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The Golden Years: End of Life Care for Exotic Pets

Aging happens no matter if you are a human, dog, or hamster. At West Park Animal Hospital, we know that your pocket pet deserves the best during their golden years, just as much as any dog or cat. End of life care for exotic pets is important, too, and we are here to help your senior pet live with dignity and comfort.

The Aging Exotic

Different species of animals age at different rates, making the definition of senior very different from one species to the next. Understanding the expected lifespan of your exotic pet can help you to be on the lookout for signs of aging. In general:

  • Chinchillas live about 10 years
  • Ferrets live approximately 6 to 10 years
  • Gerbils can be expected to live between 2 and 4 years
  • Guinea pigs live to be between 4 and 8 years
  • Hamsters live up to 3 years
  • Mice live about 2 years
  • Rabbits live about 9 years when kept as pets
  • Rats can live about 2 to 3 years
  • Sugar Gliders can live to be about 15

Regardless of expected lifespan, species of many types suffer from similar ailments as they age. Just like all of us, orthopedic problems, such as osteoarthritis, cancer, and organ disease, become more prevalent with age.

Certain species are also more susceptible to certain diseases. Ferrets may develop adrenal disease, insulinomas, and are prone to heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy. Rabbits and guinea pigs may develop kidney disease or chronic respiratory problems, and mice and rats are very prone to cancer. Senior pocket pets are also plagued by dental issues.

The veterinarians at West Park Animal Hospital are here to help you care for your exotic pet and recognize signs of trouble, especially as they enter their golden years.

End of Life Care for Exotic Pets

There continues to be better veterinary medical options for exotic species as we learn more about their care. Where there used to be limited options, we now have more choices.

As our pocket pet species enter the end of their lives, we are better equipped to:

Diagnose and treat problems – An understanding of individual species helps us to educate our pet owners and detect problems earlier. A wider array of diagnostic capabilities also help us do a better job with accurate and efficient diagnosis. When we do diagnose issues in our pocket pet patients, we also have a good arsenal of medications  and treatment options that can often help treat or even cure certain disease processes and conditions.

Manage quality of life issues – Pet pain is a real thing, no matter the species. Issues, such as chronic pain, muscle loss, and loss of appetite, can greatly affect quality of life. We have more options than ever before to manage these types of issues in our senior exotics and give them a comfortable existence.

End suffering – Thankfully, we are able to assist pets to exit the world peacefully and painlessly when their time arrives. End of life care for exotic pets is no different than any other pet. We are happy to support you by discussing whether it is time for your pocket pet to cross the rainbow bridge.

Exotic pet ownership can be a rewarding and wonderful experience. We owe it to these special little mammals to encourage better quality of life. Please let us know if we can help you in caring for your special friend. We would be honored to do so.

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