Guinea Pig Care: Salmonella Infection Explained

You've likely heard of salmonella infection in humans, but did you know your guinea pig is at risk of contracting this bacterial infection, too? Guinea pigs enjoy eating fresh salad leaves and other raw vegetables, but you should wash them well before feeding them to your guinea pig, as they can carry salmonella bacteria. Your guinea pig can also be exposed to salmonella through contact with bedding that's been contaminated with infected rodent urine, and outdoor guinea pigs are at an increased risk of contracting salmonella in this way. Any guinea pig can contract salmonella infection, but young guinea pigs and those with a weak immune system are at greater risk. Salmonella can spread quickly from one guinea pig to others in the same living area, and the infection can also spread to humans, so it's important to isolate a guinea pig showing symptoms of salmonella infection.

Symptoms Of Salmonella Infection

In humans, salmonella causes severe vomiting, but did you know that guinea pigs can't vomit? If your guinea pig contracts salmonella, you can expect their abdomen to be swollen and tender and they will have diarrhoea. Sudden weight loss and dehydration are common symptoms, and some guinea pigs develop a fever. It's also common for infected guinea pigs to be lethargic and to shy away from physical contact.

Diagnosing And Treating Salmonella Infection

In order to diagnose your guinea pig with salmonella infection, your vet will take a stool sample for bacterial analysis. A blood sample may also be collected to check your guinea pig's inflammatory markers and white cell count, which can indicate the presence of an infection.

Your guinea pig will likely be very sick when your vet sees them, so they may need to be kept as an inpatient for a couple of days to allow them to be closely monitored. Antibiotics will be prescribed to fight off the salmonella strain of bacteria, and intravenous fluids may be administered to tackle dehydration. When you take your guinea pig home, you will have to keep them away from other pets and children until the infection is completely cleared. When handling your guinea pig and cleaning their living area and feeding bowls during their treatment, you should wear gloves for your own protection. If your guinea pig does not seem to be fully recovered when their course of treatment ends, you should take them back to the vet, as a second course of antibiotics is sometimes required.

If your guinea pig is showing signs of salmonella infection, don't delay having them examined by your vet. For more information, contact a local clinic, like Findon Vet Surgery.