An old guinea pig
Age comes to us all and at this time with your guinea pigs, you need to start changing a few things, to make life easier for them. If they live in a double tier hutch and possibly struggling to get up and down the ramp, then you need to get a new habitat that is all on one level. This is something I may have to consider with mine, when the time comes, which will be a way off yet.
Illnesses that older guinea pigs are more prone to:
- Heart attacks/stroke
- Bladder stones
- Kidney disease
- Tummy upset
With age comes illnesses, that may be serious or not that much of a problem. They can be experts at hiding illness, so doing regular health checks and every day observations, that you would do anyway, can show up certain signs that something isn’t quite right. On average guinea pigs can live from 4 to 8 years, but some may live before or past this time period.
Mobility is an issue for seniors and they can develop arthritis. So make the cage layout simple and not over cluttered. If they stop moving around completely, then take them to the vets. Eyes can also be affected and they can start getting cataracts. The eye will be cloudy, white or be opaque if cataract is present. Of course the eyesight is decreased, but this isn’t a problem, as they can adjust. Nails and teeth can start going crooked and nails can become brittle. You may have to trim the nails back more regularly, as they will be at risk of breaking off more easily if they’re long.
Bladder stones can be a concern when they get older, but you need to keep feeding a diet that is low in calcium and protein. Loosing weight is normal when they start to age, so don’t feed more pellets or food as this can cause them issues. Kidney disease can be painful, where protein is lost through urine, so again do not increase pellets, as it can cause the stones.
It is not unusual to see hair loss, but check that no mites are present, as older guinea pigs may be more prone to them, as they will not be moving about as much. Slightly change the diet if they are not eating the foods that they have always had and add herb packs on top of hay to keep it tasty. Clean water bottles out and make sure there is enough water everyday. Watch out for the poops, as older piggies can develop more delicate digestive systems.
Males can have impaction that needs resolving at the vets. A build of poops can cause dire consequences. Please feed them a diet high in fibre and not too many fruits, watery veggies and that are low in calcium, to prevent poops from becoming very soft. Their bottoms will need cleaning to also stop impaction from hopefully happening. Males that are neutered are less likely to get this. Females can suffer with ovary cysts, where the back end opens up more and hair loss. Take to a vet if there are signs of blood or discharge. Uterine tumours and infections can become present. Cysts and tumours are removed by vets with a spay.
More trips to the vet is required and will help them to live a healthy life. You can stock up on some first aid yourself, in case of emergencies. For example the oxbow critical health packs assist in feeding them when they off their food and a plastic syringe could be handy to have to. If they show any signs of not eating, sleeping or moving please take to the vets and see what the problem is. Sadly it will come to a time when you will have to say goodbye to your beloved guinea pig.
Remember what kind of quality of life are they going to have if they cannot function properly. Keep doing regular health checks, checking that eyes are bright and clear, breathing is not laboured, there are no bumps and lumps, nails are intact and that the teeth still look in good order. Is the fur still covering over properly and no sores are present. Also observe feet, that there are no soreness for example, ears and nose are clear.
In old age they will be lethargic and not be bouncing around like they once were when they were wee little babies. Wet bottom can be a common occurrence, as they won’t be moving about as much, the vets can prescribe medication to sort this out. Trimming of hair around the bottom may be necessary. Not all illnesses are untreatable and can soon be resolved with the right treatment.
Please leave me a comment below and I shall reply back as soon as possible, thank you for reading.