Sick chinchilla

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JohhnyBishop

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
84
Location
London, UK
Hi All,
I hope you are well.
My ~2 years old female stopped eating. She is losing weight at a rate of about 5g a day.
I have introduced apple juice so she gets some calories this way.

I have also noticed that she is no peeing much so she isn't drinking much of water or apple juice.
Her poo is tiny 1/5th of a normal poo.

I see she picks the pellet, hay or goji berries, it looks like she is chewing but soon drops it.
When I check the goji berry it does not even have any bite marks.

She use to chew on birch tree twigs and dried leaves I leave in the cage but she also stopped doing that.
Looks like a proper hunger strike.
Please advise.
Thank you
 
Definitely need to see the vet, but I would stop with the apple juice, it can cause a lot more harm then good, chins are not designed to handle that much sugar it can cause all kinds of gut issues (including gas and bloat which can cause the poop to be small) and can even kill them. It sounds like she has gas or a blockage, you can try giving gas drops and see if that helps, but if it's been 24 hours or more without food you need to get her to the vet as soon as you can, like today. The gut bacteria start to die off after about 12 hours of no food, and after about 24 hours the gut can shut down completely leading to gi stasis, which requires medication and supportive care to hopefully get the gut moving again.

Also birch leaves are not a recommended treat, it's debatable if they are safe or not do to the diuretic properties, unless only given rarely and/or in very small amounts.
 
Hi again, I took her to the vet. It's going to be an expensive treatment.
Her molar teeth on the right side are growing outward. If she survives the anaesthetics the vet said that this is going to be an recurring thing with this chinchilla to sort out her teeth every 3-6 months each time $600-700.
Not sure if a set of extra chewing toys could help.

In terms of birch leaves this is in small amounts as they come with the twigs but this can be removed.

This is a new experience but the lesson is that for this type of a condition chins wellbeing deteriorates very slowly.

Vet has said that this teeth issue develops early on like 3 months old and I think she struggles with it for a long time but it was very very gradual process.
The thing just accelerated once she couldn't eat properly.

I think it's good to weight the chinchilla every quarter or something. If the weight drops by more than ~50g then I can expect some problems.
I think any deviation of behaviour comparing to other chins e.g. less activity can be indicative. What it looks like a chin with a different demeanour e.g. recluse again could be indicative.
 
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That's too bad, assuming she wasn't injured it sounds like genetic malo, you normally see signs by the time the chin is around two. I would keep in mind that getting tooth trims is just delaying the inevitable, but if there is no root involvement yet and she recovers quickly after each trimming you might get lucky and get a few more years with her. How quickly it becomes a problem really has to do with how quickly your personal chin's teeth grow, on average it's about a mm or two a week, but for some chins they only grow a few mm a month, where as others can grow a few mm a week. It likely has to do with a combo of genetics and feeding a good quality food (which has all the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy chin but also growing teeth).

Unfortunately chew toys don't really help at all for molars since they don't chew on toys with their molars like a dog. Chew toys help wear down the incisors, it's hay that really helps wear down the molars since they grind it up with their molars. Ideally they should be eating a pile of hay about the size of a chinchilla per day. Different types of hay is chewed differently too so that can sometimes help with more even wear as well. I have also heard that larger pellet/biscuits (like science selective) can also help some too since they require more chewing then the smaller pellets like Oxbow.
 
The benefits of pumice are they help file the front teeth and some chins like to chew it up and roll in the dust created (so a mini dust bath), and if you get the ledges and they jump on them it can help file their nails a bit. Pumice is probably the least helpful for molar wear though, since they don't eat stone so they don't use their molars to grind it at all, at least with stick most chins will eat the bark, which does get ground up with their molars.

Just to be clear, unlimited wood to chew on is fine but just giving pieces/chunks of bark as chews is not a good idea though. Bark contain natural sugars (among other things), so you don't want to give too much, the amount they chew off a couple wood chew sticks a day is fine but those solid chunks of just bark sold from some online vendors is not a good idea.
 
I kind of realized that pumice won't help for back teeth but I am thinking about any ways of promoting her to chew more than usually so her jaws are working. I don't know if this is to do with every chin but I can hear her grinding her teeth even at sleep.
Few times a week she has access to a big cage where she can run, she has a running saucer but I can see that she does a short stroll then sits in a hammock, does not chew as much as the others do.

I understand that she is still weak after the procedure but time is working against us, if you know what I mean.
If there is anything that could promote more activity, eating more. I would rather want her to die of obesity than keep shrinking and her teeth keep growing.
Her weight has stopped dropping so at least she maintains the weight. I think on top of that I should feed her with a syringe but she hates it and I think she loses more energy fighting me than she gains from it.
 
The issues with too much sugar is more then just obesity, it can also cause tooth decay, diabetes, and digestive issues (sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the gut). You could try other kinds of chews though, as well as different chew sticks everyday, many chins love apple wood for example, but pear and other fruit woods are also popular, as well as there is a whole list of safe wood you can try. I like to rotate the type of wood I give mine so he gets something different each time. For other chews you can try things like palm leaves, hay twist shapes, loofah, and softer wood like bamboo, willow vine, and raspberry or blackberry cane that are more shredding. Different chins also have difference preferences, some prefer certain things as toss toys they can pick up others prefer the same things as hanging toys instead, so it's good to try it a different way if they don't like it one way at first. I would also try different kinds of hay like timothy of different cuts (especially 1st cut if she will eat it) and orchard, as well as grain hay like oat, as well as try hay cubes if she will eat though, just as something different in addition to the loose hay. You can also try some crunchier treats like rose hips, hawthorn berries, and dandelion root, thing that require more chewing, there are also various leaf mix treats you can try, which again require more chewing then just pellets. Some people have had luck mixing a small amount of treats into the hay to increase hay consumption, or even storing the timothy hay in the same container with alfalfa or treats so it gets the smell.
 
Pets at Home has a new treat, Woodlands Wood Nibble sticks, with 5 pieces per bag, that you may like to try. I give my boy only one at a time because he demolishes them quite fast but never heard a more content gnawing, not even with apple sticks.

 
Just an update. The chinchilla is getting better, recovering her weight primarily thanks to Science Selective (thanks Amethyst!) she likes very much.
I hope this hard and sizable pellet is wearing her teeth off sufficiently to delay the problem.
Unfortunately she is not eating any of the timothy hay and only nibbles the alpha alpha hay. She either lost the taste for it completely or there is another issue going on.
 
she is not eating any of the timothy hay and only nibbles the alpha alpha hay. She either lost the taste for it completely or there is another issue going on.
Hope it is just temporary but just in case: one way to encourage (trick will be more exact) a chin to eat hay is to put a handful in a loop suspended from the cage bars and hide in the middle a thin apple stick or any other treat the chin is allowed to have. I used it with a dyed in the wool hay-hater and it worked.
 
I come across THIS. The author suggests to spill some fresh apple juice into/onto the timothy hay to incentivise the chinchilla.
Sadly that is yet another site with a lot of bad info, that is including the very stupid idea of putting apple juice on the hay. 🤬 I'm guessing it was written by a little kid that did very basic research on google or possibly just an idiot. One of the sites that they claim at the bottom of the article that they got the info from doesn't even back up what they are saying. I would find it funny, but I know that unfortunately people are actually going to believe this and, like you spread it around, end up making chins very sick or even die.
 
If you ask me I think the vet just wanted to make some easy buck.|
He must knew that she won't make it as the condition is too serious and euthanasia should be done immediately after the discover not after an expensive treatment and when it happens again 2 months down the line. It's only a month and half when she started drooling.
Trimming the molar, premolar teeth is not a treatment in itself it's just correction, delaying the inevitable.
The probability that the teeth will miraculously realign is very slim.

I come across this article:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC339280/This stuff is like more than 20 years old.
I know in the example above they do it on a guinea pig but this neoprene headgear looks clever.
I don't think vets want to get into crown amputation besides its probably 3x more expensive what we already paid.
So it should be either way Day 1 euthanasia or neoprene headgear soon after the treatment.
Otherwise it's pointless they just give you a bit more time to think about putting your animal to sleep.
If you ask me I don't need Doctor House for animals $1000 per episode.

Here in UK they consider chinchillas "exotic pets" thus more expensive treatments but then are the bunnies and guinea pigs also exotic?
I don't see much difference. I get that they have a bit different metabolism and perhaps it's harder to anaesthetise them.
 
If you ask me I think the vet just wanted to make some easy buck.|
He must knew that she won't make it as the condition is too serious and euthanasia should be done immediately after the discover not after an expensive treatment and when it happens again 2 months down the line. It's only a month and half when she started drooling.
Trimming the molar, premolar teeth is not a treatment in itself it's just correction, delaying the inevitable.
The probability that the teeth will miraculously realign is very slim.

I come across this article:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC339280/This stuff is like more than 20 years old.
I know in the example above they do it on a guinea pig but this neoprene headgear looks clever.
I don't think vets want to get into crown amputation besides its probably 3x more expensive what we already paid.
So it should be either way Day 1 euthanasia or neoprene headgear soon after the treatment.
Otherwise it's pointless they just give you a bit more time to think about putting your animal to sleep.
If you ask me I don't need Doctor House for animals $1000 per episode.

Here in UK they consider chinchillas "exotic pets" thus more expensive treatments but then are the bunnies and guinea pigs also exotic?
I don't see much difference. I get that they have a bit different metabolism and perhaps it's harder to anaesthetise them.
Unfortunately that does seem to be the case sometimes that the vet is more focused on money then being honest about the reality of the whole situation. On one hand there are some people that are willing to try everything just for a little more time, and get mad when the vet suggests euthanizing too early on. So I can see vets wanting to give you possible options if you want to buy some more time, but if not told it's a treatment not a cure people are caught off guard when they get their chin's teeth filed and assume the issue is all corrected now, only for them to need filing again within weeks to months.

However just like that article you posted points out there is different degrees of "malo", so I wouldn't jump to euthanizing right away every time, sometimes treatment is worth it. If it's something as simple as just overgrown teeth or tooth spurs caused by improper diet, no elongated roots or misaligned teeth, and it's caught early enough there are cases were chins have gone on to live normal lives, once they trim the spurs and correct the diet. Also there are some that it's just a slight misalignment of the teeth, no root elongation, and simply giving pain meds as needed and regular (not frequent, like a couple times a year) trimming the crowns of the teeth can allow the chin to live relatively pain free for years. I have also seen cases where tooth trimming and diet changes like offering a variety of hay and other course plants has helped if the teeth aren't too misaligned since different hay is chewed differently giving a more even wear.
Removing all the teeth is really the only "cure", however it comes with a high risk of infection, as well as high risk of breaking the jaw especially if the teeth are not loose. If you just remove the "problem" teeth that will cause the other teeth to shift out of place to fill the gaps as well as if they don't remove top and bottom it leaves them with no opposite tooth to wear against, again requiring regular trimming.

I'm really not sure the chin strap would work with chinchillas unfortunately, I do see the advantage and I have heard of and seen that used before for guinea pigs and rabbits, but I I'm not sure a chin would tolerate it. Guinea pigs are way more laid back then chins so likely tolerate having something around their head a lot more then a chin would, but it might work if you are home to watch them the whole time it's on and you have a very laid back chinchilla though.

I'm pretty sure chinchillas are considered exotics everywhere in the world, and at least in the US and Canada rabbits and guinea pigs are considered exotics too, along with other rodents, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and pet birds (like parrots, finches, canaries, etc). All those animals come with increased risk of putting them under anesthesia. The only real difference I see is the vets may simply have more experience with things like rabbits and guinea pigs so some vets are willing to at least see and attempt to treat them even if they aren't specifically exotic vets, and will refer you to an exotic vet if needed. I do remember that fact being really frustrating when I first got chins when I was younger, I was paying more for an "exotic" vet for my chins, but I knew more about the chins then the vet who was looking up conditions in guinea pigs to see if it could be a similar issue. Most vets just consider cats and dogs (not including wild mixes) as the only non exotic small animals, and then you have livestock (horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, etc as well as poultry like chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks) which are not exotics but are still often another catagory.
 
I mean in her case I think the problem appeared early on I just didn't pay attention that she ate less and less hay.
They all eat Science Selective from the beginning which is as you said abrasive.
I don't know what else can be introduced to help with the abrasion. If her jaw is already hanging like it was said in the article then abrasive diet won't help anyway.
 
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