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Dr. Smith's Guide to Pocket Pets!

Dr. Smith, the most recent addition to our veterinary team, is an expert on pocket pets! “Pocket pets” refers to animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets, and hedgehogs. These small furry friends require breed-specific special care and feeding, and special environmental conditions, compared to cats and dogs. Keep reading to learn more about pocket pets!

  • About 80% of medical issues with pocket pets are related to incorrect husbandry -- not having the correct diet, environment, or other care that they need. It is important to research the specific pet you are interested before they come home with you so you have everything in place.
  • Proper diet is very important for all pocket pets. Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas should have their diet be 70-75% hay (timothy). Guinea pigs also need Vitamin C in their diet. This can be done with chewable tablets, water additives, or fresh vegetables/fruit with adequate amounts of Vitamin C.
  • Ferrets are carnivores, so they would ideally eat a whole prey diet. That understandably grosses some people out, so as an alternative, there are some grain-free and starch-free kibble options. Hedgehogs should eat a diet made for insectivores, since it is difficult to get them a wide enough variety of bugs otherwise.
  • Pocket pets should be seen a minimum of once yearly, but they age relatively quickly compared to cats and dogs, so every six months is best, especially for senior pocket pets.
  • Ferrets are the only species we typically vaccinate at this time. They should be vaccinated annually against Distemper and Rabies.
  • Pocket pets hide illness until they are severely sick, so owners should call to get them in with the doctor if they notice that something is even a little bit off. By the time pocket pets start to really act sick, they are often in critical condition.

If you would like to bring your pocket pet to see us for a regular checkup, give us a call. Dr. Smith would love to meet your small furry family member and help it to live its best life!

Contact Information

McClintock Animal Care Center
1836 East Elliot Road
Tempe, AZ 85284

Phone: (480) 820-2822
Email: [email protected]


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