Health & Care > Pet care, safety and insurance > Health Check for Getting a Pocket Pet

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01/11/2011 09:09:43 AM by Thespoilingone   Send Message to Thespoilingone  1295  views, category: Pet care, safety and insurance view all blogs


This is the 3rd installment in the Getting a Pocket Pet series. The previous posts went over questions to ask yourself to make sure a pocket pet is what you want and the other went over options of where to get a pocket pet. This last installment goes over a checklist of things to look for to make sure your pet to be is health and has a good temperament.

1 Are the eyes bright and clear? A dull look to the eyes could be a sign of illness. Discharge from the eyes can indicate lack of health too.

2 Is the coat shiny and clean. Most pocket pets are very clean animals. If they do not look clean then it could be from lack of health or that the place you are getting a pet from does not keep cages clean enough.

3  Is the skin healthy and free of parasites?  Are they scratching? Many pocket pets can be prone to mites. Mites are like tiny fleas/lice that can infest the coat/skin. They should not be scratching obsessively and if hairless should not have visible parasites and or wounds. (more on special care for hairless pets in a future blog)

4 Is the animal behaving normally? If you have done your homework prior to purchase to make sure you are getting the perfect breed for you, then you should have a little idea of how they are.  Some things to look for that may not seem obvious.
      --Flipping, Stargazing or other odd repetitive acts. While they may seem humorous they are signs of genetic issues. I have seen several 'funny video' clips of hamsters that will jump on their dish and back flip and do it over and over. Things like this while they may look cute are signs of genetic problems. Most times they are due to poor breeding/ excessive inbreeding. These pets may have a shorter life span or other health issues pop up more often.

5 Is the animal the right weight? You may not know what they should weigh or have a scale to take with...I would think most would not, but when you look at the pet you are thinking of getting, do you clearly see ribs/ spine or does it look fatter than others in the place you are purchasing? Too thin or too heavy can be signs of illness or poor care. They should be a nice in between those 2 extremes.

6 Make sure to check under the tail for signs of diarrhea. May sound like an odd thing to do, but your pets hind quarters should look clean. If there are signs of dried feces it could be a sign that they have been kept in poorly cleaned cages. If the rear area is Wet that is a big sign of illness. Diarrhea in humans is not fun, in a very small pet can be fatal.  The most common 'illness' that pocket pets can get is mainly seen in hamsters. It is called Wettail and basically is a chronic diarrhea and is contagious so if One in a pen/cage has it all the others in that pen or close by that may have had contact would have been exposed.
    Later blogs I will go into some natural remedies to help with things like this illness.

7 Check the mouth, eyes, ears, nose and genital area for discharge. This goes along with #6 and #1. An animal that seems to have a runny discharge anywhere can be ill. Sneezing can also be a big clue but I have also known some small pets to have allergies just like humans get. This can be remedied by using better bedding and such. Sneezing with runny nose and or eyes is more of a sign of illness.

8 Are the Teeth (incisors) properly aligned?  Most of the small pets have larger front teeth or sharper canines (like a cat or dog). They should not be broken or misaligned. Broken, uneven or over grown teeth can make eating for the animal very difficult and could even mean they would need vet assistant to have teeth fixed if that is even possible.

9 Check for sores on the feet. Small pets kept in cages with wire mesh on the bottom or unclean cages can develop sores on the feet. This can lead to other illness. You will also want to check the toenails. Are the over grown or broken? In most cases this is not a big issue. There are tricks to filing them but a broken one if has signs it was bleeding or inflammation can be bad.

10 Here is a biggie. Is the animal pregnant? Some petstores, pet shows vendors, flea market vendors and even a new /inexperienced breeder can keep groups of animals together without separating the genders. Some small pets like Ferrets are tattooed to show they have already been altered but this is not the case with smaller pets. Some like mice and rats can have a dozen or more babies. A pregnant pocket pet can be very snippy and grouchy.
      If while going over item #5 you noticed the animal was heavier than others, ask if they keep the sexes separate and then ask them to Show you the difference. If they can not do this, then it is possible they were not able to keep them separate.

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