Illustrated Articles

Medical Conditions

  • Rabbits have unique gastrointestinal tracts and need a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate diet to help keep the normal GI bacteria fermenting their food. When they are fed a diet high in carbohydrate, administered certain types of antibiotics, or undergo a rapid diet change, they can develop life-threatening GI stasis. Rabbits with GI stasis become lethargic, dehydrated, weak, lose weight, and must be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Only rarely do rabbits develop true GI tract obstructions from ingesting foreign objects and require surgery to remove the obstruction. Rabbits are coprophagic, consuming cecotropes overnight that serve as a source of critical protein and vitamins. Rabbits that eat high calcium alfalfa-based diets or high-calcium vegetables are prone to developing bladder stones that must be removed surgically. Bunnies housed at temperatures over 80°F are subject to heat stroke, since they cannot sweat and should be housed inside in a cool place, or if outside, should have plenty of shade and water.

  • Common conditions of pet hedgehogs include internal and external parasites, ringworm, cancer, pneumonia, gastrointestinal disease, and obesity. Signs of illness or disease are often vague and non-specific, such as lack of appetite and lethargy. Therefore, any deviation from your hedgehog’s normal habits should be cause for concern and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

  • Hedgehogs can have several unique problems, including cancer, dental disease, obesity, and foreign bodies. It is important for an owner to understand what these problems are so veterinary care can be provided to their hedgehog when needed and in a timely manner.

  • There are four major hormonal diseases in ferrets. This handout covers adrenal gland disease and diabetes mellitus. Adrenal gland disease occurs in a large number of ferrets in North America, while diabetes mellitus is a rare, but important problem.

  • Iguanas are generally a very hardy reptile under that proper conditions. There are a number of common ailments that affect iguanas. Early communication with a reptile veterinarian about changes in your iguana's health status is critical.

  • Iguanas face several health problems that will need veterinary intervention for treatment or resolution. Cystic calculi, dystocia, avascular necrosis and dysecdysis are all common problems that will need medical attention sooner rather than later.

  • Kidney disease is relatively common in birds, especially budgies, and may present as an acute or chronic problem. Some of the clinical signs are very characteristic of kidney disease but many others are non-specific. This handout explains these signs, as well as how kidney disorders in birds can be diagnosed and treated.

  • Liver disease can occur in any avian species but is most common in cockatiels, budgies, Amazon parrots, lories, and mynah birds. Because the typical clinical signs are non-specific and descriptive of many different diseases, diagnostic tests are highly recommended. Treatment options depend on the diagnosis and can range from diet modification to hospitalization.

  • Obesity is a major problem in older birds on seed-based diets and can contribute to diseases such as atherosclerosis (fat deposits in major arteries) and fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). Unlike their wild counterparts, pet birds are not given as much opportunity for daily exercise. Pet birds often burn off very few calories in their daily lives. Many bird owners incorrectly feed their pet birds by offering a diet consisting mostly, or totally of high-fat seeds. Obese birds are extremely susceptible to heart attacks and strokes and have a higher anesthetic risk than normal-weight birds. Switching birds from all-seed diets to a more suitable diet consisting mainly of pellets, with smaller amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit, will decrease its overall daily intake of calories.

  • Polyfolliculosis is a condition where several feathers grow out of one feather follicle. These feathers may be irritating, causing the bird to pick at them or pluck them out. There is no specific treatment for this condition.