If you’re planning to get a cute, furry Chinchilla, you should know that they have very specific bathing routines. Maybe you’ve already heard about it, and you know it can be complicated. You may start to wonder how long a Chinchilla can go without a dust bath before they stink.
If you really think about it, bathing your furry friend is not that hard, and to answer your question, a Chinchilla can go without bathing for three, or four days max. Prolonging the process puts your pet at a health risk.
Let’s look at why a Chinchilla should be bathed only in dust, why you shouldn’t give it a water bath, the proper steps to bathing your Chinchilla, and the risks of not doing it right.
How Does A Chinchilla Bathe
Unlike most pets, Chinchillas take dust baths rather than water ones. This is due to their very thick coat of fur. Each hair follicle has up to fifty hairs growing from it, that means that just in one square centimeter, Chinchillas can have nearly twenty thousand hairs!
In the cold of the Andes Mountains in South America, where Chinchillas originate, their very thick coat protected them from heat and moisture loss.
However, that very beneficial coat can become very unbeneficial if exposed to water. Because their coat is so dense, it would be very difficult to dry after a water bath. A wet coat will lead to fungal or bacterial infections!
Accidental Exposure To Water
It is normal for accidents to happen where your Chinchilla gets wet, even due to water leaks or faulty plumbing. There’s no need to panic.
First, remove any excess water using a towel, then blow-dry the towel to warm it up, and carefully dab your Chinchilla till you feel they are dry.
However, never blow-dry your Chinchilla! This could overheat them, which isn’t good for their health either. Any temperatures exceeding 80° F (26° C) can be fatal to Chinchillas.
Necessary Use of Water
It could also happen that your Chinchilla comes in contact with something sticky that can only be removed by water. In this instance, it is okay to use water.
Use a slightly damp towel to wipe the substance away, just on the surface of the coat.
Symptoms After Exposure To Water
If your Chinchilla is affected by their exposure to water, and they begin to act in any way out of the ordinary, it is important that you take them to a vet.
At this point, you can see why Chinchillas should only be bathed by dust.
What Is A Dust Bath
Dust baths basically mean bathing by dust. Many animals, including Chinchillas, do it instinctively. Other animals include cats, dogs, hamsters, horses, llamas, etc.
They engage in a dust bath by rolling around in it, in order to clean their fur from excess oil and moisture, loose hair, and parasites.
In their original habitat, Chinchillas would use volcanic ash to bathe, so good Chinchilla dust brands will include solely volcanic ash or pumice. This can penetrate Chinchillas’ thick coats and go all the way down to their skin, cleaning them thoroughly.
Any other ingredients or dust substitutes are not recommended, as they can cause skin or eye irritations to your pet.
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Recommended Chinchilla Bath Dusts
Kaytee Chinchilla Dust by Kaytee, a well-known brand in the pet care industry. Their dust is a hundred percent pure. It is extremely fine, to a point where it may make quite a mess without a properly enclosed bath house.
Oxbow Poof! Chinchilla Dust by Oxbow, is another famous brand in the small pet care industry. This dust is made of a material called blue cloud, which is very similar to volcanic dust.
Lixit Chinchilla Dust, is another recommended brand. Their dust is extremely soft, and is less expensive than most!
How Often Should You Bathe Your Chinchilla
This relies on the temperature of your region. If it is a cool region, they can be bathed twice or three times a week. If the region is hot, they should be bathed every other day.
A bath should last fifteen to twenty minutes. More than that would cause your pet’s coat to dry out.
When In the Day
If you’re wondering what time in the day to initiate a bath for them, you should take into consideration that Chinchillas are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are more active at dusk or dawn.
These would be the ideal times to bathe them.
How To Bathe Your Chinchilla
You need a container. Any container will do, but specialized Chinchilla dust bath houses are better at containing the dust, as well as your furry pet.
Choose where you will put the container. You can put it in their cage, allow them to bathe, then remove it. Keeping it in the cage is not recommended, as they may simply sit in it, or even use it as a litter box.
You can also place the container outside, in an area easy to vacuum. Wherever you choose will probably end up having excess dust around the bath house, which you will need to clean.
Fill the container up to two inches with Chinchilla bath dust. This would be just enough for your Chinchilla, without causing too much of a mess.
Simply place your Chinchilla into the container, and they will take care of the rest. Sit back and watch them adorably spin and twirl around in the sand. You may even catch them rubbing at their chubby cheeks! They’ll come out all cute and puffy at the end.
Remove the dust bath house and clean around it. That’s all there is to it!
Note that the dust can be reused, but should be replaced once every week, or if it becomes too dirty and clumpy.
Health Risks Due to Improper Dust-Bathing
The previous steps should be followed correctly. An inconsistent bathing schedule, or incorrect bathing dust, can lead to serious health-care problems for you pet Chinchilla.
Dry skin is due to excessive bathing. Symptoms include small flakes that resemble dandruff. Resolution includes decreasing bathing frequency.
Hairballs are due to a Chinchilla consuming too much hair when self-grooming, excess hair that results as a lack of dust baths. Symptoms include a Chinchilla’s inability to vomit, inactivity, and a lack of appetite. Resolution includes visiting a vet.
Hair loss can occur due to over-recycling the same bath dust. Symptoms include clear, bald patches where fur may not grow back. Resolution includes visiting a vet.
Fungal infection can be due to a lack of dust baths. Symptoms include furless, pink skin patches in the face, eye, or genital area. Other symptoms include weak, fragile fur-hair and whiskers. Resolution includes visiting a vet.
[Related Article: Do Chinchilla And Ferrets Get Along Or Will They Fight]
To Sum Up
It is important to dust-bathe your Chinchilla every few days. Not bathing them enough, or bathing them too much, can cause serious health issues to your furry friend.
The bathing process is a simple five-step procedure, and all you need is Chinchilla bath-dust, and a bath dust container.
It also happens to be a very cute and entertaining process for both you, and your furry friend! Not only is it adorable to watch, but you can tell your pet actually enjoys it. It is good for their physical and emotional health.