site map/ about us, copyright/ pet chin resources (clubs, books, all star sites)/ critical points


make a difference: fur-free pledge, fur-free society/ confronting cruelty/ matildesmission.org

Health & Lifestyle Pages (site map lists page contents) Chinchilla Behavior: Relating to People and Other Animals
Chinchilla Introductions and Group Dynamics/ Chintelligence and Communication/ Dental Health/ Exercise and Play Grooming, Fur and Skin Health/ Healing: Ailments & Remedies/ Nutrition/ Origins and Wild Chinchillas Today


*The Red Print: Please Read First
*Avoiding Tragedy: Don't Kill Your Chin With "Kindness!"
*Health Articles (medical and anatomical, senior health and cataracts, vet articles, vital statistics)
*Antibiotic and Penicillin Warning
*Anesthesia
*Household Remedies

*Seizures, Fits, Convulsions (articles, brain infection)
*Curing Giardia (articles, oreganol article)
*Protozoan Parasites in Captive Chinchillas
*Common Kidney Diseases In Small Pets
*Hair Rings and Prolapsed Penis (photos and articles, hair ring removal, treating a prolapsed penis)
*Eye Irritations
*Incontinence and Urine Scald (articles)
*Quarantining New Chins

Continued on next page:
*Digestive System Ailments (additional articles, rectal prolapse of the intestine or bowel, the gastrointestinal system and gi stasis, bloat, enteritis, lower gi disease, hepatic lipidosis)

Continued on next page:
*Contagious Diseases (ringworm and giardia, pasteurella, pneumonia, rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease (vhd), ectoparasites, listeriosis, bordetella bronchiseptica, human herpes virus, rabies and monkeypox, frenkelia microti)


These health related topics are addressed in other ChinCare sections:
Abscesses: Neutering article
Bladder Stones in Perspective: Dental Health
Death Throes: Memorials
Dental Health
Fight Wounds and Skin Problems: Grooming, Fur and Skin Health

Eye Removal: Sponsoring A Rescue Chinchilla on Rescue, Rehoming & Classifieds
Eyesight And Agility: Exercise and Play
Handfeeding: Nutrition
Initial Vet Examination Criteria and Detecting Illness: Vet Resources
Online Vet Advice: Vet Resources
Quality of Life and Euthanasia: Memorials
Sometimes illness results when the immune system is weakened by environmental stress


A painkiller (vet prescribed) is VERY important to the recovery of a chin who is suffering significant pain as a result of his condition, e.g., an illness, injury, dental disease or after an operation. Prey animals instinctively conceal their pain but they still need relief, otherwise the pain alone can cause them to weaken and die.


Always quarantine an animal that's sick with anything potentially contagious, ANY animal,
whether it's your chin or another household pet because illness can spread between species.

Be advised that past care, age, general health, and the type and severity of the health problem, including how long it's been neglected, will affect how the chin responds to any kind of treatment. Also, a successful treatment won't always= instant, miraculous recovery, give it some time to work. As stated in ChinCare's disclaimer, there is no suggestion, advice or recommendation on this site that is intended to serve as or substitute for the expert diagnosis and treatment of an exotics specialist vet.

Even sick or injured chins NEED to keep clean, it affects their outlook and will to live, see Dustbath Massage.

Whenever a chin has internal health issues (pneumonia, digestive, etc.) or dental disease (including malocclusion), it is important to stop all treats of a potentially hazardous (dried fruit with its concentrated sugar, nuts, seeds, etc.) nature until it is certain the chin has fully recovered.

When a chin is significantly underweight
or severely fur bitten, he is more vulnerable to cold and drafts; getting chilled lowers the body's resistance to sickness. Put a sheet around his cage (as described on Routines) and provide some cloth (a baby blanket of fleece in his house, a hammock, Cuddl-E-Cup with strap cut off, Comf-E-Cube, Chilla Pilla with The Day Bed) in his cage so that he can retain body heat, it's also a comforting convenience. In cold weather climates it may also be adviseable to provide a heated bed (such as Lectro Small Animal Heated Pad), which can be placed inside a pillowcase for the chin to sit on and stay warm. We've noted that chins with significant weight loss or fur loss are attracted to heater vents during playtime, this is due to loss of body heat. As long as the chin is able to move off the heated bed at will, there is no danger of him overheating himself.




AVOIDING TRAGEDY: DON'T KILL YOUR CHIN WITH "KINDNESS!"

Chinchillas are normally very robust, healthy creatures, not especially prone to sickness and disease. This article was written after hearing from several chinparents in the course of just a few short months, they all had chins whose condition had declined rapidly and who were languishing (or had recently died) as a result of their chinparent applying faulty forum advice. Forums are notorious for perpetuating myths of one alarming extreme or another and it's not uncommon to hear of a chin that sickened or died because their chinparent sought forum advice first rather than rushing their chin to an exotics specialist vet for immediate treatment. This article attempts to expose some of that problematic advice and to guide chinparents in their decision making while urging them to always seek the expertise of their vet first, because in the final analysis good intentions (soliciting advice from laypersons who may empathize and try to help, but who are not qualified professionals) are cold consolation for tragic results.


When a chin is sick or injured his first instinct is to conceal his pain and symptoms and act as normally as possible. This is what prey animals must do in the wild to prevent being singled out from the herd by shrewd predators. Therefore, if your chinchilla is acting abnormally (especially if he's grinding his teeth in pain) in a way that indicates probable sickness or injury, then his condition has advanced to the point where he requires immediate attention by an exotics specialist vet. DO NOT coax him to eat or drink, DO NOT coax him to move or play. If he's truly sick or injured then he won't just snap out of it and pushing him to "act normal" can complicate or seriously aggravate his condition, even fatally so. Instead, take him to your exotics specialist vet without delay.



If your chinchilla has any internal illness (parasites, pneumonia, enteritis, etc.) or digestive upset (abrupt addition or change in diet, environmental stress, etc.), you must discontinue treats altogether until it is certain that he has fully recovered. NEVER free-feed treats, see Treats vs. Health Hazards for warnings about how excessive amounts of fat, sugar or protein can damage your chin's health. Free-feeding treats can induce digestive shock and potentially complicate any other problem by causing: diarrhea, severe digestive distress, seizures, bloat, malnutrition, liver damage (Hepatic Lipidosis), pancreatitis, tooth decay, malocclusion (a soft food diet does not provide sufficient tooth wear and some treats that are high in phosphorus can contribute to calcium deficiency and environmental malocclusion), enteritis, lower GI disease, etc.



Improvising treatment (i.e., forum recommended as opposed to veterinary prescribed) as a result of a suspected or perceived (i.e., lacking proper veterinary diagnosis) health problem or treating symptoms in isolation rather than addressing the actual underlying problem can CREATE serious problems for an otherwise healthy (or at least not seriously ill, YET) chin.


An ill or stressed chin must have the underlying problem (the illness, en
vironmental stress, etc.) properly diagnosed and treated for any genuine improvement in their condition to take place and what sometimes seems like the problem itself may only be a SYMPTOM of the REAL problem. For example, constipation and diarrhea are actually just symptoms of something else gone wrong, often just a husbandry factor (overfeeding treats, abrupt addition or change in diet, environmental stress) that needs to be addressed. Treating the constipation or diarrhea without addressing the real problem allows the problem to continue unchecked and also risks the possibility of creating additional complications as a result of the type of "treatment" administered.


Another example of treating symptoms in isolation rather than addressing the real, underlying problem occurs when a chin becomes disinterested in eating his hay or pellets and rather than make an appointment with their exotics specialist vet to discover WHY the chin is disinterested in eating, the chinparent promptly begins hand-feeding or tempting the chin to gorge on treats. The trouble with this is that loss of appetite, and weight loss, are merely SYMPTOMS, not the actual problem, which could be:
dental disease that is making it difficult or impossible for the chin to chew, stress caused by the grieving process after the loss of a bonded cagemate, stress from being bullied by a cagemate, or digestive distress such as GI stasis. In the case of the latter, treating the symptom while neglecting the underlying problem can turn deadly if a chin with digestive distress is free-fed treats.


Significant weight loss produces the appearance of "Hunchback," which is often referred to as if it were a condition in itself. Hunchback simply describes the look a chin gets after losing a significant amount of weight (like "square crotch" in very thin humans whose thighs don't meet when they stand with their feet together), and there are many conditions (malnutrition, Hepatic Lipidosis, malocclusion, etc.) that can cause significant weight loss.



Handfeeding is often compulsively recommended on forums whenever a chin eats less or temporarily stops eating, without any thought given to discovering and addressing the underlying problem. Alarmist talk has led some people to treat problems that don't exist, like handfeeding a chin when he starts taking medication on the assumption that he'll waste away otherwise.


Handfeeding a chin that is already suffering from illness or stress and whose
system is already compromised and struggling to cope can cause digestive shock (from sudden and excessive dietary change) which can then lead to dire complications like bloat or GI stasis. Therefore, handfeeding should be regarded as a last, not first resort when the chin is momentarily "off his food." Handfeeding differs from free-feeding treats, which should never be done due to the serious health risks posed.


This should be our guide as to whether or not a chinchilla may need handfeeding: The low average weight for an adult male chinchilla is between 400-500 grams, for an adult female it's between 400-600 grams. If the chin is NOT physically capable (malocclusion, broken jaw, etc.)
of feeding himself OR if his weight drops near the 400 gram mark (under 400g puts a chin at risk of failure to thrive), then it's time to consult your exotics specialist vet about trying a handfeeding formula. The dietary staples of fresh, high quality pellets, hay and distilled or filtered water should ALWAYS be available for consumption; chinchillas will not overeat of their dietary staples, only treats.


If a chin is capable of eating then he will do so when ready, chinchillas do not "voluntarily starve themselves," they have a will to survive just like every other living thing and they do not need to eat continuously during their waking hours, see care myth associated with Hepatic Lipdosis. Also realize that under routine circumstances (change of seasons or change in diet, current stress level, amount of exercise) an adult chinchilla's weight may fluctuate by as much as 50 grams, plus or minus.


When "anorexia" or "anorexic" are used in medical terms or veterinary articles to describe a chin's condition, they indicate a situation where there is involuntary weight loss due to actual inability to eat or loss
of appetite accompanying illness, injury or severe stress. This is not the same as "Anorexia Nervosa," a psychiatric condition found in humans who voluntarily diet excessively (ref).


An otherwise healthy chin (especially the young and gray chins as opposed to some mutations whose systems are less robust) can afford to lose a little weight under exceptional circumstances and your chin will recover his appetite when the illness improves, the environmental stress (cagemate incompatibility, marauding pets, a significant change, etc.) is addressed or the medication is no longer necessary.


Chinchillas can safely go up to 24 hours without food (this is vet verifiable; a state of extreme stress either mentally or physically can put a chin temporarily off his food) barring other complications, but the dietary staples of fresh, high quality pellets, hay and distilled or filtered water should ALWAYS be available for consumption; chinchillas will not overeat of their dietary staples, only treats. If your chinchilla refuses to eat for ANY reason for more than a day, take him to your exotics specialist vet for a thorough examination.


Prolonged handfeeding can lead to or worsen a case of malocclusion (in the sense of tooth overgrowth), because the consumption of course, high-fiber hay is necessary to prevent molar overgrowth.


Not all chins lose weight while taking medication but if a significant weight loss does occur, immediately contact your exotics specialist vet. If your chin's condition has greatly improved he may be able to stop taking medication earlier than orginally foreseen, or perhaps change medications.


Handfeeding kits differs significantly from handfeeding adults, read article.



Be aware that there are two different body types for chins that correspond to the two types, or species, of chinchillas: Chinchilla lanigera and Chinchilla brevicaudata. The chinchillas living in captivity today, whether as ranchies or pets, are a mix of both types but often a chin will strongly manifest the attributes of one species over the other.


For instance, the brevicaudata body shape and features (photo of brevi traits in domestic chin) are more puggish, blocky and stout, and brevis are usually larger and heavier than C. lanigera. Lanigeras have a body shape and features (photo of lanigera traits in domestic chin) that are more pointed, narrow and slender and they are usually smaller and lighter than C. brevicaudata. The two species are described in detail on Species Description.


Pet breeders strive to develop more brevicaudata traits in their offspring because that look is considered more attractive and appealing to pet owners (actually, the brevicaudata bias began with the fur industry's value of larger fur-producing animals). Brevi traits receive the most attention in the pet community, they're regularly focused on and praised as the ideal.



Unfortunately, some people get obsessed with the idea that they might be able to control their chinchilla's appearance and they begin to micromanage their chin's diet and constantly weigh them in an effort to fatten their (smaller, slimmer) lanigera type or, in some cases,
to make their (larger, heavier) brevi type lose weight through "dieting." The latter usually occurs when the chinparent has only seen the lanigera species type and consequently believes that their larger brevi type must be obese.


But a chin's body size and shape aren't "problems" to be corrected, they're completely normal attributes of the particular species type.
Manipulating a chinchilla's nutritional intake to achieve some presumed ideal is as dangerous to a chin's health as it is useless: Weight gain or loss will not fundamentally alter genetically assigned attributes, and a lanigera type chin will not transform into a brevi type by gaining weight. Note, for instance, how the extra weight on this lanigera type domestic chinchilla hangs around the underarm area rather than creating a more round or blocky appearance. Thus, larger is NOT always better, and extra fat can negatively affect health (liver disease) as well as appearance!


Under normal circumstances an adult chinchilla's ideal weight (which is genetically determined, mainly by species type) is maintained within what can be considered a healthy weight RANGE that can vary by as much as 50 grams, plus or minus. In other words, there is no one perfect, absolute weight number that a chinchilla must maintain at all times throughout his life. Where a chinchilla is at within his healthy weight range at any given time is determined not only by his genetics and species type, but also by the influence of other routine circumstances: change of seasons or change in diet, current stress level, the amount of exercise the chin has been getting, etc.


Unless something exceptional occurs, like the chin suddenly gains or loses weight by a significant amount or other symptoms accompany the weight gain/ loss, there is no need to obsess about weight. Instead, be proactive, ensure your chinchilla has a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and unlimited access to fresh, high quality hay, pellets and distilled or filtered water, with treats given in strict moderation.







HEALTH ARTICLES
(medical and anatomical, senior health and cataracts, veterinary articles, vital statistics)


Pet Insurance: Vet Resources
Online Medical Supplies: International Supplier Sites
Pet Pharmacy by veterinarypartner.com: "features detailed information on commonly prescribed pet medications. The interested owner can learn how a medication works within the body, how the medication represents an improvement on previously used treatments, and what side effects one should be aware of. Understanding a medication and why it was prescribed helps a pet owner understand the goals of therapy as well as possible pitfalls."




Medical and Anatomical Articles

Animal CPR Not chinchilla-specific, however, in an emergency situation this page may suggest some useful options

Abdominal Pain (Bloat), Colds, Pneumonia, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Soft Droppings, Eye Problems Fits/Convulsions, Infectious Diseases, Injuries, Shock (after any form of accident or injury), Fractures Azure Chinchillas

Artery and Blood Vessel Articles (.doc): The right coronary artery is absent in the chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera),
Subgross and macroscopic investigation of blood vessels originating from aortic arch in the chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera), Digital-image analysis of the brain-base arteries in chinchilla, chinchilla laniger (Molina)

Broken Wrist photo 1, 2, 3- if you suspect a limb is broken, see your exotics specialist vet immediately and be sure to get a painkiller prescribed, otherwise the chin may chew at the limb from pain. Chincare

Chinchilla Brain Photos from U of W Brain Museum

Chinchilla First Aid Kit: Chinnitude, Davidson Chinchillas, Granite City Chinchillas, Kingdom Chinchillas (.org),
Nebula and Friends

Diabetes Chinchillas4Life

Energy metabolism and thermoregulation in Chinchilla brevicaudata (.pdf)

First Aid Kit, Hairballs, Fractured Bones, Antibiotic/Probiotics Ebony Dragon Chinchillas

Illness: Prevention, RemediesThe Chinchilla Information Guide

Heart Murmurs: CA Chins, ChinchillAZ.org

Haematology and serum biochemistry in chinchillas David Crossley

Homeopathy and Health Care: Articles addressing many conditions and their treatment Galens' Gardens

Molecular Divergence and Phylogenetic Relationships of Chinchillids (Rodentia: Chinchillidae), .pdf

Pancreatitis Chinchillas4Life

Photos: Close-up of Pupils, Thumb, Hair Treasured Pets Farm

Photos: Under The Microscope: Fur, Sperm Chinchilla Lexicon

Pin (Repairing Break) in Leg X-Ray ChinCare

Post-Operative Care Following Surgery Davidson Chinchillas

Reference values for chinchilla (Chinchilla laniger) blood cells and serum biochemical parameters (.pdf)

Respiratory Eyes of Texas Chinchillas

Smoking, Ill Effects on Pets: Chinchilla Chat Line, Action on Smoking and Health, UOI at Urbana-Champaign

Stomach Obstruction and Intestinal Gas X-Ray Chincare

Thermoregulation of Chinchilla Lanigera Google translation of scielo.cl article

Tips for Treating Anticoagulant Rodenticide Toxicity in Small Mammals (.pdf)

Viruses, Colds, Bacterial Infections Chin City

Weight, photos of chinchillas at various weights Chinchillas2Home

X-Rays, various x-rays in a case of undetermined illness Fuzzy Chins





Senior Health
and Cataracts
(additional articles)

Also see:
Estimating Chinchilla Age, Chinchilla Eyesight and Agility and Mature Chinchillas by Cheeky Chinchillas


Additional Articles
Not chinchilla-specific, but insightful: Care of Your Senior Pet, Caring for Your Older Pet
Chinchilla Cataract Photos and Articles: BelChin, Cheeky Chinchillas, ChinCare Photo, Monty's Manor, Pets Corner- UK,
Keeping Chinchillas as Pets- A Guide (photos), not chinchilla-specific: Cataracts- marvistavet.com, Cataracts in Dogs


We've had quite a lot of experience dealing with older chins, those eight years of age and older. From research we've learned that chinchillas in the wild can live up to eight years, so it seems appropriate to consider a chin a "senior" when he's reached his eighth year in captivity. Chinchillas in captivity can live for 20+ years but 10-15 is the average. Chins do tend to mellow with age, and adult and senior chins are every bit as capable of
bonding with people as chins that are younger.


These are some of the health-related characteristics that we've commonly observed in the seniors we've seen, they seem to define the decline into old age: healing and fur regrowth slows significantly, unchecked callouses may have grown to form "flippers" on the sides of the feet, poor eyesight or cataracts may develop. It's also common for senior chins to have Nuclear Sclerosis, a hardening of the lens of the eye that makes it appear that there is a bluish-gray film in the eye's depths, as depicted in this photo of that condition in a dog.


Cataracts can appear like a whitish cloudy film in the eye, or like a luminescent white disc. They reduce visibility and potentially cause blindness in the affected eye. Younger chins may also be affected, but cataracts are more common to seniors. Since chinchillas are chiefly nocturnal
(but can be crepuscular, i.e., active at twilight in morning and evening), poor eyesight or cataracts may not affect their navigating ability as much as one might think, however, it can cause the chin to become more nervous, more easily startled, tentative, reactive or prone to gruff because the sense of sight does affect their perceptions and ability to cope.


With older chins, fight wounds, fur slip, fur biting or recovering from a surgical procedure can take a long time, sometimes months to heal, or in the case of fur, to regrow. It is extremely important to foresee and prevent injury in senior chins because they can die as a result of a wound or injury that compromises their immune system for the long period of time that it takes to heal, if it ever does in some cases. Immediate examination and treatment by an exotics specialist vet is imperative! Wounds or injuries must be examined daily for healing progress and scrupulously treated according to veterinary instruction, watch wounds for abscessing because a longer healing time places seniors at a greater risk for complications such as infection.





Veterinary Articles: General care and medical information, diseases, treatment, etc.

BASIC APPROACH TO THE SMALL MAMMAL PATIENT www or .doc
by Sharon Redrobe, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, CertLAS, CertZooMed, MRCVS,
Head of Veterinary Services, Bristol Zoo Gardens

CHINCHILLA CARE www or .doc
by All Creatures Animal Hospital, Amelia, OH

CHINCHILLAS www or .doc
by Pet Care Veterinary Hospital, Virginia Beach, Virginia


CLINICAL APPROACH TO THE CHINCHILLA www or .doc
by Heidi L. Hoefer, DVM, DABVP West Hills Animal Hospital, Huntington, New York

COMMON DISEASES OF PET CHINCHILLAS www or .doc
by Companions Animal Hospital, St. Cloud, MN





Vital Statistics

References for chart below: Vet On-Line & All Creatures Animal Hospital
Additional Reading: CA Chin's Vital Signs in the Chinchilla, .pdf, Vital Statistics by New Hope Animal Hospital, .doc, infochinchillas.com (Google translation), and a very extensive report by Clinique Vétérinaire des Epinettes, .doc

BODY TEMP 38-39 C, 96.8-100.4 F
PULSE RATE 100-150 per minute
RESPIRATION RATE 40-80 per minute
ADULT WEIGHT M= 400-500 grams, F= 400-600 grams
[if a chin's weight drops below 400 they are in danger of failure to thrive and will require handfeeding, chins should average well above that and indeed, this estimation is on the low weight side]
LIFE SPAN usual= 10-15 years, max= 20+
PUBERTY 8-10 months
ESTROUS CYCLE 30-50 days
BREEDING SEASON "Chinchillas will breed throughout the year, with the main breeding season being between November and May." (ref- ACAH Pet Library)
GESTATION PERIOD approximately 111 days
LITTER SIZE average= 2 kits, range= 1-6
LITTERS PER YEAR 2
BIRTH WEIGHT 35 grams
WEANED 8-10 weeks


PET PHARMACY
by veterinarypartner.com,
"features detailed information on commonly prescribed pet medications."






ANTIBIOTIC AND PENICILLIN WARNING

Also see:
Probiotics and Prebiotics by Azure Chinchillas and Don't Let the 'Cure' Kill Your Chinchilla by Luv 'N Chins II


By Chinnitude
Penicillin and Amoxicillin (Clavamox) have been shown to cause severe intestinal problems and even shut-down leading to death in a chinchilla. Lincomycin, Erythromycin, Ampicillin, Cephalosporins, Clindamycin are other antibiotics that should NOT be given to chins.


From drpetra.com
Rodents are very susceptible to antibiotic toxicity. Man antibiotics, including penicillin and erythromycin, can be fatal to pet chinchillas. For this reason, owners should NEVER give their pet chinchillas medications without checking with their doctors first. Also, because of antibiotic sensitivity and other unique problems of pet chinchillas, make sure the veterinarian you choose knows how to properly treat chinchillas.


By Heidi L. Hoefer, DVM, DABVP
Chinchillas rely on a complex balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract to ferment non-digestible fiber. Any disruption in this system can change pH, interfere with motility, and promote bacterial overgrowth. Gram-negative bacteria and clostridial overgrowths can lead to diarrhea, enterotoxemia, and death. Avoid any antibiotic that has a selective gram-positive spectrum. This includes the beta-lactams (penicillins and cephalosporins), clindamycin, lincomycin, and erythromycins.






ANESTHESIA

Contrary to the myth that's a relic of the past, anesthesia is NOT a certain "death sentence." Of course there is SOME risk associated with "going under," but when a competent exotics specialist vet is applying chinchilla-specific knowledge to the process (as opposed to extrapolating from experience with other animals, as was sometimes done many years ago), then anesthesia is not a cause for great worry when used as needed. For instance, if a surgical procedure would be life-saving, then anesthesia must be risked, but if the vet simply prefers to anesthetize for x-raying because it's easier for him when the animal isn't struggling, then the "necessity" of that should be called into question. Our vet does not anesthetize to x-ray and considers that, under normal circumstances, to be an unnecessary risk.


Veterinary knowledge and experience has grown exponentially as the popularity of keeping chinchillas as pets has, so the key as always is to find an exotics specialist vet before your chinchilla has any problems, preferably a vet with chinchilla experience. We have had over three dozen trouble-free surgeries throughout the years (neuterings, hernias, intestinal prolapse, etc.) because the two exotics specialist vets we've used have been knowledgeable about exotic and small animal surgery, and because they had prior experience treating chinchillas.



By PawTalk

Isoflurane or Sevoflurane are acceptable sedative gasses. It is not commonly recommended to use injectable sedatives with small animals like chinchillas, in fact, it's generally inadviseable- any sedative will slow down the gastro-intestinal tract, but gas is less potent and wears off quickly. If an issue arises while the chin is under gas anesthesia only, you can put them on pure oxygen and wake them quickly. With an injectable sedative in their system, it's much more risky to administer an anti-sedative. A post-operative shot of Buprenex can be given for pain, as the author notes, "my chinchillas have had this administered after surgery with no noted side effects."






HOUSEHOLD REMEDIES

For retail chinchilla medical & health-related items, see suppliers



.10cc, absolutely no more, of apricot brandy or apple schnapps, to numb pain in trauma situation
Cornstarch (cooking kind) to clot a bleeding toe or small, superficial wound (always disinfect wounds FIRST!), acts like styptic powder (per Chinnitude)
Emery Board (cardboard nail-filer), excellent for filing callouses on foot pads
Feeding Syringe
Hypoallergenic Moisturizers: Jojoba, Vitamin E oil, Aveeno, pure Aloe Vera, unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream
Hypoallergenic Lubricant: Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
Natural Tears for cleansing eyes

Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment
Purified Water for cleansing wounds






SEIZURES/ FITS/ CONVULSIONS
(articles, brain infection)


Causes of seizures is detailed in Articles. It's important to note that there is a head shake or tremble, which sometimes involves the body as well, that can happen when a chin is being held and he's been startled or is feeling fear, apprehension or dread. It's not the same as a seizure or convulsion although it can appear that way, it's actually a voluntary reaction (that may appear involuntary) that is situation-specific, such as from being picked up suddenly. "The shakes" can happen whether or not a chin is familiar with you and it's been noted by us and others that the black velvet mutation seems particularly prone to this. When a chin shakes, it's important to soothe him by speaking softly and reassuringly, hold him close and gently cuddle him; to release him before he's been calmed would reinforce his fear. When you get a new chinchilla, he needs affirmation of your goodwill from the start, see
Initiating Bonding, A Hands-On Approach.


Cold food, contrary to rare myth, does NOT cause fits. If this were true, we would have seen at least one good twitch from having fed literally hundreds (
via our chinfamily since 1997, rescue work since 2000 and saving ranchies since 2004) of chinchillas with pellets straight from the refridgerator on a daily basis since 1997. Exercise has also been erroneously blamed for causing seizures, see the Pre-Existing Conditions warning on Chin-Proofing and Other Precautions. If you suspect your chinchilla has had a seizure, wrap him snuggly in a lightweight towel or blanket (no strings, fringe or loose weave) and take him to your exotics specialist vet immediately!




ARTICLES
An excellent resource for understanding seizures and epilepsy in small animals: Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Small Animal Fact Sheets, .doc


Seizures have many causal factors, the most common include: overheating, malnutrition, calcium deficiency and a bloodsugar imbalance from feeding sugary treats too much, too often, and especially from giving them around (an hour before or after) exercise time, see warning. It is extremely important for chinparents to realize that the most common causes of seizures have to do with husbandry and environment concerns (select factor hyperlinks for detail), things that are directly controlled by the chinparent, who is responsible for being aware of how to provide competent care.


There are several other potential causes of seizures in chinchillas, see these articles in addition to the ones below:
CA Chins; Chinchilla Chat Line; Chinchillas Unlimited- 1, 2; Chinchillas2Home; Azure Chinchillas for Chinformative Forum; Pitter Patter Chinchillas; Priory Chinchillas, see Information> Health & Behavior> Fits; Spoiled Chins




DOUBLE INFECTION OF THE BRAIN WITH FRENKELIA SPECIES AND TOXOPLASMA GONDII IN C. LANIGER
By J.G. Meingassner & H. Burtscher

Two caged Chinchillas that died with convulsions had a focal necrotic meningoencephalitis of toxoplasmic origin. Independently of and remote from this inflammatory reaction were several lobulated Frenkelia cysts up to 0.6 mm diameter in the brain. Morphologically and in the way they stained they resembled Frenkelia in various Microtus-species and in Ondatra zibethica. Although toxoplasmosis commonly is found in the Chinchilla this is the first report of Frenkelia in this species. Ecological considerations suggest that the Chinchilla might be susceptible to a Frankelia usually occurring in free living other species.






CURING GIARDIA
(articles, oreganol article)


Additional Articles and Information

CORRECTION REGARDING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FLAGYL AND LIVER FAILURE IN CHINCHILLAS
(previous ref)
This quote courtesy of correspondence with CA Chins and reproduced here with permission:

"This was supposition on our part [the connection between Flagyl and liver failure in chinchillas] that has since not been borne out to be true. It was just a fluke on one or two chins, and Dr. Johnson has used Flagyl successfully for other problems on chins without liver failure. It is being removed from our [The Joy of Chinchillas] book, and should be removed from our web page. Time is an issue here. The other problem for giardia is now that Albendozole not only no longer works but has side effects that Dr. Johnson is not happy with, and Fenbendozole is fast becoming a problem as well. We have nothing to combat giardia with right now but prevention."

Every instance of the reported connection between Flagyl and liver failure in chinchillas that we have seen was taken from this single source; this retraction should be duly noted by those who still carry this information. Our
exotics specialist vet has advised us that Flagyl should still be used with extreme caution, as it can cause liver toxicity and neurological damage in chins (and other animals as well) IF dosage and duration of use are not managed carefully.


Why Distilled or Filtered Water is Best Article with information on PREVENTING Giardia and other intestinal parasites


Giardia articles by:
Bad Bug Book, Chinchillaz.org, Luv 'N Chins, II, also see Internal Parasites by CA Chins


Giardia studies: see Little Chincha's post on the Chinchillas Unlimited forum


"About 30% of Giardia isolates are resistant to metronidazole [Flagyl] now." (ref- from article on cats by Little, DVM)


Some rumors have it that Giardia is naturally present in chinchilla intestines in minute amounts, but this is extremely doubtful, it is far more likely that this supposition has come about due to some people's inability to pinpoint the contamination source of their outbreak. It is very important to ALWAYS consult your exotics specialist vet, especially regarding something as contagious and potentially deadly as Giardia!



Sickness or stress can compromise a chinchilla's immune system and make him more susceptible to contracting Giardia. Chinchillas are capable of contracting other parasites as well, such as Cryptosporidium, and parasites in amounts negligible to humans are sometimes present in both tap and well water. For this and other reasons, chins should be given only distilled or filtered water.


The main symptom of Giardia will be VERY rank-smelling diarrhea. Because lack of adequate daytime sleep, an abrupt change in diet or other environmental stress factors can also upset the gut and cause diarrhea, notice how it smells and if it has a strong, nasty stench do NOT hesitate to take your chin to an exotics specialist vet because Giardia left undiagnosed and untreated is deadly!


Giardia is transmittable to both humans and other animals, primarily by contact with the diarrhea, which can get everywhere on the affected chin's cage. With Giardia it is imperative to observe quarantine (see article) and extreme measures of cleanliness while treating the affected chin, e.g., wash hands with disinfectant soap whenever handling the chin or anything associated with him, clean cage accessories and chew toys daily by wiping them down with Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol Clean (read specifications), and clean the cage (bleach is recommended, read specifications) as often as possible, at least twice weekly. Observing these measures will help prevent the very real likelihood of reinfection.




Oreganol Article
By Chinchilla Lover's Haven

Note by ChinCare: Oreganol may not be effective in all cases, always consult your exotics specialist vet before administering any treatment.


We successfully ended baby Rascal's bout with Giardia by trying a natural cure. I diluted 16 drops of Oreganol, organic oil of oregano, in one tablespoon of unsweetened juice, I used V8 diet Berry Burst. I then gave him two tiny drops of that solution using an eyedropper and followed it by another two drops about three hours later. The diarrhea ceased within one hour after the second dose, but I wanted to be certain it was totally gone.


So I continued giving one drop of the solution once a day for another five days. This was an extremely strong solution which he detested taking, and I think it probably stung his precious little mouth. In retrospect I don't think it needed to be that strong, I was just getting desperate because nothing I'd tried, even RX meds, was stopping the giardia and Rascal was wasting away. So although this worked for me, I believe and recommend that it would work just as well if you cut it down to 5 drops dilluted in non-sweetened juice and administered one drop of that solution from an eyedropper each
day for 6 days. If I had to face this plague again, that's what I'd do.


NAHS Oreganol main site and Research and Information

NAHS Oil of Oregano can be found at vitacost.com and myhealthpro.net, wild Mediterranean oreganol oil is also available on ebay.

Disinfecting surfaces is essential to maintaining a living environment free of mold and disease. NAHS also makes an all-natural, absolutely safe pet sanitizer, Germ-a-Clenz, "a unique blend of completely edible essential oils with broad spectrum antimicrobial activity."


Katalyst for Animal Wholeness, Inc:
"Oreganol is a proprietary formula of oil of oregano. It has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, germicidal, antiseptic, pain-killing, and antioxidant properties and is suggested to kill yeast (candida) overgrowth, fungi, bacteria, parasites, relieve diarrhea, intestinal gas, digestive disorders, and bronchitis, ease pain and inflammation, and provide antioxidant protection. The extra strength Oreganol is three times the potency of the regular Oreganol and cheaper in the long run. It is safe to take on an empty stomach. It increases metabolic rate and can be helpful for weight loss. It is two-thirds as effective as morphine (analgesic/pain killing properties).


"Watch for mild reactions when using this and other NAHS products in animals. You may see a change in stool color. It may get very dark because of the increase in bile production, indicating elimination of toxins, and flushing of parasites in the case of intestinal overloads. The stool may also have a foul odor for the same reason. However, this product should not cause diarrhea. If it does, reduce the dose.


"Be sure not to stress the animal – i.e., if s/he won’t eat food with the oil stirred in, then fill an empty gelatin capsule (found at health food stores) with the recommended number of drops of oil, and hide in moist food or insert in back of throat. Oreganol can be given in a low prophylactic dose daily if/when the animal is healthy, to minimize incidences/reoccurrences of parasites, viruses, unfriendly bacteria, etc. Oreganol makes the environment hostile for these unfriendly internal visitors. After a few months, this product also makes the animal unpleasant for fleas, ticks and mosquitoes."






PROTOZOAN PARASITES IN CAPTIVE CHINCHILLAS (Chinchilla lanigera in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)

Article Authors: Flavio Antonio Pacheco De Araujo- Veterinary Doctor, Professor of Protozoology at UFRGS; Ana Claudia Fagundes Gurgel- Veterinary Doctor, Master's Student at PPGCV, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS); Amanda Dos Santos Sartori- Undergraduate Student, School of Veterinary Medicine, UFRGS, and Scholarship Holder of FAPERGS grant

Note by ChinCare: footnote markers were removed for easier reading, see source for bibliographical information


ABSTRACT
The aim of the present study was to identify Giardia sp., Eimeria spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. in fecal samples of chinchillas, respectively raised on farms located in the cities of Gravataí and Porto Alegre (State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), Giardia sp. was detected in 8% of 250 samples. The variables age (p = 0.47) and gender (p = 0.07), submitted to Fisher's exact test, were not related to the results obtained through the method of Faust et al. (1939) apud Hoffmann (1987). Oocysts of Eimeria spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. were not identified in any of the samples.



INTRODUCTION
Originally, chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) lived in the wild and fed on herbs in the Andean steppes, on tree shells and on leaves from bushes. They used to be a food source for the Chincha indians, as well as a pelt provider. Chinchillas are circumscribed to the Andean countries, in South America, and can be easily bred in captivity, with a life span of up to 20 years. They have been bred in captivity since the 1920s and are certainly a commercially profitable venture. In Brazil, the breeding of chinchillas has demonstrated improved quality and achieved a strong market position. The State of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, has 200 commercial breeders.


Giardiosis is the most common and the major parasitic infectious disease of chinchillas. Giardia spp are flagellated protozoans found in the small intestines of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians; they are believed to be the first human intestinal parasite to be identified. The mature cysts found in the feces are infective and resistant to adverse environmental conditions. Infection of new hosts occurs when these fully developed cysts are ingested with food and water. In water or in a moist, sunlight-deprived environment, the cyst may remain viable for up to two months. This flagellated protozoan may change from a harmless intestinal parasite to a virulent pathogen that can cause severe debilitation, leaving the host susceptible to all kinds of severe illnesses, which eventually result in death.


Giardia lamblia usually becomes pathogenic when chinchillas are under stress, especially in the case of newly weaned offspring or in cases of imbalance of the intestinal flora. Changes in food and water supply, or planer shavings contaminated with feces of other animals, as well as changes in feeding conditions may trigger an outbreak of Giardia spp on a farm. Giardiosis is associated with stressful, overcrowding, and unhygienic conditions which favor the transmission of the parasite.


Cryptosporidium has been recognized from the seventies onwards as the cause of enteritis in turkeys, cattle, in many species of fish and reptiles, and in humans. Cryptosporidium is also the major cause of acute gastroenteritis in immunocompetent patients. The zoonotic implications of cryptosporidiosis reinforce the fact that the water is the major route of transmission. Maximum control over water sources for consumption constitutes a public health problem. Yamini and Raju (1986) described cryp-tosporidiosis in a chinchilla with severe diarrhea. The histological analysis revealed several spherical structures that are characteristic of Cryptospori-dium spp. in the epithelial cells of the stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and colon.


Eimeriosis is also a contagious enteritis, caused by Eimeria species, which affects the small and/or large intestine, mainly of young animals. Eimeria chinchillae causes watery and hemorrhagic diarrhea, tympanites, and seizures. The host is infected by ingesting sporulated oocysts.


There are no publications about protozoa in chinchillas raised in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The aim of the present work was to verify the occurrence of Giardia, Eimeria, and Cryptosporidium in chinchillas from commercial farms in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and to assess the positivity for these parasites based on their age and gender.



MATERIAL AND METHODS
Experimental design and fecal samples: The fecal samples were collected from experimental animals on three different commercial farms located in the cities of Gravataí and Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, between August 2002 and June 2003. The fecal samples of 250 chinchillas were collected from animals kept in individual cages, and were distributed into two groups according to their ages (< 12 months and > 12 months) and gender. The samples were stored on ice and taken to the laboratory, where they were maintained in a fridge at -8° C until their analysis. The study protocol was approved by the local Research Ethics Committee.


Parasitological methods: Each sample was processed and evaluated using the methods of Faust et al. (1939) to detect the presence of Giardia; Sheather's method modified by Benbrook (1929) to detect the presence of Eimeria; and Ziehl-Neelsen staining method modified by Angus, to detect Cryptosporidium, all of them apud Hoffmann (1987). The diagnosis was based on the presence of Giardia cysts and Eimeria and Cryptosporidium oocysts in the feces by means of light microscopy.


Statistical analysis: The results were analyzed using Fisher's exact test and INSTAT statistical package.



RESULTS
Giardia cysts were detected in 8% (20/250) of the animals. Table 1 presents the 8% positivity for Giardia sp. in chinchillas with same age and gender. None of the samples analyzed presented oocysts of Eimeria spp. and Cryptosporidium spp.


Table 1. Percentage of Giardia sp., according to gender and age, in chinchillas from farms of Gravatai and Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Variable Number of Chinchillas % Positive Chinchillas %
Gender    
Females 181 (72.4) 18 (7.2)
Males 69 (27.6) 2 (0.8)
     
Age (months)    
0-11 147 (58.8) 10 (4)
> 12 103 (41.2) 10(4)



DISCUSSION
The present study is the first account of giardiosis in chinchillas in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil. Although there is no occurrence of giardiosis in chinchillas in Brazil, an 8% rate is very important, due to its pathogenicity and possibility of transmission to other animals, as well as to humans that are involved in their breeding.


In chinchillas, the presence of up to five Giardia cysts per field, observed through the method of Faust et al., is considered normal for the intestinal mucous membrane. By using the same methodology, we found an average of 11 cysts/field. No clinical signs were observed, nor was there any relationship between the consistency of the feces and the presence of cysts. In this study, 181 females and 69 males were analyzed, a normal proportion for this species, since the breeding of chinchillas is based on polygamy with one male for five or six females. When the positivity for giardiosis was compared among males and females, there was no significant difference (p = 0.07). A similar study conducted in dogs yielded a similar result as to the occurrence of giardiasis in male and female dogs.



CONCLUSION
The conclusion of this study is that there is no significant difference between the two age groups (< 12 months and > 12 months) (p = 0.47); nevertheless, some authors reported that Giardia sp is extremely frequent among young and confined animals, whereas others described significant difference regarding age group in dogs. The presence of Giardia cysts in fecal samples of chinchillas can be a source of infection to humans. Strict attention to hygiene and strong commitment to health practices are therefore very important so that the transmission of this zoonosis can be prevented.






COMMON KIDNEY DISEASES IN SMALL PETS
By Holly Nash, DVM, MS, for PetEducation.com

Note by ChinCare: The following article is a general small pet article, only the first section specifically mentions chinchillas.
See article for further information on the topic and always consult your exotics specialist vet in emergencies.


Kidney disease (also referred to in medical terminology as renal disease) is common in many small mammals. Diet and husbandry can play a major role in preventing certain kidney diseases.


What are the common causes of renal disease in small pets?
Chinchillas: Kidney stones (uroliths) made of calcium oxalate can cause renal disease in chinchillas.
The cause is presumed to be nutritional: moldy food, vitamin B6 deficiency, or a diet with too many plants high in oxalic acid (e.g., kale, mustard greens, and spinach).



What are the signs of renal disease in small pets?
The most common signs of renal disease include: *Depression and lethargy *Weakness *Increased drinking and urination *Difficult or painful urination if an obstruction (e.g., a kidney stones) is present *Loss of weight and appetite *Dehydration* Urine scalding in rabbits


In acute disease, such as a toxicity, the signs occur suddenly and can be very severe. In chronic kidney disease, the onset may be very slow and the signs fairly non-specific, i.e., the animal is "just not doing well." Whether the disease is acute or chronic is typically related to the cause.



How is kidney disease diagnosed?
A diagnosis of renal disease is based upon the results of the physical examination, a complete medical history, a complete blood count, blood chemistry tests (including electrolytes, total protein, albumin, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine), and a urinalysis. Radiographs (x-rays) can be very helpful, and endoscopy, ultrasound, and sometimes a kidney biopsy may also be needed.



How is kidney disease treated?
General treatment includes fluid therapy, nutritional support, and possibly providing supplemental heat. The fluid therapy may need to be continued for the life of the animal. Periodic blood testing may be necessary to monitor the response to treatment and adjust it accordingly. Since bacterial infections can be a common cause of renal disease, or can occur secondarily, antibiotics are often included in the treatment regimen. The underlying cause of the renal disease needs to be treated, as well. Surgery is often necessary to remove uroliths. Dietary and husbandry changes are often necessary.






PENILE HAIR RINGS AND PROLAPSED PENIS
(photos and articles, hair ring removal, treating a prolapsed penis)


Photos
Feet Held Securely for hair ring removal
Hair Rings: Chinnychinchins, Sunset Chinchillas
Hair Ring Strangulating Penis, view above and below
Prolapsed Penis


Additional Articles
Chinnychinchins, Chintasia: Jasper's Vet Visit, Pitter Patter Chinchillas, Spoiled Chins, Sunset Chinchillas


Hair rings are wisps of fur that get wrapped tightly around the male's penis, which resides inside the penile sheath. If your male chinchilla is continuously cleaning his penis, this is NOT masturbation or "fellatio," he may have a hair ring that he cannot loosen by himeself, other times males may clean themselves daily because chinchillas in general are very clean animals.


A male might make a noise while cleaning himself, and of course people sometimes project a sexual gratification interpretation when in fact it is probably a small cry of pain or discomfort, say from taking in too much at once or from nicking himself with his teeth (imagine trying to clean such a sensitive organ with sharp rodent incisors). If it were a cry of pleasure, then males would make that sound whenever they consummate, during reproductive and sometimes during dominance mounting, but they don't. So if your chinchilla appears to be cleaning his penis too frequently, PLEASE see the Hair Ring Removal instructions below, because a hair ring that is left untreated can strangle the organ, shut off blood flow and become a VERY serious health threat.


Hair rings happen primarily as a result of mounting (dominance or reproductive) another chinchilla, this is why pet chinchilla breeders routinely check their breeding males for hair rings. It's possible, but unlikely that a single male chin could get one from just cleaning himself, or from mounting a hammock or stuffed animal that he uses as a surrogate female. Of course, if they contain a lot of shed fur, the likelihood of getting a hair ring from mounting them does increase, so be sure to wash cloth cage accessories regularly. Males that are neutered and housed with either another male or female mount far less than unneutered males, decreasing the likelihood of their getting a hair ring.




Hair Ring Removal

Sometimes the male is able to remove the hair ring himself, other times not, and sometimes a prolapsed penis will result from the males efforts to loosen (which irritated the penis, causing swelling) the hair ring.


To remove a hair ring, start by washing and rinsing your hands thoroughly. Get a hypoallergenic lubricant, we recommend petroleum jelly (Vaseline). If that is unavailable you may try: Jojoba, Vitamin E oil, Aveeno or unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream. The male will finish the process and get some of the lubricant in his mouth, so it must be completely non-toxic.


Have someone else hold the chin securely on his lap, bottoms up, and take a seat across from them. When working over these delicate parts, keep your fingers well greased with the hypoallergenic lubricant. GENTLY pull the penis completely out of its sheath, coating it with lubricant from your fingertips as you go. If a hair ring is present at the base of the penis, gently remove these wisps of fur, avoiding further constriction by pulling them away in small pieces.


Once the hair ring has been removed, re-lubricate your fingers and gently massage the sheath back over the penis. If the sheath won't cover the entire length of the penis, that's alright, the chin will try to work it back in by himself later. It is important NOT to attempt to force the penis back into its sheath, as this can cause very serious damage.





Treating a Prolapsed Penis

A prolapsed penis is a penis that is dangling partway out of its sheath. Sometimes it will appear bruised from being knocked around or dragged across the cage floor, and often it is red, swollen, and perhaps calloused. A prolapse can result from the presence of a hair ring, from a prolonged aggravation caused by the chin trying to remove the hair ring, from intense irritation following a rough mating attempt, or from some internal swelling following neutering.


It could take anywhere from one to three weeks for a prolapsed penis to return to its sheath, so follow these two steps and be patient:


The chin should be put, alone, in a single level cage with no exercise wheel. Line the bottom of his cage with a dark-colored pillowcase (no strings, fringe or loose weave) that will need changed at least once daily. Out-of-cage exercise time on a carpeted surface where there are no obstacles that he could whack his penis against is just fine, and any recovery period is made better with some TV to watch during waking hours.


This setup will prohibit the chin from mounting and it will prevent further bruising and irritation to the penis, and the dark-colored pillowcase will make it easy to observe a wet spot that indicates the chinchilla is urinating properly. If you suspect that the chin isn't able to urinate, get him to an exotics specialist vet immediately!


The main problem with a prolapse is that the swelling of the penis won't allow it to retract. For that reason, it's of great importance when treating a prolapse that you choose a product that will work best as a lubricant, not just a moisturizer. A lubricant will reduce the aggravating friction that occurs when the chin tries to work his penis back into its sheath, and eventually the swelling will decrease to the point that the chin will succeed and everything will return to normal.


We recommend using petroleum jelly (Vaseline), for lubricating a prolapse because it will continue to be present even after some moisture (from the chin's mouth) comes into contact with it, plus it's a natural substance without man-made chemicals or additives (hypoallergenic) that could be harmful to consume. If petroleum jelly isn't available, try: Jojoba, Vitamin E oil, Aveeno or unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream.


For as long as the penis is prolapsed, it must be kept lubricated, clear of hair rings and clean every single day until it completely retracts into its sheath (photo). This means checking and lubricating the penis at least twice, if not three or four times throughout the day. It's easy for new hair rings to occur when the penis is in a state of prolapse, usually from the chin cleaning himself or trying to work the penis back in, so be vigilant!






EYE IRRITATIONS

An irritated eye doesn't always mean the chin has malocclusion! That is one of the LAST in a series of symptoms.


An irritated eye, one with whitish discharge (eye goop, an ocular secretion, this does not always indicate infection) or that is weepy and wet looking can have several causes, but MOST of the time, whitish discharge is simply a reaction to some kind of stress, either great or slight, internal or external. Another common cause of eye irritation is when a chin gets a wet eye as a result of a foreign particle from his dustbath or hay. Some chins have particularly sensitive eyes and may respond better to one type/ brand of hay or dustbath than another. Walking in an unclean cage environment can cause an eye irritation because chins often use their hind paws to scratch around their eyes and they use their forepaws to wipe their face clean. Other possible causes for an eye irritation (or possible infection) include urine-spraying coming into contact with the eye, Pasteurella, a blocked tear duct, or dental problems.


If there is just some dampness or whitish discharge, if the eye is NOT partially closed or "glued shut," then a simple flushing should cleanse it sufficiently and pinpointing the cause (stress, a foreign particle, etc.) will help determine a course of prevention. It's best to have two people present to conduct the flushing process. The flushing agent can be Natural Tears (commonly found in stores), distilled or filtered (not tap) water dispensed from a clean eye dropper, or veterinarian prescribed anti-bacterial eye drops. According to our exotics specialist vet, Visine should NOT be used on chins.


While one person holds the chin securely, the other should administer three or four drops to the affected eye, then have ready a smooth cloth to dry the excess from around the eye and the chin's face. If the problem is simple enough to be resolved by flushing the eye then improvement will be immediate and the eye will steadily improve after another flushing or two within twenty-four hours after discovering the problem.


If there isn't immediate improvement, if the chin continues to be distressed or if there are any other symptoms in addition to the eye irritation, take your chin immediately to his exotics specialist vet for examination. He may have dental problems, an eye abrasion, an eye infection etc., that require expert care.


If the eye IS partially closed or "glued shut" (photo) by a whitish discharge that can turn yellowish when dried, DON'T try to pry it open! This can cause a corneal abrasion, among other things. If there is fur missing from around the eye, it's probably the result of the chin pawing at it in an attempt to clear the problem.


To open the eye there should again be two people present. Soak a smooth (not terrycloth) cloth in WARM (not hot) water and hold it gently on the chin's eye, not pressing, not rubbing. After about twenty seconds, rinse the cloth in warm water and reapply. Have on hand a clean, dry, smooth cloth and as the white matter loosens up, GENTLY wipe it away with the dry cloth. Don't hurry the process, it will take several applications with the wet cloth and it's better to wipe away tiny amounts of matter at a time than to cause injury by rushing to clear the eye.


When the eye has been cleared of matter, flush it in the same manner as previously described. Be aware that when the eye has been closed with discharge that this may indicate the presence of infection which calls for vet prescribed anti-bacterial eye drops.






INCONTINENCE AND URINE SCALD
(additional articles)

By Chinchilla Cymru


An animal which continually dribbles urine can suffer from urine scald, which results in fur loss and red, irritated skin. Dribbling urine, or incontinance, may be congenital or medical, if you suspect your chin has this problem, see your exotics specialist vet IMMEDIATELY. Your chin will need to be cleaned in a very gentle way at least once daily using a smooth, damp cloth. Pat him dry very gently and if his skin looks red and sore, dab on some hypoallergenic moisturizer (Jojoba, Vitamin E oil, Aveeno, pure Aloe Vera or unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream work well) and allow him to roll in a lot of dustbath once the moisturizer has been absorbed. We personally recommend trying the Neutrogena, it has amazing moisturizing properties and expedites healing dramatically.


I read a forum thread on CU about two chinchillas which suffered from incontinance, they seemed to grow out of it at about 9 months old. Since the two were related the owners sensibly had the entire line neutered to prevent a possible genetic problem from being passed on. One post on this thread said, "
Yes - this 'faulty plumbing' is considered a congenital defect - and there is no known cure."



Additional Articles
Information about urine scald affecting: cats,
dogs and rabbits- 1, 2, 3
Incontinence:
Azure Chinchillas, Chinchillas4Life,
Chinchillas Unlimited article and search by "incontinance" on CU






QUARANTINING NEW CHINS

Quarantining for an extended period of time to avoid the expense of a veterinary examination for new arrivals is irresponsible because no animal should be put aside to "wait and see" if he manifests illness. Quarantine is only appropriate and necessary until after the new chin's initial examination by an exotics specialist vet, and every chinparent should have on hand the contact and after-hours emergency information of a nearby exotics specialist vet before bringing their new pet chinchilla home.


Quarantine consists of keeping the new chin entirely separate (his own room or at least at the other side of the room, his own accessories, nothing shared) from other chins and household pets, and it necessitates washing hands with disinfectant soap and laundering clothes if they come into contact with the new chin and anything associated with him. Covering the cage, as described on Routines, is also strongly recommended. See this article by the CHINformation Organization forum for more detail on conducting quarantine.


Quarantine alone is a weak preventative and certainly not a magic "guarantee" of perfect health because there are some contagious
diseases which lie dormant and will be undetectable without testing and professional examination by an exotics specialist vet. This is especially true in the case of a chin coming from an environment of questionable hygiene or where other animals are present, because chins can be hosts in cross-species infectious diseases such as Pasteurella, Listeriosis and VHD. These and similar diseases can defy detection and in the meantime spread to people or other household pets either during quarantine or after the chin has been considered "in the clear."


It is extremely important that quarantine is not carried out in a punishing manner. The quarantined chin still deserves the usual amenities such as: a
LARGE cage to accomodate running and playing, dustbath to keep clean with, a variety of chew toys, at least one hideaway, a cage wheel to help decrease stress and boredom inside the cage, TV during waking hours to provide environmental stimulation and daily exercise and attention.


Normally chinchillas have few contagious diseases and the two most common (Ringworm fungus and Giardia) present with symptoms that are readily apparent to, if not the chinparent, definitely the qualified exotics specialist vet; this fact also debunks the false promise of prolonged quarantine. A sick chins need immediate veterinary treatment and then quarantine is only necessary until he is completely recovered.