What is Choking?
Although chinchillas cannot vomit, due to the way their stomachs are constructed, your chinchilla can choke, especially if she tries to swallow a bite of food that’s too large for her throat and esophagus. Oddly, as she is choking, the sound your chinchilla may make could sound just as if she’s vomiting, though nothing will come up.
While she is choking, look closely at her belly and sides. Normally, when an animal vomits, you’d be able to see the muscles of the belly and sides moving in and out. This won’t happen with your chinchilla, but that doesn’t mean her situation isn’t serious. If she’s not able to expel what is blocking her ability to breathe, she could suffocate and die, so it’s important that you get her to the vet as quickly as possible.
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Symptoms of Choking in Chinchillas
The sounds your pet makes as she is choking on something clue you in that something’s wrong. Look for these additional symptoms:
- Gasping for air
- Pawing at mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Appears to be anxious
- Refuses food
- Esophagus begins to bulge
- Unable to breathe
- Death, if object isn’t removed from esophagus
Causes of Choking in Chinchillas
Several causes may lead to your chinchilla choking:
- Poor dental health (chinchilla is unable to chew food fully)
- Dental malocclusion
- Food or treats are too large to swallow
- Chinchilla chews on, and tries to swallow, a non-food item
- Female chinchillas can choke on their placentas after giving birth
- Chinchilla develops bloat
Diagnosis of Choking in Chinchillas
Once you’ve brought your chinchilla to the vet, he should be able to diagnose choking in your pet. The vet will also follow other diagnostic procedures he uses to diagnose other gastrointestinal problems.
He may also run blood work which will help him to figure out your chinchilla’s health status and may order X-rays so he can determine the location of the blockage. Once he has determined that your chinchilla’s symptoms are because she is choking, he’ll be able to offer appropriate treatments.
Treatment of Choking in Chinchillas
Depending on where a foreign object is stuck in your chinchilla’s esophagus, your vet may be able to remove it using an endoscope, which may require that your pet be anesthetized. If this object is closer to your pet’s mouth, the vet should be able to remove it with a pair of forceps, which means anesthesia may not be needed. If the object stubbornly refuses to be pulled out, your pet may need surgery.
Once your pet has had the offending object removed from her esophagus or throat, she will need fresh food and water. Your vet will monitor your chinchilla to see that her gastrointestinal tract is functioning as it should be.
If symptoms of bloat have led to this choking episode, the bloat symptoms should be treated so the choking episode resolves itself. If your chinchilla choked on an object, then developed bloat, the object has to be removed so the bloat can be treated.
Recovery of Choking in Chinchillas
Your chinchilla has a much easier path to recovery if a foreign object caused her to choke. Once it has been removed and your vet has ensured that her gastrointestinal tract is functioning normally, she can resume eating, recover and go back home.
If symptoms of bloat have led to the choking episode, her prognosis isn’t as good. In fact, her prospects of living a long life may be from guarded to grave.
Once home, your chinchilla should have only small food objects so she is less likely to choke. Inspect her bedding as well to be sure that she can’t get it caught in her throat if she should try to chew and swallow it.
Choking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My chinchilla is around one ina half to two years old and yesterday I noticed her at the bottom of the cage so I decided to clean it out since I was planning on doing it anyway that week and when I scooted her out of the way she would normally hop to a different level but instead she waddled to a different part of the cage and left a small amount of blood. After seeing this I watched her to see if she was hurt or why she was bleeding and I noticed a liquid on top of her hutt so I watched her and she started doing contractions so I thought she was pregnant so cleaned the part of the cage she wasn't on and left her alone. The next morning I went to school and when I came home I noticed her in a different spot but laying stretched out like a pole on the bottom still. I lightly petted her to see if she would respond like she normally does but she didn't move and hasent been moving or making any noise. She's been in the same spot for hours and I'm really concerned. My mom won't take her to a vet and I don't know what to do. Should I be worried and what can I do to help her?
As far as pregnancy is concerned, if she hasn’t been around a male in the last four months you can rule that out; gestation is around three months and three weeks. As for the symptoms, they are pretty vague and may be attributable to infection, intestinal obstruction, urinary conditions, trauma (falling within the cage) etc… Without an examination it would be impossible to say what the actually cause is; you could try checking in your area for a Charity Clinic or a Veterinarian that runs an Angel Fund so you can at least have her check out. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
She's still breathing thought she's not dead.
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