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Small Mammals + Medical Conditions

  • Rabbits and guinea pigs commonly present symptoms related to the urinary system. At home, the owner may notice urine collecting in the hair on the inside of the rear legs, a more pungent smell to the urine, the pet straining to urinate, or hematuria (bloody urine). After a proper physical exam and a thorough palpation of the urinary bladder, the veterinarian may identify bladder stones (a firm, oval hard mass in the bladder) or "bladder sludge" in rabbits (a bladder filled with a grainy, sand-like material). X-rays of the abdomen allow the veterinarian to identify the type of bladder disease and/or the number of stones.

  • Chinchillas are generally hardy animals but can have several unique problems; understanding them will help you care for your pet and manage potential health problems.

  • Chinchillas are generally hardy animals but are susceptible to several unique health conditions; understanding them will help you care for your pet and manage potential health problems. This handout describes the most common conditions seen in pet chinchillas.

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Current evidence suggests that person-to-person spread is the main source of infection. While there is evidence of transmission from humans to dogs and cats, it does not appear to be a common event at this time. If you suspect that you are ill with COVID-19, you should practice the same precautions with your pet as you would with people: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and avoid cuddling and other close contact. If your pet needs veterinary care while you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to your veterinary clinic yourself.

  • Rabbits have incisors plus molars in the back of the mouth for grinding and chewing. Rabbits also have two small, tube-shaped incisors (peg teeth) behind the large upper incisors. Since the teeth continuously grow, the upper teeth must meet the lower teeth to allow for proper wearing of tooth surfaces, preventing overgrowth. All teeth must meet and wear at the same rate as they are growing, or improper tooth wear and overgrowth of the incisors and/or molars can occur. Overgrown teeth can cause many problems and lead to pain and infection. Rabbits with chronic dental problems need regular veterinary care. Feeding rabbits a diet of mainly high-fiber hay to promote chewing and teeth wear may help reduce the development of dental problems.

  • Common conditions of pet ferrets include diarrhea, intestinal foreign bodies, parasites, heart disease, and various tumors. This handout outlines the causes, clinical signs, and treatment options for each of these conditions. Any variation from normal should be a cause for concern and should be immediately evaluated by your veterinarian.

  • Common conditions of pet rabbits include upper respiratory tract infections, internal and external parasites, dental disease, E. cuniculi infection, gastrointestinal stasis, uterine problems, and pododermatitis (sore hocks). This article discusses causes, signs, and treatments for these conditions. Regular yearly check-ups enable an early diagnosis and treatment of some rabbit diseases. Whenever a rabbit stops eating, for whatever reason, it is important to take them to see your veterinarian immediately for an evaluation.

  • Common conditions of pet rodents include respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal problems, dental problems, and cancer. Diseases of the skin may cause itching, hair loss or flaky skin in rodents. All rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. Occasionally, these teeth grow too long and cut into the gums, causing pain when eating. Cancer is often seen in pet rodents, especially mammary (breast) tumors in rats and mice. Rodents with signs of respiratory or GI disease or evidence of a tumor should be seen by a veterinarian who can properly diagnose and treat the underlying condition.

  • The ear mite is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. Mites are barely visible to the naked eye. Clinical signs of infestation vary in severity and may include ear irritation, leading to scratching at the ears or head shaking, dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear, areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma, a crusted rash around or in the ear, and an aural hematoma. Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet to ensure that the mites have been eliminated after the initial treatment has been performed.

  • There are several common diseases or conditions that may affect the pet ferret. Like dogs, ferrets may get heartworms, distemper virus, heat stroke and a variety of cancerous conditions. Yearly veterinary health examinations are recommended to assess the presence or absence of any of the diseases listed above.

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