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Guinea Pigs/guinea pig not up to par


My little girl suddenly isn't eating like she usually does.  She acts excited to get her evening meal which usually consists of a couple of bits of red bell pepper, a sliver of squash, a sliver of cuke, either a few green peas or the peas from sugar snap peas, a sliver or two of carrot and mixed spring greens - all organic. She hardly touches it even though she rushes up to it like she's hungry.  Her timothy hay and pellets are from Small Pet Select so I feel like they are quality.  I usually don't buy pet store treats but recently bought Treat Sticks for Guinea Pigs by Grreat Choice because she loves nuts and seeds.  Could this be the problem.  She's also not as active in her large cage.  She's probably getting close to 5.  Is it just old age.  Don't want my Molly to be sick.  help!

Cavy teeth - side view
Cavy teeth - side view  

cavy teeth front view
cavy teeth front view  
Five years is a ripe old age for a guinea pig. However, she's not acting her age as is evidenced by her eagerness to get to her food.

It's very possible that her problem is with her teeth. Their teeth grow constantly, and sometimes they get overgrown and the pig is unable to chew properly. Checking the front teeth is quite easy, you just open her mouth and look at them. If the tops are overgrown, or the bottom incisors have grown upward too far she is not able to take a bite.

The back teeth are much more difficult without the proper tools. It usually requires a trip to the vet to be examined.

If the fronts are the problem you can fix that yourself with a pair of toenail clippers. There are no nerve endings in their teeth. They are more like fingernails. Put a pencil in her mouth sideways to keep it open. There is a gap between the incisors and the molars. A pencil fits quite nicely and she is unable to bite down on it.

Using the clippers just nip the teeth about 1/8 of an inch. She won't feel any pain, just like she does when you clip her toenails assuming you don't cut them so short they bleed.

Typically when the fronts are the problem they won't make an attempt to even grab the food. When it's the back teeth they will bite into it but are unable to chew properly.

Here are a couple of pictures of cavy teeth.  You can see how they must be properly aligned to allow for proper chewing and biting.  You will also see the space between the incisors and the molars.

My oldest pig lived to be seven years old. She was happy and healthy until her time came and she just went to sleep and never woke up. So there's a good chance you girl could do the same thing.  

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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