Causes of death relating to welfare issues in 2 months tot 3 years old pet guinea pigs (Cavia apera f. porcellus) in the Netherlands.
Vugt, M.A. van
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Because guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and rats in the Netherlands are often kept as a pet and because these animals often decease at relatively young age without knowing the cause of death, The Veterinary Pathology Diagnostic Centre of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University started a research about causes of early death of guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and rats. This report is a summary of the results of 30 guinea pigs submitted to this welfare project from October 1st, 2009 until February 17th, 2011. The aim of this report is to investigate the most common causes of death of guinea pigs. Further on, these causes of death will be compared with those of 133 guinea pigs of a retrospective study and with data found in literature. Besides that, there will be checked whether or not there is a relationship between death causes and welfare. The most common cause of death of guinea pigs in literature, retrospective study and this welfare project, is lung problems. Heart en kidney problems are also frequently found in the welfare project-guinea pigs, but are not often found in literature and retrospective study. Besides that, it is remarkable that possibly in accordance with nutrient imbalance in 23.3% of the guinea pigs of this project metastatic calcifications were found. Except suspicions about nutrient imbalance, living space, and stress indicators (such as changes in temperature, humidity or diet, overcrowding, type of housing and intercurrent diseases) that increase the susceptibility to disease, there are no direct welfare related problems found. Following these results, recommendations will be given, designated for owners, to prevent stress and the most common diseases of young guinea pigs through a checklist.