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Not Eating, Weight Loss And The Importance Of Syringe Feeding Fibre

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Staff member
Mar 10, 2009
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Coventry UK
If your guinea pig goes off any food or suddenly eats noticeably less, then it is seriously ill and needs to see a vet for a diagnosis and treatment for whatever problem is causing the loss of appetite. In many cases, it is either the need to breathe (which comes before the need to drink or the need to eat), the inability to eat or swallow (like problems with the teeth, especially those at the back, a mouth infection or a blockage in the guts) or there is very often a pain issue at the bottom of it that requires a hands-on examination or a scan.
The whole list of what could cause anorexia is listed here: Guinea Lynx :: Anorexia (not eating)

You need to step in with syringe feeding immediately in order to keep your guinea alive until it can be seen by a vet and until any medication can kick in – which may take several days – until the appetite gradually returns.


How much to feed a very ill guinea pig?
When dealing total loss of appetite, aim for as close to 40-60 ml in 24 hours as you can get; the closer you can get to the upper end, the better. If that is not possible, every little bit more in can make a difference towards survival.

Use scales to check the food intake once daily at the same time; don’t rely on your eyes when you see a piggy nibbling on a little food! The overwhelming majority of the daily food intake is hay, and you can’t control that! We see so many people reporting that ‘my guinea pig has eaten a little bit of lettuce’ – with is about 1% of what it should eat or less and doesn’t mean that said guinea pig is going to survive.
How To Pick Up And Weigh Your Guinea Pigs Safely
Weight - Monitoring and Management

You can always make syringe feed in an emergency with a 1 ml needle-less syringe from a pharmacy and some mushed pellets as long as you prep the syringe tip as shown in our syringe feeding guide to allow the fibre to pass through.

However, we recommend that you have a little first aid kit at home to be able step in promptly and keep your guinea pig alive until you can see a vet and the meds do their work.
First Aid Kit For Guinea Pigs

Important advice for syringe feeding
When syringe feeding, please do not just press the contents of a syringe into the mouth as quickly as you can; this can lead to them going in to the lungs if your guinea pig struggles with swallowing and can kill. A timothy hay based fine gring recovery product is best but in a pinch you can soak pellets in warm - in the latter case, you need to cut off the syringe tip with scissors just below where it widens so the much rougher pellet fibre can pass through but the syringe plunger is still held in.

Ideally you push the syringe gently, little and with many pauses to allow your guinea pig to swallow and to chew as long as it is no actively taking food from your syringe. Give only as much as it has the strength and capacity to swallow. In the very ill and weak, this can be 1/10 to 1/3 of a small 1 ml syringe, and it may take as much 10 minutes to work your way through one syringe full.

Aim for 40-60 ml in 24 hours for a guinea pig that is totally off their food and where you struggle to give 5-10 ml per feeding session; feed every 2 hours during the day and if necessary once during the night if your piggy is very weak.
If your piggy is able to take 10-15 ml, then you aim for 60-90 ml in 24 hours; you can start reducing the number of feeding sessions according to the feed intake.

Here is our detailed illustrated beginners guide that talks you through every aspect and shows you exactly how, how much and how often as well as how to handle your guinea pig in a range of situations and depending on how cooperative it is.
Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
Syringe Training Before The Need For Medicating (feeding video)
Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment
Probiotics, Recovery Foods And Vitamin C: Overview With Product Links


New Born Pup
Mar 19, 2018
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I love this post! I work at a chain pet store and tend to get thin, tiny piggies from our suppliers. We as a store, worked with vets to be able to syringe feed critical care to new arrivals. While they had access to hay, pellets, and fresh carrots ( my coworkers and I buy their fresh veggies, not the store). The syringe feeding plays a vital role in helping our pets gain the necessary weight!
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