Guinea pigs are known for being snackers. They don’t eat a meal in the morning and a meal in the evening with regularity. Their schedule is more of an around-the-clock frenzy. Due to that, it may be difficult to see a guinea pig consistently eating all the food provided. This kind of sporadic eating can lead to the development of anorexia.

A guinea pig that suddenly stops eating can be caused by many factors, but should always be handled as seriously as a human with an eating disorder. notes potential causes for a decreased, or halted, eating schedule as oral lacerations, water deprivation, a change in food, infectious diseases, and metabolic disorders, loss of a cage mate, loss of smell, temperature swings, and stress. Also, guinea pigs who were prescribed medication, such as antibiotics, might exhibit a lack of hunger.

Other symptoms might lead to the diagnosis of an eating disorder, including lethargy, rough/dry hair, weight loss, and loss of skin elasticity. A recent surgery could also kickstart disordered eating.

Anorexia in guinea pigs can turn life-threatening in under 24 hours, so noticing changes immediately may quite possibly save its life; guinea pigs are known to mask their ailments, so keeping a watchful eye could make all the difference. Switching out the regular loose bedding for a soft towel will simplify the urine and dropping the monitoring process as it will be easier to see the regularity and consistency of excrement.  The towel will also need to be changed every day to prevent additional illnesses.

If any of the above situations manifest, take the guinea pig to the vet as soon as possible. The exotics veterinarian will run blood and dental tests, as those are the two that are ordinarily used for diagnoses. In addition to blood and dental records, the vet might administer tests for common diseases and infections like scurvy, respiratory issues, abscesses, ileus, ectoparasites, and uroliths.

In terms of treatment, it may be as simple as changing the feeding system. Implementing more fruits and vegetables into the diet, as opposed to pellets, and hand/syringe feeding are organic ways to enhance eating habits. Medications such as diazepam and cyproheptadine are commonly prescribed as appetite stimulants; it’s essential to diagnose the issue prior to administering medication correctly, as an improper diagnosis, or lack thereof, could mean the end for a guinea pig with severe anorexia. The vet will likely draw out a treatment plan, which can be supplemented with leafy greens mixed with fresh pellets and hay. Vegetable-based baby food is also an excellent semi-solid option for increasing appetite.

Guinea pigs should be taken to the veterinarian once a year, but more regularly after a treatment plan has been prescribed. The 24-hour threshold doesn’t allow much time for an issue to be handled, and if there are sudden complications, the emergency vet needs to be notified immediately. Guinea pig anorexia is a quick on-set issue, so getting a grip on a treatment plan quickly can’t be stressed enough; force-feeding an anorexic guinea pig adds stress to an already stressful situation, therefore exacerbating the issue.

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