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Guinea Pig Care

5. Health, Illness, Signs and symptoms

Guinea Pig, like all living things can get sick from time to time. We offer free health checks at the L.A. Guinea Pig Rescue but we are not veterinarians. It is important to have a vet that you trust that is comfortable and experienced in treating guinea pigs. I have created a Vet List from viewer recommendations from all over the world. You can also 

Contact Me with a recommendation if you have a vet you trust. Please make the subject "Vet Rec".

Knowing when to go to the vet is the best way to save your pets life when you think something is wrong. Guinea Pigs can mask their illness, and many of the signs and symptoms are subtle. Changes in their behavior, appetite and overall appearance are indications that they are not feeling well. It isn't right to ignore a sick or suffering pet. They are part of your family and deserve loving care in good health AND in sickness. LUCKILY Guinea Pigs respond well to medical treatment if 

the illness is caught early, they're treated by a vet who has experience diagnosing guinea pig illnesses and the equipment and remedies required. This video explains some of the more common guinea pig illnesses, how to identify them, and what possible treatment options there are. Learn how to do a Home Health Check HEREGuinea Pig Pet Health Insurance is a real thing in The United States and is offered by Nationwide.

Pet Insurance may be available from other companies in other countries. Here is my video sharing my experience with Guinea Pig Pet Health Insurance. The video comments are a great place to ask questions. Some other common illnesses include Ringworm, Upper Respiratory Infection, Mange Mites and Bloat. Here are some videos about each of those topics and links to some common over the counter treatments.

I'll say it again, never put off going to a vet! I can't help in an emergency either. These videos are meant to help you learn and identify illnesses but in a medical emergency, it is a trained medical professional that is going to be able to diagnose an illness and provide the care and treatment your piggies need. Mange (Mites) and Ringworm have similar symptoms like itching and scabs, but they also present in different ways, and are fundamentally different. Ringworm is a Fungal infectionMange (mites) are a Parasitic infection.

Ringworm Anchor

Ringworm is not a worm, it is a fungus just like "athletes foot" and is very common and curable. It can be serious if left untreated. Ringworm is also confused with mange mites. 

Ringworm is a Fungal infection that can be cured easily with a soak in antifungal shampoo 


Mange is very uncomfortable & life threatening for Guinea Pigs. But it is EXTREMELY EASY TO CURE!!! Mange is a parasite that can cause itching so bad your Guinea Pig can have a seizure and die. Here's how to cure it: Ivermectin Liquid or paste. Childrens Benadryl helps. BE CAREFUL NOT OVERDOSE IVERMECTIN! Dizzyness is a sign of overdose. Babies under 4 weeks SHOULD NOT get Ivermectin. Small pigs should only receive a fraction of a dose as it relates to body weight. Prevention is only 1 dose! Small Pigs should get 1/2 or 1/3 dose based on body weight compared with a full grown pig . Err on the side of caution!


Dose: 1 drop on Ear - Topical   Preventative: 1x (injectable type -

but 1 drop on ear works

Dose: Orally:

0.3-0.5 cc (ml) orally

Every 3 hours or as needed.

Less is better,

it can be habit forming

If showing symptoms

dose: small pea sized

amount 1x week / 3 weeks

If showing mange symptoms  
 Once every 3 days - 3x total 

ADULT GUINEA PIGS ONLY! Pea sized amount

in mouth. 

Preventative: 1x 

Do Not Give to Babies!!


Nails made an amazing recovery, Watch the whole story here: 

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    Having a good EMERGENCY KIT and being familiar with what's in it, and how to use the items can be your saving grace in an emergency!

    Skinnypigs1 is an amazing resource for ALL THINGS GUINEA PIG RELATED! If you're here, you probably already know about Skinnypigs1! 

    I have been given permission to post Skinnypigs1's Emergency Kit Video here>>> It presents all the things you should have (or aspire to have) in your emergency kit. I've tried to gather links to most of the items here, and found the best price.

Emergency Kit Video


Emergency Food

Electrolyte Mix 

1ml Oral Syringe

Benebac probiotic

Eye Wash Liquid

5ml Oral Syringe

   These are most of the Emergency Kit items, plus some items that I think are important. If you watch my videos regularly, you probably be familiar with a lot of these things. So far, I have only gotten positive feedback about these listings here. They are great items to have in your piggy emergency or regular care kit. 

The #3 MUST- HAVE Guinea Pig Item in this video is Terramycin Ointment. At the L.A. Guinea Pig Rescue we use it for eye injuries and wounds. It can literally save your piggies eye if they get a hay poke or other eye injury. Time is of the essence in these situations, so it's something you want to have in your Emergency Kit!

Terramycin Ointment


The #1 MUST- HAVE Guinea Pig Item is Oral Syringes. Listed above, 1ml syringes are my favorite for medecine, Vitamin C and even Critical Care. For Critical Care, I like to cut off the narrow tip so that the Critical Care can go in and out of the syringe easily. But Oxbow makes Critical Care Fine Grind which is smaller particles of emergency food which dispense easier and may be easier to eat.

Other Common Illnesses

Guinea Pig Breathing Issues can be signs of a number of different illnesses. Bad breathing sounds can be a sign of an Upper Respiratory Infection, Pneumonia, or even Heart Disease as it can cause pressure and fluid in the lungs. Only an experienced Veterinarian can diagnose this and prescribe the right treatment. Luckily guinea pigs with breathing issues respond well to treatment and medicine as long as you have the correct diagnosis AND you DON'T WAIT! Find a Recommended Vet HERE

Watch the full Illness Playlist HERE

Heart Disease is very common in guinea pigs.  Symptoms can be similar to URI and often both may be occuring at the same time.

The biggest symptoms of heart disease are "hooting" breathing sounds and lethargic behavior. The Exotic Animal Vet Center in Pasadena California created this info sheet that outlines symptoms and treatment.

I go in depth about this info in the video right here.

Bloat and GI Stasis: Guinea pigs should be eating pretty much all the time, pooping too! If your guinea pig isn't acting normal, tired, lethargic, depresses, in pain, they might be bloated or have GI Stasis. Check to see if they're bloated by gently tapping on their belly to see if you hear a hollow sound like a balloon. Are they puffed up, swollen belly? It might be bloat. This requires immediate vet attention. Vets can give your guinea pigs powerful anti gas medication and medicine that can get their gut moving again. If they are not pooping and don't want to eat, that could be GI Stasis. Vets also have "Motitlity" drugs that can get their digestion moving again. And vets can use X-Rays to see if there is a blockage preventing their digestion  from working properly.


My vet list can help you find an emergency pet hospital. In the mean time, Baby gas drops can help alleviate any gas pressure but is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR VET CARE! Give 0.5 ml baby gas drop solution every 3-4 hours. This is NOT A LONG TERM TREATMENT. GET TO VET ASAP!!!


Guinea Pig Tooth Issues can cause extreme weight loss, liver damage and even death!

Tooth Issue can cause a cascade of other health issues. Watch "Tooth Issues Explained"

Bumblefoot is very painful! Caused by unsanitary conditions, dirty bedding, weakened immune system, It can lead to serious infection and death!



Soft Poops can be a sign of digestive issues.Too much fresh veggies can cause soft poops. Check out the Food Guide Here. These videos are all about soft poop and how to fix the problem.

Benebac is probiotic paste that can help get your piggie's

digestion back on track. We also use it with antibiotics, not at the same time, a few hours apart.


Bene-Bac Probiotic Powder is the same probiotic ingredients as the paste but in a powder for. It may last longer unused and is convenient in many cases that the gel isn't ALSO Mikey really likes it! He hates the gel, but he LOVES this! You get more for your money, and it seems to be more widely available! Keep it in your Emergency kit. Order it BEFORE you need it. Be Prepared.


Activated Charcoal is a great treatment for runny poops and diarrhea. It also can detoxify in the case of accidental poisoning or Ivermectin overdose (which I'm hearing about more and more) The same regiment is good for both situations. In the case of accidental poisoning, every few hours is okay. It can also be used with baby gas drops to help expel gas!


Watch the full Illness Playlist HERE

This information is meant to be educational, so that you can make the best decisions, and care for your guinea pigs. Only a qualified vet can diagnose and treat serious illness. While many conditions can be treated at home, it is important that you have a vet you trust and you know when to see them. Pet Insurance can help with high costs and allow you to focus on the well being of your pigs.

A list of vets worldwide was submitted by Scotty's Animals viewers and are only included based on  their positive experience. All these vets were recommended by guinea pig owners, the viewers. 

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Your health matters too!


Most people who think they are allergic to their guinea pigs are ACTUALLY ALLERGIC TO TIMOTHY HAY! Try switching to an alternative grass hay like orchard grass first! That said an air purifier can really improve your air quality and remove allergy triggers. When I was struggling with Hay Allergies in the Animal Room, I asked what Air Purifiers you recommend. Levoit sent me the Core 400s Smart Air Purifier. I totally love it. Here's why:

This Air Purifier gives piece of mind, knowing EXACTLY how clean your air is, even if you're not home + the ability to purify and control it from ANYWHERE with your phone. Levoit Core 400s Smart Air Purifier. LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room Up to 1980 Ft² in 1 Hr With Air Quality Monitor, Smart WiFi and Auto Mode, 3-in-1 Filter Captures Pet Allergies, Smoke, Dust, Core 400S/Core 400S-P, 

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