When it comes to health care, pets aren’t all that different from their human caregivers. Checkups, vaccines and a single quick visit to the doctor can go a long way in improving both longevity and quality of life. The difference between humans and pets, however, is that most animals have a harder time expressing their needs. Your turtle can’t very well complain of a headache any more than your parrot can tell you that they have an itch.
With exotic pets, preventative care is that much more important, because by the time you know your pet is feeling sick, they may be quite ill.
What do lizards, guinea pigs, rabbits and cockatiels have in common?
Annual checkups are critical for exotic pets. Even more so than traditional pets like cats or dogs, reptiles, small mammals and avian pets will not always show they’re in pain or feeling under the weather. While masking illness and injury may help these animals survive in the wild, the same tendency means that by the time a caregiver sees a sign of illness or injury, it may be too late. Annual physicals can help detect illness early and, in many cases, save lives.
Want to stay on top of your pet’s health and wellness? We checked in with the docs here to ask how families can keep exotics healthy and give their pets the best chance for a long, healthy and pain-free life.
Here are the top 4 recommendations from the exotic pet veterinarians at LIBEVC:
Schedule an annual exam. Yearly checkups give vets a good reference point on your pet in case they do ever fall ill. They also give the doctor a chance to check for early signs of illness. Is your pet due for a visit? Schedule an appointment here.
Provide the right diet, environment and stimulation. Exotic pets need specific foods, habitat and enrichment. When you see your pet’s veterinarian, be sure to ask them and the staff about the specific needs of your species of pet. You want what’s best for your pet, but you may learn that you’re not providing them with the optimal food or enclosure. This can cause discomfort, injury or illness. (If you need help knowing what to feed your pet or how to best entertain them, be sure to check out our extensive pet care guides.)
Look out for unusual behaviors. If your pet’s behavior changes suddenly, you definitely want to let your vet know. This can be a sign of illness. For example, if your pet rabbit or guinea pig has a decreased or no appetite and does not appear to be using the bathroom, this could be a sign of a blockage or GI stasis, both of which require veterinary care. If your pet bird is spending more time at the bottom of their cage or appears fluffed up and lethargic, this is a common sign of illness and they should be seen by your avian doctor.
Help your pet feel comfortable at the vet. Taking your exotic to the vet each year can help them get used to seeing a vet, being in an unfamiliar setting or handled by new people. That way if they do get sick, they’re less likely to feel stressed by the trip to the vet.
As an exotic pet owner, you’re part of a very special group of people who has chosen to care for an unusual pet and honestly - we think that’s pretty cool! To help give your pet the longest, healthiest and happiest life possible, we recommend taking them to the vet once a year.
Is your pet overdue for a visit? Schedule an appointment.