General Health Checks and Preventative Care
Guinea pigs are intelligent and quiet animals. They are not aggressive, preferring to flee in the face of danger rather than bite or scratch. Because guinea pigs are social animals, they are happiest when kept in pairs or trios rather that singly. Kept as a solitary animal, they often form a close bond with their owner, greeting him/her with chirps, purrs, squeaks or whistles. Due to their quiet nature illness is not noticed making regular health checks important. Many other animal species are seen every 12 months for vaccines when they will have a health check.
A health check for guinea pigs will include a complete physical examination, dental exam, evaluation of husbandry and diet and an eye and ear exam.
If bringing a guinea pig in for a consultation or if coming in for a procedure, it is always a good plan for them to travel with their companion. If they have to stay, they will also appreciate having their friend staying to give them moral support.
There are no vaccines available for guinea pigs and then do not have parasitic worms.
Guinea pigs can go downhill very rapidly so it is important to be able to perform the appropriate diagnostic tests rapidly and to have the skills to interpret the results.
It is an essential diagnostic tool for the investigation of many problems. Our x-rays are digital which means they can be viewed almost immediately and being a practice with a specialism in guinea pigs we are able to interpret the images to help with establishing a diagnosis and formulating an appropriate treatment plan.
Ultrasound is the use of sound waves to see internal body structures such as liver, kidneys, reproductive tract, bladder, heart etc. With a cooperative patient, as is the case with most guinea pigs, no anaesthetic or sedation is needed. However, the fur will have to be shaved from an area on the tummy to allow the application of the ultrasound gel.
We have an in-house laboratory where we can run a wide variety of diagnostic test.
Emergency cases often require rapid diagnostic blood tests. Most commonly these are biochemistry, haematology and electrolytes.
Cytology also can be critical test telling us during surgery whether a swelling is a cancer and if so giving us information as to whether removal is possible.
Our laboratory also runs a range of other diagnostic tests.
- Urine analysis
- Water quality
- Disease identification via serology
- Skin tests.
We also send samples for testing to a range of other diagnostic laboratories. In these cases results will take longer.
Our most common use of endoscopy in the guinea pig is the investigation of oral, nasal, pharyngeal and airway disease. Using a very small endoscope allows us to look inside the nasal cavities to actually see what is happening. It is essential for a definitive diagnosis in many cases.
Endoscopy in guinea pigs is also used in the ears, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract and into the bladder.
Female guinea pigs have a very high incidence of ovarian cysts. Most commonly female guinea pigs are neutered when ovarian cysts are diagnosed but there is a growing opinion that prefers to neuter young before the development of ovarian cysts as some types of cysts can cause serious medical problems.
Male guinea pigs are most commonly neutered for behavioural reasons. Castrated guinea pigs will integrate with others much more successfully than entire males. Medical reasons for the castration of Guinea Pigs are rare so the main reasons for males are behavioural and the control of reproduction.
Both males and females can be neutered from 4 months of age but they will always be examined before surgery to assess suitability.