Pet Health Articles

Small Mammals + Surgical Conditions

  • Penetrating wounds can look minor on the surface but may cause severe injury below the skin. A thorough assessment requires sedation or anesthesia and surgery may be required to address the extent of the injury. This handout outlines first aid steps a pet owner can take while transporting their injured pet to the veterinary hospital.

  • Fly strike is basically a condition where flies are attracted to the fur or exposed skin on a rabbit, whereby they lay eggs that hatch into maggots that subsequently cause extensive skin and deep tissue damage. The attraction to flies comes from urine or fecal soiled hair or skin that has been damaged by fight wounds, fleas or skin mites. Treatment requires veterinary attention and potential hospitalization. Prevention is attained by keeping your rabbit INDOORS and clean.

  • There are many health and behavioral benefits associated with spaying your rabbit, such as preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing her risk for reproductive cancers, and minimizing the stress associated with sexual frustration. This handout explains the surgical procedure, post-operative care at home, and, although rare, possible complications that may occur.

  • An ovariohysterectomy is often referred to as a spay or spaying. It is a surgical procedure in which the ovaries and uterus are removed completely to sterilize or render a female animal infertile. Some veterinarians will perform an ovariectomy on rats, in which just the ovaries are removed. Spaying significantly minimizes the risk of ovarian, uterine, breast, and pituitary gland cancers in rats. Ideally, most rats are spayed between four and six months of age. Your veterinarian may recommend pre-surgical blood tests before surgery. In general, complications are rare with this surgery. However, as with any anesthetic or surgical procedure, in any species, there is always a small risk associated with being anesthetized. Most rats will experience no adverse effects following spaying, and in general, spaying is recommended for all healthy, young rats to prevent future health problems.

  • Malignant lymphoma (lymphosarcoma) and leukemia are among the most common malignancies seen in ferrets. Diagnosis may be made by fine needle aspiration or biopsy. For a dedicated owner with a compliant patient, surgery and/or treatment with chemotherapy is an option. Remission of lymphoma is possible with treatment in ferrets, but recurrence is common. Ferrets also commonly develop insulin-producing tumors of the pancreas that lower the ferret’s blood sugar and cause weakness, weight loss, lethargy, seizures, coma, and death. Insulinoma commonly spreads from the pancreas to the liver, so surgical removal of pancreatic insulinoma nodules may not be curative. Affected ferrets respond well for months to years to medical therapy with glucose-promoting drugs (prednisone) and anti-insulin drugs (diazoxide). Drugs suppress effects of the tumor but do not eliminate it; and ferrets on medical treatment must have their medications increased over time as the tumor grows.