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Diarrhea in Guinea Pigs

By: Dr. Lani Steinohrt

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There are many causes of diarrhea in guinea pigs. Diarrhea may be caused by diseases directly affecting the gastrointestinal tract, or by metabolic disturbances in other organs such as the liver or kidney. Be prepared to provide in-depth information to your veterinarian including diet and contact with other animals and environment. Some causes of diarrhea include:

  • Inadequate amounts of roughage in the diet in the form of grass or timothy hay. The lack of roughage can alter the normal movement of the intestines, causing diarrhea, or predispose your pet to other causes of diarrhea.

  • Many antibiotics that are commonly used in other species can cause a fatal gastroenteritis in guinea pigs. Be sure your veterinarian is experienced in treating guinea pigs.

  • If diarrhea ever begins with the administration of any drug, the drug should be discontinued immediately and your veterinarian notified.

  • Stress. Factors such as new predatory pets in the house, changes in the environment or diet, heat and humidity, crowding, breeding, poor hygiene, inadequate roughage and lack of visual security (places to hide) may alter the normal pH or motility of the gastrointestinal tract and cause diarrhea.

  • Infectious agents. Overgrowth of bacteria, such as E. coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella species and some Clostridium species, may cause diarrhea.

  • Parasites. Many species of protozoa cause illness and diarrhea in guinea pigs. Other gastrointestinal parasites rarely cause symptoms in guinea pigs.

  • Toxins. Heavy metal toxicity, plant toxins, fungal toxins and bacterial toxins from contaminated food may cause diarrhea by directly affecting the gastrointestinal tract or by affecting other organ systems.

  • Dietary indiscretion or eating inappropriate food or material irritates the lining of the intestines or contains toxins that may cause diarrhea.

  • Metabolic diseases. Kidney, liver and pancreatic disease may all cause diarrhea.

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