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What are Stomach Ulcers?

Your pet can develop a stomach ulcer after eating hay that’s too rough for her digestive system to handle and process. The hay may also have gone bad, becoming moldy.

Because her symptoms are so vague, you may not realize until it’s too late that she had a physical problem. It’s extremely important to get her to the vet immediately. Don’t think that, because she only seems “a little” under the weather, that you can wait.

You can keep your chinchilla healthy, providing only high-quality hay, as well as chinchilla pellets. Monitor the freshness of feed by noting the date you opened packaged hay and smelling it for freshness.

An ulcer in your chinchilla’s stomach is an area of irritation that has begun to eat into the lining of her stomach. A stomach ulcer in your chinchilla doesn’t cause very many symptoms. The symptoms you do detect are likely to be vague, giving you only a slight clue that she’s ill.

Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

When your chinchilla develops a stomach ulcer, she may or may not display symptoms. If she does, the only symptom you may see will be a loss of appetite. More often, however, chinchillas exhibit no symptoms and die without warning. The ulcer is detected only when the vet performs a necropsy (autopsy).



Causes of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

The primary cause of stomach ulcers in chinchillas is consuming moldy or coarse hay. Be attentive when you provide a new bunch of hay for your pet to eat. Make sure it’s fresh and of an appropriate texture.



Diagnosis of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

You may not have “an ulcer” in mind when you determine your chinchilla is ill. Describe her behavior and loss of appetite to your vet, who will give her a full physical.

If your vet suspects a stomach ulcer, he’ll want to insert an endoscope into her esophagus and examine her stomach this way. She’ll have to be anesthetized using an inhalant anesthetic. Once he has put the endoscope in place, the vet will be able to spot the ulcer and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.



Treatment of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Once your vet has diagnosed your chinchilla as suffering from a stomach ulcer, he’ll prescribe a medication such as Cimetidine, which allows her stomach to heal from the ulcer.

Cimetidine is used to treat several types of ulcers, uremic gastritis (stress-induced or drug-induced), esophagitis, esophageal reflux and duodenal gastric reflux. It’s also used in cases where the animal’s stomach secretes too much stomach acid (gastrinomas and mastocytosis). 

Your chinchilla is most likely to receive her medication as an intravenous solution. As she receives this treatment, her ulcer will gradually heal over and, as she begins to feel better, you should begin encouraging her to eat so she recovers fully.



Recovery of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

A stomach ulcer in a chinchilla is one of those conditions that is “silent.” That is, your chinchilla won’t have very many clear symptoms that point to a specific illness. She may not appear very ill, other than her lack of appetite. If her condition goes untreated, she may die unexpectedly.

If you were fortunate enough to suspect that she is ill and obtained immediate veterinary care, she will likely recover. Once you know what caused her ulcer, you’ll need to be especially attentive about providing unspoiled hay in her cage. 

While she is still in the veterinary hospital, remove all of her old hay, cleaning her cage thoroughly. Clean the hay box in which you put her food. Buy a new supply of hay and, before every hay change, sniff the hay to ensure it hasn’t gone moldy or bad. Make sure the room where her cage sits isn’t too humid or warm, and be careful about where you store her hay as well.



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