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What are the common health problems in pet guinea pigs?
Many of the common health problems seen in pet guinea pigs are often preventable by good husbandry and good feeding practices.
Some of the most common health problems include:
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency related disease usually involves swollen joints and haemorrhaging (bleeding) into skeletal muscle, the intestines and other tissues. Affected guinea pigs may be anorexic, lethargic, weak; move with difficulty and appear painful when moving. They may also have diarrhoea and a rough coat, among other symptoms. Vitamin C deficiency causes the guinea pig severe pain and discomfort and is a preventable condition.
Ulcerative pododermatitis (ulcerated and swollen footpads)
Domesticated guinea pigs should be kept on soft floor material and soft bedding material to help prevent ulcerative pododermatitis. Suitable materials include grass hay including Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Rye grass hays (they should not be fed or provided with Lucerne (alfalfa) or Clover hays as floor/bedding material as these are too high in calcium and protein). Other suitable materials include straw or shredded paper. Uncovered wire mesh floors should be avoided as these are too hard on the guinea pigs' footpads.
Guinea pigs have evolved over thousands of years to eat a high fibre diet. In their natural environment wild guinea pigs eat predominantly grass throughout the day. Pet guinea pigs should be fed in much the same way. Feed predominantly grass and/or grass hay (Timothy, Oaten, see above) and fresh leafy green vegetables. Please see the article below titled " What should I feed my guinea pig?" for more detailed information.
If you suspect your guinea pig is suffering from any of the above mentioned diseases and/or you notice any other abnormalities or problems please consult your vet immediately.
You should regularly check your guinea pig to ensure he/she is eating well, urinating, defecating normal droppings (normal droppings are formed and shaped like elongated baked beans) and walking around easily. Also check the guinea pig has a healthy coat, clear eyes, a nose free of any discharges, normal length nails (that are not too long) and normal healthy footpads.
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