Guinea Pig Health Guide

Guinea pig health. Cavy’s are cute creatures and they make great pets. With the right diet and proper care, a lot of guinea pig health problems can be avoided and they can even live longer than 5years. But like every other animal, these pigs have their own set of health problems.

Once you get to know the signs and symptoms, you can monitor your guinea pig in case it falls sick or if it is falling sick. Although not all guinea pigs are the same, even the top common ailments aren’t the same. Since these babies are very good at hiding, the best thing would be to monitor any changes in appetite, behavior, urine and defecation patterns, and other habits.

 Even take note of physical changes like hair loss, swelling, skin itchiness or redness, sneezing, puffiness, red eyes, heavy breathing, lethargy, drooling, limping, bloody urine too. Sometimes, slow responses also are major signs that your cavy isn’t doing too well. This could be an early sign of sickness.

Diarrhea Guinea pig health

Guinea pigs have a very sensitive stomach and need to carefully balance the bacterial flora in their gastrointestinal tracts.

Now if this becomes unbalanced or upset then the levels of bad bacteria can cause nasty toxins to build up and damage to their intestinal tract.

This then results in diarrhea which can be very serious for your guinea pigs health.

How To Treat Diarrhoea

Any diarrhea should be followed up with a visit to the vets to ensure that the correct care is given.
Diarrhea can often be accompanied by dehydration and hypothermia, both of these can be life threatening to your guinea pigs health if not treated.


Gas filling in the gastrointestinal tracts.

Ileus is a condition where excessive gases are accumulated all along the gastrointestinal tract.

And this can be life threatening for your guinea pigs health.

Ileus can be one of the most common causes of death in guinea pigs because of the nature of its symptoms.

Loss of appetite, and irregular defecation. Even the subtlest of these two symptoms, as observed in the eating and defecating patterns, should raise an alarm in owners because it could cause sudden death.

There is no particular way to prevent ileus. Although, a balanced diet with fresh vegetables and hay along with keeping their cages clean and free from droppings and urine can help prevent ileus.

If you suspect your guinea pig has any of the above symptoms then visit your vet immediately.


Mites are very common, small parasites that live on, or burrow into the skin of small animals.

The most common mites is the mange mite, that burrows into the skin of guinea pigs, which causes them intense pain.

If the mange mite is not treated in the early stages, these mites can cause extreme and painful damage to your guinea pig and even death.

Mites, especially mange mites, can not to be seen through the human eye and makes it impossible to diagnose at home.

Mites can find their way to guinea pigs through hay and grass and cause irritation of the skin.
Mange mites cause scratching, pain when touched and hair loss, which then leads to scabs and sores if left untreated.

With regular grooming and keeping their cages clean.

As soon as your guinea pig has open sores by scratching and has a large part of their body affected or is showing signs of obvious discomfort.

You should take your guinea pig to see a vet immediately.

Uterine and Ovarian Cancer

How Do You Know if Your Guinea Pig Has Cystic Ovaries?

Most obvious symptom of ovarian cysts is symmetrical alopecia on your guinea pig’s abdomen. This loss of hair that is the same on both sides of the belly of your guinea pig is a tell-tale indication that it has ovarian issues

Sexually aggressive
Slightly enlarged nipples
Loss of appetite or pickier eater
A general thinning of hair or hair loss
Slight loss and redistribution of weight

The only cure for cystic ovaries it by removing them by a full ovariohysterectomy.


Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C and can cause serious illness and health problems in guinea pigs.

A Rough coat or alopecia, swollen feet, ulcers and being off their food. and may also have diarrhoea.

Lethargy and unwillingness to move
Rough coat or alopecia
Painful joints
Weight loss
Dental problems

Always ensure that your guinea pigs diet includes Vitamin C and clean fresh water.

Guinea pig pellets and fresh vegetables that contain vitamin C should provide your guinea pig with the vitamin C they need.

Urinary Problems

Guinea pigs are also prone to urinary stones that can form in the kidney or bladder and may become lodged in the urethral tubes. Female guinea pigs may suffer more with this as a result of getting frequent infections such as cystitis.

Signs can include blood in the urine, a hunched posture and straining (or inability) to produce urine. You may also find that your guinea pig looses their appetite and goes off their food.


Uroliths can be painful for guinea pigs and can cause bloody urine, or even prevent a guinea pig from being able to urinate.

Long term prevention can be in encouraging your guinea pigs to exercise more by providing a large exercise areas to run around in.

Increasing water consumption is as part essential to prevention and treatment of urinary stones.

Any signs of urinary problems can be a life threatening complaint and will need urgent medical attention. So these urinary problems must always be referred to your vet for further investigation.

Guinea Pig Health Respiratory Problems

Pneumonia or other lung infections are another common health complaint in guinea pigs

Many guinea pigs carry the bacteria which causes pneumonia ( Bordetella and Streptococcus ) but don’t usually develop any infection.
However, in cases, such as stress, your guinea pigs will develop signs of an infection.

These can include difficulty breathing, sneezing and discharge around the eyes and nose.

Treating pneumonia:

If you think your guinea pig may have pneumonia, you must take them to the vet immediately.

The vet will prescribe antibiotics which are usually sufficient to combat the infection.


Bumblefoot (or pododermatitis) can be common in caged animals and is a result of heavy abrasion of the feet and can occur more frequently in overweight guinea pigs.
Especially if the cage has a wired bottom (which are not recommended) or the cage is not cleaned regularly then this can exacerbate the problem.

Your guinea pig’s feet will look inflamed and may also have lumps and abrasions on them.

Bumblefoot problem can be rectified but, if left untreated, can cause pain and lameness so always take your guinea pig to the vet if you think they might be suffering from this condition.

Guinea Pig Health Dehydration

Look at your guinea pigs eyes. If they look sunken and lackluster, this maybe an indication of dehydration.

As guinea pigs are usually active and alert and always looking around to see what’s going on.

So If their eyes lack liveliness, fatigue may be causing dehydration.

.A dark strong-smelling urine is often a sign of dehydration, so check your guinea pig’s urine.

When your guinea pig is drinking normally, their urine will be lighter in color.

Pay attention to the consistency and form of your guinea pig’s stool.

If you notice dry stool or droppings smaller than usual, this may also indicate dehydration.


Tilted down and floppy appearance of the ears
Limp and lethargic and not wanting to move
Eyes appear to be sunken and smaller

How To Rehydrate A Guinea Pig

Extra water must be given to your guinea pigs in order to correct dehydration.

This can be done by helping your guinea pig drink using a syringe.

Feed them vegetables and fruit that have high water content such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce, melon.

Fungal Infections In Guinea Pigs

So it’s important that you differentiate between the two as treatment is different.

Fungal infections in guinea pigs can often be confused with mange mite infections.


Fungal can be identified by dry and scaly skin around the nose, ears, and feet. and can be with or without a combination of dandruff-like skin on the coat.

When grooming and pulling loose hairs from a guinea pig that has fungal, the dandruff-like skin will be more visible at the end of the hairs where they were attached to the skin.

Once hair-covered areas are effected, hair loss is imminent and can occur slowly or quickly.


It is important to eliminate Fungal infections completely as this infection can spread rapidly.
This in turn could end up being a major problem if you don’t treat it correctly.

Visit your vet who will likely prescribe an antifungal agent that will need to be taken orally by your guinea pigs.

Your vet will probably advise you to wash your guinea pig a couple of times a week with prescribed anti-fungal shampoo.

Finally it is important and recommend that you decontaminate the area in which your guinea pigs have been living to ensure the infection does not reoccur and improve your guinea pig health.

Guinea Pig Stroke

During a stroke itself, your guinea pig may start to convulse, or act unresponsive or display irregular breathing.

If your guinea pig has already had a stroke, its chances of suffering another multiply.

A guinea pig that has suffered a stroke displays weakness in one side of its body or paralysis and the affected area will appear to sag.

Other symptoms that your guinea pig has had a stroke include listlessness, loss of balance and loss of appetite.

Your guinea pig may also walk in circles or tilt its head, or an eye may bulge.

The common, symptoms of stroke can occur suddenly and disappear slowly.

So if your guinea pig acts fine one minute and can’t move the next, then it may have suffered a stroke.

Take your guinea pig to a veterinarian immediately, if you suspect your guinea pig has suffered a stroke.

Your guinea pig’s chance of recovery are far higher the sooner you begin their treatment.

Guinea Pig Heat Stroke

In hot summer weather guinea pigs need to be kept cool to prevent them from heat exhaustion which can lead to heatstroke

If immediate attention is not given when your guinea pig is overheating and not spotted early enough, could be fatal for your guinea pigs.

If your guinea pig is housed outdoors, their hutch should always be positioned in the shade.

As direct sunlight can make a hutch seriously hot inside and your guinea pigs have no means of escape from these unbearable temperatures.

If the weather out side becomes too hot then it would be advisable to bring your guinea pig indoors to prevent heat stroke.

If you need to take your guinea pig to the vet or are transporting guinea pigs for whatever reason in hot weather, make sure you transport them in a proper pet carrier and not a make shift cardboard box with holes in.

The reason being they need lots of ventilation and water to keep them hydrated.

As with all pets, never leave guinea pigs in a hot car and don’t transport them in the boot of a car as it doesn’t have enough fresh air and can become extremely hot.

Hyperventilation (fast breathing) often with mouth open or very shallow and short breaths and panting
Body temperature of over 40 degrees celsius
Unable to stand up or limp


Take your guinea pig into a cool place indoors and out of direct sun light.

Soak a towel in cool water (but not ice cold), then wring the towel out so it’s just damp and wrap it around your guinea pig for a short period of time.

Around 4 to 5 minutes should be enough, but not too long as this can be dangerous.

Whatever you do, Don’t put your guinea pig in cold water and Don’t pour cold water over them as this can lead to shock.

Now once your guinea pig begins to move, then remove the towel and keep him cool in a well ventilated area to dry off.

Wait until your guinea pig is a little more alert before giving them a drink of water.

As if you give your guinea pig a drink of water too soon, it may end up in their lungs.

However, if your guinea pig does need water as soon as possible to rehydrate, feed a little water from either a syringe or a handheld drip-feed bottle.

Continue giving your guinea pig water at regular intervals over the next 24 hours to rehydrate them

Foods such as watermelon, lettuce and cucumber are high in water content so offer them some of these too.

Once your guinea pig has recovered, monitor them regular and make sure they housed in a cool place.

It would also be advisable to take them to the vet at this stage in case they need any additional treatment to help them recover.

Eye Infections In Guinea Pigs

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye that is often caused by bacteria or upper respiratory tract infection.

Some cases of eye inflammation can be caused by sharp objects in the cage, an allergic reaction to dust or wood shavings and even overgrown teeth.


Sticky eyelids caused by dried discharge
Watery eyes
Swelling around the eye
Pus-filled discharge
Redness around the eye


A vet will identify whether you guinea pig has conjunctivitis, and may prescribe antibiotic eye drops, oral antibiotics or ointment.


A guinea pig’s nose should be clean and free from any discharge., snotty noses can be a sign of fungal infections and bacterial infection.

A nose that is swollen may actually indicate an inflammation of the lips such as cheilitis.


Their Ears should be relatively clean and free from any debris and crust.

Parasite infections can grow rapidly, so their ears should be regular checked to prevent this happening.

You should always look inside their ears as part of your grooming routine and, if necessary, wipe with a damp ball of cotton wool to remove grime.



Symptoms can be the following

  • Excessive thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive urination
  • Cataracts

Treatment and prevention

Diabetes is not usually common with guinea pigs, but they can suffer from it.

And in some cases the disease can be temporary, and insulin therapy is usually not necessary.

Feeding your guinea pigs on a low-fat and high-fiber diet is essential in treating and preventing diabetes.

Since these are small and tiny cavy, diagnosing them for any kind of sickness is quite a task. By keeping a close watch on your guinea pig health for any kind of sickness is something you can easily do and also something that you must do in improving your guinea pig health.

Make sure it is healthy and passing stools regularly. Keep its surroundings clean, especially the bedding and the cage. Keep any kind of drafts away.

Some diseases can be life-threatening. Be gentle and create a low-stress environment for them.

They need to exercise too to stay healthy. As with all Medicines or antibiotics should never be given to them as they can easily upset their stomach.

They can be given medicines only under supervision or as prescribed by a veterinarian who is familiar with guinea pigs.

At times, you may even have to have your pet hospitalized. Do not worry because that is only if it needs additional care or treatment.

Usually, stress from pregnancy, or the presence of other sicknesses increases the chances of these pigs to develop further infections as they are tiny and are also easily affected.

Guinea pigs who live alone are prone to lesser infectious diseases than those who live with other guinea pigs.

Taking them for check-ups is also a must at least once every 6 month. So if you suspect something wrong with your guinea pig health, see a veterinarian immediately.