Zoological Medicine

What is Zoological Medicine (ZooMED)?

Zoological medicine, or ZooMED, is the branch of veterinary medicine that treats zoological companion animals, also commonly referred to as exotic pets.

A growing number of people are caring for small animals that would be considered by many to be “non-traditional” pets. These pets include (among many more):

  • Companion birds
  • Turtles
  • Snakes and lizards
  • Rabbits
  • Ferrets
  • Guinea pigs and chinchillas
  • Hedgehogs
  • Rats and mice
  • Hamsters and gerbils
  • Tarantulas and scorpions

Each of these animals has specific housing, dietary, and socialization requirements. Each can also be prone to specific diseases requiring diagnostic tests and treatments that can vary, sometimes significantly, from those needed to treat dogs and cats. Our ZooMED team is prepared to meet these pets' unique needs with specialized equipment, as well as the expertise necessary to help diagnose and treat your pet.

What kinds of services can be provided for avian and exotic pets?

At VCA South Shore (Weymouth) Animal Hospital we offer preventive and surgical health care for exotic pets. Yearly wellness examinations are strongly recommended for all avian and exotic pets. Unlike dogs and cats, avian and exotic pets instinctively hide their symptoms of illness as long as possible. This means that just because they look healthy doesn't mean that they actually are. The yearly wellness examination is an opportunity to review husbandry requirements and detect possible problems early in an effort to treat health conditions before they become advanced.

Blood screening is another part of the yearly wellness exam that is important and encouraged for all avian and exotic patients, particularly as they age. Blood screening may detect liver and kidney problems much faster than with a physical exam alone. It may also detect specific diseases (such as insulinoma in ferrets) before they start showing symptoms, when these diseases are easiest to treat.

Often working in conjunction with our other specialty services, our ZooMED team is also able to provide advanced diagnostic and treatment services including:

  • Dentistry and endoscopic oral examinations for rabbits and rodents
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Orthopedic and soft tissue surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Neurology
  • Diagnostic imaging such as digital radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Laparoscopy in birds
  • 24 hour nursing care
  • Emergency and critical care for avian/exotic pets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Our facility houses a dedicated avian and exotic patient ward with temperature controlled cages and specialized lighting for those that need it. This ward is separate from the canine and feline patients to minimize the stress of being in the hospital. Our most critical patients are housed in our state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for advanced monitoring.

Our Zoological Medicine Services