Although they are unlikely to replace dogs and cats as the most popular companion animals, pocket pets have solidified their place in our society (and our hearts) over the years. Although hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, (along with others such as mice and lizards) are often thought of as being easier to care for than larger pets, this is often not the case.
Pocket pet care is not a one size fits all equation. Each type of pet has its own requirements for optimal health, safety, and comfort. Before you bring home one of these sweet little guys or gals, make sure that you can provide the type of environment that will support his or her overall wellness and longevity.
Housing And Safety
Providing the proper housing for your pocket pet is one of the most important components of their care. Not only does the right environment keep your pet functioning at his or her peak, it protects them from the dangers of the outside world.
Your pet’s enclosure should be:
- Clean, dry, and warm
- Adequately ventilated
- Supplied with safe, nontoxic bedding
Depending on the species of pocket pet, lighting and humidity levels can play an important role. Health problems such as respiratory distress or digestive issues can result from inadequate housing.
By providing the proper food recommended for your species of pocket pet you will help to ensure his or her continued good health, optimal weight, and minimize allergic reactions.
Teeth And Nails
In the wild, rodents and lizards keep their teeth and nails trimmed and tidy with their daily diets and activities. Chew toys and climbing materials can help, but some pocket pets benefit from regular nail trims and teeth cleaning. Letting teeth or nails get too long or dirty can inhibit normal eating and walking patterns, and cause much discomfort for your little buddy.
Pocket Pet Care
Most pocket pets hide signs of illness and injury, so it’s always a good idea to bring them in for a yearly wellness exam. Besides detecting and treating common problems, a complete nose-to-tail exam can reveal issues such as internal and external parasites, tumors, or skin problems.
Please contact us if your pocket pet stops eating, loses weight, has any discharge from the eyes or nose, seems quieter than usual, or has any new lumps or bumps.
Let The Good Times Roll
Just because they’re small doesn’t mean pocket pets don’t need a daily dose of fun and excitement! Environmental enrichment is key to a pocket pet’s wellness, so make sure he or she has access to plenty of toys and material for burrowing, digging, climbing, or hiding.
Daily interaction with you is an important form of mental stimulation for your small pet. If you choose to let him or her roam outside of the enclosure, make sure the surrounding area is safe:
- Close windows and exit doors
- Remove cleaning chemicals, food, and anything that may be toxic
- Secure any loose cords and wires as they are a risk for pocket pets that like to chew
Please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital with your questions regarding pocket pet care, or to schedule an appointment for your little cutie!