VCA Animal Hospital
The following is a brief description of some of the more common problems of guinea pigs, which include respiratory infections, diarrhea,scurvy, tumors, abscesses due to infection, urinary problems and infestations by lice, mites or fungus. Pneumonia is one of the most significant diseases of pet guinea pigs and can be caused by a number of bacteria, including Bordetella and Streptococcus. Guinea pigs can naturally harbor these bacteria and may be asymptomatic carriers. “Pneumonia is one of the most significant diseases of pet guinea pigs.” In guinea pigs and primates, including man, one key essential nutrient is vitamin C. The vast majority of other animals can produce their own vitamin C through their intestinal bacterial flora but guinea pigs and primates are unable to do this. A guinea pig that has a rough hair coat, is off food, has diarrhea, is reluctant to walk, perhaps seems painful, has swollen feet or joints, or has hemorrhages and ulcers on its gums or skin is likely to be deficient in vitamin C. “In guinea pigs and primates, including man, one key essential nutrient is vitamin C.”. Guinea pigs need 10 – 50 mg of vitamin C per day, depending on the condition of the animal. If your guinea pig develops a deficiency, it is much better to give a crushed vitamin C tablet or liquid by mouth rather than in the drinking water, since the vitamin also breaks down rapidly in water and loses its potency. Tumors Guinea pigs can get various tumors but skin tumors and mammary tumors are the most common. Female pigs are more prone to cystitis then are male guinea pigs and often stones develop in association with a bladder infection. The signs of urinary problems include anorexia, blood in the urine, straining to urinate, a hunched posture; if an obstruction has occurred, the guinea pig will be unable to produce urine. Guinea pigs are prone to ringworm, which is a fungal infection, not an actual worm. Guinea pigs can get fleas and lice; fleas usually diagnosed by finding the adults or their feces on the skin or in the fur; lice are often diagnosed microscopically by observing either the adults or eggs on a sample of hair and skin debris. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair so that it looks like it has been given a “Brush cut”. Providing the guinea pig with more stimulation, redirecting its attention to other chewing activities by providing more hay or chew toys; if the barbering was done by another guinea pig, separation of the two may be necessary.
Health Check for rabbitsCottonTails Rabbit & Guinea Pig Rescue
Whether experienced or novice, most rabbit owners know how to spot basic problems with their pet, but few are really aware of what to look for and where, especially if they have just purchased the rabbit. This is also true for people who keep many rabbits such as rescue centres or breeders, especially when a new inmate arrives, and it is vital that a thorough but basic health check is carried out before the rabbit is allowed onto the premises, even if it is to be quarantined for a couple of weeks first. Try to get as much information about the rabbit first from the previous owner, such as age, background history, diet etc. GENERAL OBSERVATION. Before taking the rabbit out of its carrying box, cage or run, spend a minute or so just looking at it, watching for anything unusual such as head tilt, laboured breathing, sneezing etc. EXTERNAL PARASITES. Lift the rabbit up and check the fur for external parasites such as fleas, mites and lice and give treatment as appropriate. SEX. Check the sex of the rabbit – this must always be done regardless of what you have been told, as it is very common for people to get the sexing wrong. Although sexually transmitted diseases often get better by themselves with the aid of antibiotics, the rabbit will remain a carrier for the rest of its life, making this disease highly contagious. If the rabbit is an entire male, check for any testicular swelling as this could indicate testicular tumour. Dribbling around the mouth may indicate possible dental disease with spurs on the back molars, but also be aware that stress and fear can also make a rabbit dribble slightly so if in any doubt have a full dental check done. ABDOMEN. Palpate the abdomen of a female to establish if there is a pregnancy, but this should only be done by an experienced rabbit keeper otherwise damage could well result. PAWS. Check the pads of the front and back paws for soreness and ulceration, common in over weight rabbits and rexes, and clip back any overgrown claws. WEIGHT. Assess the condition of the rabbit to establish if it is too fat or too thin. Give a general check over for lumps and swellings, and watch when the rabbit moves around to make sure all leg movement is normal. An average sized rabbit usually weighs between 2 – 2.5kg, but it is more important to look for excess bulges over the shoulders, abdomen and dewlap. If the rabbit is used to a water bowl, make sure it knows how to use a bottle if you intend to take the bowl option away.