It's common knowledge among guinea pig enthusiasts that these animals are very prone to urinary tract infections, usually shortened to UTIs. One look into your guinea pigs' cage should tell you why. Guinea pigs use their entire cage as a toilet, and when they walk through their waste on their short legs, their bodies rub against their filth, and bacteria are introduced into their urinary tract. Here are four things you need to know about UTIs in guinea pigs.
What are the signs of UTIs in guinea pigs?
If you've ever had a UTI, you know that it makes going to the bathroom very uncomfortable. Guinea pigs feel the same way when they have a UTI. You may notice that they're squealing when they pee, or you may notice blood on their bedding from their urine. They may also stop eating or drinking due to their discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, you need to take your pig to an emergency vet right away.
Are UTIs dangerous?
UTIs are not dangerous if they are treated in time. If the infection isn't treated, it can spread from your pigs' urinary tract to the kidneys, which can lead to kidney damage or failure.
Guinea pigs with UTIs are also at risk of a condition called urine scald. This happens when pigs develop incontinence, and their skin gets irritated by constant contact with acidic urine. Urine scald is very painful for your guinea pigs, but you can help them avoid it by getting their UTIs treated.
How do vets treat UTIs?
Vets treat UTIs with antibiotics. These antibiotics are usually given in pill form, but it's also possible to get them in an injection form. Guinea pigs are delicate animals and are very sensitive to some common types of antibiotics like penicillin. The wrong type of antibiotics can kill them, so make sure that you choose a vet that has experience treating guinea pigs.
How can you prevent UTIs?
You can prevent UTIs by keeping your pigs' cage clean. If you use paper bedding, spot clean by removing the wet bedding and picking out feces pellets. If you use fleece bedding, make sure to spot clean daily with a broom and to wash the fleece regularly. Make sure that you have an absorbent material underneath the fleece to soak up any urine and to keep your pigs' cage nice and dry. For more information, contact an animal clinic in Markham.