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Guinea Pig Health

In order to keep your Guinea pig in the best possible condition, you will need to  handle him daily,  check him over for signs of illness and injuries. They may be very sick, but unless you are looking for specific symptoms, you may not realize he is ill until he is very ill. Take a good look at your Guinea pig. Does he look bright and alert, or is he just sitting around in a listless sort of way. Is he relaxed, hunched up, or grinding his teeth. Is your Guinea pig behaving the way he usually does? Many experienced Animal  owners will tell you the first sign that they have of illness is: "the Animal just didn't act the same".

The following conditions are to be considered extremely serious, and you should seek proper veterinary care immediately, even on an emergency basis if needed:

  • Not eating for more than eight hours
  • Very labored breathing
  • Bleeding from mouth, rectum or genital area
  • Inability to urinate
  • Extreme lethargy (may also accompany above conditions
  • Diarrhea that is watery and foul-smelling
  • Pregnancy complications: straining during giving birth, bleeding or lethargy

If you notice any of the following, see your vet within the next 24 hours:

  • Sniffles, runny nose or eyes
  • Persistent scratching, to the point it draws blood
  • Crying out when urinating, or blood in urine
  • Reduced ability to eat food, especially if accompanied by excess water intake or slobbering
  • Diarrhea that consists of droppings that are very soft and unformed.

For the following, you should see a vet soon, or call a vet for advice:

  • Hair loss
  • Sneezing often (more than just once or twice a day)
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in water intake (drinking more, drinking less)
  • Very soft droppings

Eye condition: A healthy Guinea pig has bright, alert eyes. Watery eyes, eyes with lots of redness, and pus  are all signs of an eye infection that needs veterinary attention. Dull eyes indicate that the Guinea pig isn't feeling well, and you need to investigate further to determine the cause.

Ear condition: Look in your Guinea pigs ears. Are there signs of a wax build-up or a gray-black debris? If so, he needs to be checked for ear-mite, and treated if needed. Redness and signs of infection need to be looked at by your vet.

Sensitivity of Guinea Pigs to Certain Antibiotics: Guinea pigs as a group are unusually sensitive to certain antibiotics, whether they are given orally or by injection. Potentially harmful antibiotics include ampicillin, penicillin, bacitracin, erythromycin, lincomycin, gentamicin, clindamycin, streptomycin, vancomycin and sometimes tetracycline. Interestingly, even certain antibiotics used topically may produce lethal effects. The major way in which certain antibiotics cause reactions is by altering the normal microbial balance within the gastrointestinal tract Once the normal intestinal microfloral balance has been upset, certain bacteria multiply to abnormally large numbers. The multiplying bacteria produce harmful chemicals that can have lethal effects. Certain antibiotics (streptomycin, dihydrostreptomycin) are directly toxic and do not alter the microbial balance within the gastrointestinal tract. These antibiotics should never be used in guinea pigs. Though injectable antibiotics can cause the problems described above, oral antibiotics are more often associated with them. Antibiotics should never be given to guinea pigs unless they are prescribed by a veterinarian. If oral or injectable antibiotics are prescribed, 2 1/2 cc (1/2 teaspoon) of plain, white yogurt should be given orally to the treated animal morning and evening for the duration of the antibiotic therapy and for an additional 5-7 days afterward. Yogurt helps replace those beneficial intestinal bacteria that often perish during antibiotic treatment.