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Small Animal Veterinary Care: Common Problems and Ailments

small-animal-veterinary-careOne of the reasons why small pets are so popular with first-time pet owners is that they are generally a very hardy lot. Unlike dogs and cats that have to go in for vaccinations and treatments on an annual basis, small pets usually don’t require a trip to the local Dartmouth emergency vet for a checkup unless they get sick. All it takes is proper care, habitat and nutrition to keep most small pets happy and healthy. However, as with any living thing, are are some common problems and ailments that small pet owners should keep an eye out for to make sure that they stay healthy.

Can Small Animals Visit the Vet?

Despite the fact that most small pets, which include hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets and other smaller mammals, don’t require a lot of veterinary attention, many small pet owners still bring their pets in for regular checkups and veterinary care in Massachusetts. An annual checkup that will provide for preventative small animal veterinary care is usually all that is required and can help pet owners learn more about the health and care of their pets.

As with dogs and cats, your Dartmouth emergency vet will see your small animals if they are sick or injured. Care Credit for animals is accepted at Anchor Animal Hospital and can also be used for emergency small animal veterinary care. Call ahead to make an appointment in advance for a regular checkup, but call your vet immediately if you suspect that your small animal might be sick or has been injured in some way. Anchor offers both regular veterinary care in Massachusetts as well as emergency services for South Coast pet owners.

What Common Problems Affect Small Animals?

Some of the most common problems and ailments that require small animal veterinary care are related to dental issues, coat problems, external parasites, nutritional deficiencies, respiratory conditions, skin issues and the well-known, but often misunderstood wet tail.

  • DENTAL ISSUES – Watch for overgrown teeth, particularly in rodents. Check your pet for any bleeding or inflammation in the mouth, as well as any growths or secretions, which could be signs of serious issues. If you notice any of these signs, get your small animal to the Dartmouth emergency vet as soon as possible. To prevent dental issues, provide safe chew-ables to help teeth wear down naturally or get veterinary care in Massachusetts to clip overgrown teeth to avoid these other issues from developing.
  • COAT PROBLEMS – Watch for changes in your pet’s fur or hair. Hair that is rough, choppy, oily or begins to fall out in patches can be indicative of a bigger health problem. Coat problems can also be a sign of dehydration or be as a result of a habitat that has not been properly set up, cared for or cleaned.
  • PARASITES – Like dogs and cats, small animals can get parasites, including lice, fleas, mites and even ringworm. Speak with your vet about how to spot these issues and what to do regarding small animal veterinary care for parasite problems. Treatment can be given by a professional Dartmouth emergency vet, however the pet’s habitat and all accessories just be cleaned properly and kept clean to prevent the parasites from coming back.
  • NUTRITION – Many pet owners just buy a bag of “small animal food” with a picture of the pet that they have on the package and think that is enough. However, many small animals require additional fresh foods and treats to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. For example, guinea pigs require a steady Vitamin C intake and must have fresh fruits and vegetables to provide balanced nutrition. Signs of poor nutrition include loss of weight, difficulty in moving, loss of appetite, excessive sleep, lethargy and unsteady movement.
  • RESPIRATORY CONDITIONS – Small animals are much more likely to develop respiratory infections than larger animals. Part of the reason for this is the type of bedding that is typically used in their habitats. Pine or cedar bedding can be an irritant, putting off chemicals, fumes and dust. Other types of bedding can also be dangerous, causing your pet to sneeze, have breathing problems, experience secretions from the eyes and nose or even develop more serious issues. If your pet has any of these symptoms, contact your vet for veterinary care in Massachusetts.
  • SKIN ISSUES – The most common thing that affects your pet’s skin, making it feel itchy, scratchy and dry, is an irritation due to bedding materials or an allergic reaction to food or environmental issues. Parasites can also cause skin problems. If you think your pet has allergies, try changing the bedding and remove any new foods or treats to see if the issue goes away on its own. If it does not, contact your vet right away.
  • WET TAIL – Anyone who has ever owned a hamster or other type of small animal knows something about wet tail. This condition is what most small pet owners are warned about by other small pet owners and is the condition that most often affects small animals the most. It is brought about by consistent diarrhea, which can come from an unclean habitat. Small children who are charged with “cleaning the cage” without proper instruction will often neglect cleaning or do a poor job, leading to bacterial infections that can lead to a small pet’s demise. If your small pet has wet tail, make sure that he is drinking enough water to ensure he doesn’t dehydrate and speak with your Dartmouth emergency vet about possible treatments.

Veterinary Care in Massachusetts for Small Animals

Anchor Animal Hospital, a local Dartmouth emergency vet hospital, provides small animal veterinary care, as well as care for cats, dogs and other common domesticated pets. Anchor accepts Care Credit for animals, a credit line that is often used to cover emergency vet bills, surgeries, treatments and other associated veterinary costs. To find out more about Care Credit for animals or to schedule an appointment for your small pet to receive veterinary care in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, contact our team of friendly and helpful office staff.