What are Bone Fractures?
As soon as you realize something is wrong with your pet, handle it gently, not only so it won’t be further injured. but to help him stay calm as you are looking over its body for additional injuries. If your chinchilla has a broken bone protruding through the skin (compound fracture), this is highly dangerous and needs to be treated immediately.
Your chinchilla can recover from a broken bone, but recovery will be difficult. Veterinarians opt for amputation in some hindlimb fracture cases.
Bone fractures in your chinchilla are potentially dangerous, even fatal. Because your pet is physically fragile, he can go into shock if his fractured bone isn’t treated. Broken bones most often develop after your chinchilla gets stuck in its exercise wheel or if it is handled too roughly. If your pet is involved in a fight with another chinchilla, it can break a bone. Even a nutritionally deficient diet can lead to brittle bones, which break when a chinchilla engages in its usual activities.
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Symptoms of Bone Fractures in Chinchillas
It’s not easy to pin down a bone fracture as the cause of your chinchilla’s behavior. Combined, these symptoms should lead you to take your pet to the vet:
- Avoiding upper levels of his cage
- Hunched posture
- Walking with an odd gait
- Labored breathing (may indicate a broken rib)
- Affected limb is oddly shaped
- Limp tail (may indicate broken tail)
- May bite uncharacteristically
Causes of Bone Fractures in Chinchillas
The causes of a bone fracture in a chinchilla vary widely. Common sources of injury include:
- Fighting with another chinchilla
- Rough handling or squeezing tightly
- Getting tangled in exercise wheel
- Being stepped on
Additionally, a poor diet can contribute to weakened bones and make a chinchilla more vulnerable to fractures.
Diagnosis of Bone Fractures in Chinchillas
Even if you don’t suspect a bone fracture yet, get your ill chinchilla to the vet right away. Because your pet can go into shock from even a simple fracture, veterinary care, diagnosis, and treatment are vital.
Your vet will carefully examine your chinchilla, ruling out other illnesses as a cause of your pet’s symptoms. He will be given an X-ray to determine the extent of the break. Once your vet knows where the break is, whether it is compound, simple, oblique, compression or any other type of fracture, he will know how it should be treated.
Treatment of Bone Fractures in Chinchillas
Some bone fractures in chinchillas can be set so they can heal; others can’t be set, meaning your pet will have the affected limb amputated.
One part of the treatment involves keeping him in a small chinchilla cage for up to three weeks, depending on how severe the break is. Limiting your chinchilla’s activity will be vital to allowing him to recover.
Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications can help with the pain and swelling. If they are prescribed, give them to your pet as ordered; too much pain can send him into shock, which can be fatal.
If your chinchilla’s hindlimb is broken in such a way that it can’t be splinted, or if the break is an old one, his leg will have to be amputated.
Tibial fractures (the straight bone of your chinchilla’s leg) are difficult to set. Your vet may opt for external fixation or intramedullary pins or both in combination to allow your pet’s leg to heal. Because chinchillas are so physically active, even this surgical intervention may fail, with the bone pins loosening. Other complications include necrosis of the limb, infection, failure of the broken bone to rejoin, and self-mutilation. If this type of repair fails, your vet may decide to amputate your pet’s limb. Once it has been amputated, your pet should adapt well to having three limbs instead of four.
Recovery of Bone Fractures in Chinchillas
Your chinchilla’s ability to recover from a bone fracture is affected by several factors. Seeking treatment as soon as possible, getting care from a vet experienced with exotic pets, and administering medications and at-home care as directed can improve his chances of a full recovery.
Once you bring your pet back home, you’ll have to keep him confined to a small, single-level cage until his bone has healed. After he is allowed to resume his normal activities, be sure to handle your chinchilla carefully and gently. Pick him up correctly, lifting him at the base of his tail, holding the remainder of his weight with your other hand gently and lightly holding his belly (not his ribs).
If your pet gets into fights with another chinchilla, you’ll have to watch them closely, separating them as soon as you see one or both of your pets acting aggressively toward the other.
Pay close attention to his diet. Chinchillas are herbivores, meaning they eat grasses and hays to obtain their nutritional needs. You may need to limit or exclude treats to allow him to eat only the foods his vet recommends. In this way, you can help ensure that he has strong bones.