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.