Guinea pigs tend to have quite the appetite especially when it comes to their daily hay and portions of veggies. However, when you notice that their hay rack and favourite vegetables remains untouched, alarm bells start to go off!
When a guinea pig stops eating, it is important that you act quickly to prevent their gut motility coming to a halt, which could be fatal.
The best option for your guinea pig is to prepare liquid food using an emergency formula specifically designed for guinea pigs. But what happens if you don’t have this handy?
As time is of the essence, here are some alternatives to syringe feed your guinea pig until you can stock up on the essentials!
Why is it important to address loss of appetite in guinea pigs?
When your guinea pig is not eating, it is very easy for their condition to spiral out of control, which is why it is so important to act quickly. By syringe feeding your piggy, you are preventing:
- Continued weight loss
- Slowed or halted gut motility
- Lack of energy to fight health issues
When should I intervene with syringe feeds for my guinea pig?
You should syringe feed your guinea pig when:
- Your guinea pig has stopped eating or has a noticeably decreased appetite due to an ongoing medical or dental condition
- Your guinea pig is not maintaining its weight
- Your guinea pig is recovering from surgery or a health condition
If you suspect any of these conditions, do not hesitate to start syringe feeding, as this can be a life saver. For any changes in your guinea pig's health, it is important to consult your vet for further assessment.
Check out this informative video from Saskia at the L.A Guinea Pig Rescue on how to properly syringe feed your guinea pigs.
How much should I syringe feed my guinea pig?
Aim to administer 20 - 30 ml of liquid feed each session every 3-4 hours. When a guinea pig has lost their appetite, it is strongly advised to consult your vet for further investigation.
DIY Alternatives to Commercial Emergency Formula
If you don't have a commercial liquid feed mix available, it is important to still get something into your guinea pig's system. Guinea pigs that are not eating should be syringe fed every 3-4 hours. The longer a guinea pig goes without eating, the more detrimental it is to their health. That's why we have provided 8 homemade recipes to help in their time of need.
Recipe #1: Liquidized Vegetables & Brown Bread
If you do not have an emergency formula or pellets on hand, liquidizing your guinea pig’s favourite vegetable with a few simple ingredients can make a great liquid food.
How to make it: Choose your guinea pigs favourite vegetable and blend it with a slice of regular brown bread and just enough goat’s milk to create a thick broth, then, syringe feed your piggy.
Please note: for a healthy diet, dairy products should not be fed to guinea pigs. The above recipe is for emergency feed only and has been safely used by guinea pig experts.
Recipe #2: Guinea Pig Pellets and Cranberry Juice
Another helpful emergency feed is to create a vegetable, pellet mixture. Cranberry juice can not only help soften the pellets, but also provide a tastier mixture with it's natural properties.
How to make it: soak approximately 20 grams of your guinea pig's pellets in 5ml of unsweetened cranberry juice, until softened (you can use warm water in place of cranberry juice). Then, mince your guinea pig's favourite vegetables into the pellets, to make a thick mixture. You can also add a small amount of fruit such as banana, to add more flavour. If the mixture is too thick, add more cranberry juice until it creates a thick broth then syringe feed your guinea pig.
Recipe #3: Guinea Pig Pellets & Wheat Bisk
Similar to the liquidized vegetable alternative, you can try this mixture as you wait to source emergency formula.
How to make it: soak 1 tablespoon of guinea pig pellets in warm water. Then, mix 1/2 of a wheat bisk together. Then, syringe feed your guinea pig!
Recipe #4: Pumpkin Pellet Mash
Cooked pumpkin can make a tasty emergency feed when combined with pellets.
How to make it: Place half a pumpkin or butternut squash on a baking tray and cook in the oven until soft (approximately 30 minutes). As an alternative, you can use a jar of baby food if you do not have pumpkin available. Then, soak approximately 20 grams of your guinea pig's pellets in 5ml of lukewarm water. Once soften, mash up the pellets into a paste like consistency. Scoop out the cooked pumpkin into the pellets and mix together (without seeds). Ensure the mixture is of a thick broth and then syringe feed your guinea pig. Liquidize the mixture if too thick.
Recipe #5: Banana and Blueberry Pellet Liquid Feed
To help stimulate your guinea pig's appetite, you may wish to opt for something sweet to pique their interest. Remember, guinea pigs should not routinely eat fruits due to the high concentration of sugar. But in an emergency situation, it may help tie them over until you can source an alternative.
How to make it: puree 20 grams of your guinea pig's pellets (or soak them in 5ml of water if you don't have a puree machine). Mash up one banana and a small handful of blueberries. Liquidize the mixture until it's the consistency of a thick broth then syringe feed your piggy.
Recipe #6: Carrot and Parsnip Delight
If your guinea pig is a fan of root vegetables, the aroma and tastiness of this mixture may help them retain some interest in food.
How to make it: similar to the above recipes, you will need to puree 20 grams of guinea pig pellets until it's a powder. Finely dice up one carrot and one parsnip and add it to the mixture. Liquidize the mixture until you achieve a thick broth consistency. You can add small increments of water to the mixture to soften it up! Be careful not to make the mixture too thick or too watery as this can cause aspiration.
Recipe #7: Gluttonous Greens
As a general rule of thumb, the greener/darker the vegetable the higher in nutrients it is: that's why we've included this recipe! Kale and parsley are not only piggy favourites but are also packed with vitamins.
How to make it: soak 20 grams of pellets in 5ml of lukewarm water until soft. Add a handful each of kale and parsley. Liquidize into a thick broth and then syringe feed.
Recipe #8: Timothy Pellet Carrot Squares
If your guinea pig is still eating but you start to notice their interest in food decreases, you may want to consider making homemade timothy hay biscuits. This tasty change may peak their interest enough to help maintain their weight. However, if they continue to lose interest, you'll want to act quickly and start syringe feeds. This recipe can also be used as a syringe feed if you skip the baking step and liquidize the mixture into a thick broth.
How to make it: take approximately 130 grams of guinea pig pellets and softened them with 10 ml of lukewarm water. Finely shred one large carrot into the bowl. Then, add approximately 95 grams of oats, followed by a mushed up banana. Last but not least, mix in 120 grams of timothy hay (fine pieces collected from the bottom of the hay bag). Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 180C / Gas Mark 4, for 30 minutes. Once cooked and cooled, cut into squares and serve.
How to prepare your homemade emergency formula
Here is a great demonstration by Scotty's Animals on Youtube on how to prepare a homemade emergency formula:
Appetite Stimulants for Guinea Pigs
In addition to the above recipes, there are also natural herbal remedies to help stimulate your guinea pig's appetite. These remedies can be safely used in addition to your piggy's recovery feeds.
A word of advice on syringe feeds
When syringe feeding your guinea pig, ensure you provide at least 1 millimeter of water for every 5 millimeters of food to help prevent choking and dehydration. Don't rush the feeds as you want to go at the pace of your piggy.
For all critical care interventions, always ensure you monitor your guinea pig when administering alternatives to see if there is any change in their droppings or wellbeing (ie. watery stool). If syringe feeds do not kick start your guinea pig’s appetite again, and their behaviour remains unchanged after a couple of days, make sure you consult a vet for further advice and assessment.
When your guinea pig has lost their appetite, it is important that you act quickly to keep them well nourished. When you do not have critical care or recovery mixtures on hand, it is important to opt for an alternative until you can source the appropriate materials. These 8 alternatives to syringe feed is surely something you won't want to forget as they are great options to buy you and your guinea pig some time!
This content was created using our own knowledge of guinea pigs at Kavee through years of experience and through interviewing and consulting experienced guinea pig breeders.