Guinea pigs are undoubtedly one of the cutest pets you can have. They look even more adorable when they’re nice and plump. But just because they look cute, doesn’t mean we should overfeed our little furballs.
A key factor in owning a pet, any pet, is to master the art of moderation. We know that’s easier said than done, especially when your pet is a picky and/or fussy eater, but it is of utmost importance irrespective. This holds especially true when you own pets such as guinea pigs who have a lifespan of anywhere between 4 to 8 years. You would want them to lead a healthy long life as opposed to an unhealthy and unnaturally short life.
A common question people ask is what the harm is if we overfeed our guinea pigs, as long as we feed them healthy food. This article will explore all the reasons why overfeeding guinea pigs is a bad idea.
What do Guinea Pigs Eat?
It is always important to know what exactly you should be feeding your guinea pig in order to ensure you’re providing them with a safe, substantial, and balanced diet.
Guinea pigs come from the rodent family and are herbivores. That means their diet consists entirely of greens especially those greens which have high fiber content.
Guinea pigs should be given lots of vegetables. Crunchy vegetables, in particular, are important for your pet’s dental health since their teeth keep growing, and chewing crunchy vegetables will help maintain the shape and length. Vegetables that are safe to offer your guinea pig include cucumber, peppers, green beans, parsley, and lettuce.
Vegetables to avoid include the stem and leaf of tomatoes (the tomato itself is safe). Potatoes in any shape or form should be avoided.
Fruits are also healthy food that can be given to your furball. However, fruits are more of an occasional treat rather than a staple part of their diet. Fruits that can be given include apples, bananas, and grapes.
Fruits that should be avoided include all citrus fruits. Guinea pigs have a highly sensitive stomach and the acid content in the citrus fruits is harmful to them.
However, Vitamin C is also important for your pet so the alternatives to citrus foods are the pellets that are made specifically for guinea pigs. They are rich in both Vitamin C and in protein. However, make sure to give them fresh pellets every day because the stale ones lose out on all nutritious value.
Guinea pigs also need to have hay as a staple part of their diet in order to be able to digest their food better. Hay is also another important element in your pet’s dental hygiene. A guinea pig’s teeth and nail grow super-fast and hay helps keep the teeth short and healthy. Hay is easily available at pet shops. Options appropriate for your guinea pigs include “Alfalfa” and “Timothy” hay. You can alternate between the two to offer options in food to your guinea pig.
What not to feed your Guinea Pig?
While it is important to know what food to feed your guinea pig, you should also know what food to avoid. A common blunder most pet owners make is to believe that just because something is safe for them to eat; it will be safe for their pets. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes, human food is as healthy as it might be poisonous for our pets.
We have already told you about vegetables and citrus food that needs to be avoided. It should go without saying man’s junk food should not under any circumstances be fed to your guinea pig and that includes biscuits and chips. Chocolates could prove to be fatal for your furball. Also, avoid dairy products since they will make your guinea pig sick. Sugar, unless its source is fruits, should not be a part of your guinea pig’s diet.
Meat should also be avoided at all costs. Guinea pigs are herbivores and cannot tolerate meat in their systems and if given, they can die as a result.
Certain plants are also dangerous for your pet. Rhubarb is dangerous for guinea pigs and so is poppy. Most household plants pose a risk for your guinea pig so if you plan to keep plants, make sure to do your research beforehand.
Do Guinea Pigs overeat?
For most of the part, Guinea pigs don’t overeat and are self-regulating which means they aren’t always on the prowl for something to eat. Hence it is safe to leave out hay and pellet to eat and chew on for that dose of Vitamin C and for their oral health as well. They will also need fresh water as well.
However, some furballs may be a bit overindulgent when it comes to the food they like so you’ll have to be careful.
You will need to portion the amount of food that is being given to your Guinea pig. One cup of vegetables is usually more than enough for a day of food. Fruits have to be in lesser quantities since they have high sugar content. Once or twice a week should suffice.
The number of pellets to be given measures somewhere around 1/8th a cup. You can also tell if you’ve given too many pellets if any are leftover.
While a chunky guinea pig is adorable to look at but has a whole bunch of problems that overshadow the cuteness.
Just like humans, Guinea pigs will suffer the following as a result of obesity caused as a result of overfeeding:
- Heart problems
- Back problems
As responsible pet owners, it is our responsibility to know how to take care of our pets especially where food is concerned. If you feel you may have been overfeeding your furball, take them to the vet to get them weighed. If they are overweight, the simple solution is exercise and food portion control!