Guinea Pig Common Illnesses

Guinea pig in hiding
                             Photo by Eden Kaye

A range of illnesses can affect guinea pigs at any age, in this article I go through the common ones. There can be many reasons why they get these, from incorrect care, old age, genetics and just generally bad luck. Serious issues need the immediate attention of the vets, where as some are not so serious, maybe just requiring a change in their care for example.

Parasites on the fur and under the skin

These can cause serious issues, but with the right care, the guinea pigs can be free of them. Mites and parasites will cause balding of fur to occur and excessive itching 24/7. Its common for them to be lethargic and not up to eating a lot of food if any. Treatments can be purchased to rid the mites of the fur. Ringworm being classed as a parasite will cause itchiness and sores. So you will need to visit the vet. Parasites could take longer to clear up with medications, as they are in the body.


Its not just humans that can suffer with this. This is where they are not getting enough vitamin c and it will affect their teeth as well as the digestive system. So give them a vitamin c supplement tablet and more veggies. They will have a coat that is in poor condition and have ulcers. Other signs include lethargy, loosing weight, not walking properly, discharging appearing from the nose and eyes, just doesn’t want to be handled in any way and a difference with the internal structure. So scurvy can affect a lot, but it’s simple to solve this issue.


Please go to the vet as soon as you can, as this can cause the death of a guinea pig if left. You will witness them wheezing, sneezing, discharging from the eyes and nose, not being able to breathe very well and lethargy. It can be caused for example with the wrong bedding being used, in too cold temperatures and not living in a clean and hygienic environment. If it’s any of these issues I have just mentioned, just make the necessary changes so it doesn’t happen again. Even with the right care elderly guinea pigs may come down with pneumonia like humans. Don’t worry as antibiotics will usually clear this up from the vets.

Urinary infections

A poor diet that is high in calcium can cause kidney stones, that will need to be removed at the vets. Guinea pigs will have blood present in urine as well as being in a hunched position, may squeak and no urine at all, if suffering from a urinary problem. Its not nice for them and needs to be treated as quickly as possible.


Feet will have sores on the bottom and be quite red. The right bedding must be used like fleece, a wire situation is not acceptable and will cause great discomfort. Wounds can appear on the feet, which is not great. Cleaning is important and must be performed on a regular basis. Overweight guinea pigs are more at risk of bumblefoot. It is treatable, but you need to go to the vets.


Guinea pigs can get skin and mammary tumours, but these are not harmful in any way. They can be removed very easily at the vets. If you feel or see any lumps, it’s always a good idea just to get them checked out.


It is an infected swelling that has pus inside. This will be drained at the vets or removed in an operation. Antibiotics may be required to clear up, if there are any infections present. Underfeeding and wounds can cause these to happen, as well as them living in a dirty environment or there being internal issues.


A black watery liquid along with a pungent smell is cause for alarm, as this signifies a more serious form of diarrohea. A visit to the vets is necessary to rectify this major issue and you may be given medications as well. A diet that includes a lot of gassy vegetables along with overfeeding will cause a mild diarrohea and can be rectified with changing the diet. It can cause dehydration and maybe hypothermia.


Thank you for reading this article. If you like, leave a comment below and I will reply back as soon as possible.






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8 comments found

  1. We keep Guinea pigs at our barn in the feed room because they keep mice away apparently. I had no idea that they could have so many afflictions! We’ve had happy healthy pigs but if something goes wrong this article will help me figure out what it is. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hello Sydney, I am not sure if guinea pigs keep the mice away, I have never heard of that before. Yes there are a few different illnesses they can get. But as you know with having guinea pigs, that with the right care they should do just fine. Sometimes in can just be bad luck or genetics. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  2. Great article on the common illnesses that Guinea Pigs can have. My daughter and I were talking about these just the other day and then I came by your article and it explains what to look out for in the care of these animals. 

    My son does not want to get one, and our cat may not like the addition either, but we are considering getting one for my daughter and this information is just what we needed to think about.

    1. Hello Chad,

      Thank you 🙂 

      If you get guinea pigs, make sure that you get two of them, because one will be too lonely on its own. 

      Also unfortunately if you have a cat, it will be risky having guinea pigs around. You can train the cat up to accept them, but this takes time and may not work or to always keep the cat away from them, which would not be easy. I am not trying to put you off, but it is a bit risky. 

      Best wishes


  3. Hello Eden, 

    My family had guinea pigs when we were young and they were great pets. We started of with 2 and in no time had 10. I was never aware of any of these diseases, their biggest worry was the dog, Your article outlines well, the simple facts of a hygienic place to live along with a balanced diet is key to all of us maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

    Great information to all guinea pig owners, they really make wonderful pets.



  4. Hello and thank you for your informative and interesting article. It was just what I needed. I heard about one health issue guinea pigs have, but I never knew that there were more than just parasites on the fur. I thought this was the only health issue this animal had.

    Pneumonia and tumours is something new to me. Never knew that guinea pigs can suffer from diseases like these. Is there any way to prevent these health issues? Can proper environment and food help?


    1. Hello Strahinja, 

      Having the guinea pigs in a clean and spacious environment with the right amount of interaction will help, as well as having a healthy diet that is not high in calcium and sugar. They are less likely to get a disease.


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