Vets Recommend Fresh Greens

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Idgie

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Just curious what you all think. Every exotic vet that I have had my chin to over the years recommends feeding fresh greens. But it seems that in the chin community, we don’t do that. Are there some of you who do? Pros/cons.
 

Amethyst

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Most vets don't specialize in chinchillas, they may specialize in small or even "pocket pets" but not specifically chins (most simply don't see them often enough), so they end up lumping chins in with "similar" animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. It was thought at one point in time (like 40 years ago when they first started to become pets) that their diet was similar, but we now know chins digestive tracts don't work exactly the same, they evolved to eat a much simpler and drier diet. Unfortunately most of the vet texts are old or use reprinted outdated info, and not everyone brings their chins to the vet when they get gas (it's often treated at home with gas drops) so they still assume it's fine. Even many places online still say it's fine, and many give lists, so that helps reinforce the wrong/outdated info.

The only pro I can think of is they do have nutrients in them. However the cons far outweigh any pros, since they can cause gas and bloat, which can easily lead to gi stasis and death if not treated, as well as diarrhea, which can quickly dehydrate them. I've heard if you add them very slowly in very tiny amounts you can hopefully avoid the digestive issues, but you can easily get additional nutrients from much safer sources, so it's not really worth it. Also if you are already feeding a proper hay and good quality alfalfa based pellet diet they shouldn't be lacking nutrients.

The only "greens" I would consider to be safe, and do give as an occasional treat, is dried dandelion greens, the additional moisture in fresh though can cause the digestive problems I mentioned. There are also various leaves and herbs that are safe if you want to consider those "greens", but again they all need to be dried not fresh.
 

Idgie

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That’s exactly what I thought, but I hate to argue with a vet. (Though I did say that I’ve had chins since 1992 and I have never fed them greens.) It looked like the handout was outdated and I wanted to say something more…

In the past, I did disagree with a vet, but she was quite defensive and offended. It just kills me to go there and I feel as if I know more than they do. So then I don’t always trust what they are saying.

Maybe there is a way to get word out to vet schools so they quit teaching outdated things. They are getting trained incorrectly. I’m just debating about having a conversation or something with this exotic animal hospital. Or maybe I could forward them some articles or something. Do you have any that you’d recommend?
 

Amethyst

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Unfortunately, at least what I heard when talking with vets in the past, is they don't really learn much of anything about chinchillas in vet school, it's a single page in the text book in the chapter on "pocket pets" (which covers rodents, reptiles, and small birds and fish). If they want to learn more about chinchillas they need to specialize in rodents, where there are more in depth courses they can take, or do their own research. There really isn't much draw for vets to specialize in rodents like there is for cats, dogs, and even exotic vets tend to specialize in birds or reptiles, there are sadly a lot of people that simply don't take rodents to the vet at all so not much money to be made there. Knowing more then the vet was one thing that really bugged me when I would take my chins to the vet when I was a kid, I felt like why am I paying for an exotic vet when I know more then they do?

Unfortunately there really isn't much in terms of actual scientific research or articles out there, even about diet, most of it is simply observations of people that own chinchillas. They give their chins fresh greens and their chin ends up with gas and/or diarrhea. I really think one reason the vets don't clue in on that is people don't mention it or even take their chins to the vet for that. Maybe if people start mentioning that when they tried giving some it upset their chin's stomach vets might start realizing it's a problem. The people that would have the number of chins and the money would be ranchers, and since they just feed hay, pellets, and water (no greens or even treats) and never had any issues with malnutrition (which would effect the fur quality) they aren't going to motivated to spend the money on researching other things to add to the diet. Kind of a "if it's not broken don't fix it" situation. If chins can live long lives, some well into their teens and even 20s (especially when in the wild they only like 5-10 years), on just a simple diet I take that as proof that they don't need additional things added.

I don't really take what the vet says to heart even for my cats and dogs though, most also didn't study nutrition, so likely are going off what they heard or read. I do my own research and figure out why this or that ingredient is or isn't good for them and make my own decision on what to feed.
 

Binki

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Thank you for this thread. Because I am a worry wart I have been taking my chins for anual check ups to a vet two hours away from my home under the wrong assumption that 'exotics' meant 'unusual species' but it is just vet jargon for any animal other than cats and dogs. All that while I have practically at my door a vet who without much fanfarre treats all manner of pets.

As for greens I agree very much with your posts. When I finished architecture school I happened to work for a year in an international project in the Andes 'altiplano' where once upon a time chins roamed and now merely delay extinction in tiny pockets. With practically no rain there isn't much fresh greenery there, just rocks, cactii and dry stuff. In the chinchilla reserve in Chile the chins' main diet is Nasella chilensis, which is a type of tussock grass that always looks dry, and no wonder, with the sun falling on them like a ton of bricks the year round. Perhaps the vet has not even seen a photo of the 'altiplano' because 'verdant,' green or fresh are the last term that would come to mind.
 

Idgie

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Happy to say that I ended up returning to the same exotic vet practice and met with a different vet. I decided to bring up the greens recommendation and how I didn’t agree with it. She replied that she totally agreed with me, but that the founding vets of the practice believed in the greens. She said the younger vets are not trained that way. I told her that I almost didn’t return because I wasn’t trusting that they were up to date or more knowledgeable than me. But I did like this specific vet and would return to her. So it was worth it to speak up and maybe they will even revise their handouts.
 

Binki

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I’m just debating about having a conversation or something with this exotic animal hospital. Or maybe I could forward them some articles or something. Do you have any that you’d recommend?
Prepare to be horrified; no wonder the first vet recommended greens and you were lucky he did not recommend something worse. Here is the URL the type of article young vets may be reading about chins' diet in scientific journals. The publisher is known for publishing peer reviewed articles, which makes the situation even more alarming
 

Amethyst

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Prepare to be horrified; no wonder the first vet recommended greens and you were lucky he did not recommend something worse. Here is the URL the type of article young vets may be reading about chins' diet in scientific journals. The publisher is known for publishing peer reviewed articles, which makes the situation even more alarming
Yikes, so so much wrong info there in just the first section about chins! That is horrible. A chin will die long before it reaches 82°F to 86°F, 72-76F I could be ok with, even though that is still on the high side. I'm not sure about the DIY dust, seems sketchy to me, but I don't know enough to make an informed judgement, but proper volcanic ash/pumice dust is likely much safer. Saying they mostly poop at night is also going to delay care and cause chins to die since people might assume no poop all day doesn't mean anything. Just bad wording in my opinion, they mostly poo when awake, and are mostly awake in the night, but they are awake during the day too. The pellet formula looks ok, maybe a bit low on the low end of fiber, 15% seems low, but it depends on how much hay the chin eats. The supplementing with fresh vegetable and grains (some grains are ok but you need to be very careful) is not good though and the treats suggested, grains, dried apples, raisins, figs, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds are all inappropriate treats for chins and will cause health issues and death (n). Also even healthy treats (certain herbs and flowers) should be more limited then 1 teaspoon a day, but it does depend on the treat given.

At least in Canada they seem to be going in the right direction for care (though still not 100%), saying the veggies are ok as a very small treat and to discontinue if digestive upset occurs. Keeping Your Chinchilla in Good Health for Life
 

Binki

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Yikes, so so much wrong info there
Exactly; if I were a lecturer in a vet school one of the assignments would be to trawl a forum like this: it would not only give them a grasp of the issues involved with the species. but make them ask some relevant questions.

Talking about greens: my boy is crazy about dehydrated nettles. stem and all. They come from a friend's wild meadow so I know they have not been sprayed with pesticides or by dogs. He also likes dehydrated kale but only in the morning: maybe in chins' haute cuisine kale is considered a type of porridge. Is there a limit of how much of those greens he can have per day?
 

Amethyst

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Talking about greens: my boy is crazy about dehydrated nettles. stem and all. They come from a friend's wild meadow so I know they have not been sprayed with pesticides or by dogs. He also likes dehydrated kale but only in the morning: maybe in chins' haute cuisine kale is considered a type of porridge. Is there a limit of how much of those greens he can have per day?
Nettle, I don't give it often but a small piece or about 1/8 tsp a couple times a week, you can probably do a bit more if that is the only treat you are giving, but it is pretty rich in vitamins and minerals. Kale I would not advised to give at all since it can cause gas and bloat.

Here is a list of currently recommended treats in a chin FB group I'm in

InkedTreat list_LI.jpg
 

Binki

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Here is a list of currently recommended treats in a chin FB group I'm in
Many thanks; very timely I was going to buy some oat hay but if oats contain glyphosates it may be wise to avoid the hay as well. His dehydrated kale made an interesting salad topping.
 

Chinchillaville13

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Just curious what you all think. Every exotic vet that I have had my chin to over the years recommends feeding fresh greens. But it seems that in the chin community, we don’t do that. Are there some of you who do? Pros/cons.
My guy Pedro has a guy of steel. I give him a pinch of kale before I feed the rabbit. He loves it and I've seen no health issues. I have heard that kale and carrots are the best vegetables you can be giving them, if any. However, I know chinchillas can be sensitive to wet foods, so maybe try dehydrated kale or carrots? I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't say no. I just do it because Pedro likes it and has been doing fine with it for years. Your call, just make sure you won't get any negative reactions from your chinchilla's digestive system
 

Amethyst

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My guy Pedro has a guy of steel. I give him a pinch of kale before I feed the rabbit. He loves it and I've seen no health issues. I have heard that kale and carrots are the best vegetables you can be giving them, if any. However, I know chinchillas can be sensitive to wet foods, so maybe try dehydrated kale or carrots? I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't say no. I just do it because Pedro likes it and has been doing fine with it for years. Your call, just make sure you won't get any negative reactions from your chinchilla's digestive system
Unfortunately feeding inappropriate foods to chins and your chin not dying or showing any ill effects yet is kind of like assuming smoking is safe since some people smoked their whole life and live to an old age without any major health issues from it. Although kale might be ok in very small amounts if introduced slowly, it can be gassy and it's not required in the diet. Even dehydrated both kale and carrots come with a real risk of gas and diarrhea do to disrupting the gut bacteria. Also the health issue that things like carrots that contain easily digestible sugars (making them unhealthy for rabbits too in case you don't know) can cause take time to develop, things like tooth decay, diabetes, and kidney and liver damage you wont notice until years down the line, unless you get regular blood tests done. Especially with things like organ damage and failure it's very easy for vets to just pass it off as "age related" since they don't often show signs until they are older, like at least 5-10 years old or more, and the damage has become bad enough to cause issues. You may get lucky and could have a chin that lives a long life with inappropriate food, kind of like some people can smoke everyday and still live well into their 90s, but that doesn't make it healthy or advisable to do.
 
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