Guinea pigs should be eating something at all times to keep their digestive system moving. If your guinea pigs are not eating their regular diet then it can be of major concern for their owners. Many owners often ask us why is my guinea pig not eating? What should I do? So, here is what you should know!
If your guinea pig is not eating their food, that clearly indicates that something is wrong with them. It could be either a significant health problem like GI stasis, Respiratory Infection, etc. or Extreme stress. Some other causes include temperature fluctuations and changes in diet.
A healthy guinea pig diet includes an unlimited amount of hay, a cup of fresh vegetables, a small serving of pellets, and some occasional treats.
If your guinea pig is not eating their food, then the same can affect their gut movement.
If your guinea pig doesn’t eat their food for 12-24 hours, then their health can go bad in no time.
They will start experiencing severe digestive problems and will need a professional Veterinarian help immediately.
What does it mean when your guinea pig doesn’t eat?
If your guinea pig is not eating their regular diet, then it definitely means something is wrong. It can be a mental trauma or a physical one.
We need to look out for the cause to find a viable solution ASAP. There can be a lot of reasons that can lead to loss of appetite in guinea pigs.
While some of them can be dealt with by their owners, others shall need medical treatment.
Some of the common ones include:
- Dental Problems: Dental problems are one of the most common issues among guinea pigs that hinders their ability to eat and drink. Guinea pig molars generally grow inward, and it can harm their gums and chin when overgrown, thus making it difficult for them to ingest any food.
- Stress: Stress is another major factor that affects the diet of your guinea pigs. If your guinea pig is stressed out, they will hide more and will also lose their appetite. Some of the common causes of stress are loud noises, predators, etc.
- Change in food: If you have recently changed the brand or type of hay, pellets, or other food, then it can also be one of the factors affecting your guinea pig’s diet. One of my guinea pigs doesn’t enjoy Oxbow hay, while others love it. So you see it is all about their persona preference.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Gastrointestinal problems like constipation, GI stasis, etc. can inevitably affect the food consumption of your guinea pigs. It can slow down the gut movement leading to loss of appetite in guinea pigs.
- Respiratory Infection: Respiratory infection is another major factor that can hamper the diet of your guinea pigs. It can lead to labored breathing, and in some cases, guinea pig’s nasal passage may get blocked, leaving them with no other option but to breathe from their mouth.
- Temperature fluctuations: Temperature fluctuations can also affect the diet of your guinea pigs. A Guinea pig can get anxious and aggressive if the temperature goes beyond 25°C. Thus, make sure the temperature is well-maintained around your guinea pigs.
- Recent Surgical Procedures: Surgical procedures can be painful for your guinea pigs. Your guinea pigs might experience pain for a few days after major surgery. Even minor surgery may leave them in mental stress affecting their food consumption. Make sure you consult with the vet if anything like this happens.
- Dehydration: Dehydration can also lead to loss of appetite in guinea pigs. In many cases, it has been seen that the bottle nozzle doesn’t dispense water accurately, resulting in dehydration in guinea pigs. Sometimes mixing medicines or vitamin c drops can also change the taste of water in guinea pigs that they might not drink. This can further lead to dehydration and loss of appetite in guinea pigs.
What do you do if your guinea pig won’t eat?
If your guinea pig is not eating their food, then we need to pay immediate attention to them.
Never let your guinea pigs alone to recover on their own as the problem could go from mild to severe in no time.
Your guinea pigs might suffer from serious health problems, including organ failure and GI stasis if medical heal is not provided on time.
If you notice that your guinea pigs have not eaten any food for a few hours, try to look at their behavior and movements.
Do they look ill? In pain? Are their pee and poop normal? Is your guinea pig stressed out?
Try to calm your guinea pigs down and talk to them. You can also try syringe feeding them to see if that helps.
If they don’t start eating within a few hours, you must immediately take them to a vet.
Guinea pig’s health can deteriorate very quickly as the six hours mark crosses. Thus, make sure you take them to the vet.
You must also look out for symptoms and gather as many details as you can to let the vet understand the situation quickly.
Guinea pig not eating or moving
If your guinea pig is not eating and moving, then it definitely means there is something wrong with them.
It could be a severe health issue like dental problems, liver or kidney disease, or something even more critical.
It seems like they are weak and unable to move due to the lack of nutrition in their body.
Thus, you should make sure you take them to a vet immediately. The vet may ask for blood tests and radiographs.
The treatment can include:
- Critical care feeding for a few days
And in the meantime(until the vet is available), you could encourage them to drink some water and offer them food or critical care to keep their digestive system going.
You don’t want to completely halt their gut movement as the results could be catastrophic.
Guinea pig not eating or pooping
If your guinea pig is not eating or pooping, then it clearly indicates there is a blockage of poop in their gut, or the gut movement have slowed down.
There can be a lot of reasons behind the same.
A frequent diet change, improper diet, or some other health issues like GI Stasis could be the possible reason behind it.
You must weigh your guinea pigs to see if they are losing weight. Taking them to a vet immediately is essential.
Your vet needs to do some x-ray and radiotherapy to find the possible blockage and treat it accordingly.
The treatment include:
- Ranitidine, and Metacam every 24 hours
- Buprenex, and Reglan every 12 hours
- Critical Care- 4 ml 4-5 times a day.
- Once appetite and poo becomes regular they need to be followed up by Cisapride and Meloxicam orally.
You should keep feeding them critical care to keep something going into their gut.
Guinea pigs can’t survive long without food. Thus, immediate action is required.
Never try to tree such medical conditions at home as it can be life-threatening for your guinea pigs.
Guinea pig not eating and hiding
If you have just bought a new guinea pig home or you have moved your guinea pigs from one place to another that is entirely new for them, then chances are they are scared and feeling insecure.
Fear and anxiety could be a significant factor that affects our guinea pig’s diet. If you have a good bond with your guinea pigs, try to calm them down by petting them and hand-feeding them their favorite treat.
If you have just bought a new guinea pig home, provide them with some hiding space, and sit beside them and talk to them for some time.
This should calm them down and encourage them to come out, explore, and have their food.
You should also enquire about the previous owner for their diet and continue the same for some time so your guinea pigs could get accustomed to the new living environment more easily.
Guinea pig not eating and losing weight
If your guinea pig is not eating for a while, then the weight loss is directly related to their appetite.
If your guinea pig is not eating their food correctly, then they are going to lose weight ultimately.
There could be a lot of health problems that are leading to loss of appetite in your guinea pigs. Some of the common ones include:
- Dental problems
- Respiratory and urinary infection
- Poor quality food
You need to look out for the possible cause and book the vet appointment immediately.
Keep feeding some critical care by syringe until you can reach the vet.
A significant weight loss can be fatal for your guinea pigs and directly implies that your guinea pigs need some nutrients immediately.
Guinea pig not eating hay or pellets or veggies
Guinea pigs are picky eaters, and some guinea pigs might not like a particular brand of hay or pellets. The same applies for veggies as well.
While some guinea pigs love Bell Peppers, others might not touch it. You need to experiment and find out what your guinea pigs like and serve the food accordingly.
If you bought a new bag of pellets or hay and your guinea pig doesn’t like it, then you might need to give it away to someone else and get the brand your guinea pigs prefer.
There is no way to force-feed your guinea pigs. Please make sure you always have some food in your hand for your guinea pigs.
I prefer to buy a new bag a few weeks early and switch the diet slowly to get my guinea pigs used to the new food.
If they still don’t like it, then there isn’t much we can do about it.
For vegetables, I would try a different vegetable, and soon you will learn what your guinea pigs enjoy and what they don’t. Make a diet plan for your guinea pigs accordingly.
Guinea pig not eating after surgery
Guinea pigs can go through a lot of pain and stress if they have been operated recently.
It could be a minor surgery or a major one, but the effect of the same could be seen in your guinea pig’s diet and behavior for a few days.
Apart from the mental trauma, the antibiotics prescribed could also harm our guinea pigs diet as they might not feel hungry even if their body lacks nutrients.
Thus, providing them with critical care and supplements for a few days by syringe feeding them is crucial for their well being.
Your vet may prescribe some pain medicines as well after any major surgery.
Guinea pig not eating breathing heavy
If your guinea pig is not eating but breathing heavily, then it clearly indicates there is some health problem.
Some of the common issues could be an allergy from the food like hay or pellet, or it could be something worse like an upper respiratory infection.
Whatever is the case, you need to look out for further symptoms and try to syringe feed them at the same time.
If they are not eating for some time now, then their health condition could be deteriorating, and you must seek medical assistance immediately.
A lack of proper health checkup and treatment can lead to serious health issues in the future.
Syringe-feeding your guinea pigs
Sometimes syringe feeding can be the only choice to help our guinea pigs recover.
Yes, it is not something that any guinea pig owners would like to experience, but the fact is there is going to be a situation like this at some point, and you must be prepared for the same.
So, here are the steps you need to follow to syringe feed your guinea pigs:
- Get a syringe of appropriate size(5ml-50ml). Get the bigger one as it is easier to work with. I personally love the curved dental syringe, as it makes feeding a lot easier. Chop the ends off using a scissor and make sure to sand out any edges.
- Take some Oxbow’s Critical Care, Sherwood digestive support, or you can mix ground up pellets with fresh greens, any vegetable baby foods, etc. and mix them with some water. You can also add some liquid vitamin c supplement in the mixture.
- Fill the syringe and bring the tip into your guinea pig’s mouth behind their front incisors and slowly depress the plunger. Give your guinea pigs some time to swallow.
- You need to feed the mixture every 2-3 hours to ensure your guinea pigs get their gut movement going. It also provides them with enough strength to recover.
- If, after feeding it for a couple of times, your guinea pig is still not moving much, then encourage some movement for at least 10–15 minutes every 6–8 hours, as activity promotes gut movement.
Can guinea pigs die from not eating?
Yes, guinea pigs can die from not eating food for more than 24-48 hours.
Guinea pigs need to be continually eating something to get their gut moving.
If your guinea pigs don’t eat for a few hours, their digestive system will slow down. In less than 24 hours, the system can completely stop processing and result in GI stasis in your guinea pigs.
Your guinea pig will also start losing their weight quickly, and by the time you might realize what’s happening, it can be too late, and they might even lose their lives.
It is crucial to get your guinea pigs to a vet if they stopped eating for more than 6 hours.
Sources: CARING FOR YOUR GUINEA PIG, Weight Loss in Guinea Pigs, THE DEPLETION OF VITAMIN C, Discussion with a vet, Nutrient Requirements of the Guinea Pig, The effects of diet on guinea pigs, Guinea Pig Diet, Patterns of feeding in the Guinea pig.