Indicators of Ache in Guinea Pigs


By Kim Halford BVetMed MSC, MRCVS. Masters in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Non-Practising Veterinary surgeon

Guinea Pigs are prey animals. Within the wild, to stop them getting caught by predators, they cover indicators of ache and sickness. We cry out in ache and count on animals to do the identical, but when they did this within the wild it could improve the danger of them getting caught. 

As guinea pigs (like rabbits) cover their ache nicely, homeowners usually don’t recognise when they’re in ache and sometimes misread it. Many additionally consider they don’t expertise ache to the identical diploma as individuals or that some issues that are painful to us don’t harm them. In actuality, it’s thought that they expertise ache the identical as us however present it differently. Although guineas are frequent pets, the signs for ache haven’t been significantly studied with a few of these indicators not even being recognised by animal consultants. The remainder of this text covers the principle behaviours related along with your pet being in ache/discomfort. Take be aware; by themselves, every of those indicators could not imply that your guinea pig is sore; it’s extra once they present quite a lot of these indicators collectively. 

Quick Time period Indicators

1. Vocalising “Squeaking/screaming” 

When in sudden ache, guinea pigs could make loud and high-pitched squeaks. These are totally different and sometimes longer lasting than their regular decrease pitched “wheek”. They solely often cry out with sudden, intense sorts of pains, not common aches. One instance is that if contact/maintain an space of their physique that’s sore. 

2. Writhing/Belly Contractions

Some belly contractions (when their stomach will get tight) may be regular in guinea pigs nonetheless, these could worsen or be extra common if their tummy is sore. In case you see contractions and them stretching their physique out, particularly if they’re doing this usually, they’re seemingly in ache. Writhing/Belly Contractions

3. Adjustments in Posture

How they’re stood can change relying the place their ache is. With stomach aches (eg. If their guts usually are not working nicely) they may have their again arched. They might stand or stroll with their our bodies very tense. Adjustments in posture are additionally seen when mendacity. Usually guinea pigs lay with their again legs tucked beneath them however when their backbone, stomach or again legs are sore they might have one or each again legs stretched out behind them or splayed to the facet. Keep in mind; wholesome guinea pigs generally alter their place. Some guinea pigs could discover it cozy to lie in these positions when nicely. You could have a look at what’s regular to your guinea pig; if they’re performing in another way it may very well be as a result of ache/sickness/stress.

4. Flinching

Most guinea pigs flinch when in ache. Their our bodies are attempting to maneuver away from no matter is inflicting the ache. This may occasionally occur should you contact a sore spot. They might even flinch if nothing is close to them as a result of ache inside them. Flinching is extra frequent with sudden and surprising ache

5. Shaking

When in ache, your guinea pig could shake as a result of concern or adrenaline working via their veins. Like us, guinea pigs shiver/shake when chilly too. Shaking could be very delicate and could also be laborious to see, so isn’t essentially the most dependable signal. It is also brought on by stress or unintended effects from medicines.

6. Paying Consideration to Sore Space

Such as you, if a guinea pig has a sore patch, they might have a look at, or contact it, loads. Your guinea pig could groom, scratch or chew on the space extra leaving moist or broken pores and skin/hair. Generally they might abruptly cease what they’re doing and repeatedly flip their head/physique to take a look at no matter is inflicting them ache. 

7. Transferring Slower

If you harm it usually worsens the sooner you progress so that you decelerate. Animals do the identical. Guinea pigs transfer slower, incessantly alter their posture (like should you’re in ache it’s possible you’ll toss and switch in mattress) or transfer stiffly. Medicines inflicting sleepiness (eg. anaesthetics or some robust painkillers) could trigger your guinea pigs to maneuver slower even when not in ache. In case your guinea pig has had surgical procedure and is shifting slower ask your vet whether or not that is seemingly because of the medicines or ache.

8. Transferring Much less and Laying Extra

When in ache, animals have a tendency to remain nonetheless to keep away from additional ache. Ache is tiring so they might sleep extra. Your guinea pig could also be scared because of the ache and when guinea pigs are scared they might freeze, that is known as tonic immobility (and is like when a rabbit/ deer freezes if automobile headlights shine on them). They’re more likely to be quieter when in ache although some will behave usually. Guinea pigs shifting much less may very well be as a result of stress/tiredness from surgical procedure or as a result of medicine unintended effects. As an example, robust ache killers could trigger guinea pigs to lie down extra even when they aren’t sore. 

9. Limping

Limping is often solely an indication of ache in a leg or their again/ neck. Often lameness is from non-painful nerve/muscle issues but when your guinea begins limping and it doesn’t enhance rapidly (or they’re instantly dragging their legs/ not placing them to the ground in any respect) take them to a vet to see what’s incorrect. Not all guinea pigs in ache will limp. As they cover their ache, guinea pigs could have a sore leg however not seem like limping. As a substitute it’s possible you’ll discover them not shifting round their cage as simply.

10. Bar Biting

Chewing cage bars isn’t a traditional behaviour. Guinea pigs chew on their cage bars if they’re annoyed, burdened or bored. Out of the blue beginning bar-biting is an indication one thing isn’t proper and you want to discover, and resolve, the trigger. Their bar-biting could cease when you type out the rationale behind it. If left, chewing the bars can flip right into a behavior or compulsion which may be distressing and injury their enamel.

Longer Time period Indicators of Ache

  1. Consuming Much less and Dropping Weight

If you’re ailing, you lose your urge for food; this is identical along with your little associates. Wholesome guinea pigs spend a lot of their day grazing/foraging/consuming hay. However, when unwell or in ache, they usually eat much less. However beware, some will nonetheless eat tasty treats rapidly. Keep in mind although, it’s possible you’ll not discover them consuming much less, particularly if they’ve a few associates who eat the leftovers! Monitoring consuming as an indication of ache may be tough and inaccurate; you’re more likely to solely realise they’re consuming much less and, due to this fact in ache, after a number of hours. Even when they’ve been in a number of ache, by the point you’ve seen them consuming much less, they might have improved. In case you’re not in search of the opposite indicators of ache too, the delay in noticing this signal means your pet could have suffered greater than they wanted to, earlier than you recognised it and received assist.

  1. Ingesting Much less

Like with consuming, painful guinea pigs don’t wish to drink. Some cease consuming altogether. With others whenever you come to alter their water bottle it’s possible you’ll discover it’s fuller than regular. Noticing your guinea pig consuming/consuming much less or losing a few pounds provides you a clue they’re not feeling 100%. When you discover this behaviour change search for different indicators of ache to resolve if they’re in ache. Try to resolve whether or not they’re sore or if there are different causes for them consuming much less. As an example, their water could style totally different to common.

  1. Unkempt Coat and Grooming Much less

Aside from them focussing their consideration to grooming a painful sore extra, guinea pigs could take much less care of their coat. They groom themselves much less both as a result of they don’t have the power or their ache worsens when within the positions wanted to correctly groom. This signal is tough to identify as guinea pigs could groom themselves when hiding so it’s possible you’ll not see. As a substitute of wanting on the time spent grooming give attention to whether or not their coat seems to be clear and tidy. This may occasionally take time to be noticeable so in case your guinea pigs coat seems to be soiled watch what they’re doing for some time to see how they’re performing.

To Summarize

The indicators of ache in guinea pigs are very delicate and poorly understood. There are some simpler indicators to search for, equivalent to limping or crying out, however the extra delicate indicators could also be extra correct. Every signal, on their very own, may very well be unrelated to ache however once they present a number of indicators collectively, they may very well be sore. If you’re frightened your guinea pig is in ache watch them from afar or, even higher, arrange a digital camera and movie them whenever you’re not within the room. 

They might not cover their ache as a lot when alone. You may overview the footage straight after. In case you disturb them, they might “act laborious” and never present any indicators. It’s additionally necessary to recognise that each one species of animals have distinctive methods of expressing ache, the indicators given right here could also be totally different to how different animals will act when sore. 

If involved any of your pets are in ache contact a vet as quickly as potential. Your vet will assess whether or not they’re in ache and search for the trigger. Following this they are going to suggest a course of therapy, if wanted, which ought to assist your furry pal to really feel loads brighter. 

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