Behavior Essentials: Clinical Approach to the Guinea Pig

Key Points

  • Guinea pigs are docile, prey species.
  • Like most prey species, the guinea pig can hide signs of pain and illness extremely well.
  • The guinea pig’s tendency to freeze when frightened or stressed, compounds the difficulty of observing valuable clues during the visual exam.
  • In an effort to minimize stress and increase clinical success, transfer the guinea pig to a quiet exam room as needed and approach the patient slowly and speak softly.
  • The hospitalized guinea pig can benefit greatly from the presence of a bonded cage mate.
  • Guinea pigs establish food preferences early in life, therefore offer hospitalized guinea pig patients their regular diet whenever possible.
  • Monitor appetite and eliminations carefully as this rodent tends to stop eating in stressful situations.
  • Provide vitamin C daily to ill, hospitalized guinea pigs to prevent scurvy, which can develop quickly.

Guinea pigs are small, docile rodents, that must be approached with great care. Accurate evaluation of patient health status requires a thorough history, careful visual examination, and a detailed physical examination. Like most prey species, the guinea pig frequently hides signs of pain and illness. To improve clinical success, take measures to minimize stress by maintaining the animal in a quiet exam room and approaching the patient in a slow, quiet manner. The hospitalized guinea pig can also benefit greatly from the presence of a bonded cage mate. Monitor appetite and eliminations carefully in the guinea pig, and offer the . . .


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