My guinea pig is sick


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
  • Scratching
  • Coughing
  • Blood in Urine
  • Not eating
  • Not drinking
  • Crusty Eyes
  • Sores on lips and nostrils
  • Loose stools
  • Wheezy breathing
  • Unbalanced walking
  • Limping
  • Any change in behavior

Here are the most common ones you may encounter

Upper Respiratory Infection

my-guinea-pig-is-sick-1Guinea 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

my-guinea-pig-is-sick-2Mites 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.

Dental Problems

my-guinea-pig-is-sick-3If 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.








6 thoughts on “My guinea pig is sick

  • October 10, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Great website with tons of information! When we were at the pet store my daughter wanted a guinea pig but when I looked at them closely they looked like they had crusty eyes. I didn’t think they looked healthy. How can you be sure to get a healthy guinea pig? Is there a recommended place to get them instead of a local pet store?

    • October 10, 2016 at 4:54 am

      Melissa, that is very sad. Unfortunately a lot of pet stores are like this and they do not care about the welfare of their animals. Furthermore they get their pets from the small animal mills that only care about the money they make when they sell sick animals to their customers. You could get them from a reputable breeder but I would highly recommend that you check out a rescue. My rescue locator tells you where all the guinea pig rescues are around the world.

    • Do check it out to see if there are any in your area because they are always overflowing with guinea pigs that need a home.

  • October 10, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Hi Emma,

    Wow, I didn’t realise there is so many things to look for in Guinea pigs. Very informative post. You must be very experienced to gain all this knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

    – Craig

    • October 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Thank you Craig. I don’t consider myself experienced, after all there are always new things to learn and I gained my knowledge partly from the internet and partly through life experiences.

  • October 11, 2016 at 4:22 am

    This is really helpful to me as a guinea pig owner. It pretty much covers everything. Thanks Emma. Now that I think about it, my guinea pig does huddle in the corner sometimes, but I thought it was just regular behavior. I know it’s not necessarily a sure sign of respiratory infection, but I guess I should have him inspected, right? Or should I wait for other symptoms?

    • October 11, 2016 at 5:05 am

      Its is important to keep an eye on your guinea pigs to make sure that nothing is wrong, but huddling in the corner can also just be them being sleepy pigs! After all, guinea pigs sleep for four minutes at a time several times a day!!! Just make sure that you check up on them regularly to make sure that they are alright.


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