Supplement feeding your Guinea Pig

Supplement feeding your Guinea Pig

Supplement feeding your Guinea Pig

If you own a guinea pig (or several), I'm sure you can appreciate their extraordinary love for food, as you hear their little wheeks every time the fridge opens or bag crinkles.... If a guinea pig stops eating or turns their nose up when offered their favourite food, you know there is an issue (for example pain or illness), and quick observation and the addition of supplement feeding could be the difference between life or death for your furry companion. 

Guinea pigs have very complicated gastrointestinal systems, and rely on a consistent source of high fibre food for normal digestive function to take place. Guinea pigs are known as hindgut fermenters meaning most of their food travels quite quickly through the stomach and small intestine until it reaches a part of the digestive tract called the caecum. This is where most of the digestion and extraction of nutrients takes place. 

If you notice your guinea pig has stopped eating or is having difficulty eating, it is important to book a vet appointment asap, as inappetence usually indicates a serious underlying illness, a source of pain, or severe dental disease` physically stopping your guinea pig from being able to chew. When your guinea pig stops eating, their digestive tract slows down or may even stop, resulting in a painful and life threatening condition called GI Stasis. 

As a guinea pig owner, we always recommend having some supplement feed and syringes on hand in your guinea pig emergency kit. Two products we recommend are Oxbow Critical Care Herbivore and Burgess Dual Care. 

These products are also great options to help assist feed your guinea pigs after recovering from surgical procedures encouraging normal gut motility and function after undergoing an anaesthetic.  


The first thing you need to do is prepare the supplement feed - depending on which product you use there will be instructions on the product packaging regarding how much water you need to add, in order to mix to the correct concentration. It is very important to follow these instructions as not enough water will make it difficult to syringe, however too much water will result in diluted feed and a reduced amount of nutrients received by your piggy. 

The daily requirements will also vary on product differences and the weight of your guinea pig, and should be fed over 5-6 meals per day. On average, an adult 1kg guinea pig will require about 50ml of supplement feeding per day. 

 How to assist feed your guinea pig:

Guinea pigs can be resistant to assisted feeding, especially to start with, so it is important to keep them calm, comfortable, and adequately restrained. Wrapping them in a towel can help. 

The syringe should be placed behind the front incisors, into the side of the mouth, with a slow and gentle push of the plunger. Only small amounts of food should be syringed at a time, approximately 1-2mls, allowing time for your guinea pig to chew and swallow the food in between without choking or aspirating. 

We recommend weighing your guinea pig regularly on a small set of scales (kitchen scales work great) to monitor for any weight loss. 

Risks of assisted feeding:

Unfortunately assisted feeding your guinea pig does not come without risk. Aspiration of the supplemented food into the respiratory tract and lungs is one of the most common and life threatening complications, often resulting in pneumonia and breathing difficulties. Aspiration occurs when guinea pigs are fed too much too quickly, overfilling the mouth, not allowing enough time to chew and swallow, or using too much force on the syringe plunger.

The most important take home message is to be patient, and feed slowly and gently. 
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