A healthy chinchilla will have bright, clear eyes, a dry nose, orange teeth (unless young), a clean coat, and no odour.
Chinchillas are very good at hiding pain and illness. The first sign of a problem requires veterinary assessment and treatment.
Dental Disease is the most common problem seen in chinchillas. Their teeth grow constantly so a good diet with plenty of high fibre and lots of hard toys to chew can help to keep the teeth worn down. Signs are weepy eyes, dribbling, grinding teeth in pain, loss of appetite, crumbling pellets, pawing at the mouth, small droppings and weight loss.
Sprains and Broken Bones
Chinchillas can be clumsy and accident prone, especially when out exercising or thundering about in their cages. Signs are limping and holding a paw up, not weight bearing on a leg, not eating, quiet and withdrawn or hiding.
Droppings and eating habits are the best indicators of chinchilla health. Their digestive system is easily upset. A chinchilla which has a sudden change in droppings or in eating needs veterinary care straight away. The most common problem is diarrhoea, usually brought about by too many treats, a contaminated food source, bacterial infection, or a sudden change in diet.
Bloat is a condition caused by a build up of gas in the gut which is extremely painful for the animal and can be fatal. It requires emergency treatment. Signs are lack of eating, reduction in or complete absence of droppings, grinding teeth, pressing the belly or rolling on the floor and/or stretching up in pain, and a hard, bloated belly (chin looks like a ball suddenly).
Constipation – sometimes caused by dehydration or lack of fibre. Signs are small, hard droppings, lack of appetite and lethargy.
Other conditions include skin complaints, abscesses, prolapsed penis, bite wounds, kidney problems, respiratory infections, and fits/seizures.