Guinea Pig Not Pooping – What To Do?
We know that guinea pigs, like other rodents, practice coprophagy or eating fecal matter – but do you know that the feces they eat contain much more Vitamins B and K and can be differentiated from their actual poop?
“How often do guinea pigs poop?”, ” How much do guinea pigs defecate?”, “Why do they eat their own feces?”, and “What do I do if my guinea pig gets constipated?”.
Let’s give answers to all of these questions as we go along in this article.
A Little Bit on Cavy Anatomy
Animals too have a similar system as humans, except that cavies do not have a highly developed GI tract like ours. Their food particles pass from the small intestine through an organ called the caecum, where good bacteria process the partially digested food by breaking down cellulose into simple sugars.
The food particles – now called caecotrope – pass through the large intestine and then through the anus where it is expelled as caecal feces that are smaller, softer, and covered in greenish mucus compared to the real feces.
Caecal feces are high in nutrients such as Vitamin B, Vitamin K, and fiber – all byproducts of the anaerobic reaction; thanks to the good bacteria in the caecum.
Guinea pigs eat these caecal feces in order to absorb the nutrients. If a cavy is continuously prevented from reprocessing the caecal dung through coprophagy, the poor cavy will suffer malnutrition and even die.
Worse scenario aside from being unable to eat their caecum? Not being able to poop properly.
What, then, could cause your cavy to get constipated?
There are various causes of not being able to poop but one external cause is impaction, which affects the muscle walls of the anus and the 2 parts connected to it – the perineal sac which is larger and contains a couple of glands; and the rectum, where your guinea pig will expel all its caecal and fecal matter.
Perineal sacs in boars are bigger than those of sows. It is for this reason that fecal matter tends to collect in that area during impaction.
A Matter of Poop
Guinea pigs are grazers and thus, eat and drink anytime they are awake. This also means that their digestive system is always busy, which means that cavies poop every so often as long as they are awake. They even poop as frequent as 10 times in one hour, dropping about ¼ cup of poop or 30 pellets in a single shot.
If such is the case, then how come our guinea pig’s cage is not that messy enough that we can just spot clean it every day or every 2-4 days or do a general cleaning only once a week?
This is because guinea pigs reprocess their food. Not all of their feces, after all, are inedible turd. Additionally, cavies do not poop every hour. They can actually hold it in if they are doing other things like playing, training or exercising, or if they are unable to do so such as when they are being held.
This ability to hold their poop is actually part of their fight or flight response. In the wild, guinea pigs are hunted down by preying animals and thus, have developed a skittish nature as well as the tendency to poop a lot after a session of being handled.
That C Problem
Once in a while, for some reason, your guinea pig will suddenly not poop for 6 hours straight. This often happens among older boars or male cavies but females can experience it too, but probably for a different reason.
There are two things that will help you easily identify that your cavy is having constipation – first, there is an absence of fecal matters in your piggy’s cage, and second, you may even notice your pet straining and exerting effort as if to do some toileting, but with no results.
There are various signs, symptoms, and indications that come along with your cavy’s constipation so it is best to examine carefully why your pet is unable to defecate while you make your plans for vet consultation.
There are two possible causes for your guinea pig’s toilet problem – bloat or gastrointestinal stasis, which is usually caused by dietary problems; or blockage, which could either be internal or external.
Guinea pigs must continuously graze on food to keep their digestive system working. Not being able to do it due to a series of stressful situations, tooth problems, and even being unable to successfully digest food due to lack of fiber and water or due to the presence of hard-to-digest food in their meal will cause their digestive system to get out of whack.
The unprocessed food, in return, will release gas in their digestive tract. On the other hand, undigested particles will block passages, thereby creating bloating or gastrointestinal stasis.
- Treatment: Gastrointestinal stasis can worsen rapidly and be fatal to your guinea pig which is why it is important to consult with a vet immediately. Vets will usually give motility drugs to induce movement and gas release.
Post-clinical home care may involve some gentle tummy rub as well as a makeshift vibrating pillow using a couple of electric toothbrush in addition to the prescribed medicine.
In cases when you have to wait for a vet visit or an appointment to take place, however, you may give emergency care by giving 100cc pellet slurry for every kilogram weight of your guinea pig. The treatment will be divided into 6-8 feedings round the clock, along with some hay, as well as small slices of no-pesticide, unpeeled apple, pear peels, and olive oil.
- Prevention: Constipation due to bloat is usually caused by 3 factors – first is low fiber or sugar-rich diet, often related to eating too much pellet and less fiber. Second is lack of water intake and third is eating of foods that are high in gas.
A proper diet for a guinea pig should have plenty of Timothy hay and fibrous foods like green leafy vegetables. However, avoid serving cavies veggies that release so much gas like bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and grass that your cavy is not used to eating. Always give your guinea pig plenty of water and avoid letting it eat high-sugar food.
Impaction occurs when the poop gets stuck in the perineal sac. This often happens among mature boars compared to younger male cavies and sows. This is because their anus muscles tend to lose tone so the fecal matter gets stuck in the perineal area.
Add to that the stinky and sticky substance released by the two glands, plus all foreign objects like hay and small bits of wood shavings and debris stuck into their butt holes from all the bum rubbing these highly territorial males do to express dominance – and we have a recipe for impaction.
Impaction cannot be left untreated. It is not only unhealthy for your guinea pig and affects cavies’ food and nutrition; it can also be a potentially dangerous that can lure fatal diseases like fly strike.
- Treatment and Prevention: treatment of impacted bum can be done by us pet owners, although having the vet around is a plus since he/she will not only instruct or assist you in the impacted stool removal but will also prescribe vitamins for your mature boar.
While wearing rubber gloves, use warm water, olive oil or mineral oil to carefully soften the impacted poop.
You may use a syringe if you are confident with it. Otherwise, use a cotton swab instead. Gently coax the impacted feces while occasionally rinsing the perineal sac from time to time until all the nooks and crannies are free of gunk.
Cleaning impacted bum should be done at least twice a week or as needed to ensure that your piggy stays healthy. Additionally, rooming it with a younger same-sex cavy will keep it more active, which will help tone its muscles, making possible for it to have a cleaner butt.
Do not wait for more than 24 hours for your turn in vet consultation if you confirm that your guinea pig has constipation. That “small” and “insignificant-looking” poopy matter may turn out to be a more serious medical condition like parasites, infection or even some surgery-inducing blockage.
Consult with your vet over the telephone, email or chat, for any emergency treatments before the appointed time.
Careful observation and quick thinking during this crucial period between reporting it to the vet and the actual appointment can help save your guinea pig – sometimes even your budget.