Chances are you are here because you may have a serious problem.
Despite what information you may learn here,
CALL AN EXPERIENCED EXOTICS VET FOR ADVICE!

Only a trained professional can make an accurate diagnosis of the problem, and help your companion.

The following conditions are to be considered extremely serious, and you should seek proper veterinary care immediately, even on an emergency basis if needed:
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These are only some conditions that warrant an immediate trip to the vet! When in doubt, err on the side of safety: see an experienced professional! It is never a "wasted trip" when the life of your companion is at stake!

If you notice any of the following, see your vet within the next 24 hours:

For the following, you should see a vet soon, or call a vet for advice:

For these "conditions", see the New Piggie Owners page:

  • Jumping in air and running about
  • (Male) Rubbing backside on floor while making purring sound
  • Eating droppings
  • Wheeps, peeps, oinks and boinks...
Possible problem, or cause of condition:

Not eating can cause hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver):
This is a condition that can occur in as little as 36 hours in a guinea pig. Once allowed to develop, it cannot be reversed and is fatal.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Labored breathing can be a symptom of pneumonia:
The onset of pneumonia can develop quickly, and be fatal in as little as 24 hours. Success of treatment can be increased by starting the proper drug therapy as soon as possible.
Another condition that causes labored breathing is congestive heart failure. This condition can also be managed with the proper therapies, and again, the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance for success.
Symptoms for both conditions can include crust around the nose or eyes, nasal discharge, wheezing, gasping, raspy sounding breathing, watery or "fluttering" breathing, lethargy, or decreased appetite.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Bleeding from mouth, rectum or genitals:
Any bloody discharge should be considered serious. Causes can be internal hemorrhaging, bladderstones, pregnancy complications; minutes can make a difference with treatment.
Note: female guinea pigs do not exhibit a menstrual flow. Blood is abnormal and should be considered a serious matter.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Inability to urinate:
Can be a symptom of a bladderstone or blockage of the urinary tract. If the piggie has a blocked urethra (outlet from bladder), it can cause a distended bladder and ultimately kidney damage.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Lethargy:
Is a symptom of many serious conditions; if present in a pregnant female it may be pregnancy toxemia.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Diarrhea that is watery and foul-smelling:
This is a very serious condition, indicating that there is a severe problem with the digestive system. It can be caused by bacteria, eating moldy food, grass or hay, or using an improper antibiotic.

SEE A VET NOW!


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Pregnancy complications: straining during giving birth, bleeding or lethargy:
Any action out of the ordinary is reason for concern. There is not a lot of time from when the problem first starts until help will be ineffective. If a female is having a hard time delivering (because she became pregnant after one year old), she is bleeding, or is lethargic or has a "smell" to her breath:

SEE A VET NOW!


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Sniffles, runny nose or eyes:
This may be a cold, a mild allergy, or the onset of pneumonia. If accompanied by crust around the nose or eyes, nasal discharge, wheezing, gasping, raspy sounding breathing, watery or "fluttering" breathing, consider pneumonia or a heart problem, otherwise:

SEE A VET IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS!


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Persistent scratching, to the point it draws blood:
This may indicate a skin problem, such as mites, lice or a fungal infection such as ringworm.

Ringworm is one of the very few things a guinea pig can transmit to people. If your guinea pig is losing hair in a circular pattern, with hair coming off in tufts with pieces of dried skin attached, suspect ringworm until your vet can do a proper diagnosis. Wash your hands after handling your companion so as not to cross-infect yourself or others.

SEE A VET IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS!


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Crying out when urinating, or blood in urine:
If you see blood, the urine is pink, or there is a heavy, milky sludge when the piggie urinates, there could be a UTI (urinary tract infection). This can be caused by bladderstones or a pathogen. It is a serious condition, and the piggie is in a lot of discomfort, so the sooner you see a vet the better.

SEE A VET IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS!


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Reduced ability to eat food especially if accompanied by excess water intake or slobbering:
If a piggie starts to lose weight and has trouble eating, overgrown teeth may be the cause. Other causes may be a jaw abscess or molar, or kidney problems.

SEE A VET IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS!


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Diarrhea that consists of droppings that are very soft and unformed:
This is a serious condition. It can be caused by bacteria, eating too many greens or grass, or a reaction to an antibiotic. If the piggie is lethargic, or acting strangely, you should see a vet right away. If the piggie is acting normally, then:

SEE A VET IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS!


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Hair loss:
The most common cause for hair loss is skin infections , however, if it is a female piggie and the hair loss is on the flanks, it may be caused by a uterine tumor or cyst. Uterine cysts are a very serious condition, and the sooner treatment is given the better the outcome.

See a vet soon, or call for advice


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Sneezing often (more than just once or twice a day):
Depending on how often the piggie is sneezing, it could be dust in the air, a mild allergy or the onset of a more serious problem. If there are any of these symptoms: nasal discharge, crusty eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite then consider it a respiratory problem, otherwise:

See a vet soon, or call for advice


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Change in appetite:
Piggies usually do not lose their appetite - for any reason other than sickness. However, they sometimes become bored

See a vet soon, or call for advice


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Change in water intake (drinking more, drinking less):

See a vet soon, or call for advice


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Very Soft Droppings:
This may be the result of too much greens or grass. If the droppings are formed but very soft,and the piggie is acting normal in all respects, try withholding greens for a day or two. You should also offer extra hay, and perhaps some apple.
If the droppings are a gooey mass, or the piggie is not acting right or there is a foul odor, you should see a vet right away! Otherwise, if the soft droppings persist:

See a vet soon, or call for advice


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This list is by no means complete; if you have information or suggestions on what should appear here, please drop us a note.
The advice and observations presented here are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for care by a qualified veterinary professional. While all information is presented in good faith and assumed to be accurate, Guinea Pigs Online, its companion sites and its contributors assume no liability for misuse or misinterpretation of this information. Use at your own risk.

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