Guinea pig diarrhea is a fairly common condition that most guinea pig owners and exotic pet veterinarians encounter.
The situation easily becomes messy and smelly and can spread in a herd of guinea pigs with lightning speed.
That’s why you need to react appropriately and fast.
Diarrhea is medically defined as a condition when an organism produces 3 or more loose or watery stools per day.
Sometimes a guinea pig can have only one watery stool and the next excrement appears perfectly normal. Such a thing cannot be defined as diarrhea.
Young and senior guinea pigs are more prone to developing diarrhea in comparison to adults. Healthy adults tend to occasionally have soft stools, but generally due to an inadequate proportion of fiber in the diet.
There are a lot of possible causes for diarrhea in guinea pigs. The one true reason is a disruption of the physiological digestive flora. Disruption of the digestive flora can be a result of both infectious and non-infectious diseases.
Bacterial enteritis (inflammation of the bowels) is the most prevalent cause of diarrhea in guinea pigs. Less frequently guinea pig watery stool can be caused by viruses (coronavirus in weanlings) and parasites (Coccidiosis and Cryptosporidiosis).
Coccidiosis in guinea pigs is caused by Eimeria caviae.
Guinea pigs living under a lot of stress and in an overcrowded and dirty environment are predisposed to infestation. Cryptosporidium Wrairi produces similar effects as Eimeria caviae. The guinea pigs fail to gain weight and have a watery stool.
Guinea pigs with good immunity get better in 1 month and cannot be infested with the same parasite once again.
The most frequent of all bacterial caused types of diarrhea in guinea pigs is the one caused by Clostridium Piliforme. The most vulnerable are immunocompromised, young and, stressed guinea pigs.
Infected guinea pigs shed the bacteria through the feces and others can easily be infected. Besides diarrhea anorexia, lethargic movements, and sudden death may occur.
Infections with Salmonella (S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium) are a less frequent cause of guinea pig diarrhea.
Healthy guinea pigs get infected with Salmonella by contaminated food or water. Weak, senior, and guinea pigs with nutritional deficiencies suffer the most.
What Happens if a Guinea Pig has Diarrhea?
If a guinea pig has diarrhea, you can notice an immediate change in behavior.
Guinea pig diarrhea is very uncomfortable for the pet. The whole abdomen feels painful and the little thing will have trouble walking or lying down. Guinea pigs in pain change their posture constantly.
Because the diarrhea is watery and sticky, your guinea pigs’ anus will quickly become inflamed and sore. If you try to wipe or clean it expect a painful reaction.
The longer the diarrhea is present the more inflamed the area around the anus will become.
Profuse diarrhea leads to severe dehydration, hypothermia, electrolyte imbalances, and hypoglycemia.
Subsequently, the blood pressure drops, and less blood and oxygen are delivered to all organs in the body. If left untreated it can have catastrophic effects.
Guinea pig diarrhea almost never appears as a single symptom. Other accompanying symptoms of digestive disturbance to look out for include:
- Abdominal Distension
- Dry Coat
- Sunken Eyes
Getting your cavy checked out by a vet is your best bet if you’re unsure about the causes and severity.
Your Guinea Pig Has Diarrhea and Won’t Eat?
If your guinea pig is reluctant to food when having diarrhea it means you need to visit the vet as soon as possible. Getting enough nutrients to fight the cause of diarrhea is important and without food, it’s impossible to achieve that.
An adequate source of fiber in large quantities is important to re-establish the normal state of the gut flora. Prolonged periods of anorexia are not helpful at all. What many people don’t know is that food is also a source of water that helps the body rehydrate, especially in periods of sickness.
What Can You Give a Guinea Pig For Diarrhea?
You shouldn’t try to treat diarrhea on your own if it’s too watery or has red or black discoloration; at least not in cases when the guinea pig refuses to eat or drink, shivers, or seems generally unwell. In these situations, the guinea pig should be seen and treated by a veterinarian appropriately.
The veterinarian will perform a routine physical examination, get the necessary information from the owner about the onset of the symptoms, and perform specific laboratory testing.
Blood work and biochemistry are often performed along with fecal testing (fecal floats and bacteria culture).
Fecal floats are very useful to see whether the problem is intestinal parasites and bacteria culture helps identify which bacteria (if any) is the reason for diarrhea. These types of laboratory testing are a bit costly but very precise.
Identifying the exact microorganisms causing the disease means using the exact antimicrobial drug and getting your guinea pig back to his old self in no time.
When your guinea pig has a semi-formed stool in usual amounts you don’t have to panic just yet.
Withhold fresh greens and replace them with quality hay for the next 24 hours. This will usually do the trick. Timothy grass hay is the best option.
In the meantime make sure your guinea pig drinks enough water. Change the bottle with fresh water more often. If diarrhea started after you introduced new food or changed something in means of diet, just go back to the old feeding regiment.
Never attempt to give your guinea pig antibiotics or any other medications on your own. Even if you had guinea pig diarrhea episodes before and certain antibiotics helped – don’t give them this time without consulting a vet. Antibiotics can often worsen the problem.
You can give your guinea pig warm fluids orally. Dextrose solution (5%) will give your guinea pig some energy. Guinea pigs with diarrhea need to be kept warm so make sure you provide some form of thermal support for them.
How Long Does Guinea Pig Diarrhea Last?
Guinea pig diarrhea can last from 24 hours to a few weeks. It all depends on the cause of diarrhea, the intensity of the symptoms, and the appropriate treatment.
After a vet will check your pet, he or she will give you a prognosis on the expected duration of the problem.
Can Diarrhea Kill Guinea Pigs?
Even though we as humans see diarrhea as a problem that frequently occurs and seems to vanish on its own, in guinea pigs it can prove to be fatal.
So yes, diarrhea can kill guinea pigs (and it has happened before). Guinea pigs with profuse diarrhea die from the resulting severe dehydration and hypothermia.
Caring for your little fellow in time will ensure that he’s healthy and can enjoy life.