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CHINformative - Promoting Chinchilla Welfare

Claire D

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About Claire D

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    Formerly Slave to Lord Montague
  • Birthday 06/15/1968

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    2

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    davidsonchins@hotmail.com
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    http://www.davidson-chinchillas.co.uk
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    High Wycombe

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  1. Some members have been receiving the following error when trying to change the details on their profile. The error message was: I've contacted Tech Support & they have (hopefully) fixed the issue so you should be able to change/update your profiles now. Please let us know if this problem occurs again.
  2. Claire D

    Forum Upgrade

    As you can see, the forum has had a bit of a revamp again. I've added more disc space for us as we were getting a bit tight & we might have had to remove some images (which we certainly didn't want to do). So now we can have more photos! (hint, hint Please let us know of there's anything not working correctly etc. I've tried to tie in the board's skin colours with the CHINformative 'livery' so I hope it is working ok for everyone.
  3. Claire D

    Forum Upgrade

    As you can see the forum upgrade has now been completed. Please could you let the Admins know if there is anything not working correctly. Thanks.
  4. Claire D

    Forum Upgrade

    Unfortunately it is time to upgrade the forum software. I have resisted upgrading for as long as possible but the forum is being bombarded by spammers & the new software has much better spam filters. I am deleting about 100+ accounts a day which is a complete PIA. The forum will be down for about an hour & I will try to get it up & running again ASAP. Thank you for your patience.
  5. Claire D

    Advertising

    Just a quick reminder of the rules for advertising on CF.
  6. The Basics A chinchilla who undergoes any operative procedure requires careful pre and post-operative care. Immediate priorities when a chinchilla returns from a surgical procedure are: Pain relief Fluid replacement Eating Shock Incision (wound) monitoring The importance of post-operative pain relief for animals who have undergone any surgical procedure cannot be over-emphasised. Sadly, anecdotal evidence shows that there are instances when post-operative analgesia (pain killers) have not been prescribed for chinchillas. Lack of adequate pain relief, shock, and separation from familiar surroundingsn can lead to problems - a chinchilla can mask pain very well, may refuse to eat or drink, and go into shock. Lack of fluid and high fibre foodstuffs may lead to dehydration and gastric shut-down. These two events, plus uncontrolled pain, combine to create a viscious circle which may be hard to reverse. Pain Relief It is essential to obtain the following information when collecting a chinchilla after surgery: - that a chinchilla has been given some form of pain relief during surgery - ascertain what the drug was and how long the pain relief will last. - ask what form of analgesia can be given, the correct dose, and if a prescription will be necessary. It is considered unthinkable to allow a human to undergo any surgical procedure without some form of analgesia being given post-operatively. The same applies to animals! Analgesics (pain relief) Please note that I am not a veterinarian, nor a pharmacist - professional veterinary advice must always be sought and followed with any analgesia (even Paracetamol!). These are examples of analgesics I have been prescribed for my chinchillas (see reference) - it is not a definitive list, nor is it a list of recommendations. Rimadyl (Carprofen) - 50mg/ml small animal injection. Chinchilla dose: 0.04ml once daily injection. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory often given by injection during surgery and has an long analgesic effect (24-48 hours). Only available on Veterinary Prescription. Meloxicam (Metacam) - oral solution 1.5mg/ml. Chinchilla dose: 0.05ml (1 drop) daily. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory given orally (by mouth). Effective long term pain relief. Only available on Veterinary Prescription. Paracetamol (Calpol 6+) - oral liquid 50mg/ml - Chinchilla Dose: 100mg/kg up to twice daily. An average 500g chinchilla would require 1.0 ml twice a day. Useful in cases of pneumonia. Available from chemists. Drug information taken from: VGC Richardson 2003, Diseases of Small Domestic Rodents. Fluid Replacement Any chinchilla who has undergone an anaesthetic will have lost fluid during both the procedure and the recovery period. Whilst fluid replacement may be given under the skin (subcutaneous) during or just after the anaesthetic is it imperative that chinchillas are given extra fluids once they return home. Syringing fluids into a chinchilla, especially when they are drowsy, takes practice - it is essential that chinchilla owners do not syringe fluids quickly due to the risk of the animal inhaling the fluid (fluid "going the wrong way"), potentially leading to pneumonia. Suitable fluid replacements include: Dioralyte Standard (available from chemists). Mix according to instructions - most chinchillas seem to prefer the Blackcurrant flavour. Do not use the Dioralyte Relief. Vetark Critical Care Formula - mix according to instructions and administer via syringe. Eating It is also essential to get chinchillas eating high fibrous foodstuffs as soon as possible after surgery/anaesthetic. It can take less than 12 hours for a chinchilla to become dangerously unwell without fluids and food. Lack of fibre will cause the gut to stop functioning and the chinchilla will deteriorate rapidly. Suitable high fibre food replacements include: Oxbow Critical Care - can be diluted into liquid form more firm depending on how the chinchilla prefers it. Can be watered down to a highly fluid consistency in the initial post-operative phase to provide both fibre and fluid replacement. Supreme Science Recovery - can be diluted into liquid form more firm depending on how the chinchilla prefers it. Can be watered down to a highly fluid consistency in the initial post-operative phase to provide both fibre and fluid replacement. Syringe Feeding Technique Shock I do not propose to go into the treatment of shock here - there is an excellent, comprehensive article by Debbie here. It is imperative to closely monitor a chinchilla who has undergone any anaesthetic or traumatic event (falls, fits, fights etc) for changes in behaviour and condition. Warmth, fluids, food, and a peaceful environment are basic essentials to aid recovery. Incision (Wound) Monitoring Incision lines may be closed using sutures (stitches), clips (staples), or tissue adhesive (wound glue). Which ever method is used all incision lines must be checked regularly for signs of clinical infection, nibbling, and removal of clips or sutures. It is essential that a chinchilla does not nibble or remove their clips or sutures - any attempts to do so require rapid intervention. Clinical signs of infection: It is a normal body response to injury that the area around the wound will be slightly hot, red, swollen, and raised. There should be little or no oozing of blood or fluid from a wound post-operatively. However, if any of these signs persist after day 3 post-operatively (in the absence of nibbling!) then infection should be suspected. Oozing of pus or fluid from the wound after 3 days should also be taken as a sign of infection. Immediate veterinary advice and treatment should be sought and antibiotics may be necessary. The wound may need to be flushed with saline if infection is deep-seated. Nibbling: If a chinchilla can reach their sutures or clips then there is a potential for some clandestine nibbling! Providing adequate pain relief in the initial days post-surgery will reduce the risks of a chinchilla worrying at their scar line. Collars made from cardboard or soft plastic "elizabethan" style collars can prevent access to the scarline but please bear in mind that the use of a collar will dramatically reduce mobility and the ability to hold food to the mouth. It may be necessary to hand feed or supervise the chinchilla feeding with the collar removed for a few days until the sutures/clips are removed. Unexpected removal of sutures/clips: Early removal of sutures or clips by the chinchilla can be disasterous. Depending on the position of the incision there is a risk of gaping wounds or disembowelment etc and a massive increase in the risk of infection. Immediate veterinary intervention is required if sutures or clips are removed. Further information on wound management is available from the Basic Wound Management Page
  7. Absolute Essentials A recent trawl through various forums/websites has revealed that the same problems occur more often than others - namely lack of appetite or total lack of eating, diarrhoea, and pain (bites/gut/tooth problems usually). There do seem to be some essentials which seem to be necessary again and again. Please note I am NOT suggesting home treatment for chinchilla illness - these items are essential UNTIL one can get veterinary treatment AT THE FISRT OPORTUNITY I think there are 5 items which are absolutely essential for any chinchilla owner to have on standby at all times. Probiotics (Vetark Avipro / Protexin - both available online or from vets). One of the most essential items in any chinchilla owners' first aid kit. Excellent for chins who are ill, have diarrhoea or other gastro-intestinal problems, are stressed by a move or sudden upset (shock), and for use in conjunction with antibiotic therapy. Oxbow Critical Care or Supreme Science Recovery Foods - One of the first signs of illness in chinchillas is that they are seen to be off their food. It is absolutely essential to get high fibre foods into a sick chinchilla in order to keep their gut functioning. Lack of gut function (stasis) can be fatal. Chinchillas who are not eating at all, are lying down, stretching and/or no droppings at all require IMMEDIATE veterinary intervention. Vetark Critical Care/Dioralyte/Lectatde - Any chin who shows signs of illness, lethargy etc is at risk of dehydration. A chin who has not been eating and/or drinking requires rehydrating ASAP. Vetark Critical Care is specifically designed to rehydrate small animals and contains all the electrolytes etc which they require when initially ill. Dioralyte (chemists) and Lectade (vets) are also good rehydration fluids. Calpol 6+ mild pain relief but ONLY until a chin can be assessed by a veterinarian. Kaogel (vets and online) - This product is a totally inert treatment for diarrhoea and works by absorbing toxins from the gut. It is basically just china clay and pectin. Give doses (usually 0.5ml) 24 hours apart and monitor for improvement in droppings. It should only be given for 2 doses - if diarrhoea continues after the two doses then veterinary attention should be sought. If I didn't have anything else in my first aid box, I'd make sure I had these
  8. Hand Rearing Chinchilla Kits - Alternative Approach There are some excellent articles/website which contain information regarding hand rearing chinchilla kits. What is presented here is an alternative approach to the usual methods of hand rearing. The formula I have used successfully with kits which required hand rearing or supplimenting is one favoured by many breeders.The ingredients are as follows: One part evaporated milk Two parts cooled boiled water One drop of Abidec or other children's vitamins One small pinch of glucose It is also possible to a tiny pinch of probiotics to the formula if necessary (can help with squishy droppings) and another optional ingredient is a tiny pinch of Vertark Critical Care powder. Hand rearing and supplimenting chinchilla kits is time consuming, tiring, and sometimes emotionally draining. It is necessary to feed kits 1-2 hourly round the clock in the initial weeks which can be frustrating and tiring for the body and soul. For those of us who do not function well on little sleep, have to work or look after families, and only manage to stay upright by using strong black coffee or bucket loads of Red Bull, hand rearing/supplimenting can seem like a nightmare. It is possible to use an alternative method rather than kits having to wait for their sleepy human parents to provide them with formula. Chinchilla kits, by their very natures, are survivors - they are born fully furred, eyes open, ready to go! They are adaptable and rapidly learn from their mothers - it is not uncommon to see kits copying their mothers by mouthing hay or pellets from as early as 2 days old. I have successfully raised kits on bottles of milk hung from the cage mesh. Even young or small kits can adapt to drinking from a bottle of formula, especially if a new batch of formula is made each time and warmed to body temperature. Adding a pinch of Vetark Critical Care Formula to the milk can give a boost to runty kits. There are certain advantages of using bottles of formula over pipette feeds, however, it does not take away the necessity for the chinchilla owner to get up during the night to check on kits' progress. The kits will also need to be stimulated to pass urine and faeces by "topping and tailing" using damp cotton wool (unless the kit is being raised by a surrogate mother who does this toileting themselves). Once kits have become used to drinking formula from a pipette it is relatively simple to introduce a bottle to the cage. Warming the formula to body temperature and encouraging the kit to check out the bottle is the first step - a small drop of milk on the end of the bottle spout will encourage kits to take a tentative drink. Kits soon get the taste for drinking formula from the bottle. They can feed as and when they require rather than having to wait for a feed. Bottles are sterilised and cleaned out at each feed and a batch of new formula made up daily which can then be stored in the fridge for 24 hours. Bottles can be heated several times a day when checking kits' progress - new formula can be made up each time. Mouse bottles are suitable for small kits I have personally found this system of feeding/supplimenting kits to be very effective. Careful supervision, scrupulous hygiene and sterilisation techniques, and daily weighing to monitor progress are essential. The Bottle Feeding Process. The process I use for introducing kits to bottle feeds is as follows: - Once the kit is feeding happily from a pipette add the formula to a small, sterilized bottle (mouse bottles are an excellent size). - Gently cupping the kit in a hand place the bottle against the lower lip so that a drop of milk touches the mouth (do not allow too much milk to flood the kit's lips). - Remove the bottle while the kit licks the milk off its lips. - Repeat the above process until the kit begins to lick the bottle nipple itself. - Once the kit is adept at drinking from the bottle whilst being held the bottle can be attached to the cage mesh at a level low enough for the kit to comfortably reach. - Gently place the kit in front of the bottle (the kit may need to be gently held in position until it finds the bottle nipple). Kits soon get the idea of a bottle and will eagerly scramble to the front of the cage when they hear you coming with a fresh bottle of warm formula. - Refresh the formula as necessary - at least 4 hourly to ensure bacteria does not flourish in the warm milk. - Ensure the kit is feeding sufficiently by continuing to record daily weights. A word of warning when making up bottles of formula: To ensure the milk is free-flowing (before kits drink) it is important to get the air pressure out of the bottle by depressing the nipple - please make sure this is done with the bottle facing away from you - the warm milk makes the air inside the plastic bottle expand and it can be expelled with some force when the nipple is initially depressed. Weaning kits from bottle feeds: Once the kits reach 8 weeks old and have achieved at least 200g in weight it is a relatively simple process to wean them from bottle feeds. In fact, some kits will wean themselves given the choice. Personally I do not begin to wean any kit who has not achieved 200g in weight at 8 weeks old - these "runty" kits may need continuous bottle feeds for longer (10-12 weeks). Gradual increase in the dilution of the formula encourages the kits to wean themselves. From a formula of 2:1 (cooled boiled water to evaporated milk) it can be diluted to 3:1, 4:1 5:1 etc over a period of a couple of weeks (the other ingredients are gradually reduced in a similar manner). Usually by the end of the fortnight (or longer if necessary) the kits have lost interest in what has essentially become water slightly flavoured with milk. It is also possible to decrease the amount of time the bottles are attached to the cage so that the kits begin to increase their pellet and hay intake. For example, bottles can be removed from the cage every few hours and only put on for feeds - the intervals between "feeds" is then increased slightly each time. It is important to note that during the weaning phase the kits should still be monitored daily to ensure there is continuous weight gain. A decrease in weight may mean the kits are not yet ready for weaning and the formula should be strengthened again and left on the cage for longer periods of time. An example of the success of using this alternative, bottle method is highlighted by the pictures of the small kit (Cassie) - she was 28g and took to the bottle feeds immediately after 24 hours pipette feeding. She doubled her weight in 3 days and has continued to gain weight at a great pace. She is now a happy, healthy adult chin.
  9. Quarantine & Chinchillas Whenever a new chinchilla is purchased there is great excitement and a huge temptation to "cut corners" in quarantine and introduction regimens. Lack of proper quarantining can lead to problems which can range from relatively minor to potentially fatal. It is essential that the proper precautions be observed whenever a new animal is brought into the herd. Quarantine: All new chinchillas should be quarantined away from other chinchillas or pets in a completely separate room for 12-16 weeks (16 weeks is the optimum quarantine period). 8 weeks is the absolute minimum a chinchilla should be quarantined. This process is essentail for both the new chin and the existing chinchillas/pet (and the owner) - lack of quarantining can have potentially fatal results and some disease processes or infections do not present themselves until after 4 weeks. New chinchillas should be attended to last and owners should thoroughly wash their hands as soon as they have dealt with the chin(s). Good hygiene is essential during the quarantine period. Cages, equipment, dustbaths, hands etc should be washed with a suitable disinfectant such as Virkon, Genie, or Disifrin (to name but a few). Quarantining serves several purposes - The chinchilla will have a chance to become settled into their new environment. Moving from one environment to another is very stressful - even if the chinchilla does not appear to be stressed and looks very relaxed. (For example, Giardia can be triggered to multiply causing disease during stress - it is a protozoa which is present in low numbers in healthy chinchillas and can cause a variety of problems from mild diarrhoea through to death of several animals in a herd at it's most extreme.) During the minimum 10-12 week period the owner can establish a base-line of the new chinchilla's temperament, eating habits, and character. This is vital for good animal husbandry. The only way to recognise changes in behaviour and signs of (impending) illness/problems is to observe the chin carefully at the onset when building a rapport with him/her. This is also part of the reson why 16 weeks is the optimum quarantine period. Observe the chinchilla for eating habits - amount of food consumed, patterns of eating (ie. do they eat for long periods of time or do they pick occasionally), any food wastage and reasons for this (crumbling pellets, pawing at the mouth while eating etc), favourite foods etc. Observe the chinchilla for general health issues - are they alert, lethargic, are their droppings "normal", do they scratch excessively, do they show any sings of skin irritation/bald patches, eye problems, do they sleep for long periods of time or just "cat-nap" etc etc. Observe patterns of behaviour - are they frightened, do they appear stressed, are they friendly, shy, cheeky, do they like being touched or tickled under the chin etc. Are they used to being handled or do they prefer to come to you on their own terms. Are they used to exercise outside of the cage (see my article on exercise). All of these things will help a new owner to develop a bond with their chinchilla and vice versa but more importantly the owner will be able to see potential and/or actual problems quickly and then deal with them.
  10. Exercise & Chinchillas We all love to see our little furry friends bouncing about outside the confines of their cages - there is nothing nicer than watching a chinchilla explore it's environment with all the energy they possess. However exercise is an area where careful animal husbandry is essential. It is important to find out whether the chinchilla has been used to exercise in order to properly plan a safe exercise regimen. A chinchilla who has come from an environment where they have not received free (i.e. out of their cage) exercise will not be physically capable of extended periods of exercise - imagine in humans terms it is a bit like expecting a couch potato to exercise madly for hours or run a marathon! A new chinchilla should be given only 10 minutes of exercise initially every few days - if there are no signs of exhaustion or symptoms of fitting then the time can be very slowly increased. Do not allow a new chinchilla to run free for hours at a time - this can have a deleterous effect on the chinchilla even if it is not apparent on the outside. Metabolic, cardiac, and pulmonary (heart and lung) demands on the body will vastly increase during exercise - it takes time for a chinchilla to build stamina. There have been occasions where chinchillas have had serious fits and on rare occasions have died as a result of exercising when they were not physically able to tolerate it. It is far better to take things slowly and cautiously than to risk a chinchilla becoming exhausted. Chinchilla Age & Exercise It has been recommended that young chinchillas (under 6 months) are not exercised - this is because there seems to be a high correlation between hypoglacaemia fitting (fits due to lowered blood sugar levels) and juvenile chinchillas. Personally I do not allow chinnies younger than 6 months to exercise outside their cage and after that age I allow them only short periods of time exercising - 5 minutes at a time and gradually build the time up over a period of months up to 30 minutes on cool/cold days. Once they reach 6 months, I allow them the same amount of exercise as my older chinchillas - this varies from individual to individual since some of my more "excitable" chinchillas have a tendency to run themselves ragged which is not beneficial to their long-term health. Chinchillas who have reached what is considered an "older" age (8+) should also have their exercise restricted. In human terms, exercising a chinchilla over the age of 8 is a bit like asking your elderly grandparent to run a marathon (in a fur coat!). Gentle exercise is beneficial for older chinchillas but it should be approached with caution and restricted if necessary. Some older chinchillas will naturally pace themselves (and potter about sedately like my Monty) but it has been known for older chinchillas to exercise themselves to exhaustion. Heat and exericse Chinchillas who have been previously kept in an outside enclosure (such a s a shed) and are now living in an indoor environment will take longer to adjust to exercise due to the differences in temperature. The physical difference may only be a few degrees but the chinchilla will need to time to adjust to the new (warmer) environment. This is another reason for limiting exercise to short periods of time in the initial stages - chinchillas are not always sensible and will sometimes run until they drop (literally). Imagine asking someone to run about in a full fur coat (head to foot) and watch them sweat! Chinchillas cannot sweat so it is very difficult to cool them down when they over heat. Do not allow any chinchilla to exercise/continue to exercise when their environment is warm or their ears are dark pink/red. This will certainly lead to heat exhaustion and possible fitting with potentially lethal effects. Illness and Exercise Chinchillas who are ill may require a drastic reduction or possible even a complete avoidance of exercise when they are ill and even while recovering from illness. Exercise will drain the body of resources which may be required by the chinchilla to stay alive, heal, and recover. Chinchillas who's digestive system is upset and who's nutritional input is poor may "burn" scare energy and deplete their muscles and fat stores etc - this may be a reason why chinchillas who are allowed to exercise while recovering from dental/digestive problems continue to lose weight even though they are eating better. It is more beneficial to wait until the chin has fully recovered from their illness before allowing them to exercise - and then the build up should be gradual and over an extended period of time.
  11. Claire D

    Bloat

    Bloat is classed as a true medical emergency. It is a painful, often fatal condition caused by the build up of gas in the stomach and intestines. It can be accompanies by twisting of the gut or bowel. It is essential that a chinchilla with suspected bloat is assessed and treated by a veterinary professional immediately. Waiting for symptoms to disappear or trying home remedies are not appropriate - the vet needs to see the chin ASAP. The medical term for bloat is torsion, gastric torsion, and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) when the stomach is also twisted. Signs and Symptoms of Bloat. Lack of appetite, lack of droppings, sitting uncomfortably or hunched, lethargy, rigid, swollen abdomen (chinchilla looks like a football), rolling around on the floor of the cage, stretching up to the cage bars repeatedly, pressing the belly down on the floor, wandering about aimlessly, shallow, rapid breathing, squeaking in pain, grinding teeth in pain. Preventing Bloat In Chinchillas: An Alternative Feeding Regime for Sick Chinchillas When chinchillas become ill one of the first signs is often a lack of appetite and constipation or no faeces at all. This can be a result of a slowing down of gut motility (peristalsis), accompanied by an imbalance of gut flora (the ‘good’ bacteria is swamped by ‘bad’ bacteria and possibly yeasts). Traditional attempts to stimulate a poorly chinchilla into eating has focused on treats – getting the chin to eat anything in the hopes of stimulating healthier eating and encouraging production of faeces by promoting gut motility. Treats are usually high in sugar and even quite sick chinchillas will nibble a raisin or two. However, it may be that an increase in pathogenic (bad) bacteria and yeasts, combined with an increased sugar intake, and poor gut motion may lead to bloat. The theory behind this is yeast combines with the sugar in the gut and ferments, causing formation of gases. This is then very painful for the chinchilla and can lead to rapid deterioration in general condition and even death. A chinchilla who has not been eating for a few days is traditionally given some form of high fibre food substitute such as Supreme Science Recovery or Critical Care. This gives the chinchilla’s gut a mass of fibrous bulk which the then distended gut cannot move along due to decreased gut motility. Basically it may be a vicious circle – without food and roughage the gut cannot move food along and goes into ileus (stops moving) and without movement of food the gut builds further gases and undesirable bacteria, leading to pain and a decrease in appetite. It is possible then, that traditional treatments may not be the best form of help for a sick chinchilla. If the theory proposed is correct then it may be better to give probiotics to promote healthy gut flora and stimulate the appetite for “good foods” rather than give treats which increase the sugar content of the stomach. Appetite can be stimulated by using apple cider vinegar (1/2 teaspoon in 250ml water) Probiotics contain bacteria which are acid-loving (acidophilus). The inclusion of cider vinegar may inhibit the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts in the gut and aid in the production of “healthy” gut flora. Following on from this theory then, a logical proposed treatment for chinchillas who go “off their food” would be: No sugary treats Probiotics in the drinking water Apple Cider Vinegar to stimulate appetite. Reasonable food intake (good quality hay, in unlimited quantities, and pellets) Supreme Recovery Science or Oxbow Critical Care if required in the early stages of illness. Exercise is beneficial with chins who have abdominal pain/bloat as it stimulates the peristaltic process and can initiate gut motility. Gentle abdominal massage will also aid the process and can relieve pain by encouraging gut movement. It is also worth noting that gut motility drugs such as Metoclopromide might be a useful adjunct to the above regimen - these drugs speed up the motility of the gut and can be used orally or in injection form and should be available from your vet. Please ensure that professional veterinary intervention is sought if a chinchilla shows signs of abdominal discomfort or bloat. This article has been compiled after considerable research and thought. My thanks go to Debbie ( Azure Chinchillas ) for her valuable input. I believe that this alternative treatment for chinchillas who go "off their food" is based on sound reasoning and clinical knowledge and I have implemented it with success in several of my chinchillas. Please note: no one should attempt to treat any form of bloat without immediate professional veterinary assessment, diagnosis, and prescribed medication. There are several possible reasons for a chinchilla being unable to pass droppings including simple constipation to bloat or intusussception (telescoping of the bowel), torsion (twisting of the bowel), rupture, or obstruction (total blockage). Accurate, professional assessment is imperative if the chinchilla is to be treated effectively. Treatment options for bloat which I have known to be effective (not all at the same time and only under veterinary supervision) : Simethicone (Infacol) - for breaking down gas bubbles allowing them to pass through the gut Metoclopramide - gut stimulant Milpar - old remedy but still available from some chemists - laxative - softens faecal matter to push it through the gut Liquid paraffin - softens faecal matter to help shift it through the gut Buprenorphine (Vetergesic) (potent opiod analgesic) - pain relief Meloxicam (Metacam) (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) - pain relief Probiotics (especially if antibiotics are being or have been used) - to promote "good" bacteria in the gut, assiting with gut function. At least 30mls fluid (water) daily (oral or subcutaneous injection if required). Syringe feeding high fibre recovery foodstuffs such as Oxbow Critical Care or Supreme Science Recovery (both excellent for use in this situation because not only are they high fibre but contain probiotics to aid gut flora maintenance and vitamins/minerals etc to maintain adequate nutrition). Aim for 60-70ml per day if possible. Gentle abdominal massage - to stimulate gut motility (movement) and assist in moving the faecal matter/gas through the intestines. Gentle exercise - if tolerated, exercise (in very small amounts) aids in "shifting" everything in/through the gut. The usual treatment is Metoclopramide and Simethicone and analgesia as required, and syringe feeding (including plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration). If the bloat is acute then Metoclopramide by injection is preferrable to oral (by mouth). Unfortunately Cisapride (Perpulsid) was taken off the market several years ago - this was the most effective gut motility drug for treating bloat. Extensive bloat is very difficult to treat - chinchillas do deteriorate quickly - their guts seem to go into stasis very rapidly and it is difficult to get peristalsis started again, particularly because the animal is in pain and the guts are distended due to the bloat - they stop eating, drinking and moving; all of which increases the constipation aspect of the problem (primarily due to dehydration) making it almost impossible to get the faecal matter passed through the gut.
  12. Basic Wound Management For Chinchillas Every chinchilla owner will, at some point, come across a wound on their pet – these can range in severity from superficial wound such as a scratch, or a cut lip/nose, to the more serious nipped toe (some chins have had their toes nipped clean off by another chin) to bumblefoot, or surgical wounds, tumours, and abcesses. The correct care of such wounds is essential to minimise/prevent the risk of infection and to provide the optimum environment for healing. Research into wound healing has taken place for many years – the following is based on such research and my professional experience and as a chinchilla owner. However, please bear in mind that wound care is a very complex process and it is not possible to go into all the connotations of wound management/healing in this article. Wounds: A wound can be defined as – a cut or break in the continuity of any tissue caused by injury or operation. There are many different types of wounds. The most common found in chinchilla keeping will be: Surgical Wounds Traumatic – amputations (e.g. toes), bites, abrasions, bruising Burns Abcess Chronic Ulcers (such as bumblefoot) It is important to assess the wound first and foremost to try to establish the underlying cause (so further occurrences may be prevented where possible) and to formulate a treatment plan. Assessment of the wound should include: General condition of the animal (is the chin eating normally, weight bearing, showing signs of pain, behaving normally etc) Clinical signs of infection which include the surrounding skin condition (red, hot, fluctuant [squishy]), pus Lost fur The wound itself (including colour of the wound, depth, size) Any bleeding or fluid loss Position of the wound Underlying cause. Once the assessment has been made it should be possible to formulate a treatment plan. Please note that referral to a qualified veterinarian is essential if infection is suspected or the owner does not have the experience and confidence to deal with the wound. Signs of Infection: It is imperative that wounds are inspected daily for signs of infection which are: Localised (around the wound site) redness, swelling. Localised heat, pain. (difficult to gauge in a chin because they are good at hiding pain). Increased exudate (fluid coming from the wound) Friable wound (delicate wound tissue – bleeds easily) Odour – wound smells bad General increase in body temperature (difficult to judge with a chin) Treatment: Wound management works on the same principles for animals as humans – research has found that the optimum environment for wound healing is one which is moist and warm. However, this is also the optimum environment for bacterial reproduction – so always check for signs of infection when treating any wound. Never use cotton wool to clean wounds – the fibres which get left behind in the wound can slow down the wound healing process by causing a foreign body reaction and inflammatory response. It will also lead to increased risk of infection. Fur should be clipped away from the edges of wounds and the wound cleaned with saline for the same reason. It is very painful to remove cotton wool fibres from a wound - Use a lint free gauze swab. All wounds should be monitored for changes in appearance, unusual bleeding, or infection - Veterinary advice must be sought if this is noticed. It is not possible to go into all the variations of wounds and the care which can be given but some examples of wounds and treatment regimes are as follows: Superficial, small wounds: (eg. scrapes, minor cuts, minor bites) Cleanse with normal saline (salt water 1 tablespoon in a cup of boiled, cooled water) Cut or bitten lips and noses should not be cleansed unless absolutely necessary [i.e. the nostrils are blocked with blood] Cleansing the wounds with saline in this instance will stop blood from clotting and cause additional bleeding. In the case of cut/bitten noses there may also be a possibility of saline going into nasal passages and causing respiratory distress and infection. Veterinary advice should be sought. If the wound is very superficial and is small then it can be left to heal without any treatment. The wound should be monitored daily for signs of infection (as above). Superficial, large wounds: (eg. extensive scrapes, bites, unexplained skin lesions) Cleanse with sterile water (cooled, boiled water) Clip the fur approximately 2cm away from the edge of the wound (all round if possible). This should prevent any fur getting stuck to the wound bed and causing pain or slowing down the wound healing process. Apply a cream to keep the surface of the wound moist (reduces pain and allows the wound to heal faster). An example of a suitable cream is green cream (Galens Garden) Monitor for infection and refer to vet if concerned. Apply ointment/creams as prescribed by your vet. Simple amputations (eg. Bitten through toes) Check wound for signs of bone protruding from the wound (exostosis). Bone will be creamy coloured and hard. If bone is present in the wound bed then a veterinary opinion is essential. Cleanse wound with saline Monitor daily for signs of infection Allow to self heal or use ointments/creams as prescribed by your vet. Surgical Wounds: (eg. After abdominal surgery, castration, removal of tumour) Monitor wounds for signs of infection. Monitor for signs of the chinchilla biting or removing the stitches. Monitor for signs of wound edges opening. Veterinary opinion if required. Bumblefoot: (ulcerative pododermatitis) Provide soft areas in the cage for pressure relief. Check for signs of infection. Spray areas with Purple Spray if required. Veterinary intervention is necessary if the wounds continue to break open, bleed, or become infected. Use creams as prescribed by your vet. See this article for further information and case studies. Cavity wounds/abcess: (cavity wound is a deep hole) Always require veterinary intervention however the basic principles are as follows: Fur should be clipped away from the wound edges - 2cm all round - to prevent the fur from becoming stuck to the wound, causing an inflammatory response and pain on removal. Flush wound with saline/irrigation fluid supplied by vet, ensuring that all the fluid comes back out of the cavity. This may require a syringe technique which your vet should teach you.Flushing the wound should be continued until the fluid coming back out is clear of debris. If the wound is open, use a suitable gel such as IntraSite (or veterinary prescribed treatment eg. Vetalintex) to keep the wound bed moist. Keep the wound entrance open – this will prevent fluid from building up in the wound, and becoming trapped, causing pain, infection and further abcess. Monitor the wound for signs of infection. Please note ALL bite wounds should be referred for veterinary intervention. Bite wounds can be deceptive - they may look superficial at the surface but may be fatal if left untreated. Chinchilla jaws are very strong in comparison to their body size. The teeth can do major damage below the surface of the skin and, whilst skin can appear unbroken, underneath there may be extensive bruising and bleeding into the tissue. In all bite cases there is serious risk of abcessation, deep tissue trauma, infection, rapid deterioration and death due to severe shock. ALL chinchillas with bite injuries must be treated for shock and taken for immediate veterinary advice.
  13. I've been noticing that there is a lot of confusion at the moment surrounding the charcoal mutation and it's derivatives so I thought I'd try and address the topic in what I hope is a clear, concise manner (besides which, I love talking about charcoals so this is the perfect excuse ). The Charcoal Mutation. Charcoal is a recessive mutation - it acts in the same way as (for instance) violet and in its pure state, when mated with a good quality standard the offspring will have pure white bellies. Any offspring with dull or dirty bellies indicates ebony inlfuence and the "charcoal" is not pure - it should, therefore, not be called "charcoal" at all. As far as we are aware, there are no pure charcoals in the US and precious few (if any) in Europe. It would appear that true charcoal mutation chinchillas exist and are being carefully bred as such only in the UK. If a chinchilla is being sold as a charcoal then the pedigree is of vital importance and the chin cannot be proven to be a charcoal until mated with standards over a period of years and only producing clear, white bellied offspring. Even some of the older breeders' "charcoals" may be tainted with ebony because initially they were thought to be the same or at least a similar gene and were (inadvertantly) bred together to produce dark charcoals/dark ebonies with a good wrap. Much damage was done to the pure recessive charcoal mutation before both charcoal and ebony were clearly understood in their own right. In the US, the terms "charcoal" and "ebony" and "pastel" and "tan" are used interchangeably - because the mutations have been mixed. In the UK we keep the terms separate because they are, indeed, separate mutations. This is a pure recessive "Standard Charcoal Carrier" (looks exactly like a standard chinchilla but carriers one charcoal gene) - Gracie as a youngster - she went on to win main show awards which demonstrates how white her belly is (among other attributes) ........... It is true that using poor quality standards can give an off-coloured belly (with any pairing, not just charcoal) but this is exceptionally rare now-a-days. Charcoal + standard offspring should ALWAYS produce clear bellies and anything else should be treated as ebony influenced and removed from a charcoal breeding programme and should be sold as a light ebony etc. A full (homozygous) charcoal chinchilla requires two charcoal genes (one from each parent) is a grey wrap (the grey extends all round the chinchilla, including the belly) and can be the "old style" lighter grey or the darker (almost black) colour phase. They are distinguishable from homozygous (extra dark ebony) in that they are always matt grey, not the "every hair shiny black" which the ebonies are supposed to possess. Currently, the darker phase charcoals seem to be in favour with some breeders, but there are others (myself included) who prefer the softer grey of the "old style" light grey charcoals. A few of us who are working with pure recessive charcoals are working to keep the two colour phases separate. A pure charcoal's fur feels different and has been described as like cotton wool to the touch - standard/beige charcoal carriers also have a slightly different feel to their fur. The feel of the fur should not affect the quality - it is just a touch difference. Here is an example of an old style, light phase charcoal (complete with tightly shut eyes because she did not like the flashy thing!) And a dark phase charcoal: Derivatives of Charcoal These include pastel (light and dark phase), Charbrown and Charblack. Pastel This is produced by combining charcoal with beige and can be either light or dark phase. Charbrown: Charbrown is produced by combining brown velvet with charcoal or black velvet with pastel. The TOV (Touch of Velvet) should be clearly visible on the charbrown and is a beautiful colour. Charblack: Charblack is produced in the same way by combining charcoal and black velvet - again, the veiling should be clearly visible. Personally I think the charcoal mutation and its derivatives are beautiful - the matt appearance and the soft, grey/beige wrap are quite stunning, especially when the grey/brown/beige is clear and blue. Charcoals and pastels have been pretty much absent from show benches for a number of years because the mutation as a whole had a tendency to breed small and could be tinged. The original Broucke charcoal was actually called the "Broucke Charcoal Borwn" (see my article here for more info on the Broucke charcoal) and the colour really did go out of fashion for many years. Thankfully in the UK over the last few years there are a group of breeders who are determined to keep the mutation from disappearing and are breeding them carefully and improving their overall health and quality. There have been some charcoals exhibited at UK NCS chinchilla shows which can only be a good thing for the mutation as a whole and long may it continue! There is more information about charcoals and charcoal derivatives on my website
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