Posted: December 12, 2013, 9 a.m. EST
© Isabelle Francais/I-5 Publishing
If a guinea pig seems to choke when eating, possible causes could be dental disease or an obstruction in the throat.
Q: My guinea pig is chocking when she eats. Do you know what the problem could be? She is 5 years old.
A: Choking on food is not uncommon in guinea pigs. There are various reasons this can happen. One of the most common is due to dental disease. We talk a lot about dental disease in rabbits, but we see it in guinea pigs too.
If your guinea pig’s cheek teeth (molars) are not properly aligned, she will not be able to correctly chew her food, and this can cause her to have a difficult time swallowing, which can lead to what you perceive to be choking. There can be related problems with her temporomandibular joint or muscles of the jaw that also lead to choking.
Other possibilities include obstructions in her throat that make it difficult for her to swallow food. A common condition is a swollen lymph node in her neck that is also called cervical lymphadenitis. This can be caused by some nasty bacteria and is a condition that needs to be treated promptly by a veterinarian.
In your situation, the best course of action is to have a veterinarian exam your guinea pig and determine if the teeth are normal, if the jaw action is normal and whether her lymph nodes are enlarged. He or she can then determine how best to treat your guinea pig’s condition.
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