My Guinea Pig Is Shaking and Trembling
Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are often considered exotic pets. However, their growth in popularity as companion animals means they are much more common than they used to be. Care and maintenance of exotic pets can be difficult as there is less research carried out and, therefore, less information accessible. For this reason, we need to be extra careful with our guinea pig's health and observe for any possible symptoms of illness. One of the most common symptoms is when the cavy trembles or shakes, seemingly for no reason.
At AnimalWised, we explain why my guinea pig is shaking and trembling. We reveal the possible reasons for this behavior, whether the problem is physical or psychological, and what we can do to stop it.
Guinea pick shaking due to illness
When healthy, a guinea pig is a relatively easy animal to care for. This doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility of care. They require attention and have specific needs which need to be met for them to have a happy and healthy life. This is especially so if we spot any signs of illness. Tremors in the guinea pig's body are one of the most common.
Various health disorders can seriously threaten a guinea pig's life. They can also develop quickly and have a poor prognosis if the problem isn't addressed quickly. Since not every veterinarian will have much experience with guinea pigs, detecting the problems early is especially important. In addition to providing adequate care regarding food, environment, exercise, hygiene and more, we need to know their healthy habits so we can detect when their health is declining.
When a guinea pig is shaking due to illness, it can be due to a fever. With fever, the guinea pig will have a high temperature, something not always easy to observe with the naked eye. When the fever is acute, it can cause the guinea pig to shake and tremble.
Fever is a symptom and not a disease in itself. It is a result of the guinea pig's immune system fighting various pathogens. These can be in the form of a virus, bacteria, fungus or other toxins, even due to the ingestion of toxic material. For this reason, we need to take the cavy to a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.
Symptoms of a sick guinea pig
When a guinea pig is sick, shaking and tremors are not the only symptoms. They may also display:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of movement
- Eye discharge
- Runny nose
- Poor skin and hair quality
- Dragging hind legs
- Presence of blood on anus
Since these symptoms are general signs of disease in guinea pigs, it is important to know their cause. Our article on whether a guinea pig is sick will help to provide some more background. However, not all cavies will shake and tremble when they are ill. This only occurs in certain situations, such as when they have anemia.
Anemia in guinea pigs
Anemia is caused by the decrease in the number of red blood cells present in the blood. It can manifest itself in the following signs:
- Lack of shine in the hair and general poor coat quality.
- Lethargy or immobility, evident when our guinea pig has decreased their activity. Not only will they stay quiet for a long time, they not respond properly to stimuli.
- There may also be a loss of appetite. Our guinea pig may not even want to eat their favorite foods, although there are anemic guinea pigs which continue to eat normally.
- Pale mucous membranes, displaying a whitish or pinkish tone. We can carefully observe the inside of the eye to check the color, but it is easiest to see in the gums.
- In acute cases, tremors will occur.
Therefore, if our guinea pig is shaking and trembling, it is possible they are suffering from anemia. In these cases, we need to take them to a veterinarian.
Causes of anemia in guinea pigs
There are various reasons a guinea pig might develop anemia, but a poor diet is one of the most common. If they do not receive the right vitamins, minerals and nutrition, their body will not function properly. However, the problem may not be with what the guinea pig is or is not consuming. If their gastrointestinal system is not working properly, they will not be able to absorb essential nutrients even if they eat them.
Another example is if our guinea pig suffers from scurvy. This is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. When it happens, it is possible for the guinea pig to suffer hemorrhages, something which can result in anemia due to blood loss. To determine if the guinea pig suffers anemia due to scurvy, poor diet, GI disease or some other issue, we will need to speak to a qualified veterinarian.
For more on a guinea pig's diet, take a look at the recommended fruit and vegetables for these rodents.
How to avoid anemia in guinea pigs
The cause of the guinea pig's anemia will determine its symptom management and treatment. However, there are some things we can do to help prevent its development in the first place. Since anemia can be related to diet, ensuring our guinea pig eats properly is one of the most important ways to prevent all diseases, including anemia.
The recommended diet for a healthy adult guinea pig should consist of the following elements:
- Hay: makes up the majority of your diet, at a percentage of approximately 75%. They should be supplied with endless amounts.
- Guinea pig feed: specially formulated cavies and making up about 20% of their daily diet.
- Vegetables rich in vitamin C: including spinach, cabbage, beets, endive or parsley. They should make up 5% of their diet.
- Fruits and cereals: should only be given as a reward, i.e. occasionally.
- Supplements: in some cases, it is possible the guinea pig isn't getting enough nutrients, especially vitamin C. In this case, the veterinarian may suggest supplements, but this should only be done under the strict guidance of a veterinarian.
Guinea pigs under 6 months of age, as well as those in the gestation period, may have to have their diet adjusted. This is so they can ingest more nutrients such as vitamin C or calcium. Consulting regularly with our veterinarian can best help us to ensure our guinea pig is well fed.
Psychological reasons my guinea pig is shaking
To better understand why our guinea pig shakes and trembles, we also need to look at the context of why this happens. For example, if our guinea pig starts shaking when we pick them up, we should think whether this is having an effect on their well-being. Although our guinea pig is likely to get used to our presence, it can take a while. Once they have done so, they can bond strongly with us and recognize their owners.
Although a guinea pig can bond, they are sensitive creatures. If we manipulate them roughly, they can become intimidate and even see us as aggressors. They may bite and nip at us as a means of defense. For this reason, we need to slowly build up trust and allow the cavy to move at their own pace. You will see they are unlikely to shake or tremble near us, even finding ways to show us affection.
There are also other stressors in the home which can cause a guinea pig to shake. If we have other pets, even if they mean no harm, the guinea pig can see them as a predator. Loud noise, poor environmental conditioning and other factors can cause the guinea pig to tremble out of anxiety. Look at their environment to troubleshoot any stressors and remove them.
Take a look at our video below to know more about gaining a guinea pig's trust:
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
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