Degu Health Problems – Common Diseases and Treatments

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Degus are as susceptible to health conditions as humans. If you notice any illness, it’s recommended to separate the affected pet from the others (if you have more than one Degu) and consult your vet.

Most of the diseases that Degus suffer from usually require emergency treatment due to their size, which implies they can’t fight diseases like several other larger animals.

Also Read: How to Care for Pet Degus?

Common Health Problems of Degus

In this article, you’ll learn about some common health issues Degus may experience. While all efforts are made to ensure the information is as factual as possible, ensure to always seek professional advice at the first sign of any issues.

Diabetes

  • Description: A condition that’s almost always fatal in Degu; they can’t digest sugars correctly due to the lack of insulin or resistance, causing them to be diabetic. It’s mostly caused by a wrong staple diet, sugary foods, snacks.
  • Symptoms: You’ll notice cataracts in the Degu’s eyes, excessive water drinking, overweight, or even early death.
  • Treatment: Consult your vet immediately, though they may often be unable to do much. If you notice signs of overweight in your Degu, reduce the quantity of food you offer them so they can eat more of timothy hay.
  • Prevention: Offer them Degu specific food and occasional treats (just once or twice each week).

Bumblefoot

  • Description: Bumblefoot, also known as Pododermatitis, is an extremely painful condition where a Degu experiences red sores and swelling to the bottom of their feet.
  • Causes: It’s caused by constant walks on wired surfaces.
  • Symptoms: Cut sores on the Degu’s feet, sores, swollen feet, cries of pain, and difficulty walking.
  • Treatment: The symptoms may fade after some time, so it’s essential to visit the vet. Provide your pet with lots of solid bases and ledges to stand on and get off the wire right from the first day.

Parasites

  • Description: Little annoying animals, such as fleas, ticks, and mites, can live and breed in a Degus fur. They can be spread through interaction with animals or people.
  • Symptoms: You’ll notice constant scratching, itching, and biting themselves.
  • Treatment: Consult your vet for suitable treatment.
  • Prevention: Parasites are mostly spread in pet stores. While choosing a Degu, take your time to observe if it displays any of the mentioned symptoms. Contact with other pets can also cause the spread of parasites, so you need to keep a minimum interaction as your Degu may be scared of other pets. If you have ticks or fleas, ensure to reduce the level of interaction with your pet during this time.

Mouth Disease

  • Description: Degus can experience dental issues and diseases in the mouth. These conditions arise due to the Degu not getting enough items or toys to gnaw on and unclean water bottles.
  • Symptoms: An affected Degu will constantly groom its mouth, experience drooling, cry, long teeth, and have problems eating.
  • Treatment: Clean your Degu’s water bottles and provide gnawing items (specifically designed for gnawing, e.g., gnawing items with hidden treats are ideal to ensure the Degu destroys them without touching the expensive shelves and home you bought for them!) If you suspect your Degu of having mouth disease, consult your vet immediately for possible remedy.

Liver Disease

  • Description: Degus can develop issues with their liver, which is caused by eating too much fatty content.
  • Symptoms: Affected Degus will drink plenty of water, experience excessive weight loss, and other symptoms similar to Diabetes.
  • Treatment: Offer your pet suitable treats. However, if you notice your Degu has liver problems, contact your vet immediately.

Respiratory Issues

  • Description: A Degu suffering from a respiratory issue will have noisy breathing and become lethargic.
  • Symptoms: You may find discharge coming out from the affected Degu’s nose.
  • Treatment: You need to take the Degu to your vet as soon as possible because most times, a respiratory problem may be a symptom of a severe underlying health problem like tumor or organ failure. Your vet would examine the Degu and may prescribe antibiotics, which may improve their condition. Hence, attempting to treat your Degu is always worth trying.

Tooth Problems

  • Description: Degus may experience teeth problems, such as full or partial white coloring of their front teeth. It occurs as a result of nutrition and vitamin deficiency.
  • Symptoms: You’ll notice the Degu having white teeth.
  • Treatment: Provide your Degu with the proper diet, including occasional fresh vegetables for the perfect intake. If you notice signs of teeth problems and other ill health, improve their diet.

Heat Stroke

  • Description: Degus may sometimes experience overheating as a result of being in direct sunlight, cage without ventilation, or a hot room.
  • Symptoms: Affected Degus may appear dead, hot to the touch, or immobile.
  • Treatment: Their cage should be well ventilated and away from heat sources or direct sunlight. Always provide fresh water. For affected Degus, slowly immerse them in cold water and consult your vet immediately.

Cataracts

  • Description: Degus can develop cataracts, a white portion in their eye, partially or fully. It can be caused by Diabetes, genetic, and excessive consumption of sugary foods.
  • Symptoms: Affected Degus have a white glaze on their pupil, which can result in loss of sight.
  • Treatment: Provide your Degu with the right diet. There’s currently no known treatment.

Stroke

  • Description: As a Degu ages, it’s prone to experience stroke, which implies it typically can’t use a part of its body.
  • Symptoms: You may notice that your older Degu has a hard time getting up.
  • Prevention and Treatment: You’ll need to keep them warm and nice before visiting the veterinarian, which should be an urgent action. A Degu might often recover if it’s a minor stroke and as long as they’re able to move around and feed themselves. However, if they can’t do this, it’s sometimes better to put them off to sleep.

When Do You Need to Take Your Degu to a Vet?

As soon as you notice a sign or symptom that could possibly lead to a severe illness, contact your vet immediately, especially if they lose droppings, lethargy, anorexia, or suddenly lose weight.

Are Degus Hyper Sensitive?

Your Degu can be quite sensitive to cleaning items like a liquid wash. Hence you need to change the products you use to clean their cage if they react to them.

Do Degus Carry Diseases?

Degus can carry several kinds of diseases, as we have mentioned. So you need to feed them the right diet and keep them clean at all times to avoid these diseases.

Conclusion

Degus are very popular pets due to their being delightful small animals to have at home. As long as you feed them quality food and forage and keep them in a clean and suitable environment, you minimize their likelihood of suffering from several health problems.

However, it’s really essential to perform regular checks on your pet because if you notice a health issue early enough, they’ll have greater chances of making a quick recovery.

Useful Resources:

  • https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/degus/health
  • http://www.degutopia.co.uk/deguill.htm
  • https://cdn.website.thryv.com/13a716def5604012a9ceab8a1c35849d/files/uploaded/chinchilla%20and%20degu%20health%20careb17d.pdf
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49784332_Diseases_in_pet_degus_A_retrospective_study_in_300_animals
Degus - Updated: November 12, 2020

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