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Guinea Pigs/Guinea Pig eating funny


Jane wrote at 2012-12-21 17:44:27
I know this thread is old, but my 3-year-old guinea pig, Ginger-ale is having the EXACT same problem, eating funny and the cage-mate starting being mean to her. She has been losing weight, eating less, and now we have been having to syringe-feed her. I saw 3 vets who all checked her. She got treated for mites, got her teeth filed, caught and got treated for a respiratory infection, but despite everything, was still not eating. Finally the vet said he was concerned about her teeth looking not right, and her feet turning red and swollen, but did not offer any ideas! We were so worried.

Now we have found Dr Brown I - a vet who REALLY knows guinea pigs. Dr Brown said her back top teeth are over-grown, not meeting her below teeth properly (which are overly ground) AND she has lost all the muscle-tone in her jaw, meaning she does not have the strength to chew! This exactly explains why she was interested in her food but not seeming able to chew it. So after filing her teeth today, they are going to give her a chin sling and I am going to have to massage her jaws (possibly with an electric toothbrush!) to try to stimulate the muscles to start developing again. 3 vets checked her jaws before that, and said everything seemed fine. But this 4th vet felt along her jaw and said right away that she seemed to have no jaw muscles! When I got home I checked our other piggie, Cocoa, and sure enough she had big thick jaw muscles, right around the hinge, where Ginger-ale has basically nothing but pokey bones!

There is a whole story about chin slings for a piggie called Willie on GuineaLynx that seems to relate to this problem. I am not finding much else about them but Dr Brown mentioned it, and it seems like the right explanation. This is probably too late for the original asker of this question, but I bet other people like me are having this same problem, so I thought I would add this info.

Vets who know a bit about guinea pigs seem very prevalent. They seem happy to check out the pig and say their jaw and/or teeth are fine, or even file the teeth, all without actually knowing enough to find or fix the actual problem. You need to really check around to find someone who REALLY knows guinea pigs. But this lack of jaw muscle should be fairly easy to detect if you have a healthy pig to compare with. You just feel around where the jaws meet and one feels bony, the other feels very thick and muscle-y.

I hope this helps someone else and I will try to post info about Ginger-ale's progress with the chin-sling.

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Jenny Atkins


If your guinea pig has stopped eating, is having fits, looks puffed up or listless, is bleeding, has lost weight suddenly or is squeaking in pain then please, do not delay in taking him/her to a vet. Preferably a specialist small animal or exotic pet vet, but don't worry if you can't find one. If you suspect your guinea pig is pregnant, has mites, is losing hair or you have a question about diet, cages, toys, exercise etc then look at my past answers before you ask your question, as it may save you time. Otherwise, go ahead and ask me a question! My areas of expertise are in how to choose your guinea pigs, where to get them from and what you need before you bring your new pets home. I can also help with general care and dietary questions, with treating common illnesses (especially skin complaints), pregnancy and baby guinea pigs (though I do not approve of purposeful 'at home' breeding), and how to introduce two males. I'd recommend The Really Useful Guinea Pig Guide by Myra Mahoney and Piggy Potions by Peter Gurney to all guinea pig owners - these books will tell you everything you need to know to ensure your guinea pigs have happy and healthy lives. I practically memorised these before I was allowed my first guinea pigs as a teenager!


I absolutely love guinea pigs, and I think they make brilliant pets for the right owners. They are incredibly sociable animals and should always be kept in pairs, or a larger group (females only). If you spend lots of time with your guinea pigs, they will become very tame and friendly little creatures. I am very much a pet owner, and provide answers based on my personal experiences with my pet piggies, and what I've learned from books along the way. I'm not a breeder or a vet, so I can't answer questions about breeding, breeds or complicated illnesses. I have kept both boars and sows, and have had my share of unexpected newborns in the early days. I've had a total of 11 guinea pigs over the years - all adorable in their own way - including my current two boars (Almeida and Simba) whose cage has pride of place in my living room. When you have guinea pigs you learn something new about them every day!

2:1 Honours Degree in Creative Arts with English

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