Guinea pigs are prey animals and therefore it can sometimes be difficult to spot the early signs of illness. If your guinea pig is unwell, it may still continue to eat as usual. This can often mislead owners and vets to think that the guinea pig is not seriously ill.
When guinea pigs become unwell they will to begin with show very subtle changes in their behaviour that a attentive owner should spot. This is why it is important that a responsible adult cares for the guinea pig, as children can often miss these early warnings signs.
As an owner it is important that you monitor your guinea pig closely on a daily basis to check for any subtle changes in their behaviour and in their eating and breathing. Changes like this may indicate that they are unwell.
Always watch your guinea pig after you have fed him or her, so you get used to their normal eating habits, and can tell if there is a small change in these. Also be watchful for any discomfort when they urinate or defecate, as well as any discomfort in moving about or being handled. Also be watchful of their breathing, and any change in this.
As mentioned, guinea pigs will often continue to eat even when very ill. Therefore any change in a guinea pig’s eating is a cause for concern. If they stop eating they should be taken to a vet immediately as it means that they are seriously ill. At this point you should NOT wait to see if they are better tomorrow, immediate veterinary attention is required.
It can also be good practice to monitor your guinea pigs weight weekly, any weight loss can indicate an underlying medical problem that should be investigated.
The following are checks you can do on a daily basis whilst handling your guinea pig. These again will help you get to know your guinea pig and notice any changes:
Although all vets see guinea pigs, most vets have little experience of guinea pigs, and therefore often fail to treat them appropriately. You should try to find a vet with training in exotic pets. Be confident in asking about this. If you do come across as vet with extra training with guinea pigs or with exotic pets please let me know, so I can share their details with other guinea pigs owners.