Guinea Pigs were Britain’s 5th most popular pet in 2014 after cats, dogs, rabbits and birds, with an estimated population of half a million and growing according to the pet food manufacturing association. They have been a popular pet for hundreds of years due to their curious and friendly personalities, they are easily handled and can be very entertaining!
One of the most overlooked areas of guinea pig health is neutering. While very small compared to cats and dogs spaying and castration of guinea pigs is a routine procedure in veterinary medicine and is quite common. Spaying of female guinea pigs prevents unwanted litters of babies when paired with males and also provides some health benefits.
After one year of age your female guinea pig’s pelvis fuses meaning she will struggle to give birth; the babies are often too big and the pelvis is no longer mobile enough for them to pass through. Emergency caesarean sections in guinea pigs is a very risky business!
The other major health benefit of spaying is preventing ovarian cysts. Research has shown that 76% – 88% of female unspayed guinea pigs older than 18 months have ovarian cysts and these can grow quite large and the reason behind these cysts is unknown!
Charlotte a guinea pig who comes to see us here at Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital was brought for a check-up after her owner noticed she seemed to have a very round abdomen. When checked by one of our vets the cyst could easily be felt. Charlotte was booked in to be spayed and to have the cyst removed. During her surgery the cyst which could be felt was the same size as an orange! She also had a smaller cyst on her other ovary. While exceptionally large Charlotte’s ovarian cysts are quite common and at this size can begin to cause problems. The size of the cyst was due to Charlotte’s age as she was 8 years old. As guinea pigs age their ovarian cysts unfortunately grow larger!
Charlotte recovered very well from the surgery to spay her and remove her cysts and she now has a very nice waistline!
If you have an unspayed guinea pig and would like to discuss the benefits of spaying please contact us at the hospital on 01325 380111. In the meantime here are some useful signs to look out for in your female guinea pigs:
- Loss of appetite
- Round or pear-shaped abdomen
- Hair loss on the sides of the body
- Pain or an uneven feeling in the abdomen when picking up your guinea pig.