Degu diseases and small rodent health
Degu diseases are not always immediately recognizable because the animals usually cover them up. Nevertheless, there are ways and means of finding out quickly whether and what your darling is missing.
A degu often doesn’t give a damn when he’s sick, so you need to check his health regularly. Image: Shutterstock / Sofia Kozlova
Even if degu diseases are present, your rodents often do not show you them clearly. As long as possible, they come to the food bowl as usual and try to continue participating in the social life of the pack. Only when the disease is very advanced can the degus no longer hide the symptoms. Still, there are some preventive measures you can take to improve your pet’s health — and know exactly if they’re sick or not. Below are the most common degu diseases and prevention tips.
Prevent and treat wounds
One of the most common “degu diseases” are small wounds. They can have various causes, for example biting each other. Important: Look for the cause and separate the animals if there are regular arguments in the group. Place the injured animal in a separate box and line the floor with unprinted paper towels. Now you can carefully disinfect the wound with a cotton swab. Saline is best for this. If the wound is deep or infected, a veterinarian should be consulted.
How to recognize a cold
Since the rodents are relatively sensitive to drafts, the common cold is one of the most common degu diseases. Damp bedding or a room temperature that is too low can also lead to symptoms such as purulent nasal discharge, eye infections or sneezing. However, these signs can also indicate other diseases. A veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and medication to prevent the common cold from developing into pneumonia.
Degu diseases: Heat stroke is also one of them
At the other extreme is heat stroke. Especially enclosures with large glass fronts that are exposed to direct sunlight tend to overheat easily. The rodents cannot compensate for the high temperatures and heat stroke occurs. If this is the case, the animal lies listlessly on the ground and has an increased respiratory rate. Take it out of the enclosure immediately and move it to a cooler place. If there is no improvement after a few minutes, you should go to the vet.
Causes and symptoms of diarrhea
The cause of degu diseases can usually be found in the immediate vicinity. For example, diarrhea can be caused by excessive feeding with green fodder. If you notice typical symptoms such as mushy or runny faeces or feces-smeared fur on the anus, you should change the food first. If that doesn’t help, consult the veterinarian. He can determine whether the health of the rodents is affected by salmonella or coliform bacteria.
Worm infestation despite being kept indoors
Parasites can occur even when kept indoors. They usually hide in the hay or in feed that is not hygienically packaged. Worms are one of the degu diseases that initially do not cause any symptoms. Healthy degus hardly notice the worm infestation. In stressful situations or in poor health, however, the parasites can take over and your darling suddenly becomes emaciated. The veterinarian will take a stool sample to identify the worms and then initiate appropriate treatment.
The small rodents are susceptible to diabetes
Degus are particularly susceptible to diabetes mellitus. Symptoms often include lens opacification, which is caused by high levels of aldose reductase in the lens. Animals that suffer from it can still live to a very old age and have little to no problems with the disease. In an acute course, however, the degus can die within a few weeks. If you experience symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, see your vet immediately. A cure is not possible, but the rodents can live much longer on a low-sugar diet.
Prevention: How to check the health of your degus
So that you know immediately whether the health of your pets has been compromised, a regular check-up is recommended in addition to species-appropriate husbandry. Degu diseases can thus be recognized and treated more quickly. So take a little time every day and observe the animals closely. If you notice any unusual behavior or other changes, you should investigate further. A weekly health check includes weight control, palpation for lumps, tumors, gas build-up, check of coat, eyes, ears, nose, teeth, claws and anus.
The following symptoms are a sign that the health of the degus is not optimal and that a veterinarian should take a look at the rodents:
• Apathetic behavior, degus are noticeably calm, do not react as usual or similar.
• Loss of fur, possible reddened or scaly patches on the skin, frequent scratching
• heavy breathing, possibly accompanied by wheezing
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Salivation (possibly an indication of dental problems)
• soft droppings
• Cloudiness of the eyes
• watery and/or sticky, inflamed eyes
• crusted ears
• Secretions from the nose
• Signs of paralysis, limping or similar.
• Degu shows pain, possibly cramps
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