Guinea Pig Health News for September 08 2017

Tampa Animal Hospitals

Guinea pigs do not require as much of your time as some other pets, but the more time you spend with them, the more interactive they will be. Guinea pigs are social animals and will establish a pecking order, frequently male-dominated. In South America, guinea pigs are often hunted or raised for meat, but free-ranging animals are not trapped for the pet trade. Hobbyists breed purebred guinea pigs for shows, but pet stores usually sell cross-bred animals. To determine the sex of your guinea pig, examine its external genitalia: male guinea pigs have large scrotal sacs, and their penis can be easily extruded with gentle pressure, while females have a vaginal membrane. Commercial pellets specially formulated for guinea pigs contain vitamin C, but the level may be affected by storage conditions or time. Guinea pigs should have fresh, filtered drinking water in a water bottle at all times. The best flooring for guinea pigs is solid, covered with dust-free bedding of either soft wood shavings, shredded paper, hay or commercial bedding pellets. Like all rodents, guinea pigs explore their world through nibbling on new items; therefore, you should check their play area for any potential hazards. How to Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy, Happy, and Safe Provide fresh food and water daily. Ensure a daily source of vitamin C in the diet, either in guinea pig pellets or as a supplement. Take your guinea pig to an exotic animal veterinarian annually for a physical exam. If your guinea pig has long hair, comb it daily and keep it clipped and clean. Visiting your exotic animal veterinarian for routine health checks will help prevent many diseases and support you in having a long, satisfying relationship with your guinea pig.

Easy checks for a healthy guinea pig

Thankfully, guinea pigs are very hardy creatures, and if kept clean and fed well they rarely become sick. There are some daily checks you should make, to ensure that your guinea pig stays well, it also helps you to notice any change very quickly, and visit your vet at the first sign of illness. EyesThe eyes should be clear and bright, with no sign of cloudiness or discharge. An eye that suddenly goes cloudy may mean that the guinea pig has got an ulcer as a result of a piece of hay in its eye. Any eye problems require urgent veterinary attention. Guinea pigs do normally secrete a milky discharge from their eyes, which precedes grooming, as they use it on their paws to groom themselves, if you see this you do not need to worry about it. NoseThe nose should be clean, and as with the eyes, shouldn’t be runny. Any discharge or sneezing may suggest that your guinea pig has a cold. Any patches of hair loss or areas where the skin is red and sore may suggest that your guinea pig has mites. Watch him closely, is he scratching more than usual? Mites burrow under the skin and cause a distressing condition called mange, and the sooner you spot any problem, the sooner you can get it treated, something your guinea pig will certainly thank you for. Sometimes you may see little tiny nits walking on your guinea pigs fur, these are hay mites, which are harmless and a simple shampoo will get rid of them for you. Guinea pigs have no fur on the bottom of their feet, so check the bottom of their feet regularly for any sign of soreness. The bottomYes, this bit needs checking too… The whole area should be clean and dry. If the guinea pig is wet and smelly between its legs it may have a urine infection.

Health Risks of Owning Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are easy-care pets, requiring little beyond basic food, water, cage cleaning and handling. Sometimes guinea pigs come with diseases contracted from unclean conditions at a breeder or other specimens at the pet store. Disease also may also enter your guinea’s world via food, water, other pets or handling. Only a few diseases can be passed from your guinea pig to you, but they can leave you quite ill and be devastating for infants. Avoid catching a disease from your guinea pig by instructing the entire family in safe handling guidelines. Bacteria found on the guinea’s fur will easily transfer to your hands and cross-contaminate anything you touch. Teach children not to kiss guinea pigs or put them up to their faces, not to rub their nose or eyes when handling a guinea pig and to thoroughly wash their hands as soon as the guinea pig goes back in his cage. Guinea pigs carry toxoplasmosis, a protozoan known to infect unborn children. Do not clean a guinea pig cage while pregnant if you can have someone else do it, and wear rubber gloves if you must do it yourself. House mice are the most common carriers of the disease, but guinea pigs can contract the disease when they come in contact with the droppings of infected mice or rats. A guinea pig’s sharp nails can scratch your skin, making it vulnerable to infection by guinea pig-borne staphylococcus aureus. While most staph infections cause redness and swelling at the infection site, immune-deficient people may contract pneumonia, sepsis or other serious bacterial infections. Guinea pigs also contract salmonella from contaminated food. Keep guinea’s cage clean and remove uneaten food daily to prevent salmonella from developing.

Guinea Pig Health and Illnesses

Guinea pigs, like any other animals, can live their lives happy and healthy with the right support. When it comes to sickness, guinea pigs have many possible illnesses and conditions and require an experienced veterinarian. It is important to weigh your guinea pig every day to look for weight changes. Usually the first sign of illness will appear as a weight loss, and watching the weight consistently will give you a good idea of your pet’s average range. As discussed in our previous articles, a proper environment should be clean, safe and designed specifically for guinea pigs. Other animals can cause injury or death, and sometimes just the stress of being threatened by another animal can leave a guinea pig susceptible to illness. Don’t expect to put your guinea pig on the scale, match the weight with yesterday and replace in the cage. Guinea pigs feel pain but often do not show it visibly. The most commonly prescribed medicine for guinea pig illnesses are antibiotics, but not all drugs are safe for your animal. Make sure your vet is trained and experienced with guinea pigs, and always check any prescribed medication before administering it to the animal. Guinea pigs should never be given certain medications since they can cause illness or death, especially penicillin-based drugs. Never assume your vet is experienced with guinea pigs. Just don’t delay in getting your guinea pig the care it needs by dismissing the symptoms. Keep reading! In the final part of this series on guinea pig care, I discuss the guinea pig communities and replies from real owners.

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