Most of us know what it is like to hobble around on sore feet. Long day at work, maybe a little overactive on the weekend…
Rabbits and guinea pigs are susceptible to a really nasty condition, though, that can keep those little footsies sore for a very long time. Pododermatitis, or Bumblefoot, hurts. And it can take quite a while to cure.
There are some things you can do to prevent it. Our friends should never ever have a wire base to their living area. Bedding is super important for these guys – too soft, and their paw pads can become too sensitive. Too hard and those paws can get ulcerated and infected. A nice middle ground is needed, on top of a solid surface (no wire!). Pick a shredded paper bedding, free of any baking soda or “fresh-smelling” additives. Avoid all the dyes and bleaches too – go with the nice plain untreated brown.
Their living area has to be kept very, very clean. They walk through their bedding all day long, so if their feet have any problems at all, it is easy for bacteria to get in there and make the whole situation even worse.
Hefty guinea pigs and rabbits are at even more risk. Is your friend a little too rolly-polly? Guinea pigs do tend to be “well padded”, but there is a healthy limit. There are a number of ways to check your rabbit’s weight too (watch this space for more on that topic!). Need help figuring out proper weight? Give you specialized vet’s office a call. A vet who specializes in guinea pigs and other exotics can help, and it is always good to have a solid relationship with your vet.
Mani-pedis should be a regular thing. Check the paw pads for any sign of problems – redness, breaks in the skin, tenderness. Long nails can irritate the paw pads, and then, well, you can probably imagine where that will lead. Lesions, bacteria, infection, hurt, meds.
Gorgeous Guineas has a few ointments to help. Take a look here. They’ve worked with a lot of volunteer piggies to come up with natural assistance for sore feet, without using antibiotics. They work great for rabbits too! Of course, these ointments do work best if you catch any problems early, and stay on top of the care. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem! Your friend will thank you for making the ouchies stop.