Welcome to our article on Baytril for guinea pigs!
If you’ve made it here, then chances are that your guinea pig has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection of some sort, and your veterinarian has prescribed a course of Baytril, or enrofloxacin.
And if you’re like many pet owners, then your first reaction when your vet prescribed an antibiotic with so many syllables may have been, “What is Baytril and what exactly will it do to my guinea pig?”
If the above describes you, then you’re definitely in the right place!
In this article, we’ll discuss the development of Baytril, its intended usage for guinea pigs, how Baytril can be safely given to guinea pigs, Baytril guinea pig dose, and possible side effects.
What Is Baytril?
Baytril is the Bayer pharmaceutical company’s brand name for an antibiotic called enrofloxacin.
Enrofloxacin was developed specifically for veterinary use by Bayer in the 1980s. Eventually, the antibiotic was formulated into a solution that could be injected intravenously (directly into the bloodstream), intramuscularly (into the muscle for dispersal into the bloodstream), or given orally.
Baytril became commercially available in 1988 and remains a commonly prescribed antibiotic.
As one of the approved guinea pig antibiotics, Baytril is prescribed not only for guineas, but also dogs, cats, rabbits, certain species of birds, other species of rodents, and even reptiles.
What Does Baytril Do For Guinea Pigs?
Baytril is typically prescribed for animals who are suffering from a urinary tract, upper respiratory, or skin infection that is bacterial in nature.
In guinea pigs, Baytril may be prescribed for the following health conditions.
Urinary Tract Or Bladder Stones
Guinea pigs are particularly prone to having an excess of calcium in their urine, typically due to being fed a diet that’s too high in vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in alfalfa hay and certain dark green vegetables, like kale, broccoli, and spinach, to name a few sources.
The excess calcium is passed into the guinea pig’s urine, where it meets other substances, like salts and excess minerals, and precipitates into a solid stone, similar to a kidney stone in humans.
Urinary stones (stones which form in the urethra) and bladder stones (stones which form in the bladder) are very painful for guinea pigs and typically cannot be passed naturally. They usually require surgical removal.
Often, your vet will recommend dietary changes post-operatively to prevent reoccurrence and to allow your guinea pig to urinate without pain or straining.
So where does Baytril come into play for a health issue that’s caused by diet and not necessarily a bacterial organism?
When given to guineas that have had urinary or bladder stones removed, Baytril works to prevent bacteria from collecting in the healing areas by creating an inhospitable environment, thereby preventing secondary infection as a result of the initial problem.
Unfortunately, pneumonia is common in guinea pigs and may be life-threatening if symptoms of respiratory distress are not noticed early on.
Guineas harbor many types of bacteria, including those which can cause pneumonia – Bordetella and Streptococcus.
You may recognize the latter of the two, as it is the cause of such bacterial infections as strep throat and even deadly infections of the brain and other vital organs.
However, these bacteria typically do not cause harm to your guinea pig unless her immune system is less than stellar due to recent illness or, most commonly, due to her young age and thus underdeveloped immune system.
When conditions are right inside your guinea pig’s body, these bacteria multiply and create an upper respiratory infection.
The infection may present as your guinea not wanting to eat, eye or nasal discharge, sneezing, and/or audible or visible breathing.
Baytril for guinea pigs may be used to treat these infections before they worsen to pneumonia, since the bacteria are susceptible to enrofloxacin.
What Kind of Baytril Can Be Given To Guinea Pigs?
Although it is available as a shot, oral tablet, or suspension liquid given via syringe, Baytril should only be given to guinea pigs intravenously.
Your veterinarian should give the first dose and may provide you with instructions for administering subsequent doses.
However, it may be recommended that your guinea’s treatment is administered by your vet only. If your guinea has a severe infection that warrants an overnight or hospital stay, your vet can easily give her the treatment along with fluids and any other treatments that she may also be receiving via IV.
Guinea Pig Baytril Dose
Although we’ll provide a dosage guideline in this section, it’s very important that you first consult with your veterinarian about administering Baytril to your guinea pig (and since you’ll need a prescription to obtain Baytril, this shouldn’t be a problem!).
The recommended Baytril intravenous dosage for guinea pigs, according to the official Baytril product companion, is 10 mg/kg of body weight, once daily for five to ten consecutive days.
If you’re worried about trying to determine your guinea pig’s weight and trying to calculate the correct dosage, have no fear!
Your vet will determine the proper dosage and administer it herself, or she may provide you with pre-loaded syringes that you can fit with a needle and inject at home, should your guinea not require a hospital stay.
If you will be loading the syringe and injecting your guinea at home, here is a guide for calculating injection dosages for rodents.
It’s very important to remember that with any bacterial infection, even if your guinea pig looks like she’s feeling better, you should always continue the antibiotic course per your veterinarian’s instructions.
Just because she feels better, doesn’t mean that the infection is gone!
Baytril For Guinea Pigs Side Effects And Drug Interactions
Generally, Baytril is safe and produces minimal side effects in guinea pigs when given at the appropriate dosage.
Milder side effects include dehydration and a loss of appetite.
Be sure to provide your guinea pig with plenty of water while she’s on Baytril. If she doesn’t resume eating, your veterinarian may be able to give her an appetite stimulant or a belly-calming medication.
Your vet may not prescribe this antibiotic if your guinea pig is pregnant or lactating, but it depends on whether the benefits of the drug outweigh the risk.
The efficacy of Baytril also changes depending on your guinea pig’s health, pre-existing conditions, and/or allergies to certain medications.
Baytril lists the following contraindications which apply to guinea pigs who may receive Baytril via IV:
- Do not use in the case of known hypersensitivity to fluoroquinolones or to any of the excipients.
- Do not use in animals that are epileptic or suffer from seizures, since enrofloxacin may cause CNS (central nervous system) stimulation.
In other words, do not give Baytril to guinea pigs which have exhibited drug sensitivity or allergies to other fluoroquinolones (the category of antibiotics which enrofloxacin falls into) or guinea pigs which are known to have epilepsy or episodes of seizures. Baytril may worsen the aforementioned conditions.
Furthermore, Baytril lists the following instances when enrofloxacin should not be prescribed to guinea pigs:
- Do not use enrofloxacin concomitantly with antimicrobial substances acting antagonistically to quinolones (e.g. macrolides, tetracyclines, or phenicols).
- Do not use concurrently with theophylline, as the elimination of theophylline may be delayed.
In layman’s terms, this means that Baytril should not be prescribed to guinea pigs who are already receiving antibiotics which may counteract the effectiveness of enrofloxacin (including macrolides, tetracyclines, and phenicols).
It should also not be prescribed to guinea pigs who are already receiving theophyllines, which are medications commonly prescribed for other respiratory illnesses.
Your veterinarian will know if and when to prescribe Baytril, as long as she knows which medications, if any, your guinea pig is already on. Your vet will also weigh the benefits of the drug against the possible negative outcomes before starting treatment.
Where Can I Buy Guinea Pig Baytril?
You may be able to find Baytril for guinea pigs online in the injectable solution form, but it will still require a prescription from your veterinarian.
Since your vet must prescribe Baytril, it may be easiest to get it straight from your vet’s office.
Baytril For Guinea Pigs – A Summary
Baytril is readily available in multiple formats for several species of animals, but guinea pigs who are exhibiting urinary or respiratory bacterial infections should only be given Baytril via intravenous injection.
It is generally safe for use at the recommended dose, but there are some instances when it may counteract other medications that your guinea pig is on or when it may trigger more severe health problems in guinea pigs with certain health conditions, such as epilepsy.
Baytril may not safe for pregnant and/or nursing guineas, but your vet will make that call. Your vet can also advise what to do, should your guinea pig go off her feed while in treatment.
Be sure to give your guinea pig the full course of Baytril to ensure that the infection clears, and keep your vet in the loop if her symptoms return or do not fully clear up.
References and Further Reading
Axelson, R. Guinea Pigs – Problems. VCA Animal Hospitals.
Bayer AG (2018). History of Antimicrobial Therapy. Baytril.
Hoefer, H. (2006). Urolithiasis in rabbits and guinea pigs. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference, 20.
Bayer AG (2018). 2.5% Injectable Solution. Baytril.