7 Alarming Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Drool

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If you notice drool on your guinea pig’s face it can be a sign that something’s wrong. While it might not be anything to worry about, sometimes it can be a sign of sickness. It’s important to know what signs to look out for so you can keep your piggies happy and healthy.

There are many reasons why guinea pigs drool, including ear infection, heatstroke, pregnancy toxemia, and abscesses. The most common reason is dental problems, particularly malocclusion. Other symptoms that normally come with this condition are loss of appetite, weight loss, and bleeding from the mouth.

a guinea pig wondering why he drools

Since drooling can be a sign of many conditions (some potentially fatal), never take it lightly. 

If you notice your piggie is salivating all over the place, it could be a symptom of one of the following conditions:

1. Ear Infection

a tip about why guinea pigs drool

It rarely happens, but guinea pigs can get ear infections. Usually, they get it as a result of other infections. 

The most common symptoms of ear infection are ear discharge and excessive salivation. But sometimes guinea pigs show no symptoms at all. If the infection spreads they might start behaving strangely. Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Imbalance
  • Tilting their head
  • Walking in circles
  • Rolling on the ground

Which treatment you piggie will need for an ear infection depends on what caused it. If the ear infection goes untreated for too long your guinea pig could become deaf

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2. Pregnancy Toxemia

Pregnancy toxemia can be deadly and usually happens in the last two weeks of pregnancy. Obese guinea pigs are at higher risk. If you notice your pregnant guinea pig is drooling a lot with any of the following symptoms, you should be alarmed.  

  • Sudden depression (guinea pig will be weak, quiet, and sluggish)
  • Not eating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle contractions
  • Clear urine

As you can guess from the name, this condition usually affects pregnant guinea pigs. But it can happen to non-pregnant sows and sometimes even boars.

an infographic that explain why guinea pigs drool

3. Malocclusion

Malocclusion is a very common dental problem for guinea pigs, it means teeth are misaligned. What causes malocclusion are overgrown teeth or an injury affecting the jaw, but it can also be genetic. 

How can you tell if your guinea pig has malocclusion?

  • Constant drooling
  • Teeth don’t close properly
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Weight loss 
  • Abscesses around or inside the mouth

If you suspect your guinea pig has malocclusion, visit your veterinarian straight away

To treat this condition some teeth might have to be filed down or clipped. Malocclusion can be a lifelong condition and you might need to bring your piggie to the vet for adjustments every few months. 

Even if malocclusion is very common among guinea pigs, a well-balanced diet can prevent it. 

4. Abscess

If your guinea pig is drooling and has swelling around the face, it’s likely an abscess. Abscesses are swollen pockets that contain pus and can appear anywhere on or inside the body. 

What causes abscesses?  

  • Bacterial infections
  • Parasites
  • Fungus

It can be hard to prevent your guinea pig from getting abscesses. One thing you can do is keep their cage or living area clean and free from sharp objects. This can prevent bacterial infections which can lead to abscesses.

Abscesses need to be either surgically drained or removed by a veterinarian. Your vet will give you instructions on how to care for your piggie after surgery. Usually, you will have to flush the area with a syringe to make sure it doesn’t get infected. 

5. Heatstroke

Guinea pigs are very sensitive to heat and can easily suffer heatstroke. They are most comfortable in temperatures around 18℃ (64℉). It can be very dangerous to leave them in higher temperatures like 30℃ (86℉) for too long. 

Some common symptoms of heatstroke:  

  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle spasms

If your guinea pig shows any of these symptoms or starts drooling a lot during a hot day, it might be a sign of heatstroke. If they do suffer a heatstroke it’s important to take immediate action. Move your piggie to a cool, dark place and give them water using a syringe. If you don’t get their temperature down it can escalate into something worse. 

If you can’t control the temperature inside your house on hot days, make sure they have enough water to drink. You can cool down their living area by putting ice packs wrapped in towels inside or placing cool, moist towels over it.  

You can also give your piggies a cool treat. As you might enjoy an ice lollipop on a summer’s day, your piggies will marvel over some frozen fruit or vegetables

6. Food Poisoning

Guinea pigs love fruits and veggies, but some are poisonous to them. An early sign of food poisoning can be excess salivation, but the symptoms can be very general. Here are some to keep in mind: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Arching their bodies and squealing in pain
  • Depression
  • Grinding their teeth
  • Seizures 
  • Fainting 

Food poisoning can lead to a variety of different problems. For example, avocado can give guinea pigs respiratory issues and peanut butter can hurt their liver and pancreas. It’s important to learn what your guinea pig can and can’t eat. If they see something they like, they will eat it no matter if it’s poisonous or not. 

If you think your piggie has food poisoning, contact your vet straight away. Treatment depends on what they ate and what symptoms present themselves. Keep a close eye on your piggies!

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7. Stroke

Just like humans, guinea pigs can suffer from strokes too. It’s not very common, but if it happens you must get your piggie to the vet ASAP

If your piggie shows any of these symptoms, they may be having a stroke: 

  • Drooling
  • Body spasms
  • Irregular breathing
  • Being unresponsive

A stroke can happen in the blink of an eye but the after-effects last a long time. Here are some signs that can tell you if your guinea pig had a stroke:

  • One side of the body is paralyzed or weak 
  • The affected part is sagging 
  • Bad balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apathy or acting very sluggish
  • Walking in circles
  • Tilting head
  • Bulging eye

What causes a stroke in a guinea pig is the same as in humans. Genetics play a big part and older guinea pigs run a higher risk of getting a stroke.

The best way of preventing a stroke is to keep your guinea pig happy, calm, and healthy

How Many Other Pet Parents Have Guinea Pigs With Drooling Issues?

If you’ve read this far you know drooling is a pretty common symptom that can point to all sorts of conditions. Sometimes it means your piggie is a messy eater, but more often than not it’s a sign that something’s wrong.

But how many pet parents actually experience this issue? 

To get an idea of how many drooling piggies there are out there, I took a look into the guinea pig forums. I manually surveyed 298 piggie parents who’d experienced drooling episodes with their fur babies.

138 (46.4%) of these piggies were drooling because of dental problems, but quite a few were simply messy eaters. There were also 21 (7.1%) piggie parents that had seen drooling as a result of either cancer or stroke (as you can see in the chart below). 

About 63 (21.3%) were false alarms. The piggies weren’t drooling. They were just messy eaters. And then 63 (25%) of the people I polled just had a mishmash of reasons why their piggies had drool problems.

a graphic that show a survey of people that explain why their guinea pigs drool

Some highlights from the survey: 

  • Most pet parents knew about the dangers of malocclusion, even if they hadn’t experienced it firsthand.
  • Many responders suggested force-feeding until the piggies could see a veterinarian
  • Six pet parents that had drooling guinea pigs together with other symptoms lost their piggie within a few days of posting about it. This was mainly because they didn’t have access to an exotic veterinarian.
  • Piggies that were messy eaters had gotten their teeth checked by a vet before. 

Unless they’re just messy eaters, guinea pigs usually show some other symptoms together with drooling. Here are some symptoms these pet parents saw: 

  • Smelly wet chin
  • food or liquid stuck in/around the mouth
  • Stopped eating
  • Teeth grinding
  • Diarrhea
  • Rough coat

On one forum, I stumbled on a sad story. A piggie parents was asking for advice about her 15-week-old little male guinea pig that had been drooling a lot in recent days.

Apart from drooling, he was grinding his teeth and had a greenish liquid in his mouth.

She couldn’t find an exotic vet nearby but was going to get help from the pet store. Her guinea pig passed only 3 days later (poor thing), the night before she was supposed to bring him in.

This wasn’t the only heartbreaking story I found out there, my friends.

So, PLEASE don’t wait to get your piggie help if you think something might be wrong.

If your guinea pig is salivating excessively and has any other symptoms stated above, it’s CRUCIAL you take them to the vet. Sooner than later. 

Guinea pigs are very good at hiding their pain. Once you notice something’s wrong it might not be long before their condition becomes critical.

What To Do When A Drooling Guinea Pig Won’t Eat?

If your piggie won’t eat you should always contact your veterinarian. Guinea pigs need to eat a lot during the day to survive, if you can’t get to the vet fast enough you’ll need to help them eat until then. Here are some alternative ways to get your piggie to eat

1. Syringe Feed

If your piggie can’t eat on their own at all, you might need to force-feed it using a syringe. Use a 1 ml syringe, a bigger syringe can make your guinea pig choke. Before you start, make sure you have these things at hand: 

  • Syringe
  • Liquid food
  • Water for rinsing syringe
  • Water to give guinea pig between feeding
  • Tissues for any spills or dribbles

Make sure your guinea pig is comfortable and on a stable surface to make it easier to feed them. If they’re fidgeting you can wrap them in a towel. Insert the syringe from the side of the mouth, behind the front teeth. If they’re resisting you can gently put your fingers on either side of their mouth to open it.

How much you should feed your guinea pig depends on what condition they’re in. A rule of thumb is to feed them little and often. Make sure your guinea pig has time to chew in between feeding and don’t forget to give it water too. 

2. Feed Grated Veggies

You can always try to get your guinea pig to eat on its own before relying on force-feeding. For example, you can grate your piggie’s favorite veggies, as it’s easier to eat than whole bites. 

3. Soak Pellets In Water and Feed Them

You can give your piggie soaked pellets if they have trouble eating (but still eat on their own). You can also use them for syringe feeding.

Soak the pellets in warm water, mash them up and let them cool to room temperature. You may need to add more water if you’re using it to syringe feed. 

4. Pureed Organic Baby Food

Baby food is also a thing you can try both in a syringe and for your piggie to eat on their own. Make sure the baby food is organic and doesn’t contain meat or vegetables they can’t eat. 

5. Blended Fresh Vegetables

Blended fresh veggies are also a great substitute to get your piggie to eat. Pick your piggie’s favorite vegetables and blend them into a puree. 

Then you can either mix it with their pellets or give it to them as is. If you’re going to syringe feed your piggie, make sure the puree isn’t too thick as it can clog the syringe. You can add water if needed.

What Treatment Will Guinea Pigs Get From The Vet If They’re Drooling?

Depending on what’s causing your guinea pig to drool, you’ll get different treatment options.

If your piggie has malocclusion, their teeth’ll need filing or cutting down. If the problem is serious they might need surgery. 

If your piggie has an abscess, it will need surgical draining or removal by the veterinarian. 

After surgery, you will most likely get a dietary plan for your piggie. Since your piggie will be sore after surgery, you might have to syringe feed them until they can eat on their own. If needed, you’ll also need to get vitamin or mineral supplements. 

If your piggie is drooling because of a bacterial infection, you’ll get prescribed antibiotics. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to antibiotics. Make sure you don’t use anything else than what’s prescribed. 

What Happens When Guinea Pigs Don’t Eat Anything?

Guinea pigs are very happy about their food. If they’re not eating it’s a clear sign something’s wrong. If they don’t eat they will start to lose weight and get depressed. If they’re not treated or start eating again on their own, they’ll eventually die.

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Final Thoughts

A drooling guinea pig might not seem serious, but this can be a sign of many conditions. It’s important to get the right treatment or it might lead to serious repercussions. 

The conditions mentioned in this article are not the only reasons your guinea pig may be drooling. Getting to know your piggie’s natural behavior is the best way to know when something’s wrong. If you suspect your guinea pig is acting strange or might be ill, call your vet as soon as possible. 

From what I gather, any piggie will be happier and healthier given a well-balanced diet with lots and lots of hay. And just like all new parents, piggie parents might call the vet one too many times. But after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dental diseases in Guinea pigs. (2008, September 23). The Best Pet Health & Care Advice from Real Vets | PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/exotic/conditions/mouth/c_ex_gp_dental_diseases

Disorders and diseases of Guinea pigs – All other pets – MSD veterinary manual. (2019, November 26). MSD Veterinary Manual. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/all-other-pets/guinea-pigs/disorders-and-diseases-of-guinea-pigs

I think my Guinea pig might be pregnant, what should I do? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/i-think-my-guinea-pig-might-be-pregnant-what-should-i-do/

Malocclusion. (n.d.). Diseases of Research Animals – DORA — University of Missouri – Comparative Medicine Program and IDEXX-BioAnalytics. https://dora.missouri.edu/guinea-pig/malocclusion/

Pregnancy toxemia. (n.d.). Diseases of Research Animals – DORA — University of Missouri – Comparative Medicine Program and IDEXX-BioAnalytics. https://dora.missouri.edu/guinea-pig/pregnancy-toxemia/

Symptoms of a stroke in a Guinea pig | Cuteness. (2010, May 28). Cuteness.com. https://www.cuteness.com/article/symptoms-stroke-guinea-pig

Toxic foods for Guinea pigs. (2022, February 28). GuineaDad. https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/toxic-foods-for-guinea-pigs

What do I need to know about my Guinea pigs’ health? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-do-i-need-to-know-about-my-guinea-pigs-health/

What should I feed my Guinea pigs? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-guinea-pigs/

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