To make sure the guinea pigs keep healthy, look carefully at and handle them every day, so the first signs of anything wrong can easily be detected, It is important to know how a guinea pig looks when it is well; then it is easier to recognize quickly any change for the worse in its appearance and behaviour. A guinea pig should be examined regularly and carefully, especially the ears, eyes, nose and sexua.l organs. Always wash your hands thoroughly before feeding or handling any pet, but especially if disease is suspected. Guinea pigs can catch colds from humans; if you have a cold you should stay away from the guinea pigs for a few days and get someone else to feed them.
When guinea pigs do fall ill, prompt veterinary attention is needed because, like many small animals, they deteriorate very quickly and have rather poor powers of recuperation. Warmth is essential. It should always be remembered that guinea pigs dehydrate extraordinarily rapidly, so the sufferer should be carefully drip fed.
Overgrown teeth. Guinea pigs can be prone to overgrown teeth and their front or incisor teeth may need to be cut by a vet. It is quickly done and will not hurt the guinea pig. Prevention, however, is better than cure, so the guinea pig should always have access to a gnlawing block, preferably a newly cut log with the bark left on.
Overgrown claws. These canl be trimmed with a nail clipper bought from a pet shop. It is often safer to watch a vet clip the claws on the first occasion, aftter which it is not difficult to follow suit. The inportance of having handled the guinea pig enough to make it docile for this exercise cannot be overstressed.
First aid. In an emergency expert veterinary advice should be sought urgently, but it is important meanwhile to handle the pig correctly and do the right thing to speed its treatment. Generally, the animal should be kept warm and prevented from dehydrating. When the guinea pig is very cold, a small drop of whisky is an invaluable reviver.
Accidents. Probably for a suspected fracture the vet will want the guinea pig brought to the surgery rather than house call, so ask how to move the guinea pig safely, without aggravating its problem. When a fracture is not suspected, the guinea pig should be picked up in the usual way, wrapped in a towel for extra warmth, and taken immediately to the vet.
Wounds. Torn ears, sore hocks, and skin abrasion may be the result of keeping incompatible guinea pigs together. Consult a veterinary surgeon if the wound is serious, or becomes infected, but otherwise bath in a saline solution.Keep males apart, and separate females if they constantly fight and kick. Normally compatible guinea pigs may fight when owercrowded. Abscesses occur quite frequently as a result of; a wound and must be lanced by the vet when they are ripe and 'cheesy'. The vet may also administer antibiotics.
Bald patches. If starting on the face and looking pale and scaly, these may be caused by ringworm. Itchy patches may be a sign of mange. A bald patch in the middle of the back that neither spreads nor itches may be the result of an over-rich diet. Reduce pelleted food and offer more green stuff and hay. If patches persist, seek veterinary advice.
Constipation. This may be due to disease, lack of roughage, or too dry a diet (perhaps with too much cereal and pellet food), fed without sufficient water.
Diarrhoea. May be due to an intestinal infection, introduced by way of contaminated or frosted vegetable matter, or due to a sudden change in diet. If it persists or occurs with other symptoms, advice should be sough by your vet
Hair stripping. This abnormal behaviour, when guinea pigs strip their own hair as far as they can reach or strip each other, tends to occur in the longhaired breeds. Some young are made quite hairless in this way by their own parents. The cause may be boredom and, in particular, the lack of something to chew. This is one reason why it is essential to give guinea pigs as much hay as they will eat, and to keep them in pairs or small groups in as interesting an environment as possible.
Loss of balance. A guinea pig which holds its head to one side and which may veer round in circles, quite unable to walk in a straight line, is showing symptoms of middle ear disease and professional advice should be sought.
Parasites. Guinea pigs are usually free of parasites unless there are infected cats and dogs, for instance, in the house. They may, however, become infested with lice, perhaps from infected hay or straw. Either bath the guinea pig with a medicated shampoo or treat with a mild insecticide powder. Repeat the treatment once a week, and if in any doubt or difficulty, seek veterinary help.
Pseudotuberculosis. Enlarged glands in the neck and growths in the abdomen may be caused by a serious condition known as pseudotuberculosis. Sometimes death is rapid, but variations of the condition may cause a slow deterioration in the guinea pig over several weeks. This is a highly infectious disease and veterinary advice must be sought.
Respiratory infections. Symptoms similar to those associated with the common cold in man are made worse by poor living conditions, and can develop into pneumonia. Rehousing the guinea pigs in isolation in a dry, warm and roomy cage will often bring about an improvement and stop the spread of these respiratory infections. If in doubt, or if the symptoms persist, do not hesitate to seek veterinary advice.
Salmonellosis. An organism of the salmonella group causes rapid loss of condition followed by collapse. This very serious disease has a high mortality rate and spreads quickly through large colonies. Veterinary attention is vital because the most rigorous cleaning and disinfecting is necessary before it is safe to introduce new stock into the accommodation after an outbreak. Animals that do survive an attack may act as carriers and cause subsequent outbreaks. There is also a hazard to human health, and therefore particular care over personal hygiene must be taken.
Vitamin C deficiency. Guinea pigs, and especially pregnant sows, have a particular need for a high daily vitamin C intake. A deficiency may lead to scurvy, and a loss of resistance to other diseases. Pellets fed without a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, or those prepared for other animals, may not contain enough vitamin C to meet this need. Guinea pigs not feeding adequately because of overgrown teeth may not take in enough of the vitamin, even though the right foods are available to them. .
Both cedar and pine bedding can be harmful to your pet's health? Every small animal owner should be aware of the following facts. that pine shavings, as well as cedar, causes liver disease in small animals.