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 forestall them getting caught by predators, they conceal indicators of ache and sickness. We cry out in ache and anticipate animals to do the identical, but when they did this within the wild it might improve the chance of them getting caught. 

As guinea pigs (like rabbits) conceal their ache effectively, house owners typically don’t recognise when they’re in ache and infrequently 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 damage them. In actuality, it’s thought that they expertise ache the identical as us however present it otherwise. Although guineas are widespread pets, the signs for ache haven’t been enormously studied with a few of these indicators not even being recognised by animal consultants. The remainder of this text covers the primary behaviours related together with your pet being in ache/discomfort. Take notice; by themselves, every of those indicators could not imply that your guinea pig is sore; it’s extra after they present quite a lot of these indicators collectively. 

Brief Time period Indicators

1. Vocalising “Squeaking/screaming” 

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

2. Writhing/Belly Contractions

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

3. Modifications in Posture

How they’re stood can change relying the place their ache is. With stomach aches (eg. If their guts will not be working effectively) they might have their again arched. They could stand or stroll with their our bodies very tense. Modifications in posture are additionally seen when mendacity. Usually guinea pigs lay with their again legs tucked underneath them however when their backbone, stomach or again legs are sore they could have one or each again legs stretched out behind them or splayed to the facet. Keep in mind; wholesome guinea pigs typically alter their place. Some guinea pigs could discover it cozy to lie in these positions when effectively. It’s good to have a look at what’s regular in your guinea pig; if they’re appearing in another way it could possibly be attributable to 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 will likely occur for those who contact a sore spot. They could even flinch if nothing is close to them attributable to ache inside them. Flinching is extra widespread with sudden and surprising ache

5. Shaking

When in ache, your guinea pig could shake attributable to worry or adrenaline operating by means of their veins. Like us, guinea pigs shiver/shake when chilly too. Shaking may be very refined and could also be onerous to see, so just isn’t probably the most dependable signal. It is also brought on by stress or uncomfortable side effects from medicines.

6. Paying Consideration to Sore Space

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

7. Transferring Slower

Whenever you damage it typically worsens the quicker you progress so that you decelerate. Animals do the identical. Guinea pigs transfer slower, regularly alter their posture (like for those who’re in ache chances are 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 transferring slower ask your vet whether or not that is doubtless as a result of 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 could sleep extra. Your guinea pig could also be scared as a result of ache and when guinea pigs are scared they could 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 transferring much less could possibly be attributable to stress/tiredness from surgical procedure or attributable to remedy uncomfortable side effects. As an illustration, robust ache killers could trigger guinea pigs to lie down extra even when they aren’t sore. 

9. Limping

Limping is normally 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 shortly (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 fallacious. Not all guinea pigs in ache will limp. As they conceal their ache, guinea pigs could have a sore leg however not look like limping. As an alternative chances are you’ll discover them not transferring round their cage as simply.

10. Bar Biting

Chewing cage bars just isn’t a standard behaviour. Guinea pigs chew on their cage bars if they’re pissed off, pressured or bored. All of a sudden beginning bar-biting is an indication one thing isn’t proper and it’s good to discover, and resolve, the trigger. Their bar-biting could cease when you kind out the rationale behind it. If left, chewing the bars can flip right into a behavior or compulsion which will be distressing and harm their tooth.

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 together with your little buddies. Wholesome guinea pigs spend a lot of their day grazing/foraging/consuming hay. However, when unwell or in ache, they typically eat much less. However beware, some will nonetheless eat tasty treats shortly. Keep in mind although, chances are you’ll not discover them consuming much less, particularly if they’ve a few buddies who eat the leftovers! Monitoring consuming as an indication of ache will be troublesome 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 variety of ache, by the point you’ve observed them consuming much less, they could have improved. Should you’re not searching for the opposite indicators of ache too, the delay in noticing this signal means your pet may have suffered greater than they wanted to, earlier than you recognised it and obtained 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 chances are you’ll discover it’s fuller than regular. Noticing your guinea pig consuming/consuming much less or reducing weight offers you a clue they’re not feeling 100%. When you discover this behaviour change search for different indicators of ache to determine if they’re in ache. Attempt to determine whether or not they’re sore or if there are different causes for them consuming much less. As an illustration, their water could style completely different to typical.

  1. Unkempt Coat and Grooming Much less

Apart 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 troublesome to identify as guinea pigs could groom themselves when hiding so chances are you’ll not see. As an alternative of wanting on the time spent grooming give attention to whether or not their coat seems clear and tidy. This will likely take time to be noticeable so in case your guinea pigs coat seems soiled watch what they’re doing for some time to see how they’re appearing.

To Summarize

The indicators of ache in guinea pigs are very refined and poorly understood. There are some simpler indicators to search for, equivalent to limping or crying out, however the extra refined indicators could also be extra correct. Every signal, on their very own, could possibly be unrelated to ache however after they present a number of indicators collectively, they could possibly be sore. If you’re anxious 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 could not conceal their ache as a lot when alone. You may evaluation the footage straight after. Should you disturb them, they could “act onerous” and never present any indicators. It’s additionally essential to recognise that every one species of animals have distinctive methods of expressing ache, the indicators given right here could also be completely different to how different animals will act when sore. 

If involved any of your pets are in ache contact a vet as quickly as attainable. 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 good friend to really feel rather a lot brighter. 

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