Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Need (Or Not) For Playtime

So, I wanted to bring this up, because a friend pointed out a facebook post where someone talked about letting their 6 week old (yes, you read that right, 6 week old) kit out for playtime.  Mind you, that baby is not yet separated from it's mother, and these people were giving the chin playtime.  No, no, and more no.  NOT a good idea.  It did not end well for that chin.

So I wanted to talk a little about playtime.

First off -- playtime is a human construct.  It is not necessary for a chin to lead a full, happy life, and yet... I get in SO many chins because people don't have time for them, can't let them out.  I won't even be cynical this time and suggest that people are using that as an excuse -- I believe that many people really have got the idea in their head that if they can't let their chins free-roam for 5 hours a day, they are the most horrible owner on the planet, and should surrender their chins to the rescue.  No joke.

That's not the case.

Chins are den-dwelling animals.  They come out to get food, and then pretty much run back in.

Don't get me wrong, playtime can be a positive experience for both the chin and owner, as long as the chin is not being chased to get the chin back in the cage, as this creates a predator-prey situation and can frighten the chin.

But... this is with some boundaries / rules.  Playtime should start no earlier than 6 months of age.  This is because, before that age, chins cannot well-regulate either their body temperature or their blood sugar levels.  Therefore, they can easily overheat AND / OR go low blood sugar during playtime.  Either one can result in death.  We now have a handout that goes home with all young chins that advises of this, and advises that even when playtime is started at 6 months of age, it is to be started for 10 minutes per day and worked up to 30 minutes per day by 1 year of age.  Not your four-hour-long-romps in the living room.  Even for a well-adjusted, adult chin, this can be too much exercise and can cause the chin to overheat and go low blood sugar.  But for sure... no 6 week old kits having playtime.

We actually had one person, awhile back, take home a chin... around 2 months old, young female... they immediately let her out for playtime.  Long story short, she went low blood sugar.  They took her to the vet, which tried to give her fluids and such, but said she seemed alright (because adrenaline will power a chin back up and get the lethargy gone for a bit), and sent her home.  She died that night.  This is real, folks, this stuff really does kill chins.

So, to wrap up.  No playtime until 6 months.  At 6 months, 10 minutes per day to start with, working up to 30 minutes a day at 1 year old.  No crazy multi-hour long playtimes... preferably at all, but if you must... when the chin is adult, and has been slowly adjusted to it.  For the sake of your chins.

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