Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that should have regular Wellness Exams. It’s also important to establish a good doctor/patient relationship with our more “exotic” pets. Birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, lizards, snakes…all of these animals will greatly benefit from a yearly physical with a knowledgeable exotic veterinarian. We have 3 veterinarians on staff here at Oakview who would be more than willing to see your exotic pet come in for an office visit!
Following are 10 great reasons to take your exotic pet to see the vet:
- Environment: Many exotic pets have specific requirements regarding heat, light, temperature and cage bedding. There are so many products out there for birds and exotics that it can be hard to know what’s right for your pet. A veterinarian educated in exotic pet care will be able to review your pet’s cage setup to help ensure that you are providing an appropriate environment for your pet’s specific species. Husbandry is a very important key to preventing illness in exotics.
- Nutrition: Birds and exotic pets have very specific nutritional requirements, and offering proper nutrition is another important key to preventing illness. A knowledgeable exotic animal vet can teach you specifically what your exotic pet needs to eat to stay healthy and live a long life.
- Vaccinations: In many states where exotic species, such as ferrets, can be kept legally as pets, these animals require annual vaccinations to prevent illness. By taking them for a yearly checkup, you’re ensuring that your pet is current on vaccinations against often deadly diseases, such as rabies.
- Behavior: The behavior of many birds and exotic pets can change in response to daylight (seasonal changes) and temperature. A veterinarian who treats birds and other exotics can provide you with a better understanding of normal versus abnormal behavior for your type of exotic pet so that you’ll know when to be concerned.
- Preventive care: Preventing disease is better for your pet (and for your wallet!) than treating it once it occurs. A veterinarian who is knowledgeable in bird/exotic pet care can teach you about diseases commonly seen in your pet’s species, so that you’ll know what signs to look for before these conditions progress.
- Nail trims: If you’ve ever tried to trim the nails of a squirmy guinea pig, a contrary turtle, or a flapping bird, you know how hard it can be, especially if you’re by yourself. In fact, many bird and exotic pet owners are unable to trim their pets’ nails at home and often just let them overgrow. Overgrown nails are unpleasant for both the owner, who might get scratched; and the pet, who may catch their nails on their cage or owner’s clothing. Veterinarians and veterinary staff familiar with birds and exotic species are generally very comfortable trimming birds’ and other exotic animals’ nails.
- Teeth trims: Unlike cats and dogs, exotic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas have long teeth that continuously grow, often requiring tooth trims. Ideally, the natural grinding action of chewing on toys, hay, and other food items would cause the teeth to stay at an ideal length, but many need to have their teeth manually cut on a regular basis due to a number of health and genetic factors.
- Vacation: Bird and exotic pet owners often have difficulty finding care for their animals when they go out of town. Some clinics that treat birds or other exotic animals also offer care when owners go away, providing a safe place to board exotic pets, so that you can have peace of mind when you travel. Ask us about boarding your exotic pet here at Oakview!
- Emergencies: When birds and exotic pets get sick, there’s no time to waste. Many exotic pets have such rapid metabolisms that they can’t go more than a day without food, or they become very ill. However, finding a vet willing to treat birds or other exotic animals can be very difficult. Establishing a doctor/patient relationship with an exotics-savvy vet before you have an emergency can be life-saving for your exotic pet.
- Spay/Neuter your exotic: Do you have 2 pet rabbits and don’t want 200? Spaying and neutering is the answer! Many unwanted health issues can also be avoided by spaying or neutering your exotic pet. Spaying a guinea pig prevents ovarian cysts. Behavioral problems like aggression and urine spraying will be reduced or eliminated by neutering a pet rabbit. Spaying a female rat might help reduce her chances of developing mammary tumors in the future.
Do you love your exotic pet? Then get them to the vet! They’ll live a much longer, happier and healthier life for it.
by Lindsey Truikys
Lindsay has been an assistant at Oakview since 2017. She comes to us from the prestigious Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago and has a degree in zoology. She is passionate about rescuing animals of all species! She has many rescued pets. She is smart, unique, and overflowing with compassion!