Guinea Pig Diseases - Ulcerative pododermatitis

pododermatitis in guinea pig
  • Ulcerative pododermatitis, also known as bumblefoot or sore hocks, is an extremely painful infection of the footpad.
  • Your pet's footpads can become inflamed, develop sores, or become overgrown over the course of many months.
  • Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are often the cause and can enter your pet's feet through tiny cuts or scrapes.
  • In severe cases, the cavy may be reluctant to move, depressed, and anorexic. If the bone becomes infected, the leg may need to be surgically removed.
  • Left untreated, pododermatitis can result in death.
  • When pododermatitis lasts for many months, it can lead to serious complications such as swelling of the lymph nodes and arthritis.
  • Many cages sold for guinea pigs have wire bottoms with improper dimensions. Guinea pigs, unlike rabbits, do not have fur on the bottom of their feet so there is not much padding or protection from injury. The wire is a very rough surface and will predispose them to superficial wounds, which then become a source of infection.

    • Causes:
    • Excessive pressure on the feet
    • Nutritional imbalance, especially lack of sufficient vitamin C
    • Obesity
    • Overgrown nails
    • Injury
    • Wire floor caging
    • Poor sanitation
    • Wet bedding
    • Lack of activity
    • Humid environments

    • Radiographs (X-rays) are an important initial diagnostic test to help determine the extent of the infection. If the infection has spread into the bone (osteomyelitis) the prognosis is poor.
    • Bacterial culture is also very helpful. It allows your veterinarian to identify the specific bacterial pathogen and determine which antibiotic would be most effective at fighting the infection.

      pododermatitis guinea pig Symptoms:
    • Inflamed footpad
    • Sores on affected foot
    • Loss of hair on affected foot
    • Reluctance to move or inability to walk normally
    • Loss of appetite due to pain
    • Joint or tendon swelling
    • Amyloid deposition (protein deposits) in the kidneys, liver, hormonal glands, and pancreas

    • Pododermatitis are notoriously difficult to treat and should always be done in consultation with your vet.
    • Depending on the severity of the problem, your vet might apply topical antibiotics to the sores and bandage your guinea pig's feet.
    • Your vet might also give your pet an antibiotic injection and prescribe painkillers.
    • Remember that giving oral antibiotics may disrupt their normal gastrointestinal bacterial flora. Probiotics such as Lactobacillus can be given concurrently to help prevent that.
    • Your vet may show you how to care for and bandage your guinea pig's feet, as it can take a while for the condition to heal.
    • The guinea pig should not be kept on wire bottomed cages as these increase the likelihood of sore hocks and worsen the problem for those already affected.
    • The bedding should be changed to softer material.
    • The nails should be clipped and the affected area cleaned.
    • The feet may need to be repeatedly soaked and bandaged with topical dressings.
    • In a worst-case scenario, an infection might have invaded the bone. If that's the case, she might need to amputate your guinea pig's foot.
    • Force feeding can sometimes be required where the results have been a loss of appetite.
    • Dead skin may need to be surgically removed by your vet.
    • Correcting any husbandry problems and instituting a gradually weight loss program will prevent recurrence or worsening of the infection.

    • Hygiene is of vital importance when dealing with the prevention of pododermatitis in guinea pigs.
    • Cages with wire bottoms should have smoother and softer surfaces fitted as the floor. This floor should be clean and kept dry.
    • Bedding should also be clean and dry.
    • Your cavy’s feet should be checked daily and nails should be trimmed regularly.
    • An obese guinea pig is more likely to suffer from the disease because of the extra pressure on his footpads due to his excess weight thus obesity should be avoided.
    • Provide a large enough cage and area for exercise for your guinea pig.
    • Anything which could cause an abrasion of the skin should be removed.