Dealing with Guinea Pig Bloat: Home Remedies

The proverb, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, is especially apt when discussing the potentially lethal condition known as guinea pig bloat. It can be frightening to notice that your cavy’s abdomen appears to be distended, but by knowing what to do, you can try to bring about relief during the early stages of the condition.

Early symptoms of guinea pig bloat can be treated at home by administering gripe water and gently massaging the pet’s abdomen. Use a vibrating appliance like an electric toothbrush to help break up the gas in its stomach. A cavy with advanced symptoms must be seen by a veterinarian.

What makes this condition particularly dangerous for our little pets is that their digestive tracts are a lot

like a one-way train line. Anything that goes in the top end must come out the bottom. Let’s find out how to keep the train moving to keep our piggies healthy and comfortable.

How To Treat Guinea Pig Bloat At Home

Before you decide to treat your cavy at home for bloat, it is essential first to determine how far the condition has progressed. Any delays before seeking professional help may prove fatal.

The table below lists symptoms you can try to relieve at home and when you need to rush it to a veterinarian.

Treatment Can Be Attempted At Home

The Guinea Pig Must Be Rushed To A Veterinarian

Still eating a little, or only been off food for a few hours.

Not eating – longer than 36 hours.

Mild abdominal swelling. The belly feels harder than usual, but the animal is active and can still move around.

Distended abdomen, heavy breathing, weakness, restlessness.

The animal is drinking water and pooping.

Reduced or no poops

Home treatment should only be considered for mild cases of bloat that have been detected early. Remember that bloat can also be caused by a blockage or twist in the intestine, which will not respond to home remedies.

If your piggy has only started showing symptoms of bloat, here are some things you can try to relieve the condition:

  • Administer a small amount of infant gripe water to help break down the gas. Any product that contains simethicone will work. Use the product undiluted and administer 0.3ml every four hours.
  • Provide a warm pad for your pet to sit on if it wants to. It may provide some pain relief.
  • Gently massage the swollen abdomen. The aim is to encourage movement in the intestines, restore normal gut action, and hopefully guide the trapped gas out of the bottom end.
  • Cover an electric massager, vibrating pillow, or even an electric toothbrush with a soft towel and place your piggy comfortably on top. The gentle vibrations can help to stimulate the gut back into action and keep it moving.
  • Provide plenty of space for it to move around. Movement is more likely to encourage GI tract movement than being huddled in a corner. It can help to place the affected cavy and its cage mates in a spacious playpen where it will be surrounded by activity which may encourage it to move about.
  • Encourage it to drink water.
  • Remove all fresh vegetables, green grass, and fruit from the cage. Provide plenty of grass hay, a few high-quality grass pellets, and fresh water.
  • A probiotic formula may be required when it recovers to replenish good intestinal flora in the gut.

If there is no sign of improvement or the cavy deteriorates, the animal must be seen by a veterinarian. Guinea pig bloat is an excruciating condition, and in addition to treatment for the bloat, the little animal is highly likely to require pain medication.

What Not To Do When A Guinea Pig Has Bloat

Guinea pig bloat is a common condition that is often caused by our small pets eating too much of the wrong things. However, that is not always the case, and this painful condition can quickly become fatal if it isn’t managed correctly.

While there are several things you can do to treat mild cases of bloating at home, there are also a few things to avoid doing:

  • Do not delay seeking professional help if the piggy has stopped eating, pooping, or is uncomfortably bloated. The animal may have a blockage or twisted gut that no gripe water or massaging can treat.
  • Do not feed any fresh vegetables or treats.
  • Never wait overnight to see if the condition has cleared up in the morning.

Remember that a guinea pig’s digestive system is entirely different from yours. Its gut is more like that of a horse or a rhino, and it can’t burp or throw up.

The food train from the little pet’s mouth until it moves out of its bottom needs to keep moving. Any stoppages along the way can quickly lead to guinea pig bloat or GI stasis, which is when the gut stops moving entirely.

Signs Of Guinea Pig Bloat

Owners that spend a lot of time with their piggies will immediately notice when something is off with their little pets. Early symptoms of guinea pig bloat include disinterest in food and a slightly distended abdomen. Since the condition is painful, the little animal may appear lethargic and hunched.

If untreated, the condition develops quickly as gas continues to build up in the rodent’s abdomen. Signs to look out for include:

  • Swollen abdomen. It will feel hard and may even sound slightly hollow if you gently flick it.
  • Lack of appetite or not eating at all.
  • No droppings or very few.
  • The fur may appear to be standing up in places.
  • The coat may feel damp.
  • The animal may be lethargic and may present a rigid pose.
  • The small animal may make unusual sounds due to pain and discomfort.
  • Heavy breathing
  • Restless movement

Why Do Guinea Pigs Get Bloated?

There are several reasons why guinea pigs get bloated. Although this painful condition is most often caused by something they ate, there are also several other reasons gas can become trapped in a cavy’s digestive tract.

Causes of guinea pigs bloat include:

  • Eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli
  • A twisted gut. If food cannot pass, gas will quickly start building up.
  • An intestinal blockage. Things like hairballs that get stuck in the gut.
  • Refusal to eat. A sudden change in diet or dental pain may result in a cavy refusing to eat. The health of a cavy’s digestive system depends on the constant movement of food through its system. If it stops, bloat can result.
  • Fermented food. Removing spoiled or uneaten fresh food from the cage daily is essential. Also, check for any hidden stashes in their hideouts and caves. Piggies can’t throw up, so any spoiled food that goes in must travel all the way through their system.
  • Parasites or viruses.

Can Guinea Pig Bloat Go Away On Its Own?

Guinea pig bloat is highly unlikely to resolve on its own. As time passes, gas continues to build up and remains trapped in the little animal’s abdomen. The swelling puts pressure on the other organs and causes extreme pain.

Gastrointestinal conditions should never be ignored. They are life-threatening conditions that can progress very quickly. You can try to treat mild symptoms of bloating during the early stages at home, but if there is no improvement, the piggy must be rushed to a veterinarian.

How To Prevent Guinea Pig Bloat

Guinea pigs have complex digestive tracts. Cavies need a continuous flow of food through their system to stay healthy. Changes to diet or even dental problems that prevent the animal from eating for a few days can slow things down to the point that gas builds up in their gut.

While it is impossible to prevent all cases of guinea pig bloat, there are some ways that owners can make it less likely for this painful condition to occur. The easiest way is to avoid or limit foods most likely to cause a lot of gas.

Most of us associate fruits and vegetables with a healthy diet, but in the case of cavies, this is not always the case. Always introduce new fruits and vegetables slowly to avoid tummy upsets.

Grass hay must constitute at least 75% of your pet’s diet. In addition, they can have a small amount of guinea pig-specific pellets. Rabbit or hamster pellets are not suitable.

Fruit should constitute less than 5% of a guinea pig’s diet. Vegetables in the cabbage family, these include bok choy and broccoli, can quickly cause gas and should be avoided. Safe vegetable options include parsley, tomatoes, clover, and cilantro.

In addition to providing a gas-limiting diet, another excellent way to prevent guinea pig bloat is to provide a spacious and stimulating environment. The more a piggy can move around and exercise, the better.


Guinea pig bloat is life-threatening and should only be treated at home during the early, mild stages of the condition. Treatment includes administering gripe water and gently massaging the animal’s abdomen to facilitate the release of gas. Unresponsive or advanced cases of bloating should be regarded as a medical emergency, and the piggy must be rushed to the closest veterinarian for treatment and pain medication.