How to Diagnose Respiratory Problems in Guinea Pigs



Listen to your guinea pig breathe.,
Examine your guinea pig’s eyes.,
Look at your guinea pig’s nose.,
Observe your guinea pig’s overall appearance.,
Monitor your guinea pig’s appetite.,
Determine if your guinea pig is less active than usual.,
Identify stressful events for your guinea pig.,
Take your guinea pig to your vet immediately.,
Give your vet a detailed history of your guinea pig.,
Allow your vet to examine your guinea pig.,
Have your vet take x-rays.,
Let your vet identify the type of bacteria present.

If your guinea pig has a respiratory infection, he may have trouble breathing. Sounds of troubled breathing include wheezing and clicking noises.Normal breathing in a guinea pig should be easy and quiet.

If your guinea pig has allergies, he may breathe more loudly, but probably won’t have trouble breathing.;
, Respiratory problems, whether an allergy or infection, can affect your guinea pig’s eyes. For example, you may notice discharge coming from his eyes.This discharge may be yellow or green if he has an infection. Your guinea pig’s eyes may look crusty from the discharge.His eyes may also look red.Conjunctivitis, which is inflammation of the inner eyelid, can make eyes look red. It is usually seen with respiratory infections., Look for discharge coming from your guinea pig’s nose. Since respiratory infections can cause sneezing, you may see the discharge when your guinea pig sneezes.The discharge may be yellow or green if your guinea pig has an infection.

Allergies can produce a sore nose if the nose becomes itchy.A sore nose will look red from constant rubbing or scratching.

, A respiratory infection can make your guinea pig feel pretty sick. His physical appearance will worsen. His fur will start to look ruffled from a lack of grooming. He may also look a little smaller from weight loss., If your guinea pig is feeling sick, he probably won’t feel like eating much. Pay close attention to how much food you put in his cage and how much he eats. You may notice your guinea pig eating less, or not eating anything at all., Guinea pigs are usually very active and playful. Respiratory problems can make your guinea pig feel tired. He may move around more slowly in his cage. If your guinea pig has a cage mate, he might be less playful and social with him.Your guinea pig might want to just be alone and not play very much.

, Events that are stressful to your guinea pig could weaken his immune system and increase his chances of getting a respiratory problem. These events could cause changes in behavior. Examples of stressors for your guinea pig are pregnancy and a change in routine (e.g., cleaning, feeding).Other potential stressors are:Cage crowding
A new cage mate
Bedding (pine, cedar) that can irritate the respiratory tract
Too much attention from people

, Respiratory problems in guinea pigs can go from mild to severe in a matter of days.When you first notice signs of respiratory problems in your guinea pig, take him to your vet for a diagnosis. The sooner your vet can determine what’s going on, the sooner your guinea pig can get the treatment he needs.

If possible, take your guinea pig to a small animal exotic veterinarian.They will have experience working with small animals like guinea pigs.

, Providing detailed information about your guinea pig (e.g., overall health, previous diseases or injuries, when the respiratory symptoms started) will help your vet diagnose and treat your guinea pig.Your vet might ask you specific questions about your guinea pig’s history, such as if he has a new cage mate and if he’s been bred recently.Since a lack of vitamin C can cause respiratory problems in guinea pigs, your vet may also ask about your guinea pig’s diet., Your vet will do a thorough physical exam of your guinea pig. They will look for the same things you may have observed at home, such as nasal discharge and labored breathing. Your vet may also touch your guinea pig’s lymph nodes, which may have gotten bigger if your guinea pig has an infection.Lymph nodes are part of your guinea pig’s immune system and are located throughout his body.

In addition, your vet will look in your guinea pig’s mouth for signs of dental disease, which can sometimes cause respiratory problems.Signs of dental disease in guinea pigs are misaligned teeth and swellings.The swelling are pockets of infection.
Your vet will also listen to your guinea pig’s lungs., Your vet can take several different types of x-rays, depending on what they think is causing your guinea pig’s respiratory problems. For example, if your guinea pig has dental disease, your vet will want to take skull x-rays to get a better look at the teeth and jaw bones. If your vet suspects pneumonia, then chest x-rays will allow them to view your guinea pig’s lungs.X-rays can help your vet to determine the extent of your guinea pig’s respiratory problem, as well as his likelihood of recovery after treatment., Respiratory infections in guinea pigs are usually caused by bacteria — Bordatella bronchiseptica or Streptococcus pneumoniae.To test for bacteria, your vet will take small samples from your guinea pig’s body. For example, your vet may use a q-tip to take a swab from the inside of your guinea pig’s nose. A small sample of your guinea pig’s conjunctiva may also be helpful in identifying bacteria.Nasal swabs may not be ideal, since bacteria from the environment can easily enter the nose. A tracheal wash, during which your vet would take a fluid sample from your guinea pig’s trachea, would allow your vet to identify the bacteria more accurately.Your guinea pig may need to be sedated so your vet can take the samples.
Your vet will look at the samples under the microscope to identify the specific type of bacteria and see the cells (‘neutrophils’) that are present with bacterial infections.

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