Bumblefoot In Guinea Pigs (Pododermatitis): Causes, Signs & Treatment

Bumblefoot In Guinea Pigs (Pododermatitis): Causes, Signs & Treatment

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Bumblefoot is a condition in which the heel of the guinea pig’s foot has become swollen. Veterinary surgeons commonly refer to this condition as bumblefoot, despite the fact that it is officially known as pododermatitis in medical terminology. The infection of guinea pigs with bumblefoot can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. As a result, immediate medical attention is required.It is most commonly caused by guinea pigs walking on hard surfaces, such as tiles, carpets, and wire mesh netting, rather than soft surfaces such as grass or dirt. When compared to grass, sand, and soil, these surfaces are extremely hard to walk on. Aside from that, arthritis and obesity can exacerbate the condition.

The severity of Bumblefoot can range from average to extremely serious depending on the individual. It can become severe because pododermatitis can develop into ulcerative pododermatitis, which can lead to a deep infection in the skin.

If you discover that your guinea pig has bumblefoot, you are doing the right thing by involving yourself in the treatment process.

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What does bumblefoot look like in guinea pigs?

Bumblefoot is a guinea pig footpad infection that can be extremely painful for the animal.

Inflammation and redness of the guinea pig’s heels are signs of pododermatitis (pododermatitis is a type of skin inflammation).

The Bumblefoot has a similar appearance to small tumors or calluses on the bottom of the foot.

What causes bumblefoot in guinea pigs?

If the guinea pig’s delicate feet are exposed to an environment that is not suitable for them, they will develop bumblefoot. Guinea pigs differ from other animals in that they do not have footpads on their soles.

It’s similar to walking barefoot on a rough surface without wearing shoes, if you want to put it that way. Considering that guinea pigs do not have paw pads, walking on a rough surface will be painful for them, right?

Pododermatitis is most commonly caused by rough surfaces, but there are other possible causes as well.

Long nails

When your guinea pig’s nails are too long, they may be forced to drop down too slowly into their heels, which can be dangerous when they are very energetic.

Additionally, this can put a great deal of pressure on the bumblefoot, resulting in pressure ulcers.

Also read: Guinea pig nail broke off

Overweight

When compared to guinea pigs with a healthy weight, overweight guinea pigs are more likely to develop a condition known as bumblefoot.

The reason for this is that when a guinea pig attempts to be active, more pressure is placed on their bumblefoot.

If an overweight guinea pig is housed in an enclosure with wire-netting flooring, it is almost certain that he or she will develop bumblefoot as a result.

Improper bedding

Dirty bleeding has the potential to cause health problems. Those guinea pigs who spend the majority of their time in soiled bedding are more likely to develop urine scalding.

If their foot is burned by urine, it will become tender, the skin will itch, and the foot will be vulnerable to flystrike.

Furthermore, when the urine-burned skin presses against the ground, the skin may be torn up, which will most likely result in a bacterial infection of the skin.A

Missing fur

Their bottom feet are covered in fur, which serves to keep them safe from the outside world while they are playing. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the loss of fur at the bottom of the legs.

As an illustration:

  • Rough carpet
  • Urine scald
  • Genetic factors
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Mange mites
  • Allergies

The terrible cases of pododermatitis mostly arise when various risk factors happen at the same time.

Also read: Why is my guinea pig missing a patch of fur

How common is bumblefoot in guinea pigs?

Bumblefoot in a Guinea Pig that is six years old

Bumblefoot is the most frequently observed and studied condition in guinea pigs. Hundreds of guinea pigs displayed symptoms of pododermatitis, according to the study.

The majority of guinea pigs suffer from a mild form of bumblefoot, which is still a source of concern. If left untreated, mild foot pain can quickly progress to ulcerative pododermatitis, which is extremely painful.

Signs of bumblefoot in guinea pigs

Bumblefoot can range in severity from regular to extremely serious, depending on the individual. It is most helpful to think of this condition in terms of four levels of seriousness.

The following sections go into greater detail about the progression of pododermatitis:A

Irritation in feet

Bumblefoot is a condition that develops continuously at the heel end of the foot and will eventually spread to the guinea pig’s paws if not treated.

The first stage is characterized by the appearance of irritation and pain as early symptoms. Despite this, it is very easy to miss the early stages of pododermatitis. Among the signs and symptoms are:

  1. Loss of fur on the feet, especially around the heels.
  2. The calluses formed in the feet may look a bit painful and red.
  3. Formation of calluses on one or both bumblefoot
  4. It is possible to have no noticeable signs of pain. Your guinea pig can be less active than usual, but equally, they may not show any such signs as well.

Inflammation

Guinea pigs’ feet become inflamed and painful as a result of this. Even if they do not check the guinea pig’s bumblefoot on a daily basis, the majority of guinea pig owners will notice the signs of the second stage of pododermatitis.

Among the signs and symptoms are:A

  1. Your guinea pig will be less active than normal.
  2. Peeling and scabbing skin
  3. The calluses will be provoked, red, and painful.
  4. There may be some bleeding.

Skin infection

The connective tissues and deeper cells are stimulated as a result of this. Additionally, there may be an internal or external skin disease present at that time. Symptoms include:

  1. Making high-pitched sound or crying
  2. Blister or Ulcer
  3. Your guinea pig will not walk around much
  4. A discharge that may smell or may not.
  5. Your guinea pig may refuse the water and food.
  6. Bleeding and scabbing

Tissue and bone infection

As the infection progresses deeper into the joint tissues and begins to spread to the bone marrow, the swelling of the joint tissues can occur.

An interruption of the blood supply to the bones will occur. There will be the following:

  1. Bleeding
  2. Smelly discharge coming from the injury
  3. Intense pain and paralysis, which is probably accomplished by grinding of teeth.

As this is a severe condition and can be a life-threatening stage of pododermatitis.

Can guinea pigs die from bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot must be identified and treated as soon as possible, and it is usually not a life-threatening condition.

Unless you act quickly, by the time your guinea pig reaches the third or fourth stage of this infection, it will be very difficult to treat the bumblefoot.

This is due to the fact that the infection has begun to take hold in your guinea pig at this point. Infections in Guinea pigs can be difficult to treat, even with antibiotics, because they are small and delicate animals.

If you have any doubts that your guinea pig has bumblefoot, it is critical that you identify it as soon as possible.

How do I know if my guinea pig has bumblefoot?

Every guinea pig owner should be aware of the signs of bumblefoot in their animals. Additionally, they should be aware of when it is necessary to take a guinea pig to the veterinarian.

We’ll walk you through the four stages of the identifications listed below to help you understand.

Inspecting their feet

Get into the habit of scanning your guinea pig’s feet at least once a week, whether or not you have a sense that your guinea pig is suffering from this condition.

Shoes with high heels are more likely than not the first to show signs of bumblefoot, so the owner should pay close attention to this area.

Despite the fact that you may be extremely concerned, refrain from exerting pressure or tension on your guinea pig during the inspection process.

You should not, for example, pull the legs of your guinea pigs. Alternatively, you can schedule a separate time for carrying out the inspection.

Please, in the best possible way, wait for your guinea pig to approach you and then spend some time playing with your guinea pig as you normally would.

Gently lift them up with the assistance of another family member to examine the foot when they are feeling casual and comfortable with themselves.

If you come across any injured or ulcerated skin, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after touching it to avoid spreading the infection.

Look for signs

Even though it is necessary to examine your guinea pig’s foot, you must be aware of why you are performing the examination.

It’s important to remember that there are four stages of pododermatitis when inspecting your guinea pig’s feet, as we’ve discussed previously.

A sufficient amount of fur should be applied to the sole of the foot. The fur must be clean and dry before use. Staining of the fur is normal in guinea pigs, but hair that is moist and urine-soaked is unusual.

Guinea pigs commonly develop calluses on their bumblefoot, and there is no reason to be concerned about it. You must keep an eye on them because they have the potential to become extremely painful and aggravated with time.

If you notice any signs of bleeding, redness, irritation, or injuries, you must immediately contact a veterinarian for assistance.

Check out these other articles: 25 common health problems in guinea pigs.

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Keep a close eye on their behavior

As soon as the bumblefoot begins to hurt or ache, it is reasonable to alter the behavior of the guinea pig.

Keeping an eye on your guinea pig’s response is the most effective way to monitor their health status. You may notice the following symptoms as the condition progresses:

  • Refusing to consume water and food
  • Having a lack of communication and avoiding all contact with others
  • Making a high-pitched sound, crying, or grinding one’s teeth
  • Not being as active as usual in and around the house
  • While jumping, you may notice more pressure on the forefoot.

All of the information listed above indicates that they may have a health problem, and they should seek treatment at a veterinary office.

Get a vet checkup

Your veterinary surgeon will examine the foot to determine whether it is infected or injured in any way.

Because it is not always possible to see the infected area with the naked eye, your veterinarian may also recommend radiography to be performed.

Even if your guinea pig does not appear to be suffering from a severe case of bumblefoot, you should still take him to the veterinarian.

Because they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your guinea pig. Alternatively, if you attempt to treat this condition at home, you may end up making the situation even more dangerous.

Also check: List of 200+ Reputed vet all around US, Canada and UK.

How to treat bumblefoot in guinea pigs?

In order to avoid further complications, the owner should not attempt to treat the condition on their own.

It is always possible for owners to play an active role in the treatment of their guinea pigs by supervising their veterinarian.

For guinea pigs suffering from pododermatitis, the following are the most commonly used treatments:

Keep the infected area clean

The owner should refrain from attempting to treat the condition on their own in order to avoid further complications.

It is always possible for owners to take an active role in the treatment of their guinea pigs by supervising the veterinarian who is treating their animals.

Guinea pigs suffering from pododermatitis are most commonly treated with one of the following medications or treatments:

Protect it

The next step in the process is to apply a lotion or cream to the infected or injured area to keep it protected. Neosporin or Bepanthen are antiseptic creams that can be applied to the infected area to help alleviate the infection.

If the infected area is extremely dangerous, your veterinary surgeon will apply bandages to protect the area.

It is important for the owner to keep an eye on the guinea pig to ensure that it does not lick the antiseptic cream off if the dressing does not adequately cover it.

Use antibiotics and topical medicine recommended by vet

If your guinea pig becomes ill as a result of an infection, antibiotics and topical medications will be administered through a needle.

Some antibiotics are not suitable for guinea pigs and should only be used as a last resort when all other options have failed. Probiotics may also be recommended by the veterinarian in order to mitigate the negative effects of antibiotics on the body.

Depending on the type of treatment your guinea pig recommended, your veterinary surgeon may ask you to repeat some of the stages at home.

After you have touched your guinea pig’s bumblefoot, you must wash your hands thoroughly and adhere to proper hygiene practices.

Remove the used bandages as soon as possible and wear the plastic gloves when applying any creams or lotion. Also, avoid touching the cream directly from the container, as this will spread the infection to the container.

Keeping their cage super clean

Every day, you should change the bedding in the cage of your guinea pig to ensure that it remains clean and healthy. This will ensure that it remains in good health and is happy in its environment.

Additionally, the owner can keep the guinea pig’s enclosure clean by doing the following:

  • Removing loose hay bunches and put fresh hay
  • Replacing wet bedding
  • Keeping fresh water in the water bottles
  • Picking up poops from fleece with a brush
  • Washing the fleece with a clear detergent and
  • Removing excess waste and food daily.

Also, you need to clean the full enclosure once a week to make it free from bacteria.

Learn more about: How to keep cage clean and free from bad smell

Can you treat bumblefoot at home?

As soon as you notice this condition, it is recommended that you take your Guinea pig to the nearest veterinary surgeon. Additionally, there are some treatments for bumblefoot that you can try at home to help prevent it from occurring.

  1. Provide them with an additional 10 milligrams of Vitamin C per day, at the very least. Fruits such as strawberries and oranges can be served as an appetizer.
  2. Epsom salt water should be used to soak the infected area of the foot ( ask the guidance from your veterinarian).
  3. Put your guinea pig on a diet because overweight guinea pigs are more likely to develop bumblefoot.
  4. Your guinea pig’s nails should be trimmed.

How to prevent bumblefoot in guinea pigs?

In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, bumblefoot treatments have the potential to cause additional health problems.

As a result, the owner must do everything possible to avoid this condition in the first place. The following are the eight best practices for preventing bumblefoot in guinea pigs:

Use a good quality cage

In the event that you currently have an enclosure with wire netting flooring, you should consider changing it.

Despite the fact that netting-bottomed enclosures are simple to clean, they are not the best option for guinea pigs because the surface is too hard for their delicate feet.

A plastic-bottomed enclosure or a wooden enclosure (that is free of splinters) may be the most appropriate option.

Appropriate bedding

Guinea pigs want to be comfortable and warm, and they want their environment to reflect their natural behavior. It is for this reason that they require bedding.

Unfortunately, some of the bedding can be harsh on the guinea pig’s bumblefoot, which is a sensitive area. Paper, cardboard, rough carpet, paper, cardboard, linoleum, cat litter, and woodchips are all poor choices for bedding.

As a result, the best bedding options that you can select are as follows:

  1. Fleece
  2. Paper bedding
  3. Wood shaving-like aspen

If your guinea pig is kept indoors, you can provide some loose bedding in a portion of its enclosure to keep it comfortable. They will be able to dig holes and relieve the pressure on their feet as a result. For example, a pile of hay at one end of the cage will work wonders as an alternative to hay.

Keep their nails trimmed

As previously stated, having extremely long nails can cause a guinea pig to put excessive pressure on their heels, whereas trimming the nails back to a normal length can prevent your guinea pig from putting excessive pressure on their heels.

However, you should avoid trimming your guinea pig’s nails too short. Before you attempt to trim your guinea pig’s nail, consult with your veterinarian for some pointers.

Keep the cage clean

It is critical to keep your guinea pig’s enclosure clean because urine-soaked fur puts the guinea pig at risk of contracting bumblefoot and flystrike.

Change the bedding on a daily basis, and replace it with a new underlying layer of bedding. Also, do not attempt to use stained hay in the future. The hay can be composted in the back yard.

Keep your guinea pig’s fit and healthy

Those guinea pigs who are overweight are more susceptible to bumblefoot as a result of the excess pressure that they put on their feet when they are engaged in vigorous activity.

Your veterinary surgeon will almost certainly inform you if your guinea pig is overweight, and they will advise you on how to proceed in order to lose weight if this is necessary.

While it is not necessary to restrict the amount of food provided to a guinea pig on a diet, it is necessary to alter the type of food provided to your guinea pig.

Typically, this means that treats and pellets are not included in the diet, and instead, plenty of water and grass hay are provided.

Provide them enough floortime

All domestic guinea pigs should be allowed to spend some time outside. In the vast majority of cases, it is safe to allow your guinea pig to roam around freely.

Allow them to run around in the garden or on the soil rather than on a hard surface like a driveway. This will allow your guinea pig to come into contact with the ground that they would have encountered in the wild, allowing them to be as free and active as they possibly can in their natural environment.

Check for other health issues

Bumblefoot in older guinea pigs is caused by arthritis in the joints. Bumblefoot can also cause other health problems, such as allergies and mange, in addition to its usual symptoms.

The fact that bumblefoot is extremely common in domestic guinea pigs is understandable. However, do not be misled by the terms “normal” and “common.”

Despite the fact that some calluses on the guinea pig’s bumblefoot are normal, it is not healthy for the bumblefoot to become inflamed, red, ulcerated, or otherwise injured.

Because pododermatitis can cause severe pain and illness, it is preferable to treat it as soon as possible. Guinea pigs are extremely delicate animals, and it is not recommended that you attempt to treat them at home.

In order to avoid this condition, you should make sure that your guinea pig’s environment is as clean as possible. Also, make sure that you provide your guinea pig with soft and comfortable bedding for him or her to burrow in.

Conclusion: Guinea Pigs And Bumblefoot

Walking on a hard surface can cause guinea pigs to develop bumblefoot, which is also known as pododermatitis, which is an infection of the heel of the animal’s feet caused by bacteria.

Because they can progress to ulcerative pododermatitis, this could be a serious infection. Carpet, wire-netting flooring in a guinea pig’s enclosure, and vinyl flooring are all examples of surfaces that can result in bumblefoot.

Bumblefoot can be caused by a variety of factors, including long nails, being overweight, using improper bedding, and lacking fur.

Pigs with pododermatitis are the most common patients, and the symptoms of bumblefoot include irritation of the feet, infection of the skin, infection of the bones or tissues of the feet, and inflammation of the feet.

Bumblefoot is not usually a life-threatening condition, but it can be excruciatingly painful. Observing their feet every day, keeping an eye on their behavior, looking for signs, and having them examined by a veterinarian are the four stages that a guinea pig owner should follow.

Additionally, you can treat a guinea pig’s bumblefoot by keeping the infected area clean, protecting the injured area with antiseptic cream, and administering topical medications and antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian.

It is important to use an appropriate quality enclosure, trim their nails, provide appropriate bedding, keep your guinea pig in good physical condition, keep the enclosure clean, and allow them to go outside freely in order to avoid bumblefoot in them.