The Importance of Preventative Health Care for Exotic Pets

vet tech with guinea pigImage courtesy of Pender Veterinary Centre

A vet tech in Pender Exotics taking care of a visiting guinea pig.

Although most exotic pets do not need annual vaccinations, it is still very important to have them examined regularly by an experienced exotic veterinarian. Yearly preventative health exams provide your doctor an opportunity to evaluate weight, diet, teeth, and grooming needs. It is also a good idea to establish a relationship with an exotics veterinarian so they can become familiar with you and your pet and so that you will be prepared for emergency care if the need arises.

All new pets should have an initial visit with a veterinarian. During the first visit the veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam to determine if the patient is healthy or if there are any medical concerns that should be addressed. Generally this is a good time to discuss all questions you have about diet and housing, annual medical care, grooming and spay or neuter. Your doctor may recommend testing blood work or a stool sample in order to get a baseline reading of what is normal for your pet.

After the initial visit, yearly preventative health exams are recommended. At each exam your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s overall health by examining the abdomen, heart and lungs, body weight, muscles, fur/feathers/scales, and teeth or beak. Any signs of illness or abnormalities in behavior should be discussed with the veterinarian. Often, blood and stools samples are taken on a yearly basis to check for early signs of illness like poor organ function, parasites or infection. Catching disease early is the key to providing good health care for your pet.

Since pets age much more rapidly than people, most veterinarians also recommend exams every 6 months for geriatric pets. More frequent visits can help prevent or detect conditions that may develop quickly in aging patients.

Providing proper nutrition and housing as well as routine preventative health care is the best way to ensure a long and healthy life for your pet!


If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Kelley McDonald, DVM, Chief of Staff, Pender Exotics Veterinary Centre

Dr. McDonald has professional interests in exotic medicine, emergency medicine, critical care, and senior pet care. She loves volunteering her time at local nursing homes, bringing dance and mobility back into the lives of the elderly, or watching them cuddle her therapy cats "Ki tkat" and "Hunter."

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