consider before you bring a rabbit home:
- Owning a rabbit is long-term commitment! Pet rabbits can live up to 12 years.
- If you have other pets in your home, consider whether a rabbit would get along with them. Generally speaking, rabbits tend to get along well with other pets, such as cats and dogs, but these often view rabbits as “prey,” so they should never be left alone together. And if you have a dog with a strong prey instinct, consider whether a rabbit will actually be a good fit in your home.
- Neutering/spaying your rabbit is important. Unspayed females can develop a number of health problems, including uterine cancer, anemia, and breast cancer. Neutering and spaying also removes the possibility of unwanted baby rabbits.
- Rabbits are intelligent and need mental stimulation. Make sure you have time to devote to a rabbit.
- Rabbits need to be handled with care to prevent serious injury; this is important to consider if you have young children or a very playful dog.
- Rabbits require a good diet and veterinary care just like any other pet; be sure to budget accordingly.
There are many benefits to adopting a rescue over purchasing a rabbit from a pet store:
- Many rescued rabbits are already litter-trained.
- Rescue or shelter staff and volunteers know the personalities of the rabbits and can help you find a good match for your family.
- Many rescued rabbits are used to living in homes with children and other pets.
- Rescued rabbits often have been spayed/neutered.
The greatest benefit to adopting a rescued rabbit is the gift of a forever home. By adopting a rescue, you give it the chance to live a happy, healthy, and full life. That would have any rabbit hopping for joy!