Chinchillas are incredibly healthy animals. Most health problems can simply be avoided by proper diet and a clean living environment. However, such is not the case of fur fungus which is a problem experienced by both pet owners and Chinchilla breeders. Knowing how to help prevent fur fungus from occurring and treating it once it does occur can save you on vet bills and keep your chinchilla(s) healthy and happy.
What Is Fur Fungus?
Fur fungus is actually ring worm. The same ring worm that is seen in dogs, cats, and even humans. It is highly contagious and needs to be treated as early and as effectively as possible to keep it from spreading to other pets or even family members. However, there are ways to lessen the risk of your chinchilla getting fur fungus to begin with and this should be a top priority due to the fact that it can spread quickly.
The first sign of fur fungus usually occurs around the eyes, nose, tail, or genital area of the chin and appears as a minor fur loss with the underlying skin being red and sore looking. If left untreated or unnoticed there may be large bald patches on various parts of the chins body.
Preventing Fur Fungus In Your Chinchillas
There are several things you can do to help prevent your chinchilla from catching fur fungus. Starting with making sure that your chin has a clean and dry living environment. Keeping your chins cage clean not only helps to prevent fur fungus but, also orders and a number of diseases as well. Changing bedding once or twice a week will help to keep your chins home clean and dry. You also want to keep your chinchillas room as well ventilated and with as little humidity as possible. When the humidity reaches 50% or higher this provides a great opportunity for the ring worm spores to take hold.
As well as keeping the room well ventilated and the humidity low, changing your chins dust bath regularly will also help to prevent fur fungus. In fact, many breeders include some athlete’s foot powder in their Chinchillas daily dust bath to help prevent their chins from contacting fur fungus as this powder kills the ring worm spores. However, even using such preventive measures may not always prevent fur fungus from occurring. However, these prevention steps can help reduce the number or occurrences and make it far less likely that fur fungus may be a problem for your chinchilla especially if you own only one or two of these pets and no other animals who may suffer from ring worm.
Treating Fur Fungus
If your Chinchilla does suffer from fur fungus than treating it as swiftly as possible is the best thing you can do for your chin, other pets, and your family members. The first thing you are going to want to do is isolate your chinchilla in a location that is off limits to other pets and family members.
Once your chinchilla is isolated then begin treatment immediately. Treatment should consist of treating the area around the fur fungus with Betadine. Make sure you wash your hands both before and after handling your chinchilla with a mild chlorine bleach solution and wear gloves while treating the affected area.
Sterilize your chins cage to get rid of the ring worm spores. This may mean burning a wooden cage. For wire and plastic cages it is best to clean them with a chlorine bleach solution and allow them to set out in the sun for at least an hour before rinsing thoroughly with clean clear water. I would recommend sterilizing the cage at least once a week until the fur fungus is completely cleared up to avoid any chance of reinfection.
Some experts suggest foregoing dust baths while the chin is suffering from fur fungus to keep it from spreading over more parts of the chinchillas body. However, I personally have found that by increasing the amount of athlete foot medicine in the dust bath, changing it after each use, and sterilizing the dust bath container after each use that the fur fungus actually seems to clear up faster than by treating it with Betadine alone. However, if you are going to continue dust baths while your chin has fur fungus it is paramount that you get rid of the dust bath safely after each use, sterilize the container and use some type of athlete fur powder to help kill the ring worm spore.
Reusing a dust bath will only keep the spores alive and help to spread the condition faster. It is better to be safe than sorry when treating fur fungus.
While it will take some time for the condition to completely clear and new hair growth to begin you should see some signs of improvement within a few days to a week. If you don't see any improvement or the condition seems to be getting worse consult your vet immediately as they may be able to recommend a stronger medicine to take of the problem.
Even after the fur fungus seems to be cured keep your Chinchilla isolated for 10 days or so to make sure that no need infection is taking place to avoid spreading the ring worm to other pets or members of the family.
While ring worm is highly contagious with quick action you can nip this condition in the bud and prevent the spread of ring worm by simply using common sense and proper hygiene. Before you know it your Chin will have beautiful fur once more.