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Information for You and Your Pets

Studious dog

There are many sources of pet information on the Internet and it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. That's why our articles are written in-house by the same doctor you can talk to right here at Creekside Veterinary Clinic. Click below to choose an article about some of the common concerns you might experience with your pets.

Healthy Feeding of Rabbits and Rodents

Hamster

Guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils and hamsters all have a specialized gastrointestinal (GI) tract that can be extremely finicky, and can even cause life threatening illness at times. They are hind-gut fermenters, meaning that they have a dilated portion of the large bowel, the cecum, where bacteria help to break down the coarse materials in the hay and other roughage that they eat, so the animal can obtain the nutrients from the food. If these bacteria get out of balance, life threatening intestinal shutdown and/or diarrhea can occur. To prevent this, it’s important to feed these animals an appropriate diet and to recognize immediately when they are ill. Immediate veterinary intervention is critical!

Rabbit eating greens

All rabbits and rodents need a diet that is very high in roughage to keep the intestinal tract moving along. Adult rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs should be offered timothy or orchard grass hay, not alfalfa, on a free choice basis. They should also have an alfalfa or timothy hay based pellet in addition to their always available hay. Younger, growing animals would do best with alfalfa based pellets and then they should be transitioned to a timothy hay pellet which contains a higher percentage of roughage and less calcium. Gerbils, mice, rats and hamsters should be fed “lab blocks” which look boring, but are a complete, very nutritious, pelletted diet. They would also enjoy and benefit from free choice timothy hay. Seed based diets are too high in fat and too low in nutrients. The small rodents should be gradually transitioned to a pelletted lab block diet if they are used to a seed diet. All the rabbits and rodents enjoy dark, leafy greens such as collard greens, parsley, herbicide free dandelion leaves and flowers, kale, etc. If your pet is not used to eating these foods, introduce them slowly to avoid diarrhea. Most fruits can be offered as small treats, but again, go slowly when introducing your pets to these sugary foods and feed them in very small quantities. Guinea pigs do not make their own Vitamin C, so they have a dietary daily requirement for 15-30 milligrams per day to prevent scurvy. Guinea pig pellets say they contain vitamin C, but the pellets have to be consumed within a very short time of their production date, or all the Vitamin C will be gone from the pellet. It’s best to provide a daily supplement.

Guinea Pig

Sometimes, because of illness, dental disease, rapid diet changes, stress or numerous other reasons, rabbits and rodents can develop severe GI disease. The signs that an observant caretaker should watch for are decreased appetite, decreased defecation (pooping) or diarrhea. If any of these signs is seen, contact your veterinarian immediately. They should be seen as soon as possible, so that life-saving medications and interventions can be started. If you discover this problem and it will be a short time before you can have your pet seen by the veterinarian, you can immediately syringe-feed either soaked and blenderized pellets or a liquefiable herbivore diet called Critical Care from Oxbow Animal Health. Please know, this is a life-threatening disease and waiting to see if your animal gets better is not an option!

Chinchilla

Susan Brown, DVM wrote an excellent and comprehensive article regarding appropriate diets for small mammals. Dr. Eggert whole heartedly endorses Oxbow Animal Health products for the dietary needs of her herbivorous patients. From hay, pellets, rodent blocks, chewable Vitamin C tablets and syringe feeding diet, they have it all! Kaytee and Zupreme branded diets, when carefully selected based on the above guidelines, are also good diet brands to use.

Office Hours

Our regular office hours are:

8am-6pm Mon-Wed
8am-5pm Thu-Fri
8am-12pm Sat

Please call or text our office for an appointment.

(503) 390-5222

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Location

We are located in the McNary Estates Business Center, near the intersection of River Road and Wheatland Road. Turn at the big McNary sign.

113 McNary Estates Drive Suite B
Keizer, OR 97303

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