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Many guinea pig and rabbit health problems are due to an inadequate diet, poor accommodation and/or hygiene.

An incorrect diet often leads to dental problems, skin disease and vitamin C deficiency (leading to scurvy, swollen joints and skin disease), while inadequate accommodation and poor hygiene can lead to respiratory problems, urinary diseases and a foot disease called pod dermatitis.

Guinea pigs and rabbits need space with hiding places and they need to be able to stand upright. They need a good size hutch and run so they can have plenty of exercise and be safe from foxes.

They are very susceptible to heat stroke, therefore it is important to keep them out of sunlight and in temperatures below 24 degrees.

Good quality, dust-free hay constitutes the bulk of their diet and will keep teeth trim.

Hay can also be used as bedding. Straw may cause penetrating wounds. Wire mesh should not be used for flooring as it causes foot problems.

Cleaning their hutch often is essential.

Diet can be supplemented with fresh guinea pig pellets (the vitamin C content decays over time) and with fresh vegetables.

It is hard to spot if a guinea pig or rabbit is unwell so get to know their routine.