Pododermatitis in Guinea Pigs
Pododermatitis is a condition in which a guinea pig’s footpad becomes inflamed, develops sores, or becomes overgrown. The appearance may be similar to callouses, or small tumors on the bottom of the foot. This condition is commonly referred to as bumblefoot.
When bumblefoot is left untreated or is present in a very severe form, there are sometimes complications in treatment and the infected leg may have to be amputated.
Symptoms and Types
The infected guinea pig’s footpads may become inflamed (redness), develop sores, or become overgrown over the course of many months. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Loss of hair on affected foot
- Reluctance to move or inability to walk normally
- Loss of appetite due to pain
- Joint or tendon swelling
- Amyloid deposition (protein deposits) in the kidneys, liver, hormonal glands, and pancreas
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is the most frequent cause, entering the guinea pig's feet through tiny cuts or scrapes in the foot. Underlying factors include:
- Excessive pressure on the feet
- Nutritional imbalance, especially lack of sufficient vitamin C
- Overgrown nails
- Wire floor caging
- Poor sanitation
- Humid environments
You will need to give a thorough history of your guinea pig's health, diet, onset of symptoms, and living conditions (whether in a wire or smooth floored cage, humid or dry environment, etc.). Your veterinarian can then diagnose pododermatitis by examining your guinea pig visually and by taking blood and fluid samples for a bacterial culture. While Staphylococcus aureus is the most commonly diagnosed bacterial infection in bumblefoot, the exact bacteria will need to be confirmed so that the appropriate antibiotic is prescribed to treat the infection.