Common diseases of your Vail Valley Exotic pet

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Common diseases of your Vail Valley Exotic pet

As your Vail Valley exotics veterinarian, I know that it’s not easy to know what to do with your exotic pets when they are sick.  It’s also important to know that exotic pets need yearly wellness visits too!  There are important preventative care items that can be addressed and its also important to talk with your veterinarian to be sure you are providing the proper husbandry (food, housing, environment, etc.) to your exotic pet.  Here are some things that we will recommend you do for your exotic pet when you come in for your yearly wellness visit and also some of the more common ailments we see in these creatures. 

Reptiles are such interesting creatures and typically make good pets.  However, it’s important to realize that they have very specific needs in terms of their diet and housing.  In order to be as thorough as possible, many veterinarians recommend a series of tests on your reptile to help maintain their health.  Each visit starts with a thorough physical exam where the doctor will look at your pet’s weight, appearance and mobility.  Your vet will also feel your pet’s entire body and record their findings.  Other tests that your vet may recommend include blood testing to gauge overall health, a fecal analysis in order to rule out internal parasites, and radiological testing (x-rays) in order to examine your pet’s body for abnormalities in organs and limbs and screen for tumors or infection that otherwise couldn’t be detected on physical exam. 

Exotic small are very commonly seen as pets – these are animals such as ferrets, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.  The most common types of problems seen in these animals are those due to traumatic injuries (bite wounds or injuring themselves on something in their enclosure), infectious disease and general aging. 

Guinea pigs are very common small pets and are one of the more common critters we see.  Guinea pigs are very easily stressed which causes them to be quite susceptible to certain ailments.  The most common clinical problems in pet guinea pigs are due to diarrhea, respiratory disease, tooth malocclusion (crooked teeth) and urinary tract disorders (infections, stones, etc).  If you find that your guinea pig is having trouble or is reluctant to eat, this may indicate that he/she is having tooth issues and it’s important to address them with a veterinarian immediately. If it appears that your guinea pig has a “cold” – if he or she has nasal or eye discharge – it’s time to take them to the vet as this likely requires antibiotics.  Lastly, guinea pigs often get urinary tract infections and/or stones in their bladder.  They may exhibit bloody urine, straining to urinate or can even cry out when trying to go to the bathroom.  Be sure to address these signs if you ever see them in your piggy. 

There are many different types of birds that make great pets – as long as one is prepared to provide the proper husbandry (housing and diet) for them.  Birds often require routine maintenance of their beaks, wings and feet – your veterinarian is often trained to help you with this and can make it a good experience for you and your bird.  Pet birds are unfortunately often exposed to household items that can be dangerous to them and not to humans.  They are especially sensitive to airborne toxins such as perfume, hairspray, disinfectants, smoke and deodorants.  Nonstick cookware is a source of PTFE which is released as a gas when the cookware is heated; PTFE can cause acute death as the result of respiratory failure.  Even mild exposure can cause respiratory signs, depression or anxiety. 

Veterinarians can be a wealth of information when it comes to exotic animal care – it’s important to ask a professional if you ever have any concerns or questions.  Exotic pets are fun to have and each species has its own unique set of needs.  Together, you and your veterinarian can ensure that they live the longest, healthiest life possible.  

We look forward to seeing you!