Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs Basic Care

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.


Ringworm is not actually caused by a worm, it is 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. Because the culture test can take 2-3 weeks to complete, treatment is typically started immediately in suspect cases. If the test is positive, treatment should continue and cultures should be repeated every 3-4 weeks until two consecutive cultures are negative for the fungus.


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 (Trixicara cavis).  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.

Respiratory Infections

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

Giving Fluids

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.

Dandruff & Mites

Does your guinea pig have dry scaley skin?  Does it scratch itself constantly and make noises like it just can't get comfortable?  Does it sometimes fall on its side and seem to be twitching like a seizure?  Chances are your guinea pig is suffering from skin mites or some other skin parasites (ectoparasites).  A few of the mites can actually cause itching and rashes in people, so if you and your guinea pig are itching, a visit with us is a must!

Bladder Stones

Guinea pigs often develop bladder stones composed of calcium carbonate. This can be the result of improper diet and cause a bladder infection.  The bladder stones of guinea pigs cannot be dissolved with special medications or diets.

Assist Feeding

If your guinea pig is not eating well, it need to be started on a liquid diet such as Oxbow's Critical Care for Herbivores right away.  It is much easier to help a sick guinea pig that has been assist fed until you are able to have it seen by a doctor than it is to help one that has been hungry and thirsty for several hours.  Make sure that your guinea pig is also getting one or two tablespoons of water by mouth several times a day.

Syringes - How Much Medication Is Needed?

Pets may be sent home with liquid medications.  An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective.  An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful.  Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective.  It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.