Can Bumblefoot Kill a Guinea Pig?

HomeHealthCan Bumblefoot Kill a Guinea Pig?

Bumblefoot is a staph infection of the footpad. If left untreated, it can lead to the death of a guinea pig. The good news is that bumblefoot can easily be treated. The vet will prescribe antibiotics and may also flush the infection.

If you have a guinea pig and have never heard of bumblefoot before, consider yourself lucky!

Guinea pigs and their rodent family members are susceptible to an unfortunate yet common ailment called bumblefoot, also known as sore hocks or pododermatitis. It is also commonly seen in birds and rabbits. Basically, anything with tiny, cute feet is at risk.

Despite the seemingly magical name, bumblefoot can be fatal if left untreated. The good news is that bumblefoot is easy to prevent and really easy to notice, so it’s simple to treat before it becomes life-threatening to your little piggie.

What Exactly Is Bumblefoot?

Pododermatitis is a staph infection of the footpad. It usually starts as a seemingly minor scrape or cut. However, this minor cut then leaves the foot open to allow bacteria and other foreign objects to enter the body.

From there, the footpad will swell as it becomes infected. Eventually, it becomes a larger mass that “bumbles” out of the foot.

You may notice scabbing and pussing alongside the swelling. Like any infection, if left untreated, it can spread throughout the body, usually attacking the bone and surrounding tissue. Eventually, it will enter the bloodstream.

What Causes Bumblefoot in Guinea Pigs?

The number one cause of bumblefoot is “poor housekeeping.” Rough surfaces and wire cages can easily irritate a guinea pig’s footpad. Combine that with a dirty cage, and you greatly increase the likelihood of infection.

Overgrown nails are also a big culprit because they can affect a guinea pig’s ability to move around and exercise normally due to discomfort. If a guinea pig is immobile and is overweight, they are at a higher risk of bumblefoot because they are putting more stress on their pads, making them more fragile.

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Overweight guinea pigs are more prone to stay in one place for too long, making them more susceptible to doing a foot soak at the bacteria spa.

Immobility is dangerous for a guinea pig, so if your guinea pig is recovering from surgery, it’s best to check their feet as often as possible until they are up and running again.

Stress can also cause immobility in your furry friend, so it’s important to monitor guinea pigs closely, as they are easily stressed.

Just like humans, guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C, so a diet full of fruits and vegetables daily is immensely important in keeping their immune systems strong and preventing scurvy, which causes fatigue, weakness, bruising, and failure to heal.

How to Prevent Bumblefoot?

As mentioned, there are several preventative measures you can take to keep your guinea pig’s little feet out of harm’s way.

Now that you know what to look for, be sure to check your guinea pigs’ feet once a day. While it is more common on the front feet, be sure to check them all.

Bumblefoot can have a domino effect on the other feet. If one foot is in pain, your guinea pig will most likely avoid putting too much pressure on it, resulting in them putting more pressure on their other feet, making them more susceptible to bumblefoot on the once healthy feet.

The sooner you see the start of bumblefoot, the easier it is to cure.

The Checklist For Preventing Bumblefoot

Guinea pigs are clean animals, so keep their area clean and dry. Even if their living space looks fine that day, it is always best to overclean. You’ll thank yourself later.

Also, be sure they have no reason to be immobile. Guinea pigs have a lot of energy, so provide them with enough space to exercise and run around freely. This will ensure they stay at a healthy weight.

Guinea pigs are very sociable, so it’s best they have another piggie to play with to promote healthy exercise. If it’s just you and your guinea pig, that’s okay! Just be sure to play with them regularly.

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Give them their favorite fruits and veggies to keep those Vitamin C levels up, and clip their nails at least once a month.

Don’t forget, a stress-free guinea pig is less susceptible to illness. Keep them happy by giving them enough space, socialization, and soft hiding spots to complete the preventative checklist.

Treatments for Bumblefoot in Guinea Pigs

With all this knowledge, you can rest easy knowing that you did everything in your power to prevent your guinea pig from getting pododermatitis, short of making them wear tiny shoes, but please don’t do that, no matter how cute it may seem. It will stress them out and cause their immune system to suffer.

For fun though, picture a guinea pig in little yellow rain boots. All jokes aside, unfortunately, bumblefoot is common in guinea pigs, so it might still happen.

If you see any signs of bumblefoot, go straight to your guinea pig’s favorite doctor. If it is just the start of bumblefoot and is rather mild, they may talk with you about changing some factors in their diet and routine.

They can help provide helpful tips about their habitat as well, such as suggesting fleece bedding to take pressure off of their feet and providing a cream to prevent infection.

In more serious cases, your doctor may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics and flush the wound. Epsom salt soaks work well in moderate cases of bumblefoot.

Surgery, bandaging, daily cleaning, and long-term antibiotics may be advised if the infection gets out of hand.

If your veterinarian finds that the infection has spread to the bone and your guinea pig has what is called osteomyelitis, they may have no choice but to recommend amputation.

Fortunately, this is not likely. Bumblefoot is easy to prevent, spot, and treat as long as you keep an eye out!

Audra Foulk
Audra Foulk
Hello, my name is Audra I'm the owner of, a website all about guinea pigs! I'm also a guinea pig owner myself, and I love learning and writing about these adorable creatures. Guinea pigs are such amazing animals, and I hope to share everything I know about them with as many people as possible! View Author Profile.

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