4 Things Guinea Pig Owners Need To Know About Antibiotic Toxicity

You may think of guinea pigs as being easy starter pets, but it's common for them to develop deadly infections such as upper respiratory infections, especially if you got your new friends from a pet store. Veterinarians treat these common infections with antibiotics, however, antibiotic treatment can be just as dangerous as the infection it's trying to cure. Here are four things you need to know about your guinea pigs and antibiotic toxicity.

Why do antibiotics hurt guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs, along with other types of rodents, have a unique digestive system. They make use of a process called hindgut fermentation to break down their food. This means that their food is broken down by bacteria inside their large intestine. Breaking down their food at the end of their digestive system allows them to nibble on small amounts of hay and pellets all day long and receive adequate nutrition.

The problem with hindgut fermentation is that it can be disturbed by some types of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria involved with digestion, and when this happens, dangerous bacteria can take their place. The growth of dangerous bacteria inside your pig's intestines can lead to serious problems.

Which antibiotics are dangerous?

There are lots of antibiotics that can hurt or even kill your guinea pig. Amoxicillin is frequently prescribed, but it's very dangerous, as are all penicillin-based antibiotics. Drugs like ampicillin, bacitracin, cephazolin, oxytetracycline, and streptomycin are also dangerous for pigs.

If your guinea pig has accidentally been prescribed one of these antibiotics, take them to an animal hospital immediately.

Are there any safe antibiotics?

All antibiotics will disrupt your pig's digestion to some extent, but some are safer than others. Baytril is one antibiotic that is considered safe for guinea pigs, but other types of antibiotics can also be safely administered. Some antibiotics that are dangerous when given orally are safe to use when they are injected or applied topically since they won't come in contact with the digestive system.

How can you protect your guinea pig?

The best way to keep your guinea pig safe from antibiotic toxicity is to choose a vet that specializes in treating exotic animals like guinea pigs. Vets that treat dogs and cats may not know that guinea pigs are different and can be harmed by common antibiotics. You should try to find a suitable vet as soon as you bring your new friend home; that way, you'll be prepared if your pig gets sick.

Antibiotics can be dangerous for guinea pigs, and in some cases, the treatment can be worse than the original problem. You can keep your pig safe by taking them to a vet that specializes in exotic animals.