When you have a Guinea Pig as a pet one of the situations you can face is that your pet stops eating. It is important that you are aware of your pet’s habits and notice on time that your pet is not eating.
There are a lot of reasons for a Guinea pig to stop eating such as stress, lack of water, vitamin C deficiency, surgical procedure or illness, so you have to discover the cause on time to fix it, so your Cavy starts eating normally
In case you want to know more on reasons why guinea pigs stoped eating how to fix it please keep reading
Why is my Guinea Pig not eating? (Causes)
There are plenty of reasons that can make guinea pig stop eating so let’s go over the most common reasons and how to resolve them.
When guinea pigs are stressed it can make them stop eating. Lack of space, illness, too much noise, inappropriate handling, or too much petting are all triggers for stress. To make your guinea pig start eating again you have to eliminate the source of the stress and your Cavy should start eating again.
Recent surgical procedure
In case your guinea pig had any type of surgical procedure it will not be able to eat. Your vet will advise you on how to help your guinea pig eat. Hand-feeding is necessary and additional Vitamin C in thier diet is important to help your Cavy recover.
Change of environment can be stressful for the guinea pigs and it can cause them to stop eating. To avoid this your furry friends should stay in their habitat and in case you have to go away for a few days it is better to leave your guinea pigs at home and to find somebody to take care of your pet.
Just make sure they are experienced with guinea pigs and to know your Cavy’s routine to avoid any stressful situation..
Insufficient fresh water
Freshwater should be available for your Cavy at all times. They need around 100 ml of water daily for normal functioning so in case they do not have enough water among other things they can stop eating.
Make sure that the water source( for example inverted water bottle) is lifted above bedding to avoid water being polluted.
Also, make sure that the bottle is not leaking and in case it happens drain and dry that area. One other thing to always check is the nozzle, it can get stuck from time to time and your guinea pig is trying to get the water but not getting any. So always check that water level and that bottle is working properly.
Guinea Pigs Medical conditions (as a cause for not eating)
Pregnancy can be very threatening to the guinea pig and one of the things you have to pay attention during pregnancy is that your Cavy is eating. It can happen that she is feeling uncomfortable and lose appetite due to her condition so make sure she is eating properly.
Ketones are a byproduct of metabolism and when at normal levels help the body to function normally. Ketosis usually happens when the liver produces too many ketones, this condition is also known as pregnancy toxemia
According to Pet MD site
Ketosis usually occurs in the last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy, or in the first week after a guinea pig has given birth. Normally, ketones are utilized as energy, mainly for the brain, when blood sugar (insulin) levels are low.
Source Pet MD ”Pregnancy Toxemia in Guinea Pigs”
In this condition, the body uses fat instead of sugar for energy that is usually caused by lack of food so the body kicks in the survival mode and starts to burn fat to get the energy.
It is a very dangerous condition and can kill your guinea pig in 48 hours from the appearance of the first symptom so it is vital to prevent this condition.
The first solution is to make your guinea pig spayed so she can not get pregnant at all. The other solution is to carefully monitor your cavy while pregnant and makes sure she eats regularly and drinks enough water, even if you have to hand feed it.
Is a gastrointestinal condition that is caused by guinea pig not eating. The gas that normally leaves the body, is not able to do so because there is no food in the digestive tract.
So gas gets stuck and starts to build up and cause first discomfort and pain that can be fatal for a guinea pig. It is important to react on time and take your pet to a vet for immediate medical attention and if diagnosed with Ileus to get the proper therapy.
This condition is usually caused by either some respiratory infection, parasites or stress that cause a guinea pig to stop eating and developing Illeus
Signs to look for are lack of appetite followed with fewer stools or no stool at all which is not normal for guinea pigs so react on time and let the vet help your guinea pig.
Guinea pig’s teeth grow all the time and have to be kept at a proper length. Cavies do it by eating roughage food and chewing different objects to wear them out to a proper length.
If a guinea pig stops eating roughage food, teeth will overgrow and cause teeth misalignment (a condition called Malocclusions) that will eventually cause your Cavy not to be able to chew and swallow food.
Overgrown teeth are also causing a lot of drooling and that saliva will make the fur and jaw constantly wet (a condition called Sloberrs). Other reasons for teeth overgrowth is jaw injury, too much selenium in their diet.
Overgrown teeth will make guinea pig eat less and it will lose weight and eventually will stop eating. That situation is life-threatening and it is best to act before it comes to that.
If it happens that you have to hand/force-feed your guinea pig you can get more info about it in the section below (How to Hand feed my guinea pig)
You also have to visit the vet to assess the situation and suggest the proper course of treatment that can include trimming the teeth to the right length and proper therapy.
It is advisable to observe your guinea pig (and any changes in behavior), make regular checkups by yourself and also visit a vet regularly because a trained eye can spot symptoms that you can miss and by proper treatment prevent any potential health condition.
Pain (especially older guinea pigs)
With older guinea pigs it can happen that they are more choosy about the food they eat but still they have a normal appetite. In case you notice that your senior guinea pig is losing appetite do not think it has something to do with age and you should visit the vet ASAP.
Guinea pigs at all ages should eat, drink, poop and pee daily so if there is any change in that, it’s a red flag that something is wrong.
If they are in pain it can cause them to eat less or stop eating at all so if you visit a vet on time and your Cavy has a treatable condition he can prescribe some medication that will help with the condition/pain and your pet will start eating normally again.
How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Food?
Scientists are not sure what it the exact period that guinea pigs can live without food but they estimate that guinea pigs can stand max 12 hours without it.
If they are starving for more than 12 hours it will cause intestinal problems and if it lasts for more than 24 hours it is increasing the risks of fatal outcomes.So if in any case you are not around for a day or two make sure that they have enough food for days to avoid any issues.
It is strongly recommended to have somebody check up on your pet, feed them and clean the cage while you are away.
Force / Hand feeding Guinea Pig
The main reason for force/hand feeding of your guinea pig is that they are not eating at all, and as mentioned before they should not be without food for more than 12 hours. So to avoid health issues or even fatal outcome you have to make your pet eats
What Food to use for Hand / Force Feeding?
Ox-Bow ”Critical care” is great a choice, because it has all the nutrients guinea pig needs. It is very easy to prepare, take a bowl add critical care and slowly add water to make the mix, able to flow through the syringe easily.
Make sure the mix is not too watery because your pet will not get enough nutrients they need so if it is watery just add some more critical care. Fill out the syringe,it will have some air that you have to remove and fill that empty space with more food to make your syringe full.
In case you do not have Critical care at home, and stores are closed and your guinea pig hasn’t eaten for several hours you can make your own mix for hand feeding.
Take some hay pellets, banana and sunflower seeds. Take all ingredients and put it in the blender, blend and mix with a small amount of hot water to make a mushy substance and you have homemade, hand-feeding mix.
Also, provide extra vitamin C because they need it especially in these conditions.
How to Hand Feed a Guinea Pig?
To hand feed the guinea pig you should have a syringe (without needle) and pipettes at your home. This way you can react fast and start feeding early if there is any condition that requires force-feeding
A syringe that is used as a catheter for dog is suggested by a vet because the front of the syringe is an ideal size. Also, curved dental syringe will do the trick but you have to cut the tip off to shorten it half of inch in length and whole wider so there is enough space for the food to go through.
I have read that it is also good to give your Cavy a few drops Simethicone for infants ”Little tummies” gas relief drops (half of the infant dose) to help with the gas that was building up due to lack of food but it is always best to check with the vet about any medication you give to your pet.
Most of the time it will not be hard to make your Cavy eat what you hand feed it because in most cases food that has a mushy texture is easier for them to ingest (if all is ok with their digestion).
After you have prepared the syringe/food just take the towel and place your guinea pig on your lap and lock them in position by your elbow and gently open their mouth from above put the syringe in the mouth and squeeze out the food slowly allowing them to chew a bit and then to swallow.
In any case, it always best to visit a vet and check guinea pigs’ condition for your pet to get proper treatment because they get very sick very fast so every moment counts.
Here is the video about how to hand feed guinea pigs by Saskia from LA Guinea pig rescue
Guinea Pig not Eating and Hiding ?
Guinea pigs are prey animal so it is normal for them to hide especially if they are frightened by a sudden loud noise, for example when you drop something or dog starts barking in the yard. Also when they want to sleep or just relax they want to feel secure so they need to hide.
But when you notice a change in behavior that your guinea pig is hiding too much, and not eating it means that your pet is most likely ill and as all prey animals they hide their illness to avoid attracting the predator. So you have to help them. In case you notice that your guinea pig loses his weight go straight to your vet for an exam to determine what it is about
Also, another reason for guinea pigs hiding and not eating is in case of a change in the guinea pig environment. Changing your place of living, taking them on a trip for a few days or just changing their cage/habitat can trigger fear.
They will become frustrated and will most likely try to find a place to hide. It is important to be there to help them and encourage them to explore but first give them some time to cool down. Maybe even try with their favorite food or treat, to get them outside and reassure them they are safe.
In the case of a new guinea pig, it is quite normal for them to be shy or even scared of you so they will most likely hide. Just leave them enough food and water and after a while, they should go out just check from time to time if they started to eat.
Related question :
How to Reduce Guinea Pigs Stress?
The most efficient way to make your guinea pigs eat again is to find the reason why they stopped eating in the first place and after you resolve it your guinea pigs will start eating again.
If your guinea pig is stressed you have to find the cause. First of all, make sure your guinea pigs have a spacious cage for them to explore. Filled the cage with interesting items and provide places for them to hide when scared or want some alone time.
Habitat has to be set away from too much noise draft and direct sun light.
They have to be separated from other animals especially cats and dogs because Caives see them as predators so they will make them very stressed.
If you have a new guinea pig do not expect it to be accustom to you from the start, it takes time to get to know each other. So take it slowly and when you start petting your Cavy make it short and let them back to their favorite spot till gradually you get to the point you are friends and spend more time petting and enjoying
Children that are handling the pet have to be educated on how to properly handle the guinea pig. If they squeeze their pet too much or hold them the wrong way it can be very stressful for the guinea pig so make sure that elders supervise their interaction at all times.
Guinea pigs are herd animals and basically need another cavy to be happy. It is suggested to have same-sex guinea pigs to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Also, it is much easier to introduce two guinea pigs at a younger age because that way they will easily bond
New guinea pigs introduced in the herd can cause stress. First, start with a separate cage next to the herd to get used to each other. After a while trying to put him with the herd and interfere if the situation escalates and separate them
Change the toys from time to time, the easiest way is to always keep a 1/3rd of the toys outside the cage and after a while replace those with some of the toys in the cage. Cavies will be happy to explore and play with ”new ” toys and after a while when they forget on the once you took out, put them back and remove some other toys that they are bored with. So make their habitat interesting.
If you plan to make a change in their diet make sure to do the transition slowly because if you replace their food with a new one and they do not like it they become stressed and will stop eating. Also, each guinea pig is different and they can have different tastes in food soo make sure that all of them have their preferred food.
Temperature fluctuations can also affect guinea pigs’ appetite. If the temperature is below 68°F or higher than 72°F guinea pigs become nervous and stressed. Both temperatures outside the range can cause serious conditions especially if the temperature goes over 72°F they get overheated fast and in danger of stroke.
The main reason is that they do not have sweat glands and they are not able to sweat to cool down. So make sure that the temperature around your guinea pigs is monitored and in range.
Guinea pigs are sensitive animals and any change in behaviour can indicate that something is wrong with your pet and need help
When they stop eating it is a situation where you have to react fast because there is a limited amount of time to make them eat. A visit to a vet is the best solution but if you are not able to take your guinea pig you have to make them take some food, not to starve.
We have explained all we know about hand feeding and there are youtube videos to see how to do it but also you have to find what is the cause for your pet stop eating and to resolve it.
Hopefully this article helped you shed some light on this topic!