Exotics and Wellness Exams

Exotics and Wellness Exams

Featured Quote:

So it's really important for all animals to have at least an annual physical exam by a veterinarian.

Video Transcript:

Hello everyone. My name is Dr. Victoria Crabtree. I'm here at Advanced Animal Care today in Richmond. And we're just going to talk a little bit about exotic pet annual wellness exams. So I graduated from Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine earlier this year. I did a four week internship at Omaha zoo and aquarium and this is Roswell Berry. This is our bearded dragon, just one of the many pets that you'll see here at Advanced Animal Care. We also see other reptiles, amphibians, birds, . I also see small mammals like Guinea pigs, ferrets, etc. So let's just talk more about why they need an annual wellness exam.


Do exotic pets need routine wellness exams?


So it's really important for all animals to have at least an annual physical exam by a veterinarian. But for exotic pets it's really important as well. They may not get routine vaccines like some of our dogs and cats, but they do have husbandry issues that we would need to talk about when you get a new pet. Husbandry really just means how we take care of them at home, what kind of habitat they're in, what they're being fed, and what kind of enrichment they need at home. With Roswell Berry here, this is a desert dwelling animal, so they need to have a hot environment, a human environment. So that would be the sort of thing that we would talk about when you bring your new pet in.


What happens during the wellness exam?


So during the wellness exam, I'm going to have you bring in pictures of whatever habitat they have at home, whether it be a big aquarium or a multilevel cage. That way we can discuss what all is in the cage. If things need to be taken out that are dangerous for your animal, or things need to be added for enrichment and things like that. And then we'll do our physical exam from head to tail or head to toe. Make sure that everything's looking okay, they're growing the way that they're supposed to and that there's not any issues that we need to discuss.


Explain the basic environmental and nutritional requirements for exotic pets.


So this is a difficult question because things like Roswell Berry are a lot different than ferrets and Guinea pigs and things like that. They all need different environments. They all have different nutritional needs. Some of them are herbivores, so they only need veggies and fruits and things like that. Roswell Berry is an omnivore, so she actually needs crickets and mealworms and veggies and things like that. So she doesn't just need one thing, she needs multiple things. So that's sort of the thing that we would discuss as well. There's a lot of misconceptions when you bring home a new exotic pet. Some people think they need to be fed once a day or every other day. So we need to talk about that so that we get proper nutrition.


What can you expect during a physical exam?


So during the physical exam, we're going to basically look at things without handling them. I want to see them in their cage when you first bring them in, how they interact with their toys and their food. I also want to see how they walk to make sure that there's no nutritional abnormalities. So if, as you see Roswell Berry here is kind of standing and not doing a whole lot of walking, but we're pretty healthy right now. After that I'll do a hands on approach where I just kind of go from head to toe like I would any other animal. With reptiles, it's kind of difficult to open their mouth and see inside their mouth, like small mammals.


So we do have to approach that differently. I'll also look at all of their scales, like with Roswell here, or their fur and then just see how they interact with their environment. Some animals have to use different methods to do their physical exams. So most animals, I would use my stethoscope to listen to their heart. But with Roswell we actually have to use a special product to listen to their heart.


If you already have an exotic pet at home, what are some concerns that you might look for before you bring them in?


So if we've had an exotic pet for quite a while, you already know their habits, you know what they do normally. So I like to ask the owners like, is this something new? Is this something that they've never done before? Are they still playing with their enrichment and eating in the way that they usually do? If you're seeing that your exotic pet is not enjoying food the way they used to, if they're not walking the way they used to, or if you're seeing different consistencies of their feces or their urine, or you're just noticing like with Roswell, sometimes they can get egg bound. Females have eggs, they get stuck. Even if they don't have a male partner. If you see that they're straining, you want to bring them in so that we can discuss this issue and how we need to treat it.

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