Your Helpful Feeding Guide To Chinchilla Critical Care Food


What is Critical Care Food for Chinchillas?

Critical Care Food for chinchillas is a nutritionally complete, high fiber Timothy hay-based recovery food in powder form. In addition to Timothy hay, it is supplemented with oat groats, soy beans, wheat germ, electrolytes and stabilized vitamin C.

Critical Care Food is most often prepared by mixing it with water then offering it in a food bowl or administering by syringe to the mouth to ill, convalescing or geriatric chinchillas.

Summary of today’s article:

Though there is no panacea for when your pet becomes sick, hurt, or is recovering from a procedure, this product is the closest you will come to finding one.

Critical Care also improves the environment of the gut, promotes digestion, and is highly palatable, coming in two flavors: anise and apple banana.

Read more here on how to prolong your chinchilla’s lifespan.

Why Must You Always Have Critical Care Food ready?


  1. Health can decline rapidly
    Chinchillas are excellent at hiding their ailments but one reliable giveaway alerting us that all is not well with our little friends is a loss of appetite. By the time we notice this, there might already be a serious problem that requires immediate attention. A chinchilla’s health can decline rapidly, so when we notice an issue it’s important that we’re able to bolster them with the essential nutrients and calories found in Critical Care as soon as possible. Read more here on what to do when your chinchilla is sick.
  2. Ileus
    As noted above, when chinchillas experience illness or injury, they stop eating. When they go for a while without eating, their gut action slows and eventually stops, which is a condition known as Ileus. When chinchillas stop eating, defecating, or both, painful gas buildup occurs in their gut. To prevent this from happening, Critical Care Food should be offered or administered if your chinchilla is not eating on her own.
  3. Availability and Timing (Emergency food)
    When caring for small rodents such as chinchillas, timing is of the essence. By the time you notice a problem it could already be almost too late. Say it’s late at night and you don’t have any Critical Care Food on hand. Your ailing friend will have to wait at least all night and maybe even deep into the following day until you can run to a pet retailer or veterinarian’s office to buy some, or even longer if you have to order it online. This wait time can cause further distress and pain during your pet’s time of need so it’s always best to have this product on hand at all times so you can dispense care right when it is required.


When to Feed Critical Care to your Chinchilla

Chinchillas who aren’t able or willing to eat their normal food should receive Critical Care Food.

They should have it when they’re experiencing illness, injury or rehabilitation or when they need a boost when in a dangerous or compromised state, such as if they have lost too much weight. It can also be used for chinchillas with dental disease, or those who require a soft diet.

Though it’s important to have it on hand for your pet’s moment of need, it’s also crucial to obtain an expert’s opinion and accurate diagnosis when your pet is under the weather.

This is to ensure something more serious isn’t occurring, and to properly treat the issue.

chinchilla critical care food

Though you can give your chinchilla Critical Care Food as you see fit, if you ever notice a problem with your chinchilla, take her to the vet as soon as you can.


How much Critical Care Food you Should Feed your Chinchilla

The amount of Critical Care given to chinchillas is based upon a variety of factors including weight, age, condition, if they’re eating other foods, how often you are feeding them, and what your veterinarian suggests.

For a rough estimate, a chinchilla who isn’t eating at all should receive either 3 tablespoons of dry powder or about 50 – 60 ml of wet mixture per day, though one who is eating other food as well should take in less, about 30 ml.

Your pet will need time to digest this high-fiber food so it’s preferable to administer it in small doses throughout the day instead of in one go.

For a more specific feeding suggestion, refer to the chart below, sourced directly from Oxbow’s website:

Body Weight

Amount Per Day

No. of feeds per day with feeding amounts






0.5 kg

25 ml

8 ml

6 ml

5 ml

4 ml

3 ml

1.0 kg

50 ml

17 ml

13 ml

10 ml

8 ml

7 ml

1.5 kg

75 ml

25 ml

19 ml

15 ml

13 ml

11 ml

2.0 kg

100 ml

33 ml

25 ml

20 ml

17 ml

14 ml

2.5 kg

125 ml

42 ml

31 ml

25 ml

21 ml

18 ml

3.0 kg

150 ml

50 ml

38 ml

30 ml

25 ml

21 ml

3.5 kg

175 ml

58 ml

44 ml

35 ml

29 ml

25 ml

4.0 kg

200 ml

67 ml

50 ml

40 ml

33 ml

29 ml


Though getting your pet to eat this much might seem like a daunting task, depending on how amenable she is to it, it is certainly achievable with small, regular sessions.

Keep in mind that every bit of Critical Care Food you get into your furry friend will improve her chance of survival.


How To Mix Critical Care Food

Follow the directions on the package to determine the amount of water required to mix the Critical Care Food powder.

Generally, it requires one-part powder to two-parts water. More water can be added to change the consistency, making it easier to push through a syringe.

Make sure the water is room temperature or a bit warmer. Ideally, the mixture should be made fresh for every feeding, though the mixture is good for about 24 hours.

After this time frame you should discard anything remaining because mold might start to grow in your mixture. It’s best to start with small quantities and make more as you need it.


How To Administer Critical Care Food to your Chinchilla

Depending on why your chinchilla needs Critical Care Food and how receptive she is to it, there are a few different ways to administer this life-saving superfood:

oxbow critical care

  • Syringe
    Mix Critical Care with the appropriate amount of water, remove plunger from the syringe and scoop your mixture into the back of the syringe. Hold your pet securely yet gently and offer her the syringe. If she doesn’t take it willingly, push it into the side of her mouth behind the front teeth. Slowly eject the feed into her mouth, allowing her time to chew and swallow. Keep in mind the fact that chinchillas lack the ability to vomit and therefore are prone to choking. Ideally a catheter-tipped syringe should be used. When using this type of syringe, it might be possible to draw the food up into the syringe instead of scooping it in through the back. The size of the syringe doesn’t matter as much as how slowly you push the feed into her mouth to offer her plenty of time to chew and swallow.
  • Bowl
    For healthier chinchillas who are willing and able to eat, you can offer the mixture in a feeding bowl.
  • Spoon
    Some chinchillas will eat their critical care mixture off a spoon. If not, refer to the syringe method.
  • Sprinkle
    For chinchillas who are eating their regular food, dry Critical Care powder can be measured out and sprinkled on their food. Since Critical Care is pretty tasty, this can be done to improve palatability and encourage your pet to eat. Additionally, you can mist her hay with a spray bottle then sprinkle Critical Care on it, as the water helps the powder stick to the hay.
  • Balls
    When transitioning your convalescing pet from liquid feedings back to her regular feedings, you can mold Critical Care Food into balls by adding less water to the mixture.
  • Feeding Tubes
    A veterinarian can administer Critical Care to chinchillas in special cases through specialized feeding tubes. If it gets to this point, this isn’t something you’ll be doing on your own.

How Long Does Oxbow Critical Care last?

Depending on the size of your animal, how much you are giving her and the size of the package, one pouch of Critical Care Food will last anywhere between three and eleven days of continuous use.

oxbow critical care label

The shelf life of this product from the time of manufacturing is about two years. Once opened, the food can be used for about six months. Once mixed, it is only good for about 24 hours as long as it is refrigerated.

Make Sure You’re Prepared Today

Having Critical Care Food on hand might just save your pet’s life one day. If you don’t have any, go to your local pet retailer, call your veterinarian or order some online as soon as possible.

Hopefully you will never need to use it, but if you do, it will be invaluable and your furry friend will thank you for it.

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