Most of us know what it's like to hobble around on sore feet. Long day at work... maybe a little overactive on the weekend. Ouch. Small animals are susceptible to a really nasty condition, though, that can keep those little footsies sore for a very long time. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, hurts. And it can take quite a while to cure. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to prevent it.
Living Areas and Bedding
Small animals should never ever have a wire base to their living area. Bedding is super important for these guys. Too soft, and their paw pads can become too sensitive. Too hard, and those paws can get ulcerated and infected. A nice middle ground is needed, on top of a solid surface (again... no wire!). Pick a shredded paper bedding, free of any baking soda or "fresh-smelling" additives. Avoid all the dyes and bleaches too... go with the nice plain untreated brown.
Clean, Clean Clean!
Living areas need to be kept very, very clean. Small animals walk through their bedding all day long, so if their feet have any problems at all, it's easy for bacteria to get in there and make the bumblefoot situation even worse.
Hefty animals are at even more risk for bumblefoot. Is your friend a little too rolly-polly? Some rodents tend to be “well padded,” but there's a healthy limit. There are a number of ways to check your pet's weight too. Need help figuring out proper weight? Give your specialized vet's office a call. A vet who specializes in exotics can help, and it is always good to have a solid relationship with your vet.
Spa Day, Anyone?
Mani-pedis should be a regular thing. Check the paw pads for any sign of problems: redness, breaks in the skin, tenderness. Long nails can irritate the paw pads, and then, well, you can probably imagine where that will lead. Lesions, bacteria, infection, hurt, meds. None of which we want.
Gorgeous Guineas has a few ointments to help. Take a look here. They’ve worked with a lot of volunteer piggies to come up with natural assistance for sore feet, without using antibiotics. And they work great for rabbits too! Of course, these ointments do work best if you catch any problems early, and stay on top of the care. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem! Your friend will thank you for making the ouchies stop.