Chinchillas are loving, yet pretentious pets that prefer taking a chinchilla dust bath instead of a regular one, and demand your full attention to enjoy a happy life. Unfortunately, they are also prone to certain illnesses and diseases and need the proper habitat – you can find more about cage choices if you check out this post.
So, if you decided that this rodent is the perfect pet for you and your family, you may want to keep on reading to discover and even treat five of their most common health problems.
Chinchillas are part of the rodent family and deal with teeth that grow continuously, until the day they die. Their teeth can grow 2-3 inches per year and, if not attended accordingly, they can cause severe pain and eating problems.
The easiest way to ensure healthy oral hygiene for your pet is to look after its diet. Keep in mind that chinchillas love chewing, so they should never be out of treats and edible snacks. Wooden blocks and hay are the best solutions for growing teeth. While wooden blocks are hard and will blunt your pet’s teeth, hay also provide the necessary nutrients for a healthy growth.
Some of the symptoms that suggest your chinchilla is dealing with an oral problem include drooling and loss of appetite. Make sure to regularly check your animal’s teeth for cavities or other problems and take your pet to the vet once in a while for a thorough checkup.
Overweight and obesity
Just like all other rodents, chinchillas love storing food in their special cheek pouches for later. Unfortunately, most owners don’t know how much food their pets require on a daily basis and they end up overfeeding them.
A high-calorie diet combined with the lack of physical activity can easily lead to overweight and obesity, which may also cause additional cardiovascular problems.
As opposed to other rodents and small animals that are allowed to enjoy a diet based on fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts, chinchillas are more pretentious. They come from dry environments, so excess water, including the one coming from fruits and vegetables, can cause diarrhea and bloating.
Nuts and seeds are rich in fats, while corn and soy are important sources of carbs, meaning empty calories. Daily consumption of these ingredients can easily turn your chinchilla into an overweight animal.
Another problem that leads to these health conditions is the lack of physical activity. Rodents, including chinchillas, are active by nature, and they enjoy exploring the premises and digging. And, if keeping pets in open environments is hazardous, you should at least provide them with everything necessary to exercise, such as exercise balls and running wheels.
Another health condition you should be concerned about is diabetes. This derives from an unhealthy diet, packed with empty calories and fruits that your chinchilla is not allowed to eat too often. Keep in mind that all fruits, dry or fresh, contain high amounts of sugars that are hard to process by your pet.
Daily consumption of fruits and some veggies can lead to diabetes, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, these affections cannot be treated and, in time, will lead to more complicated health problems, and even to the death of your precious animal.
As we previously mentioned, most of these diseases and conditions can be prevented through a healthy and balanced diet combined with daily physical activity. Although some fruits are safe for your chinchilla such as Goji berries, they shouldn’t be offered more than occasionally, and in small amounts.
It goes without saying that your pet isn’t allowed to eat any other foods that contain sugars in them, especially processed sugars that are commonly found in sweets and chocolate.
Although the name suggests otherwise, this infection is actually caused by a fungus, and not a worm. It is not deadly and, more importantly, it can be treated with the right medication. Unfortunately, this fungal disease can be passed to you, so you’ll need to pay attention to the way you’re handling an infested pet.
Ringworm infections are known to cause balding patches on your pet’s feet, ears, and face, so you’ll need to pay your vet an immediate visit if this occurs. Again, with prescribed medication, your pet will get better in no time.
If you want to avoid getting the infection from your chinchilla, make sure to wear sterilizing gloves at all times. On people, ringworm infections cause red, scaly patches on the body with a ring-like appearance.
Part of the treatment includes thorough clean-up of all the areas your chinchillas has been in contact with to avoid spreading the infection to other individuals or to the pet’s owners.
Mildly affected chinchillas will only require topical prescription medications directly applied to the affected area, while those with more severe forms of ringworm infections will require long-term oral medication as well.
Throughout their existence, chinchillas have developed a thick fur coat to keep them warm in the cool climates they originate from. Thus, they are quite sensitive when it comes to heat and can develop certain health conditions in the future.
Chinchillas function best in cool and dry environments, with temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They should never stay in direct sunlight and you should avoid exposing them to temperatures above 80 degrees for a prolonged time. They don’t do well with high humidity conditions either.
If you live in a warm climate and still want to look after a chinchilla, bear in mind that you should keep the animal indoors, in air-conditioned or cool rooms to prevent heat strokes.
Some of the symptoms usually associated with heat strokes include weakness, dehydration, disorientation, and collapsing. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately transport your pet in a cool room and provide direct airflow from a fan for ventilation.