Guinea Pig Toxaemia

Guinea Pig Toxaemia?

Guinea Pig Toxaemia (also known as Ketosis) is caused when the body is unable to excrete ketones efficiently through its normal processes which allows the excessive ketones to remain in the blood.

So what are Ketones?

Ketone bodies are water soluble compounds which are the breakdown of Fatty Acids in the body, which is normal process. Under certain conditions the level of ketone bodies produced may exceed the bodies capacity to excrete them efficiently resulting in excess ketone bodies in the blood, normally described as Ketosis or Pregnancy Toxaemia.

Ketosis usually occurs in the last two to three weeks of pregnancy or in the first week after a Guinea Pig has given birth.

Normally these compounds are utilised as energy, mainly for the brain when blood sugar levels are low. The blood Sugar level may be low due to food not being available to maintain the blood sugar level, this maybe because the food supplied is lower in sugar then it is accustomed to, or because of intentional fasting.

Is Toxaemia Limited to Pregnant Guinea Pigs?

No, Although most common incidents of Toxaemia are normally seen in Pregnant Guinea Pigs it has also been seen in :-

  • Obese Male or Female Guinea Pigs

Symptoms & Signs Of Toxaemia

An affected Guinea Pig may dies suddenly without even showing signs or symptoms of illness. In addition in some Guinea Pigs Ketosis may lead to death of the foetuses while still in the uterus. Common signs of Toxaemia may be attributed to the following and not limited to :-

  • Loss Of Energy
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Lack Of Desire to Drink.
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Lack of Co-ordination or Clumsiness
  • Coma, Followed by Death within 5 days of Coma.


Ketosis, also known as Pregnancy Toxaemia often occurs when a Guinea Pigs body produces too many ketones, an otherwise normal byproduct of metabolism. Underlying factors include :-

  • Large Litter Size
  • Obesity
  • Environmental Stress
  • Lack of exercise near the end of pregnancy (this is due to the ketone bodies not being used in the blood for energy and building up in excess)
  • Loss of appetite during the late stages of pregnancy (this will lead to Low Blood Sugar Levels)


Once a Guinea Pig has begun to show signs of Toxaemia, the outcome is not usually good news. Treatment does not normally help. But your options may include giving you Guinea Pig the medications Propylene Glycol, Calcium Glutamate or even steroids.


If your Guinea Pig has made it through an attack of ketosis and recovering you will need to take steps that it is able to rest in a clean environment . Consult with your Veterinarian with regards to special Dietary requirements, he/she may also have some other suggestions to help with the recovery of Toxaemia.