Guinea Pig Diseases - Pneumonia

Caring of a guinea pig with pneumonia
  • Pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs, is the most frequent cause of death in guinea pigs.
  • Pneumonia in guinea pigs is usually caused by bacterial infection (most often Bordetella bronchiseptica, but other bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae or Streptococcus zooepidemicus may also be the cause).
  • A number of potential disease-causing bacteria may inhabit the respiratory tracts of otherwise normal guinea pigs.
  • These bacteria tend to be "opportunistic", meaning that they infect susceptible animals, multiply and cause disease if the opportunity presents itself.
  • In rare cases, it may be caused by a type of virus known as adenovirus.
  • Sudden death can occur when there are outbreaks among groups of guinea pigs

    • Transmission:
    • Stresses increase the chance that disease will develop, and young animals are most often affected.
    • The bacteria are spread by direct contact, aerosolized (airborne) particles, and on contaminated hands or other objects.

    • Your veterinarian can diagnose pneumonia from an examination or from special tests performed on the fluid that may be oozing from your pet's eyes or nose.
    • X-rays may also show pneumonia in the lungs.

      Some pets will remain asymptomatic and may die suddenly without ever appearing to be sick. Others may have following symptoms:
    • Oozing or discharge from the nose
    • Sneezing
    • Inflammation of the lungs
    • Middle or inner ear infections
    • Wheezing, crackling or rasping sound
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Enlarged lymph nodes
    • Inflammation of the eyes (commonly called pink eye)
    • Fever
    • Lethargy
    • Weight loss
    • Depression
    • Loss of appetite

      Treatment of pneumonia Treatment:
    • In general, treatment for a guinea pig with pneumonia is really treatment for the signs of pneumonia instead of the pneumonia itself.
    • This can include administering fluids combating dehydration, forced feeding if guinea pig is not eating, oxygen therapy to help with breathing, and vitamin C.
    • If the pneumonia is caused by bacterial infection, your veterinarian will likely prescribe longterm antibiotics.
    • Although they can be toxic in guinea pig certain antibiotics are safer than others, and your veterinarian may select one of these if needed.
    • Commonly, the antibiotic is compounded into an oral suspension, which should then be given as directed.
    • Watch any guinea pig receiving antibiotic treatment carefully. If your pet experiences diarrhea your vet will take him off the drug.
    • Additionally, the condition may be spread from one guinea pig to another when an infected pet sneezes or coughs or has direct contact with another guinea pig. Thus, if you have more than one guinea pig, you may want to separate your pets during the time in which one of them is sick.

    • If you have more than 1 guinea pig, preventing and controlling outbreaks of pneumonia requires keeping your pets and their cages or tanks clean at all times, and removing guinea pigs that are sick from the company of the others.
    • You will also need to take your own precautions to avoid becoming a potential carrier yourself, by wearing disposable gloves when cleaning the cages and handling the infected guinea pig, and cleaning your hands and clothing before handling the next guinea pig.
    • Keep your cavy indoors especially in winters and away from drafts.
    • Make sure he's fed a healthy diet to boost his immune system including plenty of vitamin C. Guinea pigs can't manufacture this essential vitamin in their own bodies, so they need constant outside sources.
    • Your pet should have good quality timothy or grass hay available at all times, along with fresh, clean water.