Whenever a healthy guinea pig is not playing or sleeping, it is most likely eating.
Guinea pigs are constant grazers, and they need a regular supply of food to keep their digestive system running smoothly.
It may seem like your guinea pig is always eating, which is completely normal behavior.
So, will your guinea pig stop eating when it is full?
A guinea pig’s stomach sends a message to the brain when it is full, and the animal stops eating for a while. However, if your guinea pig is not getting enough fiber in its diet, the animal will not feel full and keep eating.
When the guinea pig stops eating, it will usually take a short nap and will likely resume eating afterward.
This continuous eating pattern keeps the guinea pig’s digestive system moving and provides the animal with a steady energy source.
Keep reading for more information about guinea pig eating habits and which foods to avoid.
Table of Contents
Is It Possible to Overfeed a Guinea Pig?
When a guinea pig is not provided with adequate fiber in its diet, the animal will not feel full as quickly.
This decrease in the ability to feel full will cause the cavy to overeat.
Overeating quickly leads to obesity and other health issues in guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs are also unable to vomit, so anything they eat must travel through the intestines to exit the body.
Unhealthy foods with high amounts of fats and carbohydrates will cause a cavy’s digestive system to move more slowly, leading to constipation and losing appetite.
Always provide your guinea pig with food, but monitor its eating and bathroom habits to ensure your pet stays healthy.
It is also recommended to weigh your cavy at least once per month to check for excessive weight gain.
If your guinea pig is overeating and gaining a lot of weight, you will need to change its diet.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Stop Eating?
If your guinea pig stops eating for a prolonged time, this is a cause for concern.
You will need to seek veterinary care as soon as possible since not eating may be life-threatening for a cavy.
Gastrointestinal diseases in guinea pigs are very common, and a lack of appetite is one of the main symptoms.
Appetite loss may eventually become anorexic when your guinea pig stops eating altogether.
The most common health reasons for a guinea pig to lose its appetite include gastrointestinal stasis, overgrown teeth, and stress.
A guinea pig’s digestive system shuts down when gastrointestinal stasis occurs and the animal stops eating.
The less food your cavy eats, the slower its intestines digest food until they stop working entirely.
GI stasis is a life-threatening issue for your cavy, and you need to seek emergency veterinary care.
The most common cause of GI stasis is a diet too low in fiber and too high in fats and complex carbohydrates.
Overgrown Teeth and Dental Disease
Guinea pigs do not have baby teeth, which grow into adult teeth.
Instead, a cavy has a set of teeth in the front of its mouth and along its cheeks, which are continuously growing.
A diet with plenty of roughage and chew toys will usually wear the teeth of guinea pigs down naturally and keep them short.
However, with a poor diet and lack of things to chew on, these teeth will grow so long your guinea pig will be unable to eat.
Overgrown teeth will also cause your cavy to be in pain because it may not be able to close its mouth properly.
If your guinea pig’s teeth do not wear down enough, you may have to resort to regular teeth trimming.
Dental disease will also cause your cavy to stop eating.
Other symptoms of dental disease include drooling, bleeding gums, tooth abscesses, and weight loss.
In a cavy’s tooth roots, abscesses may also lead to upper respiratory infections.
Since guinea pigs are prey animals, they are always on high alert, which may lead to them becoming stressed.
When a guinea pig is stressed out for a prolonged time, the risk of developing a disease is increased, and the animal may stop eating.
A sudden shock or scare may even cause cardiac arrest in guinea pigs.
Maintaining a calm, stress-free environment and keeping the cage clean is crucial for your cavy’s health.
Reduce environmental stress by removing any stressors near the cage immediately.
Keep the guinea pig cage in a quiet area of your home and avoid exposing the animal to excess stress caused by loud noises or sudden movement.
How Much Do You Feed a Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs are usually supplied with an endless amount of hay along with 1/8 cup of fortified pellets and around 1 cup of vegetables every day.
You may provide your cavy with fruits and other treats but do so sparingly.
Guinea pigs love treats, and they will happily ignore healthier options in favor of sugary, high-fat snacks.
Too many fats and carbohydrates will cause your cavy to gain weight and disrupt its digestive system.
It is usually best to allow your guinea pig to eat freely throughout the day.
If your guinea pig seems to be gaining too much weight, you may need to use portion control to prevent overfeeding.
While your cavy will still need constant access to high-quality hay, limit the number of fats, carbohydrates, and sugary foods, such as fruits and certain vegetables.
When Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
There is no particular time of day for guinea pigs to eat since they eat almost every chance they get.
Cavies are diurnal animals, meaning they are most active at the hours of dawn and dusk.
A cavy will sleep for short periods during the day and the night, and it spends the rest of its time eating, pooping, or playing.
Ensure your guinea pig has fresh food and clean drinking water twice per day, in the morning and evening.
Rinse the water bottle every day before refilling it with fresh water.
What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
A healthy diet for guinea pigs should consist of high-quality hay, fortified pellets, and fresh vegetables.
Cavies cannot make their own vitamin C, so it is crucial to include it in their diet.
A vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of scurvy in guinea pigs, which may be fatal.
As long as you are feeding your cavy a varied diet full of essential nutrients, you will not need additional vitamin or mineral supplements.
Hay is a dietary staple for guinea pigs because it provides the fiber they need to maintain a healthy digestive system.
The rough texture of hay also naturally wears down a cavy’s teeth and prevents them from growing too long.
Timothy hay is the preferred type for guinea pigs due to its high fiber and low calcium and calorie content.
Reserve alfalfa hay for cavies six months old or younger.
A malnourished or sick guinea pig may also be fed alfalfa hay until it reaches a healthy weight.
Alfalfa hay is higher in calories and calcium than timothy hay.
Too much calcium will cause a guinea pig to develop bladder stones and other urinary tract issues.
Commercial Food Pellets
The best commercial guinea pig feed is pellets fortified with high levels of vitamin C and made without added seeds or dried fruit.
The freshness of the pellets is important because vitamin C tends to degrade quickly.
Offer your cavy about 1/8 cup of pellets every day in a shallow ceramic bowl.
Replace the pellets in the food bowl every day because their vitamin C content degrades as they go stale.
If there are regularly pellets leftover in your cavy’s food dish, you may be feeding too many.
Avoid using alfalfa-based pellets unless your cavy is very young or underweight because they contain too many calories.
In addition to hay and commercial food pellets, your guinea pig needs at least one cup of vegetables in its daily diet.
Most of your cavy’s vegetables will include leafy greens like romaine lettuce, kale, dandelion greens, and cilantro.
Feed different greens every day to keep your pet’s diet interesting.
Introduce new vegetables to your guinea pig’s diet slowly to prevent stomach upsets such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Red or green peppers, carrot tops, and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamin C, and they may also be fed every day.
Corn, peas, and carrots contain natural sugars, but they are still safe to feed to your cavy once or twice per week.
Spinach and parsley also provide essential nutrients, but it is best to limit or avoid them in your cavy’s diet because they are high in oxalates.
Oxalates increase the risk of a cavy developing calcium stones in its bladder.
Remove any vegetables within a few hours of feeding, so they will not spoil and spread harmful bacteria.
Learn more about all the foods guinea pigs can eat.
Offering an occasional treat is a nice way to reward your cavy.
Treats should only make up 10% of your cavy’s complete diet.
Fruits and root vegetables may be offered to your guinea pig during the week as long as you keep the portions small.
Even though fruits contain several vital nutrients, they have high sugar content.
Kiwis, citrus, and strawberries are all rich in vitamin C.
However, strawberries also contain oxalates, so feed them to your cavy sparingly.
There are commercial treats available for guinea pigs, but they are loaded with artificial sweeteners and very little nutritional value.
More nutritious snack options are rolled oats mixed in with your cavy’s pellets or a cardboard tube filled with hay.
Foods to Avoid Feeding a Guinea Pig
Mineral wheels and multivitamins are marketed as health supplements for your guinea pig, but they are unnecessary.
If you are feeding your guinea pig a well-balanced diet full of essential nutrients, you do not need to add any supplements.
Mineral or salt wheels are not recommended, as they contain potentially harmful chemicals.
Certain foods also need to be avoided because they may be toxic, high in fat or sugar, present a choking hazard, or cause excess gas and bloating.
Some common foods to avoid feeding a guinea pig include:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Dairy products
Seeds aren’t great for guinea pigs either. Click the link to learn more about it.