Caring for Old Guinea Pigs: How to Spot Guinea Pig Arthritis

Are your guinea pigs getting old? Have you noticed your guinea pigs moving less, or limping when they walk? Fat guine...
Guinea Pig Arthritis, Arthritis in guinea pigs

Is your guinea pig more than 4 years old? Perhaps you’ve already been noticing them slowing down, or becoming less active, or maybe you’ve seen them limping a bit after waking up. These are, unfortunately, natural signs of guinea pig arthritis.

As our bodies get old, one point of common stress is on our joints. This is especially true for guinea pigs, due to their relatively small feet  in proportion to their bodies. 

Arthritis in guinea pigs is a condition that affects their joints and can lead to discomfort and mobility issues. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and potential treatments for guinea pig arthritis.

Symptoms of Guinea Pig Arthritis

Symptoms of arthritis in guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are typically good at hiding signs of pain or discomfort, but there are several symptoms that may indicate the presence of arthritis in your furry friend. It's essential to keep a close eye on your guinea pig's behavior and health. Common symptoms of arthritis in guinea pigs include:

Limping: Arthritic guinea pigs may have difficulty moving and could display a noticeable limp in one or more limbs.

Reduced Activity: You might notice that your guinea pig is less active than usual. They may be reluctant to run, jump, or engage in their typical playful behavior.

Stiffness: Arthritis can often make it challenging for guinea pigs to bend their limbs or groom themselves.

Weight Loss: Pain from arthritis can lead to a reduced appetite, causing weight loss in affected guinea pigs.

Vocalization: Guinea pigs may vocalize more frequently when in pain. Listen for any increased squeaking or vocalization that could indicate discomfort.

Swelling: In advanced cases of arthritis, you might notice swelling around the affected joints.

Treatments for Guinea Pig Arthritis

treatments for guinea pig arthritis

If you suspect that your guinea pig is suffering from arthritis, it's crucial to consult a veterinarian experienced with small animals. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment plan. Common treatments for guinea pig arthritis may include:

Warm and comfortable bedding: Ensure your guinea pig has a warm and comfortable environment, as warmth can alleviate joint pain and stiffness. A warm, well-cushioned environment can make a world of difference when it comes to easing their pain.

Cage Modifications: Make adjustments to their cage or living space to minimize the need for climbing or navigating ramps and levels. Provide ramps or easy access to hidey-holes to reduce stress on their joints.

Diet* & Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for guinea pigs with arthritis. Excess weight can exacerbate joint pain, so adjusting their diet to control weight is essential.

Physical Therapy: Some veterinarians may suggest physical therapy exercises to improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness. With proper veterinary guidance, gentle massage and range of motion exercises can 

Gentle Range of Motion 
Exercises: Gently flex and extend the affected joints to improve mobility. For example, you can encourage your guinea pig to move their legs in a controlled manner, but be sure to do so gently to avoid causing any discomfort.

Massage: Light massages can help reduce muscle tension and improve blood circulation. Use gentle circular motions over the affected joints and surrounding areas.

Warm Compress: Applying a warm, moist compress to the arthritic joints can help alleviate pain and reduce stiffness. Be cautious with the temperature to avoid burns or discomfort.

Low-Impact Exercises: Encourage your guinea pig to engage in low-impact exercises, such as walking on a a padded surface surface, to help maintain muscle strength and joint function.

Dietary Supplements: Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can support joint health in guinea pigs and potentially ease arthritis symptoms.

*All of the foods that are commonly linked to triggering arthritis in humans should already be avoided for guinea pigs (e.g. meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, etc.).


The Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs

The best bedding for guinea pigs, GuineaDad Premium Liners

At GuineaDad, our own guinea pigs aging and experiencing arthritis is what drove us to create our own bedding for guinea pigs, and then we perfected it in our GuineaDad Premium Liner.  

GuineaDad Liners are specifically designed to reduce impact on guinea pigs’ joints, creating a supportive, yet soft, cloud-like surface for them to stand on, while also reducing wetness and bacteria that could make them sick.

It’s no wonder that our Premium Liners receive the rave reviews they do from our customers, and it makes us very happy to read it. 

Causes of Guinea Pig Arthritis

old guinea pig, guinea pig arthritis, guinea pig foot

Arthritis in guinea pigs primarily stems from two main causes:

Age: As guinea pigs grow older, their joints can naturally deteriorate. The wear and tear over time can lead to arthritis, making older guinea pigs more susceptible to this condition.

Genetics: Some guinea pigs may have a genetic predisposition to arthritis, making them more likely to develop the condition even at a young age. If a guinea pig's parents or siblings have had arthritis, it increases the risk.

Diet: maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to protect your guinea pigs from unnecessary joint pain. A well-balanced diet of hay, vegetables, and guinea pig food pellets is the best way to go.

Arthritis can affect guinea pigs just as it does other animals, and it's crucial for responsible pet owners to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Regular veterinary check-ups, a proper diet, and a comfortable living environment can help prevent and manage arthritis in guinea pigs.

What You Can Do for Your Pets

With the right care and attention, guinea pig arthritis doesn’t need to stop your furry companion from leading a happy and comfortable life. 
We hope this helps you to build a brighter, lighter tomorrow for you and your guinea pigs.

If your guinea pig is getting older or experiencing joint pain, GuineaDad is here to help! Made precisely to maximize guinea pig health and comfort,  GuineaDad’s Premium Liner for guinea pigs and GuineaDad’s Premium Pee Pads for guinea pigs are one of the best ways to care for your pet.

Guinea pig bedding - GuineaDad Liner for guinea pigs


Further Reading

For other conditions that might make your guinea pig limp or appear to be in pain, you can learn more about common illnesses for guinea pigs here:

Bumblefoot in Guinea Pigs
The 13 Most Common Injuries & Illnesses in Guinea Pigs
Elderly Guinea Pig Care Tips


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1 comment

Hi Guinea dad, I am working on a project for school about my piggies cinnamon and sugar. It would be amazing, if you could answer a few questions about piggies for me.

How much fresh grass do you let your piggies have? Is grass good for them?

Are Guinea pigs scared of heights? Can I put them on a high platform?

Will piggies be uncomfortable on moist grass?

Have you ever seen your Guinea pigs gnaw on plastic and if so will it be harmful for them?

Are Guinea pigs scared of enclosed spaces if the walls are clear?

I am sorry I am taking up your time but I really appreciate that you read this.
Thank You!


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