Guinea Pig Health Check
At the moment I'm adding additional information and links to this page
My guinea pig health check page is based on my own experience of keeping guinea pigs and is only a small guide.Important: Please seek out out veterinary advice promptly if you are concerned about your guinea pigs health.
In the wild, guinea pigs are a prey animal. Often they will try to hide the fact that
they are poorly to avoid being singled out by predators, the domestic guinea pig acts in much the same way. Of course, some health problems can be detected straight away. Either by noticing a change in their behaviour or you may be able to see something that is wrong, for example, an eye infection. As their carer, you need to be vigilant and if you notice any changes in their behaviour, including eating and drinking habits, then prompt vetrinary treatment could save your guinea pigs life. Please remember you are looking for a veterinary that works with exotic pets, guinea pigs, parrots and other small animals. Ring your local guinea pig rescues or animal shelters and ask which vet they use. Make sure you look for a vet before your guinea pig becomes poorly and keep your vets telephone number in your phone book, all this saves precious time.
If you check your guinea pig over everyday, you will hopefully notice sooner rather than later, if something isn't quite right. Make it a part of your everyday routine. I usually do my health check while having a cuddle with my guinea pigs. In addition, when you are feeding your guinea pigs, stay with them for a few minutes to make sure they are eating ok. Lack of appetite is frequently seen in poorly guinea pigs.
Here is a list of things you need to look out for. I've also included additional guinea pig health links with each heading. They will give you more information about certain health problems or problems that are related in someway. I've also included a Guinea Pig Health Links page for lots more information. Although there are many excellent sites, please remember that anything you read on a website or a message board is only a guide and doesn't replace a consultation with your vet.
Check your guinea pigs eyes, they should be open, bright, clear with no discharge. However, if you see a milky type liquid, that is normal. Its produced during the grooming process and is usually wiped away with their front feet. When an injury to the eye has happened, it may go opaque, which is a protective covering. Its blue/grey in colour and appears quite quickly. It normally disappears, once the eye starts healing. They may have something in the eye like a tiny blade of hay, a hay seed or they may have poked themselve in the eye with a strand of hay. If you see that the eye has gone opaque or looks red/swollen or crusty, please take your guinea pig straight to your vets before the condition gets any worse. Your guinea pig could really be suffering due to something being stuck in the eye. We know what its like getting a tiny piece of grit in our eye, it can be very irritating and painful. Don't try to remove anything from your guinea pigs eye yourself, you may cause more damage, seek vetrinary attention promptly. Watery or crusty eyes could mean an upper respiratory infection which also needs vetrinary treatment. Some guinea pigs develop cataracts, it could be a sign of diabetes or old age.
Peter Gurney-Eyes and Eye Milk
Peter Gurney-Eye Injuries
Patricia's Guinea Pigs-Diabetes
Hair and Skin: Look out for dry flaky skin, scratches, sores and check the whole body for any abnormal swelling. Remember to also check under the piggies belly and under the chin. From my own experience, bald patches, excessive itching could indicate they have mites. If you notice that your piggie gets very irritable when you touch certain areas, that is another indication that they have mites. Don't buy anything from pet shops, only a vet can diagnose the problem and give your piggy the necessary treatment.
Peter Gurney-Skin Problems
Guinea Lynx-Fungal Infections
Gorgeous Guineas: Skin Problems and Treatments
Ears: Check the ears, they should be smooth and not scurfy. Check for any build up of wax, if your worried have a word with your vet. Don't poke cotton buds in your piggies ears, it could cause alot of damage inside the ears.
Guinea Lynx-Ear Mites
Nose: Make sure the nose is clear, showing no signs of discharge or watery liquid. A watery or crusty nose could mean an upper respiratory infection which needs urgent vetrinary treatment.
Feet: I also check the feet to see if their nails need cutting. I usually trim them every two to three weeks. Also check for any swelling around each foot, any swelling could indicate a problem like Bumblefoot
The Wheekies-Nail Manicure
Guinea Lynx-Foot Problems
Weight: I weigh my guinea pigs once a week and keep a little book to write down their weights, that way I can see if they are gaining too much or loosing weight. Kitchen scales are ideal for weighing your piggy. Adult piggies can weigh anything from 2lb to just over 3lb, alot depends on the build of your piggy and the breed. Males tend to be heavier than females.
Here are my piggies last weights at the time of writing this page 23/11/03
Breathing: Check your guinea pigs breathing, it should be quiet and not be laboured. If you hear a clicking sound or any changes with their breathing, it could be a respiratory problem. Please don't delay taking your guinea pig to the vets if you suspect a breathing problem.
Food Check: While feeding your guinea pig, stay with them for a short while to make sure they are eating alright. If you see your guinea pig is struggling to eat, it could be a dental problem. If your guinea pig is hunched up in a corner and they refuse to eat anything, take your guinea pig to the vets without delay.
Guinea Lynx-Teeth Problems
Water Check: Keep an eye on the water levels, if you find they are drinking more than normal, it would be wise to have your piggy checked for diabetese. Both Jasmine and Sweetpea drink more water than my other piggies. They both have a urine sample taken to the vets every 6 months or so and everything has been fine, but its always best to make sure. Obviously when the weather is at higher temperature, then they tend to drink more water.
Patricia's Guinea Pigs-Diabetes
Poop Check: Check their poops daily to make sure your guinea pig doesn't have diarrhoea. If they are just abit soft but not runny or misshapen, I usually cut back on their green foods for a few hours and they normally go back to normal. Poops should look like a jelly-bean, un-neutered boars poops tend to be more curved than sows. Take your piggy to the vets straight away if they are runny/smelly, they can become dehydrated very quickly.
If your guinea pig squeals when having a wee, it could be Cystitis or a Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Your vet will treat your piggy for this condition. If your guinea pig is perscribed antibiotic and the crying continues after a few days, please ask your vet to do an x-ray to check for stones. If you see any blood present in the wee it could also indicate that your guinea pig has bladder stones, again a visit to the vets is needed urgently.
Depressed and Sad
: If your guinea pig looks depressed and doesn't come to see what nice food is on offer, refuses food when you offer it and is hunched up in a corner, take your guinea pig to see your vet without delay. I would be very concerned if any of my piggies won't even be tempted by a piece of cucumber.
Additional Reading: Here are some other links which I'm sure you'll find very useful.
Guinea Lynx-Medications( and a list of dangerous medications )
Peter Gurney-Administering Medicines
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