When your guinea pig stops eating, it can be incredibly worrying. They’re so greedy normally that a loss of appetite is very noticeable. Small animals such as guinea pigs can be badly affected by just a single day without food, as their bodies are constantly digesting to get out all the nutrients.
This can lead to drastic weight loss and further health complications, so it’s crucial that you catch the issue quickly and treat it.
So, why might your guinea pig stop eating? Here are 5 potential reasons:
Our thanks to Noah from The Animal Nut for this very interesting guest post.
Guinea pigs’ teeth never stop growing. They need a constant diet of roughage, such as grass or hay, to keep their teeth short. If their teeth aren’t worn down enough, they could start growing into their gums and make it painful for them to eat.
You should ensure that they have something to chew on constantly. If you notice your pig’s teeth starting to get a little long, you should take them to the vet for a trim.
Some guinea pigs may have a slight jaw misalignment which prevents them from grinding down their teeth against each other. This will require more regular medical treatment.
Guinea pigs can be prone to digestion issues if they don’t get a good, varied diet. They struggle to absorb vitamin C, so it’s essential that you provide plenty of vitamins through their fruit and veggies.
Despite this, guinea pigs are pretty picky eaters and may not appreciate you changing up their diet, even if you feel like it’ll be good for them. Any changes to their regular diet may put them off their food as it’s something they aren’t used to
It would help if you always tried to give them pellet food that has all of their vitamins and nutrients included in each pellet.
Food with seeds and flakes tends to give them the option to pick and choose which pieces of food they prefer, meaning they might miss out on some of the essentials.
Although the diet may look boring to you, these pellets supply everything your guinea pig needs, and they’re happy to stick with something that they’re familiar with.
Because guinea pigs eat a large amount of solid, dry food, they always need a constant supply of clean water and some further hydration from vegetables.
If your guinea pig doesn’t have enough fluid in their diet, they could become constipated and struggle to pass food through.
If your guinea pig is struggling with constipation, you might see them straining to poop, and you’ll often hear sounds of distress as it can be painful.
When your guinea pig is constipated, they’re likely to stop eating as they know it’ll be painful coming out of the other end.
Rodents are incredibly sensitive to change, and something small that might seem insignificant to you might actually cause them a lot of stress, leading to a loss of appetite. Some of the most significant changes in a guinea pig’s life could be:
Guinea pigs live in herds in the wild and get lonely when they’re by themselves. If you’ve split your guinea pig from their friend, or one of your pigs has died, you might need to look at getting a companion.
- Fear of Other Pets
Guinea pigs are prey animals and will be wary of other pets in the home. Even if your dog is friendly, your guinea pig could still be on edge if they see them approach.
You’ll need to keep your other pets out of the room to ensure your guinea pig feels comfortable.
- Moving House
Moving your guinea pig’s home to a different position or room could cause them to become stressed as they’re not familiar with their surroundings. If they feel unsafe or exposed, this might put them off their food.
Guinea pigs need a place to hide at all times, so if they seem stressed after a move, make sure they have a house to run into if they’re feeling a little insecure.
Temperature changes can affect guinea pigs massively. In the wild, they’re from Peru, so their bodies are equipped for warm temperatures.
If your guinea pigs live outside, you will need to bring them in during the winter to ensure they stay healthy.
Domesticated guinea pigs come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re often bred for guinea pig shows. This might mean that you have a guinea pig with long hair.
Long-haired guinea pigs obviously retain their heat more than short-hairs, so you’ll need to ensure they don’t overheat. Never put their home next to a radiator.
It’s also a good idea to freeze a bottle of water in the summer for your guinea pig to lean against if they get too warm.
Although guinea pigs are social animals, they do still need enough room to move around. A standard 2 x 4 ft cage is suitable for 2 guinea pigs.
Kidney or Liver Problems
Renal disorders are most often seen in older guinea pigs. This is because their digestive systems become more sensitive as they get older, and trying to digest foods with a high oxalate content can cause swelling in their liver or kidneys.
This is common if your guinea pig eats beetroot, spinach, or rhubarb.
A large quantity of leafy greens containing high calcium levels could also cause stones in the kidney and bladder, as they find it increasingly difficult to digest as they age.
If your guinea pig has a renal issue, it could cause swelling around their stomach and might make it quite painful to eat and defecate. They’ll also feel generally under the weather and a little sluggish.
If it’s a renal issue, your guinea pig is likely to stop eating altogether, drink a lot of water and hide away more. If you notice this change in behaviour, you’ll need to consult your vet right away.
What Should I Do If My Guinea Pig Stops Eating?
If you notice that your guinea pig isn’t eating, you should first check if there have been any changes to their environment or food that might be putting them off. Try to change back and see if the issue continues.
If they’re acting a little strangely and they’re off their food, you should book an appointment with the vet as soon as possible to determine the issue. The sooner you get some professional help, the more chance your guinea pig has of making a full recovery.