9 Shocking Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Have Red Feet

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Are you paying attention to what your guinea pig is trying to tell you?  Does your guinea pig have red feet?  If so, you need to discover the cause. There’s a few reasons why guinea pigs get red feet.  Let’s have a look. 

1. Your Guinea Pig Is Too Hot

Well, how hot is too hot for your guinea pig?  After all, these little guys are pretty good at regulating their body temperature.  You and I maintain a temperature around 98 degrees Fahrenheit – that won’t do for piggies.

A guinea pig’s normal body temperature ranges from 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Piggies lose heat through their feet and ears; red feet may be a sign that your piggie is overheating.  

Temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit can cause heat stroke – lower temps if the humidity is high. 

If the current temperature is making you feel hot and uncomfortable, then your little friends are probably hot and uncomfortably, too.

Some quick thoughts for a potentially overheated guinea:

  • Is the ambient temperature rising?
  • Is the cage in direct sunlight?
  • Does your piggie have access to fresh water and cool veggies to munch on?

If you want to make sure your little friends stay nice and cool, you can also:

  • Wipe their bodies with a cool, damp washcloth to lower their body temperature.
  • A fan can help (just make sure you use it with a bucket or bowl of ice) And don’t point the fan at your piggies.
  • A frozen bottle of water (wrapped in a shirt, towel, or cloth) placed inside the cage is a great cooling option

2. Dry Skin

If you live in a very dry area, it’s possible that your guinea pig’s red feet are caused by dry skin.

Using a heater in your home can also dry out the air, which will have an affect on your guinea pig’s skin.

When your piggies’ skin gets very dry, it can sometimes become red and flaky. The skin cracks, too, sometimes.

Fortunately, this red foot condition is easily solved.  

For areas that are especially dry, apply moisturizer after giving your piggie a foot bath to lock in the moisture. You can use extra virgin coconut oil or any other type of all natural oil.

You can also add a humidifier to the room where you have your guinea pig’s cage set up.

3. Urine Scalding

If you have noticed that the backside of your guinea is wet and you detect a foul odor, then you have a case of urine scalding.  The most common causes:

  • Obesity
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Injury
  • Neutering complications
  • Soiled bedding
  • Too much hair in their private areas. 

When your overweight pig urinates, the extra skin (or hair) gets in the way of the urine, causing it to run down their backside.

Then from their bottoms, the urine can run down to their feet, which can cause your piggies’ feet to become red and inflamed – especially if you don’t catch the issue quickly enough.  

I mean, come on.  Can you imagine standing in acidic urine all day?  You’d be red-footed, too.

Urine scalding is painful; a guinea’s backside AND feet should always be dry.

A constantly soiled piggie could lose its fur and become infected. 

Trim your little friends’ fur around their private areas. Give them a butt bath every month or so to keep them feeling fresh and pee-free.

If red feet are caused by scalding, your guinea pig should recover once your improve their living conditions.

4. Bumblefoot (a.k.a. Pododermatitis)

Bumblefoot is a bacterium that infects the skin of the paws.  The good news (if detected early) is that Pododermatitis is highly treatable.  

The bad news (if left untreated) is that this bacterium can infect the tendons and bones of your guinea’s paws. 

Plus, as it gets worse, the skin can crack and ooze pus, and the redness can spread. It may also become swollen and red, cause your piggy considerable pain, and eventually lead to gangrene. Gangrene is a blood infection.

This is a life-threatening symptom and must be taken seriously.

How can you identify bumblefoot?  Look for these clues:  

  • Do the rear paws (usually) have scabs, or appear red and swollen?
  • Are there raised calluses underfoot?
  • Does there appear to be wart-like or small tumors underfoot?
  • Is your piggie hesitant to move?
  • Has your little friend lost the desire to eat?

Bumblefoot is best avoided altogether. 

But, if your little friend already has it, you’ll need a proper diagnosis from a vet before treating it. Antibiotic foot soaks and anti-inflammatory medication might be just what your fur baby needs.

Also, diets low in vitamin C increase problems with bumblefoot.  Give that guinea at least 10 milligrams of vitamin C per day.  

5. Floor Or Bedding Is Too Hard

why do guinea pigs have red feet
Make sure you have the right type of bedding for your little friend.

Imagine walking around your house without footwear!  Guineas do it all the time.   So, give them a paw-friendly surface. 

Harsh surfaces – such as wire caged floors – wreak some serious havoc on your pet’s sensitive feet.  

Avoiding abrasive flooring or bedding is the easiest (and cheapest) way to prevent redness in your piggies’ paws.  Wire flooring is especially bad for your little friends’ feet.

After all, irritated paws contribute to deteriorating overall health (and no one wants that).  

Proper footing is essential to maintaining good health.  Wood shavings, paper pellets or even bamboo fiber linings make for a paw friendly cage.  

Now that you’ve lined your pet’s cage with soft, comfortable bedding, stay on top of routine cage maintenance.  Clean their bedding regularly to encourage a happy and healthy guinea.

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6. Fungal Feet

Did you ever have athlete’s foot?  If so, then you’ve experienced the discomfort of incessant itching and inflamed skin.  

Your furry little friend can also end up with those swollen toes, that flaky skin, and nonstop itching!  Your little friend could have what’s known as ‘fungal feet’.  

Don’t freak out. 

Because you’re a responsible piggie parent, you’ll probably catch it in its early stages. 

Simply rub anti-fungal cream (from your vet) onto the feet of your little buddy several times a week (or for however often your vet recommends). 

Don’t underestimate the message this symptom is sending you.  

If those swollen, itchy pads become torn because of incessant itching, then the door is wide open for further infection – maybe even bumblefoot (which you definitely don’t want your piggie to have, believe you me!)  

Again, good foot-health is associated with clean, dry bedding and a healthy diet.

7. Poor Diet

It’s hard to believe, but having a bad diet (especially one lacking in Vitamin C) can manifest lots of different symptoms in a guinea pig.  And yes, red feet are one of them. 

Your guinea can’t jump in the auto and steer its way to the nearest grocery store – you’re responsible for providing a balanced diet.

Those commercial treats (ya know the ones that are stuffed full of corn syrup, sugar and other unhealthy stuff) are no good for your friend.   

So, what can you do?

Make your own (or buy) fresh veggie treats.  

A poor diet leads to a sluggish cavy and a weak immune system.  Your guinea’s diet should consist of at least 80% hay (or fresh grasses).    

Let’s take a moment to get a little more specific about that your little friends should eat:

  • 1/8 cup of pellets per day (vitamin C-fortified)
  • Unlimited supply of high quality hay (aids digestion and curbs overgrowth of teeth)
  • About 1 cup of fresh vegetables daily (per pig)
  • Small portions of fruit for a sporadic treat

There is one drawback to fresh fruit and veggies – they spoil!  After a few hours, remove any uneaten treats.  A clean cage is a happy cage.  

8. Allergic Reaction

Whew!  Who knew so much information was to be discerned from a pig’s “red feet”? 

Let’s assume the red feet are a symptom of an allergic reaction.  Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Did you clean the cage with a new soap? 
  • Did you use a new cleaning product on the carpet? 
  • Have you introduced anything new into the environment?

Think really hard. It could even be something as simple as using a new deodorizer or changing the detergent that you use for your fleece.  

And if you figure it out, please stop using it.  

Keep a watchful on your guinea’s red feet.  If they’re not swollen, no flaking or sores, then wait it out and hopefully the problem resolves itself.  

9. Circulation Issues

Remember, your guinea dissipates heat through their ears and feet.  So, it’s completely natural for them to appear red.  At this point in the article, you know what clues to look for.  

But what about poor circulation? 

Is your little piggy overweight? 

Are you providing stimulation that encourages movement in your guinea?  If mobility is an issue, chronically red feet may be the side effect. 

Natalie Riggs, a blogger for Small Pet Select, writes, “Early signs of heart conditions vary widely . . . symptoms aren’t as well-known by veterinarians as other common ailments.”   

There is much we don’t know when it comes to the health of our pets.  That’s why it’s so important for us to control the elements we can:  food, environment, and safety.  

How Do You Treat Red Feet On Guineas?  

How you treat your guinea pig’s red feet completely depends on the cause.  You definitely want to get to the bottom of the red feet, but each red foot symptom requires a different course of action.  

So, why are your piggie’s feet red? Could it be…

  1. Heat/temperature. Make sure your little friends’ cage isn’t in a hot area of the house and using cooling methods to keep them at an ideal piggie temperature.
  2. Allergic reaction. Hunt down whatever detergent or product you are using that might be causing red feet!
  3. Dry skin. Get a humidifier to shove moisture into the air
  4. Abrasive floor or soiled bedding. Ditch the hard flooring and invest in fleece liners or bathroom mats for bedding.
  5. Urine scald. Trim their private areas and change their bedding frequently.
  6. Bumblefoot. If red feet are caused by an infection, then get your little friend to the vet to be treated with antibiotics.  And make sure you do it quickly. Bumblefoot is nothing to mess up with.  
  7. Poor diet. Avoid unhealthy treats and make sure your piggie is getting enough vegetables, hay, pellets and water every day.  Getting the right amount of vitamins C and D is important, too.
  8. Fungal Feet. Whip out the athletes foot and give your piggies some antifungal foot soaks.
  9. Poor circulation. Is your guinea pig overweight? If so, help them shed the pounds. Other than that, if red feet persist in your piggie, see a vet immediately to rule out heart conditions/problems.

Bottom line?

Red feet are usually a sign that something’s wrong with your piggie, so get to the root cause and deal with it as soon as possible.

And if you suspect that your little friend’s red feet have a more serious cause (like heart conditions), then the sooner red feet are taken care of, the better.  Get your piggie to the vet…quickly.

What Color Should My Guinea Pig’s Feet Be?  

The easy answer is, no two guinea pigs’ feet are identical!  Usually, a healthy set of guinea-feet appear pink.  But, there are variations. 

Brown piggies tend to have black or dark brown pads on the bottom of their feet.  White pigs or light-haired piggies usually have pink pads.

There are 13 different guinea pig breeds in all.  Remember, guineas are part of the rodent family – they come in all shapes and sizes.  

What Does Bumblefoot Look Like On Guinea Pigs?

If the guinea’s footpads develop sores, appear inflamed or have calluses, your pet might have bumblefoot.

Pododermatitis (scientific name for bumblefoot) looks like small tumors of the foot.  

Now this is important. 

Bumblefoot is life-threatening when not properly addressed.  If you can’t get the situation under control, take your unhappy pet to the vet!

What Causes Guinea Pig Foot Spurs?

Foot spurs are flaps of tough skin that stick out from the guinea’s front feet.  They’re nothing to completely freak out about, but they do require extra care.  

Carefully, use nail clippers to remove the excess skin (lest your little pig accidentally tear off the spur while playing). 

Carefully, use nail clippers to remove the excess skin (so your little buddy doesn’t accidentally tear off the spur while playing).  Spurs don’t have any blood in them, so doing it this way is painless for your little friends.

But, if you don’t feel comfortable, just get your piggies to the vet and let them do it.

This is also the perfect opportunity to trim your fur babies’ nails.  Nails that are too long can make walking really painful for your little friends.

Spurs on your guinea’s feet are one more reason to maintain clean bedding within the cage; piggies with spurs are more prone to infection.  

No single condition is responsible for these spurs – genes, exercise, and quality of environment seem to bring about their development. 

So, What Have We Learned?  

why do guinea pigs have red feet - a quote
You need to know what you’re dealing with it, so you don’t make a mistake when you’re treating your fur babies.

We’ve learned red feet can tell us much about a guinea’s overall health.  

Is your guinea overheating?  Look to the feet.

Does your little friend seem to be having an allergic reaction.  Look to the feet.  

Am I feeding my piggy quality food? 

Okay, okay, you get the picture.  A piggy with red feet is probably trying to tell you something.  

Red feet are the symptom, it’s up to you to determine the cause. 

If the cause eludes you, and your friend appears to be suffering from an undisclosed discomfort, take the pet to the vet.  

Make a mental note when your guinea develops red feet. 

Time and experience will help you to improve your skills with your fur babies. But you won’t know everything, and you might make some mistakes (we all do).

You’re a good pet parent. 

Reading this article has informed you; it has empowered you to improve upon the already happy life you have provided your piggies 

I hope this article has proved useful. 

I wish happiness to you and your piggies.

Wanna Give Your Piggies
the 5 STAR Treatment?

Stop getting dirty looks from your piggies, because you forgot to do something for them...AGAIN. These colorful, chore charts will help you keep track of when to feed your fuzz butts, clean their cages, and much more. 

FREE

Best bedding for Guinea pigs: Keep your fur friend clean and comfortable. (2022, January 17). PetsRadar. https://www.petsradar.com/buying-guides/best-bedding-for-guinea-pigs

Bumble foot treatment. (n.d.). Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue. https://www.laguineapigrescue.com/bumble-foot-treatment.html

Guinea Pig Care. (n.d.). Oxbow Animal Health. https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/uploads/files/Guinea-Pig-Care-Guide.pdf

Guinea pig urine scald (Signs+Causes+Treatment+Prevention). (n.d.). Guinea Pig 101. https://guineapig101.com/guinea-pig-urine-scald/

Guinea pigs – Exotic and laboratory animals – Merck veterinary manual. (n.d.). Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rodents/guinea-pigs

How warm is too warm for Guinea pigs? (2022, January 31). Kids Love Pets. https://kidslovepets.org/how-warm-is-too-warm-for-guinea-pigs

You should kNo. 20 Guinea pig behaviors and what they mean. (2019, June 15). A Happy Life. https://guineapigz.net/behavior/20-guinea-pig-behaviors-you-should-know-what-does-it-mean/

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