Guinea pigs make great pets, but they're prone to various health problems that you need to be aware of. Your new guinea pig can live a long and healthy life as long as you get health issues treated quickly by a veterinarian who specializes in treating these animals. Here are four things you need to know about one of the potential health issues guinea pigs face, urine scald.
What are the signs of urine scald?
If your pig has urine scald, you may notice that it isn't eating or drinking. As you've probably already noticed, healthy guinea pigs eat pretty much constantly, so if a pig isn't eating, it's always cause for concern. When you pick up your pig, you'll notice red or pink swollen skin between their back legs. This area may have open sores and will look quite painful.
Is urine scald an emergency?
Urine scald can be a sign of serious medical problems like bladder or urinary tract stones. These stones are made of excess calcium. The stones irritate your pig's bladder, and if they get large enough, can completely block the urethra and prevent your pig from urinating. For this reason, you should always treat urine scald as a potential emergency and see a vet right away. The vet can rule out any serious underlying causes of the problem.
How do vets treat urine scald?
Vets treat urine scald with medicated ointment. This ointment is similar to the cream that you would put on a human baby that has diaper rash. The vet will then check your guinea pig for signs of underlying health problems that could have led to the urine scald. Those conditions will then be treated.
How can you prevent urine scald?
You can prevent urine scald by preventing the problems that can cause it, like bladder stones. Make sure to keep the cage clean and dry so that your pig doesn't feel like it needs to hold its urine to avoid living in filth. You should be spot cleaning the cage every single day since guinea pigs are very messy creatures.
You also need to avoid feeding your pig vegetables that are high in calcium such as spinach or kale. Romaine lettuce has much less calcium and will still satisfy your pig's need for green, leafy vegetables. Before you feed your pig anything, look up its nutrition information to make sure it's low in calcium.
If you notice the signs of urine scald, take your guinea pig to a veterinarian right away (more info here).