Pododermatitis, also known as bumblefoot, is a bacterial disease that causes inflammation and callouses to develop on your guinea pig's footpad. The tissue on the affected footpad may also become overgrown, and when pododermatitis is left untreated, bacterial infection can occur along the affected leg, which puts your guinea pig at risk of having their leg amputated. Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatment approach for pododermatitis:
Causes & Symptoms
Pododermatitis is commonly caused by bacteria entering the tissue of the footpad via scrapes or cuts. If your guinea pig has a humid or damp living environment, the delicate tissue on their feet can begin to soften and breakdown, so it's important to keep their housing dry and clean. Footpads can also be damaged if you use wire floor caging if your guinea pig's nails are overgrown or they are overweight, which can put excessive pressure on their feet.
Symptoms of pododermatitis include localised inflammation and small sores on the affected foot that look like tumours. It's also common to experience hair loss on the affected foot and the surrounding joints may appear swollen. Your guinea pig may seem withdrawn and be reluctant to walk, and pain may cause them to lose their appetite.
Your vet will diagnose pododermatitis by carrying out a physical exam and swabbing your guinea pig's foot for bacterial analysis. Confirming the type of bacteria present can ensure your guinea pig is prescribed effective treatment, and pododermatitis is often caused by staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Once diagnosed, your vet will discuss a treatment plan with you. It's likely your guinea pig will require oral or intramuscular antibiotics—you may have to soak their foot in an antiseptic solution each day until the infection clears. Your vet will show you how to do this and how to bandage your guinea pig's foot, as keeping the foot covered can aid healing and prevent secondary infections occurring.
Your vet will also discuss your guinea pig's living environment with you and provide advice on caring for your guinea pig and answer any questions you have. If your guinea pig is overweight, they may recommend changes in their diet and can support you as you get your guinea pig back down to a normal weight for their breed.
If you have concerns about the health of your guinea pig's feet, or if you're unsure about any aspect of their care, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to avoid them experiencing unnecessary discomfort.