Crusty eyes, or “eye boogers,” are common in humans when we wake up in the morning, but what causes them in pet guinea pigs?
Cavies can get allergies, injuries, infections, and illnesses which cause eye problems.
Since cavies are prey animals, they hide their injury or illness from guinea pig owners quite well.
Like humans, irritants and blockages in your guinea pig’s tear ducts can cause crusty eyes. The eyes of guinea pigs mirror their overall health and should be clear, bright, and shiny. A milky discharge from their eye is normal, and part of it cleaning itself.
Cavies clean their eyes by cleaning their face and can usually deal with particles or irritants in their eyes on their own.
When cleaning the fur around your pet’s eyes, be extremely careful not to get anything into their eye.
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Signs Of Eye Infection In Guinea Pigs
Clinical signs there is something wrong are:
- Crusty eyes
- Swollen eyes or closed eyes
- Protruding eyes
- Cloudy or dull-looking eyes
- Yellow or green discharge (milky looking is normal)
- Runny or watery eyes.
- Ulcerated eyes
- Mucus discharge
If you think your cavy is sick, keep your guinea pig comfortable, warm, and well-hydrated until you get them in to see the vet.
What Causes Eye Issues in Guinea Pigs?
Check out this list of common eye issues in guinea pigs.
Irritant And Duct Blockage
Eye irritants and tear duct blockages can come from dusty or aromatic bedding such as cedar chips or a smoky environment.
Check out these alternative guinea pig beddings you already have in your home.
Your pet’s eye will increase discharge to clear out the irritant or blockage.
Do not attempt to remove a foreign object from your piggy’s eye; you might damage it.
If problems persist, visit your vet for advice.
Corneal ulcers can occur when piggies are overzealous in grooming, playing, or fighting and get poked in the eye.
Unnecessary guinea pig fights are prevented by providing plenty of space in their enclosure with hiding places for each piggy.
Sharp materials in the cage and getting poked by hay are also causes.
Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is also a cause of corneal ulcers.
Symptoms of corneal ulcers are:
- Cloudiness of the eye
- Red or inflamed eye
- Rubbing at the eye or rubbing it on the ground
- Partial or fully closed eye
- Abnormal eye discharge
- Constant eye discharge
If you think your pet has a corneal ulcer, take them to the vet as soon as possible for an exam.
Treatment includes an ointment for the ulcer and an antibiotic for any secondary infections.
Abscesses are a painful, infected accumulation of pus and bacteria and need immediate veterinary treatment.
An untreated abscess can lead to blood poisoning and even death.
Related: How to help a dying guinea pig.
Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection called “pink eye” or “red eye” and is generally caused by either the Streptococcus or Bordatella bacteria.
Some guinea pig pink eye is contagious to humans, so always wash your hands well after handling your piggy!
An allergic reaction can cause pink eye.
Symptoms of pink eye are:
- Pink or red coloration of the eye
- Hair loss around the eye area
- Swelling and redness
- Abnormal discharge
- Constant discharge
Treatment for bacterial infections includes antibiotic eye drops, so if your pet is showing symptoms, go see the vet.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
An upper respiratory infection can cause crusty eyes as well.
Common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection are:
- Conjunctivitis or pink eye
- Excess eye discharge
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
Treatment from your vet will include eye ointments and antibiotics.
Snuffles is the equivalent of the flu in humans and more dangerous for elderly guinea pigs and young guinea pigs.
Snuffles is highly contagious, so isolate your pet to avoid them giving them to your other pets.
Humans can pass along influenza B and adenovirus 5 to piggies, so if you have any cold or flu symptoms, stay away from your pet as you may give it to them.
Glaucoma is an increase in fluid in the eye.
Glaucoma happens due to decreased drainage or increased production of fluid.
The pressure from glaucoma can cause pain and increased ocular discharge.
Tooth Problems such as overgrown teeth can cause eye infections because the roots of the molars and premolars are so close to the tear ducts.
If the teeth overgrow, the roots move up and put pressure on the nasal duct, which causes pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
As with an upper respiratory infection, an infection of the teeth can go up into the eye.
Symptoms of dental problems affecting the eyes are:
- Watery eyes
- Cloudy discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Drooling or increase in salivation
Prevention of this condition includes ensuring your pet has adequate chewing materials, such as regular hay and guinea pig chews, so they do not get overgrown teeth.
Correct treatment requires veterinary intervention.
Tumors cause eye problems by increasing pressure on the eye.
If you suspect a tumor, take your pet to the vet, as tumors require surgical removal.
What To Do If My Guinea Pigs Eyes Are Crusty?
If your guinea pig has crusty eyes and is in discomfort, use warm water and a warm, damp cloth to gently clean the eye area.
Make a vet appointment if the crustiness continues.
How Can I Prevent Eye Infections In My Pet?
A clean cage with good bedding and plenty of room is a must to keep your guinea pig healthy.
Provide food suitable for their chewing needs with plenty of vitamin C, clean drinking water, and clean nesting material.
Check their cage for sharp corners to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Wash your hands before and after handling your piggy to prevent the transfer of illness back and forth.
Look for common signs of ill health and take them to the vet for regular health checks to identify any health issues early on and treat them before they become serious.