Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Melissa Witherell, DVM
By Melissa Witherell, DVM on Mar. 9, 2023
Chinchilla ultrasound

In This Article


What Are Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas?

Gastrointestinal ulcers are sores or breaks in the lining of the stomach or intestines due to irritation of the mucosa (a soft tissue). Ulcers can be very painful due to stomach acidity—they can bleed and can even perforate completely through. Stomach ulcers are also referred to as gastric ulcers or intestinal ulcers based on location. Ulcers often occur secondary to other underlying illnesses.

Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

  • Anorexia

  • Lethargy

  • Depression

  • Weight loss

  • Poor hair coat

  • Teeth grinding or bruxism

  • Hunched body posture

  • Diarrhea or decreased fecal output

Causes of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

  • Young chinchillas fed too coarse fibrous roughage or moldy feed.

  • Inappropriate antibiotic use

  • Certain bacterial infections such as yersiniosis can cause ulcers in the small intestines, cecum, and colon

  • Stress, inappropriate diet, overcrowding, abrupt change in diet, diets too low in fiber and too high in fat and protein

  • Changes in stomach and intestinal pH or changes in normal gut microflora

  • Uncommonly parasites such as nematodes, coccidians, giardia, and cryptosporidium

  • Chinchillas with stomach tumors can have stomach ulcers as well

Stomach ulcers are more common in young chinchillas but can happen in adults.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Veterinarians will take blood tests to look for any systemic signs of infection or any other underlying diseases/conditions that could be contributing.

X-rays help to evaluate any large abnormalities noted in the stomach or intestines, to evaluate for any signs of obstructions, and intestinal torsion or intussusception where the intestine slides into another part of the intestine causing a blockage. This can be done with or without barium contrast. Other imaging including ultrasound can be used to evaluate the tissue of the stomach, intestines, and liver. Sometimes ulcers can be seen on ultrasound.

Lastly, fecal floats may be performed to look for intestinal parasites.

Treatment of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Treatment for your chinchilla may include:

  • Antacid medication

  • Fluids

  • Pain medications

  • Motility agents

  • Antibiotics

  • Anti-gas supplements

  • Supplemental nutritional syringe feedings

  • Correction of any underlying conditions or poor husbandry

Recovery and Management of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Uncomplicated ulcers can resolve with treatment in four to six weeks. Recovery may take longer depending on how advanced the disease is and if your pet has any other disease/problems.

Prognosis is fair if the ulcer is not complicated and there are not any concurrent diseases, however with any additional problems prognosis can be guarded.

If you notice any abnormal changes in energy, behavior, fecal output, or appetite it is very important to have your chinchilla examined by your primary veterinarian promptly. Untreated ulcers can progress to perforation, bleeding, anemia, peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneal tissue lining the abdomen), and septicemia (blood poisoning) from bacteria.

Prevention of Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas

Stomach ulcers are less likely to reoccur with corrected diet and husbandry. Provide a proper diet, clean environment, minimize stress, and house the appropriate amount of chinchillas in their enclosure to prevent overcrowding.

Stomach Ulcers in Chinchillas FAQs

How long does it take for a stomach ulcer to heal?

Stomach ulcers can take four to six weeks or longer to heal.

How do you heal a stomach lining ulcer?

Ulcers can be healed with supportive care, antacids and time the stomach lining will naturally heal as long as the underlying diseases and husbandry issues are corrected.


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Reavill D. Pathology of the Exotic Companion Mammal Gastrointestinal System. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice. 17(2):145-164. 2014.

Lucena RB, Rissi DR, Queiroz DMM, Barros CSL. Infiltrative gastric adenocarcinoma in a chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera). Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 24(4):797-800. 2012.

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Meredith A, Redrobe S, Small B. BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets. British Small Animal Veterinary Association. 2010.

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Melissa Witherell, DVM


Melissa Witherell, DVM


Dr. Melissa Witherell is originally from Connecticut. She attended undergrad at Fordham University to study Biological Sciences. After that...

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