2 Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult
Physical Examination Findings Multifocal to Focal Alopecia
r Alopecia with or without scaling, r Lack of proper dust bath—may cause poor,
crusting—distribution may help differentiate unkept coat that may become matted and
BASICS disease process. shed abnormally; may cause alopecia and
r Broken hair shafts—suggestive of barbering accumulation of scale in matted areas
DEFINITION r Trauma
Alopecia is common in chinchillas and is (self-inﬂicted or conspeciﬁcs)
r Ptyalism—associated with dental ◦ Bite wounds—alopecia with or without
characterized by complete or partial lack of
hair in expected areas. It may be multifactorial malocclusion; a thorough oral examination is erythema, can abscess—secondary
and can be either a primary or secondary critical for evaluating for premolar/molar Staphylococcus spp. or Streptococcus spp.
disorder. As many as 60 hairs grow from a malocclusion infections can occur
r Epiphora—associated with dental ◦ Fur slip—alopecia with or without
single hair follicle in the healthy chinchilla.
malocclusion; a thorough oral examination is erythema, no scaling
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY critical for evaluating for premolar/molar ◦ Ear trauma, including frost-bite alopecia
r Multifactorial causes
r All disorders represent a disruption in malocclusion with erythema, scaling, necrosis of pinnae
r Fur chewing—may chew on fur constantly
growth of the hair follicle due to infection, CAUSES
r Normal shedding pattern—some chinchillas or intermittently and fur may regrow in
inﬂammation, trauma, or blockage of the between episodes. Usually chew dorsal ﬂanks
receptor sites for stimulation of the cycle. may lose hair in patches when shedding
r Behavioral—barbering-dominant cagemates and sides, pregnant females may chew
SYSTEMS AFFECTED may chew or pull out hair of submissive temporarily.
r Skin/exocrine r Dental disease—facial moist dermatitis
r Behavioral—may cause self-inﬂicted chinchilla
r Parasitic—ectoparasites (ﬂeas, lice, associated most commonly with ptyalism or
chewing, biting mites)—because of the dense coat of the epiphora; alopecia; with or without erythema,
r Gastrointestinal—especially dental scale, or ulceration. Staphylococcus spp. or
chinchilla, ectoparasites are uncommon
disease—may cause anorexia, dysphagia, r Infectious—dermatophytosis, bacterial Streptococcus spp. infections can occur
ptyalism pyoderma secondary to moist dermatitis.
r Hemic/lymphatic/immune r Dermatophytosis—Trichophyton
r Trauma—fur slip due to excessive restraint;
r Ophthalmic—ophthalmic or dental disease mentagrophytes most common but
self- or conspeciﬁc-inﬂicted barbering, bite
may cause epiphora, conjunctivitis resulting wounds Microsporum canis and M. gypseum have been
in alopecia surrounding one or both eyes. r Neoplastic—cutaneous lymphoma, identiﬁed; partial or complete alopecia with
trichofolliculoma, mast cell tumor scaling and pruritis; with or without
r Dental disease: avoid breeding these animals r Nutritional—especially protein and ﬁber erythema, not always ring-shaped; may begin
deﬁciencies as alopecia around eyes, nose, then spreads to
as inheritance of dental disease is suspected.
r Fur chewing: avoid breeding animals that feet, body, genitals. May be ﬁrst identiﬁed on
RISK FACTORS the “grooming claw” (medial ﬁrst digit) of
fur chew. Poor husbandry: lack of dust baths, proper hind limbs.
INCIDENCE/PREVALENCE ventilation, and sanitation; nutritional r Cheyletiella sp.—reported in chinchillas,
Common condition in chinchillas deﬁciencies such as low-ﬁber diets leading to lesions usually located in the intrascapular or
fur chewing and other deﬁciencies allowing tail-base region and associated with large
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION for immunosuppression; traumatic handling
N/A amounts of white scale. Mites readily
leading to fur slip identiﬁed on skin scrapes or acetate tape
SIGNALMENT preparations on low power.
No speciﬁc age or sex predilection r Urinary tract infection—perineal moist
SIGNS dermatitis; alopecia; with or without
r The pattern and degree of hair loss is erythema, scale, or ulceration
DIAGNOSIS r Arthritis of hind limbs—perineal moist
important for establishing a differential
diagnosis. DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS dermatitis; alopecia; with or without
r Multifocal patches of alopecia—most Differentiating Causes erythema, scale, or ulceration
frequently associated with folliculitis from Pattern and degree are important for r Lumbar spinal spondylosis—perineal moist
mycotic or bacterial infection differential diagnoses. dermatitis; alopecia; with or without
r Large, diffuse areas of alopecia—indicate Symmetrical Alopecia erythema, scale, or ulceration
r Barbering—broken fur shafts identiﬁed on r Pododermatitis of hind limbs—perineal
follicular dysplasia or metabolic
component—not reported in chinchillas but close inspection; most commonly on dorsal moist dermatitis; alopecia; with or without
should be considered ﬂanks, around face and ears; can have a erythema, scale, or ulceration
r May be acute or slowly progressive in onset “moth-eaten” appearance to the coat. Owners r Abscesses—anywhere on body alopecia with
may or may not observe barbering between or without erythema, scale, ulceration
Historical Findings r Ear mites—alopecia around base of ear; may
r Inappropriate diet—ﬁber deﬁciency, other animals.
r Fur chewing—very common in chinchillas; extend to head, neck, abdomen, perineal
r Inappropriate frequency or complete lack of may chew on fur constantly or intermittently region, intense pruritis; brown beige crusty
and fur may regrow in between episodes. exudate in ear canal and pinna
dust bath; use of inappropriate dust bath r Fleas—patchy alopecia; ﬂea dirt will help
Usually chew dorsal ﬂanks and sides, pregnant
r Inappropriate sanitation, ventilation females may chew temporarily. Coat may have differentiate; secondary pyoderma sometimes
r Self-inﬂicted or conspeciﬁc barbering moth-eaten appearance. seen
r Matted fur associated with high r Contact dermatitis—alopecia with or
r Drooling, dysphagia
r Ocular or nasal discharge environmental temperature (>80◦ F), humid without erythema; scale on ventral abdomen
r History of fur slip, fur environment, or if dust baths are inadequate and other contact areas
or not provided. r Moist dermatitis—alopecia; with or without
erythema, scale, or ulceration associated with
urinary disease (urine scald), diarrhea, NURSING CARE successfully—is odiferous and can stain;
uneaten cecotrophs, arthritis, pododermatitis, Subcutaneous ﬂuids can be administered antifungal shampoos (ketoconazole/
spinal spondylosis (50–100 mL/kg) as needed; IV access is chlorohexiderm) and antifungal sprays
r Neoplasia—cutaneous lymphoma, difﬁcult in the chinchilla; lateral saphenous (miconazole, enilconazole) are available but
cutaneous epitheliotrophic lymphoma vein catheters often kink; consider toxicity information not available for
(mycosis fungoides), trichofolliculoma, mast intraosseous (IO) catheterization if chinchillas.
cell tumors; focal or diffuse alopecia; scaling intravascular ﬂuids are needed. Base ﬂuid r 0.5%–1% chlorohexidine solution for
and erythema; may see crust formation—not selection on the underlying cause of ﬂuid loss. cleansing of affected areas
reported in chinchillas but should be In most patients, Lactated Ringers solution or r Antihistamines (diphenhydramine,
considered. Normosol crystalloid ﬂuids are appropriate. hydroxyzine) for severe pruritis—may cause
CBC/BIOCHEMISTRY/URINALYSIS Maintenance ﬂuids are estimated at drowsiness
100 mL/kg/day. r Nonsteroidal antiinﬂammatory medications
To identify evidence of infection,
inﬂammation, and organ function for ACTIVITY (meloxicam 0.2–0.5 mg/kg PO, SC q24h;
underlying disease, especially with urine Dust baths should be administered at least carprofen 2–5 mg/kg PO q12h) may be
scald, perineal dermatitis, infectious 2–3 times weekly—minimize during helpful with inﬂammatory conditions,
organisms treatment for infectious organisms (especially analgesia for dental disease
OTHER LABORATORY TESTS dermatophytes); do not reuse dust bath. Use CONTRAINDICATIONS
only good-quality dust bathing materials. r Oral administration of antibiotics that select
Fungal cultures: especially DTM for
dermatophytes; two negative cultures should DIET against gram-positive bacteria (penicillins,
be obtained after diagnosis to ensure clearance r Some chinchillas will develop inappetence. cephalosporins, macrolides, lincosamides) can
of infection. Be certain the chinchilla is eating, or provide cause fatal enteric dysbiosis and
assisted syringe feeding of an herbivore critical enterotoxemia.
IMAGING r Metronidazole toxicosis has been previously
r Skull radiographs: to identify underlying care diet if anorectic to prevent the
development, or exacerbation of, reported in chinchillas.
dental disease in chinchillas with ptyalism, r Potentially nephrotoxic drugs (e.g.,
epiphora gastrointestinal dysmotility/GI stasis.
r Increasing water content in foods or via oral aminoglycosides, NSAIDs) should be avoided
r Whole body radiographs: to identify
or parenteral ﬂuids may increase ﬂuid intake. in patients that are febrile, dehydrated, or
orthopedic, spinal, gastrointestinal, renal, azotemic or that are suspected of having
reproductive diseases associated with perineal Provide multiple sources of fresh water,
including supplementing fresh water with pyelonephritis, septicemia, or preexisting
dermatitis or urine scald renal disease.
r Abdominal ultrasound: to identify small amounts of pure fruit juice (no added r Glucocorticoids or other
gastrointestinal, renal, reproductive diseases sugars), high water content vegetables, or
soaking or misting fresh vegetables before immunosuppressive agents should be used
associated with perineal dermatitis or urine only when no alternative is available and
should be used with precaution.
CLIENT EDUCATION r Do not use ﬁpronil or ﬂea collars as toxicity
DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES r Do not breed animals with malocclusion, or
r Skin scraping—micro-spatula with in chinchillas is not known.
that chew their own fur, as both traits are r Do not use organophosphate-containing
ﬂat-ended blade preferable; dull edge of
scalpel blade potentially hereditary. products in chinchillas.
r Disinfect caging and cage materials if
r Acetate tape preparation—
infectious organisms; for dermatophytes 10% PRECAUTIONS
evaluate on low power ﬁeld for ectoparasites r Flea-control products are off-label use in
r Trichogram—cytology of epilated hairs to bleach solution
r Discard wooden cage materials if infectious chinchillas; safety and efﬁcacy have not been
examine for lice or parasite eggs evaluated in this species.
r Skin biopsy—especially with suspicion of organisms r Topical ﬂea products such as permethrins
r Remove conspeciﬁcs if barbering is
neoplasia, infectious organisms and pyrethrins may be toxic in chinchillas.
r Woods lamp ultraviolet evaluation of identiﬁed. r Prevent chinchillas and cagemates from
Microsporum canis lesions; but T. SURGICAL CONSIDERATIONS licking topical spot-on products until dry.
mentagrophytes does not ﬂuoresce N/A r Toxicity—if any signs are noted, the animal
PATHOLOGIC FINDINGS should be bathed thoroughly to remove any
Gross and histopathologic ﬁndings will differ residual products and treat appropriately.
r Griseofulvin—bone marrow suppression
depending upon the underlying condition.
MEDICATIONS reported in dogs, cats as idiosyncratic reaction
or with prolonged therapy; not reported in
DRUG(S) OF CHOICE chinchillas but may occur; weekly or
r Varies with speciﬁc cause
r Fleas, mites (including Cheyletiella spp.), bi-weekly CBC should be performed.
Neurological effects reported in dogs and cats,
TREATMENT other ectoparasites—ivermectin 1% (0.4 monitor chinchillas for these signs.
mg/kg SC q10–14d × 3–4 doses); selamectin Teratogenic in ﬁrst two trimesters of
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE (Revolution 6–12 mg/kg applied topically
r Patients that appear otherwise normal are pregnancy.
q30d); ﬂea shampoos for kittens without r Immunosuppressive agents should be
typically managed as outpatients; diagnostic
permethrins, pyrethrins can be used. Treat all avoided.
evaluation may require brief hospitalization.
r Diseases associated with systemic signs of affected animals and clean the environment.
r Dermatophytes—itraconazole (5 mg/kg PO POSSIBLE INTERACTIONS
illness (e.g., pyrexia, depression, anorexia, and None
q24h) for 6–8 weeks; ﬂuconazole (16 mg/kg
dehydration) or laboratory ﬁndings of
q24h) × 14 days; or griseofulvin (25 mg/kg ALTERNATIVE DRUGS
azotemia and or leukocytosis warrant an
PO q24h) for 4–6 weeks for refractory cases; Ketoconazole has been utilized for
aggressive diagnostic evaluation and initiation
lime sulfur dips q7d has been used dermatophytes in other species—safety and
of supportive and symptomatic treatment.
4 Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult
efﬁcacy are unknown in chinchillas. AGE-RELATED FACTORS INTERNET RESOURCES
Hepatopathy reported in cats and dogs can be N/A N/A
severe. ZOONOTIC POTENTIAL Suggested Reading
Dermatophytosis and Cheyletiella can cause Donnelly TM. Disease problems of
skin lesion in people. chinchillas. In: Quesenbery KE, Carpenter
PREGNANCY/FERTILITY/BREEDING JW, eds. Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents
FOLLOW-UP r Do not breed animals with malocclusion or Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 2nd ed. St
PATIENT MONITORING that fur chew, as both traits are potentially Louis: WB Saunders, 2006:255–265.
Varies with cause hereditary. Harkness JE, Turner PV, Vande Woude S, et
r Griseofulvin contraindicated in pregnant al. Biology and husbandry of the chinchilla.
PREVENTION/AVOIDANCE In: Harkness JE, Turner PV, Vande Woude
r Provide good-quality dust baths several animals during ﬁrst two trimesters as it can be
teratogenic. S, et al, eds. Harkness and Wagner’s Biology
times weekly to maximize coat quality. r Avoid ivermectin in pregnant animals. and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, 5th
r Feed diets with balanced protein and ﬁber
ed. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell,
for chinchillas. SYNONYMS 2010:58–64.
r Separate animals that barber or fur chew Ringworm (dermatophytes) Harkness JE, Turner PV, Vande Woude S,
from other animals. Fur chewing (self-inﬂicted barbering) et al. Speciﬁc diseases and conditions. In:
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS SEE ALSO Harkness JE, Turner PV, Vande Woude S,
N/A Dermatophytosis et al, eds. Harkness and Wagner’s Biology
and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, 5th
EXPECTED COURSE AND PROGNOSIS ABBREVIATIONS ed. Ames: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010:249–396.
r Treatment times for dermatophytosis are DTM = dermatophyte test medium
Longley L. Rodents: dermatoses. In: Keeble E,
long (4–8 weeks); treatment diligence GI = gastrointestinal
Meredith A, eds. BSAVA Manual of
necessary to clear infection; continue until
Rodents and Ferrets. Gloucester: BSAVA,
two negative cultures are obtained.
Author Michelle G. Hawkins, VMD DABVP
r Dental disease
r Musculoskeletal disease