“Sigh…” – My Overweight Guinea Pig
Did you know, that the chances of overweight guinea pigs are on the rise? The reason is the same as humans — we overfeed them and they didn’t get enough exercise.
Sure, they may look super cute, but since guinea pigs’ bodies are already chubby, to begin with, it will be difficult for them if they’re overweight.
- How do I know I have a overweight guinea pig?
- What should I do?
- What to do when you have a Overweight Guinea Pig – Do’s & Don’ts
- Foods to & not to feed an overweight guinea pig
- Story : Overweight Popcorn and how he became healthy again
- So how did he lose weight?
How do I know I have a overweight guinea pig?
You will know that by weighting them on a scale or using this no-scale guinea pig body chart. I covered both topics in this post.
If you suspect your guinea pig IS overweight, please see a vet to confirm and for further tips and recommendations.
Why is it bad for guinea pigs to be overweight?
Yes it is. Obesity, like in humans, is dangerous for your guinea pigs’ health. For example:
- prone to health problems such as heat disease, cystitis, high blood pressure, and arthritis
- shortened lifespan
- difficulty moving, jumping, or running fast
- become more lazy
- may be fat shamed by other pigs (just kidding!)
What should I do?
When you have confirmed your piggy is overweight (not pregnant), in most cases it will have to lose some weight to be healthier. This means fewer treats and more exercise.
What to do when you have a Overweight Guinea Pig – Do’s & Don’ts
- Put it on a slow weight loss plan under your vet’s approval, crash diets will cause your piggy stress
- Dial back on the treats and pellets, making sure that the pellets you feed your piggy are healthy and timothy hay-based like this one. Check the recommended serving on the package and cut the portion slowly.
- I did hours of research comparing which pellets for guinea pigs are the best in 2022, so you can lay back and relax. Here’s top 5 best healthy pellets for guinea pigs
- Similar to the previous point, cut back foods high in sugar. It’s ok to treat your guinea pig once in a while, but don’t give him a fattening treat every day. If you notice your small pet is getting chubbier, lay off the treats altogether.
- Encourage your piggy to exercise and move more. You can do this by starting training basic tricks, providing a larger space to run, longer free roam time, etc.
- Make sure your piggy still has unlimited Timothy hay and water
- put it on a crash diet. I can’t stress this point enough — It’s really important because guinea pigs like routines and got used to their normal diets, so go slow
- Feed it other hays other than Timothy Hay. Other types of hay have higher calories and less fibre.
- Let your guinea pig go hungry. This is very dangerous. Just remember not to give him high-calorie foods like treats from pet stores. They contain lots of sugar, nuts, and dried fruits
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Foods to & not to feed an overweight guinea pig
- cucumbers and lettuce are some of the best veggies for weight loss in guinea pigs, Bonus for high water content!
- limit vegetables and fruits that are high in sugar (ex. Carrots, apples). Nuts and seeds as well as store-bought “healthy” treats should be cut of entirely as they will cause unhealthy weight gain in guinea pigs due to high sugar, fat, and calorie content
Story : Overweight Popcorn and how he became healthy again
First off, 150 grams may not seem like a lot, but for a small pet like a guinea pig, it’s a huge amount. Think of it like 10lbs in humans
So Popcorn was a single piggy when we adopted him from the animal shelter. Without a buddy, he moved less. My sister and I also like to cuddle him and give him lots of veggies, and at first, we gave him a not-so-healthy brand of pellets full of nuts.
Moreover, since he gets very anxious when my sister and I clip his nails, we give him veggies so he’ll calm down and stay put as I clip them. Even though I rarely give him fruits, Popcorn is a professional cuteness hypnotizer and gets veggies from all my family members as they pass by his cage.
Even though Popcorn moved into a large cage that is designed to house two guinea pigs for himself when my family and I moved, as well as having his daily training session (teaching him to jump hoops, play tag with us, etc) /cuddling time, one day we noticed that Popcorn was moving slower, and sometimes he would hop like a rabbit, as well as using his right leg more than his left. We took him to the vet and after a check-up, this is what the vet found out.
Turns out, Popcorn has arthritis on his left leg. Arthritis is more likely to be present in older and overweight guinea pigs. At that time Popcorn was only 3 years old, and the vet stated that Popcorn is overweight.
Before you ask “didn’t you weigh Popcorn?” yes I did. We just thought it was because he hasn’t pooped or peed and as a result added more weight. I also thought that his breed is naturally bigger, so he would weigh more. Nevertheless, these two factors would only add a small amount of weight, and at the end of the day, Popcorn’s still overweight.
So how did he lose weight?
First, we started switching the unhealthy pellets to healthy ones and also cutting back his pellets. I have only given Popcorn half the recommended portions before and we slowly cut them back to zero.
To this day, I only give Popcorn one tablespoon of pellets as I found out that somehow he gains lots of grams from it.
Secondly, we restricted his veggies to one cup maximum, with no fruits or carrots, except for a little bit of bell pepper for the vitamin C. More than half of these veggies were given during training sessions.
Then, we make exercising for Popcorn more fun. As he’s a single piggy and doesn’t have a piggy buddy to play with, we turned the playpen into a maze, obstacle courses, and also play with him more often to get him to move around. Of course, a washable, soft and big play mat for pets is required. That’s why I bought this leakproof and water proof pet mat for him – Popcorn LOVED it.
Moreover. using this And Popcorn loves the attention and “more treats”. In truth, we just give him smaller portions of veggies more frequently
In two months, Popcorn had successfully lost roughly 150 grams, from 1365grams (I know) to 1220 grams!
He now moves faster and normally. Even so, his arthritis is still present as it could not be fully cured.
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What are your thoughts?
Does this article help you? Do you have any tips, questions, or stories to share? Please let me know in the comments below!