Guinea pigs are beautiful but some say they’re also a little more likely to get ill than other pets like cats or dogs. They more often than not need your help to get over an illness. That’s why it’s important to learn as much as you can about guinea pig health.
Once you get your guinea pig, you should make sure you find a nearby veterinarian with knowledge of guinea pig health that you can quickly visit should there be a need or emergency. It’s important to love and keep an eye out for any unusual behavior or symptoms of an underlying illness. For example:
Guinea pig health issue: Diarrhea or loose stools
It’s not uncommon for guinea pigs to get diarrhea.
Begin by eliminating fresh vegetables and fruits from your guinea pig’s diet. Feed your cavy some Timothy Hay instead. Timothy hay is very good for guinea pigs’ digestive system and really helps keep their molar teeth ground down and healthy.
If this doesn’t help, contact your vet as diarrhea can be serious and may require medicine.
Guinea pig health issue: Difficulty Breathing, rattling in the lungs or wheezing while breathing
Your guinea pig may have a respiratory infection, which could quickly turn into pneumonia if not treated. Visit your veterinarian as this could require a course of antibiotics and should be treated as soon as possible.
Guinea pig health issue: Hair Loss
Your guinea pig could have lost hair for a number of reasons.
If your cavy was cut or bitten, it’s not uncommon for the hair drop off of that area until you’re piggy’s skin has completely healed.
Hair loss could also be a sign of mites. Your vet may need to do a skin scraping to test for mites.
Ringworm may also be a cause — look for major hair loss around the body – or even ovarian cysts.
Guinea pig health issue: Leaning head to one side or having problems walking
This could be a sign of an ear infection in your cavy. If you’ve ever had an ear infection, you know it isn’t a pleasant experience. Contact your vet as soon as you can.
Guinea pig health issue: Milky white urine, squealing while urinating or blood in urine
Guinea pig urine is normally slightly milky white. Excess calcium is being urinated out and can leave a white, powdery deposit. However, a gritty and sandy looking deposit means it has “bladder sludge” and will need a lower calcium diet.
Are you feeding your guinea pig alfalfa hay? Alfalfa hay is good for pregnant guinea pigs and growing babies (also known as “pups”) but may have too much calcium, which can unfortunately cause guinea pig bladder stones.
If your guinea pig squeals while urinating, or there is blood in the urine, take your cavy to your vet as your guinea pig may have painful kidney stones.
Guinea pig health issue: Scratching and hair loss
Scratching is a common skin problem in guinea pigs, and there are multiple causes. A guinea pig that is scratching and has bald spots and/or sore and scaly skin might be suffering from parasites such as fleas, mites, and lice.
Lice and fleas may be visible to your eye but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see mites. You can search the guinea pig’s fur for “flea dirt”. Also, using a flea comb and brushing through their hair and looking at the skin can help you spot some of the parasites. Visit your local veterinarian to help get rid of the parasites; he may offer you pyrethin products or another treatement. With parasites, you should always clean and disinfect the cage.
Guinea pig health issue: Sluggishness
Does your guinea pig seem overly tired or sluggish? This is a sign they are your guinea pig’s health is not so good and you will need to do some investigating to see what might be the cause.
Guinea pig health issue: Sneezing, sniffles or runny nose
Guinea pigs, like people, can suffer from allergies. It could even be allergic to dust from its bedding. Either move your guinea pig to a new area with fresh bedding or replace its bedding to see if this takes care of its sneezes or runny nose. If not, you will need to take your guinea pig to the vet. Make sure to pay attention to whether your guinea pig having issues breathing or if it wheezes while breathing.
Guinea pig health issue: Stiff Joints
Like humans, guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C. You must feed it between 10 and 30 mg/kg daily through its food or perhaps a vitamin pill or liquid supplement.
Stiff joints, along with fatigue and diarrhea are potential symptoms of scurvy. Most times, this is caused by scurvy. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible to schedule an appointment as this needs to get treated.
Guinea pig health issue: Watery Eyes
Guinea pigs release a white and milky liquid that keeps their eyes lubricated. The guinea pig will use their front paws and wipe the liquid on their face – it also helps them clean their face.
However, if your piggies’ eyes are too watery, it could be that the guinea pig has dust in its eye or suffered an injury like a poke in the eye with hay. Pay attention and see if things get better. If not, consult with your vet ASAP.
Guinea pig health issue: Weight loss
It’s not a bad idea to monitor and take your guinea pig’s weight regularly, even weekly. If your guinea pig is not eating and begins losing weight, something is wrong. A two or three ounce loss is something on which to take action. Four or more ounces is worrisome and require an immediate visit to your vet.
Guinea pig health resource
Guinea Lynx is a great, comprehensive and online medical guide for the care of guinea pigs.