What is Exotic Pet Medicine?

A growing number of people are caring for small animals that would be considered by many to be non-traditional pets. These pets include:
• Turtles
• Snakes and lizards
• Rabbits
• Ferrets
• Guinea pigs and chinchillas
• Hedgehogs and sugar gliders
• Rats and mice
• Hamsters and gerbils

Each of these animals has specific housing, dietary, and socializing requirements. Each is prone to specific diseases requiring diagnostic tests and treatments that can vary, sometimes significantly, from those needed to treat dogs and cats. Veterinarians who treat these patients have to obtain special training beyond that given in veterinary school, and specialized equipment to meet those needs.

Though Dr. Richelle Berard does not specialize in exotic medicine, she does maintain a serious interest in it. She has been treating small mammals and reptiles for several years.  She has the capabilities to examine, perform and interpret diagnostics, and provide treatments for exotic pets.

What routine care does my exotic pet require?

Yearly wellness examinations are strongly recommended for all exotic pets. Unlike dogs and cats, exotic pets instinctively hide their symptoms of illness as long as possible. This means that just because they look healthy doesn't mean that they actually are. The yearly wellness examination is an opportunity to review husbandry requirements and to detect possible problems early in an effort to treat health conditions before they become advanced.

Wellness blood screening is another part of the yearly wellness exam that is important and encouraged for all exotic patients, especially as they age. Blood screening may detect liver and kidney problems much faster than a physical exam alone would, and may also detect specific diseases (such as insulinoma in ferrets) before they start showing symptoms, when these diseases are easiest to treat.