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Diarrhea in Chinchillas

By: Dr. Lani Steinohrt

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Causes

Diarrhea in chinchillas has many causes, such as diseases directly affecting the gastrointestinal tract or metabolic disturbances in other organs such as the liver or kidney. Be prepared to provide in-depth information to your veterinarian including diet, contact with other animals and environment, etc. Some causes of diarrhea include:

  • Inadequate amounts of roughage in the diet in the form of grass or timothy hay. The lack of roughage can alter the normal movement of the intestines, causing diarrhea, or predispose your pet to other causes of diarrhea.

  • Many antibiotics that are commonly used in other species can cause a fatal gastroenteritis in chinchillas. Be sure your veterinarian is experienced in treating chinchillas.

  • If diarrhea ever begins with the administration of any drug, the drug should be discontinued and your veterinarian immediately notified.

  • Stress. Factors such as new predatory pets in the house, changes in the environment or diet, heat and humidity, crowding, breeding, poor hygiene, inadequate roughage and lack of visual security (places to hide) may alter the normal pH or motility of the gastrointestinal tract and cause diarrhea.

  • Infectious agents. Overgrowth of bacteria, such as E. coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella species and some Clostridium species, may cause diarrhea.

  • Parasites. Many species of protozoa cause illness and diarrhea in chinchillas. Other gastrointestinal parasites rarely cause symptoms in chinchillas.

  • Toxins. Heavy metal toxicity, plant toxins, fungal toxins and bacterial toxins from contaminated food may cause diarrhea by directly affecting the gastrointestinal tract or by affecting other organ systems.

  • Dietary indiscretion by eating inappropriate food or material irritates the lining of the intestines or contains toxins that may cause diarrhea.

  • Metabolic diseases. Kidney, liver and pancreatic disease may all cause diarrhea.

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