Guinea pigs are charmers—with their cute faces and squeaks, it’s difficult to resist overfeeding them. The digestive system of the guinea pig is such that it needs to be constantly moving in order for the guinea pig to be in good health and stay alive. So how do you put a guinea pig on a diet if they can’t stop eating?
As with all other creatures, obesity in guinea pigs can be damaging to their health. They are quite fragile creatures and even the smallest thing can overwhelm them. Obesity in guinea pigs can exacerbate:
- Difficulty eating caecotrophs. Caecotrophs are the soft poos that guinea pigs expel and immediately eat. They boost their immune system, aid their digestion and are an important part of your guinea pig’s health. If a pig is obese, they may struggle to reach their anus to take the caecotroph.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Everyday stress. Guinea pigs are flight animals and extra weight will make it difficult for them to run away quickly, resulting in stress and potentially further breathing troubles and heart attacks.
If you have an obese pig, you can’t just cut down on their food as this will damage their digestive system. If your piggy is getting dangerously podgy, try these tips.
- Exercise. Every guinea pig should have ‘floor time’, a specified playtime when they can escape their usual home and go exploring and play in a safe environment. But an obese piggy won’t be interested in playing. So instead make sure you place the food bowl at the opposite end of your pig’s home to its water bottle. Guinea pigs will eat and drink and then go back to eating, so this will mean they have to cover ground to get to each one.
- Cut back on the nuggets. Talking of the food bowl, cut back on the amount of nuggets you feed your guinea pig. Even specially formulated guinea pig nuggets (which they should be given) contain fattening ingredients. Good quality hay is the most important part of a guinea pigs diet, so replace any lost nuggets with plenty of hay.
- Feed the right vegetables. Fresh vegetables should be given to guinea pigs daily but watch out for the veggies that are high in sugar, such as carrots. Broccoli and cabbage, on the other hand, can cause uncomfortable bloating so try to keep these and the sugary vegetables and fruit as treats and feed sparingly. Bell peppers, which are high in vitamin C, can be fed daily and mixed with romaine lettuce, fresh grass, celery and cucumber. Experiment to see what your pigs like and design a menu for them.
There is no ideal weight for a guinea pig as each is individual. Speak with a vet like Baw Baw Paws Vet Clinic if you are concerned and they will be able to give you advice and suggestions on how to keep your piggy a healthy weight.