Whether it’s an emergency, needing a second opinion, or a general checkup, having a reliable vet for your chinchilla is vital. What some owners may not know though is that you can’t go to just any veterinarian for your chinchilla - you need to find one that is specifically trained in meeting the needs of an exotic pet.
So let this blog be a comprehensive guide to choosing the best chinchilla vet in your area, including when it’s necessary to take your chinchilla to the vet, what to do if your chinchilla needs an emergency vet, and the best questions to ask potential vets.
Do Chinchillas Need The Vet?
It’s recommended for your chinchilla to go to the vet within 48 hours of adoption to check for any infections or diseases. This visit also ensures that you’re as up-to-date on your chinchilla’s needs as possible and can accommodate anything your chinchilla may need.
A yearly check-up is also a good idea, no matter how long you own a pet chinchilla, as it can help you make sure that everything is going well and that your companion is in good health.
Last but not least, if you notice anything amiss with your chinchilla, such as limping, excessive fur slips, changes in appetite or bathroom habits, or lethargy, would be a good idea to arrange to see your veterinarian ensure the behavior isn’t a symptom of a larger problem.
However, chinchillas do have the ability to hide some of these behavioral changes, so knowing their habits is very important.
Chinchillas Need Vaccinations?
Unlike many household pets, chinchillas do not need any vaccinations in order to live a long and healthy life. The reason for this is that they are naturally healthy pets, and because of their limited contact with the outside world they are not likely to be infected with any contagious diseases.
As well, there is no legal requirement in the United States for your chinchilla to be vaccinated. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about catching up on any shots before going on vacation and leaving them in a facility while you're away if you are based in the US. It is worth considering the possibility that some countries may require chinchilla vaccines, so if you do not reside in the United States, you may want to research this further.
Difference Between Exotic Vet And Regular Vet?
If you have seen people mention that your chinchilla needs an exotic animal clinic, you may have asked yourself what an exotic vet does or if one is really necessary for your chinchilla. The short answer to that question is that, in most cases, an exotic vet is required.
So what's the difference between the two? Exotic vets are specifically trained on how to care for animals beyond the range of the usual household pets (cats, dogs, and some small animals). A typical vet will have experience in working with more common pets like the ones just listed.
Now how do you find exotic vets for your chinchilla? The good news for you is that The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners has a comprehensive list of veterinarians who are certified as exotic specialists, filtered by region and type of animals they treat. You can use this listing to find a veterinarian in your region who can meet your needs.
Can I Take My Chinchilla To A Normal Vet?
You might wonder if you can take your chinchilla to a regular veterinarian if you do not have access to an exotic veterinary clinic near you. The good news is that some normal vets may be able to examine and treat your chinchilla.
If you want to be sure a vet has experience with chinchillas, it is a good idea to contact the vet clinic ahead of time to find out what kind of training they have received and what kind of experience they have in treating chinchillas. As long as your veterinarian has experience dealing with chinchillas, it is not important that they work at an exotic vet clinic
Questions To Ask A Vet
As you reach this point in your search for a chinchilla vet, you may wonder what questions to ask to ensure your vet is well-trained and experienced to treat your chinchilla. There are a few basic questions we can give you to ask a potential chinchilla vet before taking your chin in for a visit.
“How Will You Keep My Chinchilla Calm?”
This is a great way to get a feel for your potential vet's personality while interacting with your pet. In light of the fact that a trip to the veterinarian can cause stress for your chinchilla, it's great to have an idea of how your vet will calm your pet.
“What Are Your Qualifications To Work With Chinchillas?”
While you should be able to find your vet's qualifications somewhere in their office, it is still a good idea to ask them what their qualifications are so that you can be confident in their abilities. As a result, you will be able to rest assured that your chinchilla is in good hands.
“How Long Have You Worked With Chinchillas?”
This will give you a good idea as to how well a potential vet will handle the care of your pet - similar to qualifications. It is crucial to know that your veterinarian has experience with chinchillas and has worked with them in the past, so you know that they have practical knowledge of how to care for your pet.
“Can You Provide Emergency Care?”
Although check-ups are an important part of having a pet, that won't always be the only time you need to consult your chinchilla vet. It's a fact that emergencies may occur, and your usual exotic vet might not be able to take care of your pet. In that case, you will need to find an emergency vet who can help you out.
When To Take Your Chinchilla To The Vet
While there are many instances where simple first aid and treating your chinchilla at home will do the job, you need to know when it’s important to go to your vet for a second opinion or further treatment.
While there are various other conditions that you need to go to a vet for, these are some of the most common issues that your chinchilla might encounter over their lifetime. If you feel that anything is off with your chinchilla, a visit to your vet is a good idea.
Whenever you notice your chinchilla isn't eating their normal diet, we recommend feeding them
Critical Care and keeping an eye on them. We also recommend calling your veterinarian if they don't eat critical care either.
Considering that chinchillas have such thick fur, heat stroke is something you always want to watch out for when caring for your chinchilla. This can be caused by a number of things such as a warm environment or overexerting themselves at playtime.
During the early stages, you can treat your chinchilla at home by lowering the air conditioner and using chin chillers, but when they become lethargic, your chinchilla needs to be professionally treated and cooled by a veterinarian.
Heat Stroke Symptoms:●Lethargy
●Ears turning red (this is more common in lighter-colored chinchillas)
●Rapid breathing patterns
It is very important to recognize and treat conditions like pneumonia in chinchillas as soon as possible. As most respiratory issues will only clear up with antibiotics (which you should NEVER give your chinchilla without veterinarian approval and instructions) or IV fluids, can't be treated at home.
Pneumonia Symptoms:●Significant weight loss
●Loss of appetite
Chinchillas, like most rodents, grow teeth continuously (2-3 inches per annum!) which means that taking good care of their teeth is a crucial part of caring for them. It should be noted that this is also another issue that should be addressed with a vet immediately should the symptoms appear?
Symptoms Of Teeth Problems:●Drooling
●Cut up cheeks and tongue
Bloat in chinchillas is a serious condition where gas builds up in their stomach and causes extreme discomfort. It has a few main causes, including diet changes, overeating, or the ingestion of foreign items such as plastic or fabric.
It is possible to monitor and treat cases that are not severe with gas drops at home. It should be noted, however, that if the condition of your chinchilla worsens, they should be taken to the vet immediately and checked out.
Symptoms Of Bloat:●Swollen stomach
●Dragging themself around without using their back legs
●Rolling from side to side
●Loss of appetite
●Little to no poop in the cage
How To Transport Your Chinchilla To The Vet?
As with any other aspect of pet care, there are a number of facets to safely transporting chinchillas to the vet. One of the biggest components is managing their stress levels and temperature levels, as well as maintaining their comfort while at the vet's office.
The general guidelines for car rides with your chinchilla have been covered in our article on traveling with your chinchilla, but it's worth going over the tips again here. To begin with, we recommend that you keep your car at 66º Fahrenheit so that your chinchilla doesn't overheat during the drive. It is also a good idea to keep your chinchilla carrier on your lap and talk to them in a soothing voice while you hold them (unless you are driving).
Most vets will allow you to enter the examination room with your chinchilla so you can continue to soothe him or her during the visit. However, it is best to inquire about the clinic's policy regarding COVID-19 and being in the exam room as every pet clinic will have its own policy regarding this.
Where To Find Emergency Care
Even though no pet owner wants to experience an emergency with their beloved pet, emergencies with chinchillas can be significantly more difficult since emergency centers for exotic animals are not as common as a normal animal hospital.
In the event that your current exotic vet hospital does not provide emergency 24/7 care, you will need to start checking other exotic vets at a reasonable distance from your location to determine if any of those clinics provide emergency care so you have a backup option. If there is no emergency exotic animal clinic in your area, you should call a standard animal clinic to find out if they have any veterinarians who are familiar with caring for chinchillas that could admit you to their vet hospital in an emergency.
As far as vets and treatments are concerned, there are many options available. But with a little research as well as the right questions, you can find the best veterinarian for you and your chinchilla in your area.