How to Diagnose Gastrointestinal Problems in Guinea Pigs

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Detect a bloated abdomen.,
Examine your guinea pig’s mouth.,
Check your guinea pig’s hind end for fecal staining.,
Observe your guinea pig’s posture.,
Look at your guinea pig’s fur.,
Notice changes in pooping behavior.,
Detect a decreased appetite.,
Determine if your guinea pig has less energy.,
Observe teeth grinding.,
Take your guinea pig to your vet right away.,
Allow your vet to examine your guinea pig.,
Have your vet analyze your guinea pig’s blood and urine.,
Allow your vet to take x-rays of your guinea pig.

A common GI problem in guinea pigs is a near-complete slowdown of food moving through the GI tract, called GI stasis. GI stasis can cause a guinea pig’s GI tract to fill up with gas and become visibly enlarged. A bloated abdomen requires immediate veterinary treatment.

If something has blocked normal food movement, such as a hairball, the abdomen can fill up with gas. A bloated abdomen can develop very suddenly.;
, Dental problems, especially overgrown incisors or molars, are a frequent cause of GI problems in guinea pigs. A guinea pig’s teeth grow throughout its life. If these teeth overgrow, they can cause pain in the mouth and make it very hard for a guinea pig to eat. Without being able to eat, a guinea pig can develop GI stasis.

Incisors are the two large, curved teeth in the center of your guinea pig’s mouth. The molars are located in the back of the mouth.
If your guinea pig’s mouth is painful, your guinea pig may not let you examine the inside of its mouth.

, Guinea pigs can develop diarrhea. If your guinea pig has diarrhea, the fur on its hind end may contain fecal material.If your guinea pig is feeling pretty lousy, consider looking at its hind end while it’s in the cage, rather than picking it up.

, A guinea pig with GI problems may hunch its body over because it’s so uncomfortable.If you see your guinea pig hunched over and not moving around much, it may have a GI problem.

, If your guinea pig has a GI problem, it probably won’t feel well enough to groom itself. Because of this, your guinea pig’s fur might look a little ruffled., GI problems cause abnormal pooping behavior in guinea pigs. A guinea pig may develop diarrhea. Or, it may start pooping less, then completely stop pooping.When you clean your guinea pig’s cage, look for its fecal pellets. You may see fewer than usual, no pellets at all, or very loose stools (indicating diarrhea).

If you see fecal pellets, they will be small and hard.If something is blocking your guinea pig’s rectum, the fecal pellets will be soft and have a bad odor. A blocked rectum usually occurs in older guinea pigs.When a guinea pig produces little to no fecal pellets, this does not indicate constipation. Rather it indicates the guinea pig is eating less., A guinea pig with a GI problem will initially eat less, then eat nothing at all. Your guinea may stop eating its pellets and eat only treats, and then stop eating the treats.When your guinea pig refuses the tasty treats it normally loves, you will know it’s not feeling well.

With a decreased appetite, your guinea pig will lose weight., A healthy guinea pig is playful and energetic. A sick guinea pig, though, won’t have much energy or strength. This is especially true with bloating, which can cause major weakness.If your guinea pig feels weak, it won’t move around its cage very much.

If your guinea pig doesn’t want to move, this could also indicate pain., When a guinea pig is in pain, it may grind its teeth. If your guinea pig is in pain due to a GI problem, don’t be surprised if it grinds its teeth.This teeth grinding could cause even more pain if your guinea pig’s teeth are overgrown and cutting into its gums.

, When you first notice symptoms of GI problems in your guinea pig, do not wait and see if the symptoms go away on their own. They won’t. Your guinea pig will need to be diagnosed and treated by your vet as soon as possible.

Not eating for 12 to 24 hours can be fatal for a guinea pig.

, Your vet will do a physical examination of your guinea pig. They will pay special attention to its abdomen. If your guinea pig’s abdomen is bloated, your vet may be able to detect gas in the abdomen, as well as decreased gut sounds.Gut sounds indicate food moving through the GI tract.

Because a bloated abdomen is often painful, your guinea pig may be very sensitive to its abdomen being touched.Your vet may be able to feel fecal pellets in the large intestine.During the physical exam, your vet will take your guinea pig’s temperature. GI problems can lower a guinea pig’s body temperature.Give your vet a detailed history of your guinea pig’s GI symptoms. For example, explain when you first noticed the symptoms, what the fecal pellets looks like, and if your guinea pig has stopped eating.

, Blood and urine samples may help your vet determine the underlying cause of your guinea pig’s GI problem. For example, blood work may indicate liver problems or inflammation in the intestine. Oftentimes, though, blood and urine samples are normal in guinea pigs with GI problems., X-rays would allow your vet to see your guinea pig’s GI tract. X-ray findings that indicate GI problems are listed below:Gas-filled stomach, intestine, and cecum (a pouch connected to the intestines)
Small fecal balls, or no fecal balls, in the large intestine

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