It's been quite an eventful month here at the Menagerie. We've had some exciting new additions and some sad losses as well. First the bad news. A handful of the chins began slowly losing weight. It's not always easy to tell when a chin is on a self imposed diet. All that lofty plushy fur hides it well. We do make it a habit here, however, to regularly check the chin's weights and record them. With the weight loss, we first figured it must have something to do with the feed. Many other chin friends across the nation had reported weight loss on the same feed we were using, so we tried switching to another high quality show formula. When that made no effect, I thought perhaps we had gotten a bad bale of hay. With that change, there was still no positive effect. When two cagemates passed away within a week of each other, even while seemingly enjoying the new feed, I knew it was not an isolated case. We quickly started supplement/syringe feeding Oxbow Critical Care for herbivores to the skinny chins to keep their strength up and brought in one little guy for blood and fecal tests. Dr. Peake, a highly recommended local exotics veterinarian prescribed a wide spectrum antibiotic for the herd while we waited for the results to come back from the lab. Unfortunately it was too late for two more chins. The poor little test chin passed within hours of his vet visit, while another fought hard for another three days. The antibiotic seemed to be working, but she was just too weak to make it through.
Now for the good news... The antibiotics and regular syringe feedings paid off! The skinny chinnies are rapidly gaining weight and the poos are nice and firm again. Hooray! Everyone is enjoying their pellets and fresh dried Timothy and botanical hay. Now the hard part will be to get those spoiled chins to give up their syringe feedings!