Fixing your chinchilla... is it a good idea? Or is it not? Guys and gals are different, and the same goes for chins. Genders are so different, especially when it comes to spaying and neutering. Fixing your chinchilla is not something to be taken lightly, and we're going to share facts on can you spay or neuter a chinchilla. Then you can make the best decision for your chin.
Female chinchillas should never be spayed; the procedure can kill them. However, both female and male chinchilla fixing comes at considerable risk. Anesthesia is dangerous; chins frequently have an adverse reaction to the meds. And if you don't have an experienced exotic veterinarian, FIND ONE if you're considering spay or neuter. But even with an exotic expert, there's a risk of shock and infection. Chins are very delicate creatures. Neutering a chinchilla uncommon. But, if it must be done, there are lots of things you need to know.
Find An Experienced Exotic Vet
This is so important. Ask questions to make sure you feel comfortable with the procedure. Quiz them (politely). The more details they can give, the better. If you're hesitant that you're not getting the answers you're looking for, for the sake and safety of your pet, continue to interview until you find a good fit.
You'll definitely want to carefully select the timing of the surgery. If you must resort to fixing your chinchilla, when should you drop it off and pick it up? Chinchillas should not be exposed to the potential scary sounds in a busy veterinarian office. The sounds add extra stress, especially post-procedure. Wearing down the immune system is a second-order effect of the surgery, increasing the chance of a secondary infection.
Finally, additional stress can also cause GI upset. GI upset can lead to GI stasis, enteritis, and other problems, which may be fatal to your beloved pet. Have a tight, well-thought-out surgery schedule and stick to it. The best recovery environments are quiet and dark. Less stress = better chance of recovery. An experienced vet will understand the above, so ask them about it. If they don't, move on.
Ask about sedation. What drugs will be used? Will they be given via mask or intravenous? (Intravenous drugs are not recommended for small exotic animals.) Understand that sedation causes the body temperature to drop, so ask if there will be a heat source to help regulate. Ask about how the procedure will be performed. Closed castration or open castration? There are differing opinions on which method is preferred. While closed castration is less invasive, open castration, to some, is more accurate. Have a detailed conversation about this. Don't stop asking questions until you feel 100% comfortable with the route you decide upon.
You should also inquire regarding pain medication. Will it be used? In their book, Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents - Clinical Medicine and Surgery, DVMs Elizabeth Hillyer and Katherine Quesenberry say the following, "In pet practice as in research, the outcomes of procedures can be markedly affected by the level of stress in a particular animal, and there is ample evidence indicating that pain is a very important contributor to level of stress. For this reason, do not hesitate to provide analgesia for surgery or after trauma in these small species, just as you would in dogs and cats in the same situations." Again, we want to provide the most de-stressed environment during recovery, so understand that pain medication is an option. Even if it's not needed, it's best to have it on hand in case of an emergency.
Always discuss side effects with your veterinarian and know what to watch if you need to administer medication. Next, ask about antibiotics. Do we use them before infection to help prevent or after an infection presents itself to treat? Antibiotics can affect a chin's GI tract by disturbing natural flora, so you'll want to discuss the pros and cons with your vet.
I Decided On My Exotic Vet and Surgery is Complete. Now What?
Post-operative care is as critical as the actual surgery. Through our research, we recommend switching up your chin's living arrangement for a while. This should include:
- A one-level cage to prevent jumping
- Using white t-shirts or fleece as bedding allows you to monitor any discharge and urine color.
- Ensure your chin's environment is quiet and dimly lit.
Like humans, an animal's demeanor will likely change post-op. You'll notice they're quiet, less active, and sluggish. It's also normal for them to have a decreased appetite. Always have pellets and hay on hand, but if needed, be prepared to syringe feed. Constant GI function is necessary.
Further, ensure your chin is hydrated. The easiest way to do this is to monitor your chinchilla's drinking. If you notice they're turning their head to H2O, offer water via syringe. While water feeding via syringe will typically not be enough, it may prompt them to start drinking independently. If you're still having issues, get that chin back to the vet to discuss options.
Keep an eye on incisions. Do you see swelling, discharge, discoloration? Does the incision area feel hot? If you see any of these, immediately contact your vet, as these symptoms can indicate infection.
In conclusion, you can spay or neuter your chinchilla. Still, the surgery should only be considered in life and death situations. As a pawrent, if this procedure is necessary, it's our responsibility to pay attention to what's going on during the entire process. Please make sure to discuss all possible complications with your exotic veterinarian pre-surgery. This gives your chinchilla the best chance of recovery and the best opportunity to live a full, happy life.
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