5 Most Common Diseases in Guinea Pigs and How To Prevent Them!

Whilst guinea pigs are generally hardy pets, there are some common diseases in guinea pigs to look out for. By being informed of these common diseases you are able to take action to help treat them. Guinea pigs are great pets. They love to communicate and spend time with their owners.

common diseases in guinea pigs

Most poorly guinea pigs will exhibit symptoms of being unwell and these will be easier to spot if you are familiar with your guinea pigs’ usual routine.

The easiest and most effective way to spot the signs of illness is during your guinea pig health check. These should be performed on your guinea pig frequently to ensure they are in good health. It is often the best way to prevent common diseases in guinea pigs.

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Why Guinea Pig Health Checks Are Important.

Many guinea pig owners assume that guinea pigs don’t require much attention due to their small size. This isn’t the case. A guinea pig can get ailments and infections just like other animals.

If signs of common diseases in guinea pigs are identified early enough then it will not only minimise your guinea pigs’ discomfort but can speed up their recovery.

It’s important to note that guinea pigs will hide injury and illness fairly well since they are predator targets.

In the wild, a sick or injured guinea pig is easier prey! It isn’t too hard to spot a limp, loss of appetite or discomfort if you have a great bond with your guinea pigs. The main thing to watch out for is if a guinea pig refuses a treat – something is definitely wrong.

We have a post dedicated to learning how to perform a guinea pig health check.

All guinea pigs are unique so knowing your guinea pig’s usual routine, behaviour and habits are essential in identifying ailments. The main signs that your guinea pig is unwell are:

  • A change in eating (more or less)
  • Urine and Faeces (changes in colour or soliditiy)
  • Change in behaviuor such as lying down or hiding more
  • Changes in their usual routiene
  • Physical signs of illness such as fur loss, constant itching or red sore skin.

Always take your guinea pig to the vet if you notice anything you are concerned about.

Bladder Stones

can you litter train a guinea pig

Guinea pigs are prone to bladder stones. These (as the name suggests) are simply stones that form within your guinea pig’s bladder. They are painful and very uncomfortable for your guinea pig. The easiest way to spot bladder stones in your guinea pigs is blood within their urine.

To Prevent Bladder Stones in Guinea Pigs

The way to prevent bladder stones is to ensure your guinea pig has constant access to clean, fresh drinking water. A thirsty guinea pig won’t drink dirty water even if its life depended on it. This makes access to clean water essential.

Paying attention to your guinea pigs’ urine is a good habit to get into.

Gastrointestinal Issues

A healthy guinea pig will always be munching! Whether it is on their veggie breakfast/dinner, dried nugget lunch, their favourite hay or even on some cardboard! Guinea pigs love to nibble and it’s actually really good for them.

what food can guinea pigs eat

Guinea pig’s teeth need constantly wearing down since they never stop growing. Gnawing away on food, hay and cardboard keep them a healthy and manageable length.

If your guinea pig stops eating, this is always a sign that something is wrong. Illnesses can range from overgrown teeth to digestive disorders.

Similarly to eating, your guinea pigs should always be pooping! We often joke that eating and pooping are guinea pigs’ favourite things to do! Over time you will get used to the shape, colour and solidarity of your guinea pigs’ poop.

Changes in a guinea pig’s poop such as them becoming smaller combined with it no longer eating is a sign of Ileus. Ileus occurs when your guinea pig’s digestive symptom remains empty for a long period of time. It also causes a build-up of trapped gas inside your guinea pig’s digestive system. Ileus is life-threatening and you should take your guinea pig to the vet immediately.

To Prevent Ileus in Guinea Pigs

best hay for guinea pigs

Prevention is actually easy. Keeping a close eye on your guinea pigs’ eating and pooping habits means you can eat fast to prevent it. If you notice your guinea pig has suddenly gone off its food, then test its appetitive by offering them a tasty treat. No healthy guinea pig can refuse a treat! Fruit, pea flakes or their favourite vegetable are all great ways to test your guinea pigs’ hunger levels.

Being aware of any changes in their poop is also a great way to identify any potential health problems.

Parasites

grooming your guinea pig

Guinea pigs can suffer from parasites such as lice and mites. A sure sign that your guinea pig has these is hair loss and bald patches. these combined with constant scratching or rubbing themselves against cubes or cardboard tunnels definitely point to parasites. Luckily mites and lice are very easy to identify and treat.

Lice will lay eggs within your guinea pig’s fur that are easy to spot. If your guinea pig has bald patches, odds are that’s where the eggs will be. Your guinea pig will be scratching away to try and rid itself of the eggs. Eggs will also be present in the natural bald patches your guinea pig has behind its ears. If you find eggs take your guinea pig to the vets straight away. Also, take any cage mates with you even if they are not showing any symptoms.

If your guinea pig has parasites then a full cage clean will need to be performed. All toys, bedding, tunnels and both food bowl and water bottle will need to be removed. Throw away the disposable items and deep clean the items to be replaced.

The cage/hutch itself will also need to be completely disinfected using a specially designed small animal disinfectant.

To Prevent Parasites in Guinea Pigs

silkie-guinea-pig

Ensure that any animals your guinea pigs come in contact with are free from parasite related symptoms. Be wary of itching, scratching and generally unkempt fur. Check that any new cage mates are free from eggs.

Always ensure that any new bedding is checked over for any creepy crawlies or eggs. Never allow fresh vegetables or fruit to remain in the cage if uneaten.

Reproductive Disorders

We definitely do not recommend housing mixed sexed guinea pigs. Housing same-gender piggies together are healthier by far unless you are a breeder. If a female and male guinea pig are housed together, it will ultimately result in offspring!

Whilst the thought of a million little piggies running around your house is a happy one, it’s actually very unhealthy for your female guinea pig. Female guinea pigs frequently develop uterine and ovarian issues (such as cancer).

To Prevent Reproductive Disorders in Guinea Pigs

Taking your guinea pig for spaying will irradicate this issue if housing male and female guinea pigs together are essential. It’s a simple enough procedure for a vet who specialises in small animals. Plus whilst it may seem expensive at first, it’s far cheaper than dealing with a guinea pig hysterectomy plus a sickly guinea pig.

Respiratory Disease

White-crested-guinea-pig

Unfortunately, guinea pigs are prone to respiratory infections that if left untreated can be fatal. Guinea pigs can naturally harbour the bacteria responsible for it without issue. It appears that almost at random the body becomes sick from this bacteria and it leads to respiratory infections.

Pneumonia is the worst and most significant of all respiratory diseases for guinea pigs as is most common in baby guinea pigs. If you have other pets then be aware that guinea pigs can contract Bordetella bronchiseptica from your cats, dogs and rabbits.

To Prevent Respiratory Disease in Guinea Pigs

Ensure your guinea pig’s cage/hutch is away from drafts. Cages should be kept away from open windows and outside doors. If you or anyone in your household has a cold then ensure hands are thoroughly washed before handling your piggies.

Prevention Is The Best Cure

By simply being aware of your guinea’s normal routines and habits, you can help prevent the majority of illnesses. Knowing how much it eats, drinks and what is poop looks like are all excellent skills to possess. If you are ever concerned about your guinea pigs, please take them to the vet.

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