What Sort Of Veterinary Care Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Guinea pigs are one of the most popular of small pets, and they are particular favourites with children, as they are often more gentle and easier to tame than rabbits, as well as easier to handle. However, Guinea pigs are also rather sensitive little animals that need to have their environment, surroundings and care tailored to suit them properly, and this means that before agreeing to get your child a pet Guinea pig, you should ensure that you are fully prepared to give them the care that they need to live a long and happy life.

Part of researching and preparing for Guinea pig ownership means finding out about what type of veterinary care and maintenance such pets need, in terms of both routine care and potential problems that can crop up in the species too-and so in this article, we will provide a brief run-down of the type of veterinary care and preventative care available to Guinea pigs. Read on to learn more.

Guinea pigs are exotic animals

While Guinea pigs are reasonably common in the UK and have been kept as pets for many decades, they are actually classed as exotic pets in veterinary terms, along with other small furry pets like rabbits and ferrets.

While all small-animal veterinary clinics can provide basic care services for Guinea pigs, such as performing health checks, troubleshooting and dealing with common problems, this is where veterinary services for such pets usually end-which means that if your Guinea pig becomes ill with an uncommon or complicated condition, they may need to be referred to a specialist clinic, which can prove expensive.

It is possible to get pet insurance for Guinea pigs to help with the cost of unexpected veterinary care, but this usually means going to an exotic specialist insurer, which can be expensive-particularly when you take into account the fact that Guinea pigs should not be kept alone, and so, you will need to pay for a policy on each Guinea pig that you own!

Guinea pigs do not have vaccinations

Unlike most other furry caged pets of a similar size to Guinea pigs like rabbits and ferrets, there are no standard vaccinations for Guinea pigs to protect them against transmissible illnesses and health conditions. This makes the cost of preventative care for Guinea pigs cheaper than it is for most other pets, but the fact that your pet does not need vaccinations does not mean that you should forgo taking them along to the vet for an annual health check.

An annual health check is important in order to allow your vet to keep track of your Guinea pig’s health, wellness and condition, and in order to allow them to spot any potential problems in the making early on.

Neutering Guinea pigs

While spay and neuter for Guinea pigs is not as common and widespread as it is in many other pets, Guinea pigs can be neutered if necessary. Generally, keeping your piggies in same-sex groups negates the need for neutering, but if you do have males and females together and do not want them to breed, you may need to arrange to have your males neutered!

Common Guinea pig health problems

The average lifespan of the domestic Guinea pig is 4-6 years, which is a reasonably short amount of time even at the higher end of the scale. Guinea pigs of all ages can potentially develop health problems, although older piggies are more prone to them than younger adults generally are.

  • One of the most common Guinea pig health problems include vitamin C deficiency, which occurs as Guinea pigs are not able to synthesize their own vitamin C-this means that your pets should be provided with a range of fresh fruit and veg every day to help to provide this important vitamin.
  • Respiratory problems are also one of the more common Guinea pig health issues, and this catch-all title covers a range of potential problems, including bacterial infections, pneumonia, and other issues, which you should be on the alert for.
  • Older Guinea pigs are also prone to developing lumps and bumps that may indicate tumour formation-some of these may be operable depending on the age and general health of your pet, and the variables related to the tumour itself.
  • Diarrhoea and digestive upsets are a relatively common but usually minor problem for Guinea pigs too, and these commonly occur if your pet eats too much fruit and veg, or unripe fruit.

Dental issues

The teeth of your Guinea pig grow throughout their lives, and are worn down by the food that your pets eat. If your pet’s diet does not serve to wear their teeth down enough, or if their teeth grow crooked, this can lead to dental problems, which may necessitate a trip to the vet in order to have their teeth trimmed down to a safe, comfortable level.

When to go to the vet

It is important to register your Guinea pig with a vet and take them along for annual health checks, and also to know when your Guinea pig needs to see a vet. If you have any concerns, give your local clinic a call for advice and information-but for a general if brief list of when your Guinea pig will need to see the vet, take into account the following situations:

  • Your Guinea pig has severe diarrhoea, or diarrhoea has continued for more than 24 hours.
  • Any type of fits, seizures or unconsciousness needs a veterinary visit.
  • If your Guinea pig is dropped, attacked by another pet or otherwise potentially injured, they must be checked out by the vet.
  • Your Guinea pig refuses to eat for any length of time.
  • Your Guinea pig is constipated or not passing faeces.
  • Your pet is breathing noisily or appears to be having problems breathing.
  • If your pet is losing weight and condition quickly.
  • If your Guinea pig is developing lumps, bumps or any other unusual areas on their bodies.

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