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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11061
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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What causes my guinea pig to have bad breath He is alert, ...

Resolved Question:

What causes my guinea pig to have bad breath? He is alert, active and eats well, so I doubt he has an abcess or an infection. What can I do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

A description of the odor (I know this may be unpleasant) will help in answering your question. Does it resemble nail polish remover, or is more of a sour food smell?

What do you feed your guinea pig?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Anna's Post: It's more like a sour food smell ... I'm aware that guinea pigs sometimes make "treats" out of their poops and maybe this is part of it, though I have yet to see him do this. But someone told me this could be a sign of an infection, an abcess or some other medical issue as well. So I thought I'd check here first and then make an appointment at the vet if one seems warranted. Also, and this may not be important, but I only notice it when he yawns. It's not just coming from him in general, but directly from his mouth, so it's definitely his breath.
I hope this helps!
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. It does help. An acetone odor, like nail polish remover, would have indicated an problem in the internal organs, often the kidneys. The odor you are smelling often means food is being trapped in the mouth somewhere. It could be in an abscess or a pocket of infection. It could be a dental problem that keeps bits of pellets trapped in between the teeth. Here is a site where you can read a little more about bad breath in guinea pigs:

It would be best to have a vet take a look at your guinea pig. Be sure the vet you choose is familiar with rabbits/guinea pigs. These two species have similar drug sensitivities. This link will take you to a directory of vets:

Some guinea pigs do just have naturally worse breath than others. If the vet finds nothing wrong, you'll probably just have to live with it. You can try changing the diet because what he eats can affect his breath. If you aren't already feeding him unlimited timothy hay, that is something you would want to do. Don't feed alfalfa, as that can lead to other health problems. You could try different brands of pellets. The parsley and other fresh foods are a good idea. This page has excellent information on feeding guinea pigs:

If you have further questions, just let me know.


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