Everything YOU need to know about Bumblefoot!

Everything YOU need to know about Bumblefoot!

Everything YOU need to know about Bumblefoot!

What exactly is pododermatitis or Bumblefoot??

Our resident vet Dr Sam is here to teach us, keeping on scrolling to read:

Pododermatitis, or more commonly referred to as ‘bumblefoot’ is a condition causing inflammation of the footpads – ‘PODO’ meaning foot, and ‘DERMATITIS’ meaning inflammation of the skin. It is essentially a pressure sore caused by prolonged pressure on the skin due to reduced mobility or inappropriate flooring. Obesity, and other illnesses that result in guinea pigs standing in one place for prolonged periods will predispose to the development of bumblefoot, as well as housing with hard flooring or wire bottoms. Unfortunately it is one of the most common conditions and reasons why guinea pigs present to veterinarians.

What does pododermatitis look like?

It usually starts with just some reddening of the skin on the bottom of the feet, this can be quite mild and will usually resolve once the underlying cause has been corrected.

As the condition progresses ulcers will start to form. These ulcers are extremely painful and will result in guinea pigs not wanting to walk, further exacerbating the condition. These ulcers will continue getting deeper and more severe, with swelling of the foot and risks secondary infection.

Eventually, due to being under constant pressure, blood flow will stop going to the most impacted areas, and the tissue will start to die off. Eventually the infection will reach the underlying bones, tendons, joints and soft tissue, which holds a very poor prognosis for recovery. Severe conditions can also start to impact liver and kidney function.

Stage 1: Redness to the paw

Stage 2: Redness, swelling, and small sores and scabs to the paw

Stage 3: Scabs, Ulceration, abscesses, involvement of tendons and other surrounding soft tissue, reduced blood supply and dying of skin.

Stage 4: All of the above with involvement of the bone, and systemic infection reaching organs such as the liver and kidneys

Risk factors for development of pododermatitis

Obesity, emaciation, restricted cage space or other medical conditions that lead to inactivity
Wire bottom cages, abrasive flooring, concrete or other hard floor surfaces, rough straw bedding causing foot punctures
Poor sanitation – moist and unhygienic conditions such as urine and faecal soiling of the feet will aggravate the condition and be more likely to develop secondary infections.
Hypovitaminosis C leads to abnormal skin collagen and delayed  wound healing
Poor conformation such as limb deformities or lameness,which leads to increased weight bearing on the other feet

What should I do if I suspect my guinea pig has developed pododermatitis?

Veterinary care should be sought to at minimum provide pain relief for even mild conditions, this will usually be an anti-inflammatory medication.

The most important part of treating pododermatitis is to resolve the underlying cause for the condition.  This may involve providing appropriate bedding or cage substrate creating soft surfaces for your pet to stand and lie on, and ensuring the housing is clean , dry and sanitary.

A vet visit is always warranted as the earlier it can be treated the better the prognosis is. If your pet appears unwell or other medical conditions have lead to the reduced mobility, more tests or treatment by your veterinarian may be required to resolve the underlying illness. If your guinea pig is not eating it will require supplement feeding to provide adequate nutrition.

More severe conditions that involve ulceration, swelling of the foot, and involvement of bones and tendons will require long and extensive medical or surgical management. Treatment can be difficult, and a very long and labour intensive road to recovery. Some treatment options depending on the severity of the condition may involve pain relief, antibiotics, cleaning and dressing of wounds by your veterinarian, and in some cases amputation of the limb or euthanasia.

How can I prevent pododermatitis?

Provide suitable cage flooring such as vetbed.
Avoid wire bottom cages
Avoid obesity and encourage exercise by providing a large enclosure with plenty of floor space.
Provide good husbandry and a clean environment
Provide a suitable diet, ensuring vitamin C requirements are met
We recommend Ozzy Cages as they can be customised to fit any space in your home, allows a large floor space to encourage exercise, can be fitted with nice soft bedding and is easy to clean! Ozzy cages are made with your pets health in mind and tick all the boxes to keep their little feet happy and healthy.
*photos shared from Oxbow Animal Health Website