Q: We have a 3-year-old chinchilla. The last couple of days it looks like his nose is running, like he has a cold or something. It caused his fur to be damp and stick together under his chin and looks like a cold in his eye as well. What can we do for him?
A: Chinchillas definitely get upper respiratory infections. When this happens, they look just like we do with a cold. They can have red, irritated-looking eyes that have a clear discharge. They can have discharge from their nose and the area around the nose can be wet with matted hair. They may cough and sneeze, and their appetite might decline. It is important to visit your doctor if this continues past a couple of days, as it might be more serious than a simple cold.
If you see matted fur under the chin, this may be something other than a upper respiratory infection. Usually, we do not see matted hair under the chin when just an upper respiratory disease is present; rather that is a condition seen when dental disease is present with resultant drooling. Your veterinarian can do an oral examination and determine if there is dental disease present versus just a simple “cold.”