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Guinea Pigs/Very old guinea pig


Can guinea pigs get arthritis? If so, how do you help the symptoms? My guinea pig will be 7 at the start of next year. She's recently started bunny hopping around her cage and holding both back legs at strange angles, sometimes dragging one of them and so on. One of her front feet has got very swollen too, she still walks on it but carefully. She's got very thin too despite eating and drinking loads. Are these typical signs of aging or something to worry about?

You've done something very right for her to live so long. That's nearly two years more than expected.

What you are seeing are the signs of old age. As their time approaches they often begin what we call a "wasting syndrome" that is characterised by weight loss, less energy and appetite and difficulty moving.

I don't honestly know if arthritis has ever been diagnosed in cavies but I have no reason to believe that they would be exempt from it. It affects every animal and human we know at some time in their lives, so it would be foolish to assume they can't be victims of it as well.

The swelling on the front foot is most likely something called bumblefoot. It's a severe swelling of the foot pad and is painful to the pig. I've never seen it on the back feet as it seems to be limited to the front pads.

It's unknown what causes it and it's pretty much untreatable. I have two old sows right now with it, one of whom I have to be extremely cautious with as it will easily bleed and when it does it bleeds profusely. I've not found anything that seems to make it better or to prevent it.

The excessive drinking could be a sign of renal failure, but again it's part of the aging process. I would just keep her as comfortable as possible until her time comes. The tough part is there's no predicting when that will be. It could take another year for her to reach that point, or it could take her in a few weeks.  

That's the hardest part of having and loving our animals, having to face the reality that they leave us too soon.

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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