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The Best Way to Clip His Wings

December 10, 1987|Dr. GLENN ERICSON | For The Times and Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is incoming president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn.

Q: When we got our cockateel at 3 months of age three months ago, his wings were clipped. The wing feathers have since grown in. Is it advisable for us to trim the feathers? If so, how do we go about doing that? Or is it better to have the trimming done by a professional?

This is our first bird as a pet. Do birds need any vaccines such as the ones given to dogs and cats? What is the life expectancy of cockateels?

A: If you allow your cockateel to fly freely in the house, you should have his wings clipped by a veterinarian familiar with birds. If you want to trim the wings yourself, have the vet demonstrate the technique to you first. Always use sharp scissors to prevent crushing or fraying of the feathers and remember to have handy a hemostatic agent, such as Kwick stop, to control any bleeding in case you have to pull a feather.

No vaccines are necessary, but you should observe your bird for any changes in his habits or behavior that might indicate an illness. The average life expectancy of a cockateel is 10 to 12 years.

Q: My neighbor's dog became sick and was taken to her vet and put in the hospital. They told her the dog had parvo. Can my dog get parvo from hers, and what should I do to protect him?

A: Canine Parvovirus enteritis, or CPV, is a highly contagious and serious disease that primarily affects the stomach and intestines of a dog. The most common signs are depression, lack of appetite, weakness, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, which may lead to dehydration and shock. In some cases, the disease is fatal.

Your dog may have been exposed to CPV, depending on the amount of contact with your neighbor's dog. Vaccination is still the easiest and best method of protecting your dog from CPV. If your dog has not been vaccinated within the past four to six months, I would recommend a booster, especially if your neighbor's dog has been allowed to come into contact or play with your dog.

Q: My cat had some patches of hair missing and is being treated for ringworm by my vet. I was told that it could spread to my family. Where did my cat get ringworm, and can he get it again?

A: The most common form of ringworm in cats is a fungus called Microsporum canis , and it can be contagious to susceptible humans, such as children. Your cat may have gotten ringworm from contact with other infected cats, from soil contaminated with the spores of Microsporum canis , or from objects such as contaminated combs or brushes. Contact with people who have ringworm is also a possibility. Always wash your hands well after treating your cat, avoid unnecessary contact with your cat while he is still contagious, and consult your physician if you suspect you have any skin lesions.

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