What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are substances which contain live microorganisms that are thought to restore the balance of microflora in the digestive tract. The digestive system of the guinea pig plays an important part in making nutrients available. Other ruminents have similar digestive systems. Read an informative article by Tom Moates on probiotics and the equine digestive system for a more thorough understanding.
- See Probiotic Truth by Tom Moates
Why would my guinea pig need them?
All antibiotics affect the normal gut flora to a greater or lesser extent. Dangerous medications like penicillin are deadly because they affect the normal flora of the gut, causing a fatal and irreversible diarrhea. But even recommended antibiotics may have an affect. While not all people use probiotics every time an antibiotic is administered, it is especially helpful if the guinea pig is extremely ill or if the microflora in the intestinal tract is disrupted and the guinea pig is being treated for diarrhea or has soft droppings. Probiotics can only help.
What are the most effective probiotics?
A half of a dropping (as fresh as possible) from a healthy guinea pig dissolved in a small amount of water and added to the food (or given by syringe) is reportedly the best way to re-inoculate the good bacteria and boost appetite. Other people feel the addition of a small amount of powder from an acidophilus gel tablet will help to restore gut flora.
NO YOGURT: Yogurt has live acidophilus cultures but is not the best choice as it is a dairy product. Since guinea pigs are herbivores, milk products are not recommended.
When should I give them?
The probiotics would be given an hour or two after administering the antibiotic. Acidophilus cultures can be given freely (sprinkle a part of the contents of a capsule on wet vegetables).