The short answer to this question is yes, you can shave a chinchilla. What you should be concerned about is whether or not shaving is the best solution for the problem that you and your chinchilla are facing. Shaving your pet comes with high risks and it is recommended to be done by a professional since chinchillas have very soft and delicate skin, which can be easily damaged if not handled with extreme caution.
Shaving a chinchilla is rarely a first option in any case. If you have a chinchilla that is having problems with its fur the first option of treatment would be grooming and dust baths which usually solve most of the problems.
If these methods do not work, you should take your pet to the vet for the appropriate medical treatment. There are a few reasons why shaving the fur would have benefits, but it should be done with a lot of caution and delicately.
Summary of today’s article:
- Why might a chinchilla need a shave sometimes?
- How to care for a shaved chinchilla?
- Shaving preparations
Maintaining their luxurious looking fur is usually not a problem for chinchillas. They self-groom and the weekly dust baths help remove oils from their fur, keeping it clean and fluffy.
While you would not need to shave your chinchilla due to cosmetic reasons, you would do it for medical reasons such as a surgical intervention, extremely matted fur, treating your pet for fungal or bacterial infections or removing foreign objects trapped in the fur itself. Here are the reasons where shaving your chinchilla would be the appropriate option.
Reason 1: Treatment At The Vets
Unfortunately, no one is immune to accidents and injuries. As much as we try to keep our pets safe, sometimes it is necessary to have surgical interventions or ultrasounds at the vets and shaving your pet’s fur is a necessity in these cases.
In the case of having an ultrasound taken, whether the vet is checking for injuries or just checking up on a pregnant chinchilla, the ultrasound probe needs to have direct contact with the skin in order to work properly. Regarding surgical interventions when a surgeon might need to stitch-up a wound or fix a broken bone, the skin is shaved to avoid the fur contaminating the open wound and causing fatal infections.
In both of these cases, the vet or nurse would do the shaving.
Reason 2: Matted Fur
Chinchillas can have matted fur due to poor nutrition, poor housing or poor grooming. One way to take care of matted fur is to remove the lumps with a metal comb by gently stroking your pet without tugging on the mats.
If the matting problem is severe, it can cause damage to the skin, causing pain and discomfort. The matted fur would form a permanent tug on your pet’s skin resulting in bruises or fur slips.
In cases of extremely matted fur where combing the mats is not a safe option – shaving is recommended to alleviate the pain and discomfort, to quickly and effectively remove the problem at hand. You will recognize extremely matted fur as a big lump, which forms close to your pet’s skin and is very hard to penetrate with a comb.
Reason 3: Treating Infections
Although chinchillas fur is not considered high-maintenance since they do an excellent job of grooming themselves and dust baths are a solution to most fur-related concerns, there are situations where your pet will need an extra pair of hands and even a shave. Chinchillas need to be in an environment with low humidity since their fur can get damp and it is very difficult to dry.
If the fur is not dried as soon as possible various bacterial or fungal infections can occur, but this is not an exception as skin infections are not only related to damp fur but also to poor cage hygiene, poor nutrition and contagious diseases from other pets. Treating skin infections in chinchillas is at some cases easier when the affected area is shaved to allow the medicine (ointment, cream or solution) to be applied directly in a thin and effective layer on to the skin, without leaving any excess residue on the fur to be chewed off and ingested by your pet.
Reason 4: Removing Foreign Objects
Chinchillas are very fast, active and energetic animals and sometimes this could cause them the “run into” sticky situations. With that being said, it is our duty as chinchilla owners to provide safe environments for our pets to explore and be active in.
Just like human hair, chinchilla’s fur can get caught in bubble gum, glue, crafting materials or sticky foods. In these cases, simply cutting off the contaminated fur would be the quickest solution. If the problematic substance reaches the skin or goes deep into the fur the solution would be to shave the affected area and wipe clean with a warm damp towel after which you would dry off that area with a dry towel or a blow dryer set on the low heat option.
A chinchilla that has a shaved portion of its fur would usually not show much distress. While your chinchilla would not mind having a “cooling patch” at a certain part of its body, you would still need to take every precaution to keep your chinchilla safe because their skin is very sensitive and vulnerable.
Dust baths are always recommended unless there are changes on the skin surface, like wounds or infections, in which cases the baths should be kept on hold until the skin heals.
Tip 1: Keep Your Chinchilla In A Cage By Itself
The best way to ensure your pet is safe is to keep it in a separate cage from the rest of your chinchillas until some of the fur grows back. This way the skin would not be accidentally damaged by the grooming or nibbling from the other chinchillas as they love to take care of one another and a gentle bite can be very painful on exposed skin.
Also, make sure that your chinchilla is not in contact with other pets, which may have fleas or other parasites that would love the exposed part or the skin of your chinchilla as their new habitat.
Tip 2: Make Sure The Room Temperature Is Optimal
Make sure that your chinchilla is kept at an optimal temperature of 60-70°F since the exposed skin will cool your chinchilla’s body temperature. Chinchillas are notorious for overheating but being too cold would also be a problem as they can develop respiratory infections.
If your chinchilla has a large portion of its fur shaved off you should provide extra bedding and a thick short plush blanket in its hide box to make sure that it has extra warmth.
Tip 3: Keep Your Chinchilla Comfortable
Exposed skin is not necessarily a problem for the chinchilla by itself but having to lie down on the hard metal or wooden surface of the cage would be. If the fur is shaved off of the sides of your chinchilla, the side that your pet lays down on when it sleeps, it would be very uncomfortable for your pet if there isn’t a soft blanket to rest on.
Chinchillas do not have a lot of muscles or fat, while laying down the bones would put pressure on the skin, which could develop sores if your pet keeps resting on hard surfaces. As mentioned in the previous tip a short plush blanket is a safe and preferred option for the comfort of your pet.
The best way to shave a chinchilla and to keep it from moving and causing injuries is to make a chinchilla burrito, which is wrapping your chinchilla in a towel and restricting its movement. There are two methods for wrapping a chinchilla into a burrito.
If you have a calm chinchilla you can place it on its back on a towel and tightly wrap the towel over your pets belly, right under the chin area, this is method one. If you have a not-so-cooperative chinchilla then place it on a towel on its feet wrapping it in the same manner.
When using the burrito method you would restrain movement and wiggles and expose from the towel the part of the skin you would need to shave.
Shaving a chinchilla is a two-person job – one person would keep the chinchilla calm and secure while the other one would do the shaving. This way you would minimize the risk of injuries caused by twisting and wiggling of your chinchilla.
Shaving a chinchilla is rarely a cosmetic need and mostly it is about medical necessities. A chinchilla’s fur is designed to protect it, keeping your pet warm, shielding it from skin injuries and most skin parasites.
This is why shaving your chinchilla should be the very last option.
You should also be prepared that your chinchilla will put up a fight and it would not enjoy the shave, as this would be a very unpleasant experience for your pet. You should try to minimize the stress and make sure that you are quick and extremely gentle while shaving the fur or let a professional do it.