Do you have a fat guinea pig?
Or perhaps you are wondering how to figure out if your pet rodent is overly plump.
Below, I’ll go over everything you need to know about obese guinea pigs find what causes it and what can be done to resolve it.
So, keep reading to find ways for your pet to live a healthy life.
Is My Guinea Pig Fat?
Most variations and breeds of guinea pigs have a rather rotund and plump look to them, so it’s reasonable to wonder, “is my guinea pig overweight?”
Don’t worry, there’s a fairly easy way to find out the answer.
If you have had your cavy for quite some time, then you would likely notice any excess guinea pig weight just by looking at them, especially from above. Fat guinea pigs tend to look “bulgy” compared to healthy cavies.
Still not sure? The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association has a great visual guide, called the Guinea pig Size-O-Meter, with an easy-to-follow chart.
Also, if they are fat, you will notice they will be more sluggish and walk differently than they used to, so pay attention to their movements.
How much should a guinea pig weigh?
A male cavy is around 900 to 1200, and female guinea pigs weigh from 700 to 900 grams. But again, a guinea pig’s size depends on which breed they are.
Having different breeds’ stature and body length in mind, use lightweight equipment like a gram scale to find if you need them off high-fat diets.
In a minimal weight gain of up to 50-55 grams, your pet would need a slight diet change. But if it goes up to 80-100 grams, then it is alarming.
With a gram scale, you can keep track of very minimum weight changes. Weigh your cavy every week with the same scale on the same day, and repeat the cycle to keep better track of their body conditions.
That way, you will have a log history of the measurements. A bodyweight record will also help your vet for better analysis when your pet needs a medical check-up.
If you spot any sudden weight loss or gain in the weight log, you should visit your vet to avoid potential risks.
Take a look at this video:
What Causes Obesity in Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs are herbivores; they feed on plants, so it is uncommon for a vegetarian to be overweight because their diet consists of very little fat content.
But junk food, spoiling treats, and lack of exercise needs your attention to protect them from getting too chubby. As a result, your pet pale could face several life-threatening health issues.
As opposed to, your fluffy friend can also gain weight if they suffer a medical problem like a tumor or being pregnant. However, we will discuss these factors in detail down below that cause obesity in your guinea pigs.
#1 Feeding Your Cavies Excessively
Some guinea pig owners spoil their little friends with unhealthy food out of love or lack of food knowledge. But true love is that you care for their diet and feed them a safe amount of food to eat.
Besides, a hefty amount of healthy food with fresh fruits and vegetables is a sensible diet, but overfeeding aids in too much weight in your furry friends.
Fortified pet food is an essential diet for your piggies. At the same time, the number of species-appropriate food available in the market sometimes overwhelms new pet parents. But failing to choose quality food for your pet could lead to undesirable results in their precious health.
A daily food intake limit varies upon:
- The age of your pet
- Type of guinea pig that you have
- Pregnant, lactating piggies
As younger or growing, and pregnant cavies have more nutritional requirements than mature ones. In that case, they have free access to foods that include alfalfa hay that contains more protein, calcium, and calories.
But all of these will fatten a fully matured and healthy guinea pig. Always consult a vet for your cavy about specific food diet and food intake.
Also, make sure to study the feeding instructions on every food package before feeding them to nourish your cavy wisely.
#2 Heavy Treats
As humans, cavies also crave treats. Treat is a lovely way to bond with them and to appreciate them. But offer those wisely in moderation.
As long as you treat them with juicy fruits, vegetables, and hay with hand in small portions, you are good. Giving heavy treats more often makes them lose appetite for their usual diets.
Unfortunately, bad treats seem more tempting than good ones. Assuming whatever you crave will be suitable for your cavy is wrong. Not knowing that could lead to obesity and other medical problems in your pet.
There are some food treats that you should not feed your cavy at all:
- Human treats like chocolates or candies contain a high amount of sugar which will fatten your cavy, and if there is milk, they will not digest it.
- Dairy products — your pet friend’s GI tract is built for plants only, and these will lead to stomach upset and more issues.
- Seeds and nuts run the risk of choking, and some are seriously fattening.
Most commercially available guinea pig treats are no good. To avoid obesity in your cavies, do not feed them stuff high in sugar and starch.
#3 Lack of Exercise
Coming right after the food, the second sweet enemy causing your pet obesity is the lack of energy spent every day.
All guinea pigs are social by nature who likes to play a lot and forage for food.
As with humans, not providing enough room or time to your pet for body movement and leg stretching, they tend to get fat. As well as not allowing them out of the cage leads to physical deficiencies like:
- Poor bone development
If your cavy consumes too many calories and does not burn it, the obesity kicks in, and they feel more sluggish.
An Overweight guinea pig puts unnecessary pressure on the circulatory system (cardiovascular system), which leads to many medical issues.
These fatty acids form in chunks around the whole body, disrupting their normal self-grooming and cause skin problems. A really fat guinea pig also gives rise to ulceration under the skin of their feet called pododermatitis (foot swelling).
Unfortunately, the lack of exercise in fat guinea pigs leads to life-threatening situations, and your beloved friend ends up having a shorter lifespan.
So with that in mind, provide them sufficient playtime, let them forage for food to exercise, and keep them active and healthy.
#4 Health Problems That Make Your Cavy Fat
As we hinted earlier, your guinea pigs put on weight could be a medical reason.
Particularly if you own a female cavy, being pregnant could be the reason to weight gain. A maternal guinea pig puts on about 420-430 grams of weight in their gestation period.
This significant increase in weight is about 80 percent, which is divided throughout the tissues naturally.
Some other medical causes for your chubby friend to look more rounded are tumor or bloat. Often in cavies, excessive gas gets trapped in organs which forms bloat and makes their belly sore, hardened, and swollen. Bloating is a serious emergency that needs timely vet care.
READ MORE: Hamster vs Guinea Pig: Which Pet is Best for You?
Dangers of Having a Fat Guinea Pig
Carrying an extra weight disrupts normal body functions in cavies which is a dangerous call for terrible health issues.
High-fat-fed animals are prone to heart problems, difficulty breathing, cardiac function disorders, and a lot more. We are going to look at some common diseases that are associated with overweight cavies.
This case is not rare in heavyweight cavies. Pod dermatitis or bumblefoot arises when their footpads bear constant and unusual pressure.
Where the underside of the foot becomes severely inflamed, an inflammatory response leads to ulceration that could involve bone. Pod dermatitis also occurs from wet or dirty floors, especially in a cage that has wiry floors.
Osteoporosis (Bone Thinning)
Small animals are more prone to this condition where the bones get thinner. An unbalanced diet and little to no exercise make your little friend sluggish to develop strong bones.
The long bones and spine can easily break with minor accidents or if handled roughly. As well, conditions like osteoporosis associates with calcium deficiency could also lead to dental problems.
Cavies can suffer from this illness when they cannot move around due to obesity.
They cannot groom themselves properly, which leaves waste on their fur, causing flies to roam about and lay their eggs on their skin. And unfortunately, we see maggots when the eggs hatch.
Urine scald also relates here, a symptom when cavies’ bottom stay wet from their urine. You would notice a strong odor and missing fur patches with their hind legs in the back.
Such signs specify that your cavy is having a hard time urinating, and it could lead to more severe problems if left unchecked.
Fat cavies also run the risk of getting lungs infections to cause them difficulties in breathing.
This medical condition occurs when the blood sugar reaches the highest point.
Ketosis also refers to pregnancy toxemia, in which the body burns fat more than it needs to because of improper glucose levels.
The breakdown of fatty acid composition in the body produces ketones, which is a normal metabolic process.
One of the reasons cavy falls in this situation is obesity, which most often occurs in pregnant cavies. It also affects overweight male guinea pigs.
Apart from that, there are so much more like
- Hypertension ( high blood pressure )
- Gastrointestinal stasis ( digestive system slows down )
- Arthritis ( swelling and tenderness of joints )
- Back pain
All these issues become very difficult to treat once they occur. But to prevent these unpleasant circumstances, addressing the fundamental cause — obesity — is the key.
READ MORE: Can Guinea Pig Swim?
How to Control Your Guinea Pigs Weight
There are a few steps that you should take to keep your furry friends’ weight under control before they get too chubby on you.
Although, cavies have a natural tendency to live on nutrient-rich food. But it does not mean to ignore that you should provide a proper dietary regime and exercise routine, so they maintain a long and healthy living.
Maintaining a healthy weight requires a proper diet that is compulsory for the body. As for cavies, they need plenty of fiber, an adequate vitamin C status, and other foods rich in nutrients.
Freshwater, timothy hay, or grass hay is the only food they should have free access to whenever they want.
But avoid feeding alfalfa hay all the time because it fattens them (as mentioned above). Hay contains the necessary nutrients and fiber which they need to help improve their digestive system.
It also wears down the constantly growing teeth of the cavy.
As we know, vitamin C should be their dietary vitamin. Cavies don’t produce it and get very sick if we don’t address this requirement in time.
There are vitamin C fortified guinea pig pellets that you should provide, so they are in good health and not low on levels of vitamin C.
In addition, research — or ask your cavy’s vet — for other vegetables and fruits that are guinea pig-safe to aid in additional nutrients necessary.
Make an Exercise Routine
Diet and exercise go hand in hand for better results. If your little friend is a couch potato, then you better start training him right away.
You should spend some time with your cavy daily in a safe environment and urge him to play and explore. But try not to push him too much in the start to avoid any stress on his body and increase it gradually.
Be creative as it motivates them. After all, domestic guinea pigs are super friendly and social creatures. You can use the following tips for inspiration so that they progress in physical activities.
- Provide a larger cage and use toys to hide healthy treats in every corner for them. So every time with curiosity, they move around and forage for food and treats.
- Use a small roller (you can use a toilet roll) and put the hay inside of it — and some healthy treats — so they keep chasing it.
- Hang treats, dangling treats (like a feather teaser for cats) should excite them to reach out for, so they get plenty of exercises. Remember, though! Not to hang them too high to such an extent that they put extra stress on their spines.
How do you know if your guinea pig is overweight?
In an overweight guinea pig, you won’t be able to feel the ribs and spine if you gently examine him with your figures. But if you are not into that, a guinea pig size o meter offers more measurement insights.
What should I do if my guinea pig is obese?
If your guinea pig is obese, you should put him on regular dietary treatments right away. Typical diets like timothy or grass hay with fresh water, vegetables, and juicy fruits provide the nutrients they need. Additionally, make sure they get sufficient exercise.
What food makes guinea pigs fat?
High-fat foods are the worst culprit. Too many treats with high sugar and lack of exercise make your cavy fat. Foods that you should not feed your cavies are dairy products, nuts, chocolates, biscuits, and other junk foods.
Coping with a fat guinea pig is like dealing with an overweight human. There is not much difference in both besides a dietary component. If you find your cavy fat, follow this detailed guide to better care for their health.
We hope you find this article convenient, so you can avoid some of the horrible sides of dealing with life-threatening health issues in your fluffy pets.
- “Forest Veterinary Clinic.” 2019. Forestvets.co.uk. 2019. https://forestvets.co.uk/.
- Oxbow Animal Health. 2020. “Oxbow Animal Health.” Oxbow Animal Health. 2020. https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/how-to-tell-if-your-rabbit-or-guinea-pig-is-overweight-or-underweight/.
- “Tips for Preventing Obesity in Guinea Pigs – Petcover AU.” 2018. Petcover AU. December 10, 2018. https://www.petcovergroup.com/au/tips-for-preventing-obesity-in-guinea-pigs/.
- View all of author1 author1’s posts. 2020. “Do Guinea Pigs Get Fat? | How to Make Your Guinea Pig Lose Weight.” Animal-Club.co.uk. November 30, 2020. https://animal-club.co.uk/do-guinea-pigs-get-fat/.
Is your guinea pig overweight? What do you do to control it? Let us know in the comments below!
Ari is a passionate animal lovers. He loves finding quirky names for his guinea pig and bearded dragon