Federal inspectors fault National Jewish Health for treatment of guinea pigs during smoking study
When the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a routine inspection of the lab at National Jewish Health in Denver earlier this year, it discovered research that had gone off the rails. One group of guinea pigs had been exposed to more smoke – five hours a day for six days – than the study’s approved guidelines called for. Two guinea pigs were described in research records that an inspector reviewed as having bloody discharge from the nose. On Monday, the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint with officials at the National Institutes of Health, seeking more information about the study.
Alka Chandna, a PETA vice president who specializes in laboratory oversight, said people don’t need to care about the suffering of guinea pigs to find the inspection report troubling. The departures from previously approved study protocols also places the research’s validity into question. In an email, a National Jewish spokesman said that the institution had made fixes as a result of the report. National Jewish Health is a 119-year-old health center focused on respiratory diseases. It also is a thriving research center, and Dormuth said National Jewish sometimes uses animals in its research.
There are about 20 research facilities in Colorado registered with the USDA to conduct studies on animals. Critical violations – which indicate that an animal died or was seriously harmed as the result of the violation – are uncommon. The USDA hit the University of Colorado with a critical violation in 2016 after two research rabbits escaped from an enclosure.
Common Guinea Pig Health Problems
Flystrike is a potentially fatal condition which occurs when flies lay their eggs around a guinea pig’s anus. Symptoms to look out for include eggs and maggots around a guinea pig’s anus, wounds and skin loss. Pets suffering from obesity, dental problems, diarrhoea, arthritis and skin wounds are at high risk of flystrike as flies are attracted to guinea pigs suffering from dirty bottoms or wet fur. Guinea pigs living in dirty hutches are also susceptible, as flies like damp and smelly conditions. Guinea pigs with flystrike are often given antibiotics to help prevent infection and some vets also use anti-parasitic products to try and penetrate the skin and kill any remaining maggots.
There are several different species of mites, however the most common one to affect guinea pigs is Trixacarus caviae, which causes mange. A variety of treatments are available to help treat guinea pigs infested with mites. Guinea pigs with ringworm will have circular, hairless, sore spots. You may notice your guinea pig scratching excessively, biting, suffering hair loss, and in a worse case scenario, suffering seizures. If you think your guinea pig is suffering from mange, take him to the vet immediately.
Guinea pigs are unique in that they can’t produce Vitamin C themselves and are reliant on Vitamin C in their diet. To help prevent Vitamin C deficiency always feed your pet a complete food for guinea pigs.
10 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets
Guinea pigs have always been one of the exotic pets I recommend most, especially for families considering a pet for the first time. Since guinea pigs are from cool climates, they don’t do well in hot, humid conditions. Just remember, unless you want to end up with several little additional guinea pigs, you’ll need to separate males from females even before they are a month old! Not as fragile as rabbits and generally less skittish than smaller rodents like hamsters and gerbils, guinea pigs are wonderful pets for elementary-school-age kids and older. Younger children should always be supervised around guinea pigs, just as with any other pet.
While most hamsters, gerbils and rats live only two to three years, on average, most guinea pigs live five to seven years and some have even lived into their teens. Many people don’t realize this, but guinea pigs have a lot of personality. Some guinea pigs are shy; others are bold and dominant. Just because two guinea pigs look the same doesn’t mean they’ll act the same. Guinea pigs purr!
Just like cats, guinea pigs make a quiet yet audible vibrating sound when they are happy, often when they are petted gently. Some guinea pigs run forward and backward quickly, while others alternately kick out their front and back legs. Popcorning is unique to guinea pigs and is a fun behavior to watch.
Guinea pig health tips
If you don’t have guinea pigs already, buy at least two animals. Guinea pigs need the company of their own kind as they are socially gregarious creatures. Other pets such as rabbits, or people themselves, are no substitute for a guinea pig partner. Bear in mind that male guinea pigs will only tolerate each other when they can’t see, hear or smell a female. Avoid stress with guinea pigs – symptoms include a tendency to flee, frequent stiffening, aggression or fur or weight loss.
Guinea pigs must eat incessantly – otherwise they can’t utilise and move the nutrition in the gastrointestinal tract. One teaspoonful per animal per day is an ample sufficiency. Clarify whether the vet also treats and knows about guinea pigs. It’s precisely when you’re keeping several guinea pigs that it’s hard to take stock of whether each animal’s eating enough or which one has diarrhoea. That’s why you should scrutinise each animal regularly.
Weigh each animal and note it down to be able to ascertain any changes. Rub the fur dry as best you can! You mustn’t ever bath a guinea pig completely, that would be too stressful for the creature and could make them very ill due to chilling!