Traditional pet owners (i.e. those that have dogs and cats) generally have a fairly good idea about what routine veterinary care their pet needs as both dogs and cats have been kept for many generations. As more and more exotic animals are starting to be kept as pets we thought we would cover what routine veterinary care is recommended for each of the commonly kept species as sometimes it can be a little confusing.

To start with here is a quick summary about what each term means:

Sterilisation (desexing or neutering)

This refers to the surgical (or in some cases chemical) removal of part of an animal’s reproductive tract under a full general anaesthetic. Males are generally ‘castrated’ and females generally undergo a ‘spey’ (which generally refers to an ovariohysterectomy).

Microchipping

This involves the implantation (using a medium sized specialized needle) of a small microchip under your pets skin (for most mammals and reptiles) or into one of their muscles (for most birds). The microchip is about the size of a small grain of rice. The main function of a microchip is to allow your pet to be scanned (using a specialized scanner) and tracked back to you if they escape. The scanner reads the microchip and gives a specialized number that links to your contact details.

Vaccinations

This involves injecting a specialized liquid that contains inactivated virus particles to immunize your pet against dangerous diseases. Your pet’s immune system reacts to the vaccine after it is administered and makes your pet better prepared to fight off any infection if they are actually exposed to the real virus. Often an initial course is needed and then biannual to annual ‘boosters’ to ensure your pets is protected as best as they can be.

Nail clipping

Many exotic pets require their nails to be trimmed or shaped, to prevent them from overgrowing. As they can become a hazard for you and your pet. Make sure to consult with your vet on how to correctly trim your pets nails. As over trimming can cause pain, infection and even long term damage.

Health check-ups

All exotic pets are great at hiding any illnesses so check-ups every 6-12 months (or more regular if your pet is older or has a chronic illness) are very important. This involves the vet examining your pet and checking over their body systems as well as their weight and dental health (where relevant).

Sexing

This one is fairly self-explanatory and involves determining if your pet is a boy or a girl. This is important to know for de-sex your pet, or understand any possible health conditions which your pet may be prevalent to.

Now that you are experts on what routine procedures actually involve. The diagram below gives a summary of what is recommended for each species in Australia.

Article written by Dr James Haberfield of The Unusual Pet Vets