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Rabbits and Small Mammals

Rabbits and Small Mammals

Small mammals need some of the same routine wellness care that dogs and cats need. Do you know if your pet should be spayed or neutered? Do you know if any vaccinations are recommended to help maintain good health? Do you have questions about proper nutrition, cage cleaning, grooming, or any other aspects of care and husbandry? Our staff of skilled professionals is well trained in the care and husbandry of small mammals and can give you the information you need to keep your “pocket pet” looking and feeling great.

We can perform a physical examination, answer any questions you may have about your pet, and discuss whether any changes in diet or at-home care are recommended to help ensure the health and longevity of your pet.


Common problems in ferrets include gastrointestinal disease, parasites, and certain types of cancer. In addition, ferrets are inquisitive creatures by nature and frequently ingest objects they shouldn’t.  Please contact us if your ferret experiences weight loss, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, hair loss, or behavior changes.

While the majority of ferrets in the United States are already spayed or neutered prior to being sold (look for one or two black dots tattooed on the ear), we do see some ferrets that are intact.  In these cases, neutering or spaying may be recommended to avoid aggressive behavior or certain types of tumors.

Ferrets should be vaccinated annually against Rabies and Distemper. Our hospital carries the only FDA-approved vaccines for this purpose.

Fun fact:  It is illegal to own ferrets in the state of California.

Rodents, Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Sugar Gliders and Hedgehogs

These animals can benefit from annual examinations by a veterinarian, with special attention paid to their teeth.  These animals have teeth that grow continuously, and serious problems may arise if not properly cared for.  Our veterinarians are skilled with pocket pet dentistry and can take dental/skull x-rays, as needed, to help assess your pet’s oral health.  All of these species are also prone to tumors, especially mammary and uterine tumors in unspayed females.  For this reason, spaying your small mammal is recommended.  Neutering males may also be recommended, especially to address behavior problems, or to avoid more small mammals if housed with a female!

Rabbits and guinea pigs commonly develop uroliths (bladder stones).  You may see blood in the urine, or see your pet straining to go to the bathroom.  Bladder stones can be life-threatening, especially if they migrate to the urethra and prevent your pet from urinating.  These types of stones can easily be detected with an x-ray.  Sometimes, this problem can be managed with medical therapy.  Other times, surgery is required.

For any small mammal, loss of appetite is an important reason to bring your pet in for an examination, as an empty gut can ultimately be fatal.  Other important things to monitor are the quality and quantity of their stool, itchiness, nasal discharge and head-tilting.

Fun fact:  Rabbits and some other small mammals NEED to eat a portion of their feces to maintain the health of their gastrointestinal tract.

Veterinary medicine for exotic pets is growing as the popularity of these animals increases. When pet owners have access to the best information about nutritional and environmental management, exotic pets have a greater chance to live longer, healthier lives. If you own one of these unique pets, we encourage you to schedule a complete physical exam and consultation on proper care and feeding. Our trained staff can assist you with all of your small mammal needs. At Mt. Spokane Veterinary Hospital, in Mead,WA, we would love to help take care of your pets. Call us today at 509-516-0852, to schedule an appointment.