Guinea pigs are often thought of as easy to care for, but these animals can suffer from many of the same health problems as larger pets, such as blindness. Here are four things you need to know about blindness in guinea pigs.
How do you know your guinea pig is blind?
If your guinea pig is blind, you may notice that they don't react normally when they approach their cage. Normal pig behavior can vary; some pigs hide when they see a human coming while others get excited and think they're about to be fed, but if your pig is just not reacting at all, you should be worried that they can't see you.
You may also notice that your pig is walking into obstacles in the cage or is having trouble finding the entrance of their pigloo.
What causes blindness?
There are lots of things that can cause blindness in guinea pigs. Some pigs are born blind due to congenital problems like eyes that are too small or eyes that are completely absent. Other pigs develop blindness later in life. This can happen as a result of health conditions like diabetes or cataracts. Pigs can also go blind due to eye injuries such as getting poked in the eye with a piece of hay or a cage mate's toenail.
Is blindness a serious problem?
Blindness is not as serious for guinea pigs as it is for people. This is because guinea pigs don't have great vision to start off with, so they're already used to needing to rely on their other senses like touch and smell.
How should you care for a blind pig?
There are lots of things that you can do to make your blind pig's life easier. Try to avoid rearranging their cage; sighted pigs will enjoy exploring a new cage layout, but blind pigs will get lost and won't know where their water, food, and hiding places are. This is very stressful for them, but it can also make it harder for them to get enough to eat and drink.
If your blind pig is alone in its cage, consider getting a second guinea pig. The other pig can help guide your blind pig around the cage.
When you want to pet or pick up your pig, make sure to speak to your pig first. Your blind pig will be very scared to be picked up or touched without warning, and if they try to run away from you, they may run into an obstacle and injure themselves.
If you're not sure if your guinea pig is blind, or if you have any questions about caring for your blind pig, see a local veterinarian (such as one from Animal Medical Center of Deer Valley) right away.