Hopefully your pet will never break a leg or require an amputation, though chinchillas are delicate creatures and breaks happen.
Summary of today’s article:
- Possible causes for a chinchilla’s broken leg
- Signs of broken legs in chinchillas
- Treatment for broken legs
- Chinchilla leg amputation
- Recovery process and tips
- How to prevent
To prevent these dreaded occurrences or deal with one that is happening, read on to learn about the possible causes of a broken leg, how to prevent and treat fractures and what happens when an amputation is necessary.
1. Falling/Being dropped
Chinchillas can jump to astonishing heights due to their origin in mountainous regions. However, a fall from any height has the potential to injure them if they land improperly.
2. Getting a leg caught
Though exercise wheels can provide an effective outlet for exercise, and hay hampers offer a nice place to store hay for easy chewing access, accidents with dire consequences can occasionally happen.
Chinchillas can get their tiny legs caught in the sides and corners of wire cages or in any small place. Their first instinct is to run, which often causes further damage to the trapped limb.
3. Improper handling
As delicate as these creatures are, it is essential to handle them with care so as not to cause bruising, sprains, falls or even broken bones.
For this reason, young children should always be taught how to handle a chinchilla properly and their interactions should be monitored.
Unfortunate injuries can occur when chinchillas fight with each other or are attacked by other animals such as cats and dogs.
5. Being Stepped On
Always remain vigilant when your pet is out of her cage.
Make everyone in the room aware of her presence so this damaging accident never happens to your chinchilla.
6. Nutrition Issues
Feeding your pet a balanced, nutritionally complete diet is not a difficult, complicated or expensive task. In the event that this isn’t accomplished, a diet lacking in essential vitamins, minerals and macronutrients – especially calcium and phosphorus – can result in brittle bones that are prone to breaking during everyday actions that wouldn’t otherwise provide a risk.
Chinchillas are excellent at hiding their maladies so it’s critical to monitor your pet daily to maintain her optimal health. The following signs and symptoms, especially when combined, will alert you to a possible leg fracture:
- Dragging back legs
- Walking Oddly
- Leg Swelling
- Staying on the lower levels of the cage
- Cracking sound when leg is moved
- Bone sticking out (this is called an open fracture)
Broken legs are extremely painful and can lead to an agonizing death if left untreated.
If your chinchilla is injured, especially if a break is suspected or you notice the aforementioned symptoms, take her to a veterinarian with chinchilla experience immediately.
Waiting to see what happens can cause your pet to go into shock or can worsen the fracture, exacerbating the pain and damage and making it more difficult to eventually heal.
Once a break is suspected, phone in for an emergency appointment then place your chinchilla in a small carrying cage with padding so she doesn’t slide around and bring her to the experts right away.
Know the terms
Though the terms “fractures” and “breaks” are often incorrectly used as distinct entities, they both refer to the same ailment and can be used interchangeably.
Fractured Limb Treatment
Broken limbs are usually treated by veterinarians with immobilizing splints or surgery that screws or pins the bones back into place.
These can be prohibitively expensive measures for some, or might not be effective if the break took place too long ago or is extremely severe, as in the case of a fully shattered leg. In these instances, an amputation can be necessary.
When is amputation necessary?
It would be a sorrowful day if your dear chinchilla were to require an amputation, though sometimes this inevitable situation is the only logical and humane way to save your pet’s life.
Since these lively rodents are so active it’s difficult to isolate a fractured limb, allowing it time to heal without excessive weight bearing movement.
If your chinchilla no longer has feelings on the broken leg, the poor pet might even start to chew on the dead limb.
For this reason, even when money is not an issue at all, sometimes complicated or severe breaks are not able to be set and necessitate amputation immediately or eventuality.
Chinchillas undergoing amputation surgery receive general anesthesia.
The affected limb is then carefully severed and sutured back up wherever the veterinarian sees fit, usually just below the shoulder or hip.
Your pet will stay in the veterinarian’s office for generally one to three days after the procedure. The vet will ensure she comes out of anesthesia and will keep an eye on her for a while before releasing her back into your care.
The following three to five weeks are an important time to allow for proper recovery.
This recovery time is dependent upon the severity of the fracture, as well as the quality of care received.
You will go home with pain relievers and antibiotics, and potentially anti-inflammatories.
Read the instructions on the packaging carefully and administer in full per your vet’s directions.
One to three weeks after the procedure your vet will want to see the patient again to make sure everything is healing properly. Further x-rays might need to be taken.
Chinchilla leg amputation cost
Amputation is an in-depth procedure that can be quite costly. The final price including the surgery, medications and care afterwards depends completely on the rates of your veterinarian and can vary from a couple hundred to nearly $1000 USD on average.
A well-loved chinchilla can typically make a full recovery after a broken leg, even adjusting to a tri-pawed life after an amputation. The bone will begin to heal in about a week to ten days. Here are some helpful tips for optimal recovery:
1. Restrict Movement
Keep your pet in a small, single-level, safe enclosure for a while to minimize movement. Chinchillas do not walk around gingerly when healing – they continue to hop, jump and frolic, which can exacerbate the injury or at least slow or prevent healing.
Your pet should avoid exercise, playtime, and interaction with others during the convalescence period.
2. Minimize handling
Check your healing friend continuously but recreational handling should be avoided for the first three to four weeks until the fracture is completely mended.
In addition to administering your pet’s medications accordingly, she might also require hand feeding.
In the case that she is unable or refuses to eat after a few hours of being home, a life-threating condition known as Ileus can occur, so it is your job to make sure she receives the food she needs.
Critical Care Food provides optimal nutrition for recovery, as it contains all the nutrients your pet requires to heal and regain her strength, especially calcium, which aids in bone formation.
It comes in powder form and when mixed with room temperature or warm water can be put into a syringe and administered into the side of the mouth.
If your pet will eat on her own, it can also be formed into balls by adding less water. Alternatively, sprinkled over her regular food for a nutritional boost.
If you don’t have Critical Care Food on hand, you can also crush her normal food and mix it with water to administer it by syringe or spoon-feeding.
We recommend that you also check out our populate post about why must you always have critical care food ready.
4. Reduce Stress
The optimal healing environment for chinchillas, which as prey animals are always on high-alert, is one that promotes relaxation, minimizes stress, offers a safe hiding place and is full of peace and quiet.
Stress can erode the immune system over time, weakening your pet in an already weakened state. This can lead to secondary infections.
Keep loud noises, sudden interruptions, bright lights and contact with humans and other animals to a minimum.
Provide a nesting box or little hidey-hole for your pet to retreat into where she will feel safe and protected. Keep her living area at a constant, draft-free temperature, warm but not too hot since chinchillas can overheat easily.
Do check out our helpful post about how to help a stressed chinchilla.
5. Keep Hydrated
Chinchillas should drink a lot after an operation to ensure her systems continue to work smoothly. To encourage drinking, you can safely sweeten her water with 100% apple or pineapple juice.
Though it’s impossible to prevent all accidents, taking optimal care of your chinchilla is always the best route to take to obviate breaks or other injuries or misfortunes.
Ensure she is receiving a nutritionally complete diet full of hay, pellets and the appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain bone strength. Teach everyone who handles her the proper way to do so, lifting and holding with adequate support.
Remove anything from her cage that you feel could pose an unnecessary risk. Also, ensure the floor is either solid or is composed of wire mesh with spaces no larger than 15x15mm. This is so her feet don’t get stuck in it.
Monitor her vigilantly when spending time outside her cage. If your chinchillas are prone to fighting, separate chinchillas at the first sign of aggression towards each other.
If the inevitable happen and you’ve done everything to keep your pet safe and healthy, don’t blame yourself for a normal accident.
As long as your chinchilla receives expert treatment from a veterinarian and is lovingly cared for at home, chances are she will be back to normal hopping around her cage in no time.