Bearded Dragons

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM



Bearded Dragon Hatchlings

By: Jill M. Patt, DVM

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Desert of Australia

LIFESPAN: 10+ years of age

SEXING: Males have a beard that turns black during the breeding season

Males have pre-anal and femoral pores

HOUSING: – A large aquarium with a natural substrate bottom and multiple climbing branches and hide boxes should be used.

– The type of substrate is often debated but may people advocate bedding such as sand, outdoor carpet, decomposed granite, paper towels, newspaper… Regardless of the type of substrate used, hygiene is the most important aspect to consider. You should choose a substrate that you can keep clean and fresh for your dragon.

– Avoid: kitty litter, bird litter (such as corncob or walnut shells) and wood shavings.

LIGHTING: Full spectrum lighting can only be supplied in the form of fluorescent bulbs and the bulb must supply UVB spectrum light.

The light should be ~18 inches from the cage.

A basking light should be provided in the form of an incandescent bulb placed above a branch.

TEMPERATURE: A range or temperature gradient should be supplied with the cool end of the cage at ~75F and the warm end up to 86F. Night time temperatures can dip down to the 70’s. The basking light should provide a focal spot in the 90’s range.

WATER/HUMIDITY: A shallow drinking dish should be provided Occasional misting with a spray bottle can be provided.

DIET: – These guys are omnivores: they eat protein and veggies.

– Very Young: Pin head crickets must be provided, feeding these hatchlings too large an insect can result in their death. Assorted shredded veggies.

– Immature: larger insects – a variety should be provided.

– Adults: As the lizards grow larger they can be fed mice or other rodents.

SUPPLEMENTS: The insects should be dusted with a phosphorus free calcium supplement prior to feeding. A multi vitamin should be provided twice weekly.

MEDICAL CONCERNS: – Parasite infections are very common in bearded dragons and will often result in cloaca irritation and prolapse.

– Malnutrition and metabolic bone disease due to poor lighting and diet.

– Gut impaction

Remember: A yearly veterinary examination is needed to keep your dragon healthy.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The Reptile Room at: secid-1.html

Melissa Kaplan’s web site at:

Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at:

Water Dragons

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM


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LIFESPAN: 15+ years

SEXING: Males are larger then females with a larger head and jowls.

HOUSING: A very large enclosure is needed to prevent facial trauma from attempted escapes. A swimming pool and climbing areas should be provided. Bottom substrate should be a mixture of peat and sand.

LIGHTING: Full spectrum UVB fluorescent lights and an incandescent basking light.

TEMPERATURE: During the day in the 80’s and at night in the upper 70’s, with a basking area in the 90’s also provided during the daylight hours.

WATER/HUMIDITY: A swimming/wading pool must be available at all times to provide the proper humidity and necessary soaking. The pool must be cleaned daily as the dragons will defecate in it.

DIET: A mixture of crickets and veggies, adults may be fed small rodents and insects.

SUPPLEMENTS: All insects should be gut loaded with nutrients and dusted with a phosphorus free calcium supplement. A multivitamin should be provided 1-2 times weekly.

MEDICAL CONCERNS: Facial trauma and abscesses from too small an enclosure

Metabolic bone disease from malnutrition

Bacterial infections – poor hygiene

Parasitic infections

Respiratory infections

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at:

Melissa Kaplan’s web site at:

Chinese Water Dragons:

Ferret Care Sheet

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM



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WHAT ARE THEY? Ferrets are considered domestic animals that are thought to descend from the European polecat and are related to weasels, skunks and otters

LIFESPAN: 6+ years

SEXING: Ferrets are typically sold to the pet trade already neutered and descented. Males have a penis at the mid-abdominal area.

HOUSING: Ferrets should be caged when not directly supervised. Ferrets love to explore and will ingest items that can become stuck in their intestines and require surgical removal. The cage should be large enough for the ferret to freely move around, should contain a hammock bed and a litter pan. Most frequently a metal mesh cage is used.

VACCINES: Ferrets less then 1 year old:

Should receive 3 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart for distemper and 1 rabies vaccine at 3 months of age. Than a yearly booster should be given for distemper, every 3 years for rabies.

Ferrets greater then 1 year old:

Should receive 2 distemper boosters 3 weeks apart and then yearly distemper, with the rabies vaccine only every 3 years.

Allergic Reactions:

Ferrets have a higher then average incidence of severe allergic reactions to vaccines. We therefore, will only give one vaccine at a time and request that the owner wait 15 minutes prior to departing the hospital and a technician will assess the pet prior to departure.

DIET: A commercial diet labeled for ferrets should be fed. Cat food is often not high enough in protein and dog food is deficient in the amino acid taurine which can lead to heart disease.

WATER: Fresh/clean water should be available at all times.

SUPPLEMENTS: If on a good ferret diet, supplementation is not necessary.

MEDICAL CONCERNS: Ferrets have many medical concerns and it is therefore important to establish a good relationship with your veterinarian. Some of the more common problems are: adrenal gland disease, foreign body ingestion, pancreatic tumors, dental disease, GI disease, Cardiac disease, and viruses. Ferrets can get canine distemper from dogs and can get and give the flu to us.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Jill M. Patt’s web site at:

American Ferret Association:

Ferret Owners Manual Online:

Rabbit Care Sheet

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM





WHAT ARE THEY? Rabbits are not rodents. They are domesticated animals called lagomorphs which are characterized by double incisor teeth.

LIFESPAN: 10+ Years

SEXING: Mature does will have a fold of skin under the neck called a dewlap. Mature males will have external testicles that can be withdrawn into the body at will. On further examination, when the genital area is gently pressed on females will protrude a slit like opening and males a cylindrical tube.

HOUSING: I highly recommend keeping your rabbit as a house rabbit. However, a cage should be used when your pet cannot be supervised. The cage should be as large as you have space for and should have solid (not wire) flooring which is gentler on your rabbit’s feet. The cage should include toys for chewing, a litter box, water bottle, and food dish. Be careful with wire or cloth hay nets – I’ve seen many rabbits catch their legs in these.

LITTER BOX: Rabbits are easy to litter train, but should be spayed or neutered for best results. Place a litter pan in an area where your rabbit is already urinating and then gradually move the box to the desired location.

SPAY/NEUTER: All rabbits should be neutered to prevent reproduction and keep them healthy. Neutering will also reduce urine and fecal marking and aggression. In addition, neutering female rabbits will prevent them from getting uterine cancer which can be common in older rabbits.

DIET: – Grass Hay should be the primary food source – Bermuda / timothy in unlimited amounts
– Mixed Leafy greens should be provided daily – a minimum of 1 cup of spring greens daily
– Pellets are not the primary diet and should be grass hay based – offer ~ 1/4cup per 5 lb. rabbit
– Alfalfa is not a good hay source for rabbits – it can cause urinary stones
– Rabbits should not be fed food rich in grains and sugars – will result in severe diarrhea
– Multiple diseases are related to the diet – the best way to keep your rabbit healthy is with a good diet

WATER: Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. A water bottle will prevent dripping on the skin of the chin and neck – preventing skin infections.

SUPPLEMENTS: Are not needed for rabbits on a good diet. A salt lick is really just a treat.

MEDICAL: All rabbits should be examined by a veterinarian at least yearly.

Dental disease, hair balls, gastrointestinal disease – impaction and diarrhea, respiratory disease, cancer, obesity, fly strike, organ disease


Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at:

House Rabbit Society:

Brambley Hedge – AZ rabbit rescue:

Oxbow Rabbit Food:

Bird Care Sheet

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM






Parrot type birds: Psittacines, Finch type birds: Passerines, Nectar Eating Parrots: Lories, Birds of Pray: Raptors, Flightless birds: Ratites.


The only difference here is that parrots are hook billed birds that are generally thought of as a large bird with a plump body and short tail. Parakeets are generally small birds with long tails. The bird we commonly call the parakeet is actually a budgerigar or budgie.


Birds have many hollow/air filled bones and air filled sacs throughout their bodies allowing them improved oxygenation for flight. Birds use their preen glands to spread an oil or powder like substance onto their feathers that then reacts with sunlight to form Vitamin D that is ingested when they preen. Birds are highly intelligent and have been proven to learn and understand many words.


The lifespan will vary greatly with the type of bird and can range from just a few years for our smaller finches to 100+ years for our parrots. Unfortunately, many birds do not live out their expected lifespan due to poor nutrition over their lifetime.


Many birds are dimorphic: males and females occur in different color forms. The Eclectus parrot is the most extreme example of sexual dimorphism. Some birds such as Umbrella Cockatoos appear identical in coloration but iris color will vary between the sexes. And some types of birds are outwardly identical.


All birds should be provided with the largest cage that you have space for. Even those with trimmed wing feathers will actively climb and explore their cages.

TOYS: Numerous bird toys should be provided including those that can be chewed or destroyed.

PERCHES: should vary in size, shape and texture, to allow the birds to rest their feet

LOCATION: In an area of the house where they can enjoy interaction but not be in the center of the action (they need rest too), the kitchen should be avoided due to temperature fluctuation and potential toxins from non-stick cookware, immediately in front of a window is not ideal as there will be temperature fluctuations and stress if the bird cannot escape the view.


Enrichment toys, foraging activities & toys, and a radio or TV set on a timer to go off and on several times daily

In general you need to provide a large variety of fresh food for your bird. Ideally, offer a core diet of an organic, color free avian pellet and a large variety of vegetables daily. Seeds should be limited to treats except for the small birds such as budgies and cockatiels which should have a 50% seed diet. Clean sprouted seeds can also be offered and are a good way of introducing greens to the stubborn eater. Fruits should be limited as a treat only. Offer clean, fresh water at all times. Certain species have additional nutritional needs – please research your particular bird’s needs.


Generally are not needed for those birds on a good balanced diet and some supplements can create toxicity if overdone.


Numerous! All birds should have at least an annual examination. Feather picking, skin mutilation, respiratory disease, eye infections, trauma, organ disease, malnutrition, reproductive problems and many more…

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at:

Pain Control for our Pets?

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM



Research has shown that pain is self perpetuating and that each episode of pain triggers the next, making it easier to experience the pain. Therefore, after the animal begins to experience pain it is much more difficult to control because the pet is already cycling through this pain loop. Additionally, research studies indicate that pain will not only cause the animal stress but that the stress will release steroids which will delay healing and recovery.

Interpretation of pain in the various animals we care for can be extremely problematic. In the veterinary field we not only deal with various animal personalities but also various species that show pain differently. As an example, a budgie that is painful will often just sit quietly and appear slightly fluffed, but a Husky will often vocalize at the smallest pain stimulation. Animals, like people, have various levels of pain sensitivity and some animals will be very vocal with minimal pain stimulation whereas others will never show pain sensitivity even though we know they are experiencing a painful condition.

Because of the difficulty of interpreting pain in various animals/species and because of the difficulty of halting pain once it has begun, veterinarians, as your pet’s health care provider, must control pain before it starts. We know if certain procedures are likely to cause pain and we can administer pain control prior to the procedure to prevent the pet from 1) experiencing the pain, & 2) entering the difficult to control pain cycle.

The importance of multi-modality pain control should also be addressed. We are fortunate to have a large spectrum of analgesics (pain medications) available to us in the veterinary field, and by combining different types of analgesics we can often get additive effects, where the combination of drugs work better together than either one alone. A good example of this is the use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a true analgesic such as a morphine derivative. The NSAID will eliminate the swelling and the morphine derivative will directly control the pain providing a broader spectrum of pain control.

In conclusion, veterinarians understand that animals do experience pain much like we do, but the presence of pain and its control are subjective and difficult to interpret. Therefore, my ideal pain control involves the administration of analgesics prior to a painful event and the prevention of any discomfort. Veterinary medicine of the past poorly understood this concept and approved drugs were not available, however, veterinary medicine has changed and today pain control is an important part of our acceptable standard of care for your pet.

Jill M. Patt, DVM

Veterinary Diagnostic Testing

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM



Diagnostic testing for animals will vary greatly depending on the age, species, sex and medical condition of the pet. Veterinary medicine has evolved to the point that we are able to provide exceptional quality medical, surgical and diagnostic procedures which allow us to provide the most up to date standard of medical care for your pet. Unfortunately, financial concerns often arise when discussing diagnostic testing and this is most common during an emergency when you are least able to prepare for the additional expense. Because of this, I strongly recommend purchasing pet health insurance. At the very least, insurance will provide you with additional assistance during an emergency, and at the most, it will allow you to provide your pet with life saving care. I’ve provided a few links for pet insurance below and I strongly recommend that all pet owners research the insurance plans available.

It is not possible to cover all types of diagnostic tests available to our pets, but I do intend to include information on the most common diagnostic procedures available and will add additional information over time.


1. CBC: complete blood cell count – This is a measure of the red blood cells which carry oxygen to the organs, and the white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infection. A CBC will also include information on blood protein and platelets (cells needed for clotting blood). The report will give an estimated count of all the individual cell types in your pet’s blood sample. This will allow your veterinarian to determine information such as:

  • 1) Anemia – reduced RBC count
  • 2) Increased WBCs – often indicates infection
  • 3) Reduced WBCs – can be due to viral infections or stress
  • 4) Reduced platelets – can be due to sample handling or an actual reduction for a variety of reasons, very low platelets will place the pet at risk of bleeding, many dogs (greyhounds) will normally have a lower count
  • 5) Elevated protein – can indicate dehydration
  • 6) Reduced protein – can be due to hemorrhage, lack of production, of loss through the GI tract or kidneys
  • 7) Elevated percentage of red blood cells – normal in some breeds such as greyhounds, pet’s living at higher elevations, dehydration

2. Chemistry Panel
The blood chemistry panel will provide information on organ status (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), blood protein, immunoglobulins and electrolytes.

3. Thyroid Level (T4):
The thyroid level is often added to the chemistry panel for both cats and dogs. While cats often have problems with a thyroid level that is too high, dogs are just the opposite and can have very low thyroid hormone production. A few of the more common signs of hypothyroidism are dry skin, thin hair coat, dry coat, lethargy and weight gain. Dogs with low thyroid levels can be treated with thyroid replacement medication which is inexpensive and safe. For more information on hyperthyroid cats see cat section under links below.

4. In-house Viral/infectious organism testing:
These are pre-packaged tests that require the application of blood or urine and positives show various color changes much like a home pregnancy test.

  • (dogs) 4DX test: checks for lyme, tick fever (E.canis), anaplasma, and heartworms
  • (dogs) Heartworm test: tests only for heartworms
  • (cats) FeLV/FIV – Tests for feline leukemia virus and immunodeficiency
  • (cats) Feline Combo test – Felv, Fiv, and now heartworms
  • (dogs) Parvo Test – tests for parvo virus infections in dogs


1. Urinalysis:A sample is collected from your pet by holding a cup in the urine stream (free catch) or by using a needle directed into the bladder to collect a sterile urine sample. Collection by needle is called cystocentesis and is quick, safe and relatively painless. We prefer to utilize an ultrasound to allow us to see the bladder and actually see the needle enter the bladder, allowing for easier collection.

Information obtained can include:

  • 1) Urine Concentration – can indicate kidney disease or dehydration
  • 2) Bacteria Count: should be zero when collected by cystocentesis
  • 3) RBC – higher with cystocentesis, can indicate inflammation
  • 4) WBC count – and bacteria can indicate infection
  • 5) Presence and type of urinary crystals
  • 6) Presence of glucose (sugar) – can indicate diabetes
  • 7) Information regarding liver status – bilirubin

2. Urine Culture and Sensitivity: Urine is collected directly from the bladder by cystocentesis and the sample is plated and incubated in an attempt to grow bacteria. If bacteria are grown, tests are run to indicate the actual type of bacteria and than the bacteria are challenged with various antibiotics to determine the effectiveness of the medications against that specific type of bacteria.

FECAL TESTING: Fecal examinations are commonly done on puppies, kittens and pets with diarrhea.

Routinely used to float parasite eggs to the surface of a liquid where they are collected on a slide coverslip and examined under a microscope.
Fecal Direct Smear: Directly plating feces on a slide and examining for moving organisms such as Giardia and smaller ova.
Fecal Cytology: Feces are applied to a microscope slide and stained with a dye to allow viewing of cells such as bacteria, RBC and WBC. Fecal cytology can be helpful with diagnosis of gastrointestinal inflammation, microscopic bleeding, and bacterial enteritis.


Commonly called x-rays
Allow the veterinarian to see a grey scale image of your pet’s chest, abdomen, and skeletal structures. The size and shape of heart and organs can often be determined and a large amount of useful information can be obtained from radiographs. However, they are not perfect and don’t allow the clinician to see everything. Only structures that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye are seem on x-rays. Many times we will get very poor detail in thin pets or pets with fluid in their abdomen. Also, only the more dense foreign bodies will be seen and items such as cloth will not be seen at all.


  • Readily available in most veterinary hospitals
  • Can often provide a quick in house diagnosis
  • Excellent for viewing skeletal structures
  • Can often provide supportive information to help confirm a diagnosis


  • Viewing in shades of gray and is not the same as actually seeing the structures
  • Abdominal detail is influenced by the degree of fat and reduced by fluid
  • Only structures large enough to be seen with the naked eye will show up
  • Biopsy is often needed for a more specific diagnosis of organ disease


The same as a pregnancy ultrasound but also used for viewing structures in the abdomen and the thorax (chest). An ultrasound of the heart is called an echocardiogram and is an excellent tool for diagnosing the type and
severity of heart disease. Abdominal ultrasounds can be used for those pets that have poor abdominal detail on radiographs or for a guided biopsy of organs or a mass.


A long flexible or rigid tube made of mirrors that allow the veterinarian to actually view the interior of the patient. The endoscope can be inserted into just about an area of the body and small biopsy samples can be taken or foreign bodies (i.e. fish hooks) collected.
Allows a direct view of internal structures
Allows for possibility of a quick and non-surgical diagnosis
Allows for a non-surgical biopsy
Can collect photos or videos of internal structures for later review <
Limited by the size of the tube, very small scopes needed for some areas
Can only collect small and often superficial biopsy samples
Often able to make a diagnosis but surgery may still be needed for cure


Leads are attached to the body and measure the electrical activity of the heart. Information on heart rate and rhythm is collected.


I vitally important that this be measured while a pet is under anesthesia
I a frequently used tool in older cats suspected of having hyperthyroidism or heart disease. Or in dogs with conditions such as Cushings.
Blood pressure cuffs come in different sizes and it is important to select the correct size for the patient.
The width of the cuff needs to be about 0.3-0.4 times the diameter of the limb. To quickly check the fit of the cuff align the cuff with the limb lengthwise and the cuff should go less than half way around the limb diameter and at least a quarter of the diameter. A cuff size that is too wide will result in a lowered blood pressure reading.

We also like to place the pet in a darkened room on a comfy bed and have the owners talk to the pet while we are measuring the blood pressure. All these procedures help to calm the pet and result in more accurate readings. Regular blood pressure measurements can be useful for cats with kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.


Many people are concerned about anesthesia and allow this concern to prevent their pet from getting needed treatments and diagnostics. While there is always some risk with any general anesthetic procedure, there are many things both you and your veterinarian can do to dramatically lessen the risk.

What you can do: You are your pet’s advocate and are directly responsible for making decisions to provide your pet with a safer anesthetic procedure. Some of these decisions include:

  • – Choosing to have the procedure preformed with your regular veterinarian rather than the low cost clinic down the road. This is important for a few reasons, but most importantly is that your doctor knows your pet and therefore is better able to predict potential problems and pick the best anesthetic protocol for your pet. Additionally, while many low-cost clinics practice excellent medicine, unfortunately some are able to provide lower cost because they cut corners in other ways such as less expensive anesthetic gas, few injectable anesthetics, less pain control, reduced staffing and less (or no) monitoring of the pet under anesthesia.
  • – Choosing to have pre-anesthetic blood work completed on your pet.
    Some hospitals will require that pre-anesthetic blood work be completed on all pets, some will only require it on geriatric (senior) pets, and some will leave the decision entirely up to you. Pre-anesthetic blood work provides the veterinarian with a picture of the health of your pet at the time of the procedure. The picture includes information on general organ status, potential infections, ability to clot blood, and anemia. Frequent problems identified include diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and clues to infections or parasites. Young pets are generally assumed to be healthy and therefore owners often elect to forgo blood testing. Most of the time this is a relatively safe bet, but it is a gamble and occasionally even a young pet will have unidentified disease that will increase the anesthetic risk. If disease is identified the anesthesia may be postponed or the anesthetic protocol may be altered to increase the margin of safety for your pet. When asked to choose pre-anesthetic blood work for your pet, always ask yourself if you would want this checked on you prior to surgery.
  • – Choosing to have an IV catheter placed and have your pet maintained on IV fluids
    Again, many hospitals require the pet be placed on IV fluids during the procedure, but you may be asked to make this decision for your pet at some hospitals. An IV catheter provides an immediate entry to a vein in the case of an anesthetic emergency and allows for the immediate administration of potentially life saving medications. Additionally, the catheter allows for the administration of IV fluids which support the pet’s blood pressure during general anesthesia and this helps to keep good blood flow to the kidneys which is important for all pets, but essential for those pets with early kidney disease.
  • – Allowing for safer types of anesthetics recommended by your veterinarian

We are fortunate in veterinary medicine to have a large variety of anesthetics available to us which allows us to choose the safest anesthetic for your pet. As an example, some anesthetics are just inhaled and others are injectable. Often a combination of the two is used. Even the injectable drugs have large differences between them that can alter the safety of the procedure. Some anesthetics cause longer periods of anesthetic before the pet can awaken, some cause much more suppression on heart function and respiration, some have more of an affect on the liver or kidneys, and some shouldn’t be used in particular breeds of animals at all. At the time of this writing one of the safest and most adjustable anesthetic gasses is Sevoflurane. It is considered a human grade anesthetic gas and allows for very rapid changes in anesthetic depths.

Many times, if the veterinarian determines that your pet needs a specific type of drug it will just be implemented. However, occasionally a specific anesthetic will result in a higher expense and again you may be asked to make a decision depending upon the hospital olicy. Your veterinarian should always explain why a particular drug is recommended and provide you with the correct facts to help with the decision.

What Your Veterinarian Can Do: Your veterinarian is ultimately responsible for the safety of your pet under anesthesia and will be able to ensure the safety in many ways.

Physical Exam and history
Your veterinarian will read through your pet’s medical chart to help determine the health status and any existing potential anesthetic problems or allergies. A complete physical exam will be done on all pets prior to anesthesia to again look for potential disease problems which may alter the anesthetic protocol needed. As an example, short nosed breeds of dogs (pugs) & cats (Persians) will have a delayed extubation which means that the breathing tube will be kept in the pet as long as possible when the anesthetic gas is shut off and the pet is maintained on oxygen. Brachycephalic or short nosed breeds are likely to have more problems breathing when awakening from anesthesia and delayed extubation resolves those problems by providing an open airway until the pet is more awake and better able to breathe normally.

Anesthetic choices
Veterinarians have various means of providing general anesthesia for your pet and this allows us to determine the safest choices for him/her.
The choices can include:

  • Using gas anesthesia to induce (cause the pet to sleep) the pet vs. using injectable anesthesia to induce the pet.
  • Injectable induction is the most common method and is the fastest and easiest on your pet.
  • Pets with liver or kidney disease may be induced with gas alone via a mask or an induction box. Pets maintained on gas alone will awaken quickly, but also take a little longer to induce and their blood pressure must be monitored very carefully.

Types of injectable anesthetics used
Again, there are many choices here as well. At our hospital we typically will induce with telazole or a combination of ketamine and valuim. These both have proven very safe for us and have minimal suppressive effects on cardiovascular or respiratory function.

  • For very short anesthetic procedures in which we would like the pet to be able to go home quickly, or for geriatric pets with organ disease, we will often use a drug called Propofol. This anesthetic is very safe and extremely short acting. Pets will typically awaken fully in 5-10 minutes and they awaken easily as if they had just been snoozing.
  • Other injectable anesthetics include those that provide a combination of pain relief and anesthesia and allow for reversal of the anesthesia with a second injection. These can have some suppression of blood pressure and are only reserved for young healthy pets undergoing very short procedures.

Types of anesthetic gasses used
Once again, veterinarians have the ability to choose the type of anesthetic gas used on your pet. Some of the older anesthetic gasses are much less expensive but also can cause problems in older pets, can result in liver disease and cause slower changes when the pet’s level of anesthesia needs to be adjusted. An example of an older type of anesthetic gas is halothane. The newer and of course more expensive anesthetic gasses include isoflurane and sevoflurane. These gasses are extremely safe and are commonly used in geriatric pets. They also provide the ability to quickly change the depth of anesthesia. I recommend using only one of these gasses.

Monitoring (really the MOST important aspect)
Monitoring of your pet’s vitals (depth of anesthesia, respiration, temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure) should be done by one designated individual throughout the procedure and the results should be recorded throughout the procedure. Monitoring allows the person performing the procedure to focus on completing the procedure to the best of their abilities without dividing their attention between the task at and and anesthetic monitoring. Good monitoring also allows for the correct level of anesthesia to be chosen throughout the procedure. Most hospitals will provide some way of monitoring your pet, but the way the pet is monitored and the values monitored may vary depending upon the equipment and the staff available.

Recovery from anesthesia
The recovery or awakening period is just as important as the actual anesthetic procedure. The pet should be closely monitored during this time, the temperature should be taken and warmth should be provided if needed, the pet should have delayed extubation if needed and the pet should be supervised until fully awake.

Jill M. Patt, DVM


Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM





NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Rain forests of South and Central America

LIFESPAN: 15-20 years

SEXING: Males will have a large dewlap, large femoral pores, and hemipenes

HOUSING: Realize that these animals get very large and will need an appropriately sized enclosure. A six foot cage is typically the smallest that can be used.

LIGHTING: Full spectrum UVB fluorescent lighting and a basking bulb

TEMPERATURE: Basking area in the 90’s, daytime temps in the 80’s and nighttime temps in the 70’s

WATER/HUMIDITY: Clean water bowl should be present at all time in the cage. These guys live in the rain forest and therefore require high humidity levels of ~70%. You can’t go wrong by soaking your iguana daily in shallow warm water.

DIET: Iguanas are herbivores: they eat veggies

Variety is Important! A large variety of fresh leafy and solid green vegetables should be offered every day. Only a small percent of the diet should be fruits and animal protein should never be provided. A phosphorus free calcium supplement should be dusted over veggies and a multivitamin should be provided twice weekly. Alfalfa is an excellent source of both protein and calcium and can be provided in capsules, pellets or hay.

Example vegetables include: green beans, parsley, collard greens, mustard greens turnip greens, , dandelion greens, , green peppers, escarole, leeks, snow peas, radish, okra, prickly pear, parsnip

SUPPLEMENTS: Calcium, multivitamin, alfalfa capsules

General Anesthesia for Surgery Mass Removal

MEDICAL CONCERNS: Many! Often related to poor nutrition.

Malnutrition – metabolic bone disease


Egg bound


Kidney Failure

Tail Trauma

FURTHER INFORMATION: Green Iguana Society:

Melissa Kaplan’s web site:

Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site:

Chinchilla Care Sheet

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM





NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: South American Rodent

LIFESPAN: 15+ years

SEXING: Males: the penis is separated from the anus by a small space of skin Females: the vaginal opening is immediately adjacent to the anus

HOUSING: A flat bottom cage is safest for their toes and feet but will require much more diligent cleaning. Wood shavings are not recommended for rodents and the best choice for bedding is hay or recycled newspaper pellets. The cage should be the largest that you have room for and the use of a multiple level cage will increase their area of activity. Chinchillas are very active animals and are most active at night. They should be provided with monitored time out of the cage daily to allow them to run and play. A chinchilla wheel should always be available in the cage. A typical rabbit water bottle and food bowl should also be provided. Also, a hide box should be provided to allow them a feeling of security and a means of escaping if startled or stressed

NEUTER: Male chinchillas should be neutered to prevent reproduction & aggression.

DUST BATH: All chinchillas should be allowed access to a dust bath on a regular basis. Special chinchilla dust can be purchased at most pet shops and should be provided daily in a container. Common containers are litter boxes (covered work well) and large mouthed class jars big enough for the chinchillas to freely move around in. The container should be removed after the bath. Chinchillas have a very thick coat that does not dry quickly when wet. Dusting is their way of having a water free bath. Dusting allows them to remove oil and debris from their coats and truly seems to be a source of enjoyment.

DIET: Chinchillas have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract and should be given a routine diet that doesn’t vary on a daily basis. I recommend feeding them a mixture of chinchilla pellets, grass hay and some alfalfa hay for additional calcium.

WATER: Fresh clean water should always be available.

SUPPLEMENTS: It remains undetermined as to whether or not chinchillas can make their own vitamin C. The safest course of action is to supplement their diet with a chewable vitamin C tablet of about 100-200mg/day. A calcium supplement may also be needed if the diet is low in calcium or for pregnancy.

MEDICAL CONCERNS: Heat stress, dental disease, skin/fur disease, respiratory infections, eye infections, leg trauma and fractures

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at: