If you follow us on Instagram you will know that one of our elderly Squidgypigs; Morag has been unwell.
Today we are examining how to syringe feed a Guinea Pig to gain weight or prevent starvation.
Why Syringe Feed a Guinea Pig?:
- Your Guinea Pig has stopped eating independently.
- Your Guinea Pig has lost weight.
- Your Guinea Pig has an ongoing medical or dental condition that requires syringe feeding.
- Your Guinea Pig is elderly and does not maintain weight.
A popular feeding supplement is Oxbow Critical Care.
What is Oxbow Critical Care?:
- A finely ground food mixture to sustain nutrition and gut health in herbivores.
- Designed to be syringe fed.
- Contains Timothy Hay for essential fibre.
“The special composition of this high-fibre timothy hay based product ensures an improved physiological gut environment and aids proper digestion”. – Oxbow
(If I didn’t have Crit Care I would mush some pellets in water).
- A small feeding or medicinal syringe (a nozzle on the end). The ones included in children’s medicines (calpol etc) is fine (1 or 5ml is best). 12 x Disposable Plastic Syringes – 5ml
- Baby wipes to wipe away excess mix.
- Oxbow Critical Care for Herbivores or soaked crushed pellets.
- Feed mixture at room temp or lukewarm.
- You must insert syringe from the side behind the front teeth.
- If you insert the syringe from the front you risk choking the pig (blocking airway) or the pig aspirating (breathing the mix in).
- Guinea Pigs cannot vomit and a sick or weak pig will find it hard to cough.
- I find it best to support the Guinea Pig in one hand and syringe with another . But if the guinea pig is particularly wriggly wrapping it carefully in a towel is kinder than it going without food!
- Take everything slowly, there is absolutely no benefit in rushing.
- Feeding little and often is better than over stuffing a pig and potentially causing bloat.
- If in doubt see a vet.
(I always offer the pig a drink before and during feeding. This helps to lubricate the mouth).
- Prepare Critical Care as instructed on packet or mush pellets.
- Hold Guinea Pig.
- Fill syringe with mixture (it can sometimes help to spoon it into the ‘wrong’ end of the syringe).
- Place point of syringe behind front teeth.
- Pump a small amount into your pig’s mouth.
- Allow them to chew and/or swallow the mixture.
- Repeat required amount of times (see below or follow vets advice).
- If a lot of mixture drips out you are going too fast.
Recommended amount of Oxbow Critical Care for a “small herbivore”:
I feel that these amounts are more indicative of a rabbit’s needs and realistically a very sick or weak Guinea Pig may eat a lot less per feeding. It’s ok to put everything down and try again in 10 minutes or so.
- If the Guinea Pig coughs, chokes or becomes dramatically distressed stop.
What if the Guinea Pig refuses to eat the mixture?:
- Try adding more water. Your pig may prefer a different texture.
- Try mushed pellets if pig refuses Critical Care.
- Try mixing a small amount of apple puree (e.g. Apple sauce or baby food) to the Critical Care. This is sweet and sometimes will tempt a very fussy pig.
What if you don’t have a syringe?:
- Try a small spoon but this will usually only work for pigs who retain a good appetite.
- A small bakery piping bag, pipette or even ball point pen case (with ink removed) could be used to squish or drip mixture in.
- I’ve heard of people putting a small amount of Critical Care on to a dampened paintbrush and administering it as you would a syringe but have not tried thus myself.
- Get yourself a syringe for your piggy first aid kit. 12 x Disposable Plastic Syringes – 5ml
- If Guinea Pig absolutely refuses to try to eat either solid or liquid food it is an emergency and visit to the vet is needed ASAP.
Do you have experience of syringe feeding a Guinea Pig or other small herbivore? Please feel free to share your story or advice below.