Degu health and welfare
Ensure your degu is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
- Careful consideration. Before owning degus, investigate how they've been cared for and fed. Find out if they've previously suffered from or are prone to any health or behaviour problems. Speak to your vet for further advice about degus before committing to owning them.
- Correct diets. It's essential for your degus health and help prevent lots of common diseases e.g. dental problem. Check your degus are eating and drinking normally daily. If eating, drinking or toileting habits change consult your vet immediately - they could be seriously ill.
Checking for signs of illness or injury daily. A healthy degu should be alert with bright, clear eyes, clean ears, glossy fur, a clean tail and have a rear end with no signs of faeces. Naturally degus teeth are a yellow-orange colour; white teeth can be a sign of poor health. Teeth should be checked at least weekly to ensure they are the correct colour, length and shape - these grow quickly. Only a vet should correct overgrown or misaligned teeth.
- Signs of illness include discharge from the nose, wetness around the mouth and an opaque whitening of the eyes.
- Checking for changes in behaviour daily. Changes in the normal behaviour of your degus may also be a sign of illness or injury. Please seek veterinary help immediately if you suspect your degu may be ill, injured or in pain.
- Veterinary check-ups at least once a year. Consider also taking out pet insurance.
- Treatment for external/internal parasites (e.g. mites/worms) as advised by vets.
- Treating with only the medicines recommended for them by a vet. Medicines used for other animals or humans can be very dangerous to degus.
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of common degu illnesses. These include overgrown teeth, vitamin A deficiency, liver disease, diabetes, tail loss, heat stroke, pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Ask your vet for advice about recognising the symptoms of ill health and if you are ever concerned about your degus' health.
- Arrangements need to be made when you're away on holiday. Ensure someone feeds your degus and checks on them and their enclosure every day. To help reduce stress it can be a good idea to keep your degus in their familiar enclosure. You can either arrange for someone to care for your degus in your own home or transport them and their enclosure to someone else's house or boarding establishment.
- Always transport your pets with care, reducing stress wherever possible. Ideally, avoid transporting your pets unless absolutely necessary. In necessary situations, place a small amount of used bedding material into the carrying case to make it smell more familiar. Make sure you also provide them with enough hay and water to last the journey.