5 Things Guinea Pig Owners Need To Know About Mastitis

Guinea pigs are prone to a variety of reproductive conditions, so if your guinea pig is pregnant or has recently given birth, you need to watch out for a lot of problems, including mastitis. Here are five things you need to know about this painful condition.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis occurs when your guinea pig’s mammary glands get infected. The mammary glands are the glands that produce milk.

If your pig has mastitis, you’ll notice that her nipples are swollen and warm. They may take on a blue color as well. You’ll also notice that your pig has lost interest in food and even looking after her new babies. If you notice these signs, you need to take your pig to an emergency vet, such as Pet Medical Center, immediately.

What causes mastitis?

When baby guinea pigs suckle, they can injure their mother’s nipples with their teeth. These injuries allow bacteria to enter the body, which leads to an infection of the mammary glands. The bacteria responsible for the infection may be Staphylococcus aureus, pseudomonas spp, or pasteurella spp.

Can mastitis be fatal?

Mastitis is a very serious infection. If it’s not treated, it can spread throughout your pig’s body. If the infection reaches the bloodstream (sepsis), your pig could die. Without their mother’s care the baby pigs could also die, unless you give them extra care and attention.

How do vets treat mastitis?

Vets treat mastitis with antibiotics. You will be given either topical or oral antibiotics, depending on the extent of the infection. Make sure to give your guinea pig the entire course of antibiotics; stopping the treatment earlier than recommended contributes to antibiotic resistance.

Many antibiotics are toxic to guinea pigs, so make sure to see a vet that specializes in exotic animals and knows which antibiotics are safe. Guinea pigs can’t have any penicillin-based antibiotics such as amoxicillin, bacitracin, or oxytetracycline. The wrong antibiotics could kill your guinea pig.

Can this condition be prevented?

If your pig is nursing, it’s important to keep the cage very clean, so make sure to clean more frequently until the babies are weaned. Also, choose a soft bedding that won’t scrape your pig’s nipples, like fleece. Beddings that are made of paper or wood shavings may cause further damage to the nipples.

If you think your guinea pig has mastitis, take her to an emergency vet right away. With prompt treatment, your furry friend should make a full recovery.