Guinea pigs can suffer due to various types of health-related disorders. Knowledge of such health problems is vital for better care management of guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are highly susceptible to different diseases and disorders, which can be cured with timely actions. With proper care and precautionary measures, you can even avoid these diseases also.
Guinea pigs can be allergic to allergens, suffer bacterial and fungal infections. Parasites quickly attack them like fleas and ticks. They are highly sensitive to any change in their environment and may fall sick due to stress. Also, mobility problems like arthritis or paralysis are found in guinea pigs. Improper diet can cause dental issues, which can further lead to eye problems.
You should be actively watching any symptoms of illness for prompt action.
As guinea pigs belong to the lower levels in the food chain, they do not display any physical weakness even when suffering from any disease. That is a protection technique against predators.
Let us have a look at 25 most common health problems in guinea pigs:
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Any change in the environment or diet can cause an allergic reaction to guinea pigs.
Even if you use any different substances to clean their cage, or change their exercise grass, they can feel sick.
Also read: Allergies in guinea pigs(Causes+Solution)
Allergic reactions can be many but commonly observed are:
- Dry sneezing: Guinea pig sneezing without any nasal discharge is an allergic reaction. It will produce noise and physical actions of sneezing under some circumstances.
- Skin problems: Skin problems like rashes and hot spots are also an allergic reaction. It is similar to other animals. Guinea pigs are observed scratching their rashes regularly.
There are no such particular things to which guinea pigs are allergic.
They react differently to different things, which you will come to know with practice.
If you observe any allergic reactions, check any new item introduced to the guinea pig. Remove those things and check again if there is any improvement.
Guinea pigs tend to suffer from arthritis as they grow old. They are less mobile and show less physical activity.
They exert lots of pressure on their joints when they move from one place to another.
The joints subjected to such wear and tear eventually cannot pace with age. Guinea pig suffering from arthritis will have following problems:
- Guinea pig, unable to walk correctly.
- Move unwillingly or do not move during cold weather.
- Urine marks like redness, fur burnt on the hind legs as the guinea pig cannot move them while excreting.
- They are unable to clean their hind portion, so it is usually dirty.
- They appear not groomed as they cannot clean themselves with limited mobility.
Guinea pigs above five years usually suffer from arthritis, whereas younger ones can also have this problem.
Muscle massage is the suggested remedy for this problem, along with you can also feed some supplements to improve the production of collagen fibers.
Obesity also increases the chances of arthritis as it puts pressure on the joints. So, maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise to manage the weight.
Guinea pigs are vulnerable to bacteria. They are often found infected with some bacteria.
Bacteria are located in the body of guinea pigs, which are usually inactive. Once they get an opportunity to grow faster, they create a problem for the guinea pig.
Snuffles is caused due to bacterial infection in the respiratory tract. You will often see guinea pig suffering due to cold, but if it is due to bacteria, it can be life-threatening.
A healthy guinea pig can sustain the problems for a more extended period. It will have the following symptoms:
- Watery eyes and nasal discharge continuously.
- Breathing trouble
- Unable to walk comfortably due to some uneasiness.
- Tilting of the head
- Face and mouth swell up.
- Look at the paw, if it is dirty or not. Guinea pig uses its paw to remove the discharge from the face.
Guinea pigs may recover themselves, but few instead of improving get worse. The antibiotic course helps to recover from the infection.
The guinea pig suffering from snuffles should be kept away from the others, as the disease can spread to other guinea pigs. If your pet has weak immunity, then be careful with this problem.
Also read: Breathing problem in guinea pigs.
Sore on the feet with red inflammation indicates bumblefoot.
Guinea pigs suffer from bumblefoot if they live in unhygienic conditions, with a wire floor cage.
Overweight may also cause sores on the pad of the feet. These are extremely painful and filled with pus.
The Guinea pig will face problems while moving, and the sores may spread the infection throughout the body if left untreated. It can even cause death. Antibiotic treatment is recommended for these sores.
Even after it is treated, you need to take care that it does not come again. Reduce the weight of the pet and make the floor softer.
Guinea pigs can be affected by cancer, just like any other animal. Cancerous cells can develop on any part of the body, but female guinea pigs commonly suffer from uterus cancer.
Most of the female guinea pigs will develop this cancer at some stage of their life.
Female guinea pigs are also found to suffer from mammary cancer. It has been found that neutered females tend to experience less with such cancers.
Dental problems in guinea pigs are somewhat unique to them and few other rodents. Common dental problems like tooth decay or foul breath are rarely found among guinea pigs.
Guinea pig’s teeth grow throughout their life. So, they need to grind down their teeth, or it will protrude outside, causing problems. Despite this, guinea pig’s teeth will never stop growing. If they have overgrown teeth, they will avoid eating.
Sometimes these teeth may apply pressure in the eye or nose when not trimmed. You will observe nasal discharge and watery eyes without any infection because of overgrown teeth.
The teeth can be filed by altering their diet. Hay helps to shorten the teeth. You can visit a vet to trim the teeth. Medical advice should be taken if the problem persists.
Also read: How to keep guinea pig’s teeth short
Guinea pigs have a fragile digestive system, which can cause problems even if there are minor changes in the diet.
The Guinea pig should be provided with a proper diet, especially rich in fiber, to avoid any disorder like intestinal blockage. This situation is harrowing, and your pet may even succumb to death.
Hay is essential to avoid any blockage in the intestine. Guinea pigs can be fed with timothy hay all through the day.
Diet rich in fiber helps in the peristaltic movement of the food. That keeps the digestive tract clear and avoids any congestion.
Also, hay keeps the guinea pig busy eating. It will look for something else that may cause digestive problems.
Any blockage in the digestive tract should be immediately treated. If the guinea pig is not having food and not producing fecal waste, then visit your vet. The vet will remove any blockage in the digestive tract.
Guinea pigs suffering from crusty eyes, or else there is a constant flow through their eyes. Both the symptoms indicate problems with its tear duct. That is caused due to overgrown teeth.
Guinea pig’s teeth grow continuously, as mentioned earlier. Their tear duct is also placed near to the gums. So, if the teeth’ roots push the tear ducts from inside, the tear ducts may continuously tear tears.
In other cases, the overgrown teeth may block the tear duct’s path, such that tears cannot be produced. That results in drying of eyes.
Treatment is required to alleviate the problem, but steps must be taken to trim the teeth. If left untreated, then the guinea pig may lose its eyes. In some cases, surgery is also done.
Also read: All about eye booger in guinea pigs
Fleas feed on the blood of various animals, and these can cause significant pain for the pet animals. Guinea pigs are also affected by this.
Flea sting irritates, and guinea pigs will start itching. It also causes allergy to a few guinea pigs that result in rashes on the skin. That is due to the hypersensitivity of the guinea pigs.
Fleas should be removed from your pet as soon as you notice them. Remove fleas with the help of comb dipped in alcohol.
You need to get some topical remedies from the market if the problem exists. Check the treatment is suitable for guinea pigs before use, as it may have toxic effects on guinea pigs.
The guinea pig and its cage should be disinfected after the fleas have been removed. Insects tend to attack again and again, so you need to be careful. Keep the surrounding clean and change the bedding of the pet. The hay should also be changed.
Also read: How to treat fleas in guinea pigs
Flystrike in pets gives nightmares to all the pet owners. That is painful and can be fatal. It is caused due to unhygienic living conditions. Guinea pigs suffer from flystrike if their bottom is inadequately cleaned.
Guinea pigs, like other rodents, eat their fecal pellets. These fecal pellets also are known as cecotropes and are helpful in digestion as they contain fiber. Guinea pigs ingest them as soon they realize it is about to pop out.
That, in turn, makes the bottom of the guinea pig dirty. It becomes home to many flies that lay their eggs on the guinea pig.
When these eggs hatch as larvae, the maggots start eating the flesh of the guinea pig. Once these maggots find their way inside the guinea pig, they will also feed your pet.
Whenever you observe any flies nearby your pet or its cage, you should take your guinea pig to a vet.
The vet will help you to remove eggs and maggots present on the fur of guinea pigs. Any delay can be fatal and extremely painful for your pet.
Keeping your pet clean is the best solution to the problem, as it will keep them away from your pet. Guinea pigs like to keep themselves clean, and in case they are not able to maintain themselves, you should take the steps required.
Also read: All about flystrike in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are no different when it comes to fungal infections. They are also prone to such attacks. As we all know, the fungus develops in a dark and humid place. So, if your guinea pig is exposed to such conditions, it is likely to be infected by fungus.
Guinea pigs are commonly infected with ringworm. They show red circles on the skin, which can be transferred to other guinea pigs. Sometimes you will observe a thick crust of fungus on the surface.
Topical treatments are available in the stores for fungal infections. If the problem persists or occurs again, look for the possible cause of fungal infection. Disinfect the cage and other toys regularly.
Guinea pigs are highly vulnerable to physical injuries and trauma. That may damage the bones. They react abruptly when frightened and can even jump from a height. That can render their frail body injured.
Guinea pigs also may be afraid of their owner and get themselves injured. You should be able to manage such injuries. Try to gain their confidence so that they do not jump out of your arms.
Keep a close watch when the pet is playing with your child. A Guinea pig may not enjoy playing along with your child. Check whether your child can carry the guinea pig comfortably or not.
Guinea pigs have in their instinct to be curious and explore different places. So keep things away from the pet, which can harm it.
Often while jumping from one place to another, they might fall and get injured if the foot is not placed correctly.
If a guinea pig breaks its limb, then it is hard to recover. Few may recover depending upon the severity, while others may not. Their limbs may be amputated in severe cases.
Also read: Can guinea pigs jump?
Guinea pigs breathe through their nose only. In extreme conditions, they try to breathe through their mouth. Whenever you find your pet gasping for air through the mouth, it is facing some problems. Guinea pigs are obligate nasal breathers.
A bacterial infection can cause blockage in the nasal tract. This forces guinea pigs to breathe through their mouth. Sometimes any foreign object trapped inside the nose also causes breathing problems.
Look inside the nose with the help of a torch and check if there is any hay or other particles trapped inside the nose. If found, try to remove it. Visit a vet if you are unable to clear the nasal cavity.
Also read: Why is my guinea pig breathing fast?
A Guinea pig may suffer from paralysis of the leg due to arthritis, injury, or any infection. The guinea pig is unable to move, and it is more commonly found in hind legs.
This situation can be dangerous for the guinea pig, as this may cause urine scalding. When you observe the guinea pig unable to walk correctly, refer to a vet.
Paralysis can be treated depending on the cause, but in some cases, you need to amputate the limbs.
Also read: Back leg problems in guinea pigs
Loss of appetite
Guinea pigs are fond of eating. They can chew hay all through the day, and they enjoy treats.
So, if you see your pet avoiding food, it must be a cause of concern. They cannot survive over 48 hours without food, as they hardly have any nutrients in reserve for extended survival.
Guinea pigs can refuse food due to multiple reasons like dental problems, blockage in the digestive tract, bacterial infections, etc. Even stress can cause a loss of appetite. Visit your vet for further examination of the cause.
Also read: Why is my guinea pig not eating?
Missing patch of fur
Guinea pigs suffering due to mange show bald patches. That is caused due to mites that develop on guinea pig’s skin. It causes irritation and loss of hair. It can be treated; you need to take professional advice.
Apart from mange, you may observe the loss of fur among pregnant guinea pigs. They lose their hair of themselves to prepare bedding for their young ones.
Stress is another cause that can result in the loss of fur. Guinea pigs lose their fur to cope with their anxiety. You should take measures to reduce the stress and normalize the pet.
Guinea pigs can be affected by mite infestations. Mites usually attack the ears; still, you need to check other body parts. Look for the mite infestation on the back, neck, and tail.
Mites can be seen walking on the fur of the guinea pig. It will just look like dandruff walking. Visit your local pet store to get the treatments for the mites. Check the medication is safe to use for guinea pigs.
If the mite infestations are severe, you need the help of a vet. The guinea pig will be given an injection or relevant ointment.
Don’t forget to clean your guinea pig to remove any remains or eggs of the mites. Mites also lay eggs on the body part, which creates problems once hatched.
We know guinea pigs love to eat, and its owners will be glad to see them happy. But offering them treats very often is bad for them.
They are sweet-toothed, and they will do anything for the treat. But you need to control yourself while offering them treats.
Guinea pigs suffer due to obesity, and it can cause further many problems. Their body weight exerts pressure on their joints. Once gaining weight, they become lethargic, which also increases their body weight.
As guinea pigs need to chew something all through the day, hay is the ideal thing you can offer to them. Treat should be limited to once or twice a week. Work on the activity of your pet.
Phantom pregnancy or false pregnancy is common among few mammals, but not quite so among guinea pigs.
That is mostly due to the hormonal change in the guinea pigs related to pregnancy. A spayed guinea pig will behave like a pregnant guinea pig.
It commonly occurs during the breeding age of the female guinea pigs.
There may be ovulation resulting in the hormonal change in the body of a female guinea pig. When a guinea pig mounts on that female guinea pig, the female guinea will start believing to be pregnant.
The guinea pig will show a change in activities similar to pregnant ones. It will be hungry and express emotional changes. It will start building a nest with its fur and hay. These activities last until the hormonal level returns to normal.
Also read: Phantom pregnancy in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs will put everything in their mouth out of curiosity. They may eat something toxic.
Food items that we eat daily can also be poisonous for them as they can harm their digestive system. Keep a watch of what they put inside their mouth. Items like potatoes and bread are harmful to them.
The products placed in the cage should be safe for guinea pigs. They will bite their toys and everything they find nearby. You can buy products from an exotic pet store.
Also read: Why guinea pigs cannot vomit toxins out?
Guinea pigs can suffer from poor eyesight; it is more common among older ones.
They express a lot with the help of the eyes. But they do not care much if they have any eyesight problem as they use their olfactory and auditory senses more.
Guinea pigs suffering due to glaucoma can lose their eyes at last. It is due to the optic nerve damage. Abnormal pressure on the eyes can lead to such a condition.
The major problem with glaucoma is it is hard to diagnose. It creeps in slowly, so an annual check-up of the eyes is recommended.
One should be looking for the symptoms of glaucoma. Excessive tears produced or completed dry eyes should be a matter of concern.
Other than glaucoma, guinea pigs can suffer due to the following problems related to eyesight:
- Corneal ulcer
- Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
- Foreign particle inside the eye.
Look for the following symptoms for any trouble in the eye:
- Inability to open the eye
- Cloudiness in the eye
- Excessive tear secretion
- Dry eyes
Stress and anxiety
Guinea pigs are highly sensitive to their surroundings. Any change nearby can cause fear in their mind as they are always worried about predators.
Guinea pigs can be afraid of their owners also. You should slow in your approach and gain the confidence of your pet. Make them feel comfortable when you are around.
Physical activity is also an essential part of their daily routine. It not only keeps them healthy but also stress-free.
Guinea pigs do not like to live alone; they enjoy the company of their mates. That helps reduce their stress and keep them engaged in playing activities. It is better to adopt two guinea pigs bonded to stay together.
If you have a single guinea pig, you should pay attention to the guinea pig and keep toys for the cage’s activity. Do not let it feel lonely.
Also read: Can guinea pigs live alone?
Guinea pigs are severely affected by ticks. These parasites stick on the guinea pig’s body and suck blood. They leave the guinea pigs vulnerable.
Apart from above, ticks also infect the guinea pigs if they have fed on an infected animal. The disease is transmitted to the guinea pig.
To control the attacks of the tick, medication is available. Be cautious while using the medicine that it is safe to use for guinea pigs. Whenever you observe the tick, remove it immediately from the guinea pig’s body.
Be careful while removing the tick; they should not be pulled out using hands. Instead, use tweezers to hold the ticks, and care should be taken not to twist the ticks.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are commonly found among the guinea pigs of age between 3 to 5 years.
There are various reasons for the UTIs, but it is commonly because of unhygienic living conditions. Once the bacteria finds its way inside the urethra of guinea pig, it will cause urinary disease.
Excess of calcium in the diet can cause kidney stones and bladder. That can lead to UTI. It is advised not to feed guinea pig with alfalfa hay.
Alfalfa hay contains calcium, which is not suitable for their health. The common signs of the disease are:
- Bloodstains in the urine
- Grunting with the pain during urination.
- Urine scalding
- Constant, small dribbles of urine
The antibiotic course is advised to treat UTI. One should try to find the cause of the disease to avoid the recurrence of the disease.
Keep the cage clean and change the hay regularly. The litter pan should be kept clean as guinea pigs are reluctant to pee in the dirty litter pan.
Drinking plenty of freshwaters is useful to remove any clog in the urinary tract.
Guinea pigs urinating on its tail or hind limbs can cause urine scalding. It is a common problem with guinea pigs with multiple reasons behind it. Few guinea pigs are found lying on its litter tray.
Urine scalding is the skin burn due to urine. It can cause sores, which can further lead to infection. That becomes extremely painful.
Guinea pigs are unable to move quickly due to pee on their fur or nearby, which causes urine scalding.
They should be able to move their hind legs while urinating. Still, if the problem persists, check if they sit on their pee.
You need to empty the litter tray at least twice a day and remove the urine-stained hay.
Also read: Urine scalds in guinea pigs