a complete guide to an overweight guinea pig

A Complete Guide to an Overweight Guinea Pig – What Should You Do?

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Sure, an overweight guinea pig might look cute, but it’s not healthy. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about signs of your piggy being overweight, what to do and so much more.

And I know, easier said than done. But I’m not just your run-of-the-mill advisor. Been there, done that! One of my piggies had a phase of packing on the fluff, but fear not, we turned it around.

How do I know I have an overweight guinea pig?

Spotting whether your guinea pig is carrying a few extra grams can be as straightforward as a step onto the scale or a glance at a handy no-scale guinea pig body chart. I’ve got you covered on both fronts in this post, making it a breeze for you to keep tabs on your little fluffball’s fitness.

If you’re side-eyeing your guinea pig’s pudginess, it’s always wise to bring in the professionals. A visit to the vet not only confirms whether your cavy is indeed packing more pellets than necessary but also opens up a conversation on tailored tips and recommendations.

After all, when it comes to your guinea pig’s well-being, a second opinion from a vet is never a bad idea.

is my guinea pig overweight?

Is it possible to overfeed a guinea pig? 

Yes, it’s possible to overfeed your Guinea pig with foods like vegetables, fruits, pellets and treats. However, keep in mind that guinea pigs need unlimited amounts of hay every day. 

The most common foods that Guinea pig owners overfeed their potatoes with are pellets and treats. 

Pellets can be a healthy addition to your piggy’s diet if it’s nutritious, but there are many pellets out there that contain trashy ingredients. So, here are 5 of the best healthy pellets for adult Guinea pigs that I spent days researching and reviewing. 

Treats for Guinea pigs should be fed sparingly. Most of the time, store-bought treats for piggies contain ingredients that are not only hard for them to digest, but also harmful. 

Treats also contain a lot of sugar, which can lead to health problems such as obesity if consumed too much.

That’s why I tend to make homemade treats for my Guinea pigs that are delicious and nutritious too, like these homemade hay cookies for Guinea pigs

guinea pig

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 heart 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), and the weight gain is not stemming from underlying health problems, in most cases it will have to lose some weight to be healthier.

This means fewer treats and more exercise.

What to do when your guinea pig is overweight?

First things first, chat with your vet to rule out any health hiccups. Together, come up with a cool meal plan—watch those pellets and toss in some crunchy veggies.

Now, let’s get the little buddy movin’! A roomy cage, play dates, and even some veggie-fueled exploration will do the trick. Treats are awesome, but let’s keep them healthy and dial back a little, okay? Swap out sugary snacks for fresh fruits or veggies.

And don’t forget the scale – regular weigh-ins will help you track progress. Follow these laid-back tips, and your pudgy piggie will be rocking their ideal weight in no time, keeping them happy, healthy, and ready for more snuggles!

Managing an overweight guinea pig – Do’s and Don’ts

DO:

  • 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 are the top 5 best healthy pellets for guinea pigs
  • Similar to the previous point, cut back on foods high in sugar, like bananas. 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
guinea pig

DON’Ts:

  • 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

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 off entirely as they will cause unhealthy weight gain in guinea pigs due to high sugar, fat, and calorie content

How do you exercise a fat guinea pig?

There are a lot of ways to encourage your Guinea pig to exercise, like training tricks, adding more tunnels, having a large space for them to free roam, and more. Here are 5 ways to get your piggy moving in a fun way.

1. Training tricks 

Training your Guinea pig tricks is one of my favourite ways to encourage them to not only move their bodies but also their little brains. Don’t be fooled by their cute innocent looks, your piggies are very smart! 

You can start by teaching it to circle and stand. Another easy but amazing trick is jumping through a hoop. Here’s how you can make a DIY jumping hoop with a piece of cardboard and how to teach your Guinea pig to jump through a hoop. 

2. Add more two-way hideouts and tunnels 

Adding more hideouts and tunnels will encourage your Guinea pig to explore more. But why two-way, or better, 3 or 4-way hideouts?

Have you noticed your piggies “trying out” the hides you newly put in the cage? My potatoes like to walk back and forth from the hideout I put in the cage after cleaning. 

Hideouts with more than one way can encourage your Guinea pigs to walk through it, even just for fun. l frequently put this bendable wooden bridge as one of their hideouts. It’s very durable yet flexible and my piggies love to walk through and also climb on it. 

Bonus: two-way hideouts are a to-go when bonding Guinea pigs because they can run and escape easily. 

3. Hide their veggies

No, I don’t mean not giving them vegetables, it’s an essential part of a Guinea pig’s diet. However, hiding their vegetables in places in their cages for them to find can encourage your piggies to explore and move more. 

I like to hide vegetables on climbing hideouts, toys, bridges and so on. That way, they can use their little noses to find the treats. It’s also a great way to keep your potatoes entertained, especially for single Guinea pigs. 

guinea pig rumbling meaning

4. Give them more room and let them out

Would you be likely to move more in a small or big house? Just like us, Guinea pigs are more likely to get moving in a larger living space. 

So, offering them room to roam freely not only ensures a healthier lifestyle but also taps into their natural inclination to explore.

Remember, a bigger home equals more opportunities for them to stay active and engaged.

5. Make moving fun 

Never force your Guinea pig to exercise, it doesn’t work. Instead, set up opportunities that interest your piggy. For example, I made a maze with cardboard pieces and I timed my three Guinea pigs on how fast they can go from start to finish. It was very fun for both the piggies and me to watch.

Is 3 lbs too heavy for a guinea pig?

3 pounds is a bit heavy for a guinea pig. They usually range between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. Keeping them within that range ensures their well-being and health. If a guinea pig exceeds 3 pounds, it might be prone to health issues, including obesity, which can lead to various complications.

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.

best enrichment toys for guinea pigs
Popcorn cuddling

What Happened?

Turns out, Popcorn has arthritis in 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 is 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.

guinea pig wheeking

Secondly, we restricted his veggies to one cup maximum, with no fruits or carrots, except for a little bit of bell pepper for 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, and 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 waterproof pet mat for him – Popcorn LOVED it.

Moreover. using this Popcorn loves 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 1365 grams (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.

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!

guinea pig

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