Ferguson, K., Fisher, Z. 2021. The effects of bedding material on the treatment of mild pododermatitis in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). RATEL (Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers) 48(1), 18-22.
One of our colony’s five guinea pigs started to develop a moderate case of pododermatitis (bumblefoot) on one paw, which staff were keen to alleviate to prevent any detrimental effects that this might have on her health and welfare. Pododermatitis has been seen to have several different causal factors and is more commonly found in guinea pigs that are obese or guinea pigs that are kept on abrasive floor coverings (typically described as wire mesh). This study was devised to determine whether different floor coverings would help treat the disease in its early stages. The five guinea pigs were housed in the same enclosure on newspaper sheeting but we decided to trial newspaper bedding from Wight Animal Bedding. A monitoring sheet was designed to track the progress of the pododermatitis across the 6-week study. Over the course of the study, the condition of nearly all of the guinea pigs’ feet deteriorated. Many of the feet started with a low score, of between 0 and 2. By the end of the study, 70% of the group had an individual foot score of 4. The bedding was also seen to have caused a severe drying effect on the paws. Although newspaper sheeting can be slippery and it is not as cushioned as some other beddings, it has been much more successful than other bedding types as it does not tend to dry out the feet as much as paper beddings or wood shavings have been seen to in the past. As the bedding seemed to have a positive impact on their behaviour, the recommendation would be to enable guinea pigs to have access to this bedding, but in small quantities due to the drying effects of this substrate.