How to identify bloat in guinea pigs
What is bloat?
Every mammal has some level of intestinal gas, a by-product of digestion. However guinea pigs are not able to pass any gas produced in the intestines. This can cause a painful and potentially fatal gas build up, one of the main causes of guinea pig bloat. Bloat is mainly caused by certain foods, bacteria, parasites and viruses.
If your guinea pig's belly looks swollen or distended, it may be a sign of bloat. Other signs include weakness, lack of appetite, heavy breathing, restless movements, or stoppage of bowel movements. Bloat can worsen in a short period of time, so it is vital to get a guinea pig to a vet clinic if you notice any of these symptoms.
Vets try to treat bloat with anti-gas medications or antibiotics in an attempt to get the intestines to function normally. They may also give pain medication. Surgery is also an option.
Foods to avoid or limit
Some foods are more likely to produce excess gas. Guinea pigs should have these foods only occasionally in small quantities. This includes bok choy, broccoli, all types of cabbage, and cauliflower. Feeding your guinea pig excessive amounts of fresh grass when they are unused to it can also give it bloat. Give your guinea pigs hay and other high-fibre foods to provide roughage, and make sure plenty of fresh, clean water is available; water helps flush the system and reduce gas.
When should you see a vet?
As soon as you notice the symptoms outlined above. This is an emergency which needs urgent expert treatment.
In loving memory of Teddy