How to spot the warning signs…
Guinea pigs cannot tell us what is wrong with them. As their owners, it is up to us to spot the signs and get something done about it.
- Hair loss
- Runny Nose
- Blood in Urine
- Not eating
- Not drinking
- Crusty Eyes
- Sores on lips and nostrils
- Loose stools
- Wheezy breathing
- Unbalanced walking
- Any change in behavior
Here are the most common ones you may encounter
Upper Respiratory Infection
Guinea pigs don’t get colds like we do. Unfortunately they get something far more serious. Because they have such delicate respiratory systems, they can go downhill very quickly This can get very serious very quickly if you do not take action. Make sure you look out for the signs. If your guinea pig displays any of these symptoms, get him to the vet asap! Wheezing rasping breath, runny nose, coughing, huddling up in the corner by himself or refusing to eat.
The vet will give your guinea pig a dose of antibiotics and send you home with the correct dosage to give him.
Mites or Lice
Mites and lice are parasites that can live in your guinea pigs fur. They can come from bird droppings, hay, other guinea pigs, and will cause a lot of irritation that would eventually kill of the guinea pig if it was left untreated for months.
Fortunately this condition is one of the easiest to cure. All you need is ivermec which is a widely used substance that works effectively with one dose. One drop on the back of your guinea pig’s neck will do it!
This photo shows Sparkles being treated for mites. Ivermec and syringes are easy to buy over the counter and many vets will give you the supplies without a consultation!
Scurvy is a vitamin c deficiency which can range from mild to severe. Because guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin c, they have to have it supplemented in their diet in the form of fresh fruits and veggies. Symptoms include a runny nose, lethargy, thinning hair and painful movement. If you are concerned, add some 100% vitamin c powder to their veggies to make up the amount that they need.
If your guinea pig is having difficulty eating, he may be having problems with his teeth. Perhaps he tries to eat, but then spits it out again! A visit to the vet is necessary to determine the cause of the problem. If his teeth are too long, then they will need to be trimmed.
These are lumps, often non-malignant that are filled with puss and need to be drained by the vet. They are usually caused by wounds and are often associated with smelly breath. Each week make sure to feel for any bumps under your piggies skin.
Bumblefoot is a name given to a foot which has become infected and has swollen up alarmingly. It is usually caused by cuts which get infected as the guinea pig stands on its own feces. This can result form wire netting on the base of hutches (never use wire netting under your guinea pig’s feet) and obesity which puts pressure on the feet. It will need to be treated by the vet.