Exotic pets need exotic vets - fact or fiction?!
If you have a parrot, reptile, rabbit or other exotic pet you may have noticed that many vets will not work with them – not even for routine care.
The vet degree is based on dogs, cats, horses, production animals and recently, some wildlife. The expertise and knowledge of an exotic vet stems from extensive research, problems encountered as an exotic pet owner, experience gained by working with a handful of other knowledgeable exotic vets locally and by the sharing of information on international veterinary networks.
Before one gets to the weird diagnoses and odd drug dosages with unusual treatments, the vet must know how to handle the pet for optimal examination. Trained, unafraid vet assistants are also not very easy to find!
Don’t be fooled by the crocodile hunting cowboys – if you don’t know what you're doing, you or the pet will easily get hurt.
To be able to treat your exotic pet, your vet would also need a whole range of specialised equipment, materials and facilities that are not usually a part of the average dog and cat clinic.
To add insult to injury, not only are exotic pets very different to dogs and cats, but each exotic species also has its own set of husbandry and dietary requirements, and is prone to different ailments.
So, if your regular vet is unwilling to work with your exotic pet, it is because they are not confident that they can safely and properly handle, treat and house your exotic pet. Yes, it's frustrating to be referred, but you should appreciate that your vet is looking out for your exotic’s best interests!
Unfortunately, the fact that there are not too many exotic vets around makes it less likely that these pets get to the vet in the earlier stages of disease. By the time many of these pets get to an exotic vet, their ailments are very advanced, which often makes successful treatment extremely difficult if not impossible.
More often than not, ailments of exotic pets can be prevented if owners not only have the correct knowledge regarding the husbandry and diet their pet requires, but also consult regularly with an exotic vet who is familiar with a wide range of exotic species.
So you see – the exotic vet is also a species of its own!