Fixing your chinchilla... is it a good idea? Or is it not? Guys and gals are different. I mean, I’m way cooler than my boyfriend. But the same goes for chins: genders are so different, and especially when it comes to spaying and neutering. Fixing your chinchilla is not something to be taken lightly.
Female chinchillas should never be spayed; the procedure can kill her. However, both female and male chinchilla fixing comes at a big risk. Anesthesia is dangerous; chins oftentimes have a negative reaction to the meds. And if you don’t have an experienced exotic veterinarian, if you’re thinking to fix, FIND ONE. But even with an exotic expert, there’s a risk of shock and infection. Chins are very delicate creatures. Neutering a chinchilla is not common. 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 feel, in any way, 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 understand timing of the surgery. If you must resort to fixing your chinchilla, when should you drop off and pick up? Chinchillas should not be exposed to the potential scary sounds in a busy veterinarian office, as this is extremely stressful, especially after going under the knife. And this added stress will wear down the immune system, increasing the chance of a secondary infection.
Additional stress can also cause GI upset, which can lead to stasis, enteritis, and other problems, which can be fatal to your beloved pet. Have a tight, well thought out 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, and don’t stop asking questions until you feel 100% comfortable with the route you decide upon.
Ask about pain medication. Will it be used? In their book, Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents - Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Elizabeth Hillyer and Katherine Quesenberry, both DVMs 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 on-hand incase of an emergency.
Always discuss side effects with your veterinarian, and know what to watch for if you need to administer. Ask about antibiotics. Do we use them before infection to help prevent, or after an infection presents itself in order to treat? Antibiotics can effect a chin’s GI tract by disturbing natural flora. Discuss the pros and cons.
I Decided On My Exotic Vet and Surgery is Complete. Now What?
Post-operative care is as important as the actual surgery. I would recommend switching up your chin’s living arrangement for a while: a one-level cage to prevent jumping, white t-shirts or fleece as bedding which allow you to monitor any discharge and urine color. Again, a quiet, dimly lit environment is a must at this time.
Like humans, an animal’s demeanor will likely change post-op: quiet, less active and sluggish. Appetites may decrease, also. Always have pellets and hay on hand, but if needed, be prepared to hand feed… constant GI function is necessary. Hydrate. Monitor your chinchilla’s drinking, and 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 on their own. If you’re still having issues, get that chin back to the vet to discuss options.
Keep an eye on incisions. Swelling, heat, discharge, discoloration? If you see any of these, immediately contact your vet, as these symptoms can indicate infection.
Fixing your chinchilla should only be considered in life and death situations and is not to be taken lightly. As a pet owner, if this procedure is necessary, it’s our responsibility to pay attention to what’s going on with their recovery, both physically and mentally. Discuss all possible complications with your exotic veterinarian pre-surgery. This gives your chinchilla the best chance of recovery and the best chance to live a full, happy life.