Every pet, no matter how unusual, deserves high quality veterinary care. We follow that philosophy at Loving Family Animal Hospital, and are proud to offer gold-standard veterinary services to not only cats and dogs, but also more unique pets. Several of our veterinarians have a special interest in exotic pet care, which has allowed us to expand our services to a wide range of interesting creatures. If you’re considering adding an exotic pet to your menagerie, or you’ve already welcomed a new companion to your home, your exotic pet is in excellent hands with our team.
What exotic species do we care for?
Here at Loving Family Animal Hospital, you will see almost every type of feathered, furred, scaly, or slimy pet in our lobby, except for large farm animals, such as horses and cows. In addition to the typical cats and dogs, we see a wide variety of unusual pets, including small hobby farm animals. Some of the unique creatures we provide veterinary care for include:
- Tortoises and turtles
- Guinea pigs and hamsters
- Rats and mice
- Pot-bellied pigs
If your pet did not make this interesting list, give us a call to see if we can also provide gold-standard veterinary care for your companion.
What is essential for a happy, healthy, exotic pet?
You may wonder whether exotic pet care is different from companion animal pet care. Although providing for a snake is vastly different than caring for a dog, the basics are the same—food, water, and shelter. Research and preparation are vital, to ensure you keep your new exotic pet in great condition. When choosing your exotic pet, consider your lifestyle, and ability to provide proper care. The following items are essential for exotic pets, to maintain good health and well-being:
- Diet and nutrition
- Knowing normal and abnormal behaviors
- Environmental enrichment
- Socialization and interaction
- Proper temperature and humidity levels
- Adequate enclosure size
- Wellness and preventive care
Exotic pets most commonly fall ill because of an improper diet. For example, guinea pigs are like people, and cannot make their own vitamin C, so they must receive supplements, or they can develop scurvy. Diet is also a frequent problem with reptiles, who require a calcium supplement dusted on their prey foods, or calcium-rich leafy greens—depending on the species—or they may suffer from metabolic bone disease, which can cause a deformed shell in tortoises and turtles, and skeletal issues in other species. After researching your potential exotic pet’s dietary needs, ensure you can handle feeding your new pet, such as fresh-frozen mice to a snake. Without proper nutrition, your new exotic pet will suffer from many ailments that can be challenging to correct.
How do I choose a healthy exotic pet?
After you have studied up on your favorite exotic pet, you’re ready to start shopping. Some of the best places to purchase quality, healthy, well-cared for pets—especially reptiles—are exotic pet expos, or through online breeders. Unfortunately, pet stores are often staffed by employees with sub-par knowledge of the general husbandry an exotic pet requires to be happy and healthy, and the animals they sell can be sick. In addition to ensuring you purchase a healthy pet, breeders found online or at expos are an excellent resource for information on caring for your new pet. By developing a relationship with your exotic pet’s breeder, you always have a reliable source to answer your husbandry or behavior questions.
When searching for your new exotic pet, look carefully for signs of health, avoiding sick or injured pets. Ensure you check the following criteria before you purchase:
- Are the pet’s eyes bright, clear, and free of discharge?
- Does the pet demonstrate abnormal respiratory sounds, such as wheezing, gurgling, coughing, or sneezing?
- Is there any discharge from the pet’s nostrils?
- Can you detect any foul odor?
- Is the pet in good body condition—not too skinny or overweight?
- Is the pet’s vent or anus crusted with feces?
- Can you spot abnormal urine, feces, or droppings in the enclosure?
- Does the enclosure appear clean and well-kept, with proper diet, enrichment, substrate, and housing available?
Researching healthy pets of your chosen exotic species before you buy will help you spot any illness. However, exotic pets are more skilled than cats and dogs at hiding illness or disease, so a comprehensive veterinary physical exam and check-up is essential for your new pet’s health after welcoming them home.
Exotic pets can make wonderful companions, provided you aren’t squeamish about providing a prey-based diet to your reptile, darting out of your flying friend’s path, or handling your small rodent pal. If the unique and unusual sound perfect for you, discuss your exotic-pet options with our veterinarians. Once you’ve selected the best fit for your lifestyle, schedule a wellness appointment for your delightful new pet. We can’t wait to meet your unique companion!