Guinea pigs are wonderful pets, but if there is a negative aspect to owning cavies, it’s their health. They are fragile creatures and more prone to illness then other domestic animals. As owners, we need to be aware of common ailments so that we can quickly get our pets the proper care and ensure they live a long and happy life. Here are some of the more common symptoms your guinea pig might exhibit.
Wheezing or Labored Breathing
If you cavy is wheezing or is having difficulty breathing, he may have a respiratory infection, which usually results from congestion in the lungs. Get to a vet and get this treated as soon as possible, as it could easily turn into pneumonia.
A constant cough can indicate a serious issue. If it is accompanied by wheezing, or labored breathing, you need to contact your vet. Chances are, it’s a respiratory infection of some sort.
Sneezing, Discharge of the Nose
A regular sneeze could indicate an allergy. It is not uncommon for guinea pigs to be allergic to certain kinds of bedding. Try changing the bedding and see if that clears up the sneeze. If your pet has some sort of discharge around his nose or you catch him rubbing his nose a lot, you should get him checked out.
Watery eyes often indicate an irritant in the eye, which could simply be excessive dust. Guinea Pig watery eyes could also be the result of allergies. Your vet can tell you how best to rinse the irritants out of the eye. Another possible cause of watery eyes are cysts on the eyelid which irritate the eyes. These can be painful and serious and they need to be removed by a trained veterinarian.
Excessive scratching generally indicates either a fungal infection or parasites. To see if your guinea pig is infested with parasites, brush through his hair and inspect the skin. If your cavy has lice, you can recognize them as small brown dots. To get rid of lice, get a medicated shampoo from your vet and clean and disinfect the cage.
Pink or Red Urine
A pinkish or reddish color indicates blood in the urine and is quite serious. It often results from bladder stones. Get your guinea pig to a vet as soon as possible.
Milky-White or Sludgy Urine
A slight milky color is normal, but extremely clear or white urine is not and neither is overly sludgy urine. Any of these could indicate too much calcium in your cavy diet. Make adjustments accordingly.
Diarrhea or Overly Soft Stool
Diarrhea is very serious and can quickly lead to death if left untreated. Give your pet lactobacillus acidophilus in capsule form. You can get it over-the-counter from a pharmacy or at a health food store.
Most cases of diarrhea result from too many wet foods or vegetables. If you think you may have given your cavy too much of either, increase his intake of hay to promote a good digestive balance.
If you notice your guinea pig tilting his head to one side and having trouble walking, he’s probably got a middle-ear infection. Take him to a vet to get this treated as soon as you can. It can lead permanent hearing damage or worse.
Hair loss can result from a number of issues. If your guinea pig suffers a cut or is bitten, the hair around the injured area will fall out until the skin has completely healed. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
Hair loss could also be the result of mites, a ringworm or even ovarian cysts. If you cavy is losing his hair for any reason other than a minor injury, get in touch with a vet.
Stiff joints are usually caused by scurvy. Yes, scurvy. Just like the pirates, your cavy will get scurvy when he doesn’t get enough vitamin C. This needs to be treated immediately, so get your pet to the vet. Scurvy only occurs in cases of severe vitamin C deficiency, so it really should not ever happen. Make sure that your guinea pig gets around 25 mg of vitamin C a day.
There are two types of seizures and both should result in a trip to the vet. If your guinea pig is tilting his head to one side during the seizure or is curling his body, any number of things could be the cause. Your vet will run blood tests to figure out what’s wrong.
If your cavy head shoots straight up in the air, with no tilt at all, that’s an indication of mites. These nasty parasites burrow under your pet’s skin and can potentially affect the nervous system. They are easily treated, so get your guinea pig to the veterinarian’s office and he’ll be just fine.
Have any of your cavies ever gotten seriously ill? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!