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How Can I Tell When My Guinea Pig is Sick?

If your guinea pig gets sick, he may exhibit a number of physical signs, a change in behavior, or both, depending on the malady. But the signs are not always obvious, so be aware of your guinea pig's normal appearance and behavior so you will notice immediately when something is wrong. When you do notice abnormal behavior or physical signs, call your veterinarian and be prepared to describe the changes you've observed in your pet, then follow your veterinarian's advice.

Besides knowing how your guinea pig looks and acts normally, you should be aware of some of the common manifestations of illness or distress. Familiarize yourself with the examples below and you will have a good start:

  • Eye Problems: Look for inflamed eyes, dull appearance, sticky or swollen lids.
  • Respiratory Problems: Look for nasal discharge, crusted nose and slobbering.
  • Skin and Fur Problems: Watch for "open coat," which is when a guinea pig's hair stands out all over his body. Also look for a thinning or dull coat and bare spots.
  • Digestive Tract Problems: Look for acute dehydration, lack of appetite (anorexia).
  • Behavior Problems: Watch for huddled, hunchbacked behavior. Your guinea pig might hide in a corner and appear to "give up" when he gets sick, as if he has no will to fight off the disease.