End of Life Care

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
My Chinchilla (Junior) is 20+ years old, has only been to the vets once in his life (when we thought he was developing a cataract) and has never had any issues with his teeth.

We believe he may be reaching end of life, as he's eating very little, doesn't appear to have much energy, and is always napping. We want to make him as comfortable as we can but not sure how to do this.

He has almost stopped eating his pellets and eats very little hay, but he never refuses a raisin (one in a morning and one at night). Thinking he may have an upset stomach initially, we offered him some burnt toast. He ate this with more energy than we'd seen in a while so we let him have more than we would normally, and he did appear to have a lot more energy as a result, but he has now reverted back to his slower state.

Should we continue to allow him some burnt toast each week to keep his energy up?

He has stopped jumping on the shelves of his cage, and no longer seems to go in his sand bath and we think this is because he is unable to jump/climb anymore. He did have a couple of falls, so he may be afraid too. We think he is completely blind, and he doesn't respond to sound so much either.

I don't think he is unhappy and he still allows us to pet him, but let's us know when he's not in the mood by pushing us away.

Any tips on how to make him as comfortable as possible?
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,490
Location
Alberta
So when was the vet visit? Recently or was it awhile ago, if it was recently did they give him a clean bill of health and check his teeth? Not just looked at the front teeth but also at least use a scope to check the molars? Chins can develop arthritis, there are joint supplements that can help, like the Oxbow Joint supplement, also the vet can prescribe pain meds. You can also ask the vet about adding flax seed to the diet, I've heard that can help. When you say you have him burned toast did you give him actual toast or just the charred blackened bit? If you gave him actual toast the sugar is likely what caused the spike in energy, but once the effects of the sugar were gone so was the energy. The idea of giving the burned black bit of toast is it acts kind of like pepto bismol or charcoal to help absorb some of the toxin in the gut causing an upset stomach. If given too much or too often it can cause constipation.

I would normally say no raisins, they are terrible for chins, but at 20+ it's probably best to just let him have what he wants, like leting an old person have as much junk food as they want. If he isn't eating his pellets or hay are you hand feeding him Critical Care or something? and is he eating that ok?
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Hi,

The visit to the vet was quite some time ago when he was eating very well.

We have check his teeth ourselves and they appear to be absolutely fine. He is not in any pain, and is happy for us to inspect him (or as happy as a chin can be when they are being prodded 😁).

We initial gave him just the charcoally bits of the burnt toast, but then tried him with the whole piece, although it was very, very burnt so there wasn't much actual bread content.

We did think he had stopped pooing, but having had him out for extended periods we found he was still pooing regularly, his droppings were just a lot smaller than usual.

He is drinking plenty and does eat his hay, just not as much. If I rub his pellets against the burnt toast he does appear to show more interest in them, which makes me think he's just eating the things he likes (much like my Gran did in her later years).

He has always had 1 or two raisins a day, and considering he has reached this age and never had any health concerns I don't believe it has done him any harm.

I haven't considered buy any special food as I don't think he would entertain it and I definitely don't want to force feed him 😢
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,490
Location
Alberta
One of the many side effects of a high sugar diet (like being fed raisins) is it can lead to blindness, so I wouldn't be totally sure it hasn't done him any harm, but who knows. It's kind of like a person smoking a pack of cigarettes or eating a bit of fast food everyday and still living into their 90s, they got lucky. Another problem with feeding sugary food is it can cause tooth decay. You say you check his teeth at home, so you own a scope? Otherwise how are you able to check the molars? If so is it just one with a light or is it a camera scope, the camera ones seem to be better since you can get a video fairly quickly, then watch it after to get a better look at your own pace. You want to check to not only for tooth decay but also tooth spurs, over grown molars, as well as sores in the mouth. If all looks good it could also be root growth, I doubt you have an x-ray machine, but at 20+ it may not be worth putting him through that since most need to be sedated for that, but a vet can at least give pain meds if it's suspected.

Since his poops are smaller that is a sign of either a blockage or constipation, so would definitely stop with the toast. The dosage for burnt toast is about a piece the size of the tip of your finger(or about a 1cm square), if you are giving more then that you are giving too much. If he isn't eating on his own he will die, treats and hay are not a balanced diet. If you don't want to give critical care you can try soaking his pellets and see if he will eat those, if not see if syringe feeding him the mushed up pellets will help. It's your chin though, if you think forcing him to eat is going to be too much you might want to just having him put down so he doesn't end up starving to death.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
One of the many side effects of a high sugar diet (like being fed raisins) is it can lead to blindness, so I wouldn't be totally sure it hasn't done him any harm, but who knows. It's kind of like a person smoking a pack of cigarettes or eating a bit of fast food everyday and still living into their 90s, they got lucky. Another problem with feeding sugary food is it can cause tooth decay. You say you check his teeth at home, so you own a scope? Otherwise how are you able to check the molars? If so is it just one with a light or is it a camera scope, the camera ones seem to be better since you can get a video fairly quickly, then watch it after to get a better look at your own pace. You want to check to not only for tooth decay but also tooth spurs, over grown molars, as well as sores in the mouth. If all looks good it could also be root growth, I doubt you have an x-ray machine, but at 20+ it may not be worth putting him through that since most need to be sedated for that, but a vet can at least give pain meds if it's suspected.

Since his poops are smaller that is a sign of either a blockage or constipation, so would definitely stop with the toast. The dosage for burnt toast is about a piece the size of the tip of your finger(or about a 1cm square), if you are giving more then that you are giving too much. If he isn't eating on his own he will die, treats and hay are not a balanced diet. If you don't want to give critical care you can try soaking his pellets and see if he will eat those, if not see if syringe feeding him the mushed up pellets will help. It's your chin though, if you think forcing him to eat is going to be too much you might want to just having him put down so he doesn't end up starving to death.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Like you say, we must have been lucky with Junior as up to now he has been a perfectly healthy Chin, and the one and only time we took him to the vets, the vet was impressed with his age and condition, and the fact he had no issues with his teeth.

The advice we were given back when we adopted him, was that one or two small raisins along with a balanced diet was acceptable ☹

We have tried soaking his pellets but he will only eat them if we then rub them against the burnt toast, which is why I thought he must just be eating the thinks he likes. We will try this again to see if we can convince him to eat more.
 

HaXena

Active member
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Messages
26
Location
Sioux City, IA
More experienced chin owners may disagree with this, I’m counting on them to chime in if this is BAD advice.

I rescued a 10-year-old chin and after finding out that most “treats” are bad for them I went looking for “healthy” treats I could give daily. Initially to build trust w an abused chin, now of course it’s habit.

Now 12 y.o., Maury gets Cheerios and chunks of organic celery every day. I also have dried organic rose hips.

5-10 Cheerios fed from my lips, since I’m his jungle gym as I clean his habitate. Then celery before I go to bed.

The celery is my “trick” to get more fluids in him. I rinse the celery then put it upright in a small glass container. He seems to prefer eating it that way vs having to touch it or it touching anything in his cage.

I know chins digestive systems are incredibly sensitive. And it’s a big no-no to change their diet abruptly. Celery and Cheerios are cheep. Might be worth trying a raisin size bit to see if it’s agrees with his system.

JUST SUGGESTIONS for getting some calories in him. Critical care is everyone’s suggestion for best way to go when a chin isn’t eating.
 
Last edited:

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Thank you for that. I'd never considered celery before. I imagine he would like that. He does appear to be drinking well, just really fussy about what he eats, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to offer alternative hydration.

He does have some special Chinchilla cookies which he usually loves but he's turning his nose up at them, if we don't rub a raisin on them first.

It's really hard to know what to do for the best as I think a visit to the vet would really stress him out.

I will see if I can get some critical care. I've not seen it in and of my usual pet shops.
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,490
Location
Alberta
Unfortunately we are still learning new things even now about proper diet for chinchillas. When I first got chins in the early 90s raisins were the go to snack, but now we know that the high sugar in them is not good for them, currently goji berries are suggested to replace raisins since they are lower in sugar, but even then they are only recommended once a month. Too much sugar can lead to issues like, tooth decay, diabetes, blindness, seizures, liver and kidney failure, and obesity. I'm not saying it happens with every chin, just like not all people that eat junk food daily have all the health issues that can come with that diet. Celery is also not advised, it's not as bad as most veggies but can cause gas, bloat, and diarrhea, so if you try that keep a very close eye on the chin's poops. Cheerios use to be recommended, but can be gassy so they aren't recommended anymore. At this point though it's probably best to not worry as much about issues that food can cause and just give him what he will eat. If you want I can give you a list of currently advised treats for pet chinchillas.

Sadly most vets think that chins only live about 5-10 years, so when they see a chin that is over 10 they tend to be shocked and think it's lived a very long life. In reality most chins on average live as long as cats, about 15-20 years, but living into their 20s is not uncommon with good genetics, luck, and good care. The oldest chin on record (according to Guinness book of world records) was 29 almost 30 when it died Oldest chinchilla ever , but some people claim to have had chins that lived into their 30s. The primary cause of tooth issue like malocclusion is genetics, so if your chin had good genetics and manages to avoid injury to the mouth/jaw and tooth decay causing loss of teeth then there is no reason for it to have tooth issues.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mel

Mel

New member
Joined
Feb 18, 2021
Messages
2
Hi all. I am new here and recently went through the same thing. My chinny was 21 and had all the same symptoms. He was checked out by a vet and had teeth and digestive issues ruled out. It was just old age for our guy and he lost interest in eating hays/pellets but instead of force feeding him I ground up his pellets into powder and mixed that with Critical Care and warm water. Just enough warm water to form soft cubes and he lived on that for a year. Even gained weight. He passed very peacefully in his sleep a few months ago.
The vet said to try baby food, peanut butter or juice mixed in with the cubes instead of water but I never bothered. He ate them plain and I was afraid of bloat with all the sugars.
You could try the cubes? Good luck with your chinny.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Unfortunately we are still learning new things even now about proper diet for chinchillas. When I first got chins in the early 90s raisins were the go to snack, but now we know that the high sugar in them is not good for them, currently goji berries are suggested to replace raisins since they are lower in sugar, but even then they are only recommended once a month. Too much sugar can lead to issues like, tooth decay, diabetes, blindness, seizures, liver and kidney failure, and obesity. I'm not saying it happens with every chin, just like not all people that eat junk food daily have all the health issues that can come with that diet. Celery is also not advised, it's not as bad as most veggies but can cause gas, bloat, and diarrhea, so if you try that keep a very close eye on the chin's poops. Cheerios use to be recommended, but can be gassy so they aren't recommended anymore. At this point though it's probably best to not worry as much about issues that food can cause and just give him what he will eat. If you want I can give you a list of currently advised treats for pet chinchillas.

Sadly most vets think that chins only live about 5-10 years, so when they see a chin that is over 10 they tend to be shocked and think it's lived a very long life. In reality most chins on average live as long as cats, about 15-20 years, but living into their 20s is not uncommon with good genetics, luck, and good care. The oldest chin on record (according to Guinness book of world records) was 29 almost 30 when it died Oldest chinchilla ever , but some people claim to have had chins that lived into their 30s. The primary cause of tooth issue like malocclusion is genetics, so if your chin had good genetics and manages to avoid injury to the mouth/jaw and tooth decay causing loss of teeth then there is no reason for it to have tooth issues.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
I must admit, we didn't expect to have Junior this long, but so glad he has lived a long life.

Going to try syringe feeding him today, with his standard food as I don't think we can currently get Critical Care in the UK 😢

Will try to limit the treats until he gets a bit of food into him.

Thank you
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Hi all. I am new here and recently went through the same thing. My chinny was 21 and had all the same symptoms. He was checked out by a vet and had teeth and digestive issues ruled out. It was just old age for our guy and he lost interest in eating hays/pellets but instead of force feeding him I ground up his pellets into powder and mixed that with Critical Care and warm water. Just enough warm water to form soft cubes and he lived on that for a year. Even gained weight. He passed very peacefully in his sleep a few months ago.
The vet said to try baby food, peanut butter or juice mixed in with the cubes instead of water but I never bothered. He ate them plain and I was afraid of bloat with all the sugars.
You could try the cubes? Good luck with your chinny.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Thank you for your response, it has given me a little hope.

We are going to try syringe feeding him today with mushed up food. Fingers crossed we can get his energy levels up a bit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mel

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,490
Location
Alberta
I must admit, we didn't expect to have Junior this long, but so glad he has lived a long life.

Going to try syringe feeding him today, with his standard food as I don't think we can currently get Critical Care in the UK 😢

Will try to limit the treats until he gets a bit of food into him.

Thank you
Oh since you are in the UK, you might have better luck trying to find Science Selective Recovery food then Critical Care (which is made by Oxbow) Veterinary Care Products for Small Pets | Supreme Petfoods
Oh and most pet stores don't normally carry the recovery foods, you get them more easily from the vet, Amazon also carries them too (doing a quick search the UK Amazon site has both the Oxbow Critical Care as well as the Science Selective Recovery food). Amazon.co.uk
 
Last edited:

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
We did manage to get hold of Science Selective Recovery from our pet shop, but sadly despite this and managing to hand feed Junior, he went to sleep for the last time yesterday 😢 He passed very peacefully, which I am extremely grateful for.

Gutted he's gone but still cannot believe he reached 22. Amazing little pets, that leave a massive whole in your heart 💙

Thanks for all your advice.
 

borwin98

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2019
Messages
24
Rest In Peace, Junior.
My deepest sympathies, Sandy.
The worst thing about having pets is
when they leave us.
 

SandyGW2206

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
11
Thank you. I don't know why we put ourselves through it... oh yes I do, it's because the good times are just the best 💙
 

Sophiaxfrizzx

Active member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
27
Location
Ireland
Hi Sandy, so sorry for your loss. Its such a heartbreaking moment when you loss a pet. You have all those great memories to look back on now ❤
 

Latest posts

Top