Posts tagged vet
Happy March!

For the month of February, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. We still are overrun with chinchillas needing a forever home and have actually turned away inquiries for surrender until we can reduce our numbers to a more manageable one. We do, however, offer priority to chins adopted to us who need to come back.

It is especially frustrating that when we post ads about chinchillas for adoption, we usuallyreceive more inquiries for surrender! Call me jaded, but dealing with people is the most irksome part of rescue work. And while I'm on my high horse, we are not a government facility. We do not offer free healthcare. If your chinchilla is sick, broke a leg, etc., it is you, the owner's responsibility, to care for the animal whether you want to keep it or not. Credit cards make a wonderful resource for emergency needs. Relying on a rescue to take up the financial slack is just weak and irresponsible.

So spread the word, if you can't afford the vet, don't get the pet. 

Shortest post ever, but probably the most important one. 

Chinchillas and the Common Cold

Domesticated chinchillas are very sensitive animals. Their diet is strict, their temperature and housing requirements unyielding, and their handling unique among those of other small pets. While a chinchilla can live up to 20 years, few actually do.

One issue that can easily claim the life of your pet chinchilla is the common cold. Yes, viruses and bacteria can transfer from you to your chin, so be especially careful to keep your chinnie environment healthy and clean. It is best practice to limit handling of your pet if you or someone else has an active infection. But since the cold virus is an air borne illness, sometimes it is impossible to completely shield your pet from harm.

A strong immune system will help keep your pet robust. This includes plenty of fresh air (as opposed to a damp, cold draft) clean cage, fresh food and water, and no overcrowding. Since the cold virus is a communicable disease, your pet may transfer it to a cagemate. We do not advocate separating a sick pet from their cagemate(s). Once an illness shows symptoms, the others have already been exposed. Separation from cagemates causes increased stress, which hinders the healing process. Rather, treat the sick pet and be prepared to treat the others if symptoms appear.

This week we had our very first case of an upper respiratory infection in one of our chinchillas. We attribute it to the fact that this particular cage was temporarily situated near a door with a draft during the major overhaul of our rescue rooms. Bonnie exhibited with wetness around her nose, mouth and chest. At first, malocclusion was suspect, but since she didn’t show any other signs of overgrown teeth, a closer look revealed the moisture from her nose rather than her mouth.

This nasal discharge is a classic symptom of a respiratory infection. Colds can kill! This situation must be treated or your chinnie will most likely expire. Your vet can prescribe antibiotics to help your furbaby. Please note, certain antibiotics will destroy your chin’s appetite, which can then lead to anorexia and gastric stasis. We treated our Bonnie with Trimeth-Sulfa and really like the gentle strength of this particular drug. She was good as new within 10 day of treatment. If your baby is sneezing or has a nasal discharge, don’t wait it out. Go to the vet ASAP and let them know that Whimsy sent you. ;)

A Case of Prolapse

Babylon, one of the chinnies here at Whimsy's, suffered a rectal prolapse.  A rectal prolapse is an emergency situation. The exposed intestine must be kept moist or you will risk tissue death. As quickly as possible the rectum and exposed intestine must be cleaned, moistened and reinserted before it strangulates or dries out.  It should not be forcefully pushed in or poked with a dry cotton swab. The intestine, rather, is gently rolled and massaged, with plenty of lubricant to help it retract.  Below is a video clip showing Babylon's prolapse and Whimsy easing the intestine back in place. During the filming we were much less concerned with a sterile field than we are with getting the exposed intestine back where it should be.

Babylon re-prolapsed dozens of times while waiting for the emergency vet to attend him to sew a purse-string stitch around his anus, where it remained in place for two days. A week later he prolapsed twice, but has since stabilized without the need for another stitch.

It took nearly two weeks for Babylon to pass a normal stool during which time he has been on a regimen of Critical Care hand feeding formula, subcutaneous fluids, antibiotics, metacam for pain, simethicone to dissipate the gas buildup, and antiparasitics. Throughout this ordeal, Babylon lost over 100 grams of body weight!

We are happy to announce that Babylon has survived this radical situation. He is now eating and drinking on his own and continues to get healthy and strong. If you are faced with this situation, please know that it is not automatically deemed a no-win case. With quick intervention, the outcome can be successfully treated.

This intervention was subsequently utilized when a second baby chin prolapsed 6 weeks after Babylon's ordeal. After inserting the exposed rectum, Whimsy also quickly administered antibiotics and continued to reinsert the prolapse as needed. Within an hour the little girl stabilized and did not prolapse again. She is currently receiving antibiotics and has shown no further signs of distress.

We hope that this post will inform and give hope to anyone who finds their chinchilla in this situation. 

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. 

On knowing when to let go…

We all live in hope.

We can be blinded by this.

For pet owners, knowing when to seek vet care and knowing when to let go are very, very, difficult decisions. With chinchillas, they mask their symptoms for as long as possible, but certain biological symptoms cannot be hidden. If a chin refuses to eat, drink, is lethargic or has unusual bowel movements or activity level, those are all cause for concern.

Many times treatment can be effective if intervention is provided before the point of lethargy. A slow, sleepy or wobbly chin is not normal. It is a downward spiral that will not get better on its own. This is true IF the cause of lethargy is not overheating. If the chin is overheated, the immediate course of action is not to force feed or medicate, but to cool. Don’t fool yourself into seeing improvement that isn’t there. If there is the least bit of nagging suspicion that all is not well, please trust your instincts and get veterinary help right away. 

Having experienced just about every chinchilla ailment with the hundreds of animals that have come through our doors, we have a fairly accurate sense of knowing when a chin is not going to pull through. There are certain characteristics that chinchillas show when they have reached the point of no return.

A chin can be lethargic, which is usually the kiss of death, but if they accept hand feeding and medications by mouth, they still have a fighting chance. Even the most radical medical emergencies can succeed if we gauge the chin’s behavior and act accordingly. A chinchilla with a spark of hope will fight hand feeding, chew or lick whatever comes in contact with their mouth: the more vigorous the movements, the better the prognosis. But it is important to get help while the chinchilla is still strong.

A lethargic chin who simply drools out is not likely to have the fight to survive. As painful as it sounds, it is at this point we should prepare to say our good-byes.