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SIGNS OF A SICK GUINEA PIG

Signs of a Sick Guinea Pig

Different guinea pigs display symptoms in different ways, but if your guinea pig is experiencing any of the following signs, you should phone your veterinarian immediately for guidance:

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is not necessarily a problem. If your guinea pig otherwise seems normal or if the diarrhea is watery, withhold food for 24 hours. After 24 hours, start feeding only small amounts of a bland diet. If the diarrhea continues after withholding food or once you begin feeding the bland diet, have your pet examined by your veterinarian.

The condition is urgent and requires immediate medical attention if:

  • There is weakness.
  • There is weight loss or poor appetite.
  • Your guinea pig seems to be in pain or has abdominal swelling.
  • Your guinea pig seems listless, dull or lethargic.
  • Your guinea pig seems to be in pain or has abdominal swelling.

Scratching, Licking or Chewing

If your guinea pig has mites, fleas, ticks, flies, or other parasites, she may scratch or lick the area occasionally, or even bite herself. Examine the coat for parasites and treat fleas or ticks with over-the-counter medications unless the problem appears severe. Consult a veterinarian if there is no improvement.

The condition is urgent and requires immediate medical attention if:

  • Your guinea pig's scratching, licking or biting comes on suddenly and severely.
  • There is inflammation or hair loss, or if her efforts break the skin.
  • Your guinea pig has other symptoms, such as diarrhea, pain, lethargy, coughing, difficulty moving, changes in appetite, or difficulty breathing.

Panting, Coughing, Wheezing or Sneezing

If your guinea pig coughs or pants occasionally, she may be overheated or overexerted. Try calming her down in a temperate room and watch her carefully for signs of deterioration or distress. Severe or prolonged coughing, wheezing, or panting is usually a sign of a problem that requires immediate medical attention. If your guinea pig starts sneezing, it may just be a cold, but if she is rubbing her nose a lot and there is nasal discharge, call your veterinarian.

The condition is urgent and requires immediate medical attention if:

  • Your guinea pig is choking, pawing at her mouth, or in obvious distress--give first aid for choking and contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Her breathing is shallow or labored.
  • She is wheezing.
  • She coughs up pus, blood, or pink foamy fluid.
  • She collapsed or passes out.
  • There are accompanying nasal and/or eye discharges.

Pain, Stiffness, or Difficulty Moving

If your guinea pig seems stiff or lame or if she is limping, examine the area for signs of cuts, warmth, or bruising. If everything appears to be normal and if your guinea pig is behaving naturally in every other way, keep her confined and observe her for 24 hours for signs of improvement.

The condition is urgent and requires immediate medical attention if:

  • Your guinea pig is unbalanced, staggering, or falling down.
  • She collapses.
  • She appears to be distressed or sensitive to light and sound--call for help with poisoning.
  • She is stiff all over or collapses--give first aid for seizures.
  • She shows any sign of limb paralysis--treat as an emergency!
  • Obvious limb or back fracture, any open fracture (skin broken)

Constipation

Guinea pigs are susceptible to disorders that can result in bowel problems, and they can develop internal blockages. Guinea pigs groom themselves in a similar fashion to cats and can ingest a great deal of fur. If your guinea pig appears fairly normal but does not pass feces, she may be constipated; in a guinea pig, this usually requires veterinary attention, so consult your veterinarian right away. If there are other behavioral or physical symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Eye and Ear Disorders

Clear discharge can result from allergies, infections, irritation, or eye trauma. Cloudiness often results from injury or infection, but it can also signal cataracts, glaucoma, lens problems, or simply the aging process. Dry or bloodshot eyes are most often seen in older guinea pigs and can easily lead to infection; they are also signs of chronic eye disease, KCS or dry eye.

Failing vision can result from retinal dysplasia, stroke, progressive retinal atrophy, aging, cataracts, glaucoma, or diabetes. Inflammation can be caused by allergies, conjunctivitis, or third eyelid infections. Lumps or bumps can be caused by tumors or cysts. Yellow discharge is most often the sign of infection, often following dry eye in older guinea pigs.

Teeth Problems

When your guinea pig's front teeth wear improperly, they become misaligned. If her teeth are overly long, or there are jaw problems or infections in the mouth, ulcerations on the lips or tongue, she may have difficulty eating. She may exhibit excessive drooling and have sticky buildup on the fur around the mouth; this is commonly referred to as "slobbers." Your guinea pig will need to see the veterinarian for a tooth trimming and treatment.