Parasites and Pocket Pets

We’re used to hearing about dogs and cats getting ticks, fleas, or lice, but pocket pets—guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, gerbils, etc.—can be afflicted with these pests as well. A Portland vet provides more information below.


Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that have to worry about fleas—small rodents can get them too. Ferrets and rabbits may be the most commonly diagnosed, and severe anemia can result in pocket pets because of the amount of blood fleas digest from their victims.

NEVER use a flea prevention or treatment product designed for dogs or cats on your pocket pet. It will almost certainly end up doing more harm than good. Call your veterinarian for a viable flea treatment option for your small pet.

Mites and Lice

Mites and lice can cause itchiness, skin irritation, scabs, and hair loss. Guinea pigs, mice, rabbits, ferrets, and occasionally rats can suffer from mites or lice, and the pests may even be transferrable to humans.

Ear mites are somewhat common and cause a black crust and red, itchy ears. Ear mites can be transmitted from dogs and cats to some pocket pets. Luckily, the infestation is easily treatable with medication and a good ear cleaning. Call your veterinarian to get your pet examined under a microscope.


If you let your pocket pet outside, ticks are a potential danger. A rabbit casually grazing in the garden could fall victim to a tick bite. Check your pet’s body every time you let him outdoors, and call your veterinary professional if you find that a tick has latched on to your pet.


Parasitic worm infestations aren’t very common in pocket pets, but they do exist. Certain worms can cause diarrhea and other symptoms and will require veterinary help. Ferrets can also get heartworms just like dogs and cats. Call your Portland veterinary hospital as soon as you notice any unusual symptoms in your pet.



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