Wellness Wednesday- Finding a Vet for Your Small and Exotic Pets

Dog and cat owners don’t realize how easy they have it. They often have several vets to choose from when deciding on someone to care for their pet’s medical needs. Those of us who have ferrets, rabbits, birds, reptiles and other small pets often have a hard time finding a vet to see our pets. There just aren’t as many vets who see other species of animals.

While these pets don’t usually get yearly exams like dogs and cats do (though it’s not a bad idea), it’s important to find a vet before an emergency happens. You don’t want to find yourself at 9:00 on a Saturday and have no place to take your sick rabbit. There are several ways you can locate a vet.

  • Call a vet in your area for a reference. Vet hospitals are used to getting calls for all types of pets even those they don’t treat and often keep a list of vets that will see the species they don’t.
  •  Ask your local animal shelter. Just like the vet clinics, they get calls looking for a vet so might be able to refer you to a vet nearby.
  • Ask your local pet store. Pet stores may have a vet that they use to treat their animals or know an “expert” in your area that can give you a recommendation.
  • Find a club. You can find clubs by searching online. If they have a website, they may list vets their members use. If the club is in another part of the state and only lists vets from their area, you still may want to contact them and see if they a member or two near you that can recommend a vet. The York Area Pet Bird Club lists avian vets on their website.
  •  Check with a nearby rescue. See if there is a rescue for your type of pet. They may keep a listing or have someone near you who adopted and can give you a reference. One example is the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society listing on their website.
  • Look for a national club. If you can’t find a group in your state, see if there is a national organization that you can contact for a vet reference. The American Ferret Association, Inc. offers a list of vet on their website.
  • Find a veterinary organization. Veterinarians who specialize in different veterinary fields often belong to a national or regional organization. These organizations, like the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, usually have a database on their website you can search through to find the closest vet to you.
  • Search for forums and other online communities. Online forums or communities have members from all over the world. If they don’t maintain a list of vets, you can ask for recommendations that can at least get you closer to finding a vet. Bunspace is one community that keeps a list of vets on their website.

'Iguana iguana_pgpalmer_taronga_23Jul11-003' photo (c) 2011, PG Palmer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
And what do you do if after all this searching you can’t find a vet? You may want to see if a local vet would still be willing to work with you at least on issues that aren’t emergencies. My vet has an interest in small pets and is willing to work with me. With some searching reliable information can be found online to share with your vet and consults may be able to be held with an exotic pet vet from another area to determine care.

Finding a vet can take some time so it’s important to do it as soon as you become an exotic pet parent. It will save you a lot of stress and worry in the long run.

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