Feeding of exotic patients

Summary

  • Every hospitalized patient has increased caloric needs because of illness & stress
  • They are usually hospitalized after several days of anorexia: always think about hepatic lipidosis

–First hydrate, then re-nourish progressively

  • Herbivores species are prone to slowing of gastrointestinal time: it can have grave consequences
  • Small species are prone to hypoglycemia
  • Always ensure that water is reachable for the considered species
  • Ferrets are carnivores
  • Rabbits, guineapigs, and chinchillas are strict herbivores
  • Birds are omnivores, except birds of prey that are carnivores
    • All snakes are carnivores (rodents, birds, lizards, fishes and insects, amphibians) except some colubrids (fishes, eggs, insects)
    • Lizards can be omnivores, carnivores or herbivores
  • –Green iguana, some chameleons are herbivores

    Varanus spp, Chameleo spp, Gecko spp are carnivores

    –Tejus, skinks, pogona are omnivores

    • Aquatic turtles are carnivores when young and tend to be herbivores when older
    • Tortoises are herbivores (veggies, grasses, fruits) and opportunistic carnivores (slug, snail…)
    • Crocodiles are carnivores

  • Water

–Heavy bowl, small cup, bottle water

–How much water?

–Reptiles & birds: water= bath…

  • Feeding

–Know if this species carnivore, omnivore or herbivore

–How long the patient has been anorectic

–What was the previous feeding habits? Enquire the owner.

If force-feeding is needed

  • Oxbow products
  • Critical Care© & Critical Care Fine Grind© for herbivores (rabbits, guineapigs, chinchilla, degus, prairie dog, tortoise, green iguana)

–CRITICAL CARE: longer fiber, to prefer. Aniseed taste.

–CRITICAL CARE FINE GRIND: can be used through a nasogastric tube. Apricot taste.

  • Carnivore Care© for ferrets, birds of prey, snakes, carnivores lizards and young carnivore turtles.

  • Other products

–Supreme Recovery© & Recovery Plus©

For herbivores species

Recovery Plus is intended to Guineapig and debilitated herbivore (more richer in vitamins, phytotherapy, and probiotics)

–Cunipic Herbal Convalescence©

–For herbivores species

–Adds Phytotherapy & probiotics

If force-feeding is needed, and the patient is intensive care (very debilitated)

Emeraid: Intensive Care food, intended to critical patients (First 48h of hospitalization)

»Emeraid herbivore IC©: Rabbits, guineapig, chinchilla, degu, prairie dog, green iguana, tortoises

»Emeraid herbivore SUSTAIN© can be used for long-term feeding.

»Emeraid omnivore IC©: Myomorph rodents (rats, mice, hamster, gerbil), psittacines and passerines

»Emeraid Carnivore IC©: ferrets, birds of prey, snakes and carnivore lizards, young carnivore turtles

»Can be used through nasogastric tube

»Good appetence

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Ferrets

  • Water

Give a heavy bowl of water + bottle water if used to

  • Food

If healthy: keep the usual kibble or whole-prey or BARF diet. Ferrets are very sensitive to diarrhea following brutal change of food

If unhealthy, prefer liquid and hot food that is much appreciated and easier to give

Oxbow Carnivore care or Emeraid Carnivore can be used

  • If force-feeding is needed

–Prefer teaspoon or finger licking, to syringe feeding (ptyalism, nausea) every two hours

–Pharyngostomy tube can be used (usually not needed)

–Nasogastric tube is not possible (very small nares)

  • Don’t forget to increase caloric supply

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Rabbits

Water

Even if the rabbit is used to drink with water bottle, always give a heavy water bowl in addition

Check that the water bottle doesn’t move when the rabbit is drinking

Food

Good quality hay

Give small quantity of hay. Renew it frequently.

Extruded diet only in healthy rabbit if they are used to, and not more than 15g/kg/day

If the rabbit has diarrhea: give only hay and syringe feeding following the vet prescription

Greens and veggies (hazel tree, chicory, carrot’s foliage, parsley)

Only in healthy rabbit and if they are used to. Introduce it on a gradual basis, carefully.

Veggies and greens improve the rabbit’s well-being during hospitalisation

Spontaneous feeding

Even if you can observe spontaneous feeding, the sick rabbit won’t eat enough. It is very important to add caloric supply with syringe feeding

Syringe feeding

It’s not always forced feeding, but it can be long

Rabbits can appreciate it. It gives supplementary calories

Always handle your rabbit with a towel

Some rabbits will eat spontaneously the convalescence food in a bowl

It is possible to make a puree or pellet consistency to adapt to rabbit’s preferences

  • Indications

Dysorexia following anxiety due to hospitalization

Slowdown gastrointestinal time (herbivores +++)

–Anorexia, dehydration, pain

  • Contraindications

- Absolute: gastric dilation

-Relative: pain of the head/mouth –> prefer nasogastric tube

  • How often

Syringe feeding every 2 to 4h, divided into several meals

Around 60ml/kg/day

Do not exceed 20ml/kg/meal

  • If forced feeding/syringe feeding is inefficient

Very important to feed every patient several times a day

Bigger, aggressive or areactive rabbits => nasogastric or pharyngostomy tubes are required

Short-term use (3 to 7 days)

Rhinitis is often observed. Don’t forget that rabbits are nasal breather species.

No Elizabethan collar (prevent caecotrophy)

Contraindications

Unconsciousness

Disease or dysfunction of the larynx and nares

  • How to put it? Nasogastric tube
  • Similar to cat techniques
  • Flexible tube, blunt, diameter 3,5 to 8 French
  • Measure the distance nare to xiphoid
  • Handle the rabbit in a towel
  • Local anesthesia of the nare (lidocaine)
  • Introduce the tube ventromedially, without any resistance
  • Fix it with plaster and staples or sutures or glue
  • X-ray is mandatory to check the digestive position
  • Injection of 2 to 4ml of water before every meal

Rodents

  • Water

–Water bottle: firmly attached to the cage

–Heavy bowl of water should be added for bigger rodents (guineapigs, chinchillas)

–Always ensure that water is reachable

  • Food

–Usual food can be proposed, even if unbalanced

Familiar element of the environment

Myomorphs

Rats, mice & hamsters

Extruded suitable for the species

Daily natural treats: greens, veggies, eggs

If force-feeding is needed: Emeraid Omnivore©, Convalescence Support©. Avoid, human baby food when possible (onions, too sweet).

Gerbils

Extruded suitable for the species

Add hay, small quantities of seeds or nuts

If force-feeding is needed: Emeraid Omnivore©, Convalescence Support©.

Hystrichomorphs

Same as rabbits

Good quality hay

Give small quantity of hay. Renew it frequently.

Extruded diet only in healthy herbivores if they are used to, and not more than 15g/kg/day

Only for guineapigs: Greens and veggies (hazel tree, chicory, carrot’s foliage, parsley)

Only if healthy and no diarrhea observed. Introduce it on a gradual basis, carefully.

Veggies and greens improve the GP’s well-being during hospitalization

Systematic vitamin C supplementation at 60mg/kg/day in GP

 

Birds

  • Water
  • Don’t put the bowl on the floor
  • Put the bowl at the same height than the perch
  • Add vitamins and minerals in water
  • Food
  • Give the usual seed mixture
  • Add systematically extruded diet (Harrison Power treats©, Lafeber Avicakes©) and veggies.
  • Meal is a social event: eat with the parrot, talk to him, explain what you’re doing
  • Use only metal tube for force-feeding; Syringe feeding is only possible in hand-reared parrots
  • Syringe feeding only in hand-reared parrots

Use Emeraid Omnivore for force-feeding

Weigh daily at the same time and before feeding

Give 3 to 4 meals during the day : 

Species

Volume/feeding (ml)

Budgerigar

1

Agapornis spp

2

Cockatiel

3

Conure

4

African Grey Parrot

15

Amazon

15

Cockattoo

20

Macaw

35

Bird

2 to 3ml/100g

Chick

5ml/100g

    Orogastric administration of med or food in Birds

    • Never give a med or food directly into the mouth with a syringe (except young hand-reared parrot, but be sure everything is consumed)
    • Use an orogastric tube: plastic (raptors) or metal (more rigid and can not be broken into the crop – to prefer in Parrots because strong beak)
    • Measure it so you are sure it is the biggest diameter possible and it goes into the crop, not only oesophagus
    • Lubricate your tube
    • Hold the head firmly
    • Extend the neck
    • Open the mouth with the tube or metal speculum
    • Visualize trachea
    • Follow dorsal part of the mouth and enter in the oesophagus on the right side of the neck
    • Inject slowly through the tube and check for regurgitation
    • Do not handle the patient after force feeding

    Birds - Galliformes

    • Water
    • Put the water bowl on the floor
    • Add minerals and vitamins in the water
    • Food
    • Give the usual seed mixture
    • Add systematically extruded diet (Harrison Power treats©, Lafeber Avicakes©) and veggies.
    • Force-feeding
    • Emeraid Omnivore©, Convalescence Support©

    Reptiles

    The meal is proposed at the end of the morning, when the body is warmed and the reptile is active.

    Non consumed veggies are daily removed. Be careful with substrate: be sure that the reptile will not swallow it!

    Living preys (insects) are necessarily given outside the terrarium. Don’t feed in the living place. If the Reptile don’t eat all the preys, they will eat him as soon as he will sleep

    Snakes

    • Water

    Make available water in a flat dish, not too deep

    So the snake can have a bath, but without drowning

    • Food

    Feed a snake is never an emergency

    Handling = stress = regurgitations

    Prey rejection => aversion risk

    First, restore hydration

    Lizards

    • Water

    Put water in a small dish, not too deep

    Water drip for chameleon

    • Food

    It is important to feed the lizard as soon as it is rehydrated

    Give usual prey items and veggies

    Force-feeding only if anorexia

    Handling= stress= regurgitations

    • Insectivores

    When you buy insects, their nutritional value is 0

    • Crickets
    • Mealworms (cuterebra, beetle)
    • Maggot
    • Grasshopper
    • Earthworm

    Ca/P unbalanced (excess P)

    Protein can be ok

    Too fat

    ---> Dust loaded and gut loaded

    • Daily care of insects

    –Remove the vegetables from the previous day

    –Offer daily dandelions, endive, carrots, dusted with mineral and vitamin supplements.

    –Offer occasional melon, apricot… rich in carotenes and cat kibbles rich in proteins and fat

    –Renew water daily (impregnated tissue or water jelly)

    –Offer hidden places

    –Dust the insects before offering them to Reptiles, one by one, outside the terrarium

    ---> Dust loaded and gut loaded

    • Whole prey diets

    –Small rodents

    • Adult mouse
    • 1d baby mouse
    • 3d baby mouse
    • 7d baby mouse
    • 21d mouse
    • Baby rat
    • Young rat
    • Adult rat

    Other

    Chick

    1d old chick

    Fishes

    Herring

    Smelt

    Anchovy

    Sardine

    Offal are inadvisable

    Whole prey diets

    Prefer dead whole prey, coming from serious suppliers to ensure decent living conditions and sacrifice to rodents.

    Snakes must be separated and fed in plastic boxes without substrate

    Frozen dead prey are placed 24h before feeding in the fridge so they can warm slowly without harmful microbial growth.

    Dead prey are soaked in hot water before feeding.

    The prey is given with a clamp.

     

    A snake can swallow a prey of equal diameter to the middle of his body.

    Lizards or turtle will swallow a prey depending on the size of the jaw.

    Don’t handle snake 72h after feeding. A molting snake should not be fed.

    Orogastric administration of med or food in Reptiles

    -Never give a med or food directly into the mouth with a syringe

    -Use an orogastric tube: plastic (snake) or metal (more rigid and can not be be broken into the Reptiles’stomach – to prefer in chelonians and lizards)

    -Measure it so you are sure it goes into the stomach, not only esophagus

    -Chelonians: btw the middle and the end of the cranial part of the plastron

    -Lizards: median distance btw limbs

    -Snakes: the cranial portion of the second third of the total length

    -Lubricate your tube

    -Hold the Reptiles firmly

    -Extend the neck

    –Hold the head firmly

    –Open the mouth with the tube or metal speculum

    –Visualize trachea

    –Follow dorsal part of the mouth and enter in the esophagus on the right side of the neck

    –Inject slowly through the tube and check for regurgitation

    –Do not handle the patient after force feeding

    • Oesophagostomy tube

    –When nasogastric tube is not feasible

    Small nares (ferrets, lizards, tortoises)

    Head traumatism

    –General anesthesia needed

    –Cutaneous disinfection

    –Check permeability of the tube with water before use

    –Inject slowly, check for regurgitations

    –Flush after each use

    TO CONCLUDE

    • Feeding should be done asap after rehydration
    • It is mandatory to provide increased caloric requirement and to respect the diet
    • Don’t consider spontaneous feeding as a sufficient quantity: always think about supplementary meals
    • Force feeding technique should be chosen according to the species, the quantity to deliver, the nature of the disease and duration of anorexia.