Do you know the leading cause of death in chinchillas?
Gastrointestinal problems and respiratory infections.
We cover gastrointestinal issues in this article.
Today, we are going to tackle chinchilla pneumonia.
Pneumonia can have a number of causes, but all are deadly serious.
Without proper care, your pet’s health can quickly deteriorate. Death is common.
That’s why you need to know how to spot the symptoms of pneumonia in chinchillas early. We will cover that below. We will also cover things you can do to reduce the risk of pneumonia, along with everything else you need to know.
- 1 Chinchilla Pneumonia
- 1.1 Causes Of Pneumonia In Chinchillas
- 1.2 Chinchilla Respiratory Infection Symptoms
- 1.3 Chinchilla Respiratory Infection Treatment
- 1.4 Can Chinchillas Recover From Pneumonia?
- 1.5 How To Prevent Pneumonia In Chinchillas?
- 1.6 Can Chinchillas Make You Sick?
- 1.7 What Diseases Can Chinchillas Pass On To Humans?
- 1.8 Is Animal Pneumonia Contagious?
- 1.9 What Is The Most Common Cause Of Death In Chinchillas?
- 2 Chinchilla Respiratory Disease: Final Thoughts
Pneumonia is a serious infection in chinchillas that affects their respiratory function. It usually occurs due to bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
In some cases, swallowing a foreign object or inhaling a toxin or chemical can also result in pneumonia. Dental diseases could also be a cause.
Symptoms of chinchilla pneumonia include inflammation of the lungs, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye and nasal discharge, a lack of appetite, and weight loss.
We’re going to take a much closer look at this respiratory infection in chinchillas, including the causes, the symptoms, treatment, and everything else all chinchilla owners need to know.
Causes Of Pneumonia In Chinchillas
Chinchilla pneumonia can occur for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common factors that can lead to pneumonia in chinchillas.
Bacterial, Viral, Or Fungal Infections
Bacterial infections like Bordetella bronchiseptica, are the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in chinchillas. Bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, pneumococci, or Streptococcus zooepidemicus could also trigger the infection.
These bacteria usually live in the chinchilla’s respiratory system. Stress, poor nutrition, or unhygienic conditions tend to weaken the pet’s immune system and trigger the infection.
Viral infections like the adenovirus and influenza A virus could also result in viral pneumonia in chinchillas. Even Covid-19 in chinchillas could be a cause, though it is unlikely.
Fungal infection due to the inhalation of the spores of P. multocida or Pneumocystis oryctolagi, can also result in chronic fungal pneumonia in chinchillas.
Inhaling Or Swallowing Harmful Substances (Aspiration Pneumonia)
Chinchillas could also develop pneumonia after inhaling smoke or chemicals. The chemical or smoke can impair oxygen distribution in the lungs, resulting in inflammation. Similarly, an obstruction caused by a foreign object or food lodged in the trachea can result in lung infection and pneumonia.
Dental issues can result in an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth, which could enter the chinchilla’s lungs, resulting in inflammation and pneumonia.
Chinchilla Respiratory Infection Symptoms
The symptoms of chinchilla pneumonia can vary from animal to animal. The following are some of common signs of this disease in chinchillas.
- Breathing difficulty
- Ear infections
- Eye and nasal discharge
- Lack of appetite
- Anorexia/weight loss
- Lethargy or malaise
- Refusing exercise, hiding
- Excess salivation
Chinchilla Respiratory Infection Treatment
Your vet will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on the exact cause of the chinchilla pneumonia. She or he may first order urinalysis and blood tests, as well as a chest X-ray and cellular analysis of the animal’s nasal discharge.
If your chinchilla has lost a lot of weight or has a fever, the vet may advise hospitalization.
Based on the cause of the infection, the vet will start antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, or antimicrobial medications to destroy the organism causing the infection.
They will also start IV fluid therapy to replace the lost electrolytes and maintain your chinchilla’s hydration. Your pet may also be nebulized or provided with oxygenation therapy to clear its chest and airways. Other supplemental therapies include the administration of diuretics, immune boosters, and nutritional support.
Can Chinchillas Recover From Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a leading cause of mortality in pet chinchillas. Unfortunately, many chinchillas do not show symptoms of this disease until it is very advanced.
It is important that you treat even mild respiratory symptoms seriously and immediately take your pet to the vet. With the right treatment, the prognosis is usually good and your pet can go on to live a healthy life.
Please remember that acute and peracute pneumonia could result in sudden death in chinchillas. Therefore, the moment you see the following signs, please rush it to the vet.
- Labored breathing with noise
- Open mouth breathing
- Coughing blood (chinchillas rarely cough)
- Lack of appetite
- Malaise and lethargy
- Fever or shock hypothermia
- Severe weight loss
How To Prevent Pneumonia In Chinchillas?
You can not prevent any instance of chinchilla pneumonia, but you can minimize the risk that your pet becomes sick with this disease, simply by being a good owner. Here are some things to do.
Maintain Hygienic Conditions
Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment is the most important step in preventing pneumonia in chinchillas. A dirty cage can result in stress for these animals and stress can weaken their immune system, resulting in infections.
- Spot clean the cage daily
- Remove all soggy bedding and replace it with fresh, clean, and dry bedding
- Deep clean the cage once every 15 to 20 days
- Maintain adequate ventilation
- Avoid overcrowding in the cage
Feed A Healthy Diet
Feed your pet a healthy diet. Chinchillas need high-quality hay and chinchilla pellets every day. You may also want to feed your pet the occasional (healthy) treat, but it is not necessary. Hay and pellets are all these rodents need.
A healthy diet can help in two ways. First, it can help wear down the teeth to prevent dental infections (which often result in respiratory issues and pneumonia). Second, it can boost the immune system and give your pet the ability to ward off infections.
Can Chinchillas Make You Sick?
Yes, chinchillas could carry small disease-causing pathogens and microorganisms (zoonotic infections). These pathogens are invisible to the naked eye and can make humans sick. Therefore, you must wash your hands thoroughly after handling your chinchilla and especially after cleaning out its cage.
What Diseases Can Chinchillas Pass On To Humans?
Even if your pet appears clean, it could be carrying bacteria, viruses, or fungal spores that could trigger zoonotic infections in humans with weak immune systems.
Chinchillas can also transmit giardia, a microorganism found in their droppings that can affect humans and other pets. Often, chinchillas do not show any signs or symptoms of giardia but their infected poop can cause serious consequences for humans and pets like cats and dogs.
Is Animal Pneumonia Contagious?
No. In most cases, humans won’t contract animal pneumonia. However, if you have other chinchillas in the same enclosure, it may be best to separate them from the sick chinchillas. Old, young, and immuno-compromised chinchillas could acquire bacterial or viral pneumonia.
Make sure to clean the cage and wash all bowls and water bottles with mild detergent. This is important to avoid spreading the disease.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Death In Chinchillas?
Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are the leading causes of death in chinchillas. Respiratory issues usually occur due to unhygienic or overcrowded conditions, poor ventilation, or inhaling something harmful. These issues are often exacerbated by a weak immune system, a poor diet, and stress.
Gastrointestinal issues tend to occur due to an improper diet, dental problems, or swallowing something harmful. Chinchillas can also die from heat stroke and trauma (accidents, injuries, and falls). Thankfully, most of these issues are preventable with proper husbandry, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary care.
Chinchilla Respiratory Disease: Final Thoughts
Chinchilla pneumonia is deadly serious. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death in chinchillas, along with gastrointestinal issues. This means you need to get your pet to the vet at the first sign of a respiratory infection.
The problem is that symptoms often do not show up until the disease is already quite advanced. That is why you need to act fast. Your pet may not have much time left. If you see symptoms of pneumonia, do not wait to see if they clear up on their own. Contact your vet immediately.