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Please help, my guinea pig isn’t eating her hay!

AmandaPanda

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My 4 year old guinea pig is not eating her hay. I got afraid she wasn’t eating anything and then I gave her some grass as a test and she ate it. She is also still eating her veggies. So she is still eating, but I don’t want her to get used to grass or veggies since hay is better for them and that isn’t their normal diet. What should I do? Should I try getting a different type of hay? I don’t think this is a back molar problem like some other pigs have since she ate grass fine but I’m not sure.
 

Wiebke

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My 4 year old guinea pig is not eating her hay. I got afraid she wasn’t eating anything and then I gave her some grass as a test and she ate it. She is also still eating her veggies. So she is still eating, but I don’t want her to get used to grass or veggies since hay is better for them and that isn’t their normal diet. What should I do? Should I try getting a different type of hay? I don’t think this is a back molar problem like some other pigs have since she ate grass fine but I’m not sure.
Hi and welcome!

Please check her teeth and see a vet.

Dropping hay but not softer foods can indicate either the onset of overgrowth or toothache from a developing dental or jaw abscess or another dental problem. You may have to start with feeding recovery care; too much fresh food can cause problems with the digestion.

It is by no means fool proof, but have a look at the self-sharpening incisors, which have a nice and even edge in a perfectly balanced dental system. If the edge is jagged, this could point to irregular chewing; if the edge is slanted, then it means that your piggy is only chewing on one side and the other is overgrowing (often from a pain issue like a developing abscess, which can also be at the root of or in an incisor). If the incisor tips are no longer meeting and they are inwards pointing, then this means the back teeth, which are responsible for grinding down the hay and which have evolved against the very abrasive silica in fresh hay and grass have grown spurs which usually bridge over the tongue and trap it. You can also feel for any one sided swelling or sore area along the upper and lower jaw. That can also point to a developing problem in the mouth area. Oral thrush (a candida infection in the mouth) or a problem in the digestive tract can also be an issue.

It can take sometimes take a bit of time for a brewing dental abscess to become visible and able to diagnose. But your girl will eat less and less veg and will tend to more and more soft and finely shredded foods like fresh grass, lettuce or herbs and will require more and more fibrous support feed. As the pain grows, the appetite will be impacted.

There can be of course other causes but a dental problem is the most common for this marked shift in eating. There is very often a health issue at the bottom of a sudden change in long term preferences. It should always be checked by a vet, especially if it coincides with a weight loss over 2 oz. We can only guess but we are neither able to check your piggy nor are we qualified or legally allowed to. We cannot replace a vet.

Please switch from the normal life long once weekly health monitoring weigh-in to a weighing daily at the same time (ideally either before serving breakfast or dinner). You can't control the food intake by eye and poos always lag 1-2 days behind in which a piggy can lose a lot of weight before you notice it. Only the scales give you up to date crucial information for support feeding a piggy adequately and to the extent it needs from day to day.
Here is more information as to what exactly to look out for and how you can support your girl:
Weight - Monitoring and Management
Complete Syringe Feeding Guide
Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment
 

AmandaPanda

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Thank you so much for the information! I’m pretty sure I feel a bit of swelling on one side of her mouth. I actually just gave her food and I saw her chew it weirdly, probably forcing it to one side. I hope I can get her to the vet tomorrow, I really appreciate your help! I honestly thought that she just didn’t like her hay so pointing out it is most likely a dental problem was really helpful!
 

Wiebke

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Thank you so much for the information! I’m pretty sure I feel a bit of swelling on one side of her mouth. I actually just gave her food and I saw her chew it weirdly, probably forcing it to one side. I hope I can get her to the vet tomorrow, I really appreciate your help! I honestly thought that she just didn’t like her hay so pointing out it is most likely a dental problem was really helpful!
All the best! It is not an emergency at this stage so please don't panic if you don't get an instant appointment. If there really is a swelling, then it will be become more noticeable over the coming days.
 
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