Guinea Pigs with Diabetes

Hazel and Ginger were diagnosed with diabetes in March 2000, at the age of 18 months.  With a bit of work on the owner's part, and working with a vet who will work with you, diabetes is very treatable in guinea pigs.

I'm not a vet, nor do I have any medical training.  The information provided below is intended to reflect my understanding and experiences only, to serve as a starting point for discussions with a vet.

What is diabetes?

From the American Diabetes Association website: "Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life."

There are two types of diabetes:

In corresponding with dozens of owners of diabetic piggies, I've learned that most guinea pigs develop Type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes.  Another oddity about diabetes in piggies is that remissions are common.  An informal survey I took suggested that as many as 1/3 of diabetic piggies eventually regain the ability to regulate glucose without medication.

Warning symptoms of diabetes in Guinea Pigs

The most common symptoms noticed by guinea pig owners are:

Other symptoms may include:

Note that an individual guinea pig may only display one or two of the warning signs.  If you notice any of these symptoms, have the piggie checked by a vet.

Insulin treatment

Piggies with Type 1, insulin dependent diabetes must be treated with insulin injections.  Many owners are able to successfully give their guinea pig insulin shots, and the piggie lives a normal, healthy life as a result.

Oral medication

Many guinea pigs with Type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes respond very well to oral medication.  In Canada, the drug is called glyburide; in the US, it's called glipizide.  These piggies can also be treated with insulin.

Diet restrictions for diabetic Guinea Pigs

Diet changes we made include the following:


Both my diabetic piggies are now in remission.  See Hazel and Ginger's story for details of the testing and treatment plan we followed.

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