Veterinary Care for Rabbits & Guinea Pigs

DO RABBITS & GUINEA PIGS NEED AN EXOTIC VETERINARIAN?

dutch rabbit being examined by exotic veterinarian
11 year old sanctuary rabbit Bentley at his annual exam with Dr. Pardini of Wildside Avian and Exotic Animal Health Center

Yes! Rabbits and guinea pigs are considered exotic animals and should only be seen and treated by an experienced exotic veterinarian. Although some veterinarians who see cats and dogs ALSO see rabbits and guinea pigs and may advertise as treating “all animals” they:

See exotics at a much smaller volume than exotic vets. An exotic hospital can see 20 to 50 exotic animals in a day, on average a regular veterinary practice may see as little as one to five exotic pets a week.

May not be trained on proper handling techniques or have appropriately sized equipment. The instruments needed to look into a rabbit or guinea pigs’ ear, mouth or nose are much smaller than those for cats and dogs.

May be able to perform a routine wellness exam and diagnose an illness but not be able to perform complex procedures. At which time they may recommend humane euthanasia or refer to an exotic specialist for further treatment. This delay in treatment can be deadly in the case of liver lobe torsion, obstruction, or dental abscesses; some of the common emergencies that rabbits face.

Many do not attend annual exotic veterinary conferences. Staying up to date is important as treatment protocols change year to year. Veterinarians who do not specialize in exotics may recommend a treatment that is outdated and no longer considered effective or safe.

May prescribe doses or medications that are not safe for exotic species. The wrong dose or type of antibiotic or anesthesia can be deadly. (READ MORE ABOUT ANTIBIOTICS)

Rabbits and guinea pigs should be taken to exotic veterinarians because these specialists are statistically able to catch things earlier and are significantly more likely to be able to diagnose AND treat a variety of illnesses successfully. HINT: Look for “Exotic” in the name of the clinic or hospital.

DO RABBITS & GUINEA PIGS NEED TO SEE A VETERINARIAN EVERY YEAR?

Yes. As prey animals rabbits and guinea pigs instinctively hide signs of illness and do so very well. They should get a wellness exam, with bloodwork, every year with an experienced exotic veterinarian even if they “seem healthy.” This way illnesses can be caught and treated in the early stage. By the time symptoms become obvious it may be too late or much more difficult to treat; requiring more advanced and costly treatments. You should never ignore symptoms or try to treat rabbits and guinea pigs at home yourself. “Home remedies” are no substitute for veterinary care and are often dangerous.

When rabbits are six years old and guinea pigs are four years old, they are considered senior pets and should visit an exotic vet twice a year. X-rays determine if arthritis is present and lifelong pain management may be advised.

COST

A physical exam with an experienced exotic veterinarian may cost $75-$105 in Florida. During a typical physical exam the veterinarian will document the weight and vital signs (temperature, heart and respiratory rates), listen to the heart and lungs, use a scope to look at the eyes and nose and inside the mouth and ears, etc. It is important that the veterinarian is experienced with properly handling exotic animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, they have  fragile spines and are difficult to keep calm and safely restrain. Improper handling can lead to stress and spinal injuries.

As rabbits and guinea pigs instinctively hide signs of illness like most prey species, blood work should be performed every year to check the functioning of internal organs, this can cost an additional $150-$300. In the case of a suspected injury or illness, veterinarians may need to perform diagnostic x-rays, these typically cost $250-$450. If surgery is needed, depending on the length and complexity it may range from $900 – $1600 or more.

The average cost of a spay / neuter surgery in Florida is $400-$600.

It is recommended to have a medical savings account of $1000 per rabbit or $750 per guinea pig for emergencies.

Another option is to GET PET INSURANCE WITH NATIONWIDE or APPLY FOR CARE CREDIT to get 6 months interest free financing for unexpected costs.

guinea pig at the vet
6 year old sanctuary guinea pig Brody at his annual exam at Wildside Avian and Exotic Animal Health Center

DOES MY RABBIT NEED TO SEE A VET?

Signs that you need to take your rabbit to an exotic or emergency vet right away:

Not eating; small, dark, hard poops or lack of fecal production. This may be a sign of GI Stasis and can be fatal within 12-24hrs without proper intervention. (READ MORE ABOUT GI STASIS)

Diarrhea. Ongoing diarrhea can cause dehydration quickly and is a very serious medical concern in rabbits. It can be caused by a change in diet, intestinal parasites, bacteria and viruses.

Mouth breathing. Rabbits breath through their nose only. Breathing through the mouth is a sign of severe respiratory distress. WATCH THIS VIDEO to see what respiratory distress may look like in rabbits.

Collapse. Rabbits may collapse on their side due to heatstroke; a heart-attack, seizure, or stroke; a spinal injury or toxicity after ingesting a poisonous substance.

Discharge, wet fur, hair loss around the nose or eyes. Can indicate a respiratory or eye infection, or dental disease.

Ongoing scratching of the ear; head shaking; head tilt; hair loss. Can indicate an ear infection. Lop breed rabbits are congenitally prone to ear infections.

Overgrown or misaligned teeth. A rabbits teeth grow 3-5 inches per year. An improper diet can lead to overgrown teeth and/or dental spurs. To prevent teeth from cutting into the lips, gums or cheeks teeth may need to be trimmed under sedation every couple of weeks or in severe cases extracted.

Limping or dragging a limb. Rabbits have very fragile bones. Improper handling, and sometimes their own antics, may result in broken bones or a fractured spine. X-rays may be needed to determine the extent of the injury and course of treatment.

DOES MY GUINEA PIG NEED TO SEE A VET?

Signs that you need to take your guinea pig to an exotic or emergency vet right away:

Mouth breathing. Guinea Pigs breath through their nose only. Breathing through the mouth is a sign of severe respiratory distress.

Not eating; small dry poops or lack of fecal production; weight loss. This can be a sign that something is wrong with your guinea pig and can quickly spiral into larger medical concerns. (GUIDE TO GUINEA PIG POOP)

Straining to pee, sludge or blood in the urine. Sludge looks like a sediment or sandy deposit in the urine. It can be easier to see on fleece or blankets. Sludge can progress to kidney and/or bladder stones which are fairly common in guinea pigs. If you suspect your guinea pig might be peeing blood, put it on puppy pee pads to monitor and track urine until you can get them to an exotic or emergency vet.

Crusty nipples; hair loss on the sides; weight loss; “PMS” or increased aggressive mounting/dominant behavior in unspayed female guinea pigs. These are classic signs of ovarian cysts. Though some guinea pigs will not show any symptoms at all 2 out of 5 female guinea pigs will develop cysts before age 1. By the time they are seniors, 4 out of 5 female guinea pigs will develop reproductive cancer.

Crustiness and/or hair loss around the eyes. Often indicates a respiratory or ear infection. Crusty eyes may not seem urgent but speaks VOLUMES for guinea pigs and sometimes may be the only warning sign.

Ongoing scratching of the ears; head shaking; head tilt. Guinea pigs are prone to ear infections and can hide them for months without showing signs. Scratching their ears and/or shaking their head can indicate an ear infection but most often the only sign may be a decrease in normal activities and energy levels. For example: no longer running around or jumping on top of their house, hammock or loft. Especially if combined with crusty eyes. Inner ear infections are confirmed through x-rays.

Overgrown or misaligned teeth. A guinea pigs teeth grow about 3 inches per year. An improper diet can lead to overgrown incisors and uneven wearing of the molars. Guinea pigs that chew on the bars of their cage are significantly more likely to develop chips in their incisors.

  Stiff walking. Guinea pigs may start to developing arthritis at around 4-5 years of age. Without pain medications they can stop eating and walking, start dragging limbs, or develop pressure sores from sitting in one place. Helping to keep your senior guinea pig comfortable is extremely important and can lead to a significantly improved quality of life in their final years.

Veterinarians in Florida

Veterinary medical schools primarily focus on cats, dogs and agriculture (farm animals like: horses, cattle, pigs, poultry, etc.) Exotic animals like rabbits and guinea pigs may only briefly be mentioned and care and husbandry based on that of livestock vs a pet. To learn how to safely diagnose and treat rabbits and guinea pigs from a domestic perspective veterinarians would need to receive additional training by completing continuing education modules, interning at an Exotic Animal Hospital, attending annual conferences to stay up to date on new and evolving treatment protocols, and/or working with rabbit rescue groups.

Looking for the best rabbit-savvy vet near you? Below is a list of exotic specialists (look for “Exotic” in the name) as well as veterinary hospitals that have demonstrated experience with treating rabbits and guinea pigs in Florida. This information is provided only for convenience and is not an endorsement by Penny & Wild SOSFL. This list may not be a complete list of veterinarians who treat exotic animals in Florida.

Considering a veterinary practice not on the list? Do your own careful research and ask THESE QUESTIONS  to make sure you are comfortable taking your rabbit or guinea pig to them.

If you are unsure which exotic vet is the best choice, reach out to your local rabbit rescue for a recommendation!

MARATHON

Marathon Veterinary Hospital
11187 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 743-7099
www.thrivepetcare.com

MIAMI-DADE

Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center
6380 S Dixie Hwy
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 234-2473
www.avianexotic.com

Eco Deco Pet Hospital
1539 Alton Rd,
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 763-8009
www.ecodecopethospital.com

Exoticare Veterinary Services
8821 SW 136th St,
Miami, FL 33256
(305) 330-4429

ExoVet Veterinary Services
Mobile Vet
(954) 802-6717
www.exovetfl.com

Bravo Animal Clinic
10901 SW 186th St
Cutler Bay, FL 33157
(305) 234-9422
www.bravoanimalclinic.com

Paws and Claws Medical Center
3858 SW 137th Ave,
Miami, FL 33175
(786) 654-1116
www.pawsnclawsmiami.com

VCA South Dade
6380 S Dixie Hwy South
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 661-2573
www.vcahospitals.com/south-dade

BROWARD

Broward Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital
1101 S Powerline Rd,
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
(954) 968-7171
www.exoticanimalcare.com

Nova Animal Hospital
4220 S. University Drive
Davie, FL 33328
954-475-1550
www.novaanimalhospital.com

Oakland Park Animal Hospital
2200 W Oakland Park Blvd,
Oakland Park, FL 33311
(954) 731-4228
www.oaklandparkanimalhospital.com

Welleby Veterinary Hospital
10008 W Oakland Park Blvd,
Sunrise, FL 33351
(954) 748-2002
www.wellebyvet.com

PALM BEACH

The Bird & Exotic Hospital
6147 Lake Worth Rd,
Greenacres, FL 33463
(561) 964-2121
www.birdexoticvet.com

Wildside Avian and Exotics
Mobile Vet
(954) 681-5599
www.wildsidevet.com

PALM CITY

Avian & Exotic Clinic of Palm City
1508 SW Mapp Rd,
Palm City, FL 34990
(772) 600-8895
www.avianandexoticclinicofpalmcity.com

ROCKLEDGE

Coastal Animal Hospital
545 Gus Hipp Blvd
Rockledge, FL 32955
(321) 632-3800
www.coastalvetrockledge.com

Florida Affordable Veterinary Services
1978 US-1, Suite 105
Rockledge, FL
(321) 463-3287
www.favs.vet

BONITA SPRINGS

Animal Hospital of Bonita Springs
8830 Emerald Isle
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
(239) 947-3447
www.animalhospitalofbonita.com

FORT MYERS

Medlin Exotic Animal Medical Services
14361 Metropolis Ave
Fort Myers, FL 33912
(239) 989-8860
www.meams.vet

Just 4 Pets Wellness Center
8911 Daniels Pkwy
Fort Myers, FL 33912
(239) 270-5721
www.just4petsfl.vet

TAMPA BAY

East Bay Animal Hospital
3445-A E Bay Dr
Largo, FL 33771
(727) 536-2743
www.eastbayanimalhospital.com

Ehrlich Animal Hospital & Arthritis Therapy Center
8009 Gunn Hwy
Tampa, FL 33626
(813) 920-0566
www.ehrlichanimalhospital.com

Pebble Creek Animal and Bird Hospital
19440 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33647
(813) 973-8566
www.tampabayvets.net/location/pebble-creek

Tampa Veterinary Hospital
103 N Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 254-3031
www.tampavet.com

Tampa Bay Animal Hospitals
Multiple Locations
www.tampabayvets.net

Valrico Animal Clinic
2914 Lithia Pinecrest Rd
Valrico, FL 33596
(813) 681-6389
www.valricoanimalclinic.com

DAVENPORT

St. Charles Veterinary Hospital
2360 North Blvd West
Davenport, Florida, 33837
(863) 438-6600
www.stcharlesvethospital.com

ORLANDO

Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando
1717 E Michigan St
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 286-3484
www.orlandoexoticveterinarian.com

Eastside Veterinary Hospital
15016 Pine Valley Blvd
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-6624
www.eastorangevet.com

East Orange Animal Hospital
11937 East Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32826
(407) 275-3856
www.eastorangevet.com

Kirkman Road Veterinary Clinic
38 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 297-7528
www.kirkmanroadveterinaryclinic.com

West End Animal Care Clinic
4427 13th St
St. Cloud, FL 34769
(407) 498-3080
www.westendanimalcareclinic.com

Winter Park Veterinary Hospital
1601 Lee Rd
Winter Park, FL 32789
www.wpvet.com

DELAND

Florida Wild Veterinary Hospital
115 Euclid Ave
Deland, FL 32724
(386) 734-9899
www.floridawildvethospital.com

PORT ORANGE

Ravenwood Veterinary Clinic
4540 S. Clyde Morris Blvd
Port Orange, FL 32129
386.788.1550
www.ravenwoodvet.net

GAINSVILLE

Hilltop Animal Hospital
16402 US Highway 441
Alachua, FL 32615
386.462.3822
www.hilltop-animal.com

Micanopy Animal Hospital
306 NE 441
Micanopy, FL 32667
352-466-0067
www.micanopyanimalhospital.com

UF Small Animal Hospital
2089 SW 16th Ave
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 392-2235
www.smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu

West End Animal Hospital
15318 W. Newberry Rd
Newberry, FL 32669
352.472.7626
www.westendanimalhospital.com

JACKSONVILLE

Exotic Bird Hospital
8820 Old Kings Rd S.
Jacksonville, FL 32257
904.256.0043
www.exoticbirdhospital.com

Fleming Island Pet Clinic
4711 Hwy 17 Bldg. D
Fleming Island, FL 32003
904. 264.7387
www.flemingislandpetclinic.com

Riverside Animal Hospital
2641 Park St
Jacksonville, FL 32204
(904) 388-3494
www.riversidejaxvet.com

Emergency

EMERGENCY & AFTER HOUR

*Always call ahead to confirm an Exotic Vet that is experienced with your species is on staff.

Animal Emergency Hospital
2100 East New York Ave
Deland, FL 32724
(386) 252-0337
www.animalemergencydeland.com

BluePearl Veterinary Partners
Multiple Locations
www.bluepearlvet.com

Colonial Animal Hospital
9321 6 Mile Cypress Pkwy
Fort Myers, FL 33966
(239) 541-0726
www.colonialblvdanimalhospital.com

Oviedo Veterinary Care and Emergency
2092 Church Street
Oviedo, FL 32765
(689) 689-6100
info@oviedovetcare.com
www.oviedovetcare.com

Pet Emergency Center
921 E Cypress Creek Rd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
(954) 772-0420
www.petemergencycenters.com

Pet Express Animal Hospital
4200 S University Dr
Davie, FL 33328
(954) 653-6868
www.954pet.com

St. Charles Veterinary Hospital
2360 North Blvd West
Davenport, Florida, 33837
(863) 438-6600
www.stcharlesvethospital.com

Veterinary Emergency Group
Multiple Locations
www.veterinaryemergencygroup.com

Specialists

CARDIOLOGISTS

Veterinary Cardiopulmonary Care Center
415 Federal Hwy
Pompano Beach, FL 33062
561-440-0084
www.vetccc.com

OPTHALMOLOGISTS

Animal Eye Guys
Multiple Locations
www.animaleyeguys.com

Animal Eye Specialty Clinic
Multiple Locations
www.animaleyespecialtyclinic.com

Animal Eye Associates
9901 S US Highway 17/92
Maitland, Florida, 32751
407-349-3846
www.animaleyegroup.com

Veterinary Eye Institute
Multiple Locations
www.veterinaryeyeinstitute.com

 

EYES ARE ALWAYS AN EMERGENCY

If you notice your that rabbit or guinea pig has discharge, wetness, crusting or hair loss around the eye; swelling, cloudiness or redness of the eye; is squinting or keeping one eye closed; contact a veterinary eye specialist right away. Untreated eye infections are painful and can lead to blindness; may require enunciation (surgical removal of the eye); and can be very dangerous!

Low Cost

LOW COST CLINICS & SHELTERS

The following clinics and shelters may offer low or lower cost spay / neuter services and veterinary care for rabbits and guinea pigs in Florida.

Bravo Animal Clinic
10901 SW 186th St
Cutler Bay, FL 33157
(305) 234-9422
www.bravoanimalclinic.com

Dade City Animal Clinic
13117 US 301
Dade City, FL
352-618-2837
www.dadecityanimalclinic.com

Florida Affordable Veterinary Services
1978 US-1, Suite 105
Rockledge, FL
(321) 463-3287
www.favs.vet

Florida Aide to Animals
Palm Bay and Melbourne Locations
www.flaidtoanimals.org

Harmony Vet Care of Brandon
3301 John Moore Rd
Brandon, FL 33511
(813) 871-0850
www.harmonyvetcare.org

Just 4 Pets Wellness Center
8911 Daniels Pkwy
Fort Myers, FL 33912
(239) 270-5721
www.just4petsfl.vet

Kirkman Road Veterinary Clinic
38 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 297-7528
www.kirkmanroadveterinaryclinic.com

Marcum Road Animal Hospital
131 Marcum Road
Lakeland, FL
(863)-858-1718
www.marcumroadvet.com

Maverick Animal Clinic
404 Madison Ave
Orange Park, FL 32065
(904) 276-8101

Underhill Animal Hospital
4900 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32807
407-277-0927
www.underhillanimalhospital.com

SPCA of Tampa Bay
9099 130th Avenue North
Largo, Florida 33773
727-586-3591
www.spcatampabay.org

Humane Society of Tampa Bay
3607 North Armenia Ave
Tampa, FL
813-876-3178
www.humanesocietytampa.org

Humane Society of Treasure Coast
4100 SW Leighton Farm Ave
Palm City, FL  34990
(772) 223-8822
www.hstc1.org

Humane Society  of Naples
370 Airport-Pulling Rd
Naples, FL 34104
(239) 643-1555
www.hsnaples.org

Need help finding an Exotic Vet near you?

Rescues have an ear to the ground and from personal experience as well as feedback from adopters, often know which veterinarians are providing safe and appropriate care, are experienced with a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions, prescribe and administer appropriate treatments, and have a high rate of positive outcomes and client satisfaction.

Reach out to your local rescue to ask for vet recommendations and/or additional resources:

FLORIDA RABBIT RESCUES

SOUTH EAST FLORIDA

East Coast Rabbit Rescue WEST PALM BEACH
www.eastcoastrabbitrescue.org

H.A.R.E. House Rabbit Adoption Rescue and Education MIAMI-DADE
www.hare.as.miami.edu

Penny & Wild SOSFL MIAMI-DADE & BROWARD
www.pennyandwild.org

 

SOUTH WEST FLORIDA

Southwest Rabbit Rescue LEE & COLLIER
www.respectforrabbits.org

 

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA

Floppy Ear Rescue ST. LUCIE
www.floppyearrescue.org

Fort Wilbur Rabbit Rescue VOLUSIA
www.fortwilbur.org

Holly Hops Rabbit Rescue and Rehabilitation VOLUSIA
www.hollyhops.org

O.R.C.A. Orlando Rabbit Care and Adoptions ORANGE
www.orlandorabbit.org

The Pawphanage for Wayward Pets ORANGE
www.pawphanage.org

Space Coast Bunnies BREVARD
www.facebook.com/spacecoastbunnies

 

CENTRAL WEST FLORIDA

Suncoast House Rabbit Rescue PASCO
www.suncoasthrr.org

Tampa Bay Rabbit Rescue TAMPA
www.tbhrr.org

 

NORTH EAST FLORIDA

Bebette’s Bunny Rescue NASSAU
www.bebettesbunnyrescue.org

Gainsville Rabbit Rescue ALACHUA
www.gainesvillerabbitrescue.org

Live Freely Sanctuary ALACHUA
www.facebook.com/LiveFreelySanctuary

North Florida Rabbit Rescue DUVAL
www.northfloridarabbitrescue.org

FLORIDA GUINEA PIG RESCUES

As there is a shortage of guinea pig rescues in Florida this list will also include county shelters.

 

SOUTH EAST FLORIDA

Penny & Wild SOSFL MIAMI-DADE & BROWARD
www.pennyandwild.org

 

SOUTH WEST FLORIDA

Broken Oak Sanctuary LEE
www.brokenoaksanctuary.org

The Royal Cavy Guinea Pig Rescue Inc. HILLSBOROUGH & PINELLAS
www.theroyalcavyguineapigrescue.com

Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA MANATEE
www.bishopspca.org

Collier County Domestic Animal Services COLLIER
www.colliercountyfl.gov

Humane Society of Manatee County MANATEE
www.humanemanatee.org

Humane Society  of Naples COLLIER
www.hsnaples.org

Humane Society of Tampa Bay HILLSBOROUGH
www.humanesocietytampa.org

SPCA of Tampa Bay HILLSBOROUGH
www.spcatampabay.org

 

CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA

Floppy Ear Rescue ST. LUCIE
www.floppyearrescue.org

The Pawphanage for Wayward Pets ORANGE
www.pawphanage.org

H.A.L.O No-kill Rescue INDIAN RIVER
www.halorescuefl.org

Humane Society of the Treasure Coast MARTIN
www.hstc1.org

 

NORTH EAST FLORIDA

Jacksonville Guinea Pig Rescue DUVAL
www.facebook.com/JaxGPR

Gainsville Rabbit Rescue ALACHUA
www.gainesvillerabbitrescue.org

OTHER STATES

Visit RABBBIT.ORG to find a rabbit savvy vet near you.

For guinea pigs, check out KAVEECAGE.NET and GUINEALYNX.INFO.

CONTACT US

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