Skin Problems

A range of parasites and mites can affect guinea pigs. The most common are ringworm, fleas, lice and fur mites. Signs to look out for are scratching, fitting and hair loss.

Treatment such as Ivermectin is effective against mites and your vet will be able to recommend an antifungal medication for ringworm. Please note that ringworm is highly contagious to people so appropriate hygiene precautions needs to be taken when handling an infected guinea pig.

Lumps and Bumps

Guinea pigs are prone to developing a range of lumps and bumps. These can range from benign tumours such as lipomas and trichoepitheliomas to much more serious tumours such as Lymphosarcoma. It is very important to get an accurate diagnosis from a vet.

Abscesses can affect lymph nodes, the muscles, the skin, the teeth, the jaws, or other areas of the face. They may be treated medically and/or surgically,


Guinea pigs cannot produce their own Vitamin C so it must be added into their diet with fresh fruit and veg or a dietary supplement. Those not getting enough Vitamin C will develop scurvy.

Signs to look out for are diarrhoea, rough coat, lethargy, not eating, eye and nose discharge, tenderness to touch.

It is important to speak to your vet about treatment in case of Vit C deficiency as too much can worsen arthritis.

Urinary Problems

Guinea pigs can suffer from urinary tract infections and bladder stones. Signs to look out for are blood in the urine, a stale smell, crying out when urinating, wet hair around the genitals.

Antibiotics, xrays or even surgery for bladder stones may be necessary. Pain relief is important.

A Healthy Pig is a Happy Pig!

Respiratory Problems

Pneumonia, Streptococcosis and Bordetella bronchisepta infection can all cause respiratory difficulties in guinea pigs. Signs to look out for are a wet nose/discharge, raspy breathing (put your ear to the lungs to hear it), wheezing, gasping, decreased appetite and lethargy. Some pigs will be carriers of these diseases and have no symptoms until a time of stress.

Antibiotic treatment will usually be required. Please remember that if your guinea pig is struggling to breathe it is an emergency.

Pododermatitis (Bumblefoot)

A guinea pig’s feet may become sore, swollen, inflamed and even ulcerated. This is often caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus which enters the feet through tiny cuts and abrasions. Obesity, wire flooring, wet bedding and lack of exercise all increase the likelihood of this condition.

Treatment involves antiobiotics and antibiotic creams and should start as soon as possible, as pododermatitis can lead to systemic problems.

Hay Poke

Guinea pigs like to burrow in hay and occasionally a stalk of hay may get stuck in their eye. This can cause trauma and ulceration.

A vet trip is necessary, as antibiotic eye drops may be required to prevent infection. We have also found that corneal repair gel is effective for ulcers and that a lubricant such as Lacrilube can make the piggy more comfortable.

Gut Problems

As with rabbits, guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive tract and can suffer from gut stasis. Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections as well as inappropriate diet may also lead to diarrhoea. It is important they are treated promptly to prevent dehydration.