FELASA recommendations for the health monitoring of mouse, rat, hamster, guinea pig and rabbit colonies in breeding and experimental units.
FELASA recommendations for the health monitoring of mouse, rat, hamster, guinea pig and rabbit colonies in breeding and experimental units. The microbiological quality of experimental animals can critically influence animal welfare and the validity and reproducibility of research data. It is therefore important for breeding and experimental facilities to establish a laboratory animal health monitoring programme as an integrated part of any quality assurance system. FELASA has published recommendations for the HM of rodent and rabbit colonies in breeding and experimental units, with the intention of harmonizing HM programmes. As stated in the preamble, these recommendations need to be adapted periodically to meet current developments in laboratory animal medicine. Accordingly, previous recommendations have been revised and shall be replaced by the present recommendations. These recommendations are aimed at all breeders and users of laboratory mice, rats, Syrian hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits as well as diagnostic laboratories. They describe essential aspects of HM, such as the choice of agents, selection of animals and tissues for testing, frequency of sampling, commonly used test methods, interpretation of results and HM reporting. Compared with previous recommendations, more emphasis is put on the role of a person with sufficient understanding of the principles of HM, opportunistic agents, the use of sentinel animals and the interpretation and reporting of HM results. Relevant agents, testing frequencies and literature references are updated. Supplementary information on specific agents and the number of animals to be monitored and an example of a HM programme description is provided in the appendices. PMID: 24496575 FELASA recommendations for the health monitoring of mouse, rat, hamster, guinea pig and rabbit colonies in breeding and experimental units.
Guinea Pig Care
As well as feeding, grooming and keeping their environment clean, it is an essential part of daily care to keep an eye on your guinea pig’s health. You should perform a specific health check on your guinea pig each week in addition to daily care. If your guinea pig is used to you picking them up and petting them then it will readily tolerate closer inspection. Depending on the breed of your guinea pig their fur should be silky with a small amount of shedding being normal. In some cases, such as stress, your guinea pig will develop signs of an infection. Your guinea pig may also need antibiotics to treat any underlying infection. All guinea pigs can receive accidental injuries whether it’s from a fall or altercations with other pets including their fellow guinea pig mates. Check your guinea pig more frequently and be very gentle when looking for signs of injury. Guinea pigs should always have fresh water, a clean supply of grass hay, fresh vegetables and a quality supply of food designed for guinea pigs. Grooming your guinea pig is an essential part of the regular care routine and gives you both an opportunity to bond. Handling your guinea pig whilst grooming keeps them used to human contact and also makes health checks and trips to the vet far easier to manage. Grooming time is a great way to perform your routine health checks whilst enjoying some quality time with your guinea pig. Giving them a weekly weigh in is very easy to do and will inform you about whether your guinea pig is getting too much food and exercise. The average life expectancy of a guinea pig is between 5 and 7 years and, as they approach old age you can expect your pet to experience changes. You can purchase pet insurance for your guinea pig from as little as £5 per month which can help meet the cost of any unexpected treatments from injuries as well as pay towards any ongoing treatments.
Guinea Pig Health
Guinea pigs are social animals but when they are stressed or overcrowded hair barbering will occur. Guinea pigs are fantastic breeders so all pet guinea pigs should be desexed to reduce overpopulation. Most people just desex the males as they are easier and cheaper but not many people know that desexing your female guinea pig is also an important preventative health care measure. While guinea pigs do have a higher anaesthetic complication rate compared to other species it is better to perform this in a healthy pig as a routine procedure. Guinea pigs have teeth that grown continuously throughout their lives. Pet Guinea pigs are frequently fed poor quality diets composed largely of pellets or chopped museli mixes which in contribute to a range of health issues including dental problems and obesity. For proper teeth wear Guinea pigs need to be fed lots of grass hay, fresh grass and a selection of other fresh veggies and leafy greens. Performing dental work in a guinea pigs mouth is difficult due to the small mouth opening. The soft pads of the guinea pig are made for living on soft grass and earth. Obesity may also contribute so ensure your guinea pig is in a healthy weight range. Like us humans, guinea pigs require vitamin C in their diet. Fortunately vitamin C is found in fresh veggies and fruit so feeding plenty of these daily will ensure your guinea pig stays healthy. Because I can’t say it enough, avoid grain mix diets as these are deficient! Where guinea pigs have developed scurvy due to a deficient diet we will recommend supplementation with vitamin C until the problem is corrected. Bacterial respiratory infections sometimes accompanied by middle ear infections can affect guinea pigs. All guinea pigs should have an annual wellness exam to assess there dental health and detect health problems early before they become severe.