Chinchilla Eye Infection (How To Diagnose, Treat & Prevent)

Chinchillas are small animals of the rodent family. They are native to the Andes Mountains in South America and make wonderful pets.

As much as we’d love them to, our chinchillas cannot talk to us and tell us when something is not right. That’s why it is often tricky to work out what is wrong with them when they’re not looking too hot.

Not sure how to diagnose chinchilla eye infection?

In this article, we are going to take you through everything you must know about the most common eye problems chinchillas can develop. Stick with us as we’ll walk you through diagnosing and treating the problems.

Key Takeaway:

The most common chinchilla eye problems are conjunctivitis, cataracts, watery eyes, and ulcers. If your pet has swollen, red, watery, cloudy, or closed eyes, take it to the vet immediately. Your vet will give your pet antibiotics to fight infections and eye drops. In some cases, it will need surgery.

Your chinchilla has such lovely eyes.

What must you do to protect them and prevent infections?

Coming up next in this article, we’re going to discuss how to diagnose eye problems and what you must do to get rid of them.

So, let’s dive in!

chinchilla eyes

Chinchilla Eye Infection

We all love it when our pet chinchillas are happy and healthy, and that is why we give them the best possible care.

Have you noticed that something is wrong with one or both of your chinchilla’s eyes?

Then it might be suffering from an infection. Chinchillas can suffer from a number of different ophthalmologic diseases.

Here are some of the most common ones that affect them.

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Cataracts
  • Epiphora (watery eyes)
  • Corneal ulcers

Coming up next, we are going to discuss these common ophthalmologic diseases in more detail. We’ll also help you to diagnose, treat, and prevent future problems.

How to Diagnose Eye Infections and Diseases

We adore our pet chinchillas and hate it when they aren’t well. Treating them is often a challenge because you first have to work out what is wrong with your pets.

Coming up next, we are going to tell you how to diagnose some of the most common eye infections and diseases that will help you get on the road to curing your small animal.

Conjunctivitis Symptoms

How can you detect eye infections like conjunctivitis?

A chinchilla with conjunctivitis will have discharge weeping from one or both eyes. It may also have slightly swollen eyes with red skin around the eyes.

In some cases, a chinchilla will only have excessively watery eyes but will still be suffering from conjunctivitis. In such cases, it is suffering from a more restricted type of infection.

A chinchilla suffering from conjunctivitis may not only show signs of it in its eyes but also in its behavior. Chinchillas with conjunctivitis are more lethargic and have a reduced appetite.

Cataracts Symptoms

How does a disease like cataracts present itself in a chinchilla’s eyes?

Cataracts is a lens disorder. A chinchilla with cataracts will have cloudy eyes and difficulty seeing.

A chinchilla might have cataracts in both eyes or just one eye. Chinchillas suffering from this disease will advance slowly but will eventually become completely blind.

Epiphora Symptoms

How does epiphora (also known as watery or wet eye) affect your chinchilla’s eyes?

If your pet chinchilla is suffering from epiphora, it will have a watery discharge coming from one or both eyes. The fur around the eye will be wet.

There may be matted fur around your pet’s eye, or it might show signs of dermatitis. Alopecia is also common around the eye of a chinchilla with epiphora.

Corneal Ulcer Symptoms

How can you detect an ulcer in your chinchilla’s eye?

A corneal ulcer is most likely to affect just one eye. It will cause it to become red and cloudy.

A chinchilla with a scratch on its corneal surface may try to keep the affected eye closed. It may continually rub its closed eye on the floor or with its paw.

The Causes of Eye Infections and Diseases

chinchilla eyes infection

Now that you are familiar with the types of infections and diseases out there, it is important you know why they are affecting your pet’s eyes. That’s why up next, you will see the causes of some of the most common ocular issues in chinchillas.

Conjunctivitis Causes

Many things can cause conjunctivitis in chinchillas. Here is a list of some of the most common causes.

  • Irritation from too much time in a dust bath.
  • Bad quality chinchilla bathing dust.
  • Bad ventilation in the cage environment.
  • An underlying nasolacrimal duct obstruction.
  • Poor hygiene in the chinchilla’s cage.

Cataracts Causes

Chinchillas can develop cataracts for many different reasons. Here are some of them.

  • Old age. Chinchillas around 8 years old and up are more likely to develop cataracts.
  • A congenital disorder.
  • Diabetes, chinchillas with high blood glucose levels.
  • Anterior lens luxation (lens displacement).

Epiphora Causes

Epiphora is an ocular discharge that causes discomfort in your pet. Here are some of the reasons why chinchillas often suffer from this.

  • Dental disease. Your chinchilla has overgrown teeth, and this is affecting tear drainage. It is usually the overgrowth of the molars and the maxillary premolars that cause this obstruction.
  • A cold or an infection.

Corneal Ulcer Causes

Ulcers on your chinchilla’s eyes are painful for your pet and, unfortunately, all too easy for them to get. Here are two reasons why chinchillas get ulcers on their corneas.

  • Small irritants in the air. These include hay, dust, and hair. These can easily enter the chinchilla’s eye and scratch it.
  • Fighting with another chinchilla. A scrap with another cage mate might result in scratches.
  • Trichiasis (improper growing of the eyelashes).

How to Treat Eye Infections and Diseases

We’ve just had a look at detecting eye infections and diseases in chinchillas. Now, you want to find the best treatment that will help your chinchilla’s eyes recover again.

Not sure how to treat your furball’s eye infection?

Then coming up next, you’ll see a list of cures that are great for your pet’s eye health.

Conjunctivitis Treatment

If you suspect your chinchilla has conjunctivitis (pink eye), you must take it to a specialist in veterinary medicine. There, a specialist will be able to give your chinchilla the treatment it needs to fight the bacterial infection.

The most popular treatment for conjunctivitis in chinchillas is lavaging the conjunctival sac. Your veterinarian will do this with a physiologic saline solution.

To treat conjunctivitis, your veterinarian will also prescribe antibiotics to help fight the bacteria. These antibiotics might come in the form of a cream to apply around the eye or eye drops.

What eye drops are safe for chinchillas?

You must always follow the direction of your exotic animal vet when giving your chinchilla eye drops. But they will likely prescribe optimyxin drops.

While your pet is undergoing this course of treatment, you must not give it access to a dust bath. Only allow it a dust bath again once it has fully recovered.

If your chinchilla has a respiratory infection as well as conjunctivitis, your vet might recommend an antimicrobial therapy.

While your chinchilla is still poorly, you might notice a crust form around its eyes. It is important to remove this to prevent your chinchilla’s eyelids from sticking together and causing more discomfort to your pet.

Here’s how to do this.

  1. Put warm water in a small container.
  2. Dip a clean cloth in the water and squeeze out the excess water.
  3. Pick up your chinchilla and hold it in your arms. Hold your chinchilla’s head firmly but carefully to one side.
  4. Gently dab the warm compress over the crusty eye until it is clear again.
  5. Repeat these steps as often as necessary. Always reward your chinchilla afterward and hold it carefully throughout the process.

Cataracts Treatment

If your chinchilla has cloudy eyes, difficulty seeing, and other symptoms, you must take it for official diagnoses at trusted veterinary clinics.

Although a chinchilla’s eyes can be successfully operated on for cataract surgery, this is extremely uncommon. It is uncommon, not just on chinchillas but also on other species of rodents because their eyeballs are too small to work on.

Unfortunately, this means that, at the moment, there isn't anything you can do to help a chinchilla with cataracts except for trying to make its environment as safe as possible. That is, of course, unless the chinchilla has diabetic cataracts in which it will need treatment for diabetes.

How can you make your chinchilla’s environment safer?

Here are a couple of key points.

  • Start by putting everything your chinchilla needs on one level in its cage. A chinchilla with advanced cataracts will be reluctant to jump from level to level in its cage. Put its hay, food bowl, water bottle, and litter tray on the ground floor.
  • Don’t sneak up on your pet. Make sure it sees and hears you before you pick it up or stroke it.
  • Make sure its environment is safe. When your chinchilla is playing outside of its cage, ensure there is nothing in the way that would be dangerous for it.
  • Do not introduce new things into the cage. When your chinchilla’s eye problems become more advanced, avoid introducing foreign material into the cage area that could confuse your chinchilla.

Epiphora Treatment

If your chinchilla’s eyes keep on watering, you will need to take your pet for a physical examination at an exotic vet’s clinic. That way, a specialist will be able to determine the cause of the eye irritation.

If the problem is due to overgrown teeth, these will need to be operated on as soon as possible to stop the eye problem and prevent more serious issues. Teeth trimming and the surgical removal of some of your chinchilla’s teeth might be necessary at this time.

Aside from this, your chinchilla might receive a course of topical antibiotics to help fight any underlying bacterial infections. To help with inflammation, it might also receive some anti-inflammatory drugs.

If the underlying cause of the eye problem is not to do with the teeth but is rather a common cold, your veterinarian will provide your pet with the right treatment to alleviate its symptoms.

Treatment of Corneal Ulcers

A scratched cornea is normally the result of foreign bodies rubbing on your pet’s eye and causing an eye irritation. To solve this eye problem, you must take your pet to a veterinarian for an official diagnosis.

To detect whether there has been trauma to the eye or not, your veterinarian will stain the surface of your chinchilla’s cornea with fluorescein.

After the diagnosis, your chinchilla will likely receive an antibiotic or saline eye ointment to apply to the eye while it heals. Antibiotics will be prescribed if your chinchilla has an eye infection as a result of the scratch.

If your chinchilla has an ulcer that will not heal, it will have to undergo some more invasive treatments. Minor scratches to the cornea will usually heal quickly.

How to Prevent Eye Infections and Diseases

prevent eye infections chinchilla

We now know everything about why your chinchilla developed eye irritations, and hopefully, the treatments we just listed have helped you get your pet on the road to recovery.

But what can you do to prevent these eye issues from occurring again?

Many eye problems are avoidable with good husbandry. Take a look at the following guide that will help you stay clear of any further issues.

Conjunctivitis Prevention

Your chinchilla can develop conjunctivitis from spending too much time in a dust bath. This is because the dust in the environment irritates its eyes.

When a chinchilla spends too long around a dust bath, it will also begin to defecate in it. When it does, it will begin rolling in the bath again, and this becomes a dangerous issue for its eyes.

To prevent this from happening, monitor the amount of time your chinchilla spends in a dust bath. Just 3 to 5 minutes, 2 to 4 times a week is enough.

Never leave the dust bath inside the chinchilla’s cage.

You must also make sure the bathing dust is of good quality. Bad-quality dust often contains lime powder, silicone powder, and glass powder, which can cause respiratory issues.

Another important way to prevent conjunctivitis is to always keep the temperature in your chinchilla’s habitat regulated and to keep the cage ventilated. This is especially important after your chinchilla has had a dust bath.

You must clean the chinchilla’s cage regularly. Remove your pet rodents from the enclosure and give it a thorough clean at least once a week.

Cataracts Prevention

One of the main causes of cataracts in chinchillas is old age. But, unfortunately, there is not much you can do to slow down eye problems such as these.

If your chinchilla has cataracts due to high glucose levels, however, there is treatment available. You must take your chinchilla to the vet for diabetic treatment.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you feed your chinchilla a good diet. Do not give it too many treats or sugary foods to eat.

Epiphora Prevention

Chinchillas suffer from epiphora when they have problems with overgrown teeth. To prevent this, you must provide your small pet with chew toys and hard commercial pellets for it to grind its teeth down on.

Wood blocks are great for chinchillas to chew on as not only do they help keep their teeth down, but they also prevent the small animals from feeling bored.

Taking the chinchilla to the vet is also essential. If the chinchilla’s teeth are too long, the vet will grind them down before they become an issue.

You must take your small animal to the vet at least once a year for a checkup.

Prevention of Corneal Ulcers

Your chinchilla’s eyes are sensitive to irritants in the air. To prevent eye issues such as ulcers, you must reduce the number of irritants in the atmosphere.

One of the best ways to do so is by keeping your chinchilla’s enclosure clean. Make sure you give the entire enclosure a thorough clean once a week.

If your chinchilla is particularly sensitive to fine dust, you need to cut down on the spores in the atmosphere to avoid further irritation to its eyes and lungs. To do so, use bathing sand instead of dust and use fresh orchard hay in its enclosure.

You must also keep an eye on how your chinchilla behaves with the other chinnys in its enclosure. If they fight, you must separate them to avoid other eye irritations and scratches.

Summary of Your Pet’s Eye Problems, Remedy, and Prevention

Are you worried about your chinchilla developing one of the infections we’ve had a look at today?

Then take a look at the following detection, medical care, and prevention mini guide that will help you look after your pet’s beautiful eyes.

In this section include a table. In the first column put, eye problem, in the second, symptoms, in the third medical care, and in the fourth prevention.

Eye problemSymptomsMedical CarePrevention
ConjunctivitisDischarge, swollen, red eyes, lethargy, loss of appetiteLavaging, antibiotic cream and drops Limit dust baths, good husbandry.
CataractsCloudy eyes, difficulty seeing Not available Not available
EpiphoraWatery discharge, dermatitis, alopecia, and matted fur around the eyeTeeth trimming and removalHard chew toys and regular dental checks.
Ulcers (corneal)Eyes red, cloudy, and closedAntibiotics, eye dropsGood husbandry, separating fighting chinchillas

*Treatment and prevention of cataracts in chinchillas is not currently possible unless the cause of the cataracts is diabetes. In this case, a good diet and diabetic medical care might prevent the disease and help a chinchilla get better.

Chinchilla Eye Problems FAQs

Do you have a chinchilla at home that is suffering from eye problems?

Then you’ll find the answers to the most asked questions about chinchilla eyes and how to look after them coming up next in this section.

Why Does My Chinchilla Have a Goopy Eye?

If your chinchilla has a goopy eye, it might be suffering from an infection. Conjunctivitis and epiphora are causes of goopy eyes in chinchillas.

Conjunctivitis is a common problem that makes the eyes release a thick discharge. It also makes the eyes red and swollen.

Epiphora also causes eye discharge, but it is normally clear. If the discharge is murky, your pet might have conjunctivitis or other problems or fungal infections.

Why Is My Chinchilla’s Eye Closed?

A chinchilla will close one eye to protect it when it is unwell. If your chinchilla has one eye closed, that might be because it has suffered some kind of trauma to the eye.

Common types of trauma are scratches to the cornea. These might happen because of fighting or even because of irritants in the environment.

A chinchilla might close its eye when it has trichiasis or when the eyelashes of the eye begin to grow into the eye.

Do Chinchillas Get Cataracts?

Chinchillas that are around 8 years old are prone to eye diseases like cataracts. Aside from aging, they can also develop this ocular disease if they are diabetic.

What are Healthy Chinchilla Eyes?

Just like other species of rodents, chinchillas can develop different eye problems. These include infections and ocular diseases.

Healthy chinchillas have clean, dry eyes. Their eyes are not cloudy and are not swollen.

Their eyes must not have any running discharge and must be open.

A chinchilla with healthy eyes will not have matted or irritated-looking fur around its eyes. The animal will be inquisitive and will have a good appetite.

Why Is My Chinchilla Eye Crusted Shut?

If your chinchilla’s eye crusts shut, it has an infection in the eye. The chinchilla might have conjunctivitis or epiphora.

To determine correctly what the cause of the infection is, you must take your chinchilla to the veterinarian. There, it will receive the right drops that will help it to fight the infection.

In the meantime, help your chinchilla by removing the crust from its eye. Do so by wetting a clean cloth with warm water.

Ever so gently wipe the cloth over the infected eye. Do this every time you notice the crust building up on its eye.

If the veterinarian gives you a course of antibiotics to administer to your chinchilla, make sure you follow the entire course through to ensure it heals completely.

Looking After Your Chinchilla’s Eyes

A chinchilla is an adorable fluffy creature that makes a wonderful household pet. And as with all our pets, we love to see them looking healthy.

But as we have seen in this article, chinchillas can develop several eye problems, such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, epiphora, and ulcers. Some of the most common symptoms of eye problems are cloudy, swollen, red, watery, or closed eyes.

Treating these eye irritations calls for medical attention and often a course of antibiotics or even surgery. After that, you must keep the dust levels low in your chinchilla’s cage and keep the environment clean to prevent further irritation.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles on the health of chinchillas, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other pets. For more guides on how to keep your chinchillas and other animals happy, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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