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Owning... guinea pigs

At the vet

Ailments

Vitamin C Deficiency:- Guinea pigs cannot synthesise their own vitamin C, and need at least 10mg per kg body weight per day. Vitamin C is contained in fruit and vegetables and also hay. Provided these are fed in sufficient quantity there shouldn't be a problem. However, if your guinea pig doesn't get enough, deficiency causes weight loss, swollen joints, difficulty in walking, weakness and salivation (shown by a wet chin).

Overgrown teeth:- The incisors (front teeth) continue to grow throughout the guinea pig's life and may need to be trimmed by your vet. However, the back teeth can become too long as well. These teeth are right in the back of the mouth and can't be seen but will cause eating difficulties if overgrown. If your guinea pig loses weight and drops food while eating, its back teeth are probably too long. Your vet can trim them but they could grow back again quickly, requiring regular visits. To help wear down the teeth, forage such as hay and alfalfa should always be present, and a branch from an apple tree can be put in the run for him to chew on. Wood chews are available from pet shops.

Fighting:- If two adult males get together there will be a serious fight. When trying to separate the fighting pigs, put on thick gloves to protect yourself and separate them using a thin sheet of wood. Wait until they have calmed down before picking them up, or they will mistake your hand for the other guinea pig. If there are wounds, clean them with antiseptic. If there are serious wounds, go straight to the vet.

Eyes:- If a hay stalk pokes a guinea pig in the eye, the eye will go cloudy white. If you find your guinea pig has cloudy eyes, make sure there is nothing left in the eye to irritate it and treat it with terramycin from your vet.

Throat:- Check the hay for thistles before feeding it to your guinea pig as they can cause swelling in the throat and sometimes abcesses. If this occurs, consult your vet.

Skin:- Skin trouble is caused by tiny mites burrowing under the skin, making the guinea pig scratch. If untreated, the guinea pig will die from the stress of constant irritation and scratching. Treatment involves bathing in a special solution. It is best to consult your vet about what to bathe your pig with.

Pneumonia:- If your guinea sits hunched up and breathes quickly and noisily he has probably got pneumonia. Keep him warm and give plenty of fluids. Glucose diluted with water can be given via a dropper. Consult your vet for a suitable medicine. Never give your guinea pig any human medication, especially not penicillin, which they are allergic to and will die if given.

Diarrhoea:- Caused by eating something that has disagreed with it. Keep him warm and in a clean box. Don't feed greens until it has cleared up.

Guinea Main