Last Modified

March 9, 2023 by Umair Shahid

If you have guinea pigs in your home, you should be aware that they are susceptible to an illness referred to as guinea pig bloat. Intestinal gas is a common occurrence among mammals from time to time.

There is nothing wrong with it. It is a byproduct of digestion. Nevertheless, this gas is a major concern for our adorable animals. This is a life-threatening condition, which will lead to the death of the patient if no corrective surgery is done.

Guinea Pigs Bloating

Guinea pig bloat has been documented in studies, but many small animal veterinary practices are unaware of its existence. The reason for this is likely to be due to Guinea pigs’ vulnerability to

  • Bloat-related sudden death
  • The absence of specific clinical symptoms
  • Inexperience with this species
  • Guinea pigs with this condition have a high mortality rate.

If you monitor your baby for signs of gas and bloat and avoid feeding certain foods to him or her, you may be able to prevent it. This article will provide you with all the information you need about bloat in guinea pigs.

Is it gas bloat?

Place the guinea pig on a cushion or towel at waist height and face it away from you. Please ensure that there is silence in the room. Hold him by the shoulders, neck, and body and immobilize him.

Flick your middle finger on both sides very hard, as if you were trying to flick something from your thumb. If the problem is due to gas, each side will produce a distinct sound. In case it does not, then you need to move on to liquid bloat.

Is it liquid bloat?

If there is noise in the room, make sure it is quiet. Take the guinea pig and hold it to your ear. Make sure you shake the Guinea Pig vigorously near your ear. In the event of liquid bloat, the sound he makes will be similar to that of a hot water bottle.

Risk Factors for Bloat in Guinea Pigs  

Bloat (GDV) is a disease that has similar risk factors to those in dogs and horses, and these risk factors include:

  • Fasting or other gastrointestinal disorders can pose a significant stressor
  • Breed predisposition
  • Sex (females)
  • Consumption of gas-producing feedstocks
  • Foods containing a high level of sugar  

There are other risk factors too, like lack of exercise, bloat/GDV history, obesity, and exercising too much. It’s an acute abdominal emergency in guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs can die from bloating if they’re not treated right away. GDV is also known as gastric volvulus, twisted stomach, or torsion.

Causes of Guinea Pig Bloating

It’s normal to have gas in your stomach. When digestion isn’t normal, trouble starts. The following can cause guinea pigs to have more gas:

  1. Sudden Diet Change

There are two keys to feeding a guinea pig properly: balance and regularity. Because of this, sudden changes can cause a problem in their sensitive digestive system that can lead to digestive disorders.

  • Dehydration 

It is important to ensure that the water given to your guinea pig is of high quality. In an ideal situation, the water should be clean, algae-free, and not too cold. If your guinea pig does not drink enough water, you may need to intervene.

  • Cold, wet or rotten food  

To prevent the risk of fermentation, food quality must be impeccable.

  • Excess of fermentable vegetables 

There are several cabbage family members in this category. Excessive consumption of sweet fruit and fresh herbs can also cause gastric discomfort.

  • Ingestion of food too quickly 

There is a group of gluttonous guinea pigs that rush to eat as soon as possible. Whenever they eat too quickly, their stomachs swallow air and they are unable to expel it.

  • Stress 

There is no doubt that stress is one of the leading causes of many diseases. A common symptom of stress is bloating since it stimulates the contraction of the intestines.

Signs of Guinea Pig Bloat

You should consult a veterinarian as soon as you notice anorexia or swelling around the rib cage of your guinea pig. A professional diagnosis and treatment of guinea pig bloat are easier if your pet is seen and treated as early as possible.

Whenever a guinea pig begins to go off food, it should be examined for bloat. If the abdomen appears distended, the bloat has advanced to a more advanced stage.

There are also other signs of guinea pig bloat, such as general weakness, reduced stool production, heavy breathing, and restless movements. It is important to take immediate action once you observe any signs of this condition.

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This is because it can be extremely painful for your guinea pig and can worsen over time.

If your guinea pig has not eaten for more than 36 hours, you should consult your veterinarian. No matter whether it is bloat or not, there is a condition that must be addressed.

Guinea Pig Bloat Treatment

The good news is that there are ways to help your guinea pigs if they are suffering from bloat. There are several ways to provide relief for your guinea pig, one of which is by massaging its abdomen.

Put your guinea pig on your lap, belly facing you, and gently massage its belly from back to front with your hands. To fix guinea pig bloat, veterinarians can give it anti-gas medications or antibiotics.

Additionally, they can give him pain medication and make him drink lots of water. Your vet might do surgery if drug therapy doesn’t work. Guinea pigs will likely get bloated again if they’ve had it before.

Through the mouth, veterinarians can pass a tube into the stomach to remove gas and liquid from the stomach’s lumen. Performing this alone on guinea pigs doesn’t work.  

Surgery corrects stomach torsion in guinea pigs with bloat. During surgery, you have to do gastronomy (opening your stomach). If there’s necrosis in the guinea pig’s stomach, it’ll need to be debrided (removed) or possibly amputation if it’s too large.

Bloated Guinea Pigs always have a guarded prognosis. The disease has many theories, but nothing is sure.

There are several possible causes, such as hairball impaction, intestinal adhesions resulting from surgical procedures, bacteria, parasites, viruses, or stress.

However, according to veterinarians, diet is one of the most common causes of disease. When guinea pigs are treated successfully, the stomach can rest without perforation and re-torsion.

Some Tips to Prevent Guinea Pig Bloat

The following tips will assist you in preventing guinea pig bloat from developing:

  • Make sure your guinea pig is introduced to new foods slowly, especially in the summer when the grass is more tempting to eat.
  • Provide your guinea pig with adequate exercise in a playpen or a secure area. The cages you use for your guinea pigs should also be large enough to accommodate their needs, not a tiny cage purchased from a pet store. Piggy’s gut will remain healthy and happy if they are active!
  • Provide adult guinea pigs with a high-fiber guinea pig mix (18-20% crude fiber).
  • Provide guinea pigs with a high-quality pellet diet
  • Provide fresh vegetables and hay to guinea pigs daily
  • Guinea pigs should not be fed large amounts at once, and instead feed them little and often. This will prevent the stomach from producing a large amount of gas at once.
  • A guinea pig should be able to eat food within 15 minutes of being presented with it. Vomiting up food indicates they are not ready for more.
  • Alfalfa hay, carrots, and other high-sugar foods should be avoided as they produce gas.
  • Make sure the guinea pigs are always provided with fresh hay and water

Conclusion

Guinea pig bloat can usually be prevented with proper care. For individual Guinea Pigs, follow your veterinarian’s advice. Diet plays a big role in preventing bloat in guinea pigs.  

Changes in the guinea pig diet can have a significant impact on the animal. If you want your guinea pigs to adjust to the change more quickly, combine guinea pig food with guinea pig mix rather than switching between two options.  

It is also very important for guinea pigs to exercise regularly to maintain good health. Provide guinea pigs with a large, clean cage and exercise accessories like tunnels.

A guinea pig that has bloat can die, so you should seek immediate veterinary care if the abdomen appears distended or there is swelling.

Reference:

DeCubellis, Julie, and Jennifer Graham. “Gastrointestinal disease in guinea pigs and rabbits.” Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice 16.2 (2013): 421-435.

Author 2

I am a proud veterinarian from Lahore, Pakistan. A passionate animal lover who pursued her passion for animal care as a career.
My eagerness to learn and my love for animals grew stronger even during my teenage days. Having a lovely pet, a German Shepherd, in my home allowed me to bond with animals in the best way.
This bonding with my pet provided me with a firm foundation to research and preach about the best animal care methods.

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