Gastrointestinal stasis is a very common condition in guinea pigs. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons guinea pigs go to veterinarian and veterinary emergency clinics.
Gastrointestinal “stasis” is the common terminology for any disorder that causing a decrease in the contractions (motility) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (the “gut”). Although “stasis” is the accepted common terminology, the word stasis really means that there is little to no movement in the GI tract. In guinea pigs, any decrease in intestinal motility can lead to severe life-threatening complications.
Gastrointestinal stasis in rabbits is most common in middle aged to older animals but can be seen in any age or sex..
This condition is most often associated with inappropriate diets and feeding regimens, specifically overfeeding of pelleted foods and/or treats and a lack of roughages. Guinea pigs that develop GI stasis commonly are fed diets that lack roughage such as hay, and are being fed primarily commercial pellet diets, too many sweet foods, too many grains such as bread, crackers, breakfast cereals. All these diets can cause a slow down in GI motility.
GI stasis will occur anytime a guinea pig stops eating, for any reason. Anything that causes your pet to not eat, such a dental disease, stress or pain, will cause GI stasis. Stress, lack of exercise or diseases that cause lack of appetite such as liver or kidney malfunction, cancer or toxins all may cause GI stasis.
GI stasis should be suspected in any Guinea pig with a decrease in food consumption. Symptoms to watch for include:
Guinea pigs that don’t eat or produce feces for 24-hour are considered an emergency.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The tests may include the following:
Treatment is symptomatic and aimed at rehydration, medications that stimulate the GI motility pain medication, and dietary therapy.
Once your pet is out of the hospital and back at home, it is important to maintain the treatment protocol regimented by your veterinarian. Give all medications for the full treatment period prescribed, even if your pet seems to have improved. Dietary therapy is critical, and you may be taught how to assist feed gruel at home. Provide the diet as recommended by your veterinarian, which emphasizes a large amount of fresh greens and hay.
Make sure you feed your guinea pig a balanced diet of Guinea pig pellets with lots of fresh greens, fresh fruits and vegetables and hay. Most importantly, you should always feed hay to your pet. Proper digestive tract health requires grasses and high-quality long-stemmed hay. Don’t overfeed grain products such as bread, breakfast cereals or sweets.. Minimize obesity and encourage routine exercise. Minimize stressful conditions.
Early and aggressive medical care with dietary modification carries a good to excellent prognosis.