How to Check your Guinea Pig and Rabbits Health

“The early detection of problems can play an important role in your small pet’s health”Petworld

Taking care of smaller pets can present its own unique problems. There smaller size alone can make it difficult to spot certain problems that may be more obvious on larger pets. The early detection of problems can play an important role in your small pet’s health, so we have detailed some of the signs that you should look for to ensure you small pet is in good health.



  • Symmetrical,Open, Bright, Clear with no discharge
  • Milky type liquid is also considered normal (produced during the grooming process and usually wiped away with their front feet) (Guinea Pig Only)

Not Normal
Crusty, red/swollen eyes: Possible bacterial infection
• Watery or crusty eyes: Possible upper respiratory infection
• Dull and/or receding eyes: Possible upper respiratory infection
• Bulging eyes: Possible infection, injury, or tooth root problem
• Sunken eyes: Possible dehydration
• Opaque/Cloudy eyes (blue/grey in colour): Could be protective covering due to an injury to the eye. Appears quite quickly and normally disappears once the eye starts healing
• Cataracts: Possible sign of diabetes or old age
• Foreign objects in eye(s): It is not recommended to try to remove objects from your guinea pigs eye without veterinary expertise.

Hair, Skin & Body

• Healthy, normal looking hair and skin
• Some modest amount of shedding is considered normal

Not Normal
• Dandruff. Dandruff can be identified as white flakes in the fur, similar to human dandruff. Debris on the skin does not necessary mean that there is a medical issue. A parasite or fungal problem is possible if the guinea pig / rabbit seems to be shedding more than normal, is very itchy, or has a lot of dandruff. Veterinary examination is recommended in any case.
• Excessive hair loss (possible in patches, or general hair loss): Combined with excessive itching could indicate mites or parasites.
• Lumps
• Dry flaky skin
• Scratches,Sores or Scabs
• Rough or puffed-up coat: Possible upper respiratory infection
• Swollen abdomen: Bloat (intestinal blockage and/or a dangerous build-up of gas, painful and potentially fatal)


• Smooth and clean
• Not scurfy

Not Normal
• Inflamed
• Crust on edges of ears: Possible parasite infestation, fungal or bacterial infection
• Build up of wax: Could attract parasites
• Head tilt: Possible ear infection


• Clean nose
• No signs of discharge or watery liquid

Not Normal
• Snotty noses, frequent sneezing: Possible bacterial infection
• Watery or crusty nose: Possible upper respiratory infection


• The normal regular respiration rate for a guinea pigs is about 40 – 150 per minute
• For a rabbit 30 – 60 per minute

Not Normal
• Laboured breathing
• Wheezing


• Guinea pig / rabbit is normally eating its regular food and hay
• Chewing on paper, cloth, rubber and plastic (and everything in the known Universe) is normal, but try to limit this and keep it under control

Not Normal
• Struggling to eat: Possible dental problem
• Refusing to eat anything: Alerting situation

Water Drinking

• Water consumption differs for each guinea pig / rabbit
• Consumption is dependent on several factors: temperature (during summer, water consumption is naturally higher), taste of water, activity, and preference
• If concerned, check for signs of dehydration

  • Not Normal
  • Drinking a lot more than normal (if taking weather temperature into consideration)
  • Possible causes of excess water consumption:
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • Pain
  • Hunger
Important Notes
  • Hay makes up 70 – 80 % of a guinea pig / rabbits diet. This should always be available. Remember, hay that has been walked on is not fresh hay: remove old hay and put in fresh hay.
  • Guinea pigs/ rabbits always need a constant supply of water. It needs to be topped up every day. Check a bottle is working by moving the metal ball in the spout with your finger, if no water is coming out give the bottle a little shake and try again. An air bubble should go up through the water.
  • Guinea pigs and rabbits should feel warm to touch.
  • If you think they do not look right find someone to help straight away!
  • Call into your local petworld store and ask our expert staff for some advice about you small animals.