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How Soon Should My Guinea Pig See A Vet? - A Quick Guide

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Adult Guinea Pig
Jun 25, 2010
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Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Does my piggie need a vet?

In short - yes, if your worried its always best to see or speak to a vet or nurse about any concerns, however there are some things that do need veterinary attention regardless. Here are some to take into account. Please always call your vet for advice or to phone ahead first, before rushing to the surgery, this ensures that we are able to triage your pet and also prepare for any incoming emergency. (eg set up equipment/oxygen/drugs etc)

(this is just a general list, and should not be taken literally - ALWAYS call your vet if your worried, this is just a helpful guide)

Things that need immediate attention
(regardless of time of day, these things may need to be sorted now and be taken to the vet straight away - they may be life threatening, but speak to a vet if unsure)

- breathing problems, this can include a visible effort with your piggie’s breathing (usually the abdomen sucking in and out showing they are using their abdominal muscles to breath) and any kind of open mouth breathing, these are signs of respiratory distress
- seizures or loss of consciousness, any fit which lasts more than around 2 minutes the vet should be called, also if your pig is having multiple fits
- bloat, if your pig has stopped eating and there abdomen has become very swollen and large, it may sound hollow when gently tapped. Your piggie will probably be very fluffed up and hunched, this is very painful
- excessive bleeding - this is a hard one as can be easily be perceived by many in different ways. But in general, any bleeding from an orifice (nose/anus/mouth/ears etc), which cannot be controlled, a vet should be called, any wound bleeding which cannot be stopped with 5 minutes of direct pressure held on then a vet should be called
- any collapse, paralysis or loss of the use of limbs for any reason, the piggie may well need to be seen very soon if not now
- excessive diarrhea, this can cause large amounts of fluid loss in the body and quickly send your pig into dehydration
- a sow having any trouble in labour, you should always call a vet immediately for this
- eye trauma, any severe injury to the eye, especially when your pet is refusing to open the effected eye or it is bleeding or visibly damaged such as a puncture wound
- head tilt
- any severe bite wounds which may or may not enter the abdomen or chest (usually from a dog or cat attack)
- fly strike - if you can see fly eggs or maggots on your pig get them to a vet asap
- any pregnant sow which is hypersalavating/collapsed/not eating
- a boars penis which cannot retract and looks swollen or blue

Things that could maybe wait 24 hours
(some things can be seen and assessed the next day - but remember, if your worried in anyway, please call your vets)

- anorexia (as we call it in the vet world), if your guinea pig is refusing to eat, from as little as 4-6 hours, you may be able to wait to see a vet as long as you continue to syringe feed them. However, in some cases your piggie may need to be seen earlier, make sure you call for advice on this one, some vets will wish to see you sooner
- blood in the urine/trouble with urinating, any signs of a urinary infection its best to get your pig seen sooner rather than later, if your pig is unable to pass urine at all then call your vet for advice immediately.
- ‘the sniffles’ if your piggie has nasal or eye discharge with trouble breathing
- lameness where your pig is limping a little and not making any improvement with rest
- severe fungal or mite infection/infestation
- diarrhea, so long as not excessive amounts, may be able to wait a few hours - call for advice first
- eye injury, such as cloudiness, redness or irritation
- sudden drop in bodyweight
- small wounds which are not actively bleeding or gaping in anyway
- torn or broken nails
- excessive fluid under the skin, depending on the cause, advice should be sort on this though
- drooling from the mouth (usually a sign of dental disease)
- a lump which has appeared suddenly, is painful or very large

Things that may be able to wait a few days
(these are generally minor ailments, but always remember, guinea pigs are prey animals and designed not to show illness, its best to seek advice as soon as your pet develops signs as its likely they have been unwell for sometime)

- hair loss and excessive itching
- a slow decline in bodyweight
- any skin complaint that is not effecting a large area of the body
- less active than normal
- eating less than usual
- a nail cut too short (usually never needs a vet to see, the bleeding will stop)
- lumps which are not painful or causing issues with the guinea pigs gait or ability to eat/drink/poo/pee etc
- ear irritation/itching
- a cherry eye (small fatty lump appearing on the conjunctiva)
- minor bite wounds/scratches (wash with warm salt water in the meantime)

Hope this proves helpful in some way.

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Oct 12, 2009
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Really informative post Abi...thank you!

Let's try to get this made a sticky.

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