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Small Mammals

  • Generally speaking, chinchillas are fairly hardy animals. However, they do have several unique problems, and understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems. These include fur slip, antibiotic sensitivity, teeth problems, heat stroke, skin problems, and dust bathing for normal grooming.

  • Common conditions of pet chinchillas include bite wounds, respiratory diseases, overgrown and impacted teeth, gastrointestinal stasis, bloat, diarrhea, skin problems, and heat stroke. Any deviation of your chinchilla's behavior from normal should be a cause for concern and requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

  • The cage should allow the chinchilla to move around a lot, as they are very active, agile, and acrobatic animals. Multilevel cages, similar to those designed for ferrets, work well, as long as there are no areas where a chinchilla could get its limbs or feet caught. Most owners house one or two pets in a cage; often the two pets are mates. Chinchillas require a dust bath for normal grooming. Cages should be emptied and cleaned at least weekly with soap and water.

  • Chlorpheniramine maleate is given by mouth and is used off label to treat allergic conditions or as a mild sedative. Common side effects include sleepiness, although other side effects are possible. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it or other similar antihistamines, or pets that are undergoing allergy testing within 2 weeks. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Cisapride is used off label and is given by mouth to treat gastrointestinal motility disorders in cats, dogs, and small mammals. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it or in pets with conditions that would be made worse by increased intestinal movement. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Clarithromycin is given by mouth and is used off label to treat certain bacterial infections in several animal species. Side effects include diarrhea, vomiting, appetite changes, stomach pain/cramps, or skin redness in cats. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it or other macrolide antibiotics, in rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, or horses greater than 4 months old. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Coccidial organisms, including Eimeria, are parasites that can infect rabbits, especially young and recently weaned rabbits. These host-specific organisms live in rabbit intestines and can infect the liver. Healthy, mature rabbits housed in good environments may only be transiently affected, while young, immunocompromised rabbits kept in poor environmental conditions may succumb to infection and die. Many rabbits that have this disease do not show any or signs, but if they do, they may have infrequent or intermittent watery, mucousy, or possibly blood-tinged diarrhea. Diagnosis involves examining a fecal smear under a microscope or performing a fecal float test. If your rabbit's diarrhea progresses to moderate to severe in intensity, your veterinarian will hospitalize your rabbit to provide supportive care until it is well enough to go home.

  • The complete blood count (CBC) assesses different parameters of the cells in the blood including total number, appearance, size, and shape. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets comprise the cellular component of the blood. Changes in the red blood cells can affect oxygen delivery from the lungs to the blood. Changes in the white blood cells can indicate infection, inflammation, and cancer. Platelets are needed for adequate blood clotting so decreased numbers can raise concern for spontaneous bleeding.

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Current evidence suggests that person-to-person spread is the main source of infection. While there is evidence of transmission from humans to dogs and cats, it does not appear to be a common event at this time. If you suspect that you are ill with COVID-19, you should practice the same precautions with your pet as you would with people: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and avoid cuddling and other close contact. If your pet needs veterinary care while you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to your veterinary clinic yourself.

  • This handout discusses the use of cryosurgery in pets. This technique involves the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissues. A short discussion in included as to how the technique is used, and in what circumstances it may be appropriate to use.

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Pet Health Library

Royal City Paws Pet Centre is pleased to provide a library of professionally written articles updated by practice experts.