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Nutrition Basics

The basics of nutrition are the same regardless of the animal. The body needs a certain amount of energy (called calories) based on body weight and the amount of work the body does. The body also needs certain amounts of vitamins and minerals to keep systems working. You can go to http://chins.paw-talk.net/nutrition.htm to have more details. I get the information from there and modified it to suit the Singaporeans who owned the chinchilla. These are all the food that can be found in Singapore. The following chart is by no means all that the body needs, but it gives a good idea what I am talking about.

NUTRIENT

PURPOSE

Protein

Builds muscles, helps body repair itself

Carbohydrates

Used for energy

Fat

Needed to process fat soluble vitamins, needed to maintain all body functions

Calcium

Needed for strong bones and teeth

Fiber

Needed to help pass toxins and waste from the body

Vitamin A

Needed for good vision, sperm production, healthy skin and to fight infection

B Complex Vitamins

Needed to help the body produce amino acids, produce hemoglobin

Vitamin C

Helps the body absorb iron, keeps bones, gums and teeth healthy, important antioxidant

Potassium

Needed to maintain homeostasis in the bodies cells, proper muscle function, maintains the nervous system and heart beat

Zinc

Important for growth, has over 100 enzymes needed by the body, maintains immune system

Magnesium

Needed with iodine to keep the thyroid functioning properly

Niacin

Needed to use fat and carbohydrates efficiently and to maintain a healthy intestinal tract

Iron

Needed to convert food to energy, needed to make red blood cells

Folic Acid

Needed to produce red blood cells and to prevent neurological problems in offspring

 

We don't know much about the chinchilla nutritional needs. What we do know is this: without the right amounts of calcium or thiamine (vitamin B complex) they have seizures, we seen hunchback with nutrient deficiencies along with other illnesses and the signs of malnutrition. You can feed an animal a lot of food, but if it is the wrong food it will starve to death sooner or later. What we do know that 18% OF THEIR DIET SHOULD COME FROM FIBER and that 16% to 20% FROM PROTEIN. Using that guideline, it is safe to say 16% for an older animal that is not very active and 20% for kits, pregnant or nursing does and sick animals.

Choosing The Right Pet Food

Everyone has their own opinions, breeders will recommend one thing, pets stores something else and your vet might offer a totally different suggestion. There is a lot to consider here but it isn't as hard as it sounds and the following information will help you decide for yourself if the pet food distributor is living up to its claims. Afterall, they are in the pet food business to make money and they want you to buy their product. First, check the guaranteed analysis of the food. If it does not have at least 16% protein and/or 18% fiber, put it back. If it has way over 18% fiber and 20% protein, put it back. You also don't want to use anything with a high ash content. Lower the ash, the better. Excess ash causes urinary tract problems. The next rule is DO NOT use anything that lists corn meal as a main ingredient. In pet food corn meal is used as a filler and as something to help it keep its shape (pelleted food), there is very little that the animal can gain from it. This means that your chinchilla is going to be going to the bathroom a lot to get rid of the waste products (the corn meal) and won't be getting the nutrients that it needs. You also want to look for a good protein source. DO NOT feed a chinchilla anything that lists animal fats or proteins. These animals are vegetarians and do not need animal proteins or fat, it can make them sick. Look for whey and/or as protein sources. 

You MUST Stay away from foods that list BHT, propyl gallate, citric acid, BHA and ethoxquin. These are CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES. Ethoxquin (see web page) could be potentiality dangerous. Pet food can be naturally preserved with vitamin E and other natural ingredients. Sweeteners added to the food such as corn syrup and ammoniated glycyrrhizin usually to attract animals to unappealing food. Try to stay away from them as much as possible. Don't confuse molasses as a sweetener. It is a excellent source of iron. You also won't want to use anything where there are vague ingredients or by-products. I also wouldn't use any pet food that doesn't have the ingredients listed right on the bag for two reasons. The first being, you don't know what is in it and the second not providing the information is in violation of the US Department of Agriculture regulations.

I will give it a try on the Mazuri pellets and Kline Diet and then share with you my opinions and rankings

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If you want to have more information about Ethoxyquin and an article on understanding pet Food Label, you can go to this link to give you a better understanding.

http://www.fda.gov//bbs/topics/CONSUMER/CON02902.html

http://www.gmee.com/flintriver/ethox.html

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PLEASE note that I will update if I ever come to know about one new food that is for chinchillas available in the Singapore market.