In an exotic-animal emergency, assess before you address

October 6, 2016
Julia K. Whittington, DVM

Clinical associate professor

Dr. Julia Whittington explains the importance of taking the time to observe critical exotic pets before diving in with therapeutic measur

A pet owner runs into your clinic with treasured pet in hand, scared and worried. Every emergency is stressful for all. What if that pet is an exotic patient you're not used to treating? Stress levels escalate exponentially! So you dive in, determined to save the patient. But the stress associated with aggressive intervention in an emergency situation with an exotic pet can sometimes hinder more than help.

At a recent CVC, Julia Whittington, DVM, the service head for the companion exotic animal medicine service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, reminded practitioners to make sure to step back first. "One of the most important things that veterinarians have to remember when working with exotic pets in an emergent situation is taking a hands-off approach," she says. "Observing that animal as it is sitting there before you lay your hands on it, and really thinking about whether or not that animal can tolerate even the associated stress with the physical exam." Hear more: