Health Topics: Constipation

How serious is it?

Serious, but treatable from home...usually.

What is it?

Changes in stool are usually one of the first indications that something is internally wrong with your chinchilla. Constipation is dangerous in that it can escalate into a prolapsed rectum, gastro-intestinal stasis, or bloat, which are all life threatening.

How can I recognize it?

Teeny tiny dry poops. Smaller than the usual Tic-Tac size, or significantly fewer in number.

How do you treat it?

Dehydration can make a chinchilla constipated. Check to see that the water bottle is functioning properly. The type of foods your chin consumes can also lead to constipation. If this is suspect, give copious amounts of hay and stop giving treats. Or, if you have switched food recently, pull that out.

Early stages where the chin is still active can be treated with prompt vet care. Your chin will need antibiotics.

In severe cases ONLY, you can give ONE raisin. Do not try this treatment if your chin has squishy poos or diarrhea. Do not EVER give fresh vegetables. To encourage your chin to increase fluid intake, you can offer Critical Care (a hand feeding supplement that you can get from your vet)  by spoon or syringe. Most chinnies love this formula and once they taste it are usually eager for more.

If you find your chin unresponsive and gasping, this means you've waited too long for intervention. 

How can I avoid this?

Some water bottles can hide air bubbles in the spout, making it almost impossible for the chin to get enough water. Make sure to check your water bottle every day to make sure it is always functioning properly.

Reminder: it is not a good idea to "cold switch" foods. Particularly when switching from a high quality pellet to something you chose off the pet store racks because you were in a hurry or ran out of the normal stuff. Some owners give their chins plain shredded wheat cereal as a treat, too much of which an make a chin constipated.