Guinea pigs are social animals, and hence, it is advised to house them in pairs in order to prevent the onset of boredom and depression.
Also known as cavy, the guinea pig is neither a pig, nor native to Guinea. It is, in fact, a rodent belonging to the family Caviidae. Guinea pigs are adorable as pets, but one really needs to take the necessary precautions when it comes to maintaining their hygiene and health issues. The following article tells you more about the common health difficulties your pet guinea pig might encounter.
Common Health Issues in Pet Guinea Pigs
DiarrheaYour pet looks pale, grim, and is commonly observed to be sitting with a puffed-up coat. Diarrhea in guinea pigs is caused mainly due to excess feeding of fruits and green vegetables, infections (mainly due to bacteria), and other intestinal complications. E. coli (bacteria) and giardia (parasites) often cause severe cases of diarrhea. Try keeping the pet's diet in control and increasing the water intake, if the nature of diarrhea is semi-liquid. If the diarrhea is extremely watery, then take your guinea pig to the vet as soon as possible.
Upper Respiratory InfectionsDifficulty in breathing, nasal and eye discharge, wheezing sound from the lungs, and sneezing are common symptoms of the viruses Bordetella and Pasteurella, which are harbored by rabbits and dogs. These problems can culminate in to a fatal form of pneumonia, hence, it is advised not to house guinea pigs, rabbits, and dogs together. If you think that your pet guinea pig is suffering from respiratory infections, consult a vet immediately.
Heat StrokeGuinea pigs are susceptible to excess heat, and keeping them in an overly-heated room can prove to be fatal. If your guinea pig is often exhibiting shallow and rapid breathing and a lack of energy, then wrap the animal in a cool towel and spray cool water on it at regular intervals. If there is not respite in the symptoms even after this, your pet needs medical attention.
MalocclusionIt is essential that a guinea pig's teeth should wear since they tend to grow continuously. Malocclusion is that condition where the teeth do not wear at a normal rate. The teeth, hence, do not fit properly-probably due to a hereditary or congenital disarrangement, or other dental problems such as uneven or broken teeth, and problems with the growth of molars and incisors. When the pig is suffering from these difficulties, it commonly shows signs such as loss of appetite, excessive drooling, and weight loss. Malocclusion needs to be corrected at the earliest to ensure the good health of your pet.
Difficulty During Delivery (Dystocia)Generally, a female guinea pig (sow) breeds for the first time before she turns 8 months of age. But if she breeds later than that, she often faces complications during delivery such as bleeding, wailing and squealing loudly while contracting, giving up trying due to extreme exertion, absence of placenta, and not producing a baby even after half hour of continuous contractions. If you are breeding guinea pigs, then make sure that you are not leaving it till too late; it can prove to be fatal to the guinea pig.
Fungal and Bacterial InfectionsSuch infections are marked by redness of skin, open sores, constant scratching, and dry and scaly skin. Mange mites (Trixacarus caviae) commonly lead to hair loss and persistent scratching in the pigs. Make sure you clean these wounds carefully with hydrogen peroxide, and consult a vet.
ScurvyGuinea pigs are strictly vegetarians, and vitamin C is an important constituent of their diet. Hence, if the vitamin C intake subsides, the guinea pig will start suffering from weight loss, dehydration, diarrhea, difficulty in walking, nasal and eye discharge, and loss of energy. If you notice these symptoms, you need to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
Of course, the aforementioned problems can be avoided if you carefully monitor your pet's progress and take necessary precautions. Thus, conduct a thorough research before you decide on adopting or buying a guinea pig as a pet.
Disclaimer: This PetPonder article is purely for informative and educational purposes and does not intend to replace the advice offered by a registered veterinarian.