Pet chinchillas can suffer from a wide range of health issues, though digestive problems are among the most common. One particularly serious digestive problem that your chinchilla may face is bloat. Here are four things chinchilla owners need to know about bloat.
What are the signs of bloat?
Chinchillas with bloat develop visibly swollen stomachs. This swelling is painful, so they may roll or stretch to try to relieve their pain. Your pet may also have difficulty breathing; rasping noises are a warning sign of breathing problems. This occurs due to the pressure the buildup of gases puts on your pet's lungs.
Due to discomfort, your pet will become lethargic and depressed. You may find them lying down inside their house instead of climbing and playing.
What causes bloat?
Bloat can occur when a small piece of food, like a raisin or a nut, gets stuck in your chinchilla's esophagus. When the esophagus is blocked, your chinchilla can't burp, so the gas that builds up in their stomach has nowhere to go. The trapped gas builds up in the stomach, leading to bloat.
Bloat can also occur as a result of overeating or other dietary changes. Chinchillas won't overeat their hay or pellets, since these foods aren't very exciting, but they will overeat treats. To prevent overeating and bloat, you should only give your pet treats one to two times per week, even though they'll beg for them much more often.
How serious is bloat?
While gas is just uncomfortable or embarrassing for people, it's much more serious for chinchillas. If chinchillas receive veterinary care, their prognosis will range from guarded to grave, but if they don't receive veterinary care, the situation is even worse: untreated chinchillas will die. To give your pet their best chance of survival, take them to a vet immediately.
Can bloat be treated?
Your vet will first check your chinchilla's esophagus to make sure there is no blockage. If a raisin or other small treat it stuck, it will be removed, allowing the gas to escape.
If there is no blockage, emergency treatment is necessary to get rid of the gas. This can be done by inserting a stomach tube, which allows the gas to drain out, or by inserting a needle into the stomach and drawing out the gas.
If your chinchilla's stomach is swollen and sore, they may have bloat and need immediate veterinary attention.
For emergency veterinary care, contact a business such as Animal House Veterinary Hospital.