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Chinchilla Care - Chinchilla Health

Ears: Ears should be smooth and soft. Chinchilla ears need to be cleaned now and then from built up dust or dry skin.

Eyes: Chinchillas should have clear bright eyes. If there is any clouding in the chinchilla's eye (s) at all, please see your vet for glaucoma or possibly cataracts. If there is any discharge coming from your chinchilla's eye (s), have your pet's teeth checked out immediately with x-rays (in case of malocclusion). Other common possible causes of the discharge can be the chinchilla has a cold, or eye infection (sometimes caused by dust, but also can be from another chinchilla with a contagious eye infection.).

Teeth: Teeth should be even with top to bottom incisors. If you find them diagonal, or overgrown, go to your vet immediately to have your chinchillas teeth trimmed. Ask for rays to be done in case of malocclusion. Sadly malocclusion is not something you can cure. You can trim your chins teeth as much as you want, but if they are suffering. I recommend putting them down. If you truly love your pet and want what is best, that is the best you can do for them. Malocclusion is not a simple disease or illness, and the spurs will continue to grow up through their eye sockets, into their brain if they are not put down in time. Chinchillas can starve themselves because of their incisors being too long or uneven. Teeth should also always be a yellow/orange in coloring. If white, your chinchilla could have a calcium deficiency or lack of vitamin c in the diet. Always check the diet you are feeding your chinchilla if it has white teeth. Sometimes white teeth are also found in pregnant or nursing females.

Nose: Chinchillas nose should not have any discharge and should be clean and dry. If you find any discharge or hear any wheezing from your pet, go to your vet immediately. Possible concerns are respiratory problems, infections, or cold. The best way to treat colds and most effective is baytril. Normally doses are 0.05cc for young adults and 0.1cc for adults. Given twice daily for 14 days. Baytril cannot be used on kits or pregnant females.

Heart: Some chinchillas have been found to have heart murmurs or congenital heart defects. A heart murmur is typically where the heart does not function properly, sometimes sounding much like a washing machine. Stethoscopes can be used to find a heart murmur but to diagnose it properly, an ultrasound is best. Some breeders have found Vitamin C will help chins with heart murmurs. By researching into holistic pet care, I have found that Hawthorne leaves also help strengthen the heart muscle as well. Please always get a proper diagnosis before assuming your chin has a heart murmur.

Fur: Fur should not have any holes in the coat or be bald in any areas of the body. If there are any holes in their fur coat (dark spots where it is uneven and short compared to rest of coat), your chinchilla is most likely fur chewing. If the case, possible reasons are stress, or hereditary. If stress, please look at things you may have changed in their environment or diet recently. That includes cage change, new home, new mate, food, room, etc... If hereditary there is not much you can do, but not breed your pet. 50% of all hereditary fur chewers offspring, become fur chewers later in life. You won't always find this out until approximately 18-24 months later. If the fur chewer is pregnant or nursing or ill, however, sometimes females will tend to chew their fur from the stress of pregnancy or kits. It usually goes away after the babies are weaned. If it does not go away once they are over their illnes or babies removed, it would be possible that it is hereditary and that animal should not be bred.

If there are any bald spots or patches on your chinchilla, sometimes it can be due to slippage. Fur fungus can be bald spots with flakiness, redness or just plain white. Some medications that can be used for fur fungus (ringworm) are tinactin foot powder. 1 tablespoon to the dust bath for 6 weeks. For prevention and can be a cure if used for 6 weeks. Even when the fur starts growing back in, do not assume the spores of fungus are dead. Continue treatment for at least a week after the fungus has cleared up. You can also use program which is for dogs and cats, and give a 1 time treatment to your chinchilla. Adults normally take 2 ml. Program is very safe and can be used for pregnant females and kits also for fur fungus. Grisofulvin is also another antibiotic you can use. But please check with your vet on dosage as it can cause damage to the liver.

Feet: Chinchilla feet should have moisturizer on them if the bottom pads get too dry, too hard, etc... Sometimes it is caused by wire bottom cage floors. If your chinchilla's feet are already like this, you can purchase a product called Protecta-Pad Cream.

Genitals: Chinchilla males need to be checked at the very least once a month if they are mating, for hair rings on the penis. To check for this get a pair of blunt ended tweezers, some vaseline, and someone to hold the chinchilla for you. Pull back the sheath of skin over the penis and withdraw the penis fully out. If you find no rings around it, rest assure all is fine. However, if a ring is found, it must be removed immediately. Pull it off gently with the tweezers. Gently put vaseline on it after, so the penis may slowly retract back with no problems.

For female chinchillas, they should have no bleeding in the vaginal area, unless after birth or during. If they do have bleeding, sometimes it can be caused from mating, which will sometimes tear the skin around the vaginal opening. If however it does not look to be the case, please check with your vet. Sometimes females will bleed when miscarrying, and sometimes there are much worse complications such as infections inside. If anything seems abnormal from odd colored discharge to urine with a strong smell (as we know chinchilla urine does not smell strong), always go to a vet to check. Sometimes infections can be the reason and best to always make sure and check.

Internal: Sometimes your chinchilla may become ill from the food or water without you knowing. A decrease in weight may be noted, or in some cases they may shed a bit of fur, and become less than active. This can be from pellets being milled poorly or from hay and pellets that was stored improperly. Old or moldy shavings can also cause this. If you chin eats mold, once it gets in their body it's hard to be rid of easily. Chinchillas can get enteritis, which will not allow the chin to properly get the nutrients it may need from food. Weight will decrease, and their appetite will be less. You may have to handfeed the chinchilla. Neomycin is often used in cases to treat enteritis. Of course always consult with a vet.

Parasites that can be found with chinchillas are: Giardia, Coccidia, Cryptosporidium, tapeworms, hookworms, listeria, roundworms and pinworms. All of these can be found if your chinchilla eats bad food or has bad water. Sulfamethazine is often used to treat coccidiosis, listeria is often treated with tetracycline, or chlorpalm. Treatment of giardia is often with albendazole, though there are other treatments also.

If you suspect your chinchilla(s) have gotten a parasite it is best to go to a vet asap to have the chinchilla checked out, as well get proper treatment. Parasites are deadly, and not to be taken lightly.

Weight: Chinchilla bodies vary in weight from each chin to the next. If you have a kitchen scale or postal scale, please check to make sure your chinchilla is never losing weight. If your chinchilla seems to be sick or such, always check its weight, which is a great indicator to help you ensure your chinchilla is okay and healthy. Chinchillas rarely will show you they are unhealthy so if you are not aware of or checking your chinchilla for health, they can become ill very quickly. Checking weight is one of the best ways of knowing if your chinchilla is pregnant, eating, gaining (baby chinchillas, or chinchillas that are getting over illness should be weighed to ensure they are doing well), etc...

Depending on body size for chinchillas, some chinchillas weigh as little as 450 grams (adult small body chinchillas) to as much as 1000 grams or more. Average weight being around 500-800 grams. Kits are born at weights ranging from 20 grams up to 70 grams, or in rare cases 80 grams. If your kit weighs less than 40 grams, you must be able to check the weight often to ensure the baby is gaining. If it is not, or is losing weight, you may need to supplement. A good weight for newborn kits, is anywhere from 40 grams and up.

To find out more about diseases or illnesses of chinchillas, please click here.

Please keep the health of your chinchilla in check at all times. They are your responsibility, and they depend on you to keep them healthy and happy.

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