Educational Articles

Small Mammals + Care & Wellness

  • COVID-19 is a human respiratory disease that was initially discovered late in 2019. This disease is caused by a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that has not previously been identified in humans. Physical distancing, or social distancing, is one of the most effective strategies available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While physical distancing, walking your dog is fine as long as you are feeling well and can remain at least 6 feet away from other people. If you have cats, find new ways to play with them indoors. Many veterinary clinics are adjusting their policies to reflect physical distancing guidance related to COVID-19. If your pet needs veterinary care (or if you need to pick up medication, a prescription diet, etc.), call your veterinary hospital first to determine how to proceed.

  • In the wild, prairie dogs tend to eat grasses, plants, and leaves. As captive pets, it is essential to feed a diet that approximates what they eat in the wild in order to prevent dietary-related diseases such as obesity, malnutrition, and gastrointestinal disorders, which are among the more common health disorders in captive prairie dogs.

  • Prairie dogs should be housed in as large a cage as is possible, as they require room to move around and explore. The biggest cage you can afford is probably too small! Space should be allowed for exercise.

  • Prairie dogs (most often black-tailed prairie dogs) are becoming popular as pets. Like all rodents, they have teeth that continually grow throughout life. They are active, playful and sturdy rodents and can make wonderful, affectionate pets if purchased young, socialized properly and given lots of attention.

  • Telemedicine is the act of practicing medicine from a distance and your appointment will be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Before your appointment, gather information on your pet’s history and your current concern. Look at a calendar and write down a timeline of your pet’s problems. Be prepared to answer questions that you would normally be asked at an in-person appointment. Write notes to help you remember everything. Most telemedicine appointments involve the use of some type of video chat. Conduct your visit in a quiet area with good lighting and have your pet with you before the call starts. Not all concerns can be addressed through telemedicine. If your veterinarian is unable to arrive at a diagnosis via telemedicine, he or she can help you determine the next step for your pet to ensure that he or she receives optimal care.

  • Winter cold weather poses a number of risks for our pets. Antifreeze commonly used in winter is extremely toxic if ingested. Cold damp weather can be very harmful so dogs should ideally be kept inside most of the time during the winter. If this is not possible, dogs need a raised shelter large enough to be comfortable but small enough to retain heat. Extra calories are needed for outdoor dogs to keep warm. Paws can be affected by frostbite, as well as ice or damaging ice melt compounds. Feet should be checked and wiped after being outside. Rabbits should be maintained at constant temperatures as they are not able to handle the differences between indoor and outdoor temperatures in winter.

  • Rabbits can make wonderful pets, but it's important to make informed choices about having a bunny in your home. Rabbits have special characteristics and needs that are important to understand before opening your home to one.

  • Pet rodents, sometimes also referred to as pocket pets are very popular pets. Hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils, and guinea pigs are the most common rodents kept as pets. They make good first pets for young children and as a rule require minimal care.

  • An ovariohysterectomy is often referred to as a spay or spaying. It is a surgical procedure in which the ovaries and uterus are removed completely to sterilize or render a female animal infertile. Some veterinarians will perform an ovariectomy on rats, in which just the ovaries are removed. Spaying significantly minimizes the risk of ovarian, uterine, breast, and pituitary gland cancers in rats. Ideally, most rats are spayed between four and six months of age. Your veterinarian may recommend pre-surgical blood tests before surgery. In general, complications are rare with this surgery. However, as with any anesthetic or surgical procedure, in any species, there is always a small risk associated with being anesthetized. Most rats will experience no adverse effects following spaying, and in general, spaying is recommended for all healthy, young rats to prevent future health problems.

  • Sugar gliders are omnivorous in the wild. In the wild they eat the sap and gum of the eucalyptus and acacia tree plus pollen, nectar, manna (a sugar deposit from the sap oozing from wounds on tree branches or trunks), honeydew (sugar secreted by sap-sucking insects) and a wide variety of insects and spiders. Fruit is not a big part of their diet.