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Caring For Exotic Pets Around The Holidays
December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays from the team at V.E.T. Care Hospital & Pet Resort! We definitely get lots of super cute pet photos at this time of year. While we enjoy seeing our beloved cats and dogs enjoying the festivities, we can’t forget about our reptiles and exotic patients. In this article, a local Burleson, TX veterinarian offers some tips on caring for exotic pets during the holiday season.

Be Careful When Decorating If You Have An Exotic Pet

If you have a pet that pretty much stays exclusively in its habitat, like an axolotl, then you won’t have to worry about this. However, most exotics need some free time. Keep that in mind when decorating.

Anything small or sharp, such as ornaments, ornament hooks, tinsel, manger pieces, plastic berries, and ribbons, is a hazard. For pets that stay on the ground, these items should be kept in high spots. However, if your pet can fly or jump high, extra precautions are necessary. 

Additionally, Christmas trees themselves can pose a danger to pets. Pines have sharp needles that can cause injuries. The sticky sap can also irritate pets’ skin. Furthermore, some seasonal plants are toxic to pets. That list includes things like yew, mistletoe, holly, and ivy. 

If you like, you can also spruce up your pet’s environment for some added enjoyment. Consider incorporating some decorations into their habitat, such as a festive igloo hide. For pets that enjoy chewing, like rabbits and Guinea pigs, paper snowmen or snowflake chains make adorable options. A seasonal background can be a lovely touch. Just remember to place smaller decorative pieces outside of your pet’s reach. The outside of the tank is safest. Ask your Burleson, TX vet for more information.

Minimize Holiday Stress For Exotic Pets

Most of our animal companions are creatures of habit. Changes in schedules, temperatures, and environments can be quite distressing for them, as can loud noises and commotion. Even that singing Santa in the hall can be a source of distress.

If you’re hosting an event, you may want to keep your animal companion in a quiet back room during the festivities. If their normal enclosure is too big, you may want to use a travel enclosure instead. This is fine for a short period, as long as your pet is comfortable and the conditions are correct.

It’s also important to watch for signs of stress. These vary, depending on what kind of pet you have, so you’ll want to do some research and learn what to look for in your animal companion. There are a few things that are red flags in almost any animal, such as shaking, loss of appetite, and hiding. A bird may pull her feathers, while another pet may chew themselves. Ask your Burleson, TX vet for more information. 

Monitor Temps/Conditions Inside Your Pet’s Habitat

Keeping pets at a comfortable temperature is important for any pet, but it can be especially crucial for reptiles. It is important to keep an eye on their habitat at this time of year, and make sure that any and all heating equipment is functioning properly. You may want to put everything on a timer, and, if possible, connect it to a smartphone app. Cold-blooded animals can get sick very quickly if their environment gets too cold. However, many smaller pets, like hamsters, can also get sick if they get too cold. Hamsters, for instance, may try to hibernate, which is deadly for them. You may want to provide some extra bedding, especially for senior animals. We also recommend getting a backup heat source, such as a small generator In case of a power outage.

Tips For Traveling With Exotics 

Headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house? You won’t be alone on the road. This is the busiest time of year for travel. Our recommendation is either to board or hire a pet sitter if you are going out of town. Boarding is by far the better choice.  Your pet will be looked after by experienced professionals. This is very important, because even if your cousin is willing to stop over and give your iguana dinner, they may not know the warning signs of illness. Your best bet is to look for exotic kennels near you. Ask your vet for recommendations. 

If you’re going on a short trip, you may be able to take your pet with you. Consider how long you will be gone, and how far you will be traveling, before bringing your pet along. This may be fine for an overnight trip or a day trip. However, for anything longer than that, it may prove to be very stressful for your pet. 

Whether you’re traveling with your pet or just bringing them to the kennel, there are things to consider during transport.

  • A travel case or carrier is always recommended. For some exotics, a storage tote can be used. A dog or cat carrier will work for some animals. 
  • Have the car warmed up before bringing your pet out. 
  • Make sure your pet stays warm during the ride by using microwaved rice socks, heat packs, hot water bottles, or even regular water bottles with hot water inside. Place these around the tank so they don’t roll over on your pet. For more information, contact your veterinarian.
  • Pack carefully. Your pet will need food, toys, treats, bedding, a first-aid kit, and any medicine or supplements they need. We would recommend including a few days’ extra of everything, just to be on the safe side in case you are delayed. 

Ask your vet for more information on traveling with an exotic pet. 

Choosing Gifts For Exotic Pets

Don’t forget to put something in his or her stockings! A snake or turtle probably won’t be too excited about a toy ball or a stuffed animal, but they may appreciate some new decorations. Pocket pets, sugar gliders, ferrets, chinchillas, and other exotics may enjoy some treats or a cozy bed, tent, or hammock. A bird may be thrilled with extra perches, or perhaps a new swing, while a bunny may be more delighted with a cardboard log house or even a maze. 

Some pets will enjoy playing in empty boxes after everyone has opened their gifts. Treats also make good choices. Just be sure to stick with safe options. Ask your Burleson, TX veterinarian for more information. 

Taking Photos Of Exotic Pets

It’s fun to take pictures of your exotic pets. Put a tiny Santa hat on your hedgehog, or take a picture of your Bearded Dragon on a sleigh. Try using the macro setting for smaller animals. You may also want to try angling your phone a bit, to reduce glare.

Don’t Forget Animal Charities

This is also an important time of year for many charities. Consider donating money or supplies to an organization that helps exotics. When it comes to animal welfare, every little bit helps! 

Our entire team here at V.E.T. Care Hospital & Pet Resort, your animal hospital, wishes you and your families a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to reach out to us for all your pet’s veterinary care needs.