Small pets such as Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Hamsters, Rats, Mice , Gerbils and Degus can be most entertaining. Although they are often thought of as “simple” pets for children adults also find them very endearing. Each species has its’ specific delights and issues.
However, common to all are dental problems. Disparity between the upper and lower jaw can lead to incisor over growth. This on its own can cause problems with handling food and damage to oro-facial tissue. If not corrected it can lead to problems with the “chewing” teeth..the premolars and molars. At this point eating becomes handicapped or even impossible.
External parasites are common in these small pets. Broad spectrum topical anti parasitic products can be applied in very small doses to aid in control of these parasites. It is also advised to completely clean their environment to help prevent re-infestation.
Each species has dietary requirements that must be met if they are to have optimum life spans. Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas and Degus are quite long lived. Rats , mice and gerbils have shorter life expectancies.
Lumps and bumps..both cancerous and benign occur in small pets. Approach to management depends on the individual and the type of lump they have.
Respiratory infections are all too common in these wee creatures. Often they are infected at birth and battle waxing and waning breathing problems throughout their lives. These conditions can usually be managed but are very difficult to truly eradicate.
These pets require housing that encourages activity and exploration. However injury from unsafe wheels, climbing apparatus and tunnels is not uncommon. Another hazard for small pets is getting lost! It seems the smaller they are the harder they are to find. Obviously the simplest thing is to make certain they have no opportunity to go AWOL. Rats, Mice, Hamsters and Degus often enjoy the freedom of an exercise ball. We often have clinic hamsters and/or rats and all of them have loved careening about the hospital in their ball!
Small pets, as their larger counter parts, if poorly, can benefit from veterinary care.