Piggy emergencies and illnesses happen. Usually at the worst time possible, right? In the dead of the night. Right smack dab in the middle of a snowstorm. Or, on the holidays when your only option is to run to an emergency veterinarian who – with luck – is within easy driving distance.
We never know when illness is going to strike so we have to be proactive. We have to get to know our guinea pigs, their personalities, their habits, and even their moods. That way, when they start showing those first signs on illness, we can pick up on them and take immediate action.
Is my piggy sick?
Read over these common signs of illnesses. Remember them. Print them out. Do whatever you have to so you’re prepared if your guinea pig starts showing any of them, including:
Not eating, drinking, or pooping. Not eating or drinking - which results in no pooping - for as few as 16 hours can lead to a life-threatening problem very, very quickly. Anorexia may be a sign of gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.
Bloat. Does your guinea pig's stomach look swollen? She could be suffering from gas (G.I. stasis) or an intestinal blockage, both of which are extremely painful and dangerous.
Diarrhea. Finding the cause of diarrhea is essential to treating it. A mild case may be the result of your guinea pig eating too many fruits or vegetables or from a diet change. However, diarrhea could also signal something much more serious, such as a bacterial infection.
Difficulty urinating or blood in the urine. Pay attention to your piggy's urination behaviors. If you notice she's not urinating, has difficulty urinating, or has blood in her urine, she could be suffering from a bladder infection, kidney stones, or an obstruction.
Discharge from the eyes and/or nose. Discharge may be a warning sign that your piggy is suffering from a respiratory infection like pneumonia, a common illness with cavys.
Lethargy. You may notice your guinea pig cowering in the corner of her enclosure, all puffed up and simply not moving around very much. Lethargy is a warning sign of a number of health issues, including GI stasis and a lack of vitamin C.
Other common signs of illness or injury include:
- Constant scratching
- Difficulty balancing
- Fur loss
- Head tilt
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
What do I do?
Get your piggy to a guinea pig-savvy veterinarian immediately if she displays any signs of illness. You know your piggy best and if she's acting off, take action right away.
If you don’t have a qualified veterinarian, find one as soon as you stop reading this article. It could become a matter of life or death for your piggy.