Do you know the common Guinea pig health problems and their symptoms? Whilst guinea pigs are fairly hardy pets they are susceptible to certain health problems and diseases. 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.
Why you should perform a health check on your guinea pigs
Many people believe that the smaller the animal then the less amount of care it requires but this isn’t the case. A guinea pig can get illness and diseases just like other animals.
If these are spotted in the early stages then it minimises not only your animal’s discomfort but also cuts down the vets bill! Be warned though, 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.
Signs your Guinea Pig is unwell
Below are some common signs that your guinea pig is unwell. Remember If your guinea pig is already experiencing any of the list below then please take them to the vet IMMEDIATELY!
- Runny eyes or nose
- Skin conditions such as rashes, lumps, bumps or swellings
- Unusual bleeding
- Drinking much more or less than normal
- Big weight loss or weight gain over a short time
- Not eating
- Overgrown teeth
- Lack of energy/sleeping more than usual
- Signs of pain, like not wanting to be touched
- A change in their usual behaviour, as this could be because they’re feeling poorly.
Common Guinea Pig Health Problems
Below we will detail the most common guinea pig health problems.
Diarrhoea can be really dangerous for a guinea pig and can be severe enough to result in death. Guinea pigs have a really sensitive gastrointestinal tract (similarly to rabbits). This basically means that if too many “bad” bacteria enter their system then they become poorly
If your guinea pig shows signs of diarrhoea (loose, watery droppings) then please take them to the vet immediately.
Guinea pig dental disease is very easy to spot. If you notice your guinea pig dribbling or drooling whilst eating or swallowing then unfortunately dental disease is the culprit. Be it overgrown teeth, misaligned teeth or something more sinister (such as abscesses) your guinea pig will require a trip to the vet immediately.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Did you know that guinea pigs are unable to make their own vitamin C? This means it is essential their diet is rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital in developing and maintaining joints and healthy skin.
Common signs of a vitamin C deficiency are loss of appetite, rough, dull coat, appears in pain and is reluctant to walk.
On average guinea pigs require around 10-50mg of vitamin C per day. This can easily be obtained through fresh veg, a little fruit plus most guinea pig dried pellets contain added vitamin C. If you are concerned about your guinea pigs vitamin C intake, speak to your vet for recommendations and advice.
Loss of Appetite
Guinea pigs love their food! If your guinea pigs haven’t touched their pellets or food bowl and doubt delight in the sight of their favourite hay then there is something wrong. Usually, loss of appetite is a symptom to show something else is wrong.
The most obvious cause is dental issues but it can be a symptom of a variety of illnesses. Always take your guinea pigs loss of appetite seriously and seek guidance from your vet.
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.
There are certain factors that increase the likely hood of your guinea pig contracting a respiratory disease. These factors include stress, pregnancy and already being poorly or unwell. The bacteria is highly contagious so it’s imperative to keep your unwell guinea pig away from their cage mates until they are fully recovered.
Guinea pigs suffering from respiratory disease require antibiotics and the attention of a vet so ensure you get your guinea pig booked in for an appointment as soon as you can.
Keep Your Guinea Pig Well
Preventing disease through healthy habits is the key to keeping your guinea pigs as healthy as possible. Ensure you are feeding your guinea pig the correct food (check out our nutrition section) and that their dry pellets contain added goodness to support their immune systems.
Provide plenty of hay for both eating and playing with. Guinea pigs love hay which means it can get rather expensive to give them enough for eating, sleeping in, digging in, playing in and soiling! We prefer to buy expensive hay for filling hay racks and for eating. Then we purchase cheaper hay for sleeping and all the other activities guinea pigs love hay for!
Ensure you provide plenty of fresh, clean water in their bowl or bottle.. A guinea pig will refuse to drink dirty water even if their life literally depended upon it.
Provide plenty of toys to prevent boredom. Tunnels, wooden chews, and treat balls to keep them entertained. Never purchase a wheel for your guinea pigs. Their little legs are far too fragile. Instead, provide plenty of play time and laptime instead.
Healthy Habits, Healthy Life
The longer you care for guinea pigs the easier it is to spot when something is wrong. Prevent disease as best you can through caring for your guinea pigs. Be sure to act on any changes to their usual behaviour or routine, Always seek a vets advice if you are unsure.