While guinea pigs typically have ears that are folded over, with an interior not readily visible, they are susceptible to different types of ear conditions that can cause their ears to appear red, inflamed and swollen. This condition should be addressed by a vet as soon as you notice it. Allowing a guinea pig ear problem to go unresolved can result in pain, loss of equilibrium and potential worsening of the underlying cause of the problem.
A guinea pig that develops an ear infection may exhibit red, swollen inner ears that may be painful, inflamed, red and warm to the touch. You may see your guinea pig shake or tilt her head, rub her ears against her cage bars or paw at her ears to try and alleviate the irritation. She may also appear to be disoriented when she walks, as an ear infection can sometimes result in an inner ear imbalance that leads to dizziness. If your guinea pig has crusty, swollen ears, it could be a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection.
Mites and Parasites
If your guinea pig’s swollen ears also feature black spots or a dirt-like appearance, she could have ear mites or other parasites. This is usually treated with a mineral oil-type topical supplement, but vet consultation is the best way to ensure you know exactly what the problem is before attempting to eradicate it. In addition to treating the mites, your vet may also instruct you how to clean and disinfect your pig’s living environment to protect against repeat infestation.
Excessive ear wax in your guinea pig’s ears can lead to an appearance of swelling. Ear wax can become impacted, worsening the problem. It can also attract parasites. Don't attempt to remove the ear wax on your own, but rather, consult your vet about the appropriate steps to take to address the problem. You can potentially hurt your guinea pig if you attempt to clean her delicate inner ears on your own.
If your guinea pig has a housemate and they squabble, it could result in an ear bite or scratch that becomes infected, red and swollen. Also, If you attempted to clean your guinea pig’s ears and inserted an object like a cotton swab too far into the ear canal, you may have inadvertently penetrated or irritated the inner ear, leading to swelling. See a vet for a full exam to determine the specific problem and best course of treatment.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.