When you see loose, unformed stools in your guinea pig's bedding and feces stuck to his bottom under the tail, your cavy is suffering from diarrhea. It is often caused by improper diet or abrupt changes in your pet's diet, but keep a very close eye on him at the first sign of loose stools because the problem may be serious. Profuse, watery diarrhea needs immediate veterinary attention. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Unlike humans, who like variety in their diet, guinea pigs are content to eat the same food every day. A healthy guinea pig diet consists of pellets made from timothy hay and fortified with vitamin C, and fresh timothy hay. This diet provides him with all of the nutrition he needs and he never gets bored with it. Pellets designed for other small animals contain ingredients that may not agree with your guinea pig. In addition, he will enjoy a few small servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every week.
Changes in Diet
Add new foods to your guinea pig's diet gradually to avoid an upset stomach. Alfalfa hay, too much leafy greens or fruit, and any foods that your guinea pig is not accustomed to can all cause diarrhea. Avoid nuts, seeds, human junk food, beans, potatoes, rhubarb, onions, iceberg lettuce and members of the cabbage family such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and collard greens. These foods can lead to digestive upsets and diarrhea as well as other health problems. Try to correct mild diarrhea by limiting your guinea pig's diet to timothy hay and timothy hay pellets. If the condition doesn't improve by the next day, he may need to see a vet.
Bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract cause severe diarrhea and need immediate veterinary attention. Salmonella is the most common cause. Other bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal infections include Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, E. coli, and clostridium. Change the bedding and scrub down your pet's cage with 10 percent bleach solution or a household disinfectant while wearing gloves. Rinse the cage thoroughly to prevent skin and paw irritations. Many of these bacterial diseases can be passed on to humans.
Dental problems can lead to diarrhea because the guinea pig doesn't chew his food properly. Other symptoms of dental problems include drooling, sores in the mouth and refusal to eat. The problem is often caused by poor diet, or it may be hereditary. Regardless of the cause, the animal needs immediate veterinary care.
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Jackie Carroll has been a freelance writer since 1995. Her home-and-garden and nature articles have appeared in "Birds & Blooms" and "Alamance Today." She holds a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from the University of North Carolina.