Common Health Issues in Guinea Pigs: Preventing, Treating & Taking Care of Them!

As cute as they are, guinea pigs can be prone to certain health issues. In this article, I will talk about the most common illnesses that a guinea pig might experience and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

I will also discuss some of the symptoms you should look out for if your pet becomes ill and what you should do next!

So what are the most common illnesses guinea pigs face? The following list contains some of them: upper respiratory, digestive and reproductive issues!

Guinea Pig Illness Is Divided Into Five Categories:

  • Respiratory Issues

  • Skin Issues

  • Digestive Issues

  • Reproductive Issues 

  • Excretory Issues

Respiratory Issues In Guinea Pigs

Colds, snuffles, and sneezing fits are all included in this category, as is pretty much anything related to your rodent’s sinuses.Symptoms might include running noses/sniffling noises when breathing; runny eyes accompanied by crusty discharge on his fur surrounding these areas; lethargy; loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation.

  • Colds:Colds are the most common upper respiratory issue in guinea pigs and fortunately they can be treated with fluids to keep them hydrated along with antibiotics if necessary!

When it comes to colds though, you should avoid sweets/fruits as their high sugar content might lead them right back to being sick again within a couple of days after recovery – so stick to leafy greens instead!

  • Snuffles: Snuffles, on the other hand, are more serious than just a simple nose cold. This condition occurs when your rodent’s sinuses become severely blocked, which makes them feel very uncomfortable (to say the least) because they cannot breathe properly through their nose due to mucus build up.
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Your pet will be forced to breathe through it’s mouth, which emits a very loud snuffling noise. If your guinea pig has snuffles, it might also shake it’s  head in an attempt to clear the sinuses or scratch at them with his teeth (which is why it’s recommended that you take it to see a vet as soon as possible).

  • Sneezing Fits:Sneezing fits are not something I would worry about too much, although they do occur when there is irritation inside your rodent’s nose and throat, causing them to expel air outwards rather than upwards like most mammals.

    Sneezes can be forceful enough to cause some snotty discharge (or even blood), so if this happens, don’t panic, but rather watch closely over their health status–they might show other signs of illness too.
  • Pneumonia:A frequent cause of death in guinea pigs is pneumonia, which may be described as an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. Guinea pig pneumonia is most often caused by an infection with a bacterial strain, which may be fatal. If it is caused by an adenovirus, which is a kind of virus that is very rare, it is conceivable that it may spread.

The illness may cause a variety of symptoms, including pneumonia, conjunctivitis (pink eye), fever, and weight loss, as well as depression and lack of appetite in guinea pigs suffering from the condition. It is possible to detect symptoms of pneumonia using an X-ray scanning the lungs.

How To Prevent Upper Respiratory Issues In Guinea Pigs?

  • Keep Your Pet Hydrated :As I mentioned before, the first step to avoiding this type of illness is by keeping your pet hydrated and healthy.
  • Provide Fresh Water:Guinea pigs should always have fresh water available as well as a constant supply of hay, so keep those two things in mind when decorating their habitat!
  • Provide Sufficient Space:Your Guinea pig will need quite a bit of space too, especially if you plan on housing multiple guinea pigs together, so make sure they can move around easily without having any trouble reaching all corners.
  • Don’t House Them With Other Pets:Also remember that it’s usually not recommended to house them with other small pets such as gerbils or mice since these rodents are more likely to pass bacteria onto each other which might result in an infection, especially considering how sensitive guinea pig respiratory systems are.
  • Keep Their Cage Clean :Be sure to keep their cage clean and tidy, as guinea pigs are very susceptible to respiratory infections.

To avoid this, you should always make sure that there is plenty of ventilation inside the enclosure; change all the hay on a daily basis; wipe down water bottles with anti-bacterial wipes at least once per week (more often if your rodent’s habitat gets smelly); and always make sure that there is plenty of ventilation outside the enclosure.

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  • Keep Stress Levels Low :Stress is also another factor that must be taken into consideration here, so make sure you provide your pet with a quiet environment and don’t overstimulate it. Ensure that there are no loud noises near its habitat and there is no unnecessary handling of your guinea pig.
  • Keep Their Bedding Dust Free: Guinea pigs are very susceptible to respiratory problems, so you should always try your best to keep the bedding inside of their cage dust free.

Dust can irritate your pet’s eyes and nasal passages, making him more prone to upper respiratory infections due to how sensitive their lungs are. If there is too much dust in the air, they might even develop a condition known as lung rot, which would make it extremely difficult for them to breathe or recover from any form of infection. This disease is usually fatal if not treated with proper medication on time!

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So be sure that whenever you clean out their enclosure, all hay must be completely removed first before adding new stuff back. Replace at least 50% of the bedding each time (more often if you like) and be sure to wash all of the items inside with hot water and soap before changing it out.

  • Avoid Draughts In The Enclosure:Be sure that there are no direct draughts inside of the habitat since these can irritate your pet’s respiratory system and also cause a chill, so make sure to keep it away from windows.
  • Give A Healthy Balanced Diet:Guinea pigs are herbivores that require a very specific type of diet in order to keep them healthy.

Their teeth grow continuously throughout their entire lives, so they need to constantly chew on hard objects in order for these incisors to wear down. A guinea pig’s digestive system is also built specifically for processing hay and grass only; if you feed them anything else that’s not recommended, this might result in health issues or even death!

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Also, remember that most guinea pigs love eating fresh veggies, so feel free to give them a small piece every now and then, but make sure it doesn’t spoil before giving it! Vegetables such as carrots & tomatoes can be given occasionally while leafy greens like spinach or kale should become part of their staple diet.

If you follow all of these tips correctly, then your guinea pig will have little chance of developing respiratory problems, but if he does develop any signs or symptoms associated with this illness, I would advise immediately taking him to see a vet before his condition worsens!

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Skin Issues In Guinea Pigs:

Your guinea pig’s skin is very delicate and requires special care. This includes treating any bites or rashes that might occur on your rodent’s skin because these are the most common issues you should look out for when cleaning his cage.

Itchy spots can be caused by mites but also lice, which both suck blood from your pet, leaving them feeling uncomfortable with sometimes severe rash symptoms (in other words, red sores all over their body).

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  • Mites :Mites are tiny insects that live on your guinea pig’s body, feeding off his blood and causing him discomfort in the process (you will notice this after seeing bald patches where he has scratched himself raw). They lay eggs inside of these wounds, which can result in secondary infections if not treated immediately!

Guinea pigs with mites also tend to become anemic due to loss of blood, so they may appear pale or weak when you pick them up.

  • Dry Skin :There are many skin issues that can affect guinea pigs, but the most common one is dry skin, which usually occurs during the winter months when there’s less humidity in the air or if they lack moisture inside their cage due to improper cleaning (which should always be done on a daily basis).

Symptoms of this problem include rough, flaky/dry patches on your rodent’s body; hair loss around these areas; itchiness causing him to scratch at himself.

  • Fungal Infections: Guinea pigs are also susceptible to fungal infections which can cause a variety of symptoms such as crusty skin, flaky/dry patches on the body and hair loss.

Fungi thrive in dark, moist environments, so make sure your pet’s cage is completely dry before cleaning it out. In order to prevent any further complications, you should also use medicated powder or shampoo that contains antifungal properties when taking him for his weekly bath (more often if needed).

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Symptoms of this illness include bald patches or scabs that look like ringworm; white fluffy areas on your pet’s body (scales); redness around these affected areas. If left untreated, these fungi can spread to other parts of its body, so it’s best to seek help from a trusted vet immediately.

  • Guinea Pigs Can Get Fleas: Guinea pigs might get fleas at some point, but do not panic because these insects will not infest your home. They simply need blood from their hosts every few days in order to survive. However, this does mean that once your guinea pig has fleas, it is likely that other pets in your household (such as cats) may also be affected.

Fortunately, getting rid of these parasites isn’t difficult and you can buy topical treatments at any pet store to solve this problem once & for all! These usually come with detailed instructions on how to apply them, so make sure you read the label carefully before applying anything to your rodent’s body or directly into his cage.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, then take your pet rodent straight to a vet ASAP because they could be contagious to other pets who come into contact with him/her. Treatment usually includes antibiotics along with topical ointments until it clears completely.

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How To Prevent Skin Issues In Guinea Pigs?

  • Keep Environment Clean :The best way to prevent these skin problems is by keeping your guinea pig’s environment completely clean and dry.

This means not only his cage but also any other items which he may come into contact with, such as toys or even the floor where they play, so you should take care of this every day before letting them run around.

  • Use Vet Approved Medications And Shampoos:You can buy medicated shampoos from pet stores if you want to give your rodent a bath more often than usual in order to keep his skin healthy & soft (make sure it contains antifungal properties).

However, you should always consult a vet first because sometimes there are certain types of ointments that shouldn’t be used on rodents, especially those who have thin/sensitive skins!

  •  Maintain Healthy Air Humidity: You can also maintain a healthy level of humidity in your home by cleaning up any condensation on windows and doors, as well as getting rid of excess moisture inside your cage.

Some people use humidifiers to solve this problem, but if you don’t want an extra appliance in your house, then simply place a bowl full of water (or even better, distilled/spring water) near their living area, which will help maintain the right amount of humidity.

  • Keep Stress Levels To A minimum:Stress is another factor which can lead to skin problems in guinea pigs, so you should make sure to keep them happy and healthy at all times.

This means not only having fun with your pet but also speaking softly when handling him and making sure he has his/her own space where it’s quiet because loud noises can be very stressful for these animals!

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Digestive Issues In Guinea Pigs

Digestive issues are very common amongst guinea pigs and can be caused by a number of reasons.

  • Diarrhea :When it comes to digestive problems, the most commonly experienced one is diarrhea, but luckily this condition isn’t life threatening. Diarrhea occurs when your pet’s feces become loose or watery, which then leads them to become dehydrated rapidly, so if you notice that he might have diarrhoea, watch out for dry/crusty skin around his eyes!

The best thing you can do at such a point is provide him with some rehydrating fluids (preferably via an oral syringe) and wait until things get back to normal. Don’t forget to contact a vet if the problem persists for more than 24 hours!

  • Constipation :Another common digestive issue is constipation and this occurs when your rodent’s feces become dry, pellet-like or hard which then causes his stomach to swell as well as severe pain.

The first thing you should do in such a situation (if he hasn’t been pooping) is give him some fluids via an oral syringe, but make sure they are not too cold because this could irritate his stomach even further.

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Be sure not to give them anything high in calcium either, as that could make things worse – fresh leafy greens should solve everything though!

  • Weight Loss This occurs when there is an insufficient amount of food for your guinea pig’s body to function normally or even at all. This means that he might become lethargic because his internal organs do not have enough energy stores within them.

Therefore, it’s important to give your Guinea pig a balanced diet (i.e. commercial pellets) supplemented with hay, fresh leafy greens, and vegetables/fruits on occasion!

  • Bloating : Severe Bloating, also known as ‘tympany’ happens when your guinea pig’s stomach becomes swollen due to excess gas or fluid. This is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly, so take him straight across the road to see a vet ASAP!

The best thing you can do here is get into good habits from an early age by keeping their environment clean (and warm), avoiding overcrowding, and giving them plenty of fresh water and leafy greens on offer at all times – they’ll love it! Your guinea pig will love you back too because he’ll be healthy and happy!

How To Prevent Digestive Issues In Your Guinea Pig :

  • Give A Well Balanced Diet:The best way to prevent digestive issues is by feeding your pet a well-balanced diet which includes leafy greens, hay, fresh water, and commercial pellets. Don’t give him too much of everything though!

You should speak with the vet about what does & doesn’t work for your guinea pig’s particular case because all rodents are different in this regard.

  • Give Them Sufficient Fiber:Fiber is an important part of your pet’s diet because it aids digestion and helps prevent bloating.

Hay should be the staple food in their diets since they are herbivores, after all! This will provide them with plenty of roughage, so make sure to give them as much hay as possible every day – Orchard Grass & Timothy Hay works best for Guinea Pigs, but other types can work too (just not alfalfa).

  • Provide Adequate Water:Water, water, water everywhere! Make sure that you offer your Guineapig a bowl full of fresh distilled/spring water at all times, which will help keep his digestive system up to par.
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Finally, don’t forget about veggies and fruits on occasion either, because they contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which will help your guinea pig live a long life full of energy!

Reproductive Issues In Guinea Pigs:

There are a few reproductive issues which guinea pigs can face, so it’s important to be aware of this too!

  • Pyometra:This condition is caused by the hormone progesterone and occurs when the uterine lining becomes swollen because of an infection.Pyometra requires veterinary treatment immediately, otherwise she could die from heart or kidney failure/infection!
  • Dystocia: “Dystocia” happens when your rodent cannot deliver her litter normally – in certain cases, they might even remain inside their bodies until they become rotten and infected. If you notice that your guinea pig has been straining for more than a few hours, then it’s time to call the vet!
  • Enlarged Prostrate:Another common issue is when your guinea pig has trouble urinating. This can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common in older male Guinea Pigs is an enlarged prostate gland, which prevents them from peeing at all!
  • Cysts And Tumors:Cysts and tumors occur when there is an abnormal growth of cells within the body which can cause various health problems. The most common type of pig in captivity is a Lipoma (this normally occurs on the neck or underbelly).

How To Prevent Reproductive Issues In Guinea Pigs?

  • Regular Health Check Ups:The best way to prevent reproductive issues in Guinea Pigs is by taking them to the vet for regular check ups.
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  • Healthy Diet:Apart from that, make sure they are well fed and have constant access to fresh water plus plenty of hay on offer at all times. If you feed them a healthy diet, then they will be happy and healthy, which means fewer problems overall!
  • Spay Or Neuter Them :In order to prevent reproductive issues from happening, you should have your guinea pig spayed or neutered by the time they reach sexual maturity.Your vet can advise on how best to do this and will also give a thorough checkup at the same time!
  • Get Them Vaccinated:Finally, make sure that you keep up with all the recommended vaccinations.
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Excretory System Issues:

The excretory system includes the kidneys, bladder and urethra.

  • Inability To Urinate:We already discussed this issue, but an inability to urinate can be caused by a number of different factors, including urinary stones, tumors, or even kidney failure! Treating it involves flushing out their entire system while also providing them with lots of water .
  • Urinary Stones And Sludge:Another common cause is when your rodent has sludge and crystals which form from minerals such as calcium sticking together inside their bodies. These are usually red in color and can cause blockages which prevent them from being able to pee.
  • Blockages:These occur when there is a complete or partial obstruction of the urethra resulting in urine retention within their system. This needs veterinary treatment immediately, because if it’s allowed to continue, your guinea pig might even die!
  • Urinary Tract Infection : Another common problem for Guinea Pigs is when they have a urinary tract infection which will also result in them not being able to pee. This needs veterinary treatment ASAP because it can quickly turn dangerous.

How To Prevent Excretory Issues In Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs have a very delicate urinary system, so it’s important to monitor their health carefully in order for them not to develop any issues.

  • Provide Plenty Of Fresh Water:As with most rodents, they are prone to bladder stones, which is why you should make sure that your Guinea Pig has plenty of fresh water on hand at all times (distilled or spring).
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  • Give Balanced Diet:Make sure that they are eating a balanced diet that consists of hay plus some fresh vegetables and fruits. This will help to prevent urinary tract infections from happening.
  • Regular Check Ups:Finally make sure you take them for regular check ups at the vet in order to catch any potential issues before they get out of hand!

Apart from the above mentioned five categories, guinea pigs also face frequent dental issues such as overgrown teeth, malocclusion, rotten teeth, abscesses et cetera. Click here to find out in detail about all the dental issues faced by guinea pigs.

Wrapping Up

Like humans, guinea pigs need a balanced diet to stay happy and healthy. They should be given fresh water every day to ensure they remain hydrated, as well as regular health checks by an experienced vet.

It’s important for pet owners to keep their pets safe from illnesses that are common in the rodent family.

The good news is that there are many steps you can take to avoid the most common health issues. A healthy diet, fresh water and regular vet check-ups will go a long way in making sure your guinea pig stays happy and healthy for years to come!



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