Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Chinchillas

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 7, 2010

An upper respiratory tract infection in chinchillas should never be taken lightly, as it can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia. Humid, crowded, and poorly ventilated housing conditions contribute to a greater chance of respiratory disease in chinchillas. Chinchillas can also become prone to bacterial respiratory infections when their immunity is weakened because of their young age or due to stressful conditions.

Symptoms typically associated with upper respiratory tract infections include sneezing, coughing, discharge from the nose and/or eyes, difficulty breathing, and sometimes fever. The veterinarian will test the discharge to identify the bacteria causing the infection. The treatment, meanwhile, will involve appropriate antibiotic and antihistamine medications.


  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia
  • Death


  • Excessive humidity
  • Overcrowding of chinchillas in group housing
  • Lack of proper ventilation in the housing environment
  • Inadequate sanitation
  • Less immunity due to young age
  • Weakened immunity due to stress
  • Bacteria


Diagnosis is usually based on the clinical signs exhibited by the affected animal and also tests performed by a veterinarian through the collecting of nasal and throat swabs to identify the causative infectious treatment so that appropriate antibiotics could be administered.


Treatment includes antibiotics and general supportive treatment, including gently soaking the nose and eyes with warm water compresses and removing any crusts.

Living and Management

While in recovery, place your pet chinchilla in warm, dry, draft-free housing. Ensure that proper supportive care and a well-balanced nutritious diet are given to your pet so that your pet may make a quick and complete recovery.


Keep your chinchilla in a warm and draft-free environment, maintaining good husbandry and sanitation, and separate affected or carrier chinchillas from healthy ones. These few simple preventive steps can keep your chinchilla healthy.

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