Bumblefoot (Pododermatitis) is the most debilitating condition and in a guinea pig can cause enormous pain as well death. As guinea pigs have pads on their feet and not fur (like rabbits) they have no protection through the soles of their feet. Bumblefoot is a condition where the pads of the feet are swollen and sores start to form. Depending on the severity of Bumblefoot and how advanced it is in the guineapig, it can ultimately cause infection through to the bone with necrotizing myelitis.
Bumblefoot arises from a number of situations as follows:
There are 3 primary causes for bumblefoot:
1) The first is wire flooring. Guinea pigs do not dig, so it is unneccessary to wire the floor of their enclosures. If you have wire on their cage the constant walking on this will leave them in a weakened state. The wire can also pose other issues, such as moving the cage. It is too easy for little feet to fall through and become trapped or badly injured under the wire.
2)The second situation is where guinea pigs are kept just on a soild surface such as paper only. There needs to be padding under their body the whole time otherwise it would be like us walking on tiles for our lifetime. Our feet would become really sore.
3)The last situation is injury. If a guinea pig hurts their legs(‘s) then they will compensate for this by walking in a way that they can, but that is wrong. This results in incorrect weight distribution whereby pressure is placed onto the wrong part of the foot or leg. The resulting long term result is swelling – bumblefoot. This particular type of bumblefoot it easy to distinquish as it will not usually appear on all the limbs – but only the one that was injured.
When a guinea pig has bumblefoot depending on the severity, you will find the guinea pig not wanting to walk or use the soar limb. This has a knock on effect as they may not exercise enough, they tend to sit in one location, become overweight or anorexic, end become depressed.
The area of the bumblefoot will form a crust over the top and if this top has been bumped or has fallen off, the area may be bleeding. In very severe cases when mylistis has occured ( infection into the bone) it may be necessary to have the leg amputated.