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Guinea Pig Common Diseases

Children petting a guinea pig in an ecopark.

At times, the usually healthy guinea pig falls ill. How will you know if your guinea pig is sick? By close attention. Signs that your guinea pig may be ill include runny nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, excessive scratching, hair loss, bloated belly, or dull eyes. If you notice any of these signs, or anything else unusual for your guinea pig, consult a vet right away.


One common health problem with guinea pigs is malocclusion. This is when the guinea pig's ever-growing teeth do not wear properly, usually because of misalignment, and can grow into the opposite gums causing abscesses and infection. If the problem is left untreated, the guinea pig cannot eat and loses weight, eventually becoming very ill. A competent veterinarian can correct the problem by regularly trimming the teeth and, in some cases, removing the problematic ones.

Diarrhea and Constipation

Diarrhea and constipation can be troublesome to guinea pigs. Diarrhea caused by viruses, bacterial infections, internal parasites, or poor diet must be diagnosed and treated promptly. A guinea pig with diarrhea usually has a messy rear end and runny stools. Constipation can be the result of several factors such as poor diet, hairballs, or illness. The constipated guinea pig has a bloated belly or may be lethargic. Veterinary attention is necessary.

Tapeworms and Roundworms

Like dogs and cats, guinea pigs can be afflicted with internal parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms. A bloated tummy, rough-looking coat, and evidence of worms in the feces or crawling around the rear end are good indicators of an infestation. Your veterinarian will prescribe medication to eradicate these internal pests.

Smooth-haired self-colored cream red-eyed guinea pig

External Parasites

On the outside, the guinea pig can be bothered with fleas, mites, lice, and flies. All four conditions must be treated by a veterinarian promptly. Fleas leave their brown-black waste that look like dirt. Lice cause the guinea pig to scratch and lose hair. Mites cause red, scabby patches. Flies can lay eggs on the guinea pig's soiled rear end, which hatch into maggots that burrow into the animal's skin. A clean environment and minimal contact with other animals who carry these pests go a long way toward preventing infestations.


The average weight of a mature guinea pig is right around 2 pounds. A healthy animals receiving good nutrition and exercise feels firm in the body. An overweight guinea pig feels soft in the belly. Guinea pigs can become obese if fed too much of the wrong food. Pellets are usually the culprit, so be careful not to overfeed. A cutback in food, as directed by your vet, may be necessary to get your pig back to fighting weight.

Vitamin Deficiency

Hind end paralysis can occur in guinea pigs and is often the result of a traumatic fall or severe vitamin C deficiency. Veterinary attention is essential to determine the cause and possible treatment. Because guinea pigs do not manufacture vitamin C, they can be prone to a scurvy if they are not fed foods high in this vitamin. Scurvy is a disease that causes bleeding gums, poor appetite, and sore joints. Prompt treatment is necessary.

Skin Problems

Sore hocks, red swollen skin, and hair loss on the guinea pig's hind legs are usually seen in pigs kept in wire cages. Constant sitting and walking on the wire irritates the animal's hocks. Offering a guinea pig a cage with solid flooring can prevent this. When this type of irritation occur, the veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to heal the sores.

Similarly, bumblefoot is a condition that is usually the result of wire caging and poor hygiene. Bumblefoot causes swollen feet. This condition often affects the front feet, which can become infected, abscessed, and ruptured. Antibiotics are necessary when infection occurs. A clean cage is essential to preventing and healing bumblefoot.

Heat Sensitivity

Heat prostration can be an emergency situation. The ideal temperature for guinea pigs is 65 to 75° F. The normal body temperature of a guinea pig is 99.3 to 103° F. Guinea pigs are sensitive to overheating, so do not expose your pet to extreme heat. If you choose to keep your guinea pig outside, make sure the hutch is properly shaded. On hot days, keep your pet inside your air-conditioned house, out of the view of sunny windows. Be on the lookout for panting, rapid breathing, and a stretched-out body position. This means your guinea pig is too hot. Move the animal to a cool area and wrap a cool, wet towel around its body.

Respiratory Infections

Guinea pigs can be affected by respiratory infections. They prone to colds and can develop pneumonia. Sneezing, runny nose, and eye discharge are all signs of respiratory infection. A guinea pig with a cold must be treated promptly by a veterinarian. To prevent colds, wash your hands before handling your pig, and if you have a cold, avoid contact until your are well. Keep your guinea pig free from drafts, as stress-free as possible, and feed it plenty of foods high in vitamin C.

Photo credit: Bettinas Pelznasen


By humptydumpty   Tuesday, May 5, 2015 7:33:15 AM

Guinea pigs are sensitive to vitamin D. I read somewhere about guinea pigs who died after they were fed commercial food contaminated with excessive vitamin D that caused a fatal kidney disease.

By eleveni   Sunday, April 19, 2015 5:58:08 AM

My guinea pig, tiny's feces is very sticky and viewable spot of blood. I'm worry. Please advice.

By taralynette   Wednesday, December 10, 2014 5:46:00 AM

Oranges are not good for guinea pigs as it doesn't agree with their digestive system.

By tonimoran   Tuesday, September 23, 2014 9:02:30 AM

Yes I have a question, would if your female guinea pig is 2 months old bloated with a stiff stomach? Is it possible for her she be pregnant?

By lollypopgirl1   Saturday, September 6, 2014 11:46:56 PM

My guinea pig ears are ruff and crusty are they ment to be?

By guineapigdood   Tuesday, June 17, 2014 12:29:05 PM

Depending if you want tiny little cavies running around, yay for you! What you are talking about is guinea pig pregnancy. I know from my own experiences

By jenifer   Friday, May 30, 2014 9:40:03 AM

My sons guinea pig was suffering from heat so we moved her to a cooler place and she was eating playing ext.. after about 24 hours of relaxation. Then all of the sudden she died not sure what happened please help me.

By zulietasapaya   Tuesday, May 20, 2014 6:58:47 AM

i have two-year old abyssinian cavy. having bloated tummy and lethargic. what's wrong with it?

By ponky,katie   Monday, April 21, 2014 9:21:33 AM

We'll I think it is breathing problems like my pig but don't worry it should be alright just keep an eye and take it to the vet it should be alright which is the same for my one I hope that she will be alright.

By lovelymama82   Tuesday, March 4, 2014 5:52:00 PM

My guinea pig has been laying around not eatting and tonight he had bubbles attached to his poop. Hea about 3 year's old. What could be wrong with him.

By Guest   Wednesday, December 4, 2013 8:50:20 PM

my guinea pig is 2 and he is shivering from the rear end and to the fornt end what is wrong with him Im super scaredand I don't know what to do. ps: I took him a bath and he was fine and the I gave a bowl of food and water and put a blanket in his little pen and then I was gone and I went to a cousins party and then iv came back at like 6:00 and he felt warm and he was shivering I don't know whats happinig and he's going through his chewing faze and hes chewing more than he should what is happinig and who can I solve the problem help me plz I am scared

By   Monday, November 25, 2013 1:54:19 AM

my little scrbby gums are bleeding what do i do

By mtcharmon   Sunday, October 20, 2013 11:36:35 AM

My guinea is having the same symptoms. Were you able to figure anything out?

By Piggy pop   Monday, September 16, 2013 2:41:06 AM

I have a 3 and a half year old piggy and noticed today one side of her tummy is very swollen and she jumps when I stroke her any one had this problem before ??

By Zoila   Tuesday, September 3, 2013 8:18:14 PM

What does it mean if my guinea pig is breathing rapidly and lethargic limbs and body shaking?

By LoveMyGuinea   Monday, July 1, 2013 11:07:24 PM

I have a guinea pig named Rodney. We got him about 2 and a half years ago when he was 2 years old. So hes practically 5 years old. My parents smoke in the house, but the smoke doesn't get to him directly. I give him 2 orange slices every other day and a small dish of pellets. I think he may be a bit overweight however, so i must cut him back on food. Although, earlier today, Rodney sneezed 4 times in 2 minutes, and is kind of grunting when he breathes. I'm very scared for him. I searched up the symptoms and there were so many different things that could be wrong with him. He could have an upper respiratory infection, and that's what I'm most afraid of. I don't have the money to pay for antibiotics, nor do my parents. Do you know of any home remedies? He just started showing signs today, and I just need to know how to stop this from progressing any further. Thank you so much.

By conore   Friday, June 28, 2013 4:10:18 AM

My male Guinea Pig is almost 5 years old now and has always been really healthy until the past few months. At first he lost nearly all his fur at the sides which we thought might of been lice/mites so got treatment for that and he seemed to be ok for a while. But now everyday he's having clogged up with sticky green faeces which were having to use cotton buds to get out and frequent baths but it doesn't seem to alleviate the problem. Tried cutting down on greens but he never eats much of the dried food so it's hard. Other than this he's still acting as normal just the clogs everyday! Any advice?

By Professor Lion   Sunday, June 23, 2013 5:43:30 PM

To Piggypoo: if you suspect ringworm, there's a very simple test that veterinarians use. Shine a "Black" light on the infected area. (An Ultraviolet Light tube that looks black when off, and a "fuzzy" purple when on.) Ringworm will glow under UV light. If the affected area doesn't glow, chances are your Cavy has a parasitic infestation, such as Lice. In any case, you should see a Veterinarian as soon as possible.

By cassanova336944   Saturday, June 22, 2013 6:16:41 PM

hi there my husband and i have 2 guinnea pigs in which in april had 5 babies, one died at birth, one died all of a sudden with just being 2 weeks old now like 3 days ago another one just died. and now i have another one that lost the use of his higne legs and will not eat or drink..he just wants me to hold him and when i pick him up he is ice cold. does anyone know what is wrong and or how to treat it....i want my baby to survive this...Thanks

By icefairy   Sunday, May 26, 2013 4:59:09 PM

Yesterday, suddenly, my 3 year old Guinea Pig, Thor, lost the use of his hind legs. I increased his vitamin C intake and hoped he'd improve. Today, it got worse :( he started getting Diarrhea, lost bladder function, and just say on the towel all day pretty much. He still eats, and I've given him cucumber so he doesn't get dehydrated, but I'm worried about him. I've read to possibly cut the veggies for a few days, and just give him his dry food and hay. I was going to start doing that tonight since he started getting worse this afternoon. I'm at a loss. The vet doesn't open until tomorrow and I'm afraid he's just going to put him down :(

By shooting_star   Monday, April 22, 2013 11:08:36 AM

I have a 4 yo female cavy. She was passing bloody urine so I took her to the vet. The vet prescribed antibiotics, and for a while my cutie was OK, but then all of a sudden she stopped eating. The ultrasound test showed she had bladder stones. The vet recommended a surgery to remove the stones. Female guinea pigs older than 3 years are predisposed to bladder stone, which can be caused by too much supplements and vitamin D in your guinea's diet. Your cavy needs a soft diet like carrots and salad to help her urinate to flush excess calcium. Do not feed alfalfa because it is high in calcium. She should always have fresh water.

By rusty   Friday, April 19, 2013 10:15:36 AM

Hi, Piggypoo. It could be ringworm, which is a fungal infection. It is contagious, so I suggest you take your cavy to the vet. He will prescribe an antifungal drug, sch as grisefulvin for your pet. The treatment might take up to 6 weeks. It is a pretty nasty drug and very harmful for pigs less than 3 months of age, but for older animals it is OK. A skin cream like tolnaftate 1% may be used directly on the skin. Make sure your cavy gets lots of fresh food with vitamin C to help her recover quickly.

By Piggypoo   Friday, April 19, 2013 9:15:36 AM

A couple of days ago I noticed a few bald spots and flakes around my cavy's face. There were also some pimple-like bumps and the hair could be easily plucked from them. Is this some kind of bacterial infection? What should I do? Help!

By TheFluffMaster1   Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:58:02 AM

Very Cool! Helpful too!

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