How Can I Help a Fat Guinea Pig Lose Weight?

One of the most endearing qualities of guinea pigs is their cute and often chubby physique. 

While we may find chunky cavies to be utterly adorable, there are instances where our pet needs to lose some weight. 

Like humans, guinea pigs will eat out of boredom or lack of stimulation and gain weight. 

They also need adequate exercise to keep their weight in check. 

We’ll let you know how to help a fat guinea pig lose weight. 

Help your guinea pig lose weight by providing stimulation and time to exercise while cutting back on unhealthy treats. Reduce the number of pellets and high-calorie snacks while increasing healthy vegetables and grass feed to help them lose weight. 

Guinea pigs are naturally a little on the chubby side, but a line is crossed when it begins to affect their health. 

If you are worried your cavy is overweight, we’ll let you know everything to do to help them lose weight healthily and safely. 

how can i help my guinea pig lose weight

How To Help My Guinea Pig Lose Weight

The first step to helping your guinea pig lose weight is determining if they are overweight. 

The best way to do this is by taking your cavy to your veterinarian to get an expert opinion. 

If you are sure your cavy needs to lose weight, there are many options. 

A healthy guinea pig starts with a balanced diet. 

Maybe you’re spoiling your beloved pet with a few too many treats when they should be eating their regular balanced feed. 

Reducing how often you give your pet a fattening treat will help to reduce their weight tremendously. 

It’s important not to starve your cavy or reduce their food intake too quickly. 

Slowly reducing the amount of food for your overweight guinea pigs is the safest and most healthy way to get rid of excess weight. 

We recommend reducing the number of pellets you feed your guinea pig and replacing them with healthy, low-calorie grasses and vegetables. 

Check out our complete list of what guinea pigs eat for more ideas.

Just like with humans, weight loss comes from the combination of a healthy diet and proper exercise. 

If your cavy spends nearly all their time in their cage alone, they will likely seek stimulation from food and gain weight. 

As a guinea pig owner, you must give your pet plenty of exercise regardless of weight. 

Exercise is key for increasing the quality of your cavy’s life and their physical and mental health. 

Related: Do guinea pigs get hiccups from eating too quickly?

How To Tell If My Guinea Pig Is Overweight

If you are a new guinea pig owner, you may think your guinea pig is overweight even if they are not. 

Guinea pigs have a naturally fluffy and chubby physique. 

It’s important not to mistake a healthy weight for weight gain, as you may cause your beloved pet to lose too much weight and become sickly and unhealthy. 

While an expert opinion from a veterinarian is the best route, monitoring your cavy’s weight from home works as well. 

Use a small kitchen scale or gram scale to track guinea pig weights and compare it to the average size for their sex and age. 

  • Mature male guinea pigs, or boars, should weigh between 2-2.6 pounds. 
  • Mature female guinea pigs, or sows, should weigh between 1.5-2 pounds. 
  • Boars typically weigh 25% more than sows. 

Another way to determine if your guinea pig is at a healthy weight is by feeling their bodies. 

You should be able to feel the ribs, hips, and spines of a healthy guinea pig with light pressure. 

If there is too much body mass over the bones, you won’t be able to feel the ribs, hips, or spine. 

This often indicates your cavy needs to lose some weight. 

What To Feed An Overweight Guinea Pig

Once you’ve determined your beloved furry friend is overweight, it’s time to take action to support their weight loss. 

This involves changing their daily food intake to ensure they are getting plenty of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and a healthy diet. 

This will help your overweight pet achieve a healthy weight while preventing possible health issues caused by guinea pig obesity. 

Addressing guinea pigs’ food and diet daily is the best way to get them to lose weight quickly. 

The Humane Society recommends feeding ⅛ cups of pellets daily. 

Many of us guinea pig owners give significantly more. 

Most of your pet’s nutrients should come from their feed. 

Take some time to research different food brands to ensure you’re purchasing the healthiest option. 

Filling the guinea pig cage and food bowl with low-calorie grasses is a great way to allow your pet to munch as much as they want. 

This way, they will eat more low-calorie grasses than commercial treats, often high in fat. 

Also, make sure to give your guinea pig nutritious produce to replace the need for pellets or other foods responsibly for excess weight gain in guinea pigs. 

Related: Can you alter a guinea pig’s diet?

Good Exercises For Overweight Guinea Pigs

how to help guinea pigs exercise to lose weight

In addition to exercise, cavy owners must provide plenty of exercise and stimulation. 

Often, our pets will overeat because they are bored and understimulated. 

Exercise and other forms of stimulation are great for their weight loss and the overall quality of life. 

Boredom may cause guinea pigs to run around their cages like crazy, too.

So watch out for this as a sign of boredom.

Happy guinea pigs have access to guinea pig toys and get lots of floor-time. 

We recommend having a few hours of floor time a week with your guinea pig. 

Set aside some floor space in a guinea pig-safe room. 

Here are some things to keep in mind to have healthy and safe floor time:

  • Keep all other animals out of the room while you have your guinea pig out. 
  • Limit loud noises or flashing lights in the room while your cavy is out and about. 
  • Keep the door closed, and all other exits blocked off to keep them from escaping. 
  • Set up some paper bags or boxes as hiding spaces, so your pet has safe spaces to go to during floor time. 
  • Lay treats and other toys around the room to keep your cavy on the move. The stimulation will increase their overall happiness and also promote healthy exercise. 

Setting up an exercise level in your cavy’s cage is a great option. 

This may include different toys and obstacles to keep your guinea pig moving around and burning calories. 

Hiding treats around the cage engages your cavy both physically and mentally. 

It is a great way to get your pet to a healthy weight and provide plenty of exercise. 

Consider putting lava rocks, Himalayan salt, or other teething toys in the guinea pig cage. 

Warning! If you use lava rocks, get special guinea pig grinding stones, not just random ones. 

These will break teeth or serve as a bathroom if it’s not made correctly. 

Not only will the chewing burn calories and provide exercise, but it will also prevent any guinea pig teeth problems from occurring. 

Guinea pig teeth grow continuously and must be filed down by chewing. 

You’ll be taking care of your pet’s teeth and exercise needs at the same time. 

It’s important to note the risk of injury associated with guinea pigs and exercise wheels. 

Guinea pigs are built very differently than hamsters and other rodents. 

Their spines are fragile and susceptible to injuries. 

Using other forms of stimulation like establishing a safe exercise space is a much more responsible option. 

Dangers Of Guinea Pig Obesity

Carrying excess weight leads to guinea pig health issues. 

It’s important to keep our beloved pets at a healthy weight to keep them from experiencing disease and other health problems. 

Joint Or Spinal Injury

Like humans, guinea pigs are susceptible to having joint issues from carrying excess weight. 

The weight gain will make arthritis worse as they age and cause more pain. 

Cavies have fairly fragile and long spines. 

Carrying more weight than necessary takes a toll on the spine over time. 

Keeping them at a healthy weight will give them a better quality of life throughout their lifespan. 

Ketosis

Ketosis is a condition affecting overweight guinea pigs. 

It is caused by poor glucose levels as well as liver glycogen levels. 

The result causes the body to burn more fat than if the cavy were completely healthy. 

While this is mostly an issue for pregnant guinea pigs, it is still a major health concern. 

It often causes miscarriages and stillborns for pregnant guineas. 

Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis is a skin condition caused by excess weight. 

You’ll notice sores, swelling, and redness on your guinea pigs’ feet. 

They also may be sore in their hocks and legs. 

Often, it results in your poor cavy limping around their cage. 

The irritation is very unpleasant. 

To treat this, we recommend taking your guinea pig to the vet. 

It also helps get them on a healthier diet and maintain a clean cage to prevent further irritation. 

Poor Hygiene 

If you’ve ever sat and watched your guinea pig, you’ve undoubtedly noticed their self-grooming techniques. 

When your guinea pig has too much fat on their bodies, they have significant trouble properly cleaning themselves. 

This is because they are restricted in their range of motion which causes them to have trouble reaching certain spots of their body for proper grooming. 

To effectively clean feces or urine from their fur, they need to access these areas. 

If not, there may be infections, rashes, and sores caused by improper hygiene. 

Not only is this unpleasant for you, but it is also unpleasant for your poor guinea pig and may cause excess stress and anxiety.