Pet Health Articles

Small Mammals

  • Aluminum hydroxide is commonly used off label to treat high phosphate levels in pets with kidney disease. It is given by mouth, with meals, in the form of a liquid gel, powder, or a compounded capsule. The most common side effect is constipation, and therefore should be used in caution with pets with a gastrointestinal obstruction or pets prone to constipation. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Many owners of small mammals are surprised to learn that all pets need at least an annual checkup. Exotic pet veterinarians typically recommend check-ups at least once a year for young, healthy pets and twice a year for geriatric animals. During a check-up your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing, including blood testing, fecal analysis, microbiological testing, and radiography. While most of diagnostic tests can be performed on awake animals, depending on the species and temperament of the pet, some exotic pet veterinarians recommend performing these tests under short-acting gas anesthesia.

  • Chinchillas require a high fiber diet and should be offered grass hay (such as Timothy hay or other low calcium hays such as orchard grass, oat hay, or meadow hay) free choice (available 24 hours a day). Hay should be the main component of their diet. Fresh clean water must be available at all times.

  • The cage should allow the chinchilla to move around a lot, as they are very active, agile, and acrobatic animals. Multilevel cages, similar to those designed for ferrets, work well, as long as there are no areas where a chinchilla could get its limbs or feet caught. Most owners house one or two pets in a cage; often the two pets are mates. Chinchillas require a dust bath for normal grooming. Cages should be emptied and cleaned at least weekly with soap and water.

  • Chinchillas can make fun, enjoyable pets. The chinchilla is a rodent closely related to the guinea pig. They originate from South America where they live in the Andes Mountains.

  • Generally speaking, chinchillas are fairly hardy animals. However, they do have several unique problems, and understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems. These include fur slip, antibiotic sensitivity, teeth problems, heat stroke, skin problems, and dust bathing for normal grooming.

  • Common conditions of pet chinchillas include bite wounds, respiratory diseases, overgrown and impacted teeth, gastrointestinal stasis, bloat, diarrhea, skin problems, and heat stroke. Any deviation of your chinchilla's behavior from normal should be a cause for concern and requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

  • Coccidial organisms, including Eimeria, are parasites that can infect rabbits, especially young and recently weaned rabbits. These host-specific organisms live in rabbit intestines and can infect the liver. Healthy, mature rabbits housed in good environments may only be transiently affected, while young, immunocompromised rabbits kept in poor environmental conditions may succumb to infection and die. Many rabbits that have this disease do not show any or signs, but if they do, they may have infrequent or intermittent watery, mucousy, or possibly blood-tinged diarrhea. Diagnosis involves examining a fecal smear under a microscope or performing a fecal float test. If your rabbit's diarrhea progresses to moderate to severe in intensity, your veterinarian will hospitalize your rabbit to provide supportive care until it is well enough to go home.

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. Cytology can be used to diagnose growths or masses found on the surface of the body, and also to assess bodily fluids, internal organs, and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen. Cells can be collected using various methods including fine needle aspiration, skin scraping, impression smear, cotton-tipped swabs, or lavage. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion. The most common biopsy techniques are punch biopsy, wedge biopsy, and excision biopsy. The tissue is then processed and is examined under a microscope via histopathology. Histopathology allows the veterinary pathologist to make a diagnosis, classify the tumor, and predict the course of the disease.

  • Rabbits have incisors plus molars in the back of the mouth for grinding and chewing. Rabbits also have two small, tube-shaped incisors (peg teeth) behind the large upper incisors. Since the teeth continuously grow, the upper teeth must meet the lower teeth to allow for proper wearing of tooth surfaces, preventing overgrowth. All teeth must meet and wear at the same rate as they are growing, or malocclusion with resultant improper tooth wear, and overgrowth of the incisors and/or molars, can occur. Overgrown teeth can cause many problems. leading to pain and infection. Rabbits with chronic dental problems need regular veterinary care including repeated dental filings. Feeding rabbits a diet of mainly high-fiber hay to promote chewing and teeth wear may help reduce the development of dental problems.