What is Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance?

This type of imbalance leads to your chinchilla developing severe muscle spasms, which affect her daily life. In addition, the muscles of your pet’s legs and face are also affected. Even more, a calcium deficiency resulting from too much phosphorus can lead to tooth disorders. By looking at the color of your pet’s teeth, you can see whether she’s suffering from a calcium deficiency. If the teeth are white, she doesn’t take in enough calcium. Her teeth should be dark orange. The ideal ratios of calcium to phosphorus should be 2:1 for nursing chinchillas and juveniles and 1.5:1 for adult chinchillas.

A calcium-phosphorus imbalance is a nutritional disorder that affects the health of your pet chinchilla. If she develops such an imbalance, her bone development, muscle function, and dental health are impaired. If she is pregnant, this imbalance can have a strong adverse effect on how her babies grow and develop.

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Symptoms of Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance in Chinchillas

A few signs will help you tell when your chinchilla is suffering from a calcium-phosphorus imbalance:

  • Severe muscle spasms (called calcium fits)
  • Weak teeth (teeth are white, not dark orange)
  • Muscular problems in the face, forelegs and hind legs

Causes of Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance in Chinchillas

The cause of a calcium-phosphorus imbalance is simple. Your chinchilla needs a high-quality diet that provides her with all of the nutrients her small body needs. She will develop an imbalance between the levels of calcium and phosphorus in her body if she eats the wrong foods or too many treats. 

Even if her body’s reserves of calcium are normal, if your chinchilla eats lower levels than she needs, she may experience calcium fits, over-excitability, and possibly death.

If she eats too much phosphorus, her parathyroid gland will produce more parathyroid hormone as it works to restore the balance of these minerals. If the over-secretion of parathyroid hormone isn’t corrected, your pet may experience bone demineralization and kidney damage.

Diagnosis of Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance in Chinchillas

After taking your chinchilla to the vet and explaining its symptoms, the vet may suspect an imbalance between your pet’s levels of calcium and phosphorus. He’ll completely examine your pet, making note of any symptoms that are evident.

He’ll also take blood to be used in testing for nutrient imbalances and look at the levels of calcium and phosphorus. Your vet will take a full dietary history for your pet. For your chinchilla, the right foods are vital; your vet may tell you you’ve been giving her too many treats.

Treatment of Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance in Chinchillas

Once your vet knows what is wrong with your chinchilla, he’ll be able to administer calcium gluconate, via IV or IP (intraperitoneal injection) and, if needed, oral doses of calcium, vitamin D3, and phosphorus.

If your pet’s teeth have begun to look white rather than dark orange, you should be able to tell when calcium levels have gone back to normal. Her teeth will look dark-orange once again.

Muscle spasms in your chinchilla are painful. You’ll see her lying on her abdomen, with her body and legs held rigidly. She’ll draw her head up and back, with her forelimbs held rigidly and away from her body. She twists her head to one side and pulls her lips away from her teeth in a grimace. Fortunately, these spasms, called calcium fits, are short in duration, but they have to be extremely painful. Restoring normal levels of calcium can help her recover from this problem.

A pregnant chinchilla especially needs sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin C. Housing unborn chinchillas in her body depletes her regular stores of these nutrients. In addition, giving supplemental calcium and vitamin C helps to protect the developing teeth of the fetuses.

Recovery of Calcium-Phosphorus Imbalance in Chinchillas

Your chinchilla will recover from a calcium-phosphorus imbalance as long as you consistently feed her high-quality foods. Giving her prescribed calcium supplements helps to restore her calcium levels back to normal levels as well.

Once your pet comes back home, make sure she gets the right foods for her nutritional needs, especially if she is pregnant. Make sure snacks are only an occasional treat, if you give them at all. Remember that phosphorus affects the level of calcium in your chinchilla’s body, and choose foods that are high in calcium.  Ask your vet for the ideal levels of calcium and phosphorus for your chinchilla, as well as the best foods for her to be eating.