What are hairballs in guinea pigs?
Hairballs, as the name implies, are clumps of hair that form in the digestive tract and the stomach during digestion. Along with the undigested food particles, the clump is also a food clump.
Hairballs are referred to by a variety of other names, including “furballs” and “trichobezoars.” Hairballs are referred to by their scientific name in the last name.
Animals with fur and a proclivity for licking themselves are more likely to be affected by this condition.
Animals inadvertently ingest fur while grooming themselves. Shedded fur can be swallowed along with food and water, causing a gastrointestinal upset.
Because the pets spend the majority of their time in one location, it is likely that the fallen hair will accumulate in that area. If these hairs are mixed with food or placed in the water bowl, they can be easily ingested.
Ingestion of hair is a common occurrence among a wide variety of animals. In the majority of cases, these hairs are able to pass through the digestive system.
The hair that has been ingested may congeal and form a ball, which can become lodged in the stomach or intestines.
It is necessary to remove these hairs from the body. The animal has the ability to vomit or expel hairs through its feces. However, because guinea pigs are unable to vomit, the only option left is for them to eliminate.
Guinea pigs are unable to expel large clumps of hair from their digestive tracts because of a genetic defect. They become entrapped in the gastrointestinal tract and cause a blockage to form.
Guinea pigs will gradually stop eating and drinking as a result of this. Wool block is a condition that necessitates immediate medical attention and treatment.
Guinea pigs with long hair or hair that has not been properly trimmed are particularly vulnerable to this problem.
Hair loss in guinea pigs is more closely associated with their diet. Furthermore, when compared to other animals, guinea pigs are more susceptible to contracting this disease.
Do guinea pigs cough up hairballs?
Guinea pigs are not known to vomit. As a result, when hairballs become lodged in the stomach, guinea pigs are likely to suffer as a result of the wool block and will be unable to cough.
Through the mouth, it is not possible to expel the hairball. It only needs to pass through the digestive tract once to be effective.
Guinea pigs with a healthy gut are able to expel hair clumps in the form of feces. Hair can be moved through the digestive system if the peristaltic movements are performed correctly, which prevents the formation of hairballs.
If the guinea pig develops acute peritonitis as a result of the accumulation of large hairballs, the problem is likely to be due to congestion.
It is this that causes infection of the inner lining of the intestines to take place. If immediate action is not taken, the guinea pig may succumb to its injuries and die.
Common causes of hairballs in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are predisposed to developing hairballs by nature. Hairballs are formed as a result of their grooming regiment, which they follow religiously.
They ingest their own fur as a result of this process. Hairballs will not form in the guinea pig if the digestive system is in good working order.
Clumps are likely to form if an excessive number of hairs are ingested at the same time. These clumps become lodged in the stomach and cause discomfort. Hairballs in the stomach are caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Obsessive grooming (barbering). Guinea pig under stress and feeling bored tend to groom themselves more. Again guinea pigs lacking physical activity and unavailability of chewing their toys are likely to suffer from hairballs.
- Lack of brushing. During the winter, fallen fur remains on the body’s surface, and it should be removed on a regular basis. During the molting season, it becomes necessary to do so.
- Diet having low fiber. A healthy digestive system is ideal for digesting and pushing the fur that has been ingested. Fiber is essential for maintaining the health of the digestive system and for preventing constipation. This prevents the formation of clumps of hair from forming.
- Not drinking enough water. Water is another factor that helps in the digestion of the food.
- Another sickness. Water is yet another factor that aids in the digestion of the food that has been consumed. Another illness has struck. A guinea pig that has previously suffered from a disease may have a weakened digestive system. Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis is an example of a condition in which the movement of food through the gut is slowed. This allows for the accumulation of hair at a specific location, which results in the formation of hairballs. If your guinea pig is suffering from GI stasis, they should be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible because it is a life-threatening situation for them.
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Guinea pig hairballs symptoms
Guinea pigs have an instinctive ability to exploit their own weaknesses. Even when they are suffering and vulnerable to their adversaries, they will maintain their normal behavior.
Consequently, you run the risk of making a mistake when diagnosing such problems in guinea pigs. However, you should be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms:
- Loss of appetite: The Guinea pig will avoid eating if it has hair stuck into its stomach. If the gut is completely blocked, then the guinea pig will stop eating altogether.
- Changes in poop: A decrease in fecal pellets will also accompany a loss in appetite. The Guinea pig will have a constipation problem while suffering from the wool block.
- Behavioral changes: Look if there is any change in the behavior of the guinea pig. It will stop running around, or please you for treats. Instead, it will remain silent and depressed.
- Pain: Teeth grinding is an indication of anxiety. Guinea suffering from anxiety can be observed by grinding its teeth.
- Lethargy: Guinea pig not even willing to move due to pain and suffering.
These signs and symptoms indicate that there is a problem with the digestive tract. There are a variety of possible causes for this problem. Maybe hairballs aren’t the source of the issue after all.
After that, the animal should be taken to the veterinarian for further evaluation. Only after the examination can it be determined whether or not there are hairballs in the stomach.
Guinea pig poop mixed with hair
Guinea pigs excrete hair in their droppings, which is mixed with their excrement. While grooming themselves, it is common for them to ingest hair, which they do on occasion. A small amount of this hair passes through the digestive tract and is expelled through the anus.
If you find hair in the poop of guinea pigs, don’t jump to any conclusions about what it means. The presence of hair in the poop does not necessarily indicate that the guinea pig has hairballs.
For the time being, you should not be concerned as long as your guinea pig is eating food, drinking water, and engaging in play. Hair in the poop is a good indication that the digestive system is functioning properly and excretes any hair that has been ingested.
The presence of excessive hair in the droppings indicated that the guinea pig was ingesting an excessive number of hairs, according to the findings. You should investigate the source of the problem because the guinea pig may be experiencing hairballs soon.
It is a source of concern that the dropping has become heavily coiled with hairs. Before the problem worsens, you must take preventive measures to limit its spread.
How to treat hairballs in guinea pigs
If you notice that your guinea pig’s stomach contains hairballs, take him to the veterinarian for a thorough examination. If there are any hairballs in the stomach, the vet will determine their number and location.
An in-depth examination of the Guinea pig will take place. The symptoms, extreme diet, and droppings may be brought up, and you may be quizzed. The veterinarian will examine the digestive tract to determine whether or not there is an unwelcome mass there.
The treatment will begin once the veterinarian has confirmed that the blockage is due to a hairball. Hairball size and number are also important factors in determining the most appropriate treatment. The following are the general therapies that will be utilized:
- Abdominal massage: Movements of the digestive tract help push the wool block along and remove the clog. Don’t try to do the massage yourself at home as it may hurt and cause damage to the delicate body parts of the guinea pig.
- IV fluids: Fluids are essential to hydrate the system of the guinea pig. This will activate the digestive system. The vet also gives a fiber-rich mixture.
- Pain relief: The Guinea pig will suffer from severe pain due to hairballs. Pain relievers or analgesics are given to alleviate the condition.
- Digestive stimulants: To improve the gastrointestinal tract movement, medication is given. Once the peristaltic movements start, the hairballs will be given out.
- Enzyme tablets: Tablets containing enzymes to decompose the hairballs. The hair is made of a protein called keratin, which can be broken down with enzymes’ help.
- Hairball removal surgery: In some extreme cases, surgery may be done to remove hairballs.
If the hairballs are small enough, the veterinarian may request that you administer the home treatment. If nothing else works to get rid of the hairballs, the veterinarian will resort to surgery.
Can guinea pigs die from hairballs?
It is possible for a Guinea pig to recover from the wool block, but it is also possible for it to die. What happens next will be determined by how quickly the problem was identified, as well as the size of the hairball.
Hairballs of average size can be decomposed or broken down with the help of enzyme tablets. It is expected that the hairball will pass slowly through the gut along with the fiber food before exiting through the anus. However, you must only use it if your veterinarian recommends that you do so.
There will be a significant size blockage in the stomach if there has been continuous deposition of hairballs in the stomach, making it difficult to remove the hairball completely.
As a result, surgical attempts to save the guinea pigs are not very successful, as the animals may not survive the procedure. Because of the ongoing clogging issues, a Guinea pig may be forced to succumb.
The pain, stress, and infection will be extremely difficult for the pet to deal with.
Wool block is the most common cause of guinea pig death, accounting for nearly half of all cases. The guinea pig will not be able to survive if the infection is not treated. As a result, if you have any doubts about the possibility of hairballs, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
Home remedies for hairballs in guinea pigs
You can treat the underlying problem at home if you know what it is. However, a visit to the veterinarian is required to confirm the presence of hairballs and the size of the lumps.
In some cases, the veterinarian will also recommend that you treat yourself at home. If the hairballs are small enough, you can try some of the home remedies listed below.
Fiber and Water
Guinea pigs with a healthy digestive system are more likely to be able to eliminate hairballs. Fiber is a necessary component of food that helps to maintain the health of the digestive system.
To reduce waste, stop feeding pellets to your horses. Timothy hay should be provided whenever possible. Timothy hay contains a high amount of fiber.
Timothy may be rejected by a Guinea pig when chewed. Then you can combine it with alfalfa hay to make a compost pile. Alfalfa hay contains more calories than guinea pig hay, so it will be more appealing to the guinea pig.
In addition, the pellets are made of alfalfa hay, so the guinea pig will be able to recognize the taste because it is familiar. You can also provide a few high-fiber snacks, such as the following:
- Raspberry and blackberry twigs
- Apple and pear branches
- Willow branches
Make sure to give your guinea pig plenty of fresh water every day. Water aids in the softening of the wool block as well as the natural movement of the gut.
Check to see that the guinea pig is getting enough water. If this is the case, add some water to its diet, such as by soaking leafy vegetables in water.
You can also add a mashed banana to the water bowl to improve the taste and flavor of the drinking water.
Also read: How much water do guinea pigs need?
Pineapple juice is also effective in the treatment of hairballs. Hair is composed primarily of protein, which can be dissolved by enzymes when the conditions are right.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple juice, is one example of this type of enzyme. Papaya also contains an enzyme known as papain, which is capable of dissolving proteins in water.
Despite the fact that no such scientific study has been conducted on the health benefits of pineapple and papaya, it is believed that the high pH level of the guinea pig’s stomach will render the enzymes ineffective in the animal.
In large quantities, pineapple and papaya can be harmful to your pet because of their high sugar content. Avoid feeding pineapple and papaya to your pet in large quantities.
When it comes to clearing a clog, mineral oil, also known as paraffin oil, is an excellent alternative option. A lubricant for the digestive tract, it allows the movement of things that have become stuck to the walls of the digestive tract to take place.
If the size of the hairball is small, your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate dosage of mineral oil. Minor cases of the wool block can be resolved in a short period of time with its application.
It is important to note that mineral oil can have a negative impact on the condition of the hairball if it is large. It will act as a protective coating for the giant hairballs, making them impervious to water.
It will be difficult to decompose the hairball if this occurs. As a result, once the veterinarian has approved the use of mineral oil, you should proceed.
Hairball Relief Paste
There are products available on the market that are designed to provide relief to guinea pigs that are suffering from wool block. A paste version of this product is available.
A combination of high-fiber foods and fruits is used to make this paste, which is also known as hairball paste. It serves as an appetizer while also aiding in the removal of a hairball clog from the digestive tract.
In fact, the paste does not contain any medications; rather, it is intended to be consumed as a high-fiber food that is easily digestible.
The fact that they have no negative side effects means that you can use them without any hesitation. When it comes to massive hairballs, however, they are of little help.
When purchasing products for guinea pigs, you should be cautious to ensure that they are safe to use. It is also possible to purchase such a paste for other types of household pets.
How to prevent hairballs in guinea pigs
It is always preferable to prevent a problem from occurring rather than to find a solution to it. Hairballs in guinea pigs can be prevented by following the steps outlined below:
- Brush: Regular brushing helps remove the hair that your guinea pig could swallow while grooming itself. It becomes a must during the molting season. You will find a brush designed for small animals.
- Vacuum: The vacuum cleaner cleans the enclosure, removing any hair that has fallen nearby. Also, make sure the water bowl and food plate are clean.
- Chew toys: Toys can be used to divert the guinea pigs’ attention away from the cage. Instead of grooming themselves, they will be preoccupied with other activities. Wooden toys have an additional advantage in that they encourage guinea pigs to consume more fiber.
- Exercise and enrichment: Guinea pigs under stress or feeling bored tend to groom themselves more. Practice and play help to reduce grooming activity.
- Extra fiber: The consumption of a high-fiber diet helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and prevents hairballs from becoming stuck in the intestine. Give the guinea pig as much Timothy hay and leafy vegetables as he or she wants.
- Monitor water intake: Drinking water should be checked on a regular basis. It is important that the Guinea pig gets plenty of water to drink. Ensure that the hutch has fresh water available every day.
It is impossible to completely prevent the formation of a hairball. Nonetheless, you must exercise caution to avoid or reduce the likelihood of hairballs entering the digestive tract. Wool blocks are preventable if you take the proper preventative measures.