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Type of Veterinarian Needed

When a chinchilla is sick or injured is not the time to begin looking for a veterinarian. It is best to find a vet prior to the purchase of the chinchilla. If not done before, finding a veterinarian should be done as soon as possible.

There are a couple of reasons for this and they are quite simple. First, chinchillas are good at hiding illness and injury. By the time an owner is aware of any symptoms, the chinchilla is in pretty bad shape, making it difficult to treat the problem. Second, veterinarians who see chinchillas, have experience with chinchillas, and know how to treat them are few and far between. Waiting until the animal needs help to search for someone to treat it can waste valuable time, possibly resulting in the death of the chinchilla.


This chinchilla is being treated for a serious illness.
Most veterinarians predominately see the more common, everyday animals like cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. These offices often will tell a chinchilla owner that they do not see chinchillas. Even if they will see a chinchilla, they will not know how to treat one. Some will consult with a specialist, but most will treat a chinchilla like a rabbit and this is the wrong thing to do. Improper treatment such as using the wrong medications can kill a chinchilla.

To avoid this problem, the owner needs to find an exotics veterinarian who has experience with chinchillas. These vets are hard to find. Once a good veterinarian is found, the owner should take the chinchilla in to become established as a patient. This can save a good deal of time in an emergency since established patients are usually given priority.

Why is it so hard to find a qualified veterinarian for chinchillas? When attending school, vets only spend one chapter on exotics and chinchillas are a small part of that chapter. Outdated information also adds to the problem. Many vets are taught to treat chinchilla like any other rodent when, in fact, this could actually make matters worse. An example is that many veterinarians will tell their clients to feed fresh vegetables and fruit to chinchillas. This can cause major digestive issues and should not be done. Chinchillas are not like other rodents. While most rodents live only a few short years and can eat just about anything, chinchillas are different. They have a much longer lifespan and are very limited in what they can digest.

Another reason a good chinchilla vet is hard to find is that chinchillas are a fairly recent addition to the pet industry. Most vets have never seen one and, of the ones that have, most have only seen a few. Without experience with chinchillas, it is not possible to know how to treat the animal. If finding a qualified veterinarian proves difficult, seeing a vet with limited experience is workable as long as the vet is willing to consult with an experienced vet and learn from them.