Guinea Pigs – Illness
Doctor Matt Bechtel, DVM
Fox Creek Veterinary Hospital
Well hello again. Today we’re going to talk about illness in Guinea Pigs and what to look for if you’re Guinea Pig may not be feeling well, may need to visit a veterinarian to you know, have an examination.
This is Snowflake again and she obviously is a very healthy pig. She’s eating great. We’re not seeing any problems with her right now. But some of the symptoms or signs you want to look for with your own Guinea Pig that would indicate they aren’t feeling well would be obviously the appetite. That’s one of the most important things you can monitor for. If your Guinea Pig is not eating or just not eating everything you’re putting there where they were in the past. Such as, if the hay doesn’t seem to be ingested as much as it used to be, that can be an indication that there could be a problem.
One of the most common disorders we see with Guinea Pigs is problems with their teeth. Their teeth continue to grow and a lot of people know about the front incisors, but they also have molars in the back that we can’t actually see just by looking at them. And those teeth also continue to grow throughout their life. That’s why eating Hay is so important, as you can see Snowflake is doing, because what’s she’s doing when she puts that hay into her mouth she’s actually grinding down those teeth in the back. And if a Guinea Pig is not eating hay they just don’t have the proper diets those molars will continue to grow and actually overgrow to the point where they’re painful. Sometimes you’ll see Guinea Pigs actually grinding their teeth. Most of the time the biggest sign is that they act lethargic or they just won’t eat you know their food. So, if you see those symptoms, definitely contact your veterinarian right away.
Other symptoms, obviously, just like with people, you know if a Guinea Pig is sneezing or coughing, you know acting lethargic, there could be an upper respiratory infection. That’s very common with Guinea Pigs also.
Another sign to watch for is their stool. If you have a Guinea Pig you do know they defecate a lot; you’ll see a lot of stool in their cage. So, if you’re not seeing as much stool, that’s an indication that they probably are not eating as well, and therefore they’re not going to the bathroom very well. And that’s another indication they’re not feeling well. So, definitely if the stools look different, or it they’re not producing any stool then definitely contact your veterinarian right away.
Other symptoms that we can see would be the most common one. That would be a Vitamin C deficiency which is called Scurvy. As we talked about in a previous video Guinea Pigs do need to have a supplement of Vitamin C for them. And if they do not get that either through their pellets or their vegetables and their fruits, then they can have a lot of symptoms such as: trouble walking with their back legs; sometimes we will see upper respiratory problems. But they can be very painful with this condition also. Almost acting like they’re paralyzed or they can’t walk and it can be very, very serious. The good news is by supplementing Vitamin C again we can actually turn that around. But, if you’re seeing any symptoms like that you need to contact your veterinarian right away.
One of the things that I didn’t necessarily get into on the diet video that we have, is there is another way other than pellets and veggies to supplement Vitamin C. You can actually give a little tablet, that’s made just for people also, for Guinea Pigs. Usually it takes about 25 milligrams of Vitamin C a day. You can give them a little tablet of Vitamin C – just make sure it doesn’t have any other vitamins in it. It should only have Vitamin C. I rarely do that though. I really like doing the veggies and the fruits better because that’s a natural source for them. Like I said Scurvy is a big big problem in Guinea Pigs so be sure to watch for that.
Skin problems can also occur. Itchiness, skin mites are real common with Guinea Pigs. If you see your Guinea Pig is extremely itchy or you see any hair loss, I would contact your veterinarian because they can have mites, which can be very painful for them also.
Diarrhea, like we mentioned, is very common also. They have a lot of good, healthy bacteria in their intestinal tract, so any time you see diarrhea, definitely let us know. That’s very important.
Overall, they’re very easy animals to take care of, and we rarely see illnesses, but it’s very important to figure out if your Guinea Pig is not feeling well because they are very little and since they’re prey animals they’re not as tough, as we are. Just a little bit of sickness can actually hurt them quite a bit. Do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian any time you’re having signs of illness like we talked about.