YOUR GUINEA PIGS' HEALTH
patterns you should seek the advice of a vet as soon as possible!
Keeping your guinea pigs fit and healthy
Check if your guinea pigs are eating properly and passing droppings every day. Take your guinea pigs for a veterinary check-up at least once a year. Guineas are prey animals so will hide signs of ill-health. This is why it’s so important to take them for regular check ups with the vet to help avoid illness.
Guinea pigs need extremely high levels of fibre in their diet to make sure their digestive systems work properly. Your guinea pigs also need high levels of protected vitamin C to keep them happy and healthy. Burgess Excel Guinea Pig nuggets have been specifically formulated to have all the vitamins and minerals your guinea pigs need.
There is a potential risk that when guinea pigs (or other species) are fed a muesli style diet that they may selectively feed. Selective feeding is when animals only eat certain elements of their diet such as the high sugar components and can lead to nutritional imbalances. Research supported by Burgess showed that feeding rabbits a muesli style diet may increase the risk of several health problems. Feeding a single component nugget will prevent selective feeding.
Common health problems
Vitamin C deficiency
Did you know, guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C? This is why they need a diet with lots of vitamin C. Without it, your guinea pigs could develop scurvy which can cause blood clotting problems, and issues with their skin and joints. If you notice that one of your guinea pigs has less energy than usual, is struggling to walk, isn’t eating as much as normal or develops diarrhoea, take them to the vet as soon as possible. You should feed your guinea pigs nuggets that contain protected vitamin C and a handful of fresh greens each day, alongside lots of hay and fresh water, to make sure they get enough vitamin C.
Dental disease is one of the most common health problems found in guinea pigs. It can be caused by a lack of abrasive fibre in their diet. Without essential fibre, your guinea pigs’ teeth can become overgrown, making it difficult for them to eat. If you notice one of your guinea pigs is eating less than usual, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
To help prevent dental disease feed your guinea pigs 85-90% feeding hay alongside a small portion of nuggets to prevent selective feeding. The fibre found in hay and feeding grasses helps to wear down their teeth. Also remember to check your guinea pigs’ teeth regularly.
Guinea pigs are susceptible to parasite infestations and fungal infections. If you notice hair loss, open wounds or thick dandruff on one of your guinea pigs, take them to the vet as soon as possible. These symptoms could be a sign of one of these issues. To reduce the risk of parasites, keep your guinea pigs’ housing clean and change their bedding daily.
Guinea pigs need plenty of exercise or they can quickly become obese. Prevention is the best solution for obesity related illnesses. Keep your guinea pigs at a suitable weight by feeding them according to the feeding guides to prevent overeating.
Urinary tract problems
Guinea pigs are prone to developing stones in their bladder, kidneys or ureters, tubes connecting the kidneys and bladder. They can also develop urinary tract infections. This is more common in female guinea pigs. It is believed that many urinary tract problems in guinea pigs may be stress related. Signs to watch out for include blood in the urine, straining to urinate and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these signs or issues with your guinea pigs’ urination, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Pododermatitis, or Bumblefoot, is when pressure sores form on the bottom of guinea pigs’ feet. The inflammation can become infected, leading to further, serious complications. It is commonly caused by hard, abrasive flooring. Do not place wire flooring or any harsh bedding in your guinea pigs’ housing and remove wet or soiled bedding daily. If you have any concerns, seek the advice of your vet.
Ringworm is fairly common in guinea pigs. It’s an infection caused by a fungus, rather than a parasitic worm. Symptoms include irritated skin, frequent itching and bald patches around the face which can spread to across their back. If you notice any of these symptoms, speak to your vet. Ringworm is highly contagious. If one of your guinea pigs has ringworm, they need to be separated from the others until they have finished their treatment. Their housing will need to be thoroughly cleaned and all bedding and hay replaced.
Guinea pig health check
Guinea pigs often hide any signs that they’re feeling unwell because they are naturally prey animals. It’s important you regularly check your guinea pigs, and take them to the vet at least once a year for a check-up. You know your guinea pigs best, if anything seems unusual or you feel worried, take your guinea pig to the vet as soon as you can.
Guinea pigs tend to clean themselves. Bathing them causes unnecessary stress so it’s not recommended to give your guineas a bath unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do need to bathe your guinea pigs, use a specially formulated guinea pig shampoo and keep them warm and cosy after their bath.
Grooming your guinea pigs with a guinea pig safe comb can help with bonding. Long-haired guinea pigs are likely to need grooming more often.
Here are some quick checks while grooming you can do at home:
Body: When you’re handling your guinea pigs, check for any lumps. Keep a particular eye on their chin, back and armpits
Eyes: Make sure your guinea pigs’ eyes are bright, healthy and free from grass seeds
Feet: Check that your guinea pigs’ feet are free from injuries
Nails: Keep an eye on the length of your guinea pigs’ nails and clip them if needed. Normally, you’ll need to clip their nails every 4-6 weeks
Nose: Make sure there’s no discharge coming from your guinea pigs’ noses and that their breathing hasn’t become noisy
Skin: Keep an eye on the condition of your guinea pigs’ skin and coat. If you notice open wounds, thick dandruff or hair loss, take your guinea pig to the vet as soon as possible
Teeth: Check your guinea pigs’ teeth regularly for any signs that they are misaligned or overgrown
Weight: Keep an eye on your guinea pigs’ weight. Have a chat with your vet about the ideal weight for your guinea pig
Neutering your guinea pigs
Neutering female guinea pigs can result in lots of complications. Most vets will only neuter a female guinea pig if it’s to help with another health condition.
Different to other small animals, neutering male guinea pigs doesn’t change their behaviour. This means neutering won’t stop two males from fighting. If your male guinea pig needs to live with female guinea pigs, or won’t pair with their male housemate, you should neuter them.
Make sure you choose a vet that is specialised in small animals if you do choose to neuter your guinea pigs.
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If you should have any concerns about the health of your pet, always consult a vet.