Guinea pigs are naturally fluffy and round. They are very cute looking, and many owners love to keep their guinea pigs in a round shape by feeding them snacks and extra food.
But guinea pigs are susceptible to becoming overweight and developing obesity-related health problems.
What Causes a Guinea Pig to be Overweight?
There are a few reasons why your guinea could be overweight. The main reason is that they are being overfed. Although we can’t say for sure which food they are overeating, many owners like to feed their guinea pigs fruits and pellets as an extra snack. It is unlikely that they are eating hay to the point where they are gaining weight from it because hay has a lot of fiber, and it makes them full quickly.
Another reason guinea pigs can become overweight is that they are not getting enough exercise. You could be serving your guinea pig the correct amounts of vegetables, fruits, and pellets, but a lack of exercise will contribute to their overweight or obesity. Guinea pigs were made to forage in the forest and fields. Guinea pigs that are kept as pets in a home or apartment get nowhere near the average amount of exercise a wild guinea pig does. So, you have to find time every day to allow you guinea pigs to get exercise around the house.
Guinea Pigs and their Weight Ranges
To monitor your guinea pig and make sure it’s at a healthy weight, you need to know the weight range for a healthy male and female guinea pig. These are the weight ranges:
- For adults male guinea pigs, their weight range should be about 900 to 1200 grams or 32oz to 42oz
- For adult female guinea pigs, their weight range should be about 700 to 900 grams or 24 ounces to 32 oz
If guinea pigs stay in this range, then they will be at a healthy weight. If their weight starts to move closer to either end of this weight range, then you should increase or decrease their food as needed.
Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Overweight.
Because of their naturally wrong size, it is difficult to determine if your guinea pig is overweight just from looking at them. But there are several other ways to tell if they have gained weight recently.
- Weigh them periodically and compare weights from the past. This is the best way to determine if they’re overweight, but many people don’t have scales that can accommodate guinea pigs
- If they have a playhouse, watch to see if they get stuck more often or if they can’t go into certain areas anymore.
- Check how they walk and see if it has changed or if they’re walking slower lately.
- Do they go searching for more food after you have given them their meal?
- Do they get more tired after doing basic activities?
These are some signs to monitor to determine if your guinea pigs have gained weight. Also, take into consideration any food changes. Did you switch to a different pellet brand recently? Are you feeding your guinea pigs more snacks lately because they are so cute when they nibble on fruit? Have you been serving them vegetables that are more on the starchy side? All these things could contribute to a heavier guinea pig.
You can also visit a veterinarian who knows how to take care of guinea pigs and ask for their professional advice. Veterinarian offices also have scales so you can check their weight.
What to Do if Your Guinea Pig is Fat
No matter how fat your guinea pig is, they should never be placed on an extreme diet. Their weight loss should happen gradually. Here’s how to encourage gradual weight loss:
- Stop all snacks and fruits.
- Focus their diet on low calories or leafy green vegetables.
- Measure the serving size of their pellets exactly
Exercise should start gradually, especially if they are now going to a calorie restriction. It is recommended not to start your guinea pig on both a calorie-restricted diet and an intense exercise regimen. Slowly introduce exercise activities in daily life. Place them in their exercise ball but let them walk as they please.
How to Prevent Your Guinea Pig from Gaining Weight
Closely monitoring their weight and food intake is the best way to prevent your guinea pig from gaining weight. The vast majority of times a guinea pig becomes overweight is through overfeeding, not through metabolic problems.
Have measuring utensils to measure out their food every day. Only use these utensils, so it makes food monitoring easier. When you serve them vegetables, make sure you know the right serving size. For most vegetables, the serving size is one cup. But this is mostly for low-calorie vegetables and leafy greens, like spinach, cucumber, zucchini, etc. Foods like corn, sweet potato, and yam have higher sugar content, and should not be a 1-cup serving.
Fruits should not be considered an everyday food. Fruits have high sugar content, just like yams and corn. They should be serving sparingly, at most two times a week. And it should never be at a 1-cup serving. One to two tablespoons is enough.
Make sure your guinea pigs get a lot of exercise. Take them out of their cage every day at a time when you can watch them. Let them run around and explore the house. Just make sure there are no cords, wires, or objects that they can choke on on the floor. If you take them outside onto a lawn, stay with them at all times. Do not let them out of your sight. Regular exercise keeps them healthy and improves their muscles and heart function. Do not take them out during the hottest part of the day.
- Finding out if your guinea pigs are overweight is difficult
- You can weigh them regularly, but you will need a gram scale
- Guinea pigs have a weight range they must stay within to be healthy.
- You can also watch their habits and energy levels. Overweight guinea pigs take longer to do basic activities.
- Ask a veterinarian for their advice.
- Measure out their food with designated tools to monitor how much they are eating
- They should also get regular exercise, but not too much while they are on their diet.