Last Modified

June 13, 2022 by Umair Shahid

As a pet owner, you want to keep your pet healthy and happy, but don’t know how to accomplish this wish. Then, I am here to answer all your queries. Chinchillas don’t need Salt licks unless your pet is a nursing mother. Too much consumption can cause several health issues. But this doesn’t mean you can never offer them Salt licks.

Personally, as a vet, I would recommend you to do complete eradication of Salt licks from Chinchilla’s diet. It can do more harm than good, and your pet doesn’t need all these extra nutrients.

Your pet gets all the essential nutrients from their primary diet, they don’t need Salt wheels or salt licks for nutrients. Instead of providing them minerals and vitamins, salt lick can lead to too much consumption of salt which can cause several health complications like kidney stones and even seizures.

In this article, I am going to provide you with all the information regarding salt licks. What are salt licks, what is their usage, what health complications it can cause if used in excess, and what nutrients do salt licks provide?

Do chinchillas need salt licks?

No matter if your chinchilla is healthy or if it has deficiencies, salt wheels or salt licks would not help them. Instead, it will cause ill effects on your pet’s health. Chinchilla’s normal diet includes pellets and Timothy hay which provide all the essential nutrients that your pet needs.

 The best choice you can make regarding salt licks is not to use them. As an experienced vet, I don’t like the idea of using salt licks and salt wheels as a nutrient supplement. If your chinchilla has deficiencies, give them nutrient supplements suggested by the vet.

Your pet can even gnaw on Salt block, this would lead to too much ingestion of sodium. Biologically, there is no use for this extra salt except that this can cause seizures.

Salt licks and salt wheels

Salt licks also called mineral licks, are blocks of salt that also contain several micronutrients. In the wild, salt licks are naturally present and thus become the source of many animals for their salt licks. Particularly, animals who are on a low mineral diet lick these salt blocks.

Many pet parents also provide these salt blocks to their livestock to promote their health and to provide them with all micronutrients which are missing in them.

Salt wheels are the special kinds of salt blocks specially designed for small animals. These salt wheels have a hole in them. Nutrients are the same as in normal big salt licks or blocks. It’s just a normal mineral block but for small creatures.

Although they are made up of small animals, these blocks are still not suitable for Chinchillas.

Nutrients in a salt lick

Salt licks contain several minerals. These blocks contain calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, and many other micronutrients. You might be asking yourself why these aren’t entirely made up of salt as their name suggests. But they are called so because the minerals present in the lick are in the form of mineral salts.

The quantity of different nutrients in a single block depends upon the kind of block you buy. Furthermore, it depends upon the quality of the salt lick. Some of them solely consist of sodium, while others are made up of mixtures.

Chinchilla’s gnawing on salt licks

Chinchillas like other rodents have continuously growing teeth. As a result, they always need something chewable. They love to bite everything that comes down their way.

You might be asking yourself can I give them Salt licks for chewing. I urge you not to even think about it. I don’t think that they will even lick that salt licks, they will eat salt licks. As a result, consumption of too much sodium will occur and they will suffer from health issues described below.

Effects of excess salt licks on Chinchilla’s health

Excess to everything is bad. When your pet consumes a lot of sodium and other micronutrients, it can cause severe health complications. Salt licks provide nutrients but they can even cause deficiencies due to sodium imbalance. In addition to this, it can cause detrimental effects on the urinary system of your pet.

Urinary system stones

These stones are clumps of minerals, that build up gradually when not excreted or when stay in the kidneys or bladder for a long time. When Chinchillas consume more minerals than required, their body then tries to remove excess minerals from the body through urine.

As a result, more blood is filtered by the kidneys and more waste starts accumulating in urine. So, when these excess minerals are present in urine and the urine is temporarily stored in the bladder. When the bladder doesn’t empty quickly, these minerals start to pile up.

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Furthermore, these masses become large enough that they can block the passage of urine. These masses when large enough can be removed surgically.

If urinary tract stones remain untreated for a long time, they can even cause the death of your pet. The more minerals your pet consumes, the more are chances of getting stones.

Seizures

As I mentioned earlier, excessive salt licks can even cause deficiencies due to sodium imbalance. When your pet consumes too much sodium, it will start passing through the urine, and because of the cotransport mechanism, it will take a lot of calcium with it.

As a result, your pet will suffer from hypocalcemia. Due to calcium deficiency, your pet will suffer from seizures. A seizure is a medical condition in which an organism loses its control over the brain and body. Electrical stimulations in the brain cause the body movement manner less for a few moments.

It can be very stressful for you and your pet.

Nausea

In case you have given the salt wheel to your chin, and now you are worried because your pet is lethargic after consuming that. Your chin is likely very uncomfortable now. If you give your pet too much salt, it can lead to a nauseated condition. Rodents can’t vomit.

But he will remain uncomfortable for at least some days. I would recommend you give your pet plenty of water. In case of any trouble, it is not wrong to seek medical advice from your pet’s vet.

Heatstroke

Due to high sodium consumption, the blood pressure of your chin can be raised. Moreover, chinchillas can suffer from heatstroke.

FAQs

What is the difference between a salt lick and a salt wheel?

Salt licks are naturally occurring salt blocks that in addition to sodium have various other minerals. Pet owners also provide salt licks to their livestock to starve nutritional deficiencies.

Salt wheels are the same as salt licks but are specially designed for smaller animals. Salt wheels contain a hole in them.

Both are nutritionally equivalent and thus are not suitable for Chinchillas.

What effects, excess salt licks will cause on Chinchilla’s health?

Excess sodium consumption will lead to the accumulation of minerals in the urinary tract. This will cause urinary obstruction because of kidney and bladder stones. Surgical removal is the treatment.

Furthermore, seizures can occur because of sodium imbalance and calcium deficiency. In addition to this, your pet will have a nauseated condition and will feel very uncomfortable. High sodium levels can increase blood pressure. There is also a risk of heatstroke and your pet can even die if these instances become severe.

If not salt lick, then how to clear the nutritional deficiencies of your pet?

If you are suspecting something serious in your pet’s health, then without any delay you should consult your pet’s vet. I would recommend you following things that you should do to clear out the deficiencies.

Firstly, you have to maintain a healthy diet for your pet. Hay and pellets for Chinchillas have every essential nutrient that your pet requires. Don’t give them fruits, vegetables, or other pet pellets.

Furthermore, you should use high-quality pellets that should have every nutrient that your pet requires.

In addition to this, consult your vet for supplements. Don’t go for salt lick, as supplementation suggested by the vet is a safe option.

Conclusion

Salt licks are used to overcome several mineral deficiencies in other animals. But for Chinchillas it is never a safe option. I urge you to remove these blocks or wheels entirely from your pet’s food. These salt licks can do more harm than good because excess nutrients can cause many health complications.

Chinchilla’s primary food contains all the necessary minerals and vitamins that your pet needs. Giving them hay and high-quality pellets is more than enough for fulfilling their nutritional demands.

Moreover, instead of licking your Chinchilla would gnaw it leading to far more consumption than required. It can lead to several health issues like urinary tract stones, seizures, nausea, and heatstroke. Furthermore, your pet will suffer from hypocalcemia and it can also affect their bones.

If you suspect any nutritional deficiency in your pet, it is not wrong to seek medical advice and consult a vet who can see your pet in person. Supplementation suggested by the vet is a safer option.

I would recommend you to stick to their healthy diet and vet’s supplementation. Salt licks are not safe at all.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195561694500056

Author

I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.

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