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Guinea pig reduced eating hay

Becca x

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Apologies in advance as this is an essay! But there’s a lot of details to include.

My 5 year old guinea pig has stopped eating hay, it happened quite suddenly over Christmas - we loaded the cage up with hay, food and water on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day went to our family and got back late, so she didn’t see us properly until Boxing Day (I wondered if that absence upset her). I then noticed the hay was untouched but she’d eaten her pellets. She’s still eating pellets no problem and any fruit and veg offered. Before Christmas I found a lovely business selling guinea pig forage parcels and she absolutely loves all the bits. It’s bits like dried nettles, mint, rose. I’ve tried hiding them in the hay to make it more interesting but she picks those bits out and leaves the important stuff.

The hay I usually buy is the Excel feeding hay which she’s had for years. I tried oxbow oat hay but she’s ignored that. I’ve also tried the rosewood hay cookies and she has actually been nibbling at them, but not to the quantity I want.

I just bought her some treats which are made of Timothy hay, alfalfa with some thyme and she’s been eating those - but I don’t think I can just feed her those?!

I did try keeping everything plain and just leaving the hay in but she still wasn’t eating it and I was worried about her going long periods without eating.

Poops aren’t bad, they aren’t crumbly, just ever so slightly softer and darker than normal but are still dry to pick up in my fingers.

Minimal weight change (fluctuates a bit each day but no decline).

We lost her sister in September and have been trying to see how it goes with her. I’m aware guinea pigs need pig company and we’re in the difficult limbo of decisions and lockdown so I’m trying to do my best by her in the meantime.

She saw the vet when her sister passed and there were no concerns and her teeth seem ok, she’s happy to munch on a bit of carrot. Personality wise she’s absolutely normal, has always been full of beans and amazingly confident. Always wants to be off exploring, she used to hate her sister being in her space and was always independent (her sister on the other hand was clingy and much more timid, no matter how much time I spent with her). She‘s energetic, active and still popcorns when her cage is cleaned or when she’s having floortime.

Ideally in the first instance I’d like to see if there are any suggestions I can try. Or ideas for ways I can increase her fibre intake?
 

Bradshaw Piggies

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Any changes in appetite/eating need to be seen as a vet as quickly as possible as n emergency. Does she also live alone?
 

Piggies&buns

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As hay is the most important part of their daily food intake, it’s essential she eats it not only for gut but also dental health. If her hay intake has dropped, then the first port of call needs to be a vet check, just to make sure there is no medical or dental reason as to why she is not eating her hay.
It’s good her weight has remained stable but please do continue to weigh her daily while she doesn’t appear to be eating hay properly.

If it is fussiness, as I say though, this cannot be considered until medical issues are ruled out, then trying different brands of hay may be needed.
You are right in the timothy/alfalfa mix cannot be used - alfalfa is not suitable for adult piggies as it is too high in calcium. The hay cookies are also not a suitable replacement for eating stems of hay (it won’t wear the teeth down properly).

With lockdowns etc it is tricky but animal welfare is a permitted reason for travel. As she has already been alone for a long time, then it would be good if you could try to get her a friend soon.
 

Becca x

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As hay is the most important part of their daily food intake, it’s essential she eats it not only for gut but also dental health. If her hay intake has dropped, then the first port of call needs to be a vet check, just to make sure there is no medical or dental reason as to why she is not eating her hay.
It’s good her weight has remained stable but please do continue to weigh her daily while she doesn’t appear to be eating hay properly.

If it is fussiness, as I say though, this cannot be considered until medical issues are ruled out, then trying different brands of hay may be needed.
You are right in the timothy/alfalfa mix cannot be used - alfalfa is not suitable for adult piggies as it is too high in calcium. The hay cookies are also not a suitable replacement for eating stems of hay (it won’t wear the teeth down properly).

With lockdowns etc it is tricky but animal welfare is a permitted reason for travel. As she has already been alone for a long time, then it would be good if you could try to get her a friend soon.

Thank you, I have another variety of hay coming in the morning so will try that (and hope she takes to it!) and call the vet.

The reason I haven’t sorted a friend yet is due to making the difficult decision about going forwards. It’s a big decision about getting another and potentially a 5+ year commitment. It’s also a big decision to rehome her. There’s lots of factors I’ve been trying to weigh up but if the eating is behavioural I’ll have to decide one way or the other.
 

Piggies&buns

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Yes it can be tricky to know what to do if you are considering the possibility of ending the piggy cycle. Some rescue centres offer fostering - you foster a companion piggy for your piggy until your piggy passes you return the foster to the rescue centre. Your piggy has a companion and you aren’t committing to more years than you potentially want to. Something to consider maybe.

Do keep us posted on how she gets on. I hope she is ok
 

Becca x

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Yes it can be tricky to know what to do if you are considering the possibility of ending the piggy cycle. Some rescue centres offer fostering - you foster a companion piggy for your piggy until your piggy passes you return the foster to the rescue centre. Your piggy has a companion and you aren’t committing to more years than you potentially want to. Something to consider maybe.

Do keep us posted on how she gets on. I hope she is ok

Ah thank you, yes that would be an excellent option! I’ll look into that.
 
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