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Acacia in Escondido Provides Pocket Pet Health Care

pocket pets

Hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, and guinea pigs are often called pocket pets: little, adorable, and not too pricey to buy and keep. They are often thought of as “carefree starter pets” for young children. However, these tiny companions require as much attention and care as other animals and have specific diet, housing, and handling requirements. Some of the species can be quite nippy if not handled properly.

Veterinary Pocket Pet Care

We recommend every pocket pet visit the veterinarian annually for a checkup. They do not typically require vaccines but they should be weighed and examined for signs of any health problems. Since most small pets live only about two to eight years, they age at a rapid rate. What appears to be a minor illness can blossom into a life-threatening condition overnight, making regular health care very important.

Our veterinarians will advise you about the proper feed and treats for your type of pocket pet. Obesity is a common problem for these tiny companions because owners feed too much human food or processed sugary treats. We are pleased to help you create an appropriate dietary plan for your tiny friend, one that offers variety as well as nutritional value.

Housing for Small Mammals

The most significant purchase for a pocket pet is a safe, comfortable enclosure. The correct size cage will depend on the type of pet and the number of animals sharing space. In all cases, the pet should be able to exercise, sleep, and move about freely with plenty of room for food and water containers.

A safe pet enclosure should be free of sharp edges or holes and be secure against other animals. A ventilated location away from drafts or direct sunlight is important. Some enclosures are made out of glass or hard plastic, making it easy to view your pet. Stainless steel is a good choice, too, but steer clear of mesh floors that can be hard on little feet. Solid floors, even those with removable trays, are best and make regular cleaning simple. Wood is not recommended for pet enclosures as it is difficult to clean and can be chewed.

A small box or tube where your pet can hide helps these animals feel secure. Purchase boxes, tubes, tunnels, wheels, and other accessories from a reputable pet store, so you can be certain they are non-toxic and safe.

Bedding choices vary: Our veterinarians do not recommend any shavings as bedding. We recommend bedding such as Care Fresh or other recycled bedding material. Bedding should be non-toxic, inedible, dust free, soft, absorbent, and capable of being formed into nests or tunnels. Avoid shredded newspaper due to high levels of printers’ ink and other chemicals. However, shredded computer paper is acceptable. The soiled parts of the bedding should be changed daily and the entire enclosure should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week.

To ensure optimal health of your pocket pet, schedule a wellness visit at Acacia today.

Following are a variety of resources for pocket pet owners:

Mice & Rats

Mice and rats have a shorter life span—two to three years. They have Harderian glands around the eyes that cause tears and nasal secretions to sometimes appear red.

Average life span is two to five years. Hamsters have a cheek pouch on each side of the inside of the mouth. Food and often their babies are temporarily stored in here. Hamsters are the most aggressive of all the pocket pets and often bite. You might consider a different species for small children. A sleeping hamster should be awakened carefully.

Average life span is two to five years. Since gerbils are desert animals, they have a very low water requirement. Due to this low water intake, gerbils urinate small amounts. They usually mate for life and should be paired before sexual maturity. Many gerbils exhibit mild spontaneous seizures (epilepsy), especially when startled. These usually don’t require treatment. Gerbils are illegal in California.

Guinea Pigs
Average life span is five to six years. They are usually very sweet creatures and make great pets if they are handled properly. Guinea pigs require vitamin C. Like humans, they cannot produce their own vitamin C, but require it in their diet. Vitamin C can be found in fruits, such as oranges, and green vegetables, such as kale or broccoli.

Female guinea pigs’ pelvic bones become more tightly fused at about six to eight months of age. If they become pregnant for the first time after that age, they can have a very difficult, if not impossible, birth.

Following are resources for guinea pig owners:

The chinchilla is a rodent related to the guinea pig. They are a nocturnal animal and more active at night, sleeping during the day. Their average life span is about 10 years. They have beautiful, soft fur that will shed if the pet is handled too roughly or grasped too tightly.

Following are resources for chinchilla owners: