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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18904
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My guinea pig is not eating or drinking as of yesterday. He

Customer Question

My guinea pig is not eating or drinking as of yesterday. He seems very lethargic, and the one Vet I can find in my area, who I feel comfortable taking him to is closed on Tuesdays.
What can I do here at home to help my little guy?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
One note - he is staying near his water bottle, and every so often is taking a minor drink. He isn't taking in the usual amount of water, however - very lite amount.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 6 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today.

Oh dear, I have to say that I am quite worried about Murphy and we need to be proactive here.

The reason is because a decrease in appetite is a very serious problem for this species. This is because they have a more complicated gastrointestinal tract then other domestic pets and if you imagine these guts behave like conveyor belts. They should always be moving, which is why access to slowly digestible foods like hays are fed ad lib. Yet when they start to go off their food, for whatever reason (ie dental disease, GI blockages, etc), this can cause their gut to slow or stop, which can lead to gastric stasis, a situation which it is one of the few true emergencies for this species. So, if he cannot be tempted to eat/drink properly, then it would be prudent to have him seen by a local vet (even if it means a trek or seeing another to just get us safely through today) before this can progress any further .

Just to note, some of the other signs we can see with gastric stasis:

  • Decreasing or sudden lack of appetite for food (+/- water)
  • Changes to fecal production (from soft stools, to strangely shaped fecal pellets to diarrhea or no fecal production at all)
  • Off color/lethargy/ hiding
  • No GI sounds or loud uncharacteristic grumbles/growl
  • Stretching out and lethargy (associated with gut pain)

Whatever the precipitating cause, this situation is serious. I advise getting him seen as soon as possible. The vet will able to provide medications to restart the gut ((ie prokinetics, pain relief, +/- fluids, antibiotics) while checking for those aforementioned common triggers. And as that would be ideal even if you just swap back to his normal vet once they are open.

Otherwise, your focus at home will be to not just tempt but force fed Murphy hourly. Ideally, we'd want to see if a local vet or pet store can provide you with a proper high nutrition feed (Oxbow’s Critical Care or Supreme Recovery) to restart his GI’s normal movement until he is eating on his own. Or in a pinch you can start syringe feeding veggie baby food mixed with canned pumpkin and crushed cavy pelleted feed. This isn't as nutritionally balanced (or provide enough fiber) but it is a short-term means of getting food and some fluids into him in this moment of urgency.

As well, if you are concerned that he might be becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage him to drink by offering fresh water. If he is not amenable then you can also try pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into his system as well as get fluids in. You can also give pedialyte via dropper or syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). As well, the fluid that you give in the syringe feeds will help meet this daily total as well.

Overall, this is a serious emergency situation. Therefore, we do need to act quickly to get him eating properly and prevent the development or worsening of GI stasis. So, in this case it would be ideal to get a local vet involved immediately while providing the above supportive care until he is seen to head this off. Finally, just since you noted an issue with local vets, you can find another cavy vet perhaps nearby via

http://www.aemv.org/index.php/members/vet-locator, http://www.guinealynx.info/vetlist.html or http://rabbit.org/vet-listings/

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 months ago.
Hi Juliet,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Murphy. How is everything going?

Dr. B.