Guinea pigs are wonderful companions for many people. They have a rich range of noises they make to communicate with each other and their human family. Since they are so social, it is important to keep them in pairs or larger groups. However, some guinea pigs do best by themselves if they spend a lot of time out with their owners.
Guinea pigs can get a wide variety of masses, growths, and bumps on their bodies. Although we cannot diagnose a mass just by looking at or feeling it, there are some more common masses that occur.
Caseous lymphadenitis, or lymph node abscessation, is most commonly caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus, but can be caused by other Streptococcus species of bacteria. It manifests as encapsulated abscesses within the cervical or submandibular lymph nodes in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs often show no other signs of disease, but in cases where the bacteria spreads systemically, other pathologies can arise. These can include, but are not limited to pleuropneumonia, ear infections, septicemia, or sudden death.
Veterinary laser therapy is an innovative treatment that has gained popularity in recent years as veterinarians recognize how it benefits pets. Used similarly to acupuncture, massage therapy, and other alternative therapies, laser treatment can be used in conjunction with medication to manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing. Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy results are achieved when a sufficient dose of light energy reaches target tissue and results in decreased inflammation, decreased pain, immune stimulation, and accelerated healing.
Ovarian cysts are fluid filled structures that develop on or near the ovary. There are many types of ovarian cysts and their prevalence in guinea pigs ranges from 58-100%. The two main types are 1) serous cysts, also known as nonfunctional or rete ovarii cysts, and 2) hormone producing follicular cysts. Rete cysts are non-hormone producing and typically do not cause clinical signs unless they are large and pushing on other organs. Follicular cysts develop from follicles on the ovary that fail to ovulate. When these types of cysts develop, the classic sign is non-itchy flank hair loss.
Ringworm is not actually caused by a worm but is a skin infection caused by a fungus. While lesions alone can lead to high suspicion of an infection, definitive diagnosis is made by culturing the fungus or by PCR testing. Because the culture test can take 2-3 weeks to complete, treatment is typically started immediately in suspect cases. The PCR test is more commonly used and results generally take 3 days. If the test is positive, treatment should continue and cultures or PCR testing should be repeated every 3 weeks until two consecutive negative results are obtained for the fungus.
Vitamin C deficiency, also known as Scurvy, is a common disease in our pet guinea pigs. The average guinea pig requires 10-20 mg of vitamin C every day. An unhealthy guinea pig may need 100 mg of vitamin C daily so temporarily increase the dose if you suspect your guinea pig is becoming sick.
True seizures are rare in guinea pigs. If your guinea pig cries out, falls to one side, and starts twitching, it is most likely infected with a skin parasite known as guinea pig mange (Trixacarus caviae). The seizure-like behavior is due to the intense itching sensation caused by the mites burrowing through the skin. Some guinea pigs may have mites and a normal coat of hair. Other guinea pigs will develop patches of hair loss. In the span of a few weeks, a guinea pig may become bald over most of its body.
Guinea pigs are very sensitive to infections of the upper respiratory tract and lungs. A seemingly minor sniffle or sneezing episode may be an early sign of a much more serious disease. A guinea pig may appear normal one day, have a nasal discharge and sneeze the next day, and develop labored breathing (their abdomen moves instead of their chest) and have pneumonia and even die within 48 hrs of the first signs of a problem. Some other signs of a respiratory tract infection are poor appetite, weight loss, ruffled fur, and crusty eyes. Due to the speed at which a guinea pig can go from he
An ill guinea pig may not drink enough water on its own to do well. Your guinea pig may be dehydrated if you see any of these problems: thick sticky saliva, crusty eyes, poor appetite, small amounts of dark colored urine, or hard dry fecal pellets.
In order to correct dehydration, extra water must be given to your guinea pig. Sometimes this can be done by helping the guinea pig drink using a syringe. Some guinea pigs need to have fluids given by other methods, either by subcutaneous fluids, intravenous fluids, or intraosseous fluids.