With special thanks to Cheerio's (pictured above) family, who shared his GI stasis in guinea pigs story.
If you’re around bunny pawrents, you know we always talk about GI Stasis. However, it doesn’t just affect one exotic species…it affects many species, including cavies. Unfortunately, many piggie pawrents are unaware of this common, life-threatening illness, so today, we’re going to discuss GI stasis in guinea pigs.
What is it?
Gastrointestinal stasis is a prevalent condition in guinea pigs. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons guinea pigs go to veterinarians and veterinary emergency clinics. Dana Krempels, Ph.D., describes GI stasis as, "The slowdown or cessation of peristalsis of the intestine is known as gastrointestinal (GI) stasis or ileus.” In short, things aren’t moving as they should in your piggie’s GI system.
Remember that GI stasis can be a second or third-order effect of another medical issue.
Your piggie can display a variety of GI stasis in guinea pigs symptoms. Still, the most prevalent one is not wanting to eat. Here are some others to look for, but you should contact your trusted exotic vet immediately at the first sign of illness. Unfortunately, exotic animals' medical conditions can go downhill fast.
Guinea pigs that don’t eat or produce feces for 24-hour are considered an emergency
- Grinding teeth (as a sign of pain)
- Loose stools or diarrhea
- No pooping
- Lethargic or too weak to move
- Hunched over
- Bloated tummy area
- Grunting or unusual sounds
Off to the Vet: Diagnosis
As prey animals, exotic species are renowned for hiding illness. Your vet may do the following to help figure out what’s wrong with your piggie:
- Physical examination
- Temperature check
- Hospitalization to monitor intake and “production.”
The most significant aid in resolving GI stasis in guinea pigs is hydration. If you’re a frequent reader of Small Pet Select’s blogs, you’ve heard me quote my pets’ exotic vet before, “A happy GI system is a hydrated GI system.” Therefore, you should anticipate your piggie receiving IV or subcutaneous fluids at the vet’s office. Your vet may also prescribe:
- Pain medication.
- Gut motility medication.
- Antibiotics (depending on what other medical issues are occurring).
- Diet therapies: lots of fresh water, freshly washed greens, high fiber hay, and recovery nutrition food.
No one wants to see their piggie under the weather. Feeding your piggie a proper diet is the best prevention against GI stasis in guinea pigs. If you’re not sure you're nourishing your piggie correctly, especially after a bout of stasis, please check with your trusted exotic vet.
We've got lots of yummy, fiber-filled hay for your guinea pigs!
After looking at your piggie’s entire medical status, your vet may also make other recommendations. For example, whether your cavy suffered from standalone GI stasis or had a dental issue that led to the GI stasis, your vet may make dietary or other husbandry adjustments/suggestions.
Additionally, keeping your piggie happy, stress-free, and entertained with toys and physical activity will aid their overall health.
And toys to keep them busy....
Keeping them healthy can be stressful with exotic pets, such as cavies. However, Small Pet Select, your local guinea pig rescue, and your trusted exotic vet are all helpful resources. Also, don't forget to check out social media for groups with other piggie pawrents to get beneficial ideas. We want you and your herd to stay as far away from GI stasis in guinea pigs as possible!
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