Cavy Tips - Tutorials & Guides

Force Feeding (Syringe Feeding)

Contributed by Guinea Guinea


Force feeding (syringe feeding) and hand feeding are required when your guinea pig stops eating on his own or as a part of a post-surgery care. If your guinea pig is ill, please weigh him daily at a regular timing. Contact your cavy-savvy vet immediately if your guinea pig shows no interest in food, stops eating and/or loses weight despite being force fed.

Disclaimer: The guinea pig in the tutorial (Smoothie) is in the pink of health and therefore has a healthy appetite. However, for guinea pigs which are ill, they might struggle and it might take more effort to syringefeed them. Do persevere as they will need food in their system every 4 - 6 hours if they are not eating to prevent their digestive system from being affected. Feed slowly if they are struggling to prevent chokin and aspiration of any food/liquid.

For more information on hand feeding, please visit our hand feeding tutorial.


How to Force Feed (Syringe Feed) Your Guinea Pig using Oxbow Critical Care

Tools required

  1. Oxbow Critical Care (or any other types of food formula as prescribed by the vet)
  2. Warm or room temperature drinking water
  3. Blanket or towel
  4. 1ml syringe with the tip cut off (see how-to below)
  5. Pruning shears (to cut the tip of the syringe)

Step-by-step Instructions - How to Cut Syringe Tip

The syringe tip should be cut off to allow the Critical Care mixture to flow out smoothly.

  1. Cut the tip of the syringe with pruning shears.
  2. Remove all the sharp edges. You may want to sand them down with sandpaper.
  3. Clean the syringe with soapy water. Rinse well before use.

How to Force Feed (Syringe Feed) Your Guinea Pig with Critical Care

  1. Mix 1 part of Critical Care with 2 parts of warm water (or as instructed by the vet).
  2. Put a blanket for your guinea pig to rest on. You may wrap your guinea pig if he struggles.

    NOTES: Feed your guinea pig with his four feet planted firmly on the ground. Do not put your guinea pig on his back while feeding. This may cause food to go into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia.

  3. Pull the plunger to fill the 1ml syringe with Critical Care, making sure there is no air bubble present in the syringe. You can also fill up a larger syringe with Critical Care and use that to fill up a few 1ml syringe
  4. Gently push the syringe into the side of the mouth, just behind the front teeth.
  5. Slowly release the Critical Care mixture. Give your guinea pig a break to chew and swallow every 0.1 - 0.2 ml, or  0.05ml if your guinea pig is weak.

    • Push the plunger slowly. Force feeding is a time-consuming process and requires patience.
    • Feeding the Critical Care too fast may cause food to go into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia.
    • Stop pushing the syringe plunger if your guinea pig does not chew or is showing signs of discomfort (squeaking, coughing, etc).
  6. You may add water if Critical Care becomes too thick.
  7. To improve the texture, you can also mix normal Critical Care powder with the Fine Grind Critical Care powder.
  8. Discard the leftover Critical Care after each use. 
  9. Weigh your guinea pig daily when he is ill at a regular timing. If weight continues to drop despite being force fed, increase the amount of Critical Care and the frequency of feeding. Please also bring to the vet for review.
Pour 1 part of Critical Care
Add 2 parts of water
After mixing
Prepare your cute guinea pig
Guinea pig may need to be buritto'ed before feeding :3
Check and remove air bubbles before feeding
Push the syringe slowly and allow time to chew.
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