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Choosing The Right Vet For Your Exotic Chinchilla

In the same way that doctors specialise so too do vets. Whilst they all have a good general knowledge of animal care and treatment they will all individually have special areas of interest too. These will be the areas in which they are the considered expert. In any veterinary practise there should be a broad range of special skills. A large animal vet, a canine specialist, small animal vet and an exotic expert are some examples of what you may expect to find. In the case of exotics, such as the Chinchilla, then by preference, you want to seek out your specialist vet – this is a vet that is going to be able to recognise quickly the very specific needs of your pet. You do not want someone who has to go off in search of someone else... or worse, make a wrong diagnosis. But how do you go about finding that vet?

Time for a little detective work

There are several things that you can do and the first and most obvious is to ask your veterinarian if he is trained specifically in the care and treatment of exotics. However some people find this a little awkward. What if he says, no, but I do have sufficient knowledge to treat your Chinchilla? So unless you feel able to stand your ground and say you would prefer a specialist then you need to take a more discrete approach.

  • In any veterinarian establishment you should find each vet’s qualifications displayed for all to see. Take a look at these and see if you can spot your vet from here.
  • You can also check through various organisations. The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians - or for other exotics - The Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and The Association of Avian Veterinarians. These are all good places to start. Yellow pages should not be overlooked either.
  • Search online for vets that specialise in chinchillas or exotics.
  • Alternatively, and closer to home perhaps, you could try asking your breeder for a recommendation. As well as this there are many forums online where you may be able to pose the question. Yellow pages should not be overlooked either.

Ideally you really ought to find the vet before you get the pet

Yes it is that important – there could be nothing worse than having an emergency on one’s hands and then having to source the right vet. For your Chinchilla this could mean the difference between life and death. Never has the adage – prevention rather than cure been more true. But let us assume for the moment that you have found the right vet.

What then are the next steps?

  • The thing to do now is to set up an appointment whether your chinchilla is ill or not. You can make it for a general check-up.
  • Whilst you are there take special note of how the vet handles your pet. Is your chinchilla reasonably happy – has he taken to the vet? This is very important in establishing a relationship. If your chinchilla finds the whole thing distressing and it does sometimes happen that an animal does not settle with a particular person/vet, this will be detrimental to their treatment and subsequent recovery.
  • Do not forget yourself in this equation – it is equally as important that you gel with the vet too. You need to be able to communicate positively with them and you need them to be as good at listening as they are at talking. And you need to be able to respect their knowledge and their opinion, without feeling intimidated – you will see why in a moment.

On a first visit especially, a good vet will sit down and talk to you about your chinchilla’s care, health and diet. He will be as keen as you to make sure that your pet is receiving good treatment. Never forget though that you are the owner and you are in charge – never accept treatment that you are uncomfortable with. I’ll give you an example of the kind of thing I mean. Some time ago we had an animal that broke a leg by jumping from my husband’s hands into his hutch. It was one of those very unfortunate accidents. However we rang our vet immediately for advice. It came back as this: Bring him in and we will have a look at him; although the only real answer is amputation. Now bearing in mind that small animals do not do incredibly well with anaesthetic and in over 90% of cases die, we thanked him for his advice and said we would assess what we felt to be the best course of action. What we did in the end was to separate the animal from his cage mates and give him space and time to recuperate. (Please note at this point that it is never wise to let an animal suffer unduly in the hope they might just get better.) In this case though, the animal did not appear to be in a lot of pain whilst he could be quiet and still. We checked this course of action out with our vet again and he agreed to our arrangements adding that in the wild the animal would, if it could, find somewhere safe to rest and hopefully recover. It is not uncommon for animals to survive injuries of this kind. With this we kept our pet warm and quiet and made sure he was clean, we also placed his food and water close by so he didn’t have to move too much in the first few days. Did he survive? Yes he made a remarkable recovery and was back on his feet proper within eight – ten days.

To conclude

  • FIND THE RIGHT VET
  • TAKE YOUR PET FOR A GENERAL CHECK UP.
  • NOTE HOW WELL THE VET AND YOUR PET INTERACT.
  • ALWAYS SEEK EXPERT ADVICE BUT REMEMBER YOU ARE THE OWNER.

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