For the public

Seizures in Guinea Pigs

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.

Respiratory Infections in Guinea Pigs

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

Administering Fluids to Guinea Pigs

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.

Mites in Guinea Pigs

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). 

Assist Feeding

If your guinea pig is not eating well, it needs to be started on a 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.

Epilepsy in Gerbils

Gerbil Epilepsy, sometimes called fits, is a common condition seen in 20-40% of all gerbils.  It is believed to be inherited and therefore strongly associated with certain breeds of gerbils.  In fact, lines have been bred to be seizure-resistant and seizure-prone for use in clinical research on human epilepsy.  The seizure-prone gerbils spend less time performing social activities, such as scent gland marking.  The seizure activity is due to a deficiency in a brain enzyme, cerebral glutamine synthetase, and is classified as “spontaneous epileptiform seizures.”

Vomiting & Swallowed Objects in Ferrets

Ferrets are inquisitive pets that explore the world with their mouths.  Commonly, they chew off pieces of toys or furniture as they play.  In some cases, they may swallow a chunk of these objects and it goes on to cause problems.  They are also amazing furry vacuum cleaners and it is a wonder at the sorts of things they find and swallow even in a household that is meticulous about cleaning!

Vaccinations in Ferrets

Ferrets are susceptible to a variety of viral diseases that can cause serious illness and death.

Distemper, the same virus that causes the disease in dogs, is a very serious disease that almost always causes death in unvaccinated ferrets. Even ferrets that never go outside should have distemper vaccinations. Contact with an infected dog or ferret is not the only way your ferret can be infected.  You can bring the deadly virus into your home indirectly on clothes, shoes, or other items after being in close proximity to where an infected animal has been.  

Tooth Problems in Ferrets

Ferrets can develop plaque and tartar on their teeth as they age.  As the tartar accumulates, it starts to irritate the gums and eventually progresses to gingivitis (bleeding and irritated gums).  Left untreated, a ferret will develop infections of the mouth and may have bad breath, drooling, and difficulty eating.  Over time, this can lead to painful abscesses and loss of the teeth.

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