Health & Illness

A chinchilla can live a long healthy life when you supply it a well balanced diet, nice home, and lots of love and attention. Making sure a chinchilla is well cared for is the best preventative medicine. Unfortunately, even if you give your pet everything he needs, injury or illness may occur.

Common symptoms of illness include a poor coat, diarrhea, constipation, unusual fecal matter, not eating or drinking, trouble breathing, and lethargy. If you suspect illness or injury, seeking veterinary advice is always recommended. Below are some of the more common health problems that affect chinchillas.

Bites
If chinchillas do not get along a fight may occur. These fights can lead to bites and if a bite is deep enough it can become infected. Clean the wounds with an antiseptic and keep it clean and dry. If you see signs of infection, contact a veterinarian.

Bloat
Bloat is caused by an excessive gas build up in the gastrointestinal tract. Causes of bloat are a rapid change in diet, feeding gas producing foods, infections or obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms are severe pain, gurgling in the stomach, laying down, rolling, and a reluctance to move.

Broken Bones
The long bone of the hind leg is the most common broken bone in chinchillas. It is very thin and will break easily. Breaks can happen from rough play, improper handling, a limb getting caught in a cage, or any other accident. A broken bones requires veterinary treatment.

Choke
Chinchillas can not vomit or regurgitate so if food gets caught in a chinchilla’s wind pipe he can quickly suffocate and die. Symptoms are drooling, retching, difficulty breathing and refusal to eat.

Constipation
Constipation is usually caused by a lack of roughage in the diet. Increasing fiber and roughage will relieve the symptoms. Symptoms are straining to defecate and passing feces that are hard and dry and may have blood in them.

Dehydration
Dehydration is a lack of water in a chinchilla’s body. It can be caused by diarrhea, excessive heat, and illness. Dehydration can be a life threatening condition.

Diarrhea
Chinchillas with diarrhea can quickly become dehydrated. Symptoms are loose, watery stool, lethargy, dull coat, and dehydration.

Ear Infection
The most common problems with a chinchilla’s ears is from infection. Symptoms are pain, rubbing the ears, loss of balance, and head tilt.

Eyes
Eye problems can result from a variety of things including dust, injury, infection, irritation or a vitamin A deficiency. Symptoms can be eye discharge, dull cloudy eyes, and squinting.

Feet
A chinchilla can get sore feet from wire cage flooring, wire exercise wheels, or coarse bedding. Solid floors, solid exercise wheels, and paper based bedding is the easiest way to prevent the condition.

Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is often caused by bad food or a change in diet. Symptoms are diarrhea, pain, loss of weight, and dehydration.

Hairballs
Chinchillas swallow hair while grooming. These hairs can stick to each other in the stomach and may eventually form a hairball. Symptoms include a lack of appetite, depression, lethargy and pain.

Heatstroke
Chinchillas handle cold weather better than hot weather due to their heavy coat. When temperatures get too high they can overheat creating a life threatening situation. Symptoms of heatstroke include drooling, lying stretched out, rapid breathing, reddened eyes and ears. The chinchilla can become weak and comatose. To cool him down, submerge him from the neck down in cool, not cold, water.

Intestinal Twisting
A twisting of the intestines is usually caused by long term constipation or gastroenteritis. The intestinal twisting is very painful and life threatening.

Rectal Protrusion
When a chinchilla has bad diarrhea or constipation its rectum may become red, swollen, and protrude. If left untreated, the protrusion can lead to the death of your pet.

Respiratory Infection
Respiratory infection is often caused by overcrowding, poor ventilation, drafts, high humidity or excess moisture in the cage. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, eye discharge, nasal discharge, fever, sneezing, and shivering. A treatment of antibiotics may be necessary to combat the illness.

Ringworm
Ringworm is a fungus that can cause hair loss. It is contagious to humans and other pets. Symptoms are hair loss, scaly skin patches and scabs.

Shedding
Chinchillas can have excessive shedding as a response to stress. Large amounts of fur can be lost from stress.

Teeth
A chinchilla’s teeth grow continuously throughout its life. If your chinchillas teeth become overgrown, are not straight, or wear unevenly they can grow into the soft tissues of the mouth. This can be very painful and symptoms include drooling, trouble swallowing, weight loss, not eating, bad breath, or protruding teeth. It is possible for a chinchilla to starve to death without treatment. Providing safe chew toys for your chinchilla is the best way to keep his teeth in check.

Ulcers
If a chinchilla eats bad, moldy or rough hay, he can develop a stomach ulcer. bad hay, moldy hay or coarse hay they can develop stomach ulcers. Ulcers can be difficult to detect and the only symptom may be a poor appetite.

Wavy Fur
When a chinchilla’s fur becomes wavy and weak it is usually a result of too much protein in the diet. Over time, a healthy balanced diet can restore the fur to its normal appearance.

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