Educational Articles

Small Mammals + Pet Services + English

  • Finasteride is given by mouth and is used off-label to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate) in intact male dogs, and may also be used for adrenal problems in ferrets. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon. Do not use it in sexually developing animals or in females, including pregnant or nursing females. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinarian.

  • Flea infestation is a common problem in pet ferrets, especially in ferrets that go outdoors or live in a house with dogs, cats, or other animals who have fleas. Affected ferrets may or may not be itchy depending on the sensitivity of the individual animal to flea bites. Early in the infestation, there may be no signs that your ferret even has fleas. Young ferrets with heavy infestations may even become anemic as the fleas feed over time. Some topical medications used to treat fleas in dogs and cats appear to be safe in ferrets but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • Fleas in hedgehogs are less commonly seen in comparison to cats and dogs but a similar treatment protocol under the direction of your veterinarian is required in order to control an infestation. This handout describes the clinical signs of fleas in hedgehogs and what to do (and what not to do) if your hedgehog is affected.

  • Rabbits can become infested with fleas, especially if they go outside or live in a house with other pets that have fleas. Rabbits with fleas may show no signs or may bite, lick, or scratch themselves. Young rabbits with heavy infestations may become anemic. There are no rabbit-specific drugs for managing fleas. Certain topical cat medications appear to be safe but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with rabbits. It is very important to treat the environment, as well as the pet.

  • Fluralaner is given by mouth or applied topically and is used to treat flea and tick infestations, and also off-label to treat certain types of mange and mites. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include stomach upset or neurologic symptoms. Do not use in pets with a history of seizures. If a negative reaction occurs, please call the veterinary office.

  • Ferrets can be affected by a variety of conditions causing problems with the stomach and intestinal tract. Certain bacteria may cause diarrhea or gastritis.┬áIntestinal foreign bodies often cause a complete blockage of the intestinal tract. Some conditions may be treated with medication while others require surgical intervention.

  • Rabbits that are not eating may have developed gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. GI stasis is typically caused by a physiologic change in bacteria. Rabbits may stop eating because they are sick with other diseases, such as dental problems or kidney disease, or when they are stressed, overheated, painful from injuries or arthritis, or uncomfortable from other gastrointestinal problems such as bacterial, viral, or parasitic intestinal infections. Some rabbits get GI upset when they are eating too much carbohydrate and not enough fiber. Supportive care treatment either in or out of the hospital will be prescribed for a rabbit with GI stasis. Prevent GI stasis by feeding your rabbit a high-fiber, hay-based diet with supplemental vegetables, a small amount of pellets and fruit. Have your rabbit checked regularly by a veterinarian who can monitor for the occurrence of other underlying diseases that may contribute to the development of GI stasis.

  • There are multiple methods of inheritance including autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and sex-linked inheritance that determine which characteristics (or phenotypes) are displayed by the offspring. There are also many polygenic traits (i.e., associated with multiple genes) as well as environmental factors that make prediction of disease or likelihood of passing disease onto offspring much more complicated.

  • Guinea pigs are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain diseases. They cannot make their own vitamin C and require supplementation or they may develop scurvy. Guinea pigs get various tumors, particularly skin and mammary tumors. Guinea pigs also get abscesses (accumulations of pus and bacteria) in lymph nodes, skin, muscles, teeth, bones, and internal organs. They are very prone to development of urinary calculi that form in the bladder, kidneys, or ureters which may become lodged, causing a life-threatening obstruction. In addition, guinea pigs often are affected by ringworm and can get fleas and lice. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair or the hair of its cage-mate. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, in which sores develop on the bottom of the feet from pressure, is common in overweight animals housed on wire-bottomed or dirty cages that abrade the feet.

  • Rabbits have unique gastrointestinal tracts and need a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate diet to help keep the normal GI bacteria fermenting their food. When they are fed a diet high in carbohydrate, administered certain types of antibiotics, or undergo a rapid diet change, they can develop life-threatening GI stasis. Rabbits with GI stasis become lethargic, dehydrated, weak, lose weight, and must be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Only rarely do rabbits develop true GI tract obstructions from ingesting foreign objects and require surgery to remove the obstruction. Rabbits are coprophagic, consuming cecotropes overnight that serve as a source of critical protein and vitamins. Rabbits that eat high calcium alfalfa-based diets or high-calcium vegetables are prone to developing bladder stones that must be removed surgically. Bunnies housed at temperatures over 80┬░F are subject to heat stroke, since they cannot sweat and should be housed inside in a cool place, or if outside, should have plenty of shade and water.