Bloat

But which one? Gas, liquid or a blockage?

How to define which type of bloat you are dealing with:

Is it gas bloat?

Hold the guinea pig at waist height facing away from you, on a cushion or towel. Ensure the room is quiet.  immobilize by holding him around the body, neck and shoulders. With your middle finger flick quite hard once or twice on each side, as if you are trying to flick something off your thumb. If the problem is caused by gas there will be a distinct difference in the sound from each side. If not, move on to liquid bloat.

What to do for gas bloat:  Give one whole Rennie Rapize, crushed into a little water and syringed in.  Then give one whole Buscopan, crushed in a little water and syringed in.  Give 2-3mls, a little at a time, via a 1ml syringe of Infacol from the chemist every 2 hours until recovery, along with some fairly robust tummy massage and/or use an electric massage pad. You need to monitor him indoors on white towels so you know when he starts pooping again. Do not offer any veg, only hay, dry feed and water. A vet may x-ray to obtain a definitive diagnosis and/or administer Metoclopramide  (P.O.M) to get his guts moving again.

The causes of gas bloat: often the wrong diet, too many greens (too much fruit or calcium rich veg), not enough hay and not enough exercise

Prognosis for gas bloat: This depends on how long the guinea pig has had bloat. It can be fatal if left untreated or in its late stages. If untreated, often death will occur by the guinea pig suffering a complete gastric torsion (a twisted gut). If in late stages or not responding to treatment, it may be best for the guinea pig to be put to sleep.

Is it liquid bloat?

Make sure the room is quiet. Hold the guinea pig to your ear. Shake the guinea pig quite aggressively next to your ear. If he has liquid bloat he will sound like a hot water bottle. If not, move on to blockage bloat.

What to do about liquid bloat: If you cannot get to a vet, you can use crushed up charcoal tablet (available in some chemists and online) mixed with a little water in an attempt to absorb surplus liquid contents from the gut. Drip feed around the clock until his condition improves, and keep him indoors on white towels, so you can ensure the charcoal doesn’t bind him up.

A sometimes preferred alternative is to give up to 10mg Furosemide (Lasix) P.O.M, twice daily which will increase expulsion of increased body fluid via urination.  Furosemide will deplete the potassium levels which are crucial to the healthy function of internal organs such as the heart and kidneys. A supplement can be used by giving 0.4mls Metatone (from the chemist) twice weekly.

The vet and liquid bloat: a vet that is familiar with guinea pig anatomy may be able to drain some of the liquid off via a needle. He may also issue Metoclopramide (P.O.M) to get the guts moving but this should be done after the liquid has been drained.

Causes of liquid bloat: no one really know what causes this problem. Some think it may be an absorption problem.

Prognosis for liquid bloat: this would depend on whether or not it has been caught very early on. However, the prognosis is still often very poor and recovery is extremely
unusual. If there is no recovery, death is very painful. This condition will be fatal if left untreated. An advanced case will have liquid coming from the nose and mouth and death often occurs soon after the initial symptoms, often within 12 hours. Euthanasia may be a kinder option.

Prevention of liquid bloat: our opinion is that plenty of exercise can prevent the problem occurring.

Is it blockage bloat?

Prevention of a blockage: protection from chewing abnormal materials and enabling access to exercise. If you see your guinea pig eating something he shouldn’t like a piece of plastic or similar this may cause a blockage.

What to do about a blockage: if you see your guinea pig chewing on plastic or similar, give 1ml of liquid paraffin to flush it through.

Prognosis for a blockage: good, especially if caught in the act.