Monday, February 17, 2014

Ask A Guinea Pig: Why Do Guinea Pigs Get Gassy From Certain Foods?

riordan77piglove asks: "Why do some certain foods make guinea pigs gassy?"

Answer: Good question! There are many foods that can make guinea pigs gassy, including:
You may have noticed that the items on this list are all cruciferous vegetables. Feeding too many cruciferous vegetables can lead to serious bloat in guinea pigs, which can be fatal without treatment. Guinea pigs with bloat have distended bellies, and will sound hollow if you lightly tap on the side of them. Bloating is a symptom of gastrointestinal (GI) stasis, which is when the GI tract is thrown off-balance, allowing gas-producing bacteria to thrive and produce gas.

Why does this happen? Well, cruciferous vegetables contain a substance called raffinose. According to Wikipedia, animals with a single-chambered stomach like humans and guinea pigs lack an enzyme that would allow us to process raffinose. Instead, raffinose gets fermented in the intestines, creating gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen.

Besides bloat, other symptoms of GI stasis include: changes in pooping or urination, drinking too much or too little water, drooling, hunched posture, and loss of interest in food. If you suspect your guinea pig might have GI stasis, you'll want to get them to the vet as soon as possible!

Clearly, GI stasis is a very serious issue, so make sure you follow the food guidelines we post here. There's no need to cut cruciferous vegetables out of our diet entirely, but if we tell you to feed small portions and/or only a few times a week, there's probably a good reason!

I know it's hard to say no to an adorable face like mine, but when it comes to gassy foods, you can't just let me eat as much as I want!