Posts tagged loose stool
Diarrhea Strikes Again

Periodically we receive reports of chinchillas who suddenly exhibit symptoms of loose, watery, or mushy stool with no known obvious cause. If your chinchilla has not experienced a change in environment, change in diet, too many treats, a switch in food, or a new food source, medical intervention may be necessary.

Please keep in mind that a stool sample which is deemed "negative" for parasites does NOT necessarily imply that your pet is free from harmful invaders. All that implies is that the stool sample tested reveals no obvious parasites. Because chinchillas tend to be extraordinarily sensitive animals, a conservative approach may actually lead to its demise.  

Regretfully, we had to learn this lesson the hard way.

By experience we have learned that mushy stool or reoccurring loose stool requires an aggressive treatment. Home remedies like offering shredded wheat cereal may firm the stools temporarily, but ultimately only masks the symptoms and can actually exacerbate the problem when a lethal number of harmful bacteria grow in the chinchillas' digestive system. 

Years ago, in a fit of desperation, our local vet prescribed a wide spectrum antibiotic to treat some chins who were wasting away and did not respond to more homeopathic measures. This last-ditch treatment actually halted the death toll and cured the sick chins. 

In recent years we have seen similar outbreaks in chinchillas both in our herd and those not associated with us. On rare occasion, fecal tests have revealed coccidia, cryptosporidium, and clostridium; all waterborne parasites. Albon and Panacur became the prescription of choice and once again quickly relieved the symptoms, even though the majority of the chins showing symptoms tested negative for infection. 

If you are already using reverse osmosis water, please keep in mind that washing the water bottle in tap is still enough exposure to pass on to your chinnies. Certain parasites that are usually relatively harmless to healthy humans can cause illness in chins. You can boil your water bottle to sanitize it, but some parasites are resistant to even the harshest chemicals such as bleach! 

As an added precaution against waterborne parasites, we have started using a UV-C sanitizing wand to kill harmful bacteria that may have gotten through the city filtration system. Sunshine is also another germ fighting resource excellent for helping to disinfect cages and accessories. But for instances of obvious loose stool, we do not hesitate to administer our treatment of choice.  Please share with your local vet the information we have gleaned about the administration of Albon and Panacur as treatment for loose stool/diarrhea that has no obvious cause. 

There's Something in the Water

We've received an unusual number of calls and emails concerning chinchillas with mushy stools. Many times this is due to a sudden change in diet, treats that are much too rich,  too many of the chin-safe variety, stress, and pathogens.

Home interventions work with all but pathogenic causes. The usual course of action is to stop all treats and encourage the chin to eat plenty of hay (even to the point of withdrawing regular feed pellets). In more extreme cases, bite sized shredded wheat cereal (without the sugary frosting) will help firm the stools. But use with caution! Only give 1/2 to 1 mini square per day. More than that can actually throw the little chinnie's system out of whack in the other direction with constipation.

If your pet doesn't respond to home intervention within 3-5 days time. If the poos become more soft or runny, has an odor, mucus, blood or if there is notable weight loss, a visit to the vet is necessary.

Recently we've gotten word from owners whose chins have tested positive for coccidia, cryptosporidian, and clostridium.  Many times these parasites are passed from contaminated food and water. If your feed is fresh, suspect your water source. Some pathogens survive city water treatments, chlorine and bleach!

While we have never before had an issue with using tap water for the chins, this alarming trend is causing us to reconsider our stand on the matter. To be ultra safe, we recommend using reverse osmosis water for your chins drinking water.