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What are Abscesses?

These infections develop after a chinchilla has sustained a skin injury or been bitten by another animal. Bacteria from its surroundings or from the mouth of the animal that bit it cause the infection, which can be dangerous, needing immediate treatment. 

Treatment of an abscess and underlying infection in a chinchilla can be difficult because the abscess may branch off from the main site of infection.

An abscess forms in a chinchilla after it develops an infection. When the chinchilla’s body senses an infection has developed, its immune system responds to protect the area where the infection is developing. In doing so, its immune system sends leukocytes, or white blood cells, to the injured and infected area. The white blood cells create a wall that holds the infection in so it can’t spread to infect other areas of the chinchilla’s body. You’ll see the presence of leukocytes as characteristic pus, which causes a swelling and inflammation around the infection.

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Symptoms of Abscesses in Chinchillas

You’ll notice several symptoms when your chinchilla has developed an abscess:

  • Lump under the fur (may be hard)
  • Area is reddened
  • Chinchilla may be in pain
  • Abscess leaks pus
  • Animal acts strangely as infection spreads
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bad breath (for abscesses in mouth)
  • Eating is painful (mouth abscess)
  • Wet fur around mouth (mouth abscess)


Causes of Abscesses in Chinchillas

The causes of abscesses in your chinchilla are fairly direct:

  • Bite from another animal
  • Other traumatic injury

Once you notice your chinchilla is injured, in pain, or not feeling well, get it to the vet immediately. An abscess can be potentially deadly if it ruptures; the pus and bacteria can migrate to other areas of your pet’s body.

Diagnosis of Abscesses in Chinchillas

Your vet will give your chinchilla a full physical exam, including taking a small sample of the pus within the abscess. He may also run blood tests to determine whether the infection is bacterial (most likely) or viral. If he believes that the chinchilla may have developed a hematoma (a collection of blood outside a blood vessel), a hernia, or a cyst, he’ll run tests to confirm or rule these out.

Treatment of Abscesses in Chinchillas

The course of treatment your vet chooses depends on whether your chinchilla’s abscess has already ruptured or not. If it has ruptured already, the vet will flush the area with an antiseptic, which helps to kill the bacteria underlying the abscess.

Your vet will also prescribe an antibiotic cream, which should be applied to the chinchillas’ abscess every day.

If the abscess hasn’t ruptured, your veterinarian may have to surgically remove it. This option isn’t always chosen. Instead, your vet may prescribe the antibiotic ointment after draining the abscess. Once the abscess has been drained, it needs to be flushed out to remove all the pus and bacteria causing the infection and abscess. 

Once you’ve brought your chinchilla back home, you’ll have to treat its wound and abscess every day. This means you’ll need to apply the antibiotic ointment as prescribed; you may also have to flush the injury every day so it doesn’t re-fill with pus.

One treatment option for your chinchilla are antibiotic beads or filler. These medications dissolve over the space of several days, allowing the abscess to heal from the inside out. This option requires the vet to stitch the wound closed so you won’t have to flush it out.

Recovery of Abscesses in Chinchillas

While an abscess is potentially dangerous, if not deadly, for your chinchilla, it is possible for it to recover from its illness. By bringing your chinchilla to the vet immediately, you improve its chances of recovery.

As soon as you notice your pet has an injury, take it to the vet as soon as possible so he can prescribe the most appropriate medication for your chinchilla.

You should also take care to clean your chinchilla’s cage regularly, removing all soiled matter and waste. Ask your vet about the best products to use to kill any microorganisms that may be trying to grow in the cage.

Abscesses Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

11 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Wetter fecal matter
Difficulty eating

Medication Used


Chinchilla had sudden lump appear under mouth, 2 days prior we noticed he had wet poop and was sleeping more. Took him to the vet this morning (lump noticed after hours last night) and they washed, shaved and lanced it. Sent me home with sulfatrim but no ointment or anything else. They said it was filled with puss and there was some in his mouth that they washed out. Lump is still there and I don't know what I should do, if I should be washing it? After reading online I'm wondering if they Should have lanced it or done something different? How do I keep it clean? he looks a mess, his fur is now all matted where they got it wet and he seems very uncomfortable though is eating more (soggy pellets). They aren't sure it is dental related but told me to go back in a few days. I'm worried he might deteriorate though.

Please let me know what should have been done at the vets and how I should look after it now? Should I go to a different vet?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
It is important to keep the area clean and you can do that by bathing with warm water, if there is some discharge just cut the hair around so it drains out and doesn’t matt the hair. Sulfatrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) is commonly used in chinchillas and is well tolerated, I cannot say specifically the cause of the abscess or whether it was lanced well etc… without examining it, but if you have concerns you should visit another Veterinarian for their opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM (interesting reading)

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5 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

We took our chin to the vet last night and the abscess ruptured at the clinic we are now home with anti & pro biotics and told to hot compress her area. I hot compressed her this morning but how long I should do it for? And is it normal that the lump is still there it’s just much smaller but not red,it’s very hard too.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1608 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without knowing where the abscess was, how large it was, or how long it had been present, I can't comment on how long to use the warm compresses on the affected area, as each situation tends to be different. Those are great questions to ask your veterinarian, who saw and treated the abscess, as to how long to expect it to take to recover back to normal, and how long you should be using the warm compress therapy for her. I hope that everything goes well for Mahina.

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Luna grace
5 months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My chinchilla was bit by our dog last week. We rinsed it will saline, and it seemed he was recovering well. An abscess has developed now and it smells bad. We cut the hair back, clean it, and applied antibiotic ointment. He is still super active and eating well etc.
when is the point that i need to go to the dr?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
If an abscess has formed, I would recommend you visiting your Veterinarian now (or Monday) since it is likely that a topical antibiotic ointment isn’t going to be sufficient and Luna Grace would most like require a course of antibiotics. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM (good general resource on chinchillas)

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white mosaic
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

struggling to eat(but still eating)
hard large red lump on chin

hello, today i noticed a very large lump on the chin of my chinchilla. I am on a chinchilla facebook group already so i sent pictures and asked what it was, they all said it was an abscess. i took him to the vet and she put a needle in it, expecting puss but it was just solid and only a bit of blood came out. when she checked his teeth it was all fine apart from a very small bit of puss at the back. she vet did not know what it was so she has given us some inflammatory and antibacterial to give him and return in 5 days and see if it has helped. do you know if there could still be a possibility of it being an abscess? and if not, what could it be?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
Whilst abscesses are common in chinchillas especially arising from dental disorders, other issues may cause swelling on the chin or other areas including response to trauma (scratches etc…); a course of antibiotics and anti inflammatories is a good initial start to see if there is any improvement over the weekend. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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