Cavy Tips - Medical Guide
Contributed By Ji Lean Ong
If you suspect that your guinea pig is ill, do not hesitate to visit a cavy-savvy vet immediately! As a small animal, guinea pigs’ health deteriorates very quickly over a matter of days or even hours.
Weighing your guinea pigs is essential.
- Weigh them once a week at the same time each time to ensure that it is as accurate as possible. Their weight does fluctuate throughout the day due to water and food intake.
- Any weight loss of more than 50g from their normal stable weight should raise a red flag and the guinea pig should see a vet immediately to diagnose the root cause of the weight loss.
- A consistent pattern of weight loss should also not go unnoticed.
Feed your guinea pigs with probiotics an hour or two after feeding antibiotics.
- Antibiotics such as Baytril can be very harsh on a guinea pig's sensitive digestive system
- Hence, it is important to replace the good bacteria in the guinea pig's gut system by feeding them probiotics such as Benebac or prebiotics+probiotics such as Fibreplex
- Do not feed probiotics at the same time or soon after feeding antibiotics as the live bacteria may be destroyed by the strong chemicals in the antibiotics
Supplement your guinea pigs with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
- Feed about 20 - 25mg/kg (30 – 50mg/kg for pregnant pigs) as a supplement daily as they are unable to manufacture their own Vitamin C. Increase the dosage slightly when they are ill to boost their immune system
Liquid Vitamin C available from local pharmacy (Watsons/Guardian/Unity):
Vitamin C tablet
- Oxbow Vitamin C tablets
- Sanko Vitamin C tablets
- Vitamin C tablets for children (check the content of Vit C in each tablet)
- Keep the Vitamin C tablet or liquid in a dry and cool place
- Vitamin C degrades quickly in the presence of heat and light
- Vitamin C should never be administered as drops in the water bottle as most water bottles are clear so they let in light. After about 8 hours, the amount of active Vitamin C in the water is only 20% of the original amount added. Besides that, it will also change the taste of the drinking water, causing guinea pigs to drink lesser than normal. This will potentially lead to dehydration. (1)
- Do feed high Vit C vegetables such as capsicum (green or yellow. The red capsicum contains the highest amount of sugar and should be fed in rotation with the other coloured capsicum) or Chinese parsley (also known as Cilantro, Yan Sui or Coriander)
- Young, ill, nursing and pregnant animals require extra vitamin C. Sick guinea pigs can benefit from being supplemented with additional Vitamin C
Be familiar with common signs of ailments in guinea pigs.
Click here to find out the symptoms exhibited by guinea pigs when they have any of the above illnesses.
Find/Identify a cavy-savvy vet.
- Not all vets know how to treat guinea pigs and some may even prescribe antibiotics which can be fatal to your pig
- Vets who treat rabbits and small animals like hamsters are generally the type of vets you want to take your ill pig to see
- Note that cavy-savvy vets in Singapore are popular and getting an appointment may take up to 2 weeks
- For urgent cases, please do not hesitate to call the emergency hotline available in the cavy-savvy vet listing
Click here to find the list of cavy-savvy vets as recommended by other owners of guinea pigs in Singapore.
Prepare emergency supplies for your guinea pig
Click here to find out how to prepare critical supplies for your guinea pig in case of an emergency.
1cc syringes are a necessity for guinea pig owners.
Get ready a supply of 1cc syringes
Get the syringe without needles.
Cut off the tip and blunt off the sharp edges before using to feed CC.
Get your guinea pig used to the taste of Critical Care (CC)
- You can start feeding your pig a small amount mixed with water to form a paste/ball when they are well
- It may take a few tries to get your pig used to the taste of CC and the feeding of CC is not to replace their pellets or vegetable portions. Rather it is just to get your pig used to the taste of CC
- CC mash/paste can also be used as a base to make the pig eat other essential supplements e.g. crushed up Vitamin C or even probiotics like Benebac
Start a vet fund, especially if you are a student or new to the workforce
Vet bills can quickly up and you do not want to be in a situation whereby you are unable to afford an ultrasound or x-ray for a more detailed diagnostics on your pig.
(1) Taken from http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=2750