How to Know if a Pet Guinea Pig is Ill

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Guinea pigs are prey animals. In the wild, a prey species showing signs of illness quickly becomes a predator's dinner. For that reason, it's not always easy to tell if your guinea pig is ill until the problem is quite serious. The best way to gauge your pet's condition is by spending time with him and knowing his normal behavior. If you notice any abnormal behavior, monitor his activity and take him to the vet if you think something is amiss. A mild illness can turn life-threatening quickly in these little pets.

Guinea Pig Health

Most guinea pig health issues concern dental problems, old age, injury or substandard care, according to the Merck Manual Pet Health Edition. If guinea pigs are kept in pairs or larger groups, they are more vulnerable to viral or bacterial diseases. Keep your pet healthy by providing him with the appropriate diet, plenty of fresh water and a clean cage. Stress can harm your guinea pig, and that includes excessive handling, especially picking up your pet.

Warning

  • If your guinea pig isn't eating, something's wrong. Lack of appetite can result from various illnesses or conditions, but it's never normal.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Your guinea pig's feces reflect the condition of his gastrointestinal tract. If your pet develops diarrhea, it can prove fatal without treatment. Guinea pigs with diarrhea often stop eating and drinking.

Dental Issues

If your guinea pig seems reluctant to eat and is drooling, he's probably suffering from overgrown teeth, resulting in painful malocclusion. Your vet can file down the teeth to correct his bite, allowing him to eat again. Provide your pet with a constant supply of timothy or grass hay to help wear down his constantly growing teeth.

Respiratory Illness

Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible if he shows any sign of respiratory illness. Pneumonia is common in guinea pigs, and usually is fatal without prompt antibiotic treatment. Symptoms include:

  • Nasal or eye discharge.
  • Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Sneezing. 
  • Fever.

Breathing issues without other respiratory-related symptoms also can indicate heart disease.

Urinary Issues

In addition to examining your guinea pig's feces when cleaning his cage, make sure he is producing urine. Guinea pigs, especially females, are prone to urinary tract infections and bladder stone development. Blood in the urine warrants a veterinary visit to determine the cause.

Tip

  • Keep your guinea pig healthy by supplying him with plenty of vitamin C. Inadequate vitamin C intake is responsible for skin, joint and other health problems. While commercial guinea pig food should contain this vital nutrient, ask your vet about supplementing your pet with other sources, including fresh veggies and fruits.

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