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GUINEA PIG WORLD Dr. Veldhof and Dr. Rollo. Introduction. Diseases preventable through good husbandry Since many clients wait until it is too late in a disease to seek veterinary attention The emphasis must be on disease prevention rather than treatment. Background.

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  • Diseases preventable through good husbandry
  • Since many clients wait until it is too late in a disease to seek veterinary attention
  • The emphasis must be on disease prevention rather than treatment
  • Originated in South America
  • Related to porcupines and chinchillas
  • Variety of habitats
  • Domesticated between 500-1000 BC
  • Today- many uses
unique anatomy
Unique Anatomy
  • Compact body with no tail
  • 4 digits on forelimb

3 digits on hindlimb

  • Teeth: open rooted and erupt continuously
  • Hairless area caudal to ear
  • Large tympanic bullae and 4 cochlear coils
  • Pubic symphysis
  • Highly social animals
  • Excellent pets
  • Vocalizations are important
  • Nocturnal
  • Two peculiar behaviors



housing cages
Housing- Cages
  • Recommended size 4 square feet per pig
  • Material
  • Solid floor vs. wire floor
  • Good ventilation
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Quiet, draft-free area
housing bedding
  • Change 1-2 times/week
  • Choice beddings: hard wood chips, corncob, shredded paper
  • Beddings to avoid:


Coarse hay/straw

Cedar/Pine (aromatic)

  • Complete pelleted guinea pig diet
  • Require Vit C

-Lack L-gulonolactone oxidase

-Fresh pellets (less than 90 days)

-Other sources: orange, cabbage,broccoli

-Supplement in drinking water

  • Do not feed diets indicated for other species
  • Clean feeders and waters regularly
  • Coprophagy important (150-200 times/day)
sexing female
Sexing- Female
  • “Y” shaped depression
  • Urethral opening between top branches of “Y”
  • Vulva at intersection of branches
  • Anus at base
sexing male
Sexing- Male
  • “i”-shaped appearance
  • Skin between urethral opening and anus
  • Urethral opening cranial to anus
  • Always extrude penis
reproduction breeding
Reproduction- Breeding
  • Puberty:

Males: 3 months

Females: 2 months

  • Breed females after 3 months but before 6 months
  • Females are polyestrus and breed year round
pregnancy birth
Pregnancy & Birth
  • Gestation length is 59-72 days
  • Pubic symphysis separates under influence of relaxin
  • Parturition commonly occurs at night
  • Delivery period ½ hr
pregnancy birth1
Pregnancy & Birth
  • Litter size: 2-4 pups
  • Young are born precocious
  • Fertile postpartum estrus
  • Wean between 15-20 days
  • Separate boars between 3-4 weeks
  • Shoe box for transport
  • Always restrain/lift with 2 hands



  • Towel wrap
  • Radiology
oral administration
Oral Administration
  • Tuberculin syringe
  • Start at interdental space to back of tongue
  • Small amounts
  • Head position
  • Orogastric tube

-measure length

-confirm placement

injection sites
Injection Sites
  • Subcutaneous

-easy, frequently used

-over scapula, lower flank (22 or 25 gauge needle)

  • Intravenous

-no perfect site

-jugular, medial saphenous (23 or 25 gauge needle)

-marginal ear v. (26 or 30 gauge needle)

injection sites1
Injection Sites
  • Intramuscular

-discouraged due to self-mutilation

-epaxial muscles (22 or 25 gauge needle)

  • Intraperitoneal

-best for fluid replacement

-lower right abdominal quadrant (22 or 25 gauge needle)

blood collection
Blood Collection
  • Toenail
  • Lateral saphenous
  • Cephalic
  • 25 gauge needle
  • Marked, often lethal, sensitivity
  • Aerobic flora sensitive to Gram + antibiotics
  • Proliferation of Clostridium difficile
  • Clinical signs: anorexia, dehydration, hypothermia, death
  • Fatal enterocolitis within 3-5 days
  • Contraindicated antibiotics: penicillin, ampicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin, clindamycin
  • Safer antibiotics: chloramphenicol, enrofloxacin, tetracycline
summer is not feeling well
Summer is not feeling well
  • Chief Complaints were not eating, weight loss and not as active.
  • Weight loss over the previous week
  • Anorexic the past week
  • Lethargic and depressed
  • Normal stool. No emesis, sneezing, or coughing.
physical exam
Physical Exam
  • Pulse - 300 bpm
  • Respiration rate - 120 bpm
  • Weight - 565g
  • The temperature was not taken
physical exam1
Physical Exam
  • Looks weak and recumbent in general appearance.
  • Some crustiness of the eyes.
  • Walking abnormally and weak in the legs.
  • Broken right upper incisor.
  • Suspect Vitamin C deficiency
  • Weak
  • Weight Loss
  • Fractured upper right incisor
  • 50mg Vitamin C injection
  • Pull right fractured incisor
  • Administer Obrifloxacin for 7 days
  • Feed Summer foods that contain Vitamin C everyday (for example ¼ cup of cabbage).
  • Since there is no longer an upper right incisor, the lower right incisor will continue to grow. Teeth trimming is necessary.
a vitamin c deficiency
A Vitamin C Deficiency
  • Guinea pigs, apes and humans can not synthesize their own Vitamin C.
  • This is due to the lack of the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase.
  • 10 mg/kg of Vitamin C
  • 20 mg/kg of Vitamin C when pregnant
  • Give diluted in a bottle or a stainless steel nozzle.

I Need My Vitamin C

  • There is no need to supplement Vitamin C if the guinea pig has a balanced diet.
  • All foods should be fresh (only kept out for a couple of hours) and have no mould on them.
foods enriched with vitamin c
Foods enriched with Vitamin C
  • Beetroot
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
a balanced diet
A Balanced Diet
  • Concentrates compose the dry food
  • Roots like carrots or beetroot
  • Green vegetables
  • Good quality hay to give them something to always chew
  • Fresh water
other poor diet conditions
Other Poor Diet Conditions
  • Muscular dystropy – Vitamin E deficiency
  • Metastatic calcification – an increase Ca:P ratio
  • ‘wasting disease’ – possibly a Vitamin C deficiency
the history of sidney
The history of Sidney
  • Not feeling well
  • Anorexic
  • Not making any noise
  • Stays “hunched up” in the corner
physical exam2
Physical Exam
  • Pulse – 220 bpm
  • Respiration rate – 60 bpm
  • Weight – 1.75lbs
  • Temperature was not taken
physical exam3
Physical Exam
  • Skin had a yellowish stain and there was crusty fur under her chin.
  • A mild white discharge from the eyes.
  • Occasional wheezing (ruttling).
  • Walks on hocks.
differential diagnosis
Differential Diagnosis
  • Foreign body in the eye. Hay can sometimes get caught in there.
  • Corneal ulceration
  • Conjunctivitis, can also be associated with an upper respiratory disease.
  • Entropian
differential diagnosis2
Differential Diagnosis
  • Pneumonia (Bordetella bronchiseptica)
  • Stress
  • Allergic type bronchitis
  • Always consider cancer
  • Suspect chronic Vitamin C deficiency.
  • 50mg Vitamin C injection
  • Crush a 30mg tablet everyday into favorite food.
  • Dr. Patricia O’Handley
  • MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Records System.
  • Dr. Sally Walshaw
  • Dr. Laura Davis
  • Dr. Michael Huerkamp
  • Noonan, Denise “The Guinea Pig” The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science ANZCCART News Vol. 7 No 3 Sept. 1994.
  • Richardson, V.C.G. Diseases of Domestic Guinea Pigs Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford 1992.