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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16285
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My guinea pig (3ish years old) isn't eating or drinking and

Customer Question

My guinea pig (3ish years old) isn't eating or drinking and she's lying in her house and her eyes are barely open.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the guinea pig's name and age?
Customer: Penny and I believe she's about 3 or maybe 4
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Penny?
Customer: I've only had her for about 3 weeks. My friend had her before me. The other guinea pig I had living with her (Lily) died about a week ago
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner, but can you tell me:

How long has she been off food?

Is Penny still pass feces?

Any belly pain?

Any changes to her breathing or paling of her gums?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
She hasn't been eating for 3 days from what I've noticed. She hasn't been pooping. We squeezed out a piece that looked like it was blocking her system. I don't know if there is stomach pain. And her breathing seems to be heightened
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Oh dear,

Now I must say that I am very worried about your lass.

The reason is because anorexia and a lack of feces 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 (where gas can build up and cause pain), which can lead to gastric stasis, a situation which it is one of the few true emergencies for this species. So, if she cannot be tempted to eat/drink properly and hasn't done so for 3 days already, then it would be prudent to have her seen by the vet before this can progress any further .

Whatever the precipitating cause, this situation is serious. I advise getting Penny 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. Care is often intensive, and she will likely need to be force fed a highly nutritious food (Oxbow’s Critical Care or Supreme) to restart her GI’s normal movement until she is eating on her own. Just to note, if there is any delay in your getting her seen, you can consider syringe feeding veggie baby food mixed with crushed pellets. This isn't as nutritionally balanced (or provide enough fiber) but it is a short-term means of getting food and some fluids into her in this moment of urgency.

As well, if you are concerned that she might be becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage her to drink by offering fresh water. If she 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 her 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 for Penny. It is possible that both guinea pigs had the same underlying issue or that she is depressed from the loss of her friend but the gastric stasis you are reporting needs to be addressed urgently. Therefore, we do need to act quickly to get her eating properly and counter this. So, in this case it would be ideal to get her vet involved immediately while providing supportive care until she is seen to keep her going here. Just in case you don’t already have an vet, you can find one near you at http://www.aemv.org/index.php/members/vet-locator . If you are struggling, then also check http://www.guinealynx.info/vetlist.html or http://rabbit.org/vet-listings/

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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