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Guinea Pigs are generally healthy animals. In Australia, with several introduced rabbit diseases, Rabbits can be quite difficult to keep while Guinea Pigs rarely get sick. Much of Guinea Pig health is about prevention rather than cure. They need a diet high in vitamin C, and high in fibre. They should need to spend a substantial proportion of the day eating. The total throughput of food is very large for such a small animal, and they produce a lot of waste, both solid and liquid.

Guinea Pigs are naturally clean animals because, like cats, they lick themselves clean. This means that anything sticking to their fur will get eaten. You need to keep their hutch clean and dry.
Animals that are stressed are much more likely to get sick than normal.
Scurvy

Like people, Guinea Pigs can get scurvy from vitamin C deficiency. Guinea Pigs with plenty of fresh grass and other plants to eat will be all right, but if they get much of their food in the form of hay etc. they need a vitamin C supplement. The vitamin C content of some vegetables can drop incredibly quickly after harvest. Fresh lettuce contains a useful amount of Vitamin C, but this can halve within a few hours of picking. Lettuce from a supermarket is unlikely to be fresh enough for you or your pet.


Worms

A Guinea Pig that is kept in a clean hutch with a healthy diet will usually be in balance with its intestinal worms.

 Many people never worm their Guinea Pigs while others recommend that it be done on a strict schedule, once every three months.

Here is one of the many brands of wormer suitable for Guinea Pigs.



Digestive Upsets
Any animal, including Guinea Pigs and people, can get an upset stomach from a sudden change in diet. One of the ways it happens in Guinea Pigs is when they've been used to a diet of mainly dry foods and suddenly change to one based on fresh, watery grass.
When you buy a Guinea Pig, ask what it has been eating, and get some of it so your pet can change over gradually to the food you will be giving it.

Diarrhoea

A change in diet from almost completely dry food to watery green grass can cause diarrhoea. It can also be caused by an imbalance in the Guinea Pig's vital intestinal flora.
Guinea Pigs depend on a balance of bacteria (Flora) for normal bowel function. An imbalance can be caused by antibiotics. The only antibiotics given to your pets should be ones recommended by your vet.
As well as a build up of "bad" bacteria, diarrhoea can be caused by some types of intestinal parasites like cryptosporidia and coccidia. Cryptosporidiosis and coccidiosis are both curable by a vet.

Respiratory Diseases

One of the things that can cause respiratory problems in many types of animal is coccidiosis.
Certain bacteria including Bordetella and Streptococcus can cause pneumonia, but many Guinea Pigs, and people, have these bacteria without any sign of illness.
As with many types of disease, pneumonia and other respiratory conditions are often brought on by stress.

Tumours
Guinea Pigs can get tumours. Most of these are benign, not cancerous. A vet can advise you on possible treatment.

Abscesses
Like many animals, Guinea Pigs can get abscesses. A vet can advise on the necessary treatment.
 
Foot Infections
A Guinea Pig kept in a dirty hutch, or one with a wire floor that can damage the animal's foot is more likely to get a swollen foot from an infection. Overweight animals are also more susceptible.
The first part of treatment is to remove the cause of the problem, and sometimes this is enough and your pet's natural immunity resolves the problem.  The advice of a vet should be sought.

Ring Worm
See Zoonoses.







Guinea Pig Parasites

As well as internal parasites, practically all mammals, including Guinea Pigs, get external ones. Two which can get onto Guinea Pigs are Lice and Mites. Lice are insects, and have 6 legs while mites are related to spiders and have 8 legs. Both are very small.

If your pets get external parasites, they need to be treated, not only for their own sake, but also because the parasites can get onto people or other animals. Get advice from a vet or pet shop keeper about what to use.


Here is a picture of a Guinea Pig Louse taken through a microscope., magnified 400 times.


Mites and Lice on Guinea Pigs can be controlled by sprays, dusts and spot ons. Guinea Pigs lick themselves clean like a cat, so only use treatments recommended for Guinea Pigs.

Mange

Mange is a serious condition caused by certain types of mites so small that a magnifying glass is generally used to see them. Guinea Pigs with it will lose their hair, at first in patches.

Here is a bad case at Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue.

Mange is curable and your local vet should be able to advise on a treatment available in your area. 

Urinary Problems

Guinea Pigs can get urinary stones. One of the causes is bladder infection which is more common in female Guinea Pigs than in males. A vet can prescribe antibiotics for treating this condition. Keeping the hutch clean will help to prevent it.

Another cause of kidney and bladder stones in both  in Guinea Pigs, and in some other animals, is excessive Vitamin C supplementation. If you cannot give your pets a diet with  enough genuinely fresh food and need to give extra Vitamin C, remember that they are small animals. I recommend only using a vitamin C supplement intended for Guinea Pigs, and giving enough without  overdosing.

Picture Credits

The photomicrograph of a Guinea Pig louse is by Joel Mills (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) via Wikimedia Commons.