Gaining weight

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MinatoandChili

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Hi everybody, I recently took Minato to the vet for a checkup and was told he was underweight. To my understanding, he was perfect in weight from the last checkup but the vet was not trustful or truthful. Now that we know he’s underweight, I want to get him healthy. I was told by the vet that besides pellets and hay, he could have some plain oats to gain weight. Does anyone have any recommendations or advice?
 

Amethyst

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The problem with oats is they can be gassy, since chins can't easily pass gas it can turn into bloat which can be fatal. There are some that no longer even recommend them, or other grains as treats anymore do to the risk, and even when they were it was just a tiny pinch or about a few oats worth per week to avoid gas and that isn't enough to help with weight gain. Gas problems are pretty common, in a chin owners (mostly pet owners) FB group I'm in at least once a week someone is seems to dealing with a gas issue with their chins.

What are you going by to determine he is underweight? Just how much he weighs? or can you actually feel his bones? Is he healthy otherwise? and has he lost weight since the last visit or is it the same and just one vet says he is fine and the other says he is underweight? I know some vets think all chins are the same size and for example should all be 600-800g, but in reality they can very from about 400-1,200g or more and still be a healthy weight for their size.

If he is in fact underweight, as in when you pet him you can easily feel his ribs and spine, and you are feeding him all the pellets and hay he could want, then I would want to know why he is underweight. Chins should be able to maintain proper weight on good quality pellets and hay alone. If he is otherwise healthy and it's not a health issues causing it could he maybe getting too much exercise? Some chins need to have shorter playtime, like limited to just half an hour per day of out of the cage since they go go go the whole time they are out, similarly some can't have wheels since they over do it and burn too much calories. Also what kind of pellets are you feeding? and are you giving measured amounts or free feeding? Although I do measure mine to help keep an eye on his food intake and prevent too much waste if he tosses it, I don't restrict the pellets, just how much is in the bowl at any given time. If he finishes the two heaping tablespoons worth I give per day before the end of the day I do give him more. Some chins do need more food especially if they are very active, and it can vary from day to day so although most adult chins only eat about 2tb a day (even if free fed), some do eat a bit more and some a bit less, along with their hay.

If he really is underweight and there is no obvious causes, a better option then oats would be critical care. It's a recovery food for chins that are sick or recovering but is high in calories which will help him put on weight. You can also add a small amount of alfalfa to his diet, being a legume instead of grass it's higher in protein and fat which can help a chin gain weight, but it's also high in calcium so you don't want to give too much since some chins are prone to urinary tract stones. You can also try 3rd cut timothy hay, it's again higher in fat and protein which can help a chin gain weight, but not high in calcium like alfalfa so may be a safer option but normally needs to be ordered online, store bought hay is normally the 2nd cut which is standard feeding hay.
 

MinatoandChili

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Joined
May 2, 2022
Messages
58
The problem with oats is they can be gassy, since chins can't easily pass gas it can turn into bloat which can be fatal. There are some that no longer even recommend them, or other grains as treats anymore do to the risk, and even when they were it was just a tiny pinch or about a few oats worth per week to avoid gas and that isn't enough to help with weight gain. Gas problems are pretty common, in a chin owners (mostly pet owners) FB group I'm in at least once a week someone is seems to dealing with a gas issue with their chins.

What are you going by to determine he is underweight? Just how much he weighs? or can you actually feel his bones? Is he healthy otherwise? and has he lost weight since the last visit or is it the same and just one vet says he is fine and the other says he is underweight? I know some vets think all chins are the same size and for example should all be 600-800g, but in reality they can very from about 400-1,200g or more and still be a healthy weight for their size.

If he is in fact underweight, as in when you pet him you can easily feel his ribs and spine, and you are feeding him all the pellets and hay he could want, then I would want to know why he is underweight. Chins should be able to maintain proper weight on good quality pellets and hay alone. If he is otherwise healthy and it's not a health issues causing it could he maybe getting too much exercise? Some chins need to have shorter playtime, like limited to just half an hour per day of out of the cage since they go go go the whole time they are out, similarly some can't have wheels since they over do it and burn too much calories. Also what kind of pellets are you feeding? and are you giving measured amounts or free feeding? Although I do measure mine to help keep an eye on his food intake and prevent too much waste if he tosses it, I don't restrict the pellets, just how much is in the bowl at any given time. If he finishes the two heaping tablespoons worth I give per day before the end of the day I do give him more. Some chins do need more food especially if they are very active, and it can vary from day to day so although most adult chins only eat about 2tb a day (even if free fed), some do eat a bit more and some a bit less, along with their hay.

If he really is underweight and there is no obvious causes, a better option then oats would be critical care. It's a recovery food for chins that are sick or recovering but is high in calories which will help him put on weight. You can also add a small amount of alfalfa to his diet, being a legume instead of grass it's higher in protein and fat which can help a chin gain weight, but it's also high in calcium so you don't want to give too much since some chins are prone to urinary tract stones. You can also try 3rd cut timothy hay, it's again higher in fat and protein which can help a chin gain weight, but not high in calcium like alfalfa so may be a safer option but normally needs to be ordered online, store bought hay is normally the 2nd cut which is standard feeding hay.
Ill give you some insight on how the vet visit went from the past time (the first checkup with a doctor i dont trust) and this recent checkup. When I first got Minato(around March) I took him to get a checkup. The doctor said everything was fine with him, but I wasn’t able to enter the room due to COVID restrictions. Never mentioned anything about weight or so on.

Fast forward to yesterday, I took him to a new vet for another checkup. The doctor said he was was underweight (you can feel his bones and ribs) and because she pulled up the records from the old vet visit done in March. I’m not sure of the numbers, but I can take a look on the papers the vet gave me. The doctor said that since the last vet visit in March, he gained 100g. Meaning the other doctor should’ve noted he was way underweight but failed to mention.

To include, she also saw that his teeth were overgrown which the other doctor didn’t mention. I told her that I didn’t feel like he was eating his hay. The reason I’m not fully sure he ate it was because he would mess with his hay and throw out his hay and when I cleaned it I wasn’t able to notice. She said that may be a factor as to why he’s underweight because his teeth are overgrown causing him to not be able to eat. His molars looked like they were hurting his cheeks so they grinded down his teeth. She said his teeth were very loose and would eventually fall out on its own.

I’m not sure if this matters, but I’d rather say it. When Minato had his first vet visit, the doctor said he was around 2 and a half years old. Yesterday, the new vet said due to his teeth problems, it usually comes from chins who are older around 8-10. She said she wasn’t fully sure because she can never age them correctly (which I respect unlike the other vet who didn’t know anything about what he was saying).

As to food, he’s been eating Oxbow Essentials hay and same with pellets. Everything is fresh. His hay is free fed simply because he never finishes it and his pellets are free fed too. He eats his pellets pretty well. He also is lazy, he doesnt run too much but does run around my room and his cage. He mainly likes snuggling in bed with me and my husband. Otherwise, he’s pretty healthy. I thought I had a concern for his poop, but he recently got a lab test done for his poop and he doesn’t have anything and is fine. Anything other information you should know? Let me know if you’d like to know his approx. weight so I can get the paper.
 

Amethyst

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That doesn't really sound too good at all that the teeth are loose and they think they will fallout. :( Hopefully they don't end up falling out. That is not normally even for a middle age chin (8-10 is only around 50ish in human years), if they fall out that will require regular teeth trimming for the rest of his life since the opposite teeth wont have anything to grind against anymore so they will overgrow. Also if any teeth are removed or fall out the remaining teeth can end up floating out of alignment as well since they aren't fixed into the jaw like human teeth.

It is very possible that it was his teeth hurting him causing him to not eat enough. Since he did gain 100g since March I would just keep an eye on his weight. A kitchen scale that measures in grams works well, if he is not wanting to sit still a treat sometimes works, or put him in a container then zero out the scale and subtract the weight of the container. I use an empty tissue box or a small plastic tub.

If he is middle aged not young though that would explain him being more on the lazy side. Unfortunately it is hard to tell age for chins past the first year, or until they get really old, and a well cared for older chin can look younger then a poorly kept younger chin. Normal things that they use as indicators like teeth in cats and dogs doesn't apply to chins since their teeth are totally different. Things like arthritis and cataracts normally don't show up until after 10, but again that is not very specific, lol.

I really wouldn't go with oats, too much of a risk, but critical care sounds like a good idea in this case. You can even make critical care cookies since it doesn't sound like he needs hand feedings, just to get some more weight on him.

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MinatoandChili

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Yea the vet said he’d most likely need teeth trimming but honestly I’ll do anything for him to be happy and healthy. I honestly wish k could’ve known he was a bit older so I can make his cage a little more accessible even though it’s somewhat easy to get through. For now I’ll stop using oats and I’ll buy the critical care. How many times would you say I should give him cookies? 1x a week?
 

Amethyst

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Unless he is having a hard time getting around his cage is probably fine. My guy is around 15/16 years old and his cage is pretty much the same as it's been since I bought the cage over 10 years ago (I do rearrange, add and remove things) he still gets around just fine. I do give him joint supplement Natural Science Joint Support - Oxbow Animal Health , one a week, but that's it. Since he needs to gain weight I would give him a cookie (about the size of a quarter) a day.

Here is another recipe if you want to try one that has some rolled oats in it (I would not use the horse cookies though they have apple in them) DIY Chinchilla Treats it also has a bit more detailed instructions.
 

MinatoandChili

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Okay sounds good, thank you for the help. I’ll be ordering the Critical Care and it should be coming soon.
 

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