While the guinea pig is a small rodent that is generally robust, it is not exempt from weaknesses. It is particularly prone to respiratory diseases. Why ? Because his anatomy predisposes him to it. We explain all this in detail and show you how to take care of your guinea pig.
Bacteria responsible for respiratory diseases in guinea pigs
The main bacteria that threaten guinea pigs are Streptococcus pneumoniae (20% of cases), Streptococcus zooepidemicus (15%), Bordetella bronchiseptica (12%) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (11%).
It often starts with a runny muzzle. The infection spreads to the Eustachian tube, ending in bilateral otitis, sometimes accompanied by a lung infection.
The subjects most at risk are young, pregnant females and subjects deficient in vitamin C. There are carriers of healthy bacteria without it being possible to identify them. Transmission occurs by respiratory route or by direct contact with nasal secretions of sick animals. They are not necessarily other guinea pigs: rabbits are also carriers of problematic germs for guinea pigs, while they themselves are little affected, and vice versa.
It is essential to react from the first symptoms disease without which a simple cold can quickly degenerate into serious pathology.
Guinea pig coryza
While learning about respiratory diseases in guinea pigs, you may have come across the term “coryza”. It is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavities that should be detected quickly.
The guinea pig has a runny nose and eyes, it sneezes regularly, it coughs. He can also develop conjunctivitis. Asthma or an allergy can trigger the same symptoms. Only a veterinarian will be able to tell the difference, make the correct diagnosis and give you the treatment indicated.
If the coryza evolves, the guinea pig then develops pneumonia: its breathing becomes noisy, it curls up and no longer feeds. It is not necessary react without delay ! When you have a guinea pig, there is no question of trying to save on a consultation or treatment.
But why are respiratory diseases so serious in guinea pigs?
The anatomy of the guinea pig
Take a close look at your guinea pig. His nasal passages are narrow. Its nasopharynx – the term refers to the upper part of the airways, located just after the nasal cavities – is short. And this animal does not know how to breathe through its mouth. Under these conditions, you imagine that a clutter respiratory tract can quickly become problematic.
In the bronchi, the guinea pig has a very developed Reissessen muscle. This muscle, present in all mammals, allows the shortening and contraction of the bronchi during exhalation and their relaxation during inspiration. The fact that it is developed promotes bronchoconstriction problems.
Beyond its anatomy, are there factors that promote respiratory diseases in guinea pigs?
Carefully choose the location of the guinea pig cage and litter box
The sudden and significant changes in the environment will weaken the body of the guinea pig, which will be more likely to develop an infection of the upper respiratory tract. Where you choose to put the cage is really very important.
The litter that you choose to line the cage is also fundamental: the animal is in contact with it all day. Also, if it is dusty, the particles will easily clog the narrow respiratory tract of the guinea pig. In addition, a lack of hygiene can quickly trigger disasters. If the litter is not enough absorbent or is not changed regularly, fermentation of the urine will create ammonia vapors which, even in small quantities, are toxic to guinea pigs.
Finally, any source of stress is likely to trigger disease. It is therefore necessary to avoid transporting the animal unnecessarily. His environment must be calm in order to spare him moments of stress due to excessive or violent noise (arguments, work, etc.).
Watch out for temperature changes!
You must make sure that the temperature remains as constant as possible, or that it changes gradually. A temperature above 25 ° C becomes very problematic for the guinea pig.
Like many other pets kept in cages, currents are enemies to hunt down. On the other hand, you have to make sure that the cage is sufficiently ventilated. When you ventilate the room where your guinea pig is, it is essential to cover the cage with a cloth.
Feed your guinea pig as needed
The deficiency in vitamin C weakens the organism of the guinea pig. An external intake of this vitamin is vital for him because he does not know how to synthesize it because of the absence of the L-gluconolatone enzyme in his body.
The vitamin C contained in fruits and vegetables or in the granules is not always enough and it must be given pure vitamin C. Indeed, this vitamin is sensitive and degrades quickly on contact with water, light and chlorine contained in tap water. Tablets are a more practical system than pipettes, but more so for adults, because the doses have to be precisely adjusted in young people. In addition, you have to be sure that the guinea pig swallows its tablet.
Generally speaking, theobesity is a condition that promotes the onset of diseases because it weakens the body. However, do not panic unnecessarily: the guinea pig has a naturally round morphology due to a structured frame and its permanent digestion of plants.
Some breeds are more massive than others, which is why the ideal weight for a one-year-old guinea pig is within a fairly wide range of 900g to 1.4kg. It should not have folds of skin on the legs. Exercise is as essential as in humans: your guinea pig should have enough space and accessories to work out for several hours a day.
If you have any doubts, consult your veterinarian and do not put him on a diet without advice as this would run unnecessary risks to his health.