Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Guinea Pigs

Diarrhea

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, Molly Varga

Introduction

  • True diarrhea is usually the result of severe disruption of the normal gastrointestinal flora.
  • Cause: overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria; infectious causes; anorexia for longer than 24 h can -> GI stasis -> diarrhea and enterotoxemia; hyperthyroidism; idiopathic typhlitis (typhlocolitis); aflatoxicosis has been reported. Cecotrophic diarrhea is caused by a diet with inadequate fiber.
  • Signs: profuse, watery feces. Lethargy, anorexia, abdominal pain, fecal staining of perineum and hind legs, abdominal distension, dyspnea, subcutaneous edema, dehydration, may be hypothermic, lateral recumbency, sudden death.
  • Diagnosis: diet and husbandry history, radiography, fecal examination/culture and sensitivity/toxin assay, bloodwork, urinalysis, necropsy.
  • Treatment: depends on etiology and severity at the time of presentation.
  • Prognosis: poor to grave.
Print off the Owner factsheets on Diarrhea and Giving your guinea pig a health check to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

True diarrhea

Cecotrophic diarrhea

  • Caused by a diet with inadequate fiber:
    • Guinea pigs are hind-gut fermenters and normally coprophagic or cecophagic.
    • Need large amounts of coarse fiber.
    • Inadequate fiber leads to disruption of cecal flora, increased frequency of cecal stool release and decreased transit time through the colon.
    • Cecotrophs are softer than normal.

Predisposing factors

General

  • The most common cause of cecotrophic diarrhea is a diet low in fiber.
  • The most common cause of true diarrhea in pet guinea pigs is enterotoxemia caused by the administration of antibiotics which has led to floral changes Toxicity: antibiotic.

Specific

  • If anorexia for longer than 24 h: can develop GI stasis which contributes to dysbiosis, enterotoxemia, diarrhea.

Pathophysiology

True diarrhea

  • Usually the result of severe disruption of the normal gastrointestinal flora:
    • This causes an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
    • Parasitic or viral gut pathogens can also disrupt gut flora leading to dysbiosis.
  • The resultant dehydration, hypovolemia, septicemia, entero-/endotoxemia, decreased organ perfusion affects the entire body.

Cecotrophic diarrhea

  • Guinea pigs are hind-gut (cecal) fermenters and are coprophagic or cecophagic:
    • Large amounts of coarse fiber are required for proper hind-gut fermentation and gastrointestinal tract motility. Diets with inadequate fiber disrupt normal cecal flora, increase the frequency of cecal stool release, and decrease transit time through the colon:
      • Cecotrophs are then softer than normal.
      • Some may also have a different odor than normal guinea pig feces.

Timecourse

True diarrhea

  • In general, from onset to shock may be acute.

Cecotrophic diarrhea

  • In general, this may take several days or longer; the owner may just not notice subtle changes.

Epidemiology

  • Usually this is an individual problem, except in cases of intestinal parasites.
  • Coccidia, cryptosporidia are contagious.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

Other sources of information

  • Hawkins M G & Bishop C R (2012) Disease Problems of Guinea Pigs. In: Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier. pp 295-310
  • Rhody J L (2011) Diarrhea. In: Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal. Ed: Oglesbee B L. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 260-261.
  • Percy D H & Barthold S W (2007) Guinea Pigs. In: Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits. 3rd edn. Eds: Percy D H & Barthold S W. Blackwell Publishing. pp 217-251.


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