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Guinea Pig Illnesses – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Posted October 7, 2012 by

Common Guinea Pig Illnesses

This article touches on a few of the more common guinea pig illnesses.  Symptoms, causes, and treatments are discussed as well.  If your guinea pig is showing signs of sickness, it is important to talk to a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Delaying proper treatment can sometimes lead to the death of your pet, which is something we definitely don’t want to happen!

Not So Lovely Guinea Lumps

Lumps are a common skin problem seen in many guinea pigs.  The lump may be one of several things including: an abscess, cyst, lipoma, and in very rare cases, a cancerous tumor.  Once a lump has been discovered, you should perform a daily visual examination on the area of concern.  If the lump persists, call your veterinarian to set up an appointment for your cavy.  Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian will choose the method of action.  A sample of the skin may be taken for further analysis by a biopsy, a drain may be installed, or the lump may be surgically removed.

Respiratory Issues

If your guinea pig is constantly sneezing, has trouble breathing, or has persistent discharge of the eyes and/or nose, it could possibly have some sort of respiratory issue.  This is not uncommon in guinea pigs and can be prevented by maintaining a clean environment for your cavy.  Making sure that your guinea pig’s cage is constantly maintained is important in preserving their health and vitality.  If you think your guinea pig may be suffering from a respiratory ailment, you should contact your veterinarian right away.

guinea pig illnesses - pruritus

Guinea pig suffering from pruritus. Photo by Nottingham Vet School.

Guinea Pig Mites

You will see your guinea pig scratch itself every so often.  You should not, however, notice an incessant need to scratch.  If this is the case, mites, or even lice may be the source of scratching.  You may notice a loss of hair and/or the development of itchy sores (alopecia and pruritus).  These sores are prone to infection which, in many cases if left untreated, can result in death.  If you notice a loss of hair and/or the appearance of sores, you should seek medical attention for your cavy right away.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Guinea pigs require an outside source of vitamin C, just as humans do.  If your guinea pig does not have the adequate amount of vitamin C in its body, it may become susceptible to “scurvy”.  Scurvy is a condition that may cause problems with blood clotting, or inhibit the body’s ability to produce collagen.  To ensure that your cavy does not experience vitamin C deficiency, a regular diet of fresh fruits and vegetables should be provided.

Bumble Foot

Bumblefoot, also known as Ulcerative pododermatitis, is one of the more common guinea pig illnesses.  This infection can easily be avoided by abstaining from buying a cage that has wire floors.  Poor sanitation that leads to wet bedding may also factor into the cause of the painful abrasions that develop as a consequence of bumblefoot.  If left untreated, bumblefoot may result in the death of the cavy.

Final Notes

Many guinea pig illnesses can be prevented by proper care and cage maintenance.  If your guinea pig is showing signs of any of the above illnesses, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian immediately.


Vetta has a degree in Biology from The Pennsylvania State University. She has years of experience in keeping hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, and rabbits.



    I learned a lot about guinea pig illnesses. Thanx for the great writings!


    i just got my first pet – a guinea pig. these articles have helped a lot. thanx


    My guinea pig has a serious case of bumble foot! Thx for the info (now i know that it’s bumble foot not a type of cancer…. phew!!)


    I’ve noticed that my Guinea Pig has a soft fatty lump under her chin, between her front paws. I’m planning on taking her to the vets on Monday, but wondered if you know what it might be. She is quite boney down her back, but fatty underneath. She’s about 5 and a half years old.

    Xavier Gomes

    my guinea pig is not well please help me she is not eating and not passing stool and making less urine too from last night please help me because i love her so please help

      judith garcia

      My guinea pig has the same symptoms as yours. He’s not eating & not pooping. I haven’t seen him drink either. sleeping non-stop. Not like him at all, usually eats hearty & drinks a lot.
      Did you get an answer to your questions concerning yours? where do we get the answer? help… guess I’m going to the vet tomorrow.


    Hello everyone, i got my guinea pig from petco on 1/13/13, she was so loving, now its three months later and she bites to draw blood, she doesnt want me to touch her and when i give her food she yanks it from me and starts to make that rumble noise, when i got her she was a year old already, i first i thought she was pregant, but that cant be cause she hasnt been with any male, her stomach is getting huge, but its not bloat cause she eats everything and she drinks plenty of water….please someone help me!!!!!!!!

    Marina Fowler

    Can a guinea pig that has a head tilt live outside ?


    My guinea pig has lost some of her hair (like the picture at the top of the page) and has lost proper movement of her back end. I had taken her to the vet and he had no reason why this was happening. Her hair will grow back and then she will lose it again. This has been going on for over a year. Does anyone have any Idea as to why this is happening?


    I recently got 2 guinea pigs and is it normal for one to sneeze occasionally?

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