By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
My guinea pig, Ally, has lost weight. I can now feel her bones. We just noticed this in the last three weeks. She is 3 years old, and we are worried about this harming her health. Are there any types of illnesses common to guinea pigs that cause weight loss? Also, in the past when we tried to pick her up and take her out of the cage, she ran so we couldn’t catch her. Now, she walks or stays in one place and lets us take her out right away. We have separated our other piggie just at meal times, so she doesn’t eat all of the food on Ally.
Guinea pigs are a lot like rabbits. When they feel sick, no matter what the reason, many times they just stop eating. And when they stop eating, this potentially can cause secondary damage to the liver. This secondary damage to the liver can be worse than the initial disease that caused the guinea pig to stop eating.
If the only thing you have noticed in your guinea pig is weight loss, this can be caused by many things. Visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. Causes of weight loss include dental problems, liver or kidney diseases, intestinal disease, endocrine disease, infection and toxins — just to name a few. Your veterinarian, using his or her skills of examination and possibly some tests, can best tell what is wrong with your guinea pig.
Also, it is very important to replace the calories your guinea pig has lost. This can be done with assist-feeding with special foods your veterinarian can recommend. You may also need to supplement this with fluids and electrolytes to get your guinea pig feeling better.