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Bacterial Disease of the Foot - Bumblefoot in Guinea Pigs



If pododermatitis is detected early, simply switching your guinea pig’s living quarters to one with a smooth floor, improving the sanitation, and changing the bedding to softer material may improve your pet's condition. It is also important to keep the cage flooring dry, since a damp floor will soften the foot tissue, making it more prone to cracking and thereby making it more prone to opportunistic infection. Your veterinarian may also instruct you to increase the amount of vitamin C in the guinea pig's diet, if it is found to be lacking.


If the condition needs medical treatment beyond simple environmental changes, your veterinarian will provide this. Your veterinarian will clean the wounds, clip the hair around the infected areas, and trim any overgrown nails and dead tissue on the feet. Soaking the feet in antibiotic solutions may also prove to be useful. In severe cases, guinea pigs may need oral antibiotics and pain medications. You may also need to keep the feet bandaged, with fresh dressings and topical antibiotics applied regularly to encourage healing. Prolonged, untreated cases where pododermatitis has worsened to severe infection that is not responding to immediate treatment may require amputation of the infected leg.


Living and Management


Ensure that your guinea pig's living quarters are cleaned and disinfected before returning it to the cage. If you have been using a cage with a wire floor, you will need to replace the flooring with a smooth bottom, with soft places for your guinea pig to rest. Clean up any water spills immediately so that your guinea pig's feet remain dry, as wet feet are more prone to cracking. While your guinea pig is recovering, move it to a quiet place in the home, away from high activity. If necessary, you may need to restrain your pet from moving around too much, so that the foot will have a better chance of healing. Follow your veterinarian's instructions for dressing and applying topical medications to the affected feet.




Providing cages with smooth bottoms for your guinea pigs, keeping the floors clean and dry, and treating any injuries immediately can help prevent pododermatitis from occurring. Because this is a relatively common ailment, guinea pig owners are advised to check their pets' feet daily, including the length of the nails, and watching the guinea pig's weight and making dietary changes as needed.

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  • Bacterial identification
    12/04/2015 07:14am

    I have never seen any conclusive scientific studies that staph is the primary cause of pododermatitis in guinea pigs. Please cite your sources. Too many clinicians assume staph and never bother to do a culture. I had a terrible case in a 1-year-old male cavy, which did not respond to treatment with Batril. Three cultures were submitted to a laboratory, which confirmed beta hemolytic streptococcus. A total of 19 antibiotics were tested of which five showed susceptibility. Two of these were appropriate for cavy: trimethylprin sulfa and doxycycline. The cavy's foot was lanced on the top of the paw, bacterial extrudate and blood clots were removed. Trimethylprin sulfa 0.625 ml was administered 2x daily along with daily bandaging at which time hydrogen peroxide was applied to the incision, pressure was gently applied to the bottom of the paw to force out extrudate, then the incision was rinsed with saline, and rebandaged. Prior to the incision, the foot had soaked in mineral salt (am) and diluted betadine (pm), packed with medicinal honey ointment (Vetramil) and rebandaged. After switching the antibiotic from Batril to TMS, the cavy showed remarkable improvement after 3 days and the case resolved in 7 days. TMS was continued for 7 days additional. At this point, the skin on the bottom of the foot was dry and scaley, so honey ointment was applied and the cavy kept in a large cage with a clean fleece liner (changed 2x daily). According to the laboratory report, "a particularly virulent strain of beta-streptococcus was isolated". I believe that the case of pododermatitis in this particular guinea pig was very severe and resulted in cellulitis with complete swelling of the foot and leg, two lesions appeared in the wrist of the affected leg, both of which produced bacterial extrudate when pressure was applied to the foot. Treatment of the cavy was aggressively pursued and despite a very poor prognosis, the cavy fully recovered. Therefore, I strongly urger clinicians to culture suspect pododermatitis before assuming that the bacteria present is staph. In my opinion, Batril is often prescribed and I fear that too many cavies require amputation, which could have been avoided.