Guinea Pig Cardiovascular Disease

Guinea Pig Cardiovascular Disease

Guinea Pig Cardiovascular Disease is not uncommon like other companion animals. With Proper diagnosis and Treatment your Guinea Pig can Live a Longer and More Active Life.

Heart Problems

Little information has been published in relation to Guinea Pigs having Heart Conditions. It has been noted in many articles from different sources however that possible similar conditions as seen in Rabbits are viable in Guinea Pigs. They go in to several Cardiac Diseases and their Management. They are detailed as follows :-

 Congestive Heart Failure Congenital Heart Disease  Arrhythmia
 Myocardial Disease  Valvular Disease Vascular Disease

These same diagnostic methods can be used to evaluate Guinea Pigs.

A thorough examination and history is always necessary to rule out other serious conditions like sinus infections, Tumours, and Dental Disease. Some conditions may also be interrelated. For example difficulty breathing resulting in weight loss from eating less, leading to an overgrowth of the teeth.

Your Veterinarian will listen to the heart with a stethoscope and note any abnormal sounds Like an Arrhythmia or Murmur. He/She will also observe respiratory rate and examine the Mucous membranes. Pale or Cyanotic membranes may indicate poor Circulation.

Diagnostics can help identify Cardiac Disease and Assess Heart Function and Condition.

  • X-Rays – Radiographs show the thoracic cavity, relative size of the heart and the presence of fluid in the pericardium (Sac surrounding and protecting the heart) and/or the lungs. They can help the vet distinguish between CHF or Respiratory Disease.
  • Echocardiogram – An Echocardiogram is useful for diagnosing heart conditions, evaluating function, determining severity, and monitoring improvement. An ECHO produces images of the valves, the strength and thickness of the heart muscle and the size of the chambers. As it currently stands there are no ECHO Published Norms for Guinea Pigs.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) – An Electrocardiogram is a test which registers the electrical activity of the heart, recording the heart rate and rhythm. Abnormalities may indicate the possibility of Congenital Defects, Inflammation, arrhythmia, Heart Valve Disease or other conditions.

Signs: Early Signs may be loss of energy, a tendency to move less.

Other Possible Signs are :-

Laboured Breathing Coughing or Wheezing
May Produce a “hooting” sound. Chronic Upper Respiratory Infection
Fluid In The Lungs Reduced Activity (Very Lethargic)
Loss Of Appetite Malocclusion
Enlarged Heart On X-Ray Ear Margins may become Necrotic (from poor circulation)
Bluish or Pale Mucous Membrane Colour Difficulty coming round from Anaesthetic
Deep Sleeping, Ease To Pick Up (Does not run away)

The cause of DCM are unclear and it is not known precisely how diet and genetics contribute. Several Guinea Pigs owners have reported Heart problems running in families, which would seem to indicate genetics can play a part. Treating Mild or Sub-Clinical cases of DCM with ace inhibitors should slow the progression of the changes leading to heart failure. Heart Disease is not curable but is manageable. As time goes on it is possible your pet may need higher doses and or other medications.

Drugs that can be useful in the treatment of CHF :-

Benazepril (Lotensin) an ACE inhibitor use to treat Heart Failure.

Furosemide (Lasix) a Diuretic used to treat Pericardial Effusion and/or Pulmonary Edema.