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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 15706
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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Chinchilla this morning and today is just very lethargic

Customer Question

Chinchilla this morning and today is just very lethargic just laying there flat where is usually hunched over took him out of the cage and he usually takes off running but is just laying there breathing seems normal but he won't move does not eat or drink
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the chinchilla. What is the chinchilla's name and age?
Customer: Chin, 10+
JA: How old is chin?
Customer: 10+
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about chin?
Customer: I don't think so he wasn't eating his pellets very much which had happened before when he had had treats so switch them to Timothy Hay mostly with pellets left in there other than that no
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Now if he isn't eating, I am quite concerned about your lad.

The reason is because a decrease in appetite is a very serious problem for this species. This is because they have a more complicated gastrointestinal tract then other domestic pets and if you imagine these guts behave like conveyor belts. They should always be moving, which is why access to slowly digestible foods like hays are fed ad lib.

Yet when they start to go off their food, for whatever reason (ie dental disease, GI blockages, pain in general etc), this can cause their gut to slow or stop, which can lead to gastric stasis, a situation which it is one of the few true emergencies for this species. So, if he cannot be tempted to eat/drink properly, then it would be prudent to have him seen by the vet before this can progress any further .

​Whatever the precipitating cause, this situation is serious. I advise getting him seen as soon as possible. The vet will able to provide medications to restart the gut ((ie prokinetics, pain relief, +/- fluids, antibiotics) while checking for those aforementioned common triggers. Care is often intensive, and he will likely need to be force fed a highly nutritious food (Oxbow’s Critical Care or Supreme) to restart his GI’s normal movement until he is eating on his own. Just to note, if there is any delay in your getting him seen, you can consider syringe feeding veggie baby food mixed with crushed pellets. This isn't as nutritionally balanced (or provide enough fiber) but it is a short-term means of getting food and some fluids into him in this moment of urgency.

As well, if you are concerned that he might be becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage him to drink by offering fresh water. If he is not amenable then you can also try pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into his system as well as get fluids in. You can also give pedialyte via dropper or syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). As well, the fluid that you give in the syringe feeds will help meet this daily total as well.

Overall, this is a serious emergency situation for your wee one. Therefore, we do need to act quickly to get him eating properly and prevent the development of GI stasis. So, in this case it would be ideal to get your vet involved immediately while providing supportive care until he is seen to head off any stasis taking root.

If you don’t already have an vet, you can find one near you at . If you are struggling, then also check or

Please take care,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. **Afterwards, I would be grateful if you would rate my service by clicking on the "Rate my Expert' button at the top of the page as this is the only way I am credited for helping you. Thank you for your feedback!: )

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