Chinchillas are unique pets, but once you have one for a few weeks, you get used to its behavior and the care requires. What you may not learn as intuitively as the owner of a chinchilla, though, is what behaviors or symptoms in a chinchilla indicate illness and the need for vet care. That's where this article comes in! Keep reading, and you'll learn the key indications that your chinchilla needs to see the veterinarian.
1. Sneezing and nasal discharge
Sneezing and nasal discharge are easy to dismiss because you, as a person, probably don't seek a doctor's care every single time you have these symptoms. But sneezing and nasal discharge are a bigger deal for chinchillas than they are for people. Usually, these respiratory symptoms indicate a bacterial or viral infection.
Chinchillas have pretty short respiratory passages, so this infection could easily worsen into bronchitis or pneumonia—if it hasn't already. A vet can take a swab to determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial. If it's bacterial, they can treat it with antibiotics. If it's viral, they can provide supportive therapies, like fluids, to help your chinchilla recover better.
2. Red and irritated eyes
Red, irritated eyes can be a really big deal in chinchillas. This condition is known as conjunctivitis. Often, it is caused by a bacterial infection, which can be really painful. If it's not treated quickly with antibiotics, the chinchilla could lose their eye. There is also a chance the redness is caused by an injury to the eye. The vet can put some dye in your chinchilla's eye and detect any injuries quickly. If an injury is to blame, your chinchilla will likely need antibiotic and steroid eye drops for a few weeks to ensure the injury heals without infection.
3. Trouble eating
Chinchillas tend to have a pretty voracious appetite. They eat such low-calorie foods that they need to keep eating and eating throughout the day. If your chinchilla stops eating for more than a few hours, or if they seem to be in pain when eating, then they need to see the vet. Chinchilla teeth, like rabbit teeth, keep growing forever. They can become uneven and overgrown, making it hard for the chinchilla to chew. A vet can easily trim the teeth down so your pet can eat comfortably again.
Now, you should have a better idea of when your chinchilla needs to see the veterinarian. Remember to also take them in for annual checkups, just as you would a dog or cat.