Nostalgia, I think, is in the air. My first article was about keeping guinea pigs as pets. Now, that I am nearing the completion of this internship, I feel like going back to the start. Now, of course, since I have already elucidated on the pros of keeping a guinea pig, which are quite a handful, I thought this time I should talk about some, though not necessary, consequences. Like all other animals, guinea pigs are prone to certain diseases and if we are not astute enough while dealing with these ailments, we run the risk of an infection too.
Now, the first and most common one is definitely the Ileus. What you have to do is to monitor your pet cavy, and if you find something unnatural, seek medical help. What you actually have to look for is rather simple, at least when you are considering Ileus. Guinea pigs, if you have one or more will know, are always eating and defecating. If you see that, your cavy has not touched food for quite some time or the amount of excreta is visibly less then there is a great chance that it is infected by Ileus. Let me explain what is actually is. Ileus occurs when there is a gas build-up in the gastrointestinal tract and due to normal peristalsis; the body allows neither food intake nor excretion. This, though it might seem trivial, is actually life threatening for your pet, and requires immediate medical attention. Ileus can occur due to a variety of reasons including introducing a new guinea pig in the cage, respiratory infection, cold, lice or even a change in the weather.
Ileus, although the most common of cavy diseases, is not the only one. Now, what you need to understand is that what is not so lethal to human beings can be quite deadly to guinea pigs owing to their small sizes. However, you might be surprised to find an abject similarity in human and cavy ailments. This, sadly, is one of the reasons why there are so many experiments done on these poor creatures to make products which are claimed to be safe for human consumption.
Lice and mites are other major concerns if you have a cavy. The most common symptoms would be the visible increase in the loss of hair and the accompanying itching and scratching. Lice, you should be able to notice in the bald patches behind your guinea pig’s ears while the mites, unfortunately, can spread to all over the body but cannot be seen without a microscope. These are extremely contagious parasites and if one of your pet is a carrier, then you should expect the others to be infected as well since they must be sharing their food and bedding. What you can do in such a situation, before seeking medical help that is, is freeze your food and bedding (cover it in a sealed plastic before freezing so that it becomes chilled but not wet) before introducing it into your cavy’s cage. This will ward of any potential parasites that might have been lurking in the vicinity.
While the abovementioned diseases can occur to male and female alike, there are some which are a bit gender-biased! Female cavies, if housed with a male, run the risk of developing uterine and ovarian problems which might even lead to cancer. Sometimes, the cancer becomes so acute that the uterus and ovaries have to be removed. This can be done only in the first stages of the diseases of the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, in which case the surgery is bound to be futile. With guinea pigs, prevention is really better than cure, and the best and definitely the wisest thing to do is to perform a complete ovariohysterectomy when they are about six months of age to prevent both uterine and ovarian diseases. Now, this is a costly affair as you can imagine and a lot of owners do not find justification in paying a lump sum in what they consider a preventive measure. However, if you consider the cost of an emergency treatment which more often than not cannot save your pet, a lot of people side with the preventive measure, which is actually also performed on female dogs and cats for the same purpose.
Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive creatures and prone to respiratory infection or guess what, even pneumonia. If you were thinking about keeping another pet alongwith a cavy, I would advise you against it. As I said before, they are hypersensitive and susceptible to Bordatella bronchiseptica from your pet dog, cat or rabbit. For that reason, you should be very careful while handling your pet, and if you do intend to keep other animals in the house, make sure they are not sick or in the same room which houses your cavy. You must also make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly before touching your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are really vulnerable creatures! They seem to be prone to myriad ailments that range from a simple cough and cold to bladder stones. Uroliths or bladder stones are formed in the bladder of guinea pigs, causing extreme discomfort. If this happens, you will see your cavy peeing blood due to the irritation caused by these stones. You might, to be more alert about the health of your pet, take it for a regular check up to the vet, and once in a while, get an X-ray done to spot any such stones.
Guinea pigs, and going by what I had told you, might seem to be a cumbersome pet, but trust me, with a little extra care and protection, you can keep your cavy healthy and happy. Keep a close watch on your cavy and make sure it shows no odd symptoms. Cavies, if taken proper care of, are extremely rewarding pets, and these delectable creatures will never let you down if you do not do the same to them.