Fatty liver

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New member
Nov 14, 2022
Hi. Our baby, Eden is almost 1 year old. We were giving her Timothy hay and timothy pellets with some alfalfa and alfalfa pellets. (I believed a little alfalfa is ok under 1yo then treat like a treat) She started favoring the alfalfa so we cut it down to leaf once a week with less alfalfa pellets as well. At first she didnt eat much but her intake increased within a week. But then her ears turned yellow. So we brought her to the vet. They said her labs were pretty normal but because she became anorexic, she developed fatty liver disease. She weighed 516g. She also said she thinks she has ringworm as shes losing fur on top of her head.
They reccommended cutting out alfalfa completely because of the high calcium and switching to "oxbow timothy pellets" also give her a tablespoon of milk thistle seeds per day.(Does that seem like a lot?!) They gave us a appetite booster and critical care. And an antifungal cream.
Couldnt find local milk thistle so ordered it and have been giving a teaspoon a day. Shes finished the CC and appetite booster. Shes eating normally her viking farmer timothy pellets and hay. She seems to have full energy and no lethargy. Idk if my scale is any good but today i got only 440 for her weight! It has been 2.5 weeks since our vet visit.
I have so many questions. Ive only read scary info on fatty liver disease. That its a slow, painful death. Eden may be losing weight but seems totally healthy otherwise. If she is dying, wouldnt there be other signs? How long would it take to kill her? Is she in pain? And of course, is there anything we can do?
If its ringworm, why didnt they give us full instructions for getting rid of it and why wouldnt our other chin (lives seperately in bottom of ferret nation) or any other family member have it?
Thanks in advance
Ok just to start with, a proper diet for a chin over 6 months is an alfalfa based complete diet pellet, unlimited timothy hay, and water, treats can be given but should be limited to just a small amount a couple times a week. Also treats should not contain fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, sugars (like honey), or animal products. Under 6 months they should have unlimited alfalfa based pellets, as well as unlimited alfalfa and timothy hay, and water, no treats at all. Looking up the Viking Farmer pellets, it looks like they are just 3rd cut timothy hay, so basically you are just feeding timothy hay and that's it, that is not a balanced diet at all and can cause malnutrition (which will lead to weight loss and fatty liver disease, as well as can cause their hair to fall out), you should be feeding a balanced pellet for chins. With rabbits and guinea pigs just eating just timothy pellets is probably ok since they should also be given fruits and veggies to round out their diet with all the nutrients they need, which are things chins shouldn't have. Recommended chinchilla pellets are Oxbow Essentials, Mazuri, and Science Selective, (personally I prefer to stick with species specific food but there are certain high quality rabbit foods that are ok) and you want to give about 30-40g per day, but most chins don't over eat so as so long as the chin is eating hay, not just gorging on pellets, you don't really need to restrict the pellets. The general rule for chins over 6 months is if you are feeding an alfalfa based pellet you should feed timothy hay (alfalfa hay as an occasional treat if given at all), if you are feeding a timothy based pellet you should feed alfalfa hay. Even adult chins need the nutrients found in alfalfa (or at the very least a balanced timothy pellet that has the needed nutrients added into it), but not too much since as you did mention alfalfa is high in calcium, which can cause urinary tract stones. So I find it easier to give the alfalfa as pellets and unlimited timothy hay since you can better monitor how much alfalfa they are eating and they can eat all the hay they want which is needed for proper molar wear.

For milk thistle for chins I think is more like 1/2 teaspoon per day, but could be less then that, but definitely not a tablespoon. I know Fuzzies Kingdom Supplies, Treats, Accessories for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, Ferrets, Rats has a liver supplement that has milk thistle in it, you may want to contact her about dosage, she would probably know better. I think fatty liver can be treated if caught early enough, but I've never dealt with it in chins myself.

For the ringworm you may have simply gotten lucky that it hasn't spread to your other chin, yet. It's possible you just have been good enough keeping everything clean and contained to one cage so far so the spores haven't spread. Just be extra careful to wash between handling and throw out all wood that was in Eden's cage so the spores don't reinfect him, you can put new wood in the cage once he is fully recovered from ringworm. To be clear though, did they do a skin scraping to confirm ring worm and is the skin actually look it red, itchy, and flaky like a ringworm infection? If it's just hair loss and the skin looks normal I wonder if it's just falling out from the malnutrition not actually ringworm at all. :unsure: