When to see a vet

The symptoms that are in red should always see a vet as soon as possible, even if it means seeing a different one/emergency one. The other symptoms should see a vet within the next 24 hours. Where guinea pigs are in pain or fitting they should always see a vet immediately too. Do not attempt to treat a fitting guinea pig without first giving painkillers if the problem is a fungal/parasitic one.

  • Guinea hasn’t eaten anything for 4 hours: The sooner a vet can see guinea the better, the digestive system is difficult to get started again if it stops.
  • Laboured breathing: This can be a sign of pneumonia or a heart problem. Both have a better chance of responding to treatment the sooner it is given. Symptoms for both can include: a wet nose/discharge, raspy breathing (put your ear to the lungs to hear it), wheezing, gasping, decreased appetite and lethargy.
  • Blood loss from Rectum, Genital area, mouth: Any blood loss is serious and not normal, veterinary advice should be sought immediately. Once again time makes all the difference to the chance of recovery. Sows do not have a Menstrual flow.
  • Inability to Urinate/pass droppings: The inability to urinate could be a bladderstone or blockage. This can eventually damage the Kidneys and cause death. Veterinary attention is needed. Inability to pass droppings can mean a blockage that could cause bloat and eventually a painful death. See your vet at once.
  • Lethargy/fluffed up, hiding in the corner: This can be a sign of many things and further investigation by a vet must be sought. Often when the guinea pig has reached this stage they have a decreased appetite too (if any) and will need syringe feeding (Oxbow Critical Care from your vet or SPH Supplies). Often guinea pigs are in pain when they display these signs, by giving a painkiller (such as Rimadyl) your vet can determine if pain is causing the lethargy and then go on to investigate the cause of pain.
  • Diarrhoea: A guinea pig with Diarrhoea that is foul smelling should be taken to a vet in case Antibiotics (and Probiotics) are needed. This is different from loose stools caused by a change in diet or food that is the wrong temperature for example.
  • Pregnancy complications: The birth should happen reasonably ‘swiftly’ and without complication. Expect 4 babies to be born in around 30 minutes with no straining or profuse bleeding. There will be some blood, but not bleeding. The prescence of a smell that is out of the ordinary is also a sign to take the sow and babies to the vet. Watching a birth is difficult, sows are good at coping and sometimes its hard to know whether or not to interfere, if the sow is coping and there is no blood or strange smell then leave well alone.
  • Crying out when urinating: This can be a sign of bladderstones or a urinary infection. Symptoms are: crying out when urinating, arching the back at the end of urinating, passing blood (this is often not visible to the naked eye and only discovered when tests are done) and wet hair around the genitals that may smell ‘stale’, all or some or just one of these symptoms may be present. An x-ray to see if stones are present should be given (without anaesthetic), antibiotics and probiotics for an infection or an operation for bladderstone removal is needed as soon possible where stones are present. Treatment for each guinea pig will vary. Bladderstone operations are fairly intrusive and take some getting over. Be sure to ask your vet for painkillers to give post op. Failure to do so ould mean a guinea pig in pain will not eat- therefore leading to more problems.
  • Hairloss: Depending on the severity of the skin condition will depend on how urgent a vet visit is needed. Take the guinea pig to a vet for a diagnosis, Mites must be treated with an Ivermectin product that should only be obtained from your vet. Often fungal problems are present at the same time as parasitic ones and get overlooked, Gorgeous Guineas advise on products that are suited to fungal problems. This includes seeking veterinary advice where necessary. Other causes of hairloss are where there are internal problems, this can range from Kidneys, Liver and Ovarian Cysts. The latter condition is treatable with a course of injections known as Chorulon. It is important that the whole course is followed for the treatment to be successful. Where cysts are large it may be necessary to drain them.
  • Persistent scratching to the point of bloodloss or fitting: This may be caused by irritation from mites (usually the burrowing type), a bad infestation of Lice or a Fungal problem. Whatever the problem it is probably quite advanced if the guinea pig is fitting. Pain killers will need to be given before treating. Mites require treatment with Ivermectin and bathing in a guinea pig friendly shampoo from Gorgeous Guineas to relieve the irritation. Fungal problems are also successfully treated using Gorgeous Guineas’ products. If the point of fitting has been reached then veterinary treatment muxst be sought immediately, painkillers are only available from your vet and treatment cannot begin until the guinea pig has had one.
  • Suddden weightloss: This may be accompanied by a wet chin/slobbering (the problem isquite advanced when guinea pigs reach this stage). Difficulty eating/picking up hard/dry food can indicate a problem with the teeth, often guinea will still want to eat and often this masks a dental problem. watch your guinea pig carefully to make sure they are actually eating the food they pick up. Weightloss can also be the sign of other ailments such as kidney problems, see a vet for diagnosis. Depending on the stage that the problem is at veterinary attention sooner rather than later is desirable.
  • Wet nose/Crusty eyes: This can be a symptom of a respiratory tract problem and is best treated as soon as possible. Watery eyes may indicate a dental problem too and in some cases will need veterinary attention at once.
  • Lumps and bumps: Lumps that turn out to be abscesses need to be lanced and flushed in order to heal from the inside out. Sebaceous Cysts need to be ‘drained’, if left they can ‘explode’ leaving behind a large crater to heal over. Mammary tumours are best removed on discovery, the operation is fairly straightforward and better done sooner rather than later. A hard mass can be felt around the nipple area where there is a Mammary Tumour. Other lumps and bumps may be harmless and can be left, but always get them checked out by your vet first.