One of the most important ways owners can maintain the health of their exotic pet is to develop a relationship with their veterinarian as early as possible. Many of the most common illnesses in exotic pets can be prevented through good care and feeding practices.
Your veterinarian can be a vital tool in helping you to establish healthy practices early on in the life of your pet. The veterinarians at Animal Hospital of Nashua are happy to help you care for your exotic pet, both by providing routine wellness care, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of sick exotics.
Many of the exotic species popular as pets are “prey” species. That means that in the wild they would be preyed upon by another animal. This has led to adapted behaviors that can often make it difficult for an owner to see a problem in their exotic pet until the animal is too sick to hide the problem. It is important to pay attention to subtle changes in the behavior and attitude of your exotic pet.
If you believe your pet is sick, it is important to stay on the side of safety, and have your pet seen by a veterinarian. Oftentimes, waiting to see if the condition resolves on its own can make the illness significantly worse.
Below are some basic guidelines to help you determine if there may be a problem with your exotic pet.
We recommend that you keep track of the weight of your exotic pet. A gram or postal scale is inexpensive and can be used on many of the smaller species of exotic pets. You can keep a log of your pet’s weight every 2-4 weeks. Weight loss may be an early sign of a problem, especially since many exotic pets have fur or feathers, making it difficult to notice a loss in body mass.
Subtle changes in behavior can also be a sign of illness. Increased hiding behaviors, sitting at the bottom of the cage or off in a corner, reluctance to interact with cage mates, and less responsiveness when handled are all signs that your pet should be seen by a veterinarian.
Watch for decreases or increases with the frequency of defecation/urination or other changes (color, texture, etc) in feces or urine. These changes are signs that should not be ignored. Daily observations should help in detecting changes in color or texture, while noticing that the cage is dirtier or cleaner than usual during regularly scheduled cage changes can aid in detecting changes in frequency.
Loss or decrease in appetite is another early sign that your pet may be sick. This requires knowledge of the particular species, as this may be normal depending on the species, season, and reproductive cycle. For example, birds have a high metabolic rate and require daily feeding whereas reptiles, which have a slower metabolic rate, require more infrequent feedings.
The next step
These are general guidelines to help determine if your pet is ill. Since no one knows your pet better than you, a good rule of thumb is that if you are concerned, then you should seek the advice of a veterinarian.