Before I go to0 in-depth about what probiotics are and how they can help your guinea pig… I’ll give you my recommendation for the best guinea pig probiotic first:
Bene-Bac has created a pretty awesome formula designed specifically for animals and even more specifically for small animals. They use a gel like formula designed to support and grow the bacteria already in your guinea pigs’s system. The gel has been formulated to contain seven seperate fat encapsulated probiotics that are found in the intestinal tract of small animals. This helps both re-introduce essential gut bacteria to your guinea pig as well support the already existing colonies.
These probiotics are ideal if your guinea pig has experienced any of the following recently:
- Recently Given Birth
- Breeding (which I recommend against)
- Change in Habitat
- Antibiotic Therapy
- Worming (read more here)
- Boarding and Travel (read more here)
- Recently overcome a cold or a flu (read more here)
These probiotics are recommend for any animal that has recently been subjected to any of the above conditions. By administering this supplement to your guinea pigs diet you are providing your little guy with all the dietary essentials they will need to get back on their feet.
What Are Probiotics?
In it’s most simple form probiotics are live bacteria combined with yeast. Probiotics are particularly good for your guinea pig as they have a specific focus on the digestive system. Normally, at least with me, I think of ‘biotics’ as a type of bad bacteria that can cause diseases, especially with the term ‘antibiotic’ becoming a classic cure all. However, the reality is, your body and your guinea pig’s body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Fortunately ‘antibiotics’ are great at getting rid of the bad bacteria that can cause your guinea pig to become very. If you interested in learning about all the different types of illnesses bacteria can cause in your guinea pig, check out this article here.
Unfortunately, antibiotics are also great at getting rid of the good bacteria. Probiotics are essential if your guinea pig has just come off or is going through a period of antibiotic use. The probiotics will allow your guinea to rebuild the natural healthy colonies within it’s system much faster.
Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they have a particular focus on keeping your gut healthy. Typically, we as humans would go about getting our healthy bacteria from yogurt or other diary related products. Unfortunately guinea pigs, with their different diet, are slightly different. Dairy is a big no no when it comes to your little guy’s diet. This is where probiotics (which your guinea pig will love) come in handy.
What Type Of Probiotic Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?
The best probiotics are those that are replicated from those naturally found in your guinea pig’s gut. However, a probiotic is a very broad term. There are actually different types of probiotics for different types of bodily functions. The probiotic formula I recommended above is perfect for getting your guinea pig back to ‘baseline’ after a significant event. However, if you want something that is more suited to for example, urinary tract support, you will want a product like some Oxbow Supplement.
Bene-Bak is a formula with multiple bacteria cultures that have a range of benefits (more on this later). You can get supplements that contain only one type of culture but if you are unsure of what you need, Bene-bak can act as a catch all product. In the button below I have embedded a link to Oxbow’s probiotic, feel free to check it out.
What Are Some Common Bacteria Colonies Found In Guinea Pigs?
Here are some of the key colonies that guinea pig’s have naturally occurring within their own gut:
- Lactobacillus Casei – This bacteria is most commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt or dietary supplements. Keep in mind, seeing as though guinea pigs are herbivores, I recommend against feeding them any dairy rich products. Lactobacillus probiotics are great for preventing diarrhoea, as well as treating rotaviral diarrhoea. It is not unheard of for antibiotics to cause diarrhoea after administration so a probiotic rich in this bacteria can help balance things out nicely.
- Lactobacillus Fermentum – This is probably one of the less studied strains of bacteria out there. However, the current science points to lactobacillus fermentum being great for building your guinea pig’s resistance to influenza as well as a host of other common infections. This bacteria has also been shown to enhance antioxidant enzyme activities and reduce E. coli infection. What does this mean??? Basically it helps stave off the effects of ageing in your guinea pig 🙂
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus – This little bacteria has been linked to lower cholesterol and to preventing diarrhoea. Just like humans, guinea pigs are also susceptible to urinary tract infections. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is great at preventing these exact infections by building up key combative colonies. This bacteria has also been known to prevent/combat the effects of the flu.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum – Like many strains of the above mentioned probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum is known to be yet another booster to your guinea pigs immune system. There have also been links to some the following: reduced anxiety, combating eczema, weight loss, lowering of blood pressure, lowering of cholesterol, combating irritable bowl syndrome and combating inflammatory bowl disease. Some effects that people mention in humans are sharpening of the memory memory, combating cavities, enhanced athletic performance and promote weight loss. Who doesn’t want a super athletic, skinny cavity free guinea pig 😉
- Enterococcus Faecium – This particular bacteria is known to compete with harmful organisms for ‘adhesion sites.’ These adhesion site are areas on the surface of certain cells that bad bacteria will cling to and grow. Harmful microorganisms will take advantage of these sites, eventually harming the cells themselves. Enterococcus Faecium acts a barrier preventing these harmful bacteria from getting a foothold in your guinea pig’s gut flora. The reported benifts of Enterococcus faecium include a boosted immune cell function (basically a stronger immune system) and an elevated fat burning capacity.
- Bifidobacterium Bifidum – This particular bacteria is shown to prevent the following: constipation (similar to the previous bacteria), lung infections and ulcerative colitis (infectious disease in the intestinal tract)
- Pediococcus Acidilactici – Believe it or not, the consensus is still out there as to what this particular bacteria does in terms of health benefits. However, this bacteria is found to be naturally occurring in the guts of guinea pigs.
All of these bacteria are found within Bene-Bac’s probiotic formula.
How Do I Feed My Guinea Pig A Probiotic?
With Bena-Bac Plus, feeding your guinea pig the probiotic is really easy. Each syringe contains 15 ml of probiotics. For every 1 ml of probiotic formula there are roughly 20 million colony forming units. The reality is, you do not need a lot of this stuff for it to be effective. You will only need 1 ml of probiotic per use (when using Bena-Bac Plus).
Fortunately, the syringe has a nice measure on the plunger which allows you to visualise how much probiotic is being administered per use. There is no need to place the probiotic in a bowl or anything. If your guinea pig is pretty used to being hand fed, they will simply eat the probiotic from the syringe itself.
Are There Any Negative Side Effects To Feeding My Guinea Pig A Probiotic?
As long as you are feeding you guinea pig the right type of probiotic, there shouldn’t been any negative side effects. Like everything, moderation is key. I wouldn’t go ahead and feed my little guys a bunch of probiotics everyday all day. Typically, if I am using Bene-bac’s formula, I will give my guinea pig about 1 ml a day for a week depending on the issue. The only time I switch this rule up is if my vet tells me other wise.
The only other time I have heard of people reporting negative sides effects is in relation to the way in which they try and give their guinea pigs the probiotics. For example, a lot of the common bacteria cultures found in a guinea pig’s gut are also found in yogurt. Some people think, ‘well if that’s the case, I’ll just go ahead and feed my guinea pig yogurt.’ The probiotics will probably get into your little guy’s system BUT there will be a host of other negative side effects down the road that are caused just due to your guinea pig straying from their traditional diet. If you want to know what guinea pigs can and can’t eat, check out my guinea pig food list here.
Can I Make My Own Probiotic For My Guinea Pig?
So, I know how to make probiotics for people, but making them for guinea pigs is a bit trickier. If you do want to make your own probiotic formula you will need to do the following:
- Research the essential gut bacteria that exist in your guinea pig. I did mention seven common bacteria above, but the reality is, there are a lot more out there. Ideally, you will be able to make a formula that ticks of as many of the probiotic boxes as possible. Do some research and see what you can find.
- Make It Appealing. One of the things I really like about about Bene-Bak is that they have created a formula that your guinea pig will actually like to eat. You will need to create something that is rich in other nutrients that your guinea pig will enjoy and be encouraged to eat. The last thing you want is to be force feeding your guinea pig.
- Store it appropriately. Bacteria are known for being very temperamental when it comes to storing them and keeping them alive. Typically, dry probiotic powdered formulas can be kept at room temperature but if you are making your own, odds are you will need to keep it refrigerated. On top of this, bacteria colonies will typically only last for about a month (if stored properly), so I wouldn’t make a big batch hoping you could hold onto it for months.
I have to say, in terms of cost effectiveness, you are probably better off going out and simply buying a formula. I totally understand the approach of making your own food just in regards to knowing what you are actually eating, but for something like this, I would make an exception. Its just a lot easier to get something from a company that has gone through all the trials and errors!
So There You Go!
I hope that answers all your questions when it comes to guinea pigs and probiotics. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I am always happy to hear from you guys 🙂