Caring For Your Guinea Pig

In another article on Taking Good Care Of Your Guinea Pig, we covered handling and restraint, housing, hygiene, food and water and also breeding considerations.

Here we will dwell on conditions requiring veterinary attention for your guinea pig.

Conditions requiring veterinary attention:

Problem To Note
Malocclusion of premolar Teeth. Commonly seen in two to three-year-old guinea pigs where the upper and lower premolar teeth meet improperly while chewing, resulting in abnormal wear of these teeth. This results in continual injury to the tongue. Drooling and weight loss results.
Vitamin C Deficiency Scurvy

Since guinea pigs are unable to manufacture Vitamin C they are prone to vitamin C deficiency which is known as scurvy, and is characterized by inappetence, swollen, painful joints and ribs, reluctance to move, poor bone and teeth development and spontaneo us bleeding from the gums and into muscle.

Difficulties during delivery (Dystocia). Frequently occurs in first bred after seven months of age. The signs of dystocia includes straining and uterine bleeding during pregnancy.
Hair Loss Hair loss or thinning of the hair is common among pregnant sows. Especially after repeated breeding. Hair loss in juvenile guinea pigs might be due to ‘barbering’ a vice when guinea pigs habitually chew on the hair coat. Hair loss can be due to fungus or external parasites.
Heat Stress (heat stroke) When the environment temperature rises above 26.6 C and the humidity is above 70 per cent with poor ventilation and over crowding. Heat stress sets in with signs of panting, slobbering, weakness, refusal to move about, delirium, convulsions and eventually death. To avoid heat stroke keep the animal in a well ventilated shady area.
Cancer Cause is relatively uncommon in guinea pigs although tumours are seen on the skin and in the respiratory tract lining, reproductive tract, mammary glands and in the blood (leukemia).
Footpad Infections (Bacterial Pododermatitis This is a serious (sometimes crippling) infection of the footpads due to poor housing and the animals being continuously on wire mesh. Signs include swelling of the paws, lameness, reluctance to move and inappetence.
Pneumonia Poor housing and over-crowding gives rise to labored breathing, discharge from eyes, lethargy and inappetence. Some animals might die without the above mentioned signs being apparent.
Intestinal Infections Due to contaminated food and water. Signs of loose stools, lethargy and marked weight loss evident.
Lice Infestation Infestation are mostly due to external parasites. Light infestations usually go unnoticed. Heavy infestations are usually accompanied with excessive itching, scratching and sometimes loss of hair. Scrabs sometimes can be noticed.
Mite Infestation (Mange) Common mites cause scabies. Mites cause a lot of scratching leaving serious lacerations on the coat. The mite can be identified under the microscope.
Intestinal Parasite Problems Protozoan infections are most common causes of coccidiosis. Signs of this disease include weakness, diarrhea and severe weight loss. Pinworm infections in guinea pigs usually go unnoticed.

So, do take care of your furry friend and take him to the vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs.