Monthly Archives June 2011

Why does my exotic pet need regular veterinary check-ups?

Has this happened to you? You go along your daily routine for a long time feeling perfectly fine and then all of a sudden – you don’t feel so well. You wait a few days, hoping you’ll feel better. Pretty soon, you’re feeling even worse. Now you have to go to the doctor, because nothing you do at home helps. Now it’s a big deal; maybe you’re a little frightened – you haven’t been to the doctor for quite a while. What if it’s something really serious? At the end of the day, you realize that this could all have been avoided if you had scheduled that annual physical exam you kept putting off because you felt so well for so long.

Now, think about your exotic pet. How long has it been since he/she has been to the vet? Has he/she been eating the right diet? Is his/her home appropriate for him/her? Are you using the correct bedding? Does he/she have enough stimulation to keep him/her happy and occupied? Or has he/she been slowing down, pacing in his cage, or even worse, not as responsive as you remember?

It may seem that these helpless creatures get sick very quickly, but general husbandry and day- to-day care play a large part in the quality of their health. Unlike dogs and cats who adapt to our homes, our exotic pets require that we create an appropriate environment for them to live in, provide an appropriate diet for them to eat, and offer them enough stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. What an awesome responsibility! That’s where your exotic animal veterinarian can help.

Your vet can address any concerns that you may have regarding your pet’s diet, husbandry, and overall health of your exotic pet. Your vet can answer any questions that have come up, discuss any changes you have noticed in your pet’s behavior or eating habits, and in general, be a valuable source of information regarding your pet’s physical and mental well-being.

So, don’t wait until you need an exotic animal veterinarian on an emergency basis. Establish a relationship with one when you first get your exotic pet, and help ensure your pet’s health and happiness with an annual veterinary check-up. And while you’re at it, make that appointment for yourself, too. You’ll both be better off for it.

What should I look for when I board my exotic pet?

It’s always scary leaving your pet with someone else when you go out of town. Even if it’s just for a day or two, we all worry about our exotic family members and want to be sure that they are safe and happy. So, what should you look for when checking out a boarding facility for your exotic pet? Here are some of the things we thought of when we designed the boarding area at the Veterinary Center:

 At the Center, the boarding area is far from the room where sick patients are housed. There are cameras on the cages so that Dr. Hess can even monitor them from home, after hours. The lighting and thermostats are on timers. Each pet is housed separately with dividers between cages so no 2 pets face or breathe directly on each other. There is an overhead surround sound system and a large, wall-mounted television to stimulate their senses. The hospital has a high tech security system and alarms (including motion detectors) so that pets are always safe. The staff opens the hospital at 8 am, and appointments don’t begin until 10 am, so there is plenty of time for the pets to get out and exercise and for the staff to clean their cages. Pets are fed and their cages are cleaned twice a day. While the hospital is open for appointments 6 days a week, the staff is actually present every day to make sure the boarders are well cared for. We have a form on the hospital’s website that owners can fill out in advance of their pet’s stay giving specific instructions as to what their pet eats, whether he has any specific habits we should know about, etc. We also encourage owners to bring their pet’s familiar brand of food with them, so that they feel more at home. Most importantly, every animal that boards at the Center must be examined by Dr. Hess before his or her stay and must meet the species-specific requirements for health testing before they are allowed in the boarding area. Certainly, we cannot test each pet for every disease; but completing basic health testing helps protect the health of all of our boarders. Overall, we try to make each pet’s experience as personal and enjoyable as possible, and owners tell us that when they bring their pets home, they are thriving. 

Although we make every effort to ensure the safety and comfort of your pet when they stay with us at the Center, some owners are more comfortable with their pets remaining in their own home while they go away. This is a personal preference, one that we as pet owners ourselves understand. However, when you consider leaving your beloved pet with a pet sitter, there are many factors to think about.  Here are just a few things to consider before leaving your pet at home with a sitter for an extended vacation:

         * Is the sitter familiar with your pet?

        *Are they comfortable with detecting signs of an emergency?

        *Do they have a method to transport your pet to your veterinarian if a problem should arise?

        *Is the sitter experienced with handling your pet’s species?

        *Does the sitter have references?

        *Did you leave the sitter the information about your veterinarian?

        *Did you give your veterinarian’s office advance notice that your pet will be home with a sitter?

        *Have you signed a written statement giving permission for the sitter to bring your pet to the hospital and to discuss with the hospital staff your wishes for care if they cannot reach you           in case of an emergency (i.e. what decisions do you entrust the sitter to make)?

        *Do you give permission for your veterinarian to make the proper judgement call if you cannot be contacted?

        *Have you provided your sitter with a means of paying for your pet’s veterinary care if you cannot be reached?

        *Will your pet receive adequate attention and interaction while your sitter visits your home?

        *What are your specific requirements for each visit from the sitter (i.e. feeding, time out of the cage, cleaning the cage, exercise, etc.?)

        * Is the pet sitter bonded and insured?

Although we know that your pets will be safe, secure, and happy if they stay with us at the Center while you are away, we understand that some pet owners are reluctant to remove their pets from their homes in their absence. In writing this blog, we hope we made you aware of some factors you might not have thought about when you are considering hiring a pet sitter. Choosing a pet sitter is a complicated task, and not all pet owners think ahead when they start to interview potential sitters. That is why we spent so much time planning the boarding facility at the Veterinary Center, so we can worry about the boarding, and you can be worry-free, enjoying your vacation and knowing that your pet is enjoying his, too.