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Watch Dr. Bombard talk about the new Canine Respiratory Disease Complex

Pocket Pets

Malta Animal Hospital treats small domestic mammals commonly referred to as pocket pets. This group of animal companions includes guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, rabbits, mice, rats, and gerbils.


Pocket pet

As soon as you adopt or purchase one of these little charmers, bring your small pet in for an initial visit. We perform a thorough exam to determine overall health and initiate supportive care if your pet has any problems or is ill. We weigh the patient at every visit to determine appropriate growth and look for signs of any developing health problems. Some small mammals even require dental care, and we can advise you about addressing this need.

At the first visit, we teach you how to provide for the special needs of your new pet. From housing and bedding to food and activity, each type of pocket pet has unique requirements. Thereafter, at each visit, we discuss changes since the last visit, possible concerns, and any questions you have about the care of your pet.



Pocket pets should visit the veterinarian annually for a checkup to keep them healthy and strong. Even if your pet does not require vaccinations, the annual exam is essential.

These regular veterinary exams are especially important for small animals, because their health can change quickly. Most pocket pets have a life span of only two to eight years. This means they age at a rapid rate, experiencing physical changes in one year that equal 40 human years. However, with regular veterinary care, your little friends can stay vigorous and healthy with an excellent quality of life.



Many small mammals do not require vaccines; however, some small pets, such as ferrets, do require vaccinations and the rabies vaccine is required by New York state law. We will advise you on the types of diseases and parasites that may plague your pocket pets and how to keep them healthy and happy.

There are some small pets that develop zoonotic diseases, which are those that can infect your family members. We encourage you to visit the CDC Healthy Pets, Healthy People website for information and helpful tips about protecting your family.


At Malta Animal Hospital, we provide comprehensive care for rabbits that includes wellness exams, illness exams and surgery.

Special care for your rabbit is important, now more than ever. You may have heard about a deadly virus affecting rabbits called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Virus (RHDV2). It can spread rapidly in the wild and is fatal to all rabbits, domestic and wild. RHDV2 is a swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. While symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy and difficulty breathing, rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. RHDV2 only affects rabbits and is notcontagious to humans and other animals.

The good news is, we now have a vaccine available to protect rabbits from this deadly disease.

  • We are offering the two-dose series for a flat fee of $150.
  • This vaccine is administered in two subcutaneous doses, 21 days apart and once a year thereafter to maintain efficacy.

Because the vaccine vial has multiple doses and cannot be stored once open, we must vaccinate several rabbits in one day.

If you own a rabbit and are interested in vaccinating your pet, please click here to respond to our survey.

Once we know how many doses to order, we’ll set up a vaccine clinic. At this event, rabbits will receive a brief exam followed by a subcutaneous injection. No other medical concerns will be addressed. If you have concerns about whether your rabbit is healthy enough for vaccination, call us to schedule an exam before the clinic date. A booster will be required 21 days later, at a second vaccine event.

Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to us as a possible case of RHDV2. If you have any questions about this virus or about how to care for your rabbit, please call us at (518) 885-2550.


We recommend contacting us when you think you are ready for a pocket pet, so we can offer guidance and recommendations prior to your purchase. In addition, we can advise you of the most appropriate products for specific pocket pets, including safe caging, quality bedding, and healthy food.