URGENT horrible diarrhea!!

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New member
Feb 12, 2022
I have had my chinchilla two weeks now and I got him from a previous owner who took care of him well (as far as I can tell…oxbow pellets, hay, correct cage furniture, etc). A couple days of having him I noticed he wasn’t eating well and his poops were soft. I thought it could have been stress but I took him to the vet to be sure.

Btw— ever since I’ve had him he has only eaten hay and pellets. No treats.

They said he looks healthy and did a fecal analysis and tested for parasites — test came back negative. I’m not sure what they tested for, all I know is his test was negative for “intestinal parasites”. They gave him some fluids and sent me home with Oxbow critical care formula and instructed me to feed him 50 mL a day. (to boost his appetite and give him some fiber/nutrients)

After a couple days on Critical Care, his poops went from being soft to being complete liquid. Someone on reddit said that critical care can worsen diarrhea because there’s sugar in it. Is this true?

I only give him a could mL of critical care a day now. Someone suggested burning a piece of toast until it’s black and feeding him that. About two days after very little critical care and a little burnt toast, he still has liquid diarrhea.

It’s been going on a few days now. He sleeps most the time but is completely active at certain times and seems normal besides the diarrhea. I already spent $400 at the vet and I cant afford to take him back right now — and i’m unsure of what they’d even do if he doesn’t have intestinal parasites?

Could it be the critical care that made his diarrhea worse? Should I still feed him that or stop? If he has no parasites and is eating nothing besides hay what else could it be?

I also made the mistake of giving him tap water. I wasn’t aware this can cause problems until this whole diarrhea thing. Can switching to purified water fix his poops? Or will the possible bacteria that’s in the water already be stuck inside him and need treatment another way? The vet said he doesn’t have parasites though.

What can I do to stiffen up his poops? I know how deadly diarrhea can be and I hate seeing him have it.

He wants to come out to play so bad but I cant let him because of how bad of a “leaky butt” he has.

Another website suggested these things:

- activated charcoal (i think this is what the burnt toast was supposed to imitate?)
- probiotics. acidophilus? what kind and how much? He hasn’t been on any antibiotic before this.
- Pet Pectillin ? Said it’s for dog and cats but safe for chinchillas.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited:


New member
Feb 12, 2022
Also, I’ve been giving tap water to him. I heard it can give harmful bacteria to chins. Would this be in the form of parasite or other? Because vet said no parasites. If I switch to purified water can this solve the problem?


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 7, 2012
Honestly I would phone the vet and tell them it's gotten worse. Did they have any clue what could be causing it?

If the chin got sick from bacteria or parasites in the water then no just switching to purified water at this point without giving him antibiotics or antiparasitics wouldn't help, but you should be giving purified water so you don't make it worse. However tap water, depending on where you live, can also have things like chlorine and fluoride in it which are not safe for chins either, and if it's one of those causing the problem then just switching to purified water will help. As far as I know critical care does not make diarrhea worse, but I guess it could if you are using the tap water to mix it with. I don't think it has more sugar then normal oxbow essentials pellets (to be clear the chin is getting Oxbow Essentials right?) but I could be wrong. You can try stopping the critical care if he is eating on his own food and see if that helps. The problem with only checking the poop once is that I know the parasite giardia (the most common one found in tap water that causes diarrhea) can go in I think 2 week cycles, so if you get the poop at the wrong part of the life cycle they may not show up in fecal tests.

You can try active charcoal, yes the burnt part of the toast as in burn it black and give the chin only the black part NOT the toast itself, is suppose to imitate that but it doesn't work as good. You can also try probiotics Bene-Bac is the most popular, you can use acidophilus if that is all you can get though (Bene-Bac has it too as well as other probiotics in it), just get tablets sold at a human pharmacy and sprinkle one over the food. Pet Pectillin is safe, but I've never used it myself, others have though so it's worth a try.

A hay only diet to try to help with diarrhea should not be done for more then a few days, the idea is to bulk up the gut with fiber to help flush out something they ate they shouldn't have, like too many treats for example. If it doesn't fix the problem then hay only is not going to work and hay alone doesn't give the chin enough nutrients to be their only food.


Well-known member
Nov 3, 2021
I don't really have anything useful to add, Amethyst has given you some good information, but I just wanted to say that I'm sorry you and your chin are having to deal with this. I know how stressful it can be to have a sick baby. :(

I'd definitely call the vet and tell them that he's gotten worse. Is the vet you went to experienced with chins? Unfortunately not all vets really know how to diagnose and treat chins. Though it does seem like testing for parasites was the right call. However, as Amethyst said, some parasites (namely giardia, though there are probably other less common ones where this happens as well) aren't detectable at certain stages in their life cycle, so it's possible he has a parasitic infection even if the first test was negative.

I would definitely switch to purified water. At the very least, that will help prevent any more nasties from getting into his system, and at best, it might even help him improve, depending on what the actual problem is. I give purified water to all my pets. Levels of various chemicals and microorganisms that are safe for humans are often still too much for smaller and/or more sensitive critters.

I hope you're able to figure out the issue and get him well! ❤️

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