How to Treat Respiratory Problems in Guinea Pigs

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Determine if your guinea pig has trouble breathing.,
Look at your guinea pig’s eyes and nose.,
Take note of your guinea pig’s appetite.,
Have your vet diagnose your guinea pig.,
Treat your guinea pig immediately.,
Hospitalize your guinea pig, if necessary.,
Have your vet correct your guinea pig’s dental problems.,
Give your guinea pig antibiotics.,
Monitor your guinea pig.,
Clean your guinea pig’s cage regularly.,
Use proper bedding in your guinea pig’s cage.,
Keep your guinea pig’s cage well ventilated.,
Do not overcrowd your guinea pig’s cage.,
Do not house rabbits and guinea pigs together.,
Add vitamin C to your guinea pig’s diet.

When your guinea pig is healthy, his breathing will be quiet and easy. However, respiratory problems can make it hard for him to breathe. Your guinea pig may start wheezing. In addition, you may hear clicking or rattling noises when he breathes., A respiratory problem can cause your guinea pig’s eyes and nose to produce discharge.If the discharge is green or yellow, your guinea pig could have a bacterial respiratory infection. A respiratory infection could also cause your guinea pig’s conjunctiva, the inner part of your guinea pig’s eyelids, to become red.Allergies, another type of respiratory problem, can make your guinea pig’s nose red and sore from a lot of itching and scratching., A respiratory problem can make your guinea pig feel pretty sick and not in the mood to eat. He may eat less, or not at all.When you feed him, observe how much he eats.

With a reduced appetite, your guinea pig will lose weight.A lack of vitamin C is one possible cause of respiratory problems in guinea pigs.If your guinea pig is not eating much because he feels sick, he may not be getting enough vitamin C, which could make him feel even worse.

, Although your guinea pig may have obvious symptoms of a respiratory problem, your vet will need to determine the exact cause of the illness and how serious it is. To do this, they will perform a physical exam that will include listening to your guinea pig’s lungs. Your vet will also take samples (e.g., nasal swab, discharge from the eyes or nose) to identify the specific bacteria causing the respiratory infection.Chest x-rays can also help your vet diagnose your guinea pig’s respiratory problem. Chest x-rays will show whether your guinea pig has pneumonia.Dental disease can cause respiratory problems in guinea pig because the roots of the cheek teeth (premolars and molars) are so close to the nasal passages. If your guinea pig has dental disease, skull x-rays will help your vet see the extent of the disease., If left untreated, your guinea pig’s respiratory problem could make him extremely sick. For example, if he has a cold, it could quickly progress to pneumonia, which may be difficult for him to recover from. The sooner you get him treated, the better his chances of a good recovery.

, If your guinea pig is extremely sick (e.g., very labored breathing, inability to eat, very weak), your vet will likely want to hospitalize him for intense treatment. In-hospital treatments include assisted feeding, injectable medications, and extra oxygen.Your vet will want to hospitalize your guinea pig until he is strong and stable enough for at-home care.

If your guinea pig has severe breathing troubles, your vet may also humidify the oxygen your guinea pig is receiving.Your vet may give your guinea pig an oral or injectable multivitamin in the hospital if he is extremely weak.Injectable medications usually work faster than oral medications.

, If dental disease caused your guinea pig’s respiratory problems, then your vet will need to treat it at the hospital. Your vet will need to anesthetize him and use specialized dental tools to work on his teeth.After surgery, your vet may prescribe a pain medication for your guinea pig.

, Two types of bacteria — Bordetella bronchiseptica and Streptococcus pneumoniae — are the primary causes of respiratory infections in guinea pigs.Your vet will use diagnostic test results to select which antibiotic will effectively treat your guinea pig’s respiratory problem. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully to ensure all the bacteria is killed.

The medication may come in liquid or pill form.
If the antibiotic comes in liquid form, you can use a medicine dropper to put the prescribed number of drops into the corner of your guinea pig’s mouth. If he resists that, you could place the drops on his favorite food.To give your guinea pig a pill, place the pill back by your guinea pig’s molars so he won’t be able to easily spit it back out. Consider putting the pill in a hemostat (clamps that look like scissors) to place and then release the pill in his mouth.Hemostats are available at your local drug store.
Contact your vet if you are having trouble giving your guinea pig the antibiotics.

, Some antibiotics can cause diarrhea in guinea pigs by killing the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.If your guinea pig develops diarrhea from the antibiotics, stop giving them immediately and contact your vet. Your guinea pig will probably need to be treated with a different antibiotic.

, Once your guinea pig has been treated for a respiratory problem, you won’t want him to get another one. Keeping his cage clean is one of the best ways to prevent a future respiratory problem. Clean his cage twice a week.To give your guinea pig’s cage a thorough cleaning, remove all cage accessories and discard the bedding. Wash the cage with hot, soapy water. Rinse the cage and let it dry completely.Each day, remove leftover food, feces, and dirty bedding.

, Proper bedding can also prevent respiratory infections in guinea pigs. Dust-free bedding will not irritate your guinea pig’s nose. Examples of dust-free beddings are CareFRESH® and fleece.Do not use cedar or pine shavings. These shavings contain oils that can be very irritating to a guinea pig’s respiratory tract.Replace the bedding whenever it becomes soiled or wet. Damp bedding can become moldy and increase your guinea pig’s chances of getting sick., Adequate air circulation is important in preventing respiratory problems in guinea pigs. A wire cage would provide more ventilation than a solid glass cage.Make sure the cage is not in the direct path of a vent or draft — a constant draft of cool air could make your guinea pig sick., If you have multiple guinea pigs, they should be in a cage large enough to house all of them comfortably. If the cage is too small, your guinea pigs could develop respiratory infections from the stress of overcrowding.The stress would weaken their immune systems and make them susceptible to infection.

If you have 2 guinea pigs, their cage should be at least 30 inches x 50 inches (76 cm x 127 cm)., Rabbits can harbor Bordatella in their bodies and pass it on to guinea pigs. In addition, a rabbit can bully a guinea pig, causing the guinea pig stress if it cannot find a safe place to get away. To prevent a respiratory infection, house your rabbits and guinea pigs in different cages.The stress from bullying could cause a respiratory problem by weakening your guinea pig’s immune system.

, Adequate amounts of vitamin C are essential to preventing respiratory problems in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C in their bodies, so they must get this nutrient from food. Examples of vitamin C-rich foods are broccoli, parsley, green peppers, and mustard greens.Vitamin C dietary supplements are also available. Talk to your vet before giving your guinea pig a supplement.
Your guinea pig should receive 50 mg of vitamin C per day.Your vet can help you ensure that your guinea pig receives enough daily vitamin C.

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