A guinea pig kept in a clean pen and offered a healthy diet, plenty of affection and exercise, and proper medical care can live up to eight years. Ear infections cause distress to both pet and owner, so guinea pig owners should learn the causes, symptoms and treatment. Always seek veterinary care if you suspect your pet has an ear infection.
A guinea pig's ears are similar to those of a human. In fact, guinea pigs are often used in human medical studies which involve the ears. The external ears, which look small on a guinea pig, lead to the middle ear cavity, then the deep inner ear.
Sometimes a foreign object such as a bit of bedding may get lodged in the ear, causing an infection. More frequently, bacteria causes infections. According to Provet Healthcare Information, a middle ear infection can be blamed on a variety of bacteria including bordetella, actinobacillus, streptococci and pasteurella. Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, often move from the eyes, nose and outer ear into the middle and inner ears. Ear mites, if left untreated, may also cause middle ear infections.
Ear-scratching, head-shaking and discharge or pus from the ears indicate ear infection. The animal may experience loss of hearing or anorexia caused by ear pain. As the infection progresses toward the inner ear, the animal may experience loss of balance. A guinea pig with an inner ear infection may hold its head tilted to one side or roll over repeatedly.
Visiting an "exotics" veterinarian knowledgeable about guinea pigs will go a long way toward ensuring your pet's recovery from a middle ear infection. The vet will determine the cause of the infection and will probably prescribe rodent-safe antibiotics. The guinea pig may also require ear drops, ear ointments or pain medication.
According to Pet MD, keeping your pet in a clean, sanitary environment reduces the levels of infectious organisms, preventing ear infections. Maintaining a stress-free, loving home and providing proper nutrition also goes a long way in preventing ear infections. If you keep more than one pet, quarantine any sick animals to inhibit the spread of infectious illness. Checking your pet's ears frequently for signs of damage, wax build-up, mites and discharge helps stop minor ear problems before they become an infection.