Vet Blog

5 Tips to Pocket Pet Care

December 13, 2018

Pocket pets may often be considered exotic, but they are becoming increasingly common amongst U.S. households, particularly among those individuals and families who simply don't have the space to accommodate a cat or dog.

There are plenty of other reasons why pocket pets make such good pets, from their own individual characters and traits to the fact that they can be contained in their own little habitat.

There are many different types of pocket pet to choose from, including:

  • Guinea pigs
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Gerbils
  • Hamsters
  • Hedgehogs
  • Chinchillas
  • Sugar gliders

Rabbits are also sometimes considered to be pocket pets despite the fact that they can grow quite large

However, since these adorable mammals are fairly different to the more standard pet choice of cats and dogs, they require special care, both from you and from a veterinarian in Columbus NC who has the training and experience in dealing with these slightly more unusual exotic pocket pets.

To help you ensure that your furry friend enjoys the very best from his life, here are our top 5 tips for pocket pet care.

  1. Make sure your pocket pet gets the right nutrition

    Nutrition is just as important for your pocket pet as it is for a larger animal, and exactly what your little furbaby needs to eat will depend on his species and any special dietary requirements. A single food alone will not fulfil your exotic pocket pet's nutritional needs. For example, while rabbits should be fed high quality pellets and hay, they can also benefit from crunchy vegetables on a daily basis. Your vet will be able to advise you what your furry friend should be eating and in what quantities so make sure that you heed their recommendations.
  2. Get his habitat right

    Your pocket pet is only going to be comfortable and happy if the environment in which he is living is right for him. Most require some sort of cage, but make sure you place it in a suitable location in your home or yard. Most should be kept out of direct sunlight, and away from draughts or cold areas of the home. Make sure that he has easy access to his food and water, and somewhere comfortable to sleep. Don't forget that it is crucial that you keep his cage clean if he is to be healthy, so make sure you set yourself a cleaning schedule that you can stick to.
  3. Disease prevention should still be a priority

    While you probably won't take your pocket pet out of your home unless you they are visiting the vet or placing them in a boarding facility while you are away, there is still a small chance that he could contract an infectious illness or parasitic infection. External parasites such as lice, fleas and mites, and internal parasites like giardia, can affect exotic pocket pets too. Fortunately, there are a variety of preventatives available and your vet will be able to recommend which is the most suitable for your adorable animal. Your vet will also be able to set up a regular schedule of preventative care that will ensure that your pet remains protected against as many potential diseases as possible.
  4. Don't forget to get your pocket pet spayed/neutered

    Virtually everyone has heard the phrase 'breeding like rabbits', but it isn't just the reproduction of bunnies you need to concern yourself with. All pocket pets are capable of producing offspring and since they have a short life span, the age at which they reach sexual maturity is probably much sooner than you expect. For example, hamsters can start to reproduce from just 6 weeks old! Unless you want to have an entire population of pocket pets on your hand, if you are planning on keeping more than one, we strongly recommend that you get your little furbaby spayed/neutered as soon as you are able. Not only will this prevent unwanted pregnancy, but it could also help protect your exotic pet from developing health problems associated with their reproductive organs.
  5. Don't underestimate the importance of wellness appointments

    A surprising number of owners think that the only time you should take your pet to see your veterinarian is when they are exhibiting signs that they are unwell. In fact, your animal doctor can play a crucial role in preventing your pet from becoming sick in the first place through what are known as wellness checks or appointments. These are regularly scheduled visits during which your vet undertakes a total assessment of your animal's health, including physical examination, blood, urine and fecal testing and more. By tracking these results, your vet can often determine if any health problem is developing that requires further investigation or treatment. Prompt action can severely improve the outcome for your furbaby, and this is true for all domestic animals including your pocket pet.

If you would like more advice and support on the best way to look after pocket pets, our dedicated veterinary team in Columbus, NC would be happy to help. Please give us a call at 828-970-1780 to schedule an appointment.