VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital

Pocket Pets

                 Care of Pocket Pets
Pocket Pet is a term used to describe a domestically bred small mammal that is commonly kept as a pet. Pocket pets include hamsters, gerbils, fancy mice, fancy rats, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, chinchillas, sugar gliders, ferrets and rabbits, among others. Pocket pets are relatively inexpensive, easy to acquire and they’re great fun. Because they have their own unique needs in terms of proper diet and housing and require daily care and attention, it’s important to research their requirements before acquiring a pocket pet. In addition, due to their small size, pocket pets can be injured easily. Just like larger mammals, they can also develop diseases or have parasites. Some health issues affecting pocket pets can be caused by environmental conditions, such as exposure to drafts or extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, improper diet, substrate or housing, as examples. These are some of the reasons why veterinary care for pocket pets is just as important as providing it for your cat or dog. If well cared for, your pocket pet will enjoy a healthy and happy life.

Your pocket pet’s care requirements will include the following:

  • A species-specific diet:  As appropriate for each particular species, his or her diet might include any of the following: a pelleted formula diet or seeds, grains, hay, dog or cat food, etc. plus any recommended supplemental vegetables and, of course, clean, fresh water daily.
  • Appropriate clean housing, water, feeding dish and cage substrate:  House your pet in as large a species-specific cage as possible, placing it in a ventilated indoor area free of drafts, extreme heat and cold or excessive dust. A wire mesh bottom can cause foot and toe injury or infection thus provide a solid floor foundation for him or her to walk on. Water and feed dishes should be easily accessible. Depending upon the species, the ideal substrate (cage liner) is a paper pulp product, such as Carefresh or Yesterday’s News. Avoid using wood shavings because they can potentially cause respiratory problems and skin irritations. It’s very important to clean caging, accessories, toys, water and feed dishes and replace cage substrate regularly so that bacteria will not build up.
  • Careful handling and providing a safe environment:  Handle your pocket pet gently and with extra caution to avoid undue stress or injury; provide strict adult supervision of children handling the pet; provide a secure cage to prevent accidental escape in your home; avoid exposing your pet to larger animals, such as a cat or a dog, who could cause injury to your pet or even death; separate sexes to avoid undesired breeding, competition and fighting, stress and injury. Hiding areas can be provided your pet by furnishing paper towel rolls, tissue or cardboard boxes or purchasing small hideaway houses, igloos or tunnels from a pet product supplier.
  • Environmental enrichment:  To avoid boredom and stress, provide your pet with a means of exercise, such as an exercise wheel, species-specific safe toys and interaction with you.
  • Veterinary exam:  An initial veterinary health exam is recommended to rule out parasites or other underlying conditions that may be present. It's important to monitor for changes in behavior, eating, urinating or defecating that might indicate a health issue requiring veterinary care.

VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital offers veterinary services, including diagnostics and treatment, for pocket pets as well as other exotic pets. As care for these special pets differs so dramatically from that of a pet cat or dog, our hospital also maintains a library of species-specific educational resources for pet owners with exotics pets. For more information about the care of pocket pets and other types of exotic pets, please visit this link to browse our

If you have questions or concerns about your pocket pet, would like additional information about his or her care or to schedule an appointment, please contact our hospital at
310-473-2951, and we'll be happy to assist you and your special pet.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care



Tel (310) 473-2951

For directions to our location, please CLICK HERE

The doctors and staff of VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital are ready and available to provide emergency and critical care for your beloved companion around the clock every day of the year. Staffed by emergency/critical care veterinarians and technicians, our emergency team is ready to provide your pet with the highest possible level of quality compassionate care should an urgent medical need arise at any time of day or night.

If you feel your pet is having an emergency, please feel free to immediately come to the hospital - we are ALWAYS available! You may speak with a member of the emergency team if you have questions/concerns by calling (310) 473-2951 at any time.