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 same diet as fed in the patient’s home whenever possible as guinea pigs establish strong food preferences early in life.
Teresa Bradley Bays has been a veterinarian at Belton Animal Clinic & Exotic Care Center since 1993 and has been an owner in the practice since 1997. In addition to caring for the dogs and cats of Belton, she is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer on exotic pet species, and recently earned board certification as a specialist in Exotic Companion Mammals. Dr. Bradley Bays is author of many articles, several book chapters and co-editor and co-author of Exotic Pet Behavior: Birds, Reptiles, and Small Mammals. She is also a Past-President of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.
The approach to a prey species like the rabbit often calls for a profound paradigm shift for clinicians used to dealing only with cats and dogs. Rabbits can stress very easily in a clinical setting and the challenge of managing a small mammal like the rabbit increases exponentially when they are presented for illness or injury.