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Natural Awakenings Magazine Daytona | Volusia | Flagler

Caring for ‘Pocket Pets’

Jan 29, 2021 11:10PM ● By Erin Holder
Hamsters on a wheel, chinchillas in a dust bath, rabbits munching hay, and little squealing guinea pigs make life delightful. These tiny exotic animals, dubbed “pocket pets”, have wiggled their way into the hearts of millions. Each of these precious animals requires specific diets, housing and veterinary care. Pocket pets are often an impulse purchase, so researching their needs before bringing them home is a must. Also finding a specially trained veterinarian and getting established with that veterinarian is a must. When pocket pets get sick, they quickly become an emergency. Having an established relationship with a doctor will make life easier.

An overwhelming cause of emergency illness is dental disease because these herbivorous creatures have continually growing teeth. Inappropriate diet, lack of chew toys, or malocclusion leads to disastrous dental disease and possible death. Sharp points can form on the teeth, and those points lacerate the tongue and cheeks. Soon, the pet stops eating and the gastrointestinal system slows to a halt. Bloat, pain and death can be a sequelae if intervention is not immediate. 

Help your pocket pet stay healthy! Research what it takes and find a veterinarian that cares for them. Get dental and physical examinations minimally every six months, so you provide them with the best possible life and enjoy these comical creatures longer.

 Dr. Erin Holder is owner of FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital, located at 115 E. Euclid Ave., in DeLand. She is a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in the Zoo and Wildlife Department. FloridaWild offers an integrative approach to veterinary medicine, combining both Eastern and Western medicine.  For more information, call 386-734-9899 or visit