James W. Carpenter, MS, DVM, DACZM
A sound preventive medicine program is the foundation of an animal health program because it is difficult to perform diagnostic tests or treat sick animals successfully; wild animals often mask signs of illness until late into the disease process; and disease outbreaks can have devastating population effects.
Because practitioners are increasingly being asked to provide health care for rabbits, they need to know that the most common clinical problems seen in this species involve the gastrointestinal tract. Practitioners also need to know that rabbits have evolved as a prey species, and their survival reaction is to be very still in an effort to avoid detection.
Neurological diseases are relatively common in companion rabbits, and are being identified more frequently because of a greater interest by owners to provide better health care to their pets, better trained veterinarians, improved diagnostic aids, and because many rabbits are living longer.
Nontraditional animal medicine is rapidly becoming an integral part of most companion animal practices.
Hedgehogs are members of the family Erinaceidae in the order Insectivora. There are 16 species of hedgehogs; however, the most common pet species in North America is the African pygmy hedgehog (also referred to as the white-bellied, four-toed, or African hedgehog) (Atelerix albiventris).
Pharmacokinetic studies in exotic small mammals are lacking and, therefore, most of the dosages used in these species are based on empirical data, observations, and experience.