Veterinarians Urging Owners to be Vigilant about their Pet’s Health this Winter

Following the recent severe weather that caused havoc across NSW, veterinarians are seeing an increasing number of pets with the ‘winter bug’ and urging owners to be vigilant with their pet’s health.

Exotic pets, such as birds, rabbits and reptiles, have been particularly impacted by the wet weather, says Dr Jayne Weller, exotics veterinarian at Sydney’s Animal Referral Hospital.

“Because we had so much cold and wet weather, we’ve been seeing more animals coughing and sneezing from respiratory disease and other infections,” she says. “Pet owners need to keep their animals healthy by learning how to prevent diseases from starting, and how to spot the signs of illness and act quickly before the illness develops into something more serious.”

During cold snaps, birds tend to acclimatise well, but when the weather suddenly turns cold and wet, our feathered friends suffer a lot more from infections because their immune systems are lower as they use their energy to keep warm, she explains.

“I see problems when owners forget to cover the cage or leave their birds outside for long periods of time. Also, wet newspaper at the bottom of the cage begins to grow bacteria and birds inhale it, causing fungal or bacterial infections,” she says.

Birds can also develop psittacosis, an infectious bacterial infection causing flu-like symptoms - runny nose, swollen and runny eyes - and become lethargic.

“Cleaning the cage regularly and keeping it dry, and changing the food and water every day will help to keep your bird healthy during the winter months,” she says.

Rabbits can die from the Gastro ‘winter’ bug:


During the winter, vets seem to be presented with an increased number of rabbits with Gastrointestinal (Gut) Statis - when the gut stops moving and there is overgrowth of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. When a rabbit stops eating and pooing for 12 hours, it is a very serious problem and can cause death, warns Dr Weller.

“When the weather is cooler and we get a lot of rain, we tend to see a rush of rabbits with Gut Statis. It’s a strange phenomenon. It might be to do with new grass growing quickly and rabbits eating more, and changes to hay from the moisture,” she says.

Signs of Gut Statis include not eating or pooing, lethargy, not moving around or having a bloated stomach. Rabbits require hospitalisation and possibly surgery to remove massive hairballs mixed with food material which cause blockage.

Reptiles need special care before their Winter sleep:


As winter approaches, reptiles – such as lizards, turtles, frogs and snakes - prepare to spend the colder months in a dormant state, referred to as ‘brumation’ (they wake up and eat intermittently).

"But if reptiles are not in perfect health before brumation, they will often come out with horrible respiratory and skin infections,” says Dr Weller. “I advise getting your reptile health-checked by a reptile vet before allowing them to go into their winter sleep.”

The Animal Referral Hospital at Homebush is offering all exotic pets (birds, rabbits, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, guinea pigs) a 10% discount on general health checks from June 1st to July 31, 2015. For more information or to book your pet, phone 02 9199 8983.



with Dr Jayne Weller courtesy of VETtalk TV


For more information or media interviews:

Dr Jayne Weller, Exotics Veterinarian

W 02 9199 8983

Troy James, General Manager

Animal Referral Hospital

W 02 9199 8983/ M 0410 647 974


About the Animal Referral Hospital:

The Animal Referral Hospital is the largest privately owned, 24-hour veterinary hospital in the southern hemisphere, offering pet owners an improved level of service with specialist care and advanced veterinary technology in a state-of-the-art facility. The ARH is situated 20 minutes from most parts of Sydney.

The ARH in Homebush can also accommodate pet owners who travel from the country and interstate at a hotel adjacent to the site – a short walk from Sydney’s famous Paddy’s Market. It has CT scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines on site.

The ARH in Baulkham Hills has been renovated with additional hospital and laboratory equipment to provide accurate and rapid results and provide an increased level of patient and client care, serving the West and Blue Mountains. The ARH currently employs more than 100 staff at two sites, including specialist veterinarians, emergency veterinarians, and specialised veterinary nurses.


Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

Recent Blogs

Pet Owners Beware…Paralysis Ticks are Even Earlier this Year

>> Read more

Pet Birds At Risk Of Heavy Metal Poisoning In Your Home!

>> Read more

Pets On Prozac

>> Read more