Also know as cavies, guinea pigs are rodents Native to the Andes Mountains of South America. In the wild guinea pigs are herbivores (vegetable eaters). The three most common breeds are the Abyssinian (rough, short coat), the American or English (classic shorthair), and the Peruvian (longhair).
Because they feed continuously, healthy guinea pigs make frequent, formed fecal pellets. They also normally produce and ingest softer stools throughout the day, called cecotropes, which provide them with important proteins and vitamins. Guinea pigs are very social and often bonded with 1-2 other guinea pigs in pairs or trios. They are fully furred and able to eat solid foods soon after birth. Generally, guinea pigs live on average about 4-5 years, but may live to up to 7-8 years with proper care. When it comes to caging, the larger the better. Visit cavycages.com for further ideas.
Like many of our “prey species” they do not show outward clinical signs of disease because of their innate preservation instinct. In the wild if the predator sees any signs of “weakness” they will become targeted rather quickly. This is why is so important to have your guinea pig examined every 6 months by an experienced exotic animal veterinarian like us before they suffer and become too ill to be helped.
Post-Purchase Exam: Physical Exam, Fecal Analysis, Microchipping, Discuss and Schedule Spay/Neuter
6 Month Exam: Physical Exam, Fecal Analysis
Annual Exam: Physical Exam, Fecal Analysis, CBC/Chemistries
Geriatric Exam: Physical Exam, Fecal Analysis, CBC/Chemistries, Radiographs, Ultrasound
If your guinea pig is exhibiting any of the symptoms described below, contact us immediately at 843-216-8387.
Diarrhea or decreased number of stools, lack of appetite, weakness, depression, painful when lifted or touched, head tilted to one side, rolling or flipping.
If your guinea pig is not eating, his or her gastrointestinal system can go into stasis, a serious condition which may require extended hospitalization and treatment or even surgery to correct. You can try syringe-feeding ground pellets or Oxbow Critical Care mixed with water. This will provide fiber and nutrients to support your pet until you are able to get to our clinic. Not eating is often related to dental issues or internal disease, and as such is an emergency situation which demands medical attention. It is important that we examine your pet as soon as possible to correct the underlying condition.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iGZVYVm5Bg – How to Syringe Feed Your Guinea Pig
“Most Common Mistakes” (reported by Guinealynx.com)
1. Dismissing medical signs as non-medical.
2. Waiting to see a vet.
3. Seeing a non-exotics vet.
4. Accepting veterinary diagnosis/treatment without question or research.
5. Failure to get proper diagnostic procedures done.
6. Mistaking secondary signs of illness as the primary cause.
7. Mistakes with medications — wrong medication or insufficient dosage or duration.
A guinea pig’s health can deteriorate rather quickly. By the time problems become apparent, illnesses may be life-threatening. They very seldom recover from an illness without help. Prompt, competent veterinary care is crucial to saving the life of a sick guinea pig. When caught early, most illnesses can be cured fairly easily.
Wellness Exams, Grooming, Boarding, Microchipping, Gender Determination, Diagnostics, Behavioral Consultation, Spaying/Neutering
In order for your guinea pig to board with us we require an exam within the last year with a clean bill of health. A fecal test with no parasites seen is also required. Your guinea pig can have no changes in health since the last examination. If your pet’s examination was done by a different veterinarian, it needs to have been within the last six months and your pet’s complete record needs to be sent to our facility several days before boarding so we can evaluate the record to ensure all testing was done to our standards.
Guinea pigs can be challenging when it comes to anesthesia and surgery. Before your guinea pig is to undergo anesthesia and/or a surgical procedure make sure that your veterinarian is very familiar with this species. They should have the same level of care given to any other animal. If you are out of the area and your veterinarian is not as familiar with guinea pigs please have them contact us and we will be more than glad to help them with any questions.
Hypovitaminosis C (Scurvy)
Guinea pigs cannot synthesize their own vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and it must be supplemented in their diet. Some fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C but they would have to eat so much of them that it would cut back on their dietary intake of roughage needed to keep their teeth healthy (ground/filed down). Mixing a liquid form in their water is not a good idea since vitamin C is inactivated by light exposure and also creates a media for bacteria and mold to grow in their water bottle. We recommend giving Vitamin C supplements directly into their mouths as a liquid or pill form, not as yogurt treats since they can be high in sugar. We sell chewable tablets and a very tasty liquid form that most guinea pigs crave. Clinical signs of hypovitaminosis C are vague since it affects many organ systems and can lead to life threatening conditions. Some present for not eating, not moving around as much, being quieter than usual, etc. In general it is best to have your guinea pig examined by an experienced exotic animal veterinarian so he/she can determine if your guinea pig is suffering from this condition.
Guinea pigs with respiratory disease exhibit runny eyes and nose, coughing, sneezing, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. It starts as upper respiratory disease and can become pneumonia if left untreated. Guinea pigs with these signs should be examined as soon as possible by an experienced exotic animal veterinarian such as us. This disease can lead to long-term consequences so a speedy and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is necessary.
Female guinea pigs are quite prone to reproductive disease. Ovarian cysts/tumors, uterine, cervical and mammary neoplasia (cancer) are among our most common presentations. Spaying at an early age will prevent these from happening.
Male guinea pigs are also quite prone to reproductive disease. Testicular tumors and mammary neoplasia (cancer) are among our most common presentations. Others include perpucial plugs or penile strangulation and foul-smelling cloacal buildup that must be cleaned regularly. Neutering at an early age will prevent these from happening.
Ear disease (“otitis”) is quite common in guinea pigs. It is bacterial in origin and is often diagnosed during routine physical exams, which emphasize their importance. Ear disease in general is quite a painful condition but unfortunately owners do not recognize it until it is well advanced and the pet presents just generally ill (not eating, spending more time laying or sitting down, having urine staining and/or unkempt fur), or with a head tilt. To further evaluate the disease process a culture of the ear is obtained to try to identify a pathogen, blood work and radiographs are taken to stage the disease and a treatment plan is established. Medical therapy by itself is unrewarding but may offer some comfort and surgery might be indicated to gain better access to the disease area. In general ear disease is an ongoing process and long-term management will be necessary.
Urolithiasis or “bladder stones” are mineralized deposits that can be found anywhere in the urinary tract from the kidneys down to the urethra. In the vast majority of cases they are quite advanced and very painful. Obesity, an all-pelleted diet and age seem to be a common denominator. Clinical signs range from having pink or bloody urine to straining to urinate in more advanced cases. Radiographs can give you an immediate diagnosis and surgical removal is the treatment of choice. This is a medical emergency!
Pyelonephritis or kidney infection is common in guinea pigs but unfortunately it can go undiagnosed for a long time since at the beginning there are no outward clinical signs. Ultrasound, a blood panel and a urine analysis may help to diagnose it. This is a medical emergency!
Acquired dental disease is very common and primarily develops due to insufficient wear of their teeth. In the wild they are grazers feeding primarily on fresh grasses; good quality unlimited hay should be the bulk of their diet. Early in the disease process staining or matting of the hair around the chin area might be the only sign. In more advanced cases their teeth are so overgrown that they cut through their gums. This can become quite painful and eventually they will be unable to eat. A thorough oral exam and radiographs are needed to get a diagnosis, stage the disease process and dental trimming, performed under anesthesia, is necessary for correction. This is a medical emergency!
Skin diseases are very common in guinea pigs; mites, ringworm and sarcoptic mange are amongst the ones that we diagnose the most. Getting an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment plan will get your guinea pig feeling better a lot sooner. Remember that sarcoptic mange and ringworm are “zoonotic”, which mean that they can be transmitted to humans.
|Quiet, social and affectionate but not needy||Do not judge heights well, do not tolerate rapid temperature changes well|
|FYI: MUST be spayed / neutered to avoid reproductive tumors, cancers and cysts, must have Vitamin C supplement, prone to dental issues|