When we humans eat something that we should have eaten and are feeling nauseous, we throw up. It relieves us of the uneasiness of the stomach. Vomiting the food that you just ate sounds like an inconvenience, but the vomiting reflex is often triggered when we ingest something contaminated, or poisonous. It is a life-saving reflex.
Being a guinea pig owner, you may have wondered if guinea pigs have the gag reflex. If your guinea pigs were to ingest something toxic, would they throw up?
Unfortunately, no. Guinea pigs lack the ability to throw up. Having said that, guinea pigs often spit out some material from the back of their that may look like vomit. This often confuses guinea pig owners. If you have similar confusion, continue reading. In this article, we are going to discuss all about it.
Can Guinea Pigs Throw Up?
No! Guinea pigs cannot throw up.
They do experience nausea, just like humans, but they lack the brain circuit that is necessary to trigger the vomiting reflex. Besides that, guinea pigs’ anatomy does not allow them to effectively throw up. They have longer esophagus and less muscular diaphragms so they just cannot produce enough force to move the food up the esophagus to the throat and out of the guinea pig’s mouth.
Vomiting Isn’t Universal to the Animal Kingdom! All rodents such as squirrels, mice, rats, etc. cannot throw up. Horses also lack the ability to throw up. Goats and cows also vomit very rarely.
Guinea Pig Cannot Vomit! What’s My Guinea Pig Spitting Out?
Guinea pigs thoroughly chew their food before sending it down the esophagus to the stomach. Oftentimes, they store small amounts of food in the back of their mouth. And when guinea pigs experience any trouble with their back teeth, they tend to spit out a little bit of that half-chewed and unswallowed food, making guinea pig owners think that it’s vomit. But it is not really vomit. To fully understand, we need to take a look at guinea pig teeth.
Guinea pigs are born with a complete set of teeth. They will have these teeth for their whole life; there is no concept of baby teeth. Guinea pig teeth continue growing throughout their lives. They have 20 teeth: four incisors at the front, four premolars, and 12 molars at the behind of the mouth.
While guinea pigs use their incisors to grab the food and begin the chewing process, the real magic is happening behind, between the molars. Here guinea pigs thoroughly chew their food before it is allowed to move down the esophagus to the stomach.
Oftentimes, guinea pigs store some of the half-chewed food in the back of their mouth. And when they experience some trouble with their back teeth, they tend to burp out this unchewed food. This is often accompanied by some burping, choking, hiccup, and gagging motion.
If you think your guinea pig is experiencing teeth troubles, you should look out for signs like bad breath, slobbery chin, grumpiness, weight loss, and incisors wearing at a weird angle. You should immediately take your guinea pig to a veterinarian for a tooth problem before it worsens.
Guinea Pig Puking After Eating!
Guinea pigs cannot vomit. So, if your guinea pig is puking as it eats, it means that the food is unable to go down the right way. This usually happens when a guinea pig’s back teeth have overgrown or there is some kind of blockage.
Overgrown premolars in guinea pigs lead to the formation of a bridge that traps the tongue, making it impossible for guinea pigs to swallow food properly. This is the reason that most of the food comes out of the guinea pig’s mouth. Mixed with saliva, the food coming out of the guinea pig’s mouth could be colored, making it look like vomit.
Guinea pigs with overgrown teeth are unable to properly chew and swallow their food. They slowly start to starve and may even starve to death if the issue is not sorted. Until the issue is sorted, you should syringe feed your guinea pig. Keep in mind that 80% of the guinea pig’s diet must come from hay; otherwise, your piglet may start experiencing gut problems.
Therefore, you must always make sure that your guinea pig’s teeth are of proper length. If your guinea pig is exhibiting the following signs of tooth problems, you should immediately take him to a veterinarian.
Signs of Molar Issues In Guinea Pigs • Reluctance or obvious pain when chewing • Slow chewing • Excessive saliva • Weight loss • Redness of gums
Guinea Pigs Can’t Vomit! What Does It Mean For Their Owners?
Vomiting is a life-saving reflex. It helps most mammals immediately get rid of contaminated or toxic foods that they might have ingested. But given that guinea pigs lack the gag reflex, guinea pig owners need to be extra cautious with their piglets. Here is what the lack of gag reflex in guinea pigs means for their owners:
Keep Toxic Foods Out of Guinea Pig Reach
If you are a guinea pig owner, you should familiarize yourself with things that are toxic to guinea pigs. Foods toxic or bad for guinea pigs include onions, garlic, wild mushrooms, iceberg lettuce, potatoes, avocados, chocolate, caffeine, etc. You should keep these items far away from your guinea pigs’ reach and should try to never have these items when you are around your guinea pigs.
If you are unsure about the safety of a certain thing for guinea pigs, you should avoid feeding it to your guinea pigs. It is always better to err on the side of caution. You should stick to the traditional guinea pig diet, consisting of hay and pellets.
What If Guinea Pig Eat Something Toxic Or Bad?
Guinea pigs are curious and voracious little creatures. They always need something to munch on. So it is quite possible that during their floor time, they manage to get their teeth on something that they should not have eaten. In such a case, you should immediately take your guinea pig to a veterinarian.
Never Try to Induce Vomiting in Guinea Pigs!
When cats and dogs eat something toxic, their owners immediately use hydrogen peroxide or some other way to induce vomiting and help their pets get rid of the toxins. But if your guinea pig has eaten something bad, you cannot induce vomit. Guinea pigs are physically unable to vomit so by trying to induce vomiting, you will only be making their condition worse.
Activated Charcoal May Help absorb Toxins
If you were able to catch the ingestion of a toxic substance at an early stage, you can give a charcoal tablet to your guinea pig. You can crush the tablet and even mix it in water and administer it by mouth. Entering the guinea pig’s gastrointestinal tract, activated charcoal would absorb all the toxins and would keep the guinea pig’s body from absorbing any more toxins. The vet may also prescribe some laxatives to help your guinea pig excrete the charcoal that has absorbed the toxins.
The vet may also prescribe certain medications to accelerate the guinea pig recovery process. Sometimes, vets only recommend a pint of olive oil to work up the guinea pig’s gastrointestinal tract.
Remove the Guinea Pig Pellets From the Cage
If you are a guinea pig owner, you would know that guinea pigs eat their poop—nutritious guinea pig poop pellets (cecotrope). While your guinea pig won’t be interested in poop pellets as they contain toxins, you should remove them from the cage immediately to remove the possibility.
Final Verdict: Can Guinea Pigs Throw Up?
No, guinea pigs are unable to vomit. They lack the brain circuit that is necessary for triggering the gag reflex and also have a longer esophagus and less muscular diaphragm, so they are ill-equipped to throw up effectively. That said, sometimes, guinea pigs may spit out half-chewed feed from the back of their mouth, which may look like vomit.