Pocket Pet Care
Here at the Belmont Vet Centre, species specific care is important to us and that’s why we like to offer a range of services and products to best suit and take care of your Pocket Pets.
Guinea pig: No vaccinations recommended.
Ferrets: Ferrets are vaccinated for distemper at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. A booster is due then every 12 months.Rat/Mice: No Vaccination Recommended.
Guinea pigs: Guinea pigs may be desexed at 5-6mths of age. It should be remembered that a female guinea pig shouldn’t have her first litter after 6months of age, as pelvic bones become fused and can cause problems with labour.
Ferrets: Mature ferret females will remain in heat until mated. This can lead to Pyometra, a condition of infection the uterus, which may lead to death. Therefore, unless planning to breed your ferrets, desexing of both males and females is recommended.Rats and Mice: It’s is recommended to desex rats from 12 weeks of age.
Guinea pigs are neophobic. This means that they adopt a strong preference for food type in the first few days of life. Also Guinea pigs are herbivores that would usually spend many hours a day foraging and grazing on grass in small herds.
Their teeth grow continuously throughout life, so they need a diet high in roughage to encourage chewing.
Chewing helps to wear down their teeth and prevent serious dental problems. Providing sufficient fibre in their diet is also very important for both their gastrointestinal system and general health.
A guinea pig diet should contain the following:
- A constant supply of grass and/or grass hay (such as Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Ryegrass hays). Guinea pigs should not be fed Lucerne (alfalfa) or Clover hays as they are too high in protein and calcium. Providing grass/grass hay is paramount in providing the ‘complete’ diet and encourages ‘chewing’ for long periods of time.
- Fresh leafy green vegetables & herbs. Some examples of these include broccoli, cabbage, celery, endive, carrot tops, bokchoy/other Asian greens, dark leafed lettuce varieties, parsley, dandelion, coriander, basil, dill, mint.
A dietary source of Vitamin C because (like humans), guinea pigs cannot synthesise Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from other food substances. This is usually supplied sufficiently by the fresh leafy green veggies, but it is safer to supplement this with small quantities of vitamin C rich foods such as citrus or kiwi fruit. (Commercial Vitamin C supplements added to their drinking water or Vitamin C in commercial feeds are not reliable sources of vitamin C)
Like rabbits we recommend the Oxbow Guinea Pig Pellets as another source of fibre for your Guinea. No more than one table spoon per guinea pig per day.
Ferrets: are strict carnivores. Hills Science diet cat/dog food are suitable as a diet for ferrets.
Like cats and dogs, ferrets can have problems with tartar and gingivitis causing dental disease.
Rats/Mice: Rats and mice are omnivores (they eat plant and animal material). They will eat a wide variety of food if offered. Rats and mice are intelligent animals and providing a variety of different foods can help to enrich their environment.
Rats and mice should be fed a combination of ad lib fresh fruits and vegetables and small amounts of good quality rat pellets or rat cubes.
Some examples of suitable fruit and vegetables are: apples, pears, banana, melons, stone fruits, citrus fruits, broccoli, cabbage (not red cabbage), endive, carrots, Bok choy/other Asian greens, celery, parsley, berries, fresh corn (small amount only) and peas.
Avoid feeding rats or mice a seed/grain mix as these are too high in fat and sugar. They are both very prone to becoming obese and malnourished on these mixes. They tend to ‘select’ their favourite bits in the mix and therefore miss out on important nutrients.
The following should be considered as treats and only offered in very small amounts: Cereals, grains, seeds, breads, biscuits, sweets, cooked pasta and rice and breakfast cereals.
Provide clean fresh water at all times.
Any changes to the diet should be made gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upsets.
Worms: Intestinal worms rarely cause problems in pocket pets therefore routine worming is not required.
Fleas aren’t a problem in guinea pigs, however ferrets can pick up fleas from either cats or dogs.
Lice/mites are quite common in guinea pigs. They may be picked up from new bedding (eg. hay, straw) or other guinea pigs. Some mites are visible to the naked eye and cause intense itchiness and scabs. We recommend the topical treatment of revolution to treat mites, but do not administer until advised by one of our vets at to the correct dose for your pocket pet.
Ferrets can pick up ear mites transmitted from dogs, cats and other ferrets.
Guinea pigs aren’t susceptible to heartworm disease, however ferrets are!
Prevention is by far the best approach and thankfully relatively simple. Oral medication called “Heartgard” is an easy preventative or “Revolution”, which not only prevents heartworm, but controls fleas too