A guinea for a pet

Guinea pigs are unusually good at cleaning themselves – their musky smell is largely hormonal

My guinea pig's teeth fell out. Should I be concerned?

If it has happened for the first time, it is not a major cause of concern. Guinea pigs have 'open-rooted' teeth which keep growing throughout their life because of wear and tear of the teeth enamel from their round plant-based diet. However, if the teeth have discoloured or your guinea pig is having difficulty consuming food, then you might have to hand feed him/her. Falling of teeth could indicate a lack of Vitamin C in your pet. But if the growing teeth seems misaligned or is causing gum sores or is breaking the skin, consult a good vet.

My guinea pigs always have a strong smell coming from them even if I clean up the cage regularly. Is this normal?

Typically, guinea pigs keep themselves very clean. Sometimes a musky smell can come from your guinea pig (especially a male) due to natural hormone fluctuations or during the period a baby guinea pig is growing up into an adult. The other reason could be that the faecal matter or urine is getting stuck on your Guinea pig's bottom fur which could lead to foul odour. To clean his/her bottom you can take a cotton ball dabbed with a little coconut oil and gently clean the bottom of your Guinea pig.

My pet guinea pig has a swollen foot and is unable to walk properly. It is also losing hair on the same foot.

One of the main reasons is having wire mesh for it to walk on in its cage. Imagine if you had to walk on it, what would happen to your feet. Pododermatitis is a condition in which a guinea pig's footpad becomes inflamed, develops sores or becomes overgrown. The appearance may be similar to callouses, or small tumours on the bottom of the foot. This condition is commonly referred to as bumblefoot.

When bumblefoot is left untreated or is present in a very severe form, there are sometimes complications in treatment and the infected leg may have to be amputated.

The infected guinea pig's footpads may become inflamed (redness), develop sores, or become overgrown over the course of many months. Other signs and symptoms include:

Loss of hair on affected foot

Reluctance to move or inability to walk normally

Loss of appetite due to pain

Joint or tendon swelling

Pododermatitis can be difficult to cure. Start with switching your pet's living quarters to ones with a smooth bottom, improving sanitation, and changing the bedding to softer material. Your veterinarian will clean any likely wound, clip the hair around the affected areas and trim any overgrown nails. Affected feet should be soaked in an antibiotic solution, and antibiotic ointment should be applied. In severe cases, animals may need antibiotics and pain medications.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to

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