Guinea pigs are fascinating animals with a lot of personalities and different character traits. They are so small yet so full of interesting aspects like how they popcorn when they are happy and content.
They also eat a little too much. While eating, you may have heard them making hiccup sounds and wondered whether that was really your guinea pig’s hiccuping.
Can it happen? Do these little creatures have the ability to hiccup just like us?
Guinea pigs can get hiccups. Hiccups happen as involuntary contractions of the diaphragm that are usually brought about by fast eating. When guinea pigs hurriedly ingest more food than they can digest, they swallow air which affects the diaphragm. This air is exhaled as silent or loud hiccups that make guinea pigs’ heads seem to be bobbing up and down.
What brings about hiccups in guinea pigs
Hiccups are mostly brought about by hurried ingestion of food. If they eat fast more air will be swallowed.
Diaphragm muscles will then contract and close the vocal cords hence producing that hiccup sound.
Young guinea pigs
Young guinea pigs usually eat pellets and small foods that are fast to eat and chew up. This makes them eat hurriedly and swallow up much more air bringing up hiccups.
New guinea pigs
If you just brought home a new guinea pig, they may eat hurriedly whenever you give them food because they do not know when you will feed them next to or if you will feed them. This makes them prone to hiccups.
Try creating a feeding schedule for them that they will learn and get used to. This enables them to begin eating more comfortably because they know more food will come.
High activity levels
If guinea pigs have been highly active they could get hiccups. For instance, if you took them outdoors for air and some exercise, they may swallow up the air as they excitedly play around.
Your guinea pig may be more sensitive to some foods that may bring up hiccups if eaten.
How long do hiccups last?
Hiccups usually last for a few minutes before the diaphragm muscles relax and stop producing contractions. If they take a long time or begin to happen frequently, there could be something more serious that is wrong with your pet.
In case of hiccups that make your guinea pig lose appetite and stop eating or drinking, have problems with pooping or urinating, and seem to be in pain, there could be some underlying digestive problems. You should seek a vet immediately.
Can you stop a guinea pig from having hiccups?
Humans usually can control and stop their hiccups by holding their breath. What about guinea pigs? Can their hiccups be stopped?
Guinea pig hiccups look painful if you observe them and they may seem like they are heaving which may scare you.
First, try to have your guinea pig relax and calm down. This may reduce hiccups e.g if they were out exercising.
If they don’t stop, take two fingers and locate the diaphragm below their chest. Do it slowly as most guinea pigs don’t like their underside being touched.
Then very gently, push the diaphragm. This should ease the hiccups.
If the diaphragm feels swollen and hard, they could be having some health issues with their digestive tract. Do not try to stop their breath by holding their nose because this will scare them.
Are hiccups dangerous?
Hiccups are natural and they will come and go on their own. However, if they become frequent or they take a long time to stop, then that could be serious.
Hiccups may be signs of health conditions like:
Guinea pigs may develop respiratory problems at some point. The condition may bring about trouble breathing and guinea pigs may struggle to breathe in air.
As they breathe in hard, the air will fill up their lungs and stomachs resulting in diaphragm contractions. If a guinea pig is healthy and has a strong immune system they can be able to fight respiratory infections on their own.
You may not even notice that it was something serious as guinea pigs are good at hiding their pain and diseases. It’s advised that you keep an eye on them and observe their reactions.
If they are okay after a few hours and the hiccups stop then that’s okay but if they don’t get better, see a vet to diagnose what is wrong.
Digestive problems are another condition that could be causing hiccups. A guinea pig’s digestive tract may get blocked sometimes resulting in constant hiccuping.
When your pet hiccups and you try to push on the diaphragm but feel that it’s hard and swollen, that shows that there is a blockage. It’s also painful to touch and they may cry out.
Blocking of the digestive tract can be fatal and if you feel it you should call a vet right away.
If hiccups keep recurring, it may be stressful not only to the guinea pig but also to you as the owner. You should watch your pet more closely to ascertain what is bringing about these hiccups every time.
If it’s the food that you are feeding them, avoid it, and feed them something else. For instance, if they are ingesting pellets fast and having hiccups, try mixing them up with hay which will make them chew for longer and reduce swallowing of air.
Hiccups are involuntary and they may be stressful for guinea pigs. The sounds should not worry you because it’s a natural occurrence.
You should take action if your pet keeps getting hiccups and they last long. Observe what is making them hiccup, e.g. if they hiccup after eating a certain food.
Hiccups are usually brought about by fast eating but they could also be signs of a health problem like respiratory problems and digestive problems.
Always seek a vet if you notice anything unusual because these conditions could be fatal if not treated.