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Managing Osteoarthritis in Guinea Pigs

Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is the medical term for joint degeneration. Joints allow bones to move smoothly and comfortably as they have cartilage pads between the bones. These cartilage pads reduce friction and provide cushioning. As animals and people age, these cartilage pads can wear down, causing the underlying bone to become painful and inflamed. Sometimes, the bone tries to respond to the damage by creating new bone, causing further discomfort.

There are lots of different ways to help your pet with arthritis, and always remember that your vet is there to help and make sure that your arthritis management plan is the best it can be for you and your pet.

1. Analgesia, or pain relief medication

There are lots of different types of medication that reduce pain. These medications are all prescription-only, which means that your vet needs to examine your animal before prescribing any of these medications. This is important because all medications can potentially cause adverse effects, and your vet needs to make sure that the benefit of taking the medication outweighs any potential risk. Ensure that your follow dosing instructions and keep up with recommended revisits.

Want to know more about a medication your pet has been prescribed? Click here for a list of common pain relief medications.

  • Meloxicam

  • Tramadol

  • Carprofen

  • Gabapentin

  • Fentanyl

  • Buprenorphine

2. Weight management

Being overweight puts excessive strain on joints, which are unable to become larger to cope with the extra weight. If your pet is overweight, discuss safe and effective weight loss options with your vet. This may include dietary change by increasing the amount of hay, changing the type of hay, decreasing pellets and treats, as well as gentle exercise or even swimming.

When managing your pet’s weight, make sure to track their weight on your pet’s profile to ensure that everything is going according to plan.

Need extra help with weight loss? Click here and we will help you formulate a weight loss program specifically for your pet.

3. Supplements

While there aren’t as many arthritis supplements for guinea pigs as there are for dogs and cats, they’re still out there! Arthritis supplements consist of non-medicated foods that help to support healthy cartilage and naturally reduce inflammation. Oxbow makes an arthritis supplement specifically for small herbivores. Another safe and effective supplement for arthritis is increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet using vegetable sources such as flaxseed oil. Other common arthritis supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can also be used, but ensure that your vet checks the ingredients of any supplement before you give it, as some preparations may not be suitable for small herbivores.

Want to know more about supplements? Click here for help formulating a supplement plan that fits your pet’s needs best. Or, click here for a list of common supplements and products that are suitable for guinea pigs.

4. Environment

Ensuring that your guinea pig has soft, grippy flooring and is protected from temperature extremes will help keep them comfortable. Flooring should have a good amount of give to it, and we recommend soft foam like yoga mats or children’s play mats. Flooring should not be slippery, and also should not be abrasive. The extra cushioning acts like orthopedic shoes, reducing the strain and shock on joints.

Just like people, cold weather can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis. Bringing your older guinea pigs indoors in cold weather will help them be more comfortable. Other options include long-lasting heat packs, insulated hides, and shelter from drafts and wind.

Shop our recommended products for arthritic guinea pigs here.

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