Meet Snappa! She’s a huge snapping turtle that lives in Day Pond next to our hospital. We’re not sure if she’s the same girl that we patched up last year with a carapace cast after being hit by a car on Eastern Ave, but she sure is just as big.




As you can see in this picture taken by our technician Erin, she emerged from the pond and decided our front lawn was a suitable place to lay her eggs. Why she chose to be so close to the busy street is a mystery, but perhaps it was the Snickers bar wrapper that lured her to the spot! Take note that there was en empty beer can just a few feet away out of the frame of this picture, so perhaps she had picked the perfect location after all!

We’ll be keeping an eye out for the parade of toddling little turtles after they hatch and make their way down to the pond. Too cute!!!


Posted by:

Posted on:
June 19th, 2012

Posted in:

Ask The Vet: Feather Picking

Sylvia from Gloucester asks…

“I obtained an older cockatiel from someone who was no longer able to take care of her. The bird is now picking out a lot of her feathers. What could be causing this?”

Feather picking in birds is a sign that something is bothering them. The problem could be either behavioral or medical, and the bird is letting you know that something is wrong.

On the behavioral front, I’ve worked with birds that began feather picking because of a variety of environmental reasons: the view outside their window changed (an addition was being put on the neighbor’s house); the plants in their room were rearranged; a TV gaming system was moved to the room where the bird lived. These are obvious sources of stress for birds, but stress can develop from internal/medical reasons such as cancer, hormone imbalances, allergies, skin mites, toxin exposure, and nutritional imbalances, to name a few.

Inadequate nutrition is a very common problem in birds and leads to a host of other ailments that can ultimately manifest as feather picking. Inadequate mineral and protein intake can result in metabolic bone disease and other systemic stresses that create a chronic, debilitating, wasting syndrome. Sadly, unbalanced diets usually result from a lack of awareness of what birds should be eating to stay healthy and from the reality that many birds (like people!) will gravitate toward the more tasty, less healthy options put before them. The classic example is when birds tend to eat millet and seed while ignoring the protein pellets in the feed. Birds become finicky eaters, and if they’re selecting the unhealthy options, it’s the equivalent of eating dessert all the time.

There are quality bird foods on the market that offer balanced long term nutrition. Birds can also be rather successfully fed by cooking for them at home. They need good sources of vegetables and protein and are known to enjoy a wide variety of good, wholesome foods when taught to eat them.

We have a lot of helpful tips on how to house and feed your bird. Regarding the feather picking, it’s best if the bird has a physical exam to help figure out if the problem is medical or behavioral. We may even need to direct you to an avian specialist if it becomes particularly complicated.


Posted by:

Posted on:
June 9th, 2012

Posted in:

Pug vs. truck: a success story

Meet Buddy. He was buzzing around as usual, but this time he took an unusual path into the road in front of the house. Unfortunately, a pickup truck came by, hit him and didn’t stop. The driver shouted “I’m sorry” out the window as he drove off.

Bloody and shaken, Buddy was scooped up by his owners and rushed in to see us. He was shocky and had a mouth full of blood. We placed him in oxygen and treated him with fluids and pain medication to get him stabilized.

The blood in his mouth was from a fractured jaw; the bone had torn up through his gum line. He also was limping on his front right leg from damage to a ligament  on the side of his wrist.

When pets get hit by a vehicle, they can get serious internal injuries, so we took x-rays of to look for evidence of internal bruising, bleeding or a ruptured lung. We fortunately didn’t uncover any of those issues. We also performed an ultrasound of his abdomen to help rule out internal bleeding or a ruptured bladder.

Here is one of the x-rays we took. If you look closely at his jaw, you can see a fracture near the front of his mouth just behind his big lower canine tooth. What is difficult to appreciate is that he had a second fracture in that same jaw bone a couple of inches back that also needed attention.



When Buddy was stable enough for anesthesia, Dr. Lockwood and I put him under to repair his jaw. In this x-ray, you can see the anesthesia gas tube running through his mouth and down his windpipe. We removed a few teeth that were compromised by the fractures, drilled holes in his jaw, and placed three wires to stabilize the fracture sites so they could heal. As you can see near the upper right aspect of this x-ray, we also placed a feeding tube running into his neck and down his esophagus. (The orange feeding tube can also be seen on the side of his neck in the color photo above.) Because fractures need to be kept immobilized to allow healing, and since we wanted to avoid wiring his jaw shut for 5 weeks, we taught the owners how to feed Buddy through the feeding tube using a pureed, high calorie, prescription dog food. He was allowed to drink water on his own, but all treats and toys were strictly off limits while he healed.

Buddy did remarkably well and returned to have his feeding tube and wires removed. His wrist, which we splinted to allow it to heal, recovered nicely, and Buddy is back to racing around and using his mouth like all dogs know how! Word has it he is also double checking both ways before heading into the street 😉

Great job, Buddy!!!


Posted by:

Posted on:
June 5th, 2012

Posted in: