Everyone that likes guinea pigs knows what is the most fun and adorable thing about keeping these rodents as pets. And, of course, that is the feeding time. The guinea pigs munch on many things, mostly fresh produced pellets and hay. But almost every owner or the future owner is concerned with how much do these pets actually eat, or if they can overeat on some foods.
Can guinea pigs overeat? Yes, guinea pigs can overeat, but just like all other animals and humans, they feel full after overeating and they will stop chewing more food. Guinea pigs can overeat only if the owner gives them food constantly, and can even weigh more due to this. It is essential to determine the proper dosage of foods for the guinea pigs and feed them for scheduled intervals of time.
If there is one thing guinea pigs are really great at, it is chewing something constantly. Just like other animals and humans too, they can overeat and even become overweight or chubby. They can clearly indulge in many tasty and extra-tasty foods and treats, and munch them all the time – don’t we do the same sometimes too? But, it is also crucial to know which foods make the guinea pig overeat in general.
The Best and Worst Foods to Keep in Mind for the Guinea Pig’s Nutrition
As a rule of thumb, the guinea pigs love fresh produced items such as hay and pellets.
They like everything that grows on the ground which is raw, leafy, or root-y and similar consistency. For the most part, veggies and fruits have enough fibers to keep the digestive system working well, and since the guinea pigs lack vitamin C naturally, they get it from produce.
Hay and pellets are another favorite things for guinea pigs, and they are also diet essential too, since these items also work the digestion, and they keep their constantly growing teeth in great shape.
But, can the guinea pig overeat even on healthy foods? Most likely, yes. Too much of anything isn’t a great thing. It is not that the guinea pig will become ill by overeating on healthy foods fit for it, but if it overeats on just a few items, it will lack other food items and have an unbalanced diet.
Let’s see which foods are super healthy, which should be given in moderation and which are bad for the guinea pig – make sure to know these and to create a balanced diet!
eggplant, broccoli, celery, chicory, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, endive, fennel, green oats, paprika, parsley root, parsnip, radicchio, red oak leaf lettuce, rutabaga, sunchoke, turnip, turnip greens, zucchini, apple, rosehip, strawberry, blueberries, blackberries, blackgrass, Aaron’s beard, Alfalfa, arnica, balm, basil, blackberry bush, waybread, buckhorn plantain, caraway, chamomile, chickweed, coriander, dandelion, dill, lavender, nettle (dry), rosemary.
Give in moderation:
asparagus, radish, beetroot, spinach, carrot, field salad, rocket, iceberg lettuce, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangold, sweet potato, tomato, banana, grape, kiwi, mandarin, melon, watermelon, orange, pear, salvia.
Avoid at all costs:
sweets and sugars, chips and fried snacks, onion, garlic, bulb plants, plain cabbage, legumes, potato, avocado, stone fruit, papaya, pomegranate, mango, agave, buttercup, daffodils, geranium, juniper, lily.
How Often to Feed the Guinea Pig and What Dosages Are Right?
The simple rule to remember is that 4 feedings a day should be perfect and enough for your guinea pig.
- In the morning, feed it hay, and you can give it lots of it for a fresh and good start of the day.
- At noon is the second meal, which can be any fresh food from the good foods list for a guinea pig.
- The third meal can be a mix of fruits and veggies or fruits only.
- At night, not too late though, can be the dinner and also last meal for the day – try to give it fresh veggies.
The dosages may vary for different items. For example:
- Hay and pellets – large quantities all day long, if needed, but the minimum is 1(+) cups per day.
- Veggies – at least twice a day, a 1 full cup minimum.
- Fruits – at least once a day, less than one cup (due to the sugar fruits contain).
How to Know If the Guinea Pig Starts to Get Overweight?
This one should be very easy and simple to notice. Of course, if the guinea pig munches every single time you give it food (more than 3-4 times daily) and eats for a long time – it overeats. And, if it starts to look ‘rounder’ than it should, it gets chubby.
If you take the guinea pig in your arms to pet it, notice the bones versus mass ratio. If its ribs and spine are clearly felt and even seen, you have an underweight guinea pig. But, if the ribs and spine are not visible and barely felt with your hand, it is time for fewer munchies all day long!
Measure its weight, primarily for health reasons above all. Male guinea pigs weigh between 900 and 1300 grams, and females from 700 to 1000 grams, so these are numbers to remember when you weight it regularly.
How to Change the Diet of the Guinea Pig from Fattening to a Healthy Diet?
We have mentioned the times of day the guinea pig should eat, and the average dosages. You can refer to them as main guidelines for your pet’s diet.
Just remember, the primary foods are hay and pellets, together with fresh veggies, fruits are also very healthy and good, but in moderate dosages due to the sugar intake.
Make sure it drinks water and is well hydrated – this means the water bottle must have clean and fresh water all the time, it is not a big chore to change the water every day, even few times daily.
And whatever allowed/healthy food you feed your guinea pig, ensure it is vitamin C-rich for the best health benefits.
The big NO are sweets, snacks, processed foods, and even treats for Guinea pigs; they have artificial sweeteners and unnecessary sugars. Your guinea pig will be happy enough with its hay and pellets and fresh produce.
Can the Guinea Pig Slim down After Long Periods of Overeating?
It is a good idea to talk with the vet and schedule a physical exam for the guinea pig. Many factors play a role in its slimming if needed. For example pregnancy, development, age, health status and other things determine how successful is the slimming going to be.
As with all weight loss regimes, exercise and movement are crucial to shed some fat. Encourage the guinea pig to engage in play activities with the other guinea pig, or with you. Take it out of the cage and place it on the floor. The floor is a great play space for these rodents, so have several toys, boxes, tunnels, large wheels or similar objects that will get the cute cavy moving more.
If it gets motivated by food only, make the feeding time a part of the play time! Set the food in various locations and connect those locations with the toys – the guinea pig will feel like it is chasing the food when in facts it’s active and moving without knowing!
Side Effects of Overeating in Guinea Pigs
Overeating is not healthy overall, and this is a known fact. It can make guinea pigs immobile and sedentary chubby, but more importantly, it causes health issues and problems. You surely don’t want your cute rodent to suffer health issues, so be very careful how often and with what you feed it.
Certain foods or certain dosages will cause diarrhea and upset stomach with impaired digestion. This goes especially for veggies, so limit the intake as recommended and keep an eye on the stool of your guinea pigs.
Other foods will just enhance the lack of vitamins, especially the vitamin C – so never feed your guinea pig forbidden food off of the list, and give it more vitamin C foods for optimal immunity and health.
It is not noted that hay and pellets cause health problems in guinea pigs, but only if eaten too much, the only problem is more calories than needed – however, this food item is not a concern, even if overeaten.
If you notice your guinea pig overeats just one or two foods, you need to change its diet to a healthier one. Make a variety based diet and don’t just hand it one same food item – make every meal different and with different ingredients. If you feed your guinea pig only lettuce all day long, it will overeat lettuce and get diarrhea, and so on.
Remember, every day to give your guinea pig hay and pellets, veggies, fruits, and one meal with mixed ingredients from the ones already given, and all in proper dosages – so the guinea pig can be happy, healthy and in great shape!