Guinea pigs: diseases of small rodents

If kept, fed and cared for in a species-appropriate manner, guinea pigs rarely suffer from diseases. Nevertheless, it can happen that the little rodent is missing something – you can find out here how to recognize this and when you should definitely go to the vet.

Careful palpation helps detect guinea pig diseases like abscesses early - Shutterstock/Mendelex

Careful palpation helps detect guinea pig diseases like abscesses early – Shutterstock/Mendelex

A healthy guinea pig is lively, happy, and has a shiny, clean coat. Observe your piggy closely for changes in coat, skin, teeth and behavior. If you recognize the symptoms of guinea pig diseases early and take your little rodent to the vet quickly, they can usually be better treated.

Guinea pigs: respiratory diseases

If the guinea pig cage is in a draft or too close to the window, the rodents can catch cold. A cold is also favored by dry heating air, which makes the mucous membranes more sensitive, as well as stress, poor hygiene and nutrient deficiencies, which weaken the piggy’s immune system. Get to the vet quickly if your guinea pig is sneezing, has a runny nose, seems to have no appetite, or is having trouble breathing. Then the cold can be treated before it develops into more serious illnesses such as pneumonia.

Recognizing abscesses and tumors in good time

If bacteria enter surgical wounds or minor injuries, the site can become inflamed and swell into an abscess that fills with pus. Malpositioned teeth can also lead to abscesses, which should be operated on by the veterinarian as quickly as possible, as they cause pain to the little animal and significantly impair its well-being. The vet cuts open the abscess so the pus can drain and the wound can heal cleanly. Sometimes it is necessary to excise the entire abscess.

Abscesses usually only become visible when they are already quite large, so it is advisable to feel the piglet while stroking it to see if there are any swellings under the fur. This method also helps to identify tumors in their early stages, if possible. If they are surgically removed before they can form metastases, the guinea pig usually recovers well.

Guinea pigs need company.  So if you want one, you usually get two – Image: Shutterstock / Miroslav Hlavko
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Digestive problems and urinary tract diseases in guinea pigs

If guinea pigs get diseases of the urinary tract or the digestive tract, this is usually due to either the wrong diet or infections. The little animals should not take in too much calcium, too much fat or too many carbohydrates from their food and they need enough crude fiber for the digestive process to work properly. Too much calcium can cause bladder stones, and malnutrition can cause diarrhea or constipation. If everything is fine with your diet, you probably have a bacterial or viral disease. To be on the safe side, take your guinea pig to the vet if his stool looks abnormal or if he writhes in pain when urinating. Apathy, loss of appetite and a bloated stomach are other symptoms that something is wrong with the digestion.

Skin diseases, eye and dental problems: when to see the vet?

Biting lice, mites and fungi not only cause problems for cats and dogs, they can also lead to skin diseases in guinea pigs. If you notice bald patches or matted fur, reddened skin, scales or crusting on your rodent, as well as frequent scratching, a visit to the vet is the order of the day. Healthy guinea pig eyes are clean and clear; anything that deviates from this – cloudiness, redness, discharge or swelling – can indicate illness, inflammation or injury and is also a case for the doctor.

In rodents, the teeth grow back continuously as they are usually worn down during eating. If guinea pigs do not get the right food, which allows abrasion, the teeth grow back too long and lead to misalignments and injuries in the mouth and jaw area. Affected animals appear ill and lose weight because they hardly want to eat with their toothache. High-quality hay and fresh feed can prevent this, but if dental problems do occur, your piggy needs to see the vet. Misalignments in the teeth can also be genetic and should then also be treated quickly.

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