Diarrhea often occurs as a symptom of a secondary condition, including disease, infection or improper diet, all causing the guinea pig's digestive system to become upset. Whatever the reason, diarrhea needs to be treated promptly, as it can lead to dehydration and even death in severe cases.
Guinea pigs suffering from diarrhea may display symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Loose, watery stool
- Soiling of the fur near the genital and anal area
- Dull and depressed appearance
- Rough hair coat
- Sunken eyeballs
- Hunched posture
- Abnormally low body temperature (in severe cases)
Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections can all lead to digestive problems in guinea pigs, and thus diarrhea. A diet consisting of more grains and soluble sugars and little or no fiber can also cause diarrhea in guinea pigs, as it can upset the bacterial population and increase the harmful bacteria inside the animal's digestive system.
Other than observing your guinea pig's clinical signs, your veterinarian will confirm a diagnosis of diarrhea by completing a dietary history of the animal and examining its blood and stool samples for infectious organisms.
It is important that your guinea pig drinks enough water. If your guinea pig is refusing to drink, your veterinarian may provide additional fluids intravenously. Antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary because their use can worsen the imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract.
Living and Management
Dietary management is essential, regardless of the cause of diarrhea. Feeding your guinea pig plain yogurt with active cultures, or the commercial supplement probiotic, may help restore the healthy balance of "good" bacteria in its digestive tract. Otherwise, provide plenty of water for your guinea pig to drink.
Ensuring that adequate roughage is included in your pet’s diet can prevent diet-related diarrhea. Diarrhea due to an infection, on the other hand, may be prevented by keeping the guinea pig's bedding, water bottle, and living environment clean and sanitized; promptly removing uneaten food before it rots can also reduce the level of disease-causing organisms.