When you bring the furry little guinea pig home, you know right away that they depend on you for almost everything. It is your responsibility to give them everything they need.
It can be anything right from a nutritious diet, a healthy living area to plenty of attention, toys, socialization, and veterinary care. So, today, let us learn if guinea pigs need vaccination like rabbit and ferrets?
So, Do Guinea Pigs Need Shots? No, Unlike other small animals like ferrets and rabbits, they don’t need any vaccination for any disease. The diagnosis of guinea pigs in the past shows no fatal diseases; thus, the need for immunization doesn’t exist.
I suggest you must learn about common health issues in guinea pigs so that if you see any such symptoms, you can recognize it and treat it immediately.
Common Health issues in Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs are small, cute little animals, which makes a great family pet if we take proper care of them.
Even though they are hardy and easy to take care of, they are still susceptible to some common diseases which can also be life-threatening if not appropriately handles.
Let us learn about some of the common diseases of guinea pigs.
Common Guinea Pig Illnesses
Respiratory Infection In Guinea Pigs
Pneumonia is one of the most common diseases seen in pet guinea pigs. The most haunting fact is guinea pigs are a healthy carrier of pneumonia virus. Which means their body can harbor this bacteria for a long time.
These bacteria are opportunistic in nature, which means they remain active and infect susceptible animals, multiply and cause disease when opportunities are right.
Young, nursing guinea pigs or the one already suffering from some other disease or is under severe stress are easy targets of this bacteria.
Ocular discharge(eye) should be taken for examination to diagnosing the actual bacteria causing the issue so that the right antibiotic can be prescribed. If you see any severe discomfort, then it is recommended to take your guinea pig to the veterinarian for intensive care.
Diarrhea in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, which contains a relatively large amount of good bacteria that aids in their digestion. If due to frequent change in diet or any other bacterial infection the good bacteria is off balanced then it may lead to severe health problems like painful gas, slow digestion, intestinal tract damage, diarrhea and in severe cases it can also be life-threatening.
The usual causes of diarrhea are a frequent change in diet, low-quality diet, or bacterial infection caused due to Cryptosporidium and Coccidia. Certain antibiotics found in pet stores can also lead to diarrhea. So, we should only use medicines suggested by a veterinarian.
Symptoms Of Diarrhea In Guinea Pigs:
Loss of diet
Low body temperature
Loose and watery stool
Dull and depressed appearance
Treatment Of Diarrhea In Guinea Pigs:
For the treatment of diarrhea, the veterinarian will first check the diet history of your guinea pig. Apart from that, the veterinarian will also examine the stool and blood sample of your guinea pig to confirm the cause of diarrhea.
Once the cause of diarrhea is known, the doctor shall prescribe the antibiotics for your guinea pig. There may also be some dietary changes as per the convenience for quick recovery.
Scurvy In Guinea Pigs (Vitamin C Deficiency)
Scurvy is one of the most common diseases in guinea pigs. Lack of Vitamin C in the diet of our guinea pigs is the root cause of this disease. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the overall development of skin, Joints, Mucous surface like gums, and eyes. It also aids in quick recovery from any wound or diseases.
Unlike other animals, Guinea pigs cannot synthesize their own Vitamin C; thus, they need a diet rich in Vitamin C, which can fulfill their daily nutrients need. In an average a guinea pig might need anywhere between 10-50mg of Vitamin C. Now, the actual need may vary on their age, Health and also if they are nursing, so you need to keep an eye on that.
Symptoms Of Scurvy In Guinea Pigs:
Enlarged and Stiff limb joints resulting in difficulty in walking
Lethargy and unwillingness to move
Loss of appetite and weight
Discharge from eyes and nose
Bleeding gums and skin
Treatment Of Scurvy In Guinea Pigs:
Your veterinarian will examine the diet of your guinea pig to start with. He might also perform a diagnosis of your guinea pigs, including the bleeding joints or other symptoms to determine the right treatment of your guinea pigs. He might also conduct a blood analysis to determine the level of vitamin C and suggest you with the treatment accordingly.
The treatment shall include giving your guinea pig an extra Vitamin C supplement either in the form of some medicine or by directly injecting it in their body by a qualified veterinarian. We might need to supplement the vitamin for 1-2 weeks depending upon the diagnosis.
You can also increase the intake of Vitamin C by providing your guinea pigs with good quality pellets fortified with vitamin C or adding a supplement in their water. Although adding a water supplement should be the last choice as it may backfire and your guinea pig might stop drinking water due to its bad taste.
Adding some Vegetables like Bell peppers or fruits like Orange, Kiwi, etc. might help as they have some colossal amount of Vitamin C in them.
Tumors In Guinea Pigs
Tumors are yet another common diseases diagnosed in guinea pigs over 4-5 years of age. According to a study, after the age of 4-5, one out of every five guinea pig develops some sort of tumors. Although not all tumors are life-threatening; while one type of tumor known as benign is harmless, the other type known as malignant is fatal for guinea pigs.
It has been found that guinea pigs which are inter-bred are more prone to developing a tumor.
Skin and mammary gland tumors are the most common in guinea pigs. It is recommended to visit a veterinarian if you see any signs of tumor in guinea pigs as it’s easy to treat in early stage and tough later on.
Symptoms Of Tumors In Guinea Pigs:
Rough and messed up hair coat
Lumps appearing in different parts of the body
Lack of appetite
Hair loss or patches in parts of the body
Blood in urine
Treatment Of Tumors In Guinea Pigs:
Based on the type of tumor, the veterinarian may check the past medical records and diet of your guinea pigs. If there are visible signs like hair loss, lumps, or other symptoms, then they might conduct a thorough examination of the area to determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant. The doctor may also perform an X-ray, blood test, etc. to determine if there is any effect if the same on the internal organs as well.
A benign tumor can be removed by conducting a small surgery or left as it depends upon your choice, while as the malignant tumor needs immediate medication and treatment to avoid spreading of the same.
Although in cases of skin, tumor doctors shall perform surgery if it is viable and remove the tumor cell. But in the case when the tumor is near some vital organ and disturbing it might be dangerous, then t might be tough to save your guinea pigs life. Mostly in such cases, the guinea pigs pass away after a few weeks of the appearance of symptoms.
Abscesses In Guinea Pigs
Abscesses is also one of the common diseases seen in guinea pigs. They are like swollen wounds which contain pus and bacteria-filled in them. It can affect the skin, muscle, teeth, bones, and internal organs.
In most cases, it can be treated quickly and effectively. Just make sure you get an appointment with your veterinarian whenever you find any symptoms of it. Symptoms Of Abscesses In Guinea Pigs:
Lump in the skin filled with pus
Bad breath and excessive saliva from the mouth
Pain in the body, May squeak out loud when we try to hold them
Lethargic and unwillingness to move
Swelling of the face
Loss of appetite
Treatment Of Abscesses In Guinea Pigs:
Treatment of abscesses shall depend upon the area and type of sores that are formed. Although the veterinarian will do a complete blood test to check out how long it has been there for and whether the body of a guinea pig can cope up with it. Checking the white blood cells in the body is usually helpful in determining the age of abscesses.
Usually, if it is formed due to a bite or a puncture, then antibiotics are started early, and if needed, the abscesses are removed by doing minor surgery. Any type of skin abscesses can be treated similarly by opening and cleaning.
However, abscesses in the mouth can be extremely difficult to treat. It can quickly fill with pus and block the air passage as well as other vital organs which can lead to a painful death.
Usually, guinea pigs with abscesses in the mouth are kept in intensive care and treated in the veterinary clinic until they make a significant recovery.
Bladder Stones In Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are prone to the development of stones in their bladder. They can also develop it in their kidney and ureters(tract connecting kidney with bladder) as well. One of the primary cause of these stones is high calcium content in their diet.
Usually calcification of oxalate and other minerals leads to formation of stones in guinea pigs. Symptoms Of Bladder Stones In Guinea Pigs:
Blood in urine, Or white gritty spots when urine dries up.
Difficulty while urinating
Lethargic and less prone to move
Loss in appetite
Treatment Of Bladder Stones In Guinea Pigs:
Primarily an X-ray or ultrasound can be done by the veterinarian to confirm the bladder stone. If stones are found a small surgery is performed to remove them. If you request then a detailed analysis of the composition of stones can be done later to know the possible cause of formation so that it can be prevented in the future.
A well-balanced diet is yet another way to prevent stone formations. Guinea Pig diet must consist of High-quality Hay, Leafy green vegetables and fruits and Some timothy based pellets fortified with vitamin C.
Do guinea pigs need to go to the vet?
Yes, Guinea pigs need to go to the vet every three months or so even if they are healthy.
If you notice any irregularity in the behavior of your guinea pigs or any symptoms of diseases, then this might be the right time to discuss with the doctor.
Also, many people visit the vet for clipping the nails of the guinea pigs, Checking their dental health as well as an overall checkup of their guinea pigs.
Do guinea pigs need Rabies shots?
No, guinea pigs are not prone to rabies virus, so they do not need rabies shots like dogs and other pets.
Also, guinea pigs are caged animals, and there will be little chances of the interaction of your guinea pigs with other animals, so chances of being infected with rabies virus are little to none.