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South Coast Storms: Winter Tips for Small Pets Care & Safety

small-pet-careAs the backlash from this year’s hurricanes begin to literally flood across the east coast, we are reminded that Old Man Winter is not far away from his annual visit to New England. For pet owners in the South Coast region, it is important to plan ahead for the cold and wet season that will soon be upon us. Before you know it, inclement weather will be here, bringing extremely low temperatures, freezing rains, frosts and ultimately, snow and ice.

Taking care of small pets, such as hamsters, Guinea pigs, birds and reptiles, requires a lot of attention to detail. Ensuring that these pets, many of which are exotic and from more temperate regions, have the right type of habitat, temperature, lighting and food, can be a full time job. Each pet is different, even within the same type and kind, so it is important to learn all you can about the specific species that you have, either from an educational resource or from visiting your South Coast veterinarian.

Vet Visits for Small Pets
When most people think about bringing a pet to the veterinarian, they usually think about cats and dogs. However, part of providing the proper hamster, bird, lizard or Guinea pig care and feeding is to bring them in for a regular check-up. Your local vet clinic can provide you with all of the local winter tips for small pets that you will need to keep your pet safe and healthy this winter season. From basic winter care for reptiles, birds and rodents to more advanced tips and treatments that will help to prevent common issues, Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, Massachusetts can help.

In addition to visits with your local South Coast veterinarian, make sure to also:

  • Keep Your Pets Warm – Small pets and pets that cannot produce their own heat, such as lizards and other reptiles or amphibians, require heat to remain healthy and alive. If you keep birds, the temperature in their cage area should be in the mid-50s or higher, depending on the size of the bird and the type. Birds, as well as other small mammals, can go into a state of shock, lethargy or depression, which can cause them to stop eating and become ill. Cold-blooded animals need to maintain a specific range of temperature in order to prevent hybernation and possible death, especially if the temperatures drop well below their optimum range. Speak with your veterinarian about winter care for reptiles to ensure that they stay warm even when the coldest storms hit the region. Make sure to have a back-up plan in case the power goes out to help keep your pets warm.
  • Prevent Distress – One of the most important things to know as a pet owner is how to avoid stressing out your pet. Popular winter tips for small pets can include making sure that your pet has enough exposure to light throughout the day to keep their daytime or nighttime clock running as it should. Birds and small mammals who are used to predictable periods of light can hurt themselves when they get stressed out, flapping wings, running into the walls of cages – just trying to get out to where they will feel more comfortable. During the winter time when the power can go out frequently, make sure to have a light source available for your small pet. Part of Guinea pig care and feeding is making sure your pet stays calm. One way to do this is to keep a battery-powered lantern or flashlight near your pet’s enclosure to provide them with light in case they get scared in the dark.
  • Provide Fresh Water – No matter what time of year, make sure to always provide fresh water to your pets. Many of the smaller or exotic pets that are popular require a lot of water due to their quick metabolism and small bodies, making them very susceptible to becoming dehydrated in a short amount of time. Keep a bottle of fresh water near your pet’s enclosure so you can keep their bowl or water bottle filled up with clean water – even if your pipe’s freeze or the water gets shut off during extreme weather conditions. Always keep an eye on how much water your pet is consuming on a daily basis, as increased water intake can be a sign of distress or illness.
  • Make Sure They Eat – When pets are stressed, they often lose their appetite or refrain from eating all together. Sometimes giving them a special food or treat that they really enjoy can spark their appetite and get them to eat their regular healthy foods. Just like other animals and humans, when pets encounter cold temperatures or stressful situations, they expend extra calories just trying to stay warm and alert to what’s going on around them. Many exotic pets have high metabolisms and need extra calories on a regular basis to stay healthy, so they require even more when conditions aren’t ideal. Speak with your veterinarian about winter care for reptiles, winter tips for small pets and even rodent or Guinea pig care and feeding formulas and options that can help keep your pet healthy and safe.

Contact Your South Coast Veterinarian
Your best bet is to contact your local vet at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and schedule an appointment to cover all the bases for winter care for reptiles, rodents, exotic pets, pocket pets, birds and other animals that may require additional support during the cold and stormy season here in New England. Call Anchor at 508-996-3731 to request a check-up or to speak with one of our highly trained veterinary staff members.