There are many infectious diseases affecting the respiratory system, the most common of which is pneumonia. Much like in humans, chinchillas usually contract pneumonia through a bacterial infection; one predisposing factor being poor living conditions. Eye infections, fever, and weight loss are some of the more common complications of pneumonia. And because the bacterial infection spreads quickly among animals, a chinchilla with pneumonia should be isolated and promptly treated by a veterinarian.
- Respiratory distress (the most immediate symptom)
- A thick, yellowish nasal discharge
- Eye infections
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Wheezing sounds from the lungs (heard with a stethoscope)
Pneumonia is associated with infectious agents, usually bacteria, which are inhaled and then produce the disease. However, a cold, damp environment, undernourishment, or other unhealthy conditions lowers the chinchilla's immunity and makes it more susceptible to these types of infectious agents.
Other than observing the chinchilla's clinical signs, your veterinarian can diagnose pneumonia by microscopically examining nasal or ocular samples for infectious organisms. This will also identify the type of bacterium, fungus or virus affecting the chinchilla.