Guinea pigs can suffer from many different diseases. It is important that you detect diseases in your guinea pigs early. We have summarized the causes, symptoms, and treatment of seven typical diseases in guinea pigs for you.
The basis for the health of guinea pigs is always species-appropriate accommodation, nutrition, and care. But even if they are kept properly, guinea pigs can get various diseases. In this case, it is crucial that you recognize the first symptoms of the disease at an early stage and have them treated immediately by a veterinarian. To do this, you should carry out a short health check every day. We have summarized 7 typical diseases in guinea pigs:
- abscesses and tumors
- respiratory diseases
- bladder and kidney diseases
- Eye injuries and inflammation
- Coat and skin changes
- dental diseases
- Gastrointestinal Diseases
Abscesses and tumors in guinea pigs
Abscesses can form under the skin of guinea pigs, which can be seen and felt as a thickening.
Causes of abscesses in guinea pigs include:
- minor injuries (e.g. due to ranking fights)
- Surgical scars that have been invaded by bacteria. The bacteria cause purulent inflammation and pus-filled capsules form.
Abscesses often occur in the lower jaw or neck area. Jaw abscesses are usually caused by misaligned teeth. Overly long molars can cause injuries and inflammation in the oral cavity, eventually causing an abscess.
The vet can surgically remove or split an abscess. During the split, the abscess is cut open and the pus is removed by squeezing it out. The abscess cavity is then irrigated daily until the abscess has healed completely from the inside out. In consultation with your veterinarian, the sick animal is usually given an antibiotic.
Tumors (e.g. mammary gland, thyroid, and uterine tumors) can also be recognized by a thickening. In order to prevent metastases from forming, tumors must be surgically removed as quickly as possible.
Respiratory diseases in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs often get colds. Possible signs of respiratory disease in guinea pigs include:
- nasal discharge
- refusal of food
- strong flank breathing and shortness of breath
A cold can develop into pneumonia very quickly. Therefore, sick guinea pigs must be treated immediately by a veterinarian. Common triggers of respiratory diseases are:
- Draft (e.g. the enclosure is in a draft or right next to the window)
- Stress (e.g. due to transport)
- dry heating air
- poor hygiene in the cage (damp bedding)
- Vitamin deficiency (caused by improper nutrition)
Bladder and kidney diseases in guinea pigs
The first symptoms of bladder or kidney disease in guinea pigs are:
- increased urination
- Pain when urinating (the guinea pig hunches over or makes cries of pain)
- blood in the urine
- foul-smelling urine
- frequent licking of the anogenital area
These signs are most often a bacterial infection of the bladder and/or kidney or bladder stones. A bladder infection can be detected by examining the urine, ultrasound, or X-ray.
In the case of a bacterial infection, the sick guinea pig is treated with antibiotics, should be kept warm, and drink plenty of fluids. Bladder stones are usually caused by an oversupply of calcium (e.g. too much dry food or fresh food with a high calcium content) and usually have to be surgically removed.
Eye injuries and inflammation in guinea pigs
Injuries to the eye (the cornea, the eyeball, and the eyelid) occur, for example, as a result of fights for priority, unsuitable furnishings, and impaling straw or hay.
Symptoms of eye infections in guinea pigs include:
- corneal opacities
- Redness and swelling of the eyelids or conjunctiva
- milky-watery discharge
- Bonding of the fur in the area of the eye
- protrusion or swelling of the eye
Causes of inflammation of the eye are:
- infectious agents (viruses, bacteria)
- foreign body
- dental problems
If recognized early, many injuries and illnesses can be treated effectively.
Coat and skin changes in guinea pigs
The first symptoms that affect the skin and coat of guinea pigs are:
- fur loss
- matting of the fur
- redness of the skin
- scales or crusts
This can, for example, be a parasitic disease caused by biting lice, mites, and fungi. The main cause of skin diseases is poor hygiene in the enclosure.
So your guinea pig feels completely comfortable
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Dental diseases in guinea pigs
One of the most common reasons guinea pigs refuse food is misaligned incisors and/or molars. Misaligned teeth prevent the teeth from wearing down evenly so that the teeth continue to grow. Sharp points are created, which lead to injuries in the mouth.
Causes Of Dental Abnormalities In Guinea Pigs:
- genetic predisposition
- more often incorrect feeding
In order to prevent dental diseases, you should offer your animals plenty of feed rich in crude fiber (hay freely available) and fresh feed. Possible signs of dental disease in guinea pigs include:
- Guinea pigs prefer soft food
- slow eating
- complete refusal of food
- weight loss
- excessive salivation when eating
- teary eyes
- general signs of discomfort and pain
Missing teeth and tips can be trimmed and ground down by a veterinarian.
Gastrointestinal diseases in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs often react to the wrong diet and rapid feed changes with disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. But infections can also lead to gas build-up in the gastrointestinal tract. The first symptoms of gastrointestinal problems in guinea pigs are:
- ruptured stomach
- refusal of food intake
In the case of constipation, the animals only defecate in small balls or not at all. Diarrhea is characterized by pasty/liquid stool and a stool-sticky anogenital region.
Common causes of disorders or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract in guinea pigs are:
- Incorrect feeding, i.e. a diet low in raw fiber, too rich in fat or carbohydrates
- quick feed changes
- dental problems
- Viral infections, bacteria, or parasites