Can chinchillas get diabetes? Good question. While diabetes is a common disease in hoomans, diabetes in chinchillas is pretty rare. We know you want to keep your chin fabulously floofy and healthy, so we’re going to explain the causes and signs of diabetes in chinchillas to prevent diabetes before it starts.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a family of diseases that affects how your body uses glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is essential as it fuels the brain as well as the cells supporting muscles and tissues. While different types of diabetes have different causes, all of them lead to excess sugar in the blood, causing severe health issues.
Why Can Chinchillas Get Diabetes?
The reason chinchillas get diabetes is they have organs and systems similar to hoomans, including:
➡️ A pancreas that should produce insulin
➡️ Insulin that helps the body process glucose
➡️ Fatty tissues that can prevent the pancreas from operating properly
➡️ A desire to eat any fatty or sugary treats (which is a no-no)
While humans are susceptible to all forms of diabetes, only one type, Type 2, is found in chins. Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic condition caused by the body’s resistance to insulin or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin properly. Left untreated, diabetes in chinchillas is fatal.
The sole cause of diabetes in chinchillas is being overweight. There’s only one cause for an overweight chin: eating the wrong diet, including nuts, seeds, and sugary treats. Not sure you’re feeding yours properly? Check out our chinchilla diet guide. Unfortunately, chins are incredibly adorable and excellent treat beggars who love fruit, yogurt drops seeds, and nuts, which are bad for them and absolute no-nos. You’ll find more information about a proper diet that’s high in fiber and low in sugar in our chinchilla diet guide.
Signs of Diabetes in Chinchillas
Unlike hoomans, chins present different diabetic symptoms. They include:
➡️ Poor appetite
➡️ Lethargy or low activity levels
➡️ Consistent weight loss from reduced appetite
➡️ Drinking lots of water (polydipsia)
➡️ Frequent urination (polyuria)
➡️ Excess blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
➡️ Cataracts in both eyes (bilateral)
Methods an Exotic Vet Uses to Diagnose Diabetes
This goes without saying, but don’t ever try to self-diagnose your chin. It’s important to let your exotic vet give them a full checkup and diagnostic tests to accurately diagnose any illness, like diabetes. Your chin’s medical exam will include:
➡️ Listening to your description of symptoms
➡️ Checking weight
➡️ Blood test for hyperglycemia
➡️ Testing a urine sample for sugar (glucosuria)
Recovery and Treatment
Here’s more good news: if diabetes is caught early in your chin, they can make a full recovery with proper treatment. The treatment for diabetes in chinchillas is straightforward:
➡️ Helping them decrease and maintain a healthy weight.
➡️ Feeding an unlimited hay diet without snacks. Chins self-regulate their hay intake.
➡️ Insulin injections (your vet will teach you how to give the injections and give you the correct amount)
We're honored to be your partner in giving your chinchilla a long and healthy life. While diabetes is very rare in chins, providing the correct diet will eradicate the risk.