Exotic animal medicine is one of the fastest growing fields in
the veterinary profession. We now better understand the diseases
these pets get and the clinical signs they develop when sick. Although
our knowledge base is continuously growing, there is still much
we don't know and diseases we don't fully understand enough to treat
successfully. Because of this, much of exotic animal medicine is
preventative medicine - trying to prevent the most common problems
these pets develop by avoiding exposure to disease and supplying
proper nutrition and husbandry. Many problems, when detected early,
are easy to treat and control. This brings up another important
fact - many exotic pets have the ability to hide their illness.
Probably a protective mechanism- a wild animal noticed sick would
quickly be killed by a predator. Many exotic pets can appear to
be healthy until the end stage of a problem when recovery is unlikely
and most animals succumb to their disease.
Preventative medicine includes proper nutrition, husbandry and
trying to learn as much as possible about a species common diseases
and problems. In this way we can avoid nutritional and environmental
diseases (which are extremely common) and avoid common infectious
diseases. Of course, we must also try to begin with a healthy pet.
A physical exam by a qualified veterinarian is very important. This
should include taking a weight on the animal so weight gains and
losses can be monitored. Both subjective and objective findings
on examination of various body systems hopefully will confirm a
healthy pet from the start. The time should also be taken to review
proper care, nutrition and basic needs. Sometimes a physical exam
will not detect "hidden" problems and other ancillary tests may
be recommended for a full evaluation of the patient. These tests
are usually different depending on the type of pet. Let's briefly
review some species.
Mice, Rats, Gerbils and Hamsters