There are many serious reproductive problems that affect guinea pigs; this is why breeding these animals isn't recommended. If your guinea pig has recently given birth, she may develop a serious uterine infection called pyometra. Here are five things you need to know about this infection.

What causes pyometra?

Pyometra occurs when bacteria gets inside your pig's uterus. After your pig gives birth, her cervix will be open, and that makes it easy for bacteria to get inside and cause an infection.

What are the signs of pyometra?

Guinea pigs instinctively hide their illnesses; this habit keeps them from becoming easy prey in the wild, but in captivity, it makes it hard for you to realize when your pig is very sick. After your pig gives birth, keep a close eye on her and watch for any behavioral changes. Small changes like not being interested in her favorite foods or not wheeking when you walk into the room could be the only clues that something is wrong.

If you notice any behavioral changes, closely inspect your pig for signs of problems. If your pig has pyometra, you may notice that she has blood on her fur in her rectal area. You may also notice that there is blood on the bedding where she has urinated. You may also see pus between her back legs or crusted onto her fur.

Is pyometra serious?

Pyometra is a very serious condition, especially if the cervix closes and traps the infection inside the uterus. If the cervix remains open, pus can drain out, but if it closes, it will build up inside the uterus and may lead to uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is an emergency, as it will lead to severe internal bleeding and may be fatal.

How do vets treat it?

Like other types of infections, pyometra is treated with antibiotics. Many antibiotics are toxic to guinea pigs, as they destroy the good bacteria in the intestines, so be sure to see a vet that has experience treating guinea pigs.

In addition to antibiotics, your pig may need to be spayed. During this surgical procedure, your pig's infected uterus will be removed, along with her ovaries.

How can you prevent it?

You can prevent pyometra by keeping your pig's cage as clean as possible after she gives birth. Change the bedding frequently and make sure to disinfect the walls and floor of the cage. Cleanliness is always important, but it's especially important in the days after your pig gives birth.

If you think your pig has pyometra, you need to take her to a vet right away.