In order to recognize possible illnesses in your guinea pigs in good time, you should carry out regular health checks. Read here what you should pay attention to.
The earlier diseases are detected, the earlier they can be treated and the better the chances of recovery. You should therefore carry out a short health check on your guinea pigs every day. You will quickly notice changes in the behavior or physical characteristics of the guinea pigs that can indicate illnesses.
The behavior of guinea pigs as signs of illness
The first clue to your guinea pig’s health is their behavior. Watch your guinea pigs run free every day and pay attention to their behavior. If the rodents feel good, they are lively and curious. When they are fed, they immediately come running and pounce on their fresh and dry food.
If, on the other hand, the animals withdraw, lie apathetically in a corner or show other behavioral problems, these are indications of a disease. If the animals eat less or nothing at all, it becomes particularly critical. If so, don’t hesitate and see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
First signs of illness: the posture of guinea pigs
In order to recognize the first signs of illness early on, it is important that you always keep a close eye on your guinea pigs. In addition to the general behavior towards conspecifics and humans, you should pay attention to the movements of your darlings. If the animals do not place one of their front or rear legs correctly, this is a sign of pain. Posture can also provide information about a possible disease. A tilted head, for example, is symptomatic of a bacterial middle ear infection.
Urine and feces of guinea pigs as a symptom
In addition to behavior and movements, you should check both feces and urine on a daily basis. Be alert to changes in the size, shape, and color of the feces. Greasy droppings and diarrhea indicate a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. But even very small, solid balls of feces are an indication of gastrointestinal problems. It is particularly problematic when the animals stop defecating and stop eating! A guinea pig with the above symptoms should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.
Eyes and nose health check of guinea pigs
During the health check, you also check your guinea pig’s eyes and nose. These are possible symptoms of the disease:
- sticky, pus-filled, red, or swollen eyes
- wet or sticky nose
- repeated sneezing
Guinea pigs are prone to respiratory illnesses and need immediate medical attention if they become infected, either bacterial or viral.
The guinea pig teeth at the health check
Dental problems are not uncommon in guinea pigs. Misaligned teeth or incisors and molars that are too long are a common reason why rodents stop eating. Incorrect tooth abrasion (e.g. due to a low-fiber diet) causes tooth tips that can lead to painful injuries in the oral cavity. It is best to have your vet check your teeth twice a year as a precaution.
Coat and skin changes as a sign of illness
Fur and skin always provide information about the state of health of animals. Pathological changes in the skin and coat of guinea pigs can include:
- fur loss
- discoloration of the fur
- redness of the skin
- scales or crusts
Frequent scratching (= itching) of the skin or the ears, for example, is also a clear sign of an illness. Skin and coat changes are usually caused by an infestation with skin parasites or fungi and should not be underestimated.
In the case of a severe mite infestation, the animals occasionally even fall over and react with seizures, as in the case of epilepsy. Chronic infections even lead to the death of the animals. For this reason, you should take a sick guinea pig to your veterinarian as soon as possible. In addition, it is recommended that you regularly palpate your guinea pig’s skin for thickening (abscesses and tumors).