Guinea pigs are popular pets for kids for several good reasons but this doesn't mean they are indestructible pocket pets. Unfortunately, broken guinea pig legs are seen much too often by exotics vets due to jumping out of the arms of a child. But children aren't the only reason for broken guinea pig legs. Read on to learn all about these tiny leg injuries and what you can do to help prevent bones from breaking.
What is a Bone Fracture?
A bone fracture is another way to say broken bone. There are different kinds of breaks and different degrees of severity. Compound fractures can be more severe since they are not just a broken bone. They also have a wound associated with the fracture, such as a hematoma, or the bone is protruding through the skin. Compound fractures are at a higher risk of getting infected than simple fractures.
Simple fractures are just a broken bone with no skin wounds. These may be able to be fixed depending on where the break is located and how long it has been broken. Fractures can also be broken down into more specific types such as oblique, complete, compression, and others.
How Did My Guinea Pig Break A Leg?
The most commonly seen reason for broken guinea pig legs is children. No, just having children doesn't mean guinea pig legs will break, but children tend to be more aggressive with animals, carry them around, and even step on pets accidentally. Therefore, children are the most commonly seen reason for tiny broken legs. As I mentioned before, guinea pigs get dropped, wiggle and try to jump out of arms, get stepped on, and get picked up incorrectly. All these things can cause a guinea pig to break a tiny leg.
Other reasons that don't necessarily involve children include getting stuck somewhere in the cage (like on a ramp) or hay hamper, or from being malnourished. If a guinea pig does not receive an appropriate diet his bones will become weak, brittle, and prone to fracturing.
What Do I Do If I Think My Guinea Pig Broke His Leg?
Get him to your exotics vet as soon as possible! Although the fracture itself may not be an emergency, your guinea pig is in a lot of pain if he does have a broken leg the stress his body goes through from the accident and the pain is enough to kill him. Even if the first vet you take him to cannot help you fix his leg ask for pain medications and anti-inflammatories to keep him comfortable while you get him more help.
Your vet may be able to tell if the leg is broken without radiographs (x-rays) but a radiograph is the best way to see what and where it is broken exactly. It may need to be splinted or have surgery to place pins in it to hold it together until it heals. If the leg is unable to be repaired surgically, splinted, or is a break that is more than a few days old it will most likely need to be amputated. If one of these options are not affordable to you your exotics vet will probably discuss euthanasia.
How Can I Prevent This From Happening?
Make sure you are providing the proper guinea pig diet to keep his bones strong, remove anything that you could see him getting stuck in, such as a wire wheel, a hay hamper or hay ball, wire ramps, etc. Have children sit on the ground when handling guinea pigs and make sure you and everyone in the house knows when your guinea pig is out of his cage so that they can pay extra attention to where they are stepping.
Accidents happen and when they do don't blame yourself. Plenty of guinea pigs do great with only three legs or while they have a splint or bandage on their leg and they will be back to jumping around before you know it. By paying a little extra attention to small children when they are handling their cavies and by offering a nutritious food in a safe cage you should be able to avoid a broken guinea pig leg.